I got Covid at work and my company won’t cover my sick time, horrible new coworker wants to be friends, and more

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

1. I got Covid at work and my company won’t cover my sick time

I’m fully vaccinated, have been since March. I follow all CDC recommendations and am immunocompromised, so I take all of this very seriously. I’m an in-person medical provider who was exposed to Covid at work two weeks ago, developed symptoms, and am now testing positive.

My company is saying that I can go into negative for PTO to pay for time I’ll have to be out, but there is no other way I’d be paid. Is that actually legal? I’m really frustrated that they knew I was exposed at work; they informed me even, and still they’re acting as if this is somehow my fault and I can just go weeks without pay.

It’s legal. It’s really awful on a number of fronts, but it’s legal.

Not only is it just a crap move on the human decency front, but it’s particularly ridiculous because you were exposed in the course of doing your job. What’s more,  this policy will disincentivize people from staying home when they have potential Covid symptoms, which means more people are at risk of being exposed, which could result in serious consequences for your employees and patients.

This kind of thing is why people unionize, just saying.

Read updates to this letter here and here.

2. My new coworker wants to be my friend, but she’s the worst

A new colleague has recently joined my team who is determined to be my friend. I was assigned to train her at first and it was not the smoothest training process, for various reasons, including that she was very passive-aggressive. Later that week, when she asked me to go out to lunch, I reluctantly agreed. She then proceeded to tell me her whole life story over a Chinese buffet. It. was. a. lot.

Since then, she’s been consistently asking me to hang out. I’ve tried to dodge these attempts, but I can only come up with so many excuses for not getting lunch with her. I ended up getting lunch with her a second time and it was even worse than the first time. She was obnoxious, complained about our managers, was belittling, and took her sweet time leaving the restaurant — even though I told her I needed to be back at a certain time for a meeting.

Not only is this a personal issue for me, but it’s professional. I will have to work with her a lot in the future and don’t want to burn a bridge with her. She also doesn’t do herself many favors: she’s only been here for two weeks and has already established herself as a complainer, griping about meetings and managers (sometimes even in front of leadership).

I do not want to be her friend. But I do need to work with her on a professional level. What do I do?

Can you credibly say that you don’t go out to lunch much and/or that you try not to mix work with socializing very often? Obviously neither of these will work if she regularly sees you going out to lunch with others or you’re the office’s social butterfly, but otherwise, “Oh, I wanted to take you out your first week to welcome you, but I normally stay here for lunch” (or you normally read/study/work during lunch, or whatever fits) is reasonable. If you can’t credibly say that, then it’s okay to stick with, “I’ve got plans but you go on ahead.”

If you find yourself in another situation where she’s complaining about colleagues, try making yourself incredibly unsatisfying to do that with. A firm “I really don’t like complaining about anyone at work behind their backs, so let’s talk about something else” followed by “I’m really no comfortable with this, but I wanted to ask you about (boring work subject)” if it continues could make you a much less appealing target.

Related: my coworker has become needy and wants a closer friendship than I want

3. Candidate sent way too many application materials

I am in my first management position and hiring an entry-level staffer. I’m trying to be lenient since the candidate pool is a lot of recent grads and people with little work experience, and I don’t want to miss good candidates over minor resume and cover letter errors or them just not having a good feel for professional norms.

I asked for a resume and cover letter, and some applicants will also occasionally provide a list of references or a writing sample, which is fine. However, one candidate sent in a ton of extra application materials. Including resume and cover letter, there were 16 (!!!) attachments to their application email. There were nine writing samples, including an 18-page one, signed letters of recommendation, and some graphics. I don’t want to penalize someone for going above and beyond, but the writing samples aren’t on anything relevant to the position, there’s absolutely no graphic design element to the job, and the recommendation letters don’t help me assess the candidate since they are not confidential. There’s nothing in the job description I wrote that I think could be misinterpreted into thinking the job duties might involve those things. (The resume is also two pages long for someone who is barely out of college, which I would overlook if it wasn’t in combination with all the other things.) That being said, their resume and cover letter are decent.

I’m conflicted between giving the benefit of the doubt and keeping them in consideration and thinking it’s a red flag they sort of didn’t follow directions (the posting said send resume and cover letter, but I didn’t explicitly say NOT to send extra materials) and that they don’t understand the role or barely read the job description if they thought so many irrelevant work samples were appropriate. Should I at least reply with feedback that this is too much? I’m at a loss on what to do!

Based on just the cover letter and resume, is this person competitive with the best people in your candidate pool? If not, the rest of it is moot; there’s no need to consider them further if they’re not competitive anyway. But if the resume and cover letter on their own would be competitive with your strongest candidates … well, I’d cut the person some slack since they’re brand new to this and clearly don’t know how it works. It’s a question mark about their judgment, but you’ll have better opportunities to assess that if they do move forward in your process. Still, though, you need to consider the totality of what you know about each candidate at this stage against the totality of what you know about others; it’s good to cut inexperienced candidates some slack, but not to the point that you give them a slot that otherwise would have gone to someone who strikes you as a stronger candidate overall.

One option is to write back, “We ask that candidates submit only a resume and cover letter, and we are not considering additional material at this stage. If you can resubmit your application with only the requested material, I’d be glad to take a look.” That will let them know they went overboard (which might be might be helpful guidance) and let you see how they handle the feedback.

4. Did I mess up my reference with my former manager?

I have a good relationship with my former manager. I interned for a local sports league for about two years in the office and during the games, and we had a great connection.

Fast forward to today. I’ve come back to working at the local sports league as a game day staff member during the weekends when the local sports league played at their home stadium (not the same as an intern). I work with my game day manager instead of my former one. It’ extra money because I also work at a part-time unpaid internship.

I put in my two weeks notice for my game day staff position due to mental health issues. My doctor recommended that I quit so that we could focus on recovery. I didn’t mention that in my resignation email, I just told my game day staff manager that my doctor told me that I had health concerns and we decided that we needed to focus on recovery.

Four days after that, I messaged my former manager (who still works there too and knew I was looking for a full-time job) to ask if he could give me a reference for a particular job. Three days later, he hasn’t gotten back to me. Was it terrible for me to ask for a reference four days after I sent my resignation letter? Would my former manager know about my resignation from the game day manager? Should I scrap my former manager and find a reference somewhere? Should I cut ties with my former manager on social media?

Yeah, there’s a good chance that your former manager would have heard from the game day manager that you had resigned, and might know that you’d said it was for health reasons. It’s definitely possible that your old manager is confused about what’s going on — you said you were resigning because your doctor wanted you to focus on your recovery, but a few days later you were job-searching, which sounds contradictory. I’m confused by it myself! I know there could be more to it (maybe you’re looking at jobs that will be easier on you or so forth), but I can see how he could be confused and might wonder if you used a cover story with the game day manager for some reason.

That said, this isn’t the kind of thing that would normally make someone who you have a good relationship with freeze you out or become unusable as a reference! If anything, I’d expect he would just ask you about it. Plus, it’s only been three days! You’re reading a lot into a very short amount of time. If you haven’t heard from him after a week, it makes sense to follow up, probably with some additional explanation about the situation. But you’re really far away from “need to scrap this reference” territory.

5. Replying-all on quick “thanks!” emails

This is a low stakes question, but one that I always wondered about. When you write a “thank you” response to a coworker after they answer a question or handle a work task, do you click “reply all”? Most people I see do it, but I always address it only to the person who has done the thing I’m thanking them for. The only exception is when the act was so important that I want people to see how appreciative I am of the help or when a team has completed an activity and I close the mail chain (and recognize everyone) with a thank-you to all involved. I always think that we all get many mails so individual thank-you’s don’t necessarily have to fill everyone’s mailbox.

Assuming we’re talking about quick “thanks!” emails and not a longer expression of gratitude for something non-routine: Yes, please don’t reply-all for the former. For one thing, those are often less about conveying thanks and more about confirming receipt and closing the loop, and usually it’s fine for those just to go to the primary person you’re corresponding with. Two, people get a ton of inbox clutter as it is and often won’t appreciate you adding to it. Three, cc’ing a bunch of people on minor “thanks!” emails can sometimes even feel performative — like you’re clogging their inboxes to ensure they see you being gracious on something very routine.

What you’re doing sounds exactly right.

{ 385 comments… read them below }

  1. Eric*

    #5, you mention that most people you see use reply all for these emails. But keep in mind, if you were CCed to begin with, you don’t see all the emails where the person just replied to sender.

    1. MassMatt*

      That many people in this org are using “reply all” reflexively doesn’t make it good practice. In Spanish there is a saying, translated it means “that a mistake is made by many is consolation for a fool”.

      Send email only to the person who needs to read it. Reply only to people who need to read it. Would you send an email intended for Betsy to everyone in the group? Of corse not, that would be dumb. Why reply to everyone in the group with something only the sender needs to read? With large email groups and many careless recipients, entire large companies can be brought to a standstill as hundreds of people bury thousands of recipients with inane and irrelevant minutiae.

      The designers of the predominant email interface deserve serious punishment for making the “reply all” button so easily confused with “reply”. It should have been accessible through a submenu; that would have saved the world from literally billions of wasteful emails.

      1. TechWorker*

        I somewhat disagree, I’ve also had problems with people selecting individuals to reply to – which might have been reasonable for the content of the first mail – and there then being confusion down the line that not everyone was in the loop. I’ve also had this happen in reverse where I’ve not heard back on something urgent and chased the email thread only to find that others on the thread have confirmed it’s no longer needed, but on a branch not including me! It’s super annoying.

        1. I'm just here for the cats*

          But if it’s just a thank you why would you need to know that Jane in accounting thanked Robert in HR for an update? I could see if there was a thread where there was a conversation and questions, but I don’t want 15 people replying thanks

          1. Spencer Hastings*

            I might want to know whether my teammate already replied to the person who gave us the thing we needed, or if I should.

          2. TechWorker*

            Yep I agree for thanks in general – was mostly responding to the last paragraph of the comment that’s complaining about reply-all being ‘too easy’ to use by mistake. I think for most emails it’s the correct default :p

        2. Koalafied*

          It’s definitely a matter of preference, and I’m sure that a person’s typical email volume influences how they feel about it. As someone who gets a very high volume of daily emails, to me the way to avoid what you’re talking about is to be in the habit of consciously thinking about who needs to receive any given message. That means 1) checking the To:/CC: fields before every email I send to make sure it’s the right audience instead of just trusting the Reply All button and assuming someone else already picked the correct audience for me earlier, 2) broadly disseminating “FYI” emails after a decision has been reached to anyone who will be affected.

          – When we’re getting down into the weeds, I will typically BCC the people who are no longer needed and write something at the top like, “BCCing Sylvie & Mobius on this one to spare their inboxes as we go down this rabbit hole…” That way, Sylvie and Mobius are aware that there’s another conversation happening behind the scenes but don’t have to get the entire conversation play by play in their inboxes, and the next person who Replies All will automatically drop them since BCCs aren’t included in a Reply All audience.

          – After a long tangent where a decision has been reached, I’ll return back to the original thread and say, “Ok, we decided we’re going with Option B. See attached for context if interested,” and attach the final email from the tangent. That way, the people who were dropped can still see how the decision was made, but they get it in a convenient, single-email digest format instead of 12 emails trickling into their inbox over the course of an hour.

          – If someone who will be affected by the decision wasn’t on the original thread in the first place – maybe because they didn’t have any influence over the decision even though it could ultimately affect them – that could look like me forwarding the complete thread with “FYI – in case you get any questions about this” to the customer service team, to let them know about a survey invitation the marketing team is sending out.

          – If it’s something big but it’s taking days to make a decision, I’ll write a quick email to the website developers and data analysts, for instance, that says, “FYI – there’s a group of us debating the best way to launch a customer survey right now. It’s still up in the air and we might just use SurveyMonkey, but one of the HIPPOs is advocating for writing it as a custom form on our own website so it will look classier, and using Tableau to analyze the responses. I’ll make sure you’re looped in once we get to a decision, but wanted you to know this request might be coming down the pike in a few days so it’s not a complete last-minute surprise.”

          There are some people I work with who IMO overuse the Reply All and pollute my inbox with too much irrelevant email, and the most ironic part is that they’re generally doing it as a default/engrained habit rather than because every time they do it they’re consciously thinking that everyone on the thread needs to get this next message. Which means they tend to be more frequently guilty of leaving people in the dark, because they don’t even notice that Ravonna wasn’t included on the original thread.

          1. HelenofWhat*

            I wish this could be reproduced as a best practices post somewhere everyone would see it. This is so thoughtful and effective!

        3. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

          I think it depends on the circumstances. If someone sent me something time critical, I’d reply “Thanks!” because acknowledgement of receipt would take some stress off them, especially if we don’t work near each other or I am on work-travel/in the field/off-site. If it was a team that relied on me getting this message for the next steps, I’d “Reply All”. For anything non-urgent, I’d first say “Thanks for this Lorelai, I’ll get back to you on [DATE]/by next week/when I have finished Y/when I have heard from Z” and “Reply All” if it is a team project. If the issue needs no response from me, I’d skip the “Thanks” and just leave it alone.

        4. LC*

          I’ve seen similar things, and both versions of the problem are definitely annoying.

          This conversation for sure reminds me there are advantages to group/department/team/project/whatever chats in Slack, etc. It obviously won’t work for every situation, but particularly on ones that require conversation of sorts, or when a question is asked to a group. Everyone can see what’s being said, it’s easy to mute a conversation but still have easy access to it, you can just “respond” to messages with an emoji (“okay” hand ftw!) to acknowledge receipt, both to the actual responder and to everyone else, without adding in another email.

      2. Matt*

        This. If I write an email – no matter if it’s a new one or a reply – the recipient(s) are the last thing I fill in, just in order to avoid to send it prematurely. If it’s a reply, first thing that I do is to clear all recipient(s), then I write my message, then I fill in the recipient(s) I wish to send to. This has two advantages, I can’t accidentally send an incomplete message and I can’t accidentally hit “reply all”.

        1. staceyizme*

          I like this! I’ve resorted to using “confirm send” for the same basic reason. One final check of recipient list and a quick final check of other details, especially if it’s an extra early morning email! (In which case, I might be prompted to “schedule send” after thinking through the ramifications of dinging/ pinging someone’s inbox…)

      3. Office Lobster DJ*

        I’ll reply-all with “Thanks!” when I need more people than just the sender to know the loop is closed / message is acknowledged. This doesn’t mean that everyone on the chain strictly needs it, but if it would be useful for, say, two of four people involved, everyone gets it. It feels weirder to pick and choose for such a brief message (that can be read in entirety and deleted without opening).

        When my reply is really about expressing thanks and appreciation for something significant, I’ll reply-all if I notice that the sender’s boss or other senior figure in their reporting chain is already copied. It just feels like the nice thing to do. In this case, I’d slightly expand the message, e.g. “Thanks, Jane, this is really helpful!”

      4. Pilcrow*

        The designers of the predominant email interface deserve serious punishment for making the “reply all” button so easily confused with “reply”. It should have been accessible through a submenu; that would have saved the world from literally billions of wasteful emails.

        It won’t help much. I worked at a place that used an email system where the reply all option was buried in a sub-menu (Novell GroupWise, IIRC) and it was still a cluster. Granted, it did save on some of the casual reply alls, but it’s not a magic bullet.

        One hilarious incident was when IT sent out a message to the entire company, ~6,000 employees, and specifically said not to use Reply All (remember, buried in a sub-menu, so you had to look for it) and there was still the cascade of reply all and the responses to stop using reply all until they shut down the exchange and trapped the emails.

      5. AnonInCanada*

        Y’know, I never really looked closely at the ribbon in Outlook (as I’m a keyboard shortcut kind of guy) and yeah, you’re right: someone at Microsoft should have their hands smacked with a wooden spoon for this! Putting REPLY and REPLY ALL next to each other with a very similar looking icon does make for a lot of unnecessary emails. Then again, keyboard shortcuts aren’t much better (CTRL-R to reply, SHIFT-CTRL-R to reply all can also mean unnecessary emails for those with clumsy fingers! How about CTRL-ALT-R to reply all, so you have to work to do it, Microsoft?)

    2. John Smith*

      I think it will depend on how the question was asked. If the entire department was emailed a question (like “does anyone know where Marys Llama has gone to?”) and a response is given that answers the question, then I’d email everyone back “Sorted now, Abdul found it in the kitchen eating Janet’s lunch.” to avoid further responses. At least that’s how it works in my dept.

      I think what’s worse is when someone asks a specific question that noone else needs to know the answer to but someone invariably decides everyone MUST see that you answered and CCs the all and sundry. Grrrr!

      1. AnonInCanada*

        Now that’s annoying! Your point in your second paragraph can be easily avoided by someone’s specific question be presented in a new email to that specific person whose answer they’re looking for. The rest of the group doesn’t need to be involved.

      2. LC*

        I’m confused, I feel like those two scenarios end up with the same result, right? Either way, there are two emails that end up going to everyone.

        The first scenario:
        -Anne emails Bob, Cal, Dan, and Eve to ask where the llama is
        -Dan replies to Anne say that it was found in the kitchen
        -Anne replies all to Bob, Cal, Dan, and Eve to say thanks, got the answer

        The second scenario that you don’t like:
        -Anne emails Bob, Cal, Dan, and Eve to ask where the llama is
        -Dan replies all to Anne plus Bob, Cal, Dan, and Eve to say that it was found in the kitchen
        -Anne replies to Dan to say thanks

        The first scenario seems fine to me, as long as Anne adds back in the rest of the team in the thank you email so they know it’s been responded to, but I’d honestly prefer the second, particularly if I’m in the group receiving the question. That way, I know right away that the question has been answered and I don’t need to worry about it.

        Either way though, I’m not sure I understand why one is good and the other is actively annoying.

    3. OP5*

      True. But you do see the “thank you” replied to all – it’s enough for me to question why it’s done so often.

      1. SaeniaKite*

        In my org it has sent out instructions on how to reply not reply all and there are *still* some people who do it everytime and deleting them all is one of those minor annoyances I just have to deal with. Mostly I think people don’t care enough to hit the right button

        1. NYWeasel*

          We had a manager who tried to get everyone using the acronym “NTN” – “No Thanks Necessary”.

          The unfortunate result was that instead of a handful of thanks, you’d get a handful of thanks followed by a bunch of “Sorry! Just saw the NTN!” or “People, this is an NTN, why are you sending thanks?!!” :facepalm: The practice quickly died out after the manager left.

      2. Allonge*

        The thing is, if people go by what they see (reply all) then it’s also a self-perpetuating deal: people who care about following the ‘internal custom’ will reply all, because people reply all, because people reply all, forever and ever.

        1. calonkat*

          What Allonge said. And there are people who like to be visible with their thanks. Those people (if they weren’t the first to say thanks) will reply all to the thanks with “Yes, thank you!”. Which then makes others think they were supposed to publicly thank, so they do the same and now you’re another 20 emails into a dead chain.


      3. Thanks!*


        It really does depend on the organisation. Where I work at the moment, we get a reply all thanks because it’s a really polite organisation and thanks are considered due from the team that received the service. When I first started, I would thank the person directly and personally (as I usually do) and then find others on the team replying to all with a thanks. After a couple of weeks, I realised that the first person who saw the original email would say thanks on behalf of the team so the rest of us didn’t have to – it was just the convention at this organisation.

        I’ve worked at other places where saying thanks at all was not done routinely (I always did anyway) and have had people saying ‘oh you don’t have to thank me every time’ (In which case I usually just bought them an occasional chocolate / coffee or whatever their preference was.)

        It seems to be highly dependent on the particular organisation and the individuals involved, just go with the flow depending on where you work. There’s really no hard and fast rule, but I’ve found things tend to go a lot smoother if you say thanks too often rather than the other way round. Someone who feels unappreciated can really slow things down

      4. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

        Because despite 40ish years of e-mail/messaging, we have yet to master “Reply All” as a species

      5. Nanani*

        Some people do it performatively to like, show everyone how good they are at gratitude?
        Some people just don’t realize it’s annoying, perhaps because they themselves don’t get a lot of email and haven’t considered what swimming through clutter is like fro people who get more.
        Some people are just baffling.

      6. Gothic Bee*

        I feel like some people might see it as sending one reply-all “thanks!” from the group which is probably better for the person being thanked than to receive multiple individual “thanks!” emails from everyone (especially if there are a lot of people included on the email). But that doesn’t make sense for every situation, so I wouldn’t reply-all with a thank you unless it was warranted in that specific situation.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      Eh, I think it’s a know-your-situation thing. Where I work it’s just me and my boss. Everyone else is an “outsider”. I rely on those TYs to confirm that the recipient sees my email. Every week or so I have to email a set of information to 4 people. One person- the key person- replies to all with a “thanks”. I do appreciate this because I think the key person gives others the heads up to pay attention to the information they received.

      But there are other times where someone will hit reply to all to my main group of people and chaos follows as everyone jumps in with “stop replying to all”. I did notice something that if you reply to one person that email does not always go to the originator of the email. I can’t explain why this happens but I can see that people are frustrated by not finding the originator’s address so they hit reply to all. (I think originators have some ability to shuffle email addresses. This makes it feel like the originator is Not Accessible and frustration levels go high, FAST.)

    5. Decima Dewey*

      It occurs to me that those doing Reply All want credit for their intentions. But why do I need to know that Fergus in Ultima Thule volunteered, or Wakeen in Outer Mongolia thinks that this is a fabulous idea?

  2. Not always right*

    Letter #1. Would her situation possibly qualify for workmen’s compensation? Just a thought. I’m sure someone in the Ask a Manager community would know.

    1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      Something that never would have occurred to me – they do say they are medical field though, so some of the rules may be different due to the field.

      I am genuinely curious about this though.

      1. Lioness*

        I am also in the medical field. Hospitals are arguing that as long as you wear proper PPE it is not considered a work exposure. That it couldn’t possibly be from work, only from outside.
        It couldn’t possibly be from the hospital, it has a to be a community-acquired exposure. /s

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Wow. If this is not abuse of power, then I dunno what is.
          Step 1 to help employees become disengaged from their work place: You get sick, it’s not because of US.

        2. More anon today*

          Because PPE is absolutely 100% effective in all circumstances and the fit is always 100% perfect and no one ever makes a mistake in wearing/handling it. Yup, sounds legit. /s

        3. Shenandoah*

          Yup, this has also been a family member’s experience with her hospital. She wanted to work another year or two, but is taking retirement in a couple of weeks in part because of stuff like this. It really really sucks.

        4. Elenna*

          Even besides the fact that this is absolute BS, I think LW’s workplace actually told them that they were exposed at work. Not sure how much that means in terms of legal stuff/workman’s compensation though, IANAL.

    2. PollyQ*

      I had the same thought, and a quick google suggests that the answer is “maybe.” According to one article I found, 17 states and DC have extended worker’s comp benefits to cover COVID for first responders and medical providers. (link below). I’d definitely advise LW to do their own research.

        1. Recruited Recruiter*

          Seconded – HR person here, and workers compensation for workplace COVID infection is a state by state thing.

          1. JessaB*

            Which stinks. Really, you get terribly sick at work and in some states you’re not insured for it? Awful.

    3. Melanie Sparks*

      Workers comp covers covid sometimes in my state (Washington). It wouldn’t hurt to try. I’m not in the covid unit at my job but it does exist and health care workers/ first responders/front line personal usually get approved.

      1. EPLawyer*

        Yep. At least contact worker’s comp and ASK. The worst they say is No. Which is not great, but it doesn’t leave you worse off than you are now. There are no major repercussions for asking. If your employer retaliates for asking, that is a whole other mess.

    4. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      But workmen’s comp doesn’t generally cover the time off, does it? I’ve never used it but my understanding is that it covers medical treatment. The letter is asking about having to use their PTO, and neither WC or FMLA would prevent that to my knowledge.

        1. Emily*

          LW #1 should definitely look into Workmans’ Comp (I’d strongly suggest speaking to a Workmans’ Comp attorney). Workmans’ Comp is state law, so it varies by state, but in certain states you can get your medical bills covered and a portion of your lost wages depending on how much time you miss from work.

        2. quill*

          My understanding of workman’s comp comes from AFLAC commercials, but this really sounds like a “figure out the rules for your specific locality, possibly you will need a legal consultation” type of situation.

          1. Emily*

            Yeah, it really varies based on location, and if nothing else a Workman’s’ Comp attorney would be able to give OP #1 more info about Workman’s Comp so at least OP #1 can feel like they have exhausted their options (OP: if you do decide to seek the advice of a Workman’s Comp attorney, make sure you tell the attorney that your employer acknowledged that you were exposed at work, and if that is in writing somewhere, like in an email, I would strongly suggest keeping that, and having a copy with you).

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Even the medical bills, though…. sigh. I just saw an article about one poor woman who had $1M in medical bills because of Covid treatment. She’s a nurse.

        It’s probably in their interest to fight off medical claims.

        1. Irish girl*

          My friend’s wife was 18 weeks pregnant working a non-covid floor as a nurse at a hospital. She had a patient test positive and every nurse who worked with him got Covid including her. She brought home to her family and was sick for 3 week around Christmas. She almost lost they baby at 23 weeks and they think it was from Covid. She ended up in bed rest for 11 week, modified best rest for 3 at home, a long painful birth, baby in the NICU and still after 4 months giving birth can barely walk.

          Oh an her hospital is saying nope, she didnt get Covid from them. Her medical bill are through the roof but she had insurance so it is just the out of pocket max they have to pay for. Not the $600k+ the insurance company is being billed

          1. Elizabeth West*

            Am I permitted to slap this hospital upside the head with a big wet fish? Because they need a good whoopin’. >:(

      2. WishIWasAtTheBeach*

        No workers comp pays both medical and time off a percentage of your salary. She should file for comp. They may deny it but if similar cases in her state have succeeded she may win as well. She should be able to talk to a lawyer and at least find out what her chances of getting it accepted is. The choice is up to the insurance company not her employer.

      3. Shad*

        At least in my state, it (theoretically; proof and variable wages can complicate things) covers lost wages at 2/3 the employee’s average rate, after a week unpaid.
        Because worker’s compensation is handled at the state administrative level, all of the rules and documentation will vary by state, but I’d certainly encourage OP1 to investigate their options.

      4. gsa*

        Workmen’s Compensation covers whatever your attorney can sue for. Hire a Workmen’s Compensation attorney. Even if it was covered, the insurance company is going to offer you way less than your attorney can negotiate.

        Good Luck,


    5. Hmmmm?*

      Don’t the new covid laws passed by Congress (CARES act etc) require employers of a certain size to provide paid sick leave for covid related absences. Not only if you are actually sick, but if you need to quarantine due to exposure or take care of a family member who is sick or needs to quarrel.

      1. Snow Globe*

        Yes, but I think the LW’s employer is getting around that by letting them have negative PTO. So they are being paid for this absence, but will not be able to take any other PTO until they have accrued enough to have positive PTO.

      2. Anonymoose*

        My company also claims exemption to the CARES act, I had a friend who wasn’t even offered the PTO when he got it literally just had to stay unpaid because there’s some health provider loophole.

      3. Not So NewReader*

        The board for the NPO I work with decided to just pay people for sick time due to Covid. Eh, they came to work and took the risk so they deserve the backup support. (No one got sick so far.)

      4. NotRealAnonForThis*

        I don’t know the exact details but the first results I pulled from a search for “are medical providers exempt from the CARES act” seem to show why I vaguely recall hearing that they’re exempt.

        Bunch of bullcrap, don’t get me wrong.

        This whole situation (OP #1) strikes me as a reason to go to local media.

        1. Pointy's in the North Tower*

          It has expired. I’m a state employee, and my agency sent an email saying the state chose not to extend benefits beyond the 31 December 2021 deadline. So should we need to quarantine or end up sick with Covid, it comes from our leave bank or we take it unpaid once we use all our leave.

    6. WC Paralegal*

      Others have pointed out that workers’ comp law varies from state to state anyway, but I would point out additionally that COVID is still so new that many states likely don’t have provisions in their state legislature/overseeing workers’ comp laws and guidelines to contemplate COVID contraction and resulting symptoms; at best, the provisions are nebulous.

      It would surprise me if any local firm that practices workers’ comp didn’t provide a free consult, so it wouldn’t hurt for OP to look into – but know that even a “basic” injury can still be a very long and arduous process depending on case by case facts in tandem with which insurance company the employer gets their insurance through and any firm that insurance company hires to represent them.

      1. SpaceySteph*

        Short Term Disability typically has an exclusion period (ranging from 3 days to 10 in my personal experience, and that’s business days so weekends excluded). By the time OP gets through the exclusion period, most or all of their exclusion period would likely be over. This is by design, as its not intended for use every time you get a cold/flu/pandemic virus, but rather for longer-lasting issues.

        Also when I went on STD I had to write a check to my employer to cover the employee paid portion of my benefits usually withheld from my paycheck since its essentially LWOP from my employer’s perspective. It’s a crappy system, but almost certainly too much work for what would amount to (at most) 3 days of paid leave, unless OP has severe complications from Covid and has to take off much longer than their 10-day quarantine (which I hope given their vaccinated status they do not experience).

        1. SpaceySteph*

          Sorry that’s supposed to be by the time they get through the exclusion, most/all of their covid quarantine would be over.

        2. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

          The 2 week period sounded similar to my spouse having to go on STD for an RSI, but with more details I can see it’s not as similar as I thought. I appreciate you taking the suggestion seriously enough to explain it.

      2. Seashells*

        When my husband got COVID last March, his HR person called him at home and helped him sign up for STD. He got paid for all the time he was off, but I don’t know if that’s possible for everyone thought. We’re in Georgia and he works for a carpet manufacturer.

    7. Quickbeam*

      This is my field and yes, in my state it would definitely be covered under WC. Especially if the employer acknolwedged that the transmission was at work! In general, disease claims are harder to make as someone could have gotten scabies or chicken pox anywhere. But in the current pandemic many states have shifted their burden of proof expecially for workers in the health field.

      WC law is state to state so it bears looking at. In my state and the other states I am licensed to practice in, your time off would be covered by the WC carrier and all your medical treatment.

    8. Lucy P*

      This may be a state-by-state, industry-by-industry thing. However, my state passed a law last year that employers could not be held responsible for infections unless they knowingly and willfully exposed a person to it.
      On the other hand, depending on the state (again) LW1 may be eligible for unemployment for the time they had to take off. We recently had a coworker who was exposed to COVID outside of work. They did not have enough PTO to cover their quarantine period. They filed for, and received, unemployment compensation for the 5 days of work they missed.

      1. PT*

        My state’s law is such that every business has a sign out front: According to State Law, the owners of this premises are not responsible for any cases of COVID contracted onsite. You are entering the premises at your own risk.

        Apartment buildings, stores, restaurants, privately owned parks, shopping malls, etc.

    9. Payroll Lady*

      I came here to say, she should be able to collect under worker’s comp especially since she was notified by work she was exposed. This has come up many times through out COVID. Why the company wouldn’t comply with the new regulations regarding paying employees for COVID and taking the tax credit for it.(sorry can not remember the acronym for the CARES replacement) Unfortunately, when it was renewed in March, it became voluntary instead of mandatory and is only effective through 9.30.21

      1. Anonymoose*

        I’ve been asking myself that too like seriously why are you nickel and diming me I get incredible reviews I’m a really like solid employee it’s so insane that this is their hill to die on

    10. PSU RN*

      No nurse that I know personally who has contracted covid at work (covid ICU, med/surg covid floor) has been approved for any workmans comp claim despite attempting to file. All hospitals and workman’s comp state it cannot be proven that the covid was contracted at work. No assistance for any nurse covid long haulers that have tirelessly cared for hundreds of critically ill covid patients. As you can imagine, this is contributing to the massively understaffed, overworked, overwhelmed, and unsupported nurses at your local hospital. I fear for the future of hospital healthcare-we have lost so many experienced nurses these past few years. And the nurses that are left are drained and demoralized.

      1. Anonymoose*

        Short term disability only kicks in after an exclusion knock on wood I won’t need it and will be okay by the time my quarantine is over! I’m pretty sure this is becoming a I’m just not going to be paid situation :( if I take them up on the PTO offer then leave I’d end up paying them for the privilege of being sick. There’s no winning unless I leave I guess.

    11. Anon Supervisor*

      Depends on the state. In my state, the governor put a law in place stating “front line” workers (police, fire, EMT, nurses, MD’s) do not have to prove explicitly that they got COVID from an exposure at work, since it’s statistically more likely that the nature of their work would expose them to more people with COVID than most other workers.

  3. jm*

    LW 5, i am with you. the amount of coworkers–most of them millenials who should know better–who hit reply all for everything was a continual source of irritation. i ended up turning off outlook notifications and making liberal use of “ignore this email thread”.

    1. Panhandlerann*

      I am on a committee consisting entirely of retired folks who reply to all about everything. I am certain, however, that plenty in the same age group don’t do so. Whether we’re speaking of millennials or boomers or any other demographic, overgeneralizations aren’t helpful or fair.

      1. John Smith*

        Well said. A while ago a staff member accidentally sent an email to everyone in the organisation (over 15,000 people). The deluge of totally unnecessary reply alls (“why am I getting this email?”) which descended into something like a group chat and nearly crashed the system. These were from a wide range of people, not just people of a particular age group.

        It did however raise in my mind how some people are let near email systems. Some people responded to other peoples’ questions (on reply all) making the situation worse and completely ignored the “PLEASE STOP REPLYING TO ALL!!!!” emails that popped up which invariably lead to a number of people pointing out the use of all caps is like shouting (whether they were winding others up I don’t know). Even funnier (and somewhat worrying) were the people who asked if anyone else was receiving these emails or if it was just them!

        Probably the funniest 30 minutes of work time I’ve had.

        1. Keymaster of Gozer*

          In a former firm, we had over 45,000 employees in one country and somehow the ‘all company’ mailing list hadn’t been locked down.

          One person sent an all-company email about his cheating wife (who worked in another department) demanding she be fired.

          The resultant ‘unsubscribe’, ‘remove me from the mailing list’ etc wave took us in IT a LONG time to fix. As in ‘turning off all email and gutting the servers to remove it’ stuff. Respondants were from all across the company and age groups.

          1. WoodswomanWrites*

            Wow, what an email to accidentally send to thousands of people. Sounds like a nightmare for you to have to fix. I’m curious what the outcome of that mess was for the sender.

            1. TechWorker*

              Tbh it sounds like the sender fully intended to send to thousands of people with the intent of shaming his wife?

              1. Airy*

                Sounds like it, but maybe it backfired in terms of, well, possibly getting fired for making their personal problems everyone’s business in a really disruptive way?

          2. Expiring Cat Memes*

            Ha, at least your team bothered to fix it!

            We had someone email the whole org list advertising his personal holiday rental. Only 5,000 staff, but still. After hundreds of ‘why am I getting this’, ‘unsubscribe’, ‘STOP REPLYING ALL!’ replies and increasingly livid responses, the smart arses in our IT department just started replying all with gems like “bike has sold sorry, but birdcage is still available if you’re interested”.

            1. quill*

              You can’t win with reply all, because for every one of these comes with a “hey, I think I got dropped from the email with the technical specs for the flower watering system. It is not part of this thread.”

        2. LC*

          I saw one of these in my first few months at a 75k person company. Took a day and a half for that thread to be locked down. As someone who got maybe three or four emails a week, that was … a little overwhelming, lol.

          Most attributes with 200+ people were restricted based on your role and all of them made you confirm “You really want to send this to 9,500 people?” before you could send, so I still have no idea how that happened.

      2. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

        Agreed. Reply All misuse is a human failing, not a millennial one.

      3. EPLawyer*

        URGH. I am also in an org. where there is a large age range and diverse work backgrounds. We get sent something like “hey the policies and procedures manual is available for download.” Invariably we got the “thanks for sending this” and “received.”

        Guess who is most likely to hit reply all? Those with professional backgrounds. Because no email must go unacknowledged. UGH.

      4. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

        Yeah, misuse of “Reply All” seems to be intergenerational. I have seen fails from ages 10-80+ if you include friends/family/work/volunteering.

    2. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Re: “ignore this email thread”
      I don’t dare use that — I work with too many people who change subject without changing the subject line. Worse yet, sometimes they add questions/tasks for me after a long paragraph about the unrelated thread I’m on so I at least have to scan the thing for my name.

      1. Sssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssss*

        +1 on that one. I hate when they change the subject and it’s not in a new email. It makes filing the emails later harder too.

      2. Koalafied*

        Yes, I’ve definitely been burned by this. And it’s not like, “Sorry, these emails were mostly irrelevant and there were so many of them coming in that I was filtering them straight to archive without reading them,” is a valid excuse. People (for better or worse) have an expectation that if they email you, you’ll read it, and nobody is going to just accept that you get so much email you can’t possibly be expected to read all of it (with some exception to this sometimes made for very senior/busy staff). If your filter caused you to miss an important email, that’s on you, not the people who cried wolf by sending you 15,000 irrelevant emails before sneaking in 1 relevant one under the same subject line.

    3. Rayray*

      Keep in mind Millenials are 26-40 years old. We aren’t Pimple faced clueless infants in our first ever job.

      In my experience, it’s anyone from any generation that does this. Sometimes it’s an honest mistake, and sometimes it’s not. At my current job, my irritation is in the people who insist every single email be marked important and it’s the people who are 45+ that insist we hit reply-all when they send some sort of group email.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        It’s best just to say “people” rather than point to a particular group.

        A wise person told Young Me watch out for statements that are generalities, these statements are usually wrong and it reflects poorly on the speaker (meaning me or anyone else) in the end.

    4. Esmeralda*


      Please. This is not a millenials thing. People of every age do this. And why would millenials “know better” in particular? In private life/personal email, reply-all is probably less of an issue. But EVERYONE *working* should know.

      My office of about two dozen has people from mid twenties to pushing 70. The reply-all abuse is spread evenly.

    5. Mental Lentil*

      most of them millenials who should know better

      Let’s just stop. (If you’re going to nit pick things that “people of a certain age” should know better, then it is “number of coworkers” not “amount of coworkers”. Everybody makes mistakes, regardless of age or experience.)

    6. Allura Vysoren*

      I wanted to say that this depends on your office culture. In my company, hitting reply-all just to say “Thanks!” is entirely normal, common, and expected. It’s extremely annoying and I hate it, but it’s what we do. I think the idea is that everyone involved will know the issue is wrapped up, but really it just results in cluttered inboxes and people ignoring emails because they think someone else in the chain is going to answer the questions.

    7. Maestra*

      I once sent out an email to about 40 times the amount of people I wanted to. I figured it out right away and sent a quick reply all to my email saying I was sorry it was an accident, and and to just ignore it.

      The email was in reference to a talent show my school was going to have, and I will say, I got some of the funniest replies, being only replies and not reply alls. Many people wanted to participate in the talent show even though they weren’t at my school. I was so glad people had a sense of humor about it, or it could have easily ended up as a mortified at work post.

  4. Where’s the Orchestra?*

    I had an acquaintance once do something similar to OP4, and when asking said that while the would have loved to convalesce and heal with no distractions, unfortunately grocery stores and landlords did not accept IOU’s. Thus they needed to resign from this job and find something less rigorous. Would former manager be willing to please serve as a reference for them under these circumstances.

    Feel free to tweak the language as needed, but do also give the office portion manager time, they may be having a crazy week at work and just haven’t had a chance yet to read the request, much less reply.

    1. BubbleTea*

      It sounds like the job LW4 resigned from is a weekend role, in addition to an unpaid internship. It makes sense to me that they would be looking for a single paying job rather than multiple jobs that either don’t pay, or don’t pay enough, in order to reduce stress.

      1. quill*

        Yeah. Also some jobs don’t have physical components, and other jobs do. A reasonable boss should conclude that the exact circumstances behind resigning for medical reasons and still needing A Job are between the worker and their doctor.

  5. staceyizme*

    LW1- consult an attorney. It’s unlikely to be productive, but it can’t hurt to check. Especially if they take your case on contingency of winning. Also- maybe “anonymously”/ “on purpose” notify the media. Let them experience the media and social media hit to their brand. It means nothing coming from an internet random commentator, but I truly am so sorry that this has happened to you and is playing out so poorly!

    1. MicroManagered*

      I was actually wondering if OP1’s employer might be in violation of OSHA’s new emergency procedure and was surprised no one has mentioned it.

      1. Elysian*

        Agreed, came here to mention this. If OP1 is a health care worker they’re likely covered by OSHA’s new requirements for that group, which currently includes requiring paid leave for occupational exposure to COVID-19.

        1. Elysian*

          On second thought, they’re probably meeting the requirements of the ETS by letting you go negative on your leave – the requirement is that you get paid, but they can require you to use PTO. Ugh, I’m sorry OP, this sucks.

    2. Anonymoose*

      I really wanted to come at this without an attorney first I sent them an email with all the facts, no response so far but it’s only been a day want to give them the opportunity to do the right thing still.

    3. Another health care worker*

      This exact thing happened at a hospital in my region (not my hospital), and the affected nurse discussed it with local media. The hospital then reversed its policy. During the reporting on the story, it was also revealed that no other local hospital was doing this, which probably helped with the pressure.

      My own hospital initially had language saying that we’d be covered for Covid exposures that occurred at work, but then I notice the “at work” part was removed later. I think this is fair, since there’s really no definitive way to prove where one of us might have been exposed…but chances are high that it was at work.

      1. Anonymoose*

        Going to the media really scares me this is a small niche field and I don’t want to torpedo my career. Speaking up to help others would be great but I’m terrified it’ll turn me into a pariah who won’t be able to be hired anywhere.

        1. Another health care worker*

          You know your situation best, but I can just speak to local conditions here, which may be similar where you are: there’s a staffing shortage basically everywhere. Hospitals _do not_ want to lose good staff. People are not exactly clamoring to treat Covid. You’d be snapped up in a second somewhere else.

          The nurse who reported it for this story I mentioned remained anonymous, though I hear you that you feel you’d be easily identified.

          1. Anonymoose*

            I’m not a nurse or in a hospital, more allied health but I have scheduled three interviews in the last two days. I have no intention to stay if they do me like that.

      2. staceyizme*

        I like this! Maybe survey some others in the same boat within and outside of your org? (When you’re up to it or via help from your network.) That might give a little leverage.

    4. Anonymoose*

      Update- just spoke to an attorney who flat out told me there’s no case here, apparently you have to be sick 21 days and hospitalized for there to be a case so it’s actually pretty great I don’t qualify I guess but man still a bummer all around.

      1. staceyizme*

        Maybe the media route? Might not work immediately, but could work if the policy changes and they give you back pay.

  6. Jamie Starr*

    OP#1 – some states do have laws that require employers to grant paid covid sick leave. Not sure where you’re located, but may be worth doing an internet search to see if your state is one of them. (New York, for example, has laws that require paid sick leave as well as paid time off for getting vaccinated and recovery from adverse side effects.)

    1. Anonymoose*

      Of course this is in Florida where Covid isn’t real and I’m crazy to even think I could have it

      1. Anthony J Crowley*

        Oh no :( I’m so sorry you’re having to deal with this. You are completely in the right, don’t let them convince you otherwise!

        1. Anonymoose*

          Seriously just hearing strangers agree with me is helpful as dumb as that sounds I felt like weird and entitled for fighting this as hard as I am

      2. Yay, I’m a Llama Again!*

        I don’t have anything helpful to say, but I wish you weren’t in such a situation! I’m in UK with an employer who seems to have taken it very seriously. I can’t get my head around places still not thinking it’s real after a year of it!

      3. RabbitRabbit*

        Dr. Peter Hotez from Baylor recently said that Florida and Louisiana may have the highest transmission rates in the whole world, but I’m not sure what that means because he’s just a stupid infectious disease/vaccine specialist and they got all their real news from social media rantings by their sister’s boyfriend’s great aunt who used to be a nurse’s assistant. /s

        Anyway, my sympathies.

        1. Anonymoose*

          Yeah watching news about people trying to stop masks in schools like y’all I almost certainly got this from a little kid who missed their first week of school and I bet it would’ve gone better for everyone if we all had masks on :( it’s so sad to me that people are using their children as pawns like I’ve seen what happens now all of this is tragic and awful I’m just thankful I seem to be okay I’m miserable but not nearly as bad as I always assumed I’d be if I got it, I absolutely think the vaccine is saving my life currently tbh.

  7. Public Servent*

    Workers comp covers covid sometimes in my state (Washington). It wouldn’t hurt to try. I’m not in the covid unit at my job but it does exist and health care workers/ first responders/front line personal usually get approved.

    1. Observer*

      I was thinking the same thing. Doesn’t solve the whole problem, but it does mean that you have a way to end the meal.

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Yes! It sounds like the OP is hoping not to do another lunch at all, but if another situation like that does come up, you can say, “I’m about to be late for a meeting, so I’ve got to leave right now,” put down your share of the bill, and go.

    3. Derivative Poster*

      Easier said than done if you carpooled – there are places where you can’t count on taking public transportation or a rideshare back to the office.

      1. Myrin*

        Sure, but OP might not be in such a situation and if that’s the case, it’s helpful to hear and internalise Kara’s comment.

      2. Workerbee*

        Then OP needs to be far more firm, pay for her own meal, and start walking out to the car and let coworker scurry after. Seriously. If that coworker doesn’t respect anybody at the org, including the OP (or she would respect her time), then OP needs to focus on not jeopardizing her own job and standing.

      3. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

        If that is the case the OP can just decline the invitation or be the driver (if possible). That way she can say, “I have got to be back at X time” And when X-t rolls around say, “I’ve got to get back, can you get that to go?”

    4. Dark Macadamia*

      I figured they had carpooled somewhere so LW was either stuck waiting for their ride or felt bad stranding Coworker without one. It does offer another excuse, though! “I’m sorry, it was really stressful last time when I was late for that meeting. I’ve realized I’m more comfortable staying here/doing lunch on my own so I don’t have to worry about getting back on time/rushing you”

      1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        Oooh, I like it. OP is coming across as being thoughtful to ALL the coworkers (including the terrible one), while still drawing a firm line.

    5. Expiring Cat Memes*

      Yep. Sounds like OP is far more worried about the bridge they possibly might singe by trying to keep it professional than ALL THE BRIDGES colleague has already poured kerosene over by being that unprofessional. Complaining about managers in front of leadership – in the first 2 weeks? Wow.

      Distance sounds necessary. And what’s the worst that’ll happen, she’ll become a roadblock, or complain about OP like she does about everyone else already? No one will take her seriously.

      1. EPLawyer*

        She’s probably already complaining about OP. If someone complains TO YOU about others, they are complaining ABOUT YOU to others.

        Best thing you can do is be professional. Cordial but not friendly. You have to talk about non work sometimes otherwise it will be odd that you only talk about work with this one person. By work I mean, things you share at work, not her complaining. But definitely set up boundaries. HARD ONES. Because this type of person will constantly test them. If you MUST go to lunch with her, declare work off limits as “I use the time to decompress so I can hit the afternoon with strong energy.” If she then launches into her personal life, change the topic, “So did you see that movie streaming right now? Can you believe they cast HER as the lead.” Or whatever. “How ’bout them [insert sport team here]” often works even if you don’t like sports.

        1. Eldritch Office Worker*

          Yep. Befriending the office gossip is not the protection spell some people think it is.

      2. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        This does bring to my memory the times when I had a terrible coworker wanting to be friends with me. I remember wanting distance so others in the office wouldn’t assume that we are *both* terrible people and that’s why we’re friends. (And, of course, for other reasons, such as she was objectively awful and I did not want to be in her company ever.)

        1. TootsNYC*

          this is such an important point.
          It’s hard to do with someone who’s so pushy, but you do get viewed through that lense.

    6. Not Tom, Just Petty*

      I want to add to this, OP if you feel you have to go with her, drive yourself.
      Say at the beginning you need to take separate cars because you have to be back.
      Have your keys in you hand and don’t let It become a debate.

    7. PoppySeeds*

      You know I have found that these kinds of people take advantage of social protocols. While they expect you to follow them they do not. They seem to cross all kinds of lines that have you saying things like “I’m sorry” when you say no and giving excuses when you don’t own them one. You need to keep in mind that you do not need to give explanations for your negative or positive responses. No, I will not be able to have lunch with you thank you for asking – that is it. maintain eye contact and be firm and resist the urge to explain anything.

    8. pony tailed wonder*

      I would suggest countering her complaints about other people by saying things like “Oh, I think Bob is a great co-worker” or “Mary is a good friend of mine and I don’t appreciate you saying that about her”. When you can disagree positively about her whining and complaints, it will get harder and harder for her to vent to you.

  8. Observer*

    #1 – You’ve just provided a perfect example of why people come in to work sick, and often without informing people of their illness.

    Your company is being terrible.

    1. Anonymoose*

      It’s really sad I love my job I love the people I work with this is actually the second company who has been nuts through all this and it’s like I could have not told them but I would never knowingly spread this to more people even if apparently that tanks my career. It’s so nice to see such support here I feel like I’m losing my mind.

  9. Kara*

    #1 Not sure it’s helpful to make throwaway statements about unionising. Lots of healthcare providers ARE in unions and it’s not some kind of panacea. I would suggest that OP talks to their union if they are in one, as they might be.

    1. John Smith*

      I think the point Alison was making is that unions are needed to protect workers, which they do (though my union recently leaves a lot to be desired). Didn’t really see it as a throwaway statement or being unhelpful.

    2. Anonymoose*

      There is actually not a union for my field- there have been talks of unionizing for a few years and I absolutely support them at this point this is the third time I’ve seen horrendous things happen in my personal experience with Covid at a job in this field and it’s getting insane. I have a theory it’s a we’re a helping profession so have to be martyrs thing but I’m over it.

    3. Anon-mama*

      So, I’m in a union, and once you’re out of paid leave, the most they can do is help us keep our jobs and get “leave without pay” or unpaid FMLA approved. The only hope is for coworkers to donate vacation time (but not their sick time for some nonsense reason).

      OP should take a careful look at the contract. Are you in a disability insurance scheme? We’re not even offered that.

      1. doreen*

        Unions are often not able to get immediate changes like getting a company to grant extra paid leave for a pandemic – but sometimes they can and they can also often change things for the future. The unions at my employer managed to get an exemption to the leave cap in 2020 and 2021. Usually on a specific date all balances above 300 hours disappear. But because it was difficult to take time off, the unions got the caps lifted – which meant in this case, they were also lifted for non-union employees. One union I belonged to managed to negotiate an agreement that if anyone at my agency tested positive for TB, it would be presumed to be a work-related exposure and eligible for worker’s comp.

        1. Pilcrow*

          Came to same this. Unionizing isn’t really actionable advice. Maybe 5 years from now it would help, but not in time to do any good for the OP.

      2. EPLawyer*

        Oh hey, short term disability. Even if not in a union this might be an option. It’s not full pay but it beats nothing.

        1. All the words*

          Good suggestion. I believe my company’s STL kicks after a 5 day absence. That’s pretty standard, isn’t it?

    4. Ampersand*

      +1 I encourage anyone considering unionizing / joining a union to investigate thoroughly the leadership and find out what they are doing with the Millions and Billions in dues they collect and don’t spend on members.

    5. Mental Lentil*

      Because unions used to be a lot stronger, and they were better able to protect their members.

      It’s not really about whether your workplace is unionized. It’s about how many workers total are protected by unions. A few unions here and there are far less effective than if most workers are protected by unions.

    6. Anonymoose*

      One reason I’ve personally sought out unionizing the field I’m in is because most companys don’t even offer health insurance to my job- the fact that this one offers PTO at all is sadly really exciting. We are overworked and underpaid and given ridiculously terrible benefits, and in my eyes it’s our clients who suffer. Like now I am almost certainly going to leave this job how could I stay? And replacing me is extremely difficult not even being vain the experience and passion I have is a rarity in a field that pretty much punishes you for it. Strongly pro union in this specific job circumstance.

    7. quill*

      Unionizing is a long term solution (to not quite everything) but given that the same contingent who thinks Covid is not real is the one that’s been busting unions in america for decades? Especially in public service fields including healthcare? Allison’s comment is less a throwaway than a reminder that it is still possible to unionize and that even if it doesn’t help LW immediately, it may help down the line: for example, as exposures in LW’s workplace climb or if LW (knock on wood that they don’t) has long term covid complications.

      It’s far more actionable than the constant shock from northwestern europe that the USA doesn’t get guaranteed leaves, etc.

      1. banoffee pie*

        As far as I know most healthcare workers are in unions here (UK) and there have still been a lot of complaints that they haven’t been well treated through the pandemic. The gov tried to get off with giving them only 1 per cent pay rise; gov had to back down and offer a bit more eventually.

        1. Anonymoose*

          We’re allied health not like what one immediately pictures when they picture healthcare workers like I had to fight to get the vaccine in the first wave here despite providing in person medically necessary services it’s really frustrating I swear we’re only considered healthcare workers when it’s used to harm us at this point

  10. I'm The Phoebe in Any Group*

    #1 I’ve been thinking for awhile that catching COVID at work is a workers comp issue. Your situation is so clearly a case. I wonder what would happen if people starting applying?

    1. a developer*

      From what I heard: They’re all immediately denied, it will be argued that it can’t be proven COVID was contracted at work, so it’s not a valid worker’s comp claim.

  11. Jovigirl*

    #1 Let me start out by saying that in a perfect world I am all for unlimited sick days and think the LW should be paid. However, I’m curious as to why people think sick time policies for Covid should be different than any other contagious illness you catch at work. Thoughts?

      1. Cat Tree*

        Yep, serious enough to have a death rate 10 times the annual flu and to lower life expectancy by a year. Also, it shouldn’t be different in that other illnesses should *also* allow sufficient paid sick leave, especially anything contagious.

    1. Storm in a teacup*

      Because it’s a contagious illness and if you work in a healthcare setting you have a duty of care to your patients to protect them from COVID so they should be making it easy for staff to not work when infected. They also of course have a duty of care to their staff which in this case they have clearly failed on and thus she should not being punished as it were for needing to take time off to stop being infectious.

      1. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

        Honestly, though, this should be true of any contagious illness in a healthcare setting. Flu, norovirus, rhinoviruses, etc. that are usually not serious in healthy people can be really dangerous in people who are not healthy or are healthy with conditions that might compromise their health (e.g. pregnancy). Of all places, healthcare setting should be encouraging those with something contagious to stay home for the sake of their patients.

        Tl;Dr: COVID shouldn’t be a special case. If staff can transmit something to patients, even something mild, they should be able to stay home with pay

        1. raintree*

          Agreed. COVID has become a special case due to the atrociusly poor PTO conditions in the US

    2. UKgreen*

      I agree, actually. This isn’t about ‘COVID’ per se. It’s about a) injuries received at work – for which the injured party is not to blame and should not be penalised and b) ensuring people who are too unwell to work (for whatever reason- be that contagious to others or not) are not forced to attend work.

      I’m in the UK, and for YEARS we have been complaining about folk who turn up at work like brave martyrs despite having been up all night with the raging D&V, or a streaming cold, or ‘I’m sure it’s not really chickenpox…’ and then infect the rest of the workplace. It seems that here, at least, the pandemic might just have knocked ‘coming to work when sick’ on the head, finally.

      1. I'm just here for the cats*

        Ive heard somewhere why companies don’t treat COVID the same as a work injury is because you can’t 100% prove that you got COVID at work and not from other daily activities or from household members. That’s completely insane of course but their thought is that with an injury you know exactly what happened because their would be an incident report. But being that the company told OP that she was exposed then they need to pay her without taking her PTO

        1. quill*

          That’s pretty egregious when OP works in health care. You would think that “this hospital has x number of cases” or “confirmed covid case in my patient load” would be a pretty provable chain of exposure…

    3. Keymaster of Gozer*

      Simply because this is the exceptional circumstance of a global outbreak of a highly transmissable and very deadly virus.

      We’ve simply had nothing like this in living memory.

    4. Forrest*

      I don’t see why it should be different — it would be an equally terrible policy if OP had to take time off unpaid to deal with an HIV or hepatitis exposure, or an broken limb or a strained back or whatever.

    5. Lioness*

      I am also in the medical field. Hospitals are arguing that as long as you wear proper PPE it is not considered a work exposure. That it couldn’t possibly be from work, only from outside../s

    6. Anonymoose*

      My argument I made to my company is that I have followed every single guideline and we know for a fact I was exposed in the exact time frame I got symptoms and I absolutely would it have been around that person had I not been fulfilling work duties, if there wasn’t such a clear and obvious timeline I would not be pushing so hard

      1. Ashley*

        This can be risky eclairs your job could retaliate but I would turn in a workers comp claim and have a lawyer on standby. I say this knowing it is full of privilege to afford the risk, but it isn’t a company or field I would want to keep risking my life if I had any other choices.

        1. Observer*

          It’s illegal to retaliate for filing a workers comp claim. So the question for the OP is “Is you company simply terrible or are they also willing to do illegal things?”

      2. InsecureManager*

        Fellow Floridian here –
        The workman’s comp amendment for COVID states that you are possibly eligible for workman’s comp if exposed at work. It’s on the company and state to prove you weren’t, not you to prove you were. Directive 20-05.

        1. Anonymoose*

          Thanks so much for that information! I’m waiting to hear back now- I sent an email to HR outlining the date I was fully vaccinated and the date of exposure vs date I got sick and asked for how we move forward without using my PTO, Alison got back to me and they still haven’t somehow but I will research that more!

          1. BRR*

            I would call to follow up on the email. Of course confirming anything after via email but its harder to ignore a call than an email.

    7. Nelly*

      I think it’s the same reason we are using masks to protect ourselves and others from COVID and not from the common flu. Or why we are closing businesses, having people to quarantine or have lock downs all over the world. Someone somewhere (actually, a lot of highly intelligent people all around the world) have determined that COVID is different from other ilnesses and should be, and is, treated differently. Hope that helps.

    8. Empress Ki*

      Because we have to self-isolate 10 days. It is the law (at least in my country). I won’t be fined if I get out of my house with any other illness.

      1. JustaTech*

        This. In the US there are virtually no other situations where you are required to quarantine for infectious disease – I can think of one case of a guy with the measles who was spreading it, and one guy with active and drug-resistant TB who was going out of his way to avoid treatment and spread it to other people.

        That’s 2 people.

        COVID quarantine is thousands of people.

    9. Emilia Bedelia*

      COVID should be treated differently because we should be incentivizing people to do everything they can to reduce the spread. It is extra burdensome because of the long quarantine period as well – where you might stay home for 2 days for a cold, COVID requires much more time off. Therefore people are already incentivized to not report so that they can continue to work. Many people do not get enough PTO to cover a 2 week quarantine period.

      To put it bluntly, the common cold is not a public health concern – COVID is. If we want people to stay home when they have COVID we need to reward this behavior. Money works better as an incentive than personal responsibility/guilt/sense of public service.

    10. anonymath*

      Sick time for COVID for *healthcare workers* right now needs to be treated somewhat differently because of the high likelihood of getting exposed and the requirements for quarantine. As someone married to a physician, it’s his job exposing him, his job setting the rules about quarantine, and his job determining whether or not he can work from home — so it’s his job that should be dealing with this. They finally have figured it out but even in Nov 2020 they were telling him he needed to be off for 20 days (!!!!) because someone in our household had confirmed covid. (The idea was 10 days for family member, 10 days for spouse. On the face of it sounds reasonable but it’s actually pretty nuts in practice.) There is no other illness like this: HIV, hepatitis, MRSA, C diff, cutaneous syphilis, tuberculosis — they’re all sorta different than COVID. In particular if spouse were to get any of these it would be less likely that patients would be in danger if proper precautions were taken.

    11. Observer*

      However, I’m curious as to why people think sick time policies for Covid should be different than any other contagious illness you catch at work.

      If someone caught something at work, and it’s pretty clear that that’s what happened, then there really SHOULD be an obligation on the employer to pay for that sick time. Especially in a field where there is a significant risk to not only the other staff, but also a large number of customers. Another example is making people in food service – specifically people who actually handle food and deal face to face with the public – when they are contagious. There have been significant disease outbreaks that have been tied directly to this kind of policy.

      Covid is worse because it’s a highly contagious pandemic level health emergency. Furthermore, at this point there are a lot of things that companies can do to reduce the risk that someone will get infected at work, so they bear an even greater responsibility when someone gets sick at work.

    12. Anonymoose*

      Another super fun detail I left out is they asked me to continue services in the quarantined home because I’m vaccinated, and did not require I test or quarantine to continue working because I’m vaccinated. It all feels literally insane like if I was in that house would they pay me now? I feel like I’m in a dystopian nightmare

    13. Daisy-dog*

      Many companies provide only 2-5 days/year for sick time. With Covid, you need to isolate for at least 10 days after symptoms first appear.

    14. Koala dreams*

      Actually, I think many people are pro more sick time for contagious disease in general. Right now we have experienced the covid pandemic. If there would be a measles pandemic, or any other illness, I imagine people would react much the same.

    15. HannahS*

      Everything that everyone else has said, but also:

      It’s ALREADY the case that different illnesses are treated differently by public health and by healthcare institutions. We already collectively acknowledge that some disease are riskier than others, both in terms of how contagious they are and in terms of their consequences to colleagues and patients. If I have an exposure with an HIV+ patient, the procedure is VERY different than an exposure to an influenza patient. An HIV exposure involves mandatory testing and protected time for prophylactic treatment; a pneumonia exposure does not. COVID being treated differently is in keeping with the existing management of communicable diseases.

      I would also argue that many other communicable illnesses should be treated like COVID, going forward. It seems crazy, in retrospect, how often me and other healthcare workers would drag ourselves to work sick. We’re already at higher risk of getting ill ourselves, and the dangers of us passing on whatever we have to our patients are greater than in the general working population.

    16. quill*

      Because overwhelmingly this is a virus that is so spreadable and ubiquitous that if you’re working in healthcare, it’s basically impossible to get the same amount of exposure outside of work. OP and other workers are just playing viral roulette at work. Overall it’s in our best interests to give special treatment to plague victims just so they spread the plague less.

    17. Elsajeni*

      I think one key reason is that there are actual quarantine requirements for COVID that there aren’t for most illnesses. If I get a regular old cold, my employer’s policy is: they encourage me to stay home while I’m sick. Maybe there should be a policy that I must stay home for a minimum number of days or “until no longer symptomatic” or something like that, but there isn’t — it’s completely up to me how sick is sick enough to stay home and how soon I come back. If I get COVID, I am required to stay home for a minimum of 10 days — longer if I have symptoms that persist or if anyone else in my house also gets it — and I have to fill out a form and wait for written approval before I’m allowed to come back to the office. My employer has pretty generous leave policies by US standards, but following that quarantine procedure would use half of my sick days at the bare minimum, and could easily use up all of my sick time for the year. If you’re going to adopt a policy that requires your employees to use their sick time in particular ways, it only makes sense that you should also adjust the amount of sick time you’re providing so that it’s actually possible to follow your quarantine policies.

  12. JM60*

    Letter #1 is why (partly) we need need vaccine mandates in workplaces to the extent possible (staff, customers, etc, who have no medical reason to not get vaccinated, in countries where the vaccine is readily available). Hospitals may not be able to turn away their “customers” who are unvaccinated (who are disproportionately their customers nowadays), but many business can and should. Some people oppose employer vaccine mandates on the grounds of bodily autonomy, but I think that being exposed to SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID) at work is a greater bodily autonomy issue than getting a safe and effective vaccine.

    There would still be some transmission even if everyone get vaccinated. But even with delta, it would be much, much less than with unvaccinated people around.

    1. Anonymoose*

      I completely agree! The place I’m certain I got it is somewhere I am sent by my company but we do not control, the staff there are pretty openly anti vaccine and the children are too young for it for the most part and not wearing masks. Fight your state to require masks in schools y’all it’s wild out there!!

      1. Dust Bunny*

        Our cowardly governor has “banned” mask mandates in schools but districts keep flipping him the figurative bird and instituting them, anyway.

        1. Anonymoose*

          This was not a public school but it was a large group of children in a space similar to a public school where masks aren’t required, the person who probably exposed me was a child, it’s tragic they’re too young for the vaccine they don’t have a choice

      1. Minerva*

        At my old job, there were many reminders to BCC, don’t hit Reply All, discussions of limiting access to the All Associates distribution list, etc. But the real solution would be to disable the Vice Chairman’s ability to Reply All, as 95% of the time it was him…

  13. Ganymede*

    Best way to avoid Reply All is to send the emails to yourself and put ALL recipients in BCC. Say in the email that it’s going to the whole group, for transparency.

    I find only about 1 out of 10 replies are Reply All.

  14. Akcipitrokulo*

    OP3 – it does occur that as they are just out of college, they may have fallen victim to advice from a career counsellor or similar… “Send everything you have! It will show how enthusiastic you are!”

    1. Forrest*

      It’s far more likely that they *didn’t* speak to a careers adviser, and are just trying to “stand out” based on advice they read in the media or on LinkedIn! We spend a lot of time talking students and graduates out of bad ideas in favour of “read the instructions, tailor your application to the person specification”. :)

      1. Akcipitrokulo*

        Absolutely many of you do! Just seen a few letters to aam about the ones that don’t.

        But yes, media articles that say they are from experts have a lot to answer for!

        1. Eldritch Office Worker*

          I’m guilty of attending my grad school’s recommended career center lectures despite having a steady job just to see if their advice is Alison approved. (It usually is! Maybe a little outdated, they do still recommend objective lines)

          1. SheLooksFamiliar*

            One of the best bits of advice I ever heard was from a co-worker during a company-wide layoff. She told me, ‘Your resume is written about you, but not for you. Write it for the hiring manager or whoever makes decisions at the employer. Give them what they need so they’ll want to interview you.’

            Yeah, I re-wrote my resume. It lacked my personality but I got interviews.

    2. SheLooksFamiliar*

      A lot of applicants load attachments to the application, from early-career/recent grads to executive levels. If our ATS won’t allow multiple attachments, our recruiters often got InMails from applicants, ‘making sure’ we got their documents because a resume ‘doesn’t tell you everything I can do’ and ‘I want you to know what I’m capable of’ and ‘to show you who I am as a person.’ Maybe these applicants are advising their children or grandchildren…

      I can’t recall when or if any of those attachments helped a candidate. But I do recall most of them were not well-matched for the role in question.

    3. EPLawyer*

      Bad advice from SOMEWHERE.

      Which OP you would be doing them a favor to let them know. BUT, you only have so much bandwith and it’s not your job to save them from bad advice. Do what is best for you and your company.

    4. MCMonkeyBean*

      I was wondering if maybe they are applying both to jobs and grad schools at the same time, or if they are coming out of grad school and therefore that’s the last thing they applied to–so maybe some schools they applied to asked for these kinds of things and they figured jobs would want it too.

      Either way, while this is quite over the top I also think it’s a bit unreasonable to go so far as to call it “not following directions.” I think it’s commonly recommended here to send a cover letter even if the posting doesn’t ask for one, so it seems unfair to then jump to “sending anything not explicitly asked for is not following directions.”

      I like Alison’s advice to ask her to resend and see how she responds to that. Then you can say you’ve given her actual directions to follow.

    5. whatchamacallit*

      OP3 here: they are about borderline candidate quality wise, so they’re in a “look at if the first interviews aren’t what I’m looking for.” I did appreciate the suggestion on how to ask them to resubmit materials, because I thought about doing so but couldn’t come up with phrasing that didn’t sound kind of rude.

      I think the worst part about the extra materials was that the writing samples were… not particularly good. So it wasn’t just that it was excessive, which I chalked up mostly to inexperience, it was that they were almost detrimental.

      1. Akcipitrokulo*

        Ah… sending extra pieces is excessive… and when they aren’t that great… *second hand cringe*

        Yeah, I think Alison’s wording was very useful.

    6. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

      That is what I was thinking. They took ALL the advice and since the posting didn’t say cover letter and resume only…..

    7. Le*

      No, as a lecturer I can assure you we try to break this habit of throwing shit at the wall. But countless won’t pay attention and you can’t hold a gun to their head.

  15. TimeTravlR*

    #3 – I was reading in another forum yesterday about a guy who was told by his professor to take coffee to the interview. He stopped and bought 4 black coffees, no sugar packets, no creamers. Just coffee. When he arrived there was a nice coffee set up in the lobby. So everyone he met with had coffee, of course. And he carried these silly coffees around the whole time. And then had to take them with him when he left where he promptly dumped them in the trash.
    All that to say, maybe this applicant had someone give her some really bad advice.

    1. I'm just here for the cats*

      Yeah that is such odd advice. Not everyone drinks coffee and I would feel weird taking a drink from a prospective employee. I would think “are you trying to buy me with coffee?”

      1. TimeTravlR*

        This is exactly what people on the original post said. It looks like bribery. He was fresh out of college and I fully blame his professor!

    2. Observer*

      Bring COFFEE? Terrible advice, but also terrible judgement to not realize that this is kind of … off. But also, if you ARE going to bring coffee, who does that without getting some sugar and creamer at least?

      It almost reads like a caricature of the stereotype of the autisitic who has zero social understanding and is so totally literal that he doesn’t do anything other than the EXACT thing he is told without understanding the actual meaning.

      I would really like to know “the rest of the story”. Because when something sounds like a ridiculous caricature of a faulty stereotype, you know that there is probably more to the story.

    3. Uranus Wars*

      About 15 years ago I worked in corporate recruiting and had a guy show up with a dozen muffins from Sam’s Club. I know that because the package was still in the plastic shrink wrap. I know he was trying to be thoughtful but it made me cringe a little.

      1. banoffee pie*

        I feel bad for people who follow this bad advice, especially if it’s against their own instincts! They’re making themselves look bad and it isn’t even their own fault. I’m still mad that a teacher at school persuaded me to send some pushy emails to lecturers at a uni I was thinking of and I got badly snubbed (so embarrasse even thinkin of it now). Raging because I’m really not pushy at al naturally and would never even thought of doing it without his ‘advice’. grrr Though the lecturers maybe could have realised given my age (17) that it probably wasn’t my own idea and been a bit kinder.

      2. Observer*

        At least it was in the packaging. The idea of bringing unsealed food to a meeting with people who don’t know you is… very, very bad.

  16. Anonymoose*

    This is OP#1 thanks for all the suggestions and support it really means a lot!!! Fingers crossed I get a response from them today and they just do the right thing here, but I’m definitely researching options if they don’t!

    1. Anon1*

      Nurse here in Massachusetts. Our policy is also that if you were wearing appropriate PPE then it wasn’t a work exposure. We also had to reuse PPE during the surge. Thinking of you. We are also union.

      1. Anonymoose*

        I’m not quite as healthcare as a nurse- think more allied health. I don’t work in a health care facility, most of what I do is home or community based.

  17. Mannheim Steamroller*


    [She . . . took her sweet time leaving the restaurant — even though I told her I needed to be back at a certain time for a meeting.]

    Next time that happens, no matter who the other person is, simply pay for your meal and leave. (“Gotta run. The Ferguson account status update is at 1:30, and we can’t keep GrandBoss waiting.”)

  18. Rainbow Brite*

    OP2, I feel you! I once worked very closely with someone just like that (it was just the two of us in our team). The first few weeks we worked together, she complained about everything — about how she should have had my job (she hadn’t applied for it, just seemed to think it should have been offered to her; there were also two identical jobs going and the second wasn’t filled, so it wasn’t even like I’d stolen the only spot), how her “nightmare” sister-in-law wouldn’t let her visit her newborn niece until she was old enough for basic vaccinations because my coworker was unvaccinated, about how every single person in her life was “so much drama,” about how she could somehow never seem to keep a job.

    I tried to be as polite but professional as I could; I went out to lunch with her occasionally, made small talk, made sympathetic noises about her drama but didn’t ask follow-up questions. Eventually, she stopped with the more friendly overtures and we continued working pleasantly side by side, which I thought was a win — until I discovered that I was now on the “drama” list and that she’d been going around telling other coworkers AND OUR PRIMARY SCHOOL-AGED STUDENTS that I hated her and my job and didn’t want to be there. So … not a good result, in the end. I don’t know that I could have done anything differently, and if I had it to do over I still wouldn’t want to fake being BFF, but I guess just a point that sometimes, dramatic people will drama whether you engage with them or not.

    1. The Prettiest Curse*

      Yeah, the only good thing about not engaging with dramatic people is that at least they won’t have their drama all over you. They will still try to drag you into it (as your story shows), but at least you can be more of a disinterested spectator than if you were in the heart of the drama vortex.

    2. TimeTravlR*

      Someone like this once told a mutual friend that she just didn’t like me. (Like I care.) When the mutual friend shared this with me, my response was, “I barely know her.” I don’t know if mutual friend was trying to stir the pot or what but I am not feeding anyone’s need to create drama.

      1. Bleh peopke*

        I don’t think it’s a problem if someone doesn’t like you because it’s just a fact that not everybody will like you. What I don’t understand is an adult tapping someone else on the shoulder and whispering, so-and-so doesn’t like you like we’re all in sixth grade.

      2. Simply the best*

        It’s odd to me that you think it is your friend who is stirring the pot by letting you know that someone is talking about you, and not the person who is actually doing the talking about you.

        1. All the words*

          Because how does one reply to that?

          “Mary says she just doesn’t like you.”
          “Um. Okay.”
          “No really, she doesn’t like you at all.”
          “Okay, and…?”

    3. Bleh peopke*

      Yeah, these people tend to make up things and lay the blame on other people because they can’t be bothered to step back and self-evaluate. I think it’s fine to occasionally vent about your job or a coworker, but if every job you have sucks and there are multiple people against you at each job, probably it’s not the drama that loves you.

      1. Dorothea Vincy*

        Yeah, this. I used to work with someone who legitimately did have a lot going on in her personal life (which I knew because she told me every chance she got), but also took it out on her coworkers to the extent that it became abundantly clear the reason why she’d been fired from multiple jobs and had a hard time finding references from former coworkers and managers was all her. I was so relieved when she became part of my workplace’s first all-remote team and then moved on to another remote job at some point after that, so I didn’t have to hear the endless list of “So-and-so spelled my name wrong six years ago, that means they hate me” nonsense (a literal example).

    4. quill*

      *May sympathetic winces, but oh my god, antivaxx people in education? I have a snowplow ready to scoop her into the nearest dumpster.*

  19. Skippy*

    LW3: if their resume and cover letter put them among the top candidates, interview them; if not, don’t.

    Yeah, the extra material may be annoying, but I don’t think people should be penalized for not knowing all the rules of job hunting. It feels way too much like gatekeeping to me, and an interview will reveal if it was just bad advice or if they simply have poor judgment.

  20. Workerbee*

    OP #2, ‘tis an excellent time to bolster up on standing your ground. Your coworker has already shown that she respects little to nothing about your company, including you and your time. She just wants a crony to complain to. When she gets fired, you too may be tainted if you haven’t done your damndest to be disassociated from her.

    Being able to work with someone on work things should not be paired with also going to lunch when you don’t want to, allowing her to mismanage your time, listening to her jabber, etc.

    General rant:
    There is a whole continuum of asshole coworker types that depends on the nice folks to enable their behavior, because they count on the nice folks to be more horrified of being considered rude than of securing their own work safety, of being afraid of words like “tattle-tale” like this is freakin’ kindergarten and we’re on playground rules of “Don’t snitch!” and somehow apply that to the real world of real bills, real perceptions, and real consequences while you’ve got a grown adult colleague who has actively CHOSEN to make a toxic environment. We find it easier to twist ourselves in knots to make allowances and excuses for people who deserve none than to stand up for ourselves.

  21. Anonymous Esq*

    Ugh my best friend is in a situation similar to #1. She’s a kindergarten teacher at a charter school in the Bronx and her principal is an anti-vaxxer so they have no rules for needing to be vaccinated for teachers… In an incredibly underserved and under-vaccinated area. She was exposed by her co-teacher on Friday who tested positive over the weekend, and had to pay for two rapid tests yesterday; if they had been positive she would’ve had to take sick time or PTO. She’s looking for a new job after getting that email.
    Every part of the situation makes me want to scream.

    1. Observer*

      The good news is that no matter what the Principal thinks, they are going to HAVE to require either proof of vaccination or weekly screening and masking. They are getting City money if they are actually Charter School, so they need to put these rules into effect whether they like it or not.

      1. Anonymoose*

        That makes me really happy to hear to somewhere is requiring that mandate for city money, and yeah seriously I am so frustrated. Literally beyond grateful I’m okay!! Like wow I’ve been terrified of actually getting this, the fact that I’m well enough to be so angry is positive. Your poor friend it’s so scary :(

          1. Anonymoose*

            Yeah I firmly believe the vaccine is saving my life right not if anything this experience proves how more people need to get them to get that community immunity, mine is protecting me but we can’t stop the spread unless there’s more. I am ridiculously grateful tho.

        1. Anonymoose*

          For real this whole experience like I’ve worked through this whole pandemic in the same field has made me convinced I would never send a child I had a personal stake in to a daycare it’s terrifying

  22. Workerbee*


    What gave me pause was this part of the LW’s line of thinking:

    “ I’m conflicted between giving the benefit of the doubt and keeping them in consideration and thinking it’s a red flag they sort of didn’t follow directions (the posting said send resume and cover letter, but I didn’t explicitly say NOT to send extra materials)…”

    I see that last phrase used as a weaponized commentary attack so often from the persons who have committed whatever error it is, as if that excuses their lack of comprehension. It is not on LW to have to dream up every scenario someone might thrust into the mix and then absorb any blame—or even allow mitigating factors if you’d prefer to focus on candidates who managed not to choose to send things unasked for.

    1. EventPlannerGal*

      Right. The OP also didn’t specifically say “please do not submit your application by carrier pigeon” or “please ensure that your application is not written in invisible ink” (or I would assume they didn’t) but if someone took it upon themselves to do those things that wouldn’t be her fault. Sometimes people just do weird misguided things for reasons of their own.

      1. foolofgrace*

        One time I filled out an application (in addition to my resume, which I thought was overkill) using a fountain pen instead of a ballpoint, and was told I’d have to do it over using a ballpoint. Hey, the directions said to use blue or black ink, which I did. In truth it was a little blurry in places.

    2. Clisby*

      Did you explicitly tell them not to show up in a chorus line outfit and break into a couple of verses of “I Really Need This Job?”

    3. Anti anti-tattoo Carol*

      I think it also depends on the instructions and the nature of the job or optics of the org. In a job I recently posted, I gave explicit communications about what documents *should* be included as well as what should be listed in the documents, but never said “don’t give me anything else..” Since it’s entry level, I didn’t exclude candidates who sent an additional document or two, or sent something that was adjacent to what I asked for (e.g., application stated resume because it’s a US-based, non-academic job, and some sent me a CV). There were some who sent writing samples that I didn’t need, but who assumed that because one of the listed job duties was research, they needed to be strong writers (not true; no writing beyond daily communication is required, but my org is… fancy… so I get it).

      I did reject a few who sent me some oddball additional documents, but they were all the same people who ignored the instructions in the application outright. For example, the cover letter prompt asked applicants to address WHY they loved pirates and what about piracy and swashbuckling spoke to them. One person sent me a scanned, deer-in-headlights photo of herself and submitted a paragraph stating that she does love pirates without further explanation. I considered that ignoring the instructions and sent her a rejection.

      1. Eldritch Office Worker*

        As you should have. A little leeway is one thing, but you can still scan for professionalism and judgement.

        1. Anti anti-tattoo Carol*

          Admittedly, I had to scan for my own professionalism and judgement because the urge to share the application with some of the stakeholders was strong. It was a bizarre application from someone who, if you were only checking her resume, would look like a good candidate. Resume was well-written, clearly laid-out, no-frills. Emphasized achievements, avoided jargon. But then the brief statement, headshot, and a random sampling of documents that felt more like a proof of life than an application was very confusing. As a non-NT person who was assimilated into an office environment, I try to show applicants the generosity I didn’t get when starting out, but this was a lot, even for me.

          I did not, and have not, shared any of this with the stakeholders, nor with my best friends. Just quietly sent the rejection and crossed their name off a shared list. The only people who know of this are me, and now the lovely AAM commentariat.

          1. Eldritch Office Worker*

            That sounds like you handled it fine. You didn’t make them a joke or damage their reputation within your organization – just decided to say no. Sometimes we do need to just trust our own judgment.

      2. PhyllisB*

        Which brings up a question: what is the difference between a resume and a CV? And what does CV stand for exactly?

        1. banoffee pie*

          CV = curriculum vitae. Vitae is Latin for life and curriculum is ‘C19: from Latin: course, from currere, to run’ (just took that from the dictionary there ;)
          I think resume is US English and CV is UK English. I would always say CV and I’m in the UK, but we would understand the word resume too.

        2. Anti anti-tattoo Carol*

          “CV” is curriculum vitae. This is just from my perspective, but I usually see it in academia & research, and it’s a lengthier document that covers the trajectory of your career, including talks, papers, publications, etc. I also work with artists and many times they’ll have CVs on their websites that have exhibitions, juried shows and other related work.

          A resume is usually briefer, 1-2 pages, and is a targeted document for a particular job application, meant to outline relevant experience. Generally tailored to the position, and lists specific accomplishments or related tasks. A resume could also have talks, affiliations, and publications (mine does), but that is because I hacked off a portion of my job history due to lack of recent relevance (I’m in senior management; they don’t need my decades-old internships).

          I have heard, though not verified, that resumes are more popular in US-based work and CVs are outside of the US, but I cannot confirm or deny. Is someone able to do so? This could have been some random person leading me astray.

        3. Gumby*

          1. Thank you for saying “brings up a question” (as opposed to “begs the question” which, sadly, I am going to have to admit some day has changed meaning but today is not that day!).
          2. Curriculum Vitae
          3. Most noticeable difference is length. In the US, CVs are used primarily in academic settings and they include a list of published works. I am told CVs are used more broadly in other countries. They are *not* edited for length or applicability to the job but are an exhaustive list of all of your work to date.

        4. PhyllisB*

          I do know what a resume is because I’m in U.S. and that’s what I’ve always used, and I knew that CV wasn’t U.S. but that was all I knew. Thanks to all of you for the explanations.

          1. angela*

            In the UK, we call it a CV but it is closer to a US-style resume, than a US-style academic CV. Over here, I’m expecting to see a 2-3 page document (rather than the shorter 1-page version) but otherwise the other advice about resumes seems to transfer very well to UK CVs.

    4. Esmeralda*

      On the other hand, OP *does* sometimes find the extra attachments to be helpful. So sometimes it’s ok if a candidate doesn’t follow instructions, and sometimes not (yes, I do recognize that this particular candidate went waaaaaaayyyy too far). It’s not really “doesn’t follow instructions” at issue here.

      If it’s possible to disable the additional attachments in the application system, do that. But then you won’t get the other helpful attachments from people savvy enough to know what extras are ok.

      1. whatchamacallit*

        OP 3 here: Sorry, when I said occasional writing sample/references were fine, I didn’t mean I found them helpful. I still don’t, it’s just more a of a non-factor to me, especially from recent grads, vs. sending 14 extra documents.

      2. whatchamacallit*

        also, we’re a small org, we don’t have an application system, just a general application email, so unfortunately there’s not a very good way to sort out specific attachments. (I wish!) Anyway since I’m very new to posting job descriptions, I wasn’t sure if it was a mistake on my end to not add a note about extra materials not being reviewed or that kind of a thing, especially knowing it would be aimed at a lot of entry-level folks. I will probably add something like that in the future.

        1. PizzaGuy*

          This applicant could also find themselves sending out resumes that never reach their destination as many organizations have settings that restrict sending/receiving emails of a certain size. So 14 attachments could be really large and get filtered ans never delivered.

  23. Amethystmoon*

    #1 is why we seriously need to make some kind of federal law regarding sick leave, especially with a positive COVID test. People who get COVID symptoms should not have to choose between things like staying home and not being paid, going into negative PTO territory, or going to work and getting paid but passing it along. I don’t know how we as a society have made it this far without basic sick leave in all jobs.

    1. SnappinTerrapin*

      There are a lot of jobs where employees are banned from working until the covid test shows negative, without paid leave. So, you can lose several days’ pay because you were running a fever when you came to work, and were referred for a test.

  24. Tasha*

    For #1, several states have mandated that Covid is covered under workers comp, which will pay for missed days at work (maybe not at your regular rate of pay, but something). Definitely investigate.

    1. Delta Delta*

      it’s often 2/3 (although nontaxable) so it might actually be better to exhaust PTO first.

  25. Luke G*

    LW1: I feel your pain. Our company tried to do something similar- first telling us “If you’re exposed stay home, don’t worry about PTO” and then backtracking to “you have to use up all your own PTO, but we’ll make a system where the unexposed can donate their own PTO for you to use if you’re out.” When I pointed out at a director’s meeting that draining people’s PTO banks was just incentivizing them to work sick and expose more people, they told me that didnt’ make sense- before quietly backtracking on the whole thing and adding in flexibility to the whole system.

    LW3: Nearly all job candidates I interview are fresh out of college, and it seems like vanishingly few of them do any sort of customization of their application materials. It makes me wonder your candidate was applying to multiple types of jobs where the various materials would be appropriate, and just never thought to customize what to attach to which application. In your shoes I’d do my best to ignore all the extra junk and focus on their actual qualifications- and save it as a funny story to tell outside of work (like our 20 year old with a 5-page resume…)

    1. Cat Tree*

      It’s so weird to me that people can transfer their PTO to other people. How does that work? I don’t know much about accounting, but isn’t a PTO day a different expense for people making vastly different salaries?

      1. doreen*

        Yes – but a PTO day can be a difference expense even for the same person depending on when it was earned. It’s not uncommon for organizations that allow leave donations to also allow a fairly large amount of rollover. For example, I can accumulate up to 200 days of sick leave, which is somewhere between 8-15 years worth of accruals depending on my specific job title. If I use up all my sick leave this year, I would have accrued some of it 15 years ago , when I was earning much less.

      2. Luke G*

        In this case there was a “bank.” I could say “Hey, I’ll donate 40 hours of my unused PTO to the bank” and then it went into a single lump-sum number of donated hours. If Jeff in accounting had to quarantine for 2 weeks and only had 1 week of PTO left, he would be able to get 40 hours from the bank to cover the second week. He didn’t get “my” 40 hours, just 40 hours from the bank.

        In theory, if donation and withdrawal were balanced across the company, the average value of a donated hour and a withdrawn hour would balance out. In practice, our PTO increases with tenure so people in more senior roles are more likely to have more extra PTO. Also, higher-paid people are more likely to have desk jobs that can be done all or in part from home while quarantined; the people who can’t work from home are likely to be lower-paid roles. So the system ends up siphoning off high-value PTO hours, and re-distributing them as lower-value PTO hours. Plus, once hours were donated to the bank they were lost- if more hours are donated than are needed, the extra just disappear.

        Depending how tight your tinfoil hat is that might be a side effect or it might be deliberate. COVID kept a lot of people from taking vacations, so that’s a lot of PTO building up as a liability on the books. This system ensured that a) mandatory qurarantines drained people’s PTO, and b) even those who didn’t need to use their own were draining it into the bank. I even heard some of the more cynical suggesting that there wasn’t even really a bank- people who ran out of PTO were always going to be paid, but this was a way to get people to give up a lot of high-value PTO and think they were helping.

      3. Luke G*

        I’d also say that when an org allows a 1:1 transfer of PTO from person A to person B, that transfer is (almost always) going to go from a more senior to a less senior person, because more senior people have had more time to build up PTO. That means that on the whole, the system turns high-value PTO into lower-value PTO and saves the company money. Even if it occasionally goes the other way, it’s a net gain for the company.

      4. Academic Anon*

        I am in academia, so it is always weird. However, the one good side of academia is the amount of leave that you get (when I got my current position, my mom mentioned that I got more annual leave than my father did after 30 years at his company). Which means that if someone runs out of leave, it is usually related to a long term illness. HR can’t say who specifically needs the leave, but does name the department. What usually happens is if it is in your area, you ask the department admin who it is. If it is someone that you have worked with, you throw them a couple of days. You fill out a form and it is transferred to their account.

        One of my colleagues always loses some annual leave each year, since he doesn’t use it (yes, he does need to get a life).

      5. JustaTech*

        When I worked for Big State U our vacation and sick time were allocated very differently. You could collect sick time indefinitely (there was no cap), but it wasn’t paid out when you left the university. So when my coworker who never got sick and had worked for BSU for years and years had knee surgery he was able to take a long recovery leave.

        As part of sick leave not being paid out when you left you could choose to donate it to a pool for people who got really sick (like, cancer sick). Part of this was because of a policy of BSU that if you worked at least one day a month you got to keep your health insurance, and one day of sick leave counted as “working”. So some people kept their insurance for years by accessing the pool. (Though once you put in your notice to leave you couldn’t donate your remaining sick time.)

  26. straws*

    #1 – my friend is in a similar situation except they took it one step farther and fired her. She started the job a few months back and was due to be back from quarantine/covid recovery in 2 days. They called and told her that she’s fired for too many days off during her probationary period. Her only time off was 1 day for a funeral (she drove 12 hours in 1 day so she wouldn’t miss additional time) and the rest was all for covid, when she wasn’t even allowed to come in. She almost certainly contracted it at work and her partner caught it from her and is now in the hospital. I was going to post on Friday in the hopes of hearing that there are some federal-level protections, but reading through the comments so far it sounds like it’s up to the state. And she too is in FL, so that’s unlikely. I’m so frustrated at these companies!

    1. Luke G*

      Requiring someone to take X days off and then firing them beacause X is too many days is a special kind of screwed up. Hopefully she was at least able to soak them for some PTO or other $$ while she was out.

    2. EPLawyer*

      Ooooh, something like that sounds like it would be worth chatting with a lawyer about. Your company tells you that you can’t come in, so you are not voluntarily off work then they fire you for too many days off? Nope, nope, nopity nope.

      But Florida is its only special hell right now. Not blaming the folks who have to live there, they aren’t the reason.

    3. Anonymoose*

      I am letter writer number 1, I actually lost my previous job due to getting Covid- turns out it wasn’t it was some random crazy other thing, but I didn’t learn that until months later. People don’t realize just how extreme some jobs are taking this , especially jobs where like the people I work with don’t wear masks and this is a necessary medical service I provide. It’s really exhausting all around. I hope your friend is doing okay!

    4. I'm just here for the cats*

      Wow that has to be some level of illegal. I would have her talk to an employment lawyer as soon as possible. and if she has any written communication from them about why she was fired that’s even better.

      “Oh you can’t come in because you got sick with covid”
      “k, I will quarantine for 14 days.”
      “oh your fired because you didn’t come in. “

    5. I've Escaped Cubicle Land*

      Please Please encourage you friend to leave a scathing Glass Door review and or alert the media anonymously.

    1. Anonymoose*

      Thank you- my biggest fear is that people will try to spin my experience into an anti vaccine cause!

  27. OutOfOffice*

    #5 – I’m a chronic reply-all “Thanks!” person, but only when it’s an email regarding a change amongst my team. We’re in operations, and it shows the person sending, our manager, and teammates that I’ve received and noted the change/update. I’m a level between our staff and our manager, so I think that’s certainly part of it. But when others on our team do it, it doesn’t bother me.

    That said, I’d never reply all just to say thanks to someone on an email with a larger audience.

    I really think it depends on the context.

    1. The Rural Juror*

      Agreed. If I reply all to say “Thanks!” it’s because I need everyone on that message to know I’ve received and acknowledged the information. Also, most of the time it means I don’t want to break that email chain. I have one person who is pretty bad about just replying to me to say thanks, then sending me more information with that email without replying all to everyone. I know that’s their own fault, but I don’t want to make it easier for anyone to do that accidentally. For that person, I usually have to reply back to them and then fill all the recipients back in so they’re aware of what’s going on…which is annoying for me!

      For the people I’m working with and the conversations we have via email, it makes more sense to reply all.

  28. Julia*

    LW 4’s situation is not “confusing”. It’s not surprising that you’d need to resign for mental health reasons but would still be able to do something like send an email asking for a reference. The latter takes way less mental energy and is much less taxing than working a whole job.

    I dislike Alison’s first paragraph in that response; I think it needlessly inflames the LW’s clearly irrational anxiety. LW, even if your former manager knows about your recent resignation, there’s absolutely no problem with asking him for a reference. If he drew some untoward conclusion from that it means he’d be unreasonable or he didn’t understand the mental health struggles you’re dealing with, and that isn’t on you. But the almost certain explanation, as Alison’s second paragraph says, is he just hasn’t gotten around to it yet and you are letting your anxiety run away with you. Try not to worry about this, and focus on getting better.

    It’s amazing how mentally healthy people can decide someone’s struggles must not be real or are “confusing” even when they have an actual doctor’s recommendation. Sheesh.

    1. OutOfOffice*

      It sounds like LW4 didn’t mention it was for mental health, though. Just that their doctor said they had health concerns and shouldn’t be working so that they could focus on recovery. I have mental health issues, myself, and I would be confused if someone left work for health reasons (which could be all sorts of things) and then asked for a reference for a specific job a few days later, unless they gave some context.

    2. Colette*

      It is confusing. You quit a job because it was too much for your health; you then need a reference immediately to find another job. Maybe the second job is easier, but that’s not immediately obvious.

      1. Eldritch Office Worker*

        Yeah, I would have included some context in the reference request. Maybe not all the details, but explaining the new job would work better for the situation at least.

        1. Julia*

          Remember LW resigned from a job with one manager and is now submitting a reference request to a different manager. Yeah there’s some possibility the two would talk, but I wouldn’t have assumed that. I wouldn’t mention anything about my health in a reference request to someone who I haven’t discussed my health with before. It’s not germane and I’m trying to put my best food forward in that situation.

      2. Forrest*

        I wouldn’t find it at all confusing if there was a substantial difference in hours, working pattern or the type of work– you can quite easily need to quit a manual job or a job where you’re on your feet or a job where you’re looking at a screen or your second job on a weekend because it’s bad for your health, but that doesn’t mean you can’t do any job.

        That said, OP, I think it’s quite unlikely that your reason for quitting will have been passed on to your former manager. It’s not that it’s necessarily confidential, but there’s just no reason for anyone to share “for health reasons”– the relevant information that the company needs is that you quit what sounds like a pretty casual job, which you are totally entitled to do, without providing any reason at all. I think this might be something where it feels like a big deal to you because your mental health problems are a big deal to you, but I think it would be quite unusual for anyone else to spend more than a second or two thinking about it.

        1. Colette*

          Right, but it’s likely the OP didn’t provide all of those details in their reference request.

          1. Julia*

            Any reasonable person can supply those details mentally. Most people who quit a job for health reasons do eventually need another one. We are not a society where you can easily decide not to work indefinitely. Looking for work when you have health issues that caused you to quit your last job is so common that it’s totally unremarkable.

            1. Colette*

              Or they decide that the OP was lying about why they were quitting, or that the OP quit because they found another job that they’ve decided to leave, or any number of other scenarios. When you leave it up to someone to fill in the blanks, you don’t get to influence what they fill the blanks with.

              1. Forrest*

                It kind if feels like everyone thinks OP did something wrong by quitting this job and they have to have an ~adequate~ reason, and that reason is being judged and weighed. To me, “they had a casual Saturday job, they quit, they gave a pretty broad generic reason” just doesn’t rise to the level of requiring any more thought. There’s nothing here that would make me doubt or second guess or care about the reason this young person left their casual Saturday job. If they said, “health reasons” but actually meant “to spend my weekends playing computer games”, so what? They haven’t done anything wrong, so why would that affect my reference? Genuine question, I don’t get what at all would make you change your stance from “happy to give this former intern a reference” to “hack second thoughts”!

                1. HR & Cats*

                  I think it’s the potential for dishonesty. If someone quit without notice which seems like it may be the case here, and also was not truthful about the reason for quitting, then it would impact my reference for them because I think both honesty and consideration for others are important qualities. The way you leave a job matters, in my opinion. I understand this may not be a popular thought on AAM but my guess is that it’s pretty common in the average person so it may be worth considering if you want to maintain relationships as you leave a job.

                2. Forrest*

                  @HR & Cats they specified that they put in their two-week notice, so I think they’ve done everything they were required to! Does that change it for you?

                3. HR & Cats*

                  Sorry, I missed that part, but no that doesn’t totally change it. I think the honesty about the reason still matters in your hypothetical video games scenario.

    3. miro*

      I think the confusion is not “why can this person send an email but can’t work?” but rather “why are they looking for work when they can’t work?” Now, as others have noted, different jobs involve different mental/physical demands and presumably this person is looking for something that is better suited to their mental health, but that doesn’t mean that people are wrong to feel some confusion on the face of it, especially since the OP hasn’t given the manager much explanation of the specifics (not that they need to).

      I think it’s also worth remembering that confusion isn’t the same as judgement, and the boss feeling a bit of “wait, what?” confusion is not the same as him “[drawing] some untoward conclusion” or deciding that OP’s “struggles must not be real.”

      1. Julia*

        Alison’s words were that the former manager might feel confused and “might wonder if you used a cover story with the game day manager for some reason.” That doesn’t sound like perfectly innocent confusion; it sounds like when Alison uses the word confusion diplomatically to mean “doubting your motives”.

        As for why someone’s looking for work when they can’t work, there’s really nothing even slightly confusing about this. People need work to live, and jobs take a long time to find. It’s not surprising that someone would start job-searching two to three months before they know they’re ready to work, or as you said, would start searching for jobs better suited to their health problem.

        Again, it’s really needless to bring up any of this “confusion”. It’s clear from their letter that LW is freaking needlessly and all they need is to be talked down, not given more scenarios to stress over.

        1. Observer*

          That doesn’t sound like perfectly innocent confusion; it sounds like when Alison uses the word confusion diplomatically to mean “doubting your motives”.

          I think that it’s overstating the case. But even if you are correct, the “doubt” is not coming from doubt of the validity of mental health struggles, but from lack of context. Like “wait, OP said they can’t work and now they ARE looking for work? That’s weird”

          The OP wouldn’t need to provide a lot of context to resolve that. Like all you would need to say is something like “Since I had to quit for health reasons, I’ve been looking for jobs that would be more compatible with my current medical needs.” No need for detail. But that tells someone that “Oh, OP isn’t saying that they can’t work at all, but that they can’t work at that kind of job.”

          1. Forrest*

            Surely if you saw someone quit a weekend casual job and then apply for a full-time professional job, you would not find it confusing? I just can’t imagine seeing someone quit a casual weekend job and getting a reference request for a full-time job and thinking there was any kind of contradiction there.

            1. Observer*

              Actually yes I probably would be, ESPECIALLY if I knew that they quit for health reasons. I mean if your health doesn’t even allow you to work on the weekends, how are you going to manage a full time job?

              Of course, it could be that the health issue is, say a bad back that means you can’t stand all day which is required by the weekend job, and the full time jobs you are looking at don’t have the requirement. Or you have a problem handling people yelling a lot, which is something that happens a lot on this job and it spikes your as yet unmanaged anxiety, so your doctor wants you to find a job that doesn’t feature screaming crowds. Or a lot of other situations. But most people are not going to jump to that right away.

              So mentioning just a bit of context that should be enough to resolve the confusion.

              1. Forrest*

                That does seem like going out of your way to think bad things about someone whom you’ve presumably found to be a reliable and trustworthy person!

                1. Eldritch Office Worker*

                  But again, confusion is different than judgement or thinking poorly about someone. It’s just confusion. But when people don’t understand things they typically tread lightly around them.

              2. quill*

                This seems more uncharitable than I hope most people are. A weekend job probably does not know if you have another job that’s full time. It’s just as likely that “health reasons” are “needs to work less, therefore needs a job that’s equivalent to whatever they were making at Day Job and Weekend Job,” or “needs a job that isn’t on their feet.”

    4. Observer*

      It doesn’t look like you actually read either the letter or Alison’s advice.

      She’s certainly not deciding that the OP’s struggles are not real. But when someone does something that’s not clear to others, then it’s going to confuse them. That has nothing to do with whether the struggles are “real” or “valid” or anything else.

      And it’s totally NOT helpful to expect Alison to give inaccurate advice in order to not inflame someone’s irrational anxiety, because at best it doesn’t work and at worst it actually makes it worse.

    5. MCMonkeyBean*

      I agree that there are lots of reasons this makes sense, but I don’t think you have addressed them. No one is arguing that *sending the email* is too taxing, but are thinking instead of the job OP would presumably be doing if hired after the reference check.

      But there are still plenty of reasons it might make sense–especially since it sounds like this is a side-gig on the weekends. They may be able to work a full-time job with more regular hours if they quit their part-time internship and weekend job.

      I’m sure there are many possible contexts and explanations for why OP’s situation makes sense, though I can also see how a person might be a bit thrown by the juxtaposition of “I need to quit to take time for my health” immediately followed by “I am hoping to be hired for a full-time job.” If they had been able to provide any context to their previous manager that might have been a good idea–but at the same time they shouldn’t have to disclose anything if they don’t want to so hopefully their manager understands. After three days, it’s definitely too early to assume anything bad. And even if they are a little thrown or confused, I think it’s unlikely this “ruined” the relationship.

    6. HR & Cats*

      Hard disagree. I also struggle with mental health issues and understand there are times when it’s necessary to step away from a taxing job to find another job. I did this myself in April, and I did ask my boss for a reference. I also explained to her that I was looking for a job that was different from my current role in X, Y and Z ways. She had been happy with my work, and wanted me to find something that would fit better in my life so she was very supportive. But if I had not had any of those conversations, quit with what sounds like no notice, and then immediately asked for a reference then yes, I think it would come across very oddly.

      1. Julia*

        The boss LW asked for a reference from is a different person than the manager they gave notice to.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          They both work at the same place. You’re giving your notice to your employer, not just a single manager. The OP didn’t do anything wrong, but the manager might legitimately be surprised or confused or wonder what’s going on.

        2. HR & Cats*

          That’s almost worse in a way. If you’re going to ask someone for a reference I think you’d want to also have a conversation with them about the fact that you’re leaving the company. We don’t even know what was shared between the two managers exactly.

  29. anon for this*

    I want to print out the answer to LW5, frame it, highlight the part about performative actions that annoy other people, and hang it on my boss’s door.

  30. BadWolf*

    Related to OP5 — we recently had an reply-all Congrats “fail.” There was a congratulations email sent out for an individual and several people did a reply-all congratulations. Usually there are 1-3 people who do this on any given individual announcement, but this was a whole bunch. I felt like a scrooge because it felt like performance from the congratulators. Look at me, I said congrats! Reply to the person, no need to spam everyone! Since we’re working at home, it was easier for my keep my cynical snark to myself (and I didn’t want to detract from the person being congratulated, not their fault for the reply-all). But someone did post a comment in slack that was a thinly veiled “can we not” in relation to this congrats chain.

    1. BadWolf*

      There are definitely times when a reply-all congrats from a specific person is appropriate, I’m talking about the random “congrats” pile on.

    2. Colette*

      Yeah, replying-all to congratulate someone always feels performative to me. You’re not doing it to congratulate them, you’re doing it so that people see you congratulating them.

  31. Mental Lentil*

    #2 — It sounds to me like this new coworker will not be here long. She complains about stuff all the time, including in front of management?

    1. Van Wilder*

      I was going to ask if your manager is aware of her complaining and other work-related issues. As the person training her, you are in a good position to give your manager a heads up, because it sounds like she is a bad fit and might bring down morale for everyone.

  32. WonkyStitch*

    Piggybacking on #5 …

    I regularly have reply-all communications with groups of people for projects I work on. One person has apparently moved to a different department and is no longer working with that project. I might reply-all to the project email once or twice a month, because I have 75+ projects I’m currently working on.

    She keeps responding with “please take me off this email chain” and honestly, I would if I remember, but… 75 other projects.

    I want to respond back with “I’m so sorry, I keep missing this. You can just delete the emails when they come across” but that seems passive aggressive.

    1. MCMonkeyBean*

      No sorry I have to agree with them. You need to remove them from the chain. It would be extremely irritating to be receiving emails for a team you aren’t on anymore twice a month! I get emails occasionally about things I don’t work on anymore, like maybe a few times a year, but if the same person were doing it over and over that would be extremely aggravating.

      Managing your contacts is part of managing your projects.

      1. WonkyStitch*

        I mean, I get emails where people are talking about stuff that doesn’t concern me, and I just delete them. It’s irritating to get that twice a month? and it’ll be done in a month or two? A mild inconvenience of hitting “Delete” twice a month for two months max?

        1. MCMonkeyBean*

          Yes, the inconvenience may seem mild but it’s just disrespectful to put in literally ZERO effort to actually fix the situation. Honestly at some point I would probably escalate the issue to your manager and be like “Why the heck is Bob still emailing me about this; I haven’t worked on that team for like three years and I have told him so several times.” What is your plan otherwise, just keep emailing this person literally forever?

          What do you do if there is someone you have to *add* to your email list? Would you just continue to ignore them forever and assume someone will forward it on if they really need it? You must have some kind of process on how to update your distribution lists, and if you don’t then you really really need one. It’s your responsibility to make sure you are actually emailing the right people and you are just flat out refusing to even try.

  33. VanLH*

    If it is agreed that LW1 got COVID at the office it seems to me that workers compensation should be an option.

    1. Anonymoose*

      They don’t necessarily agree that’s where I got it there was just a known exposure in the exact time frame I got symptoms

      1. quill*

        Then ethically they should probably assume that’s your exposure, but obviously ethics is not stopping them right now. My sympathies.

        1. Anonymoose*

          Thanks yeah we’re all scientists it’s like insanely alarming I truly feel like I’m taking crazy pills. My favorite is how kind they’re acting for even offering the advance on PTO as if I should be so grateful at their generosity.

  34. LW #1*

    If you’re sympathetic to LW#1, you should know that Congress is closer than they’ve ever been before in passing a paid leave benefit for all working Americans, nationwide. It’s being considered as part of the budget reconciliation process. If you care about this, shoot your members of Congress a note – especially if they’re republicans.

    1. Anonymoose*

      Thanks for spreading that we need people to fight for rights- I am not the only person experiencing this!

  35. Erin*

    I feel like the healthcare worker who got Covid would be covered under FMLA?

    Also, super ridiculous that they are making you go into negative PTO. Are you kidding me?? That definitely will lead to others not reporting their positive tests. How in-humane. I’m sorry, and thank you for working in healthcare!!

    1. I'm just here for the cats*

      FMLA is not paid, Unless you have some type of insurance that pays for it. The employer does not need to pay you, just keep your job available.

      1. Academic Anon*

        Depending on the organization, FMLA can be paid. My organization gives us 10 days FLMA paid per year, and after the ten days it can be unpaid or you can take paid annual leave. But academia is weird. When I went to help my parents, they didn’t want any forms for less three days or less. Above three days, the doctor’s office had to fill out forms. I got the forms filled out and basically it was 10 days to take my dad to radiation treatments.

    2. Anonymoose*

      Yeah they’re being very magnanimous I can have the time off but can’t be paid it’s extremely frustrating

  36. Isabel Archer*

    OP#2, if she’s been there 2 weeks and is already badmouthing coworkers in front of management, you might not have to deal with her much longer…

    1. blackcatlady*

      Yes – please send us an update for how long she lasted. No one wants to live with a Negative Neil/Nellie spewing constant complaints. Letters like this are a good reminder to the rest of us to think before we open our mouths.

  37. Hiring Manager Today*

    Regarding LW3, I have an issue when candidates send me more documents that I requested. As a hiring manager, I do request each candidate send a relevant writing sample before their (virtual) interview. When someone sends 16 writing samples, it is a signal to me that they didn’t prepare well for this specific interview and are trying to get me sift through their writing. Toward the end of the interview, I would ask the candidate to choose which writing sample they want me to review and why. When someone says, “any of these 16 writing samples,” the lack of preparation shows.
    So, 16 documents might not eliminate the person completely, but it would cause me to wonder if the person knows how to focus on relevant information.

  38. SpaceySteph*

    LW5, for the love of god please don’t reply all to say “thanks!”

    Honestly, we don’t usually reply to say ‘thanks’ at all in my field. We get enough email.

    1. Ahdez*

      Emails that just say “thanks” are such a bad use of email. There are other platforms better suited to that type of message.

  39. Sarah*

    OP #1 – If you got COVID from work, you may be able to file for workers compensation. You should do this immediately.

  40. Urbanchic*

    Op #1 – forgive me, I haven’t read all the comments. Does your company provide sick time/PTO generally? I think its prudent for companies that have exposure risks to provide specific COVID leave during a pandemic, but since you’re in Florida and transmission rates are on fire and delta is infecting even those that are vaccinated, I’m not sure how viable that is. I’m so sorry – I hope you feel better soon!

    1. Anonymoose*

      They do but I just got over being hospitalized less than a month ago it’s been back to back for me so I don’t have any PTO currently

  41. Wendy Darling*

    I give it even odds that the person in Letter #3 sent in all those application materials because someone in a college career center told them it was a good idea.

    Back when I was a panicky grad student realizing I was not going to stay in academia I paid $200 for a seminar that was supposed to teach us all kinds of job-seeking skills that, in retrospect, was basically “how not to apply for jobs” taught by people who had never done any hiring and hadn’t applied for a job in at least a decade, and they urged us to submit extensive portfolios along with our applications.

  42. lockhart*

    #5: I had an awful boss who used to require me to reply-all “Thanks!” to every single email that came in from a particular department. I eventually made a macro.

  43. A Person*

    OP #2, the next time you need to leave to get back to the office on time, LEAVE. This could come up with other people, not just this awful co-worker and YOU get to control your actions, not them. (Yes, I’m assuming that you were walking distance away, but if you drove, you can still say, “I am leaving NOW so if you want a ride back to work come with me.”

  44. NW Planner*

    #1 check your Labor & Industries rules in your state. We were just talking at work that in WA an exposure at work qualifies for a L&I claim.

    1. Anonymoose*

      I spoke to the department of labor and there’s just no options it’s ridiculous. I feel so bad if the families I worked with knew this was going on I feel like they’d be horrified too- like this whole situation seems insane. I’ve had other coworkers get Covid but they weren’t vaccinated and weren’t directly exposed at work- I literally had no way to avoid getting this beyond not working for these people.

  45. Annabel*

    To #1 poster: I’m an attorney, please check worker’s compensation rules in your state. I know in my state if you get COVID at work you can make a worker’s comp claim and get at least some of your pay covered that way.

    1. Anonymoose*

      I’ll try speaking to another attorney! The one I spoke to flat out said I have no case, but there’s no harm in trying again.

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