update: my team is requiring us to do a diet/exercise/”mental toughness” program

It’s “where are you now?” month at Ask a Manager, and all December I’m running updates from people who had their letters here answered in the past.

Remember the letter-writer whose team was being required to do the 75 Hard diet/exercise/”mental toughness” program? Here’s the update.

Well, here’s a fun update: It turned out that 75 Hard was the owner’s idea to start with. A coworker saw my question on AAM (it was the “le barffe” that gave me away, I need to come up with new commentary) and she told me almost nobody wants to do it, just nobody wanted to come forward.

I sent the owner and my boss the clarification email and copied everyone who had a problem with 75 Hard, approaching it as a group concern. Our entire team got an email from the owner saying she assigned 75 Hard to our department specifically because we’re too soft in her opinion. She’s been behind all the other lifestyle reset BS from the start, assigning programs she thinks certain departments need and it was 75 Hard or quit. That along with some of the, yes, amateur hour start-up bullshit made up my mind for me and apparently most of the team.

So we quit. 15 people in a 25-person department. It wasn’t planned by any means but we were given that ultimatum the week before Thanksgiving and a bunch of us resigned over the holiday, myself included. This is a bananas time off year for them, so losing staff like that is a huge burden. I don’t know how they’re faring, but let’s just say they’re getting the hard part of 75 Hard.

{ 406 comments… read them below }

    1. Insert Clever Name Here*

      My jaw literally dropped. I hope OP and all her coworkers find jobs quickly at companies that understand and support healthy boundaries (plus excellent compensation and benefits)!

      1. Momma Bear*

        Wow. I’m glad that people decided not to stay in that environment. She sounds like an absolute terror to work for. Not your problem anymore.

          1. Jay*

            Goes along with rejecting book suggestions because they’re too “girly.” Internalized misogyny much?

    2. L.H. Puttgrass*

      “[I]t was 75 Hard or quit . . . . So we quit.”

      I may have cheered out loud. Good for you and your (former) co-workers!

      1. FrenchCusser*

        This is one of those situations where even honorable-to-a-fault me would have felt no remorse over lying.

        Oh, sure, I’m following YOUR diet instead of my nutrition counselors!

    3. I've Escaped Cubicle Land*

      This might have to be the most satisfactory update to date. Do it or quit. Nearly everyone quits. I think if I had worked there I would have printed my resignation letter on the back of a copy of Alison’s advice to LW.

      1. chocolate lover*

        That’s an awesome idea.

        Bravo to LW and her colleagues for taking care of themselves and not tolerating the absurdity.

        1. Boop*

          Guaranteed the remaining ten employees feel like it was “nearly everyone”! It would cripple most departments. I would be so happy to hear that the remaining 10 quit due to overwork!

          1. Tin Cormorant*

            Quit due to still being required to fit three hours of exercise in while they’re working overtime!

            1. Marzipan Shepherdess*

              And very likely expected to take up the slack caused by the departure of 60% of the employees (all while being castigated for being “soft”). Hmm…now why do I think that that company is about to lose the remaining 40% of their workers?

          2. Amaranth*

            I’m hoping LW gets an update in a few weeks on this dumpster fire from an employee who remained. I’d bet half of them are already looking for other jobs and just couldn’t walk at the same time.

            Would this be considered eligible for unemployment actually? It doesn’t seem like it would be a reasonable request from an employer.

        2. Your local password resetter*

          I doubt the others will stay around for very long, if only from the workload.

        3. DANGER: Gumption & Cheap Ass Rolls Ahead*

          We are only 2 weeks past the great walkout. I would not be surprised if more walked between then and January 30th. My guess is these 15 could walk without having a 2nd job lined up, while the remaining 10 needed a job first.

          1. CalypsoSummer*

            More between now and Jan 30? Yes. If not before. If this is the crazy part of the year for them, and 60% of the workforce just walked out the door, I can’t imagine the others remaining much longer.

            I’m still stuck on the bit about “we’re too soft in her opinion” bit. WHAT??

          2. Susan Ivanova*

            I worked at a place where the VP’s response to people leaving drove everyone else away: After an ill-advised merger between Dark and Place resulted in the depressing DarkPlace, engineers from the former Place started leaving one by one. There was a hiring boom in Placetown but Dark City (400 miles away) was in a slump. At an all-hands, a Place engineer asked the Dark VP what they were doing about that. The VP looked at us like we were naughty children and said “only you can protect your jobs”.

            By the end of the month my entire team had found other jobs, and the other teams were in similar situations. DarkPlace only lasted a few years after that.

        4. Bob-White of the Glen*

          60% is amazing! It’s tough to walk out on a job and not have another one in place. 60% means there were serious issues with that place.

          OP – any chance of combining the 15 people and starting a competing company? :D In any case, you guys are amazing and if more of us were brave enough to do that, the workplace might improve in a hurry. (Even faster than the great resignation is causing.) Good luck and let us know how it goes!

        5. Julia Gulia*

          60% is huge. Imagine losing 60% of your office quitting, in the same week. Nothing “only” about that!

        6. Mannequin*

          “Only” losing more than half your workforce in a single holiday weekend is brutal, no matter what industry you are in.

      2. NotJane*

        “This might have to be the most satisfactory update to date. Do it or quit.”

        Oh yes, I agree. And can we count the ways?

        1. Commiseration and pushback among coworkers unexpectedly facilitated by AAM.

        2. Toxic, power-trippy start-up owner *doubles down* in response to said pushback (“she assigned 75 Hard to our department specifically because we’re too soft in her opinion”… OMG, WTF, and all other related acronyms!!!)

        3. 60% of the department calls her bluff and quits en mass over the Thanksgiving break.

        I think this is what’s referred to as “Justice Porn” on Reddit. It might also make for a good Master Card commercial: Your entire department quitting in protest? Priceless.

        1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

          Yes! I did that, over being made to work in an office all by myself that would have been a nearly 2-hr commute away. The workplace health and safety people wrote me a note to say I couldn’t do that for health reasons, (the reason being claustrophobia, meaning I can’t take underground transport without being in danger of a panic attack). So the boss had to make me redundant, pay out a significant amount of severance and sign papers enabling me to get unemployment benefit. None of which I’d have had if I’d resigned – which is what the boss was trying to force me to do.
          The doctor who looked into my case had to go and visit the head office, and was struck at how stressed out all the employees looked, so she then launched an enquiry into the whole firm. I had trouble keeping my body in my seat when she told me that, because my spirit was soaring with joy for my former colleagues.

          1. Candi*

            In the US, this kind of “harm yourself or quit” can be considered constructive dismissal. Constructive dismissal means you get unemployment.

            It’s definitely worth applying. Especially if they forwarded all the emails to personal accounts before leaving.

    4. Candi*

      Yay! Good on you for calling her bluff!

      (And I’m glad y’all had the resources you could do that!)

      But this? This is the world of the Great Resignation, bad boss. They don’t have to put up with you anymore.

      Whether they leave now, or scram once they have another offer, they don’t have to deal with such unreasonable demands -there’s too many hiring!

      I’d also be asking Unemployment if this counts as constructive dismissal. Summary in the email, Hard 75 materials attached.

  1. hamsterpants*

    “Let’s just say they’re getting the hard part of 75 Hard.”

    Please tell me sometime said this to them!!!!! Loooool.

    1. sacados*

      And when they express surprise/complain about so many people quitting at once, “Well, it’s not supposed to be a positive experience…”
      I’m very much cheering for LW and their (now-former) coworkers!

      1. Marzipan Shepherdess*

        But of course it’s not supposed to be a positive experience! Did you think that being told how to run your medical, nutritional and overall personal life would be positive for anyone except a bona fide masochist?!

        1. Freya*

          And moreover being told by someone who is not licenced to dispense medical advice and is requiring treatments without the consent of the purported patients. Or so it could probably be argued – you might not get very far with it, depending on the documentation but… If anyone took the required treatments and was damaged as a result, there’s a legal liability nightmare waiting to happen.

    2. kittymommy*

      Oh too be a fly on the wall right now in that office!!! There’s no effing way I would participate in anything like that at work – you want to see me be mega cranky pants? Make me take a cold shower and take away my wine. Nevermind that I consider (mandatory) physical activity to be against my religion. ;)

      1. Mimi*

        If there were an enforceable way to make me take a 5 minute cold shower once a day, I would quit over that alone. It wouldn’t be too awful in summer, aside from probably getting a bad case of dry skin, but there are approximately nine months of the year in which I would not be able to warm up properly for hours.

        1. Mannequin*

          I can’t even take a cold shower in the summer, I’m so sensitive to cold. Has to be what I call “luke-cool” or it’s actually painful.
          I would burst into laughter if a manager told me they expected me to engage in a daily 5-minute torture session.

    3. EPLawyer*

      Yep toughen up buttercup. Figure out how to run the department down 15 people. Don’t go sobbing in your cold shower.

      1. Little Miss Cranky Pants*

        Phuck yeah! A great update in this cheery holiday season. Cold shower this, wench.

      2. LouAnn*

        I am so, so hoping that a few more people quit so they can make it to a “Hard 75” who said no to this ill-conceived attempt at ‘toughening you up.’ Well, the boss will get plenty of exercise as she runs around putting out fires.

  2. BenAdminGeek*

    I feel bad that the LW is without a job, but this is the only way to effect change- group action to quit like that shows your (former) employer. My guess? The owner will not learn anything from this.

    1. ecnaseener*

      She definitely won’t learn. She’ll just say “what a surprise, the softies were quitters!” Oh well.

      1. Cat Tree*

        And then her company will go bankrupt. She still won’t learn, but at least she’ll no longer be an employer.

        1. PollyQ*

          No joke! Even for a large company, losing that many people from a department all at once would be a major problem, but for a start-up? It really could be the beginning of the end.

          1. Elio*

            She’ll probably go whining on Fox (Faux) News about how people don’t want to work and it’s somehow the government’s fault that everyone quit.

      2. HoHumDrum*

        Nothing reveals “softness” more than having a life so privileged you have to manufacture your own hardships. I would bet every single one of those employees is 10x “harder” (whatever tf that means) than the boss is, at a minimum.

        1. Elise*

          Just the willingness to quit their jobs over this shows that they are “harder” than the boss on a weird power trip.

        2. The New Wanderer*

          “Nothing reveals “softness” more than having a life so privileged you have to manufacture your own hardships.”

          I just love this line so much, I wish someone at the company could say it to the CEO directly.

          But, I’ll content myself with the actual mass walk-out that happened and hope the remaining people are free, one way or another, from this insanity soon.

        3. Hippo-nony-potomus*

          “Nothing reveals “softness” more than having a life so privileged you have to manufacture your own hardships.”

          This is so insightful and succinct. I’ve had a lot of thoughts about that over my adult life but have never been able to say exactly what bothered me. The best I’ve managed is an internal monologue of “do you really not have any actual problems in life that you need to go looking for them?”

        4. DTIBA*

          Nothing reveals “softness” more than having a life so privileged you have to manufacture your own hardships.

          Can I quote you in my next novel? I want to quote you in my next novel.

        5. Andy*

          It sounds good, but “tough hard guy” programs have appeal also in non-priviledged blue collar groups.

          1. Nanani*

            I doubt those guys are in a position to enforce them on entire groups of staff. Apples and oranges.

          2. Candi*

            Those are made to directly extort money from the blue collar workers by appealing to a traditional sort of toughness the stereotypical blue collar worker is supposed to have. They’re different in concept, if not in the shiller’s base goals, from the tough guy formula designed to appeal to people with too much money and too little sense, who fancy themselves modern-day Vikings, gladiators, or other type of warrior whose image has been badly warped by Hollywood.

        6. Candi*

          We need this on mugs. And t-shirts. And mousepads.

          It succinctly describes a concept that appears far too often in many different contexts, and often takes far too many words to describe. It puts me in mind of the English nobility going on safari in the 19th century.

      3. tamarack & fireweed*

        Not from that, but if it’s a VC funded startup, and it’s small enough that 15 people in a key department quitting gets them into hot water, then the board may very well give her a good reality check.

        We can never rely on someone learning in a straight line from mistakes, but people do learn, even if it’s chaotic. Maybe the person to learn something from this is another member of the C-Suite, or a board member, or …

      4. Momma Bear*

        She might not learn. I know someone who turned an agency into a revolving door and as long as nobody called them on it, the door just kept spinning. Anyone who mattered or was smart got out. There’s only so much one can care sometimes.

    2. Annony*

      I wonder how many of the remaining 10 are actively job searching but not in a position to quit with nothing lined up.

      1. NeutralJanet*

        I’m going to go ahead and guess at least 9 of them—even if they were genuinely all okay doing 75 Hard, I can’t imagine that any of them are okay with more than doubling their workload because the owner was so weird about it!

      2. Worldwalker*

        My guess? Most of them.

        I’d guess the ones who didn’t quit are the ones who are primary breadwinners, singles without large savings, etc. That doesn’t mean they want to be there — it just means that they’re staying until they have a viable exit strategy.

        Glassdoor is going to be interesting….

        1. exlibrarian*

          Yeah, I’ve had jobs I would have loved to walk out of with my pride and dignity intact, but I can’t leave a job until I have another one lined up– single, a woman closing in on 50, moderately serious chronic health issues and fairly scant savings, it would be catastrophic for me to be out of work for any amount of time (people like me don’t get to make impulsive decisions if they impact income, but I would 100% be looking HARD for my next job if this were my workplace).

          1. TardyTardis*

            Yes, giving up health insurance when there’s chronic illness? A six month gap could literally kill a person.

      3. RJ*

        …or how many of the 10 will still not do it and force the company to fire them then turn around and hit them with some kind of employment lawsuit?

    3. VeeTLV*

      of course she won’t learn. but she’ll have to work hard. and isn’t that what she was after? i love this follow up so much.

      1. EPLawyer*

        and secretly planning to not hire anyone who didn’t work in 2020-2021. Because that will show those privileged brats right?

        1. quill*

          I always wonder if in a couple years they’ll realize that they don’t have their pick of new grads, because not all students worked in 2020-2021

    4. D*

      I’m really curious what would happen if they didn’t quit but refused to do 75 hard…that would be an interesting conversation with the unemployment office…

      1. Ama*

        I would be inclined to call making this a requirement to keep my job, a “material change in my job duties” which I think in most states you can claim unemployment for even if you quit.

        1. Alex*

          Also, wouldn’t this then mean the time spent exercising, showering, changing for said activities, etc. would definitely count as paid work time even if you agree to do it? That’s at least 2.5 hours of each work day.

    5. Nanani*

      Well, quitting or unionizing. Though I have no idea whether unionizing is feasible in LW’s workplace and job type.

    6. Wintermute*

      They might not, but there’s a chance whoever takes over their clients (since I’d bet good money they’re losing them) is a more normal and healthy business. It’s nice when the free market works out, it isn’t often, but when it does, it’s nice.

  3. Sharpieees*

    “she assigned 75 Hard to our department specifically because we’re too soft in her opinion.”

    Jaw drop…..

    1. Dittany*

      Is anyone else imagining the Grand High Mental Toughness Arbiter receiving the resignations and and going, “Weak! They were all WEAK!”?

      1. chocolate lover*

        Having recently read “Bad Blood” about Elizabeth Holmes and Theranos, it sounds like something Holmes would have done, to me.

        1. Not A Mango*

          Or something out of the Nine Perfect Strangers wellness programme… (at least in the book, still haven’t got round to the show yet)

    2. Rainy*

      The problem with issuing a challenge like “come on if you think you’re hard enough” is that a fair bit of the time you get punched immediately afterward.

    1. Danniella Bee*

      My exact thoughts! This is one of the most satisfying and juicy updates posted on a day of amazing updates!

      1. Jessica*

        Yes, in the words of Clippy, “It looks like you’re trying to fuck around. Would you like to find out?”

  4. The Ginger Ginger*

    OHHHHHHH, that is DELICIOUS. I love that so many of you called that bluff. I hope everyone comes out the other side with a better job.

    1. Anonymous pineapple*

      I wonder how those interviews would go. “Can you tell me why there 15 open roles in this department?”

        1. allathian*

          Yeah, and anyone with any sense or any options in the job market would see that for the red flag it is and decline to take the job even if offered.

  5. Me*

    Good for you. Obviously that place is a toxic dump heap.

    Sadly I doubt this will change the owners stance as she probably just views it as proof that the department was “soft”. The good news is there’s a good chance she will continue to make bad decisions until she runs the company into the ground. I hope every day she has the day she deserves.

      1. Sack of Benevolent Trash Marsupials*

        Fizzy wine coolers in fruity flavors maybe? I would toast with whatever was ‘softest’ of the Bartles & Jaymes offerings…

        1. Selina Luna*

          My husband and my signature cocktail for our wedding was sweet and fruity… and if you had more than three of them, you wouldn’t walk straight for a week. We called it the Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster because we’re nerds.
          I challenge Ms. You’re Too Soft to do her nonsense after one of my PGGBs.

            1. Selina Luna*

              It starts with blue curacao and pineapple juice. coconut rum, and vodka. We also added a fair amount of lemonade.

        1. Lily Rowan*

          I mean, a French 75 is made with bubbly and sounds sweet, but it’s actually named after a bomb because it will drop you on your ass.

  6. MonkeyPrincess*

    I NEED to know what happens next. OP, is there ANY way you can get back to us in another 6 months about what went down after you all left? This story is amazing, and I’m so glad you’re out of that toxic environment.

    1. I've Escaped Cubicle Land*

      Yes, please. I have a feeling that this start up will be a closed down by the next update.

    2. Elizabeth the Ginger*

      I hope for OP’s sake that they get to just walk away and not look back, like the action hero striding towards the camera with the explosion behind them. They’ve earned the right to not have to deal with this drama anymore!

    3. Kate in Colorado*

      I would really love to know what the fallout was as well. I hope it was a total disaster. Anyone who thinks it’s okay to treat employees this way should experience the natural consequences of their choices.

    4. DC*

      Everyone who left should recruit their former coworkers to join their new employers. Give those folks a lifeline.

  7. Paris Geller*

    I hope the remaining 10 employees in the department are able to get out too. This whole situation is bananas.

    (Also, aside: updates from TWO different worst boss of the year contenders in the same day that are mostly positive for the OP? Glorious).

    1. JP in the heartland*

      I noticed that too. I hope the updates get added to the voting if either of the stories make it to the next round. Crazy town!

    2. River*

      The update makes me want to recast my previous vote. I was erring on the side of positive intent for that employer. They just moved up several points in the worst employer list.

    3. Dramatic Intent to Flounce*

      Glorious indeed, but also HOLY COW the worst company one just managed to get even more bizarre, ableist and terrible. Impressive, I say while recoiling from my phone in terror.

  8. HolidayAmoeba*

    Once again, my flabber is gasted. But good on you all who were told, do this intrusive and unreasonable thing or quit. And you all quit. While I’m sure the owner just thinks that she was right and you are all just soft, she is hopefully also being hit with the reality was that you weren’t hired as shining displays of mental toughness (at least, what she thought that meant). You were hired to do a job and working out twice a day is going to take away time what’s left of the team could be using to pick up the slack.

    1. Absurda*

      I wonder if that work out time (and reading time) were supposed to be done on employees’ own time or company time. I’m betting it was supposed to be their own time which makes it even worse.

  9. Michelle Smith*

    I’m stunned. Absolutely gobsmacked. But I am super proud of everyone for taking a stand and walking out, despite this being a really hard time of year to resign!

  10. The Prettiest Curse*

    This is such a great update. I’ve often hoped that a letter writer and multiple colleagues would resign en masse, but 15 people AT ONCE? I am seriously impressed. And I hope they have a very, very hard time finding replacements.

    1. Observer*

      Well, it’s great that so many walked. But otherwise, I can’t say this is great. Very depressing, in fact.

      1. quill*

        I don’t remember the exact number but I think there was a Sherlock Holmes play with almost the same title.

        1. Worldwalker*

          It was a book: The first authorized Sherlock Holmes pastiche novel. The title was “The 7% Solution.” The premise was that Holmes was a semi-delirious cocaine addict and Moriarty was his innocent former math teacher. I bought it with great excitement when it came out … and it was *awful*. The whole premise was “break canon,” and the writing was poor; I’ve read better-written fanfic. I have no idea what the Doyle estate was thinking.

          1. Candi*

            You have to be careful with breaking canon, especially if you’re claiming same universe. (Even stating “this is an AU” isn’t necessarily protection.)

            I hear the “how the heck did this get published?”, especially if there’s supposed to be a couple levels of review and a professional editor/publishing house involved.

            While I’m here, I’d like to recommentd “QRM—Interplanetary” by George O. Smith. I thought the bad boss was over the top and no one could be that ridiculous. Then I found AAM.

    1. Hawkeye is in the details*

      I was actually wondering what would happen if people didn’t quit, but just didn’t participate. Would firing them be legal?

      I’m wondering if they would have gone through with firing all 15, even if they were totally in the clear to do so. Of course, smaller retaliations would probably have been enacted as revenge.

      Ugh. What is wrong with people?

      1. Me (I think)*

        In the original letter, they were told that not participating would negatively affect their annual evaluations (and presumably their salaries/raises/bonuses.)

      2. Candi*

        In the US, firing anyone not covered by protected class would be technically legal, but Unemployment would take a very dim view of the reason.

        Firing anyone covered by protected class -in this context, disabilities- would be so illegal the EEOC would have a field day with this boss-owner. Insisting people do 75 even though their disabilities put them in the “could, but would aggravate their condition” to “flat can’t do it” and then firing them when they don’t violates so much of the ADA the boss could make a blanket of the text.

        Unemployment also generally considers “do something dangerous or quit” to be a form of constructive dismissal. The details vary according to state. (Constructive dismissal is weird in the US. It’s not illegal in itself, but it may involve asking employees to do illegal actions, and they quit rather than comply.)

    2. AnonInCanada*

      And if you can provide us with the results, that would really put a smile on all of our faces. Especially OP’s! :-D

  11. Love WFH*

    10 out of 15 quit within a couple weeks!?! That’s GLORIOUS. That department certainly wasn’t “soft”,

  12. Ashley*

    The people who didn’t quit are probably trying line up new jobs or will just not comply and get fired and take unemployment versus quitting outright. That would’ve been my play.

    1. Antilles*

      Or those people are using it for leverage – you gave us an ultimatum but guess what: Now that 60% of the department is gone during a bananas time of year, the power actually goes the other way!

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        The owner will demand that they take extra cold showers to compensate for the cold showers not being taken by their departed colleagues.

        1. quill*

          They’ll also have to go into the negative on the dietary restrictions. We’re gonna reach in and REMOVE sugar from you, now!

      2. Throwaway Jim*

        Tonight, I’m going to write AAM fan fiction where the remaining employees demand raises and that Hard 75 be canceled, and they then proceed to string up Dabney Coleman in bondage gear.

        1. Candi*

          (Blinks and checks Dabney Coleman’s movie list.)

          Nice 9 to 5 reference!

          You know, when the boss in a post is more bananacrackers than a boss created to be a villain, they really need to re-evaluate their methodology.

    2. Monty & Millie's Mom*

      Those who quit may still get unemployment – the employer changed the conditions of their employment enough that it’s possible, and even likely, that would be enough to get them their benefits. So if those of you who quit have not filed for unemployment, please do so. I hope you have documentation of the ridiculousness, but even if you don’t, your chances are still pretty good for getting unemployment benefits!

        1. Candi*

          Eh, not sure they can take the posts themselves as evidence. But the emails originally sent to Alison by the OP count as a statement of the events, and they’re time-stamped and everything. (You did save a copy in Sent Mail, right, OP?)

          What I’m thinking is that if the email was sent to all or CC’d rather than BCC’d, that’s a good bit of evidence of who got the email, bringing it down to only one person had to think to forward a copy to their personal email.

  13. Tabby*

    Omg I am dying of laughter! Sweet, malicious laughter! Good for them, to leave this jerk of a manager in the well deserved lurch! I hope they’re enjoying the Hard Things.

  14. Nea*

    she assigned 75 Hard to our department specifically because we’re too soft in her opinion

    I… I… WHAT? What metric is being applied here? How does that metric relate to the department’s output? WTF is this person looking for in an employee?

    Wait, don’t tell me. Anyone who prioritizes their own life outside the company is too soft, aren’t they?

    OP, well done. You didn’t just leave a toxic job, you left someone’s cult.

      1. Blonde Spiders*

        I think that might fall under Measurable. Bosslady brought out the calipers to measure softness?

    1. Amethystmoon*

      It’s definitely an ableist assumption for the boss to say that someone is “soft.” You never know what medical issues people have that they’d rather keep quiet about at work.

    2. Anon for this*

      I maintain that “The Smartest Guys in the Room” would have been an acceptable moral lesson for the non fiction reading.

    3. Robin Ellacott*

      And no recognition of the fact that “tough” people are unlikely to lean toward unthinking compliance when asked to do something totally daft.

      Tough people, as we have seen, call your bluff.

      1. JustaTech*

        Just as there’s a difference between bravery and bravado, there’s a difference between *being* tough and looking/sounds/presenting tough.

        This CEO seems to have mistaken display for the real thing.

        1. Candi*

          The toughest people are often the quietest. They’re secure in themselves and don’t need to talk about how great they are -they know who they are and their limits.

    4. Nanani*

      My colleague’s softness is an asset and not something to be reduced.

      Also my colleague is a cat.

    5. Candi*

      In my opinion, the world needs more softness. The push to be hard at all costs is part of the reason it’s screwed up.

      “Never show weakness.” Define weakness as something or several somethings that fall in the range of being a caring, compassionate human. Watch toxicity grow.

  15. Observer*

    Our entire team got an email from the owner saying she assigned 75 Hard to our department specifically because we’re too soft in her opinion.

    I. . . How do you even wrap your head around such insanity?!

    OP I hope you and your fellows have new jobs already. And, to be honest, I hope this place goes down in spectacular flames – spectacular enough that the owner will not be able to any sort of leadership position, or any position where she has any authority over people. She’s BAD, very bad news.

    1. Ama*

      Also please tell me you all forwarded that email to your personal accounts — the unemployment office (not to mention your state Department of Labor) may be very, very interested in that documentation.

  16. TiredMama*

    Amazing. Hats off to the 15 who quit. I feel bad for the 10 who stayed, assuming they felt they had no other options. I only wish I knew how the business was doing.

      1. DANGER: Gumption & Cheap Ass Rolls Ahead*

        I’d bet some are waiting until after the new year since this time of December is generally slow for job postings or they want the use their paid time off

  17. User L'astnamé*

    Wow. Just wow. Nice work!

    The gender implications here are wild. The female owner sees your team as “too soft” and wants you to “toughen you up” and then made you quit. I wonder what the OP’s team gender breakdown is. I wonder if the majority of people who quit are minority genders. I wonder if this industry is male-dominated. SO MANY QUESTIONS!

      1. Nanani*

        It’s also ableist and probably effectively cuts out anyone with caregiving responsibilities – what parent of small children, for example, has time for that program?

        1. Candi*

          Or parental care. When my sister was taking care of our mother during mother’s last (trio of) illness, it was fine for the first couple months, but gradually morphed into a full-time job, and 24/7 in the last few months.

          (Sister asked me about dividing the tiny inheritance. I told her she could take whatever she wanted for doing all that! I can never thank her enough for giving me time for my kids and my education.)

    1. No Tribble At All*

      Right??? I would have bet money that anyone pushing this program was a man. I’m stunned it was a woman. Congrats to her for being not soft like other girls, apparently?

  18. Fre Shavocado*

    Oh my golly please write in with updates when you and your former coworkers all get better jobs that you’re all way happier with. As a recruiter in this current job market I just have to say WTF was the owner THINKINGGGGGG?!?!?!

  19. awesome3*

    Amazing update. In addition to the outcome, I always love knowing when the AAM letters find their way into real life.

  20. Arin A.*

    Also I’d like to encourage anyone else in a situation like this, where you and your coworkers are ready to quit over working conditions, to consider going on strike instead. If you’re already planning to quit, what can you lose?

    1. Slow Gin Lizz*

      I dunno, would going on strike be any different than a whole bunch of people quitting, at least to the company? I think their quitting is a much better option, because then they are DONE with the company entirely. Striking sounds like a lot of work. I guess maybe if you want to stay in the job or if you want to make a public statement, then yes, striking might be a good option, but it certainly doesn’t seem like any of the quitters cared much about their job, given that they all quit pretty much right away.

        1. Arin A.*

          If you go on strike, one of three things will happen. First, you might get fired. But it’s illegal to fire an employee for striking. So go apply for employment and also file an unfair labor practice charge at the National Labor Relations Board. Hopefully get a cash settlement in addition to the unemployment. The NLRB is actually surprisingly helpful, though it can vary office to office.

          Second, the employer accedes to your demands. You can come back under those better terms or you can still decide to quit. No worse off.

          Third, the employer refuses to accede to your demands. You quit. No worse off.

          People often picket while on strike, but you can just sit at home or you can take another job. You don’t have to do anything other than say that you are on strike until they do X.

          Now legally it’s not a strike if it’s just you for yourself. But if even one coworker is willing to quit with you, don’t say you’re quitting. You don’t have to formally have a union. Say you’re a group striking until they drop the “wellness program” and, hey, maybe also until they give you a $2/hr raise to boot.

          1. Slow Gin Lizz*

            Oh, that’s all very interesting! Thanks for educating me about striking (which I hope I will never have to do).

            1. Arin A.*

              Just trying to put the information out there, in case anyone who could use it happens across it!

        2. Kevin Sours*

          Exactly who was the one to say “you’re fired” or “I quit” is somewhat less critical to unemployment eligibility than the popular imagination makes it. “Do x or quit” can very plausibly be viewed as a firing when the employee quits. I don’t have the expertise to really judge how strong a claim they would have but they should definitely file for unemployment.

          1. Manic Pixie HR Girl*

            Yes. It’s what is referred to as Conditional Termination, and it absolutely can be used toward a (former) employee’s case for unemployment benefits. I hope LW saved a copy of that email, since the company head was stupid enough to put this all in writing.

        3. Uranus Wars*

          My guess would be if the printed the emails out before they walked out en masse they can contest and get unemployment. I told the longer version of this story before but basically my mom was a top sales producer for 10+ years in her division. Got a new (female) boss around the time my parents were finalizing an adoption. Her boss told her IN AN EMAIL that she was going to have to choose between motherhood and her job and then fired her when she said she was going through with the adoption. It was an easy win for UE.

          1. Candi*

            WHAT THE BLAZES was that boss thinking? There’s so many bad optics to such a statement and act that even megacorps would feel it -that’s why bad managers keep it at microaggression word-of-mouth level.

            I really have to wonder about people’s self-preservation instincts sometimes. That’s just asking to be thrown under a bus -if not over your mother, than something else.

    2. Pool Lounger*

      If you’re not in a union striking could be seen as quitting by the company, right? If you’re not working they could fire you for cause, I’d think.

    3. Antilles*

      Given the description of it being a start-up and that the owner’s in charge, what would be the point of striking? There’s probably not anybody external who can really hold him to account – unlike a teacher’s strike or whatever, there’s not going to be some community or political upswell of people pushing the sides to negotiate. And not a chance this guy is going to change his mind because you strike – if anything, he’d take it as a Challenge To His Toughness (with exactly that emphasis) and double down on his position.
      The owner (and therefore) company suck and aren’t going to change; better to take your time/energy and apply them elsewhere rather than fighting a doomed strike battle.

      1. So they all cheap ass rolled over and one fell out*

        Then why not apply for jobs on company time? Even now finding a new job can take a little while. I actually find it hard to believe that 15 people could go a few weeks without income, around the holidays.

      2. logicbutton*

        The idea is that the owner would notice that his business can’t function without the striking employees, and decide that having them there to work is more important than making them do a weird wellness program. He’s not running his business on ego alone or the jobs wouldn’t have existed in the first place.

        1. Antilles*

          It’s possible the owner feels the pain and decides to back down…but that’s unlikely to be something that happens immediately; plenty of strikes last weeks if not months. Especially since the original post mentioned that they’ve had similar “habit resets” before, it’s hard to see them suddenly doing a 180 in a couple days.
          And even if the owner does decide that keeping the workers is more important than the wellness program, that’s still not really solving anything. OP’s proximate issue might have been the wellness initiative, but if you re-read the initial post, this is just the tip of the iceberg – the prior habit resets, the lack of functional HR, the owner feeling this is totally acceptable, the managers feeling empowered to threaten employees’ performance reviews over this, and probably plenty more that wasn’t listed. Even if the owner DID back down on the wellness program…there’s way more wrong with this company than simply Hard 75.

          1. Candi*

            It’s also indicative that the boss ordered them to do it. We’ve seen on here before where bad boss-owners wheedle or try to justify a bad decision, working to try and convince their subordinates to go along with whatever inane idea came down the pipe this week. Most of them might issue a “do it or quit” to one or two people, but not to a whole department.

            This boss ordered OP’s department to do 75, with a bizarre “explanation”, and issued an ultimatum when they doubled-down. That’s a mindset stuck in concrete -a strike won’t work when someone like that is in charge and has no accountability to anyone above them.

  21. animaniactoo*

    Oh! I hope for a future update where you’ve found a new job and it’s all kinds of awesome without this banana crackers stuff.

  22. Slow Gin Lizz*

    Wow wow wow!!!!!!! LW, you and your coworkers are all my heroes. Congratulations on getting out of there AND managing to make a very very solid point while doing so.

    Also I love “le barffe.” Please don’t give that up, just maybe don’t use it when you are trying to remain anonymous. :-)

  23. The Smiling Pug*

    Wow, this certainly turned out to be a doozy of an update! 15 out of 25 people: yikes. Well, I’m glad you’re out of there, LW.

  24. PTC*

    If you were local I would gift the 15 “quitters” with gift certificates to Auntie Anne’s (soft pretzels) and Dairy Queen (soft serve ice cream). Well played!

  25. CatCat*

    I hope all 15 filed for unemployment. This seems like a type of situation where one might be eligible for quitting. I’d coordinate if possible on the claim. Something like, “Employer required participation in extreme physical (mandatory cold showers daily, 90 minutes rigorous exercise daily, photos of body daily, drink at least 4 liters of water daily) and diet program. I was not able to participate. Employer said we had to quit if we didn’t participate.”

    1. Artemesia*

      This. It was constructive dismissal and they all should be drawing unemployment until they find something new.

  26. Firm Believer*

    I really wish this was a public story in the news like the Better layoffs. This is really incredible. I feel like this is viral, headline news material.

  27. Talula Does the Hula From Hawaii*

    but let’s just say they’re getting the hard part of 75 Hard

    The irony is they are very unlikely to learn their lesson, in these situations management tends to blame employees instead of introspection.
    That said not your problem, no your longer your circus or your monkeys.

    Heres to hoping you find another job with better pay soon.

  28. banoffee pie*

    What a ridiculous hill for the owner to die on. Honestly I can hardly believe how some people dig in when they’re in the wrong. The wronger they are, the more they dig in.

    The employees showed her who’s tough anyway lmao. Hope they all get new jobs quick

    1. Anonymous Luddite*

      Saw a cross-stitch sampler recently which read “Weird hill to die on, but at least you’re dead.”

  29. not that kind of Doctor*

    I adore this update & wish you all some refreshing downtime & fabulous new jobs.

  30. A CAD Monkey*


    Seriously i hope you saved the emails from this so when you claim unemployment she can’t just say y’all quit for no reason.


  31. DTIBA*

    “So we quit. 15 people in a 25-person department.”
    “This is a bananas time off year for them…”

    I almost wish LW was part of the remaining 10 just so we could get the management’s reaction to going into that season with less than 50% of their workforce. And that’s generous – “almost nobody wants to do it” sounds like 7 out of those 10 will be leaving soon after, but are staying for reasons unrelated to the job or 75 Hard.

    And when they do leave, and management tries to object, the boss’ attitude has preemptively given them an excellent comeback for any complaints about the workload they’re left with:
    “Well, look who’s soft now.”

    1. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

      Yeah, I wouldn’t be surprised if several of the others are actively looking for other jobs and waiting to quit until they have offers. And if they’re not looking now, they probably will be once the clowns in charge try to make 10 people do the work of 25.

      1. Chashka*

        Exactly what I was thinking. The remaining number of employees may dwindle down to a mere handful, in a very short amount of time.

        I’m picturing someone quitting every few days, to the point where everyone looks around and counts the remaining employees each day upon arrival at work. Who’s gone today? Who’s still here? How many do we have now? Is X just out on PTO today, or have they quit?

    2. Sara without an H*

      Yes, it’s possible that the Surviving 10 aren’t enthusiastic about the program, they just didn’t want to quit with nothing else lined up. I know a lot depends on the industry and region, but apparently a lot of firms are trying to hire right now, and I would anticipate a bunch of resignations coming in the course of the next month or so.

    3. tangerineRose*

      Maybe LW will hear from the people who are still there and find out how they are escaping this sinking ship.

  32. I WORKED on a Hellmouth*

    THIS IS AMAZING. I hope everyone finds swift and happy employment, that the other 10 people quit in a second wave, and that your coworker jumps into the comments and starts telling us all of the hot office gossip that has occurred since you left.

  33. bunniferous*

    I would have made them fire me. And then talked to the local media. But in any case I heartily approve of what you all did. I hope the rest can follow you soon!

  34. Name (Required)*

    I’d have made them fire me so I could collect unemployment – and of course, made sure to save all those emails as proof of why I was fired so they could not claim it was “for cause”.

    But I do love the fact that the company is screwed because so many quit.

    1. Monty & Millie's Mom*

      All states do unemployment differently, but in most of them, quitting like this, especially with proof, would be an exception and unemployment benefits WOULD be granted. In my state, this is considered changing the conditions of the employment to such an extent that it is unreasonable, and therefore, the (former) employee is justified in quitting and would receive benefits. So I get where you’re coming from, but don’t write off unemployment as being out of reach!

      1. Name (Required)*

        True – and I would definitely file for it if I was in their shoes – here’s hoping they get it!!

  35. monogirl*

    Well done to all who quit! My jaw dropped reading this.
    And please OP, do not take Le barffe out of your lexicon. Reading the first two lines of your original letter made me cackle so loudly. In fact that will likely now be my interior response to any of our “community building” events in the future, so thank you. (Fortunately ours are completely optional and often are scheduled in a way that I can’t attend because of my outlier work schedule. Oh well!)

  36. Xantar*

    So I looked up 75 Hard and wow. This has nothing to do with being soft or hard. It’s actually downright dangerous.

    I’m a martial arts instructor. I can run a 10k. I can bench press 1.6 times my own weight. I’m theoretically the person who would be the target audience for this nonsense, but I know enough to see this workout program is medically unsound and unsafe even for someone like me. If people refuse to undergo the program, that’s not a sign that they are soft. It’s a sign that they have their heads screwed on correctly.

    1. Yep*

      Agreed. There was a point when I was training for marathons and long distance triathlons. While I had a lot of days with two workouts, my coach always programmed in a day off for recovery every week. 75 Hard is dumb and is a good way to get injured.

    2. PT*

      I have a fitness instructor cert and a LOT of “fitness” stuff that gets popularized is terribly unsafe. Poor training practices abound everywhere. You really have to do your research and due diligence if you are going to start a new workout regimen, taking a new class, or working with a new trainer. There are tons and tons and tons of people working in fitness who have quickie certs and don’t know what they are doing, or they are in a “the customer is always right”/likes and follows/commission type environment and they simply don’t care as long as they’re bringing in the money.

      You only have one body and you need to be nice to it. Going balls to the wall is how you get hurt, not fit.

      1. ron the anon*

        Totally agreed! I’m a fitness enthusiast and a lot of “fitness programs” make me cringe.

        Also, I have a former co-worker who was injured during an employeee wellness exercise class, about a year after I left the organization. The fallout from it was amazing. First, the organization tried arguing that they weren’t liable because she wasn’t on the clock when class occurred and that it was optional. She had emails contradicting both of those things. Then they tried to deflect responsibility onto the contractor providing the class after an internal investigation discovered that the instructor had no formal certification. Eventually the employee union—which had opposed the EAP in the first place—got involved, and management moved to settle faster than a rat on a sinking ship.

        1. Candi*

          I’m hoping she got six digits, and could recover comfortably while being very picky about her next workplace.

    3. Selina Luna*

      I think I said this last time, but my father-in-law runs several marathons each year. He never did the 50 marathons in 50 states thing, but he did once do 5 marathons in one week. He and my mother-in-law went to Ireland and he heard there was going to be a marathon the next day and he signed up and finished in the top 20, no additional training needed. I sent him a link to that article and he was like, this is insane and dangerous, and no one should do this, even those who are in peak physical condition.

    4. Third or Nothing!*

      Right? I’m a trail runner. We are notorious for doing ridiculous things like running 100 miles just for a belt buckle. I enjoy pushing my own limits. I am actively repulsed by a company trying to force this foolish and dangerous plan on its employees. For the love, even folks training for 100 milers have rest days, and sure as heck don’t restrict calories cause that’s a sure fire recipe for bonking.

    5. Manic Pixie HR Girl*

      Yeah. I am pretty active in a few fitness communities/spaces, and I’ve seen this floating around for a while. What is scary is that it often tries to target those who aren’t already very physically fit and are looking to start somewhere. This is … not the place to start. Honestly it’s not the place to be at all, period. 75 days worth of double workouts with no rest days and improper fueling is just a horrible, horrible idea. Most responsible trainers strongly advocate against it.

    6. Candi*

      I saw a documentary on the Iron Man triathlon training several years ago.

      I read about a guy whose handicapped son wanted to do the Iron Man, so the dad trained for it and did it while hauling his son along. (They got permission from the relevant people.) Part of this involved wearing a harness and pulling his son along in a boat on the swimming part.

      This 75 stuff is way beyond either the normal training or the extra effort the dad put in to be able to bring his son along.

    1. EmKay*

      Also, please never stop using “le barffe”. I will never be “le tired” of that expression ;)

  37. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

    Fingers crossed that you and all your colleagues get some time to relax and recharge, then get awesome jobs.

  38. Danniella Bee*

    This is clearly an example of play stupid games, win stupid prizes on the part of the owner. They deserved to lose that many staff. I hope everyone finds excellent replacement jobs!

    1. GlowCloud*

      I love it when someone tries to deliver an ultimatum and it just crumbles to dust in their faces the minute the ‘or else’ condition is more favourable than whatever they were trying to coerce people into in the first place.

      Boss: “Do it, or leave this workplace!”
      OP: “Don’t threaten me with a good time!”

  39. Falling Diphthong*

    The job market’s pretty good right now; you don’t have to put up with this kind of amateur startup bullshit.

    I love that Alison’s last line from the original sums up the course of action.

  40. StormyNight*

    I’m disabled and could not do a program like that. I would have forced them to fire me or involved an ADA lawyer. What a steaming pile of nonsense this whole debacle is!

    1. The New Wanderer*

      Right?? What exactly was the plan for anyone who would need a medical exemption to this kind of stunt program? Continue to be denigrated as “too soft” by the ableist CEO? I’m really surprised no one was in a position to coach the CEO that maybe insisting on “do this insane physical program or quit” was a tremendously bad idea.

      1. quill*

        I’m assuming that part of the amateur startup bullshit was either not having an HR to say that they couldn’t do this, or some form of hiring descrimination to begin with.

      2. Observer*

        What exactly was the plan for anyone who would need a medical exemption to this kind of stunt program?

        Well, apparently, according to Boss, anyone who needs a medical exemption would be allowed to get one BUT would be marked for all time as “SOFT”.

        What a nasty loon.

      3. MCMonkeyBean*

        It sounds like they did technically say someone could bring in a doctor’s note, but I would bet that while those people would probably not be forced to participate they would probably be seen as “not team players” and all that other ridiculous stuff

      4. Candi*

        The original letter says that the workers’ performance reviews, annual reviews, etc., would be negatively affected if they didn’t participate.

        So, handicapped workers can’t participate. They get docked on nebulous factors.

        Then get fired for having poor reviews.

        Boss is a horrible human being, the kind that makes employment lawyers very rich at no expense to the victim. (Except maybe the initial consultation fee.)

  41. QKL*

    Good for you OP. I would have been tempted to respond to that email, if I was willing to quit anyway, “I will not be participating in a diet plan not recommended by my doctor and I have no plans to quit.” I’d like to see what boss tries to write on the unemployment paperwork, lol.

  42. Beth*

    Ironically, your ex-boss’s ultimatum did lead you to collectively find new strength–the strength to stand up for yourselves and ultimately ditch her ridiculous, boundary-overstepping company for good. Not what she was aiming for, I bet! It sounds like she wanted you so busy building her version of ‘strength’ that you wouldn’t have time or energy to think about whether this actually suited your own goals, but I think your version shows a lot more fortitude than hers. Play stupid games, win stupid prizes.

  43. tessa*

    “A coworker saw my question on AAM…and she told me almost nobody wants to do it, just nobody wanted to come forward.”

    That’s awesome. :)

  44. The Original K.*

    Well, well, well. The owner f*cked around and found out. I LOVE this. Well done, OP, and best of luck finding a new job!

  45. MsMaryMary*

    I hope OP’s department is very important, like accounting, or very visible, like direct client support or manufacturing. It’ll be real interesting when tax forms aren’t filed or bills aren’t paid. Or when the owner has to explain to clients why their contact disappeared and no one answers their emails. Or when there are no widgets to sell.

    Everyone’s job is important, just some will have more of an immediate impact than others.

    1. Worldwalker*

      Since this is their busy time of the year, it may be retail-related. In which case it will be *very* visible when 60% of the people doing that are missing. “Your two million dollar holiday order wasn’t shipped? That’s Jane’s account … oh, wait, she quit. Wakeen is handling that now … oh, he quit too. Uh, can I call you back?”

    2. Prof Space Cadet*

      Maybe I just have a warped sense of humor, but I would love to see the owner write in to AAM with her bizarro alternate reality version of events just to see Alison smack it down.

  46. Elizabeth West*

    Hahahaha, this boss must be losing her mind. The schadenfreude is strong with some of these updates. It’s hard to feel sorry for people when they pull stuff like this and then get burned.

    I hope OP’s team all gets great new jobs for Christmas. \0/

  47. AnotherLibrarian*

    Good for you OP! I wish you a quick and successful job hunt for a position run by rational people. This was bananas.

  48. Gerry Keay*

    Thank you thank you thank you OP for embodying my all-time favorite meme. “Just walk out! You can leave!! If it sucks, hit da bricks! Real winners quit!!” —da share z0ne

  49. lcsa99*

    This is one of the best updates ever!

    Alison, I assume this is one of those rare situations you can be totally straightforward in an interview when you’re asked about why you’re looking for a new job. I don’t think anyone would question leaving over something like this.

  50. go big or go home*

    The only thing better would be if the 15 started their own company and put Hard 75’s company out of business

  51. Shiba Dad*

    OP, I’m glad you and so many of your coworkers got out of that bananapants place. I hope you all find new jobs soon.

  52. A Simple Narwhal*

    [chef’s kiss] What an update! I’m sorry that OP and 14 others are out of a job, but I can’t imagine that with an owner like that this was the only area full of bees. It was only a matter of time before more nonsense revealed itself and she probably did all of them a favor by unleashing an inescapable hive of bees all at once, rather than one at time that might have been overlooked until it was too late.

  53. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

    I am grinning from ear to ear.

    Your CEO thought your department was “soft”? Does she get her management ideas from watching 3rd-rate war movies?

  54. Miss Fisher*

    I know this site is built upon anonymity, but there are times like this where I just wish the OP could name and shame the company.

    1. JSPA*

      Along the same vein…it’d probably then be some sort of illegal if a bunch of us applied, only to turn them down, if they tried to hire us, explaining that they’re “not hard enough” for us…but we can imagine it, all the same.

      1. Candi*

        In the US, you’d only get in trouble if you were on unemployment and turned down the offer. Or if it stooped to the level of harassment rather than “decided I didn’t want to work here after all.”

        But wasting their time? Not illegal. They’re not emergency services in the middle of a crisis, or 911.

  55. Not Tom, Just Petty*

    It was the owner all the time!!!!
    It’s like M. Night Shyamalan and Michael Shure wrote a script for Monsters Inc.

  56. Kate in Colorado*

    15 out of 25 quit?! BRAVO! Slow clap! Chef’s kiss! Well done you lot! I love to see it!

  57. Elielle*

    That’s the most satisfying “f*ck around and find out” update! Well done to you and your colleagues, OP!

  58. Berkeleyfarm*

    Ohhhhh wowwwww. GOOD FOR YOU!

    OP, if you’re in a state which is at all friendly to the unemployed, y’all should file for unemployment. Your job requirements were changed substantially without compensation, and not in a way that is at all relevant to what you actually do for a living. They’ll contest it, but you can appeal.

  59. elizelizeliz*

    Congrats on quitting, OP! And just for myself, this update has made me extra glad that I voted for this in worst boss yesterday. Solidly, solidly awful.

  60. Troutwaxer*

    >>> “Our entire team got an email from the owner saying she assigned 75 Hard to our department specifically because we’re too soft in her opinion.”

    So your entire department was punished with dangerous amounts of physical exercise? You boss was bug-fornicate nuts!

    1. irene adler*

      Oh yeah! My thoughts exactly!

      Just how are they answering the “so why did the prior employee leave this position?”? That has to be dicey to respond to.

  61. Bookworm*

    That last paragraph! Whew. Congrats, OP. I’m sorry it ended that way but I’m sure you and your former colleagues who left are now much happier/at peace of mind, etc.

    Thanks for the update!

  62. Critical Roll*

    Oh, wow. This update… it’s so *sniff* so beautiful. The pushback. The solidarity. The CONSEQUENCES. The weather outside is frightful, but the vindication is *so* delightful.

  63. Robin Ellacott*

    This is a great update… Actions, meet Consequences. Love that they are getting the “hard” part. ha.

    But holy cow, requiring a fitness program or quitting is INSANE. It’s so disturbing how people attribute morality to fitness/lifestyle choices and circumstances and feel no need to hide that.

    1. Candi*

      “Morality = physical wellness and fitness” goes back to at least the 1880s, though I’m not sure how much older it is. It’s very embedded and pervasive in western culture, right up there with physical attractiveness also being a measure of morality.

      It’s still around, too. I did a survey about three months ago about “here’s these people, here’s their qualifications, who would you hire,” and they were definitely testing physical appearance as part of the survey.

  64. Stitch*

    My jaw kept dropping on this owner. What a jerk! I hope she gets the “results” she richly deserves through this behavior, with the 15.quitting being a good start.

  65. not that kind of Doctor*

    I’d like to add that it looks like enough of us are going to start using “le barffe” that it won’t give you away anymore, OP! :D

  66. Elm*

    YESSSSSS! This is my favorite update EVER. I actually voted for this as the worst boss in round one. Even though this wasn’t planned and it sucks for the remaining 10 (who I’m sure are looking and you shouldn’t feel bad about!, I think mass exits like this are sometimes the only way to get a point across.

    I’m at a company that I believe is in for a similar surprise very, very soon. A warning to all companies: Stop blaming those at the bottom of the pyramid for your mistakes because without a base, the whole structure crumbles.

    1. Candi*

      My goal is to be a little worker bee buzzing around helping, a foundation stone that supports more talented coworkers as far as they care to go.

      I’m a nontraditional student and will be 45 when I graduate. I don’t have time to do all that rank-climbing stuff, and I don’t like being in charge, at all. So I’ll work a work-to-live job, making sure to always get decent COL pay, and support others with more time and the dream to be and do more.

  67. Princess Scrivener*

    OP, your original letter stuck with me for a few days, and I’m giddy to hear you all fought back where they’ll feel it–in the profit margin. 75 Hard is going around here like a bad rash, mostly among fitness trainers, who should know better than to promote such a rigid, guilt-inducing 2 1/2 months of stupidity to prove they’re mentally tough. Good on y’all! You made my day.

    1. pancakes*

      The main problem with it isn’t that it’s rigid or that people might feel guilty for not keeping up with it, but that it was designed by someone with no expertise or qualifications as a dietician or trainer. It’s poorly-conceived and dangerous.

  68. AnonInCanada*


    I’m guessing Boss underestimated herself when she thought of you (as in all of you) as “soft” now! The ear-to-ear shit-faced grin that covers my face right now may not be wiped off my face for awhile! What an epic show-up to her! Bravo!

  69. Sleet Feet*

    Glad this worked out for you and I hope you land on your.feet at a great new company!

    A word or warning for others though: never send an email and CC others as a group push back. It’s way to easy to be pointed out as the ring leader and for the supporters to bail if management gets nasty. Alison has a post in the archives with how to push back as a group. I’ll link it in a reply.

    1. MCMonkeyBean*

      I mean, if you are ready to quit over the issue anyway–which OP clearly was since they did–then I don’t think there is any problem with handling it that way!

      (Though hopefully they knew OP was going to do that at least and she wasn’t just like randomly outing them to her bosses)

  70. H.C.*

    Eager for the update to the update in which the company is outed & punished for this BS.

    OP, best of luck to you & your colleagues!

  71. FionasHuman*

    While congratulations are in order, I’m wondering at the decision to quit rather than refusing to participate, getting fired, and then filing for unemployment so nightmare boss has to try to justify firing people for a requirement that could be illegal in some cases (employees with health issues) and then having to pay unemployment on top of losing the staff.

    1. allathian*

      They probably could file for unemployment even while they quit voluntarily because the employer changed the terms of employment so dramatically.

  72. Elbie*

    I feel bad for the staff left behind, if they were in a place where they could not quit and have to pick up the burden (I am sure it is really hard for them to be with). But I also give kudos to all of you who stood your ground and left. I like to think that I would have left with you all!!!

  73. Anne August*

    This qualifies for the best update and the Worst Boss of the Year simultaneously. I hope the OP comes back with another update on those poor ten people who were not yet able to quit. I hear Target is paying more than $20/hour for seasonal help. I’d rather stack a hundred shelves full of wrapping paper than work for that boss.

  74. nnn*

    I want a competitor to swoop in and hire that whole department!

    Also, I hope everyone involved remembers to leave a glassdoor review!

  75. Dancing Otter*

    “[I]t was 75 Hard or quit . . . . So we quit.”
    I’d call it a prison break, myself.
    I hope you all find sane employers with good pay, benefits, and working conditions quickly. And that the ten remaining can get out before busy season is over.

  76. Observer*

    I just had a thought – this reminds me a little of “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty”. It sounds like she thinks she’s some tough and grizzled old staff sergeant barking at some raw recruits “You’re soft, men! SOFT! By golly, I’ll toughen you up!”

    1. La Triviata*

      I think it would be entertaining to the remaining 10 if one of them challenged the horrible boss to do the 75 Hard program – challenge them to do the whole thing and they’ll have check-ins to make sure she’s actually doing it (the daily photos, perhaps). I seriously doubt that she could keep it up.

  77. Happily Retired*

    I have been reading backwards (from new to old) through AAM blogs and am now back to December 2019. I frequently feel like a complete dinosaur, as I wonder why no one ever uses the excellent response to outrageously absurd demands: “How DARE you??”

    OP/LW, your update today tells me that the spirit, if not the words, of “how dare you” is alive and thriving! You go girl/guy, and high fives to your fellow escapees, both current and future.

  78. MCMonkeyBean*

    Wowowow I’m sorry it turned out your “relatively level-headed” leader was the worst of them all! But I’m glad you got out, and that it wasn’t just a Jerry Maguire moment but that so many others quit too! Even aside from all the terrible details of this specific program (and that’s a big “aside”), a company owner who says things like “my employees are too soft” sounds like a dealbreaker on its own to me!

    1. Observer*

      a company owner who says things like “my employees are too soft” sounds like a dealbreaker on its own to me!

      Good point!

  79. Gabrielle*

    Please tell me you kept that email, or can get a copy from someone else. I’m no expert on unemployment claims and protecting your future self in job searching, but it definitely sounds good to have on hand. I am amazed that they put that ultimatum in writing, and to a whole group!

  80. Random Biter*

    dingdingdingding….We have a winnah!! Also hoping the people in the building across from ours did NOT see my victory dance.

  81. yala*


    I’m just giggling like an evil leprechaun over this. Absolutely delightful!

    I mean, it really does suck that they forced y’all into that position, and I hope everyone lands on their feet! But I cannot get over a boss just telling a whole department they’re “too soft.” Like. Wtf.

    Good on y’all sticking up for yourselves, and I sure do hope it stings her.

  82. Turtles All The Way Down*

    Imagine being the person trying to hiring for those jobs. “So, can you tell me why this position is open?”

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