joking about people getting fired, what’s up with pantyhose, and more

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

1. Was I wrong to joke about getting people fired?

I’m an employee in an entertainment type of place and wanted to ask if my jokes have been inappropriate enough to result in a verbal warning. I was informed by my manager that I was supposed to be the new team leader for the cleaners in our building, and I have been training two new people for about a week, helping them get settled and such. However, the youngest, who doesn’t have much work experience, has spoken to my manager twice about my jokes, the most recent and prominent ones being how I said that I had “the power to have one of them fired if I see fit,” which I followed up with a good laugh and stated, very clearly, that I was joking. The second joke was about the two of them fighting for the supervisor position when I stop being a cleaner here, but again I laughed and stated it was a joke. The youngest one is apparently worried her job isn’t safe even though I’ve had three conversations about these jokes with her, explaining I was not being at all serious. Was I in the wrong?

Yes, you were in the wrong! It’s appropriate for your manager to have a serious conversation with you about it and warn you not to do it again.

Joking about firing people when you have any kind of authority over them (or when they might think you do) is never appropriate. Some people might understand there’s nothing behind it, but others will not. And even if they’re pretty sure you’re joking, what exactly is the funny part — that it would be hilarious if they lost their jobs and their income? If nothing else, it signals to them that you’re cavalier about your authority and their livelihoods and that they can’t trust you to treat either of those with the care and seriousness they warrant.

If I had to guess, I’d guess that you’re new to training people and having authority and might not be super comfortable with that role yet — and one way you’re dealing with that is by joking around about it. But you just can’t joke about your own power to people who are subject to it in some way.

2. What’s the deal with pantyhose?

I’ve been loving your blog and have started going through the archives. Currently I’m on 2010, and I was reading the question from the reader about whether she should wear pantyhose hose to an interview. There were a lot of varied answers in the comments — and people seemed to feel strongly one way or another. Your answer was “In general, no.” But you also pointed out that in more conservative industries, they may still be the norm. Do you think this is still true? I have severe sensory issues regarding pantyhose and other things, so I never wear them. Do readers still think that people look polished/better with them?

Agh, the great pantyhose debate of 2010, in which the comment section got overtaken by pantyhose fetishists who apparently sent out a bat signal because A Woman Was Disparaging Pantyhose and I had to remove some really icky comments.

Pantyhose have almost entirely disappeared from workwear as a required item. Some people still choose to wear them, but industries where they’re expected are very rare now, and that’s a good thing. Bare legs are fine in the vast majority of fields.

Some people will tell you that women look better/more polished with pantyhose. Some people will also tell you that women look better/more polished in high heels or with unnaturally straightened hair or in a girdle. They’re welcome to their opinions, but those opinions do not obligate you in any way to please them.  In nearly all industries these days, bare legs are fine if you prefer them. (And not that it really matters, but if anything, I think you’ll find more people who think pantyhose looks dated now than those who think you should wear it.)

3. My boss is interfering with her daughter’s background check

The adult child (“Kate”) of one of our directors recently applied for a position within our company (but not under her mom’s direct supervision). The background check is pending because the screening company we use has not been able to verify some critical information. As a result, Kate is waiting to hear the outcome so she can officially give notice at her current job. Kate’s mom is now coming to me, asking about the results of the background screen (I don’t work in HR, but I have adjunct responsibilities, like running background checks). I would never provide feedback to any candidate’s parent, and I don’t see this as an exception. However, I report to this director, so I feel like I’m being crunched between what I would normally do versus what she expects me to do. Help!

HR is perfect for this kind of situation; it’s right up their alley. Talk to them! Say that you’d never discuss a candidate with their parent normally and you feel caught in an awkward situation since this parent is your boss. You might also point out that this is a worrying sign for whoever will be managing Kate if she’s hired — and that your boss/Kate’s mom needs to be told that she can’t interfere with Kate’s job if she’s brought on board. (Frankly, the fact that she’s already doing it should give that person serious pause about hiring her.)

4. Quickly leaving a new job that isn’t going well

I’m a recent grad (from grad school, not undergrad) who just got my first “salary” job. I’ve been here about a month and I’ve already been reprimanded multiple times. Part of it is definitely my fault; part of it feels like the company obfuscated things during the interview that I thought I had asked explicitly about. But maybe I misunderstood the answers.

I’ve been told I need to consider whether or not I’m staying at this job for what I’d say are mostly office culture missteps. It’s things like showing up on time — which apparently meant to the minute, not within five minutes, communicating more (genuinely didn’t know about that, have since hopefully corrected it), and so on. I think the perception of me is getting a little better, but I won’t know until the boss decides to sit me down in a week or so and tell me.

When they originally said, “Hey, you need to decide if this is the job for you,” I panicked a little and started contacting companies I had interviewed with who were interested in me before I chose this one. My current company isn’t really in my field and doesn’t use the skills I went to grad school for. I chose it because it seemed to have the office culture I wanted, plus a good salary, and it was a pandemic, so anything I can get.

But the companies I’m going to go back to interviewing with are in my field and use those skills. I figure if I do get an offer and accept it, I’ll be burning the bridge with this current job because I’m leaving so fast. I guess the question is — am I morally in the clear to leave so quickly, being such a bad start and being told I might be let go?

You are 100% morally in the clear to leave so quickly. They told you that you need to decide if this is the job for you! That is very much a way of saying, “This may not be the job for you,” and it’s a way of warning you things might not work out. Of course you started looking at other prospects after that! They’re not going to be shocked by that, and they might even be relieved if things aren’t going the way they’d hoped. If/when you resign, you can say something like, “I appreciate you being candid with me about your concerns that this might not be the right match. I took that seriously and after a lot of thought, I’ve decided it does make sense to move on.”

5. Store donates part of our tips to charity, without our permission

I’m a high school senior who works in a local food service shop that’s in my small town. It’s usually great. But we get tips in cash and through our iPad debit card system, so every week our boss adds up all of the tips and divides it by how many hours we worked and gives it to us in cash. Last year during the early days of the pandemic, there were a few times where the owners donated our product to local hospitals/first responders using not the store’s profit, but a small portion of our tips (maybe 10%? I was never told) but there was some consultation with the staff about whether we were okay with that.

I hadn’t heard anything else about the donations until recently, when I saw that my boss posted on the store Facebook page that the employees are so generous to donate a portion of our tips to hospital workers. No one that I’ve talked to was consulted as to if we wanted to do this. I’m not totally opposed to donating money, but it feels unethical that this money is disappearing without us even knowing, and some of my coworkers don’t want to either. I wish this would have been a conversation. It’s not a ton, but tips are often around $35 for a five-hour shift, so that 10% adds up quickly in how much we’re losing. Also, most people who work there are in high school with a few in college, so I feel like I want them to learn what is and isn’t appropriate from their employers for the future and how to stick up for themselves. Is this unethical or okay? And if it isn’t, any ideas for a script of how to talk to my boss about it? I would not know what to say.

No, this isn’t okay! Your boss can’t legally or ethically take your tips without your consent. It sounds like might have had it that first time (although it’s not clear if everyone agreed or not), but if he’s continuing to do it without checking with people, he needs to stop. Federal law prohibits any arrangement that requires tipped employees to turn over their tips to the employer (even if the employer then donates the money to charity). You can read more about the law here.

It’s also gross that he’s trying to make the store look good by taking money from y’all. If the store wants the credit for charitable donations, the store itself should provide the money.

Ideally a group of you should say, “We realized that federal law prevents any portion of our tips from being taken from us without our explicit agreement to donate them to charity. We think it’s great if the store wants to donate to charity, but it should come from the store, not from employees’ tips. Going forward, please do not deduct from our tips.”

{ 863 comments… read them below }

  1. Bowserkitty*

    I hope people don’t pile on LW1! At least they had the awareness to write in for advice and can correct their behavior going forward.

      1. JessaB*

        I love Alison’s answer, but LW1 needs to understand that when someone responds badly to something someone says, and then the response of that person is “only kidding, it’s a joke,” a lot of people are used to being gaslighted. My father used to do that to my sister a lot. “Only kidding,” when whatever he said landed wrong. It wasn’t. So a lot of people have been conditioned to distrust “it’s a joke, really.” OP may not be aware of this kind of thing, I’m sure they’re actually being sincere about the fact that they meant it as a joke.

        1. BabyElephantWalk*

          Exactly. He may not mean it that way, but offensive jokes followed by “just kidding” have a history and reputation for a reason.

    1. Caroline Bowman*

      Agree. It sounds like the person concerned might be somewhat younger or maybe just inexperienced in this role and was trying to be collegial and jokey, but obviously it landed badly (unsurprisingly, under the circumstances). There’s no malice there at all and they’re taken aback at being so misunderstood, but the takeaway is that they need to knock it off now and immediately and possibly briefly apologise to the reports (discuss with boss first) and explain that A/ they know they were wrong and why and B/ a firm commitment to never joke about that kind of thing again. It doesn’t need to be OTT, just to draw a line under the matter.

      1. HB*

        Yup! And particularly if the person has ever heard someone else joke with them in that matter (again, due to immaturity, discomfort, or just not thinking it through) and it didn’t bother them, then they would continue on thinking that’s a normal/acceptable thing. Kudos to the LW for writing in to ask.

        1. Selena*

          It seems well possible that LW has been joking about ‘getting myself fired’ when he had a student-job that he wouldn’t mind losing.
          And that’s why he didn’t realize that to many people losing a job is A Very Serious Matter (even if it is ‘just’ a cleaning job)

          Kudos to him for seeking advise rather than digging himself in ‘it was a joke, WhY CaNt ThEy UnDeRStAnd ThAt’

      2. anonymouse*

        Agree as well.
        OP, you need to stop thinking, “of course I’m not going to fire you,” and starting thinking, “I believe these people are going to work out and I believe I will be able to train them.”

      3. Gypsy, Acid Queen*

        I wasn’t in a power position like LW1, but I learned quickly in a job that my jokes did not land in front of a boss and got a few reprimands for saying “bad things.” I even said something flippant like “X must have been abducted by aliens to make that decision hee hee.” I assumed my sarcasm/joking was obvious, but boy oh boy it was NOT to them. I had to adjust and keep my sarcasm to myself coz I knew it just caused some people to take what I said literally.

        LW1, you have now learned that humor (or your brand of humor) isn’t how to connect with these folks and that’s okay! There has to be other ways you are seeing in your day-to-day that is helping you connect, so use that instead of the jokes.

        1. Boof*

          Er, I doubt they were taking “abducted by aliens” literally but it does sound very critical / negative and it’s hard to visualize a professional situation where it would be more funny than scornful.

          1. Alianora*

            Agreed. I think they probably got that it wasn’t literal, doesn’t mean it was cool to say. Sometimes the problem with sarcasm isn’t that it’s taken literally, but that it sounds overly negative or just rude.

        2. Veteran teacher*

          When I was a student teacher, my mentor told me, “Don’t ever use sarcasm in the classroom. They’re just too young and it will get misinterpreted and you will have witnesses that you said what you said.” I thought she was being a little extreme, but I listened while under her watch. Fast forward a few years when I told one of my brightest students who had a lot of test anxiety in response to a nervous comment, “Yeah, since you’re going to fail.” This girl was so intelligent. Had never gotten below a B on anything. I thought it was SO CLEAR I was being sarcastic. Nope. Ruined the relationship forever with one sentence. She never trusted me again. Sometimes you just learn this kind of stuff by being burned.

          1. Glitter Spuds*

            This was me when I was in high school. As a student. Very anxious. Very smart. Very overwhelmed. At one point the high school principal asked me how I was doing, since it was my senior year. I gave a brief, but polite rundown what was keeping me busy. And she told me that “Clearly, there was not enough on my plate, and I must be considering additional points to my school involvement to keep me out of trouble.”

            She was being sarcastic.

            I did not know this. I was too stressed and too tired to even consider that what she said might have been in jest. I went home a bawled, bc I didn’t know what else I was expected to do. That was 17 years ago, and I still remember how awful that made me feel.

    2. I'd Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

      Yes, and I think her second paragraph is key. Many of us feel awkward being at the ‘top’ of a power dynamic and that can manifest in weird ways.

      1. Escapee from Corporate Management*

        That’s true, but OP1, remember that no matter how uncomfortable you may be having the power to fire someone, it’s 100x more uncomfortable knowing someone can fire you and is making a joke about it. Show empathy to that person and you will be a good boss.

    3. Keymaster of Gozer*

      Yeah, I think everyone has had at least one ‘oh crud, maybe I did mess up!’ moment in them.

      Humour is a hard thing to get right (I once did a brief stint as a standup comedian – reading your audience is HARD) and if your natural style is toward to more aggressive it can be entirely too easy to slip into it at work or other inappropriate situations. To hold that off and train yourself as to why certain things are not suitable is a learnt skill – as my 21 year old nephew is learning (his boss on the building site told him to cut out his comments)

      1. Shirley Keeldar*

        Humor is hard and it’s also not always necessary. Sometimes I feel like TV and movies train us to think that life should be a long series of one-liners, and it just…doesn’t have to be that. It’s fine for work communication to err on the side of clear but maybe a little boring. Really. Better for people to understand you than to be entertained by you. (Not you specifically, OP, a general “you.”)

        1. Ganymede*

          Agree so much. Plus, it’s nice if people like you – and I think that’s a bigger thing for younger managers – but making jokes isn’t necessarily the way to make that happen.

          Kindness – warmth – precision – ability to listen: all better than making a joke.

        2. Joan Rivers*

          A great comedian can get away w/”aggressive” humor if they’re really great, but even they have trouble sometimes.
          But an amateur needs to be careful at work.

        3. Keymaster of Gozer*

          Also v true. I mean I work in an environment where swearing is kinda par for the course but we’ve got zero tolerance for homophobic, racist, antisemetic, sexist etc. kind of talk. It’s taken a few new starters a few stern words to get to grips with that.

        4. Lolo9090*

          I concur 1000000%! I am a big time jokester and super silly in my personal life and I work in a pretty conservative field where it would be Not OK to act how I act at home. It’s tough to balance wanting to joke around at work! Delivery is a big part of it, but another big part of it is that it’s just sometimes not the topic or the time for comedy.

    4. Le Sigh*

      Yeah. LW1, one thing to keep in mind is it’s quite possible the people you’re supervising have had bosses fire them on a whim or just threaten it constantly to “keep people in line.” So, even if you actually are joking, I’m willing to bet they’ve had bosses who weren’t really actually joking.

      Even if they haven’t had those bosses, in the U.S., employment often comes with few protections and it’s pretty easy to lose your job for nothing. So the jokes only serve to undermine their trust in you.

    5. Cringe Moment*

      When I was working at a company in college I reported to a newly promoted lead. He gave a customer a 10% discount and explained to me that he could give discounts but I couldn’t. Without even thinking I said jokingly ‘I hope you always use your power for good and not evil.” It didn’t go over well and after that he constantly told people that I didn’t respect his authority when in reality I thought he was a good leader and the joke would be ok. Lesson learned- get to know people better before you joke with them.

      1. MassMatt*

        “ after that he constantly told people that I didn’t respect his authority”

        Sounds like an insecure jerk, but that’s the risk you take with humor with someone you don’t know well.

    6. LTL*

      I’m glad the LW wrote in, but it’s hard not to side-eye when they dub the person who complained “the youngest, who doesn’t have much work experience” and apparently had three (!!!) conversations with them about this. They clearly knew that it was bothering their report but didn’t even think to question the behavior until their supervisor stepped in. Mind you, they didn’t realize they were in the wrong after three conversations and a verbal warning, they went out for further confirmation. Which may be better than digging your heels in, but I wonder if the LW could still benefit from being more open to feedback.

      1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd (ENTP)*

        I hope this doesn’t come off the wrong way, but the OP doesn’t seem suited to management / team leadership at this point in time due to the lack of self-awareness and taking other people’s perspective that she seems to show. Admittedly she did write in to ask for advice, although I suspect she may have been expecting Alison to say something like “your manager and reports are being too sensitive, this isn’t normal!” and validate the ‘jokes’…

        1. Julia*

          Remember how much we don’t know: LW1 could be excellent at identifying talent, excellent at motivating people to get stuff done, excellent at having tough conversations, excellent at proactively removing roadblocks from her team’s path before they become a problem, excellent at setting priorities, etc. Or she could have the potential to be excellent at those things in the future. All we know is she made an off-color joke and dug in her heels rather than admit it was inappropriate. Let’s not jump to “unsuited for management”.

          1. Minerva*

            Motivating people to get stuff done by joking about firing them early in the relationship? Then didn’t listen when someone said it made them uncomfortable? I’d be so out of there if my manager did that…

          2. BabyElephantWalk*

            Those don’t outweigh intimidating your direct reports to the point that they feel they need to go to HR. You can have hundreds of good qualities for management and yet one poor one can completely land someone in the category of poor management choice.

      2. TheLayeredOne*

        Yes, I hope LW takes this as a final confirmation that their jokes missed the mark and were inappropriate. Also, LW should be glad that a young, inexperienced employee was willing to stick their neck out to raise the issue with LW and LW’s boss. This is an important lesson to learn, and LW is being given a golden opportunity to learn it without major consequences.

      3. Leslie_NopeNopeNope*

        This was my thought as well. I can understand that it may take some time to navigate the new power dynamics that are in play when you get promoted to a position of authority, but it shouldn’t take THIS much feedback just to accept that your jokes were inappropriate.

    7. Public Sector Manager*

      That’s the thing with jokes–they have to be funny to the person on the receiving end of the joke, not the person telling the joke.

    8. Lego Leia*

      I just had a similar conversation with my boss, who thinks that the only funny jokes are ones that belittle other people. If your “jokes” make other people uncomfortable, you apologise, and stop making them.

  2. JI*

    Re letter 4, generally one should assume you have to show up on time unless specifically told otherwise

    1. vho842*

      The OP isn’t wrong, though. They thought “On time” meant with a five minute window. There are many instances in life where that’s OK. And, culture comes into play here as well.

      1. allathian*

        Yes, absolutely. I hate being late, and if I have a job with a definite start time, I’ll probably be early rather than risk being late. That said, I would hate to work in that kind of environment as a subject matter specialist. I’m not worried about being late to work because I can set my own working hours as long as I attend any meetings I’ve agreed to attend, so unless I’m late to a meeting, I can’t be late to work. My job is pretty independent and requires very little collaboration, but it’s obviously not an option for all jobs, and certainly not for those that require coverage. If the LW’s job requires coverage, and someone is stuck leaving late because they arrive late, that’s going to generate a lot of hard feelings if they’re regularly even 5 minutes late.

        1. Joan Rivers*

          The thing is, LW says she chose this job for the “culture” yet she’s being TOLD she’s not fitting into the culture! So she’s considering a job that is LESS like the culture. Explain that logic to me.

          She sounds to me like she just doesn’t get it. You can quibble about being five mins. late and other “culture missteps” but that’s part of being an employee. Did she do this when she showed up for the interview? Or did she take that more seriously?

          After multiple reprimands in a short time, she needs to get a clue.

          1. WantonSeedStitch*

            I think it’s a common misunderstanding to people new to the workplace to think of “office culture” as being limited to “the kinds of stuff people in the office like/talk about/do for fun,” and whether they wear tee-shirts or ties, and so on. They don’t realize that it also includes things like how timely is considered “timely” (no one in my office cares if you’re five minutes late); whether it’s expected that people will work late all the time, or just as needed, or go home as soon as the clock hits 5:00 no matter what; whether people are expected to be self-directed or get management approval for everything; etc. It’s true that you should always aim to be early or on time rather than late UNLESS you have been there long enough to see how the rest of the office views timeliness (which I think the LW has probably learned by now), but it’s certainly possible to join a place for what you THINK the culture is, and later learn that there are other aspects of the culture you hadn’t considered, that make that place less than a great match.

          2. fhqwhgads*

            You’re being super harsh. The letter said this is stuff she explicitly asked about during the hiring process to assess the culture, and the answers she got don’t line up with what she’s finding in practice. So clearly there is a mismatch. It sounds like the clue she’s gotten so far is “what we said when you asked is not what we actually meant”.

            1. At A Better Place*

              She didn’t say she specifically asked about showing up on time during the interview process. That is a weird thing to ask about in an interview, don’t you think? My Boss in a previous job was a stickler for being on time about everything – but this only applied to me. Once, I was a minute late with a report (noted in bold due by 5:00 pm turned in at 5:01 pm as LATE), he actually had his assistant documented it on a sheet that the whole department followed. I think, later that year, he was even shocked at his own pettiness about it as I think HIS boss called him out about it. I’m at a better place now.

              1. At A Better Place*

                Edit my post as I just read that the OP did address flexibility in the interview. So, it does seem that the interviewer gave her the wrong message. I’m sorry you were given wrong information and now have been penalized for it.

      2. Laure*

        Yep. And it depends if you’re late “for work” where in many cases a five minutes difference doesn’t make such a… difference, or if it is for a meeting.
        It’s exasperating when you start a meeting on time to have to repeat the intro to everyone who arrives one, two, three, five minutes late… They think they’re not late (three minutes!) but you have to do the “as I was saying…” each time, argh.

        Anyway, LW, this all seems like not much of a big deal, I hope you find a great job, and lesson learned! To be honest I am often five minutes late (except for meetings for the reason stated above) but the secret is to never be late at the beginning of a job.
        Arrive five minutes before time for the first month, then (one) you can study the work culture and see if you can be a little late later, and (two) you establish your reputation as the “on time” guy and surf on this reputation for months after. ;)

        1. LavaLamp*

          At my old work, it was an office and there wasn’t a coverage component. We all somehow had a window of being up to 30 minutes ‘late’. But, our boss didn’t care. No one cared until someone in another department complained about being disciplined for being late, so our boss made our clock in times later but let us keep coming in at 6:15 or whatever. Her response to the whole thing was ‘They have a different boss, and I am not firing a 30+ person team because one person is upset, who has a completely different job, Ya’ll do good work and the time you get here doesn’t change that’.

            1. Joan Rivers*

              She asks if it’s “moral” to leave quickly but I think they’re asking her if she can morally justify staying, given multiple problems. She says maybe she didn’t “understand” their answers and comments when she interviewed, so will she for the next job?
              It’s not about the “morality” so much as these “missteps” she alludes to but doesn’t really name. Is being 5 mins. late just the tip of the iceberg?

        2. ceiswyn*

          I’m a member of a hobby group that has an explicit policy of not waiting for latecomers. If we say we’re leaving at eight, then we get in our cars the moment the city clocks start chiming and are gone when they finish. If we’re expecting someone who hasn’t shown, we may give them a call to check they’re OK and let them know where they might be able to meet us later, but we don’t wait for them.

          Result? Nobody is ever late.

          1. Bagpuss*

            But that sounds like you travel together, which puts a different complexion on things because one person being late affects all of you. In a work place that normally isn’t the case, unless it is a role where coverage is needed and one person being late means someone else has to cover their desk/phone.

          2. I take tea*

            I can understand that it’s frustrating to wait for that one person who is always late, but that sounds really rigid and not allowing for any mishaps along the way. Would you leave even if somebody told you “I’m sorry, the cat threw up on my bag, will be ten minutes late”? Or the bus is late / traffic jam, whatever. I understand that trains and flights must leave on time, but if you have your own timetable five minutes here or there shouldn’t make that much of a difference.
            I would just self-select out of that group. Problem solved.

            1. HB*

              I would hope that with a group with this policy they say something like “Arrive by 7:45 because we leave at 8.” Because those 15 minutes should be enough to account for getting settled/transferring personal belongings and providing a buffer for unexpected mishaps.

              1. ceiswyn*

                You are expected to provide your own buffer for unexpected mishaps. Knowing everyone will go without me has concentrated my mind on that point significantly!

              2. SheLooksFamiliar*

                And then there are people like my sister, who thinks you’re late if you haven’t shown up by 7:45 and she’ll leave without you. Some people really do believe, ‘If you’re 10 minutes early, you’re 5 minutes late.’

                1. Selina Luna*

                  A little off topic, but that drives me almost as crazy as my cousin, who is now 30 and still has a mindset of “I’m only 30 minutes late, so I’m basically on time.”

            2. ceiswyn*

              My experience with other groups, and indeed some meetings, is that five minutes is indeed neither here nor there – but some people start relying on the buffer, and then it becomes in practice an 8.05 start, and then some people start turning up at 8.10, and before too long you’re regularly running half an hour or an hour late, which IS a problem – but it’s now socially impossible to tighten up the rules.

              1. twocents*

                Yep. I had a group that had a 6 pm start time that became 605 to 615 to 630. Very frustrating, because it was now wasting 30 minutes of my time so other people could stroll in as they pleased.

              2. Lolo9090*

                This is totally fair and as long as everyone in the group knows it then it’s up to them to make it a priority to arrive in time to leave with the group!

            3. Person from the Resume*

              The solution is that you plan your travel so you arrive X minutes before departure so even if something unexpected happens you don’t miss the departure.

              It’s simple. Some people HATE to wait around so they try to be “efficient” by arriving exactly on time. But you just need to redefine what on time is.

              For this hobby group it could be meet at X:30 and leave at X:45. On time is on the half hour. But even if the organizer doesn’t do this, each individual member could make this happen by just changing their thinking.

              1. Artemesia*

                Now that we all have smart phones and can read a book on our phone or play a game or whatever, it makes arriving early and waiting a few minutes a lot more bearable.

              2. Yorick*

                I hate those people who try to be exactly on time because they don’t want to wait around. You’re gonna be late if you do that, and other people are gonna have to wait around for you! We don’t like to wait around either! Why is it better to make others wait around than to wait yourself??

                1. AnonInCanada*

                  Exactly this! I am of the type who believes “if you made it on time, you’re late,” since you still need some time to get yourself settled (i.e. get your cuppa joe, boot your computer, take your coat off etc.) In my job, no one’s going to scold me for being 5-10 minutes late, but personally, it bugs me to tears if I am. Hence why I always make it a point to be where I need to be early, and yes, normally that means I’m waiting for what I need to be there for to start. If I’m ever late for anything, then it’s for a reason I have absolutely no control over — we’re talking a tractor-trailer jack-knifing 100 feet in front of me on the highway and it blocked every lane type of no-control.

            4. Nancy*

              I would hope the people running late would call and let them know about those reasons.

              I don’t think it is unreasonable to leave without noshows, especially if an effort is made to call them.

              1. Le Sigh*

                This is an oversimplification, but one of the not uncommon things you’ll see in neurodiverse folks (e.g., ADHD) is difficulty tracking/gauging time. So, losing track of time, wildly underestimating how long something takes and being late as a result — even with planning, etc. It doesn’t absolve anyone of responsibility or mean they can’t come up with ways to manage it, but it a real challenge for many people.

                1. EchoGirl*

                  Yeah, there was a discussion about this on another post not too long ago. The general gist of it is, while it doesn’t mean those people should get a free pass, it is worth noting that it’s something that’s significantly more difficult for some people than others. It doesn’t help either that there isn’t a lot of help or guidance for people who struggle with this; there’s a societal mentality that fails time management as something that some people might actually need help to learn; instead, you’re expected to just automatically be able to do and then berated when you can’t just flip a switch and do it. (At most, you’ll get a few “helpful tips” that really don’t help when the issue is time blindness.)

                2. EchoGirl*

                  Adding to my comment because this was a source of a lot of misunderstanding on the previous thread, I understand that being late has an impact on other people. I’ve been on that side of it too, trust me I get it. Telling someone how it made you feel, using “I” statements, is not what I’m talking about. What I mean by berating is actually saying mean things about people (“you’re horrible”) or making assumptions about other people’s character (“this clearly isn’t really important to you or you would have been on time”). Essentially, if it wouldn’t be acceptable in a comparably annoying situation with different specifics, you probably shouldn’t say it about people being late either.

                  (And yes, sometimes people are just late because they’re lazy/don’t care. But unless you know beyond all doubt that that’s the case, don’t assume it is.)

                3. ShortT*

                  As someone with raging ADHD (I have every symptom), ASD, and APD, I experience time blindness. I lack any natural sense of time.

                  I also accept that, when a certain measure is applied to time, due to my time-blindness, I need to set alarms, reminders, and stop doing “just one more thing” before I head out the door. I need to externalize time for myself because it is something not intuitive to me. Do I enjoy it? No. What’s more unpleasant? Eating into someone else’s time.

            1. kitkatbar*

              Yeah, I’m neurodiverse and timeliness is a basic life skill that took a bit to learn, but we’re not doing any favors by treating that group differently.

              1. Falling Diphthong*

                One of the things I value in this blog is the pushback to “Oh, people with condition X just can’t handle that, so you can’t expect it” with a series of “I have condition X, and it is totally normal to manage that thing.”

                See also “If you have depression/ADHD/other you just can’t help having screaming meltdowns at people.”

                1. Lenora Rose*

                  I’m mostly seeing people in this specific thread saying “yes, we need to teach that better as a skill” rather than “ADHD folk can’t do it.” Which is great!

                  I say that as someone who loathes “people with X condition can’t ever do this soft skill thing.” But really likes threads on sharing tips and tricks to make it easier/more possible to manage.

            2. ceiswyn*

              Speaking as someone who is almost certainly neurodiverse?

              I squeaked in at the very last minute a couple of times, hated the anxiety that caused, and now set a LOT of alarms on those mornings.

              “Everyone else waits around for an extra ten minutes just in case a ND person is running late” isn’t a reasonable adjustment to make – especially when the ND person realises that everyone isn’t actually going to leave at 8am sharp and that their goal time is ‘really’ 8:10; and then runs ten minutes late for that instead…

            3. traffic_spiral*

              You can’t use being neurodiverse as an excuse for being thoughtless or rude to others. At the end of the day people are justified in going “well, regardless of your issues (and I do wish you the best in dealing with that) I’m not going to interact with you if you’re rude to me,” and yes, derailing everyone else’s plans because you showed up late is rude.

              1. Salty Librarian*

                The moralizing of timeliness is an unfortunate part of the comments on this site.

                Somebody can be on time or not to work. There may be circumstances that affect it, or not. The consequences are determined by the employer. There is no world in which somebody’s lateness has anything to do with their moral character. I’m pleased that people are waking up to the fact that it matters little if you’re not coming to a meeting or to a customer-facing desk or something, but the change is frustratingly slow.

                ND people are different from each other, mileage varies, and some person with self-diagnosed ADHD who talks about how they can show up to something on time is not at all “Pushback” on a person who has ADHD who doesn’t. They are two people with two different experiences, and both are valid.

                What a workplace chooses to expect and enforce is objective and quantifiable. It has nothing to do with an employee’s character. When I worked in public facing positions, being late was a far bigger deal than when my shift started “off-desk,” where I could get work done. The consequences differed. My morality and worth as an employee was unchanged.

                I can only wonder at the blandness of a person’s life that would lead them to feel a moral achievement from being on time. Get a hobby.

                1. Yorick*

                  In some circumstances, timeliness is really important. Sure, in some jobs it’s not super important, but it can be. If you’re late for a meeting, you’re affecting others. If you’re providing some sort of coverage, you’re affecting others. Even if somebody just might need something from you early in the day, you’re affecting them – they can’t get an answer to their question and have to keep coming back to see if you’re there. If you’re late to work every day or most days (even by 5 minutes! which is usually not actually only 5 minutes), that’s bad.

                  Honestly, most of the time, people who are habitually late are late because they’re selfish about their time. They don’t consciously think about in a selfish way and they are often otherwise be very kind and generous people, but they’re deciding that they’d rather inconvenience other people than be inconvenienced themselves.

                2. Nate*

                  >some person with self-diagnosed ADHD

                  This is really condescending and makes it sound like you believe that self-diagnosed ADHD is not valid. Especially since you followed that up with “person who has ADHD who doesn’t” in contrast.

                  And yes, I am ND (extremely so, on a pretty impressive cocktail of meds to handle it) and “diagnosed with it.”

                3. ceiswyn*

                  Getting ADD diagnosed as an adult, in my country, is very difficult – first you have to self-diagnose so that you can all to be referred for an assessment, then you have to provide the psychiatrist with school reports and people who knew you as a child for them to interview. Getting all these ducks in a row is, ironically, exactly the sort of thing that people with ADD tend to struggle with.

                  I’m still considering whether to try for it, though, as the pandemic has exacerbated a lot of things that have always been problems in my life. And which are all – ALL – on the ADD symptom list.

                4. traffic_spiral*

                  “Get a hobby.”

                  I have many – and the best bit about it is that I can join groups for that hobby because I show up on time for meetups.

            4. RagingADHD*

              Nope. I’m ND. Struggle with time and getting out the door. As long as the group isn’t crabby about it and lets me know where to meet up later, we’re good. If my Plans A-D to get there with a buffer fall through, then I have Plan E to join the group at the other end.

              A hard deadline that is always 8pm with no exceptions is actually a *lot*easier to deal with as a ND person than a group that flexes the time in some situations but not others, or where they might flex if you can get hold of them with enough margin to let them know you’re late (which is a whole other job to try to pull off when you’re running late) or where people get upset or annoyed because they waited.

              For those of us who have problems with structure, consistent external structure is extremely helpful.

            5. Disco Janet*

              Nope. Being a neurodiverse person who struggles with time management or executive functioning skills doesn’t mean you get to say “Oh well! Everyone better just accept that I might be late then.”

              If that was how it worked, no one with this struggle would go into my profession, where lateness can get you fired since you can’t have a classroom full of children unattended to because their teacher struggles with being on time. And I certainly have neurodiverse coworkers. They figure it out. (And no, the school doesn’t have to find a way to accommodate it – that’s not considered a reasonable accommodation for a school to make.)

        3. LifeBeforeCorona*

          Starting over and having to repeat yourself is irritating and a waste of time. It’s punishing the on-time people and rewarding the latecomers.

          1. Scarlet Magnolias*

            No kidding, try doing that with children’s programs that kids swan in late and the instructions have to be repeated over and over and over

        4. RebelwithMouseyHair*

          yes, I think it’s good to be very punctual at first, then take your cue from others in similar roles. Some bosses are sticklers for punctuality, thinking it’s a synonym for professionalism, even when the job could be done just as well at midnight as at 9am.

          1. HS*

            This is absolutely the way to do it. I’m usually obnoxiously punctual, but my current job has a lot of flexibility with start time so I do take advantage of that flex. But I didn’t start doing that until after a few weeks of being 30-60 minutes earlier to work than everybody else! Gotta figure out the culture over time and better to err on the side of early until you know.

          2. Falling Diphthong*

            Yes, I think the norm is to aim to be 5 minutes early for your first couple of weeks, and then both:
            a) You have a sense of the office culture.
            b) They have a sense of you.

            There’s a big difference between ignoring Proven Performer’s being 5 minutes late, ducking out early, etc, vs someone who just showed up two days ago and is already feeling super casual about that stuff.

        5. MissBaudelaire*

          My company now has a ‘start time’ for our big quarterly everybody get your butts here meeting… But we always start like, fifteen-twenty minutes after that because so many people wander in late and they can’t restart the presentations.

          And this seems fine, on the outset. But it is very frustrating for those of us who get there on time and need the meeting over with so we can go the hell home. I wonder if accommodating these people being late is encouraging them to be late sometimes.

          1. Artemesia*

            my job of 40+ years had a start time of 10 minutes after the stated time for meetings — it took me a crazy long time to school myself to show up 10 minutes late as I had always been punctual — it never did start to ‘feel’ right. I often did use the time to plot with the people who also showed up ‘on time’ — controlled a few policy meetings that way.

      3. LDN Layabout*

        Not when you’ve just started a job though. Those first few weeks are where you pick up on the office culture and find out how everything works.

        1. lailaaaaah*

          Also when it’s your first job, and you’re probably young enough that people will take even minor mistakes as something to be flagged up (especially if not corrected fairly quickly – when I had an intern, I expected she would miss things about office culture, and she did, but I also expected that I would only have to ask her to do the correct thing once before she fixed it).

          1. Lily Rowan*

            Yeah, that’s right — I have definitely hired people into their first office jobs and had to give them very specific instructions about things I would have thought were obvious as well as things I don’t care about but my boss did. Including punctuality! I don’t care if someone arrives at 9:05, but if my boss does, I will ride my staff until they get there at 8:55 consistently. I don’t enjoy it, but I will do it. Sorry!

            1. SheLooksFamiliar*

              I’ve had those conversations and it bothered me, too. Unless we had a meeting or urgent commitment, I just didn’t insist that people should arrive at a certain time. As long as they met deadlines and were generally reliable, I didn’t care if they showed up at 9:10 am. My staff didn’t abuse my trust, either, proving the point that if you treat people like adults, they usually act like adults!

              In the rare instance that my boss or grandboss was a clock watcher, I explained that we sometimes need to meet a leader’s expectations as a sign of respect for their authority. But I also had my team’s back if boss or grandboss complained.

        2. Wry*

          Yeah, this is my thought as well. In general my experience in salaried office jobs is that arrival time allows for a few minutes’ buffer, but as a new employee, I would always err on the side of arriving on time (and allowing myself a buffer to make sure I arrive early or on time). It would take me weeks, or potentially a couple months, to feel comfortable arriving a few minutes late or slipping out a few minutes early.

          Obviously I don’t know the specifics of this LW’s job, and it sounds like there’s some other stuff going on, but in general, I think it’s good practice when you’re a new employee to follow all rules and guidance to the letter and err on the side of caution, watch for a while to see what other employees are doing, and only start doing things differently when you’re well established or someone in a position of authority tells you you can do things differently.

        3. MassMatt*

          This. I’ve had a few jobs where coverage/punctuality was a major thing, so my take on it is stricter than many of the commenters, but you should be on your best behavior at a new job, especially early in your career.

          Quitting a job based on warnings about showing up on time seems pretty flighty. Having an employer tell you “you need to think whether you want to work here” is a pretty serious warning, IMO unlikely to be triggered by being a minute late as the LW describes it.

          And now they are considering completely different jobs because the one they chose isn’t in their career path? I wish we knew more about the miscommunications about company culture the LW alludes to. It sounds as though the interview did not “work”, as in they did not get a clear idea at all on what the job entails.

          LW, I hope you have a better/more thorough/honest interview with your next job, and do your best to be a good employee there, yes that probably includes showing up on time. Otherwise you will have trouble progressing from entry-level jobs.

      4. General von Klinkerhoffen*

        Yes, agreed. It was something that jumped out at me from the letter.

        I’ve had jobs where “9am” meant “enter the building no later than 9.00 but if you don’t reach your desk until five past, and then go and fetch your coffee while the computer’s booting up”, and jobs where it meant “the phone will start to ring at 9.00 and you need to be ready to pick it up within three rings and have all the relevant systems open in front of you ready to go”. It depends on office culture and individual role.

        I’m not sure that LW4 *needs* to leave and find another job (particularly if salary and pandemic conditions still apply) but if they think it’s a genuine culture clash then I agree there’s no shame in doing so. Also, no harm in keeping their eye out for suitable roles in their chosen field, whilst making a valuable contribution to this “just for now” field.

        I would like LW4 to consider the extent to which what has happened actually adds up to culture clash, and how much was their own misunderstanding of actual workplace norms which will also be in place elsewhere – precise interpretation of “9am” will vary, but good communication is valued in most if not all decent workplaces, particularly with new starters (so if you’re now on top of that you’re fine where you are).

        1. Cassie*

          Yes it is so company specific! My firm allows us to come in up to 1.5 hours early (and leave 1.5 hours early as a result) but there is no flex the other way at all I.e you can’t come in later. It’s just a weird company thing that you wouldn’t know unless you’re here.

        2. Smithy*

          This is incredibly true. While this may simply be a straightforward culture clash, and in another environment the OP will have no issues – it might also mean that the OP is simply not as quick in perceiving office norms. If the OP is remote, this is entirely understandable where it’s both harder to observe norms as well as harder for a team to communicate their norms.

          I’ve been salaried for a while, and after a while it’s really clear that most teams would benefit from announcing core hours. I worked one office that leaned much heavier on being in the office early and accommodating to early leave. And I’ve also seen the flip side, where showing up early gained no points but leaving before 5:30pm was considered early. In both places, you could certainly show a track record and build capital to have a different kind of schedule – but it was outside the norm of what that team considered standard.

          Picking those details up while remote may simply be harder, and it will only benefit the OP going forward just to be more aware that their instincts on this point might not be as aligned with all office cultures.

        3. MissBaudelaire*

          You are right. My last job had a start time of 5:30 AM, but what that really meant was be standing at your station, working, at 5:25 AM. And if you weren’t, the supervisors were hollering for you wondering where you were.

          My current job has a start time, and what that means is be punched in by then…. but then you can go get your coffee, visit the washroom, munch some breakfast before work really starts.

        4. sb51*

          And at my first job, “flex hours but you must be in by 10 (and stay to 4)” meant 90% of the team trooped in at 10:15 looking sheepish, and would get pissy at me if I declined a 6pm meeting. (I’m not even a morning person! But I wanted my day to end at a reasonable time.)

      5. Asenath*

        I hate being as much as a minute late, and so generally turn up a bit early. But I know this is a personal quirk – in a new job, I’d definitely turn up slightly (maybe 5-10 minutes) early and watch for a week or two to see just how this particular workplace interprets “on time”. Also, there’s the question of whether “8 AM” means you’re in the door at 8 AM or at your desk or workstation at 8 AM with your coat off, your lunch put away, and ready to start. That sort of difference can appear minor, but can be very important in some places, which is why finding out what “on time” means in any specific place or situation really means.

      6. Allonge*

        It seems like boss is telling OP that they are not on time. It may or may not make sense in the grand scheme of things, but at this particular company, on time = actually down to the minute.

        1. Paulina*

          Or at least not consistently a few minutes late. Targeting the correct start time with a bit of error should mean being a bit late sometimes and being a bit early sometimes. Being late frequently and predominantly indicates that a late arrival is the actual target. I know many people who would honestly say that they’re flexible but would still have a problem with someone planning to take frequent advantage of that flexibility before they’d built up any kind of track record.

      7. EventPlannerGal*

        Right, but in your first week on the job you should probably confirm if what you think is correct, not just assume it is without asking. If OP’s manager is picking up on communication problems in general this is probably just one aspect of that.

      8. Dust Bunny*

        Yeah, but at a new job the five-minute window is five minutes before start time, not five minutes either way. If you’re not there on the dot, you need to be early.

        1. Well...*

          That isn’t really a window then… That guarantees you’re exactly on time. Usually when people say a window, they mean expanding around an average time on both sides.

      9. Brent*

        There are many jobs where on time is on time and not a second later, though. Not from the US but it’s the norm in my Asian country. Sometimes, your pay is docked for every minute late. These aren’t only for coverage based jobs. It’s just the workplace norm here.

        In general, you shouldn’t assume that “on time” means 5 minutes late. Be conservative and show up a few minutes early on your first weeks on the job while you’re still learning the culture.

        1. Ganymede*

          In my old profession “If you’re 5 minutes early you’re 5 minutes late”. Expected to be ready to start work on the dot.

          This was in the theatre – but applied to rehearsals too, not just the show.

      10. Barb*

        At a brand new job, where you are learning office norms and trying to present your best image at the very beginning? No, you should start out by being extra cautious and asking lots of questions while you learn the ropes, if you don’t want to end up in the situation that occurred to the OP.

        1. sunny-dee*

          Especially since this is, presumably, an entry level job where she is probably still in training (meaning other people are setting at least some time aside to train her, and expect her to be available), and she already has other serious performance issues.

          It may be a bad culture fit – and without knowing her industry, I don’t know if the lessons here would be applicable – but I would seriously listen to the negative feedback and try to adjust going into her new job.

        2. Artemesia*

          In any new job, the first month should be devoted to observing and figuring out the culture and the informal as well as the formal power structure. And arriving a few minutes early should be routine until you understand the norms around time. Some places you need to be at your desk working when the workday time rolls around; some places you are good as long as you are in the building; some places have a loose start time. BUT as a newbie, you assume that you don’t know the nuances and you show up a few minutes early so you are working when the clock tolls.

      11. PoppySeeds*

        No even just culture it also depends on the type of job. I work in education -specifically high school. We have students who arrive late with a cup of frappa-latest craze and a bag of breakfast from a fast food joint and are indignant for being dinged for tardiness. Good habits start early if you want all that build in the time and get up earlier. I should add that HS starts at 9:15 am in my district. There are times where lateness is unavoidable for instance in my early career a rainy day would up my commute from 45 minutes to 2 hours and the local was only really 15 minutes for my house.

        1. Artemesia*

          I taught HS for several years and classes began at 8 but we were expected to be there at 7:30 because you CANNOT be late when you are responsible for a classroom full of minors. There are lots of jobs like this where a minute late is actually a problem and 15 minutes a bit of a catastrophe.

      12. Nanani*

        When I still worked in an office, 5 minutes would not likely be noticed – unless it was an important meeting or something. Getting to your desk at 9:04 instead of 9:00 on the dot was just not a concern. I think this is pretty normal in non-public facing jobs, so OP is not imagining things.

      13. Glitsy Gus*

        Yeah, I ended up getting caught in a misunderstanding like this with one manager. When I interviewed, and even during onboarding, they had said, “oh, it really doesn’t matter when you arrive or leave as long as the work gets done and you don’t miss a meeting.” So, in order to miss rush hour, I started working roughly 10-6. Well, it turns out what manager ACTUALLY meant was, “I don’t care what time you get in as long as you’re here by 9:30.” Most folks in the department were early birds, and I was the first person to shift my schedule later, rather than earlier, to miss traffic. It ended up causing a bit of a rift in our relationship until that disconnect was fixed because I thought what I was doing was fine and they thought I was late all the time.

    2. Sleeping after sunrise*

      I’ve actually never had this discussion unless being exactly on time was required.

      I have always turned up “on time” for the first week – and then relaxed off if nothing indicates that’s not the norm. So far, that has worked.

      1. Bagpuss*

        YEs, I think even in a job where there is generally some flexibility it’s sensible to start by comin in at / slightly before the time you are supposed to start, and until you have had time to see what the norm is for that particular job, in that particular office, and with your immediate co-workers and boss.

        1. Artemesia*

          You also don’t know for sure what your commute will be like until you have done it for awhile.

      2. TechWorker*

        Yes even in jobs that are usually very flexible (we have an ‘arrive any time before 10 and work your hours’ policy) the first week can be different! If someone is booked in to say, start a training session at 9.30 and you were told to be there for 9.30, rolling in at even 5 minutes past is going to raise an eyebrow.

        1. Ana Gram*

          Especially if showing up at 9:35 means that’s when you walk in the door. Add another 15 minutes to get to your desk, put your stuff down, use the restroom, and grab your things and head to a conference room for training. As a trainer, I’d be pretty annoyed.

      3. hbc*

        I think the best policy is to show up doing everything on the super safe, conservative side. Be on-time or early, dress nicer than is probably necessary, don’t pull out your personal phone even if everyone else does random checks, no curses stronger than “gosh,” etc. Then after a week or so, you can figure out where you can start to relax.

      4. Lacey*

        Yup. I’m always just a bit early for the first week or so. Till I get a feel for when everyone trickles in.

        And those kinds of norms can change over time if you’re at a place long enough. At my longest job it started off where 5 minutes wasn’t a big deal, but for 10 you needed to call. Over time that morphed into the expectation that we’d be there in the first hour. But later I started coming in early for reasons of my own and by then I had a boss who loved that I was showing up early and took it as being particularly dedicated.

    3. Juniper*

      In every office job I’ve held, the opposite has been true. Granted, I haven’t worked in industries where coverage was important, but most workplaces comprised of professional adults will trust their employees to manage their own time effectively. In my country we have a concept called “core time” which most companies operate by, meaning that as long as you are in the office between 9am and 3pm you can manage your hours on either side of that block however you see fit.

      1. Bethany*

        What country is that? I’m Australian and I didn’t realise it was country-specific.

    4. Seeking Second Childhood*

      In some companies the acceptable ‘window’ also means not EARLY. Either way is a communication thing for a ‘first salary’ type position.

    5. JM60*

      Most salaried jobs don’t have a specific time that’s “one time”, much less one that is enforced down to the minute.

      1. Not playing your game anymore*

        I would say rather that MANY salaried jobs don’t have a specific … I’ve worked (the same) salaried job since 1987. (yes I’m a dinosaur) and different bosses have different expectations. Under one boss you had a two minute window to arrive and depart morning, noon and night. Boss couldn’t abide lateness but in fairness didn’t expect overtime. Over the years the expectation has morphed to be average 40 hours a week. During wfh times it was, just always deal with email in a timely fashion, show up for zoom sessions, and get your work done. How could a new hire know? Watch what your co-workers do to get an idea of the culture.

      2. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        Came to say this. I only had one job where the buzzer went off at 8:00:00 and you were written up if you weren’t past the tourniquet by that time. (So you could be written up for being one second late, though they would’ve probably put 8:01 as your arrival time.) But that was eons ago in Home Country. Never in the US. There was one job I interviewed for where 8:05 was considered late, but one of my interviewers warned me about that policy and I decided not to proceed with the interview process (as, apparently, had several other candidates before me). In my field, strict hours are a very rare exception. Definitely not something one should know to expect at a new job. (With the obvious caveat that you need to be on time for meetings.)

    6. LifeBeforeCorona*

      One Old Job on time meant being ready to start working the minute the clock struck 9AM. Another job on time meant you could be pulling into the parking lot and still be considered on time. There is such a huge variation with the definition of “on time” that it should be clarified on the first day of any job.

      1. Tequila & Oxford Commas*

        Yes! When I’m onboarding someone new, that’s part of the spiel. In my department, start times are anywhere between 8 am – 9:30. Unless you’re staffing the front desk, I don’t care whether you’re walking in the door (or signing on fromhome) at 8 am or at 9:27. Of course if you have an 8:45 meeting scheduled, it would not be cool to roll in at 9 am, but as long as you’re not inconveniencing your colleagues, I really only care if you’re getting your work done in a timely fashion, not whether you’re physically/virtually present at a particular time.

      2. Rob aka Mediancat*

        I never liked places that wanted you be ready at 9, when they started paying you at 9, but expected you to get there at 8:45 and take 15 unpaid minutes to set up and get ready. I’ll show up at 8:45, but then you should pay me from 8:45.

        1. EchoGirl*

          Agreed — my old job actually got sued over this. I was too new at the time to be affected, but one of my friends got a check for a few hundred dollars for unpaid work, and they changed the time clock system going forward.

    7. The Other Dawn*

      I agree, especially when you’re very new to the job. I wish OP had stated whether this is a coverage-based job, since being on time would matter the most. But even it wasn’t, this is a new job. Show up at 9am for the first week or two and watch to see what others are doing.

      I’ve had jobs that were coverage-based and I had to be there at X time. I’ve had others where it wasn’t coverage-based and still had to be there at X time simply because that’s when meetings were starting or people in other departments were starting to call with questions. And my last two jobs, the department has core hours, which means being generally available to other departments if they need help, but we come in anytime from 7am-9am, even for the hourly employees. With these last two, I still came in at X time for a few weeks to see the flow, make sure I’m there for training, meetings, and other things.

      1. Dust Bunny*

        Yeah, coverage-based jobs don’t have wiggle room, or at least none that I’ve ever had did. You clocked in at the time your shift started or you were late, period, because other staff were waiting for your assistance. One of my supervisees complained that she was never eligible for employee of the month because she was habitually a few minutes late and “it shouldn’t be that big a deal”. Well, one, that wasn’t the only thing standing in her way, but even if it had been, if it wasn’t a big deal it shouldn’t have been a big deal for her to leave five minutes earlier and get there on time.

        1. PT*

          I worked with coverage based jobs (you handed off coverage) and we had some wiggle room. Lots of weird stuff happened. Disabled subway trains, massive highway accidents, no parking available for blocks at a time when there was normally tons of parking, part-time workers whose professors or other jobs wouldn’t let them leave on time and threatened them, the timeclock was broken and wouldn’t work, etc. And that’s before you get to actual emergencies, like someone getting into a car accident on the way to work or having a serious illness at the last minute and landing in the ER, etc.

          90% of the time everyone was on time for work and we were able to do handoffs uneventfully. But if your staff schedule includes a lot of handoffs, 10% adds up, and you’ll learn to build in room for contingencies.

    8. Quickbeam*

      I agree. We don’t know if someone had to cover their desk and we don’t know how often this was happening. I think that especially in a new job, making sure you show up on time is a basic rule of thumb. I know in this forum puncuality is seen as a lesser skill but making a first impression is important. You can start being late after people feel they can rely upon you.

    9. DataGirl*

      Not knowing the exact circumstances of OP’s job, within 5 minute window could seem very reasonable. My first corporate job was in a neighboring city where I had to take a train that only ran once per hour. My start time was 8am, I could either take the train that got me there by 8:05 and be 5 minutes late, or take the train that got me there at 7:05 and be 55 min early. Perhaps I should have thought differently, but I assumed taking the train that got me there closest to my start time was fine… until I got called out on it by my manager and had to start taking the earlier train then sit around for nearly an hour (no, I couldn’t flex my time and start earlier).

      1. Claire*

        This story is a great example of why it’s ridiculous to be so rigid about being “on time” (a concept that varies in different cultures around the world) unless there is a very good reason to do so.

        1. wittyrepartee*

          Yeah, I come from a Latin American background, and my fiancee come from a Japanese background, most of our friends come from various immigrant backgrounds. Essentially we live in our own timezones. His is 15 minutes ahead of stated time, mine is 15-30 minutes behind.

          1. HQetc*

            Yes, even within the US there are big cultural differences (and I assume other countries, just speaking to the context I know)! I am from the southwest, and went to grad school in New England. Another southwest friend and I joked that we were on southwest standard time, and consequently 10-30 minutes late for everything (I went out of my way to only schedule meetings for at least 30 minutes after my start time so I’d be in the building already). My then-boyfriend was a New Englander and it drove him crazy. I really really tried to get on his level when planning things with him, but mostly that meant I managed to be 5-15 minutes late instead, and he did his best to appreciate the effort.

            1. wittyrepartee*

              I’m in NYC, where all lateness can be explained by “oh, subways you know?!”. But we’ve worked out that if timing is important, he tells me when we’re leaving. If it’s more of a casual wittyrepartee event, it’s my job to get us out the door.

        2. MassMatt*

          Interesting, my take is that this story is a great example of why a new employee should show up on time.

          Letter writer (and you) can consider it as ridiculous as you like; LW is the one whose job is in jeopardy. Though I suspect the issue goes much further than tardiness.

          1. Chantel*

            Yes, this. Honestly, when did being on time to work become optional and a cause for eyerolls? Minus periodic unforeseen circumstances, how did it get to be so hard to grow up and – omg – show up to work on tme?

      2. twocents*

        In a situation like that, what I would recommend is explaining (before accepting the offer) the train schedule situation and finding out what flexibility there is; not just rolling in late in the hopes they’ll let it slide. If you find out there’s no flexibility, then that’s valuable information for you too. Do you want to take that job knowing you have to wait around an extra 55 minutes every day or do you want to keep looking?

        1. DataGirl*

          Well in this particular case I was in another country and had to take any job I was offered to keep my visa, so I did not have the option to keep looking. Obviously that’s a unique case, but even if I had not had those circumstances as a 22 year old with her first office job I doubt it would have occurred to me to discuss the train schedule beforehand.

        2. Yorick*

          This is something you could explain after taking the job, but before being late every day. If you asked about it, you may be able to adjust your schedule.

          Because the thing to remember is that if the bus arrives at your office at 8:05 then you’re likely not going to be working until more like 8:10 or 8:15. In some places, “on time” means actually starting to work at your start time, and a boss in those places is going to be right to be annoyed that you’re starting so late.

    10. OP4*

      Some answers to questions:

      -Job is not coverage based
      -I show up on time to meetings, this was about start of day
      -everyone else is very flexible in hours and timing, this was later clarified to me that those employees have a different pay structure, so I do not get that flexibility
      -timeliness in the morning is a specific bugbear of mine, and I was originally told in the interview that flexibility was part of the job and they didn’t care what hours I worked as long as it was done. (I always asked about flexibility and work hours in interviews)

      1. Jessen*

        That definitely puts a different spin on things! It sounds like you asked about this and had reason to expect the job was a certain way about time, and that’s important to you. And the reality on the ground isn’t what they led you to believe. Personally I’d be annoyed just by your last point on its own – that the flexibility you asked about is turning out to not actually exist.

      2. Tequila & Oxford Commas*

        I’d personally still err on the side of caution in arriving a few minutes early for the first couple of weeks, because I am anxious like that, but it doesn’t sound like you were wildly off-base, OP!

        1. Sarah*

          But if there’s no specific start time, how can one be early? This is where there is misalignment. I have colleagues who start their day at 6:30 AM, and those who start at 9:30. I generally log on a bit after 8, after getting my kid to school. Am I late? Early? On time? It’s all arbitrary.

      3. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        Wow this does not make any sense! You specifically asked, were told that they were flexible, and now they single you out and make you the only one who cannot be a minute late?! That’s not even a workplace culture difference. I don’t even know what that is. Would probably be wise for you get out of there.

        1. sunny-dee*

          The OP has only been there a month, though. Even if they are flexible *in general*, I wouldn’t want someone strolling in 5 minutes late and then setting up on their first day, which is what the OP seemed to do. It sets a really bad impression.

          1. WantonSeedStitch*

            Honestly, I would even make that clear as an interviewer. I’ve told people “in general, we are OK with people working the hours they choose as long as they work a full day and MOST of those hours fall within an average 9-5 work day. But for your first few weeks, I need you here right at 8:30 (or whatever) so we can make sure your training schedule runs along on time, because a lot of other people are involved in it and we need to respect their time.”

          2. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

            I probably strolled up 5 minutes late on my first day at every job I’ve had.

            Because my jobs were in fact flexible (as long as everyone was on time for meetings, i.e., if your team has an 8:00 meeting, you’ve got to be sitting in the meeting at 8:00) and no one in the office, up to and including the CEO, knew or cared what “5 minutes late” meant.

            If that’s not how OP’s job operates, then they are not flexible and should have said so.

        2. Nanani*

          I wonder if the interviewer or whoever else they talked to didn’t realize that structural difference between their own role and the one OP was getting.
          Bait and switch regardless of why!

      4. Orange You Glad*

        That is frustrating that you were told one thing and they expect a different thing. I can sort of understand how this misunderstanding might have come about. The interviewer may have been speaking about their own schedule or mentioned it as something that may be possible. I’ve had a problem with my boss speaking at length about his flexible schedule and conference travel experience in an interview for an entry-level position that I know some candidates have misinterpreted.

        At my company, we like to say we can offer flexibility but that flexibility must be earned. A new employee would not be extended the freedom to set their own schedule right away – that’s something we’d work towards based on their performance/output. There’s also IMO a big difference between someone who shows up 15 mins late every day without saying anything and someone who specifically asked for that schedule for a reason such as public transit schedules not lining up.

        These issues you mentioned in your letter seem minor and fixable. We all make some missteps when we are new. I would focus on your work output and make sure there aren’t any issues with that. I would also keep looking at other companies that better align with your career goals.

        1. OP4*

          Okay, I think this specific mismatch is closest to what happened in the interview versus what has happened at work.

          I think I misinterpreted or misheard, because the boss said in the interview that flexibility was absolutely fine, but apparently they meant attached to the other pay structure, which they would switch me to in two years. I didn’t twig onto that, or they didn’t specify, and I think that was the issue specifically for ‘flexibility’.

          1. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

            well, when you explained to them that in your interview, you asked about flexibility and this was what you were told, so you were operating under that understanding, did they refuse to cut you any slack? I mean, they seem to be reacting really strongly to what seems a reasonable misunderstanding on your part. I mean, you will need to start coming in early or on time if you continue there (and ideally you already have since they brought it up), but I think they are really overreacting to what seems an honest mistake (unless I am missing some very important context).

      5. PT*

        Honestly given what you are saying, I would leave. I have worked places where they refuse to communicate clearly about expectations- they give you one set of directions, and then get mad at you for following it, and also get mad at you for looking around at what everyone else is doing and socially referencing what the culture/rules are, because you are supposed to read their minds and figure out that for you, there are special rules that apply to you and only you that are the complete opposite of what they are telling you and what everyone else is doing.

        If they want to play mind games, they can play them with someone else.

      6. Observer*

        That changes a lot.

        You should still generally try to be on time in the morning when you start the job. But certainly, if you were told that “lexibility was part of the job and they didn’t care what hours I worked as long as it was done.” it’s pretty odd that you got told off for coming in 5 minutes past time. It’s also pretty poor management.

        Do you have any sense of why they told you one thing and then did something else? That could be useful information. I’d still be looking for a new job, though. The good part is that I doubt you’ll be burning a bridge. Especially if you use the language that Alison suggests.

      7. GraceRN*

        Thanks for chiming in here OP4. This situation certainly sounds difficult and frustrating.

        Alison gave a great answer to your question. However, even if you leave this job and start a new one, I would still suggest you take some time to reflect on your experience. If you don’t, there is a good chance that you’ll run into similar issues in the next job.

        Even though many commenters zeroed in on the timeliness detail, I hope you won’t get too fixated on that point, or attribute your difficulties solely to “not fitting in that particular office culture.” It sounds like the bigger picture is you haven’t grasped the unwritten, often subtle social and behavior norms of the office, and adjust your behavior accordingly. Things like the morning start time and the frequency of communication are the kind of tacit knowledge that new employees need to pick up as soon as possible, no matter what job you’re in, or how experienced. Not sure the reason for timeliness begin a bugbear of yours but I am not seeing how that would be a worthy hill to die on.

        1. Loredena*

          Start time can be a huge issue for people with time blindness, common with ADD; sleep issues such as apnea, insomnia, or even a different body clock. I had trouble with a client that wanted me at my desk at a time that combined with how far I lived meant I was literally an accident waiting to happen in the morning. Only client I’ve specifically told management I didn’t want again

          1. EchoGirl*

            Another piece of the puzzle can be (or it is for me, at least) anxiety. As someone who struggles with ADHD-related time blindness, I can almost always manage to be on time when it’s a strict requirement, but it’s terrible for my mental health to have it hanging over my head that an unexpected delay could affect my job. So even if I show up at about the same time regardless, flexibility is really helpful because it takes away a major anxiety trigger.

      8. MassMatt*

        Hmmm, this does add a wrinkle to it. Is the person who said there was lots of flexibility and “we don’t care when so long as the work gets done” the same person giving your grief about minor tardiness? Perhaps the person in HR is disconnected from the real work norms. Or unaware that the salaried people in the department have different standards than hourly, or something like that.

      9. Yorick*

        A lot of times when they say “we don’t care what hours you work” they mean “we don’t care if you set your hours as 8-5 or 9-6” but they do expect you to work the same times every day. That’s annoying, they can and should articulate that better, but you do have to make sure that the flexibility extends to inconsistent start/end times.

    11. Justme, The OG*

      That is company specific, though. Start time is 8:00 but we have people coming in anywhere between 7:30 and 8:30 and they’re fine.

      1. Joan Rivers*

        She’s had multiple reprimands for unspecified issues, this is not just about being 5 mins. late. Focusing on that is doing her no favors; she needs to list the issues. “Not communicating” could be a serious one depending on the details.
        Encouraging her to keep her present work habits at a different job may be a bad idea. She needs to face all this and not gloss over it, or she could end up reprimanded at the next job.

    12. Beth*

      But “walking in at 9:01 when start time is officially 9AM” isn’t usually considered late, much less late enough to trigger a conversation about whether this job is right for you. OP is talking about a five-minute window, not waltzing in half an hour late.

      1. Observer*

        That was only one issue that the OP has been having.

        It’s being called out because the OP is not explicit about all of the issues they are having. But also because this particular issue is one that is likely to come up again *AND* the OP can do something about it.

        In the case of mismatch in expectations of frequency of communications, which is the other main issue the OP mentions, it’s really hard to give them any advice on how to avoid that going forward. But with the issue of coming on time, the OP can make it their business to get in to the office on the dot until they establish themselves and / or get clarity that no one (whose perception matters) is going to give then the side eye for being a bit looser with schedule.

        1. Beth*

          It still doesn’t make sense to me that this is being called out. OP4 didn’t ask for advice on how to make their relationship with this current employer work. They asked whether they’d be in the clear, morally and professionally, to move on quickly from a situation that doesn’t seem to be working out.

          It’s weird to me that so many commenters are taking that and turning it into “You clearly are failing to meet professional standards, here’s how to shape up.” We don’t even know what this employer’s idea of professional standards are—as you say, OP isn’t explicit about all the issues that have come up! And even on the ones where OP has been relatively specific, like the time one…honestly, OP’s initial approach sounded reasonable and normal to me for a non-coverage-based job. But, more importantly, none of this matters to the actual question they asked. They asked whether it’s okay to move on quickly from a job that doesn’t seem to be working out, and the answer to that is absolutely yes.

          1. Observer*

            No, that’s not what most people are saying.

            Most of us agree that they are perfectly in the clear to leave as soon as a good fit comes up. But since this is a first job, people are adding some advice that they think could be useful.

  3. tra la la*

    OP#1: my grandboss has made these kinds of jokes for years (there’s no one I could report this to, he’s not going to stop doing this). I 1000% do not trust him. Even if the people under you seem to be laughing, they are likely laughing because you are the boss. Please respect your reports and stop making these kinds of jokes.

    1. Heidi*

      It always surprises me how defensive people get about their offensive jokes. It seems like such an easy thing to just not tell the jokes, but they act like they’ll wither up and die if they don’t get to tell them.

        1. LifeBeforeCorona*

          If you have to tell someone that you are joking, then it’s not a joke. Anything that needs a follow-up of “just kidding” is not funny, not just jokes but any kind of comment.

        2. Daughter of Ada and Grace*

          “The failure mode of ‘clever’ is ‘asshole’.” – John Scalzi

          1. Daughter of Ada and Grace*

            (Not to say that OP1 is an asshole in general, just that they risk appearing to be one if their attempts to be clever don’t land as expected.)

      1. Hogsmeade AirBNB*

        I personally think that reaction is borne of embarrassment, and acknowledgement on some level that it’s not an OK joke to make. They’d rather save face than say “my bad.”

      2. MassMatt*

        Captain Awkward has an excellent technique for this–In a serious tome, ask the person to explain why the offensive joke is funny. “I don’t understand. Why is saying you can fire me funny?”. Keep digging and the offensive joke teller will wither as they try to explain away racist assumptions, etc.

      3. Pepper Potts*

        I always assume because the alternative – acknowledging that you misspoke or that you have since learned that your joke is not appreciated would be seen as admitting a weakness.

    2. Your Local Password Resetter*

      And these people made two formal complaints in the first week of OP’s supervision.
      Whatever OP thinks of it, it’s pretty clear their employees take these jokes seriously and get very uncomfortable when hearing them. That itsself is a good enough reason to stop these jokes.

    3. On Fire*

      One of my coworkers makes these kinds of jokes. He isn’t funny, and he’s in his 30s — old enough to know better. I’ve called him out on it before, but he continues to do it. Unfortunately, he’s grandboss’ pet and aspires to be The Boss one day. I’ve already determined that the day those wheels go into motion (IF that happens; it might not) is the day I start job-hunting. I love my work and would rather stay, but I’ve worked for a jerk before and won’t do it again.

      OP1, don’t be this person. You’re on the right track by asking Alison the question. Take her advice to heart. Apologize (briefly but sincerely) to your team, and move forward. Remember that people’s livelihoods are never a joking matter, whether you’re teasing them with termination or promotion.

    4. Keymaster of Gozer*

      I had a boss who used to say it was a joke.

      Then I got called into his office and fired one day. (Dismissed due to amount of time off sick). I…don’t have much trust.

    5. miss chevious*

      Exactly this–OP is undermining the trust her reports have for her to communicate about their performance honestly. OP, you have some degree of authority over these people (even if you can’t fire them). Treat that authority seriously and with respect, so they know where they stand.

    6. Alianora*

      Once I posted in slack that I was having trouble logging into our system and a senior coworker, who I don’t interact with very much, made a joke that I’d been fired like Milton in Office Space. I knew it was a joke, but it still didn’t feel great. We don’t have that kind of relationship, the joke wasn’t really funny, and I was already having a bad day. Made me wonder if she secretly wanted me to be fired. (I know, intellectually, that’s unlikely, but that’s how the joke landed with me emotionally at the time.)

      I think she must have realized that because she deleted it a couple minutes later. If she hadn’t, I probably would have felt obligated to react with a laughing emoji or something so that I didn’t look like a stick in the mud.

  4. Sami*

    OP #1– I’m sure you know that SO MANY people have lost their jobs in the past 15 months or so. Many, many due to businesses not being able to hold onto employees they can’t pay. Many, many were also let go for a multitude of other reasons.
    As people say, “Read the room.” Please don’t ever joke about someone’s job, especially now.

    1. JM in England*

      I second this!

      There are some people for whom firings have come out of the blue, totally blindsiding them. Making such jokes could reopen stressful memories and feelings…..

    2. EPLawyer*

      And honestly these people are cleaners. they are probably worried sick about jojb security as it is. They also don’t make a lot probably. Making jokes about firing is not funny when people are economically insecure.

      OP1, they’ve complained about you with complete justification. Time to stop trying to be the funny boss.

      1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd (ENTP)*

        these people are cleaners. they are probably worried sick about jojb security as it is.

        And they are also new people, which means until starting this job they were working somewhere else (or job seeking) – who knows what circumstances led to that? The one person who seems particularly insecure about this – I think it’s likely that she sees a similar situation repeating itself to however she came to be starting this new job in the first place.

  5. TiredMama*

    LW5, that is messed up. I hope you can find a few other employees you to join together to say owner needs to stop immediately, no discussion or debate.

    1. Teekanne aus Schokolade*

      Seconded! Alison always counsels employees to band together, and this is especially important here when it sounds like the boss thought that asking one or two people once was enough consent to make it an on-going practice. But it definitely isn’t right.

    2. JM60*

      Or the labor board in the OP’s states might be willing to ask the owner stop on their behalf. You could even take screenshots of the Facebook post announcing the donations and give those to the labor board.

    3. Miller_Admin*

      I wouldn’t trust that the full amount be deducted from their tips was being donated. It shouldn’t be happening in the first place. I also assume the employer is also donating in in their name & getting the full tax benefit.

      This calls for a labor board call. It is so illegal. Let us know how it pans out. I would lead towards going to the labor board instead of the young employees discussing this with the employer directly. As one writer stated, take a screenshot of the FB page and contact the labor board. A few of you should.

      If this employer is this sneaky about taking tips, I wouldn’t be surprised of the employees wouldn’t get some retaliation of some type.

      1. Momma Bear*

        I would bet there are other issues with their pay as well and that the company is banking on the youth of the employees to cover. People who get tips are generally not paid much per hour because it’s expected that tips will make up the difference, so the employer is literally stealing from the employees – and probably also getting a tax break for being “charitable”. They should report it as a group.

    4. FYI*

      “Group together and confront” is not always realistic though. Even in a group, it takes a lot of courage to call out the boss, and high schoolers aren’t known for being super-courageous. I’d really go with an anonymous note on this one.

      1. pancakes*

        Anonymous notes are easily ignored and, to a lesser extent and depending on the circumstances, easy to guess the likely source of. If the letter writer doesn’t feel up to following Alison’s advice they should look into reporting the store owner to the state’s labor board.

  6. Mark Roth*

    It is amazing how generous someone can be with other people’s money. I haven’t seen it in the wild, but I might wonder why the store isn’t advertising its own contribution if I saw someone talking about the staff’s generosity

    1. Felis alwayshungryis*

      “It is amazing how generous someone can be with other people’s money.”

      Isn’t it though?! Where I live there’s a very large retail chain that does donations at the till, as in “would you like to make a $2 donation to (organisation)?” Then they use “We donated X0000 to the children’s hospital in June” as PR.

      I am, of course, not complaining about donating money to sick children, but I’m not fond of how they take all the credit for their customers’ generosity.

        1. Pennyworth*

          If LW5 want’s to make life awkward for her boss she could ask for a breakdown of how much she has donated from her tips so she can claim it on her tax.

        2. Liane*

          I have worked in such a (US) chain, and while they are taking the PR credit, the customers who donate DO get the tax credit! The receipt shows the donation amount and charity, so can be used to claim the tax credit if the standard deduction isn’t higher than all one’s itemized deductions. The only tax break the company can claim is for any matching funds.

          1. Snow Globe*

            And even in a scenario where customers drop cash into a jar, if the business claims the deduction, they would also have to claim the cash as income first, so it would be a wash. It is a terrible practice to claim PR for the donation, but they aren’t doing it for the write-off.

          1. MassMatt*

            They SHOULDN’T, but then they SHOULDN’T be taking “donations” from their employee’s tips, either, but here we are.

            I’d lay odds the employer is either not donating everything they collect, or taking the tax deduction as their own. Or both. This employer seems sleazy and is operating with zero consent or transparency so I will not give them the benefit of the doubt.

      1. LifeBeforeCorona*

        Ha, if Canadian, I know that chain and it really irks me. Another chain has signage indicating that you can round up your purchase but they never ask if you want to. As a result, I’m more inclined to donate to them. I prefer the no-pressure approach.

        1. Harper the Other One*

          I’m pretty sure I worked for that chain! It always bothered me a bit that they phrased it as “we donated” and not “we collected” or “our customers contributed X which we matched” [if we are thinking of the same company, they did do a match.]

          That said, from working there, it truly is shocking how many people are completely oblivious to signs/announcements but are thrilled to donate if you ask at the till. I wasn’t in the cash register regularly but was still often in the top ten for transactions with donations added just because I pleasantly said “would you like to donate today?” As a result I don’t mind if cashiers ask ONCE, but any sort of pushy script or repeated request loses my donation.

          1. Np*

            Hi, where I live there is a chain that does this. The cashiers are always so gentle and polite about it that I almost always donate! (Also I too am unfortunately oblivious to signs to this effect.)

            But I agree that delivery of the line is absolutely key.

          2. boop the first*

            Barely related, but on the other side, it was always awkward to ask the question in the first place because you don’t know if you’re going to get a yes/no, or if the customer is going to immediately go into a long explanation of why they’re saying no, and listing off every charity they’ve ever donated to, like whoa! We’re not judging, dude!

            1. Harper the Other One*

              Oh, so much. All you have to say to “would you like to donate to our X fund” is “no thanks!”

      2. I'm just here for the cats*

        I hate those things because you don’t know if the money really goes to the charity. There’s only a few local stores that I know donate. I also don’t like the stores that have bins for charity or asks you at the register to buy a product for x charity. A while back there was.something on Reddit where a worker at a dollar store said that the items don’t go to charity. They just take the stuff out of the bin and put it back on the shelf t the end of the day.

      3. Forrest*

        I hate this about the normalisation of foodbanks in the UK since 2010. All supermarkets now have a box for customers to donate for foodbanks– they get the benefit of both extra food bought at full market price, and capitalise on the association of benevolence with their brand!

      4. Rusty Shackelford*

        Isn’t it though?! Where I live there’s a very large retail chain that does donations at the till, as in “would you like to make a $2 donation to (organisation)?” Then they use “We donated X0000 to the children’s hospital in June” as PR.

        Yeah, I never donate to those. Or to companies that say “for every dollar out customers donate, we’ll donate X.” You know what? You have more money than I do. How about I donate as much as I plan to, and YOU donate as much as you plan to?

      5. Fiddle_Faddle*

        This sort of thing infuriates me, especially since the customer has to say no in front of witnesses, adding to the pressure to comply. Ditto with any kind of up-selling. However, I’ve gotten very good at saying no, even to the point of telling a cashier that I was walking out if she asked me one more question. (And they wonder why online shopping is so popular.)

    2. Caroline Bowman*

      Where I live, a major grocery retailer took the astonishing step of ”donating” a small amount of money per transaction over a certain amount (so if you went in for a bigger shop rather than for 1-2 items) to ”the Covid fund” that our (hateful, entirely corrupt, ridiculous) government set up to supposedly be put towards Covid relief. The donation came from… the customer. Without permission, because OF COURSE everyone would be thrilled to have their money donated for them, right??

      The fallout was huge. It was printed on the slip, so it wasn’t actually hidden, but the hysterical outrage thereafter was quite something to see. I just don’t get why any company thinks it’s okay to unilaterally ”donate” someone else’s money to a cause they want to look good by supporting. How is that okay? It’s never okay! Even if the employees are incredibly well-paid, even if it’s the best, most cherished cause since sliced bread, IT’S NOT OKAY TO TAKE SOMEONE’S MONEY WITHOUT PERMISSION… and by permission, I mean, genuine permission, ideally anonymised, like a collection box where donations can be put privately.

      1. Amaranth*

        I’m confused a bit, are you saying they added a surcharge on every checkout? Or was it like amazon smile where a portion of the receipt is allocated to charity?

        1. MissBliss*

          I am also confused. It sounds like the chain announced “we will donate 1% of all purchases over $25 to the Covid Fund” and then, on receipts for charges over $25, indicated to the customer how much money from their purchase would go to the Covid Fund. But that’s not money being donated by the customer. It’s just the company reporting back how they would be spending the money the customer had just given them. Which is… well within their right.

          If it was an additional surcharge, they would have to get permission to do so, or else, yes, very bad idea and definitely “donating the customer’s money for them.” But they are two very different scenarios.

    3. Lacey*

      Yup! At an old company there was increasing pressure to be a part of a million charity drives. It started off with a well meaning employee suggesting we might want to donate to a fund – but then it became a thing where if you didn’t you weren’t a team player. And the next year there were even more funds, etc.

      But at my other jobs we were given opportunities to volunteer on company time. You got to pick what you wanted to do and they paid for the hours.

      1. Trixie B LaRue*

        Similar situation here! During the last recession We had a 2.3% pay reduction on top of 2 days of furlough a month. We were hounded relentlessly about donating to the Red Cross via a payroll deduction. Being a team player came up multiple times. I was barely making ends meet.

        1. stephistication1*

          You need to be a “team player” at home (by bringing home funds to support the family) before you can be a team player elsewhere. I hate when companies try to guilt trip.

      2. Lecturer*

        Most people feel like you. But the issue is being the first one to say something. Many will jump in after someone challenges it.

    4. Grand Admiral Thrawn Will Always Be Blue*

      Happened to me years back when I bought a car, and the salesman donated the $100 referral fee to charity, that was to go to someone I knew without telling me. That got fixed in the end but… darn. Just no. He advertised how a portion of each sale was donated… with the money of others, not his own.

    5. Miller_Admin*

      I work for a public (state) university and the hounding for donations from the faculty and staff gets old. I’m staff, and a low paid one at that. I gave $2.00 one year and $5.00 this past year. But they had the Dean’s Assistants calling us admins directly asking us for donations. They want a 100% donations from staff. I resent it.

      1. MassMatt*

        I’ve worked at places where annual United Way charity drives were definitely a huge thing, getting 100% participation was definitely a big goal. To be fair, the employer did match donations, and you could select where you wanted yours to go, and I don’t think there was a minimum donation, but still. The pressure on teams not at 100% was palpable.

        1. pancakes*

          That’s particularly bad considering the United Way is not unfamiliar with the negative feelings this sort of thing creates in people. From its Wikipedia entry:

          “United Way lists guidelines on its national website to prevent coercion, including having non-managers lead the solicitation and discouraging setting campaigns with 100 percent participation goals.”

  7. Stephen!*

    Joking about firing people: I had a workplace where we would joke about being fired, especially because we did a lot of field work and were scattered geographically- some people had to drive for 6 hours to get to the office- and it was funny to us to imagine being called into the office just to get fired and turn around and go home. But it was only funny because our bosses would never do that, and we were joking about ourselves, not our coworkers, and especially not employees. It might require some conscious thought to adapt if you came from that type of situation, but adjust you must!

    1. Pennyworth*

      The only place I’ve ever worked where it was acceptable to joke about being fired was a government organization where the firing and appeal procedures were so difficult and drawn out that you were likely to hit retirement age first. No one ever got fired, and we knew it. I was bothered that the employees LW1 refers to are cleaners – that is low paid and insecure work and I would be very uncomfortable joking about firing them.

    2. Generic Name*

      Huh. Even if the boss would never actually do that, I really don’t find it funny to imagine someone driving for 6 hours to get fired. But maybe I’m weird? I tend to empathize with people in pain rather than laugh at them. Slapstick is not my thing, for example.

      1. Smithy*

        My read was that it was the people making the 6 hour drive joking about making that drive and then getting fired. In a number of professional fields, there can certainly be a lot of gallows humor that helps those going through pain and/or difficulties.

        I do think that where this becomes challenging is when after the advancement/promotions one is no longer a peer of those where the humor is happening.

    3. Anonymous Hippo*

      Same, we joke about being fired, because we have ongoing I.T. issues where random people will loose all access to the system. But even in that sense, you don’t joke about that down, only up or sideways, because its just not cool to joke about your power over someone else.

    4. Rusty Shackelford*

      Sure, it’s fine to joke about it with your peers. Someone who *can* fire you should never joke about it.

      1. MacGillicuddy*

        At a company (now defunct) where I worked, management moved one woman’s office while she was on vacation. They did not notify her in any way – no email, or even a sign taped to her old office door. On her first day back from vacation she walked into her office and saw an empty desk and chair, and nothing else. She thought she’d been fired. A few of the higher-ups found this extremely funny because “we gave her a better office but she’s angry”. All of us worker-bees thought it was outrageous and cruel.

  8. MollyG*

    #5 Your boss stole your money to use (in effect) for store advertising. Report him to the state office that enforces wage theft. Don’t be nice about it, for he robbed you and is no different then if he took cash from your wallet.

    1. Bilateralrope*

      Which would hurt the employer more, reporting them for wage theft, or reporting them for the tax fraud for getting the tax benefits from employee donations ?

      1. NotRealAnonForThis*

        Is there some reason that both could not be done? It is both. It sure seems like the employer could be hit with both.

      2. Snow Globe*

        There is no indication that the employer is claiming the donations on their taxes. Wage theft is certain, that’s what should be reported.

    2. Lemon Zinger*

      I’m surprised Alison didn’t suggest this. The boss is committing a crime. It’s wage theft and it MUST be reported.

      1. Julia*

        Typically, Alison suggests talking to a manager about their illegal behavior before contacting the authorities. Often people don’t realize that employers will knock it off if you talk to them; they just assume the employer must know what they’re doing and will never respond to a simple request to stop.

        Also, contacting the authorities can sour your relationship with your boss, fast. Lots of people prefer keeping their job to standing on principle.

        1. FYI*

          Even many experienced people, in a group, would have a hard time confronting the boss. Suggesting that high-schoolers do it is unrealistic, I think. Other option is a diplomatically-worded, typed note.

          1. pancakes*

            People who find confrontation difficult shouldn’t take that as a good reason to excuse themselves from any confrontation, though. Learning how to stick up for oneself calmly is very worthwhile.

  9. Kella*

    OP1: I wanted to break down exactly how this joke is an issue. The basic structure of a joke is creating tension, and then breaking or releasing that tension somehow. In your jokes, the tension you are creating is that suddenly these employees are scared they are going to lose their income. The release, then, is some amount of relief that they aren’t in fact going to lose their job. Generally “X Terrible thing is going to happen to you. Jk it’s not!” doesn’t tend to result in the kind of release that makes people genuinely laugh. And because you joked about something so serious, they now won’t know if you deliver serious news if you are joking, or the inverse, if you deliver good news when it’s actually bad. That’s why it undermines their trust in you.

    1. tra la la*

      They also learn that your reports’ security is less important than your desire to be “funny.” If this is because you’re uncomfortable with the role, possibly get some training or mentorship, but you do need to nip this in the bud.

    2. LilyP*

      I actually think the joke, from LW #1’s perspective, is that they *don’t* at all have the authority to fire these people, and I suspect they see the idea of that happening or of them having that kind of sway as rather absurd in and of itself. But still! They’ve been told it’s landing poorly, so time to cut it out.

      1. tra la la*

        Even if this is the case, presumably news of a firing would come through this manager. The manager’s intent isn’t important here, they’ve been told to stop and they just need to do that.

      2. Jerry Larry Terry Gary*

        Exactly. But since LW1 is training them, it puts them in a position of authority and thus undermines the joke- which is why it is perceived as serious despite saying it’s a joke.

      3. TechWorker*

        I agree this is likely to be the case.. even then though it could end up being read as ‘I can’t fire you but I would if I could!’ which is also just… not that funny

      4. Birch*

        But the joke was specifically that LW “has the power to get them fired.” That’s not the same thing as “the power to fire you” directly, and I’d argue is even scarier, because it implies an unofficial power hierarchy where someone without the official power to fire someone holds an unidentified social power to influence the people who actually do the firing. So not only does the new employee think she now has to worry about doing her job right and impressing her managers, but also staying on the “good side” of everyone who she suspects might have this secret power. Which is unfortunately a real thing in many, many workplaces. I’d be scared too.

      5. Julia*

        This is very perceptive. My guess is that the reason LW1 feels like the joke works is because she thinks she actually doesn’t have much authority so it’d be absurd for her to fire them. But from the perspective of the other employees, she does have authority and the joke doesn’t land.

    3. Allonge*

      Yes. OP, it’s so exhausting not to be able to trust your boss. And continuing with the joking about such an issue points to a person being unreliable.

      You can have humor in the workplace, but as a manager you need to calibrate it much more carefully than otherwise. You can do it!

      1. London Calling*

        * it’s so exhausting not to be able to trust your boss*

        I recently resigned from a job for precisely the above reason, and no jokes about firing me were involved. Although he did have a habit of making disparaging remarks in front of the rest of the department, then giving a big smile and saying ‘Only joking!’ I’ve sometimes wondered what would have happened if I’d responded ‘Jokes are supposed to be funny.’

    4. MJ*

      Yes! OP, how would you answer this question if a staff member asked you it?

      “You’ve said that a few times, and I think I’m missing the joke. What do you mean?”

    5. iambriandammit*

      To me there’s an element of this that no one else has caught. OP sounds like she’s trying to be pally with the cleaners. It’s OK to be friendly but you are not their friend.

      1. Observer*

        OP sounds like she’s trying to be pally with the cleaners.

        That is a TERRIBLE way to try to be “pally” with people! Of course, you are correct that being pals is not the best tack to take. But if the OP wants to be pals there are much better ways to do it. I mean how many people want to be pals with someone who says “Hey, we’re friends! Otherwise you’d be fired! JK”

    6. LizM*

      It’s all about punching up vs. punching down.

      Punching up is making a joke at the expense of someone more powerful than you.

      Punching down is making a joke at the expense of someone with less power than you.

      Joking that you’re going to fire employees you have power over (even if you don’t have power to fire them, you do have the power to impact the quality of their work life) is punching down, and punching down is more often cruel than it is funny.

      It sounds like you’re fairly new to a leadership position. That was a big adjustment for me, going from a peer to a team lead, then a supervisor. The social dynamics that worked when I was a peer didn’t work once I was a lead, and that included jokes that would have been perfectly acceptable a few months earlier. (Although I’m not sure even peer-to-peer jokes about firing are appropriate, to be honest).

    7. Butterfly Counter*

      I’ll admit, as a new lecturer at a university, I would do one “okay, put your books away: pop quiz time! *wait two seconds* Just kidding!” joke a semester. Granted: I had stipulated in their syllabi that quizzes were given at my discretion and that students were expected to have done the reading BEFORE class. But knowing the majority of my students, most waited until the weekend after classes or right before the test to start reading, so I knew over 60% were unprepared.

      After a couple of years, I saw that I was the only one laughing, so I realized it wasn’t actually a joke. It was a mild threat to their grades, so I stopped.

      I do give pop quizzes from time-to-time, but only after a pattern of seeing ALL students unprepared and un-engaged in the class and after at least one warning.

    8. Momma Bear*

      It’s not a joke when the person who is the butt of the joke doesn’t think it’s funny. Too many people cover mean comments by calling it a joke when it should not be. Regardless of intent, it’s falling flat. OP, please stop.

  10. April*

    The one thing that confuses me about the pantyhose debate is:
    Aren’t your legs cold???
    I admit I hate pantyhose, but I wear tights or socks until it’s literally like, 75f because otherwise my legs and feet are FREEZING. Every place I have ever worked with air conditioning, bare legs would have been uncomfortably cold indoors year-round!
    I bicycle to work, and there’s been more than one workplace where I had bare legs for the ride to work when it’s hot–and then put on socks or tights once I got there. (Yes, I wear a skirt at work every day, I just find it comfier.)
    I admit I might be an outlier here, though.

    1. iliketoknit*

      I don’t actually find that hose keep my legs *that* much warmer than bare legs, although tights/socks definitely do. So if it’s cold enough that my legs are cold, I’m probably in a tights season and will wear those, or it’s summer and the AC is blasting and I just wear pants. I do wear hose for the most formal of business formal occasions, not because I think they’re really required, but because I prefer the smoothing out of lines they provide under tailored clothing. And a tiny bit because people who don’t care if you wear hose may consider hose dated but won’t really hold them against you, whereas people who feel strongly that you must wear them (like some of the people on that 2010 thread – I realize that’s a while ago now but had no idea the issue was still so contentious at that point!) may hold *not* wearing them against you, which is often relevant to my most formal business wear occasions. I don’t love them, but it helps to buy a size up so they’re not strangling you.

      1. April*

        I don’t shave my legs, so on the rare occasions I want legs that look like bare legs but better (…and not cold) I wear dance tights, which are much thicker than hose. (Hairy legs through hose are just…even I have my limits, lol.)
        So on the rare occasions I’d want to wear pantyhose I’d still have something thicker than that on.

        But yeah it’s a good point that hose aren’t actually that insulating.

      2. The Prettiest Curse*

        I only wear them in the autumn/winter when it’s really cold, and only under trousers. The heating at my old office barely worked, so I really needed them! I live in the UK and couldn’t make it though winter without wearing 70 denier or higher tights and thermal socks.

      1. Koalafied*

        Agreed. As what they used to call a tomboy growing up, having to put on pantyhose was like, “Here, put this gossamer gauze around your legs. It may not keep you warm, but at least you’ll have to significantly restrict your movement activity to avoid tearing then!”

        The brave young women who both cancelled pantyhose AND made leggings into legitimate pants are true heroes of our time

      2. Red Swedish Fish*

        Pantyhose have never helped me feel warmer when I am cold, but they make me feel so much hotter when I am hot. In the winter and in air conditioning they offer no help. They are excruciating to wear in the summer, if I was less vain or more confident I would go bare legged.

        1. Yooper*

          Ha I have worn pantyhose in a pinch as a layer when I’m battling the snow (from Michigan’s upper penninsula here). They really do work as insulation. Try em under jeans lol.

          1. CoveredInBees*

            I hear construction workers often wear them under their clothes when they have to work outdoors in cold climates.

          2. Koalafied*

            As an underlayer makes some sense, though I would still prefer tights since they don’t rip as easily. The way most insulating materials work is not that the material itself provides insulation, but that it helps create an insulating layer of air, because air is a poor conductor of heat most solids. Hose or tights + another layer of pants is essentially doing what a double-pane window does, creating a layer of air between the pants and tights.

            1. OyHiOh*

              Dance tights!

              Dance tights are a thicker material that doesn’t rip as easily and usually, I end up with a hole, not a run.

            2. Drago Cucina*

              I’m going to give a plug for We Love Colors. com. I have tights that have lasted 10 years.
              I primarily wear tights in the autumn/winter. About the only time I wear pantyhose is when I need to dress one click above my normal wear. Interview, meeting with my congressman, etc. It’s not super fancy, but makes me feel a bit more together.

        2. Rusty Shackelford*

          They definitely make me feel hotter when I’m hot. But in the winter, they are (to me) much warmer than bare legs. I don’t wear “pantyhose” any more, but I wear opaque or semi-sheer tights in cold weather.

    2. vho842*

      I just, wear pants? I have many a pantsuit that are still professional enough if I were in a job that skirts are still mostly expected from female presenting employees.

      1. April*

        I really hate pants unless they’re leggings or so stretchy they may as well be leggings; it feels like Leg Jail. I don’t know how to explain it other than borderline-claustrophobia, aka Leg Jail. :(

        I’m picky about skirts, too; the ones I wear to work have some elastic in the back waist, pockets, a lining, and are full enough and long enough that I can walk fast/lift boxes/sit comfortably without worrying.

        (I suppose it’s worth noting that I work the front desk of a high-end retirement community and we have a uniform, basically–white or dark button-up shirt, black skirts or slacks, and an optional gray cardigan sweater with the company logo on it. I wear the same black skirt Every Single Day.)

        1. LifeBeforeCorona*

          Some of my co-workers wear that same combo of a company shirt, black skirt and tights. It’s also a retirement community and there is a lot of bending, stretching and kneeling, The tights are important to keep looking professional when you are almost on the ground wrangling walkers and wheelchairs.

        2. Ana Gram*

          Can I ask what brand of skirts you like? It’s so hard to find skirts with pockets!

          1. Autumn*

            Duluth Trading has skirts with excellent pockets. Not cheap, but sturdy and hold up well. They’re basically my uniform now, since at work I need keys/phone/pen on me at all times. They are technically skorts since they have little built-in boxer-like shorts, so I probably would not wear them with tights – I think I’d get too hot, but ymmv.

          2. Crivens!*

            eShakti is another good one! All of their bottoms and dresses have pockets. Real pockets.

            1. Drago Cucina*

              eShakti is wonderful. The pockets don’t look weird but can hold a phone, keys, lip balm, and a pen.
              I have large upper arms and the ability to have my clothes created to take that into account is amazing.

          3. Koalafied*

            Modcloth has a pretty high level of commitment to pockets. It’s where I buy a huge proportion of my wardrobe, because they also stock a large and ever-rotating collection of A-line dresses and skirts.

            1. MissMeghan*

              Seconded! There’s a skirt there called “just this sway” that I’ve bought a bunch of because it’s lined and has usable pockets. Love it.

              1. Koalafied*

                I know exactly which skirt you’re talking about and I own it in three colors! XD

          4. April*

            Mine are these!
            They’ve held up way better than any cheap $20 should be able to??? I’ve had these over six months and worn them like four days a week and washed them nearly every day and they still look almost new.

        3. Bryce*

          That’s actually a thing, though I can’t recall the term for it. Some people are more sensitive to touch on legs, arms and/or neck. When folks complain about cuffs, collars, ties etc sometimes it’s a bad fit and sometimes it would feel constricting even if it’s loose, just from being there

          1. April*

            I didn’t used to be this way! But yeah over the last ten or so years all the actual pants just dwindled from my wardrobe. I literally can’t remember the last time I owned/wore jeans, for instance.

      2. allathian*

        Yup, me too. I’m fat and I have cellulite and varicose veins, as well as hairy legs for most of the year, so I’ll wear pants year round to spare others the sight of my unsightly legs. I’ll wear capri pants when it’s really hot, but that’s as far as I’ll go. The varicose veins are just ugly, they aren’t painful, so I’m not entitled to surgery on our NHS because it would be merely cosmetic. That said, I’m not at all scared of needles but I’m really, really scared of a general anesthetic so I’m not going to have surgery for anything that doesn’t affect my mobility or isn’t life threatening.

        1. lilsheba*

          Me too, I’m fat and have all that stuff, and feel so constricted when wearing something like tight pants/hose or tights of any kind. Leg jail is a perfect way to put it. On the other hand I also get overheated very easily so I wear shorts year round, I don’t care what people think of my legs. I have to be comfortable. If it’s winter I will go to capris. Luckily none of this matters now since I have worked in telecom for the last 20 years and now work from home and will from now on. I’m so glad!

      3. dreamlikecheese*

        Professional work pants are hard for me to find given my size and shape (plus-size short person with significant difference in my hip-waist ratio). In my country, suits are almost impossible to find in my size. Dresses and skirts are much easier for me to access so I mostly wear them. Consequently, I still wear pantyhose quite frequently. Less because bare legs are “unprofessional” and more for comfort (thighs rubbing etc).

        1. Leo*

          Seconded on the difficulties of finding pants! And yeah; I’m struggling to get the comfort element; I feel so naked with bare legs in the office, and I hate (hate hate hate) the feeling of my thighs rubbing together. I would much rather wear pantyhose and skirts every day and feel like I have a bit of coverage, especially since there are some companies making really strong hose that aren’t nearly as likely to break/tear. And, as someone above mentioned, while people who don’t like them aren’t likely to care if I wear them, folks who think they matter are a lot more likely to hold it against me if I don’t.

          1. Hazel*

            I wear (non-constricting) shorts under skirts always because I’ll get a painful rash (abrasion?) on the inside of both thighs otherwise. I highly recommend them!

            1. Tequila & Oxford Commas*

              Seconded! I like Hanes slip shorts — no compression but they do smooth out underwear lines and prevent chafing.

              1. Koalafied*

                Athleta also makes some really great shorts for under skirts that even have a thigh pocket big enough for a smartphone. They’re called something like Asana Stash or Salutation Stash, something that sounds yoga-related, I think designed to be worn for hot yoga? So they’re stretchy and reasonably thick enough you could theoretically wear them as just outerwear shorts, but I wear them as under-skirt shorts. The Large has a 7″ in-seam, and they come up to just above my navel so they do make me feel like I don’t appear as lumpy, lol.

                I especially love them with mid-thigh skirts because it frees me from living in fear of an embarrassing gust of wind, and those shorter skirts rarely have functional pockets, so I can stick my phone in the Athleta shorts and it’s reasonably convenient to lift the skirt hem on one side a few inches and only reveal that I’m wearing shorts while I access the pocket.

            2. April*

              Snag makes slip shorts that are basically tights that stop at the knee! They have a fantastic size range, too; and tons of colors, and they don’t feel too hot at all.

      4. Lonely Aussie*

        Two layers of pantyhose do, I’ve always doubled up on the 10/15 denier ones (partly cause I have a couple of large and gross looking spider bite scars on my legs) and found them a lot warmer than a single pair of 20/30 denier ones. I think a thin layer of air is probably trapped between them and it definitely makes a difference in terms of warmth.

        1. Lizzie*

          You know your name and the phrase ‘spider bite scars’ are just going to freak people out about the dangers of Australia, don’t you!
          Signed Lizzie – another Aussie but with no spider, crocodile, shark, snake, possum, stonefish, feral pig, fire ant, or cassowary bite scars AT ALL

          1. Peter Piper Picked a Peck of Pickled Peppers*

            That’s a lot of things you could get bitten by!

      5. Dust Bunny*

        I have a long waist, 22-inch thighs, and a 14-inch difference between my hips and waist. Pants don’t work. Even stretchy pants often don’t work. Even leggings are usually too short-waisted and don’t stay up because the waistband is too big/thighs are too tight.

        I buy plus-sized control-top pantyhose even though I’m not plus-sized because they have more room in the thighs and the reinforced waist keeps them up better.

        1. NY Remote for now*

          Me too! Made worse after 15 months working from home, sitting at my desk 8+ hours a day and not moving much. I’ve told my “secret” to many — regardless of your size, buy your pantyhose larger! If you buy them bigger, they are comfortable. I know I’m in the minority; I don’t mind wearing pantyhose at all. Clothes seem to lie better and help camouflage the bumps and veins. In cold weather, tights are the thing. Unless you can find “curvy” styles, pants have a huge gap in the waist. That being said, outside of work — never wear them!

    3. MK*

      I am not from the U.S. and this debate has always baffled me, exactly because here wearing hose (and any other underwear that covers legs) or not is completely weather related; no one wears them in July, everyone does in January (well, the people wearing shorter skirts do, I don’t know what the ones wearing longer skirts or pants do). Showing up on a cold day with bare legs would be off, in the same way showing up with short sleeves and no coat would: it’s not about professionalism , but it sets people wondering what is going on with you.

      As for whether they are warm or not, they won’t keep you warm in a snow storm, but they absolutely keep you warm enough during colder weather in a city.

      1. Simply the best*

        Really? I feel like the amount of warmth you’re going to get from hose is roughly the same as the warmth you’d get on the back of your neck if you took your hair out of your ponytail. Like, I guess technically it’s warmer…but not enough to make any real tangible difference.

        1. Myrin*

          Seems like a general sensory thing to me – I’ve absolutely worn sheer stockings (so, like, pantyhose but without the middle part, because I hate how they feel in the crotch-thigh area) to keep me warmer in the way MK says and it was a marked difference. But you and others in this thread say you don’t feel it, so, well, looks like this is about general sensitivity towards warmth/cold.

          1. Green great dragon*

            Or the difference between 10D and 25d? I definitely feel a difference (and layering them under trousers makes a huge difference in winter).

        2. ceiswyn*

          As a fitness nut, I am here to tell you that you will absolutely notice the difference in heat between a ponytail and loose hair when you’re in the middle of a cardio workout or hiking up a steep hill in summer.

          1. Hazel*

            Yes! Hair is hot! But then, mine is really thick/dense, so I suppose less dense hair wouldn’t feel as hot on one’s neck.

            1. LunaLena*

              I have very thin, fine hair and it definitely retains heat! I feel it especially when hiking or even just on sunny days (having dark hair probably affects this too).

          2. MissCoco*

            As someone who runs cold and is prone to bad hair days, I absolutely notice a difference when I have to put my hair up in a cold office, even without the least bit of cardio!
            And my hair is neither thick nor particularly long (just barely shoulder length), so I’m sure it’s a much bigger difference for people with more hair!

            I’ve always considered pantyhose an insulating layer – definitely not the most insulating layer, but different than bare legs

          3. Simply the best*

            Sure, but in the winter nobody thinks to themselves “oh I am so cold, so let me take my hair down in order to warm up.”

            It is the same with hose. In cold weather, the tangible feeling of warmth I would get from putting them on versus not wearing them is negligible.

            1. Shan*

              I actually do! I know that if we have a bad windchill, I’m going to be way warmer if I leave my hair down than if I wear it up. If I’m forgotten my toque and it’s cold walking home, I’ll take it down for the walk home.

          4. Anhaga*

            You’ll also notice the difference if you’re outside in freezing temperatures! It’s one of the things that I *don’t* like about having a pixie cut . . . I remember my neck being much warmer when my hair was below my shoulders.

        3. I'd Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

          Agreed — tights make a difference, for sure, but not pantyhose.

      2. Allonge*

        I also probably have a non-US-person confusion about this, more because thights and pantyhose are not differentiated in my language. And yes, it’s a weather thing and a comfort thing – I have had plenty of business type shoes that would pinch/rub on bare feet but are perfectly fine with tights/hose, there is thigh rub… but that also means if someone is more uncomfortable in thighs, makes sense to leave them off.

        I also am over 40 and I remember precisely one time when someone noticed another person not wearing tights, and that is more because the noticer exclaimed(!), loud(!!!) ‘OMG she is not wearing tights’ while pointing(!!!!!) at the other woman. In the cafeteria of our workplace. Yes, this was an adult. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

        1. April*

          The usual difference (at least in the USA) between tights and pantyhose is that tights are opaque and pantyhose are not.

          So you can have pantyhose that are black (because they’re sheer)

          And you can have tights that are the same color as your legs (dance tights, which are opaque)

          And just to really complicate things, you can have “crochet-look” tights, which are knit, and have holes you can see through:

          1. Allonge*

            Thanks, I like the crochet ones, I have these types :)

            I suppose what does not make sense to me is ‘pantyhose is so uncomfortable and a thing that needs to die’ and ‘but tights are ok’ at the same time – it’s as if summer weight / thinner jeans were abhorrent but thicker ones ok. It’s the same thing to me! (Yes, I understand that it’s two different things in the US, it’s like one of those situations where a language has two separate words for light blue and dark blue and the speakers can differentiate between different blue shades much better).

            I totally agree that bare legs are ok, wear what you want to be comfortable and so on.

            1. HB*

              It’s more “Pantyhose are uncomfortable for a lot of people and the idea that they are *required* to be ‘professional’ is an idea that needs to die.”

              But also… they are genuinely different items of clothing. Tights are thicker which means they actually do provide some warmth making them genuinely functional in more ways than “Provide cover for bare skin.” Also… they don’t run as easily. Since this is an item of clothing that has to go up and down more than once a day, you want something you can, well, manipulate without having to worry about having 18 spare pairs in your purse or the bottom drawer of your desk.

              It’s been a while since I’ve had to buy either, but my guess is pantyhose and tights cost about the same. But the *number of wears* I get out of them are completely different. With the exception of tights that are more likely, through their design, to snag… you probably get 10 to 100 times more wears out of a pair of tights than hose. If the difference between summer weight/thinner jeans and thicker ones was ‘Well, the summer weight can be worn 10 times before having to go into the trash, but the thicker ones last forever’ then you’d have just as much complaints about them if the summer weight ones were a required component of someone’s professional wardrobe.

              Also, and maybe I’m wrong on this, but I feel like the people who require pantyhose don’t feel that tights are as professional. I mean, I can’t imagine that they’d be banned where hose a required (because there’s no argument for it) but I’m trying to imagine a big law firm (which is the most likely place to require hose) where a woman could wear tights instead and I’m drawing a blank.

              1. Liz*

                What about black tights? I hate shaving my legs and plain, black, opaque tights with a nice skirt are my go to for formal occasions, especially in the winter. This has never been a problem for me.

                1. HB*

                  Since I’m not someone who has a problem with people wearing either (as a choice), no idea… but I did finally go and look at the original contentious thread and the people there who were the most adamant that women had to wear pantyhose to look professional also said on more than one occasion that tights were not allowed. I think part of why I had that suspicion (which was confirmed) is that tights are what you wear when you’re a kid. Tights are more durable, and thus more utilitarian. Sheer pantyhose run easily and so you have to be, well, “daintier” and “more ladylike” in order to wear them and not rip them to shreds.

                  I mean, I don’t think anyone would ever state that outright, but it reminds me very much of the thing with Victorians wearing white gloves as a status symbol (you wore white gloves because in order to keep them clean you couldn’t do anything… which meant you had people to do everything for you).

          2. General von Klinkerhoffen*

            Ah, thank you! I’m a native English speaker, but not US, so this whole conversation has been extremely confusing to me.

            So if by “pantyhose” you all mean around 20 denier or less, then heck absolutely nowadays you can’t tell whether someone is wearing them or not unless your face or attention is far closer to their legs than it ought to be within a professional environment.

            1. UKDancer*

              Definitely. I mean I am coming to the conclusion I must be very unobservant but I couldn’t tell you which of my female colleagues wore what on their lower halves. I mean I am assuming some of them wear trousers and some of them don’t but unless someone is rocking a very amazing look or wearing something that really stands out, I don’t know who wears what because it doesn’t really hit my radar of things to pay attention to.

              When I go to tango clubs and events I notice clothes (and dancing shoes) a lot more because it’s interesting to see what people are wearing and people watching is part of the fun. But I don’t view my colleagues in the same way.

              Having seen the previous threads about email sign offs and the level of thought and pet peeves people have about these (which are also a thing I don’t much notice) I am coming to the conclusion that there are whole swathes of things in society that I just don’t give headspace to.

            2. British tights wearer*

              British person here and I was also thoroughly confused – until reading this I thought pantyhose is just American for tights? In British English tights are tights, regardless of thickness (and “crochet” tights are patterned tights, unless they’re fishnet-pattern in which case they’re fishnets and not always suitable for work)

              I wear dresses to work most days -because finding work trousers that fit and are comfortable is a faff – and wear tights most days. Especially in winter it’d be very brave not to. I’d agree with the comment elsewhere that anyone going bare leg in winter may not be inappropriate, but would be considered odd/exceptionally warm-blooded.

              If you find them uncomfortable you’re wearing the wrong ones – try Snag Tights for making the most comfy tights ever btw.

              1. ceiswyn*

                Alas, Snag Tights did not exist in the days when I was expected to wear tights at all times…

              2. April*

                Yeah, ever since I bought my first pairs of Snag tights, I haven’t worn anything else. They fit perfectly and they’re comfortable and they’re sturdy AND they’re not even expensive!!

            3. Keymaster of Gozer*

              Seconded. I literally had no idea what the heck pantyhose were.

              I don’t wear tights of any denier because I can’t find any that fit (very tall and overweight). I have no idea who at work does or doesn’t wear them either – it’s not relevant to the job. Kinda like ‘what colour hairband does X use to tie their hair back?’ in my estimation – no idea, don’t care.

              1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

                Do check out Snags. They are person-shaped. I’ve never met a person the shape of normal tights.

                1. Keymaster of Gozer*

                  Definitely gonna. I’m perpetually on a quest to find stuff that’ll fit my over 6 foot tall/fat frame!

            4. doreen*

              And I had to look up “20 denier pantyhose” , because although I do know what “denier” means generally, I’ve never seen pantyhose equivalents marketed using that measurement – it’s always something like “semi-sheer” or “ultrasheer”. But you can often tell is someone is wearing the sheer ones, especially if they are not skin-toned,

          3. Gan Ainm*

            To add to this, in the US we don’t have the denier scale to measure tights, all of our nylons/pantyhose are about 20 denier, occasionally less for really sheer ones, and then tights start at around 70 denier and up. They’re labeled with a description of how sheer / opaque they are, and sometimes there with be a little sample of the materials provided in the shop so you can see the color and how sheer it is. I much prefer the precision and common language using denier provides!

            Also fwiw I have never used the word pantyhose before in my life, we (my fam / part of the country) would call them just tights or nylons.

            1. Forrest*

              there’s no 40 denier tights?! But they are the normal tights of normalness that everyone wears from September to April!

              (nice name, btw!)

            2. pancakes*

              We do have the denier scale; it’s just that cheaper brands tend not to specify. Department store brands sometimes do. Good quality imported brands like Wolford and Falke have always used it.

        2. Marillenbaum*

          My Dutch grandmother was routinely horrified by the move away from stockings, in much the same way that she was horrified that the professors in the theatre department at my university preferred to be addressed by their first names. To be fair, she was born in the late 1920s, into a very strict Dutch Catholic family, so it made sense her formality meter was set higher than mine. But as I get older, I increasingly fins I prefer some sort of hosiery or stockings (except for August. Commuting in DC in August is terrible and I refuse to make it worse with more layers).

        3. Blisskrieg*

          As an American, I am actually really confused about this conversation as well. Certainly, the old-fashioned “tan” pantyhose that nowhere near match your skin tone are out of date. However, I can’t tell if the debate also encompasses stockings that are sheer black or another color, or tights as well.

          I don’t wear the old suntan hose, but I really really would not be comfortable trotting around with my legs bare! I have nothing against bare legs–at all–but I cosmetically prefer wearing something in sheer black or else tights for myself. I hope these options are not out of style! Either way, I have no plans to stop wearing them, but it would be nice to know I don’t look like I’m stepping out of different century LOL.

          1. Leo*

            I’m definitely with you in still wearing nylons! I find bare legs uncomfortable in general (thigh chafing is just…not my thing), and I struggle to find slacks that fit well, so I often wear skirts and dresses. Most of these are knee/just above the knee length, and having my legs bare would feel so weird, especially in the office! I do agree that the suntan looks odd/dated; but as a fair-skinned person I find “nude” (ugh) to look pretty close to my skintone and therefore not as noticeable, or opt for sheer black (often in the winter or with darker/more conservative outfits). I guess if it’s outdated we can look old fashioned together haha.

          2. HB*

            This is a comment in response to a lot of stuff above but I’m having a hard time finding a place to put it. Sorry if it seems out of place here!

            My coworkers were required to wear skirts or dresses with pantyhose until their firm merged with the one I work for (accounting). That happened sometime in the mid 2000s (gonna add real quick that the firm that required this was owned/operated by a woman). So while I think it is hopefully very much no LONGER a thing… it very much was a thing more recently than (I think) people realize (I guess it depends on whether you think 10 to 15 years is recent… maybe it’s not recent… time has no meaning after the pandemic).

            I was also told while I was in law school around 2011 that I should wear skirt suits, not pantsuits, to interview in. This wasn’t required but “recommended.” But it shouldn’t have been recommended! There is nothing about a skirt suit that makes it more professional than a pantsuit other than it makes certain people with probably sexist views (male and female) more comfortable.

            So my guess is that some things (like pantyhose) get responded to with more vehemence as a way to make the “recommendation” go away more quickly because they tend to be insidious symptoms of more pervasive issues. The people saying “just wear what you want” are assuming that that is allowed without repercussion. And that is what we we all *want*, but for whatever reason/experience/whatever feel like we don’t have yet.

            1. Guacamole Bob*

              Yeah, my wife is in law and there are still corners of the industry where most or all women wear skirt suits. If you’re appearing before an old-fashioned judge (and there are a lot of them on the bench), do you want to take the risk that he’ll be noticing your clothing and judging you, and by extension your case and your client, on that instead of on the merits? That he’ll have a subtle bias that says you’re less professional than your opposing counsel?

              I think the client aspect is significant – there are a lot of women who would break norms on their own behalf, damn the consequences, but if it might hurt your client it feels a little different.

              1. Guacamole Bob*

                To add: my wife wears pant suits to interviews, and for day-to-day professional stuff. And when she’s not around clients her firm is business casual to casual. But “is this judge the kind who would care about skirts and pantyhose?” is the kind of thing women’s professional networks are made for.

                1. Lynn*

                  I sat on a jury last month for about a week. We had a female judge and prosecutor. The judge was wearing pants every day. The prosecutor wore either pant or skirt suits. I have no idea what hose, if any, she was wearing, though. I was glad to see that this judge, at least, definitely didn’t have some stupid rule about women needing to wear skirts. I can’t imagine sitting in the jury box listening to the truly horrid testimony I got to listen to and worrying about whether the prosecutor was wearing pants or a skirt (and pantyhose is way further down on the list).

            2. Abogado Avocado*

              Based on some statistically invalid — but fascinating — research on Pinterest, conventional pantyhose (not tights) seem on the way out as a required item of clothing, but definitely are a useful item for crafting. Which, having finally given those tubes of torture up for good at the beginning of the pandemic, is fine with me!

          3. Lizzy May*

            Wear them if you want to. The whole point is that people should wear what makes them comfortable and one isn’t more or less professional than the other.

            I think many, many women have moved away from pantyhose for practical reasons. Women’s clothing and undergarments are already so expensive that for me, it’s just ridiculous to add pantyhose to the mix knowing that they run so easily. I’m pink taxed enough as is.

            But if you want to wear them, go for it. There is no right or wrong choice here, just your choice.

      3. Helvetica*

        Oh my god, same! In fact, I instigated this same discussion a few weeks ago on AAM and my main point was exactly weather. As a non-American, I am also baffled by the strength of feelings Americans especially seem to have about pantyhose. They’re fine! And I like them in Autumn and Spring, and warmer ones – guess what you’d call tights? – in winter.

        1. UKDancer*

          Also slightly baffled by the strength of feeling. I mean unless your office has a very strict dress code or you have to wear a uniform, wear what you want to wear. I prefer trousers, some people prefer skirts with or without legwear. It depends on the occasion, the weather and what I feel like.

          I’ve never had strong feelings about sheer tights and it also takes me aback that some people do. They’re a thing I wear sometimes if I think it suits the outfit or activity and don’t wear other times when it doesn’t. I think unless you’re wearing something completely inappropriate for the occasion (jeans and a t-shirt to a black tie dinner for example or a ballgown to play football) you should wear what you want to wear.

        2. londonedit*

          Same! These discussions have been so instructive for me because until recently I had absolutely no idea what pantyhose actually were and even less of an idea why people in the US have such strength of feeling about them. So they’re just really thin tights? I don’t think I’ve ever looked closely enough at a co-worker’s legs to be able to tell whether they’re wearing those sort of really thin tights or not. I wouldn’t wear them myself (I wear M&S 80 denier black tights with dresses in the winter, or bare legs in the summer) but if someone else wanted to? Fair enough, none of my business, wear what you like. I also haven’t ever had a job where wearing tights would be compulsory…the only thing I can think of would be cabin crew on an airline, but I think even those rules have been relaxed and cabin crew don’t have to wear heels or tights these days. Maybe women wearing power suits to go and work in a bank in the 1980s? It’s just not really a workplace issue here, or it certainly hasn’t been throughout my 20-year working life.

          1. pancakes*

            I think a lot of it is a holdover from the 1980s and early 90s, when sheer hose tended to not in fact be sheer at all, and wasn’t available in a wide range of shades. Even very pale women would wind up looking like they had an ostentatious fake tan on their legs. I have frequently seen this shade described as “American tan” in UK books and media. For an example see an old Hadley Freeman fashion column in the Guardian, “Is it ever acceptable to wear American tan tights?” That look stuck around longer for ice skaters and stewardesses than it did for many of the rest of us.

            1. Not playing your game anymore*

              Even earlier than that. I was a teen in the 70s and it was unthinkable for anyone with pretentions to adulthood to wear a skirt or a dress without some sort of shear hosiery. Little girls wore tights, bobby sox or knee highs. Not grown women. Women wore dresses with shear hose on their shaved legs. Full stop. No bare legs, no tights no leggings no knit sox… If you lived in a cold part of the country and wore slacks for warmth on your walk to school? You took the slacks off once you got there. A young woman could be childish in bobby sox or knee sox, or she could at age 13-14 start wearing pantyhose or heaven forbid, nylons with a garter belt.
              My first year of middle school (12 and 13 years old) was the first year that allow girls to wear slacks to class. We mostly wore sox if we wore skirts that year, but by 4 years later when we went on to high school we were trapped in pantyhose. (thank heavens I could wear JEANS! by that time)
              My mother, who had an office job at that time wore shear hose, gogo boots with hose, or pant suits to work. (The business casual of her day) (She’s in her 80s now, wear slack because she’s not wearing hose, and no she’s not about to go around bare legged.

              I wear skorts with my bare hairy legs most of the summer, and I’ll fight the person who tries to get me back in nylons/pantyhose. I also don’t do tights or leggings because they still strike me as being “young persons wear”, I don’t care what others wear on their legs as long as it’s not distressed jeans!

              1. pancakes*

                I meant that by the mid to late 90s there was a wider range of shades than black, white, and fake tan.

          2. i babysit adults in the sky*

            Flight attendant here; we still are very much required to wear pantyhose (think 10-40 denier tights) and have heel height requirements for our concourse shoes.

            Personally I don’t mind hose because they keep my legs warmer on occasionally-freezing aircraft, and the compression helps ward off varicose veins!

            1. noahwynn*

              I work for an airline as well and I think we are one of the last industries that still requires it. We even have vending machines in the crew rooms and airport agent break rooms with vending machines for pantyhose.

            2. April*

              Can I just say, I don’t think your profession gets the respect it deserves. You’re doing some of the hardest customer service on earth, and you’re stuck in a small uncomfortable box with all of your customers for hours, to boot! Especially right now, flight attendants deal with more shit than anybody should have to.

              In “normal times” I fly once or twice a year (mostly to go to fan conventions) and every flight attendant I’ve had has been professional and fantastic and had a sense of humor, too.

              1. i babysit adults in the sky*

                Thank you so much. The past 15 months have been extra tough, and any appreciation means a lot to us.

                Would love to fly you to a con someday. :)

          3. Hillary*

            I had a job ~2005 where the dress code required hose if wearing a skirt, and they’d only started allowing slacks on women around 2000. It was very confusing to 20-something me when my boss told me he would never be checking or enforcing that part of the dress code. It’s probably still a very formal dress code, but it was definitely not the industry for me.

            The main thing I’ve learned from this thread is I need to go tights shopping next time I’m in the UK.

            1. pancakes*

              You can buy UK tights online! Heist brand is good, and Marks & Spencer for cozy winter ones.

          4. Koalafied*

            So they’re just really thin tights?

            Yep. So thin that if you have a jagged fingernail edge you could easily rip them just trying to put them on. Or sometimes just one or two vertical threads would snap and you’d have a long blemish where you could see the individual horizontal threads and the skin underneath them – google image “hosiery run” if you haven’t encountered thin enough tights to produce this effect before. When I was a girl, it was a “hack” to use clear nail polish if you caught a run when it happened, to keep it from growing bigger before you could get home, whereupon you’d have to throw them away. Literally so threadbare that a single broken strand meant we had to shellac them to our legs!

          5. Jean Pargetter Hardcastle*

            Your mention of M&S tights has me thinking – I’m in the U.S. but bought some tights at M&S when I was in London, and I couldn’t believe how comfortable they were. Now I wear Snag for the same reason. Every pair of hose I’ve ever put on in the U.S. has been appalling uncomfortable. How is this tiny drier-lint shaped ball of nothing supposed to stretch out and cover my body without feeling like a vice? I am now thinking that perhaps American hose are just significantly more uncomfortable than others, and maybe that’s why our passionate hatred of them seems so surprising.

        3. Jane*

          Where are you getting that Americans have stronger feelings than others about pantyhose? Just in this thread the non-Americans seem more opinionated than the Americans.

          It’s funny you say that because I’ve always thought of the Brits as having very strong feelings about pantyhose. I mean, Kate Middleton actually caused a pantyhose controversy when she didn’t wear them.

          1. londonedit*

            I mean, she didn’t. The Daily Fail got its knickers in a twist but no right-thinking person pays any attention to them. 99% of British people could not care less what the Duchess of Cambridge wears on her legs.

            I’ve just never heard of anyone being ‘made’ to wear a particular sort of sheer tights, as I’ve seen described in comments here over the years. They’re not a workplace requirement and there’s no section of society (apart from, I don’t know, elderly great-aunts) that views pantyhose as required attire for women.

            1. Jane*

              lol, no. If it was a big enough deal for me to hear about it in the US, then it was obviously more than just the people who write the daily mail who had strong feelings about it.

              I have also never heard of anyone being ‘made’ to wear a particular sort of sheer tights, in this comments section or anywhere else. They are not a workplace requirement anywhere that I am aware of in the US and there’s no section of society in the US apart from elderly women that views pantyhose as required attire for women. So, it’s sounds like the feelings about pantyhose in the US and UK are pretty much exactly the same..

              1. londonedit*

                Look at the comments on this very post, though – non-Americans are baffled that it’s even a debate, Americans are talking about hating ‘having’ to wear pantyhose and hating that it’s an expectation or a thing.

                And, yeah, the USA hears a heck of a lot more about the British royal family than we do. The tabloids here love to stir up a storm but most people really couldn’t give two hoots.

                1. Jane*

                  No one is talking about being required to wear pantyhose. They are talking about not liking the old-fashioned expectation to wear them, an expectation that almost no one holds anymore. The non-Americans around here are ‘baffled’ by everything that gets mentioned in a letter that isn’t exactly the way it is in their country, but one letter (or even a few letters on one topic) is not at all representative of American social norms and its bizarre that you guys always make that leap.

                  You may not care about the royal family, but lots of people in the UK do. That’s why the tabloids keep publishing stories about them.

                2. Kay Lon Lon*

                  I’m with you, Jane. The non-American commenters, especially the British, will look for any reason to make themselves seem more evolved or superior to Americans, but most of the time they are just jumping to conclusions based on one situation in a letter. It’s obnoxious to say the least.

                3. londonedit*

                  What? I don’t think any British people are trying to make themselves look superior. It’s tights, for god’s sake! The question in the heading of the letter was ‘What’s up with pantyhose?’ and non-American people are chiming in with ‘We don’t know either, we’ve spent years hearing the word pantyhose on American TV and in American writing and we don’t even know what it is, let alone it being a thing we have to routinely deal with in the workplace’.

          2. Liz*

            As a Brit, I was confused over the “but [thick] tights are for CHILDREN!” argument that came up on the previous thread, because we don’t differentiate between “tights” and “pantyhose” and generally just wear thicker tights in colder weather and nobody cares.

            I do think some more conservative Brits are equally up in arms over bare legs in more formal occasions, though. Im not familiar with the Kate Middleton story but it doesn’t surprise me.

            1. London Lass*

              I had no idea about the Kate Middleton “scandal” either, but it’s true that my parents would regard it as inappropriate to show up at a formal event or in an office with a reasonable formal dress code with bare legs. Personally my legs are not my favourite part of my body, and I wear sheer tights in warmer weather to a) make my psoriasis and any other blemishes less visible and b) protect people’s eyes from the glare of reflected light off my very white, mostly sun-deprived skin. I don’t want to blind anyone! Essentially I treat them as make-up for my legs. If I had perfect skin and a lovely tan I don’t think I would bother.

              1. UKDancer*

                I think it’s hugely a generational thing. My grandmother would probably have cared whether I wore tights or not and I do remember having to put them on under my dress for church when I was visiting her in weather when I would more comfortably have done without them.

                My parents probably wouldn’t care. I remember when we went to Glyndebourne (black tie) neither Mum nor I wore tights because it was quite warm and we were more comfortable without them.

                I should say the Royal Family, by their nature are more old fashioned than the rest of us and apply rules most people have now dispensed with, e.g. how they’re supposed to sit and what colour nail varnish to wear for which occasion. Most people in the UK nowadays aren’t that bothered by them and even the ones who do read about them in the Daily Fail do so out of interest rather than because they care what they do.

              2. Hello, I'd like to report my boss*

                Same feelings overall. I am in the UK. I wonder if US ‘pantyhose’ (sheer thin tights?) are disliked for being somehow poorly sized, unstretchy and flimsy, in a way that UK-made ones aren’t.

                I agree that the sizing can be hit and miss but once I’ve found a size (usually 2-3 sizes bigger than the package suggests), I buy the ones that are ‘ladder resist’ and they seem to last fine without being restrictive or too delicate.

                Then again … I think I have a higher than average tolerance for uncomfortable clothes, so maybe it’s just me who doesn’t mind tights.

                I’d definitely wear thin sheer tights in summer to a job interview if it was at all formal, partly because they stop my legs feeling so stuck together and sweaty.

                1. Leo*

                  The sizing might definitely be an issue! We have one widely available/inexpensive brand (I know because I buy them haha) and their sizes are (I believe) A/B/Q/Q+, with a weird height/weight chart on the box to tell you which to use. Simultaneously, they come in three colors: Nude, Suntan, and Black (as though those are the only leg colors out there…ugh). It is in no way intuitive or helpful!

                  Meanwhile, when I was living in Poland (where pantyhose/tights seem a lot more common, even in casual settings) they had numerous brands/types/colors, and the sizes actually suited human bodies and size expectations.

                  And certainly, the widely available brand is extremely tear-prone. When working full-time in the office, I’d probably go through 1 pair/week without them getting destroyed. Lately there are some more size/color inclusive brands cropping up, though, and a few that are producing a much more durable product (although also significantly more expensive!).

              3. Jane*

                This is exactly how it is in the US. Some people in the oldest generation still consider pantyhose necessary for formal occasions, some younger women where them because they don’t like how their legs look, but most people just don’t care one way or another. Some of the commenters here are looking for differences that just don’t exist.

            2. Spencer Hastings*

              As an American, I am also baffled by “tights are for children” — that would certainly be news to companies like Ann Taylor, where I have bought tights in the past (in addition to other business casual work clothes).

          3. Helvetica*

            I mean, just the fact that the 2010 debate which Alison referred to, exists, on this predominantly American blog? And that it’s come up here under similar questions many-many times, with quite strong comments. It’s such a non-issue in the European media I do consume. SNL also just recently had a sketch about two women trying to sell pantyhose and it was very clear that it was seen as passé that they would do this.
            And I’m not British, to be clear but the Kate Middleton and Meghan “controversy” about tights baffled me then as well.

            1. Jane*

              Its a non-issue in the American media too, lol. AAM is literally the only place I’ve ever seen it discussed like this. And that makes sense. This place is for discussing workplace norms and pantyhose are a workplace norm that has largely disappeared but some small groups of people still think they are important, which sounds exactly like what several commenters have described in other countries. But for some reason you guys enjoy jumping to weird conclusions about our entire country based on comments you read on one really specific website.

              1. pancakes*

                Jane, you’re very insistent that this is a non-issue in the US but it clearly has been an issue in some professions and at some points in time. Someone mentioned below that the Mormon church stopped requiring pantyhose for missionaries, a decision which would’ve required some discussion. A flight attendant replying to an earlier comment of mine says her job requires them. When I was graduating from law school in the early 2000s there was definitely some discussion as to whether bare legs were acceptable for interviews with conservative firms.

                1. Jane*

                  “it clearly has been an issue in some professions and at some points in time.”

                  Which is exactly what several commenters have described in other countries. There doesn’t seem to be much of a difference between the US and other countries on this issue.

                2. pancakes*

                  It seems you agree, then, that this site isn’t the only place people have ever discussed the matter. It seems that your real objection is to people outside of the US having perceptions of US culture. They don’t need your permission to do so.

              2. Helvetica*

                I certainly did not intend to jump to conclusions but if I see people continuing to write in and ask “what’s up with pantyhose” on this blog then it isn’t unreasonable for me to deduce from that it is a topic in the American society and workplace. If it were exclusive to one profession, people wouldn’t keep asking Alison about it.
                My point was and remains that I’ve never thought about the professionalism of pantyhose since I started reading this blog and became aware that these discussions exist.

                1. Locke*

                  I wouldn’t conclude that just because a few people write to AAM about it that is a topic of discussion in American society. A lot of times people write to Alison about these kind of topics *because* they don’t get discussed in American society and the writer came across one specific situation where it came up. For what it’s worth, I’m American and I also never thought much about pantyhose until I started reading AAM. I do agree with Jane’s point that it can be annoying when people just assume that individual letters are representative of all of American society which is what seems to have happened in this thread.

      4. Koalafied*

        well, the people wearing shorter skirts do, I don’t know what the ones wearing longer skirts or pants do

        So, I agree with no bare legs – but where I am 1) short skirts are generally considered warm-weather wear, and 2) short skirts are generally not considered work appropriate. If you did wear an above-knee skirt to work in the winter, you’d pair it with wool or fleece-lined winter leggings, the kind so thick that they read more like snug pants and don’t feel inappropriate in an office.

        The closest I come to that is sometimes I will pair a midi skirt with over-knee socks and tall boots in the winter, and I generally wear bike/yoga shorts under skirts anyway, so between the tall socks and the under-shorts most of my legs are covered.

      5. Shan*

        Yes, I live in Calgary, and I find that they absolutely make my legs feel warmer in the winter! I mean, I’m not wearing them to walk to work in -40, but I’ll wear them in -10 and feel fine. And they disguise all the meh bits of bare skin in the cold: pasty colour, blueish or red from coming into the heat, goosebumps, being too lazy to shave… They’re just a solid choice, in my opinion, as long as you’re able get a size that fits.

    4. WS*

      If I had to wear a skirt, I’d wear thick tights for the chub rub on my thighs, but panty hose only make it worse. Much, much worse. In summer, I definitely wouldn’t wear a skirt or hose, just nice light cotton trousers.

      1. Jaid*

        And now they make thigh bands and have glide on sticks that can prevent chafing, so the tights aren’t as necessary.

          1. it's me*

            Thigh Society makes great, almost unnoticeable “bike short” style garments for wearing under skirts.

        1. Carlie*

          I searched just to see if that sketch had been mentioned yet. As a woman of certain age, it hit the mark so well I was almost crying laughing so hard.

      2. Smithy*

        I think that the Spanx type body shaping garments, the expanded (and amazing) market for lightweight chub rub garments, and the ranges of thicker tights/leggings have really allowed for women to have far more options even over the last ten years.

        Whether the clothing is being worn for warmth, smoother lines, comfort, etc – there’s more choice to achieve a combination of results based on someone’s preference. Which is brilliant.

    5. Caroline Bowman*

      Same, I get very cold! What I often tend to wear is very thin leggings, like, probably a bit too thin to be worn alone, but not actual pantyhose, but obviously it depends on outfit. I also love those thicker, opaque pantyhose. I think it’s really a matter of personal preference rather than notions of ”how very unseemly, I could SEE her leg skin!”.

    6. Asenath*

      I hated pantyhose for other reasons – tightness, slipping down, getting holes far too easily etc etc – but never thought of them as a way of keeping my legs warm. It’s been years now since I wore them except on very rare non-work occasions, and I now only wear skirts and dresses when it’s warm, and go with bare legs.

    7. The Other Dawn*

      Pantyhose never keep my legs warm. That’s not why I wear them. I wear them–on the rare occasion I wear a skirt to the office these days–because I hate the way my legs look bare with a skirt. That’s it.

      1. Ins mom*

        Yep. I’m a child of the sixties and still a little vain. I had ‘nice legs’ and very short skirts back then. Now , not such nice legs, certainly not, and I can’t get over wanting them covered when they show!

    8. Koala dreams*

      Yes, I also find it confusing. I don’t like tights (including both sheer and opaque), and prefer leggings. The debate about leggings is totally different than the debate about tights, though.

    9. LifeBeforeCorona*

      Because of a skin condition I have discoloured legs and pantyhose was my saviour. Even in the muggiest, hottest weather, I wore them because not having people stare and ask or not ask was worth the discomfort.

    10. NotRealAnonForThis*

      So…USA here. Pantyhose = the really sheer barely there, does nothing except make it so your legs aren’t bare (gasp!). Tights = sweaters for your legs, nice and cuddly or essentially leggings with feet, but fit better than pantyhose. Leggings = typically workout or lounge wear, usually thicker than non-chunky-knit tights, can sometimes get away with under skirts and dresses if you can hide the “but there’s no feet”.

      My issue with pantyhose (besides the name, which is just….blech) is that once we hit fifth grade, they were supposed to be a required part of our school uniform. We were not permitted to have (gasp) bare legs. We could not wear tights per our dress code beyond fourth grade. We could not wear knee highs. They had to be pantyhose. They even specified the stupid denier. With ankle socks. In the winter. In an area where the average temperature in winter is below freezing, we get 100-ish inches of snow, and we had outdoor recess. There was ZERO practical reason for requiring pantyhose, other than “we can’t have prepubescent girls running around with bare legs, how scandalous!”. To which, our mothers said the early 1980’s version of “f*** this $***!”. Our small parochial school decided after much publicity, that the scandal of sexualizing young girls was probably a worse outcome. Because that was exactly how it read then, even to us students. We were “dirty” because we were showing our legs.

      To this day, if someone attempts to tell me that I *need* to wear pantyhose to look professional? Not going to go well. Tights? Different matter, as I am known for accessorizing my heavy-on-the-plain-black-and-grey wardrobe with tights that vary from completely tasteful and plain to utterly bananacrackers.

      1. Rusty Shackelford*

        Tights = sweaters for your legs,

        That’s one type of tights, but there’s a pretty wide range. I think the defining characteristic is that they are opaque.

        1. NotRealAnonForThis*

          True, but most of the rest are captured under “leggings with feet”. And they’re all warmer than just plain old “pantyhose” or “nylons”. My own personal experience with those is they don’t add much in the winter as a single layer, but in the summer, they certainly do!

          1. Rusty Shackelford*

            I disagree. Tights can be much more lightweight than “leggings with feet.” The ones I wear are simply thicker pantyhose.

    11. Magenta*

      I am so confused now! I always thought that “pantyhose” was the American word for what we Brits call “tights” now you are talking about them as if they are different things.
      To me Tights are things like joined together stockings that come in various colours and thicknesses from like crazy thin 7 denier to warm and cozy 200 denier. I wear thicker, usually darker ones in the winter and thinner, usually “flesh” coloured ones in summer, I’m always cold so generally it needs to be scorching before I’m comfortable with bare legs. I was so happy when I discovered that Snag tights do 50 denier tights in flesh colours so I can wear cozy ones in spring and not look like I’m dressed for winter.
      I don’t think I have ever noticed if other women wear them or not though, it has never been an issue in my jobs in the UK.

      1. Ri*

        I’m just going to jump in with my two cents. I’m American: pantyhose (aka nylons, the fabric used to make pantyhose [hosiery with an under pant]) to me are anything made from thin fabric. Opaque just means not letting the in light, therefore not see-thru and not relating to thickness of fabric at all. Tights – again, to me – to me are thicker and something you would wear in the colder months. (Also what you generally associate young children wearing.)
        I worked at a major retailer for many many years and you weren’t allowed to show up unless you had something covering your legs whether it be pantyhose, tights, or as they used to say “slacks“. Glad that’s over!

        1. Archaeopteryx*

          (Also US) For me (and all I’ve ever heard), pantyhose = only beige sheer nylons, hopelessly outdated like shoulder pads. Sheer or semi-opaque black hosiery would still be referred to as tights, still very much normal to wear under skirts and dresses in fall for a little more warmth or to dress up a cocktail dress. Think like, a cute fall sweater-dress from ModCloth with patterned or sheer black tights. Still normal, would definitely be referred to as tights because they’re not that weird beige color.

      2. Smithy*

        In the US, pantyhose are traditionally thinner than tights and often (though not always) associated with creating a “nude allusion” for the legs.

        However, I think the reality in the US marketplace is that there’s just a far wider spectrum from the sheerest of pantyhose to “are these leggings pants” with tights somewhere in the middle. A number of companies most associated with tights typically offer a range of opacity, some that might be more traditionally associated with pantyhose. Also, there are styles of very thick tights that might be more viewed as leggings.

        Obviously when it comes to language around dress codes, it’s always helpful to be as accurate as possible, particularly to help younger women be as informed and prepared as possible for the work world. But with companies like Snag Tights (best chub rub garments!) or Spanx there are lots of ways to get a professional look that works for more women’s bodies and dress goals.

        1. Koalafied*

          Yeah, to me sheerness is the differentiator. Pantyhose are so sheer and flimsy that it’s hard to read it as anything other than ticking a box that “my legs are technically not bare.”

          Tights are something I see as primarily serving younger kids, dancers/performers/athletes, and flight attendants/waitresses, still semi-sheer if stretched enough but mostly opaque, and thick/tough enough to be durable for someone engaging in physical work or athletic activity or the rough and tumble lifestyle of a kid.

          Leggings are (or should be) completely opaque even when stretched, though I suppose the primary differentiator there might be that leggings don’t typically have feet. (Of course, when I was younger there were also “stirrup leggings” which didn’t have a full foot but wouldn’t leave your ankle exposed the way other leggings of the time often did – not sure if it’s the way my body changed as I grew into adult sizes but it seems to me leggings are generally long enough to reach all the way to the bottom of the heel these days.) A really thin pair of leggings that isn’t opaque but doesn’t have feet I’d probably be more inclined to call “shitty leggings” than “tights.”

          1. Smithy*

            As a deep tight fan – well into my adult years and having nothing to do with the jobs mentioned – there are also footless or “over the heel” tights as well.

            There was certainly a period where very sheer black pantyhose that didn’t match skin tone were very much so in style. And just to be comprehensive, there’s a whole other category of “sexy sheer” that includes your panthose with the black seam up the back or come in colors like red.

            Ultimately, I think the concept of “pantyhose vs tights” has been that the term pantyhose is so negative that it’s fallen out of fashion. In its place are tights identified as sheer, semi-opaque or opaque.

    12. Keymaster of Gozer*

      Nah, I wear floor length skirts 99% of the time and my arthritis warms my joints up lovely.

      Also, I put my fingernails through any pair of tights lower than 40 denier and can’t get ones to fit.

    13. Nancy*

      I wear them when it’s too warm for tights/leggings and too cold for nothing under a skirt/dress. Yes, there is a difference to me. I hate pants that aren’t jeans or yoga pants. I never found pantyhose to be uncomfortable as long as they aren’t the control top ones.

      I have never seen pantyhose as anything other than a preference and could not care less what people think of me wearing them. Some people like them, some don’t, who cares.

    14. Anon in the USA*

      My legs don’t look good bare, so I wear pantyhose unless I have on a longer skirt. As noted, it’s just a preference, and I am astounded at the reaction some people have to those who don’t have the same view.

      I agree that bare legs when it is cold out doesn’t look good – if you don’t want to wear hose, wear pants!

      1. Tequila & Oxford Commas*

        But why don’t bare legs look good when it’s cold out? And should we care that much about how our colleagues’ bodies look?

    15. Lacey*

      Unless I’m actually wearing stockings, panty hose don’t keep my legs warm. They’re just another wardrobe hazard.

      1. Ri*

        I have been actually thinking about this post thread. I used to love my pantyhose back in the day– I still love my tights! I love tights on kids! But here’s the thing… There’s a lot of debate on here whether or not actual pantyhose -that is the thin nylons – keep you warm. And they must. Somehow. Because when I used be to hotter than hell after work, getting in a car that had been baking in the heat for 10 hours, the first thing I would do is take them off and I instantaneously feel much cooler! I’m thinking about this, and very glad parking lot/car park cameras weren’t super prevalent back in the 80s & 90’s!

    16. Amethystmoon*

      My job lets us wear nice jeans, but even if I was in a dressier situation, my go-to would be slacks and a blouse. One can wear socks with both items of clothing. I haven’t worn pantyhose in years.

    17. DataGirl*

      My legs get super cold and I have fibromyalgia so for me cold = intense pain. My solution is just to wear pants. If I want to wear dress shoes I will wear hose socks, otherwise the tops of my feet get too cold. I work with someone who wears full hose even under pants which I would find uncomfortable, I just have too much happening in the stomach area to comfortably wear something as restricting as hose.

    18. Dust Bunny*

      My legs don’t get that cold until it’s pretty darned cold out–I can easily walk around in 40-degree weather in a skirt and not be bothered. I wouldn’t go hiking in shorts in 40 degrees, obviously, because that will definitely catch up with you, but just going for a walk or waiting for the bus? No problem.

      I don’t usually wear pantyhose mostly because I seem to destroy them easily, but I do wear them when knee socks wouldn’t look right because I absolutely cannot stand the feel of bare feet in shoes. Like . . . crawling-out-of-my-skin, stuff-of-nightmares cannot stand it.

    19. Wry*

      Yeah I mean, if you wear a skirt to work literally every day, of course sometimes you’ll be cold and have to wear something on your legs. In my understanding, part of the issue with pantyhose was that women were expected to wear them even if it was very hot, when bare legs would have been more comfortable. Wearing pantyhose when it’s cold doesn’t seem like that much of an issue. As a woman in my late 20s, I just consider them dated. When it’s cold out, I usually wear pants, and if I do wear a skirt or dress in cold weather, I’d wear thick tights or leggings under it, not pantyhose. But for the most part, I save the skirts and dresses for hot weather, in which case it’s bare legs all the way.

      Anyway, I don’t think anyone has ever objected to individuals’ preference for wearing pantyhose. Wear them if you want to! The objection is to women being expected to wear them all the time whether they want to or not.

      1. TheLayeredOne*

        This, exactly. I used to wear pantyhose and gladly don’t anymore, as bare legs have become standard in all the offices I’ve worked in. I’m always cold, so in the winter, I wear black tights with skirts or dresses. I couldn’t care less if someone else wants to wear pantyhose, but if I was told it was a dress code requirement or an expectation at a job, I’d find that pretty troubling in this day and age.

      2. NotRealAnonForThis*

        Exactly. I don’t have an opinion on other’s *choice* to wear, or not wear, pantyhose. I have very strong opinions on the things as far as *me wearing them*, and don’t wear them myself, but that doesn’t extend to others.

        Demanding that it be worn *in order to be seen as professional* is the perception that needs to go. A pair of nylons or a tie do not a professional make.

        1. JustaTech*

          I realized that pantyhose as professional standard had gone away in the US when I was looking for a pair of cheap hose to wear to a party and realized that they don’t sell hose at the grocery store anymore. When I was a kid in the 90’s There was a whole display of fancy (l’eggs in the eggs!) and regular pantyhose in the aisle with the toilet paper.

          The only time I’ve seen them mentioned in a work dress code was for the “clean” lab, which said you had to cover your legs, so *if* you were wearing a skirt (of any length) you had to wear pantyhose. That was maybe 2004? And I never saw it enforced.

          Personally I wear tights when I’m cold, but those are both opaque and not human-skin-tone. The only time I wear pantyhose/stockings is to a fancy event in the winter.

    20. Book Badger, Attorney-at-Claw*

      I wear a skirt almost every day (I’m really short and curvy, so finding good pants is almost impossible). I have bare legs in the summer when it’s hot, tights in the fall, winter, and early spring, as well as any time it’s raining. I have different weights of tights for different temperatures.

      But I still don’t wear pantyhose because they’re sheer, provide no warmth whatsoever, and are slippery so it’s hard to keep my shoes on.

    21. 2 Cents*

      Nope, always hot. I don’t get cold and need a second layer over a short-sleeved top until it’s around 45 degrees outside. I am always, always hot. Signed, someone who wished 75 was the hottest it got

    22. Minerva*

      My brother would wear pantyhose under a kilt or even dress pants for warmth. Long underwear were too warm indoors and too bulky/visible.

      Back in the “no bare legs in the office” era I also wore pantyhose under dress pants in the winter. They added that little bit of warmth (even if they had a run and were gone from the bare legs rotation). I also liked them for when I wore boots with a skirt and wanted a little bit of extra skin coverage on a very cold day. I’ve moved to heavier tights but find they’re more sausage-casing feeling than hose was.

      Black hose also helped me avoid making unshaved legs “a statement” when I wasn’t sure I wanted to do so.

    23. Pantyhose OP*

      Hey everyone – thank you for commenting!! It’s been interesting to read. I live in the Pacific Northwest, and it’s generally a pretty temperate climate. If it’s really cold, I will wear leggings under my dress. For some reason leggings (they have to be very soft and have a certain waistline) are ok. And, I’ll be honest, even if it’s cold, I’d infinitely rather freeze than wear pantyhose. I didn’t mention it in my post, but I also have a history of an eating disorder and body dysmorphia, so I struggle wearing anything that’s tight, including most pants (unless I wear them several sizes too large which is not an attractive or professional look). But I also legitimately cannot stand the feeling of pantyhose, most tights, and dance tights. Dresses and skirts (at least some skirts) are much better.

      1. DataGirl*

        I can sympathize with the sensory issues. I absolutely cannot have anything touching my neck, it makes me crazy. And for pants I prefer either extremely high or low waisted so that either the band is way up on my ribs, or down on my hips- stomach touching is problematic. I still mostly wear pants at work because of the cold issue, but around the house where I can control the temp dresses work great.


    You can’t argue “funny”. Precisely for this reason. “It was just a joke” is a prelude to every awful scenario you could conjure. It’s decidedly NOT an invitation to double (or triple!) down on the message that your subordinates lack humor because they were frightened or taken aback by your jokes about being fired or having to battle it out for a promotion. Just stop already.

  12. Mina, the Company Prom Queen*

    #5: What your boss is doing is absolutely not ok. He is taking part of your compensation without your consent. Alison’s advice is spot on. It is always appropriate to speak up when someone is messing with your compensation.

  13. Observer*

    #4 – In most workplaces starting time is generally starting time NOT starting time + 5. Even in a place where it’s the latter, you need to be a known quantity for that to fly (unless they tell you otherwise.) It’s true that in a job that doesn’t have strict coverage / presence requirements, smart employers are not going to get hung up on someone coming in a bit late on occasion, that’s generally once they see that you are reliable, don’t clock out on the dot, and get your work done.

    It sounds like this job is a genuine mismatch for a number of reasons, but this is a good lesson to take with you regardless.

    1. Sarahb*

      I don’t agree with “most”. Retail and shift work maybe. But every office job I’ve ever had, even if not an actual Flexi-hour arrangement, has allowed some flexibility. 5 minutes “late” isn’t late at all. Unless it’s seriously disrupting the flow of work I don’t see why anyone should care.

      1. Observer*

        Once you’re known to be reliable and dependable, sure. But that’s not the starting point for most people.

        1. I'd Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

          Honestly that seems a bit graceless to me. If you offer a flex start time, then you offer a flex start time.

          And most offices do nowadays, so increasingly places that require ‘butts in seats’ time-keeping are going to have to be clear about that.

          1. LDN Layabout*

            It’s not graceless to suggest that your behaviour when you start a job should differ to your behaviour once you’re a proven quantity.

            My job is very flexible about start times etc, including compressed hours etc. But I still started doing 9-5, which morphed into 8-4 and now it’s ‘I’ll start around 8 and if I get my hours in/work done, no one cares’. But if I’d gone straight into that stage, without my colleagues/boss having an impression of me or my work, I would expect some side-eye.

            1. I'd Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

              Hm. I may have interpreted the comment string differently to you? My read was that Sarahb was talking about offices that offer flex-time and/or where five minutes ‘late’ isn’t really late.

              While I agree that new employees are often better safe than sorry — I absolutely think it’s graceless on the part of the employer to offer something as standard but then judge new employees taking advantage of that offering. If an office has flextime that they should have it across the board, unless there is a practical job-related reason why not.

              1. LDN Layabout*

                A new employee takes up more time and effort though, in terms of introducing them to people, the work, the organisation as a whole.

                It’s not something I personally would care about, but I can understand why, right at the beginning of the job, someone would be annoyed with repeated ‘lateness’ even if it’s minor.

              2. All the words*

                In my experience as hourly staff in the conservative world of the mortgage industry, “Flex Time” means you can choose your schedule, within a window. But once you’ve said “I want to work 8:00 – 4:30” some supervisors can be pretty strict about sticking to those exact hours. Things may have relaxed somewhat over time, though now we have a digital time clock we have to punch. So really not too relaxed. But flex time never meant an (hourly) employee could choose their hours on a day by day basis. I’ve never been salary so can’t speak to that.

                But regardless, I would play things super safe as a new employee.

            1. OP4*

              I asked about flexibility specifically in the interview and was told it was definitely allowed.

              1. sunny-dee*

                But (as others have said) that flexibility doesn’t necessarily start on day 1. My company has about 60% of its staff working remotely but (pre-covid) new hires in several departments were expected to work in the office at least a couple of months to get up to speed, and then they could switch to remote assuming they were productive and reliable. Which was not always the case.

                1. OP4*

                  You’re right, and that’s definitely something I’ve learned now. I had it very easy with my previous jobs, and I got too used to the slack, I think. Particularly since I grew up in Silicon Valley, where weird hours are far more accepted.

              2. mkl*

                You’re in the clear. There’s nothing wrong with requiring precise arrival time punctuality out of a salaried office employee, as long as you communicate that clearly to interviewees and new hires. But it’s become slightly out of the norm in enough industries and there are enough people out there with unpredictable commutes (talking to you NYC subway riders) who would self-select out of a salaried office job that required it, that’s it’s only practical to call out precise arrival time punctuality as a requirement.

                And this is a totally subjective, based on just your side of the story gut take, but I suspect there’s something a little funky in that office culture. There’s a whiff of undercommunication/overly punative response in how they handled this. Enjoy the heck out of that next job.

        2. JM60*

          But the OP said that this was a salaried job, and 5 minutes late being considered “late” is a bit unusual for most salaried jobs, even for people who are relatively new.

        3. Can Can Cannot*

          I think it gets down to what the offered OP1. A blanket statement that flex time is allowed should include the first days on the job. If flex time is not available on day 1, then they should say so.

      2. Beth Jacobs*

        I know I’m making a ton of assumptions, but it just sounds like OP isn’t a good fit and her boss is at “bitch eating crackers” with her. It’s also easier to reprimand her for lateness rather than more “soft” shortcomings.
        It doesn’t really matter. The answer to whether OP should job search is an enthusiastic yes.

      3. I'd Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

        Agreed. In my expeirence, the vast majority of office jobs are flexible about start time.

        I’ve never worked in an office where someone (new or not) coming in five minutes after 9 would have been considered late.

        1. lailaaaaah*

          Eh, my last two office jobs were *very* strict about not only getting in, but being ready to go by 9 (or whatever your designated start time was). And even in my current one, I wasn’t about to start testing their willingness to have me come in a bit late while I was still new and didn’t fully understand the office culture.

          1. Can Can Cannot*

            But did those two jobs tell you before you joined that they offered flex time? That’s the disconnect for the OP1 — they offered flex time but aren’t allowing flex time.

      4. kittymommy*

        I would say this is very dependent on office culture. Every office job I have had (20ish years) start time means butt in that seat. The only variants were those who had higher level positions.

    2. Sleeping after sunrise*

      I think the industry is highly relevant here.

      In my industry, a set starting time (for the day, not for specific meetings etc) is not the norm. Unless your day starts with a specific thing, nobody really cares when you rock up. However, I’ve family that work jobs where others rely on their presence, and so start time is start time, because every day starts with specific things with a time.

      Really, if you are happy for someone you like to rock up 5 min late then you should have the same approach with everyone.

      Requiring someone turn up 25 min early (or 55min etc) bc transport schedule to sit at their desk to log in “on time” just so that you can see they have – is silly. Likewise requiring someone pay an expensive daily late fee for childcare just to not leave 5 mins earlier. What you should care about is whether the job can be done.

      1. Green great dragon*

        My industry’s the same as yours, but I’d still like a new starter to be there on time as I’ll be managing them more closely (I’m not clear exactly when the LW started coming in late, but if it was week one, I don’t think that’s great).

        1. Marillenbaum*

          That’s a good point. Even if you don’t need to be ready to start producing widgets at 9:00 on the dot, it’s generally wise to be at work and ready to go at that time when you’ve just started (both in the workplace generally and at this new job in particular) to set a reputation. When you become more of a known quantity and have a sense of the culture, it’s easier to do the “rolling up at 9:05 with your iced coffee” without looking a little clueless.

        2. Green great dragon*

          Thinking about this – when I have a new starter is probably the only time *I* would be there on the dot of 9, or probably somewhat before, so I’m there to check in at the start of the day. So I can see someone being slightly irritated if new starter is wandering through the door even a few minutes late.

        3. EPLawyer*

          And how often. 5 minutes late — sometimes — hey traffic was worse than normal, the bus was late, Metro caught fire again. 5 minutes late consistently? You need to plan your morning routine better to get in on time. Especially if you are new.

        4. Smithy*

          For salaried work, I really do believe that giving folks a starting range than to expect “on time” for newbies that essentially applies to no one else.

          I had one office where “starting time” was between 8-9am, with the expectation that 9am was a firm cut off. Core office hours were 9-4 with the understanding that individual coming and going before/after might vary. I always found that far more effective than giving a firm starting time for new staff, particularly in cities where most people were using public transportation. It meant that essentially the only way to truly be on time was to be early in a way that I never felt benefitted anyone.

          1. Spencer Hastings*

            Yeah, I have a choice between a bus that gets me to the office at 8:10 or one that gets me there at 7:40. Our office is open 8 to 5, but “core hours” are 8:30-4:30 per our employee handbook. So if I have an early meeting, I take the earlier bus, but in general it’s nice to be able to arrive within a range of times and have that be OK.

      2. londonedit*

        I don’t think the issue is whether or not the job has a strict start time – the issue is that the OP’s boss felt they needed to let the OP know that they would need to arrive/start work dead on time, not five minutes after that time. So obviously it was an important thing in that particular job, and it’s something OP needed to take on board. It’s not necessarily surprising that they didn’t know, seeing as it was their first job, and it’s not necessarily a problem that the boss felt they needed to give them a heads-up on office culture, but it’s clear from the rest of the letter that in the boss’s view, it was part of a pattern of behaviour from OP that was making them question whether they were right for the role.

    3. JM in England*

      In a couple of previous jobs, I worked in a lab supporting a production line. During induction, it was made clear that the starting time was the time that you had to actually be at your post. So if a start time of , say, 8:00 was given, I would arrive about 10-15mins earlier to allow time to change and relax before starting work.

    4. Ranon*

      I think the lesson is more “ask what on time means, especially your first week” than “assume on time means to the minute, especially your first week.” Most places I’ve worked with flexible schedules have actually asked me to come in later than the usual start time for the first week or two as that’s when whoever was going to be showing me around and getting me set up would actually turn up.

    5. BeagleMom*

      This has not been my experience at all. This person specifically says this is an exempt job, and there’s been no “start time” in every exempt job I’ve ever had, even on the first day. People generally arrive 15 minutes early to 15 minutes “late” depending on traffic, parking, whatever. This is definitely not some big problem with the OP if it really was a down to the minute criticism

      1. Observer*

        Well, lots of exempt jobs actually DO have a “start” time. And it’s always safer to assume that “start time” means “start time” unless otherwise noted, at least to start with. Yes, even in exempt positions.

        This is not about a workplace saying one thing and then doing another – there is no reason to believe that the OP’s workplace offers flex time. In fact, the OP indicates that they WERE expected to be “on time” – they just interpreted it differently. In such a case, it always makes sense to be on time to the minute to start with rather than on time to the nearest 5 minutes.

    6. LadyByTheLake*

      From what the OP says, the OP was specifically told to “show up on time,” which the OP somehow interpreted as “5 minutes later. So this was not a situation where the OP was told that there was flex time — OP was instructed to “show up on time,” which most experienced people would have understood to mean being ready to go at the starting time, not coming in five minutes later. So this appears to be a situation where the employer used their words and the OP, probably from inexperience, didn’t understand that those words meant what they said.

      1. Forrest*

        The OP doesn’t say they were ‘specifically told to “show up on time”‘ and then subsequently arrived at a few minutes past nine. Just that they were told after a few weeks that arriving after nine (or whatever the start time is) was considered *not* showing up on time at this employer.

        I hope the employer is just as specific about people leaving bang on 5pm!

        1. Sarahb*

          That’s exactly my attitude! If my employer wanted me to be in at a specific time every day you better believe I’m leaving at a specific time every day and not a minute later! If you want me to be flexible and responsive to the needs of the business, then the business better be flexible with me.

    7. LizM*

      I think city and office culture are major factors here. When I lived in DC and everyone took the Metro to work, and it felt like there was a fire on the Metro at least once a week (I’m probably exaggerating), there was a lot more grace about being late, especially for new employees who had just moved to the area and were still learning the quirks of public transit. That said, if you had an important meeting, it wasn’t unusual for people to get to work over an hour early because that’s how much buffer they’d built into their commute. (Luckily we had flex time and could leave an hour early on those days).

      That said, when I’m onboarding a new employee, I block out the morning in my calendar, so if I tell an employee I’ll meet them at 9, I expect them to treat that as an appointment, and be ready to go at 9. (Or at least, waiting at the front of our building, as they don’t have key card yet…). I usually try to be ready at 8:45, knowing that they’ll probably show up early to get settled before we start the onboarding. I’d be frustrated if we had a week of training and they were 5-10 min late every day that week. As they gain more independence, and their lateness doesn’t impact my schedule, I care less about what exact time they show up.

  14. Mer*

    #1 I think might be an issue with being recently promoted. Like the OP still sees herself on the same level as the people she’s training, which is why she thinks she can joke with them about being fired because she still doesn’t see herself as someone in a position to do that. But obviously she is and that’s how they see her. It’s still bad form, but more forgivable than, say, someone who’s been the boss for years and makes those jokes.

    #2 There was a hilarious pantyhose sketch on Saturday Night Live when Carey Mulligan hosted a couple months ago. She and Aidy Bryant played 80’s-looking L’Eggs salespeople trying to sell pantyhose to teens. “My pantyhose color is chicken tender nude.” Anyway, I’ve been working office jobs since 2006 and I’ve never seen anyone wearing pantyhose. Tights in the winter, yes, but never pantyhose.

    1. D3*

      No, OP definitely knows they are not on the same level. That’s exactly what they’re joking about. They just haven’t yet learned to adapt their behavior for that situation. And I suspect Alison is right about using humor because they feel awkward about it.

    2. autumnal*

      Re the SNL pantyhose skit – that was a riot! Glad they are a thing of the past, at least for the most part.

    3. Pantyhose OP*

      I’m so grateful it’s going away. My Old Job had a dress code that required pantyhose if wearing a skirt/dress. And (I noted above) that pants are hard for me in a different way. So I tried to slide by doing dresses plus leggings.

  15. D3*

    LW5: It sounds like you also need to push for greater transparency in how the tips are calculated and distributed. I’m not sure if averaging all the tips for the week is a good way to do it, either, and if he’s skimming some for charity who knows if he’s skimming some for himself, too. Or gives the cute leggy blonde more than the pudgy brunette. (Seen that, called it out! So creepy to have the owner in his 60s doing that with teen employees….)
    As someone who tips, I want my tips to go to the people who serve me, not averaged for the whole week.

    1. Polyhymnia O’Keefe*

      When I worked at Starbucks, the tips were distributed weekly. Total tips / total number of labour hours worked x each person’s hours = your tip total for the week.

      It was slightly different for major holidays like Christmas Day, where tips were much higher and the hourly breakdown was just for that day, not for the whole week, but the same process was in place.

      In that case, an employee who was not a manager was assigned to do tips weekly. I did it for my store for a whole and quite enjoyed it.

    2. lapgiraffe*

      Came here to say this. Not sure if it’s normal for more tip jar like places (coffee shops, counter service) to do that, but for restaurant work it is 10000% not ok. Any tip pooling is divided amongst the staff of that shift, and there’s definitely laws about who specifically can and cannot be tipped out, so taking a portion for charity is definitely NOT ok.

      I’d skip discussing it with the boss and go straight to reporting them to . Where’s there’s wage theft smoke…

      Also, go find a new job, this place sucks and it’s an employee’s market in the service biz right now.

  16. Jopestus*

    #2. Am i young or dont i really look at the legs of women since i had to google what pantyhose are? Wear whatever for all i care.

    1. Liz*

      Im British and I still get confused over the terminology. For years I thought “pantyhose” was just the American word for tights. Then people talked about how pantyhose have underwear built in at the top? I could never quite picture this. Do they sew the nylon to the cotton? Do you wear them over the top of your regular pants? Does that not get extremely hot and uncomfortable?

      Then I googled “pantyhose” and all the pictures just… look like regular tights. I can’t find anything with built in underwear, just the regular fabric at the top, woven thicker, and you wear them over your regular underwear. So I’m back to “pantyhose is an American word for tights”.

      Although not quite. This website has a handy definition: Apparently “pantyhose” is used to refer to anything under 40 denier, and “tights” is used if they go above. I’ve also seen an American commenter on a forum use “tights” when referring to gym leggings, so there are a lot of linguistic variances in play, which fascinates me because I love these differences within our common language.

      1. Allonge*

        Yes, the… whatever is happening on the top part is confusing for me too, Alison linked an article below and that refers to the same issue, but does not illustrate. I think it’s really just that for very sheer / very low den hose, there is usually a bit thicker/differently woven part for the hip area, but I always thought that is more about the material needing more flexibility there and not about modesty. To me it makes zero difference on what you need to wear under or over (I never not worn panties under / a skirt or dress over even 60-den thights, so???)

        I think this is just one of those things that make sense in the US and not so much otherwise.

        1. Liz*

          Yeah I couldn’t imagine not wearing underwear under tights! Not only because they’re not always very covering, but I imagine the fabric and seams would feel scratchy and uncomfortable. Although I notice they’re always photographed without underwear – rumpled granny briefs under nylon don’t make for very aesthetic advertising! – so maybe some of them are designed to be worn like that and don’t feel so bad?

          1. Meh*

            In some pairs,, the crotch part has a swatch of cotton ish fabric stitched in, presumably to act as the panty portion.

      2. WS*

        I’m Australian and there’s a distinct difference – pantyhose/stockings are very thin, tights give warmth. When I was at high school in the 1980s, it was considered very grown up that girls in the last two years of school were allowed to wear pantyhose instead of tights like the younger girls. By the time I got to my own senior years, it was the 90s and pantyhose were going out of fashion and we just went bare-legged.

        1. Liz*

          I think we had a similar transition, but there wasn’t really a rule about it. In primary school (4-11) we wore socks or thick tights (often bottle green to match the uniform), and then in secondary school (11-18) we switched to socks or tights. The rule stipulated they had to be “a neutral colour, ie tan or black”. They were usually sheer. At that point, it was definitely about wanting to look good, and maybe a little bit grown up. I switched to trousers because I got cold easily.

        2. Allonge*

          Honestly the cultural experience of ‘panthose = grown-up’ is a much better explanation of why this is a big deal than anything that is physically different between tights and pantyhose.

      3. London Calling*

        The difference gets even more confusing because tights in the UK can be any denier.

      4. Lacey*

        Pantyhose are sheer and generally skin-toned. You most definitely wear underwear with them.

        Tights are often opaque and maybe a bit thicker. They’re probably still nylon though.

        Stockings are thicker and some kind of stretchy knit. They could be ribbed or cable knit, but they can also just be a almost t-shirt type material.

        1. Forrest*

          oh wow, that definition of stockings is *totally* different to mine! Stockings to me are anything that doesn’t have a top and needs either silicon stay-up bands or suspenders.

          1. pancakes*

            I’m American and think of those as either stocking or thigh-highs. What you call suspenders would be called a garter belt here. In my experience they’re not necessarily cotton or ribbed, though a subset of them are.

            1. IndustriousLabRat*

              Also American and I’m probably in a tiny minority that the thigh-high/garter belt combo is my strong preference, on the RARE occasions when I wear any sort of stocking-adjacent hosiery. Which would be strictly in eveningwear/formal settings. I absolutely cannot bear the way the ‘panty’ part of pantyhose fits me… slips, rolls, the crotch sags down so I feel like I’m practically waddling, or forced to duck out and pull it back up constantly. It doesn’t help that I’m a bit thick-waisted. A proper garter belt with stays at least sits in place better on my rather rectangular figure. And the bonus is that if I get a run on one, I’ve still got half a pair! And can quickly swap out the torn one for a spare from my clutch.

              Seriously, non-panty-encumbered hose are seriously underrated for getting past fit issues.

      5. I've Escaped Cubicle Land*

        Even more confusing, I remember the older generation just referring to them as nylons.

      6. Not A Manager*

        When I used to wear pantyhose, some of them were sheer all the way up and had a single seam vertically at the crotch. You needed to wear panties under them. Some pantyhose were made of a thicker, opaque material at the top and had a cotton-ish pad at the crotch area. You could wear those without panties underneath. I vastly preferred to forego the panties because (1) I didn’t have to worry about panty lines and (2) I didn’t have to worry about the panties getting lumpy and bunchy under the pantyhose.

        In my youth, “stocking” meant the long sheer sock-shaped hose that needed to be worn with garters or a garter belt. Later they came with a tight band at the top like a built-in garter. I think they were called “stay ups.”

      7. TheLayeredOne*

        Pantyhose are sheer stockings. They don’t have built-in underwear – the top part is usually thicker just to help them stay on securely (the leg part is extremely thin and rips easily). Some pantyhose also have control-top to smooth out the stomach and thighs. Tights are thicker and generally opaque.

      8. Rusty Shackelford*

        There used to be a brand (Underalls?) advertised as a combination panty and hose, but other than that, they’re meant to be worn over underwear. The ones commonly sold in the US don’t have “built in” underwear, just a somewhat thicker/heavier part at the top that’s generally made of the same fabric as the legs.

  17. D3*

    OP1: I hope that you will be kind to yourself as you move through this learning experience. Yeah, you didn’t see that the jokes were not great. Now you do.
    I assume that now you’ll do better. And when you do find better ways to work with employees under you, be proud of that progress and always keep learning!

  18. Observer*

    #1 – There are a number of issues here.

    It seems to me that your employee expressed some discomfort and you still continued to joke. If I’m reading this correctly, that makes your behavior even more inappropriate. It’s one thing to say or do things that make your staff uncomfortable because of the needs of the position. But just for a laugh? Do you realize how callous that sounds?

    The fact that the employee is younger and doesn’t have much work experience doesn’t make it any better. In fact, it makes it worse because she probably doesn’t really have the tools to handle this kind of behavior.

    Not only is your joking inappropriate, it’s created an additional problem – you now have a credibility problem. How can your staff trust you? I’d be willing to be that this cleaner is thinking “No one REALLY jokes about getting people fired, that’s not normal. That’s how people hint at things.” In other words, she thinks that you are REALLY saying “Kidding / not kidding.” and implying “be careful around me.”

    1. Myrin*

      Your first paragraph stuck out to me as well (like you say, it’s a bit unclear, but the fact that OP knows that the employee has spoken to the manager twice suggests to me that OP has been informed about this after the first time already but continued to joke around regardless).

      OP, I don’t mean this in an accusatory way whatsoever, more as a thought-provoking impluse, but what I got while reading your letter was the sense of someone who wants to make her jokes no matter what and who thinks that if only everyone else really, truly understood deep in their heart that she’s only joking, they would be fine with it. If that sounds at all familiar to you, I’d really urge you to do your best to get past that mindset.

      I believe you’re already starting to get there – you wrote to Alison for advice, after all, which is a very good first step! – but really, you need to internalise that and also how you likely come across to an outsider who only hears about/observes these events.

  19. SwiftSunrise*

    I went to a small private high school in the early 2000s, and on the big massive college tour field trips, girls had to wear skirts and panty hose. It was the edict of the recently-retired headmaster, who was rather eccentric and … set in his ways, shall we say? Everyone just kind of rolled their eyes and went with it, even then seeing the requirement as outdated, overly formal, and annoying, but otherwise harmless. There was definitely no assumption of “this is how it is in the working world, get used to it” from the teachers and parents – unlike the guys, who were very much told to stop whining about having to wear a coat and tie!

    1. allathian*

      Ugh. I guess they expected the girls to go to college to “catch a husband” so what was considered professional workwear for women wasn’t so important…

      1. SwiftSunrise*

        Oh no, it ABSOLUTELY wasn’t that! It was more that panty hose being required for professional workwear was a declining expectation, and making us wear it for college tours was waaaay over the top. Even my mother, a former lawyer who STILL wears hose and tights with a skirt, thought it was ridiculous.

  20. MacD*

    The comments on the PH debate of ‘10 gave me both a laugh and a headache.

    I feel like wearing some leg version of a “tattoo sleeve” under a power suit (skirt) and see how many conservatives have conniptions. LOOK MY SHINY TATTOOED ANKLES, Y’ALL.

    (Dressers not voters).

    Pantihose needs to die a death like shoulder pads. The only time I use it is to bag up a shiny horse tail before a show – or, before riding tights were a thing, under breeches to flatten out bumps.

    Ladies, release your hairy, shiny, vein-y, un-tanned, tattooed, and/or artificial ankles/calves/knees from their polyester prisons! Rebel!

    1. Anono-me*

      Unfortunately your tattoo pantyhose idea may revive them. I know that I would totally wear hose that looked like major tattoos.

      1. Green great dragon*

        These absolutely exist and I would happily wear the more subtle ones to work (UK civil service & a large company). Can’t remember whether I actually have or not but I hereby promise to next time I go into the office, weather permitting. ‘UK Tights’ under ‘patterned tights’ is my usual source.

        1. EmKay*

          Get out, they do?? I’ve seen sleeves but never legs.


    2. MK*

      I realize you are joking but changing one social imperative with another isn’t progress, it’s fashion, and just as restrictive, just to a different category of people. If what Alison says about tights being considered old-fashioned is true, it’s messed up: I am supposed to forgo a layer that keeps me warm in mildy cold weather, that feels comfortable to me, that prevents my shoes from giving me blisters, because some jerk will think I am not hip enough? Jeez, thanks for the female empowerment.

      So, no, tights don’t need to “die”; and shoulder pads should make a come back for those that like them, because no matter what the fashion snobs say, they made women’s business suits in the 80s look great.

      1. tra la la*

        Because I’m pretty much always in a skirt, I love tights in the winter and don’t care if they’re “old-fashioned” or not. (Also, patterned tights with a black skirt are fun!)

        1. MK*

          Eh, in my country we only have one word for tights and pantyhose, and as far as I can see the only difference is thickness. The examples you linked aren’t considered different things here.

          Also, the reaction wasn’t to what you wrote, it was the attitude described: every time we get rid of one restriction, it seems to be replaced by another. I get that you said wear what you like, but apparently many people’s attitude (and the comments also bear this out) isn’t shifting from “wear them” to “do what you like”, but to “don’t wear them”.

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            The examples you linked aren’t considered different things here.

            Yes, but they are considered different here. So when we’re talking about pantyhose here, we’re talking about a specific product, not tights more broadly.

            As for the attitude people have that something is outdated, it’s just how fashion works — you see the same thing with people’s attitudes about styles of jeans, makeup, hair, everything. You’ve just got to decide whether you care or don’t care.

            1. Pantyhose OP*

              Pantyhose OP here. I did ask about pantyhose specifically, because that’s what the original post in 2010 talked about, but I admit, I can’t wear tights either. I can wear leggings (which I will wear under dresses), but they have to have specific waistbands and be super soft. I actually envy people who can wear them. I have trouble with multiple different fabrics (including wool) and the way things fit (which is also exacerbated by body dysmorphia and a history of eating disorders) – which also can make it difficult to wear pants (or rather, appropriately sized, professional pants). I work in healthcare and I have so much trouble with fabrics that I have to wear gloves (even non-pandemic) to touch certain articles of clothing when I’m doing examinations. Due to the pandemic, I’m currently wearing scrubs, but pre-pandemic at Old Job, there was a dress code that required women to wear pantyhose (or tights I assume) if they wore dresses/skirts. And pants were troublesome due to issues listed previously. I doubt this would be covered by the ADA, but it does give me problems. For those women who like them, please don’t think that I’m disparaging pantyhose/tights or you. If they are more comfortable for you, that’s fantastic. I’m just wondering about cultural/office norms.

          2. Andy*

            To some extend, that is nature of the beast of management and professional rules. Rules of professional wear are there to accommodate or at least not to anger the most judgy person around. You show your people skill by being increasing better and better by guessing what someone more judgy then you will not like.

            People make absurd guesses about your skills and personality based on your appearance. And a lot of what professional wear rules do is to manage those.

            And once you think about it as accommodating other people biases and prejudices, then it all makes much more sense.

            1. Sarah*

              This is all gross. It may be true, but that does not mean we should manage to that.

        2. UKgreen*

          Ohhhh, so in BrEng ‘pantyhose’ = sheer tights and ‘tights’ = opaque tights! Got it!

          1. UKDancer*

            Yes, it confused me as well. To me personally they’re all tights.

            For work I wear trousers the vast majority of the time with socks and boots because I find it a lot easier for commuting through London (warmer and less chance of the person next to you on the train sitting on them). I wouldn’t wear any form of tights with trousers because it’s not comfortable for me. In the summer I wear dresses with sandals and wouldn’t wear any legwear underneath but that tends to be for a very limited amount of the year.

            Interestingly I wear tights for dancing so if I’m doing ballet I would wear pink opaque ballet tights by choice and so do most of the people in class. In the before times when I went to tango dances and socials we used to dress up a bit more and I’d usually wear sparkly or glittery sheer tights with one of my tango dresses because I liked the look of them when my skirt flared.

          2. I'd Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

            Yes. And neither tights nor pantyhose would look inappropriate in cooler weather (although the nude pantyhose do read as a little dated, IMO) but most people have stopped wearing them when it’s warm out, which is a change to professional convention from years ago.

            So if it’s 80 out and a woman is wearing pantyhose, she’d probably be perceived as a little old-fashioned or conservative in her style.

            I live in London now and I do feel that’s the same here!

            1. UKDancer*

              Definitely I agree from a London perspective. I think it would potentially be seen as a little old fashioned to wear sheer tights in very hot weather but I doubt anyone would say anything. In winter I’d say more people would wear trousers than a skirt but skirt wearers would probably have some form of legwear underneath if they did. Most people in London commute by public transport and on bikes so you tend to want to wear something warm for standing on cold platforms.

              London is a very varied place and you’ll see people wearing all sorts of clothes without attracting comment.

              1. London Calling*

                I remember when I wore skirts and the ‘is it still warm enough to still go bare legged?’ internal debate. The day I hauled my tights on was the day summer was over as far as I was concerned.

                1. Just delurking to say...*

                  I go by forecast temperature. 22 and under: tights. 23 and over: bare legs. Which does lead to the inevitable days of wondering why on earth I ever heed the bureau of meteorology. (And yes, I realise 22 must sound positively balmy to some readers!)

          3. ecnaseener*

            Tights can be a little sheer. Pantyhose are the REALLY REALLY sheer, barely-there looking ones.

        3. Ask a Manager* Post author

          I just saw that the explainer I linked to includes the sentence, “On the other hand, tights can be worn independently as legwear” and now I am deeply regretting linking to it. One does not generally wear tights as the only garment on your lower body (although in 10 years, who knows…)

          1. Allonge*

            Thank you for this, that part was deeply confusing for me. I was thinking more in the other direction, as in ‘wtf are you supposed to wear over pantyhose that is not needed over tights’, but still.

          2. Liz*

            I encountered the same thing while Googling – someone on Quora included gym leggings under the category of “tights” and that confused me no end! Maybe it’s regional?

            1. Reba*

              Yes, it seems like athletic clothing retailers have adopted “tights” for form-fitting leggings styles. I also find it confusing!

          3. I'd Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

            Maybe you meant leggings? Which didn’t used to be worn independently as legwear barring dance or exercise, but now are more accepted.

            1. WS*

              They did, though! There was a whole period from about 1989-1994 when leggings were worn independently and then that suddenly went away for 18 years or so.

              1. JustaTech*

                Oh, black leggings or stirrup pants with white socks and an enormous sweatshirt that came down to your thighs, preferably decorated with puffy paint.

                At the same time it was expected that adult women with office jobs would wear pantyhose every day.

                Clothes/fashion are weird, both good and bad.

    3. Zelda*

      I am over 50; my bare legs stopped making public appearances about 10 years ago. All this mockery for pantyhose means that I don’t wear skirts anymore, either. (To be clear, I know *Alison* isn’t dishing out the mockery, but it’s out there sure enough.) Feh.

      1. London Calling*

        I am over 60 and if I want to wear it I wear it. If I still wore skirts that would include tights (UK version).

        1. UKDancer*

          Absolutely right! My grandmother asked me when she was sixty whether she was too old now for glitter nail varnish. I told her she should absolutely wear glitter for as long as it gave her pleasure so she did because she was a sparkly magpie of a woman who loved shiny things. I think it’s good to wear what one wants and what makes one feel good and happy.

        2. Grey Coder*

          I am over 50 and ran out of effs to give about other people’s opinions of my clothes and appearance some time ago. (I am fortunate to work in an industry where that’s not a problem.)

          1. Zelda*

            My job involves public contact, and I am already significantly older than most of my colleagues. Clients perceiving me as old-fashioned, or my boss assuming that clients will perceive me as old-fashioned, is a significant risk to my livelihood.

            So it’s damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don’t, and following up the mockery with “oh, wear what makes you happy, you shouldn’t care what other people think” starts to feel a little victim-blamey to me.

      2. Union Maid*

        leggings – I am over 60 and tights / pantyhose, et al have always had a tendency to hang below my crotch / strangle my waist. in the Before Times, fun idling away the time finding leggings and socks that match. Leggings all the way.

      3. My Brain Is Exploding*

        Thank you. I am also over 50 and no amount of “body positivity” is gonna make me love my bare legs! I look nice in dresses and wear pantyhose with them but do get tired of reading the mockery.

      4. aunttora*

        THANK YOU. Could not agree more. Of course for this last year the whole pants/skirt thing has been moot since I’m WFH and mostly wear some Costco (mens) nylon shorts. But when I do go back to the office I won’t be wearing skirts for this very reason. This 60-year old’s saggy, veiny calves will not be making a naked appearance. I get why hose fell out of favor generally of course. But as Liz Lemon said, how am I supposed to hide my spider veins?!

      5. pancakes*

        You speak as if being “over 50” is having one foot in the grave! Kate Moss is 47. Madonna is 62.

        1. Zelda*

          No I don’t. I speak as if one’s body changes as one gets older, and some of those changes don’t especially need to be on public display. I decline to color my grey hair, but my legs do not appear naked, thankyouverymuch.

          (And holding up Kate Moss as an example of… anything… is not going to inspire me.)

          1. pancakes*

            My point was not to try to “inspire” you but to urge you to reconsider speaking as if women in their 50s are long in the tooth. I’m 45 and not planning to enter senescence nearly that soon.

            1. Zelda*

              “speaking as if women in their 50s are long in the tooth”

              Again, I didn’t. “I don’t like how my legs look now” =/= “I feel that I and everyone my age are ready for the scrap heap.” I *made reference to* my age because it’s a moderately common experience, as you see in other replies. If you haven’t encountered any changes that you don’t like, then yay! But acknowledging that *my* body has changed in some ways that *I* don’t much like is not dismissive of women over 50.

              1. Nonnonymous*

                But you haven’t been just “…acknowledging that *my* body has changed in some ways that *I* don’t much like….” You’ve been saying things like “I speak as if one’s body changes as one gets older, and some of those changes don’t especially need to be on public display.” Whether you intend it or not, that does send a message dismissive of older women and their bodies. Just because you don’t like the way your legs look as you age doesn’t mean there is anything inherently wrong with the look of aging legs.

                1. Zelda*

                  I was accused of saying “being “over 50” is having one foot in the grave.”

                  I know I’m letting the patriarchy live in my head some, here. But my original statement was absolutely about when *my* legs did in fact stop appearing in public, and not when or whether anybody else “should” do anything, and yet that’s what pancakes took issue with.

                  Damned if you do, damned if you don’t. Men don’t have to walk around with bare arms or legs and then be judged on either how those look *or* on their declining to expose themselves to that judgement. One infelicitous choice of pronouns aside, I promise you I do not police other people’s bodies or hosiery decisions. I’m only hard on myself. I just wish the “all pantyhose must die” crowd would let me do that in peace. As MK put it above, “changing one social imperative with another isn’t progress, it’s fashion, and just as restrictive.”

    4. EventPlannerGal*

      I know this isn’t the point but shoulder pads actually have made a reappearance. Everything old is new again!

      1. IEanon*

        I love shoulder pads! I find them very flattering, especially in blazers. I am young enough that I missed the initial craze by decades, so I’m all about the reappearance. (Though perhaps not as over the top as they got later on in the fad!)

        1. EventPlannerGal*

          Same! I always thought they looked so fun so I’ve been delighted to get a chance to try them out. My mum remembers them well from the first time around and is completely baffled by my love of them.

          1. Rainy*

            I used to rip them out of my clothes immediately. Everything had them: tees, jackets, dresses, there were even shoulder pads that you could fasten onto your bra strap if the shoulder pads included in the garment weren’t sufficient for you. On someone with broad, square shoulders like mine, you end up looking like you’re wearing football pads.

        2. IndustriousLabRat*

          I also love shoulder pads, or at least stiffly-structured shoulders for a blazer. My whole collection of thrifted blazers have some level of shoulder enhancement. I dunno; something about them just looks powerful and put together to me! But they have to be the perfectly straight-profiled ones, not the droopy looking round sort. Those are just weird and dated, and can remain in the past as a curiosity, next to heavily acid-washed jeans and exaggerated poof bangs.

    5. EPLawyer*

      I LIKE wearing pantyhose. It harms no one if I do. Just like not wearing them harms no one. Some women prefer pants suits, some women prefer skirt suits. If we start telling people what they MUST wear to satisfy some non work related requirement then we are controlling them. Even in the name of “empowerment.”

    6. I'm A Little Teapot*

      Um…. so now you’ve just replaced one “rule” for women with another “rule”. How about you just stop? Wear what you want to wear. Let others do the same, without comment.

      For the record, I’m not a fan of tights. Nor am I fan of pantyhose. I have both in my drawer, and I wear them when it seems appropriate for whatever reason to me. If I’m disguising the latest mystery bruise on my leg (seriously, where did that come from?!?) or if I’m just cold, or if I happen to like the look, that’s my business. Butt out.

    7. MissCoco*

      Another use for pantyhose – they are amazing at putting a final shine on boots! You can make sort of a mitt with them and they buff up leather really well

      1. IndustriousLabRat*

        Yup that was the trick we all learned quite early on at military school. Everyone had whole boxes of those funny little hose-socklets that they put out at shoe stores.

  21. Sunshine*

    I worked for a place that was very not transparent with how tips were organized. Some went to bartenders, busters, etc. One of the managers let slip once that tips also covered the credit card fees (all not just the tip part). We needed the money so we didn’t have the leverage to push back.
    Also I would assume if they are donating as the business they will also get a tax break for it.

    1. Daughter of Ada and Grace*

      Other good uses:

      – Replacement belt for a vintage (air-cooled) Volkswagen engine (Granted, very few people have one of these anymore, but I was tempted to buy a pair of pantyhose just to keep in the emergency repair kit. Along with an actual spare belt.)
      – Cut the legs into rings, and use them as the ear loops when you’re making masks (ever so much more comfortable than regular elastic – speaking from experience here, as I’ve made both)

      1. JustaTech*

        One of my aunts had to sacrifice her first ever pair of hose to repair the fan belt in the family car when they were on a road trip. She was furious, not least because she’d bought them with her own money and wanted to show her big brother in college how grown up she was.

        I’ll be using a dead pair to make a hair rat (lovely term), a poofy donut-shaped thing you put in your hair to get that Edwardian/Gibson Girl hairstyle.

    2. Pantyhose OP*

      Sadly, I’d need to wear gloves to touch them comfortably and even the sound bothers me.

  22. Badger*

    OP1: Managing people is a learning experience. No one gets everything right, but it’s important to recognize what changes we need to make to create a productive and professional environment for our team. Don’t be too hard on yourself.

  23. autumnal*

    I’m nearing 60 and when I was young, little girls wore tights and teenagers/adult women wore hose, always. Many of my jobs didn’t involve dressing up (paramedic) but I also served in the USAF as hospital staff and we had to wear white dresses and white hose. The impracticality of the entire ensemble boggles the mind.

    I distinctly remember the very last time I ever wore pantyhose – a job interview at a hospital in Las Vegas, NV in August of 2007. I thought I was going to pass out. I’d never had anything adhere to my legs like those hose did that day. After the interview I went home, peeled off the evil, and never wore another pair.

    1. tights over hose*

      Hospital staff in white has always baffled me–dairy showmen too! These are people whose clothes should hide all stains so we don’t have to think about them!

      I’m in my twenties and I’ve never worn pantyhose, but I’ve dutifully kept a pair in my size in the back of my drawer since I was 13 or so, in deference to my grandmother’s insistence that it was Required To Be A Lady. I still wear tights, though! I can’t fathom them being left behind in childhood–my legs would freeze every winter!

      1. Lily*

        Hospital staff was (historically) wearing white so they’d see any stains and be able to change into clean garments as soon as possible.

        1. Zelda*

          Clothes you can bleach the heck out of are actually pretty practical in that regard.

          1. BubbleTea*

            When I worked in health care, my uniform was white top and dark blue trousers. We only got three. They had to be washed after every shift. You couldn’t wash the two parts together or the tops went grey. It was the most infuriatingly ridiculous situation, especially since I had to pay for laundry.

            1. Cat Tree*

              I’m amazed that the company didn’t launder your uniforms. I’m not in health care but I have worked in chemistry labs and we were never allowed to wash lab coats at home because it could spread something hazardous to our other clothes. I would think health care is just as risky, with potential exposures both to hazardous chemicals and biohazards from patients.

          2. EmKay*

            Fun fact, bleaching a blood stain without any other pre-treatment will ‘set’ the stain basically forever.

            Ask me how I know, lol.

      2. Bagpuss*

        They wore white *because* it shows the stains- so you can immediately see whether their clothing is clean or not, and therefore whether they are maintaining appropriate hygiene or not.

        Nurses would have/wear aprons for work which was expected to be messy, and would change these as needed.
        Also – you can wash and bleach without causing colours to run.

        1. I'd Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

          I was about to comment this! Traditionally white was worn so that stains would show — it’s a good thing! And easy bleaching.

          I think chefs tend to wear white for this reason as well (probably more the bleaching aspect).

          1. Liane*

            Depends on the bleach! Chlorine bleach sets blood, so no good. Peroxide (active ingredient in colors safe bleach) will remove blood.

  24. Kathlynn (canada)*

    yeah, it really has to be the right situation to joke about firing someone. like full of sarcasm, where it’s clear you wouldn’t do that, type of situation. like “As if I’d fire you for that” implied (like employee”customer is upset because I ID’d them, and want you to fire me” boss “oh, yeah *eye roll* I’m totally going to fire you for that”)

    1. JustaTech*

      My boss has had this as a running joke for years.
      First, we have always know that he wasn’t going to fire us. And we knew that long, long before he ever made the joke. Second, he only did it with people who were comfortable with the joke (so it was years before he said it to me, and he never said it to another coworker). Third, it’s always in the context of something completely outside of our control going wrong (it starts raining).
      So it would sound like “Damnit, JustaTech, it’s raining, you’re fired.” “Sweet, can I go home now?”

      But it’s all about context and people. My boss never said this around layoff time, for example, or when something serious had gone wrong, and never, ever when he was unhappy with our work.

  25. Regatta*

    I’ve been working from home for a few years now, and then maybe the five years before that wire pants. But before that, I wore skirts/dresses the majority of the time to work, and never once went without hose. I had really comfy ones and they were magic garments that kept me from getting blisters on my feet, kept my feet smelling sweet, prevented chub rub, made my pasty legs look amazing, provided a little bit of compression to keep my legs from getting tired, and smoothed me out just a little (like a slip would do). I also liked that there was less of a worry about accidentally flashing people – I just felt more secure having a layer under a skirt. I never understood the hose hatred, what other piece of clothing could do so much? The two things I can’t figure out are how do people keep their feet from not getting stinky/blistered/slippery when putting bare feet in pumps, and what about the chub rub?

      1. AutolycusinExile*

        Question: how the heck do you get those to stay on your feet? I’ve tried multiple brands and styles but once I start walking all of them come off of my heels within literally seconds. Is there a trick to them that I’m missing?

        1. I'd Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

          For me there are some brands that work, some that don’t (heaven knows why, because my friends often use different brands to me that they love). Personally, I like Bombas and Smartwool. They were both a little pricier than other brands, but I’ve had some of the smartwool ‘no-shows’ for six years now and they still work fine!

          I also think the kind of shoe you’re wearing matters. I have one pair of flats that pulled down everything (they even bunched up regular socks) so I finally donated them.

        2. Myrin*

          That sounds like there might be something about the shape of your feet which makes them prone to slipping off – I’ve had about a dozen of them over the years and they’ve never come off in any way (although the ones Alison linked to seem particularly low cut to me, but that might just be the angle).

        3. EventPlannerGal*

          You may have tried these already but I have some which have a kind of gel pad in the back where they sit on the back of your foot – it really seems to stop them slipping.

        4. The Other Dawn*

          “Question: how the heck do you get those to stay on your feet?”

          Yes, thank you! I’ve never ever found a brand, size, shape, etc. that will stay on my feet. Even ones with the little gel pads that supposedly keep them in place. I absolutely can’t stand the feeling of bare feet in dress shoes so I’ll continue to wear pantyhose on the increasingly rare occasion I wear skirt. Plus I just hate how my bare legs look.

          1. Cooper*

            I bought some that were advertised for men! It turns out my feet were just a little too big for the other type to stay on. They’re a little higher cut than some of the ballet flat styles, but they do the job in most shoes.

        5. Ben Marcus Consulting*

          Look for brands that have silicone woven in at the achilles. I use these when wearing boat shoes and shorts, never have a problem.

    1. Ana*

      Exactly! I can’t stand the bare feet in shoes! If it is too hot to wear hose I wear those little footies (lace, either white, black or lavender – I have gotten so many complinents on them!)
      And I have watched a lot of friends freezing while insisting on not wearing hose. I don’t get it.

    2. ceiswyn*

      The things that feel really uncomfortable because they’re really tight around my thighs, don’t pull up all the way to my crotch, and need to be repeatedly hoiked up again as they keep falling down? During which procedure I will inevitably manage to put a finger through the gossamer and destroy them?

      Can’t think why I’m not a fan.

        1. Magenta*

          They are amazing! I discovered them when I was a UK size 24 and they were the best plus size tights I could find. Now I’m a 10/12 I still buy them because they are just so much better than any other brand I’ve found. About 6 pairs of the sheer tights last me all summer without ladders and I am in love with their 50 Denier “builders tea” tights for autumn/spring because I can stay warm without looking like I’m wrapped up for winter. They are also currently comfortably accommodating my expanding pregnancy belly with no problems.

        2. ceiswyn*

          I do now have a couple of pairs of Snags, but they don’t solve the other issue, which I forgot to mention: frequent tights-wearing gives me eczema.

      1. Regatta*

        I think I might have just been lucky that the brand I found worked well for my body/heigh/shape – No Nonsense Great Shapes. I bought them one size up than the package indicated, and that kept them from ripping. I have a waist, which kept them from falling down – they have a big of shaping in the waist area so they were snug up top. I do think I also just had the knack for not ripping them (I’m good with fabrics).

    3. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      There’s a UK company called Snags (link to US site in reply) which sells what you would call pantyhose and tights, and also chub rub shorts to wear under skirts. They’re a completely different shape from traditional hose/tights and actually comfortable to wear all day.

      1. BubbleTea*

        Snagtights are the BEST! I bought a pair last year to try out and loved them. I’m now 8 months pregnant and they STILL FIT, so I bought another five pairs. They’re sturdy, stretchy, comfortable, don’t ladder, come in lots of bright colours, a large range of denier (I think their thinnest ones might be what USians would call pantyhose and the thickest are leggings) and assorted lengths. Honestly I will never buy another brand of tights, despite them costing more than some. They’re worth it, they last!

      2. Bagpuss*

        I was about to mention them – I think it’s because they make tights in a variety of different sizes so you can actually find pairs which are appropriate to your height and build.

        I very rarely where tights but I now own some pairs from them for the rare occasions when I want to.

      3. I'd Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

        I’m glad you mentioned them — I’ve been debating buying a few and this is good incentive.

      4. Marillenbaum*

        You inspired me to start looking at their website and I think I’m in love! These look great, the size chart makes sense, and the models! Actual fat women, and women who use mobility aids, and women of different heights! BRB, about to buy a bunch of stockings!

      5. MissCoco*

        A question about snags which the reviews I’ve read didn’t answer: where does the waistband end up? Is it all height dependent (I’m quite short + I’m short waisted)?

        I’m not a fan of the bunched/rolled up waistband that every pair of tights I’ve ever owned gives me, but I still wear tights plenty because I live somewhere with winter, and I like skirts and dresses

    4. Liz*

      Im stuck between a rock and a hard place because I hate the feel of tights on my skin. They fall down, tear easily enough to be classed as single use items, and make me feel sweaty and uncomfortable. But I also hate the look of my legs, and my shoes will rub (those little half sock things are hit and miss for me). So I can see both sides. Generally I’m just big on not forcing anyone dress in a way that is uncomfortable for them, without good reason. You do you, other people do the same.

      1. VintageLydia*

        oh baby noooooo At 100 lbs I got chub rub because of the way my body is shaped and that’s UNDERWEIGHT for me. But also who cares? Why suffer when there is an easy and relatively cheap solution to the problem? Because some person named pancakes on a random internet forum is fat shaming? Naw.

        1. pancakes*

          It’s gotten a bit lost in the the threading, but I was responding to the commenter who said they can’t understand why anyone wouldn’t want to wear hose, and who seemed to think “chub rub” is inevitable. It’s not my intention to fat shame, or to suggest that people who have solutions to it should go without. My point was that it’s not universally a problem for anyone wearing a skirt with bare legs.

      2. Keymaster of Gozer*

        Ohhh yes they do! Even at my most skinny my thighs rubbed together because that’s just how my hips are shaped. Never had a thigh gap.

      3. Regatta*

        It’s definitely worse the heavier I am, but I got it even when I was super thin. I have a slightly twisted left hip so they always rub. There are pictures of me as a 2 year old with huge front wedgies in shorts.

      4. EventPlannerGal*

        Thanks for the laugh, at least!

        (You can absolutely be skinny and get chub rub, it just depends where you carry your weight on your body and how your hips are set.)

        1. ceiswyn*

          Yeah, it’s a bit random. I got terrible chub rub when I was obese, but now that I’m on the cusp of normal weight I’m fine, despite still having massive thighs. I’m even considering hiking in a skirt in summer!

          Partly it’s because I’m now ridiculously fit and so just don’t sweat as much, and partly it’s because I have stupidly wide hips so my thighs are quite far apart at the top.

          (Down side – I am constantly setting my phone down in my lap for a second and then losing it through the thigh gap)

    5. Forrest*

      I am assuming that “wire pants” is an autocorrect error / typo for .. something?? I can’t work out what!

    6. Sigh*

      For some people it feels secure to coat one’s legs in snug cloth. For others it feels extremely unpleasant. Either way it should not be required.

    7. Rainy*

      Low-profile socks and body glide.

      I don’t love pantyhose (I really REALLY hate that dreadful nylon encasement feeling) but there are times, living in the mountains as I do, that I’d love to wear a nice thick tight. Unfortunately, I have not yet encountered an opaque tight that was the right size. They either fit my height but start to bag unaesthetically after 45 minutes or so, or they stay tight but the seam cuts my toes so badly I lose feeling in my feet.

  26. Julia*

    I’m sorry for the woman whose mother is interfering (?) with her hiring process, especially if the company would actually consider that a reason not to hire her. I’m a little surprised Alison suggested rethinking the hiring decision, because so far, Kate herself has done nothing wrong, so why punish her for her mother’s actions?

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      It’s not punishment; it would be a business decision to avoid a situation that seems likely to cause problems. Lots of places won’t hire current employees’ children/spouses/etc. for that reason.

      1. Julia*

        It seems like they already made Kate an offer; would you really advocate for rescinding that because of her mother?

        1. Observer*

          I think it may be something that the company should consider if they can’t get Kate’s mom to back off. Mom has a position of some authority and has shown that she doesn’t adequately respect the boundaries that should exist. Unless she and Kate can show that this is a one off and it won’t happen again, this could go very badly. It could wind up being worse for Kate in the long run.

        2. Insert Clever Name Here*

          If her mother shows that she cannot keep her nose out of Kate’s employment, then I would expect a reasonable employer to rescind the offer. That would not be a great situation to put Kate’s would-be boss and would-be coworkers in. See OP3’s reply to Observer before…this isn’t even the first time Kate’s mother has displayed a lack of boundaries about her daughter’s candidacy.

    2. Sleeping after sunrise*

      Agreed. I get why businesses choose not to. But so hard for people who have crappy family when they basically have to leave the town to find a job. Or even if they have good family, a few employers in a town with limited options and unemployment is often the only choice if you want to live near your family.

      I wonder if Kate’s mother usually follows up these checks when they don’t go smoothly, since her staff are the ones doing the work. If so, then there’s a problematic overlap here they need to sort.

      1. Observer*

        It *IS* hard for the children. But that’s often not something that the employer can do anything about. Which is all the more reason for parents to BACK OFF.

        To all Helicopter and Snowplow parents out there – This is a lesson. Not only do you get diminishing returns with your behavior, there will come a time when your “help” will be actively harming your kids!

        1. OP3*

          OP3 here. Initially, Kate had applied for a role within our office where her mom works, and although we extended a courtesy interview to Kate, those of us who would be overseeing her work knew that it would be an uncomfortable situation for all of us. When we decided that Kate wasn’t the right candidate, her mom made a comment about how their relationship shouldn’t be a factor in her not getting the position. I was relieved when Kate decided to apply for off-site work, but I’m going to be hyper-aware of how Kate’s mom does/doesn’t interfere with her job. This has already been a harbinger of things to come.

          1. Observer*

            Why was Kate even allowed to interview for a position working for someone who reports to her mother? This situation is a picture perfect example of why it’s against policy in many organizations.

            I really think that if you can you should give a discreet (verbal) heads up to whoever is going to be managing Kate.

            1. OP3*

              So agree. I just went and spoke with my supervisor about this. Thanks for being my Jiminy Cricket!

  27. Amey*

    Not to reignite the pantyhose debate, but I feel I’m the only one here who generally wears hose in the summer out of preference. My work dress code is business casual and I wear dresses/skirts throughout the year. I wear thick tights or leggings 3/4 of the year but in summer I wear lightweight shift dresses or skirts and hose because I feel really uncomfortable with bare legs. Mine are extremely pale so all the veins etc are really obvious, and quite fat and they just seem to bring down the professional level of my lovely dresses – I feel attention is instantly drawn to them. (I don’t feel this about my co-workers who come in with bare legs, just mine! But I really do feel it.) I also feel weird wearing work shoes all day with bare feet, is this what people do? How are other people navigating this? I feel I’m missing a crucial trick here!

    1. Jane*

      I’m the same as you, my legs are so pale they’re practically blue (“milk bottle legs” they were called in my Scottish childhood), they never tan, you can see every vein, bruise, scar, and as I’m dark haired you can also see the shadow of hair growing in. My legs also seem to sweat at work when I’m not in hose which lost makes me uncomfortable and doesn’t seem to be a problem other people have! I’m ok with my bare legs outside work, but in the summer I wear very sheer hose that’s a good colour match to work (with the waistband cut off for comfort). I also wear trousers much more in the summer.

      I’ve decided that hose is less hassle than the fake tan and epilating/waxing/lasering hair I’d need to feel comfortable with bare legs at work, and if it’s now seen as a bit old fashioned there’s nothing I can do about that. I think everyone else looks great at work in bare legs and wish I had the confidence to rock my natural legs but I just don’t.

      1. Amey*

        Thank you, your experience matches mine to a T, that does actually make me feel better! Milk bottle legs is right. I don’t tan, bruise easily and every little scar shows up, there’s just a lot going on there. And I get the sweaty leg thing too! It just doesn’t feel comfortable. I think I’ll have to take looking a bit old-fashioned over constantly being self-conscious.

      2. Anon for this*

        Ditto here. I like the term “milk bottle legs”. I grew up where everyone goes fishing, and mine were called “dead-fish-belly white!”

      3. Rusty Shackelford*

        Like George Carlin said, “I don’t tan, I just try to neutralize the blue.”

    2. Marillenbaum*

      No, I’m with you–I don’t currently wear them because I am in a country that is sufficiently religiously conservative that I just wear leggings under everything (and is also very hot and humid, so I just resign myself to feeling like a swamp beast), but in general I appreciate that stockings make my legs look smoother and hide the eternal bruises from getting a glass of water in the middle of the night and banging my shins!

    3. Snark No More!*

      I am with you Amey! I always wear pantyhose (AND A SLIP) because it makes me feel more confident. The side benefit is that the ones I wear help the circulation in my legs.

    4. Budgie Buddy*

      I don’t wear close toed shoes with bare feet either. If It’s too hot for regular socks I buy those no-show liners.

    5. Regatta*

      Feel the same way! I call my skin tone “vampire”. I know what you mean about bringing down the professional level of my dresses – I just feel much more polished in hose. If I don’t wear hose, somehow the dress feels more beachy all of a sudden.

  28. Cat Tree*

    LW1, my brother is like this. You had good intentions and didn’t want to make anyone feel bad. And that’s a good thing! It makes it easier to do the right thing.

    When you find out you unintentionally hurt someone, your first instinct is to convince that person that your intentions were pure, and therefore they should stop being bothered by it. But that’s not how feelings work. You already want your employees to feel comfortable, and they have given clear direction on how to achieve that – stop making the jokes. Focus on how you can improve things going forward, not on changing their feelings about the past. Learning from feedback is one of the most important skills in the workplace and life in general.

    1. Bob Loblaw, Esq.*

      To be clear, this is directed at both sides of this “debate.” For what it’s worth, the anti-hose party is much more strident than the pro-hose contingent.

      1. LDN Layabout*

        Yes, because the pro contingent hasn’t been told for years that they have to do something which is often uncomfortable, expensive, or just a pain the arse or it’s hideously unprofessional.

      1. ceiswyn*

        Another for the male privilege list: never having had to care about pantyhose/sheer tights…

        1. Mental Lentil*

          So true, honestly. I don’t even have to wear matching socks. Nobody looks at my legs or feet.

          If men’s bodies got policed the way women’s bodies do…

        2. Bob Loblaw, Esq.*

          Today I found out that not wanting to skim through 100 5-paragraph essays in the comments about pantyhose makes me a man. K.

          The fact is it’s not a professional norm to wear hose in 2021 and hasn’t been for at least a decade (in the US anyway). Let’s just do what we want with our legs and not feel like we have to justify our decisions or call people who make different decisions unprofessional or dated or whatever.

      2. Bob “the Patriarch” Loblaw, Esq.*

        You can’t bully me out of my opinion with tone policing. For US readership, this is a fake debate and it’s dull. I’m sure there are places where hose is part of the uniform, but in office culture (which is what this blog is geared towards), hose isn’t expected and hasn’t been in years. This is like debating if it’s okay for a woman to wear pants or flats to work.

        1. pancakes*

          What are you hoping to accomplish by announcing how “tiresome” and “dull” and unreadable other people’s comments on this subject are to you if not a bit of tone policing?

        2. Forrest*

          I’m sure Alison will be grateful for your opinion on what letters she chooses to answer– maybe she’ll donate the ad revenue she gets from engagement with 600+ comments to your preferred charity!

        3. Book Badger, Attorney-at-Claw*

          As recently as five years ago, when I was a 1L (first year law student), we were being told that some judges and workplaces would NOT let you get away with wearing a pantsuit or flats. My office is relaxed enough that we can wear jeans when not appearing in court or meeting clients, but I’ve seen white shoe firms that mandate black or navy suits only with pantyhouse and “neutral” jewelry. It’s definitely a thing, even though it’s not nearly as common as it used to be.

        4. Pantyhose OP*

          Ok, thanks for your opinion Bob. Just FYI, my recent Old Job in an office in the US had a dress code that required pantyhose. So, yes, it is relevant and not fake. I wish it WAS fake. And if the issue isn’t relevant to YOU, feel free to scroll past those comments. But you are definitely showing your privilege – you’ve never had to wear it.

  29. Bob Loblaw, Esq.*

    LW4… your job has basically asked you to see yourself out. There is no bridge to burn. If anything, they will appreciate your removing yourself.

    Honestly it sounds like the job was a mismatch from the start and sort of taken out of desperation (been there), so this is probably for the best, especially if you can find a new job before this one ends.

    1. Anon 4 This*

      Came here to say this. LW4, I feel for you; I’ve been in your shoes before and it really sucks. Your job has essentially told you that they are planning to fire you, but it seems that they like you as a person enough to let you save a little face and resign first. In a way, they’re doing you a favor. Take advantage of it and resign today.

      I hope things turn around for you.

      1. Sleeping after sunrise*

        Be careful before rushing to resign. Especially if your access to healthcare is dependent on having that job. Especially if your ability to purchase food and have a place to live is dependent on that job.

        Absolutely it can make it easier to find the next job if you haven’t previously been fired. But your personal financial position has a huge impact on your ability to withstand unemployment and to find the next position.

        Start job hunting ASAP. It might make sense to let them know you are job hunting and will move on, and to support them funding a replacement. That might buy some goodwill on their side (especially if there’s a process they have to follow to fire you that might be anything or drawn out for them). But look after yourself first.

      2. Observer*

        Take advantage of it and resign today.

        No. Take advantage and resign the day you get a firm offer. You won’t burn any bridges. But try to hang on to the job till you find something reasonable. Because being jobless makes it much harder to find a new job and it will leave you much more vulnerable.

        1. Anon 4 This*

          I could be wrong, but the way I read this, it sounded like the OP’s firing is imminent. When people tell you things like, “I want you to think about whether or not this is a good fit,” they’ve already made up their minds about whether or not it is. Again, this is just me, but when I was in the OP’s situation, I was not given the luxury of being able to wait around; I was told this on a Friday and while they didn’t come out and say it, it was strongly implied that I should have a decision for them by Monday. I resigned first thing Monday morning, and yes, I did find a new job within a month.

    2. OP4*

      Yes, and I thought so as well. But now they’re making comments about how they’ll expect the next few years will go very quickly for me and so on, and so I’m confused and also nervous. I am still walking on eggshells and expecting to be fired, frankly, but they keep making statements about how they expect x after a couple of years.

      It’s also driving me a little insane because I don’t know if I’ve done something wrong until they pull me in to the office two weeks later and tell me I’ve screwed up.

      1. Lacey*

        My old manager was talking to me about what we would do the next year right up until the day she fired me. Then the odd look another manager had given me when *I* talked about the next year suddenly made sense.

  30. June*

    I’m wondering if the stolen tips are really being given to “charity”. Or he’s pocketing them.

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

        no, insist on receiving the money even now. Even if a donation was made to charity doesn’t mean the OP and her coworkers have to be the out the money; he can pull it from his bank account and reimburse them for the theft.

        1. The Prettiest Curse*

          Absolutely, as a former nonprofit employee, I would feel crappy if donations were taken out of wages involuntarily. And if you are going to make a donation, it should come out of company money AND go to a named charity AND that charity should actually get the promised money…

    1. The Prettiest Curse*

      If the manager named a charity, then that would be a good sign that the donations actually went there, since any charitable organization with decent donation recording will eventually realize that the promised money didn’t show up. If they didn’t name a charity, though – yeah, that’s suspicious.

  31. Mainly Lurking (UK)*

    So I clicked the link to the discussion on pantyhose (not a word we use in the UK, they’re just called tights, though admittedly the posher department stores used to sell them in their “hosiery” department), and then saw the adjacent letter and went down the rabbit hole of the boss who insisted on having her slippers brought to her … Wow.

  32. A.N. O'Nyme*

    I’ll occasionally wear pantyhose, mostly because I like how it looks with some of my dresses. Definitely not a requirement for anyone though.
    Now if only we could change business norms to make shorts acceptable too.

  33. Jessica*

    20th-century American here, and the linguistic confusion around this is fascinating, but I’m amazed so little has been said about what I think of as the key distinction between pantyhose and tights. Tights are a legitimate garment that does not self-destruct every time you wear it. You expect tights to be reusable just like you do socks or trousers. Pantyhose, on the other hand, are about paying several dollars a go for an item that may not survive being put on the first time, much less worn.

    1. I'd Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

      Hahaha. So true. Honestly, I wonder if that’s the main reason they’ve started falling out of fashion — they’re so finiky!

    2. Magenta*

      Snag tights have solved this, I buy about half a dozen pairs of their sheer tights and they last the whole summer.

      1. Pocket Mouse*

        …So on average they last about two weeks, maybe three? I’m having trouble thinking of any other article of clothing where that kind of longevity merits a “solved” status on durability. In my experience, even hair ties last much longer than that.

        1. Magenta*

          I wear them every day to work so that is one pair a day, for at least 3 months, usually 4 or 5, so that would be about 20 weeks, which is a similar length of time to how long my thick tights last.

          1. Pocket Mouse*

            20 weeks x 5 days/week = 100 days of wear (maybe slightly more or less depending on your job and vacation). Between 6 pairs, that’s about 17 days of wear per piece.

            This isn’t a knock on you in any way, it just highlights how low the bar is for durability on these particular items if that’s considered high quality. If I bought 6 shirts, or 6 pairs of socks, or 6 pairs of underwear, you can bet that I’d be disappointed rather than pleased by 17 days of wear before they wore out, or 5 months before I had to replace all of them.

            I’ve never worn pantyhose or tights (in the ‘similar to pantyhose but thicker’ sense) past childhood, but the things I do wear that I call tights are those marketed as base layers. They’re fantastic and durable, though—true to the name—not usually intended to be worn as an outer/visible layer. I’ve worn a total of five pairs, but mostly just three pairs, many winter days over the past decade.

            1. Forrest*

              I wouldn’t expect 40-70 denier tights to last much longer than that either, though.

              1. ceiswyn*

                My favourite pair of thicker tights (bought from White Stuff) has just finished its third winter of wearing.

    3. AGD*

      This is the main reason why I basically never want to deal with pantyhose ever again.

    4. ecnaseener*

      What do you mean by “20th century” American? You were born in the 20th century (I imagine 99% of people in these comments were) or you were an adult by the end of the century?

      1. Jessica*

        I think 99% might be a bit high–this might be sneaking up on you, but the people of the 21st century are starting to be adults now and have jobs (or wish they did) and need workplace advice!
        I was born in the 20th century, but what I was really trying to imply was that I was old enough to have experienced 20th-century office culture where pantyhose were expected. I do not miss it. Actually, I just opted the hell out of it quite some time ago, but I was thrilled to learn that this expectation mostly didn’t even exist anymore.

        1. JillianNicola*

          The realization that kidlets born in the year 2000 are now old enough to drink was enough to rock me on my heels (and want my own drink LOL). It definitely sneaks up on you.

        2. ecnaseener*

          Maybe 95%. I’m just thinking of the recent survey, there seem to be very few in the under-21 group. (Especially in the comments, vs general readership)

    5. Pantyhose OP*

      Unfortunately, it only obscures my issue. I can’t wear pantyhose or tights.

  34. AutolycusinExile*

    LW5, if you haven’t done this yet I wonder if it’s worth asking about it more directly. It sounds (from the limited information you’ve given us, anyway, which may not be the whole story!) like your boss was bragging about the donations in public, i.e. doing PR. Is it at all possible he was referring to the previous, consensual donations you made but omitting how long ago it was in the interest of sounding better? Could some of your coworkers still be donating individually without you realizing? Or – and I realize this is a stretch, lol – could your boss have done the donation out of his own funds but claimed it was ‘from you’ to make the company look better?

    There’s a lot of shitty management in your industry, so odds are there is actually unethical behavior going on. However, since it sounds like you got this info through the digital grapevine, there’s a chance that you’re missing some relevant context. It’s worth approaching the conversation with your boss without (outwardly) assuming the worst, since you’ll a) cover yourself in case something unexpectedly decent was happening and b) also to make him less defensive when you call him out for the theft.

  35. An American(ish) Werewolf in London*

    Tights (or pantyhose – I understand both!) have one advantage.

    If you’re on the train and realise there’s a live mouse in your boot (footwear, not car), it nibbles your tights, not your toes.

    This is a thing that really happened to a friend of mine on the train. I was sitting opposite her and she told me a mouse was nibbling her tights. I suggested she take her boot off. ‘I can’t do that,’ she said, ‘it would cause a fuss.’ My friend is 100% British (she genuinely lives at Windsor Castle – her husband is staff there).

    We let the mouse go at Waterloo station. It looked baffled but alive.

    1. SarahKay*

      I love this: “I can’t do that, it would cause a fuss.”
      That’s just amazing, made me laugh out loud, and I can really see someone saying it. Mind you, how she managed to fit both her foot and a mouse into her boot is beyond me; she must have generous sized boots. Or pointy toed ones, perhaps?

        1. An American(ish) Werewolf in London*

          When this happened I posted the story (along with a picture of boot and, eventually, mouse) I got many of the same questions. So…

          Emma’s cat was involved – it seems the cat brought a mouse in (a very tiny mouse) – the mouse must have fled unnoticed into the boot. The boot was a normal boot, not especially pointy, but the mouse was very small. We named him Horace.

          The comments on the Facebook post were comedy gold. My personal favourite being this one:
          “Are you sure, and I mean 100% positive, that she’s a real person and not just a colony of mice living inside an Emma-suit? Because that would explain a lot of the more troubling aspects of this incident.”

    2. CommanderBanana*

      Poor confused mouse!

      I wear stockings almost every day, but it’s because I’m always cold and they’re great insulation.

    3. Insert Clever Name Here*

      “Baffled but alive” is my new favorite thing. “How are you today, Clever?” “Baffled but alive, thanks.”

  36. Virginia Plain*

    I wear “pantyhose” when I feel my dress or skirt wouldn’t go with thicker dark tights (likely because of colour), and if the weather is such that bare legs would be too chilly. I know pantyhose aren’t as warm as opaque tights but they are definitely better than nothing and keep the wind chill off. And prevent corned-beef legs.
    The different in US terminology has been clarified but I wonder if the ostensibly-similar product, the sheer nude nylon type, does differ a bit? Mine aren’t as delicate as many seem to be describing – I launder mind and expect/get several wears, and as I say they do provide a bit of protection against the elements. I also don’t buy the ones that cost eight quid for one pair.
    The absolute only time I would wear them solely to look professional is giving evidence in court. It’s old fashioned but judges are mostly old. It probably wouldn’t be a real issue but when you are there to be savaged by a clever person well paid to make you look bad (defence barrister) it’s one less thing to worry about.

    1. SarahKay*

      I do buy them at eight quid a pair, but only because they’re the M&S ones that have the extra elastic (or elastane or whatever) around the top of the thighs and gusset, so that the gusset doesn’t sag. I loathe a saggy gusset, so feel that every penny of that money is worth it to avoid. In fact, before the reinforced tops/gussets became a thing I’d wear stocking and suspenders instead because they were better than a saggy gusset!

      1. NotRealAnonForThis*

        Agreed that saggy gussets suck.

        The phrase is gold though, and I am absolutely stealing it!!!!

      2. Virginia Plain*

        I get “control top” ones as well, for the same reasons. Mine arrive in the post, works out about £6 a pair do not dead cheap but they last and the gussets are taut!

      3. CommanderBanana*

        I also loathe a saggy gusset – I wear the ‘fully fashioned’ stockings that aren’t knitted on a round, so they’re actually leg shaped, with suspenders. Much more comfortable and require no fussing, no pinching, no sagging.

      4. Temporarily a Superhero*

        I have solved the saggy-gusset issue: by wearing a second pair of underwear OVER the tights/nylons. Locks them in place. (NB: The dresses I wear flare out from the waist, so “line” isn’t an issue.)

        This is what superheroes do. Imagine if Superman didn’t wear his undies over his tights.

  37. Spooncake*

    So after reading some of the US comments (I’m a Brit) my understanding is that pantyhose are specifically the really sheer tights, right? If so then I agree that they’re unnecessary. Too thin to keep you warmer and you put a finger through them every time you put them on. The professionalism argument loses a bit of power when the damn things are full of holes. Also they won’t cover leg hair, which is the only reason I wear tights to the office in spring/summer. I don’t think my workplace is quite ready for the revelation that I’m a werewolf.

    1. Asenath*

      Yeah, in North American English, pantyhose are the really sheer kind that I hate for much the same reasons you do, as well as the lack of comfort due to slipping down or being too tight at the waist or otherwise not fitting comfortably, and tights are the more opaque and thicker variety, which, actually, I also haven’t worn since they were required when I was a child in school because I don’t like them either, although many people do wear them and appear to like them.

    2. Annika Hansen*

      Perfect description! The only time they keep your warmer is when it is really hot out.

    3. CommanderBanana*

      The denier count of a stocking tells you how thick it is – the higher the denier, the thicker/more opaque the stocking will be. Colloquially, stockings are thigh-high, pantyhose are sheer, tights are thicker and more opaque.

      I like manufacturers that list the denier on the packaging, I hate buying a pair that looks opaque and turns out to be sheer.

  38. MistOrMister*

    I have reached the point where I loathe pantyhose. However, I enjoy a nice set of tights (other than the fact that I will inevitably snag them on something). I wear the same dresses year round, but pair them with tights in the winter. I love the look of colorful tights and having the extra leg covering is a must for me to helo stay warm. I can’t remember the last time I saw someone wear pantyhose, though. Maybe at a funeral. I’m not sure why tights seem so diferent to me aesthetically, but they seem like night and day.

    1. Chilipepper Attitude*

      For menthe difference betwee tights and pantyhose is:
      Tights appear to be a choice a wearer makes for fun or warmth or the look of an outfit.

      Pantyhose, to me, exist only as a “morals” thing, as in, it is indecent to expose people to a woman’s bare legs so they must be covered. But we will cover them in sheer material that only exposes the legs to the viewer’s eye anyway. Its creepy.

      Oh, and the fabric is so fragile the wearer has to constantly worry about snagging them. Its like they were intended to keep women less mobile or something.

      I once worked for a religious school that had a very strict dress code that required skirts for women and I signed the contract (very unusual in the US) and only later realized I did not know if pantyhose were in there. I was fully prepared to break the contract and pay penalties if pantyhose were required.

    2. Anonymous-12*

      Tights definitely are aesthetically different, it’s not just you. Nylons (aka pantyhose but growing up my family always called then nylons) read much more professional/formal than tights.
      I would assume the last few bastions of conservative dress work places (certain law firms maybe?) probably frown on very opaque tights as they read more causal to me. So much so that I wore dark but sheer nylons to a fairly formal December wedding for the tiny bit of warm they might’ve provided plus they hid the extreme paleness of my legs, lol. Tights would have looked a bit weird with my fancy cocktail dress, at least in my opinion.

  39. Union Maid*

    Amazed we have gotten so far into the pantyhose discussion without a reference to suspender belts – very much a real workwear thing in the 1980’s, when I started my first office job. Shudder, avoid.

    1. London Calling*

      This one is notable for the appearance of the word ‘girdle,’ so I cherish it for that. I first wore stockings (tights weren’t a general thing) when I was 10 and my aunt (wh was very slender) lent me a girdle that was solid rubber. The AGONY if I didn’t roll it on just right and the girdle rolled around my waist leaving deep red welts….when I got a light suspender belt I was delighted. Ditto when I could afford tights. No more freezing cold thighs.

      1. Union Maid*

        in the US ‘pantygirdle’ was a thing. And, oh no, I looked online and IT STILL IS. oh my. oh dear!

    2. UKDancer*

      Interestingly I actually prefer suspender belts to tights quite often as you avoid the saggy gusset issue (referenced above) and the fabric stays where it should. If you get a decent one and stockings that are the correct size I find them really comfortable. It’s fascinating how much variety there is in what individuals prefer. I hope we can all find ways to dress so we feel comfortable and confident!

      1. SarahKay*

        Agreed that a good suspender belt and stockings is very comfy, with the added bonus that if one has several pairs of stockings the same then laddering one stocking means the other stocking can be put by against the day when one ladders the next stocking.
        However, if one is wearing a straight long skirt with a front slit, as was fashionable in the late-90’s, it’s worth considering one’s activities for the day. Eating a meal in a booth while being sat next to my then-boyfriend’s fairly elderly and conservative (small-c) father made for a very cautious time!
        (Not that I think he would have ogled; not his style at all, but we’d both have been embarrassed if I’d accidentally flashed him a view of suspender and stocking-top.)

        1. IndustriousLabRat*

          ” if one has several pairs of stockings the same then laddering one stocking means the other stocking can be put by against the day when one ladders the next stocking.”

          Ha! This is one of the reasons I like them so much myself! Quite economical, really.

  40. Richard Hershberger*

    LW1 is overlooking two principles of comedy that, in fairness, even professional comedians sometimes have trouble with. The first, and vitally important, is the difference between punching up and punching down. Punching up is mocking the powerful: comedy gold! Punching down is mocking the powerless, which is not a good look. This is especially true when the powerless you are mocking are also your target audience. They are unlikely to find it as hilarious as do you.

    The second principle is related: know your audience. This is true of any sort of public speaking, but has a few wrinkles peculiar to comedy. One source of comedy is to play off what your audience knows about you. This is a form of irony, which is the defining spirit of the age. So you might, with a group of friends, ironically praise a politician whom you and your friends in fact despise, when you all know this. But this only works with people who know you well. Otherwise they would be entirely justified in taking your praise at face value, and judging you accordingly. Look up the career of Andrew Dice Clay to see how this can play out. So in the present instance, you might be a complete teddy bear who would never fire anyone, and you see comedy potential in this. But how is your audience to know this?

    1. Keymaster of Gozer*

      Yup. My brief stint in comedy taught me it’s okay to punch UP with the jokes OR punch myself with them. My style was both, mixed with a lot of profanity.

      The one and only time I tried to emulate a comedian that I like but has a style of very dark and dry humour I left the stage to glares. I’d done the routine to my mates who nearly died laughing; the audience of strangers though? Hateful looks.

      (I left comedy fairly quickly when I realised how much travelling would be involved to get anywhere with it. I can’t put 6 months in standup on my CV anyway)

  41. Richard Hershberger*

    LW5: I have a particular distaste for businesses that want me to subsidize their charity/marketing/tax policy. We all know the drill. You are at the checkout, and are pressured to contribute to the store’s choice of charities. Even stipulating that it is a worthy cause, when that comically oversized check is presented, with a glowing story in the paper, it will be the store taking credit.

    1. Richard Hershberger*

      I should add: doing this with employees’ tips, without so much as a say-so, is even worse. This is a variant on the company voluntelling their employees to participate in some charity, then taking credit. feh.

      1. The Prettiest Curse*

        It does not work in a British accent, either! It just sounds wrong. The few times I tried saying it when I worked in the US, it just came out as “you all”, which for some reason just sounded weird and rude. I eventually started using “everybody” or “everyone” as the easiest alternative.

        1. EvilQueenRegina*

          Using “you all” and “everybody” in the same comment has now stuck Charlie’s one hit from Lost in my head!

        2. Keymaster of Gozer*

          Depends on what part of the UK you’re from. In my experience it works really well with a Somerset accent.

    1. ecnaseener*

      Linguistic evolution is a beautiful thing, stop trying to resist it!

      In the case of y’all, I suspect it’s because people want a gender-neutral alternative to “you guys.” It’s associated with “lower class” or “less intelligent” speech only because it’s not part of the prestige dialect.

    2. Mental Lentil*

      It is preferable to “fellow earthlings in my immediate physical or virtual vicinity” though. This does exclude any aliens who are here in human form, though.

      (We can abbreviate that to FEimIPoVV, which could eventually gain ground.)

      1. The Original K.*

        And AAVE, which has a strong historical relationship with Southern dialects. I’ve spent my entire life in the urban northeast and I and every other Black person I know says y’all.

      1. trekkie*

        I’m a northerner, but I’ve glommed on to y’all because it is really useful to have a second person plural.

    3. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      Definitely preferable to “you guys”. It is slowly taking over and I’m here for it.

      1. Ben Marcus Consulting*

        Excuse me, it’s yous guys, and if you disagree I’ll meet you down at the WaWa.

    4. Sparkles McFadden*

      I have always used y’all and I’m from NYC. It’s a friendly plural. I also like “all y’all.” Y’all also seems less casual than our NY plurals (youse or yuz).

      I get annoyed with “guys” no matter how many people insist it’s neutral. I was almost always the only woman in my department and when my boss would say “Hey, guys” I would cringe.

      1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        I have also frequently been the only woman in the room, and I’m here to report that a boss saying “You guys…” (pause) “… and the lady” is even more cringe!

        1. Green great dragon*

          I have seen, in writing, “Guys (and femalename)”. Do not do this.

          The female in question would have been fine with ‘guys’ including her, but was somewhat less happy to be parenthesised.

    5. katertot*

      Don’t think this is specifically a “thing” she’s trying to make happen- I live in the south and this is just part of conversation and has been for….ages. Don’t think there’s anything particularly trendy about it?

    6. Jaybeetee*

      Y’all has become extremely common in a lot of English-speaming corners of the world.

      English has changed since Shakespeare and will continue to do so.

    7. JillianNicola*

      Sorry yankee, y’all’s done been a phrase since well before our time, our pop’s time, our grandpop’s time. Best keep yourself over yonder if you don’t care for it. (insert appropriate emojis to indicate this is gentle ribbing lol)

  42. Jebidiah was a bullfrog*

    Ha ha ha! ((Sarcastic laughter) most restaurants take tips from employees in my area. We get hourly wages that are higher than minimum wage so our owner, and both district managers take all of our tips from the tip jar and keep them supposedly “for the store office supplies”. Of anyone is caught on camera keeping tips (even tips handed directly to them by a customer) the owner presses theft charges. If you complain you’re fired for not being a team player. My state labor board said there is nothing they can do because we aren’t tipped workers.

      1. ecnaseener*

        I’m not an expert on the relevant law but I suspect that only applies to *tipped workers.*

          1. HB*

            I think ecnaseener was referring to the last line of Jebidiah’s post:

            “My state labor board said there is nothing they can do because we aren’t tipped workers.”

            Which… makes no sense to me. I mean maybe if it was an unusual industry but from the first line it says restaurant worker so why are they not tipped workers? Jebidiah, I’d contact an actual employment lawyer.

            1. ecnaseener*

              Yes, I’m saying they’re not classified as tipped bc it’s not officially part of their compensation. I’ve worked in food service and been “not technically supposed to take tips but if people leave money on the counter you can keep it, just no visible tip jar”

          2. Wisteria*

            From the DOL website:

            Definition of Tipped Employee. Any employee working in an occupation in which he or she regularly receives more than $30 a month in tips is considered a tipped employee.

            Sounds like a low bar.

    1. Message in a Bottle*

      I think the employer should at least have a sign saying who gets the tips. It’s real misrepresentation to the customer. If I knew, I’d boycott the entire establishment.

      And to start, if you’re not tipped workers (which some restaurant workers are), then there shouldn’t be a tip jar in place.

      I kind of get it. Like to tip the chef would be weird. Kind, but not the norm. But to take the money from his hand because you have it on film? That is a disgrace. As a customer, I’d accuse the owner of theft. Of my money put directly in someone else’s hands. How can someone lie about where I want my money donated to their business to go? Customers should go to the labor board. Or Better Business Bureau.

      But simpler would be not to have a jar at all.

    2. Observer*

      My state labor board said there is nothing they can do because we aren’t tipped workers.

      I think you need to talk to a lawyer, or go back to the labor board and find someone else to talk to you. I’m pretty sure that this is incorrect.

  43. Bookworm*

    LW4: No advice, just sympathy. I’m glad that they acknowledge that this isn’t a right fit to your face (instead of outright firing you, which is what a lot of places might have done instead). Do hope you find something that’s better and you find it soon! Good luck!!!

  44. Chilipepper Attitude*

    Re the “jokes” about firing: I’m still salty that my grand boss made a joke that I was behind in my work product after I was home for a month when a family member in my household was hospitalized for covid and our employer’s rules did not let me return to work right away. PS, I was still the highest producer even though I was out for a month and grandboss knew that. And I knew GB was joking as they told me they joke when they get nervous.

    Re #4

  45. What's in a name?*

    I am confused by the answer to LW5. I thought it was legal (albeit crappy) for n employer to force employees to donate to causes as long as it didn’t put the effective pay below minimum wage. Maybe I am thinking about salary positions instead of tipped.

    1. boo bot*

      I think the issue is that it’s illegal for management/employers to take tips from tipped workers regardless of the purpose. (They might have been fine if they paid out the tips, *then* required everyone to donate, but I’m not sure.)

  46. I'm just here for the cats*

    #5. I would be interested to know if the federal law applies to this situation. Working at a restaurant as a server boss made everyone put the tips in the same jar and they then split it between servers (small restaurant so 3 people). Doesn’t seem fair if one person had a table of 10 and got a big tip while the other had just a handful and didn’t have as much work.

    I’ve also heard where the restaurant makes the serving staff share tips with the back end staff (dish washer, cooks, bus boys). This doesn’t seem right, especially if your in a state like mine where minimum wage for serving workers are very low, I think taking tips away could make less.

    I would also like to know about hospitality staff such as house keeping. When my mom worked house keeping the house keeping manager would take the tips.

    1. irene adler*

      US Federal Labor Law indicates that the tips belong to the server/one who earned the tips-except when there’s a tip pooling arrangement (with other tipped employees) involved.

      AND, I believe the tipped employee is paying the taxes on the amount of tips earned. So the tipped employee should be the one to realize the write-off of the charitable donation made using the tips. Bet that’s not happening either. So, screwed twice maybe?

    2. SF2K01*

      When my wife worked in a restaurant that forced the staff to pool tips with everyone (even the managers were taking a cut), some customers who knew about the practice would slip her cash and say “this is just for you, don’t tell anyone”. Frankly, it’s deceptive and places like that should be forced to publicize their practice — I’m tipping the person who actually served me for a lower minimum wage based on tips, not the manager or anyone else who makes a standard wage.

    3. Sparkles McFadden*

      I never worked in food or hotel service myself so I’ve always asked the waitstaff what happens with tips. The broad range of responses is astounding…and not in a good way. The response of “the manager keeps part of the tips” comes up far more than it ought to, especially when you consider that many states get to pay servers an insanely low wage *because* the servers get tips. So you get underpaid because of the tips and then they steal the tips. Awful.

      I’ve made it a point to frequent local restaurants that treat their workers well and let them keep their tips. I always tip for carry out because the servers still have to take the order, fill the order and make sure you have all condiments and serving utensils to go. If you want to tip a little less than you would for table service, I get that, but tipping nothing at all seems wrong. When I get carry out with friends I make sure I’m the person who picks up the order so I can leave a tip. In hotels, I tip housekeeping daily and not at the end of the stay so the staff doing the actual housekeeping work gets the tips. If they pool it and divide it up later they can still do that with the daily tips.

      …oh and the people who don’t tip at all and leave cards saying “I don’t tip because I support paying people a living wage” are a whole separate category of horrible.

      1. Jessica*

        Oh my, this is a thing? That IS horrible. You can write an “I support paying a living wage” note, but it should be on a sticky note and you should be attaching it to a $20 bill, because we are not there yet.

      2. irene adler*

        There’s all kinds of ‘excuses’ for not paying the proper amount – either in salary or tips.
        And the lack of logic- astounding! Not paying the tip because “I support paying people a living wage” has to be met with more than lip service (like patronizing only those places that pay a living wage). Otherwise, it’s just their way of screwing the wait staff out of their tips.

        I’ve dined with folks who tip 5% because “God gets 10% and we won’t give more to a person than to God.” And, “I’m saving for a house down payment, so I don’t need to tip.”
        Well, I made sure the wait staff didn’t get shorted from these folks. And won’t dine with them ever again.

    4. IndustriousLabRat*

      Tipping out the Bus, Host, and Bar are all quite common; I see those positions as directly supporting the servers and allowing them to work more tables efficiency. Cook and Dish far less so, though I worked for almost 2 decades at a Tappan/Hibachi place, and the chefs took 50% of the waitresses’ tips right off the top, then 10% to Bus and a % to Bar based on alcohol sales… but if the chef got a ‘side tip’, the waitress didn’t get reciprocity. On top of the chefs being paid $15/hour base, and the waitstaff making ‘restaurant minimum’, it was a pretty imbalanced structure that took advantage of the bottomless pool of young female college students without established work norms, who also didn’t look at it as a permanent career, and would simply quit rather than push back. It was also predictably split along gender lines, and when I asked to train as a chef, the owner literally laughed in my face and told me “girls can’t be a chef!”

  47. Cat Lover*

    This pantyhose debate is fascinating. I’m 26 (and American) and I don’t think I know anyone that wears pantyhose. I know my mom did back in the 90s but I didn’t know it was still a thing.

    *The more you know*

  48. Neon*

    In #1 I don’t know that those comments are even “jokes” really. There’s no punchline; and its hard to imagine them getting many laughs from anybody.

    The examples given are more like “person saying weird and inaccurate things”.

    If those are your best jokes then you should stop telling jokes.

  49. agnes*

    LW #1 I am glad you wrote in and hope you will take the advice offered. I have another suggestion, which is to find someone in your company–or even a professional in another company–with good workplace experience and run some things like this by them. It sounds like perhaps you haven’t had the opportunity to get some coaching/support about appropriate workplace behavior in certain situations, and you need someone who can help you more quickly than writing an advice column can.

    LW #2 Again, I think it’s important to find someone to talk to about workplace etiquette/behavior and run things by this person and get some coaching. Making a transition from school to work can be difficult, especially from grad school to work. A lot of grad school is very self directed/independent/solo and moving into a monitored environment can be hard.

    I think those of us who have been in the workplace for a while can forget that times have changed. Young employees coming into the workplace may never have had any work experience at all, not even babysitting siblings or working at camp. School has changed too and has become much more flexible and self directed.

    The corporate world hasn’t changed in the same way, so new grads are coming into a work environment that is highly divergent from what they have experienced as students.

  50. ecnaseener*

    To me it always looks weird when someone’s pantyhose-clad legs are way darker than the rest of their visible skin. And I’m pale enough that they don’t make pantyhose (or nude tights) in my skin tone. Am I the only one bothered by this, is the mismatched skin tone actually a professional look?

    1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      Maybe it’s one of those “if it isn’t obvious, how can you tell if they’re wearing them?” things.

      A friend’s mother used to approve of VPL because, in her words, “at least you can tell she actually has underwear on.”

    2. Temperance*

      When I was a kid and into dance, those ridiculous “suntan” pantyhose were part of the costume for performances. I think it looks so strange for very pale white women to have golden tan legs, but it was a thing.

    3. I'm just here for the cats*

      Makes me think of how during WWII women would put makeup on their bare legs and use eyeliner(?) to draw a line up their legs to make it look like they were wearing pantyhose. You couldn’t find nylon because it was rationed for troops.

  51. Tasha*

    One of the comments from the old pantyhose thread was spot on:
    “In 10 years, people will laugh that this debate even took place. Pantyhose have already gone the way of the slip. Younger women don’t wear them. Accept that times are changing.”

    1. twocents*

      Yep! I was kind of surprised that someone reading the archives thought pantyhose requirements were still a thing. It’s been leggings or bare legs for quite a few years now.

      1. Threeve*

        I promise, there are workplaces where you are still required to wear pantyhose if you’re wearing a skirt.

      2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Even the LDS Church doesn’t require their female missionaries to wear hose or tights anymore.

      3. Pantyhose OP*

        My Old Job that I just left had this requirement. It’s not as gone as I would like it to be.

    2. Cooper*

      Slips are functional in some situations, at least, like with skirts that are a little bit too sheer to wear to the office! Hose are just Evil Tights.

      1. An American(ish) Werewolf in London*

        Funnily enough, I just bought my first slip in YEARS last week. My OH bought me a white summer dress for my birthday. I tried it on in my sunbathed bedroom and realised it left nothing to the imagination. So I bought a slip.

        So they can have their uses!

  52. TWB*

    LW2: Just came here to say it has taken me until today (and I’m 52 years old) to ever hear of one other person who has the same sensory reaction to pantyhose in particular!

    The wars I had with my mother as a child and into my teens over this were epic. She just couldn’t understand why I hated them so much and I could never find the words then to describe it. Having things crawling on my skin was as close as I could get.

    Sensory Processing Disorder often makes for a lot of misunderstandings and being labeled as “difficult” and a lifetime of being told how weird you are..

    1. I'm just here for the cats*

      That’s how I felt with tights and hose too. I don’t have any sensory processing issues but I have very sensitive skin and things tight on my legs drive me crazy. There are a few soft tights/leggings that work for me, but sometimes it is a no go.

    2. Pantyhose OP*

      YES!!!! And I don’t have an official diagnosis (although I would qualify), but you’ve described my life and the feeling exactly. So many issues with fabrics. . I’m sorry you have the same issue, but it’s so nice to know I’m not alone!!

  53. ecnaseener*

    For those who don’t feel like reading through all of the comments on the old pantyhose post, here’s the highlight reel:

    Maybe you need to get a job slinging drinks at a poolside bar so you can wear shorts, a tank top and flip flops, unless you “hate” them, too.

    This isn’t Ugly Betty, it’s called the professional business world

    Anyone looking close enough at your legs to try to distinguish between nude hose and a decent tan should get back to the business of interviewing you.

    It’s clear you are only welcome here if your liberal and like Michelle Obama.

        1. HB*

          Wait, found another good one:

          “In 10 years, people will laugh that this debate even took place. Pantyhose have already gone the way of the slip. Younger women don’t wear them. Accept that times are changing.”

          1. Carlie*

            And they kind of go together – depending on the skirt material, it would get “caught” on the hose if there wasn’t a slip between! The hose create the problem that then necessitates the presence of the slip.

          2. Bring back Gawker while we're at it*

            Pantyhose 2: Electric Boogaloo — “In 10-11 years, the tone will be different, but people will still have a surprising volume of opinions on this!”

    1. Reba*

      OMG thank you for this.

      When I saw “pantyhose” in the title of the post, I admit my reaction was laughing while saying “oh no OH NO”

      Pantyhose just manage to bunch up everything to do with women’s bodies, our access to public life and work, fashion and generational social change… incredible controversy material for just a scrap of nylon!

    2. Queer Earthling*

      Maybe you need to get a job slinging drinks at a poolside bar so you can wear shorts, a tank top and flip flops, unless you “hate” them, too.

      I work at home wearing shorts and tank tops (no pool and no drinks but maybe eventually), but they are correct, I hate flip flops. My toes are friends who want to cuddle and don’t appreciate being separated.

      It’s clear you are only welcome here if your liberal and like Michelle Obama.

      My liberal what?

      (Thank you for the highlight reel!)

      1. ecnaseener*

        Yeah I was actually wondering…Alison, when you said there were pantyhose “fetishists” in the comments, was that hyperbole or were there literally people talking about their sexual fetishes and arguing that everyone should cater to that?

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          A lot of comments about their love of the female leg encased in stockings … with more detail than that. No attempt to even try to make it seem like it was about what’s expected in the office, just lots of odes to legs and pantyhose, with extreme irritation that I had said women don’t need to wear them.

          1. Rainy*

            People can be super insistent about making sure societal norms ensure access to their fetishes.

            My first husband was a photographer and took a lot of photos of the flowers in my garden. The ones he didn’t sell, and the less formal shots, he’d put up on his flickr account (does that still exist?) and one day we noticed that every photo of my garden that had even a sliver of my feet in it had been “liked” and added to a personal curated list by an account that neither of us knew. It took me…longer than I like to admit…to realize why. Eurgh.

          2. Jaybeetee*

            Well that’s just icky.

            I mean, whatever floats your boat, but in a workplace discussion… ick.

  54. Roeslein*

    I’ve always worn pantyhose to work (I’m in my early 30s) mostly because I find bare feet in dress shoes very uncomfortable. I like to have a layer between my skin and the shoes. It’s like my feet are half a size bigger than vs. when wearing pantyhose. I didn’t realise it read old school though! Aren’t people getting blisters?

    1. it's me*

      There are half-socks or “invisible” socks especially for wearing inside dress shoes.

    2. Dr. Rebecca*

      I get blisters even with them. I know I’m *exceptional* at that, though. *grin*

    3. EvilQueenRegina*

      Blisters, yes! Honestly, that’s a big part of why I wear them, although WFH has meant I have often not bothered recently.

    4. Sparkles McFadden*

      I tried the invisible socks found them really uncomfortable, so I ended up getting lots of cute low-rise socks. It sounds weird but, fashion-wise, that always worked for me. I would get “I like the little socks!” from women, and most of the men I worked with wouldn’t notice if I walked around barefoot. One guy came in with the tag still on his pants, another had his shirt on inside out, one had a big blob of powdered laundry detergent stuck to the back of his shirt…you get the picture.

    5. MapleHill*

      They actually make panty hose socks that I often wear in summer for this same reason (and also I’m always freezing if I have any bare skin in my office). Even those “no show” socks that barely covers your foot sometimes can’t hide under the dress shoes and you end up fixing them all day as they slip off your heel. Of course, some of the panty hose ones also slip down.

  55. AndersonDarling*

    There is a major employer in my city that requires panty-hose. I was told up-front when I was contacted by the recruiter that I would need to wear panty-hose. I don’t even know how someone can say “panty-hose” with a straight face now-a-days. No adult should say “panty.” And no adult should need to tell an adult woman to wear them.
    I went on the interview, but I couldn’t get past that I would have to wear grandma underwear if I wanted to wear a skirt or dress.

  56. Emi*

    As to whether it matters if pantyhose looks dated: I think it does if you’re very young/at the beginning of your career, because clothes that read as “frumpy” or dated can make you look like you’re borrowing your mother’s clothes, which makes you look even younger. Anyway this is my experience of trying to dress myself right after college.

    1. ecnaseener*

      *glances nervously at the pile of my mom’s clothes from the 90’s*

      Oh well, I’ll own the frumpy look. She had such a collection of nice, normal cotton and silk shirts! Opaque and everything. Bizarrely hard to find these days.

      1. I'm just here for the cats*

        I would say that those clothes are frumpy as long as they fit you well and don’t look worn out. Sometimes clothes are timeless.

      2. JillianNicola*

        “glances nervously at the pile of my mom’s clothes from the 90’s”

        *blinks in went to high school in the 90’s*
        I mean, I get it. I was obsessed with 70’s clothes as a teen, which my (70’s teen herself) mother found equal parts hilarious and horrifying. But it has truly been wild seeing the trends when I was a teenager come back around again lol. That said – yeah the button up type shirts were top notch back in the day! Just … just don’t wear them under t-shirts like I did when I was 16 okay. *hides face*

        1. ecnaseener*

          UNDER tshirts that’s so cute

          I’m not even talking about button ups though, these are plain t-shirts & tanks.

          For context, my mom was in her 30s in the 90s. These aren’t high fashion garments, but good quality and versatile.

  57. I should really pick a name*


    While I don’t think being 5 minutes late should be a problem unless it’s important to a role, you really need to find out how your employer views these things.
    On top of this, when you first start a job, you should always be making sure you’re in by the start time or before. This is the initial impression that you’re making on them, and it can colour their view of you for a long time.

    1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd (ENTP)*

      Those initial impressions can stick around!
      I once had a new co-worker who got to the office on his first day, boss got him situated with his computer login details etc and the very first thing he did was ask to book a day of PTO! There wasn’t a rule against it (such as no PTO until it’s accrued etc), but it did stay in people’s mind for a very long time. He turned out to be a total slacker and I don’t think it was just “seeing what I expected to see” but there was probably an element of that.

  58. Sara without an H*

    Hi, OP#4 – I sympathize: the first “real world” job after grad school can be a shock. But from your description, it does sound as though your current job just isn’t a good fit for you. There’s no shame in looking for something else. Check the AAM archives for a lot of good job search advice.

    That said, right now I think you need a mentor. Is there someone at your current job that has been there a while and could help you figure out the culture? What you seem to be experiencing is the outcome of the radically different cultures of graduate school and non-academic employers. The two cultures are very, very different and the differences do not always make any kind of logical sense.

    If you don’t already have regular one-on-one meetings with your manager, please ask for them and use that time to solicit more explicit feedback on what the expectations are and how to meet them. You may also want to go through the AAM topics list and look at posts that Alison has tagged “work habits.”

    Good luck!

  59. Nona*

    LW4: I might be off base, but is it possible that this isn’t a culture clash specific to this work place, but is instead your not knowing office/working norms? If there’s someone at this position you have a good relationship with, can you ask them to tell you what they’d like you do better? Or someone else you know in your field that you can talk to, just to make sure your expectations are about right? I’ve supervised someone who had zero idea how to get along in an office, and it’s extremely frustrating as I felt like I was being expected to parent her (and frankly her work was not good enough to warrant the extra work). Two things I wish she’d done: 1. Pay attention to everyone around you. If you’re the last person to arrive at a meeting/the office, you’re late (regardless of when the scheduled start is). This should only happen once, if you notice it the first time. 2. Your superiors time is more limited/valuable than yours, if you can reduce their work load when working with you, do it. For example, if there’s a form they need to fill out for you, don’t send them a blank version. Instead, fill out everything you can yourself, and flag the sections they need to do (and if their section is long, and it’s appropriate, draft a response for them).