new employee has gone AWOL, asking someone to mentor me, and more

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

1. New employee is AWOL

I’m writing this question on behalf of my husband, Wakeen, who is a managing attorney at a small firm that is entirely remote, with lawyers spread out across the region. He recently hired a mid-level attorney, Fergus, who is based in a different city and who reports directly to Wakeen.

Fergus started 10 days ago and to date appears to have done no work. Beginning on day one, he began telling Wakeen and other senior attorneys that he was having a “temporary personal crisis” and needed more time to finish the assignments he was given. He didn’t specify the nature of this crisis, and no one has felt comfortable probing. Given all that’s happening with Covid, they have tried to be accomodating. But now deadlines are approaching and they have no sense of when or if Fergus will be able to turn around his assignments. He appears to have billed zero hours using the firm’s time-keeping system, but everytime they have checked in with him, he emphasizes that the crisis is temporary, will be resolved soon, and says he can turn some things in the following day — implying that he’s been working on these matters. But he never turns in anything.

What do you advise they do at this point? It’s a small firm with no real HR and none of the managers have ever dealt with a situation like this before. FWIW, there was one potential red flag during the interview process: Fergus had quit his last job of five years with no other job lined up. He said he quit because he couldn’t stand working there anymore. Wakeen decided to overlook this because he comes from a similar Big Law environment as Fergus, and he thought Fergus was a good fit for the firm’s needs.

Fergus has done no work in the 10 days he’s been employed there and isn’t communicating about what’s going on. I’m all for accommodating people when you can and understanding that life sometimes interferes with things in a big way, but this isn’t reasonable. The part that concerns me most is that he’s repeatedly breaking promises about delivering work (and he doesn’t address that when it happens, it sounds like?). That takes it beyond the realm of “maybe he had some really bad luck,” which you would want to accommodate if you could, and makes it seem more likely that he’s abusing your good faith.

If I were your husband, I’d call Fergus and say, “We want to be accommodating, but without a better understanding of what’s going on, we’re at the limits of what we can do. If there’s anything you want to share about what’s going on, maybe we can help, but otherwise we’re at the point where we need to hire someone else for the role.” Another option would be to tell him he needs to begin work by X date or they’ll assume he has abandoned the job — but with the way he’s navigated this so far, I’d recommend just cutting things off now unless he shares something that changes how this looks.

2. How can I signal that I’m not the bottleneck?

In my work, I work on things that pass through many hands and each person’s involvement is needed at those times. In most cases, those doing the work are a level above me and I am mostly coordinating the project/work. For example, I am working on securing a contract with an external consultant but it needs to pass through review by our attorney (who is not an employee). The external consultant is pushing for it to move faster and is setting up other things that are dependent on this contract being signed now. Yet the attorney is moving at a slower pace. I am being pressured by the external consultant for them to be able to sign the document. Another example, my supervisor habitually does things four to five days late.

I don’t want people to think that I am the bottleneck and I also don’t want to seem unresponsive, so I feel like I should respond in some way. For the most part, I don’t want their slower pace or missing deadlines to reflect on my reputation. Can you help me with a few ideas of how (or even should) I let others know that I am not the bottleneck? How can I phrase it so that, for example, the attorney knows and sees that the other party is starting to get impatient?

For the consultant, it’ll help to manage expectations from the start: “The attorney will need about a week to review this. I’m hopeful I’ll have it ready for you by Monday, but it’ll depend on how quickly she’s able to complete it.” And then if the consultant pushes after that: “I will check in with the attorney, but typically the process takes about a week.” Or “I’ll see if she has an updated ETA, but I know she’s fitting it in around other work.” You should also check with the attorney when the work first goes to her to see if she can give you an ETA you can share … but don’t bug her just because the consultant is antsy, unless the attorney truly is outside the timeline you would expect.

When people are waiting on something from your boss: “It’s with Jane but I know she’s swamped. I’ll see if I can nudge her / see if I can get an updated ETA.”

Sometimes, too, it will make sense to proactively circle back to people who you know are waiting on something you have no control over and say — even before they’ve followed up with you — “I know you’re waiting on X from Jane and hoped to have it by now. She hasn’t sent it back yet, but I’ll make sure it stays on her radar.” That can help signal that even if other people are holding things up, you are on top of things and responsive.

3. Letting a new manager know I cover my hair

I recently took a new job, and although it’s mostly remote for the time being, I will be going into the office once every week or so. My first visit to the office will probably be next week. My issue is that in the dress code it states that we’re not allowed to wear hats, and I cover my hair in public for personal religious reasons (I’m Jewish). I’m aware that religious discrimination is illegal, and as far as I know there shouldn’t be any barriers in accommodating me. However, I’m uncertain about how or if I should bring it up. I usually wear a plain-colored bandana coordinated with my outfit, so it’s not as immediately obvious/well-known as other styles of religious head coverings. Should I tell my manager beforehand? Simply come in wearing it and explain if anyone asks? Wear a kippah instead the first couple times and then switch back to my bandanas?

“No hats” probably doesn’t mean “no bandanas or scarves” so there’s a pretty good chance that you could just wear the bandana without having to explain it. But if you want the peace of mind of not having to wonder, you could mention it to your manager ahead of time — “by the way, I cover my hair for religious reasons, and I wanted to give you a heads-up in case it would normally violate the ’no hats’ policy.” That’s it! You could also go the kippah route at first, which would likely get the point across without having to explicitly address it, but I’m a fan of just spelling it out up-front (especially since then you can just stick with bandanas from the get-go, which it sounds like you’d prefer).

Read an update to this letter here

4. How do I ask someone to mentor me?

I am at a transitional point in my career, and I have a former board member who has tremendous skills in an area I want to develop. I would like to ask them to mentor me. We had a good rapport when they were on the board, but haven’t spoken since they termed off.

I don’t know how to write this email. It feels like asking someone out on a date! What if they don’t like me? What if I’m not clear in my ask? How do I do this?

In my mind I know what I want to learn from them, an idea of frequency for meetings, and I will understand if they decline (they’re busy and might want space from my employer). But how do I start this email?

I’ve always found the best mentorships are the ones that spring up naturally, as opposed to a formal arrangement from the start. It’s also a pretty big request if the relationship hasn’t already been moving in that direction on its own (or if the person hasn’t already indicated their willingness to make that time investment, such as by signing up for a formal mentoring program, etc.).

So I think you’d be better off just asking for a single meeting first and seeing how that goes. You could frame it as, “I really respect what you’ve achieved in A and B, and you’ve been a model for me as I work to develop skills like C and D. I would love to run some questions by you that I’m grappling with about my career.” If that goes well, you can continue to build the relationship from there — but I think it’s a lot to jump straight to requesting formal, ongoing mentorship right off the bat.

5. Posting on LinkedIn when you’ve been laid off

I was just laid off from a startup today. It’s been the second time I’ve been laid off from a startup in 2.5 years. Both times I had gotten rave performance reviews, but was still laid off with a group of others due to budget issues. I know it’s part of the culture and not due to my performance, but it still stings a bit.

I was kind of embarrassed the first time it happened and didn’t ask for help on LinkedIn. However, a few months back my company laid off a bunch of people. They were very honest and asked for help on LinkedIn posts and I saw a lot of support and offers for interviews.

As a general rule, is it a good idea to post to LinkedIn when laid off to let your network know you’re in the market for a new job?

Yeah, this is a thing people do, and it can generate job leads! Don’t let it take the place of reaching out individually to your network, but it’s a useful thing to add to whatever else you’re doing.

And don’t be embarrassed — people get laid off all the time, and even more so this past year. It might help to remember that by letting people know you’re looking for work, you could be helping them, if they’re searching for someone who does exactly what you do or if it lets them make a really good referral to someone they know or so forth.

{ 253 comments… read them below }

  1. Lizzo*

    LW5: I’ve seen many people in my extended network state publicly that they were laid off and looking for work doing X, Y and/or Z. The response to those posts has been overwhelmingly positive. Plus, if you’re clear about what you need, it will be easier for someone to think of you when they hear of an opening related to X, Y and/or Z.

    Layoffs are nothing to be ashamed about! There are also a lot of great comments on a recent post about being fired that will put things in perspective for you.

    Best of luck!

    1. Marion Ravenwood*

      Seconding this. I don’t know if it’s because Covid has made redundancies much more commonplace in the last year, but I’m definitely seeing a lot more friends and acquaintances posting to their social networks that they’re looking for new jobs (including on LinkedIn). I’m also finding that people seem to be a lot more willing to share those posts – maybe it’s a ‘there but for the grace of God go I’ mentality but it feels like people are even more receptive than they’d usually be to this sort of thing.

      Good luck in your job search OP!

      1. Hazel*

        My last company created a group in LinkedIn for the >50% of the company that was laid off. And they advertised it to other companies in our field. A lot of people were contacted by other companies and got new jobs fairly quickly. Maybe you could ask your previous employer if they would do something like this.

    2. Forrest*

      I have seen quite a few too. One thing I will say is that it is much easier to respond to the ones which sound mostly positive and upbeat, and are clear and confident about what you can do for the next employer than the ones which sound very desperate or “open to anything”. I know this isn’t fair– it’s incredibly hard to fake that cheerful “something will come up!” tone if you are feeling really rubbish and worrying about money. But this is LinkedIn, and it’s about projecting that confident persona. You aren’t asking people to do you a personal favour and share your post / employ you because they feel sorry for you, you’re asking people to enter into a business arrangement and pay you because you’re good at what you do and it will benefit them.

      Good luck, OP!

      1. Roeslein*

        Absolutely – a former client of mine was let go a while back and while I might have considered referring them, their desperate tone on LinkedIn (they actually had a professional video made) really struck the wrong note for our industry so that I questioned their judgement. It’s especially odd because I’m in a field where freelancing is incredibly common, so normally someone who has been let go would just have their current status as “freelancing” rather “looking for another role” (and most people would get the hint). Also, he could actually freelance.

        1. Thin Mints didn't make me thin*

          I think it’s possible to do this in a way that is neither needy nor fake-happy. “I’m sorry to report that today was my last day at Teapotr. I am grateful for all the learning I did there, and all the great people I got to work with! If you know of any teapot design opportunities, either fulltime or freelance, I’d be very pleased to hear about them, and in the meantime I am taking a little time to polish my skills in Adobe Teapot and Microsoft Kettle.”

    3. Beth Jacobs*

      Totally agree. I second the advice to be really specific in your post though. I only have people I’ve met on LinkedIn, yet I still don’t really know much about their skillset and background for most of them. Be very clear about what you’re looking for and what you’re bringing to the table.

    4. BenAdminGeek*

      Agree! Nothing to be ashamed of. A friend at work was recently affected by a small round of layoffs, and it was amazing to see peers rally round and help refer him for some openings we’d heard about on other teams. This was someone we hadn’t worked with in years, but we all remembered the quality of his work and were willing to go to bat for him.

    5. High Score!*

      Exactly this! Oftentimes after people are laid off, their LinkedIn status becomes “Owner of My Company”. And they stay owner of their non-existent company for years. Last time I was laid off, I let everyone know I was on the market, changed my status to reflect what I did and made a note I was looking. Had a good offer in two weeks.

      1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

        I just listed myself as a Freelance Programmer after leaving my last job, until I was comfortable being associated with my next (current) job.

    6. glitter writer*

      Yes, precisely this. I’ve been laid off a couple of times (I work in a notoriously unstable industry that sheds jobs weekly like a shaggy dog sheds hair in July) and I have absolutely posted to LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook that I’m looking for a new position when it happens, and those social media posts have directly led to interviews.

    7. TootsNYC*

      I used to get laid off with regularity because I worked in publishing, also at startups, etc. “Experts” always say that networking is about an exchange of value, and I never figured out what I, as a recently laid-off person, had to offer.

      So I just called everyone I knew in my industry (there was no LinkedIn), no matter how long ago I had been in contact with them, and said, “I’m looking for work.” Not any reaction was awkward or reserved. Every single reaction was enthusiastic.

      And I realized that should *I* answer the phone to find a former colleague of 10 years ago on the other end saying, “I just got laid off and I’m looking for work; do you know of anything?” my reaction would be one of sympathy and encouragement. And I would absolutely pass on any tips, or forward a resumé.

      It’s a little like public speaking–the overwhelming majority of the people watching you are actually rooting for you, even though you may think they are judging you.

    8. Momma Bear*

      Agreed. We interviewed two people who had been laid off due to COVID and hired one. Being laid off is beyond your control.

  2. Observer*

    #3 – I would say skip the Kippah – it has a very different implication. Either go with a wig, if that’s something you are ok with, or wear the bandana and let your manager know when you seem them. Be matter of fact about it. I like Alison’s script.

    From what you describe, your hair covering is neat and looks reasonably put together, so there is no reason for there to be an issue once you explain.

    1. Virginia Plain*

      What is the “different implication” of a kippah? I assumed from reading that the OP is male, because they suggest they might wear a kippah and afaik kippot are one of the things Jewish men may wear, whereas a wig (sheitl) is a method of covering the hair which Jewish women may choose.
      Disclaimer – I am not Jewish and may have this all wrong in which case I’d be glad to be educated by anyone who knows better :)

      1. doreen*

        I’m not sure of the OP’s gender – first the letter refers to “I cover my hair” , which is something I’ve only heard women say, then to a “kippah” which I’ve only heard men refer to. The OP usually wears a bandana ( something I’ve heard from women ), but mentions a dress code that doesn’t allow hats ( something I usually hear from men). I’m thinking that the “different implications” may come from someone who presents as female wearing a kippah – possibly that they belong to a particular group.

        1. Ali + Nino*

          As an Orthodox Jewish woman who also covers her hair: I agree that I’ve never heard a man refer to wearing a kippah as “covering his hair.” The reference to a bandana immediately makes me think of a tichel/mitpachat worn by married women. If this is the case, I would not mention kippahs at all – unnecessary and confusing. All you have to say is, “I cover my hair for religious reasons.” I wouldn’t even mention the dress code ban on hats because it’s not relevant.
          I was newly married and wore a wig to interview for my first job after college. After accepting an offer but before my first day on the job, I called HR and explained that I covered my hair for religious reasons and had worn a wig to the interview, but that would prefer to cover my hair with a scarf. I wasn’t really asking for permission; it was more of a heads up. HR was very supportive and I never had any problems.

          1. azvlr*

            +1000 for not asking permission for things we are already entitled to. I don’t ask my boss for time off for medical appointments or to be out sick. I simply but politely inform. My boss still feels like he’s being asked, but it’s an important distinction in my mind at least.

        1. Observer*

          That could be, but that really gets to my point. People wear a Kippah for different reasons than they wear a bandana / cover their hair.

          1. fhqwhgads*

            I mean, in a work context the nuance doesn’t really matter. The reason is “I do this because I’m Jewish.”

        2. Freeatlast*

          Women whew are kippot do not say that they’re covering their hair. They say that they’re wearing a kippot. Women who are members of the Reform, are constructionist, or Conservative branches of Judaism wear kippot. Women who are Orthodox cover their hair, by either wearing a scarf, bandana, snood, hat or wig.

      2. Silly goose*

        I’m in agreement with the comment that say it’s unclear if this is a man or woman. “Covering hair” is not what a kippah is for, and most of them don’t exactly cover much. There are women who wear them, but that is, within Jewish circles, a very different statement than a wig or a tichel (like a scarf head wrap), which is again, different from a bandana. I were wigs and tichels. No would never wear a kippah because those are for men and serve a different purpose. Nothing against those who do.

        In short, a kippah could send a message to any Jews that this person is very different from who they are (assuming they are a woman), if that is not what they usually wear.

        1. DataGirl*

          This also confused me as a kippah doesn’t actually cover much hair, so if the point is to keep hair out of view it wouldn’t do much.

        2. Cambridge Comma*

          Presumably the OP would understand the message they are sending, as a member of the religion themselves? And the OP knows that both a bandana and a kippah cover their religious requirements so probably it doesn’t matter whether we understand it or not.

          1. Observer*

            I would hope that the OP knows what covers their religious needs, but they are implying that the Kipah doesn’t really cut it, as they want to start with that and switch back to the bandana. That’s why I’m pointing out that they are likely to create some confusion that might not work well for them if they do that.

            1. Happy*

              I don’t think OP is implying a kippah is unacceptable, just that they prefer a bandana on a daily basis.

      3. Oaktree*

        Very unlikely to be a man. Only women are required to cover their hair after marriage (in some movements of Judaism), and men would not express wearing a kippah as “covering their hair”. Some more progressive, but observant, women wear kippot, but it’s not common (and is much more common just to wear them during religious rituals and/or at synagogue services, not full-time) – it’s very much a statement about feminism/gender politics, if a woman wears a kippah. Women may wear wigs, headscarves, bandanas, hats, or snoods. (Unmarried women do not cover their hair.)

    2. Sunny*

      For Jewish women, a head covering like a scarf/bandana, and a wig aren’t necessarily interchangeable. There are different streams of observance, but also wigs are expensive and an investment in an entirely different look. It’s not a simple swap. I too found it confusing though, as women who cover their hair tend away from kippot – though some more modern Orthodox women that could be the case. And if you’re open to wearing a kippah as a woman, you’re very unlikely to to want a wig – wigs are about female modesty and kippahs are more a sign of respect towards god. Women who wear kippahs value equality within the religion, and don’t usually see wigs as doing that.

      But… I don’t think I’ve ever encountered a man who wear a banadanas over a kippah, or would insist on it in a situation like this where the kippah is such a commonly accepted religious symbol and not likely to be confused with a hat. (In my elementary school, boys often put on a kippah in situations where a hat was considered rude.)

      1. Observer*

        For Jewish women, a head covering like a scarf/bandana, and a wig aren’t necessarily interchangeable

        That is completely true – which is why I qualified my suggestion with “If that’s something you are ok with.” Some are, some are not for the reasons you state.

        I don’t think I’ve ever encountered a man who wear a banadanas over a kippah, or would insist on it in a situation like this where the kippah is such a commonly accepted religious symbol and not likely to be confused with a hat.

        That’s exactly what I’m responding too, as well. If the OP really wants to be wearing the bandana, the Kippah is going to confuse rather than clarify the matter.

      2. Esmeralda*

        Perhaps the OP thought the kippah would be more easily read by their manager as “religious head covering” (since many non-Jewish people know what it is when they see it and would not think “that’s a hat”), just to establish that “I am someone who wears a Jewish head covering”. Then perhaps switching to bandanas would be smoother or easier to explain. That’s my guess any way.

    3. HannahS*

      I know women who wear kippot and men who use hats instead of kippot, plus men who wear kippot and women who wear wigs, scarves, baseball caps, exuberant hats, wide headbands, or bandanas, and non binary folk who use from the above what feels comfortable to them. Do you! Give the manager a heads-up, if it’ll make you more comfortable.

    4. Cambridge Comma*

      I would think that the implication — I am covering my head for religious reasons — might be useful to the OP if their bandana reads more casual than their office dress code.

      1. Observer*

        I realize, but if the bandana is the preferred mode of dress for the OP, the move is likely to create an issue. It’s not even the fact that a Kippah is generally worn for a different purpose that wigs / scarves / bandadnas. It’s also that a kippah is seen to be a religious item in the way that other items are not. Which means that if the OP then wants to move to a bandana they might get some serious pushback.

        1. Anononon*

          That’s highly unlikely in most reasonable offices. The benefit of a kippah when OP first starts is that they don’t need to explain why they’re wearing it – it’s pretty obvious. Then, once they’ve been there a couple weeks , they can switch to a bandana or scarf, and they’ll likely be more comfortable explaining that this is an alternative covering for their religious beliefs. I would be extremely, extremely concerned about any office that gave that “serious pushback”.

          1. Observer*

            That’s not true at all. It’s going to be very hard for the OP to claim that the Kipah is actually unacceptable after wearing one for several weeks.

            1. Anononon*

              You’re making such extreme statements. OP is allowed to have a preference for which covering is more suitable to them, AND they are even allowed to make changes. I have zero clue why you think a reasonable office (which most are) is going to be completely bewildered by this change.

              I’m wondering, if just to place this in context, have you ever experienced similar discrimination? And are extrapolating out?

              1. Observer*

                OP is allowed to have a preference for which covering is more suitable to them,

                Of course they are. But it’s a lot easier to bring that up in the first place.

                I have zero clue why you think a reasonable office (which most are) is going to be completely bewildered by this change.

                Because it’s a change that’s totally unnecessary and confusing.

                In a reasonable office, starting with the bandana is not going to be a problem. In a not reasonable office, everything is going to be A THING. The fewer “things” you have to argue about the easier life is going to be.

                So, if the end goal is the bandana, start with that.

                1. Anononon*

                  But, as everyone else is saying here, too, it’s NOT “totally unnecessary and confusing.”

                  Have you thought about the fact that OP may want to start with a kippah because they don’t feel 100% comfortable immediately having an explicit conversation that “I am Jewish, and this bandana is a head covering I use for religious reason.” Obviously, a kippah makes that point pretty clear, but for some people just not having to say anything makes it so much easier, especially when they’re new.

                2. Observer*

                  But, as everyone else is saying here, too, it’s NOT “totally unnecessary and confusing.”

                  And I totally disagree with the individuals who say that.

                  Have you thought about the fact that OP may want to start with a kippah because they don’t feel 100% comfortable immediately having an explicit conversation that “I am Jewish, and this bandana is a head covering I use for religious reason.”

                  Duh. But from my experience, starting with the Kipah is not going to really avoid conversations about religious accommodation.

            2. WellRed*

              There’s no reason to think the company is going to give her a hard time. I assume the whole point of the no hats rule is to avoid baseball caps in the office.

            3. YetAnotherAnalyst*

              I don’t think they need to claim the kippah is “unacceptable” here at all – they’d be wearing it to signal unambiguously “my headcovering is religious in nature and not subject to the no-hat rule” without having to talk to anyone about it. Switching to a bandana later doesn’t seem likely to get much comment, and can be easily explained with “Oh, I prefer this for my day-to-day” if someone does ask. The effect would be a like dressing a bit nicer for your first week on the job, before settling into your base business casual wardrobe.

              1. Observer*

                That’s just not the case. There are plenty of people who are going to take the line that if you need to wear something for religious reasons, then you need to be wearing something that is recognizable as such. And an employer does not need to accommodate preference, just “sincerely held religious belief.” And, if the OP starts with a Kipah, the switch is going to be a matter of preference rather than religious requirement.

                Now, if the employer is reasonable, it should not matter. But, if the employer is reasonable, the OP shouldn’t need to go through such hoops anyway.

                1. YetAnotherAnalyst*

                  Argh, phone fail.
                  I guess the problem I’m having with this reasoning is that wearing a bandana in an office setting in my world would probably invite some discussion. It would not read as religious requirement, so there would have to be multiple “I’m Jewish; I cover my head” conversations. There would probably be a few jokes about gang colors. There may be some raised eyebrows over failure to understand business dress.
                  Starting with a kippah would preempt *all* of that. It would be immediately obvious that this is an exception. And yes, maybe when the switch to a bandana happened there might be some negotiations over what an acceptable headcovering is (bandanas being explicitly banned in several places here), but the core message of “I need to cover my head” would be received pretty easily.

                2. Observer*

                  It would not read as religious requirement, so there would have to be multiple “I’m Jewish; I cover my head” conversations.

                  Why would there need to be “multiple” conversations? One conversation with the manager and / or HR is all that should be needed. No one else has any standing. (Assuming a reasonably functional workplace. If the place is not functional, none of this conversation matters.) On the other hand, a lot of people are kind of aware that a Kipah is a male item, so that’s likely to attract the attention of the curious anyway, and would also probably wind up needing a conversation with HR / Manager.

                  And then, when the OP decides to switch, that becomes ANOTHER conversation. Again, in a reasonable workplace it’s not that big of a deal.

                  But the bottom line is that if you are trying to turn this int A Topic, starting with the Kipah is not likely to be all that helpful.

                3. YetAnotherAnalyst*

                  Why would there need to be “multiple” conversations?

                  For the same reason that I hear “Oh, new haircut? Looks nice!” six times before I get to my desk if I change the style. People frequently comment on personal appearances unless they have a reason not to. In my experience, obvious-religious-explanation is often a reason not to comment.

        2. ThatGirl*

          I think the idea is to get the workplace used to the idea of “I am covering my head for religious reasons” – a kippah somewhat explicitly says that, as you note – and then switch to OP’s more preferred bandana. I hear what you’re saying but I think the idea is that if there were pushback, they can say “look, still religious head covering, just looks a little different.”

    5. Loosey Goosey*

      Yes, I was confused by the kippah idea. I would say, begin as you mean to go on. It will be easier to just present your preferred mode of hair covering and stay consistent with that. No one is likely to be shocked or discomfited by someone wearing a bandana, and once they get used to it, they’ll probably stop noticing at all. I’m imagining the OP wears something like a pre-tied bandana-style tichel, that doesn’t cover all the hair (depending on how long your hair is), so if OP is looking for alternatives, a wide wrap headband might also work.

      1. Apikores*

        I would bet a lot, based on the letter writer’s self- description, that it’s a woman for whom wearing a kippah is not an option to fulfill what she observes as a religious requirement. Halacha (Jewish law) and minhagim (Jewish customs that sometimes have the force of Jewish law) are complicated

  3. Reluctant Manager*

    #1: oh, I’ve been burned by the old “I’ll get it to you tomorrow.” Fergus doesn’t have any credibility to pin that on. Don’t let this go into a second pay period. A lot of professional settings are unfamiliar with quick terminations, but Fergus is literally a dud and a dangerous thing to have around.

    1. Reluctant Manager*

      Someone with a legitimate personal crisis would have been in touch to ask about delaying their start date.

      1. allathian*

        Yeah, that’s what I figured. Sounds like Fergus wants to get paid without having to do any work, it’s better to put a stop to that ASAP.

      2. GammaGirl1908*


        10 days — one pay period — is not the end of the world on its merits. I would have all the sympathy for Fergus if he had gotten in touch before / on his first day, explained that there was an overwhelming but temporary personal situation, and asked to kick his start date a couple of weeks down the road, or similar. The office then could have worked with him to decide what to do.

        But he’s now knowingly making promises and not keeping them, and he has no track record to protect him. He also will have a hard time ever coming back from this start. He may now have massive anxiety over that, which is compounding the situation.

        None of that matters. He still needs to communicate. I would get in touch and let him know that the situation has reached a tipping point and he has three options; if he can’t 1) start work immediately, he needs to 2) take a full (unpaid) leave of absence of a set number of days (at the end of which he needs to come in full-tilt or it’s over), or 3) they need to come to a mutual departure agreement now. He’ll probably choose 2, and then he won’t be able to work at the end, and that’ll be it. The advantage of 2 is that at least people stop expecting any work from him in the meantime.

        I have an ongoing conversation with a friend about how you’re better off knowing help isn’t coming than when you are expecting help and then you get stood up. Fergus is the latter.

        (side note: obviously we all can speculate all we want about what’s wrong, but I leaped to drinking/drug problem.)

        1. MassMatt*

          IMO it’s far beyond the point of offering up options for him, or “asking him to share reasons” as Alison suggests. He needs to be fired, and the energy currently being spent on wondering whether he will show up or submit any of his work devoted to finding a replacement. Putting more energy into this guy is a sunk cost fallacy.

          It’s possible this guy interviewed well and had a great resume, but I would also examine the hiring process, because this was a spectacular failure and steps should be taken to make sure it’s not repeated. I’d be willing to place a significant bet that references were not checked.

          1. GammaGirl1908*

            I 100% agree that this guy needs to be gone and will be gone before he does a day of work for this firm. I also totally agree with you that there very likely was a sign that got missed, and that’s the firm’s fault.

            I think the reason people are suggesting giving this dude a softer out than just axing him is partly in case there’s truly an outlier of an issue that requires compassion, which we still don’t know (although, again and as stated by most posters, he needed to be way more forthcoming way earlier; at this point he is being fired for lack of communication, not for the original issue), and partly because there was indeed a hiring failure on the firm’s part. Having to fire someone because you made a hiring error is way worse than not hiring them in the first place, even though in both cases you end up with the person off your rolls. Fergus is gone either way, but you do owe the person some consideration if the original mistake was yours.

            1. Reluctant Manager*

              Though in this case Fergus didn’t quit an established job to work for Wakeen–he had already left the other job, we’re told–so he’s not as harmed as if he went from 1 job to 0 jobs.

        2. Artemesia*

          There are people who get jobs and then draw out getting paid as long as they can without work. Often they will work minor injuries for sympathy and excuse and then escalate to discrimination because they are (fill in the blank). It is a scam and Fergus sounds either like such a practitioner or someone with a mental health or substance problem. The longer you let it go, the more likely you are to be caught up in endless legal hassles over it.

          1. RC Rascal*

            I’m wondering if Fergus is actually working 2 jobs at the same time. We have seen that here before at AAM. Maybe he received 2 offers, accepted both, and is trying both jobs out. Hence the “ temporary emergency that will be over soon”.

          2. A*

            Jeez, that sounds exhausting and like it would take far more energy/effort to pull off than…actually doing the job.

      3. MK*

        Maybe, maybe not. I can see a person desperate to make the new job work making sincere but unrealistic promises to start work while, say, their partner is seriously ill, and then not delivering, and not wanting to admit that, and trying to cover up with more promises. Fergus could be in a genuinely difficult position and just handling it atrociously.

        1. Beth Jacobs*

          I’m gonna sound mean, but Fergus is a mid-level attorney. I’d have more sympathy towards someone new to the working world, but Fergus really can’t do his job if he can’t communicate well.
          Had Fergus communicated clearly about what the problem is, the firm could have made other
          arrangements to make sure client deadlines were still met. But this is so unprofessional regardless of whatever is going on in his life. I’d cut him loose – this is simply not a job where unreliability is acceptable.

          1. MK*

            I don’t disagree, Fergus sounds incompetent at worst and unreliable at best; I just don’t think the speculation that he is basically scamming his employer is particularly likely.

          2. The Other Dawn*

            I agree. Fergus doesn’t need to give all the details of what’s going on, but he should at least give an idea as to when the issue might be resolved so the firm can arrange to have any assignments completed by someone else so they deadlines aren’t missed. If he can’t or won’t do that, just cut him loose. Why waste more time on him? If this was an established employee going through a bad patch, I’d give a lot more slack, though I’d still be looking for better communication. But Fergus was just hired. No reason to let this go on for much longer.

          3. EPLawyer*

            YES. As a midlevel attorney he knows how important deadlines are. He could be opening the whole firm up to sanctions, malpractice, etc. It is possible that the personal crisis is so bad he is not thinking straight. He would know in a more calm time he needs to communicate but he is not calm right now.

            However, the employer cannot wait until he is thinking straight. They have deadline to meet. Assume you aren’t going to see the work, assign it elsewhere, get extensions where you can. Then have the talk with Fergus about what is going on.

            1. Marzipan Shepherdess*

              Fergus is also “opening the company” to lowered morale on the part of the other employees who are seeing him get away with doing nothing and still remaining on the payroll, (And yes, colleagues DO see who the slacker is, however discreet the management is about not publicly identifying said slacker!)
              The LW has not identified one single thing of value that Fergus is bringing to their firm and HAS identified a host of very serious problems. Why is Fergus still there, anyway?!

          4. cncx*

            that’s where i am at- if this was a new grad with anxiety or someone mid level but in a field where comunication is not part of the job, i would be a lot more gracious but this guy..Fergus should have had the emotional capital to ask to push his start date back or otherwise do better than he is doing.

        2. Allonge*

          He could be, and as a person I have all the sympathy for him in that case.
          It does not matter for Fergus’s employer – if there is no real communication, termination will have to follow. In a way the timing of this makes things much worse: if Fergus was a known quantity working there and delivering for years, there could be more options (unpaid leave etc.). On the first weeks? That is just not reasonable.

        3. Keymaster of Gozer*

          The thing is, if you’re asking for that kind of major accommodation straight out of the gate with a new employer you really have to give them a heck of a reason. I pushed back my start date at the first proper company I ever worked for because my beloved Nanna passed away the night before I was due to start – I told the firm exactly that and when I’d be in.

          If I’d said ‘family crisis, don’t know when I’ll be coming in or working’ I…probably would have got less sympathy from them?

          1. Sara without an H*

            I know many people are reluctant to share a lot of personal information with their employers…but if you’re claiming a “personal crisis” as grounds for not being able to work, you need to let people know the dimensions of the crisis. I’m willing to work with employees who need some accommodation at work, but I need to know in a general way what’s going on and how long it’s likely to last.

            1. Keymaster of Gozer*

              Yup, another former employer was a total arse about it though after I called in after being in a serious car crash. They asked ‘how serious?’ (which is a fine question) and I said it was my little car versus a 12 wheeler at motorway speeds and I’m waiting to hear what the X-rays come back with. Their response was ‘well, drive more carefully next time’ and ‘so, tomorrow?’

              (I was still getting pieces of my destroyed car removed from me…)

              1. Sara without an H*

                That…adds new layers of meaning to the word “shitty.” Sorry you had to go through it.

          2. NotQuiteAnonForThis*

            Its quite difficult to use those two statements in one combination and expect a good outcome in the working world.

            I’ve had occasion to state “child in PICU, left is right, up is down, I don’t know what I don’t know, but I do know that I’ll be working only sporadically for the next bit and will keep you up to date at least weekly or as things change.” Because it was truthful – things changed on an hourly basis and plans with them.

            But if I’d stated “family crisis (note: true), don’t know when I’ll be coming in or working (again true)”, I don’t believe for one second I’d still be employed here.

        4. Wakeen Teapots, LTD*

          There are lots of reasons a thing like this might happen, but in my 35 years experience, the ones I have run into are far more often someone literally not working (but saying they are) or someone trying to collect a paycheck from two jobs at the same time. Is it possible he is dealing with a seriously ill partner and has not disclosed that as the reason he’s not working? Possible, but I wouldn’t leap to that or try to fill in the blanks for him at this point.

          The pandemic has made me a much kinder person than I was previously. I’d give him one last shot to explain and participate in strategizing how he can start working immediately but I wouldn’t hope that anything short of termination will happen next.

          1. Sue*

            There’s an old letter from a guy working two jobs but he strung them along with a story, I think a sick wife or something family related. He got double pay checks and then quit. This isn’t very creative if he’s trying to pull that off.

        5. pancakes*

          In other professions, maybe, but a lawyer who isn’t realistic about timelines is a huge liability. Likewise a lawyer who handles difficult positions atrociously.

        6. ArtsNerd*

          >making sincere but unrealistic promises to start work while, say, their partner is seriously ill, and then not delivering, and not wanting to admit that, and trying to cover up with more promises.

          I can honestly see myself doing this before medicating my ADHD and deep in a depression spiral.

          “I just need to do the thing, and I’ll definitely get it done today. I’ll work all night if I have to and catch up. I need to get it to them tomorrow, so I’m definitely going to start working on it. Start working on it, ArtsNerd. Just open the word document, and start working on it. START WORKING ON IT YOU IDIOT.” and so forth in my self-talk.

          I went AWOL for a few days last year (before medicating my ADHD and deep in a depression spiral) and still find sometimes myself promising deadlines I don’t meet with the above interior monologue. It’s also hard to anticipate my capacity as my “well” days are a solid 20 times more productive than my unwell ones, and I never know which one it’s going to be until I’m a few hours into it.

          But this is 7 years into being a high performer at my job. And I’m lucky to have a boss that is willing to accommodate me – with accountability, not by just letting me spiral into the either with pay.

          And if I got fired when I went AWOL? I’d be bummed but understand that it was my own fault. Being unproductive is a MUCH smaller problem than being uncommunicative. I find being communicative hard when I’m in a bad place. Excruciatingly hard. But that’s MY responsibility to work through.

      4. Quandong*

        I once knew somebody who acted a lot like Fergus – they did have a legitimate personal crisis, but for whatever reason did not communicate with their employer.

        If Fergus doesn’t communicate and genuinely engage with a dialoge about what’s happening, the employer (and colleagues) don’t need to continue to suffer the consequences.

        It may be that Fergus would at other times be a fine employee. But right now he is not capable of meeting a fundamental part of the job i.e. timely communication and doing the work. So he is unable to meet the demands of the job at this time & needs to be fired.

      5. Coder von Frankenstein*

        I don’t think it’s useful to debate whether the personal crisis is “legitimate.” There’s no way to know that. The issue is with Fergus’s handling of the situation–in particular, repeatedly making promises he doesn’t keep, and claiming to do work he isn’t doing, so other people are counting on him to hit deadlines.

        Even if he has a 100% certified legitimate personal crisis, that’s unacceptable.

      6. LCH*

        agree. a conscientious person would be freaking out right now about not producing any work and doing something to try to save their reputation. my first thought was to delay the start date, but i don’t know if its too late for that option or if the firm’s trust in him has already been shot.

    2. Pennyworth*

      I wonder if Fergus is doing this to several employers at once? He could collect multiple small pay packets, never mention it in his resume, and keep looking for a job he actually wants to do.

        1. MassMatt*

          Well, if they are hourly, I wouldn’t pay someone who never showed up. But if they are salaried, the employer might be on the hook to pay it until they are terminated; all the more reason to cut him loose sooner rather than later.

          I’ll leave it to people more attuned to employment law to determine if someone in law who had zero billable hours and never turned in work is still entitled to a salary.

    3. Jen*

      I’ve dealt with situation where we pushed back a start date for someone who had a personal issue two days in (bad car accident). No one expected constant check ins, but she clearly communicated the situation and gave estimated return dates. While it scrambled our onboarding a bit, because she worked with us, it wasn’t a problem and no one hesitated to help out.

      This employee? He hasn’t given you anything. Time to move on.

      1. WS*

        Yes, I had an employee start and on her second day a family member died unexpectedly. She couldn’t give a return date at that stage (there was a police investigation so nobody knew when the funeral could be held). She also offered to take the time unpaid as she hadn’t built up any leave yet, but we paid her anyway. She communicated, she stayed in touch, she didn’t promise things, and when she had solid dates she told us. None of this is the case with Fergus.

        1. Keymaster of Gozer*

          Handled beautifully.

          (Not like the firm who canned me after I got into a serious near lethal car crash, informed them of this and all the doctors updates and had the nerve to tell me I could’ve ‘just not got into a crash’)

          1. Hotdog not dog*

            If you could have simply not gotten into the crash, don’t they realize you’d have done that? They don’t seem too bright (or considerate). I hate these kinds of responses. I once had a boss ask me if I could reschedule an emergency surgery… uh, no, actually the life threatening medical issue is occurring today, sorry I won’t make that meeting!

            1. Keymaster of Gozer*

              Oh there was a lot of ‘woman driver’ jokes when I got back to work – never mind that the lorry hit ME – which contributed to me giving that firm the proverbial middle finger once I got back.

              (And a literal one on my last day. Out of sight, petty, but felt good)

          2. RagingADHD*

            Maybe they were hinting that they had a TARDIS in the back, and you missed the opportunity of a lifetime.

          1. WS*

            She was, and worked for us for ten years before going back to school to move into her dream field. She was definitely worth what turned out to be eleven days of wages!

    4. anone*

      There’s a more generous interpretation here, which is that Fergus is in denial about the extent and severity of his crisis (which is almost certainly a mental health crisis or something with a mental health component) and has no skills to manage it. Speaking as someone who has been in that place of terror and desperation, I can say that this sounds more realistic to me than that he’s got some kind of scheme going or is doing this deliberately like it’s a good idea or is going to get him something. Someone who does what Fergus is doing is unravelling, not scheming.

      AND this more generous and likely interpretation changes nothing. It’s still his life, his responsibility, and definitely not your husband’s firm’s responsibility to manage his crisis for him. They’ve been pretty graceful about it already, but it’s absolutely time to follow Alison’s advice.

      1. Observer*

        Yes, this sounds about right to me. I really would be surprised if this were some well thought out scheme to defraud an employer, because there are so many little things Fergus could do keep things going. On the other hand, at this point I don’t think that the OP has any choice but to have that final conversation and then cut the cord.

      2. Tess*

        >Fergus is in denial about the extent and severity of his crisis (which is almost certainly a mental health crisis or something with a mental health component) and has no skills to manage it.

        “Almost certainly”? There is absolutely no way to know this.

        1. anone*

          No, there is no way to know it, but it’s also very likely. “Temporary personal crisis”? I would include within this a substance use problem, suggested by others below. The stigma and shame that goes with these kinds of struggles makes the glaring lack of communication make more sense.

          But this *is* speculation and I offered it only to supplement examples people were giving of less stigmatized crises and because someone above said that someone with a “valid” personal crisis wouldn’t act like this. People who are overwhelmed, afraid, and ashamed *would* act like this. And speaking as someone who has weathered mental health crises, the impulse to pretend that “everything is fine and I need just one more day to get it together and then it can all go back to normal” is real.

          And it still doesn’t change the appropriateness of Alison’s advice.

        2. ArtsNerd*

          Even if the primary crisis isn’t a mental health issue, his atrocious handling of it is consistent with one. (I’ve posted a little further upthread in more detail, but I’ve absolutely done something similar on a smaller scale.)

          It doesn’t change the fact that the employer needs to move on to a different hire, but this reading of the situation seem far more likely to me than “the employee is scamming them.”

      3. Zzzzzzz*

        I had a mental health crisis as a midlevel in BigLaw. You know what I did? Took a leave of absence, first just by sending an email to my team, then going through the firm a week or so later. You know what I didn’t do? Go silent and abandon my work so that other lawyers had to do theirs PLUS mine, without notice. Fergus is wrong, no matter the problem. Whatever is causing him to not work is still making other peoples’ lives harder. The manager here can feel bad for the problem and still do what’s necessary to not make other peoples’ lives harder. He’s wrong, he has no reputation/history to back him up, and he’s making other lawyers’ lives worse. He should be fired. Politely, kindly, but fired.

    5. Momma Bear*

      At this point, regardless of what is going on at home (which I find highly suspect at this point), he’s abandoned his job. He isn’t doing it. Surely there is a provision in the company for someone who abandons their post. I would terminate his access to anything and send him on his way. We had a guy who was never available and we strongly suspect that he was actually doing another job on the side.

    6. TWW*

      If it’s only been 10 days, hopefully there’s still time to offer the job to the 2nd choice candidate.

    7. Fiddle_Faddle*

      Being the suspicious type, I would be looking for signs of unauthorized activity in the firm’s networks and other assets. This guy is doing this for a reason.

  4. Worked in IT forever*

    #3 – I’m wondering whether the intention of the dress code is just to ban things like baseball caps, which to my mind still look too casual for the workplace. (I’m coming from an IT background, where I’ve seen all sorts of stuff that wouldn’t fly even in IT years ago and probably still wouldn’t fly in a lot of companies: e.g., flip flops, sweatpants, and baggy shorts.) To me, that seems like a more likely explanation than banning hats or other head coverings worn for religious reasons.

    1. I'd Rather be Eating Dumplings.*

      My same thought…it sounds like a sloppy way to ensure a culture of being relatively put together. Whenever I’ve worked somewhere with a ‘no hats’ policy, it’s always meant baseball caps or beanies, really.

      1. Dust Bunny*

        This. I don’t actually know if my job has a no-hats policy but I’ve never seen anyone wear one and cannot picture it looking acceptable in our context. But we have several Muslim employees who wear headscarves and it’s not an issue.

      2. Reluctant Manager*

        I’ve also worked with people who had alopecia and were completely bald, but didn’t feel comfortable in wigs. Now sure it would count as a disability, but a workplace that wouldn’t allow them to wear a bandana or hat works look pretty douchey.

        We tend to think of bananas as red/white/black (mostly), but any square hemmed piece of muslin can be a bandana. There are neutral, even dressy ones that no one would ever mistake for a gang symbol.

    2. Keymaster of Gozer*

      Also IT and our place does have a ‘no hats/pulled up hoodies/baseball caps – especially with writing’ in the office rule but it specifically states that religious head coverings or coverings for medical reasons are exempt.

      1. UKDancer*

        Yes everywhere I’ve worked with a “no hat” rule has had an exemption for religious / cultural and medical head coverings. My current company doesn’t impose any restrictions but I’ve worked in places (mainly retail) that did and it was fine to wear a religious one as long as it was compliant with safety rules.

        I can’t think of many UK companies that would want the fuss that would result if they tried to stop someone wearing a religious headcovering unless there was a real safety reason not to wear it, e.g. needing to wear a hard hat.

        1. Danielle*

          Same here! Every employee handbook I’ve had to agree to has always had a “except for religious garments” kind of disclaimer on the dress code.

        2. Where’s the Orchestra?*

          The safety question is where I am. Spouse once worked at a place that was also manufacturing what they sold – and the manufacturing area had a very hard and fast set of rules: no long sleeves, no jewelry of any kind, no loose clothing, no loose long hair (if it was more than shoulder length it had to be braided and pinned up so it couldn’t get snagged in a machine. There were no exceptions to those rules granted – and if office employees entered the floor, they were also required to comply with all the rules as well. They were blunt – but blunt in the name of safety I am okay with – the point is getting everyone home alive with all digits.

        3. Bagpuss*

          Yes – lots of places (UK) have safety rules which might kick in if someone wore a head covering which created a safety hazard (a scarf with long loose ends, for instance) but not allowing exemptions at all for head coverings for religious reasons would almost inevitably be unlawful discrimination

          1. Keymaster of Gozer*

            Yup, we have different rules for our engineers who do the dangerous work. Hard hats mandatory, no trailing clothing, no hanging jewellery etc.

          2. UKDancer*

            Yes. When I briefly worked in a place with safety rules (a factory) where loose and trailing clothing was prohibited the female Muslim employees wore a very close fitting cap (like a swimming cap) to cover their hair and then they swapped it out for a more traditional hijab at the end of the day. I don’t know how comfortable it was but it seemed to meet everyone’s needs.

            If there weren’t safety rules (or another good reason) preventing it, then I don’t think an employer could get away with a blanket ban on religious head coverings in the UK. It would almost certainly fail at employment tribunal level so I think they’d be on a hiding to nothing.

      2. Clorinda*

        Religious coverings would be exempt whether the company mentions that in the dress code or not. It’s definitely better to use Alison’s script and head off (sorry) any potential misunderstanding before it happens.

        1. Observer*

          I was coming to say this, too.

          And, other than safety, it doesn’t matter what the intent of the rule it.

    3. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

      Personally, I would consider a bandana to be more of a hair accessory than a hat, so any hat rules wouldn’t apply to it at all.

      1. Simply the best*

        Agree. I would never read a rule that says no hats and think that means no bandanas or head scarves. Those aren’t hats.

      2. Drago Cucina*

        Some dress rules cover it under, “no hats or head coverings except for medical or religious reasons.” We had to address a situation when one person wore a Rosie the Riveter style bandana (in keeping with her 40s retro-style) and another employee who took it as a racist costume.

        Just talk to the manager first and keep them in the loop.

      3. PT*

        Bandanas and scarves aren’t interchangeable, either. I worked in youth programming and we had female staff that wore headscarves for religious reasons, but bandanas were explicitly banned in the anti-gang dress codes.

      4. TWW*

        I (male presenting) wore a bandana almost 24/7 when I had long hair. It would never have occurred to me that someone might consider it a “hat” for dress code purposes. It was closer in function to a head band or scrunchie.

    4. ginger ale for all*

      I work on a college campus and about ten years ago, a trend started with the guys to wear what I would call a ski hat. They were knit caps that kept close to the skull, kind of beanie like. I kept thinking that surely they were going to take them off once they realized how warm it was in side but they were wearing them in the Texas summer heat as well. I can see a rule to have those kind of hats off in a professional environment.

      1. Cat Tree*

        I would bet many of those guys were wearing the hats to cover dirty hair. If they stayed up too late the night before, they would skip a shower to sleep in as late as possible, then cover it with a hat. I’m sure they weren’t all doing it for that reason, but some of them were.

    5. Oaktree*

      Yeah, I worked in a very conservative industry for years, and we had men wearing kippot and women wearing hijab at the office. This is really just to ensure no one shows up wearing a tuque or baseball cap.

  5. Green Yarn*

    #5 If you literally got laid off *today*, consider taking the rest of the day/week to just breathe and process the news. If it were me, I’d have a lot of emotion the first day or so that would come through on LinkedIn or other social media that I’d regret later. LinkedIn will still be there next week. Once you know better where you’re at, go ahead and post what you need. Some people LOVE being helpful.

    1. Keymaster of Gozer*

      Great advice. I know the day after being canned from one job I definitely needed a bit of downtime before I could be professional again.

    2. theletter*


      Also, if the linkedin account is already a bit of a honeypot (ie you often get recruiters reaching out to you) you should probably go ahead and exhaust those job leads before publicizing the layoff. In your shoes I’d wait until first of May to announce it on Linkedin. In some circles, you could be considered ‘/”/’employed’/”/’ (if the company strongly prefers to hire ‘currently employed’ ::eyeroll::) until the end of the month.

      This doesn’t mean you should lie about getting laid off, but don’t be surprised if a rare recruiter describes you as ‘finishing up assignments but available ASAP’ for the next two weeks.

      While it is important to claim your uneployment benefits, writing your resume/cover letter/linkedin-profile/research-and-career-goals is equally essential. Getting placed in the next quarter or so will be the greater benefit in the long run.

  6. matcha123*

    Re: #1
    At this point I think they should let him go. I have had to struggle through school and work during very difficult periods with no support, so I can take a guess at what he may be feeling. But you can’t just make vague promises and expect your new coworkers to be understanding.

    Re: #4
    Finding a mentor is difficult. At least the OP knows what they want. I agree that an organic relationship would be best. At least you both would be comfortable with each other from the start of the mentorship.
    Personally, the mentor thing has been a huge thorn in my side. I really need one, but the people I work with who could mentor me have made it clear from the get-go that they don’t want me around. Unlike the OP, I also have no idea what to do, which makes reaching out to people near impossible since I don’t want to waste their time.

  7. Niii-i*

    ” It might help to remember that by letting people know you’re looking for work, you could be helping them,”

    Thank you Alison for reminding! I got my second job this way; I let my network know that I was looking and friend of a friend reached out to me and let me know she was leaving. She suggested that I apply for the role. Later on, she came to me and said that it made so much easier for her to leave, when she was able to refer me to her boss.

    This mindset will make it so much easier, now that I am looking for a new position once again.

  8. Ms_Meercat*

    LW2 : I don’t want to make any assumptions where you are in your career or if that interests you, but you could use this as an opportunity to develop some light-touch project management skills.
    For example, you could have a look through your last few months of work and have a think what type of requests usually come up; what kind of documents or deliverables are they? What’s the “flow” of these deliverable usually (whose hands do they have to pass through? in what order? how long does that take?)? Then, if these things come up in the future you can set expectations all around; let’s say consultant is working on the llama grooming contract, and you know that there will be a first round of revisions by Supervisor that usually takes 1 week, and then a final sign-off by attorney that takes usually 3 days; you can communicate from the start to consultant these steps, and when you hand them off to supervisor or attorney, you can say “usually I found it takes about X days for these to get turned around; do you think that works for this as well or should I communicate another date to consultant?”

    It will make it easier for you to follow up, easier to set expectations with consultant, create at least a light touch sense of accountability for supervisor and attorney without you coming off as trying to set a deadline for superiors, and will definitely communicate clearly that you’re coordinating but not bottle necking.

    1. MK*

      Honestly, I think the OP needs to rethink their priorities a bit. I mean, the whole letter is about accommodating the contractor, not wanting to seem unresponsive and a bottleneck to the contractor, the attorney needs to see that the contractor is being impatient, the boss is always late and that makes us look bad to the contractor. There might be power dynamics or factors here that I cannot know (as in, the contractor is highly sought after and they don’t want to lose them or the attorney and the boss are taking an unconscionable long time to get things done), but the OP is probably giving them too much power here.

      OP, I have been an attorney and the news that a contractor is getting impatient to sign a contract would leave me profoundly uninterested; I am not going to rush reviewing a document that would be legally binding to my client because the other party wants it done sooner. Also, if the attorney is not your firm’s employee, meaning you are one of their many clients, your work will get done on their own schedule, if it’s not an emergency, and reviewing contracts is usually not. If the attorney is taking objectively too long to get your work done, have your boss set clearer expectations with them or find another one, don’t ry to make them see how impatient they are making the contractor! Same with your boss: is she actually days late getting back to contractor, as in missing deadlines, or is it that they are getting to that work as it comes up in their schedule? Is there a reason this work needs to be prioritized, other than that the contractoris bugging you about it? Even if it is, is it really your place to make your boss prioritize the work for the contractor? Set realistic expectations for the contractor to begin with and stick to them without apologies.

      1. Forrest*

        Oh, I read this as the external consultant was a client, rather than a contractor– re-reading, I’m not sure which way around the benefit flows. I think that might be something LW could clarify with her manager– how much importance does LW’s employer place on the contractor’s preferred timescale and happiness?

      2. Ms_Meercat*

        Good point on the priorities, I agree with you that actually her priorities aren’t necessarily to appease the contractor.
        Nonetheless, I do think it’s still a good goal to help setting and communicating expectations all around, and to see a contractor as a stakeholder as well (presumably, there is a business need for hiring the contractor as well, and the longer the delays, the longer it takes until they can start on the thing that OP’s company needs to get done; or, said contractor, not knowing the timelines, isn’t doing something they could already be doing and wasting time on other stuff because they don’t know when things will come in).

        Also, yes I see how things like that aren’t a priority for the attorney. I do really suggest to take as a starting point how long these things have taken in real-time in the past, and then confirming with attorney / supervisor if they think it will take roughly that amount again, or if they should set a different expectation. Because I’ve also been on the other end with both in-house and external attorneys, and once you’re in the “non-urgent pile”, and haven’t set any kind of expectation or timeline, your thing gets pushed to the nth degree and you never get a result.

        1. Ms_Meercat*

          PS: Sorry, I don’t know why I thought of OP as her here, sorry if I misgendered! My apologies!!

            1. anone*

              Far less than they used to be, which is an immense relief to me after experiencing being persistently misgendered when I wrote in. It always bothered me that the default was to assume that someone asking for help is a woman.

              1. ThatGirl*

                I can certainly understand why misgendering is upsetting, and I’m sorry that happened to you. But based on what Alison’s said in the past, her intent was more just to assume a female default because male pronouns have been the default for so long. Nothing to do with “people who need help must be women”.

                1. Myrin*


                  FWIW, I use “she” exclusively to refer to everyone on this site unless it’s been stated otherwise or we’re talking about a regular commenter whose preferred pronouns I know, but that doesn’t mean that I actually assume that everyone I talk about is female. I’m just used to it and it’s become normal to me (which I’d believe is exactly the spirit in which Alison originally started always using “she” as well – much of society automatically uses “he” when talking about any unknown and for me, the convention on this site has actually flipped that around, and I quite like it).

                  I believe the “she” usage has sometimes caused misunderstandings because every once in a while, you’ll see a commenter say “it’s site convention to assume everyone of unstated gender is female”, which is decidedly not the case, it’s to use female pronouns (although I agree with anone that this has declined during the last few years). But at least for me personally, while there ARE a few letters that give me a distinct [gender] vibe, I mostly don’t assume anything at all, and I know of many commenters who feel the same way.

              2. Carlie*

                Can I ask why? It was instituted, from what I understand, to push back a bit on the usual default that people in the work world are male.

                1. londonedit*

                  That’s exactly it. My understanding is that there’s never been a site-wide rule, despite what many people seem to assume – it’s simply that when Alison is writing an answer, and she’s referring to a boss or a CEO or a manager where gender isn’t known, she prefers to use ‘she’ as a way of pushing back on the unconscious assumption many people still make that ‘manager’ or ‘CEO’ = ‘male’. People have taken that to mean ‘all pronouns on this website are “she”‘ but that isn’t true at all.

              3. Ask a Manager* Post author

                Whoa, no, that’s not the case at all. When gender is unknown, I default to she/her, to counter hundreds of years of the male default. No one else needs to follow suit, though.

                1. anone*

                  Yes, I’m aware that that’s the intent, but the context in which that’s happening is an advice column, where people are asking for help, so the actual effect for me has always been the impression I shared–that it’s easier to assume that women ask for help. Actually I *don’t* notice it as an issue in what you write, Alison, I think because you are perhaps doing more of what londonedit says above–using “she” for bosses, managers, and CEOs, not for the LWs. But in the comments there’s been a longstanding pattern of people using she/her for the LWs themselves, and that’s different.

                  Anyway, I’ve noticed a decided shift in the last couple of years towards more commenters avoiding gendered pronouns for LWs, which has been great to see, as well as people providing their pronouns when they write in, which I’m sure is helpful and which I wish I’d done.

                2. Trekkie*

                  I’ve learned the joys of defaulting to the singular “they.” That avoids all sorts of potential issues.

                  Of course, in law school (back in the mists of history), our law review defaulted to she/her. I then once got into a bit of trouble in class referring to a “the Secretary” as “she” — except I was referring to the Secretary of the Treasury …

      3. Delta Delta*

        As an attorney, I concur with “profoundly uninterested.” I’d be fine with knowing there’s an overall timeline, but am I going to move faster and maybe do a bad job because some one who isn’t my client is unhappy? Nope. I might even make sure I sound a little bit bored when I tell them that, too.

    2. Forrest*

      I’m not sure I’d call this light-touch project management– I think if LW2 is co-ordinating documents that are at the level of “every one needs to be individually checked by an attorney”, that is straight-up project management!

      But I do agree that the solution here is as much about the initial expectation management and timeline setting as it is about the right wording to get back to people about a delay. It’s easy to get into the client’s mindset of “well, this surely SHOULD take only three weeks start to finish, what’s the hold-up!”, and forget that on all the projects you’ve managed, three weeks has been the absolutely dream everything-came-together-perfectly, 6-8 weeks is the norm and 12 weeks has happened more than once. You might be able to see what the particular hold-ups are likely to be and prepare your clients for them accordingly, or it might be a situation where you have no idea until other people dig into the actual work. Either way, being very detailed with clients from the beginning about the possible bottlenecks will eliminate some-but-not-all of the difficulties down the line.

      (this is reminding me hugely of conveyancing– when we bought our first house, we were told “about six weeks, since there’s no chain”, and then when it came to tracing the ownership of the freehold there were missing documents from the late 18th century so TECHNICALLY the land could actually still belong to Lord Rupert Something or other by order of the Crown and you might need to buy insurance to cover the possibility of Lord Rupert Something Or Other’s descendants turning up to claim the house, and it took three months for them to find the right document so we didn’t need that insurance. English land law is ridic.)

  9. Czhorat*

    LW5: this is one of the things LinkedIn is for. That even have a profile frame to say you’re “open to work” which might feel like a badge of shame but can help.

    I posted my Covid induced layoff last September. No leads on full time jobs, but an old industry friend was able to give me some contract work which lasted for months. In fact, my last day with him was the very day I got a verbal offer for a full-time role. So this was a perfect bridge that I’d not have had without reaching out.

    My industry (commercial audiovisual) was hit pretty hard by the crisis, and I’ve seen lots of friends posting their layoffs. It’s a thing that happens, and shouldn’t be a source of shame. We’re all in this together.

    1. HereToHelp*

      I agree. Many people receive postings for new roles, but the only way they will know that you are looking is if you post on LinkedIn. As other posters mentioned, take time for yourself and list down what you want to do in your next role.

      I was laid off from a startup and had challenges finding a new role during the COVID economy. So, I took on several contract roles so that I could pay my bills. Then, I kept interviewing and found a full-time role. This site is great for advice.

  10. Keymaster of Gozer*

    OP1: it helps to remember that while it’s great to be as accommodating as possible to staff crisis, it has to be reasonable accommodation and relies on communication from both sides.

    I had a member of staff (about 10 years ago) just up and refuse to come to the office anymore, or log on remotely for more than an hour a day. He said it was due to ‘personal reasons’ and wouldn’t respond if you tried to call/email for more information. This went on for 4 months (our HR took a long time to do anything) with his work output going to zero and staying there.

    Eventually we got an official response sent to him (by post) in legalise (our legal department were VERY good) which was basically ‘look, this situation isn’t working. Either tell us what’s going on and/or what you need to resolve it or we’re firing you’.

    The response was ‘I choose what I do with my own time’. Whelp, he got plenty more time to spend at home after that. (Sidenote, we had a devil of a time getting company equipment like laptop and phone back off him too)

    1. EPLawyer*

      Please tell me the termination letter was: We choose who we pay with our money.

      Seriously, dude expected to be paid a full salary for not working because it was HIS time?

    2. MissDisplaced*

      Yeah… The whole “I’m not going to work but you’ve still got to pay my salary” thing isn’t working.
      If the situation is legitimate, the employee needs to ASK for what they need. Such as some time off to deal with surgery, medical conditions, rehab, mental health, sick family member, etc. Most companies will be accommodating, IF they know what’s going on.

      I had a person like that once too. They just stopped coming in to work, but when you called them, they kept insisting they were “just dealing with personal issues” and would be back the next week. This went on about a month. They were hourly, so they didn’t get paid, but eventually we had to say You’re Fired.

    3. AtlantaTJ*

      This sounds juicy, I think we need more details! How long had they been with the company? Were they a good performer before? Did you ever hear if they found another job?

    4. Steveo*

      This is so beyond frustrating for the rest of this person’s team. Presumably the amount of work assigned did not decrease which means everyone else was picking up his slack while he was golfing or playing video games. The inaction by the company just hurt everyone who stayed in the end. This has happened to me before and I’m still pissed off about it – working nights and weekends to cover slack for someone who was out fly fishing or hunting whenever he felt like it.

      1. Keymaster of Gozer*

        It created a lot of hard feelings in the team. People saw someone getting full pay for doing absolutely nothing.

    5. Windchime*

      Yeah, we had a network engineer do this once. He was kind of an oddball to begin with (as you might expect). He had been in a couple of car accidents and wore a brace around his neck, so he had a few special medical accommodations (special chair, etc). Eventually he stopped showing up with any regularity at all but he was still around town. It took forever for my employer to replace him because they were afraid to fire him because he had the medical condition.

    6. Generic Name*

      I’m pretty sure this is how my ex-husband left is former job of 20 years. He told me he was taking a “leave of absence” from his job for mental health reasons, which is reasonable. But then a few months later told me he should put our son on my insurance because if he “still had a job now, [he] wouldn’t by the end of the year”. Super weird. I didn’t bother asking for clarification. Then he told me he would me moving out of state and would be sub-letting his furnished apartment to a stranger while he was away, so I got a key from a friend (with his permission) so I could retrieve my son’s belongings (his dad’s plan was to just leave all our kid’s stuff in his bedroom while someone else we didn’t know was living there temporarily), I noticed what looked like a work laptop in a bag in a closet. So I think that he just……stopped going into work for that job. And he probably stopped responding to any communication from his office. So strange. I think whatever he was going through at the time made him feel like walking away was the best thing for him to do.

  11. Erika22*

    #4 I started a casual mentor relationship with a colleague one level up by asking if he had some time to talk through a specific subject area (in which he has expertise and I’m new) with me. I had a list of topics, and he suggested setting up a few calls over a few months to cover them all. By the time we finished the list of topics our meetings were fairly set, and we shifted the focus to my career aims. What made this situation easier was that 1. I had a specific thing to discuss at the beginning so our meetings were focused, 2. he’s not especially high up in the company, just higher than me, and 3. mentoring is his passion so he’s happy to do it.

    To be fair, what made developing this relationship “easy” is also what will likely keep it from lasting as a mentor/mentee relationship, or being useful in the same way as I progress in my career – I expect it to turn into a regular “former colleague” relationship as soon as one of us moves into a new role. So I agree with Alison – start with one meeting, and from that see if it’s something that is meant to progress into a longer mentorship. You may realize one meeting is all you need, or that your good rapport doesn’t translate as well into a longer relationship, or your needs may change.

    1. MK*

      I might be off base here, but a mentoring relationship isn’t supposed to be lifelong, surely? Isn’t the goal to get the mentee to a point they no longer need mentoring, at which time the mentor translates to a more experienced colleague one might occasionally consult?

        1. anone*

          Another example of why it’s good to start these things slowly but also to pay attention to the different expectations people have about mentoring. I once had someone offer to help me with some career coaching (same field and she’s considerably more experienced than me), and it turned out she was looking to be WAY more involved in my life than I expected and basically wanted to be my surrogate mother/therapist/boot camp instructor in her version of “mentoring”. It was extreme (and I got out of there ASAP!), but even when I shared it with other folks, they thought I should have expected something more involved because “that’s what mentoring is”. I disagree with that, but there are wildly different expectations out there. That’s another reason why it’s a better strategy to not go in asking for “mentoring” and rather be more specific about what you’re actually looking for, because if the person you’re talking to thinks you mean something more intense than you mean, that may turn them off.

    2. Ms_Meercat*

      I think that’s really good advice. Also, make sure you’ve done the research you can do, and come to them with questions that actually only someone in their position could answer for you; start with something specific, for example things like “I’m really interested in getting into llama grooming product innovation from my current role in llama grooming operations. Some resources say for that I need a degree in soap chemistry, and some say it can do without. What has been your experience working in product innovation?”

      And when that goes well and you guys click, you can ask if they wouldn’t mind if you come to them with similar things in the future, that way you don’t need them to evaluate up front “Do I have enough time to mentor someone, and would it be that person”, but can let the relationship grow. And then proceed as you get feedback/signals from them (if they stop replying regularly without saying things like ‘I’m sorry I’ve been unresponsive, I had a lot going on, but yes would be delighted to get coffee again’, it might be signs that they are trying to see less of you without being impolite).

      1. Washi*

        I agree, I think it’s better to let the relationship grow naturally. To me, asking someone “will you be my mentor” is similar to asking an acquaintance “will you be my friend” in that it really puts someone on the spot and moreover, they aren’t going to be able to give a meaningful answer without knowing the person better, at which point there is no need to formally ask.

      2. Janet Rosen*

        Agreed. As a retired community health and hospice RN, I was approached about mentoring a social work student for our local voluntary hospice (non-Medicare, small paid staff, 100% free services). I asked the person making the inquiry to arrange a coffee appointment between the student and I so we could size each other up and compare expectations and our basic approaches, beliefs, filters. She and I hit it off right away and over a two year period, as she finished her studies, we transitioned her from observer to participant to independent professional….and forged a deep, trusting friendship that we expect will be lifelong. But that first coffee meeting was totally essential.

  12. CTT*

    For LW 1, I agree with everything Alison said, but I want to add that unless your husband’s firm has a daily enter-and-release policy for time, that he hasn’t entered any time yet is a red herring. So many attorneys I work with wait a week or weeks(!!!) to enter their time, and legitimately or not, he could claim that as why he’s at zero hours. At this point, the issue is the work product, not good time-keeping hygiene.

  13. voyager1*

    LW1: I would definitely find out what is going on. Personal crises could mean a lot. My own guess would be a serious mental health issue or relationship issue. I would want to know if he is a threat to himself and/or others.

    1. Person from the Resume*

      No. It’s not the business of people this employee has never met or worked with to help him solve his personal crisis. Plus the guy is saying “personal crisis” and not volunteering any more information.

      You’ve got a new employee who hasn’t produced anything in his first 10 days but he keeps promising he’s going to deliver it today. Fire the guy. If it is a personal crisis it gives him time to work on it without the added stress of the office demanding work that he’s unable to deliver and failing every day. And the law office can hire someone who will be able do the work.

      1. voyager1*

        The reason I would want to know what is going on, is in the letter it specifically states he quit his last job “because he could ‘t stand working there”. I would want to know if this guy is a risk to my other employees when I fired him.

        1. Person from the Resume*

          I see. Fortunately I think given the circumstance “a small firm that is entirely remote, with lawyers spread out across the region and LW’s husband is based in a different city from Fergus” that shouldn’t be a large fear. My concern would increase if Fergus started threatening people but so far he simply hasn’t delivered any work and keeps saying that he will.

        2. Generic Name*

          That’s good risk management. I mentioned above how my ex-husband stopped going to his last job. He also posted a threat of violence against that employer on facebook. Some people act out in weird ways when they’re going through a mental health crisis.

            1. Generic Name*

              I alerted the company, which is a large defense contractor with facilities that are access controlled by armed guards, so I imagine they have set protocols to deal with disgruntled current and former employees. I can’t tell you exactly what those risk management protocols are (obviously). I’m sure if you google “workplace violence” you’ll find lots of tools to learn about it.

        3. Delta Delta*

          I’m not sure I’d go that far. This guy came out of BigLaw, which is pretty notorious for hiring people, working them until they fall apart, and repeating the process. The people who last more than 5 years are a pretty rare exception. In thinking about it, 5 years feels a little bit like the outside of how long someone might last in that environment. So – I don’t know that I’d read too much into it other than that he stuck it out and legit couldn’t stand it anymore.

          spoken as a lawyer who quit a job at a law firm without another job because I couldn’t stand it anymore.

          1. Keymaster of Gozer*

            Yeah, Ive left a place or two because it was that or suffer a nervous breakdown. Doesn’t mean I’m a danger to anyone (even my psychiatric illnesses don’t make me dangerous to anyone)!

      2. RebelwithMouseyHair*

        Yeah this sounds like a person I used to outsource work to. I once gave her a task to be handed in the next day, extra pay because it involved working past normal office hours as a rush job. The next day, there was nothing in my inbox. When I prompted her, I got an incoherent response from which I gathered that her BF had dumped her and she’d asked her daughter to do the work for her while she drowned her sorrows.
        I ended up having to apologise profusely to the client and got the work done myself. The client in turn apologised for imposing a rush job and promised to warn me in advance of work he’d be sending me. Which he did, and as a result I was able to plan and fit his stuff in, without having to outsource any more, or charge extra for the rush, so everyone was happy.
        The outsourcer did contact me again later, to remind me that she was available. She also recommended all my skills on LinkedIn. But I never wanted to risk working with her again.

    2. Keymaster of Gozer*

      >> I would want to know if he is a threat to himself and/or others.<<

      That’s….a heck of a leap to take with no evidence. Additionally even if someone is going through serious mental stuff it by no means follows that they are a danger.

    3. onco fonco*

      The vast majority of people with mental health issues pose no threat to others. I suppose it makes a degree of sense to be prepared for the unexpected when LW fires him, because he’s an unknown quantity. But there is absolutely no need to know exactly what kind of crisis he’s experiencing. (And how on earth would you go about extracting that information anyway?) I have mental health problems, I have had crises, and most of the people I’m acquainted with have no need to know about that. Zero, zip, zilch. None of their business.

  14. CamJansen*

    LW2, I am in a role where I’m intermittently involved until the final stretch of a project, and then I am the last stop before the work is complete. I cant finish my work (or sometimes even start it) until literally everyone else has finished theirs and it gives the appearance that I’m holding things up when things upstream get behind schedule. You have my sympathy because it is so incredibly frustrating!

    I track my metrics really closely so i can give a clear picture of what the average workflow looks like, and I’m an excellent loop closer. I stay as transparent as possible about the work status and if something is lagging I’m proactive about where it is and what I can (or cant) do about it. PS I’m not a project manager.

    1. Charlotte Lucas*

      I’m not a project manager, but my job requires a lot of project management. The keys are communication and staying on top of things. I live by my calendar & to-do list, & I have a weekly spreadsheet keeping track of documents that shows where they are in the process. I send this to my management each week, & it’s a good way to nudge things along.

  15. VI Guy*

    Accommodation isn’t about ignoring a problem, it is about knowing how the problem affects the work and developing ways to support the employee.

    So my employer doesn’t need to know my diagnosis, family situation, etc. but they do need to know that I can’t drive to meetings or see small printed font. The employer then chooses the accommodations (my situation is relatively easy, with taxi chits and sending files electronically).

    In summary:
    Accommodations aren’t about avoiding the problem, it is about developing supports.

    The employee should be communicating their needs (not their problems) so they can be supported. It is completely reasonable to ask the employee for their needs.

    1. Anne of Green Gables*

      This is a really excellent distinction. Thank you. (I’m noot the OP, but this framing is really great.)

    2. OhNo*

      Just to clarify: the employer doesn’t just get to choose the accommodations. It’s meant to be a back-and-forth conversation with the employee to figure out the best way for both parties to get what they need out of the situation.

      Aside from that, though, I agree 100%. This employee has not been forthcoming about what their needs are, so they’re not holding up their end of this process. Unless they share those needs right now and commit to providing the output the employer needs to see, it’s time to let them go.

      1. VI Guy*

        Things may be different where you are, but within my government framework the employer is the one who provides an accommodation of their choosing. The employee can explain if the accommodation is insufficient for some reason, and a good employer can provide options and let the employee choose or ask the employee for their preference, but where I live an employer does not have to discuss it.

        I say this in the context that I have known employees who ask for specific accommodations and are upset when their employer offers another option. They are upset that the employer is not obligated to provide the solution they prefer.

        1. OhNo*

          I think the difference is just in what we perceive as a “conversation”. What you describe is exactly what I meant by a conversation – the employer offers something, the employee says why it will/won’t work and asks for adjustments, and the employer (hopefully) comes up with some options and adjusts, or at least explains why they can’t offer any adjustments.

          While the employer can draw a line in the sand and refuse to adjust from the first accommodation they offer, I believe they’re legally required to at least engage with the employee if the employee says that option won’t work and has (medical) evidence to back it up. They don’t have to actually change what they’re offering, but they are required to at least have the conversation.

          I’m not an employment lawyer, though, just someone who’s been through the accommodation process a lot, and this is just based on what I’ve been told by employers and legal professionals in the past. I’d be curious to hear if there are differences of legal opinion on this!

          1. OhNo*

            Just to clarify, in case it is a difference of location: my experience is all US- and upper Midwest-based. I have no doubt that it’s different in other countries, and somethings might even be different state-to-state!

            1. fhqwhgads*

              It’s the law in the US that it must be a discussion. The employee can’t just say “no, accommodate me this way”, but the employer also can’t just say “this is the accommodation, take it or leave it” if the employee is saying “no, that doesn’t actually accommodate it at all because X”.

    3. NotAnotherManager!*

      This is an excellent framing of the difference, thank you! We will do everything we can to work with someone, but I can’t work around what I don’t know about.

      I had an employee whose child developed a sudden and serious health issue last year, and they immediately let me know, got in touch with the FMLA coordinator in HR, and gave me a run-down of their high-priority items so we could cover them. It was rough on me and the team, and they ended up being out for a total of about 6 weeks, but we knew what was needed and got it done (and without having to call them because they had far more important concerns to deal with on a personal level).

      Conversely, I have an employee who scheduled a single day off to have major surgery and didn’t tell anyone what was going on. They came back the next day when they should not have an ended up calling out and then going on medical leave over a weekend with no notice or information on things that were in progress and needed immediate attention. This is the second time this person has taken extended medical leave in the past few years, and the first time, we were able to get a temp in and have them work together for two weeks on the front and back of the leave to get things shored up – now we’re scrambling to find someone with a highly specialized skill on zero notice. I have no idea why they did not let us know about this need, given that everyone involved felt the last coverage need was handled smoothly and without issue. I cannot accommodate needs I don’t know about.

    4. ArtsNerd*

      My employer accommodates my health spirals with setting up better systems of accountability. Some of them are normal work things we weren’t already doing, like weekly one-on-ones outside of the full staff meeting, but wouldn’t have happened if we didn’t have the bigger conversation about what supports I need.

  16. Glomzarization, Esq.*

    LW#1 – Your husband knows this, but his and the firm’s duty is to the clients. Move Fergus’s work to other lawyers so that no deadlines are blown or any other balls are dropped.

    Honestly, when I’ve seen this kind of behavior in the law firm context , it’s indicated a substance abuse problem. If that’s the case, then I would (1) check any business or trust accounts that Fergus has access to, and (2) get in touch with the state licensure authority’s “lawyers concerned for lawyers” service for guidance and tips.

    1. ErinWV*

      My first thought was burnout/breakdown (see also: “Fergus had quit his last job of five years with no other job lined up. He said he quit because he couldn’t stand working there anymore.”).

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

        Perhaps though his was a “You can’t fire me, I quit!” especially if he had a problem that had finally resulted in discipline.

  17. Boof*

    LW1 – not sure of your pay structure, does fergus only get paid if they generate billable hours, or do they get paid a salary regardless? (in other words, does it cost you money to have Fergus on the employee roster if Fergus isn’t doing any work?) If the former and you wanted to be generous, maybe just tell Fergus “it sounds like you are still having a lot of stress, let’s take these projects off your plate and let us know when you are ready to start.”
    If it’s more of a salary type thing and Fergus costs money even if not doing work, then definitely tell Fergus they have basically today to show that they have done work / will meet their deadlines or you will have to part ways.

    1. Allonge*

      I don’t know how the pay structure works, but it sounds like that Fergus is costing them money either way – by not delivering on projects and by putting his boss in the position of having to follow up with him every day from zero. So in this sense the salary would just be the cherry on top.

    2. Colette*

      Even if they’re not paying him, they should let him go if he doesn’t provide more detail. If they keep him on, they have to have work for him if he shows up – which makes it harder to hire someone else to actually do the work.

    3. MassMatt*

      Why on earth would anyone want an employee like this? Someone who does no work, fails to deliver anything after repeatedly promising to do so, and requires constant calling to find out what is going on?

      This was a disastrous hire, fire Fergus ASAP and make sure you don’t hire another person like him.

      1. Boof*

        I meant if a) they really thought there was a personal crisis and were impressed by references etc, and keeping fergus cost nothing (and yes, take away all projects/assign no work), could basically “move the start date” to when fergus says they are ACTUALLY ready to start. But don’t count on it happening and keep trying to hire someone else. I imagine that level of flexibility is not actually available but if it is then it’s just a thought.
        More likely b) just fire Fergus now makes sense. Especially if it would cost any money to not fire Fergus and have Fergus do no work.
        I just wasn’t sure if this position was sort of like shift work only get paid if you do work.

  18. HannahS*

    For 3, I know women who wear kippot and men who use hats instead of kippot, plus men who wear kippot and women who wear wigs, scarves, baseball caps, exuberant hats, wide headbands, or bandanas, and non binary folk who use from the above what feels comfortable to them. Do you! Give the manager a heads-up, if it’ll make you more comfortable.

  19. MissDisplaced*

    For #1 I would recommend cutting ties with Fergus the new employee now.
    Granted, emergencies do happen, and can happen when starting a new job (sickness, hospitalization, etc.) but if that is the case the onus is on Fergus to communicate the issue and he could have either negotiated a later start date to the job, or discussed taking some unpaid time off once there. But saying it’s a “temporary personal crisis” at this point is evading, and I don’t like that — it almost makes him look like he doesn’t know what he’s doing and it is indeed suspicious.

    1. Person from the Resume*

      Also, the repeated “I will deliver it tomorrow” and then crickets. If you’re having problems you need to communicate to the business what they can actually expect from you and not essentially string them along which is what is happening here.

      1. irene adler*

        Agree with this!
        Kinda wonder what the references said about this employee.

        I have a co-worker who absolutely will not let his boss know if he’s overwhelmed with work tasks. He will blow up as he’s working (in the lab) and subject us to rants and cursing and complaining about how overwhelmed he is. This goes on for quite a while too.

        When folks offer to help him out, he declines.

        I suggested that he let his boss know that he’s got too much -maybe prioritize things for him. Nope, he will not do that. Says it makes him appear weak or unable to handle his work load.

        After a day of listening to him rant, I went to his boss and explained things. She had no idea he was so overwhelmed. That was not her intention-at all. She modified things for him. This helped, but since then, whenever he’s overwhelmed, he does the same thing-rants and cursing in the lab- and will not let his boss know his situation. Some people never learn.

        1. BatManDan*

          Some people don’t WANT to learn. However unhappy he appears to be in these circumstances, he is getting something out of it that makes him want to keep repeating the cycle. I won’t bother to speculate what HIS particular problem is, but in a broad way of describing it, I have known more than a small number of people that weren’t happy unless they were unhappy.

  20. ErinWV*

    LW2 – I always say something like, “It’s been received and it’s in the queue for signing, but [my boss] has been in back-t0-back meetings and hasn’t had a chance to look it over yet.” Confirms receipt, confirms priority, usually true.

    P.S. Speaking for exec assistants – how much harder is “I’ll see if I can give them a nudge on that,” when you can’t poke your head into their office? Sending another email into the void…

  21. staceyizme*

    Protocols to check work should be in place before hiring someone. Anyone. Certainly where work product is due within days or weeks of hire. Before you can be accommodating and sensitive, you have to be proactive, prepared and professional. Someone is accountable for the missing work product. Someone is accountable for tracking the work product that is due. The issue lies with those two people. The impacts of Covid-19 can buy you some time and some grace even in professional situations. But if you have work product that is contractually obligated, that has to be managed to. Not communicating for 10 days? No. Not performing for 10 days in the absence of communication? No. Not informing the person sooner that something more than a vague rationale is required? (Or at least taking steps to work around it?) Definitely no.

  22. Daisy-dog*

    #5 – Yes, definitely share on LinkedIn! I did when I lost my job last year and I had 3 different people helping me out, so I wasn’t unemployed for long.

    Side-bar on vocabulary: Some persnickety people on your connections list may not read your call to action if you use the term “lay-off”. Technically, a lay-off is only temporary and means that you will be recalled to work when business picks up. You were part of a reduction in force. (Of course, if you have seen others posting about lay-offs and no one is calling them out on vocabulary usage, then you may be fine. I just know jerks.)

    1. Person from the Resume*

      I think a lay-off is permanent. A furlough has the same cause but with an expectation of being called back to work for a company.

      1. CV*

        In my part of the world, “lay-off” can be temporary (the employee is subject to recall) but no one gives you a hard time if you look for work while laid off, because who knows how long it will last?
        Permanent is usually “terminated” or “let go” because the job itself has vanished or there it is no longer a good fit.
        “Fired” is if you’ve done something egregious like embezzled, or cursed out a customer or something.
        I don’t think anyone here would use the term “furlough.”

      2. Carlie*

        I’ve always thought a layoff specifially has the potential to be temporary, because I grew up around factory work and in that situation, layoffs happened when the factory went on shutdown due to low product demand. If the factory came back up, everyone automatically had the option of getting their job back, but there was no guarantee if or when that would happen. A furlough was the term used when the work stoppage had a specific time associated with it (e.g. “two-week furlough”, “three-month furlough”) and the comeback was all but guaranteed. I guess the terms are used differently in different fields.

    2. pleaset cheap rolls*

      “Technically, a lay-off is only temporary ”

      No. It can mean permanent or temporary. I think meaning permanent is more common, but it can be either.

      1. pleaset cheap rolls*

        Definition from Wikipedia is below. Original meaning was temporary but no longer.

        “A layoff is the temporary suspension or permanent termination of employment of an employee or, more commonly, a group of employees (collective layoff) for business reasons, such as personnel management or downsizing (reducing the size of) an organization. Originally, layoff referred exclusively to a temporary interruption in work, or employment but this has evolved to a permanent elimination of a position in both British and US English, requiring the addition of “temporary” to specify the original meaning of the word.”

      2. Daisy-dog*

        Again, posting this because I have had persnickety people call me out on it before (when referencing a RIF prior to my own). So to better describe the situation, given the interpretation from others, it may be better to use a different word. It may still be interpreted at permanent given the context of the post.

        1. MCMonkeybean*

          I would tell that person they are wrong rather than avoid using what would be the most understandable language, at least to other people in my area.

          To everyone I have had these discussions with “laid off” is generally permanent (though there are some seasonal jobs where people may expect to go back, but even then there is no reason they can’t be looking for other work) and a “furlough” is what we would say for something more temporary–although we all saw in the last year a lot of supposedly temporary furloughs becoming permanent!

  23. Sara without an H*

    Hi, OP#1 — Upstream commenters have given some excellent advice. I’d like to look at a different aspect of your letter: how Fergus was hired.

    I know you said that this is a small firm without a formal HR person. But your description of the way Wakeen hired Fergus suggests that their hiring process is seriously flawed. Fergus came from a similar “big law” background, so Wakeen assumed he would work out well? Did he not check references? The tendency to hire people like ourselves, while natural, is bad diversity practice and also tempts us to overlook potential red flags. Wakeen’s firm is paying for this now.

    When the dust settles and Fergus is gone, this firm really needs to talk about their hiring practices. I don’t work in law, but I’m sure there are consultants who can be hired to develop a better process.

    1. Myrin*

      I think the Big Law comment was made in regards to Fergus’s leaving his former job with nothing lined up and not being able to stand working there anymore – as in, Wakeen, due to his own background in Big Law, could understand why the intense pressure and long hours (or whatever) of that kind of environment can make it so that you simply can’t do it anymore. Re-reading, I can see your interpretation as well, but that’s how I immediately understood it.

      Apart from that, I totally agree, though, that the hiring process in general sounds like it could be improved.

      1. NotAnotherManager!*

        This was my read as well. BigLaw is exhausting and all-consuming. It’s not uncommon for associates to only do it for as long as it takes to pay back loans before moving into something less demanding or to sometimes quit with nothing lined up after building up a savings cushion.

    2. WhyNotWhyYes*

      Yes, that stood out to me as well. Wakeen is just assuming that anyone that looks like him, talks like him, goes to the same school as him, worked at the same law firm as him, is automatically a good fit. That kind of thinking colors not just hiring practices but all kinds of internal practices that create an inequitable workplace. Granted, it may not be a big deal if the firm is small, but it could certainly hinder their growth.

      1. MCMonkeybean*

        It is a little unclear from that sentence, but I had the same takeaway as some commenters above that it just meant that because Wakeen had also worked in Big Law, he understood why Fergus would have made the decision to quite without having another job lined up. Not just like “you are like me and therefore I will ignore any red flags!”

    3. Delta Delta*

      I took it to mean that this isn’t a new lawyer fresh out of law school and is someone who knows how to work in a firm. As in, knows they have to input their time.

  24. Malini*

    Hi! Employment lawyer here. Allison, if you read this, I would really recommend updating your answer to recommend that OP’s husband consult a local employment lawyer (and perhaps also a lawyer in Fergus’ jurisdiction, depending on the jurisdictional terms of the employment contract). This raises issues of job abandonment, potential cause for termination, and accommodation under human rights law, just to name a few. Please, please don’t take action based on AAM advice only (as good as that advice often is!) for which the firm can later be liable. Even lawyers need to be reminded to seek legal advice sometimes. Thank you!

    1. twocents*

      Why can’t you fire someone who has literally done zero work and provided zero reasoning for it? Like legally. My employer has job abandonment clauses and Fergus’s (lack of) action would have triggered HR to send a “we have processed your resignation” letter.

      1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

        Outside of Montana, “at will” pretty much ends the discussion.

    2. Observer*

      If this is a US firm, “human rights” law is not an issue. Whether it should be or not is a different question, that is not relevant.

      To be honest, in a US context, there is nothing here that warrants legal worries.

      1. OhNo*

        That’s not to say that Fergus couldn’t pursue some kind of legal action against the firm in the US – he could probably scrounge up something, it just wouldn’t have much merit. However, since he hasn’t indicated that he’s likely to take such an action, I don’t think it’s something the firm needs to concern themselves about overmuch.

        If Fergus had used any language indicative of an official request for accommodation under the ADA, or leave under the FMLA, the employer might want to confirm that all their legal ducks are in a row before officially firing him. But I don’t think saying you have a “temporary personal crisis” with no additional details and without actively engaging in an accommodation process qualifies.

        1. Observer*

          That’s not to say that Fergus couldn’t pursue some kind of legal action against the firm in the US – he could probably scrounge up something, it just wouldn’t have much merit.

          Yeah, anyone can bring a case. But, there is not much all the lawyers in the world can do to keep that from happening.

          And as you said, the lack of merit will keep it from going to far.

      1. Keymaster of Gozer*

        You can also fire someone in the UK who hasn’t shown up for work for an extended period if they’ve just started a job. Job abandonment I think.

        1. Antony J Crowley*

          I was thinking that too. We have a lot of job rights in the UK but if you just don’t do any work, you can’t expect to get paid! (Honestly – if he genuinely hasn’t done any work at all, I’d expect him not to receive a penny of pay, but I’m not HR!)

          1. Keymaster of Gozer*

            Yeah, the only reason I ran into issues on firing our no-show employee was that he’d been with the firm several years at that point. If it had been in his first few months I could’ve just fired him.

        2. UKDancer*

          Can confirm I’ve seen this happen (person took the job, showed up Monday and Tuesday then never came back). We never heard from them again and once we checked they were alive and well they just didn’t like the job, we fired them.

        3. General von Klinkerhoffen*

          In the UK it’s much easier than you’d think to get rid of someone new – many employment protections only kick in after a year or two.

          Most UK new starters would additionally have signed a contract which likely specified an initially short notice period (eg one week where it’s usually four) so you could just give him notice and swallow the pay you’d need to give him for the time he was technically employed there – on the grounds that it’s cheaper and easier than to try to claw such costs back.

  25. AlexHealth*

    #1 – This sounds extremely similar to a situation I experienced at a past job with a new hire (pre-pandemic) who just no-showed at the office on their first day (claiming confusion about their start date), and then only came in for a day our two (with mysterious “sick day” gaps), until they disclosed that they were having a “personal emergency” that would keep them out of the office for a few days, but which would be shortly resolved. Days turned to weeks, and promises to return (or to complete urgent tasks remotely from home) were constantly missed. Their manager let it go on *far* longer than they should have in a desire to seem accommodating and fear of losing the employee (it had been a difficult position to fill as the company was obviously in distress at the time).

    In this particular case, it turned out this individual had a serious substance addiction problem which they had managed to hide (or have overlooked) at previous jobs but had since become far more severe. In our case it turned out the individual had illegally stolen confidential client data without anyones knowledge – and was demanding a ransom payment for it’s return. The police had to get involved to recover the data. It was a giant mess.

    I wasn’t involved in this hiring, but it’s my understanding that a lot of weight was put on a single reference from a well respected individual well known to the hiring decision makers – but who hadn’t worked with the employee in several years. I’d like to say a lesson was learned and the company got much better about checking current references – but the whole situation actually made future hiring more paranoid and untrustworthy and the company went out of business shortly thereafter.

    I know everyone involved in my situation wishes they had taken action much sooner – as the red flag were blindingly obvious in retrospect.

    1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

      I’d like to say a lesson was learned and the company got much better about checking current references – but the whole situation actually made future hiring more paranoid and untrustworthy and the company went out of business shortly thereafter.

      Current coworkers can be deceived, too. Voodoo recruitment is voodoo recruitment… sounds like an introductory probationary period would be more effective.

  26. NinaBee*

    #1: Maybe Fergus has 2 jobs going at the same time and is using ‘personal reasons’ as an excuse to buy himself time to do the other work. It’s astounding how people get away with being this bad. LW you should just cut ties and hire someone who actually wants to be there.

  27. Qwerty*

    Mentorship, like most relationships, should be a two way street. Mentors aren’t just doling out career advice, ideally they are also listening and learning. I’ve done a lot of mentoring and often end up going back to my manager friends with stuff I’ve learned like “when you say X your team is hearing Y” or “our policy on Z is out of date and is causing these problems/confusion”.

    However, whenever someone asks “will you be my mentor”, they usually are just looking for a one way benefit rather than building an actual connection. It’s become a flag for me because my experience has been negative with almost everyone who has opened with that line.

  28. Sled dog mama*

    LW #3
    I have never had two so seemingly so different areas of my life intersect like this. I am a Christian women who covers. In the past I’ve worn a few different styles of covering but my personal style and preference is a scarf wrap of some type. I’ve learned so much about tying nicely and getting it stay put all day from YouTube tichel videos. The dress code at my employer also does not allow hats but allows religious head covering.
    I began covering while at my current employer. I approached this by just wearing my preferred style (with my favorite scarf wrapped in my favorite tie). I act confident and mostly no one has questioned it. I did get a couple of questions one person wanted to confirm I wasn’t sick just covered and another asked if I was becoming a {inappropriate slur}.
    I recently took my first flight (I’m vaccinated and couldn’t put this off any longer since it had been put off 12 months) and I was really nervous because Covering is not a required practice of my the sect I belong to, although it is an element of my personal faith. I was afraid of being asked if my wrap was a religious covering because to me it is but I can’t point to being a member of a group that requires the practice.
    I wore a simple wrap that I felt confident in and acted way more confident than I felt. I got zero questions, zero looks. I was so amazed, especially in the tiny southern airport I flew out of.
    If I were you I’d just wear my covering, maybe dress it up a tad to look more polished, but certainly don’t feel like you should have to compromise your beliefs or practices to be accepted. Be matter of fact and confident.

    1. Sara without an H*

      I agree, treat it like it’s no big deal and it probably won’t be.

      LW#3, you may get questions about your health. I wore head wraps a couple of years ago while undergoing chemotherapy. (I decided against wigs. Good ones are expensive and the cheap ones look…cheap.) Be prepared for the occasional kind-hearted person to ask if you’re all right.

  29. Delta Delta*

    #1 – I am an attorney and I am married to an attorney. If we don’t keep our time we don’t get paid. Mr. Delta had a similar problem with a mid-level associate within the last year, who was not especially productive and who had a serious family crisis (which everyone knew about and was very understanding). A) Associate was garbage at entering his time in a timely way, which can be fixed by making a policy of entering by the end of the day or some such and B) Turns out their timekeeping software did funky things with people working remotely. Turns out associate was trying to enter his time but because something needed to be rebooted or restarted or something, on his end it looked like he was entering time but at the office it didn’t look that way. I recognize this may be an isolated situation, but it does happen. And if someone is waiting on associate to turn over actual work, like a memo or a brief or something, you know if it’s not done.

    So – I think the conversation with this associate has to be around the obvious outputs, what’s really going on, and what the expectations are. If the associate really can’t get it together and do the work, that needs to be in the conversation, too.

  30. OP5*

    OP #5 here. Thanks for all the advice. I saw several other coworkers post about it to LinkedIn, so I did end up posting too. I just spoke about the layoff and said I was looking for work and what I was looking for. I got a lot of valuable job leads, even from people I wasn’t connections with. Many past coworkers had opportunities too.

    A lot of people are commenting on me moving very quickly/I should take time to process. To provide some context, I was laid off previously over a year ago in the fourth quarter of 2019. It wasn’t a great job market or time to be looking for work. It took me six months of job hunting to land this position and it was a real difficult time, so I’m trying to be very proactive and fast to react. By all accounts, the job market is booming now, so I’m hoping I’ll find something quickly.

    1. bubbleon*

      good luck in your search! I don’t think anyone’s saying that you’re moving too quickly, just that it’s okay to take time to process should you need it. I would absolutely need some time if I were laid off from my current job, but it sounds like you’ve got a better understanding of the process and what’s needed now since you’d already been through it, so you may not need time at all. Nothing wrong with having a plan in place and making sure you’re not dropping the ball forever, just remember that *should you need to take a minute to step back and lick your very understandable wounds* it’s nothing you should feel guilty about because you’re not hustling right away.

  31. Girasol*

    LW1 Seems like one of two things should happen: either Fergus explains his crisis (“Mom is in hospice! It’s all so sudden!”) so that Wakeen can propose a solution (“if you need to be with her now, keep me posted on your situation. I’ll hold your job open for the time being and transfer assignment X to someone else.”) Or else Fergus doesn’t explain his crisis (he’s checked into rehab and doesn’t want to discuss it) but he proposes a solution (“I’m not going to be able to work for the next six weeks. Can you delay my start and give the assignments to someone else temporarily?”) Fergus should have the option of privacy but he can’t just leave matters hanging. If Wakeen has kindly given him a day or two to process potentially shocking news, he should expect either an explanation or a specific request for accommodation from Fergus. Lacking that, no matter the crisis, he’s a no-show.

  32. LMM*

    I’m getting a “Fergus was in jail” vibe from #1. Which obviously would be a big personal problem for a lawyer. Might explain the abrupt exit from previous job too.

    1. Cat Tree*

      It seemed like Fergus was keeping in communication though, at least intermittently. I think that weeks be hard to do from jail.

      I once had an acquaintance in a friend group who said some personal stuff came up so he couldn’t meet with us for a few months but would return eventually. I speculated that he lost his license for DUI (which he has a history of), while others speculated that he was in jail for DUI. One person speculated that he just wanted to leave the group but vastly overestimated how much we all wanted him there so he made up some elaborate excuse instead of using a polite lie like saying he was too busy or something. Then one other person in the group got a message from him in an online game they both play, so I guess he wasn’t in jail after all.

  33. Copyright Economist*

    #1: I have been working in government, so I have no idea how common this is for the private sector. Anyone hired in the Government of Canada is subject to a probationary period. Termination is easier during the probation period, though not simply at the will of the manager. If the lawyer was hired on a probationary contract, he could and maybe should be let go.

  34. Brett*

    Getting laid off in the startup sector is almost a badge rather than an embarrassment. It happens a lot, and everyone who has worked around startups has layoffs in their work history unless they were extremely lucky. If anything, some employers see it as a sign that you are willing to stick with a company and take chances with them; and that there is good chance you have an above average skill set for someone who is currently unemployed.

  35. Former Employee*

    I can’t understand OP #3. I am familiar enough with the Orthodox and Ultra Orthodox Jewish communities to know that women who cover their hair would not wear a kippah because it covers very little. They would wear a scarf or a hat or a wig. An Orthodox woman would most likely wear a scarf or hat; an Ultra Orthodox woman would almost certainly wear a wig.

    Of course, a man would never talk about wanting to cover his hair because men don’t wear a kippah or hat with the intention of covering their hair.

    1. onco fonco*

      Do we need to understand in order to answer the question, though? LW has identified a kippah as something they personally would consider wearing in place of their normal bandana – I’m not sure their reasoning really matters for our purposes.

  36. Brain the Brian*

    Utterly late in my response here, but for OP #2: with internal folks (like your manager), it might work to say “If I haven’t heard from you by [Date / Time X], I will plan to move ahead by [doing Thing A, which could be returning the document to the appropriate people.” Build in an extra half-day or so of time for your manager / those other more senior folks to reply, and then just go ahead with your planned action. You gave them the chance to review or let you know they would need more time, and they didn’t answer; you presumably now have the go-ahead to move along to the next step.

    If they really want to review and stop getting the chance, they will say something quickly. If not… well, you’ve just given them an out, which they might secretly appreciate. And it’s a great way to develop and demonstrate your own expertise — having to make sure each document is something your manager / those other senior folks would approve will naturally mean you wind up giving it another read-through yourself.

  37. Harvey JobGetter*

    I wish the first letter had been written by the husband. I find my work flow is constantly misunderstood by my non-lawyer spouse (who is a smart person with a professional job). I would not be surprised if Wakeen is frustrated and maybe a little concerned but not really worried because a 10-day turn around on a TON of legal work is not at all abnormal, and that the worry comes from LW. If LW more clearly described Wakeen’s view, I’d be willing to defer to it, but it’s highly likely that there is no issue at all. Surely, LW’s husband is aware that some lawyers don’t input their time every day, regardless of firm policy.

    This whole letter seems a bit off. It’s likely LW is misunderstanding.

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