blackballing people who didn’t work this year, my coworker is bad at Twitter, and more

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

1. Blackballing people who didn’t work during 2021

I overheard my brother saying something that I find problematic (to say the least).

He and his friends, all of whom are managers at various companies, have an informal “pact” that they’re trying to spread. Basically, they’re tired of the labor shortage impacting everything from the global supply chain to how long they’re forced to wait in drive thru lines.

To that end, they’ve all gotten together and have decided that once the labor shortage is over (whenever that is) they will all refuse to hire anyone who didn’t work during 2021! Like they’re going to just bin the resumes once they have the option! Is it just me or is this really icky and gross?

It’s not just you. Your brother is in fact being icky and gross about the terrible tragedy that he has to wait in longer drive-thru lines while people are dying.

Please point out to him that his plan would illegally discriminate against women (who have disproportionately borne the brunt of the childcare crisis during the pandemic, resulting in many of them dropping out of the workforce) and people with disabilities (some of whom couldn’t safely work in-person during the pandemic or couldn’t work at all because of Covid-related health problems). Way to try to use his hiring power to harm those people.

You should also suggest he run his plan by his company’s legal department, who will explain to him why he’s being an ass.

2. My coworker is bad at Twitter — should I say something?

I work in a field where it’s common to maintain a Twitter account for networking, resource-sharing, and promoting one’s work. My colleague Ben has been very active online since he started in his current role several years ago and has amassed a significant number of followers. Ben’s grasp of tone, however, is tenuous at best. He’s not a troll or abusive, but often comes across as sanctimonious and self-important, and will often pursue a disagreement well past the point of productive debate. Since people know we work together and Ben has a high profile online, it’s not uncommon for people to ask me if he’s as awful in person as he is on the internet (he emphatically is not; he’s actually a very good colleague). Ben has expressed to me privately that he believes people in our shared professional space actively dislike him, and while he’s a little paranoid, that’s probably true — but it’s mostly because he’s so bad at Twitter. We are at parallel stages in our career and I know he’s invited into far fewer collaborative projects and shared spaces than I am, and I think that this is because his online presence is so off-putting.

I don’t know that Ben, however, has made this connection himself, and I’m sure whether to bring it up. If this were a friend outside of work I would definitely raise the issue, but since this is about how he presents himself professionally using an account that is not technically affiliated with our employer, I’m not sure how best to proceed, or even if I should say anything (our manager is probably vaguely aware that there are social networks out there besides Facebook; I don’t think she’d be much help here). This isn’t about badmouthing the job or trolling others; it’s about him making continual, unforced social errors for a few thousand people to read.

Tl;dr: my colleague has a bad, but not actively mean, social media presence that I believe is hurting him professionally; should I talk to him about it?

It sounds like he’s already talking to you about it, so yes! Although he hasn’t specifically introduced the topic of his Twitter account, he’s confided in you that he thinks people don’t like him — so why not be candid and say,  “Dude, your Twitter account is pretty off-putting, and it makes people wary of working with you.” And maybe, “I don’t think you can have a Twitter account like that and a good reputation in the field — you’ve got to pick one or the other.”

3. Should I mention my coworker’s anti-parent stances when I leave?

I will be notifying my supervisor of my intention to resign from my position within the next few weeks. Overall, it has been an excellent position and I enjoy my team and my supervisor.

While not the reason for my resignation, I’m wondering how or if to address some concerns about another member of the team. This other employee and I are both the right hand of our supervisor, and previously I did not want to alienate my supervisor by expressing concerns about the other person who is considered to be her close confidant. That said, this other employee (who was my supervisor before I was promoted) has repeatedly said things that were problematic about children and maternity leave. For example, I have heard her say of others with small children that it was their choice to have kids and it shouldn’t be her problem to have to cover for them when they have a sick kid. She told me many years ago that she didn’t think I would last in the office, because she thought I would leave to focus on my family. Following my return from maternity leave, I discovered that she had treated my team unfairly and when I approached her about it, she said, “Well, that’s what happens when you leave for three months.” These things have stayed with me and regardless of how she might say the right thing sometimes (usually when she’s in front of other people), I believe that I understand her true thoughts on employees with families and it has tarnished my experience in an otherwise supportive office environment.

I want to say something to my manager. I don’t believe she knows that these things are said out of her earshot, and I know she wouldn’t be okay with it. But I’m hesitant because (1) I don’t want to make my manager’s life harder by leaving and then also casting doubt on this other person, and (2) I want to use these people as references in the future and I don’t want this to override the good will that I have built up. Do I just leave it be? Are these comments innocuous enough that I brush it off? Or do I say something, knowing that would be potentially causing more chaos and complicating existing relationships?

Yes, please say something. Your coworker is in a management position, and your company has a legal and ethical responsibility to ensure that she’s not discriminating against parents* or subjecting people to a hostile work environment for taking family leave. Based on what you’ve described, it’s highly likely that she’s doing both those things and that her staff is subject to the same sorts of comments you’ve heard from her.

I’d be deeply upset if I found out someone didn’t tell me one of my employees was doing this because they didn’t want to make my life harder or more complicated! Your manager needs to know. (If it helps, put yourself in similar shoes — how would you feel if your staff didn’t tell you about something legally/ethically sketchy happening on your team because they thought it might be a pain for you to deal with?)

* Parental status isn’t a protected class in most U.S. jurisdictions — but when something has a disparate impact on women, as parenting stuff at work generally does, sex discrimination laws kick in.

4. Should higher level managers be available at all times?

I’m curious about your perspective regarding a conversation at my workplace recently. One of the higher level managers was lamenting the fact that some of her peers (other higher level managers in different departments) were out of the office and unavailable. She feels that at a certain level, managers should be continuing to keep work moving, even when on approved PTO.

Our employer does not allow comp time or work from home, so any work done on approved PTO (vacation, sick, etc.) would not be compensated in any way. These managers would be using PTO but still keeping at least some things moving and being available to their staff and colleagues.

What’s your take on this? At what level would this seem appropriate? At what point does it become exploitive or is it not exploitive for managers at the top end of the pay scale?

Whoa, no. There are some jobs where that can be an expectation at certain times. For example, if you’re overseeing a high-profile project and want to get away for a few days in the middle of it, the price of doing that might be that you’ll need to be available for questions or sign off on a draft. Or if a significant crisis happens, in some jobs you know you’ll be getting called regardless of whatever else you might be doing. But constant availability isn’t generally a default expectation, and it’s definitely not true that at a certain level managers should never be able to disconnect! Even many CEOs manage to take vacations where they fully unplug for a week or two or longer.

5. Can an employer require overtime?

My husband works insurance in claims, and they have regularly imposed mandatory overtime during periods of high volume or low staffing, even before the pandemic. They recently assigned four hours per week for an unspecified period of time, and today upped that to seven hours a week.

We have two small children and I work full-time in an exempt position. This is a serious logistical issue, as well as impacting our quality of life. Can they legally do this? Based on past experience, if he tells his boss he is not able to work this much overtime, he will be asked to detail why, when others who also have families make it work. I’m already burnt out just thinking about it.

They can indeed legally require overtime. He can try to push back, including explaining that he’s the primary caretaker for your kids when you’re working. But ultimately they can hold firm if they choose to. If that happens, it might make sense for him to look at jobs with hours that fit better — which is obviously not an easy or an overnight solution, but might be the most practical if those really are the conditions of the job.

{ 512 comments… read them below }

  1. Stephen!*

    For #1, I left the workforce due to long-haul Covid, and now have to figure out a new career path, as the virus threw a hand grenade into my long term life plans. I mean this in the nicest way possible, but honestly, people who think like that can f off.

      1. Whimsical Gadfly*

        That was my thought. Sucks to not get the job, but managers like that are exactly the kind I want to avoid. I doubt that they are great (or even decent) except for this one blind spot.

        Might be a matter of dodged a bullet for them to toss my resume…

        1. Valkyrie*

          Right? Someone that callous is going to be a nasty piece of work to work for (e.g. I imagine him having unreasonably high expectations of staff, excessively critical, probably demeaning toward parents who might need a day off or wfh time if they have a sick kid, etc.). It sucks when your desperate for a job and will take just about anything and suck it up for a year or so in order to have something current on your resume, but still….

      2. Trillian*

        Agreed. If it is a job seeker’s market, then let’s let the bad-attitude managers select themselves out. Is it Napoleon who said “Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake.”

          1. KoiFeeder*

            After a quick google, the phrase (more or less) first appears in 1836, from Archibald Alison’s record of the French Revolution. Now, whether Napoleon actually said this or Archie made it up himself will remain unknown.

            1. quill*

              I mean, it would have been in french, so we’ll take the exact accuracy of the translation with a grain of salt. Thanks!

      3. Librarian of SHIELD*

        I wouldn’t even want to work *with* someone who made this hiring plan. If I found out another hiring manager in my organization wanted to do this, I would be scheduling appointments with HR and legal immediately.

      4. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        Honestly, if this pact becomes a thing, I hope the participating companies’ names become public. I don’t want to accidentally apply for a job at one.

        1. MoreFriesPlz*

          It’s not going to become a thing on a larger scale. It’s idiotic and most people have been paying enough attention during this pandemic to understand that it doesn’t make any sense for the reasons Alison described and many more. This sounds like a few assholes (sorry OP) at a few companies, not a wider movement with any chance of taking hold.

      5. LifeBeforeCorona*

        With that attitude, he’s doing a favour to people who were out of work in 2021 because it was freaking 2021.

      1. NerdyKris*

        I think we should be a little restrained about it, given that it’s the LWs brother. People can be mad about someone’s actions while still caring about them.

        1. banoffee pie*

          Of course. I didn’t mean OP should do anything in particular. I obviously won’t be able to control that either way anyway. I was replying to the commenter who had long covid – I meant that commenter shouldn’t bother being nice about it. I doubt they’ll ever meet this brother of the OP.

    1. AnonSibling*

      Ah, how do I say this without triggering a profanity trigger…
      I have a brother who was very much this kind of a bleeping scumbag, as a high level manager in his industry to boot. His judgemental ways made employees and family miserable.

      1. OhGee*

        My immediate reaction to this was, “Wow, what a scumbag!” I would NEVER want to work for somebody with that attitude.

      2. JohannaCabal*

        I made the mistake of reconnecting with a distant relative on social media. Every other day, all they do is complain about “poor service” and that “everyone needs to go back to work.”

        If they were a manager, I could see them doing that….

        1. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

          I’m so frustrated with this attitude that I can’t help saying:
          “How much more are you willing to pay for X to get it faster?”
          “Isn’t $FailSon out of work? Why don’t you have him apply?” (Cause these folks always seem to have one)

        2. EPLawyer*

          You know why there is a labor shortage? because people realized that $7 an hour is NOT enough to put up with jerks like this.

          Okay not the only reason. But if his biggest complaint after all everyone in the WORLD has been through is he has to wait in drive thru lines, he’s 1) pretty lucky and 2) pretty self-centered.

            1. Librarian of SHIELD*

              Every time people complain about the labor shortage without mentioning that part of the reason we have fewer workers is that *700,000 PEOPLE HAVE DIED* I just want to scream.

              1. Philly Redhead*

                I brought that up once, and they’ll just say “they were mostly old people who lived in nursing homes and didn’t have jobs.”

                1. Lenora Rose*

                  Older family members (who weren’t necessarily in nursing homes) do child care and other household support for families with kids, which means those people are *not there* during a child care crisis. Plus, not everyone who died was old, and many were “essential workers”, which often means exactly the fields going begging now.

                  More than anything, though, along with the people refusing to go to work for peanuts when they can (and in many cases did) get better paying jobs, there have been more than a few cases of people testing those claims of “nobody wants to work” by putting out resumes, and noticing *lower* than average callbacks even when they stick to those locations where management has been seen or known to be complaining “nobody wants to work”. That’s not the actions of a company genuinely desperate for workers.

                2. The Original K.*

                  I hit those people with the fact that the pandemic has also been a mass disabling event – long COVID is real and people’s ability to work has been curtailed by it. I know someone with long COVID who can’t walk for more than 10 minutes and can’t move faster than a walk at all, and she was a healthy active 30something before. There are also cognitive issues (“brain fog”) associated with long COVID.

                3. Hillary*

                  I’ve been doing some back of the envelope math on this – without a lot of research, I came up with ~3 million people who left the workforce. 2 million people retired early (I think it was WSJ but don’t remember where I read it), COVID deaths are undercounted so call it a quarter million people in the workforce who died, and probably a million people (mostly women) left because they didn’t have child care. I don’t have friends who’ve left the workforce over this, but everyone who has small kids is in a holding pattern because they need the goodwill they’ve built at their existing jobs to deal with quarantines and school closures.

                  Even if the women return (and it’s a chicken and egg problem now because the ones who need care the most are usually the ones who can least afford it) that’s still over 1% of our workforce gone permanently. This is structural change.

                4. Whimsical Gadfly*

                  @Hillary, I looked up the difference in possible workforce size and participation rate versus 2019 not long ago to respond I don’t recall the exact numbers but both are smaller than they were. And doing the math of a smaller percentage of a smaller workforce was just a bit under 5 million fewer people if I recall correctly. So your numbers match what I saw.

              2. Iris Eyes*

                See also the massive decrease in people allowed to legally immigrate who might have filled those roles. So that’s another couple hundred thousand work force participants that should be here but aren’t.

              3. Gothic Bee*

                After they ended the supplemental unemployment pay here I had family that kept wondering “Where are all the workers? They aren’t getting unemployment anymore, why don’t they want to work?” And it frustrates the heck out of me because like, not only did a bunch of people die, but you have parents (mostly women) who quit to take care of kids, people disabled and unable to work due to long covid, people who retired early if they were able because no one wants to work during a pandemic, etc. So of course all of that also means that a lot of jobs have opened up, so of course most people are not going to want to go work crappy hours for crappy pay at some minimum wage job.

                1. curiousLemur*

                  Also, how many people are going to risk their lives for minimum wage? It’s unreasonable to expect people to do this if they have other options.

                2. Fran Fine*

                  My company has had a ton of retirements since the start of the pandemic. It’s fascinating to watch because we also had a hiring freeze last year, so many of those roles just…disappeared I guess. When we resumed hiring, we didn’t replace many of our retirees and I’m not sure if there’s a plan to down the line either.

          1. Aquawoman*

            I also would bet big that these are the same people who think the minimum wage shouldn’t be raised because those are jobs for teenagers, not adults and if adults want to make more money, they should go find another job. So they’re all complaining now that people “don’t want to work” at jobs that they’ve been told for years are not worth working at.

            1. LifeBeforeCorona*

              Also, several parents I know are refusing to let their teens get retail/fast food jobs because of the vitriol from the public and lack of PPE at some workplaces. It’s not always the money, they genuinely fear for their child’s safety.

              1. too many too soon*

                Any jobs dealing with the public are fraught now. I know people who work for a public library who are spat on for asking patrons to wear masks. No one signed up for being covid cannon fodder.

              2. Gothic Bee*

                Pre-pandemic, a fast food worker in my city was literally shot by a customer over a dispute about a drink (the worker survived). Covid’s only made it worse. Not surprisingly, companies here generally didn’t enforce mask wearing even when it was mandated. I can’t think of anything I’m less surprised by than the fact that there is a labor shortage for fast food/retail.

              3. Finance Friend*

                My teen got a fast food job, and quit because the management was treating them all so terribly. When he called out sick they required a doctors note to return, even though he didn’t have covid symptoms or provide medical insurance. Twice the entire staff walked off shift and closed the shop because they didn’t like working for one abusive supervisor. They didn’t honor his requested schedule when he started high school again. Despite having a difficult time staffing, they still thought they could treat employees poorly. Nope!

            2. DJ Abbott*

              I have one of these jobs. It’s physically demanding work in five, six, or seven hour shifts with one 15 minute break. Everyone has paid the same regardless of how long they’ve been there, and there are no raises.
              Obviously no one with better options is in this job. I took it partly to be with people, partly to supplement unemployment comp, partly because I was tired of being unemployed… and mainly to get customer service experience. It worked! Now I’m getting interviews for better customer service jobs. :)

              1. DJ Abbott*

                I should add, I’m lucky to be in an area where mask mandates are followed and enforced. I would never have taken a job working with the public if I couldn’t wear a mask. My employer requires it too. And I’ve had all three vaccine shots.

        3. DataGirl*

          Unfortunately this is my dad. And he has dementia so he forgets that we’ve already argued about this all before a million times. Last time I really lost it and said something like ‘the reason there are no people working in food service is a lot of them DIED’*. He had no response to that one at least.

          *I haven’t seen any national studies yet, but a report out of California showed that construction workers, warehouse workers, and cooks/food service were jobs that saw the highest rates of deaths by COVID.

          1. TootsNYC*

            cooks especially, even more than servers, I read. And cooks is one of the categories that’s most hurting restaurants because they can’t find them.
            (and this is after a story a couple of years ago in the WaPo about how many factors, including low pay, are reducing the “supply” of restaurant chefs, with one factor being decreases in immigration from Mexico and other Hispathenic countries)


            And then there’s another subtle but significant change happening across America that doesn’t bode well for the restaurant industry. After years of steady inflows of Mexican immigrants, who have proved both eager and talented cooks, the trend is reversing itself. The number of unauthorized immigrants living in the United States has leveled off over the past decade (it peaked eight years ago in 2007). By 2012, net migration to Mexico was already zero, or even negative, meaning that more Mexicans were moving out than moving in.

    2. SittingDuck*

      Or what if someone worked, but at a job they don’t put on their resume. I worked in a kitchen this summer, something I’ve never done before, and not my career path at all. Now that I’m applying for jobs more in line with my skills I don’t list this job because it’s not relevant. Another reason a policy like this is ridiculous.

      1. Fran Fine*

        Yup, though I hope you’re still putting it on your application in case the companies you apply to have people working there that think like OP’s brother and are looking for gaps in employment, even during a pandemic, smh.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          Even without a pandemic, though, a gap doesn’t mean you were lazy or didn’t want to be working. During the pandemic, a lot of jobs went away; however, depending on where you live, there might not have been much to choose from even before that. With so many places shutting down, the pickings have grown even slimmer.

          1. Fran Fine*

            Exactly. It’s rough a lot of places, pandemic or not, so people need to be mindful of that and not so rigid in their thinking.

    3. Falling Diphthong*

      As much as the letter makes me want to whack some heads with a clue-by-four, it is at this point a small set of people sulking en masse about a revenge fantasy.

      I can foresee future meetings in which someone nods over his beer about how, yup, now that applications are picking up he’s definitely totes going to do that thing they talked about. And then doesn’t, because he has to actually hire some people and there is no way he’s explaining to his boss that he and some dudes had agreed that all of the people applying to the position had failed to give them applications to turn down two years ago and payback time was going to take priority over actually filling this vacancy.

      1. Emily*

        I agree. They’re angry about this now but there’s nothing they can do about it because the labor market is not on their side, and if/when that changes, this is not going to be a hill they die on.

      2. Observer*


        I am disgusted. But I do agree that they are probably not actually going to do this. On the other hand, this kind of gross attitude will almost certainly cause them to make stupid, ignorant and bigoted decisions.

    4. a tester, not a developer*

      Yeah, there’s so many reasons why someone would not have been working in 2021 – illness (themselves or family), death in the family, childcare, previous employer jerked them around about furlough or return to work, etc.

      Hopefully it’s just jerks blowing off steam – like the guys who talk tough about going up to the big boss and telling him right to his face that he sucks, but are all “yes sir, great idea sir” in reality.

      1. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

        That was the vibe I was getting off of this. Also, if the labor shortage is hitting them now (rather than a worsening of existing shortage), I’m guessing more a service industry front-line management type guys talking smack amongst themselves.

        1. Butterfly Counter*

          I actually got the opposite sense. They’re upset that they can’t get their Starbucks and scone as quickly as before, so they’ll not hire anyone who had the chance to work at Starbucks in 2021 and didn’t, never mind what industry they actually specialize in.

          1. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

            I think I jumped to that thought because that is the demographic I have heard complain the most about the situation in my day-to-day (lots of friends/family in retail and food service). And I get it. Many are working insane hours because of short staffing for crappy customers and for employers who refuse to make the workplace changes needed to get full staffing (e.g. benefits, not crap hours, good pay). I keep encouraging them to jump ship to employers that will actually do better, but a few are super loyal to the little local cafe/store/restaurant

      2. RJ*

        Right?! How much privilege must a person have to assume that people who didn’t work this year did it deliberately (and, by extension with this attitude, with the express purpose of inconveniencing HIM).

    5. anonymous73*

      There are so many legitimate reasons that someone may not have worked in 2021 outside of just not wanting to. I got laid off at the end of October 2020 and was unemployed for 9 months. And it wasn’t for lack of trying or being lazy either. OP’s brother is a jackass.

      1. Anon for this*

        And so many legitimate reasons brother could be having a hard time hiring now!

        My team has several open vacancies and at this point the hiring process has become something everyone on the team watches with popcorn, because the salary + benefits for the open positions are so bad there’s no way anyone would take them, and there’s a department wide betting pool going for how many people will turn down offers before someone either gives up and stops scheduling candidates to interview, or re evaluates this situation. That has absolutely nothing to do with whether there are people with the skills to do this job who are looking for work, because they exist. They’re just fleeing in the opposite direction as soon as they catch wind of what’s up.

        1. a tester, not a developer*

          We offer good pay and benefits, but had to post several times for a position on my team. The big issue for us is that the ideal candidate already knows a lot about our business, and since most departments have treated employees really well over the past 2 years people want to stay where they are. Loyalty and good treatment makes people want to repay it as much as they can.

        2. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

          A friend is trying to hire epidemiologists right now for the gloriously low state AL government salary and only people physically in her state can apply. As I am sure everyone can imagine, that is kind of a hot field pre-pandemic. Post-pandemic? Freaking not happening

      2. A Non iMouse*

        I got laid off in April 2020 and have been unemployed for 19 months – not by choice. It has been depressing, it has destroyed my self-confidence and made me doubt I am even qualified for anything anymore. Then I read stuff like this, along with the WaPo article from the other day, and it compounds all of that and makes me feel completely unemployable.

        1. Lunch Ghost*

          Yep– as someone who had long job searches in the past and isn’t really over the mental turmoil, my immediate thought was “They might have been looking!”

        2. anonymous73*

          100% Most people want to work and I’m rally getting tired of people who haven’t experienced a layoff complaining that everyone is taking advantage of the system by collecting unemployment. This was my third time being laid off in my career and I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy.

        3. Typing All The Time*

          Same. I did internships and freelance gigs to stay current and make money because I wasn’t getting a staff job. Some guy at an interview thought I was a slacker; I wasn’t.

        4. DJ Abbott*

          I’ve found working at a grocery store a good challenge. It gives me self-confidence that I’m able to deal with my mean boss and physical challenges and customers. Maybe taking a job for a few months would make you feel better.

        5. Sapphire (they/them)*

          Being unemployed really sucks, and I’m sorry you’ve been there so long. This is something I wish my friends had said to me when I was unemployed: your worth is more than your ability to generate wealth for someone else through your labor. You’re a whole person with a lot to offer that’s not measured in dollars.

      3. Rayray*

        Anyone who has job hunted in the past few years knows how incredibly difficult it is anymore, but job hunting during the pandemic was a whole other beast. I now have a five month gap on my resume and it definitely is worrying that it will affect future hiring decisions because of managers like that guy. On the one hand, sure, it weeds out some bad jobs but on the other hand, it might be an ATS or HR person I wouldn’t even be working with that would zap me out of the process. People need to stop judging employment gaps, we al have lives and sometimes the reason for the gap is very personal like Health issues, raising kids, taking care of sick family members, etc or maybe someone had money saved and just wanted to vibe for a while, so what if they have the resources to do so? A lot of people could really do with an extended break at some point in their adult lives.

    6. Lilo*

      I’m also going to point out his plan is deeply classist. I’m a lawyer and we pivoted to remote relatively easily. I have a kid and my job allowed a large amount of flexibility. I don’t think we lost any of our attorneys. It was people in lower pay jobs who really were decimated by the pandemic (losing childcare/jobs).

      1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        I also want to add to this that most, if not all, of these lower pay jobs did not offer medical insurance. Don’t know the situation now, but back in the late 90s, when my dad went to work for a family member’s business for ridiculously low pay, he and mom lost their Medicaid insurance. They did not have any medical insurance as a result between ages 60 and 63, until the family member’s business finally tanked and they got their Medicaid back. Within two months of getting it back, dad had his first heart attack. It is not outside the realm of possibility that losing that job may have saved Dad’s life.

      2. Littorally*

        Agreed. I’m in finance and ditto — my firm had little difficulty pivoting to remote, had zero layoffs and in fact hired right through the pandemic, because the money doesn’t stop!

    7. Missy*

      My brother is prone to judgements like this about others (people who don’t work are lazy and getting rich from welfare, etc.) and generally instead of fighting with him about the claims I’ve discovered that I just need to remind him of someone we know who is in this circumstance. That tends to pop his bubble by reminding him that the people he is ranting against are PEOPLE and not just some nameless mass doing stuff he dislikes. In fact, he was recently complaining about how nobody is working and anyone who didn’t work this year should have to pay higer taxes or something. I reminded him HIS WIFE left her job in the middle of 2020 because she had to stay home to help their kid with virtual learning. She hasn’t gone back to work because of long haul covid symptoms and because they realized the benefits of her staying home for child care. Like, you’d think that he wouldn’t need to be reminded of it, but he is really just parroting talking points he hears on the radio or internet and isn’t thinking about them as real individual people.

      1. Cascadia*

        OMG His own wife left her job and he didn’t make that connection?!?!?! WOW. The kool-aid is strong.

      2. AnonEMoose*

        I’ve read about studies showing that people who lean more conservative tend to not empathize in the abstract. That is, they won’t empathize with people who to them are “out there” and not someone they personally know. But if it does apply to someone they personally know, then they’re more empathetic. So this is a real thing about how some people think. Good for you for pushing back; keep it up!

        1. Fran Fine*

          Yeah, but he still has no empathy because his own wife left her job during the pandemic and he’s still spewing that nonsense.

          1. yala*

            That’s where the disconnect comes in. They don’t empathize with hypothetical Other People, but they do empathize with the people they know. That doesn’t mean they realize it’s a bad attitude to have in general, just that the people they know Don’t Count, or Are One Of The Good Ones, or It’s Different For Them Because…

        2. jiggle mouse*

          This is true and sucks so hard because these folks vote to harm others, even when their own fam are harmed by the outcome of their vote.

          1. Just Jess*

            “I never thought leopards would eat MY face,” sobs woman who voted for the Leopards Eating People’s Faces Party.

            I haven’t read any comments supporting the beliefs of OP#1’s brother, but I’m throwing it out there that refusing to hire people who did not work in 2021 will NOT teach the “lesson” that he wants taught.

      3. Jay Gobbo*

        “…but he is really just parroting talking points he hears on the radio or internet and isn’t thinking”

        This. I talk about this constantly with my wife. So many people — especially here in the US — just parrot what other people say and don’t think critically. It’s beyond frustrating -__-

        1. londonedit*

          It’s the same in the UK. So many people just parrot opinions they read in the gutter tabloid press or on Facebook, with no critical thinking whatsoever. This is precisely how Brexit happened.

        1. Fran Fine*

          She probably agrees. I mean, her reason was understandable – she left to take care of her kids. She’s not getting rich off government assistance like these other moochers (and people who think like this need to get a grip – nobody is getting rich off unemployment and food stamps, smh).

          Hypocrisy is real with these types.

      4. Florida Fan 15*

        Aside from the other issues, I’m intrigued as to how someone is supposed to pay more taxes on income they didn’t earn. I’m a tax attorney and, the last time I checked, there is no provision in the Internal Revenue Code for “income you could have earned but didn’t because you’re lazy”.

    8. The OTHER other*

      And it’s not just wrong for all the reasons LW and Alison mentioned, it’s also just illogical. He and his cabal of villains are “sick of the labor shortage” so they plan to… keep people out of the labor market? It makes no sense.

    9. sharkie*

      Exactly! I am in the sports industry and covid messed everything up! I took a “covid job” to pay the bills and keep the lights on but I don’t list it on my resume because it is not really relevant to my career path and doesn’t strengthen my resume. This attitude is BS.

      I hope you are recovering Stephen! and things start looking up for you

    10. Dust Bunny*

      So . . . is the LW’s brother planning to not-hire all the (men, mostly) who did not, even before COVID, pick up the domestic slack? Because I would bet that the definition of “not working” varies a lot depending on who you ask.

      (I know that’s not what he means, but still.)

    11. Lucy P*

      LW’s brother is making the assumption that everyone who didn’t work made that choice on their own. What about the people who actually were laid off and couldn’t find equivalent work? Or people who were furloughed for most of the year, with hopes to return, only to eventually be laid off?

    12. Just coming!*

      Right?! I thought the don’t care about the risks/anti vaxx crowds were hard enough to deal with, and now there are people like OP1’s brother who think people weren’t working this year for a laugh. It really boggles my mind that there are still new ways people can be shitty about this pandemic

    13. Some dude*

      I have a friend in the restaurant industry, and he won’t take jobs with managers who complain about people who didn’t work during the pandemic because they are lazy freeloaders who would rather not die than make minimum wage or whatever. It’s a sign to him that the manager doesn’t give a crap about their employees and isn’t worth dealing with. He has the privilege of being choosy, though.

  2. PollyQ*

    #1 — Hiring pacts between managers at different companies could also theoretically violate anti-trust laws. But obviously, it’s a really, really crappy thing to do, and would actually hurt the companies by eliminating candidates who might well be the best-qualified ones.

    1. I Am A Lawyer, But I Am Not Your Lawyer*

      Not theoretically. Actually violate. There are several ongoing prosecutions of individuals and companies for entering into anti-competitive criminal agreements to restrict the labor market. Criminal prosecutions. Anyone working in this space should familiarize themselves with the DOJ’s guidance:

    2. DrRat*

      The only possible reply to an idiot family member saying this is a huge sigh, an epic eye roll, and the response, “Okay, you want to give me the names of your co-conspirators now so I can make a note? I assume I will be called to testify against you in the upcoming class action suit…”

  3. Elizabeth T*

    #4 — if you are on PTO – then you are not at work. (my view emphatically)
    Yes, crises can happen, but that is by definition unplanned and serious negative consequences.
    When a manager of a medium sized company, my boss required us to be either on PTO or at work. If we were on vacation, he didn’t want us working. I think was both because he was a nice person, but also it had some legal issue about the company’s liability for you doing work if you are off somewhere.
    e.g. if you’re working, then company is required to cover you for OSHA and tax issues. If he couldn’t assure you are safe while working, he didn’t want you doing it.

    1. M_Lynn*

      It sounds like the problem isn’t that staff aren’t available while on PTO, but that they aren’t delegating tasks and providing clear instructions to their staff on how to move things forward while they’re out. Things shouldn’t come to a stop just because someone is out- shift deadlines, give instructions, delegate decision-making power to others, etc.

      1. LW4*

        LW #4 here. That was a point I made during the conversation. A strong, flexible organization should have people able to cover for each other. We have one high-level, long-time manager that has significant responsibilities. If he ever left the company, we’d have a tough time getting his work covered. We’d get it done, but it would be easier if he allowed others to share his workload when he’s out.

        We’re a smaller company, but to me that’s no excuse for not ensuring coverage so people can be out on PTO undisturbed and for continuity when vacancies occur.

        1. Rayray*

          I definitely feel you. I was in a similar situation a few years ago. There were tasks I had that no one else did and I was always asking if I could just cross train someone for when I went on vacation or was sick and also because I was planning for my exit eventually. I once went on vacation and came back to mountains of work because no one covered for me even though management was always telling me not to worry about it.

          When I resigned, I think they did have some panic meetings. No idea how things were handled but I certainly tried and tried to get things taken care of and they refused:

          1. kitryan*

            This! I would love to have competent cross trained people to fill in for me so I don’t have to scramble when I get back or worry while I’m off, but due to issues with the office and the job itself, it’s either not happening or happening very slowly.

      2. sofar*

        A lot can depend on workplace culture, too. I’ve always planned for my vacations (looped people in to cover for me and created a shared doc with The Plan). But many companies are “everything is an emergency!”-type places, and I’ve had people reach out to me in a panic about something that was CLEARLY in my OOO plan. I’ve had managers planic and double-assign work they assumed wasn’t being done b/c they didn’t “have time” to read my OOO plan OR our shared tracker, both of which showed the work as clearly assigned and in progress.

        I’ve also worked at places so short staffed that asking anyone to cover would entail them working very long days, while still reaching out to me for help every day. Or, in some cases, nobody with my level of access/training worked at my company, so nobody had access to the tools needed to fill in. At one point, my designated filler-inner decided last-minute to take a vacation during half the time I was gone for my vacation (while I was on vacation).

        At such jobs, I learned to forego the planning (which took a lot of time anyway), leave no plan, put up an OOO message that was essentially, “I’m off until x date, good luck,” ignore messages and deal with the s*** show when I got back.

    2. Dutchie*

      Not only that, but making sure people take uninterrupted leave is an excellent way to discover fraud.

      1. LW4*

        Very true. I used to work in banking and certain positions were required to take one or two week vacations annually I suspect at least part of that policy was for this very reason.

        1. AllysonwithaY*

          I also have a banking background, and that is exactly why. Its to make sure anyone covering their tracks has that ability taken away for a period of time.

        2. Beth*

          It is, or at least was. The mandate would have been to take two unbroken weeks off at least once a year, which allowed certain background audit processes to be run in the absence of any given person. (The processes ran every week, regardless of who was in or out.)

  4. Elizabeth T*

    #1 [insert profanity here]
    There are far too many reasons someone might be out of the commercial workplace this year.
    If your burger at McD is a few minutes longer, he and his buddies ought to tell the manager to offer better pay & benefits in order to get more people applying for the jobs.

    and then talk to the company’s lawyer

    1. Well...*

      Also what if someone didn’t work because the market DID tilt in workers’ favor and they WERE waiting for a better salary/hours/whatever? What’s so wrong with that? How is that any different than what every company does every day?

      People aren’t slaves you can force to work under conditions you dictate just so you don’t have to wait in line for fast food/go to another grocery store to buy toilet paper. My God.

      1. Scarlet2*

        Yeah, they all like the “law of supply and demand” until it tilts in workers’ favour.
        They’re also probably the same people who used to say “if you don’t make enough money, get another job”… until people did exactly that.

        1. Harper the Other One*

          THIS. It infuriates me how the very people who love to smugly say “well you should demand better/get a better job” are now throwing hissy fits over the fact that people… are.

          1. The Original K.*

            Exactly. “If you don’t like it, leave.” [workers leave] “Wait, no, not like that!”

        2. Rainy*

          We had an assistant director like that in my office, and when people started actually getting other jobs–and we lost capacity at crucial times, institutional knowledge, and social capital in key partnerships–she was SUUUPER shocked.

      2. Anony*

        Sitting out of the workforce altogether/being choosy is one thing, but if they are collecting benefits, that’s kinda crap. I 100% support higher minimum wage and better working conditions, but I don’t support an informal strike on the governments dime.

        1. OhGee*

          What are you talking about? If someone who was out of the workforce due to long-haul Covid, and they collected benefits, would you be upset? Why is simply staying out of the workforce during Covid any worse? Here’s one (of many) examples: my dad is in his late 60s. He’s not in great health, but he can’t afford to retire. He works in hospitality, and his workplace laid him off early in the pandemic. Then they reopened, much too early. My dad didn’t want to be exposed to Covid, for himself AND for my great-grandmother, who lives with him and is in her 90s. He collected the (meager) unemployment in his state. He started working again recently, but he got by on unemployment, including the extra unemployment and the Covid stimulus checks, for more than a year. Does that count as an informal strike on the government’s dime? Where, exactly, would you draw the line between “appropriate” sitting out and “inappropriate”?

        2. ecnaseener*

          As the others have pointed out, they *aren’t* collecting benefits at least in the US.

          Aside from that, I’d like you to challenge your assumption that people “sitting out” while collecting benefits could’ve afforded to do anything else. Lots of formerly-working parents (let’s be real, mothers mostly) had to stop working while their kids were at home – not because they didn’t need income but because it was impossible.

          I’d also like you to challenge your negative opinion of people who, in your words, strike (hold out for better conditions when existing conditions are bad) on the government’s dime (you know, the government that exists to serve the people).

          1. londonedit*

            Yeah, there was/is a lot of moaning here in the UK about ‘people being paid to sit at home doing nothing’ while on furlough (the government was initially paying 80% of wages up to a maximum of £2500 per month, and was paying I think something like 70% up to a lower cap until the end of September this year). I have a friend who works in retail – they have a minimum-hours contract, which states they must be employed for a minimum of 7 hours a week. Obviously in the Before Times they were regularly working 35 hours a week, but when they were furloughed (which they were for several months in 2020 and early 2021, as they worked in non-essential retail and those shops were closed) they were only entitled to their contracted wages – so they were getting 7 hours’ pay a week. Who the hell can live on 7 hours’ pay? But no, of course everyone on furlough was living it up on their giant government handouts (or, you know, trying to keep a roof over their heads and homeschool children and pay the bills while wondering whether they’d ever have a job to go back to).

            1. Elizabeth West*

              Yeah, anyone in the US who’s ever been on the dole (welfare here) knows there is NO WAY you get rich on it. It’s not even enough to pay bills in many cases even if you cut expenses to the bone.

              1. londonedit*

                Yep, (yet) another thing that people are up in arms about here at the moment is the government’s removal of the £20 a week increase in Universal Credit (benefit for low-income and unemployed people) that was implemented during the initial stages of the pandemic. At a time where inflation is rising, fuel prices (for petrol and gas prices for the home) are going through the roof and jobs are still perilous, that £20 a week has been an absolute lifeline for some people and now it’s been stopped. The government’s line is ‘well it was only meant to be temporary anyway’ but that doesn’t change the fact that people have been relying on that money for over a year and now it’s gone.

            2. Tara*

              Yeah, one of my friends was in the same position. And it’s not even 7 hours’ pay, it’s 80% of 7 hours, so about 5.5. Terrible.

        3. anonymous73*

          Nice try, but you can’t collect unemployment if you quit. And if you think you’re living the life of luxury collecting unemployment benefits, you’re sadly mistaken. If I had been single when I lost my job last year, I’d have been homeless.

          1. Fran Fine*

            This. What rich people do you really know who made it to the 1% by collecting government assistance, which by the way, Anon – these people paid for! It’s our money from working that goes into the unemployment coffer, so the people collecting it are just getting their money back. Why is that a problem?!

        4. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

          Hello man made of straw! Exactly what benefits do you think people are collecting at this point? If it is unemployment, that is money they paid into the system when working, so they should be able to take it out. All the special pandemic cash ended in August/September. Eviction and rental assistance is over. Are you begrudging recently disabled people SSI? Because that is the only $$ I can think of that folks could be collecting

          1. ThatGirl*

            Also, the extra unemployment benefits ending did NOT result in a rush of people going back to work, so that whole argument was pretty fishy to begin with.

            1. Bofa on the Sofa*

              That’s exactly what I was going to say! In my area, we had a shortage of workers in food service jobs & retail BEFORE the pandemic, and after the extra unemployment ended.

              I’m sure the lack of workers has nothing to do with many baby boomers (a huge generation) reaching retirement age & a great stock market that allowed some people to retire a few years earlier than planned.

          2. Ace in the Hole (LW)*

            Food stamps? In some states they’d be eligible for food assistance.

            But even if they are… it’s not like that’s a ton of money. I’ve been on food stamps. It was great – I could still eat nutritious fresh food even though I was struggling to pay for other basic necessities. But no one’s going to get rich off government-subsidized groceries.

        5. Student*

          Do you want the pandemic to end, or what? To end the pandemic, we need to create conditions where the disease spreads too slowly to propagate.

          One way to do that is to pay people to not work in the service industry, temporarily during a pandemic, so that there is less human-to-human contact. Which translates to less vectors for the disease to propagate. Less people in the service industry literally means less people across all professions dying.

          We should pay as many people as we viably can to stay home and not spread COVID, along with other measures to slow the spread, like masks, etc.

          Then, when the pandemic is over because the virus no longer propagates, we can all go back to mostly-normal. Other countries did this successfully! The US just doesn’t have the impulse control or the civic-mindedness to get it done.

        6. jiggle mouse*

          That’s actually some of my dime, and poor as I am, I demand my money be used to support people who are not working during this pandemic. Who are you to stand in the way of what the people want done with our money?

        7. NotAnotherManager!*

          Yeah, people should totally work for peanuts and be grateful for whatever shit hours retail/food service want to throw at them so they’re too exhausted from working their four jobs to make ends meet to properly strike/organize. /s

          If the job you’re offering pays less than unemployment (which is completely laughable in my state), then your job sucks and deserves to go unfilled. People have better things to do with their time for crap pay and no benefits, especially with virtual school and childcare shortages.

        8. Cat Tree*

          Yep, better for people to starve to death than for you to wait two minutes longer for your coffee (in your fantasy world as has already been pointed out). You’re ignoring reality to get high on your own self-righteous smugness. That is so pitiful.

        9. Pointy's in the North Tower*

          Covid unemployment benefits aside, it’s the employer who pays unemployment. Not the federal government. That’s why employers are required to pay unemployment taxes.

      3. selena81*

        And such a small tilt: this whole thing is about employers freaking out over workers getting uppity as soon as the stence of utter despair left the labor market.
        In reality there is still a lot of unemployment and workers applying for any job they can find (getting rejected time after time by employers who want only *the perfect candidate*)

        1. Artemesia*

          I used to spend time around country club guys — middle aged guys who spent their free time filling each others’ ears with nonsense like ‘collecting those fat benefits and refusing to work.’ Every time they were nattering about a topic I actually was well informed about they were wrong in their basic facts. There are a lot of echo chambers and entitled people who have an easy life have no idea what it is like to have no health insurance or child care or way to get to a job in the suburbs.

        2. Katt*

          I have been thinking about this lately. I have friends trying to find work and they are struggling. They’re applying to fast food or retail places that are understaffed and by all appearances are desperate for workers. And yet, not everyone is having much luck.

          Employers seem stuck on the idea that they should be able to find *the perfect candidate* that will accept minimum wage and also go above and beyond. I think that person no longer exists. If you want to pay someone minimum wage, they’re not going to be the perfect candidate because all of those people have since moved on to better jobs. And, to add to this further, pretty much everyone I know who has skills and solid work history has had zero trouble finding work this year (myself included! I got a promotion within my large organization).

          1. La Triviata*

            I’ve been reading articles that, even for places that are hiring, they use computer algorithms to go through the resumes they get. So if the resume isn’t for someone perfect or if they’ve been out of work for a set period of time, the applicant is not even considered. Which means that people who might have been good for the job, but not perfect, are shunted aside before the PEOPLE doing the hiring even see their information.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      The brother’s sense of privilege (*I* worked during Covid and YOU should have too!) and sense of entitlement (*I* want someone to fix my latte and donut NOW!”) is amazing.

      This is attitude is what is wrong in so many places.

      I will say this much: Keep doing what you are doing, OP’s bro, and brace for the fallout. Actions have consequences. This will not play out well over the long term.
      I am watching one situation where the boss has this attitude and he constantly whines that no one will work for him. SMH. Meanwhile, people are laughing at the boss behind his back. And this is where the brother is going.

      I am so lucky. I worked all through Covid. My boss had the option of laying me off. She chose not to. I had to restrict my efforts to essential work only in order to justify working. Projects got put to one side and that was a little painful- but no where near anything other people experienced. Again, this was all pure luck and happenstance, it had very little to do with me as an employee. I definitely avoid bosses with attitudes shown in OP’s example.

      1. krysb*

        Like, I worked TWO jobs through the pandemic, one of which is in food service delivering pizzas. I LOVE that people fled. I don’t care – and I was actually personally impacted by it (y’all, I was working 35 hours a week trying to keep things running, and the job doesn’t pay any of my bills). Take your power, guys, while you can. I’m here for it.

  5. Anonybonnie*

    Setting aside the moral issues with the group in #1, the logic seems lacking. They’re upset at the shortages caused by people not working in 2021 and their response is… to make sure the same people are still not working in 2022?

    1. Observer*

      LOL. It’s obvious that these people are not solution oriented. And that logic is totally not part of their tool set.

      1. banoffee pie*

        It’s just a punishment thing, it doesn’t have to make sense. They want to punish people who let the virus disrupt their lives. But who didn’t? It seems like a ridiculous position to me. Huffing at a virus??

          1. Artemesia*

            We have learned that about half of all Americans would rather their own family had no health care than that black people had some or that their own kids have no economic future as long as we can make sure ‘those people’ don’t get anything. And cruelty is absolutely. Show them how you will hurt people they hate and they will follow you anywhere. The brother in the OP is one of those people.

            1. Holey Hobby*

              We are sad little primates. The part of the brain that cares about status in the group is just hyperactive in some people. They have this desperate, primal drive to move up the hierarchy by crushing other people beneath them. It outweighs other instincts like “am I prospering? is the group prospering?”

              Authoritarians. I get really depressed, because I think they are just wired that way. I don’t think you can fix them. And they are going to do us in as a species.

              1. jiggle mouse*

                It doesn’t help that these people are hard-targeted by social/media to exacerbate their innate prejudices. People who might have been reachable are catapulted into the hate-sphere and never seem to make it back to earth.

            2. PT*

              As someone who graduated into the belly of the recession, yes you are 100% right. We did all the right things that our parents and teachers advised (go to a good school, take out loans because your wages will pay them back, select a major that shows you know HOW TO THINK over a specific skill,) and then there were no jobs, and suddenly somehow it was our fault for listening to them and not having a job. Obviously, we did something wrong, and if we’d done something better, we’d have a job right now.

              Not that they gave us crappy advice and that the global economy crashed and burned.

              1. Pointy's in the North Tower*

                I feel you. I finished my Master’s in December 2007, and it was clearly my fault that I couldn’t find a full-time job for three years and nothing to do with the fact that public libraries (who rely on *gasp* public funding) weren’t hiring.

          2. LKW*

            Absolutely. I wonder if this complete and total lack of empathy seeps into other aspects of this group of “fine young men”. The fact that they can’t for one moment consider that people have to deal with health conditions, family obligations or other circumstances astounds me.

        1. Dr Glowcat Twinklepuff*

          They are upset at the people who took the pandemic seriously because they remind them that the pandemic WAS (well, is) serious, and those who went on “business as usual” were imprudent at best. And I bet they are upset at the idea of people collecting unemployment benefit, because not even a fookin’ pandemic could convince certain people that unemployment benefit are not the devil.

          1. banoffee pie*

            Some of it comes from fear. The pandemic maybe made them feel mortal for the first time in their lives, and they reacted buy pretending it wasn’t happening, that people were overreacting, and everything would have been fine even if we all had kept packing into the pubs all through 2020.

        2. Aquawoman*

          It is a punishment thing* and the underlying idea of “how dare these people think they deserve a living wage rather than just accept whatever crumbs we throw them” reeks of classism and racism and sexism. Treating huge populations of the country as “the help.”

          *though “punish people by not letting them work for a jerk” seems ill-thought-out

      2. münchner kindl*

        Also: white-collar jobs – like managers – with reasonable, organized companies have been able to work from home, so show up as “working in 2021” in their CV: but that doesn’t help at all with not enough underpaid workers at McD, delivery drivers etc.

        Many of whom couldn’t work from home because the job doesn’t work that way, but didn’t want to risk work because of their situation.

        If he thinks McD workers, delivery drivers etc. are so important for the economy and life in general,

        why doesn’t he switch jobs to do his part to improve this?

        fight for better pay, better conditions to attract more workers into these essential roles? (That’s how managers exorbitant salaries are usually justified).

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

      Lol yes. But they did say they’d wait until they were firmly back in power and there’s no more labor shortage…wait…so they’re waiting until all of the unemployed people are back working before rejecting them for jobs they probably aren’t applying for…??

      1. Allonge*

        And they will limit their own hiring pool, because poking yourself in the eye is the best way to, like, show these good-for-nothings what is what. So there! /s

    3. bamcheeks*

      It’s infuriating, but it’s also hilarious. I would just sit there with a confused look on my face going, “What’s your goal exactly?” To recruit the best people for the job? To “punish” people who were out of work for a year by not considering them for a job at your o-so-wonderful company, even if they’re the best qualified? It’s pure rage-at-the-universe, and it’s infuriating that there are people with the power to take out their rage-at-the-universe on less-powerful people, but to be honest, they don’t have that much power: unless this becomes a widespread movement, it’s very much old-man-shakes-fist-at-clouds.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      It would be interesting to ask Brother, “If an employee lost their house in a fire and did not come to work for a week, because they had to remedy an emergency, would you ding that employee also?”
      Where does this judgy stuff STOP? There are no perfect [his definition] employees. With this attitude applied broadly, there is NO one who can work for Brother.

      If Brother worked under my watch, I would consider him a danger to the health of the company and I’d want him out of here.

      1. curiousLemur*

        “I would consider him a danger to the health of the company and I’d want him out of here.” This.

    5. Person from the Resume*

      What struck me most about the letter is that brother and his buddies are dumb. They are not going to “show” any one group their upset with things. Other hiring manager are going to hire those people from that group who are qualified.

      LW1, your brother is an idiot and not going to change. He has idiot friends. Don’t listen to any work advice from him.

      1. Observer*

        Don’t listen to ANY advice from him.

        Lack of brains and lack of empathy / humanity are a VERY bad combination for reasonable decision making.

    6. MissBaudelaire*

      That was what I thought.

      You’re mad people didn’t work so you won’t employ them? And then what??

    7. NotAnotherManager!*

      Yep, this is exactly what The Princess Bride quote, “Truly, you have a dizzying intellect.” is for.

      People have to step out of the workforce for any number of reasons that are not LW1’s bro & co.’s concern. Family health issues, their own health issues, childcare, eldercare… there are so many possibilities. Add on top of that a pandemic, virtual school, and no daycare? 2020-21 seems like exactly the time to cut people some slack.

    8. shakiras stolen purse*

      Capitalism isn’t about what actually works, it’s about power, and making sure that the least advantaged groups of people in our society are “taught their place.”

  6. AJoftheInternet*

    My brother has the problem in #2. He is genuinely listening and asking questions, but they’re phrased the way people phrase questions that aren’t in good faith. So he sounds like he’s belitting people when he’s trying to understand them.

    1. tamarack & fireweed*

      #2 is nice. I’ve had similar conversations a few times, after being invited to put in my $ .02 and having pointed out that what I have to say may be a little challenging. I preface them by saying something like this: “I’ve been on the internet for 25 years, and one thing that I learned from it is that there are people who are interesting on social media, but bores in real life; and conversely some people have an off-putting online persona, but when you know them personally they are lovely. Thing is though that those who don’t know you will judge you from how you come across online, and what I see with you is that you’re in the second case … “

      1. banoffee pie*

        Some people I know IRL are nothing like themselves online. I’d love to know what some of the people who comment here are like in real life. The same as they come across on screen, or really different??

        1. alienor*

          I’m pretty quiet in real life and very outspoken on the internet, and people have said to me, “Wow, I didn’t know you were so feisty!” (Not in a bad way, in a “you should speak up more often” way.) But I’m the same person with the same thoughts, I’d just rather communicate them by writing than talking.

        2. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

          I’ve been told I am exactly the same. For example, someone who had previously only known me online picked me out at an IRL event for a group we were both members of solely based on my turns of phrase. I was kind of tickled because I want to be the same person in both places

          1. banoffee pie*

            That’s cool! I think I’m pretty much the same too, but I’m not sure because I’ve never met anyone I met online IRL

    2. Willis*

      The good part about #2 is that the OP actually thinks her highly of the in-person version of her colleague. So at least when she has the conversation with him about his Twitter posts, she can point out that his online argumentativeness is masking his good-natured, in-person personality. It’s a much easier message to deliver than if he just had a bad personality overall, and seems like something that would be easier to change on his end. My guess is he’s trying to create some thoughtful content/discussion and isn’t realizing how’s he’s coming off.

      1. selena81*

        He is obviously not a hopeless rage-aholic or some such.
        Many people don’t realize how they come across to other people, so she should definitely tell him. Especially after he asked her. All signs point at him being gratefull for such feedback, and able to change his behavior.

      2. Aquawoman*

        I think it’s especially helpful that other people have mentioned it to LW2 and she can rely on that. It’s easy to dismiss one person’s opinion, but when she’s had multiple people ask her about it, not so much.

    3. Junior Assistant Peon*

      My friend’s wife is one of these. She keeps getting into screaming matches in Facebook mommy groups, genuinely doesn’t understand how obnoxiously she comes off online, and is constantly complaining that people are randomly snapping at her on the Internet.

  7. Fran Fine*

    OP #5

    As a former insurance claims adjuster in the commercial property/casualty industry, yes, overtime is a thing during periods of high work volume and it can be mandated. It never was for me (since I was exempt), but we were strongly encouraged and incentivized to work as many hours as we could in a week during catastrophes like Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria. Exempt adjusters were given free breakfasts and lunches for doing more than 40 hours a week as well as given time-and-a-half every pay period as a bonus since we technically weren’t allowed to receive OT pay like our non-exempt support colleagues. But I know other divisions in my company that did require OT of their exempt staff during CAT season, and that was one of the reasons I ultimately ended up leaving the industry (the burnout was REAL).

    Unfortunately, this is just the nature of the business in many cases and your husband may need to transition to a non-adjusting role within his company to work straight hours.

    1. OP #5*

      He works in claims, so not an adjuster, but he’s been there for fifteen years and this degree of mandatory OT is new. It’s not part of a CAT team (though he’s been on those before) it’s just because of staffing challenges, like the whole country is experiencing. Previously, four hours a week was the most that had ever been asked and it was only for a few weeks. Then it jumped to seven and goes at least until the end of the year. I’m not sure why they think running their current staff into the ground is going to help their staffing issues.

      1. Fran Fine*

        It really isn’t- it’s going to cause them to leave. I was the 11th person in my department who left the company entirely in a 12 month period, and not all of the people who left were adjusters. Some were our support staff and some were in data analytics. There was just so much work, and we had so little people, that it became unsustainable.

  8. banoffee pie*

    Removed this and the long derailing thread that followed full of personal sniping, debates about birth control and overpopulation, and anti-kid stuff. – Alison

  9. Observer*

    OP #1 – It’s a shame that your brother and his friends are not going to be around for the pile on I suspect they will get (unless you send it to them).

    In addition to what has already been said, this bunch is clearly ignorant as all get out. Do they know nothing about what has been causing the supply chain issues? The so called “great resignation” is actually the least of the problems in the supply chain. How anyone who hasn’t been living under a rock is not aware of things like the chip shortages, port and trucking backlogs, and that little thing called Covid-19 that shut down factories and whole provinces, is beyond my comprehension.

    Although it’s pretty certain that the “Great Resignation” was certainly exacerbated by people like him and his buddies. Because lots of people decided that if they are going to work a minimum wage job, at least it shouldn’t have to be doing work for abusive people like them.

    And abusive it is. “I’m mad so I’m going to *punish* anyone who I can get my hands on even though they actually didn’t do anything wrong. But they remind me of the time I was inconvenienced so SOMEONE must suffer” is not a sane, reasonable or useful response. But it IS the tantrum of a petty dictator.

    You might also want to point out to your brother that HE might wind up on that list if he’s not careful. One thing that smart companies are realizing is that if they want to keep good people, they need to treat them well. On the other hand, even without that much competition for workers, people with really bad attitude are not an asset. Which means that HIS job is not as secure as he thinks it is.

    1. BethDH*

      OP should tell them that they shouldn’t buy equipment or supplies from any of the companies that had supply chain issues or shipping problems, too. After all, they should be punishing everyone who interferes with their lives going exactly the same as they used to, right?

    2. Be kind, rewind*

      Yeah, they’re trying to assert whatever measly little control they have in their lives. It’s immature and disgusting.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      Abuse of power indeed.

      It’s aka as “corrupt management”.

      At this rate Brother could end up working at the drive through window… if he’s lucky.

    4. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

      Yeah. LW1, forward the responses to your brother and update us on any reaction (although I suspect it will be doubling down on a bad idea)

  10. tamarack & fireweed*

    #5 for earth-shattering emergencies during a senior manager’s PTO they could be expected to pop up at least briefly. Like, the office burned down; someone died; a pandemic breaks out; the FBI raids the premises. Even if it’s say the loss of a major client, negative press from a data breach, or the resignation of a key employee it’s good to know that the manager at least sends around a reassuring emails, pointing people to where they would get immediate help and what will happen after your return.

    But everything else – no. People need vacations. Managers as well, AND managers set an example.

    1. Mangled metaphor*

      The kinds of emergency that warrant bringing a senior manager back from holiday should happen, at most, once per employment period.
      If you’re working for a company where a crisis happens either every year, or every time a senior manager takes a vacation, that’s not a company to work for long term.

    2. LW4*

      Agreed that at the highest levels (C-suite), there may be some limited times that PTO could be interrupted, though even those should be rare. I worked at one place where the VPs could cover many of the emergencies that might occur in the president’s absence.

      I also agree about everyone needing vacations. At one office that I managed in the past, I made the mistake of trying to prove myself by going well above and beyond, working too many hours and being constantly available. That worked into expectations that were much too high to sustain. I had to take my laptop everywhere, even on vacation, and keep work moving at all times. Of course, that led to burnout and negative impacts to my health. I couldn’t convince my boss to lower the expectations to a reasonable level, so I found a different job.

    3. Cthulhu’s Librarian*

      If the FBI is raiding the premises and wants to talk to a particular member of management, rest assured the company won’t have to interrupt that person’s PTO…

      1. tamarack & fireweed*

        I was more thinking along the lines of “FBI is raiding the premises and a senior manager who is *not* busy assisting the authorities with their inquiries interrupts their vacation to give reassurance and guidance to their team”.

    4. Allonge*


      Maybe sufficiently senior managers should be checking their email enough that they can, say, forward / delegate some tasks that are coming only to them, and definitely they should be contactable for ‘the sky is falling down’ issues (in a reasonable manner, if you are cave-diving in deep Antarctica, you don’t pick up).

      But the expectation here seems to be that they just work anyway while on PTO? Which is really weird. We have delegation and out of office replies for a reason.

      1. LKW*

        A good out of office message directs the recipient to delegates “For issues around system a – call Jane; for issues around System B call Wakeen”

        I might glance at my phone but I’m not logging in. It’s my vacay!

        1. Lily Rowan*

          Right, and if it’s at likely to be necessary, Jane and Wakeen should know how to reach the vacationing leader in case of emergency. (I tell people to text me if they need me because I’m not looking at email.)

    5. EPLawyer*

      THIS: People need vacations. Managers as well, AND managers set an example.

      If people see higher level managers are available 24/7, they will think they have to be. And that way leads to burn out and lost productivity. The losses from having a manager not available for something immediately will pale in comparison to an entire company too burned out to function.

      1. Eldritch Office Worker*

        YES. Or you’ll think that’s what happens at a certain level and the way to prove you’re ready to take on more responsibility is to work until you burn yourself into the ground.

        I’m slowly and deliberately unlearning work until you burn yourself into the ground habits. I ignored a 9pm teams message last night, that was big for me. But especially if you’re a CEO and have early career people working for you, they are watching and absorbing what you do. Set a good example.

      2. What Comes Next May Shock You*

        We recently had to hire a replacement for a manager who was a 24/7 full speed workaholic. One of the few things I appreciate about my soon-to-be-ex-boss is that he very firmly said–to the whole company!–that the new hire he was introducing is amazing and no one should be expected to keep the pace set by the former manager, here are the working hours to remind you.

        (‘Course, then he goes and works on vacation, answers and sends emails at all hours, etc.)

    6. doreen*

      I have one of those jobs where I am expected to be available by phone 24/7 – and I am still not expected to be available when I’m actually on leave.

    7. ExplorastoryNZ*

      In my company, only permanent employees can be managers, and every permanent employee MUST take two consecutive weeks of leave a year.
      It’s a security thing I gather.

      You would only be exempted to check your emails / make or take work related phone calls if a *significant* emergency happened, like an earthquake or a new lockdown. And even then, you would need your managers approval.

  11. Bill*

    LW #1 Please tell your brother he’s a gigantic ass. Then, let the Holy Spirit activate, activate, activate within you, squash him and kick him in the crotch.

  12. CatCat*

    There are so many reasons #1 is so dumb. I think once they’re outside their l’il self-righteous echo chamber and actually having to hire, I seriously doubt any of them are going to be dumping resumes of top candidates over this. I mean, even if they did, what’s the end goal here? Make sure your competitors get the top candidates? Lol.

  13. Observer*

    #3- What your coworker has been saying is not CLOSE to being innocuous. What she’s been saying and doing is unethical, bad management and could present legal issues. She’s making assumptions about people based on their gender (you won’t last because you are going to have kids), she’s pushing back on some probable legal requirements (FMLA may very well be involved in parental absence for sick children and many jurisdictions have legally required sick time which must be available to use for sick dependents), and she retaliated against and AND YOUR STAFF for your taking FMLA.

    Even if the company is too small for the FMLA to kick in and there is no mandated sick leave where you are, it is STILL bad management and hugely unethical. What kind of person punishes a team because their manager took leave?! That’s just horrifying.

    Tell your boss. Stop worrying about causing problems. The place already has problems! If your telling her causes some drama, it’s a better problem than having such a terrible person and manager in place.

    1. Apricot*

      #3 – It might also benefit your coworker in the long run if you mention it to your boss, because your coworker sounds like they really resent people who take time off due to childcare-related reasons, and it might be because they get all of those people’s work dumped on them with no discussion, no additional conversation, no consideration, etc. Often (not saying for sure this is what happens at your office, but it could be) childless people are the first ones to have extra work dropped in their laps because it’s just assumed they don’t have anything else going on, when that’s definitely not true or fair. Your coworker might have some reason for not speaking up, so you talking to your boss may lead to your boss reexamining how they distribute the workload or how they’re supporting this coworker.

  14. CW*

    #1 – Yes, your brother is an ass. So if you got laid off in 2020 during the deepest and darkest days of the pandemic, and still can’t find a job in 2021, does this mean you will never work again in 2022 and beyond? Your brother is what is wrong with with the working world.

    But yes, your brother can f*** off. He doesn’t sound like the kind of manager I would like to work for. And if you ask me, this kind of action is just a childish tantrum. It is very sickening.

    1. Sherm*

      Yeah, it looks like a friend of mine will have been unemployed for all of 2021 except for a bit of freelance work. “The job market is tight” is a generalization that does not apply to all people, places, and fields, and it is cruel to exclude people who were earnestly looking for work all year (not that it’s great to exclude people who weren’t looking).

      1. Old Admin*

        Same here, a good friend of mine is a freelance developer who just lost his second contract this year after just a week. Walked out of the lab, probably has to go to court to get paid.
        The first contract was even worse – months of negotiations through two agencies until my friend could sign. He even bought his plane ticket because it was such a rush to get started ASAP!! Then suddenly “HR is off for holidays and can’t sign off”, “now the hiring manager is on holiday” etc. etc. until the contract fizzled out and ghosted him.
        The entire year has been like that for freelancers – companies turning on a dime (yes, Covid, economy etc.) and mistreating/dropping/pushing them in the worst way.

        But these freelancers are NOT LAZY!!!

    2. JohannaCabal*

      #1 This is why too many candidates who end up out of the workforce will lie and pretend they are still currently employed.

      Back in 2009 I was laid off earlier in the year, got a crappy job for three months and was then fired. Quite a few less than ethical folks told me to just pretend I was still working to make my candidacy look better. Ultimately, I did not (I will admit that I did lie on a few apps and did not check the box asking if I’d been fired, something I regret more than a decade later).

      Not that I agree with lying but having been there I can understand why some candidates would do it (and if I hadn’t found a job by October 2009, I may very well have gotten desperate to do it…I was in a bad place that year).

  15. learnedthehardway*

    Wow!! I think OP#1’s brother and cronies need to be called out for their asinine, selfish, sanctimonious, and frankly cruel attitudes and plans – to their employers, if possible. Let them have a little taste of their own medicine – perhaps they’ll learn some empathy from experiencing an interruption in their own employment, as a natural consequence of espousing an attitude that is so blatantly unfair, de facto sexist (since women were the group most affected by job losses due to being the ones most likely to be expected to remain home with children), and that would deprive their employers of potentially good, motivated, and productive employees.

    Beyond the people who LOST THEIR JOBS during COVID, or who had to put their careers on hold to take on full-time childcare and education responsibilities (mostly women, so what a completely SEXIST attitude for anyone to have), or who were SICK with Covid, or who LOST family members and were grieving, or who experienced burnout and needed a break, or who were or who had family members who were immune-compromised, frankly it’s not any of OP#1’s brothers or anyone else damn business why someone didn’t work during COVID.

    OP#1 – may I suggest that Santa deliver a stocking full of coal and a switch to your brother and his friends this year? Seems appropriate.

    1. Mangled metaphor*

      Coal always struck me as an odd “bad gift” choice. Polluting though it may be, coal still has a use, especially during the cold months of December (in the northern hemisphere).
      Santa needs to update his gift rules – a flaming bag of pig manure would be far more appropriate.

      1. fhqwhgads*

        I thought that was the point though? Coal is not useless, but it isn’t fun. So if you’re an ass all you get is a practical but unexciting item. Don’t freeze to death, but that’s as fun as it gets.

    2. learnedthehardway*

      Oh, and I forgot to mention last night – but the “Great Resignation” trend is as important to your brother and his friends as it is to the millions of low-wage workers who are opting out – just as unions made better working conditions the norm in the labour unrest of the early 20th century. Your brother BENEFITS from the decisions of low wage workers to opt out! – in terms of employers being forced to recognize that they can’t treat people like expendable, exploitable resources, but rather that they have to provide decent pay, work conditions, and treat them like human beings.

  16. Sleeve McQueen*

    #1 Your brother needs to be put on a PiP and if he doesn’t lift his behaviour, you should consider managing him out of the family and hiring a better brother

  17. Teddyduchampssleepingbag*

    #5 is kind of my situation. My job is mandating overtime and if we don’t work it and catch up on the work we are behind (specifically because of absolutely ridiculous and daily policy changes nobody can keep up with, lack of consistent training, total lack of organization, and poor leadership) they will mandate 7 day work weeks every week until we get caught up.

    They want everyone working 6 am to midnight Monday through Friday until the end of the month and cutting our hour lunch breaks in half. We know if we don’t do this we will just be working 7 days a week until we are caught up. So the majority of us are sucking it up and working like this so we can at least have weekends off still. It’s remote work so at least I don’t have a commute I guess.

    1. Anima*

      Uhm, that sounds horrible (and would not fly legally were I (Germany) because it doesn’t give you enough resting time in between shifts). Any chance you could leave? Or push back as a team? OT is sometimes fine, but 6am to midnight????? That’s basically only sleep and work for 5 days a week!

    2. Boof*

      For most people that’s no nearly enough sleep to be worth it; productivity probably falls off at the 60+ hr mark – whyyyy

    3. bamcheeks*

      what! This is completely outrageous, and it’s nuts if this is legal. Are you unionised, and if not, is there a labour standards board or anything you can contact to find out exactly how this breaks labour law?

      It completely defeats the object of the 40 hour week if companies can mandate unlimited overtime. What the heck?

      1. ecnaseener*

        Yes, it’s legal in most places in the US. There’s no federal limit on the number of hours (adult) employees work in a week or amount of downtime between shifts.

          1. New Jack Karyn*

            They can be required to pay overtime if you go over 40 in a week (if you fall into one classification of workers).

        1. James*

          Sort of. It depends. And it’s changing.

          Some jobs, such as those requiring a CDL license, do in fact have limits on hours and mandate the amount of downtime between shifts. And OSHA is increasingly aware of the role fatigue plays in workplace injury. The company I work for has a fatigue management plan as part of our safety plans which sets limits on the number of hours we can work without approval–and our safety managers pretty much have said they won’t approve any deviations. This is increasingly common in the construction industry and adjacent ones–not universal by any stretch, but it didn’t exist ten years ago (for all practical purposes) and now at least forward-looking companies are doing it.

          This stuff largely doesn’t apply to office workers, but again, that’s changing. A LOT of recordable injuries occur in office environments. I work for a company that deals with hazardous waste and remedial sites and UXO and all kinds of fun “screw up and you die” stuff, and something like half our injuries come from office people tripping and breaking their wrist or ankle. It’s a fun bit of trivia to quiz new safety officers on, and it’s a good way to remind people of the importance of housekeeping. OSHA is aware of this trend, and is looking into it. Not sure how this is going to play out–my fear is that they’ll make an office safety plan and that’ll be the end of it–but there’s definitely an indication that SOMETHING is going to happen.

  18. Well...*

    #1 maybe your brother should quit his job to work at his local drive through if he’s so concerned about how long the line is.

    Oh, the pay and benefits aren’t good enough? Interesting.

  19. Talula Does the Hula From Hawaii*

    You should also suggest he run his plan by his company’s legal department, who will explain to him why he’s being an ass.

    Well put :D

    1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

      For added irony: suggest he go out and get a law degree so he can explain it to himself.

      What’s that? He can’t afford that or has no interest in doing that work?


    2. Corporate Lawyer*

      As an in-house lawyer, I can tell you I would be DELIGHTED to explain to him, in excruciating detail, why he’s being an ass. Such a conversation would make my whole week – maybe even my whole month.

      1. Delta Delta*

        Lawyer here, but not a corporate lawyer. I’m guessing it’ll make not only your month, but maybe the whole holiday season because this guy will argue with you and tell you why you’re wrong, and you’ll get to tell him repeatedly why you’re not wrong.

  20. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

    OP1: well I guess it’s AAM rage week for me…

    This whole ‘people who are unemployed are just lazy’ thing is a very, very long running and pervasive attitude in modern society. It’s related to ‘anyone on benefits is lazy’ and ‘anyone can get a job if they bothered, there’s no reason to be out of work, places like stores are always hiring’.

    With the lovely bit of ‘anyone out of work during a pandemic is lazy’ that I’ve personally encountered. I spent a lot of 2020 in a mental state that meant I couldn’t work, couldn’t do much of anything really, but if I even let slip that I wasn’t job hunting or expanding my skills during that time unemployed I’ve got a lot of ‘well, you’re just lazy’ comments.

    If there’s a problem with jobs being available and nobody wanting to do them it’s more likely that they pay absolute crud or the working conditions preclude a number of demographics (I ranted a lot about the (UK) supply chain issues but I’ll never be able to drive a lorry or work in a store).

    1. UKDancer*

      Definitely! Driving lorries is not easy and as well as physical capability it requires a lot of driving skills, a reasonable degree of spatial awareness to maneuver the lorry and a willingness to put up with some pretty insanitary rest stop conditions. You really don’t want just anyone driving a lorry because you’ve got a 44 tonne killing machine in the wrong hands, so you need to be a bit careful who is in charge of it. If people don’t want to drive lorries any more then that doesn’t entirely surprise me.

      1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

        Nor me, I got a lot of respect for haulage professionals. Even after one nearly killed me (he wasn’t paying attention to the motorway so that’s just bad driver in general).

        I work with a lot of train drivers, that’s another ‘in charge of massive machinery for not great pay’ job that I couldn’t do – and we do have a shortage of drivers! But, again, not everyone is suited to it.

        1. londonedit*

          Ah, reminds me of the old ‘earning £65k a year sitting on your arse’ chestnut that’s always levelled at Tube drivers.

          1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

            I once tried to read the railway operating regs that all drivers/signallers/control room staff are required to be absolutely perfect on. Damn thing is the size of an old London telephone directory.

        2. a tester, not a developer*

          In my city we have a serious shortage of bus drivers now. Apparently a lot of them reached their breaking point dealing with terrible people in 2021, so they’re switching over to short haul trucking. Better pay for similar hours and nobody cursing them out/assaulting them.

          1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

            A lot of our train drivers have HGV/Bus driving backgrounds. It says something that the famously knackered UK rail system is a better employer.

            1. UKDancer*

              Train driving offers better hours I think and is also more social. One of the major issues with lorry driving is it can be quite an isolated job as you’re on your own for long periods of time, don’t always have a social network due to working odd hours. It can be quite lonely. Whereas I think driving trains is more sociable, better hours and more standardised terms and conditions and you’re part of a larger team.

              Given a choice I would definitely opt for driving a train.

              1. Elizabeth West*

                The only time I ever even came into contact with a Tube driver was on the DLR. He sat at the console in the front of the train and I sat next to him and pretended to drive while taking a video. People chuckled indulgently and one regular commuter whispered to me that he always liked to sit up front and “drive” too.

                My dad drove a truck for a long time. He liked it, but yeah, it’s very isolating. You eat in your truck, sleep in it, and unless you have a dog or a driving partner, it’s just you.

                1. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

                  The job also selects for people who can work nights, very early mornings, and weekends especially when first hired. In New York City (where the subways run 24 hours a day) all new train drivers and conductors are put on the night shift, often for years. Boston’s MBTA doesn’t run 24/7, but if that first subway train leaves the terminal at 5:23, the driver has to be there at least a few minutes before that–meaning they’re probably leaving the house by 5 a.m., and getting up 4ish.

          2. LDN Layabout*

            It’s also the fact that in a lot of places (and still is, in some, but unfortunately a lot less) bus driving/transportation used to be a completely valid career path.

            My grandfather raised a family working for city transportation and it was seen as a good, solid job vs. a low status job. That’s changed a lot since then and then people complain about the state of public transport.

          3. Artemesia*

            I hope that isn’t true where I live. Our bus drivers are wonderful. I have watched them be patient with foreign tourists or clueless American tourists and just generally go out of their way to be gentle and helpful to people riding their bus. In years of regular bus riding I have only observed a couple of instances of nasty drivers; didn’t report the worst one because I thought she might be having a bad day and didn’t want to hurt someone’s job over that. Of course I also live in a city where people wear masks without fuss in shops and transport almost without fail.

          4. JohannaCabal*

            Same here with the school buses. And I totally understand why. Not only are the pay and benefits terrible but all my friends and relative who work in education say that because of the pandemic and being at home, students at all levels are acting a year-and-a-half younger (my guidance counselor relative has had to deal with temper tantrums in the younger elementary grades which didn’t used to be an issue because peer pressure would actually keep tantrums in check, believe it or not).

            And parents have been note to confront bus drivers. It happened to my driver when I was in seventh grade. Mom got mad he “got her precious son in trouble with the principal” for acting up on the bus and just waltzed on the bus one morning and cussed him out. Bus driver, who’d worked with the district a long time, up and quit that afternoon.

            So between dealing with discipline issues and also parents, I can understand why no one wants to drive a school bus.

            1. Shiba Dad*

              To be fair, there were school bus driver shortages in some places pre-pandemic, for many of the reasons that you mentioned.

            2. MissBaudelaire*

              My city has the same problem with the school bus drivers. Can’t say I blame them, a lot of kids get rowdy after school, and the bus drivers aren’t allowed to do much about it. Even if a kid was suspended from the bus for safety issue/misbehavior/bullying, the schools pushed back because they wanted butts in seats.

              Don’t blame ’em. My oldest kid has a nasty bus driver this year, and we told her to just sit down and be quiet.

            3. Librarian of SHIELD*

              In my area, school bus drivers are paid for the time they spend driving before and after school, but not for any of the intervening time. And often the time in between their morning and afternoon shifts isn’t long enough to fit in a shift at a second job, so it’s really hard to get an income you can live on as a school bus driver.

      2. Elenna*

        Yes! I get stressed and mentally tired after just driving a compact car for a couple hours, I can’t imagine driving a lorry, especially not all day.

    2. londonedit*

      Yeah, I loved the ‘well why don’t the unemployed people just go and become lorry drivers’ comments when the supply chain issues reared their ugly head. Of course! An expensive qualification that takes months to achieve (and quite rightly so, I don’t want anyone driving a lorry who hasn’t been properly trained), and a job that promises crappy working hours, crappy pay and a lot of time away from home. People will be queuing up.

      1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

        I actually looked into getting a HGV license once, as a means of getting over a really bad fear of lorries (one hit my car). My epilepsy alone is a big NO, no way, ain’t happening.

        Several people suggested working for retail when I was unemployed, had to point out that I cannot do that work. I’m not trained for it, I have the social skills of an IT professional, I can’t be on my feet all day and my word the pay is abysmal for all the work involved.

      2. LDN Layabout*

        It’s hilarious because I have a relative who in fact is an Eastern European Lorry Driver aka the ones being first railed against and then ‘uh, can you come help?’ and he’s pointed out even with the recent incentives it’s just not worth it vs. what he’s currently doing.

        And he’s not even on an EU-EU route, even less motivation for them.

        1. londonedit*

          Yeah, turns out you can’t spend 10 years telling everyone that Eastern European migrants are going to take their jobs/also somehow steal all their benefits and then expect them to come running back to help thanks to some meagre ‘incentive’.

          1. LDN Layabout*

            And the ones willing to do it are usually the ones starting out and with less experience who are going to do it and then jump back ASAP.

            My uncle has 30+ years experience (got his licence as part of the required army service) and IS the kind of driver they want. They just won’t get them.

            1. UKDancer*

              Yes if you want someone to do a job that has significant disadvantages either in terms of working conditions or other factors then you usually need to pay them well (obviously this assumes people have a choice as to what they do).

              There is a reason that in the Middle Ages apparently tanners were some of the best paid people in the village. It was because the job was smelly and unpleasant and you were relegated to the outskirts of town. If you wanted people to do it you had to pay them better wages than the stone mason and the blacksmith. (I learnt this from a documentary with Tony Robinson).

        2. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

          When I read that they were trying to get European lorry drivers to come over to the UK to help my first thought was ‘you are going to have to offer some incredible incentives to do that’.

          What this country is offering isn’t worth it. It isn’t.

      3. learnedthehardway*

        Not to mention the idiocy of suggesting that people be truck drivers when the SUPPLY CHAIN issues mean the product isn’t even getting onshore in a lot of cases, because the manufacturers have supply issues of their own!

        1. Observer*

          I don’ know what’s going on in the UK, but right now in the US, the problem is not overseas but at the ports. And shortage of drivers is par of the problem. The thing is that it’s PART of the problem, and unless some other kinks get worked out, it’s a good bet that getting more drivers is not going to be all that helpful right now.

    3. B*

      The problem is it’s NOT an attitude in modern society. It has been an attitude in every era. Every generation has people that think the poor or unemployed are just lazy, and they are consistently proven wrong, but the next generation doesn’t get the memo.

      I recall reading an account of a woman who worked in a poorhouse (read: prison) in the 19th century saying, “These people are lazy and they need to beaten and disciplined until they work hard.” Then after a few years working with the poor, she realized that practically no one was lazy and everyone had suffered some kind of illness, disaster, or family tragedy that put them out of work.

      And the part that makes me want to pull my hair out is: If this woman figured this out in 1890 or whatever, why are we still having this argument?

  21. LDN Layabout*

    Senior management, so senior leadership team and above, should be available on annual leave but it’s for capital E emergencies only.

    One of the things I love about my current job is that they’re very protective of annual leave for people and it does make a difference for people lower down the chain when you see management take it seriously as well.

  22. A.N. O'Nyme*

    LW1, there’s also reports of people applying to the places whining about the labour shortage and not hearing back, which definitely makes it seem the labour shortage is also partially manufactured by these places. And your brother – who by the way is a jerk – is falling for it hook, line and sinker.

      1. Marny*

        Or that the signs about hiring are just meant to make customers more understanding about bad service but the businesses are thrilled to be paying fewer workers.

      2. Cat Tree*

        I see tons of signs around here advertising starting rates at $15 an hour. The $15 is in huge font. When you get close it says “up to” in teeny tiny font that is literally a tenth of the size or smaller. It is so misleading and certainly intentional.

        What gets me is that they’re probably paying a team of experts to come up with these schemes, but the idea of just actually paying the $15 an hour never occurs to them. They will pay tons and tons of money to avoid paying that money.

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      Specifics of a sting:
      Guy applied to 60 jobs in 30 days, focusing on local employers who complained on Facebook about how they couldn’t find any workers. This led to about a dozen callbacks and one (1) interview, at which the employer explained that “$10 an hour full-time” in the ad was actually “minimum wage part-time” in reality. But in the future–like if the state raised the minimum wage to $10–the job would pay that much and maybe even become full-time, who can tell.

      1. Artemesia*

        Reminds me of the old Reagan response to unemployment by waving a copy of the ‘help wanted ads’ in the paper. Same deal — turns out most of those were bait and switch or not actually linked to a real job available now.

      2. JohannaCabal*

        Or they hire them at the higher pay rate, get them to work for a few months, and then find a way to fire them.

    2. WellRed*

      I read an interesting article yesterday about this. Qualified people not even getting callbacks while companies bemoan the lack of labor.

    3. TheWaitingGame*

      I’ve also noticed that where I am at least the businesses that are complaining the loudest about the labour shortage (passive aggressive signs, “for those of you who want to actually WORK for a living”, writing in to the local paper every. single. week.) are also, coincidentally, the places that have a reputation for treating their staff pretty badly. There’s one restaurant owner here who is really aggressively looking for staff and making quite a show of having survived lockdown and now being driven out of business by lazy workers… and is also actively lobbying to not have the minimum wage brought it line with a living wage and to have workers’ legal protections pretty much eliminated. Now that some workers have options, they just don’t want to work for people like LW1’s brother.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        See, I love when these employers out themselves. Not only do I know whose company NOT to apply to, I can avoid being a customer as well.

    4. Bofa on the Sofa*

      Hmmm, so it’s not just my husband who has had that happen to him. Lots of applications, very few call-backs for interviews. Or, one place cancelled an interview and then ghosted him. I’m not sure if it’s that he’s over-educated for the jobs he’s applying to, or they assume he was fired for something serious like sexual harassment or drug use or assume he was “lazy & wanted to live off unemployment”, or they just don’t want to fill the positions they’re advertising for. (He wasn’t fired & didn’t even apply for unemployment.)

  23. Dennis Feinstein*

    Re #1
    Can the brother & his friends really not think of ANY reasons why people might not have worked this year?
    How sad that people this stupid, short-sighted and lacking in imagination are in managerial positions.

    1. Bagpuss*

      I suspect that they don’t want to. Much easier to accuse whole groups of people of being lazy / work-shy than to think about why people might have acted in the ways they did or to consider that people were not able to work for good reasons..

  24. Mellie Bellie*

    Are we sure LW3’s co-worker isn’t one of LW1’s brother’s friends? Sounds like she’d fit right in: ignorant, discriminatory and spiteful.

  25. Harper the Other One*

    In addition to ripping a strip off your brother, LW1, make sure to point out that if he wants to develop a reputation for being utterly incapable at determining who is a good hire, this is a great way to do it. There’s no faster way to make people question your judgement than to start applying a thoughtless screen like this. Tell him to imagine what his boss will say when he inevitably tosses a resume of someone the boss knows without even looking at it because there’s no 2021 work experience.

  26. katkat*

    Im a little surprised by Alisons suggested tone in #2! I read it pretty harsh. I mean, this
    good colleague is having people dismiss and not like him because he is lacking social media skills. They are something you can practise, when you get some guidance on how that stuff works. So I would have an actual conversation on the topic, atleast point and spell out the problem and evem better if you can give him resource on improving those skills.

    1. LDN Layabout*

      He’s not just lacking social media skills, he’s lacking basic social skills, which are going to be really important for people who are looking to collaborate.

      1. River Otter*

        OP says the colleague is very different in person and is a very good colleague. Your conclusion that he lacks basic social skills doesn’t follow.

        katkat is right. Colleague has specific skills that he can work on, and Alison’s “your Twitter or your job” is an overreaction. OP doesn’t have to do the coaching theirself, but if they are looking for something to say to Colleague, telling them the specific ways that their Twitter persona is off-putting would be the way to go.

        1. LDN Layabout*

          If it’s expected in your industry to use social media to connect with people and be visible, it’s pretty a basic social skill to have that presence not give the impression that you’re insufferable.

        2. Observer*

          No it’s not – She’s completely right. You can either act like a jerk in a public space or you can make good connections. You can’t do both.

          He may be different in person. But what the OP describes is a total lack of basic reasonable behavior while on Twitter. He needs to hear that just because it’s on-line doesn’t make it ok to act like a jerk.

          1. River Otter*

            Nobody said it was ok to act like a jerk on Twitter, katkat did not say that, I did not say that.

            Did you have any thoughts on what I did say, which was to tell Colleague the specific ways that their Twitter persona was off putting?

    2. anonymous73*

      Not harsh at all. If I see someone I know ranting and being an ass on social media, that’s going to make me question their judgment big time. People get big balls hiding behind their keyboards and will speak their truth, while filtering themselves in real life.

      1. DataGirl*

        I find that people tend to show their true colors online- when they think they are safe behind a keyboard. If someone is nice in person but a jerk online usually they really are a jerk, period- they just hide it when interacting in person. I am going to give LW 2 the benefit of the doubt that they know their colleague well enough to know this is a case of lacking social graces, but I can see why people would believe he’s not a good guy.

  27. Ori*

    #2 this is why the only social media I do is Instagram. I’d rather opt out than offend, and people seem to regularly misinterpret, as well as ‘misinterpret’ what I say online.

  28. Ori*

    I’d love to see a poll of why people left their jobs in 2021. I’m betting that ‘laziness’ isn’t going to be there. For me it was a combination of safety (no, I’m not coming back to a maskless open plan office) and mental health. I was completely burnt out, Covid meant all my usual support structures were simply gone, and I couldn’t cope anymore.

    The idea that some Disney villain of a hiring manager might penalise me for not wanting to further risk my life and health is chilling.

    1. Bookworm*

      This was similar to me. COVID itself didn’t take away my support, but the Great Resignation/management’s incompetence meant we were short-staffed and the pandemic made these problems all worse (plus, without additional staff it became a matter of just getting through the days).

      They wanted to return to the office and despite employees freaking out management completely dispensed with the concerns and said that it was important to rebuild the office atmosphere or whatever nonsensical management-speak it was, with no discusses of safety protocols (which they believed in, just they wanted us back in the office above everything else).

      Perhaps it shouldn’t but all the same I’m still astonished at how oblivious, willful or not, organizations are and have been.

      1. Ori*

        Yeah it was both personal and professional. A lot of the ways I manage stress were closed or limited, and my job relied a lot on external services and suppliers. I was being expected to get things done as quickly and efficiently as normal when third parties were unavailable, backed up or delayed. Workload kept increasing, the assistant I shared with another department quit and wasn’t replaced, it was just one thing after another. Being called lazy, after the last 18 months, makes me want to scream.

    2. Beany*

      True. OTOH, even if laziness *was* a reason for someone, there’s no way anyone sane would report that in a poll …

      1. Ori*

        Hah, sure! See, I’m still not on top form. I was more thinking of reasons that Bro might interpret as ‘laziness’. But then strikes me as the kind of person who would see everything in that light.

      2. Daisy-dog*

        There was a poll over the summer which gave people the option to select “Earning more on unemployment”. There were other choices as well relating to childcare and personal health & wellbeing. I know many would think selecting the financial benefit option would equal laziness.

  29. Alexa*

    Hang on, someone wants people to keep working through their UNPAID time off?

    It’s not acceptable during PAID time off (which is part of your compensation). But it is even MORE egregious during UNPAID.

    Who the heck are these monsters?

    1. LW4*

      LW #4 here. My question was entirely about paid time off relating to exempt managers/leaders. I’d mentioned there was no compensation because we have a strict policy that there isn’t comp time and we’re not allowed to work from home. In some cases, I might not might being contacted during PTO for a work issue if in exchange I could take comparable time off after I’m back from the PTO. But our company strictly prohibits that. So if I’m contacted during a paid day off, there’s no reciprocity or anything I get in return.

      1. LKW*

        I don’t think I caught that. I don’t work on my days off and I get paid PTO. Hell’s to the no that I’m going to work when I’m not getting paid. Isn’t that illegal anyway?

        1. River Otter*

          That’s part of the definition of exempt workers, which is set by the DOL. All I can say is avoid high responsibility positions if you don’t ever want to be on call during any off hours, whether they be weekends or PTO. Be warned that it’s not always something you can screen for in interviews, though.

        2. Reba*

          By “not getting paid” I’m reading LW4 as saying she is receiving money — it’s a paid day off — but she is not getting anything *back* when she exchanges a couple hours of that PTO for more working time instead. Her vacation time is converted into working hours but she is prohibited from “making up” that lost vacation on another day.

          In one way of looking at it, it steals or claws back some of your compensation (the promised paid days off).

        3. A*

          Unfortunately this is not uncommon in some industries beyond a certain level. In my line of work, director level or above is expected to still be reachable / keeping an eye on email unless arrangements are made ahead of time for them to be fully off grid. One of many, many reasons I have no desire to climb the ladder to that level!

  30. Persphone*

    Re #1… if somebody didn’t work in 2021… that’s ALSO going to be a problem long-haul. I mean, what happens in 20 years when people who were, say 10 years old in 2021 look for jobs? Or were in college and couldn’t get a job because they didn’t know what was happening in school/their job shuttered/ended up at home instead of in a college town because everything was virtual? What about folks who got stuck overseas?? Or how about parents who left the workforce for a few years to raise kids (say, in 2018) and then want to come back in 2025 when the kids are in school? Will they be kept out?

    Blanket rules like that are hugely problematic for all the reasons Alison mentioned. But also so many more! Making blanket decisions like this is just so problematic on so many fronts!

    1. Jay*

      My kid is a senior in college who didn’t work at all during the summer of 2020 and has not been doing internships during the school year. I told her no one would ever wonder why or question that. Guess I was wrong. OTOH, why would she want to work for this idiot?

  31. whistle*

    The really infuriating part about letter 1 is that I bet these guys also wouldn’t hire someone who worked at McDonald’s etc through the pandemic.

  32. Bookworm*

    #1: Your brother and his friends are why there is even a thing called the “Great Resignation” (or Reshuffle or whatever you prefer). I would imagine that this behavior isn’t limited to just blackballing people in the future but are indications as to their management approach as a whole.

    They also better not be whining about how “no one wants to work!” because again, they are exactly why.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      People don’t want to be treated like crap all day. Imagine that. /s

      This is so long overdue. I have been watching this since I started working in the late 70s.

  33. meagain*

    I don’t agree with the brother and his friends, especially when it sounds like they are in manager positions, worried about why people who were making minimum wage and exposed to the public didn’t want to return to work. That said, it was extremely frustrating to be one of the people who DID go back to public facing jobs, while it was still beyond my comfort level, because our state re-opened quickly and we were able to return to work. The coworkers who were perfectly capable of working and who chose to stay home simply to collect the unemployment and extra PUA because it was more money, rub me the wrong way. I’m not talking about people who have legitimate health reasons or child care issues or whatever. And yea, when unemployment finally dried up and they came around trying to get jobs back, we were all like, “yea, good luck with that.” We were all busting our asses that whole time. They wanted the extra money, fine, I get it, everyone should be paid a living wage. But the reality is there were going to be consequences when states re-opened, your workplace reopened, your work offered your job back, and you chose not to take it. Fine. Go for something with higher wages, better benefits, etc. But don’t expect when unemployment runs out to suddenly show up and work with people who were going in every day and working for less throughout a pandemic.

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      Fine. Go for something with higher wages, better benefits, etc.

      I’m not sure this is the devastating insult you intend.

      1. meagain*

        I wasn’t trying to insult anyone. I think people should absolutely go for jobs that have all of those things. The people where I worked who I am referring to were not out there trying to get those types of positions. They were not working, bragging about how much they were collecting not working, certainly going out to bars and not staying in at home for health reasons, told everyone they were still working for us but we “couldn’t bring everyone back yet” which was a blatant lie, then wanted their jobs backs. (Which actually does have good benefits if you are full time.)

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      Also, “We’re hiring–but we don’t want to hire any of the people actually applying for these jobs” is… maybe not going to relieve your labor shortage the way it’s working in your head.

    3. ecnaseener*

      Fun fact: Everyone had a legitimate health-related reason to avoid a deadly pandemic.

      These people are not your enemy. They aren’t worse than you for making a different choice than you, and it benefits you not one bit to be mad at them and prevent them from coming back to work.

      1. Colette*


        They’re not wrong for prioritizing their health when they were able to do so, and they’re not wrong for deciding their situation has changed and they want to get back to work.

        That doesn’t mean they should automatically get offered a job, but if you are understaffed, it seems like a good idea to hire someone who knows what they’re doing.

        And if you can’t work with someone who was off during the pandemic, you’re putting your own job at risk.

        1. meagain*

          We hired other people during this time. No, we were not going to hire back the people who were offered their jobs back, chose not to take them, and then came in to “hang out” and try to socialize while the rest of us were working. I am not talking about workers who were concerned for their health, caretaking, home with kids doing school remotely. And not every business structure lends itself to remote work. And the reality is the people who were there working took on new roles, gained more experience, were dependable, and had more opportunities than those who chose not to come back. Things moved on without those who didn’t. No I am not worried about my own job.

          1. Colette*

            If you’re not hiring, of course you won’t hire them. That’s fine. As you’ve said, you gained skills they didn’t, and others are filling their roles. I’m sure they knew when they decided not to come back that that was a possibility.

            But any reasonable person was concerned for their health. They may not have shared their concerns with you; that doesn’t mean they weren’t concerned.

            1. meagain*

              Trust me, I saw the social media pictures. They were not taking any precautions, nor were they staying in, and appear to be anti-vaxxers as well. This wasn’t about health concerns.

              1. A*

                In which case you are talking about a very specific situation. The LW was speaking to a broader blanket statement applying to all individuals who were out of the workforce. You’re projecting a it here. Understandable, but important to note.

    4. Claire*

      I’m sorry you had to go back to work before you were comfortable, that’s really terrible. I think everyone had health reasons to avoid covid.

    5. Jellyfish*

      Why be angry with those who made private decisions about their own health and finances during a crisis, but not the ones who were cool with risking other people’s lives to make more money?

    6. FridayFriyay*

      If you’re so resentful of it, why did you yourself return to work? If you weren’t comfortable and could have made more money not working, you basically martyred yourself… why?

      1. meagain*

        Because I very much like my job, my company, management, and my position. I was thinking long term. Making more money not working for a short term time, then having to go out and find another job was not appealing. The reality is that our business is public facing, in a state that re-opened quickly, and didn’t have the luxury of closing. I don’t hold it against anyone who chose not to come back for safety and health reasons. I am talking about the ones who chose the money, lied every week on the unemployment site about their “job search” when they were given the opportunity come come back, came in to “socialize” with the rest of us who were there working, were not prioritizing their health, but out at bars and parties (while wearing shirts with our companies logo I might add), lying to people that we “couldn’t bring everyone back yet” and telling us how nice it was not having to work and getting to collect that nice check – so yeah, when the benefits ran out and they showed up, no they weren’t given a job back. Meanwhile, several of us have been promoted, bonuses, and stayed on a career track. Again, if it were for actual health or family situation reasons, or even just not wanting to deal with the public during a pandemic, I understand. I would not hold that against anyone.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          If returning promptly to your job at the same low wage was really a great long-term plan, I don’t think you would harbor this resentment and desire for payback toward people who didn’t do that.

          1. meagain*

            People are free to do whatever they like. Sometimes it works out and sometimes there are consequences. I made my decisions and am very happy with the way it worked out and the position it put me in a year later. There were many factors. Yes it was frustrating in 2020 in the midst of it. Yes certain people were lazy. No that’s not widespread. I don’t care about payback. But I would never work with them again.

    7. learnedthehardway*

      My spouse runs a retail store, and sure, he’s been really frustrated that our COVID benefits in Canada meant that he was unable to staff the store. But at the same time, it’s not like the business he works for paid people while they were off work when the shutdown first happened. Hourly roles don’t pay when people aren’t working. Sure, my spouse felt terrible that he had to lay off almost everyone at the outset of COVID – the business couldn’t afford to keep them on without a revenue stream. But him feeling badly doesn’t pay their rents, put food on their tables, or provide for their families. I don’t see why people think workers owe any loyalty to companies that don’t owe any loyalty to them.

    8. Rusty Shackelford*

      The coworkers who were perfectly capable of working and who chose to stay home simply to collect the unemployment and extra PUA because it was more money, rub me the wrong way.

      If unemployment pays more than a job, the problem is probably not that unemployment is too generous.

    9. Observer*

      And yea, when unemployment finally dried up and they came around trying to get jobs back, we were all like, “yea, good luck with that.

      Which actually helps explain why they didn’t come back to work before they HAD to. Why would anyone work for a place that is willing to cut off their nose to spite their face like that unless they HAVE to?

      If you give a look at the numbers, it turns out that the number of people who stayed out of the workforce SOLELY because of the extra unemployment payments was pretty low.

      So maybe it would be a good idea to stop making broad generalization and stewing about stuff you really have no standing to judge. And perhaps, redirect that energy to find some way to work for changes that make it harder for employers to pull people back to work without basic safety protocols for situations like this. Or just redirect that energy to something that makes your life better or more enjoyable.

      1. meagain*

        I agree that the numbers of people who stayed out of the workforce solely because of extra unemployment payments is low and much lower than a general sentiment of “no one wants to work.” I am not making a broad generalization. I said I did not agree with the LW’s brother to discard any resume of people who did not work in a pandemic. My company let anyone who didn’t come back continue to collect their unemployment benefits even though they were offered their positions back. No one “reported” them.

        I was referring to how I personally felt working throughout this and having coworkers who didn’t come back to work, still come in to “visit” and try to hang out, gloating about the checks they were collecting while doing nothing, on social media out and about wearing shirts with the company logo, and then badgering us for jobs back when the benefits ran out and seeing that the people we had hired in their absence were doing pretty well. It did not go over well. I’m not saying this was widespread. I don’t believe that it was. I’m saying this was my particular experience in 2020.

    10. Ori*

      I mean, if they were actually *better off* on unemployment, that’s not saying good things about your company.

      1. meagain*

        It was a good gig for what it was. Most of them wanted very much to come back when the benefits ran out. The people who we hired in the meantime are making good money now that things aren’t shut down. And a lot of the part time people ended up being hired full time with full benefits.

        1. Delphine*

          Well, no kidding they wanted to come back when their benefits ended. Any paycheck is better than starvation or homelessness. That doesn’t make the job “good,” it just makes it the only option. Ori is right, if people were allegedly opting to collect unemployment rather than return to work because they earned more through those benefits, that doesn’t say anything good about your company.

    11. American Job Venter*

      Are you sure you know who is in which group? Let alone that LW#1’s brother will know who is in which group?

    12. Pennilyn Lot*

      Oh I have a solution: you can just choose to stop caring about this because it’s not true, it doesn’t matter, and there are far more important things that are ruining our lives and planet than someone getting a $600 check that you don’t think they deserve.

  34. Hiring Mgr*

    #3 your coworker sounds terrible, but it also sounds like these things happened years ago? If you say something, are there more recent examples you can point to – it will be harder to dismiss/ignore that way

  35. Bookartist*

    Dear LW#1’s brother: really? That’s what’s going to happen? You and all your buddies are going to have that much choice in the future when it comes to hiring? Blow all the hot air you want now, my friend. When work ain’t getting done, you’re going to hire the people who say yes to your offer, and you’re going to forget this little buddy-buddy pinky-swear thing you kids are cooking up.

  36. Green Tea For Me*

    I agree that you need to say something when you leave, because why your coworker is saying is in no way innocuous.

    Buuuuuut, and I may be reading way too much into this based on my experiences as a childfree woman, but does your company make allowances for patents it doesn’t for non parents?

    As someone who worked at a company for two years where, as the only childfree person, I was always the one who got stuck covering when parents were out with their sick kids ‘because Green Tea for Me doesn’t have kids, so she can stay late.

    Her treating your team unfairly while you were out on maternity leave isn’t okay, but if she was expected to do her work and all of your work for three months by herself, that’s not okay either.

    Again, what she’s doing is not alright, but its possible she’s coming from a place of extreme frustration, and taking it out on the wrong people. If that’s the case, saying something when you leave might make things better for her, because it might make your supervisor realize what’s going on.

    It’s also possible she’s just a jerk, on which case you still need to say something.

    1. meagain*

      That was my take too. Obviously what this woman was saying or doing was not right. But some workplaces can put such an emphasis on “family friendly” policies or “working mother friendly” and be completely oblivious to the challenges or frustrations or exclusion for women who aren’t mothers. Which is even less of a protected status for discrimination. Being childless/childfree in a workplace can feel completely invisible, as opposed to being a parent. It doesn’t make what that woman did right, but that’s when resentment or frustration can grow, even if not everyone voices it out loud. That said, I agree, she could just be a jerk. A lot of issues can be alleviated if the company culture is employee friendly, not just family or mother friendly. A manager who feels the same flexibility to work remotely if a pet is sick or the cable guy is coming or wants to leave a half hour early to make it to her run club, or who can take a week off for a surgery and have others step in is typically going to show the same graciousness when a coworker has a sick kid or school event to dash out early to attend.

      1. Observer*

        Even if you are right, she’s a jerk.

        Because the idea that you take your frustrations out on people who have no choice in the matter (and have much less power in the relationship) is just gross.

    2. Kesnit*

      Thank you. I was thinking that, but could not find a way to phrase it without sounding bitter. You put it very well.

    3. Roscoe*

      Ha, this was my thought as well. But apparently the way I said it angered people lol. Yours seems to be a lot more well stated.

    4. Colette*

      I don’t think this matters. That’s an issue with your employer; taking it out on the team is not OK.

      1. Green Tea For Me*

        Right. Which I why I stated at least twice that what she’s doing is not alright and that the LW should say something. And also left open the possibility that maybe none of this is going on, the company is awesome to everyone, and the coworker is just a jerk.

        I tried really hard to never make it known and never said comments like that to my coworkers, but when I was in a situation which prioritized giving flexibility to parents at the expense of giving me extra work and denying me any of that same flexibility when I occasionally asked for it, I definitely sometimes thought things like that. And knowing rationally it was not really their fault but was managements didn’t change my emotional reaction.

        1. meagain*

          Exactly. The woman really may be a jerk. Most people know enough to at least compartmentalize and certainly not take it out on people dealing with real childcare logistics. But if one group gets perpetually marginalized at some workplaces, and does not get the same allowances, flexibility, or status as parents, it does create issues of fairness that can breed frustration and resentment. This woman had it wrong. The answer is not supporting parents less or making derogatory comments, but in giving all workers support for work/life issues.

    5. Observer*

      Her treating your team unfairly while you were out on maternity leave isn’t okay, but if she was expected to do her work and all of your work for three months by herself, that’s not okay either.

      That’s a huge leap. There is simply no excuse for punishing the team for any of this, EVEN if she wound up with extra work. Just NONE.

    6. Not Mom*

      I absolutely agree! The system made sense when having a family was the expectation. So it was more like “I’ll carry more of the load now, and in return you got it when I need it.” But more people have more options now and having children isn’t for everyone. So when folks are choosing to be childfree, it can feel one-sided. It should definitely be on the companies to cover for when folks step out for necessary child care, not the other individual employees.

      And that’s also in addition to the “othering” not being a parent in the workplace can create. I’m nothing but kid-positive, but I’m frequently left out of the social scene in my family-centered workplace. Just yesterday I killed a conversation when I joined a meeting because they were talking about kids and stopped as soon as I showed up. That feeling excluded or on the outside might also fuel some of the animosity that OP is describing in their colleague.

      1. childfree*

        Yes, thank you. There is so, so much focus on mothers being forced out of working, but no one seems to realize that catering to parents damages the careers of non-parents. If you can’t give everyone equal treatment in all ways, including time off, then you should keep that consistent. Giving parents priority is never an acceptable practice.

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

    #1 – I realize the point of not hiring people who were unemployed in 2021 is to punish them, but it’s actually doing them a great service because they won’t have to work for the tools who think this is a good idea.

    I’m just confused as to what they think they’re proving. What if the person’s industry tanked and they decided to spend the last year brushing up on skills that would allow them to swap industries? What if they had to take a break from working for health issues? What if they were caring for ailing family members or were previously retired but decided to come back to the workforce or have had a hard time getting work because they work in a niche industry with very specific skills/training that has less demand right now? (I know of people in my own industry who have a hard time getting work for multiple years because we had layoffs in 2019 and we work in a niche industry that tanked in 2020 and involves a lot of positions that just don’t translate well to other industries, so they’re kind of stuck.)

    I realize the thought is that hardworking people will take any job available, but that’s just not true. When I was unemployed, I was SUPER careful about what I interviewed for because I was barely scraping by on unemployment and I couldn’t risk getting an offer from a terrible company or for terrible pay and having my unemployment denied because I turned them down. I had been laid off twice in a row due to my positions becoming obsolete and didn’t want to risk having yet another shorter-term job on my resume.

    I assume that these dingleberries will be willing to interview everyone who HAS worked in 2021, right? They’re not going to also discriminate against anyone who had a job for the past year in an industry that’s not in line with what they normally do? (Like, if someone is usually an analyst but has been working at Target as a cashier for the past year, they’re going to be okay with that, right? Something tells me they won’t…)

    Man, now I’m wishing I hadn’t worked this past year just so I could be assured that I’ll never be hired by these dudes. They sound like they’d make terrible managers.

    1. Skippy*

      Amen to all of this.

      I suspect these guys haven’t done very much hiring in their careers, nor have they ever been unemployed. Once you’ve done a lot of hiring, you realize that rejecting otherwise strong candidates for arbitrary reasons is incredibly foolish and short-sighted. And once you’ve lost your job and had to go on unemployment, you realize that the endless job searching and the existential dread you feel every single day means it’s not exactly a vacation in paradise.

    2. Ori*

      All excellent points. Hiring is a PITA; both compelling people to take unsuitable jobs, and (as Skippy says), rejecting candidates for spurious reasons, is just such a waste of energy and resources.

  38. Oryx*

    #2, if your colleague has a large number of followers and a high profile online, I’d argue he’s actually GOOD at Twitter. That platform in particular lends itself to exactly what you are describing, such as continuing to argue on a particular point well past the point of anything productive. If he has a large amount of followers, there are people who like what he has to say and how he says it.

    I think providing him with specific examples is your best bet, not just a vague “off-putting” (because, again, he has followers who like his off putting tone). But clear examples of his social media activity and how and why they are unproductive and make professional colleagues not want to work with him. (And after I do like Alison’s second script about not being able to have both the account and professional life).

    1. ecnaseener*

      He may be good at Twitter in general (good at amassing followers and getting engagement) but not good at getting any benefit from Twitter other than entertainment. I agree with using specific examples that illustrate how these arguments might be fun/invigorating but aren’t serving him professionally.

    2. Colette*

      I think this is going past what a colleague should do. Something like “I’ve had questions from people who know you from Twitter who think you must be difficult to work with” is fine; digging through his twitter feed for examples is not.

      1. EventPlannerGal*

        Going digging would be a bit much, true, but if there are especially egregious incidents that OP remembers I think it might be helpful to mention one.

    3. EventPlannerGal*

      He’s not good at using Twitter professionally if he’s losing out on IRL opportunities and giving himself a bad name in his field – a high follower count only takes you so far, you know? And for all we know this guy could be his industry’s hate-follow.

      Definitely agree about the specific examples – if he’s completely clueless about tone he’s not going to have an “aha!” moment just because OP tells him his account is offputting. If OP can point out that maybe Sheila from Llamas Inc didn’t want to collaborate on his project after he spent a week arguing with her about grooming techniques, that might make the problem clearer.

      1. Artemesia*

        Exactly. I am retired so I can be a jackass on twitter. But people who are serious about their careers need to be careful about the image they build on social media. I know many people who have all sorts of political opinions that would rile up many others; they don’t showcase that on twitter where they are building a presence they feel projects the image they want as a professional. This seems like a pretty obvious thing to me.

        1. Ori*

          Yep, when I had a Twitter account I used an alias. I have a lot of opinions that shouldn’t be controversial but are – e.g. being in favour of LGBT rights – that I knew could be held against me in the workplace.

    4. learnedthehardway*

      That’s not being good at Twitter – not when online success undermines your real-world career.

      There are REASONS why I am quite anonymous about where I rant about my job on social media. I can indulge my inner snark without people in my professional life hearing about it. The only people I am that open with in my professional life are long-term friends who know my industry inside and out, and who share my appreciation for ridiculousness, idiocy, and irony. For the rest of the world, what I post might be head-tilting or possibly entertaining, but its definitely not what I want associated with my real world job. I’ve had the occasional comment about why do I do it if I find my job that annoying – these people really don’t get that my anonymous online comments are my outlet, and that I find the vagaries of my job entertaining. I think I’d burst if I couldn’t comment somewhere, lol. Doesn’t mean I want people I work with to see it, though.

  39. All the words*

    I rarely wish a layoff and long period of unemployment, with all it’s associated stress on a person. But from time to time…

  40. Seriously?*

    Well, I took the year off to take classes so I can change careers, but sure that’s why her brother can’t get the things he wants immediately. ‍♀️ What a jerk.

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

      At least you can sleep well knowing you’ll never have to work for him.

  41. Middle age has made me cynical*

    I am a rock star performer (that’s not personal opinion, I outperform most colleagues on both soft and hard metrics) and I took off a full year so I could get my kids through online school. Using the most understatement possible, this is not what I would have preferred. It was a necessity.

    I am back at my job, once again being a rock star while we are much more short handed than we were and demand for our services is surging.

    If OP #1’s brother doesn’t want to hire me, I am sure one of his competitors will.

  42. Chairman of the Bored*

    The exception to #4 is when a manager has made other peoples’ progress dependent upon their input/approval/whatever and has not provided an alternate means to obtain this while they’re out of the office.

    If you’re such a Big Important Management Guy that you’re the only one who can sign off on my testing plan etc then I’ve got no problem calling you at home or tracking you down on vacation to get that taken care of.

    Don’t like it? Next time assign an alternate who can approve in your absence.

  43. Roscoe*

    #3. A lot of what she said sounds bad. But this is the part I want to ask about “I have heard her say of others with small children that it was their choice to have kids and it shouldn’t be her problem to have to cover for them when they have a sick kid”. Is that really that bad? Is it just because its coming from management. Because frankly, I agree here. As someone without kids, I feel like I end up covering for people with sick kids FAR more than I get covered for. While I understand coverage is often a necessity, it can also get really annoying when its not reciprocal. Not only do parents get to leave earlier for things, but. its just expected that everyone else will pick up their slack. And yeah, having kids was their choice, so it can get annoying.

    1. Roscoe*

      Let me also say, to be clear, I’m not going to be mad at the parents for needing time off for their kids, but I will be mad at management for making me cover for them constantly. But I can assure you, many people feel this way and have this very discussion with friends and colleagues

    2. ecnaseener*

      Would you feel the same way about covering for someone who personally gets sick a lot? Or who has to care for a sick non-child relative?

    3. Claire*

      Do you not get coverage because you’re out sick less frequently than parents or is it that when you’re sick you don’t get coverage? Because there’s always going to be variation in how many sick days an employee takes, and parents are probably likely to take more because children are germ factories (I’m home with two sick kids today). But anyone who needs sick leave should get coverage, whether it’s for their own illness or for caregiving.

      1. Roscoe*

        Well, I’m out sick less in general (thankfully), but even in terms of “Roscoe can cover if you have to leave a couple of hours early”, being the default assumption because I don’t have kids. I also have been places that have been a bit more lenient on parents taking PTO/sick time than non parents. I need to go home because I’m not feeling well, I have to take sick time. Jane has had to go home because little Billy felt sick at school, “oh its fine, don’t worry about it”. I feel rules aren’t applied equally

        1. Claire*

          That stinks – I was reading an article the other day about an employer that aimed to be “over staffed” a bit so that when people were out sick or even just on vacation, other employees’ coverage took them from say 85% capacity to 95% capacity, rather than 95 —> 105. Obviously it’s not going to be perfect (who hasn’t had a work situation where everyone gets the same bad cold at the same time?), but it strikes me that that sort of deliberate gap build in makes coverage more manageable for everyone.

    4. LDN Layabout*

      Yes, yes it is that bad.

      Businesses need to have contingency built in for standard parts of being human beings. Being ill, being in an accident, being a carer for another.

      I don’t know if you’re aware, but having children is how the species has propagated itself, for a fair amount of time. Society operates by raising/educating future generations to replace previous generations.

      So when someone produces those future generations, they will occasionally need to attend to them in non-optimal situations while still also needing to provide such luxuries as food and housing.

      So parents being penalised and labelled as the enemy because the business is bad at being a business, is indeed, bad.

    5. MissDisplaced*

      It’s not bad. Having kids and being a good parent is a choice you need to plan for. And your choice to be a parent should not impact others negatively.
      And it should be on the company to find coverage (by having enough people hired), not your coworkers.

      But the lady in #3 was being quite mean about it. A bit beyond being annoyed.

      1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        Yeah wouldn’t it be lovely if our kids emerged from our womb holding a flash drive with all their future sick days already listed in Outlook-compatible files on it, so we could plan ahead for the next 18+ years right away. Or maybe they already do, if you’re a good parent. I wouldn’t know, I was an average one.

        (saying this as someone whose children have been adults for a long time, and who hasn’t needed coverage for a sick kid in over a decade)

        Agree with the rest of your comment, but that first paragraph is… oof.

    6. Jennifer*

      If she was just a coworker privately blowing off steam in frustration, I’d agree with you. If you’re the one childfree person on a team with parents, you do end up picking up a lot of the slack. I’m on a team now with people who either have no kids or have adult kids and it’s been a lot better.

      It’s a problem because it’s coming from management and comes across as discriminatory, especially since women typically are the ones who handle childcare and are usually the ones who end up taking time off to care for sick kids.

    7. anonymous73*

      Just because you aren’t out as often as a parent might be, and therefore don’t need coverage as often, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s not reciprocal. It’s when you are being denied coming in late/leaving early/taking a day off/calling in sick/etc. that it becomes a problem. Would you be just as annoyed to have to cover for someone with an illness who needed to be out frequently, or is it only parents who make you cranky?

      1. Roscoe*

        To answer your hypothetical question, I don’t know if I’d be as mad if it was because of illness, because that hasn’t happened to me in my 15+ years of work. But it has happened enough with parents that it is definitely an issue that bothers me. I can tell you, it didn’t bother me with parents at first either. But when it happens over and over at multiple employers, yeah, it starts to be an issue that you recognize.

        But I can say that I have been denied leaving early without taking PTO, but I know for a fact that Jane didn’t have to take PTO to go pick her sick kid up from school. The rules aren’t applied evenly which is what angers me.

        1. Philly Redhead*

          Then that is something you should be angry WITH YOUR EMPLOYER about, not with your parent co-worker.

            1. Claire*

              I think one of the problems with being annoyed at someone for taking caregiving-related leave is that women tend to take more than men, and this annoyance over time can perpetuate the sort of common sex discrimination we all see. Annoyance is a feeling, it’s going to happen, I don’t have a perfect solution to that but I do think a manager making the sort of comments mentioned in the letter crosses a line.

        2. Green Tea For Me*

          I commented further up that I used to be in a similar situation to what Roscoe is describing and it made me take a similar view on the letter.

          Obviously I can’t speak for anyone else, but now that I’m in a better environment (one which encourages flexibility for everyone, not just parents) I’m a lot happier and don’t hold any resentment toward the parents for needing to take time off.

          For me it wasn’t a matter of wether or not parents took more sick days than I did. What bothered me was that parents took more sick days, I was stuck covering their work, AND I never got any flexibility when I needed. I didn’t care that Jane had to take four days off last month to look after her sick kid. I cared that Jan took four days off, I was stuck staying late to finish her work four nights (because the rest of the employees with kids could be expected to stay late) AND when I tried to take an afternoon off for a doctors appointment I was told I couldn’t and had to change it to a Saturday, which used up one of my weekend days.

          This is absolutely an issue with the company/management. But people are people, and expecting them to having perfectly rational responses to an unfair situation isn’t going to happen. No, we shouldn’t take it out on our coworkers, but sometimes you can’t not be resentful. The LW absolutely should say something, and what the coworker is doing is not ok, but she may be coming from a place of frustration.

          1. Roscoe*

            Thank you. Its like if you see a coworker getting preferential treatment. No, its not her fault that the manager is doing that, but its human nature to still be a bit annoyed at her for it.

            When management treats people unfairly, there will be resentment, and its unfortunately not always directed the right way. It would be nice if it was, but I’m sure many of us are guilty of directing it at the recipients and not the perpetrator

    8. Ari*

      You know that when “lil Bobby has a cough” that lil Bobby is excluded from childcare for 72 hours minimum until they can produce a negative Covid test, right? That parents (who are we kidding, mothers) aren’t using their sick kid as an excuse to lie on the couch and eat bonbons, right? I am asking this in all good faith – what do you suggest parents do when they have a sick child in order to not inconvenience you?

      1. Roscoe*

        Again, the problem isn’t the parents, its the situation.

        But unfortunately, most humans aren’t great at separating the recipient of unfair treatment from the person doing it.

        In a perfect world, unless you knew the person closely, no one would be mad at the person their partner cheated with. But that doesn’t happen.

        In a perfect world, if your manager gives your coworker all the best shifts, you wouldn’t be mad at the coworker, you’d ONLY ever be mad at manager. But that doesn’t happen.

        I think expecting coworkers who are being forced to consistently take on extra work for parents while feeling no resentment to the parents isn’t realistic.

    9. ADidgeridooForYou*

      See this doesn’t make sense to me. Yeah, coworkers had no choice in whether their coworker has a kid, but that goes for every decision anyone makes. Say someone decides to go skiing and gets in an accident and is on FMLA or disability for 3 months. Sure, it’s not the same, but it was a decision whose consequences inconvenienced you – would you be upset at him for having to do his work while he recovers? Or only at parents?

      Also, given the choice, I think most parents with children in daycare would MUCH rather have them there instead of at home sick, be it “with a lil cough” or with a more serious illness, but daycares and schools are incredibly strict about that kind of thing. Your comment kind of gives off the vibes of assuming that parents watching their ill kids or on parental leave are sitting on the couch watching TV the whole time. It’s a lot of work, and while it’s annoying to those of us who have to cover for them, it’s not a picnic for the parents, either.

      Lastly – and this is something I’ve said before – parents don’t just think to themselves “gee, I want a few months off. I should have a kid!” Parental leave is to help the birth-giver physically recover (often a very long and difficult process) and to adjust to having a new little human in their life. It’s often a time with very little sleep, physical discomfort, and making changes to how things used to be. It’s not a vacation or time for them to go to Cancun or work on their new novel. As someone who doesn’t have kids and doesn’t want them, I would personally much rather be at work than at home with a newborn or vomiting child (of course, it goes without saying that corporate America should give significantly more leave/PTO to everyone, regardless of parental status).

      1. American Job Venter*

        “parents don’t just think to themselves “gee, I want a few months off. I should have a kid!”

        This. I mean, everything you’ve said, but this, so much this. Pregnancy is often physically difficult and can be life threatening, labor and delivery redefine agony, and then one has an irascible tiny person to care for 24/7. And one will never, ever have complete peace again because one loves and worries about this person, because one is uniquely responsible for them.

        Overall, parenting is spectacularly rewarding, but is it so not a viable plan for skipping work.

  44. employment lawyah*

    1. Blackballing people who didn’t work during 2021
    It’s likely they are joking in frustration, FWIW.

    It’s more likely to be legal than it is to be illegal, but I’d talk to a lawyer before doing it. Quite a bit of this depends on the company size and location.

    2. My coworker is bad at Twitter — should I say something?
    Not unless you value honesty more than a potential fight w/ your coworker.

    3. Should I mention my coworker’s anti-parent stances when I leave?

    If you say it as you leave you are likely to seem petty. If you want to take the “ethical obligation to disclose” path, then you need to do it in a stand-up way, not just drop a zinger on the way out.

    4. Should higher level managers be available at all times?</b?
    No, that's ridiculous.

    5. Can an employer require overtime?
    Yes. The employer sets the hours. SO long as they pay appropriately, they can require overtime. (You get exceptions for some sort of crazy hours, but those wouldn’t apply with only 47 hours/week.)

    1. JohannaCabal*

      #1 Actually, there are companies that have unofficial policies not to hire the long-term unemployed. In fact, during the last recession a decade ago, one company was called out in the media for having that on their application (it was something like “if you’ve been out of work for longer than three months, you will not be considered”). The company did remove that line due to the bad publicity although I’m sure they still wouldn’t consider anyone who’d been out of the workforce for a long period.

      As I commented above, this attitude does encourage some candidates to lie about being currently employed when they aren’t.

      1. PT*

        Applicant tracking systems often bin people whose employment gap is whatever the company deemed unsatisfactory. So your resume isn’t even seen.

    2. pancakes*

      1. The question wasn’t, “how can I pull this off,” it was “am I right to think this mindset is gross?”

      1. Glomarization, Esq.*

        Yeah, but Alison answered with “[this] would illegally discriminate against women … and people with disabilities” when there’s absolutely nowhere near enough information in the letter as printed to make that kind of an assessment.

        I think a more reasonable assessment is that it would simply be an unwise business decision to reject all applicants who “didn’t work in 2021” (whatever that means). And rather than worrying about what the company’s legal department might say, LW’s brother might want to worry about what the business’s bottom line says after a bunch of inferior candidates were hired over otherwise perfectly qualified candidates who have a gap on their resume for 2021.

        1. pancakes*

          It doesn’t have to be one or the other. If we’re going to shift the question from “am I right to think less of my brother” to “how should my brother think about hiring,” he could theoretically care about both running his business without needlessly restricting the candidates it is willing to consider and being a decent person in the eyes of his sister and/or his legal department.

        2. Observer*

          Yeah, but Alison answered with “[this] would illegally discriminate against women … and people with disabilities” when there’s absolutely nowhere near enough information in the letter as printed to make that kind of an assessment.

          Nope. One of the reasons this mindset is gross is that it’s the kind of thing that DOES discriminate against women and people with disabilities – and it’s illegal. A mindset that leads in that direction IS a problem.

          We don’t need more information from the letter, because we KNOW that a disproportionate number of women and PWD have been pushed out of jobs and the labor market of this year. This is not speculation.

          1. MissElizaTudor*

            It does do that, and it’s unethical for that and many other reasons, but I’ve been wondering about the disparate impact definitely means illegal in every single case. I’m unclear as to why that would be actually illegal (not just unethical), when as far as I can tell, it’s common practice to hire employed people instead of unemployed people. Am I wrong, and a practice of preferential hiring of people with jobs over people without jobs is actually illegal because of the disparate impact on women and people with disabilities?

            1. Observer*

              Any practice that leads to disparate outcomes without a “Bona fide operating qualification” (ie a real business need), is illegal. If a practice of never hiring people who are unemployed does lead to hiring significantly fewer women, Blacks, ** group, then it is going to be illegal to continue that practice.

    3. Observer*

      1. Blackballing people who didn’t work during 2021
      It’s likely they are joking in frustration, FWIW.

      I think we can take the OP at their word. But even if they were just joking, it is STILL bad – stupid, self-centered, ignorant and lacking in empathy.

  45. Lore*

    I was once that guy with the twitter account. Please tell this guy.

    I’m autistic and, while I can generally pass for a short time around strangers, I have a truly terrible time being fully understood even in one-on-one conversations without putting my foot in my mouth–let alone in an environment with a tiny character limit and an algorithm-intensified snark factor. I didn’t learn until about two years after the fact that I was presenting a person that, while not outwardly mean or cruel, I did not want to be presenting. I mistook the fact that I was popular and got likes (for the first time in my life) with actually being liked and that was the big mistake. I ended up deleting the site all together, removing my presence, and going for a more healthy and less argument-focused online presence. It’s helped my mood and career a TON.

    Tell him.

  46. Jennifer*

    #1 Is it possible he wasn’t serious? Plus I’m not sure this would really work. From the articles I’ve read, it’s not that people just aren’t working, they are fed up with low pay and poor conditions and are finding better jobs. So punishing people who didn’t work during 2021 would just be punishing people who were out of work for a variety of reasons, not because they didn’t want to work. The whole “nobody wants to work” narrative is just a big lie.

    1. learnedthehardway*

      It’s the brother and his contacts in other companies, and the OP mentioned they were trying to spread the idea. That’s not a joke, and even if it was, it’s its in extremely bad taste and cruel, at the very least.

    2. Skyblue*

      Yeah, I wouldn’t be that concerned that their new campaign to be jerk will have much impact. Still obnoxious though.

  47. Roscoe*

    #2 is interesting. As someone who has gotten into my share of arguments on reddit (and here for that matter) one thing I have learned is how difficult it is to judge intent and tone when its written. And frankly, depending on the topic at hand, some people get a bit more sensitive on what is past “productive debate”. And its very possible that, in a face to face conversation, the same things can be said, but people wouldn’t have a problem with it. But hell, even on this site, people have started calling any minor thing “unkind”. So I wonder if its just that the professional audience is reading this differently than a regular person might. Either way, I’d try to pick a few concrete examples and maybe say “you could’ve ended that here because it was clearly not progressing”, or “Instead of saying X, saying Y would’ve come off much nicer, even if its essentially the same thing”

  48. anonymous73*

    #3 – yes say something. You should have said something to your manager when it happened. They need to know they have an employee managing others who treats them unfairly because they have something against people who procreate.

    And I hope if you ever encounter someone like this in the future that you disclose it the powers that be. A manager can’t fix a situation if they don’t know anything about it.

  49. Recovering Adjunct*

    #1, the brother and his friends are trying to spread this horrific idea…. during a labor shortage. These are challenging times for sure. However I’m at least encouraged by how stupid the other side is.

    1. I'm right on top of that, Rose!*

      I predict this same dude will spend 2023 complaining about how his tax dollars are supporting all those ‘deadbeats on welfare.’

  50. Okay, great!*

    I agree. I worry though if they do end up having to hire anyone they can get and it goes against their “pact”, they may mistreat that person at times. The new hire will never know why either.

  51. ed123*

    I’ve been thinking about #4.
    Should higher level managers be available all the time? No. Should they be more available than average employee? In my opinion yes. Well obviously this will all depend on the company structure. In my previous work there was CEO and then a small group of employees. The CEO could not really give anybody all his responsibilities and decision making powers. Threrefore I think it is fair to expect him not to unplug for several weeks.

    Where as in my current job, I would never expect my team lead to be available on her PTO. However, I do kinda expect the director of the department to check her messages occationally. But this reqiures instructions on when to contact another manger that is subbing for her and when to contact her.

    So I kinda think higher level managers should be available even on PTO but not all the time.

    1. ProdMgr*

      If it’s at all possible, higher level managers should find an opportunity to unplug because it’s good for your team to know that they can manage without you for a week.

      As a director reporting to a senior director, I prep my team and my boss before I unplug for a week. My team covers as much as possible and my boss is there to provide a safety net.

      My boss has my mobile number if he needs it, but the set of things that A) can’t be covered by my team, B) can’t be decided by my boss, and C) can’t wait until I return is pretty tiny so I don’t get called. My team has made some significant decisions (like changing a release schedule) while I was out and they did exactly what I would have wanted them to do. The trust I place in my team to manage without me for a week boosts their confidence and makes them feel more empowered even when I am around. I sometimes get anxious that they’ll decide they don’t need me after all, but that’s my insecurities talking. And it doesn’t actually happen.

      1. Ed123*

        I think this is one thing that really depends on the company structure and what the directors job description includes. I fully support unplugging for higher level managers but I do also think they need to be reachable in a different way than regular worker bee.

  52. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

    #4 – if high-level employees **need** to be available all the time in order to ‘keep things moving forward’ , then they have utterly failed as managers.

    They have failed to hire competent people who they can trust to make good decisions, they have failed to train and groom their employees so that they are able to step in to higher-level positions, they have failed to appropriately delegate responsibility and authority, and they have failed to see what their actual priorities ought to be.

  53. Okay, great!*

    #1- “Oh wow. I’ve always thought you were the kind of manager who analyzed situations individually, and made the best and logical choice for that situation. Like when your hiring, or approaching a problem on your team. I’m actually sorry to hear that you would take such a knee jerk and emotional reaction as a solution.”– said with the most sincerity you can muster. It’s a blindside by a loved one that is calling out a nasty behavior while wrapped in disappointment wrapped in a “compliment”. You thought they were great, it’s sad to see they are not. They will absolutely jump to the defensive, and you can just shrug. It doesn’t work on the morally bankrupt, but it works wonders on those who are just having an angry reaction to something they heard and haven’t thought it through all the way. It’s not nice, but effective.

  54. Eldritch Office Worker*

    #2 – definitely let him know. If he’s getting a serotonin boost from fighting on twitter maybe suggest he can make a private account for that. But he’s clearly not aware that everyone is perceiving him a certain way and you’d be doing a kindness to clue him in.

  55. Hippo-nony-potomus*

    #1: It’s not just sex discrimination; it’s discrimination based on disabilities or age. I urge everyone to really dig deep into the CDC statistics, not what the media tells you they are or what you think they are. JHU published a risk calculator a year ago that is extremely helpful. COVID has massive, truly massive, differences in mortality rates between different groups. An immunocompromised 50 year old is something like a hundred or a thousand times more likely to die of COVID than a healthy person half his age. Ergo, discriminating against those who didn’t work looks a LOT like age and disability discrimination, provided that is the reason.

    The far better route is to treat this the same way you treat any employment gap on a resume: ask what they did during that time. Daycare staffing is a nightmare right now – they can hardly find people and are sometimes closing rooms and telling parents that their kids can’t come in on Monday. If the applicant says that s/he needed to stay home because of Zoom school and daycare closures, that tells you that the person was productive during the pandemic. If that person, or a family member, is high risk, there is a good reason to not work. Those are thoughtful answers that indicate the applicant is a diligent and reasonable person.

    A person might have noped out of working in-person at fast food but gotten a job with DoorDash, at-home customer service, or volunteered. He might have written a book, taken an online class, become a notary public, or done any number of things that aren’t advancing a career but nonetheless show a desire to part of productive society.

    1. Devil's Advocate*

      100%. I recently hired an engineer (for an engineering position) who had gotten laid off, moved back in with her parents, and worked at a grocery store in the meantime. She said she wanted to keep busy and having something physical to do while she was looking for a new position. I loved her answer.

  56. Bran*

    Writer Number 1 can also tell their brother that such informal covenants have been attempted in the past and almost always fail. All they’d be likely to accomplish is to increase the chances that high quality labor flows to their competitors. If I was one of his “friends”, I’d pretend to agree while actively choosing to ignore such considerations while hiring.

  57. LDN Layabout*

    I love that we’ve come through a pandemic that’s proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that caregiving is primarily a burden carried by women with huge numbers forced out of the workforce due to that and we still have people saying resenting your parent coworkers vs. the business that isn’t being run well is totally fine.

    Love to see it.

  58. DJ Abbott*

    #1, I wanted to rant but just sputtered as several different sentences tried to come out at the same time.
    To sum up, your brother and his friends illustrate the spoiled, entitled attitude of the privileged in which they see other people as existing just to serve them. They’re the kind of managers who enforce 15 minute lunch breaks and schedule people 38 hours while considering them part time with no benefits. Because the only reason workers exist is to serve the upper classes, right? It’s not like we have our own lives and goals and ambitions and families, is it?
    This is what ruins this country and it really needs to stop!!!

  59. Jessica Fletcher*

    #2 – Consider that Ben might truly be more like his Twitter persona. In person, he might be tempering his natural jerkish impulses because he’s learned that isn’t socially accepted. On Twitter, there’s no social cues or immediate consequences to being a huge jerk. (His online persona is probably why he’s amassed a large following. His followers are probably other jerks.)

    Just a note that the person you see in the office isn’t necessarily the person’s full self. You only see their “office personality”.

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      True, but I expect my coworkers to mainly judge me on my office personality, like I think most of us do. Not that social media is ever truly private or this guy is fine acting like a jerk, but we curate our personalities to different contexts generally.

    2. Me*

      It’s not applicable. This letter is about how people treat him at work. And according to the LW his work person is perfectly fine.

    3. Observer*

      Consider that Ben might truly be more like his Twitter persona. In person, he might be tempering his natural jerkish impulses because he’s learned that isn’t socially accepted.

      In this context it doesn’t matter. The OP is talking about work relationship’s that are being affected here. If he’s good to work with, it’s not a good idea to refuse to work with him because he is a private jerk.

  60. James*

    “They recently assigned four hours per week for an unspecified period of time, and today upped that to seven hours a week.”

    #5: I work a minimum of 10 hours of overtime per week, sometimes significantly more. Scheduled ten-hour days on ten-day shifts mean sometimes I’m working 70+ hours in a one-week period (usually with an extra hour or two a day tacked on), though I get significant time off after such a shift without burning PTO. So yeah, this is legal.

    The question for you is, is it acceptable? Is this something you can in fact do? If not, your husband may need a new job. That’s up to the two of you.

  61. Governmint Condition*

    On #4, where I work, a lot of perks & responsibilities follow a “reverse seniority” pattern. There is an expectation for higher-level managers, especially those exempt from OT, to be more available and work extra hours if needed. (Especially if we have no approved OT budget to pay non-exempt employees.) This doesn’t apply to scheduled PTO so much; it is used more for off-hours work and weekend activity.

    Part of that “reverse seniority” pattern is that lower titles are allowed to work from home more days per week than higher titles. The logic(?) being that it helps the morale of the lower-paid employees, and the salary for higher positions is really compensation for losing the lower-level perks. (“We’re all equal in the eyes of the government, something, something…”) There are other similar examples, but you get the idea.

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      I think “pick up the slack” or “take more responsibility to make sure x gets done” is perfectly reasonable to expect as you move up the ladder. But I think the important part of the letter is that being higher up doesn’t make you a robot and we all still need real time off sometimes.

  62. The Rat-Catcher*

    “If you have children then you should have a plan for when they get sick.”

    A plan like…getting a job where they offer paid sick leave and then using that leave when your child gets sick?

    If you’re understaffed because your coworkers are using the benefits they were offered when they started at the company, then it’s your employer who failed to make a plan.

    (Whoever said above that the employer just looks the other way and doesn’t charge leave even though they nickel and dime other people on it – I agree that’s crappy.)

  63. Gingersnap*

    Ugh the brother in #1 makes me mad. Am I inconvenienced by staffing shortages? YES. For example my pharmacy is so understaffed they have just stopped answering the phone. Problem with an rx? Gotta go in person, wait in a crazy long line, all for something that could be done on the phone (and then it’ll take another hour to actually fill the rx).

    But I’m not taking it out on people “choosing” not to work. I’m channeling my frustration at the multi million and billion dollar companies who are realizing that they can’t continue to exploit workers with low pay and shitty policies. Shockingly, people aren’t willing to risk their literal lives anymore for a fast food job flipping burgers. /endrant

    1. Observer*

      This also illustrates why blaming all of the problems on a staffing shortage is stupid in many ways.

      The idea that they are coping with the staffing shortage by NOT ANSWERING THE PHONE is ridiculous. Having people come in generally takes MORE staff time AND makes all the customers (even the ones who actually do need to be there) less happy. But, sure blame the people who “don’t want to work” for management’s stupidity.

      (Not you, but the people complaining about “people who don’t want to work”)

      1. PT*

        And that New York Times article about the lack of staffing at retail pharmacies dropped well before the pandemic was even a twinkle in Dr. Fauci’s eye.

  64. Elizabeth West*

    #1—It’s hard enough for unemployed people to be taken seriously as we look for work. But it takes a special kind of asshole to put blame on folks who lost their jobs through no fault of their own, during a pandemic that’s killed more than 700,000 people in the US alone.

    I mean, the punishment for messing up at a job is losing the job. It shouldn’t be never working again. There is no reason to punish people who didn’t do anything wrong and couldn’t work because the business shuttered, or it wasn’t safe to work, or whatever.

  65. AnonInCanada*

    To OP1’s brother: maybe if you or your friends in managerial positions would actually pay employees a living wage, not berate them over tiny mistakes/improper training, and give them benefits and a work/life balance, maybe you wouldn’t have to wait longer at the drive-thru?

    Hasn’t this Great Resignation taught managers anything? Also, everything Alison said. F this guy and everyone who thinks like him!

  66. the Viking Diva*

    I’m a bit surprised at Alison’s response to #3, as she always advises to stick to how the issue affects the work. What on earth can the boss do about a complaint about something said years in the past?? For all we know the co-worker has revised her view and realized that LW was in fact a reliable worker despite her initial expectations.

    LW should have raised the unfair treatment of her team while she was away when she returned from leave (again, assuming this affected the work and wasn’t just ‘Co-worker brought her team donuts and not mine’). The reality is LW *was* away, and the reason she was away may or may not matter; the work issue is how the co-worker handled the adjustments at the workplace.

    I think the best LW can do is say, “I have some concerns about how co-worker treated my team while I was on leave, and I’ve had reason to wonder if it is because she resented me taking parental leave. I should have let you know about it at the time, but I want to let you know now so that you can be proactive in watching how coverage for parents is handled.” Not “I know her true thoughts” about this topic.

    1. Colette*

      An employee who discriminates against people who take maternity leave is putting the company at risk, which does affect work.

    2. Me*

      The person in question has on multiple occasions expressed issue with parents and taking leave. Not a one time thing long ago. Nor is it about “coverage” for parents. It’s about a manager who appears to be discriminating against parents which is likely to be disproportionately affecting women…which is illegal.

      As Alison stated this is actually a pretty serious issue that can result in legal repercussions to the company.

      1. the Viking Diva*

        She has complained to her peer (the LW) but there is not evidence in the letter that she has done anything to prevent parents from taking leave or failed to provide coverage for a person taking a day off for a sick kid.

        1. Observer*

          She retaliated against the OP’s TEAM – that’s classic “interference” with the ability to take leave!

        2. Me*

          It doesn’t have to be that she prevented leave or failed to provide coverage and I’m not sure why you are stuck on that. She has demonstrably treated people poorly in retaliation to someone taking parental leave.

          I don’t know how else to convince you this is in fact a big deal but you should at least listen o Alison saying it is a big deal and why because she’ explains it very clearly.

    3. Observer*

      What on earth can the boss do about a complaint about something said years in the past??

      Start paying attention to the behavior of this person. This person definitely discriminates AND does things that are unfair and really bad management. The boss obviously is not aware of this. Once she becomes aware, she can start monitoring this and put a stop to it when it happens again.

      “I have some concerns about how co-worker treated my team while I was on leave, and I’ve had reason to wonder if it is because she resented me taking parental leave. I should have let you know about it at the time, but I want to let you know now so that you can be proactive in watching how coverage for parents is handled.”

      Except that this is NOT about the OP reading anyone’s mind. It’s about what the coworker DID and what SHE said about it.

  67. awesome3*

    #4 – This is ostensibly why we pay our senators so much, because they technically need to be on call at all times in case of a national emergency. But most other jobs don’t rise to that level of expectation.

  68. Former Retail Lifer*

    OP#1, how many unemployed people does your brother know? The vast majority of the people I knew that were laid off due to covid have found other jobs, either in the same industry or a completely new one. The very few that aren’t back to work either had childcare issues or medical issues that prevented them from going back. This notion that everyone is kicking back, enjoying unemployment and not working is simply not true. There’s not a “labor shortage.” There’s a shortage of people who are willing to work a low wage job with no PTO or benefits while having to deal with jerks like your brother all day.

  69. Devil's Advocate*

    #1: To play devils, advocate, it can be little hard to stomach when during an interview, candidates talk about all of the traveling they did during the pandemic after they got laid off and were getting UI and all of the stimuluses. Or when they say they were taking time to “find themselves.” As someone who showed up every day during COVID, in person, to support those employees that could not be remote, it’s a little bit of a slap in the face. I’ve heard it from so many candidates. Granted, there are plenty who have left reasons for not working during COVID, and I would never let ANY reason related to COVID affect a hiring decision, but I wonder if the brother of LW has heard one too many of those people who have made it clear that they are not actually wanting to work, but are being forced to. There’s such a thing as being too honest in an interview.

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      I would also find that incredibly off-putting in an interview, and I can certainly see how it would be draining. But you’re throwing the baby out with the bathwater if you use that as an excuse to screen resumes. You can certainly use it to disqualify candidates, especially where the pandemic isn’t over and they’re revealing themselves to be cavalier about public safety.

      1. Devil's Advocate*

        This is during interviews, not when screening resumes. I never waste a resume of a qualified candidate, gap or not.

      1. Me*

        Exactly my thought. I find it very hard to believe that there are, frankly, any people that have interviewed and said things like this person is claiming but certainly not “so many”. People were by and large using unemployment to survive while unable to work not as a travel fund.

        1. Devil's Advocate*

          For sure. And you’re right, maybe “so many” is an exaggeration. It’s kind of like negative reviews, right? The bad ones stick out. It’s been enough to make an impression. But overall, candidates have been ready to get back to work and are happy to get an offer.

          1. Me*

            Know to that there’s a good bit of advice out there about how to spin periods of unemployment because it looks bad to have an employment gap.

            So even the few that you are hearing that were finding themselves or traveling I suspect are just trying to not say yeah I was unemployed for a year and a half and couldn’t work because xyz.

            1. Fran Fine*

              This. Many of those people are possibly also exaggerating because they’re constantly being told they can’t just simply be out of work and looking for a job – they have to have a story behind the unemployment, a “why” if you will.

        2. anonforthis*

          Yeah. As someone who has had to collect unemployment before (though fortunately not during COVID), I have trouble believing that hoards and hoards of people are using their (not very abundant) unemployment to go on luxurious vacations? This sounds like the welfare queen stereotype.

      2. Devil's Advocate*

        I experience it in about 1/2 in 10 interviews. So not that many, but it could be industry dependant. I see to hear it more from lower to mid-level candidates, not entry-level usually.

        1. pancakes*

          So, in around 10% of interviews, you hear something you don’t like. We don’t know what industry you’re in but this seems like a non-issue to me.

          1. Devil's Advocate*

            It’s not an issue for me…people are welcome to do what they want with their time off. I was just making the point that *maybe* some similar interviews had led the LW’s brother to think this way. That’s all. Maybe it’s an issue for you that there are two sides to every story?

            1. Observer*

              Except that the idea that someone could come to the idea of screening all resumes because of something they heard in 10% of interviews is NOT a reasonable “second side.”

            2. pancakes*

              It seems reasonably clear that my issue here, to the extent I have one, is the sort of exaggeration that leads people to characterize things they hear in maybe 10% of interviews as a “hard to stomach” problem, or as some sort of justification for the type of sour outlook described in the letter.

              1. Devil's Advocate*

                In the words of the honorable Meredith Marks, “I’m disengaging.” That’s what you want, right? To shut down anyone that may present a different point of view? Cool cool.

                1. pancakes*

                  Nope. One thing I want is for people to take greater care not to exaggerate. That would be a good start. Another thing would be for more people to ask themselves, “is what I’m about to defend something that really makes sense long-range or is it something that feels right merely because I’m familiar with it?”

    2. Observer*

      The Devil doesn’t need advocates.

      but I wonder if the brother of LW has heard one too many of those people who have made it clear that they are not actually wanting to work

      Sorry, this is just baloney. The numbers do NOT bear this out. What’s more it’s clear that even if they actually did meet SOMEONE who said this stuff, that’s not where they are coming from. The are planning to blacklist ANYONE Who didn’t work in this period. No sane person can assume that just because there are SOME people (assuming there really are such people) act that way that means that that’s what MOST people were doing, much less ALL people. And given what we KNOW about the job situation, it’s even less possible unless someone is WILLFULLY and shamefully ignorant of basic current events.

      1. Devil's Advocate*

        You are correct, it sounds like what I have experienced didn’t relate to LW #1 as well as I thought. I absolutely agree that using gaps in employment for ANY reason to screen out resumes is not ethical. I think that my brain tries to make sense of why people think the way they do, so I was just trying to figure out LW #1’s brother (who sounds awful).

    3. James*

      I can sympathize with that. In my role my workload increased due to Covid. The nature of my job means that we were taking all reasonable Covid precautions as a matter of routine, with two exceptions, which we integrated into our routines before the CDC advised anyone to do so. When everyone else was working from home it meant we had the opportunity to get some work done without interfering with anyone.

      I’ve also come across people who simply don’t want to work. They want to sit at home and get paid, and they frankly took advantage of Covid to do so. These are the same people who bounce from job to job, or who complain that the manager is horrible because *gasp* they’re expected to show up on time and sober! And I’ve heard these folks bragging about how they’ve taken advantage of Covid to do as little as possible. Bear in mind we’re not talking just a living wage here–some of the jobs I’ve seen people do this with pay $60k/$70k, and the cost of living isn’t that much where I am! (My industry is construction-adjacent; folks like this probably make up 50% of the entry-level positions, depending on the specific role–driller’s assistants are more likely to be this way than field geologists, for example.)

      When you’re working 70 hour weeks, in dangerous environments, away from your family, this sort of thing gets old fast. Sometimes you need to blow off steam. And sometimes you do it in the stupidest way possible. If it’s a one-off comment I’d chalk it up to “The pandemic sucks and people have weird coping mechanisms”. I’d only worry if this were a trend.

      None of that excuses the brother if he actually follows through. There’s a HUGE difference between venting and creating a policy! And the number of people who would love to get an honest day’s pay for an honest day’s work but can’t due to the fact that we shut down civilization for a year far outnumbers the slackers. If someone was out of work all through Covid I’d ask why and take their answer into account during an interview. “I was taking care of sick relatives” is a very different reason from “I got the stimulus”.

    4. American Job Venter*

      Why does the Devil need an advocate?

      Going all the way back to when my high school classmate decided to make a supposed “evolutionary biology” case for why sexual assault is justified, I don’t think I’ve ever seen something defended by a soi-disant “Devil’s Advocate” that deserved defending. LW#1’s brother’s policy is no exception.

      1. Devil's Advocate*

        Agreed, shouldn’t have defended him. I didn’t actually see it as defending him, just throwing out a reason why he might be thinking that way.

        1. Bofa on the Sofa*

          I get what you’re saying. You’re not saying you agree with the brother’s tactic. I can see how hearing what you did during a job interview would be frustrating if you had to be at work & risk exposure.

    5. River Otter*

      Look, they weren’t laid off AT you. They didn’t find themselves AT you. They might have been traveling at you, but that is because travel was a bad idea for everybody whether employed or not.

      Your perspective is not doing you any favors. Try reframing those answers as people trying to make the best of being unemployed during a pandemic. If they are being candid about finding themselves, that shows a mindset that allows them to make it through hardship without suffering, which is a plus on a team. If they are giving you a bs answer bc they rightfully fear that you will judge them for being unemployed, aim your resentment at the hose heads in letter #1 who are creating situations that require some kind of answer about what people were doing after being laid off during a global pandemic bc apparently just surviving wasn’t good enough.

      1. Devil's Advocate*

        It’s not my *only* perspective. It’s a something I’ve observed. This blog encourages dialog from all perspectives, which is what I was doing. As I said multiple times, I don’t make hiring decisions based on gaps. *I* don’t blackball candidates.

    6. Salty millennial*

      Traveling was a bad idea ONLY because it put people in danger. But the idea that opting to “find oneself” instead of jumping right back onto the capitalist hamster wheel until retirement is somehow a bad thing is nauseating to me. More power to them if they were doing so in a COVID-safe manner, while receiving the benefits INTENDED to keep people home and out of client facing roles. It was payment for doing their part to keep the rest of us safe. I’ve also worked through the whole pandemic, and I am so happy that so many others have had an opportunity – which they may never have again until retirement (if they’re so lucky) – to actually enjoy their lives without fear of starvation or homelessness, because for once we instituted something resembling a real safety net. It’s probably one of the only good things that came out of an otherwise devastating period, and I’m tired of people acting like taking time off was only acceptable if it was directly related to their own health and safety.

    7. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      I’m sorry, do your candidates actually talk about all of the traveling they did during the pandemic, or did you just make it up?

      I don’t know anyone who traveled during the pandemic, because there was a pandemic. State borders were closed. International borders are still in the process of reopening. I am not back to traveling yet, haven’t left my state since late 2019. I had a trip scheduled for this past August, and canceled it when the city I was supposed to travel to emerged as a new Covid hotspot.

      And travel costs money. People who did “all the traveling when they were laid off” on “their UI benefits and stimuluses” sound like an urban myth, right up there with the 80s welfare queens in luxury cars. Does anybody really say “I’ve been out of work for the last few months, I can barely pay my bills with my UI money, but wait, is this an extra $600 in my bank account? pack my bags, I’m going to Rome.”

      1. doreen*

        I know plenty of people who traveled during the pandemic(although not people I interviewed) . No, they didn’t say ” I’ve been out of work and can barely pay my bills but I’m going to Rome”. Instead , they said ” I’m not going to look for a new job until the extra unemployment runs out , and if my old job calls me back before that , I’m not going to go back ( and hope they don’t tell unemployment that they called me back ) and as long as I’m not working , I’ll take a couple of trips to Florida or North Carolina to visit my brothers”. Or a couple of my coworkers who refused to come to work in March and April of 2020, who explicitly said they didn’t have symptoms and weren’t caring for anyone who had symptoms but were afraid of getting COVID , returned to work and then shortly thereafter took a couple of days off and on their next scheduled workday called and said they tested positive at the airport and the Dept of Health said they had to isolate for ten days. Or the coworker who told everyone of her plans to travel out-of-state but the day she was planning to leave the governor said state employees would have to use their own vacation time if they had to isolate due to personal travel. She claimed she cancelled her trip – but she probably didn’t as she was planning to drive, not fly.

        I’m not saying that any of those situations justify blackballing candidates who didn’t work in 2021 because they don’t justify that at all. But although people may not have been traveling internationally, I don’t think domestic flights were ever completely shut down and there was not a point where nobody could travel by car.

    8. MeepMeep*

      Some of it has to be bad employment-search advice on how to explain a resume gap. I mean, does one really have to say “I had a nervous breakdown because I couldn’t survive on UI and “all of the stimuluses”, and so had to go live with my parents for a little bit”?

    9. judyjudyjudy*

      I’m so glad you advocated for the devil, because as a society we have not bent over backwards enough to justify the behavior of the privileged.

  70. MeepMeep*

    LW1 just made me laugh, honestly. Ok, so there aren’t enough people who want to work (according to their brother). So this manager is going to rub his hands together while cackling an evil villain cackle and … make his available applicant pool even smaller? While his competitors hire the talent he’s unwilling to hire? That sounds like a great way to stay competitive!

  71. Limepink22*

    I took letter 4 differently. It sounds like a fellow supervisor just blowing off steam because they *once again* had to come in to cover someone on their team due to a childcare issue. You can be compassionate and supportive and follow legal guidelines and still be irritated your working the 6th Saturday in a row because your team has a kids in every possible sport and they’ve all had games to go to this month etc.

    For the maternity leave comment, once again I see stress- companies don’t get adequate cover, so now coworker is covering your team and hers. Maybe she snaps at them or is “mean” compared to you because her team doubled with no extra pay. Then instead of saying her thanks for covering, you come back 3 months later to take her to task, instead of asking her about those interactions and maybe why she responded to your team the way she did.

    Just a fifteenth view point as someone who likes kids, cares for my teams work life balance and still grumbles when that means that I as the single person gets to hold the extra load.

  72. TootsNYC*

    I read a comment by someone that there isn’t a labor shortage–there’s a capital strike.

    That hirers, those with capital, are refusing to hire until labor costs go down.

    That’s essentially what these guys from Question 1 are trying to do.

  73. Bofa on the Sofa*

    Hmmm, so it’s not just my husband who has had that happen to him. Lots of applications, very few call-backs for interviews. Or, one place cancelled an interview and then ghosted him. I’m not sure if it’s that he’s over-educated for the jobs he’s applying to, or they assume he was fired for something serious like sexual harassment or drug use or assume he was “lazy & wanted to live off unemployment”, or they just don’t want to fill the positions they’re advertising for. (He wasn’t fired & didn’t even apply for unemployment.)

  74. Bofa on the Sofa*

    Oops, that comment was supposed to be in reply to someone saying there are stories of companies complaining no one wants to work, but those same companies don’t call back actual job applicants.

  75. Bookaroo*

    For #3: YES. SAY SOMETHING. Besides being very wrong, this company is going to lose competent employees and it will cost them more money in hiring and training in the long run.

  76. Orora*

    If the manager in #4 is upset that a project isn’t moving forward because people are out, why didn’t they work with the manager on PTO before they left so that they could keep the project going in their absence? I am a department of one, and recently took two weeks off (for the first time in years). Before I left, I put together information on how items should be handled in my absence, and trained my fill-in for a few duties that would need to happen while I was gone. One item I didn’t plan for went wonky while I was out but my colleagues figured it out enough to stabilize it until I came back to repair it completely.

    Plan ahead a little. It’s not rocket science.

  77. shakiras stolen purse*

    This will disproportionately impact women and Black Americans. In the US, in our supposedly “candidate-friendly” market, Black unemployment went up in August.

    In addition, even when the unemployment numbers dropped for Black Americans in October, that was partly due to them not being COUNTED. (Messed up fun fact: After you stop receiving unemployment insurance, you stop being counted as unemployed!!)

    Also, there’s no candidate shortage, companies are just too cheap to pay a living wage.

  78. Dreamachine*

    I don’t want to over-generalize, but I’m going out on a limb and assuming #1 is younger and seems to lack some of the wisdom and compassion that comes with a little extra time being human. It reminds me of the letter from the manager who resented folks who liked working from home, and I hope he has a similar empathetic journey to come around to the other side. Tragically, our work culture really does reward sociopathy.

  79. RJ*

    Schadenfreude has been in effect on this particularly unproductive week for me in my job search. Five of the companies I applied to in my industry over 2021 – and who subsequently hired other applicants – have relisted these positions. In each case, the driving factor for not moving forward on my end was either the ability to WFH (allowed and encouraged in my field) and/or salary. OP1, please tell your brother that what goes around comes around eventually.

    One company has been looking for an on-site candidate only (despite the rest of their team working remotely most of the week) for two years. I’m now one of the uncounted unemployed and it’s not due to any facetiousness. It’s not a great market for many of us, despite what some news stories report.

  80. DJ*

    Terrible comments from brother re back balling. Not only was it women and people with disabilities who missed out on work many workers weren’t allowed to work due ro either the nature is their work ie face to face or their industry being shut down.
    Also customer and production based workers have had to put up with queues and back logs (and associated complaints) for years due to profitable companies refusing to staff properly and provide support staff.

  81. Notasecurityguard*

    IANAL but couldn’t OP1s brother be breaking anti-trust laws with the little scheme? Because that sounds like collusion

  82. anonforthis*

    Other than the obvious asshole-ness of his attitude, I…don’t understand LW1’s brother’s logic? His solution to not finding workers is to exclude an entire group of workers from consideration?

    It is possible from a second reading of the letter is that maybe he himself is not facing a worker shortage but is taking his frustration at long drive thru lines out on his applicants, which is both ridiculous in addition to jerky.

  83. Claire*

    I think it’s interesting how we’re seeing organic responses to violations of the ideal worker norm in #1 and #3. In #1, the brother is reacting to workers violating the norm of continuous employment (and job searching right away if unemployed, though notably plenty of people have been job searching without success in 2021) and in #3, the coworker is reacting to workers violating the norm that employees will put work before family. Ideal worker norms contribute to discrimination in many forms, and I often wonder whether explicit managerial education in these (often unconscious) norms would help to reduce discrimination. Without getting jargon-y in conversation, I’ve often used Alison’s language and techniques to pushback on the idea that people will just work, work, work and I wish this was training given more explicitly to managers.

  84. Mind blown*

    My husband lost his job shortly after the pandemic started (completely pandemic related) and has yet to find employment. He is a highly specialized professional with over 25 years of experience and has made it to the final round in several cases but it is highly competetive becasue so many people in this field were laid off. We have exhausted unemployment at this point (not to mention our savings) and I’m not sure how much longer we are going to be able to survive on my salary alone. This has been devastating for my husband and our whole family both financially and emotionally. To read letter #1 was like a gut punch. Does LW’s brother think that everyone who is unemployed is so by choice? There are thousands of people who have suffered enough and for someone to say that they won’t hire anyone who didn’t work in 2021 because they were inconvenienced in a drive thru line when there are thoussand of people literally dying from a hideous virus and thousands more suffering as a result. Just wow.

Comments are closed.