my boss cried when I asked for a raise, when to tell applicants about our vaccine requirement, and more

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

1. My boss cried when I asked for a raise

I worked at an office for seven years. A few months ago, I asked for a raise. My manager said she would get back to me and I never heard anything.

A month later, the job was growing increasingly mentally and physically demanding. I came to my manager again and asked for a Monday-Thursday schedule. Again, silence. So I started seeking other jobs. When I was up-front about this with my manager, miraculously she was able to discuss my raise/better schedule with my boss the next day.

I was told no, that I couldn’t work the four days (which is a normal schedule in my profession). I was also told I couldn’t get a raise unless I worked the exact days they wanted me to and no less. My manager said my boss was “extremely hurt” by me wanting to work a more manageable schedule with better pay. So I had a meeting with my boss and she cried. She said she felt hurt I was doing this to her and I was seeming ungrateful. There were a lot of toxic things said on top of that. The following day, when I had follow-up questions about my raise (given I agreed to the days they said were a must), I was met with silence AGAIN.

I snapped. After years of being mentally abused by my manager, I wrote an immediate resignation letter and left it on my boss’s desk at the end of the day. She won’t see it until tomorrow. It’s not the way I wanted to go out. But I have a job lined up that doesn’t need her reference.

My question now is, can I block calls and texts from the office? I know when she sees I quit without notice, she will be enraged, and will reach out to belittle me and blame me for messing up her schedule and business. Can I block it all out?

You sure can.

But first I’d ask how much you care about truly burning the bridge. I know you said you don’t need your boss’s reference for the job you just accepted — but that doesn’t mean you won’t get asked for a reference from her in future searches, especially since you worked there so long. The bridge might be burned regardless of what you do now (because of the quitting without notice and also depending on what you said in the letter), but it’s possible that being willing to take a call or two from her could make it less burned than it otherwise would be. That wouldn’t mean you need to take abuse from her, but there might be something to be gained for Future You if you don’t completely block her right off the bat.

Or maybe not. You might know the reference is already a lost cause, or you might have calculated that being able to walk out and never speak to them again is worth losing the reference. That’s your call!

In any case, you can indeed block calls and texts from your office. They mistreated you and you’re not obligated to engage with them at all if you’re willing to deal with whatever the consequences are of that. (Those consequences could range from badmouthing you to others in your field to the aforementioned bad references to nothing at all. And again, you might know that she’s already going to do the first two anyway, no matter what you do next.)

2. Should I correct my chair about the low amount I’m paid?

I’m a lecturer at a university. The chair of my department is not very empathetic or encouraging, and I’ve been frustrated by some of his past actions and statements to me (nothing awful, just rather rude and unsupportive, plus I always get the semi-unspoken vibe that we should never use sick leave, though that is not the official message, of course).

At a meeting last week, he was asking us to change how we are doing something, requiring more time in the classroom. It’s not a big deal, but he was illustrating his point about how we shouldn’t complain about it by saying that even the lowest paid of us make $70 an hour when you crunch the numbers, and this particular new task is an easy way to make 70 bucks.

We make nowhere near $70 an hour. We are all notoriously underpaid, and my salary is near the bottom. I have no idea how he came up with that number, but it is dramatically wrong. I want to point this out SO BADLY. His comment irritated me, with the implication that we make plenty of money and shouldn’t complain. I really want to say “Hey, Chair, how did you get that number?” And then politely correct him.

But it doesn’t actually affect anything. It is purely because I’m irritated and want to be petty. So should I get over this, since it does me no good? (For what it’s worth, he’s only going to be chair for another year, most likely.)

I’d be awfully tempted to approach this as if there’s been a terrible mistake in your pay and you’d like to get it corrected (“you said we’re all making at least $70/hour, and that is definitely not reflected in my pay — is it possible I’m being paid incorrectly?”).

But it’s probably a better idea to simply say matter-of-factly, “You said the other day that we all make at least $70/hour and I thought you’d want to know that that’s not correct. I can’t speak for others, but I make $X/hour.” It’s not petty to point that out; you’d be doing him a favor by correcting his facts for the future.

Read updates to this letter here and here.

3. Can I ask my boss to stop meeting with me about my work?

My supervisor and the manager of my department have been meeting with me monthly to as they put it help me with recommendations on how to stay organized and how to keep on top of things. This is fair but it seems like these meetings are always a list of everything I’m doing wrong and never any improvements they’ve seen. If I do something well, my supervisor actually actively minimizes it.

I don’t want to have these meetings any more because they aren’t productive and don’t motivate me to do better in any way. Is there any way possible I could ask for the meetings to stop? Things have been bad since returning from WFH and the meetings make it worse.

If they’re meeting with you monthly because they have concerns about your work, you can’t really ask for the meetings to stop; it would be like saying “stop giving me feedback about my work.”

But if they haven’t given you clear goals that they want you to be meeting — a clear picture of what your performance should look like and how that differs from your work now — you could try asking for that. You could also say that you think you’ve made improvements like XYZ and ask if that aligns with their impressions. Ultimately, though, I’d be concerned that they’re seeing serious issues that need to improve but haven’t communicated that clearly enough — so I’d want to make sure you’re all on the same page about how they view your performance overall and what that could mean for your job.

4. When should we tell job candidates about our Covid vaccine requirement?

My employer requires COVID-19 vaccination as a condition of employment. We had 100% compliance without any medical or religious exemptions requested (although we have provisions if it does happen) and no one quitting. We are just now opening up two new positions because we are buried in work and we have been trying to figure out when to announce the vaccine requirement (in the announcement? in the first interview? later interviews? offer stage? first day of work/when you do I-9 and all that?).

In a similar vein, say we have a great candidate who isn’t vaccinated, would it make sense to tell them that by the time they start (generally two weeks from time of offer) they’ll need to show proof of a first vaccine or documentation for a religious/medical exemption or the offer is no longer available? Or should we just not even offer a position? At this time, our field isn’t hitting any pandemic-induced labor shortage and everything is about the same as pre-pandemic on that front, so ruling out unvaccinated folks would be unlikely to make the search longer or harder.

Put it in the ad. That way people know up-front and can self-select out if they’re not willing to be vaccinated — and it will likely be a draw to a lot of people who are, and who appreciate your company taking public health seriously.

I’d reiterate it when making an offer too, in the context of asking them to supply proof of vaccination or a request for an exemption as part of their new hire paperwork.

5. Can I ask for new business cards with my correct pronouns?

Ever since I was more exposed to those outside of the gender binary, I’ve been questioning my gender and I finally decided that the pronouns I’d use are she/they. I’m still unsure about if I identify as non-binary, but I feel so much better coming to terms with the pronouns I identiy with. This might sound unrelated to work, but I just wanted to add some context to my problem. I was asked to provide my pronouns for my business cards at my new job, which I said were she/they. However, when I was shown the drafts, my pronouns were listed as she/her/hers, with no mention of they/them/theirs. I really was not comfortable pushing back, so I just accepted it and now I have a bunch of business cards that list my pronouns as she/her/hers. However, as time passed I became extremely uncomfortable with only half my pronouns being present on my business card. Is it too late to ask for business cards that reflect ALL of my actual pronouns and I should just accept it? I do acknowledge that I should’ve said something at the time, but can I say something now?

Yes. Go ahead and ask. A workplace that’s including pronouns on their business cards is probably a workplace that wants people to be comfortable with the pronouns getting used for them.

Ideally you would have spoken up when you were given the proofs to review — the same way you presumably would have spoken up about any other error, like if they misspelled your name. Still, though, the fact that you didn’t isn’t reason for you to have to use cards with pronouns you’re not comfortable with.

You could say, “I apologize for not raising this earlier, but is it possible to redo my business cards with my correct pronouns, which are she/they?” Business cards really don’t cost that much, and a conscientious employer will care more about getting it right than having to redo them. (They might be a little aggravated that you didn’t say something at the proof stage, but a conscientious employer will also know this stuff can be fraught.)

{ 494 comments… read them below }

  1. Ask a Manager* Post author

    All: Letter #5 is not an invitation to debate pronouns or your feelings about the LW’s pronouns, and I’ve removed some lengthy and derailing threads doing that.

  2. Phil*

    #1 Personally I’d keep the number unblocked and gleefully watch the phone light up and ignore it, but I guess it depends how abusive the boss will be in text and voicemail and if it’s something you can deal with on top of everything else you’ve put up with.

    1. Zona the Great*

      I think I would too!! It is cathartic for me at this point to watch the abuser lose control. Like when a bad boyfriend is too late in his pleas but it helps hearing it.

    2. LifeBeforeCorona*

      As soon as the boss told the OP that they were ungrateful! and cried manipulation! my vote went to resigning without notice. This is a bridge worth burning.

      1. Hekko*

        I was thinking, “Run!” That’s extremely toxic. Forget reference; save your mental health.

        (sadly, only if you can financially afford it…)

        1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

          I was thinking that I would not trust this boss to give a good (or even a semi-okay) reference. Even if she promises one. This is someone I’d just never ask for one.

          1. EmmaPoet*

            Agreed. At this point if the boss told me the sky was blue I’d look out a window, grab an encyclopedia, and hit google before I trusted her word anything. References? Forget it.

      2. Worldwalker*

        Seriously … *crying*? And ungrateful? For being, presumably, “given” a job? With the implication that employment is an act of charity, bringing no benefits on the employer?

        More flags than a May Day parade in Moscow.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          Anyone who cries and cites your terrible ingratitude at the temerity of asking for a raise after seven years is unlikely to take any form of resignation well.

      3. Mona-Lisa Saperstein*

        Yeah, I agree. I think the bridge would have been burned *no matter when OP quit* because this manager sounds totally out of touch, so if it was cathartic for OP to light the match herself, why not?

      4. Expiring Cat Memes*

        What else is there to do in that situation really… they didn’t leave OP many options. And let’s face it, we’re all resigning vicariously through OP.

      5. Artemesia*

        The idea of a boss crying and making it about their hurt feelings that their employees want to be promoted or given raises is seriously creepy. So glad the OP got out of there. And yeah that bridge is burned but not by her, but by her boss.

      6. TardyTardis*

        The boss has already lied several times. The OP can’t trust them at all. They aren’t going to get good references even if they quit with notice.

        The OP is best out of there.

    3. Beth*

      Yeah — this is the kind of bridge that’s going to burn no matter what, so the best thing to do is bring marshmallows.

    4. Anastasia Beaverhousen*

      Oh but think, if the voicemails are too abusive then there is the potential for a PPO against the employer which would NOT be good press.

    5. Meep*

      I am still in the same company as my abusive former boss and it is wonderful seeing her call and just ignoring it. Especially considering a) if she actually needed to talk to me about work she would leave a voicemail (she used me as free talk-therapy for years) and b) she used to do this obnoxious thing of calling me and then telling me she would call me back in 5 minutes before never calling back (to which she would get absolutely furious if I was not on stand-by the entire time so I was ready to listen to her trauma dump).

      She always complains about how we need to “communicate better” but hey. I can do my job (and do it better) if I talk to her as little as possible.

    6. Cold Fish*

      I think it would be great is OP could answer when she called and giving the ex-boss an ear full of why she should have been grateful to have OP as an employee and she needs to treat employees better. I doubt I could go thru with it in this situation but it’s a nice daydream.

    7. L'étrangere*

      I completely understand the urge to quit from some sort of weird psychopath crying over the mere thought of giving you a raise, OP1. But I have a niggling doubt about your new job being described as ‘lined up’. I hope that means signed contract in hand, as you will see advised all over this site, and not merely a verbal agreement..
      You can always have an alternative leave instead of an abrupt resignation without a firm offer, just tgive yourself a bit of breathing room, some sudden ‘illness’, need to quarantine etc

  3. OP2*

    OP2 here. If you’re curious, I think I have since figured out his calculation: it counts hours literally teaching, but not office hours (a large requirement), grading, prep, or meetings, or anything else.

      1. favorthebold*

        Yeah I was sure it would be this! That he’s calculating benefits like healthcare, waived tuition (since OP works at a university), etc. I would not have guessed that he would be cutting out hours worked, what an original way to be this kind of jerk!

        1. Paulina*

          I’m an academic, and I expected exactly what OP2 said: that it only counted classroom hours. It’s sadly not uncommon to consider this, potentially because the amount of prep needed and support provided vary so widely, but it’s rarely used as blatantly as this particular chair did.

          Now if the additional classroom time does mean they’ll get paid more, and that’s the amount per classroom hour, then the chair might actually be correct that it’s an “easy” way to make an extra $70. However, my experience also suggests that this is unlikely to be the case, since he tried to deflect complaints by telling them they were paid highly already, rather than telling them they were going to get extra pay.

    1. Aj Crowley*

      OOF. I’ve lectured and my spouse is faculty at a college. To discount all the work outside of actually lecturing is insulting. Can you use Alison’s script for your department head but note that his salary calculations only take into account classroom hours and not the X number of hours you spend prepping, holding office hours, and responding to student emails? (The last of which take up no short amount of time) Not to mention the demands of the last two years and navigating remote learning.

      I find that department heads are often relieved of a heavy course load and can become out of touch with the actual demands of being a professor. If he has been dept head for many years (which if he is at the end of his appointment seems likely) he may have forgotten all the necessary demands beyond the time spent lecturing. Or he may opt out of many of these and be disliked by his students.

      1. Observer*

        To discount all the work outside of actually lecturing is insulting.

        Not just insulting. It’s also seriously stupid. You expect that from people who literally have no idea of how much out of classroom time is REQUIRED for each classroom hour. But the Chair of a department?! Someone who presumably was (is still?) a professor? It makes you wonder what he was like in that role. . .

        1. Paulina*

          He was probably someone who gave the same courses in exactly the same way for years. Prep time amortizes over a long career, especially if you don’t update your curriculum much.

      2. Chilipepper Attitude*

        For faculty, time is broken into parts, like 25% of my spouses time is teaching, 25% is research, 25% is administrative work (they have a role directing a part of the curriculum), and I think 25% is service. That is likely not quite accurate but I wanted to give you the idea – it includes all my spouses time for office hours, research/writing, and other tasks to help the department run.

        IDK if adjunct time can or should be broken down like that but it might help to know how time is managed for faculty.

      3. PT*

        TBH, I’ve taught fitness classes and safety classes and you are never paid for prep for those, either- even though in those situations, you’re paid hourly for your time with a timeclock punch-in/out. You can put HOURS into building a new playlist and choreography for a fitness class, and hours upon hours to put together materials to be prepared to run a smooth CPR/First Aid/whatever class (especially if it’s your first run through of the course material after a 5-year revision, that one is always very time intensive) and then do the paperwork to close them out, and that’s *always* unpaid.

        1. Third Generation Nerd*

          Teaching quilting courses, I had to develop the curriculum, then make samples. This takes many, many hours. Didn’t get paid for that time. Materials were not reimbursed, but had to be purchased by teachers (at a hefty discount).

    2. Panhandlerann*

      I’ll bet he doesn’t count just that when it comes to HIS hours.

      I worked at a university for years. An extremely toxic professor in my department was known to say that she (a full professor) made LESS than our adjuncts. Maybe your guy and this woman took the same funny math class.

      1. Artemesia*

        I unsuccessfully fought the battle to get our adjuncts paid decently for years and the best we could do was $3000 a course. Full time lecturers got a salary and benefits and reasonable if not magnificent pay, but adjuncts were piece workers who got no benefits and crappy pay. Originally adjuncts were professionals who might do the occasional course as SMEs and as a sort of hobby, so minor pay on top of their income as a lawyer or accountant or whatever worked. Now adjuncts are often people stitching together lots of adjunct jobs to make ends meet. Even if they do 5 courses at several universities they end up with poverty wages and no benefits.

        1. JustForThis*

          Thank you for fighting the fight. This is the only chance that something will eventually change for the better.

        2. Well...*

          Thank you for the fight! I’d love to see undergrads/alumni associations push back on this too. The high tuition from a 100 student class goes where, when their teachers are making less/year than the tuition of one student? It’s wild. There should also be a teaching tenure track. If researchers can’t keep up with the teaching load, hire teachers with the same benefits.

        3. Charlotte Lucas*

          I made more as a CSR in an insurance company than I ever did as adjunct faculty. And I taught Comp, which is very hands on.

        4. Sara without an H*

          Thanks for making the effort. Academia runs on one of the most corrupt, exploitative labor systems on the planet.

      2. A Pinch of Salt*

        I also thought maybe he counts your hourly + any cost of benefits. You don’t take home $70/hour, but you cost the university $70/hour. Still ridiculous.

        1. Observer*

          Even then it makes no sense – if they were actually hourly, I doubt that they would cost the college $70 per hour, if they were actually paying all of the hours they were required to.

        2. nona*

          AND! If they are adding work that takes more time, without increasing your pay, you are now dropping that $70 rate.

          So, if the original rate is based on lecture time only, but the work is outside the classroom, then there is logical disconnect on that number (doesn’t include outside work, or the addition of additional work/time outside of lecture), and therefore that’s an illogical way to frame that, Mr. Chair.

      3. Hippo-nony-potomus*

        Some professors make a LOT less than you would think. The administrators are paid much better (without needing a Ph.D.) and do not really understand this. If a professor teaches, say, eight courses a year, has research requirements, and has service requirements, the way to compare pay with an adjunct is to multiply the per-course adjunct rate by 8, subtract that from their salary, and eyeball whether the remainder is adequate to compensate for the research and service requirements that adjuncts do not have.

        1. Midwest Manager*

          I work as an admin at an R1 university, 8 courses/year means no research is happening. Faculty in my department are expected to teach 3 courses per year. Even our non-research instructional staff (Lecturers, postdocs, adjuncts, emeriti) are paid based off no more than 6 courses per year. I’m in the hard sciences, but even when I was in the social sciences, the expectation for faculty was 4 courses per year, and adjuncts we compensated based on the faculty teaching load.

          1. Hippo-nony-potomus*

            My spouse is an asssociate professor at a public university who teaches 8 courses a year and has research requirements. But I’m sure that being an admin, I should take your word for it, rather than what I literally see every single day.

            1. HigherEdProfStaff*

              Really? That’s your response Hippo-nony-potomus. How about you both could be right? Different institutions may in fact do things differently. That kind of condescension to staff is just one of the problems with working in Higher Ed.

              Over here, it depends on the position and the program / faculty but normally about 3-4 courses for FT Tenured Faculty.

            2. Blackcat*

              There’s a difference between a true R1 and places that want to be R1s but are really R2s.

              Having done the job market thing at major R1s (state flagships, some privates), I can say that, as a general rule, the tenure track teaching load in STEM ranges between 2-4 courses per year (2 semester structure). At one regional public I interviewed at, it was 2 courses every quarter (3 “quarters” in the regular academic year).

              Where I presently am, 5 courses per year is considered “full time” for lecturers. TT faculty have a 2-1 load, though large lecture courses get counted as 1.5 courses.

              This varies significantly between universities. I’m sure Midwest Manager is painting an accurate picture of where they work. It’s consistent with what I’ve seen. Non-flagship publics are often between 6 and 8 courses per year (semester schedule), more of what you describe.

          2. Dr Logen*

            Not everyone works at an R1. (not all of us want to either!) I’m an Asst Professor at a teaching focused public university with a 4/4 course load. I am still expected to do research and tons of service. Yes, the research expectations are much lower than they would be at an R1, but it is absolutely possible to do research and teach a 4/4.

    3. Retired Prof*

      I suspect you are giving your chair too much credit. At my university, the department budget given to the chair does not include salaries – salaries are part of the Dean’s budget. The department budget was just for operating expenses. My old chair was pretty clueless about how much each faculty member made, especially the lecturers. Remember that chairs are temporary and amateur managers, often very bad ones. Unless faculty are writing grant proposals for programs that buy out faculty time or pay them summer salary, they tend to be very out-of-touch with lecturer pay scales and how inadequate they are.

      1. Artemesia*

        When I was a department chair I determined raises so I had everyone’s salary; alas ‘determining raises’ was a joke as the pool we had to work with was so ridiculously low. The only way to get a decent raise (above 2%) was to have an offer and be someone they wanted to keep — then we could get additional funds from the Dean.

        1. College Career Counselor*

          “The only way to get a decent raise (above 2%) was to have an offer and be someone they wanted to keep — then we could get additional funds from the Dean.”

          That, or give someone else BELOW 2% to make up the difference. And speaking from personal observation, that is bad for morale when everyone on your team is high performing (or hell, even meeting expectations). To reward someone, you have to punish someone else. Welcome to the Higher Ed Zero Sum game.

      2. Tupac Coachella*

        Higher ed here (staff, not faculty)-when I asked for my first raise, the dean asked how much I wanted. When I gave a number, Dean said “oh, I thought you were already making that!” So depending on the procedures at a given university, you pretty much can’t assume that anyone besides HR has any clue what you make. I do wonder, though, on what planet OP’s chair thought any calculation that came to $70 an hour was going to reflect the reality of being a faculty member.

      3. Midwest Manager*

        “Remember that chairs are temporary and amateur managers, often very bad ones.”

        You hit the nail on the head with this! Every chair I’ve worked with in the past 10 years bemoaned the fact that faculty never get any management training. They expect the Department Manager to handle all the “icky” stuff like budgets, personnel, and building maintenance and they deal with the instructional side of things. Unfortunately, that didn’t stop one chair from denying me the permission to hire an additional staff member (entry-level $35-40k job) because all excess department funds were going to pay for faculty raises instead. I internally table-flipped at that and found a new department that was better staffed.

    4. Well...*

      Ugh, your chair is awful. This to me sounds exactly like a deliberate misrepresentation of facts to shut down arguments from people with less standing. I see it all. The. Time.

      He knows he’s asking for something unreasonable, but he also knows you can’t push back very much. So he comes up with an argument that doesn’t pass basic rigorous inspection, but requires a enough time to disentangle that you hesitate in the moment. Then he says it with a lot of bravado mixed with a hint of “don’t be ungrateful” and manages to minimize pushback. Classic.

    5. wanda*

      Yeah, I figured. But, at my university at least, for students, 1 unit of “class time” is defined as being accompanied by 2 hours of out-of-class work. Why would it be less for instructors?

    6. Becca*

      Yeah, I was going to say… “when you crunch the numbers” implies dividing a salary by hours worked? So adding a task that adds time to the day would not, in fact, be an easy way to make (an extra) $70, even if the calculations *were* correct? Seems like some really bad math all around.

      1. Elizabeth the Ginger*

        Yeah, I’d be tempted to reply to that comment with, “Oh, I hadn’t realized that you were planning to pay us a stipend to do Extra Task!”

        1. A Wall*

          Start this rumor that staff doing this task will be paid $70/hr extra for doing it. See how fast his tune changes when people start asking for what he claims you’re already being given…

    7. Barbara Eyiuche*

      Yes, when I taught at a university, I taught 11 hours a week, so most people figured I was getting a huge wage per hour. They seemed to think I never prepared for class, never graded papers, never marked exams.

      1. Carol the happy elf*

        Never advised students as to how to actually “study” without beer on the weekends and Adderall (begged or stolen) from their roommates during finals week.
        Never dealt with an emotionally wrecked student going through a breakup for the first time, and who thinks the world is ending.
        Never come to class to find that the whole school’s internet is down. Never dealt with a department head who hasn’t kept up with technology, who has a personal loathing for movable electrons we need in 2021.
        Never had to have your car towed from the farthest parking lot (somewhere in Siberia) because it’s older than your students, and parts are no longer made for it- and the new windshield wiper makes it worth the cost of- a new windshield wiper.
        Never had a student complain that they can’t afford their food in the cafeteria line- and look at you with hopeful expectation while you’re getting the cheapest sandwich on the menu., and refilling your water bottle in the lounge sink.
        But it’s all worth it when-
        Good luck.

    8. Beth*

      AKA it doesn’t count the bulk of the actual work hours. Of course. In every single course I’ve TA’d, the combination of meetings, office hours, grading, prep, and responding to student emails has taken up like 4x the actual class hours–and that’s just as the TA!

      I think this is worth calling your chair on. As a grad student, I often feel like our professors and upper admin in our department are completely disconnected from our financial reality (which is on par with lecturers and adjuncts at my university–we’re all financially precarious, working way too many hours, with neither enough income to be comfortable or build savings nor a stable guarantee of future income). They should know; they know our area is expensive, and we’re a public university with union-negotiated and publicly-available pay rates for both lecturers and TA’s, so none of this is secret. But it’s easy to lose sight of that reality, I think, when they’re no longer living it–and that leads to bad consequences, ranging from insensitive comments to unreasonable ‘requests’ (read: demands) to putting people in outright impossible situations.

      They should be reminded of it. They need to remember that their financial security is not the norm in our industry. Especially when they’re in a managerial role like the chair, they need to be considering how their decisions will impact already-exploited and already-precarious members of their department. They probably don’t have the power to completely change the situation, but they do have the power to at least keep from making it worse.

      1. JustForThis*

        My slightly less charitable read is that many professors at university would see themselves as aware of social injustice and as behaving responsibly and ethically. If they knew (and people knew they knew) the full extent of the precarious situation in which many TAs or lecturers find themselves it would make them uncomfortable. They don’t want to feel that they collude with the situation, but they really don’t want to do anything to change it either. Hence the convenient “forgetting.”

        1. Beth*

          Oh, I think that’s definitely part of it. The thing is–to wrap back around to being charitable here–it’s not like my professors have any say in setting salaries or funding in the department. To a large extent, they can’t change it (at least not on an individual level–I’d love to see professors joining in on unionization and other labor solidarity en masse, though).

          But your point still stands. Their well-paid, tenured positions only exist because the university draws on so much cheap, exploitative labor to cover time-consuming tasks like grading and teaching. That probably is uncomfortable for them to acknowledge and remember, especially when they really can’t fix it. But by letting themselves forget, instead of sitting with that discomfort, they remove all their opportunities to mitigate that system. They have a lot more power than we do, and I’d rather they use it where they can, than let guilt lull them into suppressing knowledge of it.

        2. Well...*

          Nah they are just used to advocating for the university. They go so far as university = good, adjunct/lecturers = bad.

          They are all about social justice but only when it benefits academic achievers. Those who fell through the cracks and don’t have stellar careers are just (in their eyes) leeches dragging down the system.

        3. PT*

          My husband’s university grossly underpays TAs. The professors have been loudly squawking about it the entire time he has worked there, as they’ve been losing admitted students over it left and right to schools that can afford to pay students a living wage. The deans even have been complaining about it.

          The state’s response was to change state law to make it easier to fire tenured professors whose political speech they found objectionable. Message received.

        4. too many too soon*

          I’ve found that faculty don’t have a problem with shit rolling down hill. In my experience they just outsource as much work as possible to any warm body they can, while complaining bitterly and making outrageous demands of already overburdened classified staff.

      2. Artemesia*

        Where I worked TAs were paid much better than adjuncts. They got tuition plus a pretty good stipend (not to get rich, but to get by)

        1. Well...*

          Tuition is just the university handing itself money though, so I don’t think it’s a fair comparison. If PhD programs started charging 20k/yr for 5+ years, they would immediately vanish, and the cheap labor force that gives the university a lot of its profits (big chunk of teaching, lots of patents and grant funding) would disappear. The university isn’t doing anyone any favors with tuition remission.

          1. EngineeringFun*

            I got paid to do my PhD in engineering. My stipend was $20k+ health & tuition. I had to TA for 8 hours a week.

          2. EngineeringFun*

            I got paid to do my PhD in engineering. My stipend was $20k+ health & tuition. I had to TA for 8 hours a week.
            After graduating taught as an adjunct and got only $6k per course.

          3. DrSalty*

            PhD programs in the sciences are typically paid positions. During my PhD in biology <5 years ago, the standard rate in our department was ~$25K/year with tuition waived. This was pretty standard IME. Health insurance was not included, but you could buy it at a discounted rate from the university. However, not all of that money comes from the university. IIRC most came out of PI grant money and a small portion was supplemented by the department, and then you had to TA (10 hr/week, more or less).

          4. Esmeralda*

            Pay for grad assistantships is extremely dependent on field first of all, and to some extent on the wealth and financial stability of the institution (I say to some extent because some of the wealthiest schools are notorious for shitty pay and union-busting).

            You can be sure that doctoral students in many stem fields earn more than those in humanities. Still not earning much, but more than.

          5. Beth*

            Tuition is absolutely the university handing itself money, and I don’t really think of it as part of my income, even though it’s technically part of my funding package. But even setting that aside, my income for TAing a few sections of one course for a term is often equal to or higher than adjuncts make to be the instructor of record for one course for a term. (I’m in the humanities.) Artemesia’s point still stands–we’re in a similar position in that none of us are paid enough to live comfortably or feel stable, but I do think adjuncts are often treated the worst out of all of us.

            1. JESUS IS THE MAN!*

              Yes, where I did my PhD work in the humanities, it was well known that the department could *probably* manage to keep you around for a little while as a lecturer after defending the dissertation–but you’d be taking a significant cut in pay and benefits to do so. Grad student TAs had a much stronger union and better compensation than lecturers.

        2. ErinWV*

          That certainly depends on the degree. When I was a grad student (in English lit) the stipend was miniscule. The stipends for grad students in Engineering were literally twice what we got paid, very nearly a living wage. Most of the English department grad students had second jobs (or third jobs, if you consider being a student and teaching two courses a term each a separate job).

    9. After 33 years ...*

      Exactly .. doing this for our per course instructors / lecturers produces a number of $80 / h (US equivalent). Office hours, grading, preparation (if you have a pre-packaged course that you don’t have to create / revise) and meetings increases your commitment by 3-4 X.
      If you want to amuse / depress yourself, calculate the compensation per student. For the summer course that I did with >300 students, it would be less than $3 per student (ignoring the considerable time for course revision). I took on this course myself and asked the per-course instructors to do another course which was “less unreasonable”.
      As a former department head, I had zero ability to influence salaries. All I could do was influence workload for per course instructors by assigning courses with fewer students, providing more teaching assistant / grading support, making it clear that they were not expected to extensively revise courses (given zero compensation for doing that), and constantly pointing out the inequities to people who already knew about the problems. I also assigned myself more courses than the standard reduced department head load.
      Our per-course instructors are unionized, but they still are not paid adequately.
      (longer rant available upon request…).

      1. Alex*

        Thank you for doing this. I once worked a (terrible) temp job involving academic financial records for a Ivy. I provided supporting records on request for nonprofits and the state when adjuncts sought food and heat and rent assistance, and when tenured professors applied for mortgages for a second home. I was angry every day for 6 months (and then I got a job in my own field, but I still think about it)

    10. Cranky lady*

      This was my assumption. Like K-12 teachers who “get summers off” and “only work 8-3”, people fail to realize how much work goes into the preparation for teaching.

      1. Worldwalker*

        My father was a teacher. I used to envy other kids whose fathers came home and had time for their kids.

        1. Recruited Recruiter*

          My father was also a teacher. He coached different sports year round so we could afford food. I maybe saw him one Sunday every other week.

      2. quill*

        When my mom started teaching I was in high school, my brother was in middle school. There was definitely extra labor involved from us in setting up her classroom, marking papers, tech support (Because the school didn’t exactly have anyone on staff to make sure teacher laptops were running, would connect to printers, etc.), curating the classroom library… All this on top of the continuing education requirement in the summer, mom being voluntold to help organize school events, the once every few years that she had to spend a weekend explaining things to CPS…

        A teacher’s day isn’t over when the kids leave, and often not even when they go home. (It also starts like half an hour at least before the kids are allowed to start showing up… 7:30 to 4:30 is a far more common amount of time spent at the building per day…)

    11. Hacker For Hire*

      I periodically teach at the local University. If you’re a conscientious professor, one hour of teaching requires 2-3 additional hours of preparation, grading, answering students’ emails, administrative stuff, and so on. His way of counting only the hours you’ve been in class as worked hours is ridiculous.

    12. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Yeah, that’s what I was thinking. $/course hour.

      Which makes sense to him, if he only spends time on budgets and paperwork, and hasn’t set foot inside a classroom in ages.

    13. Expiring Cat Memes*

      And here I was, wondering if the nincompoop had somehow misheard $17 as $70 and just ran with it unquestioningly…

    14. Worldwalker*

      Would he be cool with you *only* teaching, then? And pay to hire someone else to do the other elements of the job?

      That’s like saying a lawyer is only working in the courtroom, and all of their other hours meeting with clients, doing legal research, and all, don’t count. I can just see how well *that* would go over.

    15. Pants*

      Either way, it’s still enraging. Like when a CEO tells non-management that everyone should have 3 months salary saved for emergencies.

    16. EPLawyer*

      ahh yes, because you just stand up in a classroom and teach. There is absolutely no prep work to do that. It just sorta happens. I can just imagine this guy is using the same lecture notes he used in 1966 so he doesn’t get why anyone else would need to prepare for a class.

    17. generic_username*

      The framing of “you’re earning $70 for this extra hour” was bizarre in the context of a salary or stipend since presumably they aren’t going to be raising your pay to accommodate that…

      1. Generic Name*

        Ooh yes. Maybe you can go back to him with your paystub and ask where the extra $70 went and he can see that you’re making like $350 a week and not $4,800 a week like he probably presumes.

    18. Generic Name*

      Ah yes, they’re called “contact hours”. I was an adjunct instructor for one semester and was paid thusly. It sounded great when they said, “you’re hired! Your rate is $35 an hour”. It was less great when they clarified that the pay was per contact hour, which was like 5 or 6 hours a week. It was my first semester teaching, and I spent about 5 hours preparing for one 90 minute lecture. So I was working more like 30 hours a week, but the prep time didn’t “count”.

      Honestly though, I don’t know if it makes sense in your situation to go back to him and correct him. Maybe if he brings it up again.

    19. Essess*

      Usually when they use the term “crunch the numbers” they are referring to more than salary. They include amount per hour that they are subsidizing toward healthcare, or 401K match, or any other benefits that are rolled into your entire compensation package.

        1. After 33 years ...*

          Canadian university:
          Our per-course instructors can avail of the following: one tuition-free course per semester of employment; access to the Employee Assistance Programme (counselling, etc.); option to apply for professional development funding to help with attending a conference etc. (depending on number of courses taught); option to apply for partial (small) subsidy for child-care at the university facility, or for dental care (small contribution, not the entire cost). Medical care is not covered (govt coverage in Canada), and there is no pension plan. Per-course instructors are paid a flat rate (~$4000 US) per course, with no change for teaching experience and no compensation for teaching more students.
          We have far to go.

        2. OP2*

          To clarify, I am lucky enough to not be adjunct (I was an adjunct instructor for 4 years when I was first starting out and it sucked.) I am full-time and do get benefits.

    20. Texan in Exile*

      This is one of the reasons I was so confused about what professors did when I was an undergrad. I thought “office hours” were the work hours. That is, I thought that office hours were the ONLY hours they worked (in addition to lecturing). I kept thinking it must be nice to have a job where you work only a few hours a week.

    21. TiredMama*

      You do all those other things for the joy of it, right? /s/ I would still want to bring this up with him because it is clearly coloring his expectations of the teaching staff.

    22. Dr. Doll*

      It’s very common for adjunct/lecturer/contingent faculty pay to be calculated only on “contact hours,” e.g. $70 / hour for time *in the classroom*. Once you factor in the time outside the classroom, of course it drops precipitously. Check your contract, everyone.

      OP’s chair knows this. He’s being an ass.

    23. oranges*

      I loathe this guy so hard on your behalf.
      I suspect I know exactly how he feels about people “flipping burgers” for $15 an hour too.

    24. Dasein9*

      The place I adjunct recently did an overhaul to how contingent faculty are paid and I am now making less money. It’s not a catastrophic amount and I would have been pretty okay with it, had it been framed differently. As it is, though someone from the administration not had the gall to tell me that, well actually, my pay was going up! (Sure, figured by the hour, but they were also counting my work as taking fewer hours than before the change, so my pay per course went down.)

      Sounds like your Chair is cut from similar cloth.

    25. Esmeralda*

      I don’t see how a lecturer is earning the equivalent of $136K annually even with benefits figured in and without those “additional” hours.

    26. Butterfly Counter*

      That was my guess. I’m also a lecturer and if you take hours in the “classroom” a week, I make a bit more than $70 an hour using that estimation, but not a ton more.

      Which, of course, is still ridiculous because the time I spend grading and prepping, plus everything else, is where the real hard work (for me) is. I personally wouldn’t mind more time in the classroom because that’s where I actually feel like I’m doing something important, but the way your chair is framing this just sucks and they should know better.

      Personally, this isn’t a thing I would bring up with a chair that is so out of touch, but I would mentally note it and take it into account for a number of other things for which I have power (committee volunteering, salary review, any evaluations they might get, etc.). You could push back on the new policy if you feel like you want to, but, honestly, my attitude would definitely change in regards to how much extra work I’d put in each class outside of teaching in the classroom.

    27. Selina Luna*

      Oof. Nope, the standard way to measure this in K-12 school districts is the rate per day, never rate per hour, for the reason that anyone who educates has duties that extend far beyond the classroom.

    28. Blackcat*

      As an extreme end, an adjunct in my department presently makes $650/hr if you wanted to calculate it that way.

      It is a grad class with low “contact hours” but very high needs of support outside of class (think: help baby grad students design and start their first independent research project–in reality, this takes some grad student training off the plates of the TT faculty, so it’s very valuable to the department).

      We pay roughly 10k/class for adjuncts. Other departments are closer to 7k/class for adjuncts, and average contact hours per class are around 40/semester. It’s a union shop situation.

    29. Aubergine*

      I was about to post that – since it was tangentially in my field before I retired. He said “…$70 an hour when you crunch the numbers.” Those are weasel words.

      In addition to low-balling the hours worked, he may have also been including the dollars for benefits. Organizations know what their gross-up factor is so that they know the true cost of labor. Then they like to remind employees from time to time about how much they are actually being compensated when benefits are included. In a neutral way, it’s true. But too often it’s used as a cudgel for unrealistic expectations.

    30. OP2*

      I just wanted to say a huge, heartfelt thank you to all of you. It is a rare website where I find myself saying “reading the comments made me feel so much better!” But here it’s true. Thank you.

      To address a few points people brought up, the odd thing about him is that he’s not a dinosaur, and by all student accounts, he is a good teacher. He’s just a… what’s the phrase we use to get around censors? A glass bowl. :-)

      Also, though I’m not tenure track, I am at least in a full-time position that offers benefits (having adjuncted for a few years when I finished school, I know it can be much worse).

      Finally, the extra hours of work are more… a re-conception of how we do things. So, like, it’s work we were already doing, he’s just got us doing it in a new way that will use more time (which I’m not even objecting to, it’s the pay comment justifying it that bugs me).

      Anyway, seeing other people hate on his behavior seriously made me feel warm inside. Thanks.

    31. JESUS IS THE MAN!*

      That’s what I would have guessed. Preposterous, but exactly the sort of calculation I’d expect from (a) academia and (b) this specific kind of academic guy. Bonus points if he’s been teaching the same class the same way for 30 years and forgets how much effort prepping a class really is.

  4. learnedthehardway*

    OP#1 – while you have every reason to be annoyed, try not to communicate with managers while you’re angry. I would see if you can get that letter back and provide the 2 weeks notice. If your manager or grandboss is aggressive or confrontational about it, THEN you will be in a better position to say that you’re leaving immediately because you refuse to be mistreated / bullied about your decision. You can even loop HR in on it, in that case, and make them aware of what is going on. Yes, it’s an extra step and your manager / grandboss doesn’t deserve the consideration, but you being professional is what matters. And it may very well affect you in the future – sometimes it’s not official references but unofficial ones that make the difference. A current colleague or other department manager might be asked about you in future by someone networking to find employees – it would be better to not have it out there that you up and quit without notice. Ideally speaking, of course – there are times to leave without notice, and if this is one of them, then at least you are going forward knowing the potential impact.

    1. Despachito*

      You are generally right, and I have sometimes to restrain myself very hard to wait a day or at least several hours before communicating with someone who irked me, and this pause dramatically changes the tone of my answer to the good.

      But if the OP1’s bosses are irrational, petty people (and their behaviour of crying (WTF???), the absolute BS about gratefulness (!) and then ghosting OP raises some serious red flags), it is quite likely that they will give her bad reference regardless, just because she dared to be so ungrateful and to ask them something, the horror!

    2. Jackalope*

      A couple of reasons I disagree with this advice: a) This sounds like a fairly small company. The LW indicated that the business belongs to her grand boss. So there likely isn’t an HR. b) LW has already quit through the letter for another job. While it may or may not have been wiser to stick around for the two weeks’ notice, at this point there’s not really anything to be gained by it since she can’t really take back the letter. c) Since the grand boss was toxic and manipulative solely because the LW requested either a different schedule or a pay raise (after 7 years), she would almost certainly use those two weeks to be even more toxic and abusive.

      Trying to go back hat in hand is unlikely to salvage the reference (which from what the Lw wrote was probably toast anyway), and will just mean that she is in a lousy situation for two more weeks instead of either starting her new job or having a bit of a break pre- new job to decompress from the toxic old one.

      1. Falling Diphthong*


        Once you’ve lit the bridge on fire (and I agree there was no manner of leaving these people would take well) then it’s a bad look to run around trying to find and destroy all evidence that you quit yesterday.

        Put another way: Three years from now, if someone asks them for a reference, I don’t think the amount of notice OP gave is going to enter into it.

      2. Sparkles McFadden*

        Yup. When you have a boss who cries and says you’ve hurt her by “being ungrateful” by asking for a raise, you are in crazytown. Bosses in crazytown classify employees who have left the company as “disloyal” and will complain about the former employee whenever possible no matter how/when the employee left the job.

      3. EPLawyer*

        “ince the grand boss was toxic and manipulative solely because the LW requested either a different schedule or a pay raise (after 7 years), she would almost certainly use those two weeks to be even more toxic and abusive.”

        Yep. I am a big proponent of being professional even if others are not. But grandboss would go all Shakespeare on you “Sharper than a serpent’s tooth is an ungrateful employee.” Grandboss takes things waaaay too personally. Hurt because someone asked for a raise? The person is ungrateful for daring to want to be paid fairly? This boss wants employees who owe her personaly fealty not people who do work in exchange for a paycheck. Leaving with no notice was the only way to get through to the boss.

        NB: Make sure you get paid within the correct time frame for your state to receive your final paycheck. I can see this person holding up out of spite.

      4. AnonInCanada*

        Agreed as well. There’s nothing to be gained for OP1 by taking back the letter and then giving them two weeks notice. And to have boss and grandboss have two weeks of free reign to yell and abuse OP1? Not worth it. They’d likely not give OP1 any good reference anyway, so it’s best to leave that bridge burned.

      5. MCMonkeyBean*

        I agree, as long as the letter was reasonably professional, then I think that’s a pretty impressive version of “snapped.” Two weeks notice is ideal if you can give it but you told them you were looking elsewhere and they responded with lies and manipulation to try to keep you around. When it was clear they didn’t intend to stand behind any implication that a raise was possible I think they absolutely forfeited the right to reasonable notice.

        If OP is okay with that bridge being burnt, I say go for it and best of luck! And definitely block the numbers.

    3. JayNay*

      I have to disagree here. LW1 writes that she already raised the issue multiple times, asking for a different schedule and a raise. It sounds like she hadn’t gotten a raise in all her seven years working there, which is not reasonable. The boss crying and calling her ungrateful and saying “other toxic things” really pushes this over the edge. Asking for a different schedule and higher pay are normal business dealings! There is zero need to guilt-trip or stonewall LW over this.
      There also should be no surprise that an employee who has asked you to change her schedule and pay her more and has already told you she is looking elsewhere would eventually quit. The manager and boss both handled this extremely oddly.
      That said, yes, there might have been some satisfaction in being extremely commensurably professional about this. Obviously that’s always the preferred way to go. But if you need to get out for our own wellbeing, then that takes precendece.

    4. Observer*

      would see if you can get that letter back and provide the 2 weeks notice.

      No. Sure, maybe it would have been better if the OP had not done it in the first place. But at this point, there is no way to un-burn that bridge. And given how obnoxious and manipulative they have already been, all this would do is give them another chance to abuse the OP.

      I also suspect that trying to do this would be even worse for any possibility of a decent future reference, official or not. Because these folks WILL use it against the OP and will have not problem twisting it to “prove” how bad the OP was.

      1. Sara without an H*

        I agree. Maybe the OP should have taken a deep breath/slept on it/counted to a trillion/whatever, but that’s water under the (burned) bridge now. It’s done.

        My advice to OP would be to concentrate on building relationships in the new job with people who will be willing to speak to their professional performance going forward. Any attempt to undo damage at their old job will just add fuel to the craziness.

    5. BridgeBurner*

      Hi all,
      I am the OP here. I appreciate the advice and I see many on here stating maybe I should have waited a bit before making a decision like quitting without notice.

      To update you all, the office received the letter yesterday and my boss and OM frantically went around telling everyone that they gave me everything that I wanted and they don’t understand why I would do such a thing to them. (My very close coworker called me after she got off work to give me the run down)

      So while yes, a two weeks notice is a benefit to the office to seek other people to fill my promotion, I felt ( and still feel days later) that I made the right choice. Whether I have 10 weeks, 2 weeks, 1 day notice…they would’ve been livid because they’ve been able to underpay and overwork me for seven years.

      Asking for the letter back to give more notice made me crack up, while I appreciate that for larger companies… I agree with the person who said it doesn’t matter because I was in crazy town at this place. So accurate!
      I’m laughing at some of this responses because they are so accurate. I lit that bridge on fire, brought some marshmallows, and let that baby burn.

      1. Ayn Random*

        Boss and OM ran around doing damage control because they’re afraid you’ll talk to your ex-coworkers about all The Crazy you endured and being turned down for a (painfully overdue) raise.

        If you want to throw gasoline on the fire, I’d ask that very close co-worker who gave the rundown to spread the word around the office about the truth of your situation, and don’t leave out the crying, the denial of your raise or how overworked you were.

        1. BridgeBurner*

          Oh don’t your worry, that was already in place. I received dozens of phone calls and almost fifty text messages from coworkers supporting me one hundred percent and that they saw the writing on the wall.

          1. Kevin Sours*

            Make sure you keep contact info for some of those people. You may need a reference from this place and you aren’t getting it from management.

          2. Pamela*

            I’d ask some of those contacts your closest to and trust to be references, if you feel you may need them.

        2. Pyromaniac*

          Since the bridge is already burned, I’d honestly be tempted to email all my coworkers, CCing in boss and manager, sweetly explaining that you loved your time working with all of them and will miss them, and you’re so sorry to leave on such short notice but unfortunately manager and boss weren’t able to agree to either a reduction of hours or a payrise, and so you had to go elsewhere and your new job starts ASAP, thanking “everyone who has reached out” for their understanding and for being so supportive of your situation.

      2. HerdingCatsWouldBeEasier*

        And I bet the marshmallows were especially delicious. Congratulations on doing what you needed to for your mental health and escaping from additional abuse from these people. I hope your new job is a better environment.

  5. PollyQ*

    #4 — If there’s any hard-and-fast requirement, put it in the ad! This is not only considerate to job-seekers, it saves the employer the time of reading cover letters, reviewing resumes, conducting interviews, etc., etc., for someone who doesn’t meet the desired standard.

    1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      Agreed – make sure all “deal breakers” from a hiring standpoint are up front and in the advert.

      But then when you are collecting documentation for employment make sure that vaccine card/exemption paperwork is also listed there as a “must be provided” document.

      1. dept admin*

        Yep, I was job searching internally this summer as my position was ending. Our vaccination requirements (which have been entirely a non-issue from what I can tell) were listed at the bottom of every job posting along with the visa sponsorship notice. And then it also came up frequently in initial phone screens, and then again during the offer and on-boarding stage. Slightly annoying as someone who *already worked there and had records on file,* but definitely plenty of opportunities for someone to raise an issue if they’d had one.

    2. Xenia*

      Yup. Don’t even make a big deal about it. Rank it in drama with “must have driver’s license” for a trucking job. Just put it in.

    3. Kathlynn (Canada)*

      yeah, and if there’s a space limit and they are applying online, you want to put it in bold when they apply (thinking spots like newspapers where every word counts)

    4. Your local password resetter*

      It’s also a medical requirement, which is another reason you don’t want to suprise people with it.

      Not that they should be, but it’s the principle of the thing.

    5. Falling Diphthong*

      And in this case, it tells applicants who are vaccinated–and worrying how to screen for an office full of unvaccinated people who think the pandemic is a hoax–that you take their health seriously.

      1. TootsNYC*

        A friend’s daughter is moving to my city and was looking for roommate situations. She stressed a lot over whether or how to ask if the people in the apartment were all vaccinated. It was important to her.

        She interviewed with one co-living situation that told her they don’t ask for personal medical information–i.e., they don’t ask whether people are vaccinated.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          It’s like having a significant fraction of the population who frame “whether I defecate in the public water supply” as a private medical decision no one else drinking from the water supply should care about.

          At least they were upfront about it so she could move right along. (Last year my daughter left a co-living situation because as fall came on her new roommates were like “Whelp, time to return to indoor bars” and she really didn’t feel safe.)

          1. Indy Dem*

            Now I’m confused – doesn’t indoor plumbing mean we all are “defecating in the public water supply”?
            That being said, the more companies are transparent with their vaccination requirements, the easier it will be for potential employees to make informed decisions.

    6. MCL*

      I have definitely seen vaccine requirements show up in ads recently. That’s a great place to put it.

    7. Beth*

      You WANT applicants who will look at the vaccination requirement and say “Hell yes! Hurrah! I like this company already!” Give them the chance to do just that.

    8. generic_username*

      Agreed. I fully support vaccine mandates, but I certainly don’t support hiring someone and then surprising them with one on their first day… If that’s a deal-breaker for them, then they’re now out of a job and you have to start the hiring process all over again.

      The sooner the better – it lets everyone involved make informed choices.

      1. Observer*

        I fully support vaccine mandates, but I certainly don’t support hiring someone and then surprising them with one on their first day…

        Yeah, I can’t imagine ANY requirement that can reasonably left for the first day of work. Something like this should be communicated as early as possible. But there is NO requirement that should EVER be left out of the offer. ie We’d like to offer you Job X, for Y compensation package, contingent on providing documentation of A, B and C (things like vaccination status, degree / certifications, license etc.)

      2. Falling Diphthong*

        On the employer side, it’s like leaving “…. and you must have a valid driver’s license” as a surprise for the first day. Maybe they don’t! Just put your job requirements out front, not as late surprises.

        I feel the same way about bring-your-own-device: If it’s such a great feature of the role, put it in the job ad. Then you attract applicants who agree with you that it’s a great feature of the role.

    9. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

      If it can’t go into the ad for whatever reason, make sure it’s early in the first phone screen.

    10. Anon today*

      Absolutely. I know of a recent interview. Conversation went well; employer was willing to raise the salary to meet the candidate’s threshold. The job is basically yours for the taking.
      “Oh, by the way, you are vaccinated, right?”
      “Um, no.”
      “Oh. But you’re willing to be, right?”
      “Um, no.”
      “Oh. I’m sorry we’ve wasted your time.”

      Put it in the ad.

    11. Here we go again*

      +1 it’s like a driving position requiring a CDL. Yeah it does everyone a favor if you included it. And it saves everyone time and energy if it’s a deal breaker. That Vaccination requirement is a deal breaker for me. ( I don’t want to get into that debate) I’d just move on to the next position.

    12. Elle Woods*

      Agreed. I’ve been browsing job postings lately and have seen a growing number of them including a statement about proof of vaccination.

    13. OP4 here*

      Hi all! Our guts were leaning towards putting it in the ad, so it is good to hear that it makes sense. I think what was throwing us off was that we usually ask for verification of driver’s license, proof of credentials, etc. at the application stage but were feeling that proof of vaccination was different since, in theory, someone could get their vaccines between the time of application and the job offer. But, now that I think about it, the same could be said of a driver’s license and we never made exceptions for that, so why would we for this

      1. Hippo-nony-potomus*

        Read a lot of job ads for different positions in different industries. Attorney ads have any of the following requirements: licensure in any state; licensure in the state in which the candidate lives; licensure in the state the firm is located in; licensure in one of a handful of states that the company does business; licensure in several specific states; ability to waive into the state or sit for the bar within a reasonable time of hire.

        Job ads will describe the background checks, “eligible for secret security clearance,” “active security clearance,” drug screens, drug free workplace, FINRA Series 7, active CPA, whatever it is. Don’t play coy; if it’s a requirement, say it right up front.

      2. OP4 here*

        ACK!!! This should say “proof or vaccination or documentation of exemption” to be submitted at application stage. We will accept both

        1. Specialist*

          I have been interviewing for months and just hired. I made it clear that the job required vaccination in the ad after I had a few people make silly statements on the interview. I didn’t make it a requirement for the interview itself, but I was clear with the one person I hired who wasn’t vaccinated that they would need to be. They are getting the second shot next week, so it worked out well. I do agree that making a vaccination requirement in the ad will save you time. I also do not allow religious exemptions for this, as it would cause an undue hardship for my business.

      3. Aitch Arr*

        We list the requirement in the job posting, as well as made it a screening question.

        So when a candidate goes to apply to one of our jobs online, they are asked questions like: “are you over 18?”, “have you worked for [company] or one of our business units previously?”, and now “Successful applicants for this position must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 as a condition of employment. Requests for reasonable accommodation based on disability or religion will be considered on an individual basis.”

        Their choices to the latter are “I acknowledge this condition of employment” or “I do not want to continue with my application.”

        If they choose #2, they cannot continue the application process.

        1. Aitch Arr*

          ETA: we are working on our process for confirming vaccination status including how we will collect, where we will store copies of vaccination cards, etc.

    14. Momma Bear*

      Agreed. Anything from MUST be willing to travel to required vaccinations – including but not only COVID. Some states require teachers to have TB tests, for example. Drug screens, etc. Put it all out there for the candidate to review at the onset.

      A lot of contractors are going to get swept up in federal agency requirements, so if you think that writing is on the wall, give people time to get their paperwork together or get vaxxed.

  6. Viki*

    LW # 4,

    We have included in my company as of Oct 13, same day as the final day to get your vaccine before either valid medical or religious exceptions have been submitted that all new hiring including internal promotions have to be fully vaccinated or have a valid exception. Our company is also stringent with exceptions-has to be for allergies as per our government and religious has to be from a religion that has not already told their people to go get it—I assume the thinking is, if your trusted religious leader says get it and you don’t, it’s not a religious thing— as well as documentation from head of your religious organization operating in the area.

    We have it right in the job posting under requirements.

    1. allathian*

      Sounds sensible. You’ll attract those who want to avoid working with anti-vaxxers, and the vast majority of anti-vaxxers will self-select out.

    2. Just Saying*

      That’s not actually how a religious exemption works by law and you’re running a risk of being sued doing that.

      1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        AAM is read worldwide now – let’s give people the benefit of doubt for knowing laws pertaining to religious protections in their country as not all are the same as USA requirements.

        1. Just Saying*

          Why not? People do the same for literally every other question. If it’s fine to bring US laws into other questions, then it’s fine to do it here for vaccination exemptions. Anything else is blatant hypocrisy.

      2. Estrella the Starfish*

        Where you are people could claim a religious exemption to exempt themselves from something that their religion not only doesn’t forbid but actively encourages?

        Not querying your statement but I’m curious as to how that works in practice?

        1. Kotow*

          At least as far as it works with the mainstream Christian denominations, the “actively encourages” is more along the lines of “we approve of vaccinations, we want everyone who is eligible to be vaccinated” but NOT “you must be vaccinated to consider yourself a member of our denomination in good standing.” It’s not a matter of theological dogma. There are differences between individual clergy obviously, but the official statements are not saying that. Most denominations also have a catch all “conscience” element to their theology (one cannot be forced to do something which violates his or her conscience).

          How could someone seek an accommodation under this scenario using religious belief under United States standards? Something like this: “Nobody has the ability or the right to artificially seek to extend life. If I am not vaccinated and die from Covid, it was my time to go, I cannot prevent it, only God can tell me when it’s time. (If applicable) That’s why I have an advance directive saying no life-prolonging measures. I am opposed to putting anything into me that will artificially extend my life.” Something along those lines might actually trigger an obligation to engage in dialogue. A few employment lawyers I know said it’s become a legal minefield with the exemptions so I definitely wouldn’t assume that “no religious group outright condemns it” is enough to deny the request!

        2. Hippo-nony-potomus*

          For very good reason, we do not subject people’s religious beliefs to outside scrutiny. If you think it through, it means that some rando in HR gets to decide if Sally or Mohammed are serious about their faiths and have proper doctrinal beliefs. Given that people in HR tend to not be theologians, let alone have pastoral authority over their employees, we tell them that it is their job to accept their employee’s statements of faith.

    3. Hippo-nony-potomus*

      “religious has to be from a religion that has not already told their people to go get it”

      Run that by an attorney.

    4. L'étrangere*

      Refer also to the hospital that requires employees who use religious exemptions to be consistent, and has them sign a several pages list of common drugs developed by the same ‘objectionable’ methods that they not be allowed to use. Tylenol leaps to mind.
      But really, if you have a choice between equally qualified candidates vaccinated and not, you know which is most likely to be trouble in the long term..

  7. Caramel & Cheddar*

    4) Put it in the ad. Remind them during the phone screen, because we know how often people miss things in the ad. Remind them when inviting them for an interview, as well as sharing all your other requirements if you’re meeting in person. Remind them when you make the offer. I feel like this is something that can’t be repeated too many times before actually hiring someone.

    1. Sparkles McFadden*

      Vaccine status should be on par with needing a driver’s license or being required to travel a percentage of the time. It’s a requirement, so you need to stress it as much as possible to make sure you haven’t wasted time with someone who will say yes at the early stages and then, as you’re finalizing things, say “Oh, I didn’t realize you really, really meant that. But I’m OK because I take zinc and vitamin C.”

      1. Worldwalker*

        Yeah. There are all sorts of things that are requirements: You need a driver’s license. You need a specific professional certification. You need to be able to lift 70 pounds. You need to work weekends. This is just one more thing, and should be treated like any other requirement.

    2. OP4 here*

      We usually ask folks to submit documentation of any deal-breaker requirements (e.g. certifications, driver’s licenses) at the time of application and have all the requirements in the ad. That way everyone can avoid wasting time. I’m thinking we should do the same with vaccinations

      1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        I think best approach if it’s a deal breaker for your company is to treat it just like any other requirement.

      2. Kotow*

        Definitely put it in the ad! It will allow people to self-select out if it’s a deal-breaker and avoids wasting everyone’s time.

  8. Rift*

    Trying to learn here. Can someone explain she/they pronouns to me, so I can use the right thing if someone I meet has that combination listed? She/her and they/them I understand, showing what you use for different parts of speech, but she/they are two things for the same part of speech…? Does it mean you use both she/her and they/them?

      1. Filosofickle*

        A friend takes that one step farther: Beyond being okay with either one, would prefer to hear both interchangeably and intentionally. Referred to as she one time, they another. Just mix it up.

        1. Blue & grey*

          I was gonna say this. I have a friend who uses she/they pronouns and asked people to mix it up, but their coworkers and some family members would only ever use she/her/hers and would forget to use they/them. So now they’ve requested that everyone besides their partner use only they/them.

        2. Worldwalker*

          I don’t think an interest in pronouns (or any other part of speech) is limited to cis people. Language fascinates a lot of people because it’s how we communicate. It is absolutely essential to our existence as social creatures. Pronouns are particularly interesting because of the flexibility of their role, and also the fact that they are one of the last remnants of the gendered languages that English developed from.

          While we still have a few remaining gendered nouns, you don’t much hear of an “authoress” or a “manageress” anymore. And even the remaining few seem to be fading out. The only place gender distinctions hang on tight is in those pronouns.

          I just deleted a great wall of text about something totally unrelated in English grammar. Some of us just *really* like words. And I’m just an amateur; I’m surprised at times that professional linguists don’t come to blows.

    1. Cricket*

      Yep, exactly: this person uses both she/her and they/them. Someone might say: “OP5 is my coworker and they work in finance. She likes to bring tea to work in her purple travel mug.”

      (Obviously, OP5, please jump in if any of this doesn’t quite reflect how you want to be referred to!)

      1. OP5*

        Yup! That’s definitely one way to do it. You can exclusively refer to me just as she or they. If I ever have a preference, I’ll explicitly tell them. (Some days I feel more feminine and some days I feel more masculine/androgynous. NOt all of those days will I alternate, but some I might!)

    2. Beth*

      It means the person uses both of the specified sets, yes. I know some people who mean that they want people to actively use a mix of both to refer to them (e.g. “Sally looks so put-together today. Her new haircut is super stylish, and their coat matches their shoes!”). Others mean that you can use either set. Others have used a combo temporarily, as a way to introduce or try on a new set of pronouns, and ultimately chosen one over the other. If you’re not sure which is best to use for a specific person, you can always ask them for clarification!

    3. OP5*

      Hi Rift, I’m OP of that letter

      I personally am ok with someone using one or the other or alternating between them. I’ll explicitly state if I only want to be called by one or the other. This is new to a lot of people so I don’t expect everyone to 100% know about pronouns/how to use them. I use both pronouns. I just don’t identify as a woman at this point (I think….. maybe…) so as long as they’re not using he/him/his pronouns, I am fine

  9. allathian*

    LW3, it sounds like it’s time for you to start looking for another job. It doesn’t look like they’re giving you any measurable targets to reach, and aren’t even interested in seeing you improve, but are only using these meetings to berate you, and that’s not okay.

    1. Lance*

      I think it’s a bit early to go looking until OP actually talks to them at all. This isn’t just a binary ‘have the meetings or don’t’ scenario; the OP can and should communicate their worries (and likely wants) around these meetings before anything else.

      1. Lily Rowan*

        It’s always fine to start looking. Sure, do those things also, but reading some job postings never hurts (sometimes you realize good things about your current job!).

    2. LQ*

      The OP doesn’t actually say that there aren’t clear targets or measurable goals. Unless there was more to the letter that’s just a guess.

      They are actually clearly saying what the OP is doing wrong which the OP says, which means that at least those things are clearly identifiable and the OP doesn’t dispute that they are wrong about them. Just that they are also doing good things.

      This could just as easily mean that this job is a wildly bad fit for the OP and they really need to find something different because they are being managed out. Especially since it’s the boss and the head of the department.

      OP if they’ve said that you are on a ‘improvement plan’ or ‘performance management plan’ or anything along those lines, your job is at risk because you aren’t doing what they are asking and you’re going to get fired. You absolutely cannot say “please don’t manage me” because that’s not how jobs work. Your boss gets to identify if you aren’t meeting expectations and it really sounds like you are not.

      Even if the things that your boss is saying sound minor, or like things that you wouldn’t want to do or that you wouldn’t prioritize, those are the things you need to focus on. Improving in the specific areas that have been discussed repeatedly especially.

      But mostly, look for a new job.

    3. generic_username*

      Agreed. Once you reach the point that you’re having monthly meetings about poor performance, it’s time to get out. That can’t be good for OP3’s mental health, and it’s a sign that their employment in on shaky grounds (either because the company is laying groundwork to fire them or if the company ever does layoffs)

      Also, OP3, this doesn’t actually mean that you’re a poor performer – it just means that you and your company/your boss don’t mesh. I had a friend who was going through something similar (constantly getting poor reviews from her boss, but the reasons and the feedback kept changing, sometimes even in contradictory ways). She was eventually terminated, which devastated her, but then she found another job and is so much happier. She’s doing the same thing and hasn’t changed her work, but they love her.

      1. Lady_Lessa*

        Roughly, the same thing happened to me. It definitely boosted my ego, when I got praised while working in a warehouse for the qualities my previous job said I didn’t have.

      2. RS*

        I’ve worked as a Manager under a toxic boss and she wanted me to meet weekly with ppl to review their work, one needed FMLA for cancer and she didn’t like accommodating his time off, the other she would make sure didn’t get the same level of support with workload as other team members and would micromanage her then point out all the metrics she didn’t meet after doing that. Agree with others, job search in high gear, they are laying groundwork. If they cannot clearly communicate and support you sounds like it will be a blessing to move on.

    4. LW3*

      Hi all! Three here. I admit it was just wishful thinking that I could ask them to stop the meetings outright. My main thing is that I know there are things I am doing well which they don’t mention or worse, they minimize because the meetings happened 3 weeks apart or because it’s a brand-new task. That is what bugs me the most. That is what I don’t find productive at all.
      I am going to start ramping up the job search. I appreciate what the commenter said below about how this job or management may just be a super bad fit but it’s hard to apply for jobs when you feel like a total mess-up and you’re worried you’ll be overseen by another micromanager.

      Thanks everyone!

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        It’s good to job search before “feeling like a total mess-up” has had more months to overtake your brain.

        I get the brain weasels saying “You have to wait for this job to be going great before you can put energy into trying to find a different job” but, like their other sayings, it’s a trap.

      2. Detective Amy Santiago*

        You could ask for more well-rounded feedback. Say something like “I appreciate the time you take to assist me in prioritizing tasks and improving workflow, but I was wondering if you could include things that are going well, so I have a more balanced view of my performance.”

      3. Public Sector Manager*

        I will say this–and I’m not saying you’re like this LW–but when I’ve met with my team to give feedback like this, some employees never listen to the negative and focus on just the positive. The problem is that they don’t make the improvements they need to succeed because they aren’t focused on the negatives enough to keep their job. I always try to keep my employees’ spirits up and not to simply focus on the negative and will comment on things they are improving on. However, there is a difference between doing something better and doing something well enough to keep your job. So if your productivity needs to go from making 10 teapots a week to 20 per week to keep your job, going from 10 to 12 the first month and up to 13 the second month is an improvement, but it’s not enough. You might be in this situation–you’re improving, but not enough. I’d also be curious to hear how many of these meetings you’ve had and for how many months.

        That being said, before you start applying for new jobs, you need to dig deep on their feedback. You said your current boss is saying you are having problems staying up with your workload and being organized. Those problems with follow you to the next job. Is the lack of keeping up with your work because you’re not organized? Or are the two not connected? If it’s the former, then that’s a problem you need to fix before you start a new job.

        If you are getting your work done but it’s not being done correctly, and then any revisions to your work are causing you to fall behind on your work, then this sounds like a training issue on how to do the job correctly. And as long as you’re at your current job, that’s the conversation you need to be having with your boss. And if the meetings you’re having are a way to train you to do the job better, then you shouldn’t expect a lot of positive feedback in what’s really a training session and not a sit down discussion on the overall performance of your job.

        I really think you need to look at yourself and your work through an honest lens before you move on. In your experience is your boss a micromanager with everyone or just you? Does your boss give mostly negative feedback to everyone or just you? If it’s 50/50, it’s tough to say what is going on. If you’re the only one going through this, then your boss is definitely trying to help you keep your job and just needs to communicate more clearly. And if most or all of your coworkers are going through the same thing as you are, then it’s definitely a boss problem.

        Best of luck to you!

      4. Rae*

        I have a less extreme but similar dynamic at my job. My boss will reach out when she needs me/us to change something, but never acknowledges when we make that change well. The next month will be a call about how we need to do something else differently. I know I’m valued and appreciated and I don’t think I need a lot of praise, but there have been times that I get super frustrated that we’re so reactionary.

      5. Observer*

        My main thing is that I know there are things I am doing well which they don’t mention or worse, they minimize because the meetings happened 3 weeks apart or because it’s a brand-new task.

        It’s not clear to me what you mean by that. But is it possible that they are minimizing the new tasks that you are doing well because you are still not doing the “old” tasks well, and those are at the core of your job? Or at least significant enough that the new ones don’t measure up?

        Job searching is a good idea. But for that to benefit you, I think you need to be more realistic. Otherwise, you could easily wind up in another job that’s a bad fit or a job that could be a good fit but doesn’t work out because you’re not taking appropriate criticisms on board.

      6. Lenora Rose*

        Good luck with the job search. Am I alone in half thinking that when you announce you’re resigning for a new opportunity, that suddenly your managers would say “I don’t get it, you were so skilled at X, Y and Z”….

        I will say, explicitly requesting they offer you some feedback on what you’re doing right, on specific improvements they do see, and whether your job is in jeopardy or not are not at all out of the realm of possibility in the meantime.

        Some people when *giving* feedback assume that “no news is good news”; that is to say, you’re great at teapot packaging and shipping, and teapot sorting, so they want to focus on the teapot spreadsheet. The rest is a given. To them. Because they know their meeting is about 1/4 of the job, so they think of it as only 25%.

        But there is no field in which the *recipient* of a mass of negative feedback with no positive ever gets the impression of 75% good 25% bad; they get hit with 100% bad news. I was even explicitly taught, when giving feedback, to sandwich negative feedback between positives, or to alternate, specifically to avoid giving the other person that impression.

      7. LQ*

        One of the things to think about with the things you do well, is does your boss value those things? Does your company value those things? Is it something that you personally put a high value on that doesn’t matter for your role at this company?

        It can be easy, especially if someone is struggling with a role, to lean into the things that are comfortable and where you are skilled. But if those things don’t matter to that job then it’s not something that your boss is going to call out.

        A few examples I’ve seen: in a job where showing up on time sort of mattered but there was definitely some give, this person was relentless about being there at exactly 9 am on the dot and would point to this when they were told they were doing something else wrong. Someone who would spend hours polishing the look of a spreadsheet but who would get the data inside it wrong, the data was the only thing that mattered at that job, the spreadsheet was consumed through an automated process, the pretty made it worse. Someone who was excellent with computers but in a job where it was really about managing relationships. (The last person is me, I got a different job, I got better at managing relationships too, but now I get to spend time with computers too.)

      8. L'étrangere*

        Good luck to you OP3! In the short term, you might want to keep careful notes of what is asked from you in each meeting. Then document carefully in your calendar/task list how you address each issue (a diary is essential so you don’t forget). And prior to each meeting send a detailed written report ahead of time to the participants. ‘issue no1 discussed mm/dd: did this in – – project, see attached complimentary email from client’ etc. Then go into the meeting with printed report in hand, assuming it will be reviewed in detail.
        Finally, I wish you as much joy as I felt when I was able to respond to a request for scheduling a review with “oh, I don’t think that will be necessary, as my new job is starting on such and such a date” :-)

      9. RagingADHD*

        Are you doing these things amazingly well, like standout in the industry well, or are you just doing them properly?

        Very few managers who are doing intensive coaching on performance (which is what this sounds like) bother making a “feedback sandwich” for every correction, where they try to point out two positives for every negative. They may minimize your improvements because they think you are bringing them up defensively to derail or avoiding hearing the corrective feedback.

        I know corrective feedback feels bad, and you should certainly get clarification on exactly what needs to be changed and what your goals are. But the quickest way to stop getting corrective feedback (and get the boss on your side) is to take it on board and demonstrate how you applied it.

        Pointing at unrelated things you did well may make you feel better in the short term, but it’s going to sound like you aren’t learning. A more constructive approach might be to keep a log or list of how you applied the last round and the results you got, to show that you’re meeting your goals.

        Get out ahead of it. If you’re getting similar feedback every month, even if the tasks themselves are new, you can probably start predicting the problems, which might help you avoid them.

        1. LW3*

          No, I don’t offer things up like making it to work on time as something praiseable. One has literally brought up that I was doing great at event planning…but that’s a new thing and you’re probably really into it or she said we don’t have much to talk about this month, but our last meeting was less than a month ago. It’s things like that which really dig into me.

  10. Aj Crowley*

    LW5 – I don’t know that you need to include an explanation for changing your pronouns on your business cards. Identities are fluid. Anything about your identity on your business card is subject to change from first name to last name to degree status to pronouns. Given that your company includes pronouns, they likely understand. My spouse (we are in our 40s – just to say we continue to evolve during our entire lives and even when we’re established in our careers) used she/her when we met, shifted to she/they leading up to top surgery last year, and is now they/them. (This is in no way to imply that medical transition validates gender identity, just their own process!)

    You could just say “may I have new business cards ordered to include both she and they pronouns”

    It may however be a great kindness to future employees to share that there was a typo on the first cards and even in a business that is clearly affirming it felt hard to correct that mistake more so than your name being misspelled. That can highlight to them that they want to underscore to future new employees that getting their pronouns correctly is important to the business! Also maybe they don’t have a process for multiple pronouns and they have to adapt to continue this amazing (but should be standard) level of inclusion.

    1. MineOwnTelemachus*


      I just want to affirm, LW5, that feeling afraid to speak up about your pronouns can be very hard and there’s no shame in being scared of doing so! I’ve been out as non-binary for about a year now and using they/them, and correcting people who call me “she” is very hard in professional settings! It usually means educating people about my identity which is hard work and emotional labor I straight up don’t want to do, so your hesitation about correcting your workplace is totally normal and valid.

      I’d also consider that your workplace is unfamiliar with the “she/they” combo, as a lot of cis people seem to get confused by it! It’s like they have these sets in their mind and you can’t mix/match, but you absolutely can! And it sounds like “they” is growing in importance for you, so it might not be a bad idea to tell whoever you need to in getting these corrected that you’d like people to use she/they in a 50/50 way – that way they don’t just file you away as a “she” and make no effort to use “they.” Just a thing to consider.

      Best of luck to you on this gender journey!

      1. Despachito*

        Removed. We’re not debating pronouns here; please stick to the question in the letter. – Alison

        1. L*

          That differs from person to person though. I also go by she/they, and am fine with people picking one and running with it.

      2. S*

        I have always assumed that she/they or he/they was a compromise position reflecting a preference for they/them but a disinclination to try to educate people who get weird about it, and so I’ve used “they” in a desire to be courteous. Is it permissible to ask, when both pronouns are provided, which one the individual would prefer I use?

        1. Betty Broderick-Allen*

          Yes to asking. Just be aware that their preference might be a mix of each pronoun set. E.g., “I saw her the other day, and they were wearing a very cute Halloween-themed sweater.”

          And while some people really do feel equally comfortable being addressed with multiple sets of pronouns – rather than just including he/him or she/her to be courteous – it’s still very common that others will use only the binary set and avoid they/them. So it can be really nice when someone makes the effort to use they/them. (Speaking both for myself and other people who are comfortable with multiple pronoun sets but are particularly happy when they/them is used)

        2. Maya*

          That’s not a good assumption (and I would strongly caution against making extrapolations like this from people’s pronouns). It *can* be the case, but most she/they and he/they people I know, myself included, really do use both. Feel free to ask, but be prepared to hear that they don’t have a preference.

        3. Anon Enby*

          It’s different from person to person, but for me this is essentially the case. It’s important to me to honor and communicate my non-binary identity, but I’m also not really up to the exhausting task of constantly defending my right to exist and educating everyone I come across. So “she/they” is my compromise to allow combative or confused people to keep using “she” so I can get through my day with minimal drama. But in my heart, I’m really a they/them.

      3. OP5*

        Thank you! I appreciate the kind words. This is a very interesting journey I am on and it could very well end with me preferring only gender-neutral pronouns! I wonder if putting they first will increase the likelihood of it being used. Either way, just having both my preferred pronouns reflected on business card will make me extremely happy

        1. WantonSeedStitch*

          I would expect that for many people, putting “they” first would increase the likelihood of it being used, yes. This is strictly anecdotal, of course, but I know a lot of people who, while they ordinarily use “she” or “he” pronouns, also acknowledge that they would not be upset if someone used “they” pronouns for them. Many of those people will put “she/they” or “he/they” in their signatures or on their Zoom handle. But when I see a person put “they/she,” I make the assumption that their attitude towards the use of “they” is not just “I wouldn’t be offended if you called me this,” but “I actively like being called this, and may prefer it to other pronouns.” So in those cases, I tend to default to “they.”

        2. Paris Geller*

          I was going to suggest turning the order around. I have a coworker who uses they/she and list them as such, and I noticed more people use they than I think they would otherwise.

    2. lurker*

      Just to note that the letter said “I was asked to provide my pronouns for my business cards at my new job, which I said were she/they.”
      OP didn’t change their mind after the fact (although that would have been fine too) – the company failed to accurately reflect the answer they’d been given. Not a good look, for a company that positions itself as caring about pronouns – it reads as erasing the non-binary aspect of OP’s identity. Hopefully an honest mistake, but 100% worth pushing back on!

      1. MistOrMister*

        I wonder if maybe it was a mistake instead of a deliberate ignoring of OP’s wishes. I am not as up to date as I should be with the nonbinary stuff, and I admit I was confused when OP said they requested she/they. I thought it was she/her/hers or they/them. I wasn’t aware of she/they as well. So, most generous possibility, maybe someone saw the she and just ran with “hers” as well without thinking or noticing. For OP’s sake I hope it was something along those lines and their office will fix the cards posthaste. It is a lot easier accepting someone made a mistake on your cards than that they deliberately ignored your request, that’s for sure.

        1. FrivYeti*

          If I were going to suspect exactly what happened, it would be that the original business cards were being chosen en masse, and they were using a quick spreadsheet to enter pronouns rather than doing all of it manually. If they hadn’t gotten a she/they option already inputted, it would be easy for it to be autocompleted wrong, and a lot of orgs are still using dropdown options with limited choices for pronouns. It’s something that I’ve seen in a few places.

          1. OP5*

            It turns out the form they complete that populates the template, only lets you select she or he or they, not a combination. So as a workaround, my pronouns were added into the name field with my name instead. So it all worked out!

      2. Sutemi*

        If you can respond like it was an error that of course they should want to correct you might be able to get good results. The same as if the letters in your name were transposed, of course you need accurate cards.

        1. Gan Ainm*

          I think it’s better to acknowledge you too made a mistake in not catching it / calling it out when given the opportunity, as Alison suggests. Treating it as a mistake that of course they’d want to implies it’s only on them.

      3. Despachito*

        I agree – I’d rather think it is a honest mistake, but worth pushing back (as if they made a mistake in the spelling of OP’s name or their title)

      4. Worldwalker*

        Given the overall accuracy of company-provided business cards (misspelling my name, for instance, and it’s a common name) I’m fairly sure it’s a typo, not erasing the non-binary aspect of OP’s identity.

        1. Sloan Nicotone*

          Yeah it seems to me that a company that is proactively putting pronouns on business cards didn’t intend to snub OP’s gender identity. Slim chance they’re unfamiliar with “she/they”; most likely it’s just an error.

        2. Mimi*

          It can be both a mistake and an erasure. It’s an honest mistake — that is more likely because of societal biases.

          Several jobs ago I applied to a [technical position] role and was redirected to [analogous non-technical position]. The recruiter was a very nice person, and I’m 100% sure she did not deliberately decide “Oh, Mimi is a girl; she wants the non-technical role.” But I am also confident that she would have been much less likely to make that mistake with male candidates. That was a mistake that not only erased my identity in a very minor way, but, had I not pushed back, would have contributed to issues of gender balance in STEM.

      5. OP5*


        My coworker in charge of ordering the business cards speaks English as a second language and her first language only has gender-neutral pronouns. I am also the only one in the office who uses different pronouns than just he/him/his and she/her/hers. So it could be unfamiliarity with using two different pronouns in multiple senses of the word, or it could have nothing to do with that and was a honest mistake!

        1. Princess Trachea-Aurelia Belaroth*

          Especially since they appear to be structuring the cards with all three pronoun types, the person may not have known what to do with she/they. Definitely speak up, business cards are cheap and if the company is asking, they want to be supportive, even if they don’t know how/aren’t familiar with something.

      6. Observer*

        the company failed to accurately reflect the answer they’d been given. Not a good look, for a company that positions itself as caring about pronouns – it reads as erasing the non-binary aspect of OP’s identity. Hopefully an honest mistake, but 100% worth pushing back on!

        I think that’s an unhelpful jump. It’s an easy mistake to make. And there is a reason why companies give people their cards to proof before sending them to print. You really can’t blame the company because the OP didn’t speak up.

        That’s why I also do think that the OP needs to acknowledge that they saw the error and didn’t speak up. On the one hand, it will short circuit the annoyance of “Well why didn’t she speak up!” On the other it could alert someone to the fact that for all their openness, people are still feeling a bit cautious about this stuff.

    3. OP5*

      Thanks for your great reply! I think it’s because maybe my coworker in charge of ordering them doesn’t speak English as a first language and her first language only has gender-neutral pronouns. Or it’s just because I’m the only one who uses different pronouns than just he/him/his and she/her/hers. I’ll definitely just ask for new ones how you suggested

      1. I'm just here for the cats!*

        I bet that is the reason. Just say that you noticed the error, and would like it corrected. I just did card for work and for a box of cards its like $5. Its not a huge cost. And maybe talk to the person who orders the cards and explain the difference. She probably would feel bad ( i think most people would)

        1. Lou*

          It could also be that she didn’t understand what “she/they” meant, because they’re both the same tense (or whatever it’s actually called). Especially because English is her first language and the rules are so confusing. She could also be unfamiliar with the shorthand convention that “she/they” means “both she/her/hers and they/them/theirs”

      2. OP4 here*

        One of my coworkers also has English as a second language and a first language that has only one 3rd person pronoun. If he is tired or distracted he will flub them in writing and speech, so it isn’t uncommon for him to say it/he/she instead of the correct pronoun. If he was in charge of business cards and was rushed/distracted, I could see this happening.

      3. Aj Crowley*

        Oh that makes sense! Many people I know for whom English is not their first language struggle with pronouns period. Also many cis folks struggle with multiple pronouns. It’s very likely it’s an error of misunderstanding by the person tasked with ordering cards. I hope that’s the case and it turns out to be a learning opportunity for this coworker and for the company at large (ie don’t include pronouns on business cards without some education for folks at all levels on what pronouns are and what they mean).

  11. Person from the Resume*

    LW#4. My organization is requiring everyone be fully vaccinated by certain date. Everyone who is hired after that date must be fully vaccinated before their first day (ie at least 2 weeks past both shots (1 for J&J)).

    List it as a requirement for the job just like you would list days/hours and other facts you need applicants to know. Mention it in the interview and then confirm understanding and their agreement at offer stage. Then have them show proof on their first day.

    Make it clear at every stage you’re serious so anyone who chooses not to comply can opt out to avoid wasting your time and theirs with the hiring process.

    1. OP4 here*

      Thanks for the comment! What do you think of requesting proof of vaccination or exemption at the application stage? I feel like that could spare a lot of time for everyone

      1. Observer*

        I think you could request it, but if they don’t have it, you should allow it through. But make them affirm that they WILL have it in time to present before the start work.

      2. LizB*

        You probably want to do proof of vaccination, proof of exemption, or affirmation that they are willing to be fully vaccinated (second shot + 2 weeks) by their start date, as long as your timeline allows for folks who fall into that third category.

      3. Person from the Resume*

        I don’t think you have standing to request it then. At that stage you haven’t selected anyone so it’s not appropriate for you to ask for the info from all the applicants. (Just as you ask for SSN for new hires, but I hope you aren’t asking all applicants for it.) Also my organization’s rules allow people to get vaccinated after being selected for hire but before starting work.

        I do think during the phone screen or in person interview you could ask if the person is vaccinated, plans to get vaccinated, or has a valid exemption. Just make it clear the proof of vaccination or exemption is a condition of hire, but allowing an unvaccinated person to change their mind and get vaccinated if they want the job badly enough.

        I am very much hoping an unvaccinated person planning to remain unvaccinated isn’t going through your process hoping to talk you out of it.

        1. OP4 here*

          So, in your mind (which might be 100% correct!), vaccine credentials are different than say a driver’s license or professional credentials? I’m asking because, at present, we ask for all of that and anything else required for the job at time of application since it spares everyone the headache of getting to the interview stage and realizing the candidate doesn’t have the requirements needed for the position.

          1. Blackcat*

            I’d be cranky about handing over that much stuff at the application stage. Too much personal information. Just notify what they will be asked to provide later.

            I’d be more okay with asking for it at the time of scheduling an interview. Still saves the headache, but lets the candidate know they’re not handing over info to a job they’ll never hear from again.

            1. Person from the Resume*

              I agree.

              This sounds like something that happens because the hiring company has the power. You tell them the applicants that they are required to have X but asking them to prove it at application when they don’t even know if they want the job because they have only a little info so far.

              I guess if you ask for all that stuff from applicants, you could include proof of vaccination, but seems like applicants with options may resist that at the application stage.

          2. L'étrangere*

            I would not be cranky about any of that. Of course you have to provide documentation that you fulfill hard requirements up front (I am practically an MD really… I took the bar exam, we can all assume I’ll pass). And including vaccination certificate would be very reassuring to someone looking to avoid antivaxxers, signalling commitment and objectivity

      4. calonkat*

        I think not at the application stage. Having the requirement front and center, and maybe a checkbox that you are vaccinated or have a valid exemption (evidence to be presented prior to employment) on the application.

        1. Tiffany Aching's imaginary friend*

          Agree with this, because proof of vaccination is medical information and you don’t want the liability of having that information for just everyone who applies. Have the checkbox at the application stage and make it clear that they’ll need to show the actual proof at whatever point they would also need to show their legal ID (usually first day of work).

      5. Aitch Arr*

        I wouldn’t do it at time of application. It’s a medical document.
        Similarly, you wouldn’t collect an applicant’s I-9 documents until their first day.

      6. Boof*

        Hm, I think maybe checking a box that you are either vaccinated or exempt at the application stage – maybe wait until scheduling interview stage (or whatever stage you usually check references etc) to ask for the actual proof? Especially if the interviews will be in person (will they be?)

  12. CW*

    OP1 – I would like to hear an update on this. Because I have done the exact same thing. My boss was a childish, narcissistic bully and I snapped after one (very unpleasant) conversation. I left then and there with no two weeks’ notice. My resignation was immediate – one more second with her and I would have been carted off to the hospital with a panic attack. It was that bad. I suffer from anxiety and that is not what I needed.

    Either way, I know how you feel. I hope your new job goes well, and pays what you are worth and gives you raises that you rightfully deserve. And if your boss calls you, don’t answer. If you are bombarded, block her number. If she sends you a nasty email, delete it. She can’t do anything, and she is not your boss anymore.

    1. Pants*

      Also, please send your boss a copy of yesterday’s post about how potential employees are now ghosting workplaces. Maybe with a note about how jobs aren’t a gift to be grateful for, but good employees are. Perhaps a drawing of an ass with lip prints.

    2. lost academic*

      Don’t delete them, but don’t read them – save the communications in case you ever need to prove something – what, I do not know, but you may regret deleting things later.

      1. One of the Spreadsheet Horde*

        Save them and give us the highlights when you send an update.

        Congrats on getting out of there. A boss who tries to manipulate you into no pay raises by crying would likely be a horrible reference even if you did do 2 weeks notice.

        1. El l*

          That’s my thought, too.

          OP has to expect blowback and manipulation from such an obviously manipulative person – and count me skeptical that they’ll be nice someday just because they gave 2 weeks notice. If they don’t ding them later with “She didn’t give notice!” they’ll find something else they can say to undermine them.

          I say get out of there and don’t waste any more time on them. What’s done is done.

      2. Sara without an H*

        Yes, most email programs allow you to create a rule to send incoming mail unread to an Evil Boss folder. Use it and, after you’re happily settled in your new job, pick out some of the goofier samples and send us an update.

      3. Pants*

        I’m a fan of documentation. Hell, my bullet journal is basically tracking, documenting, and inventory. For everything. Documenting always makes me feel better. I know I may not ever need it, but it helps me to know I have it on the off chance it’s needed. Might need to bring this up with my therapist, actually….

  13. Funny Cide*

    A tale of caution for OP#4 or any others in a similar situation… I started at a small workplace within the last year and was told coming in that everyone was 100% vaccinated. I had been hoping for a majority, so it was nice to hear. Shortly after I started, another new hire was made. Then, a couple of months ago as COVID numbers rose, our HR mentioned at a meeting that our office was NOT 100% vaccinated and so they’d be reinstating some precautions. So, since management had previously announced 100% vaccination, all staff knew that it was either myself and/or the other new hire who weren’t vaccinated and therefore the reason that new protocols were being put back in place. As I talked with a more seasoned staff member one day I happened to mention being vaccinated, and got a surprised reply that many other staff members had essentially been holding a grudge against us and trying to avoid us because it was “our fault” they had to wear masks again — they were incredibly rude about it! I knew the other new staff member wasn’t vaccinated due to a legitimate medical exemption from them having confided in me, but that wasn’t out in the open for all our coworkers. Instead, the partial information caused quite a divide. I would be cautious about touting your vaccination percentages if you have new employees coming in!

    1. Xenia*

      This is such a rude thing of HR to do to you and to the other new hire. It left you open to the exact assumptions your coworkers were making.

      They would have been irritated around here anyways; I’m in an area where you wear masks and observe precautions whether or not you’re vaccinated.

      1. Well...*

        Yea these coworkers seem out of touch. The whole world is making precautions, and I have little patience for people who still complain when they have to do it or blame one person. What if there had been a breakthrough infection (if you’re in a hotspot, breakthroughs become more likely)? Why didn’t any of them think it was a medical exemption? Like look around, we are still in a pandemic, your office vaccination rate isn’t going to mean you can completely forget about it.

        1. Observer*

          Why didn’t any of them think it was a medical exemption?

          Because most of the discussion is totally not science or fact based. I’ve seen it here, and elsewhere. And that includes just not accepting that there actually can be legitimate medical reasons to not get vaccinated. Yes, I KNOW, these reasons ARE rare. But they EXIST and the are NOT necessarily visible nor do they necessarily make people disabled.

          Some examples of how this goes down: A suggestion that severe allergy is not a reason to get the vaccine “Just do the shot at the hospital with a crash cart handy.” (I’m not making that up.) And article in the Atlantic about the problem with doctors who advise patients not to get the shot. Including statements by supposed public health experts that the doctor was wrong in certain specif examples they brought, even despite the fact that there actually are known issues in those types of cases.

          With that kind of thing going around, it’s really not surprising that people just don’t realize that this can actually happen. Rare is not the same as non-existent, but we tend to think on those terms unless someone points that out.

          1. Cle*

            Fwiw, it’s exceedingly rare to be allergic to these vaccines. Most severe reactions have been vagal responses, not allergies. Very, very few people have had anaphylaxis. My personal experience with anaphylaxis in a controlled medical environment was that it truly, honestly wasn’t a big deal. It wasn’t like what you see on TV, or even what you might see when a friend gets a bee sting, because the care is so immediate. As soon as I started coughing a little I was attended to; I didn’t even realize there was something wrong because they caught it so fast- it felt like less than minute after I had a couple of coughs. There was no “crash cart” needed, rather some epinephrine, an antihistamine, and blood pressure monitoring (because of the epi, not because of the reaction). It was never even hard for me to breathe. It felt scary and I needed to sleep afterwards, but that’s a consequence of the epinephrine. It was like that feeling you get after a roller coaster or really scary movie.

            Everyone who gets allergy shots risks it every single time they get one (which is generally weekly for nearly a year, and then monthly for several years following). I’d feel comfortable recommending to anyone that I care about who suffers from life-threatening allergies to medications that they get vaccinated in an allergy office rather than forego the vaccine. If your allergies are that extreme, medications they might give you if you are hospitalized would likely be even more problematic. The folks in offices that give allergy shots are incredibly good at handling anaphylaxis. I would much rather react in their care than in the care of someone whose training and experience isn’t as specific.

            (Just my two cents, or ten. Yes, these reactions exist, and we need to think on those terms, but I think it’s important to consider relative risk, too.)

      2. Observer*

        I agree. HR handled things very, very badly. And your coworkers are acting like idiots. Unless NO ONE ever comes into your offices other than staff, and all staff are living in one bubble, some reasonable precautions are a good idea anyway in an area with high / rising numbers.

        But, yes, a good lesson about being careful around messaging.

    2. A Wall*

      The really wild thing about this is that they jumped to assume that it was the new hires and not that the company was BSing and rounding up before when they said 100%. I know I would have been wrong, but that would have been the first place I went to before building a grudge against the new staff.

      The other thing that’s stupid about this whole thing is that you should all be wearing masks anyway. Wearing a mask is not a punishment, it’s a regular part of life like not taking your shoes and socks off and going around barefoot at work. Removing non-pharmaceutical interventions is the reason we have a problem right now, not the vax rate (no matter what the folks eager to cram everyone back into offices and shopping centers have been saying about it). A high vax rate won’t protect you by itself when you have high community transmission.

      And also, as I keep having to remind people: those clinical trials came back with 90+ % efficacy………. When everyone was still wearing masks, distancing, and avoiding gatherings. You start blowing air right in each other’s faces and you’re not going to see that same efficacy rate pan out. I do not know why people have decided they don’t understand that just so they don’t have to wear a little piece of clothing. If you buy and wear special business clothes specifically to wear to work, I don’t know where you’re drawing the line that adding one more garment standard is punitive.

      1. Lexie*

        I would have assumed they meant 100% of eligible people and that there was probably at least one person with a medical or religious exemption floating around the place.

      2. Worldwalker*

        I’m baffled by the people who think being required to wear a mask is an infringement on their freedom, but being required to wear pants isn’t.

        1. Ritz*

          No, no, you don’t understand. Public schools can’t enforce masks; our enforcement budget is already fully allocated to spaghetti straps, tight pants and shirts, spaghetti straps, necklines, bandanas, baseball caps, Gang Sign Of The Week, spaghetti straps, tank tops, and drugs. No, assault and battery (we prefer to call it ‘teasing’, they’re just kids!) didn’t make the cut this year. What were you talking about again? Face coverings? We’ll consider it for next decade’s budget, shall we?

          1. Bethie*

            I laugh at this, but it’s not funny. My son freaked out one day because he thought his shorts were too short for school, and I had to explain that’s really only a rule for girls. The ensuing conversation highighted the absurdity (he’s 10) because he couldnt understand how girls knees and shoulders would be a distraction in school :)

        2. Can't Sit Still*

          I do know people who take offense at wearing shoes and try to avoid it at all costs, even in the office, so maybe it’s similar to that?

          1. LittleMarshmallow*

            We have a guy that does everything in his power to not wear his hard hat in areas where we are required to wear hard hats (he’s not the first anti-hat person I’ve come across either). His rational seems to be that he’s psychic or some thing and knows when it is and isn’t safe to not wear it and therefore doesn’t need to be “micromanaged” to wear it. Same guy tries to get out of our mask rules too. Probably same kinda thing as the shoe hatred you mention. People are weird.

      3. RagingADHD*

        If you’re looking at a workplace with 100% vax compliance, I don’t think it’s a matter of people pretending not to understand or getting uptight about “muh freedoms”.

        It’s fatigue and frustration at not being done with this horror show yet, plus some well justified resentment at being (apparently) lied to by the employer about safety, and suspicion toward vaccine holdouts.

        I am 100% pro safety precautions and mask up constantly. Doesn’t mean I enjoy it. I was really excited this summer when my whole family was vaxxed and we could act normal again. And when Delta hit and we had to re-mask, it sucked.

        It’s totally normal to feel some kind of way when you reach the light at the end of the tunnel and then the tunnel suddenly gets longer.

        1. Observer*

          It’s totally normal to feel some kind of way when you reach the light at the end of the tunnel and then the tunnel suddenly gets longer.

          True. But it is NOT reasonable to jump to conclusions about specific people and be rude to them because of it.

        2. alienor*

          Exactly. I wear masks whenever I’m in public and will do so for as long as I have to, but it’s still hot and sweaty and uncomfortable, especially when I’m walking a long distance (I live in a huge city, so there are pretty much always people around, even outdoors) and I don’t like it one bit. I kind of wish we hadn’t had that month or so of freedom in early summer–I think it felt worse to live normally for a little while and then have it taken away than it would have to just keep on with Full Pandemic Mode.

      4. TootsNYC*

        they may have had enough casual conversations among themselves to be very confident that they truly were at 100% earlier.

    3. OP4 here*

      Thanks everyone for the replies! I’ll read over them more thoroughly in a bit, but wanted to address this first. Right now our office is still masked and only 1/3 of staff are allowed in the office on any given day, which allows for distancing and maximizes the effectiveness of our ventilation system, so no one would be singled out. I can see your point, though. Right now we are planning on asking anyone who ends up with a religious or medical exemption to minimize time in the office, to take a company provided rapid test before coming into the office, in addition to the regular masking and distancing we all do. Hopefully that will reduce any potential stigma

      1. Ritz*

        To my understanding, religious and disability accommodations only need to be reasonable and don’t need to pose an undue hardship – which for disability accommodations means “causing significant difficulty or expense” and for religious accommodations only means “more than a minimis burden or expense”. The law doesn’t appear to require you to allow biohazards into the office, and, for religious accommodations in particular, you don’t have to go all that far out of your way to accommodate their status.

      2. JustaTech*

        Oooh, company provided rapid tests! Yay for your company OP4! (Completely serious, no sarcasm.)

        I wish my company did that. Or required vaccination. Or actually provided guidance on masking.

        OP4, it sounds like your company is doing a great job!

        1. OP4 here*

          I have always liked working here, and we have always had great benefits, but during the pandemic they have been MF AMAZING and now I love it. They have been wonderful about COVID related leave, have hired extra staff as soon as it was clear that this was going to last more than a month to help with the burden as coworkers struggled with childcare/eldercare/all the rest (we are about 110-115% staffed as compared to pre-pandemic and are planning on staying that way since extra hands are, well, handy). Home office supply and child/elder care, stipends. Periodic, company wide “No Work Weekends” where they no crap blocked access to work e-mail. A contracted counseling service to provide MH care for free in addition to the already good MH coverage we had since they figured every damned person at some point in this could benefit from a MH check-up. They even went in and had our ventilation system totally redone to maximize fresh, filtered air. It helps that our industry freaking boomed during the pandemic, but most of the other companies that do what we do decided to keep the profits and act as if it was 2019.

  14. Beth*

    The hourly rate may factor in benefits. I’m extremely grateful for mine- they total about 13000$ a year, but they certainly don’t won’t pay my bill this month.

  15. Viette*

    LW#3 – I could go either way on who’s the problem reading this letter, but it sounds like a bad situation! ‘Think about a new job’-level bad.

    Either your bosses are awful (“things have been bad…the meetings make it worse”), schedule meetings just to berate you (“always a list of everything I’m doing wrong and never any improvements”), and they don’t care that it’s a waste of your time (“they aren’t productive”) or that you are actually a good employee (“if I do something well, my supervisor actually actively minimizes it”).

    Or you’re really struggling since getting back (“things have been bad since returning from WFH”) and your bosses are trying to get you to improve (“help me…to stay organized and [to] keep on top of things”), but your performance is much worse than you think it is (“never any improvements they’ve seen…my supervisor actually actively minimizes it”) and you’re disengaged from the process (“I don’t want to have these meetings…don’t motivate me to do better in any way”).

    Either way you and your bosses are on such profoundly different pages that I can’t see this working out well unless someone comes around and fast. The meetings are not the main problem.

    1. FashionablyEvil*

      Yeah, I was going to say the same thing (and was honestly surprised that Alison’s answer didn’t include the phrase, “You should be actively job searching.”)

      1. Viette*

        Depending on where the issue lies, they need to either get to job-searching or get to soul-searching, because something is seriously going on.

    2. drpuma*

      Yes, exactly this. LW3, if your boss was crystal-clear about what they need from you, would that motivate you to change? Or would you still be frustrated and resentful? And if you did exactly what your boss said, you’re certain they still wouldn’t acknowledge your improvement? Sounds like nobody in this situation is getting what they need. Move on to a role that’s a better fit.

    3. Falling Diphthong*

      As a complete outsider, reading the situation through OP’s lens, it sounds like:
      • OP is on a PIP.
      • OP’s bosses are not seeing enough improvement to meet goals.

      I can’t tell if OP is refusing to hear something the managers have been clear about, or if the bosses have put in so much softening language that OP can’t discern the actual message, but this sounds like a lead-up to firing someone for inability to do the job. Which some people here have experienced, and come through, and it was just not the job for them but other jobs turned out to fit.

      OP, you should start looking just in case. You can do that while also asking for clearer metrics–but at some point it doesn’t matter if the metrics are unreasonable or your performance hasn’t increased to where they need it, because what matters is their perception of that question.

      1. twocents*

        That was my interpretation as well. And even the bit about “if I do something well, my supervisor actually actively minimizes it” makes me think that, in LW’s mind, they did something really amazing, but from the boss’s perspective, it either wasn’t on track with their goals or it really wasn’t that much progress. (e.g. Cool, you made a new organization system, but the problem isn’t your organization, but that you don’t focus on the correct priorities.)

        It’s really hard to get a read on what’s accurate here, but either way, I think the underlying message LW should take is not “these meetings are a waste of my time” but rather “my job is actively at risk, and I either need to put in much more deliberate effort into my PIP or start job searching or both.” Ideally both.

      2. hbc*

        Yeah, I’m pretty sure it’s a PIP (or PIP lite) in their eyes, and OP trying to talk about what’s going well is, to them, spectacularly missing the point. It might be the equivalent of having a person who has been always late going, “Hey, I made it in within 5 minutes of start time three times last week, can we acknowledge that?”

      3. Sloan Nicotone*

        Even if I wasn’t officially on a PIP (and not every company does PIPs), if I was hearing in meetings this often that my work was not satisfactory, I would definitely be job searching hard and assuming I might be fired soon. I’d want to leave just for my own sake! As OP expresses, this is not a fun work situation to be in.

      4. LQ*

        Yeah this is very much what I’m seeing here. I think OP needs to listen in these meetings with the assumption that they are asking for the work to be done differently and the job is at risk if it doesn’t change to be what they are asking for. But mostly needs to look for a new job I think.

      5. Koalafied*

        at some point it doesn’t matter if the metrics are unreasonable or your performance hasn’t increased to where they need it, because what matters is their perception of that question.

        Yes, unfortunately sometimes if your boss has gotten used to seeing you as a low performer, you could raise your performance to be on par with others in your office who make the occasional normal amount of small mistakes, and you’ll get more disciplinary action than everyone else because your boss is primed to look for mistakes from you, and when you make one instead of thinking, “well, everyone makes mistakes occasionally,” they think, “here we go again, another mistake from Linus…” You effectively have to be better than everyone else to overcome their pre-existing mistrust in your ability.

        When that happens it’s often best to just cut your losses and move on to a new workplace whose view of you won’t be colored by previous bad performance.

      6. Betteauroan*

        My thoughts too. OP, they are sending you a serious message with these meetings that they have issues with your performance. You should be prepared to be let go soon. Start looking for another job now. This is not the right job for you.

      7. ferrina*

        I had a boss that had these types of meetings weekly with me. She was clear that it wasn’t a PIP, but “improvement areas” (with vague descriptions and no timelines). These are terrible meetings and not helpful at all. Simply detailing all the things that someone did wrong (or even the things that went well, but through the lens of “well, you could have actually done better”) is bad managing. It’s just a negativity dump.

        If a manager has concerns, you should be 1) clear about your concerns 2) actively providing resources for improvement (or ensuring they have access to those resources 3) clear about areas that have been improved on. It’s not about piling on about how terrible the person is. (also, what kind of PIP only has monthly meetings, and not more frequently??)

        OP, if this is the only issue with their management, I’d check with colleagues to see if they have similar negativity dumps from the boss. This might be a misguided idea that got stuck in their head.
        But I suspect it’s not the only issue. Getting a new job will be good for your sanity. It took me over a year to recover from 4 months of weekly negativity dumps. Good luck!

        1. ecnaseener*

          Yes, that’s what it stands for. They can go for any length of time, but when done right you should be told how long it’ll last before you either get off the plan or get fired.

        2. Aitch Arr*

          They can, though in my experience they are 30, 60, or 90 days.
          I have worked with managers on PIPs that are 90 days and extended for another 90.

    4. anonymous73*

      I felt the same way when reading the letter. And the fact that OP thinks canceling the meetings is the solution makes me think that the OP needs to stop taking the criticism personally and have a conversation with her manager about making these meetings more productive for everyone.

      1. fhqwhgads*

        I’m sort of reading it two ways, but can’t tell from the letter which is actually happening (or if it might be something else entirely).
        Either A) OP is not on a PIP or anywhere near it, does do adequate or even good work, but the boss’s idea of how a one-on-one should go is “tell the direct report every minuscule thing they’ve done wrong and never praise or even acknowledge what they do right”. But from other contexts except this meeting, they’re getting good feedback in general. If this is what’s happening, I can see how cancelling the meeting might be the instinct, since it’d feel like an unnecessary and unproductive monthly pile-on, of things OP may already be aware of and working on or already learned not to do again.
        Or B) OP is on a PIP – but the workplace may not have called it that and has been very unclear about the nature of this meeting and why it is always a list of mistakes/things to improve. The seriousness of the issues from the employer’s perspective and the OP’s perspective differs greatly and neither is clear why the other “doesn’t get it”. Both sides are on very different pages and either this is a bad fit at the role and/or company level, or the OP is on shaky ground performancewise but doesn’t realize it.

        1. Aitch Arr*

          I think it’s B, but either the manager isn’t being direct/clear about it (i.e., it sounds like the OP hasn’t seen any PIP document or documented list of expectations) or the OP isn’t hearing the message that this is serious and her job is in jeopardy.

  16. Sylvan*

    #5: I ordered the business cards at an old job. They’re cheap and it’s no big deal. Feel free to ask. You didn’t do anything wrong by not speaking up earlier, IMO, you just weighed the decision differently then than you do right now.

    1. Koalafied*

      Yeah, I’m pretty sure my company orders boxes of 250 cards for about 25 bucks. Very trivial expense.

    2. Artemesia*

      Absolutely. If pronouns are typical on business cards in your company then accommodating this change — which is not expensive for them — should be done without kerfuffle. You should have the cards that reflect your information accurately.

      1. Sloan Nicotone*

        Although honestly this relates to why mandatory pronouns aren’t the best plan, IMO. For people to whom it doesn’t apply, it’s either an obvious answer that matches their gender presentation (and possibly an eyeroll); the people this is actually supposed to be “helping” can find it agonizing to be forced to either publicly identify or have to publicly list the wrong pronouns if they’re not willing to be publicly outed. I think the pronoun thing was well intentioned but is now being misused. It should always be optional to give your pronouns.

        1. Domino*

          What I’ve heard is that if all the cis people are putting their pronouns out there, it normalizes not assuming people’s pronouns, and it also makes “non standard” pronouns stick out less. This is true within the organization, but also outwardly: you never know whose day will be made better by seeing pronouns listed on your contact page.

          I hadn’t considered the problems *for* trans/NB people of making it mandatory, though. That’s a very good point, and a solid argument for not pressuring people into it.

          1. Sloan Nicotone*

            Yeah not to be a jerk but I feel like unfortunately it’s become more about virtue-signalling for the ally than it is actually helpful to people with evolving gender identity, and when it’s mandatory like this it becomes quite sticky.

            1. Simply the best*

              It’s a very performative way to say “we are progressive!” without actually doing any work.

              So many nonprofit website staff pages that are just a sea of white cisgendered women with their she/hers proudly emblazoned beneath their smiling photos.

          2. alienor*

            it also makes “non standard” pronouns stick out less

            I don’t know…I work for a company where everyone is encouraged to have pronouns in their email signature, etc. and when you see a constant parade of pronouns that match the person’s gender presentation, it still jumps out when someone’s doesn’t. I don’t know if there’s a way around that.

          3. Minerva*

            For a lot of women who have always viewed woman as an identity inflicted on us, it means either identifying as different (I’d love they if it was really non gendered, not a separate gender) or bringing attention to femaleness in a way I dislike (as someone who has been the only woman in the meeting more than I would like). Or don’t use pronouns and the assumption isn’t “it’s complicated” but “I have a problem with gender minorities”.

    3. OP5*

      Thanks, Sylvan. At the time I thought it was something I could live with, but now I wish I had spoken up. Good to know this won’t be too costly of a change. I did think about adding onto my existing business cards and using those up first, but I think I’ll just ask to order new ones instead

      1. Can't Sit Still*

        Please do! As someone who has ordered business cards, various errors around identity do happen, like using the employee’s legal name instead of the name they actually use, e.g. AnnMarie Smith actually goes by Susie Smith-Jones. I’ve also seen people accept the wrong name, and then come back later and say “I really go by Susie, only my grandmother called me AnnMarie, please fix it.”

        It’s a human foible to use the first option given, so if you prefer they, you will be much more likely to elicit the correct usage if you list they as your first pronoun.

      2. Observer*

        Ask for new cards. Even in a place like ours, where every expense is a bit of a Big Deal ™ this really is on the low end of expense. And manually adding it on is going to be both time consuming and sloppy looking.

    4. alannaofdoom*

      Just want to say that I LOVE this:

      “You didn’t do anything wrong by not speaking up earlier, IMO, you just weighed the decision differently then than you do right now.”

      I think so many of us feel like changing our minds is a sign of weakness, and this framing really emphasizes that it’s not a question of good-bad-right-wrong, just an evolving perspective.

  17. Where’s the Orchestra?*

    LW3, I think the main thing I would try for is Alison’s suggestion of having your boss(es) give you written down goals that you can then break down into achievable standards. This should help you get on the same page as the boss about what a successful employee in this position looks like.

    It may also help crystallize for the boss that they aren’t being clear in what the expectations are. I’ve been there twice, and both times were horrible for very different reasons. The first time I just really wasn’t what the boss wanted (I was an inherited employee – they saw the role very, very differently than I did), the second time I don’t think the boss could have given me standards because I really don’t think he even remotely knew what he wanted from my role. I’m glad to be away from both of those people – and I love that my current job has very clear, defined, and quantifiable standards that I get in writing (they do sometimes shift from year to year based on changing priorities). It’s easy to set what I’m doing well and what I need to improve on.

    1. Susan Ivanova*

      I’ve been there once and I still don’t know what I lacked, other than “a senior llama herder shouldn’t need to be told.”

      1. Anya Last Nerve*

        Funny you should say this, I am dealing with something similar. The thing is, at senior roles there is the expectation that you exercise judgment and initiative to figure things out on your own. If you need someone to clearly lay out the day to day requirements and steps for your job, then you aren’t ready for a senior role. However, that is a hard message to convey, especially to folks who may be newly promoted to a senior role.

        1. hbc*

          Agreed. “I shouldn’t have to tell you” can be anything from a cop out to 100% legitimate criticism. Though I would say that a decent manager of senior people should be able to elaborate on where they’re missing the boat on independence. “At your level, you should be able to figure out how much inventory to keep in stock based on standard calculations and adjusting when the model doesn’t fit perfectly. And you should be up on industry trends so that I don’t have to tell you to revisit those assumptions when there’s a global shipping crisis.”

        2. LilyP*

          You should still be able to communicate clearly what you expect the person to accomplish big-picture though. Like maybe a senior llama groomer needs to maintain a fair and accurate schedule for the other groomers that ensures adequate coverage. Or a senior llama groomer needs to be able to independently come up with a grooming plan for an especially dirty llama and coordinate junior groomers, nail technicians, and tail braiders to ensure it’s executed accurately. Or a senior llama groomer needs to execute good judgement about when to involve the llama veterinarian. You should always be able to explain what the responsibilities of a role are and what meeting standards of independence and quality looks like, even for very senior roles.

        3. Susan Ivanova*

          Oh, I was working on big projects and coordinating with other teams to get things done, but I was the new owner of a large system that hadn’t changed in so long that many people in upper management thought it “just worked” and major changes should be easy. None of that would have been true even for someone who had worked on it for years, but management also blamed the high turnover on the llama herders and not the llamas.

          The people on the other teams were just as baffled as I was. It didn’t help.

      2. SentientAmoeba*

        I am dealing with this right now. I get a lot of, “someone at your level should know this” or use your best professional judgement, but apparently my best judgement is always wrong, no matter how much detail and research I provide to support my stance. I’m never told exactly what’s wrong, or how to do better next time, just that I’m wrong and at my level I should know. The other problem is, everyone at my level is having the same problems, where our supervisor apparently thinks we are all terrible at our jobs, but are still expected to train and mentor the lower level employees.

  18. John Smith*

    #1. If you can, don’t block the calls, and when you do answer, stay calm and polite however much you feel like going nuclear. When your boss calls and starts being inappropriate, that is when you calmly and politely say “how you’re speaking to me now is an example of why I’ve quit. ” (or similar) and hang up. In essence, you want to be the responsible non-shouting adult to your temper tantrum throwing manager child. If it were me, I’d put the call on loud speaker and have a friend video the conversation. But that just me and I’m sure others will argue otherwise.

    There’s nothing better than watching my manager go red faced when he’s “talking” to me and realises he can’t wind me up. Being able to stay calm annoys the hell out of him to he point he’ll eventually storm out the room. There’s a lot of satisfaction in being the adult.

    Good luck. It sound like you’re out of a hell hole.

    1. Aqua409*

      A word of caution, if you are going to have a friend record the conversation; make sure you are in a one party consent state. Otherwise, you may be stepping into illegal territory and opening yourself up to legal liability.

    2. mlem*

      My state requires notice of recording, so I’d answer any calls from the business with a script: “Hello, this is (name), and this call is being recorded. If you do not consent, please hang up now. Otherwise, hi, what’s up?” Basically, put them on notice up front that their behavior is being monitored (regardless of whether I’m *really* recording!).

      1. EPLawyer*

        Nobody is going to notice you announcing that. Or think its really weird.

        Just in general, do not record. I would not take calls from the boss. This boss is never going to get it. Even if OP takes the calls and then tells the boss, this is why I quit, the boss STILL will think the OP is the problem not herself.

        OP does not work for the company anymore. She resigned. She owes them exactly zero of her time, except to tell them where to send her final paycheck.

    3. Here we go again*

      Just let it go to voicemail. If they said anything threatening it’s recorded. No need to ask permission. They knowingly recorded themselves.

  19. I need cheesecake*

    #3 You mentioned that “these meetings are always a list of everything I’m doing wrong”. What’s not quite clear from your letter is: are they correct about the things you’re doing ‘wrong’? You mentioned how they minimise improvements which sounds really tough, but what you haven’t said is whether they’re correct about what needs improving?

    They might not be communicating it in a way that feels helpful for you – but it sounds like your job is in danger and you perhaps aren’t understanding that. I’m sorry, I know that’s hard to hear! But you remind me of someone I knew early in my career who was repeatedly told about what to improve, chose not to improve on those things as they disagreed, and was surprised when they lost their job.

    So I’m wondering if you are going to these meetings with any evidence of what you are doing to improve, or work towards improvement. I get that they don’t feel supportive to you! But focusing on whether you can stop having the meetings – rather than how to show you’re improving – suggests you aren’t considering the bigger picture.

    When you say things have been bad since returning from WFH I wonder do you mean your performance or something else? That would’ve been helpful to know.

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      And sometimes you have improved, but it’s by 5% and they were looking for 80%. In which case, their interpretation of how OP was doing would focus on not meeting the metric rather than the improvement.

  20. Midori987*

    LW3 – It’s hard to determine what the situation is without more detail, but it could go either way. At my last job the company culture was very critical and we all had monthly meetings with our managers, where every little typo or error from the past month would be pointed out and investigated and they were very stingy with praise (unsurprisingly, this was terrible for morale and I quit). If you are the only employee that has these monthly meetings, I’d suggest looking for a new job because it’s not a good sign.

  21. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

    OP4: we’re going to be hiring again soon and we’re at the ‘you gotta be vaccinated unless you have a genuine medical reason’ stage and here’s what our HR are doing:

    A Covid vaccination is required for the role unless you have a medical exception’ is on the advert.

    When calling someone in for interview they are asked if they are vaccinated or if they are medically exempt. If they’re exempt we’ll put extra precautions in place to reduce any risk of infection (mandatory masks/distancing/extra sanitation etc)

    If at any point in the interview the candidate makes a comment about how they aren’t in fact vaccinated and won’t be or comes out with any kind of antivaxx or Covid conspiracy theories the interview is terminated.

    Job offers are provisional until proof of vaccination or medical exemption is received (letter from a GP/NHS stating this person can’t have any of the vaccines is fine. We don’t need to know the reason)

    1. Artemesia*

      If someone has a medical exemption then there need to be routine testing protocols in place so that they are regularly tested since odds of them picking up Delta and passing it along are pretty high.

      1. Beth*

        I feel like routine testing is smart for everyone who’s working in person (or otherwise being around multiple other people indoors) these days. The odds of getting it and potentially spreading it are higher if you’re unvaccinated, of course. But this summer, when the Delta variant was starting to become widespread, a couple of indoor events in my community turned into spreader events even though they required proof of vaccination at the door. It’s pretty clear to me now that being vaccinated doesn’t keep you from spreading the virus. I get tested at least once a week nowadays, usually twice, so I can know quickly if I get covid asymptomatically and can warn people I’ve seen recently and isolate accordingly.

        1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

          Being vaccinated reduces the chances of infection and shortens the length/severity of infection. There’s no vaccine in existence that 100% stops a virus.

          1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

            Apologies, that was rather preachy!

            Totally agree. I get tested regularly despite having had vaccinations (just had my yearly flu jab – interesting news that some strains of flu have practically gone extinct after all the measures we took for Covid! Good news) – I got a box of lateral flow tests I use.

        2. Bagpuss*

          YEs – here (UK) the government recommends everyone does a lateral flow test twice a week. and you can get the tests free – they can be requested online or picked up free from pharmacies – I’m not sure what the take up is, I’ve been doing them regularly.

          Some bigger employers set up testing via the workplace, I think this started to be available earlier than the ones individuals could request and started with the NHS and other major public services.

          But my understanding is that you have to pay for LFT in the USA, so it’s a fairly significant extra expense whether for individuals or businesses.

          1. Sloan Nicotone*

            $25 bucks a pop, baby! (there are two tests in the box). Also from what I understand the supply varies.

          2. UKDancer*

            Yes I also test regularly (about once per week) using the free lateral flow tests to check everything is alright. I’ve had my vaccines but I think it’s important to keep testing.

          3. RagingADHD*

            At least in the part of the US I am, you can get the rapid test (as we call it) done for free by a clinic if you have symptoms or a known exposure, but you have to pay for routine testing.

            I don’t know of any place locally that sells home tests, but you can order them online. Either way you’d have to buy them.

            1. Bagpuss*

              Here you can get a PCR test (free) if you meet the criteria

              -You have symptoms of covid
              – To confirm a positive LFT
              – If you have been in contact with someone who has tested positive
              – if contacted by track and trace
              – if told to by a medical professional (I think this is mainly before going to hospital for non-emergency procedures)
              – it you are asked to do so my one of the authorised groups doing research

              I’ve been asked to do several PCR tests, and an anti-body, test by the ZOE Covid study.

              You have to pay privately if you need a negative test to travel overseas or to avoid having to quarantine when you return from overseas (rules vary about whether or not you are required to quarantine depending in your vaccine status and where you have been – I’ve not tracked it closely , as I have no plans to go anywhere, but I know there have been problems with people paying for the tests and then not getting the results back in the time needed.)

            2. ThatGirl*

              Obviously I don’t know where you live, but I’ve seen the home tests at Kroger/affiliated supermarkets, Walgreens, CVS and Walmart.

              1. Falling Diphthong*

                We were able to get home tests (results in 20 minutes) at CVS in New England and then the West.

              2. quill*

                Had to WFH last week due to cold symptoms, I was able to drive through my nearest walgreens to give my snot sample and knew I was negative 48 hours later.

              3. RagingADHD*

                The schools don’t accept home tests, and that’s about the only place around here that requires testing-and then only if you’re symptomatic. I haven’t personally had occasion to look for them, because any reason we would need a test would also allow us to get it free at the clinic.

          4. londonedit*

            Yep I’ve been doing my twice-weekly lateral flow tests ever since they were made available free via the NHS (we can order/pick up boxes of 7). It makes me feel better about the fact that I’m not likely to be going around unwittingly infecting people, it means I can submit the results to the NHS/the Zoe Covid monitoring app which helps with the tracking of the virus, and it means I can always take a test if I’m going somewhere like meeting up with friends or family. New research indicates they’re up to 90% effective which is good to know. In the UK we can also get a free PCR test if we have Covid symptoms or have come into contact with someone who has – the only tests you have to pay for are the ones for travel.

          5. OP4 here*

            Yep. That is why we are only providing rapid test for people who have exemptions, if we ever end up with any, and only for the days they have to go in the office. Ideally the company could pay for everyone to have rapid tests every time they come in the office, but we are about 230ish people and the cost was pretty high even if we bought in bulk.

          6. Beth*

            The cost for testing varies widely in the US! My city provides free PRC tests–so, not rapid results, but free and easily accessible. My workplace does the same. It’s also pretty easy to access rapid test kits, though they’re not free. I’m definitely very lucky on that front.

            It’s much harder in areas where testing is less accessible. But I wouldn’t personally be comfortable being back in person without testing–if I get it myself, I get it, but passing it on to my friends/neighbors/colleagues/loved ones is my worst nightmare in all this.

        3. Lenora Rose*

          I’ve never heard of a vaccine that stops 100% of the virus because that isn’t how any vaccine works; they prime you to fight off the virus before it gets serious, but the virus has to enter your system for the vaccine to do anything.

          And even then you get outliers. I caught rubella as an adult despite a full vaccine regime.

      2. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

        Oh we do that. I’ve got a member of staff who cannot have the vaccine and she’s tested regularly.

        The bit about ending the interview actually came about from someone who rather suddenly dropped a ‘I’ll get vaccinated but only after I’m going to wait 5-10 years for long term studies’ statement.

    2. I'm just here for the cats!*

      I feel like asking in the interview if they are medically excempt is not a great thing to do. That could inadvertently leed to bias because medical exemption is usually because of a major health issue that could fall into ADA.
      I would love to see Alison’s take on this

      1. Bagpuss*

        I guess that you can state that they will be required to show proof of vaccination or medical exemption at the point an offer is accepted and that if they have a medical exemption any additional measures will be discussed at that point.

        Or you ask the question as “Are you either vaccinated or medically exempt, and able to provide proof in either case”

      2. Ritz*

        It doesn’t sound unreasonable to ask *before* the interview, so you know whether you’ll be taking extra precautions during the interview, doing it online rather than in person, etc.

        Likewise, it’s not discriminatory to ask “Do you need a wheelchair-accessible conference room for your interview?” or “Do you need your information delivered in an alternative format?” or “Do you require a sign language interpreter?”

        1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

          Got it in one. We routinely ask if people need any accommodations for the interview.

          And as someone who requires a disabled parking spot, no stairs, a chair at a decent height and not to walk too far from the car park it makes me feel happier that I’m trying to help others.

      3. Hex Libris*

        The most common medical exemptions are an allergy to a vaccine component or a past poor reaction to a vaccine. These are obviously not major health issues, and prospective employers shouldn’t be assuming on this count.

        1. Observer*

          This is true. As an employer, allergies to vaccinations are just not a big deal in the work place and so should not be something they get bent out of shape about. Obviously the fact that they are not vaccinated is an issue, but in day to day operations it’s just not going to be an issue. You don’t need special equipment for them or make changes to the job, etc.

        2. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

          I’ve got a member of staff who can’t have the vaccine. She doesn’t have a condition that would fall under the disability acts in the UK. I just was…very vocal about everyone else in the office getting vaccinated and any sites she goes to I need to know she’s safe.

      4. MCMonkeyBean*

        My understanding is that pretty much any major health issue it is recommended that you get vaccinated and mainly the only thing they don’t recommend it for is if you are allergic to the vaccine:

        And what options are there? You need to know if they are vaccinated, or if they have a medical reason not to be. How would you find that out without asking? They should ask before the interview though if that changes any protocols for the meeting.

      5. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

        We don’t ask during the interview! We just want to make sure beforehand that either they’re vaccinated or not.

        Like it or not, we’re a company with a lot of people coming in and out (gotta love engineering) and we do need to know if we have to take extra precautions.

        Also we don’t want to hire antivaxxers.

  22. Marketer*

    LW5 : I am in charge of Marketing and Communications in my compant. Changing business cards is super easy. Last month, I’ve had to create 5 versions of a different business card for a higher up who wants to use different titles with different people. So, ​compared to that, changing a line and ordering a new batch to change your pronouns is nothing.

    Also, although we try to change and order all the new business cards at the same time, it is never possible to do so, because people come and go, change titles, so we are used to it. I am sure it will be fine for the person in charge in your company.

    1. OP5*

      I just sent out the email to the person in charge. I just said “I know we already ordered and received business cards for me, but I was wondering if we could reorder them to reflect my correct pronouns which are she/they, not just she/her/hers. I know I should’ve spoken up sooner when you send the proof, but I was a little nervous to.” I didn’t really need to add the second line, but I wanted to be honest about why I hadn’t corrected her

        1. OP5*

          Best case scenario! My director replied: this is not a problem at all. If there is anything I can do to be more deliberately inclusive, never hesitate to ask!

          But it turns out the system they use to create business cards doesn’t allow multiple pronouns. Only she, he, or they

          1. Sea Anemone*

            You could always order a second set with “they” and hand out one or the other depending on how you are feeling.

          2. Observer*

            Now I’m REALLY rolling my eyes.

            Does the space for pronouns have enough room to put She/They in as one word?

            1. OP5*

              They apparently have to select from a drop-down menu that only gives the three options of she, he, and they. BUT my boss thinks we can bypass that by editing the template created by it. So it looks like it’ll work out

              1. Greenbean*

                Glad to hear they’re being so supportive!

                Maybe that’s a good springboard for a broad suggestion since they asked how they can be more deliberately inclusive – maybe you can suggest that in places where employees’ identifying info is required/used, they should make sure the software the company uses allows for edits (ones that can be written in, not just selected from a menu) in case the employees request adjustments in ways that are unique to them? Seems like it would also be helpful for when people change their names – so employee ID’s, logins, company email addresses, etc, can also get changed easily.

                I’m not well-versed in software stuff at all so I have no idea how big an ask that is, but it might be a great thing to get on their radar *before* it’s needed, so that if/when it is needed, it won’t be a big deal for whoever needs it.

          3. Dana Whittaker*

            If your boss is supportive, I would go back and suggest that this will only become more common, and the company might want to get ahead of the process so other/future employees who might not be as brave do not have to feel unseen/invalidated.

  23. Beth*

    LW3, my read on this really depends on what the problems they’re identifying are.

    If you agree that the critical feedback is accurate and that the problems are interfering with your ability to do your job, then I think you need to find a way to set aside your negative feelings about these meetings. Organization and timeliness are generally important at work, and the amount of attention being given to them makes me concerned that you might be struggling with them on a level that rises to the point of being a serious performance issue. The way you describe these meetings reminds me of a situation a friend was dealing with a few years back. She was struggling with similar issues, and frankly was probably a half step away from a PIP by the time she got it turned around (they were definitely critical skills in the role that we were both in at the time). She managed it because she was able to take her stress and frustration at constant negative feedback and intensely close management (I’d say micromanagement, but it was warranted under the circumstances) and use them as motivation to make serious, rapid improvement. It still took about 6 months of sustained good performance for her manager to fully trust her again and back off, but I took her example as proof that it’s sometimes possible to make a serious comeback if you’re willing to put in the work to change.

    If, on the other hand, you think the feedback is misguided or that these are minor quirks that don’t really impact your job, then your higher-ups might be giving feedback badly. They might be bad at giving positive feedback. They might be putting too much weight on minor negative feedback, to the point where it feels like a big, stressful deal where actually it’s not. They might be identifying something that’s genuinely a problem, but failing to explain why it matters or why they’re taking it so seriously. If you think this is the case, I’d strongly suggest having a conversation with them about it; there’s a misalignment here, so ask them to help you understand what they’re thinking, and talk out any differences you come across from there.

  24. Richard Hershberger*

    Q: Am I obliged to subject myself to abuse from someone because I used to work for them?
    A: No.

    1. irene adler*

      And we all agree on this.

      It’s just, sometimes, things aren’t perfectly clear between reasonable and abusive when dealing with events that come up in the professional realm.

      We take classes outside of work to gain new skills. Attend all those dreaded company events. We go the extra mile to placate the demanding boss. We make sure to leave a job with all the loose ends tied up. Put up with otherwise difficult co-workers. Take on additional duties when our plate is full. Twist ourselves into knots to meet all the deadlines. Bite our tongues minding the professional norms when others do not. We do all these things – and more-to further the career with the hopes of garnering a favorable reference from management down the line.

      But where is the line between doing something you may not like to do and putting up with something abusive-all in the name of career advancement?

      1. RagingADHD*

        I disagree. There’s an enormous difference between a demanding or unpleasant job that might be worth it for some people but not others, and an abusive situation.

        Anyone who is having trouble telling the difference should definitely consult a professional about their own personal boundaries or level of burnout. A person who can’t tell if they are being abused or not is in a very messed up headspace. Alarmingly so.

        1. calonkat*

          RagingADHD, I think that’s part of the point. People do find themselves having abusive situations normalized until, well, it’s “normal” to them. My understanding is that most abusers don’t start off a relationship with abuse, they chip away at someone’s self worth. Jobs can have a lot of that done FOR them by society telling you that you are worthless unless you are employed, and that having a job is the only thing that makes you valuable to society.

          A large number of letters to this and other advice forums are based around “is this normal? people are telling me this isn’t normal, but it’s normal to me” for a reason. It can be very hard to realize how abnormal something is when it’s your daily experience!

          1. RagingADHD*

            And if a person starts to wonder that, the first place they should go is to talk to a professional!

            When you aren’t sure what your reality is or how to define your experience, tending to your brainspace should be a first resort, not a last resort.

            Certainly none of the things listed by irene adler – taking classes, meeting deadlines, documenting your projects before leaving a job, or being polite to coworkers- are abusive because they are actions a person takes themselves, not things that are being done *to* them.

            If someone is worried that they are abusing *themselves* by their own work practices, that’s even more reason to seek out a clarifying perspective IRL.

  25. Fake Old Converse Shoes (not in the US)*

    Please mention your vaccination requirements in every step of the hiring process! We’re reaching 90% of vaccinated people in my office, and can’t wait to hit the numbers needed to return to the office more regularly!

  26. FashionablyEvil*

    #3–As someone who is currently managing an employee with performance issues, these meetings aren’t fun* for your boss or grand boss either. They may not be doing the best job of delivering the feedback, but the fact that they’re meeting with you regularly means that a) they think there’s a problem and b) they’re giving you a chance to fix it. Take them up on that!

    Also, you sound pretty burned out and disengaged—even if things were going well, is this a position you otherwise like and could see yourself growing in? There’s no shame in admitting a job isn’t the right fit and looking for a new one. Good luck!

    *Unless they’re truly pathological, which is possible but I’d say it’s far more likely they’re just not great at giving feedback; most people aren’t.

    1. KRM*

      I mean, I just had a conversation with my boss yesterday where he was upset that I am ‘disengaged’ from the job, but I just recently realized that I don’t actually like my job duties (I did not apply for this exact role, I just kind of moved into it as the company grew, and probably should have done some soul-searching about actually liking this particular role months ago). So I told him that I didn’t like this role, and I’m open to moving elsewhere in the company to a role that suits what I want to be doing (or moving on if that’s what it takes). Ultimately he wants to help me thrive, I want to do work that I like, and even if the conversation is hard to have, it’s worth it!
      Also FWIW, if I actually liked the job duties but wasn’t performing up to his expectations, that conversation is different but ALSO worth having, if you want to keep your job! Maybe some things are different than what you expected coming back, and you need to adapt. But you should have that discussion.

    2. Thin Mints didn't make me thin*

      I think there’s room for the OP to come to the meetings with a list of things they’ve done to improve since the last meeting, and the results of those efforts.

      1. Colette*

        I don’t think bringing a list is a terrible idea, but I do think it’s not really relevant. If she’s at 25% of what they need, a list of the effort she’s putting in to get up to 28% isn’t going to be persuasive, except as evidence that she’s not going to get where she needs to be. Effort is good, but it’s not enough. I think she needs to focus on what they need to see, and realistically evaluate whether she can meet that bar.

  27. EventPlannerGal*

    OP3: I don’t want to scare the OP but this really sounds like some sort of precursor to a PIP or informal version of one to me; it’s hard to say whether or not it’s justified but either way, regular meetings with managers about things like organisation and “staying on top of things” are not really a thing unless there is a big problem, either in reality or in their perception. I don’t usually go straight to “job-search now!” but the OP needs to at least figure out what the consequences are going to be if their bosses don’t see the results they want – an actual PIP? Demotion/re-assignment of tasks? Firing? Because they aren’t going to continue like this indefinitely and it sounds like the OP thinks that if the meetings stop the problem will be resolved, and I don’t think that’s the case.

    1. AuroraPickle*

      At my workplace, regular meetings even weekly are common and common is the experience of walking out of those meetings wondering if you’re cut out for the job. The culture includes the inability to give or accept a lot of praise. There is a fear of complacency. I learned to attend those meetings like the performance ritual that they are and take what I want from them which is usually only my salary.

      OP needs to figure out the cause before freaking out.

    2. I'm just here for the cats!*

      I think the OP needs to talk with their boss next time they have this meeting. State something like we’ve been meeting about stating organized and on top of things. I think I have improved in areas X. But I would really like to know if there are clear goals you would like me to reach. Maybe even say that they are struggling to understand what they would like to accomplish in these meetings.

  28. ecnaseener*

    LW3, the thing that stood out to me in your letter was that you want to end the meetings because they don’t motivate you to improve.

    The underlying assumptions there seem to be that the meetings have to provide you motivation in order to be worth having, and that you can only be motivated externally.

    Understand that your bosses aren’t operating on either of these assumptions. The purpose of these meetings is to give you feedback, not to motivate you. That part’s your job. (Of course a good boss will try to motivate her staff and keep their morale in line – but it’s not bad for a boss to simply point out what needs improvement.)

    Hopefully it will help you to have clear goals, like Alison suggested. Beyond that, you sort of need to either figure out how to motivate yourself or find another job. (Although it might be an “and” not an “or” – you don’t want this happening again in your next job!)

  29. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

    OP3 – the fact that they downplay your accomplishments is a big deal.

    To me, that translates as “You’re just barely performing acceptably in areas A, B, and C, and still underperforming in D through Z. And that’s nothing to celebrate.”

    I think they’re really unhappy with you, and I’d start looking for another job if I were you.

    1. twocents*

      It’s really hard to say though. Is LW making a tiny improvement when her boss’s goal is for her to make a massive improvement?

      I’m thinking of a coworker I once had who had a goal to show up to work on time. She’d say she improved… And she sort of did, in the sense that showing up 20 minutes late four days a week and only ten minutes late one day a week is technically an improvement over showing up 20+ minutes late every day of the week. (And before anyone asks if maybe she had a really good reason to always be late, she actually always arrived in the parking lot early, and then smoked in her car before coming inside.)

      That’s where Alison’s advice to understand the goals and metrics and where LW is sitting relative to them is really important. A tiny improvement where they need an 80% improvement is not going to get heaps of praise, because you’re still not getting anywhere close to where they need you. Or even a massive improvement in an area they aren’t asking LW to improve in is also going to get a “cool, but…” treatment.

      1. On Fire*

        100%. We had a contractor recently who was supposed to do a certain project. The deadline was actually past and we were pushing hard for the contractor to finish the job. We were … not impressed when the contractor proudly showed us the OTHER thing they’d been doing instead of finishing the job. Kind of “you were supposed to building a fence, but you’ve been grooming the horses instead?! Okay, the horses look great, but the fence isn’t finished.”

        It does sound like this is what’s tangling up OP. Either the improvements are not as significant as OP thinks, or are not relevant.

  30. Tedious Cat*

    Maybe I’m just a petty bench, but my entire reaction to OP 1 is “you love to see it.” And when I say you I mean me.

    1. ohhey*

      I cackle-laughed at “My manager said my boss was “extremely hurt” by me wanting to work a more manageable schedule with better pay.”

      thoughts and prayers!

  31. Bookworm*

    #1: I’m sympathetic. Never had an experience quite like yours but can understand why you just snapped and left.

    It’s up to you, but if they do reach out it may be worth keeping records/copies. So just in case it ever comes up in the future, you can explain to whoever is asking that this is what that organization was like. Not in a bad-mouthing sort of way, but you have proof of how toxic and abusive this organization was.

    Good luck. Good for you for getting out. You’re not alone in walking out in toxic workplaces, *especially* right now.

  32. Sloan Nicotone*

    #2: Yes, you are honestly doing him a favor to mention this (although I realize you’re not necessarily trying to do him any favors) because this is likely to become a talking point that he will use many times, and if it’s not correct he’s probably alienating a good chunk of his audience every time he says it, although to be fair many salaried folks probably don’t know their hourly rate. However, I’ve heard high up people use numbers like this where they’re capturing all benefits, including things I don’t see on my paycheck, and what they really mean is that it costs the university $70 an hour to employ you, even if you only see $40 of that after tax on your paycheck. Still, I’d mention it.

  33. Mitch*

    I ask this with respect for the letter writer about using pronouns. I’m confused when I see someone who puts he/they or she/they as preferred pronouns. Which should we pick or should we alternate using both the gender-specific pronoun and the non-binary they?

    I realize usually people won’t know what pronoun we’re using because we don’t generally speak about people in the third person in their presence.

    1. LizB*

      Most people I know who use he/they or she/they prefer folks to alternate or mix it up, yes. If you’re unsure, you can always ask (“I want to make sure I’m referring to you correctly, is it best to use both sets of pronouns interchangeably?”).

    2. Shad*

      My impression is that it depends on the person you’re talking to. When in doubt, ask.
      I know for my sibling, it means you can use either (and sibling is their preference for the relationship between us; I’ve checked in on that with updates on their pronouns), but others in the comment section have indicated that they know people for whom two listed pronoun sets have other meanings. So it’s probably safest to ask.

    3. OP5*

      I think it differs from person to person. Personally, I am fine with 1. Exclusively using she, 2. Exclusively using they, or 3. alternating between the two–UNLESS I explicitly ask to be referred to a specific pronoun (usually this depends on if I’m feeling more masculine/androgynous one day or more feminine another). However, generally I have no preference between the two

    4. I'm just here for the cats!*

      For some it is rooted in their heritage. I wish I remember the speaker but I watched a presentation one time and the person was Latino heritage but they used she/they pronouns even though they were more nonbinary, because of their heritage there was a part of them that did not/could not give up the part of them that was Latina. I know I’m not expressing nearly as well as she did. She was very elegant and I wish I could remember their name.

  34. anonymous73*

    #1 – it sounds like your boss took you asking for a raise as a personal attack on them, i.e. they’re not even a little bit reasonable. I’m all about not burning bridges, but it sounds like even if you did take their calls it would do no good. I prefer to block people like this, but you may want to just ignore any texts or calls and let them rant, then you have proof of how unreasonable they were for the future if any of this comes up again.

    #2 – it’s not about stopping the meetings, it’s about getting something out of them to help you in your job. If they’re pointing out all of your mistakes, but not offering any ways to improve or providing their expectations, that’s a problem. Figure out what will help you improve, and any other things that would be beneficial for you and bring those things up at the start of your next meeting.

    #4 – definitely put it in your ad. And I would even require them to provide proof at the point that you’re reaching out to references right before you make an offer. You don’t want to make them an offer, have them come in with their new hire documentation and find out that they lied and have to go through the process all over again.

  35. 404_FoxNotFound*

    #1 Whoo gosh what a boss! Whatever you decide, good luck.

    #5 Folks seem to be getting unusually and unnecessary angry/hateful towards what is a legit question about pronouns. Moderation please?
    I agree with Alison, and as someone who has had non-legal name changes and pronoun shifts, that asking neutrally is probably your best bet. I’ve had less than stellar companies refuse to change the cards, or tell me to wait until a date in the future for the next printing order. In a pinch, I’ve edited my own business cards manually, even if that resulted in me being more grumpy because of said refusals to modify cards (or whatever the item is) away from former legal names and ill fitting pronouns.

  36. Lacey*

    For the business cards, I just want to reassure you that they’re super cheap and people ask for corrections they should have made before they were printed *all* the time.

    I just had to make a change for a coworkers cards. And while I did silently curse her, it was for acting like it was MY mistake, not for needing the change.

  37. Shiba Dad*

    LW1 – I believe in not burning bridges. That said, you were being labeled “ungrateful” for asking for a raise. Leaving with two weeks notice would have likely been two weeks of misery. No matter how you chose to leave the bridge would have been burned.

    1. HungryLawyer*

      Exactly. In this situation, OP’s boss actually burned the bridge with her own nasty behavior.

  38. LuJessMin*

    LW #1 – Don’t just burn the bridge, DESTROY IT. Burn it to the ground. You don’t need their recommendation.

  39. Betty Crocker*

    I actually stopped reading after #3 to write a comment because I feel so strongly about this. It sounds like LW3 is being bullied by her superiors. The bullying doesn’t sound like it is intentional and they could think they are mentoring her or doing some sort of Pre-PIP counseling with her, but forcing her to meet with them every month for a run down of everything she has done wrong with no guidance beyond *be better* just sounds like bullying to me. She is in an impossible situation, she can’t ask her superiors to stop giving her feedback, but having a monthly morale beating on her calendar can’t be doing anything for her performance or mental health. There has to be a way that she can advocate for herself here and I wish Allison had given an actual script for it.

    I wish I could give an actual script but the only thing I can think of is to make them slow down in the meeting and write EVERYTHING they say down. When you are writing everything, they can’t just spew words at you non-stop, because you will have to ask them to slow down so you can catch everything. They will also feel good because they will feel heard and will automatically start to soften their words. Or, they will start to feel like they need to be careful with their words in case they need to defend them later.

    In future meetings you can keep referring to previous meetings notes, things like “yes, you mentioned that last month – since our last meeting I took that into consideration and made the following improvements…. do you have any additional guidance on this topic or should we move onto a new topic?” If they want to rehash the same stuff over and over again, try naming the problem explicitly – if you are trying to make improvements but they wont recognize your progress, tell them. If you feel like the 2 against 1 dynamic sucks, tell them.

    1. irene adler*

      I think you may be onto something here.
      If nothing else, it’s a big sign of poorly trained managers.

    2. Colette*

      An employer giving their employee feedback is not bullying, even if they’re doing so ineptly or it’s unpleasant for the employee.

    3. GooglyMooglies*

      I was in a very similar situation to LR#3, and it’s as you say: after a point it felt like bullying, but not the kind I could call out because it was just “well-meaning.” But after a year of being told I wasn’t good enough, being berated for not prioritizing correctly, being told “if you don’t know something, ask” and then being told “you should know that already” when I DID ask…. I can only say, it’s not you, it’s them. Or rather, it’s both. You aren’t suited to that job. Not because of any personal failing, but because your strengths don’t correspond with the needs of the position, and your bosses aren’t the amazing mentors they might fashion themselves out to be. Start job hunting, and looking for positions that are either lateral moves, or only tangentially related to what you’re doing now. The background of your current job will give you insight into the overall business, while placing you in a different position more suited to your strengths (or rather, less dependent on areas in which you struggle). It also provides a chance for empathy for others in the position you’re in now – I was in admin, and was frankly only average at it at best, and now in a non-admin role I try to offset the burden I place on the admin team as much as I can. Wishing you the best of luck!

      1. Observer*

        But after a year of being told I wasn’t good enough, being berated for not prioritizing correctly, being told “if you don’t know something, ask” and then being told “you should know that already” when I DID ask…. I can only say, it’s not you, it’s them.

        There is not enough information here to say that, although I will admit that the original letter and the one post from the OP inclines me to believe that this is probably not the case.

        We had a person who would probably have said the exact same thing as you- and they did, in fact, complain about being told to ask and then being criticized for their questions. But the problem was that they asked about things that they had been told MANY times, including during meetings where they were the only person not taking notes. THAT was what they were being criticized over. If you are hearing something new to you, and don’t understand, by all means ASK! But if several people met to go over process X, you are the ONLY one not taking notes and then ask a question the shows you got it precisely backwards, yes, people are going to have an issue.

      2. LW3*

        Googly Moogly, This is exactly what I’m talking about. They always waver from “You should ask” to “You should know this.” We are all being asked to wear a lot of hats, and all I want is just a little recognition that I’m not a complete failure, because I hadn’t been before, and the restructuring with our department expanding but not staff has increased everyone’s workload. I’m expected to get everything done within 8 hours a day and that includes event planning, ordering supplies, coordinating for meetings, reimbursements, travel, facilities issues, office moves, and a million other things I feel like I do. I’m not asking for a cookie for coming into work on time, which I think some people are saying. I just think everyone has their strengths and weaknesses, and at least they could say I’m doing some part of my job well without minimizing it.

        1. Sea Anemone*

          They always waver from “You should ask” to “You should know this.”

          Do you already carry a notebook around? Can you start recording the questions you ask and the answers, including when they tell you that you should already know something? Getting a pattern together will tell you whether they are really wavering on what you should know or if it just seems like that. If there really is a pattern to when they tell you that you should know something, that will help you know what you need to learn on your own.

          Elsewhere I suggest that you make an agenda for these meetings. I suggest that you add an item where you review things that you did really well. Since you know that they tend to minimize your wins, be prepared with polite responses to reiterate that you did that thing well.
          “I successfully coordinated 8 vendors to deliver supplies for the event on the 8th with no errors.”
          “Well, you probably really enjoy event planning.”
          “Thanks to my attention to detail, there were no vendor mishaps at that event. Moving on, I processed the travel reimbursements for 3 out of state team members who had to attend with no errors.”

    4. Feral Fairy*

      I feel for LW 3 but I don’t think there’s enough context here to determine if the managers are bullying. I don’t think that sitting down once a month with an employee who is struggling and informing them where they need to improve is by itself bullying. If they were engaging in personal attacks and insults, that would be a form of bullying, but it sounds like they are just giving the LW criticism on areas where they really do need to improve. From their perspective, they are giving the LW a chance to improve before resorting to something like termination, but maybe they have been unclear about this to LW.

      Having meetings once a month with an employee who is on thin ice and not giving any sort of positive feedback isn’t the best management practice, but I don’t think it rises to the level of workplace bullying.

    5. Salsa Verde*

      This is interesting, I read this completely differently. On second read, the OP doesn’t say if they are correct about her shortcomings, she doesn’t say what her improvements are in relation to what they are asking, she doesn’t even say if they are actually offering suggestions on how she can stay organized and on top of things. She is hearing them tell her what she is doing wrong, and when she tells them what she thinks are her improvements, they minimize that. I don’t think we can call that bullying, I think that is them giving her feedback about her performance. She doesn’t actually say they are mean about it, she doesn’t tell us if what they are saying is inaccurate, so I don’t think we can call that bullying.

      I do not think the purpose of the meetings is to motivate her, I think it’s to let her know that she’s not meeting expectations, which is what a supervisor should do. As Alison noted, they might not be clear enough about expectations, and that is a problem, but what really jumps out to me is that this is a bad fit and the OP needs to reframe how she sees the situation, or start looking for a new job, or both. But thinking that the answer is stopping the meetings indicative of a poor understanding of the situation.

      Also, I always want to meet with my boss monthly and I always ask him if there is anything he would like me to start doing, stop doing, or keep doing so that I can get feedback on my performance. I think employees should want feedback on their performance, which is what this OP is getting.

    6. Sea Anemone*

      Yes, I agree with this take. The feedback moves into bullying territory when it becomes a litany of wrong doing with no acknowledgement of improvement. I have also been on the receiving end of criticism that was fair to give, but not given fairly. Remember, being the manager doesn’t mean they are good at managing, so you have to fill in the gaps.

      OP, I recommend that you basically take over running the meetings. Make an agenda. At the start, just speak up by saying you want to review what you covered at the last meeting, and then actually do that. Go point and point and describe what you have done to address the feedback. Ask if what you are doing is sufficient or whether there are more actions. If they pile on more, make sure you ask what part of your performance is impact by the thing they are saying; talk through it until you have something actionable in a concrete way. An example from a previous letter, “talk 30% less” sounds actionable until you realize that you don’t know which 70% to stop saying. Then get them to give you an acceptable level of performance–a goal where you can lay it to rest, basically. Write it all down for the record, and insist that your notes, with your actionable goals and your progress, go into your personnel file.

      You don’t really have a choice here. You have to make changes. What you do have a choice in is articulating which changes are reasonable and what they look like.

      1. Anon for the nonce*

        “OP, I recommend that you basically take over running the meetings. Make an agenda. At the start, just speak up by saying you want to review what you covered at the last meeting, and then actually do that.”

        Oh, no. LW3, please don’t do this. I’m sorry, but this is really bad advice. If the bosses are bullying the LW, being spoken to this way will infuriate them and cause a blowup. If the LW is on a PIP, as many other people are suggesting, this will make it clear to them that LW has no understanding of the situation and needs to be let go. Either way, I doubt the LW will have a job at the end of the meeting.

  40. SparkleBoots*

    #4 – Definitely put the requirement in the ad, and boldface it. My workplace has a testing requirement (no vaccination requirement at this point), but I noticed they started putting that requirement in the ad, at the top in bold letters, so that you can’t miss it.

    We have other requirements as well (like CJIS and other security certifications) but I think it’s really important to highlight the ones related to testing and vaccination.

  41. Not Really A Waitress*

    I had a phone interview yesterday and the vaccine requirement came up. There was no job posting as the company reached out to me. My call was with the internal recruiter and was part of reviewing benefits THEY WERE UP FRONT ABOUT PAY. Then she asked my vax status as they require employees to be fully vaccinated. I am so it was no big deal. (And I am thrilled to hear its a requirement.) But she approached it very smoothly. It was along the lines of the required work hours, etc.

  42. Phony Genius*

    Regarding business card changes (#5), they once bought us all business cards, then all our e-mail addresses changed at once (two letters were deleted from the domain name we were using). They asked us to just blot out the two letters as they would not buy anybody new business cards to correct this, even though it was their fault.

  43. Rebecca*

    This business of never EVER “burning a bridge” no matter how abusive and insane the situation is really toxic. I know some industries are different, I know it’s better to cut ties professionally and without leaving a trail of destruction in your wake, but what on earth would a reference from this person be worth? In what way would a person who cried, was passive-aggressive, and claimed to be HURT by an employee’s request for a RAISE be relied upon to provide any type of reference you’d remotely want? Use a coworker, HR, or another supervisor-level person to verify you worked there, but skip this toxic weirdo entirely. Don’t waste your time!

    1. Little Lobster*

      These are words of wisdom. LW’s boss is manipulative, punitive, and completely worthless as a reference and a presence in LW’s life.

    2. Colette*

      The honest answer is that it depends what other options the OP has. The message isn’t that you should never burn a bridge, it’s that you shouldn’t burn a bridge you’re going to need later.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        The caveat to that advice is to recognize when that bridge is going to be on fire no matter what you do. Managers who view a request for a raise after seven years as an act of personal betrayal and ingratitude aren’t reasonable, and so trying to prevent them setting any bridges on fire is not actually in your power.

    3. TyphoidMary*

      I truly believe that being working class in the U.S. is to be in a relationship with an abuser. We’re held hostage in this system and told it’s dangerous to “burn bridges,” as if maintaining these relationship isn’t also damaging to our dignity and sense of self-worth.

      I understand why people put up with it or encourage others not to be hasty, but it’s just another way that the person with the least amount of power has to sacrifice their well-being to compensate for a systemic problem.

  44. Little Lobster*

    In regard to letter #1, I have found that references truly don’t matter. Sure, this can vary industry to industry, but I’m in my mid-30s, and since my early 20s I’ve been hopping from job to job, each time in a different industry, every 2 or so years. There have been jobs that I’ve applied to here and there that ask for references, but every job I’ve actually had didn’t ask for them. Also, given LW’s boss’s actions here, there’s no way they will give LW a good reference, burned bridge or not. Sometimes you have to burn bridges to avoid going back over them again.

  45. C in the Hood*

    Letter #1 reminds me of yesterday’s letter about employees ghosting hiring companies in that now the shoe is on the other foot. In this case, it is after the hire, not before.
    Employers: you can’t expect people to tolerate unprofessional, rude behavior just because you’re hiring or are employing them! The best employers out there, the ones who have integrity and truly view their employees as humans, are the ones who are going to have excellent retention, good Glass Door reviews, etc. If you’re not like that, then your employees & the world owes you nothing.
    /soap box over

  46. Observer*

    #4 – Please do everyone a favor and put the information in the ad, along with any other absolutely required qualifications. You will save time and energy for everyone.

    Alison’s point about attracting those who are concerned about it is true, but it’s not even the biggest benefit. Avoiding dealing with the people who are going to start arguing about this AFTER you’ve all wasted time on the matter is probably your biggest benefit.

    1. OP4 here*

      Not going to lie, our uber-boss wishes we could put in the advertisement, “Anti-vax people need not apply”, but obviously that could be provocative, especially in our area where about 30% of the population is dead set against them. After reading all the comments, I am leaning towards having it in the ad and requireing submitting proof of vaccination in the application phase since that is when we ask for driver’s license, credentials, etc. that are non-negotiable for the position

      1. Observer*

        I wouldn’t ask for confirmation at the application stage. To be honest, I don’t know that I’d be asking for all of these other documents either at the application stage. That gives you a LOT of sensitive data on people you won’t hire, that you don’t need, but that you now have a responsibility to keep safe.

  47. Anononon*

    “She/they” and “he/they” have become the convention for how to list one’s pronouns when they use both. I understand how it could potentially be confusing if you’re not used to seeing pronouns listed like that, but from my experience, this is the standard way to do it.

  48. Salad Daisy*

    #5 I learned something new today, and it makes perfect sense. I am almost always successful using preferred pronouns and use they/them when I am not sure.

  49. Matt*

    #1: Good for you for walking away from that toxic, gas-lighting environment! I wouldn’t even consider asking them for a reference at this point.

  50. Recruited Recruiter*

    OP #1,
    Your situation hurts my heart. I have been in some very similar shoes to yours. The fifth (5th!!!) time that my ex-manager called me the week after they ended my notice early (for my replacement to start), I blocked them and never looked back. I still nearly or actually have a panic attack when I see the (not particularly uncommon) name occur in my life.

  51. OP5*

    Quick Update,

    It was a fairly easy exchange asking for updated pronouns and my director was happy to let me know there is no need to be nervous and that I could come to her anytime about something like this… However, it seems the system for creating business cards doesn’t allow for multiple pronouns. Currently, my email signature and my Zoom name show that my pronouns are she/they and it’s only my business cards that do not reflect this. I guess only time will tell if that will change

    1. Sara*

      That’s too bad! Sounds like that system needs an update. Maybe it’s because I’m been involved in lgbtq discourse since I was a teen, but I’m still surprised how many people haven’t heard of she/they or he/they pronouns.

      1. OP5*

        Maybe I’ll be the one to change the system! It makes me wonder how many other people that use multiple pronouns are forced to choose for their business cards here

    2. FashionablyEvil*

      Yay! Glad to hear that it was a non-issue with your boss and here’s hoping your company’s systems follow suit shortly!

    3. Maybe not*

      I’m sure it’s a learning process. I admit I thought the purpose of pronouns was to help people communicate respectfully, so I thought one or the other would work, since both are presumably acceptable to you. I didn’t realize it was intended also to convey identity. Hopefully this will help your workplace as they come to a better understanding.

    4. OP5*

      Update to my update. We came up with the workaround of just adding (she/they) to the name field in the form that populates the business card template

  52. RagingADHD*

    I think that whole discussion went off the rails because some folks were injecting a lot of personal relationship, close colleagues, or work-friends situations into the discussion.

    And for ongoing relationships or good friends that you met through work, the expectations really are different. And, importantly, *nobody is checking business cards for folks they have ongoing relationships with!* You don’t have to, because you actually talk to them regularly.

    Of course we invest more thought and care into people we know than into the payroll person we interact with once when we get hired, and then maybe run into at a lunch & learn three years later, or “Oh, what’s their name? You know, that rep from Widgets Inc who was so helpful at the convention…where’s that business card? They’ll know what size we should order, give them a call.”

    Besides the fact that the payroll person or widget rep will neither know nor care whether you switched up pronouns sufficiently, because you talk to them even less than once in a blue moon.

  53. HungryLawyer*

    OP5, you have support from this internet stranger! Exploring your gender and relationship to the binary can be scary and illuminating and euphoric all at once. Good for you for taking that journey. I’m cis (I think) so no advice on navigating the waters other than echoing what Alison said. Sending you good vibes!

  54. Esmeralda*

    OP #2: Academia? He made up that number, because the unethically shitty pay and lack of benefits earned by lecturers and adjuncts is public knowledge. It’s been A Thing for years, debated in the Chronicle of Higher Ed, even makes the real-world news. Your chair is an asshole.

    If you are able to, in the future, call out this kind of error in public. At the very meeting where he dishes out this steaming bowl of lies. Politely, but publically. If you can’t, I’m not throwing shade at you, it’s really really hard to speak up when you have no power and are concerned about continued employment. Follow up in that case as Alison suggests.

    And also: where the hell were your tenured colleagues when this crap was announced? They have an obligation to speak up. They’re not going to get fired for it.

    $70 / hour is an annual salary of $136K btw, NONE of your fellow lecturers are earning that. Your chair *might* be making that, depending on the field and the institution. I’m so frigging angry for you…

    1. quill*

      Both my undergrad advisors would have met that number with a dead eyed stare and “that’s incorrect.”

    2. JustaTech*

      I had a professor in undergrad announce that each class we had (not course, but class) cost $70 (back in the early 00’s) which was as much as a concert ticket, and would we just blow off a concert we’d paid for?

      (The prof said this after yet another week of the vast majority of students only showing up to the Wednesday class, and leaving the Monday and Friday classes to the kids from the nerd school and the “nontraditional” students. I don’t blame him for being mad because it messed up the course for everyone.)

    3. OP2*

      Thank you. <3. Yeah I don't know that a single professor at my university makes that much (we're a small state school, not a big R1 or anything).

      I would have called him out during the meeting but I hadn't thought the math thru until later. I definitely will in the future.

    4. JelloStapler*

      Yeah $70/hr for anyone but a Dean, VP or President is laughable. And often because THEY are paid that much, the rest of us can’t be paid what we should be with experience or education.

  55. Why did I go to library school?*

    I mean, depending on how the rest of my workday goes, it could yet be that as well!

    (I wondered if anyone was going to think that, because seeing the comment sitting on its own like that reminded me of that infamous Tumblr post: “My Mom just accidentally prematurely sent an email to an accounting firm… It was supposed to say ‘I am afraid that we will have to postpone our meeting”

    but she hit send when all it said was

    Hi Jeffrey,
    I am afraid”)

  56. Meep*

    LW #1 gets me. Good for you knowing your worth and leaving immediately. They would have spent 2-weeks making sure you (didn’t) “regret it” if you had given a two-week notice.

    My former manager is like yours. She thinks anything we purchase with money we EARNED working at the company is out of the generosity of her own heart and we wouldn’t have these things without her. She also likes to play this game of pretending to be the benevolent boss who wants to give you a raise but it is the mean ole big boss who says no and/or tries to guilt-trip you for asking for a raise because the company is still “struggling”. She never understands why there is a high turnover but she never will and that is on her. Same for your former boss.

  57. Sunflower*

    #1 Employers forget “grateful” is a two way street. They need to be grateful for loyal hardworking employees. Yes we are thankful to have jobs but they are not doing us a favor and we are not doing them a favor. Work = Pay. It’s business, not personal. Crying? Seriously?

  58. Veryanon*

    Vaccine requirements – you should put in your application materials that being vaccinated is a requirement/essential function of the position and then ask if the candidate is able to comply with that requirement either with or without a reasonable accommodation. It’s like any other job requirement for which a candidate might need a reasonable accommodation, but it’s gotten weird because of how high feelings are running (either for or against) about vaccine requirements. Try to take the emotion out of it and look at it in that light; it’s like saying “I can’t work Saturdays because I attend religious services” or “I can’t stand for more than 15 minutes at a time because of a medical condition.”

  59. overcaffeinatedandqueer*

    I have something come up that sort of covers 4 and 5.

    I’m non-binary but only out at work as a cis lesbian. Government job, when I started I was under Trump, and I have seen other trans people get fewer work opportunities after coming out. So I don’t want to.

    But my legal AND preferred name is on the vaccine card. I’m comfortable with being out to medical professionals, and have always had insurance through my spouse. But now work needs to see the card or fire me as of December 8th.

    Do I claim it’s a nickname even though it bears zero resemblance to my legal name? Ask HR for discretion? Just come out already? In fairness I was vaccinated in spring well before anyone even thought that an employer would need to see your card.

    1. MCMonkeyBean*

      Just to clarify: are you saying the vaccine card has two names on it? And one of them matches the name your work has? If so I wouldn’t think it would matter but I’ve never worked in HR…

      1. overcaffeinatedandqueer*

        “Legal first name “preferred name” last name”. Like how the dog shows have a great long name for the pedigree pets, but put the simpler “call name” actually used daily for the dog after the first name.

        1. LizB*

          I don’t think HR would even ask since your full legal name is on there, but if they do, “That’s a nickname I sometimes use with friends and family” should be all the explanation they need. It doesn’t actually capture the reality of your name and identity, but it’s the kind of totally acceptable half-truth people often rely on when they want to avoid getting too personal at work for any reason.

    2. quill*

      I wouldn’t think it would be HR’s business to spread it beyond asking if there was any other legal documentation they needed under your preferred name. but yeah, we need someone with HR experience in here.

    3. Observer*

      Only you know what the actual risk of coming out is. Although i would imagine that coming out might be a relief. But regardless, asking HR for discretion should be a no-brainer if you have competent HR. These are people who (should) know that you don’t discuss or disseminate personal information without a need to know.

  60. EE*

    Is there an opportunity to not disclose gender identity? I do not have a gender identity and as such would not feel able to supply pronouns.

    1. TyphoidMary*

      Hi EE, how do you want people to talk about you in the third person? Would you just like them to use your given name all the time? I have known people who prefer that.

      I’m agender and also do not experience gender as part of my identity, so I like people to use “they” if they’re talking about me when I’m not around.

      1. RagingADHD*

        Not caring how people refer to you in your absence is also a valid position, if that’s the case.

        1. EE*

          Thank you. So long as the suppliers of these business cards felt the same way – that I was free to leave that area blank, and would suffer no discrimination as a result – I would be in no discomfort.

      1. EE*

        Delighted to hear that, OP! The world is wide and it’s so it’s unlikely I’d ever be in your particular organisation, but I would not want to be faced with that question as mandatory, and now I know that if I were it would not be held against me. I hope Alison’s answer can help you with matters going forward.

  61. Anon for this*

    OP1 – I can relate to this. Back in my late 20s, the boss’s husband, that did all of the programing in the office, and I were working late on a project. I walked across the parking lot to grab some fast food and got him something that cost 2 dollars and I said not to both paying me back (it was 2 dollars).

    The next morning the boss comes in and screams, in my face, that I’m trying to sleep with her husband (using the expletive). Because I got him food that cost literally two dollars. I left and never came back – I didn’t even pick up my final check because of how toxic that last interaction was. The boss kept calling and leaving voice mails and telling ME I was being unprofessional. I kept that job off of my resume and ended up going back to school for my PhD anyway.

  62. Sindy*

    LW#3 – You don’t have to accept this abuse ritual and you don’t have to listen to anyone trying to tell you that this is normal and that you need to put up with it. Start looking for a new job because your boss has no interest in providing you with constructive feedback. The fact that your boss is downplaying your accomplishments in order to keep berating you is the proof. Start seeking a new job and quit after you’ve signed the new employment contract.

    Even in this comment section there are people trying to convince you that being verbally abused and minimized by your boss is normal. Even if it was normal, that does not obligate you to accept. Don’t fall for it.

      1. American Job Venter*

        Scheduled ritual denigration of an employee is abusive. Some of us who comment here have been through that, so-called meetings about performance that were just regularly scheduled lectures about how utterly terrible in all ways we were.

        But the thing is, that’s one possibility for what LW#3 is going through, but it’s not the only one. I have been mulling this comment as I read the discussion, because based only on what I see in the letter, LW#3 could be being subjected to such regularly scheduled extended putdowns, could be being counseled sensibly and regularly on how to improve her job performance and needs to take the advice under serious consideration, or anything on a spectrum between.

        TL:DR: what LW#3 is experiencing could be an abusive pattern. It also might not be. I think pointing both possibilities out, and the range between, is the most useful advice.

        1. Mental Lentil*

          Yep, I prefer this answer. It could be, it could not be, it’s really up to LW to decide. But it’s good to give them some options depending on how they see this.

  63. Bookartist*

    PSA as a creative production director: please do not be shy about fixing any kind of typos when we send you the proof of whatever it is were sending. No one in creative cares about your pronouns; but they do care about having to redo work that they did before.

  64. Leela*

    LW #4 put it in the description not only for candidates but to spare yourself the following:

    -having Hiring Managers/Recruiting sift through dozens of resumes not knowing who is/isn’t vaccinated trying to put together a good candidate shortlist
    -having Hiring Managers/Recruiting do extra calls/interviews that are never going to lead to an offer
    -during that time, losing really good candidates you DO want to other offers they have while you’re clearing out the backlog
    -being (correctly) blacklisted as a company that has secret requirements they don’t put in the job description and candidates only find out after doing work to try and get hired, which can keep good candidates from applying

    As an immunocompromised person I really appreciate the policy!

  65. Kotow*

    Definitely put it in the ad! It will allow people to self-select out if it’s a deal-breaker and avoids wasting everyone’s time. Just listing it in the ad as an essential job requirement takes the emotion out of it and it will avoid a lot of headaches and arguments.

  66. Beautiful, talented, brilliant, powerful musk-ox*

    The chair in #2 is giving me some big, “It’s one banana, Michael. What could it cost, ten dollars?” vibes for some reason.

    1. OP2*

      As an Arrested Development fan, this pleases me immensely. I’m just gonna imagine Lucille Bluth whenever I talk to the chair in the future.

  67. employment lawyah*

    2. Should I correct my chair about the low amount I’m paid?
    Yes, but do the work to be sure you are right. And understand he may be using a different analysis. E.g.:

    If you work for 8 hours and are paid $80, you’re getting $10/hour.

    HOWEVER, If you work 9-5 with a 30-minute lunch and two 15-minute breaks, and if you don’t count those as “work,” then you’re getting paid $11.42/hour.

    And if you also get free vacation, you’re getting even more an hour.

    And so on.

    1. Mental Lentil*

      How is vacation “free”? That’s part of my compensation; if I don’t take it, it’s like leaving money on the table.

    2. Beautiful, talented, brilliant, powerful musk-ox*

      I have never in my 16 years of working both hourly and salaried jobs seen so many backflips done to explain what someone is making. Either you make $10 per working hour or you don’t. Either you make your yearly salary or you don’t. Yes, breaks happen because we’re human, but anyone who is factoring in 15-minute breaks in order to say that someone is making more than they actually are is probably a literal robot, confused by human nuance. And any unpaid breaks are usually factored into shifts if someone has set hours.

      And vacation doesn’t factor into any of it. Either you’re paid your standard wage for the number of vacation hours you take, or you aren’t. There’s nothing to factor in that would change an hourly pay rate, and if anyone is actually trying to do that, run for the hills, because they sound bananas.

  68. Boof*

    OP 5 – if it’s any consolation, business cards are REALLY CHEAP (I mean, I used to make my own for random side hustles that were more like hobbies – really cheap!). Getting more / getting adjustments shouldn’t be a big deal.

  69. RB*

    #1 The part I was disappointed in is that the bad boss’s boss also sounds kooky, like he was taking the side of the bad boss and not seeing how crazy that perspective is.

  70. SnappinTerrapin*

    Alison, I understand, respect and appreciate your sensitivity in limiting debate on pronouns.

    For context, I am socially very conservative, but I’m working through this process with a beloved grandchild. I love my family, even if I have trouble wrapping my head around the concept of gender dysphoria. Whether I understand anything else about it or not, I realize it is a real phenomenon. I won’t always handle it right, but at least they know I love them, respect them, and will do my best to treat them as I would want to be treated if the shoe were on the other foot.

    The way I see it, love and respect are the most important things I can give my family. With God as my witness, I will do my dead level best to live up to that, so long as I breathe.

    I also appreciate you leaving in Rift’s sincere question and the helpful replies. That exchange was helpful to me.

    Thank you, and the commenters who respected Rift’s question and answered seriously and thoughtfully.

    1. OP5*

      This comment really made me tear up. This is all we can ask of you, trying your best. I’m sure your grandchild appreciates you supporting them even if you don’t understand gender dysphoria. Your love and respect is what we need at times like this

      1. SnappinTerrapin*

        Thank you.

        I’m far from perfect, but I try to be a better person each day than I was the day before.

  71. Hank Stevens*

    I must admit I’ve cried on the inside with some of the wage increases I’ve approved as I watch my business profit margin erode in this hyper-competitive job market, but I would never put that on an employee. They have every right to ask if they are doing good work.

Comments are closed.