I was falsely accused of messing up the bathroom, I declined a lowball offer, and more

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

1. I was falsely accused of messing up the bathroom

For a couple of years now, we’ve had a problem with staff not cleaning up their messes in our staff bathrooms (guys not wiping down the seats, pee on the floor, toilet paper left around, etc). This has been a source of frustration for our head manager, and every time I use the staff bathroom, I am extremely careful to make sure everything is pristine before I leave.

Last week, our head manager called me into her office and said that a staff member had complained to her about the state in which I left the bathroom, and she reminded me that there are cleaning supplies available to help. I felt really shocked and embarrassed, and I am very unconvinced that I am the one responsible. When I expressed some doubts that it was me, she closed down the conversation, telling me that another staff member entered right after me and found the mess. This doesn’t mean that I am the offender though: oftentimes I go into the restroom not to use the toilet, but sometimes to comb my hair or even just blow my nose. I’ve actually brushed my teeth in there after lunch on occasion. In those situations, I’m not near the toilet, much less looking at it to see if there was a mess there from the person before.

I don’t feel like I was treated fairly. I worry about raising the topic with her again, given how convinced she seems to be that I am at fault. I am really embarrassed about being tied to this behavior though. Do you have any suggestions for me?

Oh no.

Technically, you could just let it go. But realistically, if I were in your shoes, I would be wondering if that manager thought I was responsible for all the messes, not just that one time, and then I would want to say something. Because I don’t want people thinking I am the chronic bathroom offender (more to the point: the poop perp) when I am not.

So, personally I would go back to her and say this: “I don’t want to belabor this, but it’s important to me not to leave you with the wrong impression. When I use the bathroom, I am extremely careful about making sure it is pristine before I leave, largely because I don’t appreciate the messes other people leave but also because I know it’s been a long-running frustration for you. I understand someone saw it messy after I came out, but I sometimes go in just to comb my hair or blow my nose, and in those cases I’m not near the toilet or even seeing if there was a mess from someone before me. I can tell you in the strongest of terms that I am not leaving the bathroom a mess. We certainly don’t need to debate this, but I was taken aback when we talked last week and I want to set the record straight now.”

2. I’m being punished for declining my employer’s lowball offer

I’m 27, three years out of college, still at my first after-college job, which I also worked part-time in college. Last summer, we had a guy quit with no notice. To minimize the train wreck that caused, I was asked to step into his position. I agreed, and while I trained on the use of the new equipment, the higher-ups came up with a new job offer. The number they came up with was a 7% raise, but the job was easily 50% more work and required 3-4 days a week overnight travel. (I was primarily in an office position, and this is a field position.) I rejected the offer, but offered to work in the position until they could find someone to do it full-time.

This is where it gets interesting. When my then-supervisor heard I had rejected the offer, he told the higher-ups I couldn’t have my old job back because I was lazy. I was completely blindsided by this. So anyway, I spent the next six weeks working 60ish-hour weeks in four days and living out of a hotel, you know lazy employee stuff. Once a replacement was hired, I trained the new guy. Once he took over, I was placed in the most entry-level position in a department that does the work the higher-ups know I find the least rewarding. When I try to ask for more responsibilities or anything to make my work more fulfilling, I get a lecture about paying my dues or, as my boss puts it, “time in grade.” All I really want is to do the same level of work I was doing before I volunteered to get the company out of a bind. This same boss has promoted all the people who started with the company about when I did, so it appears like the “time in grade” excuse is a either a cop-out or there’s something else they aren’t telling me.

I decided to stick with this company solely for some industry-specific experience requirements for state licensure, but have completed those requirements. My boss says that this company will have amazing opportunities if I stick with it and has been incredibly good to him. My experience with this company has been one of being lied to, having opportunities taken from me, and being thrown under the bus, maybe with a little bit of gaslighting thrown in for good measure. So I’m assuming it’s time for a new job, but with the economic issues caused by the pandemic, the job market in my industry isn’t as nice as I’d like it to be. I’ve interviewed at a couple of places, but it doesn’t look like those are going to work out. What is the best way to proceed?

Keep interviewing, as actively as possible.

Your company is punishing you for having the temerity to advocate for yourself when after they tried to lowball you. That’s the act of crappy, petty people at a crappy, petty company. You did them a huge favor and this is how they’re repaying you! Don’t listen to your boss when he says there are amazing opportunites for you there if you stick with it; there aren’t, and you’ve seen how they treat people. They’ve shown you that you can’t trust them. They’ve thoroughly burned this bridge.

You might not be able to leave immediately, but keep applying to other jobs. That’s the only path forward. (Also, once you leave, make sure you let your peers know how you were treated.)

Read an update to this letter here.

3. My manager wants me to to take credit for others’ work

Recently my manager asked me to do something that I felt was taking credit for the work of others. We have a weekly report where we list what tasks we completed, projects we worked on, any big group things that launched. It’s presented in our team meeting, so just our department sees it. My manager wants me to include tasks that were done by others on other teams, but may have been requests we made or were milestones for projects we are part of. Think feature improvements for a website that a developer actually executed or a training a colleague led for a project I’m involved in.

He says that this is what being a manager is about. You influence the processes and you contribute to decisions and all the fruits of that influence stem from you, and it’s “fine” to call this a complete on my part despite doing none of the work since it “wouldn’t have happened without my input.”

I know he’s comfortable with doing this (he’s listed items that I and others have completed in the past) and his manager has never stopped him. He’s very insistent that this is reasonable but I’m not so sure. Is he right, that showing your influence is important, and I’m being too literal about “completed”? Or should I stick to my initial feeling that this is taking undue credit for others work? What’s the line between stealing and sharing the credit?

Why not list the items but be very clear about who completed them? If an item stems from requests your team made or is part of a project you’re working on, it seems like it could be useful for your team to hear they’re now completed. But you don’t need to say you did them yourself! Just be very precise — for example, “I’d asked the X team to do Y for us and they got that finished this week” or “Jane finished the web page for the gala so we can launch ticket sales this month” or so forth.

It would be weird if you said “I did X” when in fact Jane did X, but it’s not weird to let people know that Jane did it (and if it’s something you proposed or liaised with her to achieve, you can mention that too).

Similarly, it’s not weird for your manager to talk about what his team completed (he gets some credit for what his team achieves, just as he’s accountable if something goes really wrong) as long as he’s not asserting that he personally did those things or allowing people to believe that by omission.

4. Leaving partway through tuition reimbursement

I have been with my current employer for about 1.5 years. Around the three-month mark, I signed a contract stating that they would reimburse me for my tuition (relevant to my job) on the condition that I need to stay with the company for two years after completing my degree. If I leave before that time I have to pay back half of what they have paid. I have about one year of school left, so a total of three years more with this company.

I agreed to this because hey, free school! I was also fresh at the job and so still had rose-colored glasses on. Now I’m pretty unhappy and unfulfilled. I’ve been applying to jobs here and there, but feel guilty. Does it look bad to leave before putting in those additional years of work? I know I can just pay them back, but will this put a black mark on this company as a reference? They’re investing in me and I’m not living up to the agreement.

As long as you abide by the agreement and pay back the half you agreed to pay back, you should be fine. This stuff isn’t usually “you pay us back half the money and we consider the bridge burnt.” It’s a business arrangement, you pay what you agreed, done. If they weren’t okay with that outcome, they presumably would have written a different contract. The one they offered you is pretty standard, and you can usually take it at face value.

5. Following up on an internal job

I recently applied and interviewed for a job within the company where I’m employed. At the end of the final round of interviews, the hiring manager told me when she hoped to have a decision. She also said (unprompted) that she’d let me know one way or the other since our HR is notorious about forgetting.

I’m sure you can see where this is going. At this point, we’re a week past the ideal decision date, the job posting has been removed, and I’ve heard nothing. I’m pretty positive I didn’t get it. I don’t think the hiring manager deliberately ghosted me; I think she probably just forgot. Jobs in that department only open up once every few years at most, and I know she has a lot on her plate regardless.

I normally wouldn’t even consider following up until two weeks after the stated deadline — I know things change — but the circumstances required a short process, and my current role and the one I applied for have very limited interactions. It’s entirely possible I’ll have at least seen the new person by then. Is there a point to following up when you know you didn’t get the job? Should I do it before, when I risk seeming impatient but at least can’t be 100% sure? Or should I just not say anything at all? I did send a thank-you note several hours after the interview.

For what it’s worth, it’s less than I want official confirmation (though that would be nice) and more that I want to do the right thing, both because I respect the hiring manager and would want to apply again in the future if the job ever reopens.

I wouldn’t assume anything! Hiring nearly always takes longer than people think it will, even when their intention is to run a very quick process.

That said, you’re a week past her stated decision date, so there’s nothing wrong with checking back to see if she has an updated timeline she can share. (And meanwhile, if it’s bugging you or you’re worried you’ll meet the new person before you’ve received official word that they hired someone, assume for now that you didn’t get the job so it doesn’t stay an open question in your mind, and then let it be a pleasant surprise if you turn out to be wrong.)

{ 247 comments… read them below }

    1. A.N.*

      Why? I don’t see any particular signs of that. Hiring always takes forever and managers are slow about getting back to people.

      1. Willis*

        I agree. I would make no assumptions that anything has changed other than they’re running a little behind schedule. And a week isn’t even thaaaat behind when it comes to hiring.

    2. AcademiaNut*

      It could easily be that they’re running slow – they know they’ve got good candidates, but need to schedule a meeting/do some paperwork/wait for someone to get back from holiday. Or they’ve made an offer, and are waiting for the top candidate to decide before sending rejections.

    3. LW5*

      I can see why you would think that, but I highly doubt that’s the case here! If we cut that position, we’d have to cut a significant number of other positions in places that have been doing well and are slated for growth.

    4. tamarack and fireweed*

      I just had a job I applied for yanked due to budget cuts, and in my case I heard about it earlier than expected, via a very-nice-as-these-things-go form letter thanking & informing me that the position is not being filed at this time. (It was also a day after the announcement of the state’s budget woes – it’s a state university, so I did the rest of the dot-connecting.)

      So my experience is different from your scenario.

      1. Joan Rivers*

        I once had several interviews and started work at the one that offered. Then one night after work I got a call offering me one of the jobs. And then the VERY NEXT NIGHT I got another offer! That really freaked me out.
        One said they hired someone who “didn’t work out” and the other just made an offer. But I was happy where I was.
        You never know! It’s actually odd that more jobs don’t offer their second choice the job, given that two may seem OK.

        1. Rake*

          I was the number two choice at my current job. I only know because the recruiter let me know they moved forward with another candidate, then a week or two later they called back asking if I was still available. It does happen!

  1. Casper Lives*

    #2 I’m sorry that you’ve been treated that poorly. Your boss is determined to hold you back for a perceived slight. The higher ups aren’t any better. You had been employed there part time then full time. I doubt your manager raised any issues before the lowball offer. They wouldn’t have offered you the job if you weren’t capable! Higher ups should have put their foot down with the boss.

    Anyway, this company is blocking your career advancement. Good luck leaving for a better place ASAP.

    1. singlemaltgirl*

      agreed. lw#2 they are demonstrating the kind of company they are in their behaviour to you. don’t believe the words. believe the actions. get out of dodge as soon as you can. you’ve put in your time and have some great things to say to your next employer about how you stepped up in the past. good luck to you!

        1. EPLawyer*

          Yep. Loyalty in that company is a one way street. YOU are expected to give up your life to save the company when they are in a bind. If you do not demonstrate undying gratitude for the opportunity to be exploited, then you are “lazy” and “not a team player.” The company does not believe it owes you anything, not even a decent paycheck in exchange for work.

          1. Anon Dot Com*

            Yes! “Gratitude for the opportunity to be exploited” is the perfect way to put it. That’s exactly what companies like this do, and they’ll keep doing it as long as you stick around (while stringing you along with empty promises that your loyalty will be rewarded someday, somehow). In AAM’s words, your boss sucks and isn’t going to change.

            1. Sue*

              I wonder how the conversation went when OP turned down the offer. Was it just a “no” because OP saw how meager the raise was compared to the new responsibilities? Or was it a salary negotiation that wasn’t fruitful? If the company knew why the offer was rejected, this is a very bad and telling reaction. If they didn’t know the why, it’s still terrible but not quite the same situation thus more conceivable (although not justifiable) that they would jump to a negative conclusion.

        2. Where’s the Orchestra?*

          So much this. The company is showing through their actions they value loyalist – but one way loyal to us loyalist. We will punish those that stick up for and advocate for themselves.

          Keep up with the applications, this place has shown you what they really are.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        OP2 unless your company open enough to tell you what they’re paying those other promoted people, I’d assume they got promoted without an appropriate raise. Just like the ‘deal’ you turned down!
        Good luck on your job search.

        1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

          Given how they reacted to OP declining their offer – this is probably a pretty good bet.

          I would also look around at the other people that work here – are they mostly all at the same early point in their career where not knowing to advocate for yourself is common? This will tell you a lot about them.

    2. Malika*

      At some companies, if you have worked there for a long time, the expectation is that they can treat you in any kind of way and you will stay. They will not have to make an effort for you, because no matter what they do there will be no repercussions. At companies with integrity, they will treat long-time employees as valued, but at others as if you are there to be batted around by the winds of fate.
      You have gotten everything you possibly can out of this company, it is time for new pastures. two interviews is only just the start, especially in this climate. Take a deep breath and keep on going. That next job is just around the corner and will be a much better fit.

    3. Firecat*

      I completely agree. Frankly the fact that they didn’t give you any interim bonus or any recognition for you covering is poor treatment enough!

      But then to demote you and call you lazy is beyond egregious!

    4. meyer lemon*

      The other thing to keep in mind is that especially since this is the first company you’ve worked for, you don’t want to internalize their weird norms. (From the letter, it kind of sounds like you’re already doubting your own intuition that this job is messed up).

  2. LizM*

    #3, the thing about management is, there are days when I don’t feel like I “do” anything. I spend all day talking to my employees or sitting in meetings, helping others brainstorm and problem solve, or dealing with personnel issues, or trying to track down funding to cover a budget shortfall that an employee discovered. At the end of the day, I can’t point to any widgets I, myself, made. But all of that work is important for my team to function. So even though I’m not the one building widgets, if the widgets don’t get made, I’m accountable for that. The number of widgets my team makes each quarter is part of my evaluation, even if I’m not in the field personally building them.

    That said, when talking to external partners or my leadership, I always try to frame accomplishments as something that “we” did, or something that our office did. I rarely use the word “I” when I’m talking about things the team accomplished.

    1. Willis*

      I agree with this, and with the “we” framing. “My team” is another option.

      But, I also think the OP is maybe a little too hung up on the wording here. Saying “I (or we) held a training…” or “I revamped the website…” are definitely phrases someone could use to mean that they led or organized the projects without actually doing it themselves. Especially so if everyone there knows you’re a manager and not a trainer or web designer. You could also just change your verbs a bit to something like “I organized a training for XYZ project” or “led the website redesign” or whatever.

        1. NYWeasel*

          Supported, facilitated, developed…so many ways to be clear about your team’s contributions while not taking too much credit!

          1. Mercurial*

            You’re so right – collaborated, cooperated, partnered, enabled, expedited, or even good old fashioned “helped” :) There’s a billion, and none say “me. I did it. All me”.

      1. tamarack and fireweed*

        I like the OP’s scruples about giving proper credit, and think they should continue to look for and find good wordings that share the credit around among those who actually do a thing. Managers especially can damage their standing with their teams and create morale problems if their teams are under the impression they’re cut out of deserved credit. (And the OP sounds very slightly miffed about their manager’s attitude. I imagine it goes like this. Director to OP’s manager during public hearing: “M, your turn to report. What are the highlights you got done?” If M’s answer keeps using “I … I … I …” instead of “My team and I … We …. And I wan to particularly commend X for closing the new contract with [customer]/going above and beyond to finish up [hard task]/finding [vendor] for us” then I would be too!

        On the principle of the thing, if it’s your job to get the website done or a training delivered, even if the actual web development is done by A in design services and the training by B, the external contractor, you do deserve credit for getting the task checked off and completed as far as your team is concerned.

        1. Neverclever*

          To be honest I am miffed since it often happens that if he goes first to present he will include my items with no call out. Recently he listed a training I did for a product I released and managed with no mention of me. It can be awkward to then go over one of my major accomplishments for a week with “well as M already said”. He states others works as fact so it’s “project training to sales” rather that an I statement.

        2. TardyTardis*

          A manager who shares credit to that extent will be building a team that will stick with her through hell and/or high water (I understand Australia is getting both this week, keep safe, people!).

    2. I'd Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

      Yeah, it’s hard to answer this question without a more robust understanding of company culture, but it doesn’t sound disingenuine.

      Moving a project along on areas where you’re not an individual contributer, such as delegating tasks effectively, or identifiying problems and getting buy-in from other teams to fix them, is a big achievement. It’s not nothing.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        I work in a company that has recently gotten some new really good managers people who don’t make widgets, but can really streamline the widget making process. A good project manager is worth her weight in gold.

    3. Forrest*

      Yes— OP, you could think of it the way people say, “I renovated my house last year” or “I had the car fixed.” It would be ridiculous for someone to answer, “You didn’t PERSONALLY renovate your house! I know for a fact you hired Delia’s House Renovations and she did all the work!” People understand this to mean, “I caused X work to happen”.

      If you want to be super clear about your role, as you would in an interview, you could say, “I worked with Jill in Marketing to make sure all our web pages are in the new brand, and approved Jack’s copy.” But in general update meetings, “I’ve been working with Marketing to get the website updated, we’re going live with the new site next Tuesday, if you spot any errors let me know!” is really fine.

      1. Neverclever*

        I have no issue with listing completed projects or milestones in this meeting, even if we weren’t primaries. It’s the individual tasks that bother me. The difference between “we renovated the kitchen” and “I installed the countertops”.

        1. CmdrShepard4ever*

          I think listing the individual tasks is okay and beneficial for giving higher ups an overview of what is going on. Maybe something like “now an update on the kitchen renovation project, the countertops were installed last week, next week the new cabinets will but installed.” or Jane from home projects installed the cabinets last week, next week she will install the cabinets.

      2. Sacred Ground*

        Exactly this. I think OP’s manager is encouraging her to think in terms of “things I got done” when writing these reports and OP is thinking in terms of “things I did.”

    4. Cat Tree*

      Organizing a project, figuring out what the project needs ahead of time, keeping track of everyone’s tasks, following up when necessary, and *especially* getting other people to give you what the project needs are all hugely important skills. Doing these things has earned me promotions and good performance reviews just as much as my technical skills.

      It doesn’t seem like a big deal when you naturally do those things, but plenty of people don’t do them. Some people will let their project die a slow death because they don’t even want the work of sending reminders to others or even keeping a list of what they’re waiting on.

      1. Neverclever*

        I have no issue with mentioning project management, though in the structure of this meeting it would probably be a bullet point rather than something talked about. We get only a few minutes to talk, it’s a highlights reel of your week. The issue is that these are tasks that we may have requested or proposed but where taken by another team and managed, vetted, scoped and executed and then returned. No issue letting the team know they happened, I do have an issue saying that I completed it.

    5. Koalafied*

      Especially given the context described. It’s an internal meeting with only her department that covers work that’s been recently done – it doesn’t sound like the point of this meeting is to dole out credit and applaud people for their accomplishments, but rather so that the department members are all up to date on where all projects that might affect them stand, and give people not working directly on the project a chance to offer input if they have any relevant info that the project team is unaware of. People in the department who aren’t on the project team probably don’t have contact with the developers or IT trainers working on the project, so the only way they’re able to get briefed on the work those people outside the department doing is for the person in the department who works on the project to report out on it.

      LW, maybe it would help you to reframe this in your mind less as, “What accomplishments can I take credit for?” and more as, “What updates do I need to brief my colleagues on regarding the projects I lead/own?”

      1. Neverclever*

        To be clear, as I told Alison in a follow-up, I offered to present these items in the meeting as requests that were delivered. I have no problem talking about the request made or the benefits provided. However, that was shot down and I was told to present these items as my “completes” in the same manner as tasks I actually executed. While it wasn’t explicitly stated that I should not mention someone else delivered it was implied, especially since he does not mention what team/person delivered the items he presents as his.

        1. TootsNYC*

          the people looking at this know your job, right? They know you’re not a coder or a developer. They know you’re a manager.
          You did the managerial things that got them done.
          They are your achievement.

          You should remember that this list IS being seen in context.

          1. Neverclever*

            In theory yes, but the team is a Little bit of a hodgepodge and we don’t get indepth into the reports. It’s very much “what are your top achievements” presented. I think they know the difference between what I’ve done and what I’ve been part of delivering, but I wouldn’t fault them for not knowing what everything means.

            1. Joan Rivers*

              You can always toss in, casually, as an aside, “Of course, I didn’t DO the Coding, it was part of the bigger X Project. But we all did our part.” It makes you look good to cite having good teamwork.

            2. Uranus Wars*

              But it’s still a top achievement if you drove the project.

              Say one of my top achievements is a flu shot clinic that engages 40% of employees. I do not supply the vaccine, I do not administer the vaccine, I do not check the people in at the clinic, I do not market the clinic. But if we don’t hit that target, I better have a REALLY good reason why. During that season in our team meeting I say “We were able to hit our target this year” and everyone knows “we” means whoever I thought was needed.

              I understand you don’t want to take credit but I think you are really overthinking this.

        2. TootsNYC*

          the people looking at this know your job, right? They know you’re not a coder or a developer. They know you’re a manager.
          You did the managerial things that got them done.
          They are your achievement.

          You should remember that this list IS being seen in context.
          You “got it done.”
          The developer “created the computer code.”

    6. TootsNYC*

      see: Al Gore “invented” the Internet.

      I can’t find it now, but I saw a speech by a tech/Internet pioneer who responded to an “Al Gore invented the Internet” joke made by the person who introduced him. The pioneer made an impassioned case that Al Gore -did in fact- play a huge role in creating funding and support for the computer work that led to the Internet. That he did everything a CONGRESSIONAL REPRESENTATIVE could do.

      And of course, his statement about his role in the Internet was misquoted (words have meaning) and taken out of context.

      If LW#3 actually came up with the idea for the features improvement for the website, or even just shepherded it through the process, that IS work, that IS the LW’s achievement.

      1. Neverclever*

        “If LW#3 actually came up with the idea for the features improvement for the website, or even just shepherded it through the process, that IS work, that IS the LW’s achievement”

        At most the features were vague ideas we requested, but sometimes they are requests from others that will benefit us. These are not things either of us are shepherding through a process, there are product owners doing that. I’m being asked to present the new feature as something I completed, not just something that is complete.

        1. comityoferrors*

          In a different comment, you say of your boss: “He states others works as fact so it’s “project training to sales” rather that an I statement.”

          Has he explicitly stated that you have to say *you* completed it? Because it sounds like he does the opposite of that in his own updates. I think there may be a misunderstanding here – what I’m getting from your comments is that he wants you to drop the emphasis on *who* did it and just report what’s happened relative to your team.

          I have a weekly report that sounds similar to this. There are no names mentioned, no credit given. It’s an update on the status of our department by team. I report out everything my team has completed, which for our team looks a lot like: “Collaborated with [other department] for [major project]; set up framework for [big audit] to assist [another department]; requested meeting with [third department] to streamline [annoying process we all hate]”. But I also report out major barriers (and how we’re addressing them) or changes to processes that will improve our productivity (even if I’m not the person making the changes) or any number of situational things that pop up. Anything big-ish that impacts my team, good or bad, needs to be listed. It’s very high-level and depersonalized, which sounds like what your boss is asking you for, too.

          1. Neverclever*

            He didn’t explicitly state I should claim I did it, but he was not supportive of my proposed wording of things like “x improvements provided by y team for website”. He also dismissed my suggestion of actually calling out these improvements as their own report to the team so they could be fully informed they happened and what they mean.

            He also does not call out credit for others in his report despite the rest of the team doing so. We only recently got a second manager on the team and she does not list others tasks, only broader achievements, letting her reports speak for themselves.

            This meeting is much less informational for each others benefit, only our director has the files and we each only present the very top achievements for the week.

            1. Koalafied*

              Maybe it would help to get clarity from your boss on what he thinks the purpose of the meeting is. Something like, “I realized while tweaking the language on some of these accomplishments that I’m not 100% on what the goal is with these reports – is it more for each person who reports to have an opportunity to bring visibility to the things they’re most proud of, or is it more for the people receiving the report to be aware of the things most likely to impact them?”

              As a marketer I find that it’s virtually impossible to construct something with the right terms/language if you don’t have a clear sense of who your primary intended audience is and what they’re expecting to get out of listening to you.

            2. Koalafied*

              Also, did he elaborate on why your proposed wording was an issue? If he just said, “No, change it to X” then instead of asking about the purpose of the reports more broadly you could go back and say, “I want to make sure I understand what you’re looking for in these reports going forward. Earlier, you told me to write XYZ instead of ABC. Is the issue that I shouldn’t mention the other team, or do you just want me to keep the bullets as concise as possible, or something else?”

    7. James*

      “At the end of the day, I can’t point to any widgets I, myself, made. But all of that work is important for my team to function.”

      I had trouble with this issue at first. What helped me was realizing that it’s a division of labor issue. My team does the thing–hands-on work with physical stuff to produce tangible results. In order for them to do the thing, I need to do my job–negotiating with stakeholders, getting permits and access, dealing with potential issues before the team is even aware of them. With a good team, my days can be pretty easy, giving me time to pursue additional work. With a bad team….you end up doing a lot more.

      Like you, I tend to talk about what “we” accomplish. However, upper management has made it clear that they view me as the immediate representative of “we”, and as the one ultimately responsible for what “we” does. Basically they don’t care about the details of how I get stuff done; they want to see that when they hand me a job I hand them back a happy client and a healthy margin. How I go about that is my job.

      The annoying part is learning to hand things off and let someone else handle them. For simple stuff it’s easy enough–a monkey can do 80% of the work my crews do, and a robot could do them better in many cases. For more complex stuff, and especially for stuff I’m not used to doing, handing the work off is a bit nerve-racking.

    8. Van Wilder*

      Agreed. I’m more in agreement with your boss on this. If his team achieved something, he achieved it.

      Also agreed he shouldn’t be pretending that he literally did all the work but (a) his bosses probably already know he didn’t and (b) if he WAS the one literally doing all the work, that would be a terrible use of his time and his bosses should question his judgment. So if I’m wrong and he’s literally pretending to do the work of his staff, he’d only be hurting himself in the long run.

  3. LizM*

    #2, even if the offer wasn’t a lowball, not everyone wants a job that requires that much travel. I have a young kid and cats, and the idea of spending that much time on the road is just not something that appeals to me at all, even if they doubled my salary. Turning down this job wasn’t unreasonable, you aren’t required to take a new job just because it opens up. This company isn’t going to support you if you need to prioritize your personal life over work. I’d keep looking and get out.

    1. AcademiaNut*

      Yeah, that stood out for me too. Even with a major salary boost, taking on a job with four nights a week of out of town travel is a big deal, and something that really should only be done by people who have agreed willingly. An existing employee willing to do it until they hired someone new should have been met with great rejoicing and thankfulness, not retaliation!

      1. KRM*

        Exactly! We recently hired someone who wanted to get out of a more sales-focused job. He had thought he wanted that job, but when all was said and done, he realized that the travel and people and everything were too much. And he originally WANTED the job! OP #2, you knew you didn’t want to take on that job as your primary focus. It was super nice of you to cover while they found someone else! Unfortunately it seems that they wanted to have someone (you) doing the job that they didn’t have to pay the salary the job actually required, because they hoped you’d be so excited by the raise they said they wanted to give you! And then they got vindictive when that wasn’t the case. So keep your head down, don’t expect anything from this company, and keep looking. You’ll end up somewhere good!

        1. The Rural Juror*

          That’s a good word for what they did – VINDICTIVE! They could have accepted that the LW didn’t want that position without the higher raise and allowed them to go back to what they were doing before. But they didn’t. They actively retaliated against the LW instead. I think the advice from Alison to tell their coworkers when they’re on the way out the door is important; they need to warn others!

    2. Koalafied*

      Even 10% travel is enough to turn me off a job posting. 10% sounds like a low percentage but hat’s roughly 5 weeks a year – I don’t even travel personally anywhere near that much!

      1. allathian*

        Yeah, definitely.

        I have serious problems sleeping anywhere other than in my own bed, which is why I’m not willing to travel for work more than once or twice a year on overnight trips.

  4. Dennis Feinstein*

    What is with adult humans not being able to use a toilet properly?! Didn’t they learn this when they were two? Stuff that comes out of your body goes INSIDE the toilet. So does toilet paper. It ain’t that hard.
    I wonder if these filthy animals leave their home bathrooms a mess too?
    Maybe #1 could do what the LW from a few weeks ago was advised to do – the one with the dirty coworkers who kept leaving her desk area in a mess that she was expected to clean up. #1 you should take pics as proof that you are not the bathroom grub!

    1. Mary Richards*

      1. I 100% agree with this comment
      2. It’s a million times funnier because now I’m picturing Dennis Feinstein

    2. singlemaltgirl*

      i know, right?!?!? i don’t get it. i have to bring this up about once a month at staff mtgs. i likely know who the culprit is but without proof or ‘catching someone in the act’ hard to say. so everyone gets the lecture. and it does address it for a couple of weeks. we have a cleaner that comes once a week. but sometimes i have to do a spot clean b/c wtf?!?! and then i do the lecture and i like cleaning ‘other people’s shit even less than i like cleaning my own. clean up after yourself, please.’

      i also wonder what people are like at home. based on my experience of public restrooms and communal kitchens, people are bloody pigs. and i’m not a clean freak by any means.

      1. LifeBeforeCorona*

        We know who the guilty party is in our office. Like clockwork every day at the same time. However, no one is willing to speak to the grandboss responsible about their lack of due diligence.

    3. Sakuko*

      Yet dirty toilets where a problem in every job I ever had. It can’t be that easy.

      When I was an apprentice a similar thing to OP happened to me. A coworker came to me and told me in front of my whole office that I left the toilet in a mess and should clean up after myself better. I told her I was sure it hadn’t been me, but we where only 3 women on that floor and she told me the other woman (who was her friend) hadn’t done it, so it must have been me. I was really shy then and felt super embarrassed about it.
      The next day a passive-aggressive note about using the toilet brush showed up on the women’s toilet and stayed there, regularly renewed the whole 3 years of my apprenticeship. I’m doubly paranoid about my toilet cleanliness since then.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Your accuser made a really big assumption. See the previous article in the suggested links: “the men on our floor use the women’s bathroom to poop.”

        1. Sakuko*

          We also had a bunch more women on the other floors who could have easily used our toilets, since it was not unusual to visit other offices. But I felt too insecure to get into a whole discussion with her at that point in time.

          1. Truth-ish*

            At an Old Job there was a woman who went from the 3rd floor all the way to the first floor visitors bathroom for her longer bathroom sessions and at my current job, the largest bathroom is near my office so people from all over the building come to use it of the others are full (most are 2 stall and this one is an 8 stall).

    4. AcademiaNut*

      I’m pretty sure some of them have filthy bathrooms at home, and others of them have people who clean up after them so they genuinely don’t grasp the basics of shared facility hygiene. Then there are the people who are totally fine at home, but mess up public bathrooms because they refuse to touch the seat in fear of contracting some horrible disease (aka the squat and sprinklers). And the people who could clean up if they want to, but don’t want to, and the occasional person who is so embarrassed by an accidental mess that they sneak out and leave it rather than clean it up themselves, or letting someone know there’s a mess. In non-work public bathrooms you also get the people who are in an altered state of consciousness, and don’t realize they are trashing the place (this is possible at work, but much less common).

      1. doreen*

        The squatter/sprinklers kill me. They’re afraid of catching something , so they don’t sit down – but that means they leave the seat a mess for the next person, because they don’t even lift the seat.

        1. The Other Dawn*

          Seriously. If they’re that afraid of catching something, they should be carry sanitizing wipes with them. JFC.

        2. MissBaudelaire*

          The bane of my existence. It’s a classic case of ‘Screw you, got mine.’ I’m glad that you felt so comfortable hovering instead of letting your precious, washable behind touch the seat that the peasants use or whatever. I just want to tell people if it means that much to them, they should bring a sani wipe into the the toilet and wipe the seat with that, not just leave their bodily fluids everywhere.

          1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

            I will never forget the day when, on an online forum I frequented, one of the regulars posted a detailed description of how she was teaching her then-young daughter to squat. Took me a lot of willpower not to say anything. That kid is now in her 20s, hopefully no longer peeing on public toilet seats, but who knows? our childhood lessons tend to really stick with us.

        3. Florida Fan 15*

          This reminds me of Alex Borstein when she won her Emmy in 2018, telling women to sit down in public bathrooms. “When you sit, we can all sit. Stop peeing on the seat.”

          Still one of my all time favorite award acceptance speeches.

      2. Caterpie*

        Are these the same people making giant toilet paper nests on the ground?!

        We used to have that issue at my old job, and I could never figure out what the purpose of that was. Maybe instead of squatting they’re wrapping the seat with wads of TP and just letting it fall to the ground when they finish?

        1. Machiamellie*

          Possibly they are starting a new roll of tp and it’s shredding as they’re trying to get the paper flowing. I had that happen last night at home, although I just put the shreds into the middle of the wad. Because I’m not a Potty Heathen.

    5. MJ*

      The thing that gets me about toilets in the office setting is that the ‘defiler’ knows another colleague (or the boss!) will come across it, perhaps have to deal with it. I get you don’t respect yourself, but you could at least pretend to have a modicum of respect for your colleagues and clean up your own shit/piss.

      When I have entered the toilet (we have single-/non-gender ones) after a colleague has used it – and I see them leave, my respect for them is never the same and I will always think less of them for leaving their bodily fluids for me to deal with. I feel the same when I see a colleague skipping the hand-washing part of using the toilet.

      1. Anon for This*

        Sorry if this ruins anyone’s breakfast. We had a “stealth pooper” for months — someone who (in the men’s room) left bits of excrement on the floor of the stall, but also scattered around on the floor of the men’s room itself and occasionally in little trails on the floor outside in the hallway near the restrooms, where any unsuspecting person might not see it, then step in it and track it around. The restrooms were large, multi-stall, and located in a conference area away from the offices so there wasn’t any awareness of who’d been there recently, so to speak. There were dozens of employees working on that floor of the company, and the restrooms were keyed by floor, so we were reasonably sure it had to be one of our employees. As office manager, I was the person people came to to report the issue (so I could contact the building cleanup crew) and is also how and why I knew about the problem so consistently, even though I don’t use the men’s room. This went on, again, for MONTHS. Signs were posted. Polite (and bizarre!) emails went out. One day I was over in the general vicinity setting up for a conference and I … witnessed the act occurring (I’m leaving out any further specifics.) I took it upon myself (as office manager) to go speak to the person afterward, politely explain what I’d witnessed, and ask how we might resolve it. It was an older gentleman who apologized and explained he had bowel control problems occasionally, and he wasn’t mobile enough to reach down to clean up after himself. But … here’s the thing. That was it. As far as he was concerned, that explanation was … all that was needed? Not any ideas or suggestions for how we might stop this from happening. No sense that maybe if you couldn’t avoid losing control of your bowels regularly in a public area that you needed to sort something out, or that you had any responsibility to get it cleaned up. Perhaps he wasn’t mobile enough to wear adult diapers, I don’t know, I really don’t. I know people with bowel issues find various ways to deal with them at work but I don’t know how it’s done. Anyway if anyone has any thoughts: would this somehow have been protected under the ADA? Like, was he obligated to try to come up with a solution? The whole thing still blows my mind, years later. (Oh, and he moved on to another job shortly thereafter, so the problem resolved itself, at least on our floor.)

        1. MissBaudelaire*

          I’m so shocked by that. He–he thought that just saying he had bowel and mobility issues was enough? Like that would wave a magic wand and there would be magical poop fairies that would come and tidy it all up and no one else would have to see it?

          I don’t think the ADA would cover something like that. After all, leaving feces scattered around is a health hazard to the rest of the team. You can’t just do that. I can see the employer being required to provide like, gloves or something for the cleaning, but not that the employer has to clean it up.

        2. Dust Bunny*

          We had a guy (he has since moved on to another job for reasons unrelated to this) who, I have no idea what was going on with him, but he’d leave smears. And he was into those “flushable” wipes that aren’t really flushable because they don’t disintegrate, which would clog the toilets. He’d track toilet water into the carpet and leave the toilets clogged. He got a couple of talkings-to but it didn’t stop.

          We actually suspended him for three days. He STILL tried to go back to using the flushable wipes, but somebody saw the wrapper in the trash.

        3. Observer*

          ADA requires REASONABLE accommodation. Allowing this to go on is not what I think would be considered reasonable accommodation.

          I suspect that your company would have been OK to ask him about adult incontinence underwear, and then take it from there.

        4. A tester, not a developer*

          I have a bowel-related disability (thanks, Crohn’s disease!). Companies are required to make ‘reasonable accommodation’ – there’s no way on earth that allowing someone to leave a trail of feces is a reasonable accommodation for any workplace.

          If dude was able to dress himself in the morning/ take his pants up and down when using the washroom, then there are continence garments that he could have worn.

        5. Cat Tree*

          At the very least, he could contact the cleanup crew himself, immediately after. If it’s too embarrassing he could just say he found it that way.

        6. Liz*

          We had a similar thing occur in my workplace. We had a few incidents of poo on the floor and due to being a very small office with 2 individual, fully enclosed bathrooms, we were fairly sure we knew who it was. Sadly, he was an older gentleman who was also showing early signs of dementia, and I don’t think he realised what he was doing. We never said anything to him, one of us would just don PPE and quietly clean up. It happened infrequently enough to flag as odd incidents rather than a perpetual problem, and he has since retired. I really don’t know how else we could have handled it, but I would have felt really bad reporting it to the management thinking he would get chewed out like poor LW1! I mean, what if we were wrong? But also, even if we weren’t, what an awful thing to have to tell someone!

        7. JustaTech*

          In my building the previous tenets (many of whom later worked for us) had a problem of a “stealth pooper” who, on several occasions, pooped on the floor outside the men’s bathroom. (Thankfully it’s a lab building so the hallway was tile.)
          There were very few people in the building (it wasn’t finished yet) and the pooping always happened very early in the morning, so the pooper was never caught.

          The only explanation anyone was willing to entertain was that someone had some kind of GI problem and kept getting caught just short of the door. Because no one wanted to ever consider that someone was doing it on purpose.

          (Tangential: one of the first legal cases about employers not being allowed access to their employee’s genetic information was about a warehouse that demanded gene profiling of someone who was pooping in the warehouse.)

          1. Cat Tree*

            Wow, that’s super weird. That’s something my elderly cat used to do because arthritis made it hard to step into the box and balance on the litter. I got a bunch of carpet scraps and put one right next to the box. It wasn’t too difficult to clean each day and when it got gross I just tossed it and put down a fresh one.

            But a human doing it? That’s bizarre. Even if it’s a health issue, why just abandon it. If I had to go somewhere unusual I would clean it up after the fact.

          2. MissBaudelaire*

            Oh my goodness, why are there so many comments about stealth pooping! This problem shouldn’t be this common! My world is crashing down on me right now.

      2. Threeve*

        Anonymity a powerful thing for some people. An office manager at an old job told me that she kept having to buy more silverware because it would just slowly disappear, especially spoons.

        I was astonished that enough grown adults were stealing silverware to make a dent in the supply, and she just shrugged. “Either stealing it or using it and then throwing it away so they don’t have to wash it.” I was gobsmacked.

        1. kittymommy*

          The amount of forks that have disappeared in my office is astounding. I inherited a lot of sets of flatware when my grandma died so I brought a set to work for our breakroom (think old school, 12 pieces for spoons, knives, forks, etc.). Within 2 weeks all the large forks were gone and most of the smaller forks as well. It’s crazy!

        2. Cascadia*

          I work at a small high school (~550 students) and after chili day the kitchen employees found 50+ spoons in the trash! The theory is that the chili was served in disposable bowls, but on real trays with real spoons. Students perhaps weren’t thinking and dumped the entire contents of the tray into the trash. Regardless, that’s completely unacceptable. The next day we all came in to lunch and there was no silverware to be found. The head of the kitchen was so mad he took away all utensils for a day. That seemed an appropriate response!

          1. Momma Bear*

            Worked in a shared space which provided mugs, plates, etc. for use. You were just asked to make sure the dishes got put back in the dishwasher at the end of the day. That was it. You didn’t even have to run it. I cannot tell you the # of times people in my office neglected to return dishes to the dishwasher. They would rather get (and stack up) new mugs instead of cleaning one they had.

            1. Monday's Child*

              A number of years ago, I worked in an area where we had 5 employees, and no dishwasher. One of my co-workers lived on blender protein shakes. She would blend them up, and leave the dirty blender and dirty cups in the sink. She’d rinse out the blender when she needed to use it again, but never, ever, cleaned out her cups.

              Rotting protein shakes smell like the floor of an abattoir.

              I didn’t drink coffee, and didn’t use the refrigerator, so I seldom went into that room, much less cleaned up after the co-worker.

              My supervisor (not the supervisor for the other 4) got after her a few times, then decided somehow that I was responsible for making sure the sink stayed clean.

              I gave co-worker one warning that this was her mess and she was expected to clean it up, and after that, everything was going in the trash (kitchen dishes/utensils came from Goodwill).

              She did nothing, and after three days, EVERYTHING went in the garbage, including the blender. Co-worker never said a word.

              My supervisor was just pleased that our end of the building no longer smelled like a killing floor.

        3. The Rural Juror*

          I used to work at fast-ish food restaurant that served orders in throw-away containers, but offered real silverware, not plasticware. Guests were encouraged to bus their own tables, but ultimately the employees would have to clean tables throughout the day. Employees would get in trouble all. the. time. for throwing away silverware because they didn’t want to have to wash it later. Like, they thought the restaurant wouldn’t notice that the silverware supply was dwindling every day?? Geez!

        4. Cat Tree*

          That’s probably more about losing or forgetting than about stealing. In pre-covid times I went to the cafeteria in a different building most days. When they ran out of plastic forks, I would take a regular one back to my desk and fully intend to return it the next day. I usually didn’t remember until I was already walking to the cafeteria and didn’t have time to go back. So it usually took a while to return them. I think I had one on my desk right before WFH started a year ago.

          Silverware is like pens, IMO.

    6. Lacey*

      It’s completely bizarre. I live in an area where it’s weirdly common for grown adults to put their trash in the sink.
      So it’s not uncommon to enter the bathroom and see paper towels in the sink that I will then have to throw away myself before I can use the sink. WHY?

      But, it has happened at my last three jobs and I’ve had former housemates who did it, plus a former housemate’s boyfriend who did it, so it’s not just one weird coworker.

      1. Liz*

        I wonder if it’s an area where it’s common to have those whirry disposal gadgets in the sink drains that chomp up rubbish? Perhaps people got in the habit in a house where you really COULD just do that, and then when they use a sink that doesn’t have that they don’t think to put it somewhere different?

          1. Liz*

            I don’t know, I’ve only seen them on the television. We don’t seem to have them in my country so I was just hypothethising. It certainly is odd behaviour.

            1. Dust Bunny*

              Garbage disposals are pretty much a kitchen-only thing, and not in all kitchens, in the US. An office kitchen would be unlikely to have one and it would be super weird to have one in any bathroom.

            2. Meh*

              Garbage disposals aren’t for general household waste. They are for food bits from washing. Like what you would toss from the catch /stopper. So this behavior is probably just laziness…like when my step kids put plates in the sink along with their napkins.

              1. JustaTech*

                Yeah, I’m pretty sure if you put paper towels in the garbage disposal it would clog the disposal.

                One of my friends had coworkers who were unclear on how the garbage disposal worked, and they kept putting tea bags down it, where the string would immediate get wrapped around the mechanism and the whole thing would get stuck. So my friend would have to disassemble the whole thing and pick all the strings out. (These coworkers also, twice in one week, put dishwashing soap in the dishwasher instead of dishwasher detergent, causing a cascade of bubbles everywhere.)

                1. MissBaudelaire*

                  I knew someone who once put a Tide Pod in the dishwasher, despite me repeatedly saying “Hey that doesn’t go there.”

                  The kitchen floor smelled good for a long time.

        1. ThatGirl*

          You still don’t throw paper towels or trash in a garbage disposal — it’s for little bits of food. In a kitchen.

          1. Liz*

            Oh ok, I didn’t know that. Although given that people flush all sorts of things down the toilet that should not be flushed, it wouldn’t surprise me if people with a disposal plug put stuff down there that they shouldn’t!

              1. Liz*

                My thinking was more like a muscle memory type habit – like they are used to using a sink with the disposal thing in it, had developed a habit of shredding paper towels on it, and then they dry their hands and automatically toss the towels in even where there isn’t a disposal thing. (I posted before I had coffee – just my rambly, sleep addled brain trying to explain weird behaviour. Im probably not making much sense!)

        2. Lacey*

          Nope. We’re in the Midwest. People might have garbage disposals, but you wouldn’t put paper trash down them and they wouldn’t have them in the bathroom. People also put larger trash in kitchen sinks, like plastic cups or paper plates. Things that could never be put in the disposal.

        3. Ms Jackie*

          i doubt it for 2 reasons – 1 – garbage disposals dont do paper products – just little bits of food 2 – garbage disposals are only for kitchen sinks

      2. Tuckerman*

        I’m so perplexed by this. In the case of housemates, did they just add, or did they occasionally scoop it out and throw it away, too? What would happen if you just left the paper towel? Did they wash their hands at all?

        1. Lacey*

          With the housemates & housemate’s boyfriend it was in the kitchen sink and it was paper plates/cups, plastic trash like yogurt containers (not things you might wash & save to be frugal). And um… no I don’t know of them ever removing it.

    7. Threeve*

      An option is OP feels like they have to “prove” that they’re not the offender (which should absolutely not be necessary, but…) is to draw the office manager’s attention to some time when they’re out of the office. “I’m going to be out for the next couple days. You’ll obviously notice that the messes continue, I hope that can be the end of this.”

        1. Tilly*

          Lol. That if it’s the office manager and she/he is just an unreliable narrator? There are no good book ideas left. They’ve all been taken.

    8. Just Another Zebra*

      I work for a plumbing company – the things I’ve seen in public restrooms will never, NEVER, cease to amaze and horrify me. No advice, unfortunately. Just reassurance that this is a universal issue (unfortunately).

      1. ObscureRelic*

        I think it’s similar to online trolling – the supposed anonymity seems to give people permission to be “naughty”. It’s ridiculous.

    9. I'm just here for the cats*

      I worked someplace where the managers had to check the bathrooms before leaving, and watched who was in the bathrooms when, Someone flushed newspaper, pencils, and other stuff down the toilet. It must have happened right before closing (midnight shift) and so the 6am morning shift staff was welcomed to a small flood. Also someone smeared blood all over the seat. It was extremely embarrassing for all of the female staff to be gathered up and have a meeting about the issue. The poor HR guy was so embarrassed that he just said that there was an issue that needed to be addressed and left the room so that the women team leads could talk to us about it. Keep in mind everyone was at least 25, many of us were well into our mind to late 30’s but it was such a high school move!

      1. La Triviata*

        A woman I work with used to clean offices years ago. She was talking about it and said that at one office they had someone who would smear poop on the walls of the restroom. I just can’t imagine.

        1. LavaLamp*

          I’d like to point out that in some places there are different bathroom norms. At my old company, we hired a lot of immigrated workers from countries with poor sanitation/plumbing. My dad realized that they didn’t know that toilet paper could go in the toilet where we live, so he talked to HR about it and they came up with a seminar for all new employees that taught them this stuff without making them feel bad or calling anyone out. They posted signage in the restroom too, and the problem resolved. No one was maliciously destroying the restroom.

          1. Tilly*

            Not uncommon in countries for toilet paper to go in trash can (eg, Greece) but how does poop get on walls?

  5. PspspspspspsKitty*

    LW 2 – This site has great advice for resume building and interviewing. I also suggest staying until you find a new job. The interview question I worried about was “Why are you interested in working here?” because I liked some of my coworkers and I lived near family. I DIDN’T want to move. So I reframed it as looking for more opportunities, I have great skills that I love to use…ect.

    I left a toxic company who did similar things. Don’t believe them. They won’t promote you. If they do, they will find some other stupid way to punish you. You deserve a healthier job.

    1. Blue*

      OP should leave without notice when they get a new job. Not like they’re going to leave on good terms with a company that vindictive anyway. Unfortunate it probably won’t have as much of an impact now that they’ve been pushed to entry-level work, but still.

    2. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      Agreed. I always find it fascinating that these companies that treat their employees like crud throw such a fit when an employee advocates for themselves or gives them in return the treatment that they have received from the company.

      Expect to be treated with the same amount of loyalty that you show the most junior member of the staff.

    3. Brett*

      Yeah, original “guy [who] quit with no notice” knew what was up about this company’s loyalty to its employees. I bet this is the same type of company who fires people who put in 2 week notice.

      1. PT*

        That’s probably what happened, though. He gave his two weeks’ notice, they fired him, and then spread a false rumor that he quit with no notice.

  6. Teekanne aus Schokolade*

    #5, Alison’s advice to just assume time will always be doubled or tripled in waiting for a response was right in my case. You mention circumstances being time sensitive but from the outside we never have all the information affecting internal goings-on, hang-ups, negotiations, etc. Even when a hiring manager says, “This is absolutely urgent, I will have that spot filled by Friday”, that is almost NEVER the case. Also, her advice about interviewing and not setting your hopes on anything if you can reasonably help it is golden and got me through 18 months of job hunting without too many breakdowns. Sounds like its been long enough to send a pleasant follow-up letter expressing your continued interest. Best of luck!

  7. I'd Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

    No. 4 – I know people who have left before their tuition reimbursment period was up. As long as they offered sufficient notice and worked out cheerfully, it didn’t seem to be an issue. Also, in both cases, they were able to negociate a new job offer with a bonus to help cover the loss (although this may vary by industry).

    1. Salt & Vinegar Chips*

      My sister was able to do this, but be aware that the company you are leaving expect payment when you leave. When My sister left my parents got a loan for her to pay back, the company gave her 60 days to pay them back.

    2. katertot*

      Same- I left a job with (much smaller) tuition reimbursement and I would’ve been a month away from being all-clear on not having to pay back tuition reimbrusement and I was TERRIFIED they were going to chase me down and ask for it back- but they didn’t- and they assured me when I left that they wouldn’t. It was such a relief!

    3. Rhoda Morgenstern*

      I left a job when I finished a class the day before my last day so it seemed pretty obvious that I’d have to pay back the tuition reimbursement. Then I had my exit interview. When I explained how my boss had been treating me, at the end the HR rep was crying (in empathy with me) and she volunteered that I wouldn’t need to pay back the tuition.

    4. No Tribble At All*

      I also left a job halfway through my tuition reimbursement. I had to send them a check on my last day, and there doesn’t seem to be any hard feelings on their part. My new company didn’t offer me a bonus to compensate (I did ask) but it was worth it for the new job.

    5. Drago Cucina*

      Yes, not uncommon. A former co-worker just got a new job and he will have to pay back the grant for the degree he’ll receive in May. He’ll have to pay it all back since it’s federal money. Fortunately the new job pays so much better it won’t be a problem. He’s also in the same retirement system! Win-Win-Win.

      This is an enticement, not indentured servitude. Don’t feel guilty. In some fields it’s not unusual at all.

    6. Tara*

      My new company paid me the difference in my tuition costs, but I had to sign a contract saying if I left before 1 year I owed them all, 2 years 50% and 3 years 25%. I regret not just negotiating for a higher starting salary and paying the tuition costs myself though. Would definitely recommend thoroughly considering the pros and cons of just eating the cost yourself and having greater negotiating power in salary, compared to having the negotiate salary raises internally because you took a knock to have those costs covered.

      1. La Triviata*

        My current employer used to offer tuition assistance (I don’t remember the details – it was some years ago). We had two people take advantage of it – one completed an MBA and, as far as I know, did pay back their tuition. The other started a Ph.D. program, dropped it part way through, quit their job (they’d expected a promotion that didn’t come through) and, as far as I know, never repaid the tuition. That program is no longer offered.

    7. Diahann Carroll*

      Also, in both cases, they were able to negociate a new job offer with a bonus to help cover the loss

      This is what I’m hoping I can swing when I leave my current company. My program is finished in June, so I’ll begin job searching then (I’ll also have acquired more company stock by then in our stock option plan). The tuition agreement I signed said I had to stay at least a year after completing my program, but hopefully, it won’t take that long for me to find something else.

  8. Susan*

    #1 I would be embarrassed and furious at being falsely accused of messing up the toilet. I think that Alison’s response is great, but I wonder if it would be better to put it into a short, factual, pleasant email, not requiring a response, but just to set the record straight. The reason I suggest this is that I would be worried about the manager doubling down and being aggressive in their reaction when LW #1 revisits the conversation. Maybe I’m being over cautious, but I used to have a manager who would put her hand up towards my face (like, talk to the hand) and say “I don’t want to hear this!” if I tried to explain or revisit something.

    1. cncx*

      I had someone try to set me up for bathroom issues (in writing), and for that alone i would want an email somewhere setting the record straight, even if i had had the talk with my manager or HR.

      It was fifteen ish years ago, it was someone who wanted my job, it’s fine now but at the time it was horrible, of all the things to do to someone…

      1. Letter One Writer*

        Thanks for this. I’m concerned about her getting annoyed that I am bringing it up again, but then again, there’s no way to know how she’ll respond unless I try. And she can still be upset after a follow-up email.

  9. Mid*

    I’m working on asking my job for tuition assistance/reimbursement. It’s good to know that 2 years and half repayment are standard terms. Does anyone know if there are standard clauses for exceptions to repayment? Like, if I had to leave the job due to medical issues or family issues, is it still standard to need to repay tuition? Is it more common to have to pay a lump sum or installments?

    1. MK*

      I don’t think there is any kind of standard, it’s a matter of company policy and maybe individual negotiation. I assume what Alison meant is that 2 years and half repayment is a reasonable and common arrangement, but don’t take it for granted.

    2. Bagpuss*

      I don’t know if there is a ‘normal’. However, on the basis that the rationale for paying for it is that it’s an investment in you which will ultimately benefit the employer, I would not expect there to be an exemption if you left for medical reasons (although the employer might chose to exercise their discretion not to request repayment) .

      I am in the UK and have seen agreements where you don’t repay if you are made redundant (laid off) but would in other situations.

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        Yeah, every company I’ve worked for here in the US that offered tuition assistance (including my current employer) has said the only way you wouldn’t have to repay what they covered is if you’re involuntarily separated from the company (so, basically, a lay-off). If you voluntarily leave for any reason, you’re on the hook (though I’m sure these places would exercise discretion depending on the reason for someone voluntarily leaving before demanding repayment).

    3. Lady Meyneth*

      A former company paid for my MBA. The terms were standard for my area but pretty different from LW##4, so this is probably heavily regional. Make sure to research around you before signing anything!

      For me, if I left them before the certification was done, I had to pay back 100%. After completing it, I would stay with them the same time the courses lasted (1.5 year for me), or pay the equivalent for half the remaining months’ tuition (so if I left after a year, as I did, I had to pay 50% of 5 months tuition). If I were to be fired or laid off, I didn’t have to pay anything (which is standard), and the company would pay my classes through to the end (which I negotiated). Whatever payment was necessary came straight from my severance pay.

    4. Cat Tree*

      In my industry, there is typically a clause that if they end the employment you don’t have to repay. I hope that’s standard everywhere, but I can’t say for sure.

      If you had to leave for life reasons, that really depends on the company. Even if it’s not spelled out in the agreement, some companies would waive the repayment if you asked them to based on a good faith reason for leaving. But then, some companies wouldn’t.

    5. Grits McGee*

      My federal agency has a staggered claw back period based on the amount of money spent on tuition, with 5 years being the maximum. You also have to pay back the full amount if you leave the agency before the claw back period ends. I agree with the other comments that there aren’t really standard terms for tuition reimbursement- it’s really up to the company and the employees to decide what’s “reasonable”.

    6. Juniantara*

      This is really, really dependent on your specific company. If it’s a large company or has done this before, they probably have a policy in place, but it’s entirely possible they have nothing organized or don’t offer reimbursement.

    7. Antilles*

      It really depends on the job and there’s no real standard as far as I know. In my experience in my industry (engineering), these are the common things I’ve seen:
      1.) The expected length of time you owe the company is proportional to the cost of the degree. It seems like a fairly common standard is that the length of time you owe is roughly equivalent to the time you spent on the degree – e.g., a two year MBA class means two years with the company afterwards.
      2.) The amount owed decreases over time. Using that same two year MBA, if you left in the first month, you’d owe basically the entire degree (since the company didn’t benefit from it) but if you left 20 months later, you’d owe less.
      3.) If you get laid off/fired from the company, you owe nothing.
      4.) There’s no written exception for medical or family issues, the letter of the contract states that the repayment applies if you choose to leave for any reason. Practically speaking, companies will often waive the costs for morale/ethical reasons if you have a reasonable medical/family excuse, but that’s their choice.
      5.) Repayment terms are all over the map. Some companies expect a lump sum payment, others are more reasonable about installment payments, and some just have a vague “to be decided upon the company’s discretion”.

      1. twocents*

        I checked my company’s terms and this matches up, with the exception that #3 only applies if you’re displaced. If you’re fired, you owe the money back.

    8. CCSF*

      What others have said — there isn’t a standard, but two years is reasonable. My org’s “commitment period” is 12 months from the last payment date, but the repayment is the full amount, nothing is prorated.

    9. The Other Dawn*

      It varies a lot from company to company and industry to industry, in my experience. At my company, the policy says tuition assistance has to be paid back in full if the employee leaves within one year of receiving that assistance.

    10. PersephoneUnderground*

      I’d raise these questions with your job before signing anything- another comment covered the bases of “usual” pretty well, but it’s also perfectly normal to negotiate and make sure this sort of question is covered in any repayment agreement before you go forward. If you generally have a good relationship with your bosses, they’re likely to work with you on this sort of thing- your questions are perfectly reasonable ones too. For example, my employer usually planned to have us pay and be reimbursed, but since I was taking classes that directly benefited my daily work and didn’t make much they paid up front in my case instead (in that situation they proactively offered to do that when we talked about it).

    11. Me*

      As everyone else’s said there is no standard; it depends on your company. My company if you leave you must pay back ALL of it.
      Additionally there are different levels of reimbursement depending on whether you are pursing career related course work or not. You are also reimbursed at a certain level depending on your grades and the reimbursment is not 100%.
      None of that is standard but also none of that is unusual.

    12. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Ours used to be that you had to pay back a prorated amount of tuition for the entire degree if you left within 2 years of completion, but right now it’s that you have to pay back whatever tuition reimbursement you’ve received within the last 12 months before your last day, regardless of any other details. It has to be paid back in a lump sum within 30 days of your final day.

    13. Cascadia*

      I haven’t done it myself, but a friend of mine got his 2 year masters degree with tuition reimbursement through his company. Since payment was done every semester, he would have to pay back his tuition if he left within 2 years of that semester’s payment. So, if he left 1 year after finishing the degree, he would have to pay back half, since it had been 2 years since his 1st and 2nd semesters, but not 2 years since his 3rd and 4th semesters. I don’t know what the payback terms were in terms of one lump sum or over time, but I imagine many companies would want it in one lump sum because you’re leaving them and they’d like to wrap up the books on you, so to speak. I highly doubt they’ll want an ongoing relationship where you have to send them a check every month as per student loans or the like.

    14. Sled Dog Mama*

      I’ve seen two different policies across 4 employers regarding tuition (3 employers with 1 policy and 1 with a different policy).
      My current employer and 2 previous employers have had a set dollar amount of “education reimbursement” each year which can be used for tuition, conferences fees, travel to conferences, textbooks, etc. These positions have not required pay back any of the amount based on when I leave and have very little restrictions on how the money can be used. (I’m not going to get away with a conference in Cancun in January unless there’s something really unique there that I can’t get anywhere else. But I’m also not required to take a course that gives a grade, and make a certain grade before getting the tuition reimbursed). One of the companies would even pay tuition for certain commonly taken courses directly to the provider. These employers treated this essentially as a business expense which allowed us to be a bit more flexible in how we maintained certificates and got training on new developments.
      The other company would reimburse up to the (US) IRS limit for not paying taxes and had a 100% repayment if you left within 12 months and 50% within 24 months clause. Because of the tax implications it was much more restricted how you could spend this money (tuition and books only), the employer also required that we take courses for a letter grade and make a certain grade to receive reimbursement (and you had to show proof of the grade before getting reimbursed). This company did not any provision for using the benefit for continuing ed credits, it was really only intended for someone to get a degree and was also restricted as to what you could study, for example my area was not deemed to be of high enough need so while I could take a college class in order maintain my certification and my certifying board would accept that as continuing ed, the company would not reimburse the tuition because it wasn’t in a area they had a business need for and it wasn’t toward getting a degree. The only upside I could finds to this policy was that repayment was calculated from the date of reimbursement so if it took you 3 years to get a get a degree and you got reimbursed at the end of each semester if you left a year after completion you wouldn’t have to repay the 1st or 2nd year at all.

      1. Sled dog mama*

        Meant to also say that I bet it can easily be guessed which companies payed better, had generally better benefits and did employee appreciation that actually made us feel appreciated.

  10. John Smith*

    #LW1. I think I would be starting a job hunt. Aside from the fact your colleagues seem to be fresh out of nursery or the zoo, your manager sucks. Why would they simply take the word of one other person and give you a dressing down based on that person’s word? I’ve been blamed before for other peoples’ actions (and in my case, the entire office was informed that I was at fault by my manager who was the actual culprit ). If your manager doesn’t come back with an apology (and I’d want the complaining person to be CC’d into said apology to put them straight) I’d wonder whether that person deserves my labour. Would it be out of order to put “potty trained” as a skill on a resume? (I’m joking…I think).

    1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      I had a boss who once said to me, (about something else, not bathroom-related – it was a new coworker’s history of conflict and leaving on bad terms at an old job a few years before – the boss’s brother happened to have worked there when it all happened) “This is hearsay, so, though I’ll be keeping an eye on (new coworker), I cannot act on it.” Shouldn’t this have happened here too?

  11. Speaks to Dragonflies*

    Op 2- Run fast, run hard, run like unripe apples through sensitive tummies…But GET OUT! Your employer is treating you like a goofy teenager and gaslighting ( I think that’s the correct term) you and it’s doubtful you will ever advance there. AAM has a tremendous amount of job hunting advice. Please, take it to heart. Dont be like me and stay somewhere that treats you like used food. It does warp the sensibilities so so much. Good luck and best wishes in your job hunt. Please update if you can,hopefully with good news!

  12. JM in England*

    RE #1
    It may sound extreme, but perhaps DNA testing can be done on the offending poop and the culprit traced that way. Either that or install cameras in the bathroom….

    1. Beth Jacobs*

      No it can’t. No employer has a database of reference samples to match against. People who watch too much TV think you can just pop biomaterial in a machine and it tells you the name, but it doesn’t work that way.

      And before you suggest the employer should first collect saliva samples to create a database of genetic profiles for each of their employees… just no. The privacy risks associated with that far outweigh a clean bathroom.

      1. Sunny*

        I suspect it would be cheaper to hire a cleaner to come through twice a day (during lunch and after the end of work, say) than to actually pay for DNA testing and comparison for that many employees. And cameras in the bathrooms aren’t expensive in themselves, but the lawsuit or loss of employees because you’re filming people in the bathroom would make up for it.

    2. Chilipepper*

      It seems unlikely that DNA samples could be taken of all employees so that poop samples could be typed and the cuplrit found. But it would be oh so satisfying.

      There are communitites that require every dog be licensed and a DNA sample taken. Then if they find poop that was not picked up, they can identify and fine the offender.

      1. Slinky*

        If an employer told me that they needed me to provide a spit swab to prove that I wasn’t the person destroying the bathroom, I think I’d quit that day. My office has no right to my DNA.

        1. Anne*

          Yes, this is totally weird. Even if there is a crime and the police are involved this is ripe with personal violations.

    3. Ana Gram*

      Installing cameras in bathrooms is incredibly illegal everywhere that I’m aware of. It’s also invasive and very weird.

      1. Cat Tree*

        Yeah, cameras affect everyone, not just the people who leave it a mess. Having a camera inside the bathroom is actually worse than someone leaving it a mess. It’s like burning down your house to get rid of a spider.

      1. JM in England*

        It is.

        I was brainstorming and typing at the same time…..not a good combo!

        However, you sometimes do go through the extreme solutions on the way to arriving at a more practical one….

    4. Observer*

      I hope you just forgot the /sarc tag.

      Because if these are serious suggestions, they are HORRIBLE.

      DNA testing is wildly invasive, extremely expensive in best case, and is unlikely to work. And even in the unlikely case you get a match, you will still wind up in court – and may very well lose.

      As for cameras IN the bathrooms?! Seriously?! I can’t believe that anyone needs to tell a functioning adult what’s wrong with that. I’ll point out that even the Soviets nor Mao pulled that kind of thing.

        1. Artemesia*

          LOL. And a warehouse is of course a place where cameras would be acceptable but they went for the DNA.

    5. Beany*

      DNA testing? Nope.

      Cameras *in* the bathroom? Nope (as noted below).

      Cameras just *outside* the bathroom, though? Which doesn’t prove anything by itself, but accompanied by timestamped spot-checks of the room interior itself throughout the day could help narrow the suspects.

    6. EvilQueenRegina*

      When I was in high school someone did once suggest cameras as a solution after it was brought up about either a mess in the bathroom or graffiti (can’t remember which – this was somewhere around 1994) – this was very quickly shouted down by the rest of the class and never happened.

  13. Snowy Dark Winter Night*

    I’m sure you mean cameras only watching the sink or the door, not the toilets and no peeing/pooping people.

    The toilet cabins often don’t have their own sink for washing your hands, so I will definitely wash my bloody fingers at the sink in the bathroom outside of the toilet cabins and definitely don’t want to have that recorded (I’m very careful to not leave bloody fingerprints anywhere while doing this).

    (I love toilet cabins that actually have their own small sink – so useful when wearing menstruation cups or menstruating in general.)

    Outside of the bathroom cameras watching the door are still somewhat creepy since they wouldn’t actually help LW1 proof anything and still keep track of non-of-your-business-info like how often someone uses the bathroom. That can be often when a body has a bad day.

    1. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Cabins. What a civilized concept –I’ve never liked American public toilet “stalls” even though I’m US born & raised.
      Blame eyeballs at gaps & unfilled bolt-holes in elementary school, and one too many latch that doesn’t hold.

      1. Lacey*

        Ugh, yes, stalls are the worst. A previous employer just had 6 complete single occupancy restrooms and it was glorious.

      2. Liz*

        GAPS???? Why are there GAPS in the cubicles?? Who designed the cubicle, a Peeping Tom??? Public toilets can be icky for all sorts of reasons, but who fits a cubicle and leaves a gap big enough to see through and figures “meh, close enough, privacy is overrated!” and knocks off for lunch?

        1. Carlie*

          They all do – I have always wondered if it was either to allow for some “give” in the spacing if they weren’t put in quite properly, or for safety if someone collapses in one so someone will notice. More likely, it is to try and prevent people from doing things like shooting up drugs, having intimate relations with others, or simply staying in there for awhile.

          1. Liz*

            Ewwwww that’s awful! The way to stop it from sticking is to inset the door behind the front panels so when it closes there is overlap, so either someone has done a bodge job, or, as you say, they did it on purpose. Either way, ick!

        2. SD*

          Whoever designed the girls’ bathroom at my Catholic grade school. The girl who made my life a misery there announced the news that I got my period to the whole class one afternoon in 6th grade. It was my first and I was humiliated and confused. TG my parents finally relented and let me go to public school for 7th grade.

        3. pretzelgirl*

          There are also stalls that are very short and you can usually see over them when you stand up. I hate these. My schools had them growing up. Yes, even in middle and high school when you are tall enough to potentially see over them.

          1. Muze*

            Oh, is that why the US makes laws about what bathrooms trans folk can use? I never really got the ‘to protect everyone’s privacy’ explanation for that.
            (Can you claim you are acting within that law if the only way the bathroom is gendered is by those symbols? “I’m wearing a dress, so I can use the room with the symbol with the dress!”)

            In my opinion, we should get an unisex urinal room and an unisex stall room (in places where single-occupancy isn’t feasible). The urinal room will have urinals, and the stall room will have floor-to-ceiling stall walls and doors, and those who like to do their thing standing up* with limited privacy can have the urinal room, and those who like to do their thing sitting down with privacy can have the stall room, and gender-related bathroom shortages will come to an end!

            It’s so strange when men’s bathrooms have more elimination stations (urinals+stalls) than women’s, given that women use the bathroom more frequently and take longer to do their business.

            *Peeing standing up aerosolizes pee, and it sprays everywhere, and sticks everywhere. Unless it’s your job (chore, in shared households) to clean the bathroom, pee sitting down.

            1. Lacey*

              We haven’t historically had any laws about it, it was just a shared cultural assumption that you’ll go in the one marked with your gender.

              But yeah, that’s a big part of why many people are really uncomfortable with it.

      3. kittymommy*

        I think I’m the only one who appreciates the gaps. The number of people I have walked in on because they can’t figure out how to lock a door is ridiculous.

        1. Mr. Shark*

          The simple solution that you see in many restrooms or porta potties, and even airplane restrooms, is that when the person locks the door, it has an indicator on the outside of the stall that moves from green to red. You have that indicator, and you don’t need the gaps (or at least, significantly decrease gap size so there’s no real visibility).

  14. Brooklyn*

    “My boss says that this company will have amazing opportunities if I stick with it and has been incredibly good to him.”

    I think the company is showing you clear as day what their values are. Your manager, who is petty, vindictive, and unprofessional, thinks they’re getting amazing opportunities. That’s the kind of person you’re going to find all the way up.

    1. irene adler*

      To LW #2: 30 years ago, my boss told me something similar (You’ll be making lots of money if you stick around!”).
      So I stayed. Through thick and thin.
      Yeah, HE got lots of money. Me? Not so much. I’m the lowest paid member of management. It’s always been that way too. I am well behind (both salary-wise and title-wise) those who left this company long ago.

      When an opportunity opened up to move up, did I get it? Nope. They gave it to someone else (they laughed at me when I suggested I was qualified).
      Yeah, I’m looking for a new job. But, no one wants someone who’s been at the same company for 30 years.

      Get out now! There is nothing for you “behind door number 3”, so to speak.

  15. Wakeen Teapots, LTD*


    You’re looking at this the wrong way around, OP :)

    I’m a senior manager and anything that is accomplished by my team, any member of my team, or by another team at either my direction OR the direction of any member of my team is my accomplishment! Conversely, any failures of those folks are also mine to own and see rectified. This is literally what management is.

    Always credit out the members who also own accomplishments and be circumspect about “crediting out” failures and you’ll do well.

    1. CCSF*

      Yep. If the result was achieved by your team asking for/directing to whatever it was, it is claim-able as your success. After all, it wouldn’t have happened without the initial request.

  16. Antilles*

    #2: The number they came up with was a 7% raise, but the job was easily 50% more work
    This isn’t how promotions should work in a functional company. 40 hours per week is 40 hours per week is 40 hours per week – Moving up a level should mean you have *different* duties, not that your 40 hours suddenly becomes 60.
    Maybe in the temporary short term, you might need a little extra time while you’re getting in the swing or finding/training people to do your previous job or whatever, but not “50% more work” as a matter of course. That’s a red flag all on its’ own, right then and there.

    1. Cat Tree*

      Yeah, this is the reason I’m hesitant to move into management. I’ve had plenty of promotions over the years, and although there was probably a slight increase in overall hours (such as an hour here and there logging on at home to check on something), overall it hasn’t been a huge increase and is more about having different responsibilities. But even the lowest level managers at my company seem to be online all the time. I don’t mind occasional long weeks for specific projects, but that’s not sustainable every week.

    2. Salty with good reason*

      Oof. I had nearly this exact experience, except perhaps worse if that’s even possible. My manager and assistant manager both quit within weeks of each other last spring. I stepped in to cover both roles (and still some of my own); the workload was insane and I was working 50-60 hour weeks trying to keep up. Our industry also seriously surged after Covid so the workload for my whole team increased and we had trouble filling vacancies due to a very competitive job market in our area. As the temp manager I made $1.50/hour more, which was paltry compensation for the volume and crappiness of work (we got a lot of complaints and legal issues that I had to deal with, plus I inherited direct reports with serious issues and performance improvement plans). I applied for and was offered the permanent manager position, but at a roughly $10k pay cut because my experience just didn’t work in the company’s professional growth program so they could in no way offer me more money because that wouldn’t be “fair.” Needless to say I left. I am now in a similar role with more growth opportunities with at a different company and my old employer still hasn’t been able to fill the manager position… I also hear from my old team regularly and “s$@t storm” and “sinking ship” are frequently used terms since there is an absolute leadership vacuum. I know at least two of them are looking for other employment and I wouldn’t be surprised if others were as well. This kind of behavior is a great way to drive employees away if that’s what you’re trying to do!

  17. NotQuiteAnonForThis*

    I’m astounded (but not surprised?) that there is more than one company out there that has the sheer audacity to pull this kind of stunt, LW#2.

    I turned down a promotion before we even got to discussion of pay or relocation, simply because relocation to a major city 5 hours away from where we currently exist just doesn’t work. At all. Terms of the promotion meant I had to be in major city office, so it wasn’t even worth the time to discuss. Well, suddenly, I have a new boss, I’m traveling a lot more and I’m needed at the office in major city office with significant more frequency (I was needed there twice in the first 18 months I worked there…and suddenly its every 2nd or 3rd week?). No adjustment in pay, my workload was higher, and when I managed to get out into a new position with a new local company, they were simply shocked that I’d want to leave such a great company. ::eyeroll::

  18. Lusara*

    #5. It’s fine to email the hiring manager about it. I once found out I didn’t get an internal position by being introduced to the person they hired, and it really sucks to find out that way.

  19. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

    Do we have a betting pool yet on whether the coworker who “entered the bathroom after LW1 and found the mess”, who then reported it to the manager, is the real poop bandit? I mean, this person entered the bathroom immediately after LW1. After that person left, the bathroom was a mess. If this person does this often, they knew they needed to throw the management off their poopy track. I bet they saw LW1 exiting the otherwise empty bathroom and thought “Jackpot!”

    Either way, this is not normal – the hunt for the poop bandit, the poop bandit themselves, the accusation, most importantly, the fact that LW is not allowed to defend themselves from it… this is a toxic workplace.

    PS. yes I know what my username is. It’s an old quote of sentimental value :)

    1. Threeve*

      There’s also the possibility that the boundary-challenged office manager is playing cop; having this conversation with multiple people to see who sweats.

      1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        Oooh that’d be even more interesting! Pull them each into 1:1 and tell them they’d been seen leaving a mess in the bathroom. That’ll keep everyone on their toes!

    2. JM in England*

      You would think, based on the justice system of the US, UK and other major Western countries, that the burden of proof is on the accuser and not the accused?

      1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        It’s still the Wild West in the corporate world… there is no justice.

      2. Jennifer Thneed*

        You’re comparing legal systems to management practices. It’s beyond apples and oranges.

    3. meyer lemon*

      I would be so angry if I was this letter writer! Nothing puts me in a helpless rage so much as being baselessly accused of something and not being allowed to defend myself. I would hold a grudge against the manager for this, and also secretly suspect the manager was the culprit.

  20. LQ*

    #3 others have pointed out the managerial part of this. But I want to also say that you are doing your team a serious disservice if you are not highlighting their accomplishments. Part of your job is talking about what your team does. You have a responsibility to highlight that Sally completed training of the new hires and the feedback was really positive. This is even more true if your team isn’t speaking for themselves in this meeting and you as the manager are the only one speaking up. If that’s the case and you aren’t touting the work then you need to stop and re-evaluate what it means to be a manager vs an individual contributor.

    I suspect you’re being to literal, and never, ever just say “I was in meetings all day” even if that’s what it feels like. Talk about what the purpose and outcome was of those meetings. (I work with a director who only ever says “I met with my team and they are doing great.” No one believes her, she’s a poor manager. You need to talk about the actual things that you(and your team)’ve accomplished.)

    1. Neverclever*

      To be clear I am not a manager, this would be the work of others in different departments (or vendors) that I am partnering with for various projects. And while I do present these on a large scale (project x with y and z from marketing is complete, or hit milestones and give them praise) this is about individual tasks I did not execute. I feel like I am padding a list with this request.

      1. LQ*

        Sorry about the assumption! I don’t think that it changes my thoughts that much, it sounds like you’re reporting on tasks from others who aren’t at the meeting but those tasks impact your work or were tasks that you were asked to assign out to them. You definitely still want to say these are done.

        I think that maybe the assumption from your manager is that this is about what work got done, coordination, checking to see that items were completed, etc. And you’re thinking it’s about what you did personally like a performance thing? At a meeting like this I would absolutely expect that Sally got the training done to be on your list of stuff if I asked you to get the training done and that meant that you went to Sally’s team and asked if they could complete the training and it’s kicking off now or completed now I’d want to know and you’d be the one to represent that information back to the group. You can name who did it, but you are definitely not padding the list. Especially if your boss is telling you they want to know about these things.

  21. Carlie*

    Could anyone explain why the advice to #2 isn’t also to go to HR or their supervisor’s boss? It seems like a case of petty retaliation by the supervisor for trying to leave to another position in the first place. I know that isn’t a category of actual discrimination/harassment, but it sounds to me like a crappy manager who is targeting one employee, and if LW is that good then the company should want to at the least move them to somewhere else where the supervisor isn’t in authority over them any more. I’m not in traditional business so I’m sure there’s some nuance I’m completely missing, though.

    For #1 (why wasn’t that #2? ;) ) , if it’s that bad then the boss should put a lock on the bathroom, keep the key on a huge block of wood keychain, and hand it over to employees on an as-needed basis and check after each one. The problem will either show itself quickly or go away just as fast.

    1. Observer*

      #2 – Because HR and the boss’s superiors are clearly enabling this behavior. They know what’s going on and have no intention of changing it.

    2. Sylvan*

      What’s happening to that letter writer sounds like the work of more than just one bad manager. There might be someone in management or HR who isn’t on board with it, but I’m not sure how I’d find that person if I were the LW. Or if they’d be able to help the LW.

    3. Liz T*

      “I know that isn’t a category of actual discrimination/harassment”

      Which is what makes it a management issue, not an HR issue. This is about the company’s decisions, not its policies.

  22. Grim*

    #2: When employers treat their employees shitty, the employees often treat their employer’s restrooms shitty.

    Just saying…

    1. Observer*

      I dis agree. Adults don’t respond this way to bad employers. Even an employee who feels like thy can’t leave generally has plenty of other ways to be a lousy employee.

    2. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      “I filled out the exit interview form you sent me, and left it in the bathroom stall. It’s all over the seat. I got some on the floor, too. Please feel free to review.” (Don’t really do this on your last day, OP.)

  23. Bertha*

    #4, I was in a job where I received tuition reimbursement and thought I might leave during the process.. so I put it all in savings as soon as it was given to me. When I left, I can’t remember the rationale.. but they told me I did not need to repay it, even though our handbook said that I would have to (and I was fully prepared to!) . All this is to say, you definitely won’t be burning a bridge if you repay the money as agreed. I know I felt bad about it at the time, but it didn’t end up being a big deal at all.

    1. Beth Jacobs*

      Yes, the clawback clause is there to protect the company financially. It’s not punitive. It’s kinda like places where you get all of your vacation days on January 1st – if you go on a long skiing holiday in January and quit in February, you might have to pay them back, but there are no hard feelings about it.

  24. Not trying to be rude, just good at it*

    For OP #1. You can buy an old smartphone on ebay for under $20. Every time you walk into the bathroom and before you leave take a picture (yuck). You do not need to be connected to a cellular network for the phone to hook up to the internet. Now you have proof of the condition.

    If challenged again, image the face of your supervisor when you show a collection of toilet photos to prove your innocence.

    1. Metadata minion*

      If the supervisor is determined to be petty about it, this doesn’t prove anything. All it shows it that you took pictures in a clean restroom.

    2. Mstr*

      Imagine their face? It’s gonna say “this person is too weird” … presumably then they fire her for creating this project on company time? Or for showing vulgar toilet photos to management? Or for not reporting each time the bathroom was messy before she used it in a timely manner?

  25. introverted af*

    #3 – I’m not a manager, but I am an admin, and a lot of what I do is just managing internal processes for my team and our external stakeholders. So in my weekly report I might say that I “got a data set for Jane” when really what I did was confirm with Jane her needs from the data set, share that with Data Requests, and then respond to any of their follow up questions. Or I followed up on an older request that someone made, but I’ll say that I’m still working on that. I know it’s not exactly the same, but I really get what you mean that you feel like you’re not doing anything and wanted to share another side of it that might be helpful.

    1. Neverclever*

      I feel like I do a lot, my report is filled with tasks and projects and milestones I actually executed or lead on. Some are pared down to a simple statement for brevity, but these are tasks that I’d previously not include because I didn’t complete them myself. They won’t be presented either way since we limit ourselves to top achievements in meeting.

      1. introverted af*

        Ah, gotcha. My weekly report is just to my supervisor, so sometimes I have bigger projects that take up most of that, and sometimes its a slow week and I’m just reporting that I did the normal day to day parts of my job and letting my supervisor know what our team is working on.

  26. The Lone Rangers*

    #1: You might consider following up via email just so you have something in writing about this uncomfortable accusation.

  27. irene adler*

    Regarding #1: in general, what can a report do when accused of something they did not do?

    That’s happened to me. Unfortunately, I find myself unable to prove my innocence. All I can think to do to get the supervisor off my back is to apologize. But that implies I’m guilty of the infraction.

    1. WellRed*

      I think it depends on the nature of the infraction as well as what you mean by “get supervisor off my back.” There was a great letter just last week about how to deflect unfair blame without loooking like you are throwing someone under the bus.

    2. Sylvan*

      Is the thing you’ve been accused of an ongoing problem or a one-time thing? If it’s an ongoing problem, you could point to times that it’s happened when you were sick, on vacation, etc.

      1. irene adler*

        One time thing. And, I should include that this happened a long time ago.

        A co-worker was demoted in the lab. He was not happy about it. I knew he was upset. I told him I was sorry this happened.
        Boss pulls me aside later on and tells me I “better not give [name of co-worker] any grief over this demotion.” I explained that the only thing I’d said to him was that I was sorry about what happened.

        “No you didn’t!”, boss says. “I know you, Irene! You’re the type of person who gives people a bad time over things. You gave him grief over this-didn’t you? Well, you better not talk to [name of co-worker] at all about this. Stay away from [name of co-worker]!”

        So I apologized and went back to my job. There’s no arguing with someone like this. Even asking co-worker to recount the conversation we did have wouldn’t change boss’s mind.

        Much later, co-worker tells me he was bothered that I would not talk to him about what happened.

  28. Dr. Doll*

    Wow, who knew that college students are actually more respectful of bathrooms than grown adults. When we’re in-person, at least a hundred people use the 5-stall restroom on my floor every day. Only a few times in more than a decade have I ever seen a big mess and it was clearly a crisis situation – and since there are no cleaning supplies IN the bathroom, an individual can’t really do much about it. Sure, there’s usually scattered TP and paper towels; sometimes when I need a quick “did my good deed for the day” boost I will pick up some trash and then wash my hands extra carefully.

    Sorry, OP #1, that’s so unfair and your coworker is a jerk.

  29. teebro*

    Re #4: This isn’t 100% analagous, but it’s close: I am the executive director of a medium-sized arts nonprofit, and as such I take a measure of credit for everything my organization accomplishes. I give loads of credit both publicly and privately to everyone on my staff, as appropriate, recognizing their good ideas, their execution of others’ ideas, and their overall contributions to the team. But everything they do is on my watch, under my leadership (if not always my direct supervision), and when I talk about what I’ve accomplished (in my performance reviews, for example) I will say, e.g., I “presided over effective new marketing initiatives and website rebuild” even though most of the execution was done by others. I take credit for the organization’s successes, and responsibility for its less-than-successes. I agree with Alison’s advice to be very explicit about who did what, but there’s an element of credit for contributing to a team effort that should be claimed and recognized.

  30. Daisy-dog*

    #5 – Have been in your position before. With the first interview, it took about 5 weeks longer than expected before I got a rejection email. With the second one, it took about 3 months longer than expected before I got a rejection email. Then another 2 positions opened up (same as the second one) and that process looked like it would take at least 2 months. I opted to leave the company before I let that play out because I couldn’t take it anymore. However, I do still wonder if I was too impatient. These processes do take a lot of time.

  31. Deborah*

    #3 – I have connected the dots between end users and other people in IT and thereby gotten problems fixed that were outstanding for years. Your situation might be different, but I consider those as accomplishments because they wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t asked the questions. Of course, I’m talking about what I put on a review or resume more than a public team update, but this still might be what your manager is coaching you towards. Allison’s wording makes clear other people did the (lion’s share of the) work, but maintains the connection to you and/or your team which can be important!

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

    #2 I think you have run into the trap “this is our OFFER” thinking that, indeed you could turn it down. But honestly businesses may just decide that they have changed your job description and it’s not really an ask, but they think they’re being nice by giving you a salary/title bump to make up for what is essentially not optional. This is currently happening to my coworker. He was “offered” a promotion and raise when my former boss retired, but really he’s going to be doing this job whether he “accepts” the offer or not because it’s a business need; and while he’s waiting for the raise and title to be official through HR/payroll, he’s expected to do the new tasks without an increase and it won’t be retroactive either. This is why workers unionize, but also know that this is pretty common — it probably wasn’t really an ASK/OFFER.

    1. Des*

      They didn’t eliminate her position however. Also it seems like the other job requires travel, which is not typically something you “tack on” without asking the employee. In short, no, they just suck.

  33. t*

    Question for anyone here about LW2’s situation:

    What could LW2 do for references in her/his/their situation, when it seems like the abuse heaped onto LW was company-wide?

    Thank you!

  34. Des*


    “When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.”
    – Maya Angelou

  35. Tilly*

    Literally only time I’ve ever questioned AAM –
    Why is #1 not #2??!??!

    Missed opportunity. Very disappointing.

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