my boss is angry that I lied about the reason for my vacation

A reader writes:

At the beginning of the pandemic, I started a relationship with my now-boyfriend, who lives in another country. We met online and had been planning on taking a vacation together as soon as the borders of our countries, which were closed due to COVID restrictions, opened . During the summer, I had fallen and broken my foot, as well as had a cyst removed from my tailbone. Towards the end of the summer, when the borders reopened for tourism, I was feeling well enough again and was looking forward to finally meeting my boyfriend in person.

In July, I emailed my boss asking for the last week of August off to take a vacation, which was approved. I work as a librarian in a Catholic high school and have many coworkers who love to gossip and spread judgment, which can create a really negative atmosphere. Because of that, I made the decision to tell my boss that I was going on a family vacation.

A couple weeks before I left, my boss had told me that I was taking vacation at an inconvenient time and while she had approved it this time, I shouldn’t take off during that time period again. I made note of that statement, told my closest friend at work the true nature of my trip, made final plans, checked the COVID policy with my work, made sure I had full coverage, made my social media accounts private, and took my vacation.

Near the end of my vacation, my friend from work notified me that my boss had somehow figured out that I wasn’t actually on a family vacation. In order to get ahead of the issue, I emailed her to explain that I didn’t tell her the true nature of my vacation because I was trying to avoid gossip, and that I had multiple negative Covid tests which would approve me to return to work if that was her concern. She told me that we would discuss this matter when I returned.

Upon my return, my boss pulled me into a conference room and told me that she was angry with me for lying to her and breaking her trust, that if I were to have handled this situation better I would have made an attempt to discuss the reason for my vacation in person (even though I was injured and wasn’t working in person), was upset that I decided to take vacation during an inconvenient time, accused me of lying so that I would get those days approved because I was worried that she wouldn’t approve them, and questioned my dedication to the school and my position. She also mentioned that she didn’t believe that I was trying to avoid gossip and thought I had an ulterior motive. I apologized and said that I would be honest about my plans for time off from here on out, but that I was warranted privacy during my time off and what I do on my own time.

I am fully aware that lying was not the best course of action for this situation, but I strongly believe that what I choose to do on my own vacation time should not affect the approval of my vacation time. Was I fully in the wrong in this situation? Or was my boss’s reaction out of line?

Nah, your boss’s reaction was over-the-top.

In theory you’re right that what you plan to do on vacation shouldn’t affect whether or not it’s approved. In reality, though, it can be more complicated. Let’s say that you submit a vacation request and it’s a hard date to for your boss to accommodate (maybe other people will be out that day and she needs coverage, or it’s the day before a major event and she needs all hands on deck, or so forth). If you just want the day off to the go to the park, your boss might reasonably ask you to find a different day. But if it’s the day of your kid’s wedding, most of us would expect her to find a way to make that work. So we tend to accept that sometimes the reason for a specific set of dates matters.

It gets a lot more problematic, though, when the plans in question aren’t so obviously toward the “my kid’s getting married” end of that spectrum. And most of the time, people are rightly uncomfortable with managers deciding what’s “important enough” to accommodate and what isn’t … even as we also recognize exceptions like weddings.

But it’s possible that your boss considered a family trip closer to the wedding end of the spectrum than a trip to meet a boyfriend would be, and maybe she approved not-ideal dates for that reason. It’s possible that that’s why she’s pissed off now — maybe she went out of her way to accommodate difficult dates because you told her it was a family thing, and now she thinks you lied so she would do that. Her reaction was still over-the-top — this should have been a much calmer conversation — but she would have more of a basis for being bothered. (For the record, though, I don’t think managers should be adjudicating the importance of one trip vs. another like that unless it’s something more like the wedding vs. park example and the dates are difficult ones to approve.)

Or it might not be that at all. She might just be overly controlling and think she’s entitled to know more about your personal plans than she really is. She might be so focused on the lie that she’s not seeing that it didn’t really matter what you were using your time off for because it’s still your time off.

You can probably figure out which of these it is based on (a) what you know of your boss in general and (b) how inconvenient those particular dates really were. If they were seriously inconvenient for your team, it’s probably the first explanation. If they weren’t, it’s more likely the second.

Read an update to this letter here

{ 611 comments… read them below }

  1. Yorick*

    I think “going on vacation” is all your boss ever really needs to know, unless it’s an important trip that you want your boss to give extra consideration for (your sister’s wedding or something). If you already booked the travel arrangements, you should share that (but ask for approval before you do that, if you can).

    1. Fran Fine*

      This. I don’t go into details when taking time off unless it’s something I don’t mind sharing. Otherwise, I just say I’m taking a staycation (even when I’m really not) if people insist on asking.

      1. MissBaudelaire*

        Agreed. I worked at a place where my boss would approve time off, then if someone else came to him for time off, he’d tell them that I had the time off, so they’d have to talk to me about it. So they’d nag and pester me about why I was taking time off so THEIR thing was more important.

        Time off is time off, I just say I’m not available that day.

      2. Anit*

        I firmly agree that it is no one’s business what one is doing or where they are going on vacation. It is the supervisor’s job to reply, within a reasonable amount of time (a week or less?) whether your vacation time is approved. It really is that simple. If one’s supervisor approves the vacation, then the employee goes on vacation. With that being said, if the supervisor later wishes she had not approved the vacation, then she could use her words to talk to the employee in question and see if other options are available for the employee. At that point, a reasonable (hopefully) conversation could take place to settle the matter in a suitable way. It is not the employee’s job to phrase the request in any particular way, unless the employer asks. If that is the case, then again, a reasonable discussion can ensue. The supervisor in no way should come back to the employee after the vacation, all grumpy and up in the employee’s grill, bitching and moaning about the employee taking the vacation that was APPROVED. If you are a supervisor or manager, it is your job to be an adult. I know it is no fun being an adult some days, but this is the situation in which managers and supervisors find themselves (any bitterness and anger detected in this post can be attributed to a completely insane, lazy, fault-finding manager who WROTE ME UP for taking a vacation that SHE APPROVED!)

    2. sacados*

      Yeah, I would say the difference for OP going forward would be to just say “vacation” — if the boss is basing decisions on whether she considers family vs boyfriend more important, then it seems simpler to just not give that information.

      But more than that, I feel like the first mistake in this situation was the boss’s — she approved the vacation!!! If it was such a difficult time (I’m assuming OP was not aware of this) then it’s on the boss to say that– whether it be just “I’m going to approve it, but just so you know this is quite a busy time” or going back to OP to say “Hey this is actually a really inconvenient way for you to be out, are your plans something that can be shifted to a different week.”
      No need to pry into what OP’s plans are, just if it’s set in stone or not. Especially if OP was asking for approval before making the firm travel plans — this whole thing might have been avoided by asking if OP could just go on vacation a different week.

      1. Yorick*

        That’s true, it’s on the boss to use her words about the difficulty of taking that time off. But it’s possible calling it a family vacation made the boss think the dates weren’t flexible.

        1. doreen*

          If someone said when requesting vacation that it was for a “family vacation” there are certain assumptions I would probably make. One of which is that the “family” involved was more along the lines of a “family reunion” than the employee and his/her partner – maybe not one with 50 or 100 people, but something like the employee, his/her parents and/or siblings, partners and children. Another assumption would be that the dates probably aren’t so flexible. My third assumption would be that the employee is telling me it’s a “family vacation” for a reason * , all of which would combine to make me think it’s more like a wedding than spending a day at the park.

          I don’t think I would have gotten as angry as the boss in this situation did – but I can understand why she felt the OP had an ulterior motive. I understand that the OP didn’t see it that way – but it doesn’t seem like she even tried the sort of vague answers that only contained the information that the boss needed before going to the lie.

          *even in the nosiest places I’ve worked people would be OK with an answer like ” I’m going to Las Vegas” without further questioning why I chose Las Vegas rather than New Orleans or who I am traveling with . So I’m going to assume that if someone specifically says “family vacation” that there must be some sort of special consideration they are looking for.

          1. Mimi*

            I don’t think I agree with the line you’re drawing here, but when does it shift? My mom would’ve called taking my brother and I somewhere a “family vacation,” and I think that would be perfectly legitimate. Is your partner only your “family” if you have kids? If you’re married? If you’ve been together at least a decade? What if the people you consider your family aren’t blood-related or romantic partners? I don’t really like having one’s employer police who gets to be “family.”

            At this point, I would call a vacation with my mom, brother, and partner a “family vacation,” and would not call a trip with my partner a “family vacation,” but I wouldn’t be asking for special consideration by designating it like that, and I wouldn’t consider one trip more important than another (although I recognize that for a big family, or one where people don’t have flexible schedules, there may be considerably less wiggle room on the dates). And I certainly wouldn’t want my boss deciding that my/my colleagues’ trips were more or less important because of who we were going with.

            1. doreen*

              As I said in a different reply, I’ve never known someone to refer to a “family vacation” and mean it was that person and their SO/household – in my experience, when people say that they are talking about multiple households. Your experience could of course be different . And when people are mentioning the reason for a vacation (beyond just needing a vacation) again , in my experience, they are doing so to request special consideration. Not in the sense that their time off is more important than someone else’s so much as a relaxing of the rules – maybe only one person is supposed be on vacation at a time and Sue already has the week of Nov 1 to Nov 5 approved when April asks for the 5th off because of a family reunion. Maybe the boss will give April that one day off even though it’s difficult and the rules say he shouldn’t because it’s a family reunion but wouldn’t. Or it’s a retail store and there’s a vacation blackout from the day after Thanksgiving until New Years Day but someone is requesting special consideration for a couple of days for their sister’s wedding.

              1. metadata minion*

                Maybe it’s regional? I would absolutely say “family vacation” for something that was just my nuclear family, but maybe that’s because my extended family doesn’t really have a tradition of multi-household family vacations.

                1. Llama Llama*

                  Samies. My my SO and my dog go on family vacation. When I was a kid, mom dad and 3 kids was family vacation. I think the lesson is you shouldn’t make assumptions.

                2. RussianInTexas*

                  I wouldn’t call just me and my partner a “a family vacation”, but it we were going to see another family member, without a special reason even, “family vacation”.

                3. iliketoknit*

                  Same here, to both. If there were anything more organized like an actual family reunion, I would say family reunion. I guess the caveat is that if the person taking the vacation lived alone, I would assume that “family vacation” meant meeting up with someone they didn’t live with (if they lived with family members I’d just assume they were traveling with the people they lived with), but that could be just a sibling or parent.

                4. Elizabeth the Ginger*

                  I feel like I’d use “family vacation” if it were three or more people. Vacation with my husband and our single kid? Yes. Vacation with my mom and my sister? Yes. Vacation with my dad and my grandpa? Yes. Vacation with just one of those people, though – any one of them – I would probably just call “vacation with my (whatever).”

                  Which is not to say someone who does it a different way is wrong. I just enjoy interrogating my own use of language!

                5. allathian*

                  Yeah, this. When my husband, son, and I go on vacation, it’s a family vacation. When my husband and I were dating, and before we had a child, I never called the vacations we took together family vacations. I suppose that if we’d never had a child, I would’ve started to think of us as a family at some point, although possibly not for as long as our parents are living. Naturally I accept that other people have different ways of defining what is and isn’t family, and I’d never question anyone else’s definitions for themselves, but for me personally it’s definitely centered on children. My sister and her SO are childfree by choice and they don’t live together. They’re a couple, but they definitely don’t consider themselves a family, according to her.

                  But honestly, this is a Catholic school. I suspect the LW mentioned that because it’s probably relevant to this discussion. Even if employees in secular schools are often also held to an unreasonable standard of behavior. Was the timing of the vacation a problem, or do they expect all their female staff to at least pretend that they’re saving themselves for marriage? I have a feeling that’s where all that talk about “dedication to the school and [her] position” comes from. Would this manager ever have approved a vacation for a trip to see a boyfriend (not even a fiance!) abroad if she’d known? I totally understand the LW’s lack of willingness to discuss her vacation plans with her boss.

                6. Yorick*

                  @Allathian: I think of my husband and me as a family, but I still wouldn’t call our trips a family vacation.

                  Sure, you might use “family vacation” if you were going on vacation with your spouse and 2 kids. But from the boss’s perspective, I would expect being told you need the time off for a “family vacation” to mean something other than that. Ultimately, a vacation with your spouse and 2 kids is just a regular vacation when you have a spouse and 2 kids.

              2. Rainy*

                I would absolutely consider someone and their household all vacationing together to be a “family vacation”. It’s a family. They’re vacationing. I don’t know how it wouldn’t be a family vacation.

                1. MCMonkeyBean*

                  It’s not that it’s *not* a family on vacation, but adding on descriptors makes it sounds like something other than the default. If your household is you and your spouse and your two kids that live with you, then all of you going away together is what most people would consider the default “vacation.” Anything that deviates from that standard is what people would expect you to clarify.

                  Obviously you can call it whatever you want, and if you want to call your household trip a “family vacation” no one is going to arrest you. But people will make assumptions based on your choice of words. And if someone chooses the phrase “family vacation” I’m going to assume this is a trip that required coordination between more than one household and that finding dates that worked is a lot more difficult than planning a trip with one other person.

              3. Mannequin*

                Everyone I know has considered a “family vacation” to be one or more parents + one or more kids. That’s it. Most people I know don’t even have “family reunion” type gatherings.

              4. generic_username*

                interesting…. I say “family vacation” if it’s just me and my parents going on vacation, but say “I’m going to a reunion” or “I’m going to see family” when I go to my reunions. If there’s more than my immediate family I almost never call it a family vacation….

              5. Ace in the Hole*

                Perhaps this is regional, but in my area people usually use “family vacation” to mean a trip with immediate family/household members, but the crucial distinction is the whole household goes. So a couple going on a trip with their two kids is a family vacation, but a couple going on the same trip and only bringing one of the kids is not a family vacation. Someone might use family vacation for a trip with their parents/siblings/kids even if they don’t all live together anymore, but typically that would be a case where there’s one central household plus some individuals living alone… for example, if one of the kids is a young adult living on their own at college, or if it’s a young family bringing an elderly parent with them.

                For a trip where people from multiple households gather, we would say “family reunion.” However you could take a family vacation to go to a family reunion (if all members of the household are traveling to the reunion together), or you could have a family reunion that is not a family vacation (for example Mom goes to a reunion with her side of the family and Dad stays home with the kids).

            2. RagingADHD*

              I think some reasonable bars for when “traveling with boyfriend” becomes “family vacation with my partner” would be:

              a) you consider the boyfriend family, and
              b) you are actually partners in real life.

              LW did not consider the boyfriend family, because she says she “made the decision to say it was a family vacation.” And later, that she told her co-worker “the true nature of the vacation.” If she thought he was family, she would not have considered that those two statements were different.

              As far as partnership, it appears the trip was in August. It’s now mid-September, and LW in the comments refers to him as her “ex-boyfriend.” Whatever your parameters for “family” may be, an online romance that doesn’t survive actually meeting in real life would be a real stretch for that category.

              1. Cat Lady*

                Where did she refer to him as her ex boyfriend? She said my “now boyfriend”. And it really doesn’t matter who she is going on vacation with. It’s her vacation and I think it’s really icky that anyone gets to judge a valid use of vacation time.

                1. RagingADHD*

                  Nobody is judging the use of vacation time.

                  Nobody would have cared about what she was doing on vacation, if it weren’t a blackout period that the boss gave a special exception for.

                  The issue is that that exception was obtained under false pretences. Whether that was LW’s motivation or not, that is what happened.

          2. JM60*

            Those assumptions are unwarranted IMO. Who each person counts as their family can greatly vary from person to person, and there are many, many family vacations that have flexible scheduling. A camping trip can likely be rescheduled for instance.

      2. Former teacher*

        It’s a difficult time because it’s the beginning of the school year. It’s rare to take a vacation then in K12 education. But it sounds like it was approved before she said it was a family vacay. And as a media specialist and not a classroom teacher, it’s a little less urgent to be at school then. Most teachers won’t start using the library the first few weeks of school. Schools tend to fall into the “family” workplace dynamic, especially private schools I think.

        1. BeckyinDuluth*

          Yeah, I work in education too (higher ed academic technology), and no one on my team takes time off at the end of August/early September unless it’s an emergency/out of their control. I would bet that’s playing into this. The boss is still over the top, but planning your vacation around what is going to be seriously inconvenient for your team would be the considerate thing going forward. Your boss should have been more upfront about that, though.

      3. chewingle*

        I was thinking this, too! I wouldn’t find it at all unreasonable for my boss to hop on the phone with me and say, “Just wondering if there is any wiggle room in your requested dates, because we have these things going on at that time that will make it more difficult.”

        OP’s boss just didn’t handle this well at all.

        1. Ori*

          Yep. Asking if I could be flexible, might be ok. Saying yes then having a go at me afterwards would be utterly inappropriate and unacceptable.

      4. MCMonkeyBean*

        Yeah, I really don’t understand why OP said “family vacation” instead of just “vacation”–there’s no need to actively lie to avoid mentioning the boyfriend.

        And because of that… I actually kind of understand where the boss is coming from. I do think “family vacation” adds a bit of pressure to approve–not because of any judgement about whether your family or your boyfriend is more important or anything, but because a “family vacation” implies there are a lot of people involved that makes scheduling difficult. I know the few times I have gone on a family vacation I have had very little say in the timing and I just have to say “yes I can join you” or “no, I can’t make that week work.” So if I were in the boss’s position I think I would also feel like you lied to try to guilt me into approving the time off.

    3. Spearmint*

      Maybe this is just the kind of places I’ve worked at, but vaguely saying “oh I’m going on vacation” to your boss would come off as cagey and defensive. And not because my bosses are nosy or toxic, but because asking you what you’re doing on vacation is a normal small talk-y question.

      I can imagine there would be even more pressure to share the reason at a workplace that is “gossipy”.

      1. Yorick*

        Sure, if they ask questions you can share what you’re comfortable with. But when you ask for the time off, you can just say, “I’d like time off to go on vacation on August 1-7, is that ok?”

      2. WellRed*

        It’s one thing to ask what someone’s plans are but if you work somewhere that thinks it’s cagey and defensive to not announce it upfront than I suspect there are other problems at that workplace.

      3. Chelle*

        I just put in for PTO. If I end up bringing it up in chatting that’s fine. It would be very bizarre for my boss to ask me why. If she didn’t want me to go due to an issue with scheduling she would ask “is it possible to move the time due to blah blah.”
        Our system just sends a request to the manager in the system.

        1. Rainy*

          I literally just did this–my husband and I are visiting friends in October before his work’s busy season, and I just put in for the PTO. I’m sure my manager and I will chat about it later, but I would find it really odd to have to defend why I want to take my PTO that I earned.

          (I enjoy the cognitive dissonance my coworkers experience when they ask where I went after we’ve visited these friends; I always say breezily “Oh we went to Vegas”, and I am not someone who seems like she would enjoy spending a long weekend at the tables. And in fact we don’t. Mr Rainy went to UNLV and many of his friends still live there.)

      4. Lacey*

        Where I’ve worked that would be weird when just chatting with the coworkers, but not when asking for the time itself! I do note to my boss if it’s time that’s really urgent for me to have, but other than that I don’t explain what I want it for at all.

        And of its something I don’t want to share with the coworkers, I just make something up!

      5. Sasha*

        It sounds like you work somewhere that either doesn’t give much PTO, or doesn’t grant it very freely.

        Everywhere I’ve worked, you say “can I take 20/06-25/06 as annual leave?” and you either get a yes or no.

    4. Momma Bear*

      Agreed. I might mention family. I never mention destination unless it matters to the job. I would be unimpressed if my boss decided to take me aside like that and frankly that would inspire me to put them on an information diet. This interaction also proves OP’s point about gossip. She told one person. It got back to the boss anyway AND she got called the the carpet about it. Sounds like a terrible place.

      1. Fae Kamen*

        Your point about the gossip is so true. OP said what they said for a reason. It’s a shame it backfired.

      2. Ace in the Hole*

        Funny, I do the opposite. I’ll happily divert all vacation questions to talk about the place I’m going or activities I’ve planned so I don’t have to discuss who I’m going with. I’m not exactly in the closet but I’m not exactly out at work either, so I’d rather not put my relationships out for discussion. Plus, like you said, the rumor mill never stops running.

    5. Malarkey01*

      Yeah, giving few details seems completely fine to me. Making up a lie- ehhhh. Finding out someone lied to me is a really big deal as a manager (and I’m sort of surprised Alison didn’t hit on this based on previous responses). When you lie to me I really do question your overall trustworthiness and judgement. It’s the easiest way to destroy a business relationship for me.

      I need time to take care of a few things, I need off for a vacation, I’d like x date off would all be perfectly fine to me and preserved the want to keep the details private.

      1. Ppmarigolds*

        I feel like everyone involved is misconstruing this to an over the top extent. I wouldn’t call this a lie. I wouldn’t own it as a lie. I wouldn’t even go there with an apology. How is visiting your partner so distinctly NOT a family vacation that it would be treated as a lie? I just don’t get this one.

        1. Mimi*

          YES. OP may not actually consider it one, but I don’t think it would be unreasonable for someone to consider a trip to visit a significant other a visit to family.

          1. Beany*

            I think they have very different connotations. “Family vacation” implies multiple sets of travel plans, which presumably involved a lot of compromises (work schedules, school schedules, etc) that would be extremely difficult to alter. “Significant other” implies a single set of travel plans, with much more flexibility.

            Whether we can call it “technically correct” to refer to it as a family vacation — and I still don’t think we can, because OP said “now-boyfriend”, *not* spouse, and therefore, *not* family — OP was clearly trying to deceive their boss.

            1. JM60*

              because OP said “now-boyfriend”, *not* spouse, and therefore, *not* family

              Lots of people legitimately consider their current boyfriend/girlfriend family.

              1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

                Surely they’re only considered to be family if they’re actually living together? Just dating most definitely is not family!

                1. Ace in the Hole*

                  Family isn’t defined by living together. I’ve never lived with my grandmother, but she’s still my family.

                  Similarly, I have a group of friends I consider family. We don’t live together and share no blood relationships, but we are very close emotionally. We spend the holidays together, talk regularly, and take care of each other when someone is in need. Many people would say we’re not “real” family because we’re “just” friends…. but if I called a trip to visit my close friends a family vacation, it would be sincere. I’m sure many people feel the same way about their boyfriend/girlfriend.

              2. Yorick*

                I’m not totally sure, but I think it’s possible OP had not met the boyfriend at this time. Sure, you can consider a long-term bf/gf your family, but not before you’ve met in real life. (Maybe some people still would, but OP obviously didn’t)

          1. INFJedi*

            Exactly. I read the whole letter confused, thinking “but she totally did go on a family vacation?”

            Same here.
            The only person who is at fault here, is the boss. If it wasn’t the best time for LW to take a vacation, they should have said no and should’ve asked if another moment was more convenient.

            1. banoffee pie*

              Yeah boss should have told OP it was an inconvenient time instead of imagining OP was really pushing for this ‘so important family vacation’, and getting mad about that being ‘a lie’. I don’t see why people can’t just be direct and discuss things instead of stewing and getting angrier and angrier. Presumably OP didn’t even realise the boss was finding it so inconvenient.
              Also maybe boss is just a busybody who thinks reasons for vacatations should be run past them. (Do vacations even have to have reasons?) It’s hard to say without more information.

        2. Cat walker*

          +1 This. LW’s boyfriend could very well be considered family. It does seem strange that the employer is defining what family is for LW. I think the bigger concern here is the level of scrutiny an employer is using to justify prying into their employees’ lives. (LW does say they work at a religious institution, which may give reason for why the employer thought she was justified in the reaction towards the LW; although I’d hope in 2021 more religious schools would not treat their employees this way)
          On an aside, I called out sick for a family emergency in a job, where I had only been together with my partner for a month, but the emergency was that his mother was admitted to hospital suddenly for heart trouble and had an emergency heart surgery performed. My partner (now of seven years) had only his mother and father as close family and more recently myself. My boss did find out weeks later that this “family emergency” was for my recent partner’s family. Thankfully my boss was a good and reasonable employer.

          1. skunklet*

            I come from a large family, my mother was one of a dozen. But now? It’s just me and my husband (I have a grown child, all our parents have died, etc). But if my husband and i are going on vacation, it’s ABSOLUTELY a family vacation and no one gets to dictate otherwise, like some of the commetariate.

            The issue is the boss, who really is probably berating OP b/c she went and had ‘relations’ with her non married boyfriend/significant other/boytoy, whatever.

        3. ecnaseener*

          Everyone is construing it as a lie because the LW freely admits it was one. She wasn’t thinking of the bf as family and wasn’t thinking of this trip as a family vacation. We would be having a very different conversation if LW said she thought she was basically telling the truth.

          1. Cassie*

            It does seem a little weird and unnecessary that LW would make that distinction on her own – a vacation is a vacation, doesn’t matter who she’s going with or who she’ll be meeting there.

        4. Another British poster*

          Someone you’ve never even met and end up “dating” for only a few weeks is not, by any stretch of the imagination, your partner, significant other, or family.

          1. Starbuck*

            Weird, that’s not what happened in the letter or the commentor’s example so I don’t see how that’s relevant.

            1. Nancy*

              The OP has posted in the comments that the trip was the first time meeting the boyfriend and they broke up soon after.

              Regardless, OP didn’t consider it a family vacation since she has said it was a lie, so what other people consider it is not really relevant.

            2. RebelwithMouseyHair*

              OP said it was a guy they hooked up with online and were in a long-distance relationship with. That’s definitely not family.

              1. Starbuck*

                OP didn’t use the term “hooked up”, you did, which makes it sound like a much more casual thing by nature. The relationship didn’t end up working out, sure, but they seem to have been approaching it with the intent of forming a lasting relationship.

        5. Starbuck*

          Yeah that’s my first thought – visiting your significant other / partner IS a family vacation. If you’re visiting someone you consider family, it’s not a lie. Boss is way out of line. Vacation is vacation, so the reason doesn’t really matter if they’ve already approved it.

        6. Amaranth*

          I think the boss should be more focused on the fact that OP couldn’t trust her not to partake in gossip so offered a generic reason.

      2. Person from the Resume*

        I agree. My take on this is that both the LW and the boss were wrong. The LW didn’t really establish a reason for her choice to lie rather than be vague and general about plans.

        As a single adult, when I say “family vacation” I convey that I’m travelling with my parents, siblings and their partners, and nephews. That adds a layer of difficulty in planning that one person travelling to visit another does not.

        I do wonder if because it was a catholic school, LW didn’t want to deal with the assumption that she would be having premarital sex with her boyfriend on this vaca.

        IDK. I can speculate but with there’s no real justification in the letter for the lie. and any boss might rightfully be concerned or upset when they discover that an employee lied to them.

        1. Mostlyalurker*

          I feel like as an unmarried adult though, there’s often an assumption that my plans are more flexible/less important than people with kids and a spouse. I’ve definitely used “family thing” as a catch all with clients to explain time off, even if family is just me and my partner, because that is my family and non traditional families need time off too. I could see the letter writer following a similar thought process, particularly at a gossipy, negative Catholic school.

          1. Code Monkey, the SQL*

            I absolutely agree – for a more traditional school, “family” is likely a much narrower definition than other workplaces. My friend in social work would call going on vacation with her partner and dogs a family vacation, but most probably, this place would not.

            I can see where OP’s thought train led her to her decision, and though I don’t 100% agree with it, I can see her pov far better than Cranky Boss’ overrreaction.

          2. Gutenberg*

            THIS. Not having had children, I always knew this was happening to me, and most of the time I was willing to step up for parents in need, but unfortunately it all too easily led to assumptions about my availability. I would feel better about it had my vacation plans been respected regardless of what they were and my family needs such as elder care, pet care, and final arrangements been given the consideration I gave to others. With one big exception, all my previous flexibility and honesty ultimately counted for very little with my employers. So yeah, eventually I learned that honesty is not necessarily the best policy. I am nearing the end of my career, but I still regret accepting a supervisor’s 1989 decision not to let me take time off for a funeral because I had a vacation day the previous week.

          3. Yorick*

            No, the letter writer called it a family vacation as a lie because she thought people would judge her if they knew the real reason for the trip. She says as much in the letter!

          4. Noblepower*

            Absolutely as a married adult without children I’ve been on the receiving end of having my time off being treated as less important than that of my coworkers with children. And I confess that I have used the “family thing” card in order to be able to have important holidays with my spouse, or to reduce the amount of energy explaining why my trip to X should be canceled or rescheduled because my coworker just realized that Susie’s out of school the same week and now, gee, they’d like to go camping.
            I am also feeling a lot of judgement in some of these comments about the OP using a cover story in the comments here, and wonder how much of it has to do with the less-traditional or defined relationship she has with her boyfriend. I wish we could be a little more generous with other people’s private relationship choices and the things that they do or say to try to stay under the radar at work.

      3. Ori*

        If you impose arbitrary and bizarre restrictions on how your employees ‘get’ to spend their PTO, they’re going to lie to you.

    6. The OTHER Other*

      IME there are two types of managers that are really insistent on knowing why you are going on vacation; those that are just nosy and in everyone’s business and those that act as though people need to have a really compelling reason to want to (gasp!) do something other than work there. That the boss here tossed out the phrase about questioning the LW’s commitment to the job makes me think it’s the latter.

      In normal offices idle curiosity about what coworkers do over the weekend or on vacation is pretty harmless, but in this case LW had good reason for not getting into it. Sadly it seems as though they will have to go through variations of “none of your business” on these sorts of questions from now on.

      1. Lacey*

        Yes, I agree. I’ve had the overly interested boss, but he only denied approval once & it really was because we were going to be slammed.

        But the ones who want it to be this great reason are impossible.

      2. Beth*

        If OP’s boss thought “family vacation” meant “vacation that includes kids in the family, scheduled around school breaks,” she may have thought the dates had no flexibility. But it’s still on her that she assumed rather than asking! If it was such bad timing, she should have had a conversation about it. Stewing in resentment that OP dared to take the vacation she approved is wildly unhelpful to everyone.

    7. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      This. My vacation might be for a family wedding, or to remodel my whole house, or to binge Tiger King because I forgot some of the details and want to see it again, or to stay in bed all week watching cat videos on my phone. To my boss, it is always a vacation request, simple as that. If she thought it was an inconvenient time and could not be granted, she could’ve said no, but she didn’t. I confess I am not quite understanding what “a family vacation” means and why it is more important than the one OP actually took.

      1. Something Something Whomp Whomp*

        I confess I am not quite understanding what “a family vacation” means and why it is more important than the one OP actually took.

        When you work with people who are even slightly conservative, a valid “family vacation” is the sort of vacation that demonstrates that you have achieved “appropriate” adult milestones. It probably shouldn’t be a staycation because that doesn’t demonstrate the ability to afford to travel. Your travel partners should be your spouse, long-term partner, or children OR you are travelling to commemorate someone else reaching their adult milestones (e.g. wedding, anniversary party, implicitly family reunions).

        Nope, not bitter at all.

        1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

          Yep, as someone who was married with kids for about 20 years, that was where my confusion was coming from. When you’re married and have young children, and limited PTO and travel funds, pretty much any vacation you take falls under the definition of a family vacation, because most people have no choice but to vacation all together with spouse and kids anytime they do vacation (due to limited resources – this was certainly the case with us). How is that more important *by default* than OP’s vacations? Heck, I’m feeling bitter now too on everyone else’s behalf.

    8. Artemesia*

      This. An adult should not have to be going on vacation with Mommy and Daddy to get a vacation approved. TMI all around here. The principal sucks.

    9. Bryoming*

      100% this. I tell my employees that all they have to tell me is that they are requesting time off. If it is sick leave please just let me know if it’s an appointment or that you’re not feeling well that day. That’s all I need to know. The only reasons time off doesn’t get approved is if the employee is out of leave, there won’t be coverage, or if there is a disciplinary issue.

    10. Beth*

      Agreed. It’s one thing if it’s a very important event that I think is likely to get special prioritization–a wedding, a honeymoon, a graduation–but if it’s just a normal trip, I just request the time off without offering details. I might share in casual conversation, but that’s out of friendliness, not part of the request for time off. What I’m doing should have no bearing on whether it’s approved or not.

    11. singlemaltgirl*


      i hate being lied to by employees. but at the same time, if an employee doesn’t volunteer info – ie books vacation and if i need to ask if there’s any flexibility in the dates, they respond with either a yes or no without going into details – that’s enough for me. i prefer to trust my employees (which is why i hate being lied to) but it’s not my biz how someone takes their vacation or what they do on it. it’s their time.

      we have been putting stipulations on travel outside the country right now though – if they’ve traveled out of province or out of country – a negative recent covid test and quarantine until they have the results to show. still not asking for details and it’s on an honour system. normally, i wouldn’t care if they went away or not.

    12. TheSockMonkey*

      Same if you need any time off. I don’t understand why you would be telling your boss why at all. I am off work for “an appointment” whether it is a medical appointment, interview, time with my kid, or whatever. I don’t ever say why. The only reason I might reveal it is if they said the time I chose was not convenient and then I might say something about the nature of the trip.

    13. Lisalou*

      When my employees ask for time off and it’s not a good time for it, I ask them whether the specific date is important, or if they just need some time generally. That way if it’s the specific date, I will do everything I can to find coverage and let them take the time, but if they just want to take a few days or a week sometime, we can adjust to a better timeframe. I like doing it this way because then I’m not judging the reasons why they’re taking time off, just finding out what’s needed.

      Usually they tell me their plans regardless, but I don’t want them to feel like they have to have a “good reason” to take time off.

      1. Clorinda*

        It was in the question! OP knew there would be gossip. So, DON’T TALK.
        Where are you going?
        Oh, you know, family.
        No really, WHY?
        [sad sigh and headshake] It’s not my story to tell, if you know what I mean. Anyway, family.

      1. Governmint Condition*

        Yeah, I caught that. I was thinking that if you have to hide who your work friends are, it’s time to find another job.

      2. KateM*

        I thought that’s how you meant it – although, now that I think of it, in that case it would have been “Closet Enemy”, not “Closet Friend”.

    1. Marion Ravenwood*

      This was my first thought too. If (as the post suggests) OP only told this one friend the real reason for the trip, it’s not hard to figure out how the boss knew about it.

    2. Teapot Repair Technician*

      Yes, for both their benefits. I’m capable of keeping a work friend’s secret, but if there’s no reason for me to know, I’d rather not know.

    3. HigherEdAdminista*

      Agreed! The boss didn’t “somehow” figure it out. Your Close Work Friend is part of the gossip situation and she likely told him either directly, or she accidentally said something she shouldn’t have.

      1. Peter Piper Picked a Peck of Pickled Peppers*

        Yeah, and it’s not that difficult to accidentally reveal this type of thing. I have so many things fighting for space in my head that I don’t always remember who knows what, who said what, who wasn’t invited to what, etc. It’s easy to let something slip in casual conversation when it’s not Clearly Personal and Confidential.

        1. lasslisa*

          And then on realizing the manager is Weirdly Overreacting to message the friend like that seems pretty understandable too. Like, they mentioned it casually and then the boss got weird and they realized they had messed up. But especially something as innocuous as “traveling to meet her pandemic boyfriend, how sweet” would be hard to classify as A Secret if you didn’t already know the boys would freak.

    4. Becca Rosselin-Metadi*

      Yes, as soon as I read that, I started shaking my head. How did your manager “figure it out”? Your friend told her, that’s how.

    5. Amethystmoon*

      I wouldn’t tell work friends anything I don’t want the boss to know. Have been burned before. Just don’t trust them completely. Talk to your social circle outside of work and that’s it.

      1. The OTHER Other*

        Sad that it’s come to this, talk about what you’re doing on vacation should be a harmless topic but this seems the best policy, either boss is unusually nosy and dug things up or the “friend” told her.

    6. CarolyntheLibrarian*

      OP here!! It turns out my work friend wasn’t the one who told my boss. I later found out that my boss’s best friend at work was following me on Instagram from a couple years back and I forgot to check before making my accounts private.

      1. Barbara*

        Yeah I would set up your social media pages so no one from work can follow you, or friends related to them. That’s what I had to do after I started a job at a non-profit and suddenly had my co-workers commenting on things. Didn’t help that I didn’t like my co-workers anyway and had a micromanaging boss.
        My philosophy is this: Work is work, you have to do it to pay bills and live life. If you find a job that makes you over the moon happy, wonderful! But work is always going to be work. Personal Life and Work should never overlap, and you should never ever make Work a priority over Life. Work comes and goes, Life is always and forever.

      2. Fran Fine*

        Ahhhh….so your boss’s work friend is the gossip, smh. All the more reason to not add anyone you currently work with to social media and keep your plans to yourself in the workplace if you truly want to keep out of the gossip mill.

    7. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      Yep yep yep. The boss “somehow figured out”, you say? Hmm I wonder how that happened when OP’s social media accounts were all private. I guess we’ll never know!

    8. twocents*

      Even if work friend isn’t maliciously gossipy, it’s the sort of lie LW shouldn’t have set up in the first place. Something that is NBD to sane people (traveling to see family vs the boyfriend) could easily come out absent-mindedly.

    9. Anon Supervisor*

      Yeah, if you want to keep something a secret, don’t tell anyone even if you trust them implicitly. Even if the person isn’t the type to tattle on you, they might bring it up casually because they may not know that it’s supposed to be a secret (or aware of what you told others).

    10. Well...*

      Yea, OP has two possible explanations: friend gossiped, or boss was monitoring her past her publicly visible social media/etc. Both are pretty unsettling, but I’d say friend gossiping is the less troubling option.

  2. Patrick*

    I’m lucky that my job doesn’t ask reasons for vacation days but if they did “going on vacation” should be sufficient. It’s not appropriate for managers to be making judgements about what constitutes an acceptable use of vacation.

    1. Fran Fine*

      Yeah, with my new manager, we just input our time off on the calendar and don’t need to ask for approval or permission. New manager said she trusts that we’re all adults and know what we need to get done, so we can manage our time however we like.

      1. Liz*

        My group is like this as well; the only rule is that my immediate boss and my immediate boss can’t be off on the same day, as there is a daily task that must be done, although if it was a real emergency, someone would figure out how to do it.

      2. ceiswyn*

        That’s how leave has always worked for me, though I’m in the UK.

        I usually have a good enough relationship with my boss that I tell them what I’m doing anyway, but the official request through the system basically just indicates whether I can be flexible with the days or not.

    2. CoveredInBees*

      I would only bring it up if I was asking at a not great time to take off but it was close to the “my kid’s wedding” end of the spectrum. More in the context of “I realize this could make this harder for the team, but the timing can’t be helped.” Otherwise, just saying “vacation” is enough.

    3. SlimeKnight*

      Right?! I might ask my employees what they’re doing with their vacation time in a, “What is happening in your life?” kind of way, but otherwise I never need to know. If an employee has leave time to take, and coverage isn’t an issue, I’m not going to get involved with how they spend it.

    4. allathian*

      Yeah, this. With a few caveats, though. If it’s a job with a highly variable workload, the criteria for getting vacation during or just before the peak busy season would usually be stricter than during less busy times, and I’m fine with that. This of course assumes that resources aren’t stretched so thin that there’s always a busy season, in which case all bets are off.

      My close coworker and I have the same job and we cover for each other. When we use our HR system to request vacation, our boss will usually approve without question. I don’t think I’ve had a single vacation day request denied during my 14 years at my current job. We have long vacations and jobs are usually set up to provide coverage for vacation. Even if they aren’t, employers who want to retain their employees accept that people do need to take time off. My husband doesn’t have anyone to cover for him at his job, but OTOH he’s pretty free to set his own schedule, and he’s learned to schedule vacation time. He also has free use of his company phone, meaning that he can be reached at any time, even during vacations, but OTOH he pays nothing for private calls, even if he’s in China for work. It’s not a problem for him, and he’s very good at doing some work to deal with an emergency and then relaxing again in vacation mode, but I wouldn’t want to do that.

  3. Fran Fine*

    OP, you might want to refrain from telling people at work your true plans if you’re going on leave and don’t want to invite gossip by telling the truth. The fact that you said you only told one person what you were really doing and then your boss magically found out is making me side-eye this friend of yours. In the future, keep your business your business and give a bland answer if asked where you’re going. This is what I’ve been doing for years, and I’ve had no problems with getting my time off in peace.

      1. Marion Ravenwood*

        True, but either way if I was OP I’d still be reluctant to tell the friend anything like this in the future. Even if it was an innocent mistake I wouldn’t want to risk anything slipping out.

      2. Fran Fine*

        The friend still shouldn’t have been talking about it. Like, why even? I don’t discuss my work friends time off and they don’t discuss mine, especially with our boss.

        1. Colette*

          If the OP has shared that she had a boyfriend in another country – which she may have done – I could see someone mentioning she was gone and the friend saying “yeah, I hope she’s having a good time with Boyfriend” or “yeah, she seemed really excited to meet Boyfriend in person” without knowing that wasn’t common knowledge.

        2. Yorick*

          I can imagine innocently mentioning something about our coworker going to visit her boyfriend who she never sees (possibly to meet him for the first time?) if I thought everyone knew about it. It might be safe to tell her stuff and let her know to keep it private. But it’s safer not to tell her at all.

    1. CarolyntheLibrarian*

      OP here!! It turns out my work friend wasn’t the one who told my boss. I later found out that my boss’s best friend at work was following me on Instagram from a couple years back and I forgot to check before making my accounts private.

      1. Ronny*

        That is deeply weird both that they’re following you and that it would have even come up in conversation with the boss. I see why you were worried about rumors.

        1. Fran Fine*

          Right? OP, I’m sorry your boss and her “friend” live for drama. Now I completely understand why you didn’t say anything, and now that you know, you can put the appropriate blocks in place to keep this from happening again.

            1. Throw Throw Burrito*

              Yes, this. I can’t believe so many people are blaming the boss here. OP works in a school and misled her boss for the reason for taking PTO during a critical time for her employer, then got caught through careless social media use and is trying to spin herself as the wronged party.

              Schools usually have pretty strict limitations on using PTO during the school year because of staffing constraints. Especially with covid there may be additional issues if international travel is involved. I have a lot of friends who are teachers and none of them would dream of using a full week of vacation during the school year (which per their contract includes about a week before school starts) short of their own wedding.

              1. Mannequin*

                It’s the bosses fault for approving the vacation. It doesn’t matter what OP told the boss, because the boss doesn’t actually need the details.

                And people who cannot be trusted with the truth don’t deserve it.

        2. Colette*

          I find it weirder that anyone would think something they posted to social media is private. I’ve definitely mentioned things I’ve seen on social media to other people because I assumed that if you’re telling dozens of people, it’s not a secret. (For example, “Oh, cousin bought a house, did you see?” “Hey, neighbour is staying at that cabin we were at last year”)

          1. Mallory Janis Ian*

            Yes, putting something on social media that you specifically lied to your boss about is not safe at all — no matter how locked down you think you have things. If you’ve lied about it at work, it does not need to appear *anywhere*.

            1. Ori*

              ‘Specifically lied’ is a bit dramatic. I call holidays with my partner family holidays. Do we really have to be married with five kids before we ‘count’?

          2. generic_username*

            Oh man, this reminds me of when I was in college and one of my former high school classmates eloped and posted it on Facebook (these were the days that only college kids could be on Facebook). I mentioned it to my mom because she knew the girl and worked with her mom, and then my mom congratulated her mom at work the next day. Turns out, she hadn’t told her mom yet…. so awkward. She didn’t learn her lesson, because a couple years later, she did the same thing with a pregnancy! After that, she unfriended me, lol.

    2. Aquawoman*

      I agree because I think making another person a party to her lie was not a nice thing to do. I know I don’t want to have to be put in that position.

    3. I'm just here for the cats*

      The OP states in an above comment thread that it was something on social media she forgot to change. I’m glad that the friend is not to blame.

  4. Rusty Shackelford*

    A couple weeks before I left, my boss had told me that I was taking vacation at an inconvenient time and while she had approved it this time, I shouldn’t take off during that time period again.

    She has a point, but it’s a point that should have been made *before* she approved your vacation. That was the time to say “this is an inconvenient time, and always will be, since it’s right at the beginning of the school year; is it at all possible your trip could be rescheduled?”

    1. The New Wanderer*

      And that’s all that needs to be asked. The manager doesn’t need to know whether this is a once-in-a-lifetime trip or a staycation or what; they shouldn’t be in the position of deciding on the employee’s behalf that it’s a vital trip or a frivolous one. They only need to know whether the plans can be changed if there’s a conflict and accept that the answer could be yes or no based on the employee’s private assessment of their own situation.

      1. Vanilla Bean*


        As a manager, if I get a request for a vacation time that doesn’t work, my response sounds like, “Hey, that time doesn’t work because the annual Rice Sculpture Festival is that week and I need all hands on deck. Are you able to make plans for a different week? If there is something unusual going on that I need to plan differently around, please let me know.”

        I’ll make different arrangements if you need to care for your mom after surgery or it’s your kid’s wedding, etc. Basically, if it’s a big enough deal that any reasonable person would be a potential flight risk after being told they couldn’t have the time off, and no reasonable leader will give me a hard time about being short staffed over it, then I can do it.

        I have a large enough team that I can plan on one person being out of commission for some reason at all times, and I can have two people out on vacation on top of that – if an exceptional vacation request I shouldn’t deny comes up, and a third person needs to be off, I approve it and cross my fingers that it’s the one thing for that day and nothing else comes up.

        1. Ori*

          And that’s perfectly fair. Acting as though ‘family’ is magically more important than ‘partner’ is not fair.

    2. Nicotena*

      Yeah IMO the boss miss-handled this and is now taking her regret out on OP. When I became a manager a good mentor told me I had to either be direct about bringing something up or be willing to forget it; good bosses do not hold secret grudges.

    3. Salyan*

      And sometimes bosses can be ridiculous. I once had a job at a education-adjacent company – September was a really busy month for us, and the last week of August began to ramp up a bit. I took a week off in September once for a {once-in-a-lifetime} event, which I knew would be a one-off. The manager still felt the need to tell me that *any* time off in September would never be permitted again. Some years later, I asked for a week in early August, and a half week (gone mornings, in the afternoon). Apparently that was too confusing, and I was told to take the two weeks entirely gone. Okay! (Emphasis that it really wasn’t overly busy yet at that point in the month.) When I got back, things were a little confuzzled (because no one bothered to respond to the office emails or phone messages while I was gone), and I was told that I wasn’t allowed to take vacations in August ever again. I live in Canada. We only have 3 nice months in the year, and August is one of them. You can’t expect me to block off 1/3 of the summer when 75% of that month isn’t busy yet!

      1. PT*

        We had a situation at work where one of my coworkers was married to someone who worked in the public schools. So she was only available to take vacations during school breaks…but my work provided school break activities and camps. Even though his job duties didn’t deal directly with kids, it was impossible to get anyone to cover for him during the school vacation weeks, because we were all hands on deck for those activities and no one had any slack in their schedule.

        It was a serious feat, trying to plan his vacations into our schedule. Because we knew we couldn’t ban him from going on vacation ever due to his wife’s job- that’s cruel and unreasonable- but there really were times we just could not spare a person.

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

      The only way it makes sense to me is if the boss assumed OP knew it was an inconvenient time. Probably when the boss ‘reiterated’ (from her perspective) that a couple of weeks before the trip, it was out of frustration that OP didn’t seem to acknowledge (again, from boss’s perspective) that she was making things difficult. Then in retrospect, it also makes sense that the boss assumed OP lied in order to get the ‘difficult’ week off approved.

    5. WS*

      She has a point, but it’s a point that should have been made *before* she approved your vacation

      Yes, exactly. My workplace has six weeks of the year blocked off with no holidays allowed. Occasionally, someone will have to take a day’s leave for a medical appointment or an important occasion, and that is allowed if it’s something that can’t be moved (rural area, so specialist medical appointments are often set months in advance and can’t be changed). But the blanket rule is no holidays, so only when someone has something immovable do we even discuss it. We can usually work with it! But this all needs to be out and known from the start.

    6. Amaranth*

      Or ‘I know I approved this but its a terrible time, is it possible you could reschedule?’ – if you’re going to be all passive aggressive and not ask, then you get what you ask for.

  5. Colette*

    Some thoughts:
    – depending on when school starts, the end of August might be a really bad time to take a vacation – and it sounds like it was in the OP’s case, considering that her boss mentioned it to her before the trip. (However, the time for that discussion was before the time off was approved, not after, which it seems to have been.)
    – this type of lie is almost always more trouble than it’s worth. “I’d like to take the last week of August off now that I can finally walk again” would have probably been as effective, and it would have been true.
    – if you’re going to lie to your boss, you can’t tell the truth to anyone else (or at least not anyone else you work with)

    1. Fran Fine*

      if you’re going to lie to your boss, you can’t tell the truth to anyone else (or at least not anyone else you work with)

      Quoting for emphasis (and because it bears repeating). Learn to keep your business to yourself, OP.

    2. Tuesday*

      Yes, and regarding the second point, I can see why the boss might have thought the OP was lying about a family vacation to make it more likely that the vacation would be approved – whether or not it actually worked. I also think it’s possible that the boss was weirded out when she found out the OP lied to her so casually about something – I think I would be.

      HOWEVER, the boss is still reacting very strangely.

      1. TheSockMonkey*

        She may have called it a family vacation because this is the first time she was meeting said boyfriend. What if it didn’t work out? What if she wasn’t ready to tell people about the relationship?

        1. Tuesday*

          Oh absolutely, I definitely wouldn’t advocate for telling people about the relationship before she was ready. It’s the lying about it that creates problems.

    3. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I agree with allll of this. The LW’s particular job is really important here– late August sounds like pre-bts crunch time. I can see the boss thinking the family part was not movable.

      If you’re gonna lie, you need to make sure it’s airtight and consistent… so in the future, you’re much better off getting closer to the truth. “I’m visiting a friend overseas” is still true.

    4. Ashley*

      The boss could’ve said no in the first place, if it truly were an inconvenient time. To hold it over the OP after approving it is just poor managing — it’s emotional blackmail.

    5. Delta1Juliet*

      100% to your final point. It’s right up there with “if you call in sick, don’t go to the beach/football/theme park”.

  6. CatCat*

    If the time off is already been approved, like it was here, it seems even more nunya business than it already is.

    1. SwingingAxeWolfie*

      I think this is an important nuance here. It looks to me that the boss maybe wanted to backtrack on the OP taking the time off, but then remembered “oh wait, it was a family vacation, I won’t do that to them” (presumably, as per Alison’s example, towards the Wedding end of the spectrum). They then rightly asked that the OP take holiday at other times in future. All good at this point.

      Then they found out that the OP misled the nature of the vacation (it’s buried in the comments, but it was indirectly via unchecked social media followers, not the work friend) and now they’re pissed off. I mean, that’s kind of OK to be annoyed, but as they never communicated to the OP “I’m approving this because I feel the reason for the vacation is important enough”, all they can do is learn from it themselves. Heck, it wouldn’t matter if they came back to the OP and advised it was the only reason they’d approved it – though it would probably be a repeat of the “don’t take holiday at this time of year” conversation. But the fact that they lack the self-awareness to realise that they didn’t communicate effectively with the OP – and that in any other situation it really isn’t her business – and are escalating it to this level is concerning.

  7. I should really pick a name*

    My three takeaways from this:
    1. If at all possible, don’t explain the reason for your vacation.
    2. Your boss is unreasonable. Because of this, feel free to lie to them.
    3. If you lie to them, don’t tell anyone.

    1. Campfire Raccoon*

      As a boss I:
      1. Don’t want to know the reason for your vacation.
      2. Don’t appreciate being lied to, but if I found out someone had lied to me about something so nunya, I’d take hard a look at my bossing abilities.
      3.Would wonder why you spilled your own beans.

      1. Campfire Raccoon*

        **fail. I meant to add: OP’s boss is a turd. I’m undecided on possible gossipy office friend.

        1. sunny-dee*

          She lied to her boss in order to get time off for the beginning of the school year. There is no blame on the boss. The OP just bald-faced lied to get approval for a nonessential trip. It’s honestly disturbing how many people are cool with that.

          1. Elizabeth*

            Why wouldn’t they be cool with it? It’s time she was entitled to, and the reason doesn’t matter. The boss says yes or no, and the rest is just arguing buttercream versus fondant, so to speak.

            It’s not up to the boss to determine essential or nonessential, only if the dates work or don’t.

            1. Maggie*

              But, in the real world, reasons do matter, especially when you’re taking a week off at literally the worst possible time. If I were a tax accountant, I wouldn’t expect to be able to take the first week of April off to go on a vacation or have a spa day. I would expect to be able to take it off for a funeral if a family member passed away, or if my husband needed surgery, etc. I think there’s a bit of being purposefully obtuse going on in some of these comments.

              1. Mannequin*

                I don’t actually see ANY difference between saying “family vacation” or “vacation out of the country to meet a friend”.

                1. allathian*

                  Perhaps not. But given that this is a Catholic school, can you at least understand that they might do so?

              2. Ori*

                It’s not being purposefully obtuse. I genuinely don’t understand why some of you think a family holiday is on a par with a once in a lifetime wedding and a holiday with a partner (which would be way more important to me) is a non essential ‘trick’ or ‘lie’.

          2. Aquawoman*

            Mostly agree, sunny-dee. I don’t know if she lied specifically for the purpose of getting the vacation approved, but I think you have to know as a school employee that the end of August is a terrible time for a vacation (I’m not a teacher and I know that!). And she did lie about it. I think the boss probably did overrule her own inclination not to give the time off based on the “family vacation” thing.

            1. sunny-dee*

              It was a vacation at the very beginning of the school year. A very nice principal gave her time off for a family trip that (presumably) she had been unable to take during the pandemic. She was really using it for an romantic vacation that could have waited for the holidays (or the guy could have visited her). Those are very different things and a big betrayal of trust (as well as a shocking lack of judgment).

              1. JM60*

                Setting aside the fact that a trip to see a romantic partner IS a family trip if you consider the romantic partner family, most family trips can also wait until late December, the Summer, or some other time. A family vacation could be camping, going on a cruise, or lots of other things. Saying that it’s a “family trip” is not like claiming the trip is for something that you can’t postpone (like a funeral or someone else’s wedding).

              2. Ori*

                Betrayal of trust? Wow. I cannot remotely understand where you’re coming from with this. Why do you think family is essential but partner can wait?

          3. Just Another Zebra*

            Why wouldn’t we be? OP’s boss approved the time off, then later said, “I approved this, but maybe I shouldn’t have.” She didn’t lie to get the vacation – she lied to keep the vacation.

            And really, she didn’t have to say anything. PTO is part of your benefits package. You can take it when you want, and use it as you see fit.

            1. Amy*

              PTO for vacations isn’t part of the benefits package for many teachers. There often a few sick days that you accrue, the occasional “personal business” day, but vacations are meant to take in the 175ish other days of the year in many districts.

              1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

                OP says she’s a librarian. I admit I do not know if the same rules apply there that do to teachers.

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

              In companies (don’t know about schools) although PTO is part of your benefits…. it isn’t the case that you can automatically take it when you want! It’s always subject to approval (and can potentially be rescinded) by a boss or whoever coordinates it – even if the approval is mostly a ‘rubber stamp’ in most cases. You don’t actually have the right to take vacation at any specific time…

          4. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

            Because “family vacation” does not have quite the same ring to it as “my brother’s wedding” or “my mom’s back surgery that she’ll need round the clock care after” or “my grandma’s funeral on the other side of the country”? It is also a nonessential trip, same as the one to meet up with your boyfriend. I just fail to see it as a bald-faced lie. OP kept the boyfriend out of it, not to get approval, but to keep people from gossiping.

            1. I AM a lawyer*

              Agreed. I think OP’s motive is relevant here, and she didn’t call it a family vacation because she thought she would be more likely to get the time off.

          5. Uranus Wars*

            I have a hard disagree here.
            – “Family vacation” instead of just “vacation” is not a bold faced lied.
            – whether it’s a trip to the grocery store or a trip overseas it only matters if it’s essential in the eyes of the OP, not in anyone else’s eyes
            – the time was approved by the boss

          6. River*

            My partner IS my family. If I were OP, I would have said the same thing and it wouldn’t have been a “bold faced lie.”

            1. Another British poster*

              The OP wasn’t visiting her “partner” she was visiting someone she’d never even met, who she ended up breaking up with after their first meeting.

              Someone you’ve never even met is not your partner or your family.

              1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

                Oh my lord, how’s the breakup important? They did not plan on breaking up at the time the vacation was scheduled.

                I left my husband, does that mean all the vacations we’d taken t0gether previously are now invalid and a waste of PTO?

              2. Why did I go to library school?*

                “. . .she was visiting someone she’d never even met, who she ended up breaking up with after their first meeting. Someone you’ve never even met is not your partner or your family.”

                The fact that they broke up is irrelevant. She clearly didn’t go there INTENDING to break up. However, putting that aside…

                I am genuinely curious: why do you feel that someone you’ve never physically inhabited the same space as not count as a partner/family? I have numerous friends who have now lived with their partners for many years who started dating online LONG before they “met” in person. They certainly considered each other partners, and, in some cases, family.

            2. Frankie*

              Op was visiting a person she was meeting for the first time, hardly in the rank of a partner. It’s just disingenuous to call the other person a family.

              To be clear, I think op is entitled to have her vacation but if it’s just a meetup, they could have set a different date for it

  8. Amy*

    This is really going to depend on the school / district’s schedule and if you are a 10 month or 12 month employee. If teachers and admins are expected to come back the last week of August, this was a fairly unusual ask and I’m not completely surprised the reason seemed to matter.

    1. Gouda*

      100%. The boss is still being a little intense, but if it’s the first few weeks back in the school year, it’s always going to be considered pretty strange to take multiple days off.

    2. Gan Ainm*

      Yeah I agree, and it seems like it was during their contractually obligated work time since she had to request the week off… if it were during the summer vacation her time should be her own.

      I’m wondering if that’s why her manager mentioned how challenging those dates were, the boss may have initially assume OP understood how unusual the request is and granted the time with that in mind, thinking OP wouldn’t have requested it unless it were serious / unmovable, but then realized OP actually didn’t have a full appreciation for the difficulty and wanted to impress upon OP not to do it again, and THEN found out she lied to boot…. I would probably be a bit frustrated as well if I were the manager. I would make an attempt at explaining to the manager if I were OP, I think this is a situation where order of events and intent makes a difference.

    3. mcfizzle*

      Agreed – I work for a public school district, and it needs to be a *really* important life event to be considered for leave during nearly any part of August. While I agree boss overreacted, I can understand where that reaction is coming from. I can also see where not needing to provide a reason (just “going on vacation”) should be sufficient, but August in a school district is crazy. Literally crazy. Thus the increased scrutiny (right or wrong).

      1. Hiring Mgr*

        that makes sense, but then why would the boss approve the vacation with no further discussion until weeks later?

        That’s where the boss loses me – if this was such a huge exception why didn’t boss mention it at the time?

        1. Annie Moose*

          I’m wondering if it’s a situation where the boss was on the fence about it, ended up approving it, and then later was like “yknow, I did approve it so I can’t take it back now, but this really is inconvenient for the school year, I’d better make sure LW knows I can’t do this again.”

        2. Amy*

          I wonder if it wasn’t a Covid thing. Along the lines of “she hasn’t seen her family for 20 months, poor thing, I’ll approve it.” But wouldn’t have otherwise. It really is like April for accountants. I’m in an K-12 related field and there is a strict “no vacation for anything but highly unusual circumstances from Aug 15 – Sept 30.” I’ve received one exemption in 15 years and it was a big deal.

    4. Jack Straw*

      This was a hugely unusual ask if your school year starts in late August (and even if it starts after Labor Day, it’s an unreasonable ask for anything that can be rescheduled IMO). I cannot imagine anyone taking a vacation day, let alone multiple days, in August. It’s part of the gig, just like April for tax professionals or December for retail managers.

      I do agree that the supervisor was a bit OTT, but i absolutely get them thinking you lied to get the days approved.

    5. Starbuck*

      Then boss shouldn’t have approved it in the first place, that’s on them. You can’t get angry at your employee for taking vacation during an inconvenient time if you approved it. 100% on the boss here.

      1. Gan Ainm*

        Hmmm, so reasons shouldn’t matter? All time off should be based on a strictly enforced schedule with blackout dates with no consideration for extenuating circumstance? Because either reasons matter or they don’t, and if they don’t then the answer would have been a strict no regardless of whether it was a family vacation or a death or something else, and I don’t think we want to deal with the consequences of that approach, life happens and people need a little grace and flexibility…. I just can’t say this is 100% on the boss for trying to give that, then finding out she was lied to. The boss obviously overreacted but I think “100% on her”
        is a little unfair.

        I specifically tell my team they don’t need to provide reasons and just to say “time off” but if they volunteered a lie that just so happened to correspond with asking for time off at our busiest season… I’d be annoyed.

        1. Starbuck*

          Not what I said, and not sure why you want to take the side of a boss who is pretty clearly being unreasonable and in the wrong here. They don’t get to have it both ways. OP’s lie didn’t inflate the significance of the time off as far as I can tell (they didn’t say it was for a major life event that would merit an exception to blackout dates, like wedding, family reunion, etc) so that apparently wasn’t the issue. This is about boss trying to impose their moral judgement on OP’s personal life, not OP trying to weasel their way into getting time off approved without “good reason”.

    6. Throw Throw Burrito*

      Yes, this is normal in K-12 education – if OP led her boss to believe she was traveling for reasons other than what it turned out to be, I can totally see that being frowned-upon. The comment about how it’s a difficult time to give vacation time may have been a warning that it needed to be pretty darned important and that it wouldn’t be happening again.

      I can’t blame the boss for being annoyed when she found out that the “family vacation” was actually an international booty call with an Internet pen pal.

      1. No Tribble At All*

        Wow, harsh! It’s totally normal to be in a relationship with someone you met online, and wanting to spend time with that person *in person* is not just a booty call! You’re way undervaluing a relationship. After a year, OP may have genuinely considered the boyfriend to be part of her family.

    7. Loves libraries*

      I’m a former school librarian at a private school. Last week in August would definitely be a non option since our school begins early to mid August. An exception would have been granted for something like a wedding of a close family member where I had no control of the date.

  9. Laura*

    I must admit as soon as I read “Catholic school” my first thought was that your boss don’t want any unmarried employees to vacation with their SO’s. But that is very possibly me being ignorant of Catholic schools. It must vary a lot from school to school.

    1. Ian*

      That was my reaction, too. I’m not sure the reaction is “this is less important;” it might be more “this is something I actively wouldn’t want you to do.”

    2. Catholic school grad*

      As someone who attended Catholic schools 1 – college, it DEFINITELY depends on the school.

      1. Well...*

        Agreed, it depends on the school. Some catholic schools have an atmosphere more in touch with professional norms. In my experience, the gossip/nosey/in everyone’s business atmosphere is more common than the strict adherence to religious expectations.

    3. Alldogsarepuppies*

      my thoughts were same-sex couples….or maybe both. There is no indication of LW’s gender but that was my instinct.

    4. Justme, The OG*

      I have a friend who met their fiance at the Catholic school where they both teach and they had to be really sneaky about vacationing together before married. And then also stay in separate hotel rooms just in case.

    5. Gan Ainm*

      Yeah the thought crossed my mind as well, and it’s funny because my cousin is the principal of a Catholic school and couldn’t care less. I’m sure she’d appreciate a certain amount of discretion just so she doesn’t have to talk to angry parents and have it create more work for her but that’s actually a vote FOR lying about it. Or preferably I guess just omitting key details and being vague. I’m sure it varies school to school.

    6. Samantha F*

      I thought so too. I think what she really meant was, “I wouldn’t have approved a trip to sin!”
      I went to a Catholic girl’s high-school, and two teachers had started living together but were very careful about not commuting together and avoiding gossip (even though we girls knew and gossiped, of course). Apparently one got fired when they were caught together (of course I don’t know if that was used at the official reason but that’s what was said), which really shocked me at the time. Our school hadn’t seemed that strict (it allowed non-Christians / agnostics to attend such as myself…). Maybe Catholic schools can have very different expectations for staff compared to students.

      1. Well...*

        Also prep schools have that idea that it’s fine if you don’t get caught, but if you DO get caught or generate gossip, then you’ll get thrown under the bus. Gotta keep the donors happy.

    7. calonkat*

      That’s my read too. The last weekend in August issue is because it’s a school (and that’s right towards the start of school) and the over the top is because of the morality issue. School staff even in public schools can be held to a “higher moral standard” (which varies according to the community) and staff in a religious school even more so.
      Example: A few years ago a friend was applying to work in a Catholic school and withdrew based on the conditions for his PERSONAL life (and that he had to consider not doing homework a “sin”).

    8. iantrovert (they/them)*

      This–and/or visibly queer. I attended Catholic high school almost 20 years ago, in the Boston area. We had one gay teacher who had posted vacation photos of himself, his partner, and his partner’s nephew at the beach to a personal website. Nothing NSFW, just photos taken by the partner’s sibling like two men smiling at a toddler playing in the sand. He was fired for that when they found out about it in October. Morality clause in the teachers’ contracts. And that was enough for a relatively liberal area’s Catholic diocese.

        1. iantrovert (they/them)*

          Ironically that was indeed shortly before the Globe’s Spotlight article on exactly that–which will be turning 20 in January. Pointing fingers and shaming an out-group is frequently easier than addressing internal rot, though.

          1. Hiring Mgr*

            I hear you – I’m from the area – had many friends who went to Xaverian, CM, BC High etc.. (or fontbonne/ursuline for the girls)

            1. Daht Grl*

              Hello friends! I also attended a rather liberal Boston area Catholic HS and can remember when divorced teachers were asked to leave, or was it if they got remarried? I have seen one situation in as recent as the past 10 years. SMH that it is still going on.
              I can see how the OP was spoken to rather harshly. I can also see why they lied about the vacation. Nothing says swarming bees faster than Catholic Education. Good luck OP and please send updates. Just try to mend that fence for now and put out your feelers for new opportunities in the future.

    9. Teapot Repair Technician*

      I suspect a lot of non-conservative people would also be scandalized (or at least “concerned”) by vacation plans such as OP’s.

      But I confess, I’m old and grew up in the decades of “stranger danger” and “on the Internet, nobody knows you’re a dog”

      1. I'm just here for the cats*

        We don’t know for sure that they met online. They say “At the beginning of the pandemic, I started a relationship with my now-boyfriend, who lives in another country.” They could have met them another way. Through friends or family.”

        lets give the LW the benefit of the doubt that they are savvy enough to know how to navigate online dating.

        1. Jennifer Strange*

          Well, to be fair OP does say they were “looking forward to finally meeting my boyfriend in person” so it sounds like an online meeting. That said, as someone who met her now-husband online, I see no issues (the going to another country makes it a bit trickier, but I would trust OP to know their own situation).

          1. Never Boring*

            I met my now-husband online, and knew him online for years before we met in person. I still can’t fathom considering someone “family” who I’d never met in person.

        2. Teapot Repair Technician*

          I didn’t mean to question OP’s savvy.

          My point is, for the commentators remarking on the Catholic setting of the story, I don’t think this is a uniquely Catholic problem. Even in non-conservative workplaces, OP’s vacation might have been gossiped about.

      2. Well...*

        I would be delighted to prepare to meet a stranger on the internet, have to go out on a first date, get to a picnic table in a local park, and then find that instead all along it was a golden retriever angling for someone new to throw the ball around for a while.

    10. Macaroni Penguin*

      This might have been a factor (either consciously or unconsciously) for why the manager was upset. And yes, I expect this depends on the Catholic school district. Twenty years ago, I observed the lives of my Catholic high school teachers. One history teacher lived with his girlfriend, but Did Not Talk About That with students. Another teacher became pregnant before marriage. The only reason we students knew the basics was that she didn’t want to lie to us. So, perhaps it’s possible that the OPs personal life and moral expectations of the school system interacted.
      It’s also possible that the supervisors irritation was totally because of the vacation request timing.

    11. Emma*

      Came to say this. A friend got fired by a religious institution one week before her wedding because it became known that she was living with her fiancé.

      1. WS*

        A friend of mine got fired this year by a Catholic school for identifying as bisexual on her Facebook even though she wasn’t dating anybody. Totally legal because of religion.

    12. Amethystmoon*

      That and what if the person was LGTBQIA and in a non-normative relationship going to meet their significant other, would the reaction have been worse? I can understand the desire to not want to give a lot of details.

    13. MicroManagered*

      Attended Catholic school K-12 and this was my reaction as well. I’m sure not every Catholic school employee everywhere is weird about the prospect of an unmarried employee traveling (and *gasp!* possibly having sex with!) with their SO, but it’s definitely a higher possibility than if they all worked in a secular-run library.

    14. Hallorie*

      This. I think this is also an undercurrent of the OP’s entire post, particularly with OP making sure to note it’s a Catholic school and also noting that coworkers are gossipy and judgmental. I went to a Catholic school growing up and had teachers literally get fired for living with significant others before marriage, admitting to premarital sex, and deciding with their husband to have an in vitro baby. All the students knew, because all the teachers and family parishioners gossiped, which is also how the teachers got discovered and then fired in the first place. Vicious.

      My read is the boss isn’t mad that the OP wasn’t specific about the vacation like a typical boss may be, but the boss was specifically mad that the OP specifically lied about taking a vacation to meet up with an online boyfriend, because that’s not acceptable behavior.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        OP, I hope you are reading all these stories because basically you have to live an open book life in order to survive in this environment. Any time you feel you have to keep something a secret- it’s probably going to work into a problem later on.

        I went to a Catholic school for 8 years. It wasn’t good back then, I dunno how it could be better now. I hope some schools are better. But I frequently felt blindsided by the things that became an issue. Kind of like the blindsided feeling you may be having.

        1. Ding ding*

          I don’t really think this is the takeaway. If you are financially dependent on people who are bigoted, you do not need to give into the bigotry.

          I know bigotry might seem intense for the context but judging people (and acting on that judgment) for going about their relationships differently than how one’s own religion dictates is not okay.

  10. UKUK*

    Having worked in a similar environment, my gut instinct is that “vacation with boyfriend” is also being misconstrued and contributing to boss’s overreaction. You’ll know how conservative your boss/the general attitudes of the staff skew, but where I worked “vacation with boyfriend” would be (subliminally) construed as “dirty weekend” whereas “vacation with husband” would be considered wholesome (finace would have fallen somewhere in between). Not that it really affects Alison’s advice but it might be worth gauging for yourself whether “boyfriend” is treated differently than “husband” so you can decide what to share about your relationship with coworkers going forward.

    1. EleanorShellstrop*


      When my husband worked at a Catholic school before we were married, they made sure to let him know they weren’t thrilled that he lived with his girlfriend.

    2. Missy*

      Totally. Make it a person they met online and it becomes even more illicit to certain people. I suspect if the vacation was with a same-sex platonic friend from college that it wouldn’t have been as big a deal. But the entire reaction and the whole idea that you were now untrustworthy really makes me feel like it has way more to do with the boyfriend than the vacation.

    3. Pants*

      Agree. I feel like a significant other falls under Chosen Family, but you have to keep your family story 100% with everyone. No letting a coworker (who most likely tattled) in on who that family is.

      1. allathian*

        Perhaps, but can a person you’ve never met in person really count as a significant other? I’ve had online relationships before I met my husband that felt very significant to me at the time, but even then I didn’t call them my boyfriends. At the most they were online crushes, because I knew that they’d never go any further than that.

        1. Pants*

          I’d be more inclined to do the same, but in this case, when dealing with stuffy Catholics*, I think bending those types of rules may be more beneficial to the OP.

          *Stuffy Catholics: I was raised, or rather my father tried to raise me to be a good Catholic. I’m very well versed in how the church works. (Well enough that I left at least a decade before both of my parents did the same.)

        2. Candi*

          I think you can.

          I know a couple that’s been engaged for over ten years, and they’ve only met online. Neither has the money to travel to where the other is, and her health recently took a severe downturn. But they adore each other and are a really cute couple.

  11. KellifromCanada*

    Having attended Catholic school, I suspect the boss behaved in this over-the-top manner because he or she was “scandalized” that OP went away with a partner she’s not married to.

    1. Laura*

      And that OP lied about it to get the vacation approved. Because OP already knew it wouldn’t get approved otherwise. => boss’s thought process.

      1. Laura*

        And then OP “blamed the lie on other people” by saying it was to avoid others gossiping. Oh my, this is getting into fanfiction territory now.

        1. Hallorie*

          No, that’s essentially the gist of what I got out of OP’s letter and the boss’s response. No fanfic there.

    2. Sylvia*

      Yes…one of my in-laws was a teacher at a Catholic school and she was very worried that she was going to be fired when she got pregnant without being married. (She ended up marrying her boyfriend before anyone could see that she was pregnant.)

    3. Anon for this*

      Fellow Catholic School graduate here. I totally agree. And also agree with others that closest friend is not as close as you think, and is the likely source of gossip.

    4. doreen*

      I’m not going to say it’s not possible- but I am going to say that it’s entirely possible that the boss isn’t scandalized at all . You know how Catholic school staff sometimes do things they aren’t supposed to ? Well, some of those teachers become bosses. Someone I know from childhood is a Catholic school principal – but no one outside of family and long-time personal friends know his wife is not his first wife because he remarried without an annulment.

      1. iantrovert (they/them)*

        Eh, sometimes that’s an “it’s okay for me in MY special situation but not for anyone else” kinda deal too.

        1. PT*

          Also, context changes. They might be OK with it, their old school might have been OK with looking the other way, but their current school/boss isn’t.

          There have been plenty of times I’ve had to discipline employees for dumb stuff that I had no problem with, because my boss pitched a fuss over it and said my job would be in jeopardy if I didn’t “show better judgement in managing my employees.” My boss was 100% dead wrong in these situations, but there’s very little you can do in those situations unless you’re willing to lose your job fighting your boss over it.

        2. lasslisa*

          Or, *I* managed to keep it on the down low and not make a spectacle, you need to get more “discreet”.

    5. Candi*

      My mother’s side of the family, the older generation are superduper conservative Catholic, and oh boy would they have thrown a fit over this. Wouldn’t matter if he was at home nights and she was in a hotel -it would be “sinful”, especially without a chaperone!

      There’s a reason Grampa had to hide he’s gay for so long. :(

  12. Elizabeth West*

    I can see the point of view re juggling dates for an event one can’t avoid, like a wedding, vs. a regular getaway. But the more I think about it, the more it bugs me. It feels like asking for a reason why you’re calling in sick and puts a judgment call on what is essentially personal, private time off. Putting “family” time first could also easily skew toward people with kids, leaving single childless employees in the dust. It’s a Catholic school, which may be exempt from any kind of discrimination based on marital status because it’s affiliated with a religious organization—assuming the OP is in the U.S., which it sounds like they might not be.

    As for the gossip, I can understand why the OP wouldn’t want to tell everyone, “Hey, I’m going to visit my boyfriend,” thus leaving them with an unspoken “We’re probably going to spend the entire time boinking each other!” in their heads, regardless of how OP and BF conduct the relationship. It’s best practice overall not to feed trolls and gossips.

    I think the boss’s focus should have been on the dates and not the reasons for the vacation. But if I were the OP, I wouldn’t have told even people I was close to where I was going or why, or I would have just said “I’m visiting some family,” and left it at that. Because obviously, someone mentioned it.

    1. Mallory Janis Ian*

      “But if I were the OP, I wouldn’t have told even people I was close to where I was going or why . . . ”

      Same here. If I’m ever in the position of needing to give a vague or untruthful reason to my boss, my coworkers (even the close ones) are getting the same story. Mostly because I wouldn’t want to put them in the position where I’d implicitly asked them to lie for me should the situation come up.

    2. Colette*

      But if people didn’t prioritize events that couldn’t be rescheduled, the answer to a time-off request would be more likely to be no. Sometimes important events (weddings, family reunions, etc.) happen during peak periods, and sometimes people do need time off when it would otherwise be denied. People should be able to take time off, but they should be able to do it without putting unnecessary pressure on their colleagues who cover for them.

      Having said that, “family vacation” isn’t a reason that should be given a lot of weight – presumably as a member of that family, you have some influence into when you go on vacation.

      1. WellRed*

        I don’t disagree but it’s harder for my boss to coordinate time off with husband and school schedules than for single me to make plans.

          1. WellRed*

            Sure and when I went on a girlfriends trip I can assure you it was challenging to find a time that worked for all four of us (married, single, single mom and child free). My point is that it’s not as simple as “having influence” in the family or group. I’m actually agreeing with you here, Colette. That vaca was just as important to me as my boss’s and luckily she always makes sure I get my time ; )

    3. Aquawoman*

      I think people have to recognize reality. CPAs don’t take the first two weeks of April off. Taking that time off meant creating more work for her co-workers. The Boss may have assumed that a family trip was already arranged, and so LW would miss it if she couldn’t take that time off versus a trip to see someone that could easily have been moved to another date.

      1. mcfizzle*

        Agreed – I work for a public school district, and it has to be almost an act of God (no pun intended) to take off during ANY part of August. Even if it wasn’t the scandalous “you’re not married!” angle, I too would be pretty upset with LW. Though… not as upset as the boss was.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          Yes, that makes sense. However, I hate to see this slide into a “you must tell us where you’re going and why” type of thing.

      2. CPA reporting in on reality*

        CPA’s don’t take time off from mid-February through mid-April * Fixed that for you….

      3. Not So NewReader*

        The boss should be telling employees that upfront so that the employees don’t have to guess what the boss wants.

      4. Ori*

        So refuse the time off. Don’t approve it then get angry later. This is very obviously about religion, and morality clauses, not work needs.

        1. mcfizzle*

          Disagree! August in *any* school district is insane. Morality might play a role, but it’s certainly not the bulk of it.

          1. Butter Makes Things Better*

            OP has stated in the comments that they are a librarian and August is not at all a busy time for them because research projects don’t kick in until mid-term.

            1. Library Lady*

              Yeah, no. As a former librarian at a Catholic school, we were busy every day from mid-August when we reported back (before the teachers might I add!). Getting the library ready for students and teachers doesn’t just happen. You have to work to make it happen!

  13. Evonon*

    The Catholic school part reminds of that other letter where the readers partner couldn’t visit because they weren’t married and they were teaching at a private boarding school.

    But your boss over reacted and unfortunately a lot of private institutions are so old school they would prefer their staff be “role models” (which visiting a boyfriend UNWED AND UNSUPERVISED somehow challenges and this) than have to change their culture

    1. Canadian Valkyrie*

      I feel like letters like this (re:unwed and unsupervised, oh the scandal!) gives me real Downton Abbey vibes

    2. Candi*

      In my opinion, blindly following traditions, customs, etc., instead of examining each one for value and keeping or discarding accordingly, is part of the reason things are so screwed up in the world.

      In context of the letter: How many unhappy marriages and divorces have there been because the couple haven’t really get to know each other? It’s not even about length of time, it’s about taking the most of opportunity to see how they fit.

      There’s also the problem that OP and boyfriend are frikking adults, and prying for the sake of prying into other adults’ legal, ethical personal business really needs to stop. Full consent, no one’s getting hurt, everyone’s treated well, butt right out.

  14. Detective Amy Santiago*

    The only legitimate gripe your boss might have is if you lied about your destination given the covid of it all. I know a lot of companies have rules around quarantines after a trip depending on where the employee went. Your boyfriend is in another country. I don’t know what the rules are in your specific company, but I can see a few situations where your boss wouldn’t be remiss in being angry about that particular bit of information.

    1. Gan Ainm*

      I also think just as a person with human reactions the manager may feel a bit weird that OP not only casually lied to her face but also then told others on the team the truth. I’m firmly in the camp that my employees don’t need to tell me anything about their reasons for PTO use and actively encourage them to just say “time off” and I’d still feel weird if I went out of my way to accommodate an inconvenient time (that I’m assuming the OP should have realized would be inconvenient since it’s back to school time, it feels akin to if you’re an event planner taking the week before a major event off) and then found out they lied to me about it, especially if others on my team knew the truth. It would feel needlessly divisive. The managers reaction was still over the top but…managers are people too. I’d try to do a little relationship repair.

  15. Lady_Lessa*

    Giving the LW’s friend an out, one way that the boss could have figured out about the not family vacation is seeing some of them at Mass, or elsewhere in the community.

    Personally, I think it was a family trip, just a “potential” family GRIN

  16. Mannheim Steamroller*

    Why do bosses feel the need to know the reason for a vacation? PTO is part of compensation, and the employee is entitled to use that time without having to explain or justify it.

    1. Amy*

      It really depends on the contract. Many teachers don’t get many/any additional paid vacation days beyond the ones built in the regular school year.

      1. doreen*

        Even the teachers/school staff I know who do get additional days only get a few ( like 3-5) because they aren’t meant to be for vacation but rather for emergencies and such that can’t be put off until the next scheduled school vacation.

      2. Throw Throw Burrito*

        Yeah, my teacher friends typically have 10 sick days a year and 3-5 personal days for emergencies but there is no “vacation” in their contract. It’s expected that vacation – like, for leisure – will only happen during school vacations or the summer.

      3. Midwest Teacher*

        Yeah, we only get two each school year, and we can’t typically use them to lengthen a long holiday weekend, spring break, etc. Sometimes I forget to use mine at all because it’s hard to figure out when to take a random day off in the middle of a week.

    2. Person from the Resume*

      The LW choose to say that she was going on a “family vacation.” Nowhere in the letter does it say that the boss asked thus “forcing” her to lie.

    3. MicroManagered*

      For all the reasons Alison gave in her response. A day off to go to the park is different than a wedding or funeral or other event that cannot be rescheduled. Sometimes the stars align and every one wants the same day or dates off, but *someone* has to be at work.

    4. Just a Thought*

      I don’t need to know the reason when my direct reports use PTO. But they are not entitled to take that time off anytime they want — it needs to be when the department is not on deadlines. I would try to accommodate someone during deadlines but would be more than miffed if I then felt deceived after making that accommodation.

  17. Teapot Repair Technician*

    I agree the boss’s reaction was over-the-top. However:

    I was trying to avoid gossip

    I also try to avoid gossip at work. But if you tell your boss one thing and tell you coworker a contradictory thing, that’s a surefire way to start gossip.

    1. Some Common Sense, Please*

      Exactly — as a boss — the easiest thing to hear is I need these dates, is that OK with the schedule? I am booking flights that I will be unable to change. Period.

      I could care less where my staff go or what they do. But why on earth lie about it, Catholic or not, the boss probably just feels stupid that they believed the story. And anyone working in a school environment knows when the busiest times of the year happen — since schools are coming out of Covid and some are masking/not masking, utilizing hybrid school environments, etc., the boss was probably under a lot of pressure for some type of normal schedule. OP caused this issue. They should own it.

    2. Teapot Repair Technician*

      Having seen OP’s comment elsewhere that the boss found out from someone who followed OP on Instagram, I suppose the how-to-prevent-gossip recommendation should include: “If you tell a little white lie to one person, don’t also tell the truth to everyone on Instagram.”

  18. scmill*

    I just always said I would be out of the office on personal business. Depending on who I was talking to at the time, I might say I was going to the dentist or the beach or I might say I would be out on personal business in a very chilly “none of yours” tone.

    But I was a bit of a witch from the get-go and got worse as I aged.

  19. Not Tom, Just Petty*

    Your friend contacted you on your vacation to tell you that your boss found out about your vacation plans? And you contacted your boss while you were on vacation to admit to this?
    It’s like you are students in a school and she is your principal.
    Boss: “I wonder if sally will see her grandparents on this trip.”
    Coworker: I don’t know.
    Boss: “Oh, I thought you were close. She didn’t tell you?”
    Coworker: “Oh, well, (hands behind back, looking down, rub toe of shoe back and forth) um, well.”
    Boss: “is she not on vacation?”
    Coworker: “well, um”

    1. Mockingjay*

      There’s a weird amount of apology coming from OP to the boss. It probably wasn’t the best move to pre-emptively contact the boss. It smacked of defensiveness. Maybe OP was already on edge because the timing of the vacation wasn’t the best. I wouldn’t have said anything at all unless Boss pounced when I returned.

      Boss: “You weren’t on a ‘family’ vacation!”
      OP *puzzled or matter of fact (whichever works best): “I was on vacation with people I care about. That’s family. We had a wonderful time.”

      Less is more when notifying work about PTO plans.

  20. Dana Whittaker*

    I requested vacation during the first week of classes when I worked in higher ed. It was 100% horrible timing, but it was to take my father, just declared in remission from cancer, to a military reunion with a rapidly dwindling WWII veterans group (definitely more toward the wedding end of the spectrum).

    I had worked with all my (fabulous and kind) instructors ahead of time to get syllabi posted, office hours posted, and their contracts approved and entered into the system. My counterpart in the department could approve the few (read: less than 5) straggling contracts.

    Awful Boss declined the request, and wrote me up for strategizing coverage without her input and committing departmental resources without approval. (Note: had I not attempted to strategize coverage, undoubtedly I would have been written up for failure to be proactive.)

    I appealed the decision – HR and staff council had to pull out the staff contract for the process because no one had ever appealed before. It was declined again.

    Spoiler: I entered a whopping two contracts in the system that week (total processing time: 20 minutes). Oy.

      1. Dana Whittaker*

        Thanks for asking Pam – my mom did end up going with him. She *hates* to travel, and Montana was definitely out of her wheelhouse, but they had a wonderful time and were glad they got to see many of the gentlemen that passed away during the year until the next reunion.

  21. heismanpat*

    Put in for time off and leave it at that. Ain’t nobody’s business what you do during your downtime. Don’t ever apologize for taking time off and spending it how you see fit.

    1. CoveredInBees*

      But also, know your workplace and keep yourself to yourself if it is going to pose a problem. I’ve worked in gossipy workplaces and kept most non-work details to myself because they would take anything at all and turn it into an issue. Secondly, it a place like a religious school, where you have far fewer anti-discrimination protections, sharing some info can get you fired in a way that couldn’t happen in a non-religious organization.

  22. JustKnope*

    You seem to have two different problems here. The first is whether your vacation timing was actually that inconvenient. If it was, your boss should have talked to you about that before approving the request, checked with you to see if the dates were negotiable, etc. Then made a final call. The second issue is the “lying”. I think your boss is acting very, very weirdly here, and that makes me think it’s not really about the dates. It would have been better for you to go with the no information version (“I’d like to take vacation days” without specifying a reason) versus actively lying, but my gut says that Alison is giving too much benefit of the doubt to the boss. Your boss is being very invasive, and your “work friend” does not seem to have your best interests in mind.

    1. Merci Dee*

      I agree that the boss should have talked with the OP about the dates before approving the time off. I got a weird vibe when I read the sequence of events. The OP emailed to get the time off in July, and it was approved. Then, a couple of weeks before the trip, the principal talks with her about the timing and says it’s really inconvenient. I wondered if the principal was someone who relies on hints and indirect comments to get the point across, and then gets upset when no one picks up what she’s laying down. Like:

      What she says: “This is a really inconvenient time for vacation. I approved it this time, but you shouldn’t make another request like this in the future.”
      What she means: “This is a terrible time for you to be gone, and I can’t believe you even asked. I’m going to do a generous thing and mention how horrible the timing is just to give you a gentle nudge so that you can apologize and cancel your plans immediately.”

      What others hear: “This is a really inconvenient time for vacation. I approved it this time, but you shouldn’t make another request like this in the future.”
      What others think she means: “This is a really inconvenient time for vacation. I approved it this time, but you shouldn’t make another request like this in the future.”

  23. Американка (Amerikanka)*

    I also believe it was the boss’ fault. They should not have approved the vacation if it was a bad time.

    OP does not need to share the reason for the vacation. If I were in that situation and the boss wanted to change vacation time on me, I would push back since I purchased plane tickets already.

  24. Polecat*

    You’re not obligated to provide the reason you’re putting in for vacation time. If you choose to provide a reason, and you lie, I say you deserve what you get. Lying to your manager is a risky proposition. You also put your friend at work and the position of having to keep your secret. A bunch of bad decisions on your part.

  25. Slow Gin Lizz*

    I am suspicious of the boss. Given that she questioned OP’s ulterior motives and dedication to the school, it seems more like boss is overly controlling. I understand that she was annoyed she was lied to, but given that the thing that she was lied to about was really none of her business, her reaction does seem very over the top and more like the reaction of someone who is a rather lousy manager to begin with. (As usual I want to know more about boss’ managerial flaws!)

    1. Hallorie*

      I work in the schools and think most of the principals I work with across buildings would have a “s/he did WHAT?!” reaction to discovering a teacher (or teacher-adjacent) took a non-scheduled-break vacation during the year and lied about the reason. I can easily see it being a sit down chat about proper conduct, and I can easily see the teacher’s reputation being irreparably harmed across the entire building and possibly district, depending on size. For better or for worse, schools tend to have a culture, and then add a possible Catholic School culture on top of it (…OP lied about a vacation to spend time with an online boyfriend…), and nothing about this letter surprises me. Even the most chill principals I’ve known would have an issue with the vacation timing AND the lie, but those principals would acknowledge their role in approving the vacation to start with. I also think principals can become possessive of their staff in terms of staff being part of their building.

  26. Ashley*

    Your so-called work friend told your boss what you were doing on your vacation.

    The only time I gave detailed info about a vacation request was when I put in request a year in advance for my wedding. Otherwise I just enter a request without any additional info.

  27. Mister Lady*

    Your boss created an environment in which you felt unsafe or uncomfortable telling the truth; they can’t really be too surprised when, in those circumstances, people lie. I’m sorry you’re dealing with this.

    As a relatively new manager, I am ever thankful for these examples of how not to be. Our office has always been pretty friendly, so there’s a tendency to share a LOT, but since I was made a manager, I’ve been scaling back my sharing so people don’t feel like they HAVE to share so much, like explaining in detail the reason they need time off.

  28. Seriously, my name keeps getting deleted*

    Okay, I’ll say it. I don’t think the boss is at all off base here. I don’t know if she should be “angry”, but I don’t think she’s overreacting. It’s sounds to me all she did was have a conversation with the OP. That’s not even punitive.

    OP lied unprompted and got caught. I highly doubt her boss asked “with whom” when the OP said they were taking vacation. It’s completely rationale for the boss to be upset about the attempted deception. And it sounds like the location was misleading as well. Of course trust is broken and her boss is worried she may lie whenever convenient. And while OP doesn’t owe anyone an explanation about her time off, lying was neither necessary nor appropriate, and loss of trust is often a consequence to dishonesty…

    1. Soup of the Day*

      I kind of agree. I totally understand why the OP DID lie, but it sounds like the boss didn’t necessarily even ask what the trip was for and OP volunteered that it was a family trip. This plus the possible reasons Alison mentioned for the boss being upset make me feel like the boss has reason to wonder about credibility here, especially since it’s more of a “moral” issue in a Catholic setting.

      I have sympathy for the OP here and probably would have done the same thing in this situation, it’s just crappy that they got found out! But the boss isn’t totally off-base.

    2. Colette*

      Yeah, I agree. I think the OP owns most of the issue for lying when she could have told the truth. The boss should have clarified before approving the vacation (i.e. “that’s not a great time, is there any possibility you could reschedule?”) – but having a conversation after she found out one of her employees lied to her for no reason was a reasonable thing to do.

    3. Texas*

      Except we don’t know that it was unprompted. OP says she made the decision to tell her boss it was a family vacation; to me that implies she knew her boss was going to ask for details on the vacation and decided to have a vaguer answer to avoid gossip and judgement.

      And truly, what difference is there to a reasonable employer if it’s a family vacation or a vacation to see a significant other? OP is an adult; she’s not a kid who has to go with her parents on vacation so whether it’s with family or an SO it’s a vacation.

      1. Seriously, my name keeps getting deleted*

        Well let’s not dance around the fact that it was a lie in intent, if not also in reality.

        That said, I’m not so holier than thou that I object to the act of lying and our justifications for doing it in any scenario. But the theme of the letter appears to be “can you believe my boss is upset with me after she caught me lying?” And my answer is simply – yes, I can believe it. That’s an expected and predictable reaction. All she did was sit her down and express how it felt to be on the receiving end of the deception. I just don’t get why that’s being read as unreasonable.

          1. Read the letter*

            There is nothing at all that indicates the boss asked for any details. OP preemptively decided to lie about why she wanted the time off.

        1. Texas*

          Essentially the boss only knows about the boyfriend vacation because she took unreasonable action prior so she doesn’t really have much ground to stand on there.
          The boss found out about the boyfriend vacation because the boss’s friend saw OP’s Instagram post.
          Which means two things:
          1) The boss told her friend about OP’s vacation plans (showing why OP would want to keep her life private from her boss since she said it’s a gossipy environment)
          2) Either the boss told her friend to check the Instagram to prove it or her friend was checking for her and showed her the post

          1. Aposiopetic*

            Thank you, yes, extremely this. That the boss discovered the lie illustrates perfectly why the lie felt necessary to begin with. It’s pretty rich that the boss is denying it’s a gossipy and personally intrusive environment when those are the conditions that allowed for the discovery.

            I think it’s also really important to keep in mind that OP reports asking for and getting approval for time off BEFORE being told, shortly before the vacation, that it was an inconvenient time. I feel like a lot of these comments are getting that switched around. Boss shouldn’t have approved time off she didn’t feel ok approving, and I don’t love that she tried to bait OP into cancelling a trip on short notice after the fact by complaining that it was a difficult time.

            OP should of course learn to be more cautious with social media, and I have no doubt that this experience helped with that. But this is really on boss in most ways.

      2. Beth*

        By most reasonable people’s standards, a significant other that you’re serious about counts as family-ish. For someone looking to find fault and pick a fight, though, reasonable logic doesn’t apply.

        1. allathian*

          Perhaps. But I’m really questioning whether it’s reasonable to expect people to believe that an online romance you’ve never even met in person before the trip is really a significant other. In my book, it’s not reasonable.

            1. Why did I go to library school?*

              THANK YOU. I’m utterly baffled at the comments here devaluing online relationships in this day and age.

            2. Leaf*

              Exactly. “Family” is who you decide it is, and whether the boss agrees or not shouldn’t dictate if employees get to go on vacation.

      3. Leaf*


        If the boss was upset only about the lie, she could have taken OP aside and said, “Please don’t feel the need to lie or embellish your vacation plans, they are no one’s business but yours and don’t have any bearing on your work here.” Or she could have simply acted like she didn’t know, because it truly isn’t any of her business.

        Someone above (I believe it was Elizabeth West) rightly pointed out that the boss’s questioning feels similar to someone asking why you took a sick day. I agree. It’s like if your boss got mad that you took a sick day saying you had a sore throat, but in reality it was a mental health day or period pains.

      1. Hallorie*

        I don’t agree with this. If an employee told me “I have an out-of-state family wedding to attend and need five days off” to ensure a vacation was approved and then turned out to be taking a friends-only party trip to West Palm, then we’re going to have an issue. I’m owed that honesty, if the vacation is during a sensitive time (like the beginning of a schoolyear when all teachers and staff need to be available and at their jobs). I could care less what my staff is doing during regularly scheduled breaks in the year, but if you’re asking me for special vacation time outside of those breaks that I can decline, you’d better not be lying and manipulating me to ensure it’s approved.

        1. Mannequin*

          But that’s not what OP said. She said ‘family vacation’. If the boss made their own assus about what a ‘family vacation’ entails, that’s -0% on them.

          1. allathian*

            Yes, but the OP admitted in her letter that she didn’t consider the online boyfriend “family”.

            Sure, she had been injured and couldn’t travel during the summer, when school’s out, partly because of the injury and more crucially because of Covid. So it’s sort of understandable that she wanted to take the vacation at a time that’s inconvenient for her employer.

            I can sort of see both sides here. I see why the LW was tempted to lie, given the gossipy environment. School employees are held to a higher moral standard than pretty much anyone, and triple for religious schools. And she probably learned a hard lesson about curating her social media posts and who can see them.

            That said, the boss should never have approved the vacation in the first place, so she’s also partly to blame for the mess. In future, I hope the principal is more explicit about the black dates when the only PTO that will be accommodated is for emergencies, and then to define what counts as an emergency.

        2. Ori*

          Why do you think a family wedding is more important than a trip with friends? Why do you think you get to decide what your staff do with their vacation time?

          1. Hallorie*

            It’s not her vacation time. There is no vacation time in August in schools unless they start in September. It was an exception her boss made for her and it was based on what OP describes as a lie. Don’t be surprised when that boss is pissed. Simple.

          2. Bagpuss*

            I don’t think it is more important but it is typically more flexible.

            If I’m booking a holiday with friends (or family) then part of the planning process is finding a date that works for everyone, taking into account when people an get time off.

            If it’s a family wedding then unless you are the Bride or Groom, or Maybe parents of one of them, then you are unlikely to get a say in the date and it’s not likely to be moveable if you can’t go.

    4. Ori*

      I’m going to have to assume you’re not Catholic and know nothing about how Catholic schools operate. If she told her boss she was going on holiday with a man she wasn’t married to, she could get fired. Lying in order to circumvent ridiculous medieval morality clauses, and lying for ‘convenience’ are not even in the same ballpark.

      1. Midwestern Scientist*

        Lying to your boss is also a potential firing (particularly at any religiously affiliated school, especially if you had to sign any kind of morality agreement). Lying is a pretty big issue! OP could have been more vague to begin with or if they really consider the SO family, they should have pushed back on that in the conversation with boss rather than essentially admitting to the lie.

  29. Used to work in education got tired of being abused*

    End of August/Beginning of September are the busiest times for schools. Perhaps you could’ve rescheduled this for a less busy time during the school year? It sounds like your principal had a reason to be angry (though she sounds over the top) when she probably pulled teachers or paras to cover for you assuming this was a family event with non-flexible dates rather than a vacation with an internet boyfriend.

    1. Soup of the Day*

      To be fair to the OP, with COVID restrictions changing all the time, I can understand wanting to take the chance as soon as it came available. Who knows if they would have been able to take the trip even a month later? I don’t actually think the timing was super flexible, considering there were two different countries’ COVID restrictions to consider. I’d be pretty upset if I had to delay meeting my boyfriend for an untold number of extra months just because of work.

      1. CarolyntheLibrarian*

        OP here!! Yes this is exactly why I decided to take vacation at the beginning of the year. We had no idea whether or not that opportunity would have been available in the future.

    2. Loves libraries*

      When I was a school librarian, we only had 3 paid personal days a year. We were expected to take vacations during our other time off.

  30. Salad Daisy*

    Does this possibly have to do with the fact that you work at a religiously connected organization that would look down upon staying with a boyfriend “in sin”?

  31. Cass*

    I’m just curious. Does the OP go back and try to have a follow-up conversation with her boss or does she just let this go and just keep this as a reference moving forward? It kinda sounds like a boundaries situation. So do you correct the boundary now or moving forward?

    1. Yorick*

      I think it’s probably better to do it moving forward. The boss probably wouldn’t take any further conversation on this well.

  32. Hiring Mgr*

    You literally did nothing wrong. If the boss had an issue with the dates she should have mentioned it at the time, not a month or so later. If it’s that obvious that those dates were hard to take off because it’s the start of the school year or whatever, why wasn’t it brought up then?

  33. Emi*

    I suspect the boss went out of her way to accommodate it because “family vacation” sounds like a reunion or other extended family/multi-household event that would be hard for you to reschedule because so many other people’s schedules are involved.

    1. Bex*

      I had a similar thought. I’m also wondering if the boss went to bat for OP, or explained to others that she gave OP the time off because it was a family vacation, and then boss looked really bad when someone pointed out that OP was actually in another country with her BF.

    2. Mannequin*

      If boss made that assumption, that’s 100% on them.
      When I hear “family vacation” I think “one or two parents + the kids going on any kind of a trip”

  34. Parked*

    I have lived with my partner for years, so when we took a trip I called it a family vacation. Because our little family pod was taking a vacation.

    Who you consider to be family isn’t their business, so I don’t even see it as that much of a lie. You can consider your partner to be your family even if the relationship is new if you want to.

    If I found out one of my employees felt the need to lie about something like this I would be more concerned about why. If the workplace culture will shame someone for something that isn’t their business then that’s a bigger issue then the fact you saw your partner instead of Aunt Galdys.

    It’s the workplace that has messed up boundaries, and the white lie was an attempt to restore boundaries with the only tool you had available to you. I think the practical advice people have given to keep your plans private is good in the short term. But I wouldn’t carry any guilt for this one.

  35. CarolyntheLibrarian*

    OP here!! I have a minor update since the posting. Some are speculating that the friend I told was the one who told my boss about my vacation, this however was not the case. I found out that my boss’s best friend on campus was following me on Instagram and I hadn’t checked to see if any other coworkers were following my account before making it private. I also was concerned that because, yes this is a Catholic school, that my coworkers would judge me for vacationing with someone who I was not married to. From here on out, I will make sure to stay vague about where I am going on vacation! When my boss first mentioned that it might be inconvenient I still had time to change my plans, however she didn’t mention that I should, so I didn’t.

    1. Amtelope*

      I definitely recommend vague! And, maybe I’m just super old when it comes to social media use, but if you’re going on a vacation and the details aren’t supposed to get back to a particular person, I would suggest not making social media posts about the vacation. It’s so easy for things to filter out from your bubble.

      1. Eldritch Office Worker*

        Agreed. My husband also teaches at a religious school and it makes me monitor my own social media use more carefully. He aggressively undershares on his own.

      2. Fran Fine*

        Yup, this is why I forgo social media altogether. It’s all too easy for a slip up like this to occur.

        1. allathian*

          Yeah, me too. Even if I’m not all that worried about being judged at work for what I do in my private life, I practice fairly strict compartmentalization. I mean, my boss and teammates, and several other coworkers I talk to regularly do know the basic facts about my life. They know my age, because we celebrate birthdays at work. They know that I’m married and have a son in elementary school, because we’ve talked about that. I’ve talked about our vacations and vaguely mentioned stuff I do on the weekends. But I don’t talk about the things that really matter to me, very rarely talk about my likes and dislikes, and never mention politics, my (lack of) faith, or the fact that I really detest “romance” reality shows like Love Island or Bachelor, and have a hard time respecting anyone who professes to like them. If you do like them, I’d rather not know that.

          1. allathian*

            I realize my last sentence sounds very judgey, and it is. But one more reason for me not to want to know too much about my coworkers! It’s enough for me to respect them as professionals, and to like the vast majority of them as individual human beings as well.

      1. CarolyntheLibrarian*

        Wonderful! However, we’ve decided that long-distance would be too hard to maintain so we are no longer together.

        1. AthenaC*

          I think you and your ex-bf showed a lot of wisdom, both in meeting in-person as soon as you could, and figuring it out like adults whether or not you wanted to continue on together.

          My husband and I did something similar – we were long-distance for maybe a couple of months before we were like, “So … are we gonna do this or not?” So he bought a plane ticket. That was 13 years ago. :)

    2. CarolyntheLibrarian*

      My now ex-boyfriend and I didn’t really want to postpone the trip because we had no idea when the opportunity to meet would happen again with COVID restrictions changing all of the time, which is why I requested the time off towards the beginning of the school year. My boss is very controlling and because of this incident and her behavior towards me after, I have decided to start looking for a new job.

    3. CarolyntheLibrarian*

      My now ex-boyfriend and I didn’t want to postpone our trip because COVID restrictions are changing all of the time and didn’t know when it would be possible to meet again. My boss is very controlling and I suspect that as the reason why she was so angry with me.

      1. Slow Gin Lizz*

        Aha! I suspected the boss was pretty controlling. Sorry about the ex but LDRs are difficult to maintain even when not in a pandemic. Good luck going forward, OP.

      2. M2*

        If you don’t know why your boss is angry at you I think you really need to think about that. We are in a pandemic! You work at a school! This sounds like it was the start of school or the week before. That is not cool even before Covid. Yes the boss should not have agreed to it, but we are in a pandemic! If my family travels our school requires quarantine and testing once returning. And the thing that worries me is I’m sure people and staff lie about it and put the students at risk.

        1. Beth*

          You’re reading a lot into this. We don’t know exactly when OP took this trip, and we don’t know their exact role or how much their job actually requires them sharing space with other people. If exposure was a big concern for OP’s boss, they should have said so and talked through a plan for managing it. If the timing was a big concern, they should have said so and asked if OP’s plans had any flexibility. Once she’s agreed to it and signed off, though, it’s poor management to act like OP should have read her mind and changed the trip without her asking.

          1. Annie Moose*

            OP says in the letter that it was the last week of August, so we actually do know when OP took the trip. We also do know their role–they’re a school librarian.

    4. Irish girl*

      Wow, i feel bad for you that it wasn’t your co-worker. I still think that saying family vacation isn’t that big of a deal. What if you didn’t have family but had chosen family? I think this is about the Catholic values of not being with your partner before marriage rather than you not telling the full truth.

      1. Maggie*

        But there’s no evidence to support “This is about catholic values”. At least not in the letter or update and not coming from the boss. There just isn’t anything that indicates she’s in trouble because of Catholic Values instead of lying.

        1. Ori*

          It’s a Catholic school and the boss only got angry when she found out OP was in holiday with a man she wasn’t married to. What more evidence would you like?

    5. CarolyntheLibrarian*

      One other caveat: I understand that the beginning of the school year is an extremely busy time, however my boss had taken vacations during in-service/August before so didn’t think it would be an issue with the timing. As a librarian at my school, the first couple of weeks are not very busy. Our busy time tends to ramp up around the middle and end of the semester when teachers are assigning research projects. I only work with my boss so do not have any other true co-workers.

      1. OpalescentTreeShark*

        In my experience, SOME principals take vacations during times that teachers don’t because they are 12-month employees and work the entire year. I assume you are a 10-month employee? It’s pretty assumed in my place of work that 10-month employees, whether teachers or non-teachers who work in the building, don’t take extended vacations at the beginning or end the year. It’s certainly very location dependent, so I hope you’re adding “importance of timing” to “be vague about vacation plans” in your takeaways.

        1. Candi*

          Why are you assuming librarians are 10-month employees? I attended private and public schools, my kids attended different public schools, and at every single one, the librarians had work to do during the summer, and their contracts were 12-month.

          My son worked as a library assistant to fill a slot one semester. Turns out, the library staff at his high school are responsible for the final check-in of all textbooks, ordering replacements, and accepting shipments -which the librarian told him can come in on any weekday all summer.

          It’s a good time to do a top to bottom full inventory, especially before or after summer school. It’s also a good time to do a deep clean, and while janitorial handles cleaning, library staff handle the books and other media.

          At my kids’ middle school, the library helped IT set up the carts taken to each room, the carts that were loaded with tablets for the kids to use. IT circulated among campuses, while the library staff were always there. Guess who accepted shipment of both the carts and the new devices if IT wasn’t present? Including in summer. (It didn’t matter if they were from a district holding area or a direct shipment -tracking meant someone had to accept them.)

          That’s without getting into summer school itself, where the kids need access to a library, and the school library is most convenient.

      2. KittyCardigans*

        Yes, I want to back you up here—I also work in the school library at a private high school, and although other duties I have do keep me very busy during the beginning of the school year, the library stuff is not at ALL busy at first. It’s the bottom of my list for the first few weeks.

      3. CarolyntheLibrarian*

        Final note: I did not have to sign a morality clause when accepting the job at this institution. However, my boss is from an older generation and is very opinionated and judgmental. I had heard her be very vocal before about her disapproval of online relationships and meeting people you meet online. I knew that no matter what time of year I asked for the vacation, my reason for it would not have gotten approved by her. There is nowhere in my contract or handbook stating that I am obligated/can’t take vacation during the beginning of the school year. I get 10 vacation days a year two of which are PTO and the rest are unpaid.

  36. AthenaC*

    You guys – lying is just how you get stuff done in a Catholic environment (school, church, strict family, etc.). It’s what happens at the intersection of “unreasonably nosy” and “unreasonably strict.”

    OP, I know you’ve already had the meeting with your boss, but my first instinct would have been to say something like, “Yes we thought it was important to see each other in person in order to prayerfully discern whether we have a future together.” Weaponize the Catholic vocabulary against them!

    But then again, having grown up in a very strict Catholic family, I probably default to lying faster than most people…

    1. CarolyntheLibrarian*

      OP here!! I grew up in a heavily Christian environment so this is exactly how I’m used to handling things lol. I’ll have to remember that phrasing for the future!

    2. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      “Yes we thought it was important to see each other in person in order to prayerfully discern whether we have a future together.”

      Oh Athena, where were you when I was a newly converted Evangelical Christian, with a boyfriend that I’d started “living in sin” with a good year before my conversion? I could’ve used that answer! “Ah yeah he’s coming to visit me on his winter break, so we can prayerfully discern whether the Lord intends us to be together. Yes he did visit during fall break. We did spend his visit in prayer then. But we want to be absolutely sure we have understood the Lord’s message correctly.” and then on spring break, we do it again.

    3. Tuesday*

      Honestly, though… this is not a great way to handle things at work. I mean, I know you’re joking about the specifics.

        1. Tuesday*

          Okay, but I’m talking about situations like the OP’s. She doesn’t indicate she ever felt in danger of getting fired, and she obviously wasn’t or else lying and then having the truth come out would surely have gotten her fired.

          1. Candi*

            She says elsewhere her boss is very controlling. Excessive control is a form of abuse.

            When you have an abusive boss, you do everything to mitigate their reactions so they don’t fire you in a snit, or worse, make your work environment even more toxic.

            Having been in both, there’s frightening similarities between an abusive boss and an abusive spouse. Fortunately, I’ve long escaped both.

            1. Tuesday*

              I definitely understand the impulse to lie. I just don’t think it should be the go-to response, which is how I took AthenaC’s comment (“lying is just how you get stuff done.”) Now the LW is feeling like she has to look for a new job as a result of the fallout, and I think that in this situation, the lying made things much worse.

              But I’m talking about what I think people should strive for. I don’t fault her at all for responding that way in the moment, especially if she has been in abusive relationships in the past (I don’t know you personally, but I’m still glad you escaped).

              1. AthenaC*

                Yes, “lying is just how you get stuff done” … in a particular type of environment, which is what I said. That may not be what people want to hear, but it’s reality.

                1. Tuesday*

                  I just disagree that the LW was in that type of environment. Not saying there aren’t environments where that’s true.

    4. Ground Control*

      I grew up Evangelical and my first thought was that the boss was upset she traveled with her boyfriend since that would be a sin. I left the church over 20 years ago but still instinctively know what needs to be lied about!

      1. wittyrepartee*

        It’s weird though, because it’s not actually sinful to go on a vacation with the boyfriend. It’d be the sex that would be a “problem”, if it happened. But yeah, my mom has had a couple of calves with my sister and I for this kind of thing.

        1. AthenaC*

          In Catholic circles, it “causes scandal” by (in theory!) making people THINK you are having sex out of wedlock and generally engaging in “conduct unbecoming” of a Catholic.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      Bingo. Nosy mixed with strict leads to lots and lots of lying. People even go as far as hiding things that are actually okay to do because they believe that some how it will bite them later.
      But yes, a strict, unyielding environment leads to lies and manipulation.

      1. banoffee pie*

        People will lie if you’re too strict, definitely. I can’t believe some adults still have to live like this. Anyway…

      2. allathian*

        Yeah, the only way to stop people from lying is to show that it’s safe to tell the truth. This applies to young children, adolescents, and adults alike.

    6. Ori*

      1000%. You can lie or you can sit in your room 24/7. I think non Catholics have no idea how restrictive some of these environments can be.

    7. Jayess*

      I am often horrified at how serious a faux-pas (or even, dare I say “sin”) lying is in the “secular” world, because growing up Evangelical, it was very clear to me that I needed to lie my ass out of almost every situation. People Need to Be Told What They Want to Hear; that’s not lying, that’s just Not Getting in Trouble.

      I still sometimes lie by instinct if I feel like the hammer is coming down. It’s hard and awkward to say “well, actually, that’s not true – sorry. What actually happened was…”

      And I understand instinctively why OP lied.

      1. AthenaC*

        It is interesting when you have to go from “habitual lier” to “truthteller.” It takes a while to sink in that in a normal environment, you’re actually okay to tell the truth.

  37. Nastya*

    In all fairness, OP, I don’t think you even really told a lie. Romantic partners count as family. You said you were going on a “family vacation”, then you went on a vacation with your romantic partner, who’s part of your family. I don’t see how that’s a lie unless you explicitly said something like “I’m going on a trip with my parents and siblings” or something else that named members of your family you weren’t actually seeing.

      1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        I mean, I have family members, living in my geographical area, that would never be 1/10th as close to me as any online friend I’ve had.

        I admit I haven’t done that intense of an LDR, and during Covid lockdowns no less, but I felt that OP and Internet Boyfriend had been close for a while, they just couldn’t travel to meet each other in person due to circumstances beyond their control (like a pandemic!) Your comment makes him sound like someone who’d messaged OP on a dating app in mid-August and chatted with her for a couple of weeks here and there, and I think it was a closer relationship than that.

      2. Mannequin*

        For much of human history, the only way people could communicate long distance was by written letter, and no one holds any doubt that people were able to establish and keep warm, close, long distance relationships with friends, family, sweethearts, colleagues, etc by such means, even in the days when letters could take months to arrive.

        Now, with the internet, we have more forms of long distance communication than have ever existed before. People can easily text, phone, email, chat, or Skype anyone, anywhere, instantly. You can talk in real time, face to em face, with someone on the other side of the world. We’ve literally spent the last year & a half living AND working through our technology because it hasn’t been safe to be in person.

        And you think people can’t have real & meaningful relationships (romantic & otherwise) through the internet?

        1. allathian*

          For myself I believe that I can maintain real and meaningful relationships through the internet, *if I’ve established those relationships in person first*. Heck, that’s what I’ve been doing for the last 18 months. But no, I wouldn’t count someone I’ve never met in person as a significant other, no matter how close a relationship I felt we had established online. I’ve had online relationships before I met my husband, and I always talked about them as my online boyfriends, or my online friends.

          Maybe this only applies to me, or maybe it’s a generational thing. I’m a gen X-er, and I got my first email address when I started college in the early 90s, so the internet has been around for my entire adult life, and I still feel this way.

          But I’m pretty certain that most Catholic schools wouldn’t count anything other than a legally married spouse as a significant other.

  38. Maggie*

    It seems highly possible that this was a pretty bad time to go on vacation- since OP works at a school library and August is back to school time. I guess I have to disagree that the boss over-reacted as well. Emailing OP and then having a conversation about why lying to get time off isn’t OK seems par for the course and not overly reactionary. I guess it does come down to the stated motive- was it to avoid gossip or to get time approved? OP states it was to avoid gossip, so let’s take them at their word. I still don’t think the boss’s reaction was inappropriate but it may signal that OP needs to find a less Gossipy work place.

    1. TheUnknown1*


      Boss doesn’t need to know the details, but now that she does, she might be in a bad position with the diocese or supervising order (boyfriend wouldn’t count as family and traveling with him might be considered co-habitating which is usually “don’t ask don’t tell” but a contract violation nonetheless at certain schools). People can complain about Catholic schools all they want – OP probably signed a contract with that level of detail in place, and she knows where she works.

      And it’s the start of the year. The kindest, most supportive school colleagues in the world would be pissed off if a peer took time off in August for something that isn’t a wedding or a funeral.

      1. Mannequin*

        And since it’s unreasonable for a job to expect to be able to control people’s personal lives to such extent, OP also gets to lie about it as much as she wants.

        As someone writes above, lying is what you get when you are in an environment that combines unreasonably nosy with unreasonably strict.

        1. allathian*

          This is partly true. But it’s also true that religious employers are allowed to discriminate in a way that most others aren’t, thanks to religious exemptions. They presumably would prefer to have employees who share their values, and it’s within their rights to fire those who demonstrably don’t.

          Even if lying is what you get in an environment like that, it’s still unrealistic to expect that to have no consequences if you get caught.

    2. Anya Last Nerve*

      I agree. I’m shocked at all of the people bending over backwards to justify OP’s lie. If her boss knew the real reason for the vacation and denied it because of that, I would join you, but it sounds to me like her trip was delayed because of her injury and so only the really bad August time was available, so she proactively lied to make it happen. If one of my directs blatantly lies to me, it’s going to destroy trust. She should have just said “I need to visit a dear friend overseas” or something equally as vague that implies urgency and was not a lie.

      1. Ori*

        Whereas I’m shocked at the amount of people who seem to think she’s done something wrong. If I had a boss who I knew was extremely controlling and felt they had the right to police how I spent my free time, of course I’d lie to them.

        That’s on them, not me, because they have no legal or moral right to do that, and I have every right to circumvent their behaviour.

  39. Potatoes gonna potate*

    I’m wondering if the issue of OP meeting a boyfriend is at play here. I’m not sure if they’re in the US, but they mentioned that they work in a Catholic school where people are known to be gossipy and judgmental – I could be wrong but I’m getting very much…..certain vibes here, esp given how historically (and even recently?) behavior of female teachers is so extremely policed by the public. Also, how did they find out if OP’s accounts were private? They told only one person who then told them “somehow” boss found out. That looks fishy AF to me.

  40. Snarkastic*

    I love that the school is still living in the 1950s to the point that visiting one’s long-term boyfriend is scandalous. It’s really none of their business to begin with, but that shouldn’t send shockwaves through the community.

    1. Colette*

      That’s fanfic from the comments; there is no indication that the boss was concerned about that at all. (And by the OP’s account, it was a boyfriend she had never met.)

      1. Valancy Snaith*

        I think this is quickly becoming a post where the comments fanfic overtakes what’s written in the actual letter.

      2. TheUnknown1*

        I noticed that, too. Now, it could be very true that OP’s contract/handbook has very “traditional” language around families, but most Catholic school admins don’t mind until it becomes something they have to report as against policy. OP’s boss could very well be frustrated because it *shouldn’t* be a big deal, but now it is, because the truth is out and OP wasn’t gone for a family event.

        My Catholic school contract blacks out days from middle August through Labor Day. Most do. All hands are needed on deck. The only exceptions are funerals and weddings known about well in advance. Vacation for vacation’s sake, even with blood family, generally aren’t approved.

      3. Ori*

        It’s not ‘fanfic’ it’s ‘growing up in Catholic communities and knowing how they work’ / ‘reading multiple accounts of employees at Catholic schools being fired for similar reasons’.

    2. Frankie*

      What a weird take. That’s not what happened. You were clearly reading the unfounded speculations in the comments and not the letter itself.

      1. Snarkastic*

        She said she didn’t want to say what and who the vacation was actually with because the school is gossipy. I don’t think I made anything up.

  41. Chris*

    Your vacation is yours to take an what you are doing is no one else’s business, not even your boss. There are times when it may be appropriate for your boss to deny due to timing and, if that’s a possibility, it can be good to note that there is an event or celebration for which you cannot control the timing. Just take this as an opportunity to learn that perhaps you cannot trust the coworker you confided in, and you know a little bit more about your boss.

  42. Red Swedish Fish*

    My 2 cents both OP and their boss have equal blame here. OP, you shared too much and didn’t take your job into consideration for this trip. You are working in a school library and you have to know that the start of school is a busy and very important time, taking off here is a bad move on your part. Also I think if you had explained that you booked flights to the other country that this would have been less of an issue, instead of telling everyone it was a family vacation.
    The Boss has a lot of blame by not asking the OP to change the dates prior to approving the time off, even though it should be obvious that the start of school is not the time to take off OP should have been told.

    1. Jennifer Strange*

      Yeah, this is where I land on this. If I were the OP I would have just said “I’d like to take this week off in August” and left it at that. But I also think if it was that hard of a time to take off (and I don’t doubt it was!) the boss should have just denied the request off and asked the OP to find another time barring an extreme reason why she absolutely needed off at this time (i.e. wedding).

    2. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      Yep, same. I kiiiind of get it that OP was in the “we couldn’t do anything during summer because of lockdowns and medical issues, and now I don’t get to meet him until the next summer and that’s just not feasible” mode. But taking off during a busy season is really not great. On the other hand, the boss approved (which is a total mystery to me as to why, but I’ve said this in several of my comments on here already). If I requested a vacation, knowing it was an inconvenient time, but hoping to get approved, gotten approved, booked everything, and *then* boss started dropping hints that they regret approving, I’d be peeved and baffled all at once. If my request had gotten denied right away though, I’d have totally understood.

      1. doreen*

        It doesn’t even have to be a Catholic school thing- I have never, ever heard someone refer to a vacation with their SO or with their own household as a “family vacation”. When I hear “family vacation” it involves a minimum of two separate households. I suspect that’s because the people I know assume any vacation is with the person’s SO or household if one exists. (which isn’t always true , but I think that’s the assumption)

        1. SimplytheBest*

          I wouldn’t assume multiple households – family vacation could just be mom, dad, and their three kids. But it does suggest more than just OP and a significant other.

          1. Colette*

            Agreed. Either it’s one or more adults with their kids, or it’s multiple households. Using it for two people who have never met would be odd.

        2. Valancy Snaith*

          Same. I’ve never heard this nomenclature. Honestly, “vacation” is enough, calling it a “family vacation” just muddies the waters, because I tend to agree that family vacation requires a couple different households in my experience.

        3. Mannequin*

          Except for my friend who talks about how her extended family (aunts, uncles, cousins) would go on camping trips together when she was growing up in the 70s, I don’t think I know anyone who goes on vacations involving more than one household at all.
          When I was growing up in that same time period, “family vacation” was commonly understood to mean that a single household- usually a nuclear family- was going on a trip.
          Because we lived in a ‘tourist destination’ with lots of interesting stuff to do, our ‘family vacations’ didn’t even involve actual trips or overnight stays anywhere, we just did all the local stuff our region was known for, and still called it ‘family vacation’ because my dad was off work at the same time we kids were.

    1. Fran Fine*

      Not really. Look, I’m on OP’s side here, but I wouldn’t consider a boyfriend of only a few short months to be family either, so it was a lie.

      1. Fran Fine*

        Just read the comments below and OP and the boyfriend had actually been together for a year, not a few months. However, since they had never met in person, my opinion still stands that calling him “family” is a stretch.

        1. allathian*

          Yeah, a huge stretch in my book. I wouldn’t even call him a significant other until they met, and then only if they decided to explicitly commit to the relationship. In this case, they decided that an LDR wouldn’t work for them and broke up.

  43. HW*

    Just curious – the fact that OP mentioned in her email to her boss about the true of her vacation that she’d had multiple negative Covid tests leads me to assume that she hadn’t mentioned that her vacation was across borders. Given the current global pandemic, if I were her boss, that’s something I would want to know. Certainly in my company, we are required to notify management if we are going to be travelling abroad during this time. If she had fibbed to avoid that, I’d be kinda peeved too.
    Overall, the boss’s reaction was too much and suggests that she may be too controlling.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      I kind of have to laugh that the boss has zero concern about the covid testing. wth. Eh, the boss looked around until she could find something to gripe about and she found it.

    2. Mannequin*

      Why would a family vacation imply that she wasn’t crossing a border?
      My mom, brother, and sister took a family vacation to another country over spring break when I was in high school (my dad & I didn’t want to go & stayed home.)

    3. Bagpuss*

      I think if that’s something they are concerned about then it would be reasonable for boss to have flagged that up at the time OP made the request.

      Unless there was a policy OP failed to follow then even if the boss made an assumption that’s down to boss, not OP.

      I would also take the view that describing a holiday with a partner isn’t a lie, not all families look the same and I don’t think it’s something which an employer should be policing in that way.
      I think OPs mistake was to say anything about what the leave was for beyond asking to book it.

      And it was the boss’s responsibility to say something when it was requested, if she didn’t want OP to take that time.

  44. Pennilyn Lot*

    I would highly suggest not putting wrongdoing in writing when you have not even been accused of it yet, and especially when you’re hearing about it second and third hand. Your boss would have had to broach the topic in an entirely different way if you hadn’t emailed them. In general, do not voluntarily put stuff in writing that could compromise you in any way.

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      That’s a really good point. My first thought would have been to get ahead of it too…but you gotta be careful what you put in writing.

    2. CarolyntheLibrarian*

      OP here!! This is a very good point and something I’ll definitely remember that for the future.

  45. Name*

    I realize OP has only been with BF for a year and a bit (and never saw him in person before that) and maybe that shapes some of it, but I’m having a hard time seeing “family vacation” as an actual lie. Even with the short time, some people get engaged or married in the length of time OP has been with BF. Why is “family” so much the wrong term here?

    I referred to my then-partner (now spouse) when using “family reasons” as an explanation of why I was moving somewhere during a grad school interview. Didn’t feel like lying at all (and I’ve a very bad liar who feels extremely guilty with the smallest lies). I feel like if I were supervisor I’d just shrug and say “ah, OP considers BF family, cool.”

    1. Colette*

      I feel like “has never met in person” makes a difference. There’s a pretty significant difference between “dated for some period of time before partner moved overseas” and “met online, has never met in person” that, for me, makes it much more of an uncertain relationship. That doesn’t mean you can’t be close to people you meet online – of course you can – but you don’t know them the way you know someone you’ve met. (Maybe they are rude to waiters or smoke constantly or love a cologne you hate or have a dealthly fear of public transportation or will only take right turns while driving or something else that you just can’t stand.)

      1. Eldritch Office Worker*

        ” that, for me, makes it much more of an uncertain relationship”

        This may well be true but I certainly wouldn’t want my boss feeling like they could pass judgement on how serious my relationship was.

        1. Colette*

          I mean, if someone said their online boyfriend who they’d never met in person was their family, I wouldn’t argue with them. But I’d think it was an … optimistic assessment.

      2. Valancy Snaith*

        I have to agree. I’m not knocking online friendships–I have friendships with people from online that stretch back 20 years, these people were in my wedding, etc–but I feel there is a large gulf between “been together for years, partner has moved” and “never met in person.” It doesn’t mean the relationship won’t continue, but to me it almost certainly is not going to fall into the same category as “family vacation.”

        1. Colette*

          Yes, if they’d known each other in person and then maintained a relationship after one of them moved, I’d buy the family explanation.

          But people are going to a lot of effort to justify a lie that wasn’t necessary.

          1. Anya Last Nerve*

            +100. I don’t get the derailing on trying to define this internet boyfriend as family especially since OP indicated in the comments that they broke up shortly after finally meeting in person.

            1. Name*

              I’d missed that, and I guess it does change things.

              To be clear, I’m not trying to justify a lie… I legitimately don’t understand why it should be automatically considered lying by the boss.

      3. Meep*

        I am more leaning towards “family vacation” can mean it is just her going on vacation for R&R. If she happens to run into the guy she is seeing, that is wonderful too. I acknowledge many may not see it that way but people are often estranged from their families. Not allowing OP to take a vacation because it isn’t a “family” vacation is absurd. You can have a family of one.

          1. allathian*

            She definitely wouldn’t have gotten time off to see her online boyfriend for the first time. Not in a Catholic school, and definitely not during one of the busiest, if not the busiest, period of the school year.

            In a normal year without Covid and without the injury she could’ve gone to see her boyfriend in June or July and it wouldn’t even have come up at work.

        1. doreen*

          I think not letting the OP take a vacation because it isn’t a “family” vacation would be absurd , too. But that’s not what happened – the OP said it was a family vacation for some reason and the boss thinks it was because the OP had some ulterior motive. And I kind of think she did – the OP knew it was a bad time and seems to have thought “family vacation” would get her approval while if she simply requested vacation , she might have been told to take a different week.

      4. Loredena Frisealach*

        Speaking from personal experience I disagree. I spent significantly more time (daily!) ‘talking’ with my now-spouse during the 9 months prior to getting engaged/him moving to where I lived than most people I know did with in person dating. An online only relationship encourages communicating by both email and chat, and since it doesn’t require the overhead of meeting somewhere, can easily be hours of conversation.

        1. allathian*

          I see your point. Communicating like that can get you intellectually close to someone, and establish the values you have in common. This can be plenty good enough to establish a deep and committed friendship, which I suppose can, if circumstances are right, lead to a romantic relationship. But I think it’s a stretch to call it a relationship until you’ve at least met in person, even if you decided to get engaged at your first meeting in person. YMMV.

        2. Name*

          yep, we’d met in person initially but really established both friendship and then romantic relationship through the internet before seeing each other in person a second time. First not-quite 4 years were primarily through the internet.

      5. WellRed*

        I’m glad I’m not the only one surprised by how many people are arguing this counts as a family vacation. Going on vacation with your partner sure! That’s family. Going to meet the guy you’ve only met online? Yeah, that’s a stretch for me. I wouldn’t argue the point with anyone though.

      6. Name*

        I was actually very long distance from partner for the first several years, until we moved in together (when he got a job in the area and I went to grad school in the area). Like LA area to NYC area long distance. We saw each other in person regularly and first met in person, but the vast majority of our until we moved in together was through the internet.

        I just wouldn’t want to judge that they were wrong about considering this person family, and would simply assume that was the case.

    2. Leaf*

      Yes, I’m pretty sure I have read the advice here on AAM to say “For family reasons” if you’re moving for a SO. I suppose I don’t see how this is radically different.

  46. Hippo-nony-potums*

    “(For the record, though, I don’t think managers should be adjudicating the importance of one trip vs. another like that unless it’s something more like the wedding vs. park example and the dates are difficult ones to approve.)”

    It’s not just relative importance; it’s the difficulty in finding a wedding date, and, once found, moving it. No engaged couple is going to have a summit meeting with 15 different employers, asking them to find the weekend that works best for them. They eliminate obvious deal-breakers (e.g., tax season for accountants, a niece’s graduation weekend), pick a date, then find a venue. After that, there are just too many moving parts to switch anything around.

    The reason I bring this up is it implicates regular vacation planning. If you, as a manager, approve vacation plans, know that other people might have made plans around this as well. Your employee may have important factors to consider as well (non-refundable deposits). They might have won the right to use a condo at a charity auction. You can’t really do take-backsies except in the most rare of circumstances.

    1. Canadian Valkyrie*

      This! I had a manager once to tried to tell me I shouldn’t be going to my best friends wedding. It was out of province, so I had to travel. I was also a bridesmaid!!!!! so it’s not like I could just sort of do the bare minimum. And finally, I planned the trip a year before I was even hired (see: bridesmaid and the wedding took a year to plan so I knew about it for a long time!). I was horrified and prepared to quit. Thankfully she relented and let me go.

      1. allathian*

        Yes, this. I also think that if you’re in the wedding party, it’s different than if you’re just an ordinary guest.

  47. TheUnknown1*

    Catholic school teacher/admin here. This might not be a popular take, but while I agree that the boss’s reaction is overall OTT, I don’t think OP handled this well at all. Any leader of such a small staff (Catholic schools tend to be 35 or less staff, unless it’s a high school, regardless of the number of kids) would be frustrated that an employee took any kind of personal time during what would typically be the first week of school. Coverage would be very limited, subs are very hard to find during covid-times, and students start using libraries right away. Additionally, while it is categorically uncool for your colleagues to be gossipy, I can see how the timing of your vacation would ruffle some feathers and would make them see you, fairly or not, as not a team player. Their reaction might be different if you are contracted through the summer and not just for nine months; if you had the summer off, I can see why everyone around you is pissed – you should totally be able to see your boyfriend, but it’s not collegial to do it at the start of the school year.

    It’s also important to note that, depending on how conservative your supervising diocese/order is, your SO might not be considered family if you’re not married, which does make the language of “family vacation” really sticky for records purposes. Your boss could get in trouble for permitting this for you, and not for others, or for going against diocese policy, even if you worded your request to be private. Your contract and faculty handbook should have more clarity on this, and know that your boss is responsible for holding you to the language of the contract. Regardless of whether or not we think it’s fair or overly prescriptive (they really are), that’s part and parcel of working for a private religious institution.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      This is very well explained.

      It does not matter how the general population defines family. In the Catholic church it’s their rules all the way and no exceptions. I get that people believe LTRs are family, I know I think that way myself. But it’s just not going to fly with the Catholic church.

      OP, in trying to escape one pile of crap you stepped into another pile of crap. This is how it will go. Unless you are deeply invested in Catholicism, this might not be the job for you.

    2. Hallorie*

      I agree with all of this, but particularly with regards to the comment about being a team player. I’m pretty put off by the OP updating with a perspective that the principal is OP’s only true coworker, since teachers don’t use the library too much right now. I’m student services and work in multiple buildings, and I consider everyone in those buildings a coworker, regardless of direct contact or collaboration; we row the boat together, we’re a team, yadda, yadda. I’m questioning this letter and OP’s overall approach to working in a school a lot more given the updates. Sorry, OP.

      We’ve got teachers and kids in the ICU, all of my buildings are routinely down 10-15 staff per day, teachers are sobbing in the hallways, principals and district administration are ready to quit, and kids are routinely melting down after going on 2.5 schoolyears of this mess… I mean. It’s the definition of “all hands on deck.” That’s a layer to the boss’s reaction that may or may not be in play.

  48. AnonPi*

    I’d like to mention for any managers out there, if you are going to insist on knowing why your employee is taking vacation to decide if they should get to take it or not, please do not overly burden those “without family/kids” to cover other people’s vacations such that they have to cancel their own plans. Pre-covid I had 1-2 vacation times a year cancelled (always scheduled a month or more in advance) because a coworker also wanted vacation at the same time (often asking <2 weeks before the date to take off). And the excuse every time was that I don't really have any family here (just one person) and don't have kids (sore point which I just *love* being reminded about), while coworker wanted to go to a family cookout/beach trip/camping, etc. Or coworker went ahead and booked a trip w/o confirming they could take off, and well they can't cancel now w/o loosing all that money, so can't I just cover for them to make it easier for everyone.

    If you don't want anyone taking vacation during a planned work period that should go for everyone. Or if only one or two people get to take off then that needs to also be fairly managed/rotated so it doesn't fall on one or two people to always provide coverage.

    I put my foot down with our current manager when they were hired not to expect me to do that, which he hemmed and hawed at until I said I'd be going to HR the next time I'm told I have to cover for my coworkers because I'm childless. Got a stunned stare at that and a "I'll try my best". Hasn't been much of an issue with covid since we haven't really returned to work til recently, but I expect it will come up this holiday season since I put my request in months ago to take a whole week off, something coworkers regularly do but I haven't the last several years.

    1. EvilQueenRegina*

      I had a coworker once whose mother in law had a habit of booking cruises for the family and just turning up and saying “Surprise! I’ve booked us a cruise! We’re going from X until Y!” without giving my coworker the opportunity to confirm that it was actually okay to have those dates off before she paid for it. One of those occasions was a week I’d already booked some time off to go and see Derren Brown in Manchester with family, and I ended up cancelling the day off that I had for the day after getting back, because Umbridge the ex-boss went on so much about how short staffed it was going to be that I felt I had no choice (technically there would have been the required minimum of people in that day so she had no grounds to actually rescind the day, but Umbridge was very good about not coming out and saying things, but in a way that said it.)

    2. cncx*

      Yeah, i had to leave a job that did me like that. My favorite was how i worked on call christmas for everyone for years, then one year i absolutely needed to be offline with my chosen family december 26th…the 26th!!!!! and my non-christian coworker “with a real family” got hella huffy and i wound up taking support calls on my phone from the train. they don’t even do christmas.

    3. Never Boring*

      Forcing someone to cancel an already-approved vacation because someone else asks later, regardless of reason (barring some kind of genuine emergency, as in the kind involving a hospitalization) is REALLY uncool. And I’ve had the “coworker booked a trip without asking during the holidays, knowing full well it meant that I wouldn’t be allowed to take off” crapola pulled on me more than once. I could never understand why management allowed this coworker to pull that. It was definitely a factor in my quitting that job. You didn’t follow the vacation request procedure, after it had been put in writing years before because of similar shenanigans? Tough shit, you just learned you are going to have to pay to change your plane tickets.

  49. Chris*

    I think framing the “wedding” vs “park” thing in terms of importance misses an important part of why a boss might see them differently. It’s also about flexibility. Someone generally doesn’t have a whole lot of choice when someone else’s wedding is going to be. They probably do have a choice about when to go to the park. If there was some reason that a “less important” trip was inflexible (say, free tickets to a Broadway play, but you could only use them on one specific weekend) most decent bosses would probably be more accomodating.

    1. Aquawoman*

      +1 The LW left her co-workers during a particularly busy time rather than wait a couple weeks to take her vacation. And lied about it.

    2. Colette*

      Yes. If you’re coordinating with 5 – or 50 – people, you have less flexibility than if you are coordinating with one.

          1. ThatLibTech*

            In a school library? It’s absolutely possible. Especially a Catholic one, where funding is limited. Most school libraries now only have a single staff member, and rely on a substitute pool when time off is requested.

  50. Lorena*

    She has no leg to stand on, she approved it and then later said – it’s not a great time. Regardless of why you wanted to go, that’s completely irrelevant. It’s not like she said, NO and then you told her it was some important thing that you couldn’t miss. This is all on her and she sucks!

  51. LF*

    One detail not addressed in the response – the LW works at a Catholic high school. Most Catholic schools have morality clauses in employment agreements, meaning that staff agree to basically follow the moral standards of the US Catholic Bishops. Which means that if the boss thinks the LW was violating those standards (which would include extra-marital sex). So there is an additional level of awareness needed here. Lying by omission about this sort of trip may be the only way for the LW to not risk their job.

    1. TheUnknown1*

      Yes. It also means that the potential consequences of a lie being uncovered double: morality clause broken, lying to supervisor. OP gambled.

    2. I'm just here for the cats*

      The OP doesn’t mention any of this. Plus we do not know if the OP is even in the US so catholic schools in other countries may have different regulations.

      1. Something Something Whomp Whomp*

        In the comments, the OP mentioned the optics of vacationing with a non-spouse SO and potentially being judged. So maybe not a clear-cut job risk but at least reputationally risky. But Catholicity clauses aren’t unique to the US – our Catholic school boards here in Canada sometimes have them, even though our Catholic schools are mostly public rather than parochial.

      2. Ori*

        Nope, I’m in the UK. They’re less overt but just as restrictive. Certain roles can legitimately restricted to active practitioners of the Catholic faith. In other cases they use workarounds like asking for references from a faith leader. Technically it’s illegal, in practice, discrimination is tacitly ignored and OP would find herself out the door sharpish.

    3. Ori*

      Precisely. People chastising OP for lying… I think they just don’t understand what sort of environment this is.

  52. Meep*

    Oof. I have one of those. Back when I was a measly intern with no PTO, I planned a ski trip the first week of January. I was being paid hourly with a maximum of 8 hours a week, while in school and have given her advanced notice of 6 months. I told her about it and she told me to have fun so I thought everything was OK. The red flag should have been when she mentioned how SHE should also plan a vacation down this time (I now realize to cover the fact I was doing portions of her work). Fast forward to the day before I am supposed to leave and she pulls me aside and tells me how in the future /I/ need to coordinate my time better because it looks bad when BOTH of us are out. Ma’am, I am an intern and I gave you SIX MONTHS notice. She was so very generous to let me go this one time, though.

    I learned pretty quickly to tell the owner of the company and just send her an email with 3-days’ advance notice that I am taking it off. If she complains about taking it off without permission, I can point out the owner knows and already approved it by forwarding her the email! If she complains that she didn’t know about it, I have the email telling her. In a perfect world, I wouldn’t tell her until the day of, because we are now playing a cute little game of telling me she “remembers” that I have tomorrow off at 6:30 PM at night (often calling me and then texting me when I ignore her) and then texting me at 7:30 AM to ask when I will be in the next day…. right below the text message that I left unacknowledged the night before.

    To add to it, I recently got 5 extra vacation days and she keeps making snarky comments about how I must be going on a “European Cruise.” And you know this is the same woman who has 6 weeks of PTO and whines when someone takes a day off out of their meager 10 vacation days.

    She is a wonderful person who doesn’t get to know where I am going on vacation, as you can probably guess.

    Point is, you were going on a family vacation. You didn’t lie. You just have different definitions of family vacation.

  53. JM60*

    I think you can make a case that you didn’t lie at all. If you consider your boyfriend family, then a vacation to see him is a “family vacation”.

    In either case, the boss is over the top and wrong.

  54. Jack Straw*

    Late August for teachers (even those who don’t start until after Labor Day) is the same as March-April for tax professionals or November-December for retail managers. No time off during that crunch/important time is part of what you sign up for with the job. It’s not a secret.

    If it can be rescheduled (aka a solo vacation) to not coincide with the start of the year, it should be. Supervisor was OTT, but speaking as a teacher, I’d have been pretty unhappy if you were my coworker and did this (because it does appear that you lied to get it approved). I really cannot imagine anyone taking a vacation day, let alone multiple days, off around the start of the year.

      1. scooby dooby doo*

        it’s not either/or. OP shouldn’t have requested and supervisor shouldn’t have approved. supervisor probably assumed it was something very important or else OP wouldn’t have requested off during such a busy time.

      2. Jack Straw*

        Except, as Alison explains, there are differences with time off request for things that cannot be rescheduled–weddings, graduations, moving your freshman into college, a family vacation involving multiple people that has already been planned.

        The last in that list is what it sounds like the LW intimated when the request was made, this the hurt feelings and anger form their supervisor. If it were just a solo vacation, it wouldn’t have been approved. Chances are, to get a request off in late August approved, the supervisor likely had to go to bat for the LW with higher ups. If I were the sup, I’d be upset that I made exceptions for LW. I wouldn’t react as strongly as the sup did, but I think they do have a right to be upset.

  55. E Williams*

    One of the (very) few times I disagree with AAM. I don’t like liars; when I was a boss, I had occasion to fire them. If this employee will lie about the reason to take a vacation, what else will he/she lie about? As the boss, I wouldn’t want to wait to find out.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Lying is to be expected in a rigid, gossipy, finger-pointing environment. It’s human nature. OP wanted to avoid one problem and inadvertently marched into another problem.

      In such an environment, the boss would probably have to fire OP. I am amazed the boss did not. I am sure the boss will put a lot of energy into making sure OP never forgets.

      Yeah, firing is preferable.

    2. Ellie*

      I disagree with this. I pretty much never tell lies in my personal life, I’m known as an extremely honest person. But I’ve lied in interviews many, many times. Here is a sample of the questions I’ve gotten:
      ‘do you believe in God?’
      ‘are you religious?’
      ‘how many children are you planning on having?’
      ‘how many children do you have?’
      ‘are you planning on taking any leave within the next 2 years?’
      ‘are you planning a family’
      ‘do you have a boyfriend/husband?’, etc. etc.
      I am certain that had I answered any of them honestly, it would have ended my chances of getting the job (and most of the time, it was the HR rep who asked them, and the team I would actually be working with was perfectly normal and friendly). The interviewer was also breaking the law by even asking them. Lying isn’t always a moral failing, there are times when you need to, to protect yourself. I have replacing ‘boyfriend’ with ‘family’ at a Catholic school as pretty close to this usage.

    3. Ori*

      Oh come on. Lying to a Catholic boss who restricts your free time according to their own moral code is more than acceptable. I grew up in the religion and know how restrictive it is. Personally I wouldn’t work for a Catholic org under any circumstances; but not everyone has that luxury.

  56. anonymous73*

    No you shouldn’t have lied, BUT it’s none of your manager’s business WHY you’re taking vacation, and her reaction was unwarranted. (It’s also none of their business why you’re taking a sick day). The bottom line is that they approved it. If it really was a hardship they could have said no.

    1. Just a Thought*

      You have never said yes to something and then wished you hadn’t. These hard and fast “bottom lines” leave out human processing. As the deadlines to open school got closer, the boss regretted saying yes and let the LW know — and the only reason the manager knew WHY the LW taking vacation was because the LW included the information in the request because otherwise it would not have been approved.

      1. anonymous73*

        You’re making assumptions about me that simply are not true. If boss had regretted granting the request she could have mentioned it after the fact. But here’s the thing. If OP’s vacation had involved plane tickets and money she wasn’t going to get back by cancelling AFTER boss approved it, would you say it’s okay to rescind the vacation request and have OP lose money? Yes people make decisions they regret later…maybe that will make boss think harder about something before making a decision in the future. The why of it really is none of boss’s business. If boss was on the fence, they could say as much and OP could choose to share more details if she thought it worked in her favor (without lying of course).

  57. Applesauced*

    you developed an instantaneous love for camping, and now all of your future vacations will be in the woods with NO cell service

  58. Hydrangea McDuff*

    I’d like to respectfully push back on the answer to this one, with a perspective from K-12 education.

    (And I’ll stipulate up front that I’m making the following assumptions: that you work in the U.S. or another country where school generally starts in August or early September, and that you work a school year 180-200 day work calendar. I may be wrong about both of these things.)

    I’ve spent my career in K-12, first as a teacher, now in a district role. With the odd calendar educators work (by most other professions’ standards) there is also an expectation that, barring really important exceptions, we are at work when the students are in session, or to perform the key functions of our job before kids arrive. So, though my spouse, a principal, technically gets a lot of vacation days, he’s specifically prohibited to take vacation for all but once-in-a-lifetime reasons when school is in session–like Alison’s example of your child’s wedding. This isn’t just about control, this is about the fact that we only get kids for 180ish days, and we need to be there for those days unless we absolutely can’t avoid being gone.

    (Now, we could argue for a long time about the U.S.’s traditional school calendar being an outdated artifact of a no-longer agrarian society, but that’s a different letter.)

    LW, it sounds like you were in a real pickle by wanting to meet up with your person when you were finally able to. But the timing of August sounds exactly like when a librarian is extremely crucial at most schools–getting tech up and running, issuing textbooks, meeting and helping kids and families–and it sounds like to avoid gossip from your colleagues you chose instead to break their trust and, likely, cause stress and inconvenience at a time when it’s already stressful and busy at a school, especially in a COVID world.

    I’m sorry that your boss may have felt your reason wasn’t good enough, but some of that is on the way you handled it, by being a bit shady. Saying “I know this isn’t great timing, but I plan to prepare before I’m gone in the following ways, and this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for me” might have really smoothed some of the waters with your supervisor.

    For people in other industries who have different ways of claiming and taking vacation–schools are just different.

    1. Jack Straw*

      YES. This. All of this. Speaking as a K-12 teacher, the LW’s decision to take a vacation in late August makes me question their judgement and the details in every other area of the letter. It’s not done.

      I had a co-worker who had to get the district superintendent to approve her being off the third day of school to move her child into his dorm in another state. She had to prove that there were not alternative days for move-in available to her.

    2. Person from the Resume*

      I agree with this too. My mom was a teacher (retired after 40+ years) and never took vacation while school was in session. She did take sick leave when sick and maternity leave, but never a planned a trip or vacation.

      It’s something teachers do just because a substitute teacher still needs lesson plans to follow from the teacher and a substitute will not be able to fulfill the role as well as the teacher so it just wasn’t done. Teachers just take vacation in the summer or at the same time the kids are off of school.

      It could be different with a librarian and it’s probably easier to get a substitute.

      I do think that the principal may have been being kind to approve the time but he then let the LW know that it was a special case and not to do it next year. That doesn’t sound malicious.

    3. Flower necklace*

      This is actually something I’m struggling with right now, as a teacher. My cat needs expensive tests that can only be done during school hours. I’m relying on my family for help because it would be a major hassle to get time off work. Even if I could get the leave approved, I wouldn’t want to because I know that students see a sub day as a day off and there’s only so much time before the standardized test in the spring. I have to find a way to make it work.

      1. CarolyntheLibrarian*

        OP here!! I work in a private school so only have my boss (not principal) approve my time off. The beginning of the school year is typically our slowest time of the year and we only get busy towards the end of the semester when helping with research projects.

      2. Rainy*

        My sister’s district has zero subs right now. They all took themselves off the list and no one is applying. Her principal told them to expect to come in and teach no matter how sick they are, or find a way to have another teacher cover their classes (oh, and class sizes are up in the 40s now because so many teachers quit last year). It’s messy out there.

        My best wishes for your kitty; I hope everything works out okay.

  59. M2*

    I disagree with the assessment here. The librarian at a SCHOOL went on vacation when the school was either in session or about to go in session and it sounds like to a different country? That is not ok. We are in a pandemic. You work at a school! Yes it’s a high school so those students should be able to be vaccinated, but honestly I would question your judgment if I were your manager or a parent who heard what had happened. Who takes vacation right when school starts? Most people who work at schools have time off or are less busy in the summer.

    I would totally question your judgement. For the record my kids school if we go out of the surrounding states we must quarantine and get a test after quarantining for 5 days. If it’s an international trip people must quarantine for longer and get tested. I’m sure people lie and don’t tell the truth like you LW and that is worrisome to people like me.

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      I agree with your last point. We’re already in an environment where we’re side-eyeing each other, finding out a school employee lied about international travel would raise my hackles a bit too.

      OP does say they checked the COVID policies and I believe they stayed in compliance, but the lack of transparency would still be concerning. I would want to know if a coworker had been out of the country, and I’d probably not want to be around them for a bit.

    2. scooby dooby doo*

      i agree. i mean, if OP lied about the destination, why wouldn’t she lie about getting tested?

        1. EvilQueenRegina*

          Zero evidence in the letter, but I think the point scooby dooby doo is making is that it might look that way to the boss.

  60. zebra*

    I don’t have any familiarity with Catholic schools so I don’t want to speculate on that part of it. But both you and your boss were kind of in the wrong here.

    Firstly, if this was really such an inconvenient time for you to take your vacation, your boss should have made that clear at the time you asked for it. It’s pretty obnoxious for her to complain about the inconvenience of your time off after she’d already approved it. So a lot of this could have been avoided if she had just told you from the beginning that it would be a tough sell to get that week off and could you maybe reschedule?

    Secondly, TBH, if you’re going to lie about the reason for your vacation, you need to get a lot better at it. I’m not going to pass judgment that this type of lie is never okay or warranted. I did this a couple of times early in my career and I kept it TIGHT — no posting on social media, no telling anyone beforehand, no nothing. You can’t expect a lie like this to fly when you’re kinda half-assing it. It’s totally understandable that they were pissed once your lie was exposed.

    You can’t have it both ways — you either keep your personal life firewalled from work, or you let everyone be all up in your business. Can’t do both!

    1. zebra*

      Before anyone hassles me, just want to say that my fudged vacations were way pre-Covid and there was absolutely zero business or quarantine related impact to where I went or what I was doing. I was just being a 23 year old using some sick days for vacations to fly stupid long distances to see my boyfriend in another country and I didn’t want to answer any annoying questions from my coworkers about it. Not something I’m necessarily proud of but if you’re going to do it, there are ways to do it responsibly and well!

      1. MissDisplaced*

        No judgment here! When I was young I worked someplace where the busiest month happened to be the month of my birthday. After years of never being able to take off, one year I lied about being sick on a Friday so I could go skiing for my birthday. Work called me ALL WEEKEND and the one manager began making threats about why I wasn’t coming in overtime on the weekend. This was not retail, nursing or any kind of emergency services.

        Well, naturally I came back Monday with a skier tan face, Oops! I only stayed there another year because I could never get off the overnight shift and just got fed up.

    2. Cle*

      “You can’t have it both ways — you either keep your personal life firewalled from work, or you let everyone be all up in your business. Can’t do both!”
      Absolutely– if you don’t routinely volunteer personal information, it’s a lot less likely that people will ask you for it later or wonder if they don’t receive it. If you’re someone who tells your boss and coworkers all about your family, your weekends, your dog, etc., then you can’t turn around and say “I’d like to request vacation time for Busy Week” without explanation. If you’re generally private, you are probably going to be able to pull that off, or a “I don’t want to get into the reasons, but it’s important to me” or “it’s for a vacation that I’ve been planning a while, but wasn’t able to take due to COVID and my injury.” Perhaps you can end up just omitting the info instead of having to lie.

  61. Shay (they/them)*

    Yiiiikes. I don’t even think describing the trip as a “family vacation” is off-base – what constitutes a family, anyway? My family is my fiancee, our pets, our best friends, their bio family, and my siblings. I used to tell various people I worked with (before I was out about being in a queer relationship) that I was going to visit family when I was going to visit my fiancee (then long distance partner), and that was vague enough to protect me from bias, but it was also the truth. I know a lot of people will interpret “family vacation” as, say, a reunion or a vacation that’s been in the books for a while, but I don’t think it’s crucial to maintain that definition, and your boss doesn’t need information that’s that specific, either.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Unfortunately, OP has to stick to the church’s definition of family.
      I agree with you though.

  62. Mrs. Hawiggins*

    Reading AAM on some days makes me want to hug the building I work in.
    The only thing I’ve ever ensured is that my vacation is not in the midst of the worst possible time – a board meeting, a huge upcoming onsite event, super busy with meetings everywhere times, I can find good dates and it’s do-able.
    No one has ever asked me what my vacation was for, it’s always been, “have a good time you deserve it.” But you do have to make the effort to ensure it works out properly for the workplace (when it can) or make accommodations for either you/your work when it can’t.
    OP’s boss was over the top, I do agree. How the boss found out what the real reason was is something I’d have my eye on. Someone must have been a blabbereeno.

    1. Frankie*

      OP *did* choose the worst possible time, though, and lied about the reason. I 100% get lying to avoid gossip (but I suggest a consequent social media embargo) but it would definitely seem to OP’s boss as if she lied on purpose to get the leave approved. Family vacation connotes coordinating multiple schedules so postponement would be near impossible. Couple’s getaway just doesn’t.

  63. RagingADHD*

    I’m really not sure what there is to be confused about here.

    You work at a school. You wanted to take off one of the busiest, most pressured weeks of the year. Your boss made it happen this time as a special exception, and told you quite straightforwardly that you should not expect to get that time off again in the future, because it is so inconvenient.

    It’s pretty clear that this is aligned with Alison’s first scenario, that the boss made an exception or went out of her way to make arrangements for a request that sounded unique and important. Naturally she is going to be upset to find out that it was not true, because you put her to a lot of extra trouble for nothing.

    I’m not at all surprised that your boss suspects you of lying to get special treatment. First off, you did lie and you did get special treatment as a result. Second, you personally started up the gossip mill that you supposedly wanted to avoid. Perhaps it wasn’t intentional, but you certainly weren’t thinking things through clearly. And that’s not really a good look at work either.

    The religious issue vs privacy on your time off is a complete red herring. LW, you messed up here and you need to learn from it.

    1. StudentA*

      Someone gets it.

      Hell, I’m feeling manipulated by the OPs emphasis on religion. She’s gotta know religion is a touchy subject and a bunch of people on this blog are pounce on that in her defense. I snorted a few times at the idea that some people here assumed the boss is sitting around clutching her pearls because OP is off to meet a boyfriend, instead of hang out with a nuclear family.

      Let’s see here. The boss is upset because she likely feels she bent the rules to approve OPs PTO for a family vacation that would be difficult to reschedule. But instead, she gets a rude awakening: her employee lied to her to go on an unnecessary vacation during one of the busiest times of the year, as in, the reason you’re hired, OP.

      I’ve known some controlling, nosy bosses. Maybe she’s that. But based on the way this letter is written, what info the OP decided to include and emphasize, I think the boss feels manipulated and lied to.

    2. Ori*

      I’m genuinely confused by this; why is a holiday with family any more special or unique than a holiday with a partner? If anything that’s *less* important and unique.

      1. RagingADHD*

        OP was going to meet an online match/pen pal for the first time, and if you follow her update comments, they broke up almost immediately.

        This was not, in any ordinary meaning of the word, her partner.

        After a year + of lockdown, getting to reunite with family is a big deal that could be difficult to coordinate. A meetup to discover that you aren’t actually compatible IRL with the person you’ve been chatting to, is not time sensitive.

  64. Marzipan Shepherdess*

    OP, you mentioned that you work in a Catholic school. As you know, many communities have VERY strict standards for school employees, far beyond what most people would consider reasonable in our culture today (e.g., refusing to let a teacher and their family use a community swimming pool because swimsuits were immodest, firing teachers for being seen or photographed holding a glass of wine or beer, etc.) Living with your boyfriend before marriage is NOT condoned by the Catholic Church – could this be part of what she objected to?
    For the record: I think that this supervisor was much too strict, and probably didn’t reflect at all on whether her own policies and attitudes actually encourage her staff to lie to her. But it would be worthwhile exploring the possible role played by the school’s religious affiliation in the supervisor’s over-the-top reaction.

  65. Skerlie B*

    The fact that she emphasized that it’s a Catholic school is the clue that there’s an likely an extra dose of judginess in there that wouldn’t necessarily occur so intensely in a non-religious organization. Obviously, her concern about being the subject of whispers among the staff was well founded. For the record, your time is your time and she’s really not entitled to know what it’s being used for.

  66. COVID cautious supervisor*

    I would be pretty upset if one of my employees went out of the country during a pandemic and did not disclose doing so, especially if we worked in a school setting.

  67. MissDisplaced*

    Honestly this is a level of nosiness I would not tolerate. You are not obligated to say anything more than “taking a vacation” even in today’s Covid world as long as you follow protocol for any quarantine if you have to.
    Guess that’s why I don’t work for a religious org. I couldn’t take this.

    1. Annie Moose*

      I don’t think this has anything to do with it being a religious school. By all accounts, LW is the one who volunteered a reason for the vacation; the boss didn’t demand it.

      1. Ori*

        I think you’re incredibly incorrect. I think if OP had been going on holiday with her *husband* not boyfriend, there’d be zero issue.

  68. Frankie*

    I had a prof get mad because I dared miss class for my sister’s wedding. On the other hand, my boss was very gracious when I filed two days’ leave for the same event even when I had only been at the job for less than 3 months.

    Some people will be mad when you take a vacation, no matter the reason.

    1. Frankie*

      Oh, wait, I didn’t realize it was a trip abroad and OP works in a school. That seems irresponsible in itself, but coupled with the lying, the manager’s reaction is not unexpected. I think both could have handled it better

  69. LGC*

    Meanwhile, I’m telling my employees to tell me less about their time-off plans.

    That said – honestly, the only thing I’d have done differently in this situation is to not tell your boss any details about your plans (true or otherwise), or minimal details. I’ll admit, I can definitely see why she thought you lied to get it approved (even though you didn’t) – saying that you’re going on a family trip sounds less frivolous to a lot of people than going to see your LDR partner. And your boss definitely sounds like she’s the kind of person who judges what uses of vacation are appropriate.

    But she didn’t need to go full-on Tyra Banks “We were ALL rooting for you!” on you.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      I worked in a judgy place. I told my subordinates that, “It’s not that I don’t care, but for you own peace of mind do not tell me why you need medical time, vacation time or personal time. Just don’t tell me and don’t put the full reason in writing either.” For my part in all this, I will assume that if you are asking for time that it must be important to you. That way you do not have explain anything.”

    2. Hallorie*

      I think this is good advice/insight for more typical workplaces. However, in the US school setting, you DO NOT take vacations outside of scheduled breaks, and you surely DO NOT take vacations right before school starts or during the first few weeks of school. OP’s boss likely had to find, pay, train, and monitor a substitute librarian for that time period, in addition to likely arranging for OP to make up any staff trainings, meetings, Covid precaution discussions, safety trainings, etc. Moreover, I seriously doubt OP’s boss cares what OP is doing with Fall Break or Spring Break, but, in this case, it was certainly in OP’s boss’s purview to decide if OP’s use of vacation at a highly inconvenient, atypical, and potentially harmful time (beginning of the year) was appropriate and/or warranted. OP’s boss apparently assumed OP had a legit family vacation get planned, was too nice about it, later set a boundary about next time, and then found out what the vacation was truly about on social media.

      OP burned their boss and wonders why boss is upset.

      1. CarolyntheLibrarian*

        OP here!! We have a regular sub schedule so my boss did not pay extra for a sub. Also we do not train our subs when we get them, all they do is sit and monitor students. We typically do not even get a sub unless one of us is helping with an additional class. There were no staff meetings/trainings missed. We also do not typically attend teacher trainings because we are not teachers.

        1. Cle*

          I work in higher education in a department that usually isn’t very busy during late August. But we still don’t take off. No one takes off then unless it’s really important. It’s just part of the industry culture– everyone is there for the back to school buzz, to pop heads in offices and say hi/catch up, have informal meetings, etc. Once the term actually starts there’s no more time for that. I’ve worked at 3 colleges and all have been that way.

      2. LGC*

        You do have a point (although – in my defense – I’m used to the school year starting in September, so I thought it was “just before the school year started” as opposed to “first weeks of the school year”). But I think it’s also an if-and – OP DID take vacation at an inconvenient time (to say the least), and it sounds like her boss is overly invested in this situation (even if she needed a substitute).

        I’ll admit, in this particular case I think OP’s boss would have rejected the vacation if she’d grey rocked the reason, but even that would have probably been a better outcome? I get that international borders are VERY touch-and-go right now, so this might have been her last best chance…but also, I’m not sure it’s worth it to be screamed at, from OP’s account.

  70. Amorette Allison*

    Catholic School wants to know if you doing nice family things or fornicating out of wedlock. That’s the true reason.

  71. Not So NewReader*

    OP, in retail jobs there are various levels of priority for vacation time/time off.
    Funerals are at the top of the list. Activities with family are a close second.
    Since this is pretty well known, people have used funerals or activities with family to explain their need for time off. It’s a well known way to leverage the approval one is hoping for.

    Since retail is what it is, people often lie to get that time they want. People have been caught not going to funerals because there wasn’t a funeral. People have been caught spending time with non-family people. This happens because otherwise the request is usually denied and people know the likelihood of denial is high. The denial is based on, “I can say no and make you miserable so therefore I am going to say NO.”

    Your boss has been manipulated before in this manner. People told her, “Oh my vacation is important because it’s with fammmmiiiily.” And then she found out later it was not with family. It’s not just you she is reacting to, it’s all the people before you that tried to leverage time off with the family excuse. (Well, you’d say “reason”, she would say “excuse”.)

    I get it- you were not trying to leverage time off– I really get it. However, the key person here, your boss, does NOT get it. So it does not matter that I get it. She thinks you are doing what others before you have done. And there is probably no persuading her otherwise.

    You came out of it okay this time. You still have a job. But heads up and eyes wide open. Your boss has shown you who she is and it is okay to believe her.
    Look there are reasons people around you are gossipy and judgy. That is because they are copying their bosses. This stuff starts at the top and goes down.

    I’d start looking for a new job if I were you, OP. Something that is less in conflict with your thinking/values/life choices. And I’d also expect this boss to be second guessing you often, now.

      1. allathian*

        Presumably because it’s assumed that with friends you can more easily reschedule, and certainly with a partner you’re living with. With friends it’s not necessarily the case, though, at least if it’s a large group of friends you’re scheduling something with.

        I guess I’m glad that when I worked in retail some 30 years ago, stores were closed on Sundays, unless Sunday was the day after a holiday, and even then stores would usually be open for four hours in the middle of the day. Stores closed at noon on Christmas Eve, and wouldn’t open again until Dec 27. Now, many stores are open 24/7/365. I’m also happy that I never had to miss out on any once-in-a-lifetime events because of work at the time.

  72. Effective Immediately*

    I’m surprised there’s not more attention being paid to the ‘small Catholic school’ and ‘disapproving of my reasons’ piece of this post. As someone who grew up Catholic and went to a small Catholic school–as well as someone who works in family planning, and sees firsthand the result of the intermingling of religious doctrine with business practices (eg: businesses who won’t cover their employee’s family planning care; people who have to lie about their reason to leave work so as not to get ‘in trouble’ for coming to the clinic), I can absolutely see a person in a position of authority in such a place feeling some type of way about a young, unmarried woman vacationing with her boyfriend.

    That’s not to say that is, for sure, what’s going on here but OP mentions it in various ways a few times, and I think it’s worth pointing out. This isn’t intended to cause any kind of religious ‘fight’, nor am I saying Catholicism/religious entities are bad or wrong, but I do think it’s possible it’s informing the boss’s reaction here, and I’m surprised to see that piece isn’t really addressed.

    1. Cle*

      Even if the core of the situation is the boss feels some type of way, there’s nothing actionable on that front. OP knew this was a small Catholic school when she signed up. They probably have to go to school-wide mass every week along with everyone else. They probably signed on to a morality clause. There is nothing they can do about any stigma related to premarital sex– the Catholic Church has been that way for centuries and it won’t stop any time soon.

  73. Pan Troglodytes*

    I feel like the lie was on such a low level, between two very mildly different scenarios, that it barely constitutes a lie. And given that this sounds like a very judgemental workplace- I think it’s completely reasonable to tweak the reason for your time off. It’s your life to keep private.

    In general, having to justify PTO by sharing personal details feels creepy to me, even if it is common practice.

    1. Just a Thought*

      The issue is not the level of the “lie”. The issue is her asking for time off right when school is starting. She “tweaked” the reason to get her way at an inconvenient time. This is not the employer requiring to always know how PTO is being used. It was a special request with a tweaked reason. That would sure piss me off if I was the boss.

    2. MCMonkeyBean*

      Honestly I often find that small lies for no particular reason are more concerning than bigger lies where I can at least understand why they felt the need to lie.

  74. Elemele*

    I must say I am absolutely astonished how many people in the comment section treat managers as enemies who out of principle are always wrong. I am speechless reading comments that when an employee lies it means there’s something wrong with their boss’ management style.

    If the letter is true – and it’s hard to take it fully at a face value if OP openly admits to stretching the truth for her own convenience – where the boss made a mistake was in not asking if the employee was flexible with the timing at the very beginning. But that mistake doesn’t mean she can’t and is not allowed to feel annoyed and distrustful. I must also say that the OP’s attitude isn’t particularly smart. Yes, she tricked everybody to have holidays in the requested time, once. Future work and cooperation will be soured, she can’t expect indulgence and flexibility in the long term. Was it worth it, just to show the boss who’s the boss?

    1. Ori*

      What on earth are you talking about? Tricked? How is saying you’re going on a family vacation ‘tricking’ your boss? Especially because my partner *is* my family.

      She ‘lied’ because she works for a Catholic school: people have been fired from Catholic schools for engaging in ‘premarital’ behaviour.

      1. allathian*

        Yup. And they’re absolutely entitled to employ only such people who share their values, the values they’re presumably hoping to impart on their students.

        Your partner may be your family, but she/he/they don’t count as such in the eyes of the Catholic church. If the school’s a reasonably decent employer, they presumably don’t care much what their employees do when school is not in session, in a “don’t ask, don’t tell, don’t post on social media where we can see it” kind of way. But they’re entirely within their rights to determine when their employees are allowed to take vacation, and for which reasons, when school is in session.

        That said, the LW knowingly lied to her boss by claiming family vacation, when she didn’t feel that the boyfriend she’d never met before was a part of her family, and presumably knew how the Catholic church feels about family.

        The LW has stated she’s looking for a new job. I hope she gets one soon, hopefully in a more socially liberal environment. In any case, the bridge with this particular boss is well and truly burned, I can’t see the LW ever regaining their trust.

        I’m a secular humanist, and I’d never work for a religious institution myself unless the alternative was to starve and lose my home, and I still support the right of religious organizations to determine what sort of behavior is expected of their employees both on and off the clock. If someone can’t live with those expectations they should go work somewhere else. Or not act surprised if they get caught doing something that’s against the moral clause of their contract and get fired. I’m honestly surprised that the LW didn’t get fired. Please note that I specified religious organizations. If someone in a secular organization happens to have a religious boss who tries to dictate how they should live off the clock, it’s obviously completely unacceptable.

      1. Just a Thought*

        The LW made it her boss’ business because she wanted a “yes” to a vacation right when school was starting.

  75. Ori*

    It’s a Catholic school. If they somehow found out she was holidaying with a boyfriend then her job could be in jeopardy. Also, if you confided in one friend, and they found out, reconsider confiding in that ‘friend’ in future. Frankly I’d be job hunting; you’re not 15 and IMO your boss has no right to police what you do with your PTO.

  76. Why did I go to library school?*

    Some of these responses about online relationships are making me go absolutely bonkers — are people seriously still treating them as somehow “lesser”? In this day and age?

    The most common way for couples to meet (in the US, at least) is online. According to a February 2020 Pew study: “About one-in-ten U.S. adults say [they have been in a committed relationship with or married someone they met through a dating site or app] (12%), though these shares are higher among LGB adults, as well as those ages 18 to 49.”

    And that’s just counting sites and apps specifically intended for dating! I know several couples who met online via other means who: 1) started dating before they had met IRL, 2) had been dating long-distance for a significant amount of time before they were able to meet IRL, 3) now live together and are married/in committed relationships that have lasted 5+ years. Then again, I am between the ages of 18 and 49, a LGBTQ+ adult, and more “terminally online” than the average person ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

    1. Rainy*

      Yeah, I’ve been a little amazed myself.

      I’m in my 40s and met my spouse on a social media platform, where we bonded because we’re both weird and like movies. (Also he’s super hot and the photo he was using as a profile pic was *fire emoji*.) We were living in different countries when we met, even. Oh noes. Guess somehow we’re not really married?

    2. Leaf*

      Yeah, I’m surprised some people are drawing arbitrary distinctions between “partner” and “partner whom you met online.” Why the heck does it matter where/how they met?

      1. Rainy*

        The “she’s not even dating him anymore” thing is what got me.

        Like…I’m not with my first husband anymore, because he’s dead. Does that mean that a decade plus of my life simply poofed off into the ether?

        1. Rolling my eyes*

          Oh, how disingenuous is this.

          LW met an online penpal for the first time and decided not to have a f2f relationship with him.

          How is that comparable to your decade of marriage?

          1. Rainy*

            If you are meeting someone to see if you want to date, unless you basically don’t talk at all between deciding you’d like to meet and meeting up, it’s not an “online penpal” thing, it’s a long distance relationship. Maybe it doesn’t work out, as relationships often don’t, but that doesn’t mean the people involved aren’t emotionally involved to some extent while they’re getting that figured out. As everyone who dates is and does.

  77. I Faught the Law*

    Single people always get the shaft when it comes to time off. Their commitments just aren’t viewed as important compared to people who are married and have kids. I don’t blame the OP at all for framing the vacation the way she did, although frankly, I wouldn’t even offer a reason unless I was really pressed for one. I think the boss is totally out of line for adjudicating what is and isn’t an acceptable reason to take vacation time.

  78. Cle*

    OP seems a little naive. Private social media isn’t a thing. Work friends are usually coworkers first and friends second. Trying to stave off drama with a lie rarely works. All across education, people just don’t really take off at the end of August. Sure, some departments aren’t super busy, but everyone’s presence is generally expected as part of the back to school buzz. Unless they are new to education, OP would have to be pretty dense not to have noticed that. That this whole thing didn’t go well seems very foreseeable.

    I don’t think OP’s boss handled this well, but what’s done is done at this point. I would imagine that OP’s boss doesn’t trust them anymore, and that the coworkers are as gossipy as ever. I think regardless of who is in the right/wrong here, OP is going to have to be careful and thoughtful about how to move forward.

  79. Just a Thought*

    So many comments here act like we live and work with people who all share our values and norms. The fact that something SHOULD be a certain way does not mean we can declare our values as reality. Part of being at work is calibrating our personal selves and work selves that — in best case are authentic and open — and in worse cases require hiding and pretend. And life requires some level of pretend/social adjustment.

    LW pretended that she had a family vacation — or perhaps in her values/norm she did see her boyfriend as family (she still has not really cast her own opinion on this as far as I can find in our thread). The LW is who framed the request as a “family vacation” because she knew the answer would be no unless it was seen as “important” enough. She choose to make the timing of the vacation seem hard to change. LW did not need her boss to tell her the timing was inconvenient.

    I do not think it does the LW any favors to act like the boss is ALL out of line. This is a particular boss — at a particular school — at a particular time. And this particular boss was deceived in particular ways. The LW took all that into account in her request, she tried to get her way, muffed it up, and it back fired. Sure, her boss could have been “better” with her emotions. But the LW needs to deal with her side of the equation.

  80. Jennifer Juniper*

    Next time you lie about something like that, OP, don’t tell ANYONE the truth, no matter how close a friend they are!

    Otherwise, the truth will out.

    I don’t think you did anything morally wrong, OP. Your coworkers sound like judgmental prudes who would frown upon you “sinning” because you met alone with your boyfriend.

  81. Gina*

    OP consider for a moment that you said it is a Catholic school. The idea of you taking a vacation with a boyfriend might be what is actually behind this. A vacation with family is fine. But an unmarried man? That might be the issue for your boss. (It isn’t for me just to be clear.)

    Next time no info. Just a simple this is the vacation time I am requesting. Unless it’s a really big thing like a close family member’s wedding.

  82. moneypenny*

    This sounds like the boss is avoiding the bigger issue of gossip and an untrustworthy environment as a serious problem in the office.

  83. dustycrown*

    Your vacation time belongs to you. It is part of your compensation for doing the job. How you use it is none of your employer’s business. You are not obligated to tell them how you plan to use it, or to use it in a way that meets with their approval.

  84. Canadian Librarian #72*

    Ill-adivsed for OP to tell a white lie when they could have said nothing? Yeah, sure. But it’s absolutely none of the boss’s business what OP was doing on their time off (boss is entitled to exactly zero information on that), and if the dates were problematic, the boss should have asked if OP could be flexible. It’s no one’s fault but the boss’s own that they ended up not liking a decision they themselves made (to approve the time off).

  85. Leaf*

    This is 100% on the boss. Her reaction was way out of line. The only mistake the OP made was to trust her work friend. You can bet she won’t be doing that again.

  86. PublicSchoolTeacher*

    Yeah, I’m a teacher. In my opinion it’s really unprofessional to take a long vacation at the end of August, which is likely one of the first weeks of school, when classroom and schoolwide routines are being established. Since teachers get several weeks of their summers off (if not working summer school or a second job or taking coursework), it’s more expected that we won’t take longer vacations during the school year (a week or more), and if we do, it’s really frowned upon to take them the first or last couple weeks of school. The only time my colleagues have taken longer leave (outside of FMLA or maternity) were for honeymoons and funerals. I don’t think it’s anyone’s business what her vacation was for, but if I were the boss I wouldn’t have approved any August vacations unless it was a special circumstance such as wedding/death.

  87. ThatLibTech*

    I won’t lie, I’m a bit weirded out by how hard people went on the OP lying, missing the elephant in the room of “unmarried woman employee visiting unmarried man” at a Catholic school. I also work in a school setting (academic) and yes taking time off at the beginning of the semester is a pretty big faux pas, but if they weren’t able to accommodate OP leaving, the boss shouldn’t have approved the time off, regardless of the reason.

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