did I spread gossip about my boss, company-branded clothing doesn’t fit me, and more

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

1. Should I have stayed quiet about the reason our chair was demoted?

I am a high school Social Studies teacher and have been at the same school for the past nine years. My department chair, “Dan,” has been chair almost that entire time, is a micromanager, and most of the department dislikes him.

About six weeks into this school year, he announced at our department meeting that he would be stepping down and an assistant principal would be covering the chair position. I think everyone was slack-jawed and as soon as the meeting ended, the teachers stayed behind to talk. We could not figure out what Dan must have done that was bad enough to lose a chair position effective immediately but not to get fired. Our bets were on mishandling money.

I didn’t run into Dan one-on-one until several days later after school. I awkwardly said I hoped he was doing okay, and Dan, clearly upset, began rambling. Eventually he said the reason — he said the n-word in front of students. I told my two closest work friends the next day what Dan had said.

Not too long after, I felt guilty that I was enjoying seeing the downfall of my boss. If I respected him, I would have kept this information to myself. There was a definite glee that I and others were taking in this. Yet on the other hand, I think if other people find out that you are racist, you should bear consequences for it. It took only a matter of days before the entire school faculty knew. Should I have held my tongue?

I will note that about a month later, I found out that Dan told at least two other people the story, not just me, so we (and he) will never know how the story got out to everyone. But for a solid month I believed that I was the only person he told and I therefore must have been the one to spread it like wildfire.

I don’t know, I think there’s value in people knowing what happened. The rest of you arguably have a professional interest in knowing the department chair used a racial slur and how the school handled it. I’m sure some of the interest in talking about it was gossipy, but that doesn’t make the entire discussion illegitimate.

This stuff tends to get out one way or another, and that’s usually better than having rampant speculation anyway. It also sounds like Dan was telling multiple people, and he didn’t ask you to keep it to yourself. In general, if someone you’re not close to tells you something like this, it’s not unreasonable to assume they’re talking about it to others too.

2. We were offered company-branded clothing … in sizes that don’t fit me

On a Friday, the CEO of my company announced that we were all getting fleece vests with the company logo embroidered on them. I mean I’d rather have the 401K matching he did away with in 2020 back. Or the second designer he’s been promising me for 10 months so I’m not the only designer on staff, who is also juggling engineering and manual writing. But sure, a vest. That’s cool.

“We have them in small, medium, and large.” Oh. The problem is that I’m fat. (I know some people think of that word as an insult, I’ve embraced it, my body is my body, and it’s just my body. Not me.) A large has no hope of fitting me. An XL I could at least wear open and not look like Chris Farley in Tommy Boy, but if we’re talking zip it up, a XXL would be needed.

We were supposed to go pick up our vests from the office today. I talked to our “HR person” (we don’t really have HR, one of a myriad of reasons I’m looking elsewhere) yesterday and asked if it was okay I didn’t pick up a vest as 1) I wanted to prepare for a meeting that was scheduled right after the pick up window and 2) I wasn’t comfortable driving 30 minutes each way to pick up a vest I couldn’t use.

“Why can’t you use it?” Which left me in the horribly awkward position of typing out in a Teams chat, to a coworker who I am somewhat friends with and have socialized with outside of work, “David, it won’t fit me.”

I know that I am not the one who should feel awkward here. But I’ve worked very hard for the past decade to overcome my coming of age in the ultra low rise jean era, when girls who wore a size 00 would sob in dressing rooms because they felt fat. This makes me want to shrink into myself, to hide in baggy sweatshirts, roll my shoulders in, and cross my arms so I’m taking up as little physical space as possible. I thought I was past most of that, but I guess not.

Am I wrong to be annoyed by this? I’m not angry exactly, just annoyed that they excluded a huge fraction of the general American population by not ordering above a large, and that I had to spell it out so explicitly. I don’t want my personal baggage clouding things. And if I’m not wrong, how can I address this in a productive manner so that in the future they either steer clear of clothing, or ask people what sizes would be useful?

Ugh, I don’t know why this still happens or how people are unaware that three sizes won’t cover everyone. You are not wrong to be annoyed by it; it’s thoughtless and out-of-touch.

I would say it this way: “There’s a huge range of body sizes and just ordering S, M, and L will leave out a lot of people. If we’re going to order clothing again, can you ensure a fuller range of sizes are available so people aren’t left out? It’s really uncomfortable to have to explain that what you’re providing won’t fit my body.”

3. I keep running out of work at my new job

I am a little under a month into a new job and so far I’m loving it, but I have terrible workplace anxiety. I find myself struggling when I have free time during the workday because I don’t necessarily know what needs to be done (I complete projects successfully when assigned). I feel like I’m clinging to my boss when I’m proactive and ask for work to do, but I feel like avoiding her and just not working is much worse. Any advice?

Instead of asking her for one additional assignment at a time, name the pattern for her and ask if there’s a way to address it more broadly. For example: “I’m finding that I end up with free time most days and then need to come back to you for more to do. Would it be possible to give me a whole group of projects at once so I’m not having to seek out work from you so often, and/or longer-term projects that aren’t urgent but I can return to whenever I have downtime?”

It’s possible that this will resolve on its own once you’ve been there longer; your manager might be doling things out more slowly than she normally would because it takes her time to train you on each new thing, and she might not have enough time to train you on everything immediately. But it’s a reasonable question to raise and see what she says.

4. Suggesting I return to my old job … with a big raise

Before the pandemic, I was at a company I really liked. It included a big pay boost from my previous role, a really fun and dynamic culture, plenty of perks, and a team and work I enjoyed. Before Covid hit, they transitioned my department to new leadership, and my heart sank. The person who moved into a major role was someone I knew that long term, I had no desire to work under. I didn’t agree with their management style, and we’d butt heads severely.

I looked for a new role, got hired at with a HUGE pay jump, and made a swift exit. I tried my best to leave on good terms. There was a bit of a hiccup — a team member reached out not too long ago asking if I could help out/freelance, which I was very open to, but it became clear that leadership didn’t approve it — and I never heard back after I basically agreed to do it.

Fast forward to now. I just saw that the manager moved on to another company, and my old role is still open. Part of me is thinking I’d be interested in going back, but not at my old salary. I’m not really looking to twist their arm, but I would be open to boomeranging, if they could get close. Then again, they might not be interested at all. Is it worth it to reach out? Of course, the worst they could say is no, which, not the end of the world. Just wondering if there is a respectful way to go about it, which wouldn’t seem opportunistic.

Does the pay leap they’d have to offer put you way outside what you know to be their range for your old role? If they pay people in that role, say, $60-70K and you’d need $110K to go back, that’s probably not going to happen. However, if they’ve been paying way under-market and they’ve seen they’re not able to replace you at the old salary level, there’s more of a chance.

Assuming what you’d need to return isn’t wildly over the market for the work itself, it should be perfectly fine to contact them and see if they’re interested. You could frame it as, “I’d love to come back. I want to be up-front that I’ve found similar roles are paying around $X and I’d be looking for a salary in that range. Is that something that could work on your end?”

5. With remote work, which state laws apply?

I think this question also applies to folks who live in one state but work in another, but I’m mostly thinking about situations where remote employees live in a different state then the one their employer is based in. If there are different laws about pay, benefits, etc., which law applies? For example, if an employee resides in a state that requires X be covered by health insurance, but their employer is based in a state that doesn’t, is that coverage required? Does it matter if the employee is full-time remote or commutes across state lines to work?

The laws of the state where the work is taking place are what govern. So if your company is based in Florida but you work remotely in Massachusetts, your employer has to follow Massachusetts laws when it comes to you. Sometimes the laws in play are more or less the same, but sometimes they can be quite different. For example, if you’re in California and your employer is in Virginia, they’re going to have handle your overtime pay differently from everyone else’s (since federally overpay pay kicks in when you work more than 40 hours in a week but in California it kicks in after eight hours in a day) and maybe your vacation time too (California bans use-it-or-lose-it laws; any unused vacation time has to roll over to the next year), among other things. That’s one reason why some employers are reluctant to let people work out-of-state (plus the fact that doing so establishes business nexus, which can have big tax implications for them).

But again, it’s the state where the work is taking place. So if you live in, say, Virginia but commute to an office in Maryland for work every day, Maryland’s laws are what would apply.

{ 645 comments… read them below }

  1. RetailEscapee*

    In my experience the company will often adhere to the most stringent standard to avoid inconsistent policy, or ignore differences in state law completely until they get called out on it by an employee or a lawsuit.

    1. One of the Spreadsheet Horde*

      If the company is large enough, it can be financially advantageous to build separate state requirements into the HR policies and systems. My MegaCorp has separate policies for California – the vacation example mentioned is one of the differences.

      It is more expensive up front, which is why it doesn’t surprise me when smaller companies are more careful about where they hire WFH employees.

      1. JustaTech*

        My company has sites in California and some other states with less stringent worker laws and while a lot of things are based on California laws some stuff says “as required by local labor laws” – mostly around sick leave and parental leave. It makes me feel bad for the folks who work at our site in a state where the labor laws feel like “you can’t eat your employees”.

        1. DrRat*

          I work remote and am the only member of my team from Cali. I have to keep my mouth shut a lot of the time when we lose benefits at work as I am the only one retaining them. Case in point: in 2 months everyone on my team who works remote will no longer be reimbursed for the cost of their Internet. Except for me.

    2. Anonym*

      Many employers (including mine) will limit which states they can accept remote workers from, presumably where they’re already set up in terms of business nexus, having the right payroll policies in place, etc. I see job listings that will list out which states are eligible (e.g. “Remote position open to candidates in Massachusetts, Texas, Florida, and New York.”).

    3. Hen in a Windstorm*

      Yeah, my Oldjob had an office in LA, and when they changed the OT and break laws, all our offices changed to match Cali.

    4. TheRain'sSmallHands*

      My former company tended to apply the California laws to everyone – they were the most stringent – unless there were conflicts. Plus, the majority of the staff was in California.

      1. Anonymousaurus Rex*

        My job, which is based in California, tends to do this too, but it also backfires in some ways. For example, California has paid family and medical leave, but the state where I work remotely (Oregon) does not (yet–it’s coming in 2023). My company doesn’t see the need to offer any kind of paid leave as a benefit, because California residents get this through a state program. However as a resident of Oregon, my upcoming maternity leave will be unpaid. It’s a double-edged sword.

    5. Blushingflower*

      Yeah, we had to do some harassment training a while back and they opted for a California one as the strictest.

    6. Candi*

      I can’t remember the name, but I remember reading about a company that had most of its locations in states with no break law for adults, or vague ones of the “must have a break if you work 8 hours, but we’re not going to tell you when the worker should actually get the break” type.

      Buuuut they also had locations in Washington, which, for hourly-paid workers, has very strict break and meal break laws, based on hours worked in a shift. So they based their break policies around Washington’s to avoid accidents. (And apparently manager retraining -a just-promoted-from within-manager was never allowed to manage at the same location they’d worked at.)

  2. LiteBriteExpert*

    Regarding the shirt sizing issue–I’ve only ever worked for one company I felt like dealt with this well. In the employee HR profiles they had a section where employees could enter their shirt size and change it whenever they wanted. Then when shirts or vests or jackets or whatever were being ordered they could pull the list of sizes needed and *actually* get the sizes people needed! As far as I know there were no limits. They also ordered mens and women’s cuts depending on what people indicated they wanted. They would always email out ahead of time too to give people plenty of notice to change things if needed. But I have never worked at a company so obtuse as to only order *three* sizes for their entire staff. That’s completely thoughtless and rude. I’m so sorry.

    1. The name I normally use*

      This is the first year as a working adult I’ve been offered free company clothes in sizes that can actually fit me! Usually things go up to XL, maybe XXL, but this time the womens cut went up to 3X and mens up to 5X. So many options! I actually wrote to the person running it thanking them and our company for offering inclusive sizing. I think it’s something that’s finally getting some attention, and now it’s another reason I really like where I work.

      1. LifeBeforeCorona*

        Yes! Our admin person orders samples in every size and colour for people to try on before ordering. I finally own a hoodie in a colour that I like and that fits me perfectly. The trying on before ordering is important because no one has the same XS S M L XL.

        1. Le Sigh*

          I actually appreciate that the admin does that! Our office is actually pretty good about getting size info, but sometimes they forget to tell us *what* they’re ordering. It’s not always the same brand (problem 1) or fit (problem 2 — I really hate women’s cut shirts, too clingy) and I have found I need different sizing for t-shirts v. sweatshirts (problem 3). As a result, I have stuff I just can’t wear b/c it doesn’t fit, despite their efforts.

          1. Zephy*

            This so much. They ordered us some new company polos a few months back and my boss went around asking for sizes so she could just go get an armful of shirts and bring them down to us rather than everyone having to go up individually to get our shirts. Every woman in the office, which is almost everyone in the office, asked “are they men’s or women’s cut polos?” I am a woman but I specifically asked for a men’s cut – I comfortably fit a men’s medium for the brand and style of polo shirts that we usually get, but a women’s medium would be disastrous; a women’s XL would cover everything I need it to, but a men’s XL would be a dress on me. I did the same thing when we ordered “team jackets” (jackets with our department name where the name of the sport would be if it were for a sports team), but at least for that I was able to look at a size chart and figure out which size would fit my human body based on actual concrete measurements.

            1. Le Sigh*

              The best part is, my issues above are still a wild improvement over my last company, which just ordered vats of mens-sized polo shirts with the logo for everyone to wear. None of the sizes fit me correctly (by a wide margin) and they weren’t even natural fibers, just cheap synthetics that they wanted us to wear to summer events in a very humid climate — yes, I’d love to wear the clothing-equivalent of melting saran wrap . I was always magically busy for those. I really enjoyed throwing that shirt away.

          2. Aggresuko*

            Oh lord, my company ordered us all jackets and apparently the sizes don’t work on pretty much everybody. What is the point? Why are they spending money on this? I also don’t want a navy blue jacket with my work on it, but it’s not like I can say no.
            They ordered me the wrong gender jacket anyway, so they were all “do you want it replaced? It’ll take months” and I’m all “take your time.” I don’t really care or want it anyway, but I can’t say no, but if I have to have one, no, I don’t want the man’s when I have ah…front loading.

        2. Chinook*

          The colour thing is huge! Skin tones vary and what looks good on one person can make another person look sickly (and very unprofessional). This is a lesson I learned early on when my mother tried to get me to wear family hand me downs – turns out what looks great on her makes me look like death warmed over and we, at first glance, have the same skin colour.

          As for sizes, it is important to note that, at least in female bodies, where the weight is distributed also varies greatly. My DDD “girls” don’t look that big because of the cut of shirts I wear, but the wrong style will make them hard to miss. Giving me the option to try on a few styles to see which works best for me will guarantee that I willingly wear it (and make me feel less like a Hooters waitress).

          1. Candi*

            Yeah, I’m overweight* and have a G size crumb shelf. It’s not as obvious when I’m wearing dark colors -but so many of these promotional things are light to mid colored. Plus I have to size up jackets and coats to be able to zip them up.

            I’ve taken to wearing men’s t-shirts for casual slobbing around. Shirts made for wide male shoulders work for deep female chests, at least for me.

            *(Even treated, hypothyroidism is a bear.)

            1. Curmudgeon in California*

              I live this. Some companies will order me a XL womens tee. I can’t even get it over my head. I don’t think they make “womens” cut shirts in my size without the neckline going down to my belly button. Even the men’s shirts these days are all “slim fit”, which means I need to go up yet another size to fit over my chest and gut. (AFAB, G cup, 5’8″, 270#)

        3. Hazel*

          At my company we were able to order whatever size we needed for the company branded zip-up fleece. But since I already had one from my last company that I thought was the right size but only fits if I wear it over a thin tank top, I asked to see the size charts. The person doing the ordering sent me a link to the exact page of the item on the company’s site. So I now have a fleece that I can put on over long sleeves and actually zip up comfortably!!! :-)

          1. Userper Cranberries*

            My company sends us directly to the manufacturer’s site (that has full sizing charts for every style) with instructions to pick x number of items that fall under y and z parameters. It’s fantastic – a little bit more work the first time, but everyone I’ve seen has been in styles, colors, and sizes that look great on them. It probably wouldn’t be feasible for a huge company to give that much choice to each person since our administrator does have to manually order each item, but for a small company it’s a really smart system, I think. Sizing charts are the best.

        4. Clisby*

          Yes! Not to mention, some people (me included) happen to like larger sizes because they aren’t tight/restricting. I’m a 5’6″ woman, 140 pounds, and some of my favorite shirts have been appropriated from my mens-XL husband. I like my pants to be close-fitting but not tight, but I want anything above the waist to be loose.

      2. Whimsical Gadfly*

        I do a lot with some superfat* support groups and a big part of it is print/embroider on demand places generally have policies that discourage ordering lots of sizes and limited size choices to begin with.

        *Basically the folks that a lot of fat-friendly groups are willing to sacrifice–the ones who are beyond the point when people say “it’s okay… to a point”. More exactly it’s usually defined by structural policy impact on life. “Small fat” people get comments and may suffer from discrimination but generally have all but a few cosmetic options. “Medium fat” people start having to get specialty items. “Large fat” people regularly need specialty and some items that may not exist or require some additional difficulty to obtain to participate. Superfats frequently need specialty items that frequently are not available (or only available after bypassing significant obstacles) for many basic activities of daily life and often are denied basic services because of it in ways that can and do result in death. It varies based on exact location, but generally in the US the crossover for women is roughly size 26/28 (men it’s a bigger blur).

    2. GammaGirl1908*

      This reminds me of a story I heard once where the armed forces of a country (Norway, I want to say?) ordered bras to issue to the women in the force in only one size, with the — of course — all-male team having researched and determined from their data that, say, a 36C was the most popular size and should have fit 90% of the women.

      Sigh.

        1. Not Tom, Just Petty*

          The Swiss Army asks Norway to hold its beer. In 202o they decided they should offer women’s undergarments AT ALL. Previously, they’d only provided men’s.

      1. Mangled metaphor*

        I want to sigh because that is so incredibly stupid, but I actually laughed instead (not just because that bra would actually fit me perfectly).
        There’s no such thing as the average person when it comes to size. This mistake has been repeated over and over, and I think has actually been studied properly too. If you take actual measurements (rather than available sizes), average *anything* fits * no one*.

        Oh, and I’ve worked at two places that offered company branded clothing. One was a nursery, where it genuinely was one size fits all, because it was a no-shape sleeved apron to be worn over our own plain black clothes to “protect” from whatever the kids aimed in our direction. The other was an office offering polo shirts primarily to the non-customer facing staff. They did the whole S, M, L thing, only to run out of M & L immediately and had a dozen or more S they just couldn’t shift. I’ve no idea what they based they ordering numbers on. And most of the staff still didn’t wear them.

        1. A.N. O'Nyme*

          Aren’t there stories of the air force building fighter jets to “average soldier measurements” only for it to turn out literally no one could use them comfortably?

          But yeah, “average sizing” exists purely to make mass production of clothing possible. People are not symmetrical at all to start with (for example, a lot of people should actually wear two different shoe sizes), and if you have an unusual body shape (case in point: something that fits my shoulders is usually too tight around my breasts and vice versa) …well, good luck clothes shopping.

          And yeah, if companies are going to order clothing for their employees…they really should look into what sizes they actually need, rather than estimate based on…I don’t know, a game of darts?

          1. Hlao-roo*

            Commercial airline seats were designed to fit men’s hips and women’s shoulders and that’s part of the reason they are so uncomfortable. Too narrow at the seat for the average woman’s hips and too narrow at the top for the average man’s shoulders (and that’s BEFORE getting into “no one is actually average sized”).

            1. Slow Gin Lizz*

              And since it wouldn’t actually matter if your airplane seat were too big for you (not like a shirt, for instance), why wouldn’t they design the seats not for the average size but for the largest size expected?? (That is a rhetorical question, of course. Because $$, that’s why.)

            2. Pennyworth*

              I would love to know why airline seats are designed so they push your head forward instead of letting you lean back.

              1. mlem*

                I’ve found Toyota headrests to do the same thing. I’m not a turtle! Stop trying to force me into a turtle shape!

                1. Hazel*

                  I thought I was the only person to have this issue with headrests. Although it must depend on each person’s anatomy because I am quite happy with the headrests in my (Toyota) Prius!

                2. Sopranohannah*

                  I noticed this on my Toyota as well. I eventually got used to it, but they are a weird shape.

              2. Stay-at-Homesteader*

                I’m five foot and I get a tension headache that turns into something mimicking a migraine every time I fly because of how those seats fit on me. They are literally torture.

                1. Oakenfield*

                  Ugh that is the worst – I get both tension headaches and migraines, but because I have fancy medicine for the migraine, the tension headaches are way harder to treat and can end up making me super sick, vomiting, the whole works and therefore much worse. All this to say: solidarity, that sounds terrible on a traveling day.

                2. Astronomical Feline*

                  I’m just under six foot and i get back and knee pain because I physically cannot fit into the seats. My thigh bones are too long to fit. Sorry person infront of my, there’s no room to move your seat. My knee caps still cringe. Oh and it’s fun being too tall to properly stand up in some of the planes

                3. Candi*

                  “Oh and it’s fun being too tall to properly stand up in some of the planes”

                  What the even. Six feet people have been around a long time. There’s no logical reason to build planes with ceilings too short for a six-foot person -even “save money by using an inch less materials per” doesn’t work in the context.

                1. Zelda*

                  It’s because it isn’t a “headrest,” it’s a whiplash restraint system.

                  You’re not meant to cuddle up to all the contours of the seat (because, as you note, that would slope your back backwards to the neck, then push your head way forward). You’re meant to sit up straight, with your back losing contact with the seat somewhere around the shoulder blades. That forward projection at the back of the head is there to hover just immediately behind your head and keep your neck from bending backwards in the course of an accident.

                2. giraffecat*

                  For cars it make sense as they are designed to minimize head/neck damage during rear-end collisions.

              3. Trillian*

                Because they’re designed for average male heights, maybe. Although seat separation seems to be designed for average female femur length …

                Tilting my seat back slightly neutralizes my head position, provided I’m allowed. I also use a small lumbar pillow, which doubles as kidney protection when I get seated in front of That Child.

                Like Dorothy Parker, I hate travel, but I love having travelled.

                1. Userper Cranberries*

                  Part of the problem with seat separation is that they moved the airplane seats closer together to get more rows in – I’m pretty sure it’s why the seats don’t line up neatly with the windows any more. They’re actually not designed to be sat in at the distance they’re currently positioned, which makes the not-fitting-anyone-right thing even worse!

              4. Salymander*

                Yes! So annoying!

                Our Prius does the same thing, no matter how I adjust the seat. I am fairly tall and have super abundant hair, so I have to tie my hair in a side braid unless I want to spend every car ride eating my own hair. My husband is rather short and has a shaved head, so he has no problem with the seats and seems baffled every time I have to change my hairstyle before going to the grocery store. He did once mumble something about seats being designed to fit the average person and so I should have no problem, but I raised my eyebrow at him and he never mentioned it again.

            3. aunttora*

              At my job I rarely have to fly, but the last time I was at a “too big for coach” (as it exists these days) size, without making me and my seatmates miserable for a flight clear across the country. So I proposed I’d buy my own ticket, and they could just reimburse me for what they would have paid for a coach seat, me covering the extra for a business class seat. OF COURSE that was impossible. So I said – ok, send someone else then! (There wasn’t anyone else.) Impasse. Finally my boss said they’d pay for a seat that would fit me, using their miles, which they did. Which is RIDICULOUS. So glad I can see retirement on the horizon….

              1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

                Just one more reason that I prefer to drive if it’s a thousand miles or less.

              2. Candi*

                That’s particularly ridiculous since other people on this site have done exactly that.

                There was one commentator (pre-covid) who was going on a business trip. They also wanted to take a vacation in that city with their husband. So they paid for their husband’s business-class ticket, share of the hotel room service during the business trip, and the additional hotel days after the business trip ended, and the difference to upgrade the ticket the company paid for, from coach to business.

                Three day business trip, five days vacation (plus weekend), very happy worker, company isn’t out more than it would have paid anyway.

                That’s how you keep workers.

            4. Reluctant Mezzo*

              At airlines’ current configuration, seats are nearly too small for *me*–I feel deep sympathy for anyone larger, and understand why some people get irate since many of them cannot possibly fit into those seats any more.

          2. PeanutButter*

            When I was a paramedic my go-t0 blurb when handing a patient a hospital gown was “These are one size fits most, which means I’ve never actually seen them fit anybody.”

          3. Sopranohannah*

            I’ve started to do a bit of seamstressing in my spare time. I’m working on learning flat pattern making and you need about 30 different measurements to make clothes that fit you accurately. It’s a surprise that anything fits anyone.

        2. Richard Hershberger*

          I am right at the upper end of “normal” sizes, before you move into the Big and Tall category. What this means in practice is that when a store puts out a new shipment of pants, it will include two pairs that fit me. These will sell quickly, leaving behind a pile of more midrange sizes. I have a hypothesis that the clothing industry sometime around 1950 did a study of size distributions and has been using that ever since. What this meant back in the day was that every time I found myself in a department store I would routinely check to see if they had anything I was willing and able to wear. If they did, I would snap it up. Online shopping has made my clothes shopping much simpler.

          1. Seeking Second Childhood, CTA*

            I’m a big fan of “free pick up at store” orders, because it gives the store managers a view into what sizes their potential customers need.
            Likewise, Amazon set up a deal with some department stores (Kohls in my area) to allow free returns at those stores, and almost immediately I started finding my size more often. (Wide shoes still a rarity though.)

            1. Richard Hershberger*

              I doubt that the individual store managers have a lot of say in what comes in the back door. Typically, this is a function of the home office. But even apart from this, if one slice of the size range is immediately snapped up, any decent inventory management system will show this.

            2. Shoez*

              Yeah I have a weird shoe size and I loooovee when there’s a returns/discounted section, as all the normal sizes will be picked over and gone, leaving my size-fives with a wide selection of options. Doesn’t always happen but when it works it works!

              1. Huttj*

                I was stunned when I went to a shoe store near the mostly black neighborhood where I’m living. I could actually find shoes that fit me! In a variety of styles! None of this “the sizing stops at 12” bull.

                Not even a specialty shoe store.

              2. DataSci*

                I’m squarely in the “normal shoe size” segment, so I never even bother to check the discount section – size 8.5 women’s is always the first to go. On the other hand I can easily order shoes online and reasonably expect they’ll fit, while my small-footed wife can clean up at the discount section and never even tries to order shoes online.

                1. PeanutButter*

                  Hello fellow US 8.5/EU 40! I too know the feeling of NEVER EVER getting to buy shoes on clearance. XD

                2. Candi*

                  I’ve got a weird-ish one. 8.5 in dress shoes, 9 in sneakers and winter boots. I think it’s the socks.

                  (Knee highs for dress shoes, not nylons. Nylons can die in a fire, and 99% of the time I destroy them the first time I wear them anyway.)

              3. Mockingdragon*

                oh, shoes. I was once measured at a 9 4wide. I have to wear 11w in order to actually have enough horizontal space. Which means there’s a ton of extra space in my heel or toe. Why do I trip all the time?

                1. Lizzo*

                  FYI, New Balance regularly carries wider widths. The popular 990 athletic shoe is definitely available in a 4E.

                  If you’re looking for dressier shoes, I believe Rockport and related brands (Cobb Hill, Dunham, etc.) also offer wider widths.

            3. ScruffyInternHerder*

              The wide shoes thing just aggravates me. Its one of the part of my body I have approximately zero control over (the others being overall height and leg length), yet “oh, we don’t carry wide shoes” (in the dress shoes department at a decently major department store) is a thing?

            4. Jean (just Jean)*

              I’ve been outfitting my wide feet for years from the web sites Zappos, 6 pm, and Maryland Square. Sometimes I’ll find something at JCPenney. All three let you filter your search by size, width, etc. Bonus: you soon learn which brands to pursue or avoid. If your budget can handle higher prices (my budget stops at approximately $70.00 USD), check out Barking Dog Shoes. The only inconveniences (small in my opinion) are spending the time to do the online searching, wait for delivery, and return the shoes that don’t fit.

              1. Jean (just Jean)*

                Forgot to add these details:
                – some brands have their own outlet web sites
                – all sites I mentioned also serve people with narrow feet
                – Barking Dog Shoes serves people with a variety of shoe-buying special needs–not us wide-footed folk.

            5. LPUK*

              This is what really annoys me about And and Spencer ( I’m British). I am extremely fortunate to have a larger flagship store literally walking distance away from me. Doesn’t really help me through because their size merchandising is ALWAYS screwy. Unless you go in literally on the day merchandise drops , you can’t get hold of a size 12 or 14, but you can get hold of as many size 8s, and size 22s as you like. Every time I point out that their sizing is screwy and that yet again, the store has failed to ensure there are enough of the most popular sizes, they say that’s OK because I can order online. I say no, its not OK because you have a 150,000 square feet store FULL OF THE WRONG SIZES which is just shockingly bad retailing and you should be able to find the most popular items there, immediately, try it on , but it and wear it out that night!!!

              1. londonedit*

                Yep, AND they’re one of the worst when it comes to vanity sizing/inconsistent sizing/sizes across different colours in the same item being completely different! I have a size 12 pair of jeans from M&S that I love, but really they’re a tiny bit too big – nothing I can’t solve by washing them regularly so they shrink back into shape, but still. Wanted a size 10 to try, none in-store. Ordered online, attempted to put the size 10 on, could hardly get the things over my thighs. There shouldn’t be that much difference between a size 10 and a size 12! I was in my local branch yesterday, in fact, and there were size 6 and 8, and 20 and 22, everywhere you looked, but only the occasional 10, 12 or 14. Surely it’s clear that those are the most popular sizes!

                1. whingedrinking*

                  Even within brands it can be a pain. I put on a bit of plague poundage so I ordered two pairs of jeans, a size up and two sizes up respectively. The two-sizes-bigger were fine. I wanted another pair in black, so on the next go-round I ordered the bigger size. They were visibly baggy and the waist had room for small dog to snuggle in.

            6. Jora Malli*

              I dream that someday DSW will understand that needing wide shoes doesn’t mean I want to dress like Eleanor Roosevelt.

              1. Lizard Breath*

                My wide, duck-like feet and I snorted at that comment. It is astonishing how dowdy the shoes become once you’re past a B width. I like cute shoes too.

              2. Velawciraptor*

                If you don’t already know, Torrid carries wide shoes (like, only wide shoes) and some of them are really cute. I got some Betsey Johnson combat boots that I’m in love with. I think Lane Bryant does too.

                Just something people who don’t generally shop for plus-sized clothing don’t always know.

            7. Reluctant Mezzo*

              I have Weird Frog Feet. Every once in a while I can find heels with a box toe, though my heel still slips out the back anyway (yay Dr. Scholl’s).

          2. Oakwood*

            Clothing is often sold in packs that contain a predefined mix of sizes. X number of smalls, x mediums, x larges and x extra-larges. The store often has no choice in the mix of sizes they can order.

            I’ve talked to store owners trying to get them to carry more in the larger sizes. They know they need to; they want to; but the manufacturers won’t do it.

            1. Candi*

              Then the company needs to contract with more/different manufacturers. There are wide/tall/very small manufacturers out there, and (usually) being smaller manufacturers doesn’t mean they should be ignored when they’re making what people want.

            2. Sopranohannah*

              I hate this. I wear scrubs in a popular size, and while our local place has a great selection of scrub types is rare to find anything other than xxs or 3xl. Drives me batty.

          3. Lady Blerd*

            That is my issue with shoes. I’m a size 9.5/10 and that tends to be be the size that goes fast. Size 5-6 people OTOH are guaranteed to find the cuter, trendier shoes on the sales rack.

            1. Recruiter*

              Size 5 foot here… I would argue that there are very few options available. I stopped going to DSW because they basically do not stock anything in size 5. Some brands start at a size 6 which would be too big.

              1. addicted to reading*

                Agreed! I wear a women’s size 4. I recently bought my first pair of shoes at DSW, after many visits. They were from the kids section.

                Not only is it extremely difficult to find shoes at stores–most start at size 5.5 and go up–but a lot of shoes aren’t even made in size 4. And the ones that are tend to cost $200+. I’m thrilled if I find a pair of cute dress shoes in my size for $90.

                I also used to be very tiny. One past employer ordered shirts in sizes small to 6XL. The small went down to my knees.

              2. Salymander*

                Agreed. You either get spindly heeled little strappy torture shoes or child’s sneaker type shoes. It is hard to find good shoes when you have small feet. I am tall with small feet, and I need really well made shoes or my arthritis and other assorted problems act up and I can’t walk. It is really, really difficult to find shoes.

              3. Reluctant Mezzo*

                I discovered I could wear about 4 1/2 in children’s Smartfit shoes and they would be wide enough!

            2. Sandy*

              My 7 year old can now wear a women’s 5 and is THRILLED by the sudden influx of fancy shoe options in her life.

        3. ceiswyn*

          And it’s ridiculously easy to demonstrate the flaw in the idea that ‘average’ = ‘will fit most’.

          Imagine a company in which half the people have size 10 feet, and half the people have size 6 feet. If the company decides to order safety footwear for everyone, in the ‘average’ size of 8, how many people will actually be able to wear their new shoes?

          1. Richard Hershberger*

            The classic illustration is of a man with one foot in ice water and the other in boiling water. On average, he is perfectly comfortable.

          2. Candi*

            In real life examples:

            During the Crimea War, the British government ordered soldier boots in exactly two sizes, one small, one larger.

            The small were too small to fit all but the smallest-footed of men.

            The large were too large to fit all but the biggest-footed of men.

            Plus the quality of the manufacturing sucked.

            But they were cheap for the government to buy!

        4. Liz*

          There really isn’t. Add to that, not every brand will fit in the same size. I am size A, generally. But also have clothing in my closet, some the same brand, others different, in sizes B, C and D. its all about the cut and style.

          1. PhyllisB*

            Yep. I remember when I was pregnant I found a brand of maternity slacks I really liked. I tried on two pairs that fit great so didn’t try on the third. Well, guess what? Got them home and they were too small. Same brand, same style, just a different color. Go figure.

              1. Zelda*

                It’s happened to me multiple times with different brands, so I suspect something more arcane. Like, the fabric in different patterns/finishes is coming from different suppliers, or different locations of the supplier. So it gets sent to different factory locations to save on shipping; all the brown plaids are getting made in city A, while the blue stripes are all getting made in city B. City A’s cutting die for size Q was on the inside/outside/IDEK when the technician lined them all up, and just wound up an eighth of an inch smaller/bigger/weirder at each seam, which adds up across the whole garment. Now all the brown plaid size Q’s are noticeably different from the blue stripe size Q’s.

                Now, I have only the most distant nodding acquaintance with the garment industry, so who knows? But it’s definitely a thing.

                1. Filosofickle*

                  From what I’ve learned you’re on the right track. Item sizing varies across colors consistently in less expensive clothing especially in pants — often slightly different fabrics + from different factories. And within one factory/color there’s still a variance because they cut huge stacks of fabric at the same time and the piece at the top of the pile will vary from the one at the bottom.

                  Black denim is almost always smaller than blue, not sure exactly why. Guessing it has to do with slightly different fabric compositions to take the dye or the process of setting the dye shrinks fabric more?

              2. Wants Green Things*

                Oh god do I wish. I run into this problem *constantly* with women’s clothes. Even the same color and style of pants, “claiming” to be the same size, often are not. There’s no such thing as ‘grab off the rack and go’ in my life. Same with bras, dresses, shirts… all of it.

                1. Medusa*

                  Hmm, yeah, I have this problem too, but not typically within the same brand + style. I basically have a couple of go-to jeans that I always order in diff colours in the same size because I know at least that they’ll always look the same. Shirt are a different story for me, though

            1. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

              I had that with running shoes. When I find something I like I buy in bulk because a good shoe is super important for me. Black and gray, fine. Blue, didn’t fit. According to runners’ forums (where shoes are a hot topic), apparently they had sourced from a different company for the uppers on the blue ones.

            2. This is a name, I guess*

              It’s often because large clothing manufacturers have factories in multiple countries. So, the white and the navy shirts might come from Bangladesh, while the black will come from Vietnam. Each country has different garment standards, different machines, different training, etc.

              1. Reluctant Mezzo*

                I have to check the country of manufacture. Turkish women’s shorts are actually made for women with hips, but if the T-shirt is made in the Philippines, I have to go up a size larger.

            3. Ash*

              I’ve heard about this, and learned a secret from a boutique shop several years ago: certain dyes *will* make the fabric run smaller or larger. I don’t know the science as to why, but yeah, it’s a thing. I try on EVERYTHING now, regardless of color.

          2. Rusty Shackelford*

            There is a thing now on many clothing websites called My Fit or True Fit or something along those lines that lets you plug in brands that you know fit you well, and it will allegedly tell you what size you wear in other brands. Judging by the Old Navy order I received this week, it is… not reliable.

            1. Jaydee*

              What I hate is the sites that have replaced their size chart with this. I’m fat. The TrueFit algorithm doesn’t include many of the brands I own that fit me best. So I literally can’t use it. I just want to see a size chart that says a 2X is an 18/20 and a 3X is a 20/22 and the measurements for an 18, 20, and 22 are whatever so I can figure out which size is most likely to fit me. I know those measurements won’t be 100% accurate! I know it’s a gamble either way! I’m in my 40s. I’ve been playing this game for almost 30 years now. Don’t upend the rules on me now.

              1. Blushingflower*

                Yeah, the stuff that fits me best is the stuff that’s custom ordered from eshakti; that’s not a TrueFit option! The last time I tried one of those I don’t think I owned anything from any of the brands listed. Just give me measurements!!

        5. Elenna*

          Even with a sleeved apron it’s not exactly one size fits all, unless the sleeves were short sleeves – long sleeves are going to cover my hands and probably be comically short on, say, a 6’6 person. But at least with an apron it doesn’t look too silly if you roll up the sleeves all the time.

          1. Mangled metaphor*

            On a petite person they were just below the elbow, on a tall person they came to just above the elbow. I only have the size range of the employees to go off – 6’6″ is… unusual in my neck of the woods (we’re all descended from Welsh mining stock, our tallest employee was just under 5’10” and nicknamed Lofty)

            The body of the apron was like a tent on every employee. It would be more accurate to say that one size fits none, and maybe that proves my earlier point too.

        6. quill*

          I’m laughing that the average band size was 36 (inches? I hope not centimeters, for obvious reasons) when I’m pretty sure 36 is the smallest band size I see in stores these days.

          1. whingedrinking*

            God, I hope not. I’m a 34 DD and while I haven’t bought bras in a while (thanks, covid), the absolute worst thing from my perspective is when a bra band isn’t tight enough to overcome the gravity of my situation. If it’s too loose they basically just fall out.

        7. Dahlia*

          You even gotta watch with aprons, they can actually not be one side fits all if they’re very narrow or have short ties.

      2. TechWorker*

        I listened to a really interesting podcast about how standardised sizing started in the army (cannot remember when but sure it’s Google-able) and lots of equipment was made in one size use the average measurements. Including plane cockpits being sized to the ‘average man’ until it was realised that was contributing to a high death rate even during training and they needed to make the cockpit controls adjustable. That was in the 20s, sounds like the army you’re talking about didn’t quite learn that lesson…

        1. Insert Clever Name Here*

          You may be thinking about the 99% Invisible episode “On Average.” They also have another episode, “Invisible Women,” which deals with the same idea (averages don’t actually work for anyone) but discusses more specifics on how it impacts women in particular. I’ll put links in a follow up.

          1. londonedit*

            I’d definitely recommend the book Invisible Women by Caroline Criado-Perez – it’s all about how so many things are designed based on data gathered from men, and how they actually just don’t work for women at all. Everything from smartphones to healthcare.

            1. Insert Clever Name Here*

              She’s interviewed in the “Invisible Women” episode! The example about plowing snow is both mind blowing but SO OBVIOUS when you actually stop to think about it.

          2. Insert Clever Name Here*

            https://99percentinvisible.org/episode/on-average/ How and when averages began being used (only in the 1830s!), including several instances in the US Army, and how that impacts life in the US today.

            https://99percentinvisible.org/episode/invisible-women/ A later episode that looks at the failure to collect data on and from women when designing anything and the consequences of that not just for women but for everyone.

            The links include an article about the topic, but I highly recommend listening to the podcast instead of just reading the article because the podcast goes into more detail and has more examples. There is also a full transcript for each episode (under the episode picture you’ll see an icon of a piece of paper – that’s the transcript).

          3. Girasol*

            That’s how I felt as an average-sized sort of token-ish female in a department full of big guys. For an “atta boy” they bought us collared golf tees with the company logo in a size that would “fit everyone:” men’s XL. The brand ran a bit to the large though, so it was humongous. It came almost to my knees and the shoulders were at my elbows. Someone asked me once why I never wore it to work.

        2. whingedrinking*

          Apparently the Australian bureau of statistics determined that the “average Australian” is a 37-year-old woman, who has a six-year-old son and a nine-year-old daughter, is 5’4″, weighs 70kg, has a three-bedroom house with about $200,000 left on the mortgage, and is descended from British immigrants. They also could not find a single person living in Australia who met all of these criteria.

      3. Fikly*

        For other alarming stories of men ordering supplies for women, NASA decided Sally Ride needed 100 tampons to survive 2 weeks in space.

        1. Jessica Ganschen*

          In fairness, the thought process behind that was basically, “take the worst case scenario and double it.” I’d certainly rather be oversupplied on tampons that undersupplied!

        2. Size Inclusive LW*

          There is an entire micro-trend on TikTok using a song about that. “They gave her 100 taaammmpoooons . . . and asked Will that be enough?”

          In the comments on almost every video using that sound there are a bunch of men saying “Well actually they weren’t sure how microgravity would affect . . . ” Sure sure, it could change flow, but that would be how frequently she had to change/replace, it wouldn’t triple+ the absolute amount used.

        3. Candi*

          I filed that under “at least they acknowledged periods were a thing”.

          A short stick of absorbent cotton/stuff can have other uses too.

          1. whingedrinking*

            Fair enough; I’m still determined to die mad that it took Apple multiple generations of their Health app to include a period tracker.

      4. WantonSeedStitch*

        One would think that at least some members of an all-male team would have looked at some breasts in their life and realized that there is a vast range of sizes involved.

        1. MentalImages*

          As far as I can tell, a lot of men have NO idea how bra sizes work. I occasionally read some, ahem, adult-themed literature online, and I LOVE when these authors are describing their 5’5″ size-2 slim-hipped heroine with a 40D bra. Trying to imagine what that woman would actually look like is hilarious.

          1. WantonSeedStitch*

            She grew up in the high mountains! Her ribcage has to be enormous to fit those lungs!

            This is one reason why I tend to prefer “ahem-adult-themed” literature written by women.

          2. whingedrinking*

            I remember reading an urban legend on Snopes back in the day where a guy had supposedly suffocated in a stripper’s cleavage, and her bra size was mentioned as 72DD. So…reasonably large, but by no means cartoonishly huge, breasts mounted on a ribcage like a horse. Hot.

      5. Selina Luna*

        Even when I was a size 36, I wasn’t a C. I was a DD. This whole thing reminds me of the story (possibly apocryphal?) of NASA asking if 100 tampons would be enough for 2 women for a 3 day mission…

        1. londonedit*

          Yep, I’m a 32D and I do not, by any means, have large boobs. Yet to listen to the British tabloid press (delightful as they are) you’d think any woman with a D cup looks like they’ve got two watermelons down their top.

      6. Observer*

        the armed forces of a country (Norway, I want to say?) ordered bras to issue to the women in the force in only one size, with the — of course — all-male team having researched and determined from their data that, say, a 36C was the most popular size and should have fit 90% of the women

        It’s a good story, but almost certainly untrue. There are a lot of things that wave red flags. But the thing that REALLY jumps at me is the idea that any one size should fit 90% of women is just beyond ridiculous. So much so that I don’t think that anyone who actually looked at sizing was told that.

        1. Candi*

          I think the supplier would try and tell them otherwise on the “average” size -because no seller wants an order where at LEAST 50% of it is coming back, regardless of their opinion of women.

      7. Valancy Snaith*

        Can you recall where this story came from? Just because it’s almost unheard of for any military to issue bras to female members at all, let alone that they’d be all one size. The procurement process for any clothing item is long and involved, no matter the country, and sizing is always, always, always a huge concern.

        1. GammaGirl1908*

          No, and I acknowledge it could be urban legend; it’s now one of those stories I heard through the ether years ago. The only way I could even REMOTELY see how this could have happened is that women in the military would tend to be fitter and leaner, which would at least narrow down their weight range a bit.
          Then a smaller and more homogeneous country like Norway might somehow have a smaller range of body types … which is all how we get to the 90%.

          But it’s still ludicrous.

        1. Candi*

          I find that even with a particular story about a specific organization is an urban legend, often it’s the organization’s reputation with the stupid/bizarre they do do that makes the legend believable. It’s a lie pointing to truth.

    3. Jen*

      We don’t have a section in our profiles, but HR just made an Excel sheet with everyone’s names where we could input the size. Which also addressed preferences – someone who wore M could order an L for a looser fit, etc. It took a few minutes to set up and everything was fine,

      1. Ginger ale for all*

        Except for the problem of everyone seeing everyone else’s sizes. Or did they have a way of keeping the input private?

        1. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

          If you can see each other I don’t think anyone’s clothing size would be any surprise, especially if you are talking XS-5XL type sizing not a numeric scale

          1. Karo*

            I wouldn’t have put my size in. I’m fat, I know I’m fat, I know my coworkers know I’m fat, but I don’t want them to have specifics.

          2. Daisy-dog*

            You’ve clearly never been in a store and heard people joking about how “huge” perfectly normal sizes are. Someone was once cackling about how “gigantic” a size XXL tank top was.

            My FIL was grumbling over Christmas because someone offered him a pair of jeans in size 40 that didn’t work for them and he was so offended. My husband was like, “Dad, I’m a size 40.”

            Size data is far more sensitive than you’d think.

          3. Le Sigh*

            You’d be surprised. Due to my measurements/proportions, I’ve had several people (store clerks, friends, family members) guess my size incorrectly and show surprise or try to insist the size they want to offer is correct. I know my body and how I like my clothes to fit. I’m not especially self-conscious about it, but I don’t enjoy the needless attention to the fact that “I don’t look like a size whatever!”

            And regardless, for some people, they prefer to keep that information to themselves, no matter how “obvious” their size might be.

          4. pieces_of_flair*

            You’d be wrong. I wear a 3X and people are always trying to offer me clothes in L and XL because they have no idea how plus sizes or fat bodies work. It’s the same kind of ignorance that caused the LW’s coworker, who presumably has seen her, to have no idea what she was talking about when she said she couldn’t use a vest.

        2. Karo*

          A google form feeding into a google sheet would’ve served the same function and only the admin would’ve been able to see the answers.

          1. Paris Geller*

            This is what we do. Any time we order clothing, we get a google form inviting us to fill it out with our sizes. Depending on what we’re ordering, we often get a few sizes we can even try on first.

          2. Chauncy Gardener*

            This is what we do as well. What’s the point of having nice logoed stuff for your employees if they can’t wear it? These companies sure seem to be missing the point of it!

            1. Candi*

              Especially since that logoed stuff is marketing as well as branding. Marvel and DC don’t make all those deals for superhero-marked clothing for the cool factor.

      2. DataSci*

        Eeesh, entering my T-shirt size out in public for everyone in the company to see? No thanks! I wonder how many women just entered Small regardless of whether it would fit, to avoid being fat-shamed for entering anything else.

    4. Kate*

      Yes, they should have asked for sizes – because even if you’re a S, M, L, it’s unlikely they’ve magically ordered the right numbers of each of those without thinking about it. Someone large is going to get a small, or vice versa.

      1. Candi*

        I don’t remember I read it, but someone got that “small but she’s a large” shirt thing at her company, and the organizers refused to exchange it. (They could, but that meant more work for them.) She did two things:

        Found another job.

        Found that the material of the shirt made for a very nice dusting rag.

    5. KateM*

      I mean, whenever I went to Events as a student, and that was in last century*, we were always asked beforehand what size do we want our uniform t-shirts.

    6. Wendy Darling*

      My company’s HR profiles also have this section, but the people ordering shirts proceed to ignore it and order only men’s cuts in M, L, and XL.

      Everyone who started at the company before I did has a headshot of them wearing a company shirt. They stopped doing those due to the pandemic and I live in fear that they’re going to start doing them again and I am going to have to explain that the company shirts do not fit on my body.

      1. Ginger ale for all*

        At one of my part time jobs at a sports arena, I was asked my size and I emailed it in. When I picked up my famous brand polo shirt, I discovered that they only ordered mens sizes. I look ridiculous and I have mini dresses that are the same length. This is a work place where about two thirds of the staff are women. It looks like a clown college on game days.

        1. Going Up!*

          An industry group my company is a member of was going to do a run of special shirts for its 10th year in existence. They asked for individuals who wanted to participate to send their measurements to the executive team so that shirts could be special ordered for fit.

          The big night arrived and shirts were distributed. Despite having to send ACTUAL MEASUREMENTS and the big deal made about how these were custom fabricated, the shirts didn’t fit a significant number of people. To make it even worse, most of the people the shirts didn’t fit were the middle aged women like myself. The whole organization was supposed to wear the shirts to the big party so it wasn’t like we could get out of it. Most of us ended up putting on t-shirt layers and wearing the shirts as jackets.

          It’s been a good decade now since then and the organization STILL doesn’t get that clothing is a problem. A few years ago one of the staff members put together a “special order” of shirts that folks could buy into. They were provided only in mens’ sizes. When asked about this we were told “But they’re UNISEX! We didn’t leave the women out. Besides, women shouldn’t expect things to fit. My wife has a horrible time finding clothing that fits and she just makes do.” A few of us, who had been burned by the first shirt debacle, contacted the website fabricating the shirts to ask for a sizing chart for the unisex shirt. The chart we got back was clearly labeled “MENS SIZING.”

          We moved recently and I threw out anything that didn’t fit – including the special shirt and all the other clothing they’d give us over the years. Good riddance.

          1. ceiswyn*

            If men’s sizing is unisex, then women’s sizing is also unisex.

            It would be nice for men to get the weird tight-in-some-places-and-loose-in-others look for a change.

              1. Christmas Carol*

                Since womens’ shirts overlap the “wrong” way, none of the men will be able to do up the buttons and will all lose their minds.

                1. Ev*

                  God, *this*. My dad has a black fleece vest that fits him just fine, is comfortable, completely plain and utilitarian, but the zipper pull is on the “wrong” side and thus he has to complain about it at length every time he puts the dang thing on.

                  Gentle conversation on the theme of “perhaps unisex doesn’t always need to mean ‘for men but women can wear it too, I guess'” has, alas, not put an end to this.

            1. Slow Gin Lizz*

              Ha, brilliant! I’m glad someone brought up the “unisex” thing, because unisex really does actually mean “men’s sizes.” Whenever someone asks me my size now I specify “size X women, size Y men” to try to avoid this confusion.

              Somewhat off topic but not really: I am a hiker and while it’s great that a lot of backpack companies now make “women’s fit” packs (shoulder straps that are designed to fit better for folks with narrower shoulders and breasts), I just bought a new pack from a company that just named their shoulder strap types J-shaped and S-shaped, because of course there are women with very wide shoulders who need the so-called “unisex” straps and men with narrow shoulders who are more comfortable with the so-called “women’s fit” straps. This company GETS it. (They also allowed you to choose a pack size based on torso length and a waist strap measured to, you know, fit your actual waist. Yeah, there’s a reason I waited several years so I could afford to buy their beautifully sized packs.)

                1. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

                  Not SGL, but REI brand and Mystery Ranch have the best pack lines with the most sizing options for women

                2. Slow Gin Lizz*

                  ULA Equipment. I bought a Circuit after reading lots of reviews of ultralight packs. It weighs just over 2 pounds. And I wanted an ultralight pack for at least five years before I finally got it. Can’t wait to do an overnight with it. They have several different sized packs, too, if you want options.

                1. Slow Gin Lizz*

                  ULA Equipment. I bought a Circuit after reading lots of reviews of ultralight packs. It weighs just over 2 pounds. And I wanted an ultralight pack for at least five years before I finally got it. Can’t wait to do an overnight with it. They have several different sized packs, too, if you want options.

                  (Also, love your name because that’s the kind of trail runners I hike in! And also because mountains!)

            2. Curmudgeon in California*

              The current trend for men’s t-shirts to be “slim fit” (tapered at the waist), even in “big and tall” sizes, IIRC does cause some men that don’t have 6-pack abs and no gut to have the tight and loose in odd places problem. A 2XL “slim fit” now doesn’t (fit, that is.) I end up having to order a 3X and hope I don’t swim too bad in the top. They don’t make women’s cut that fit me at all (I haven’t seen a women’s 5X that didn’t have a oversized neckline that dropped almost to my belly button.)

            3. whingedrinking*

              This was the source of an argument at a student society meeting I attended once. The men suggested we should order only “unisex” t-shirts, because “lots of women can wear men’s shirts just fine”. Firing back that plenty of men can wear women’s shirts too did seem to trigger a moment’s reflection and we got both. (The real kicker is that our department was two-thirds women. If we were getting all one kind, it should have been all women’s sizes!)

          2. Snow Globe*

            I worked for a company for 30 years, and every shirt I ever got from them was in a men’s size. (Typically we wear the company shirts for volunteer projects.) *Finally* in late 2021 they offered new shirts in women’s sizes – shorter torso, cap sleeves, v-neck – which fit great. Then I ended up leaving the company that year, and when I got a new job at a different company it is back to men’s shirt sizes. :(

            1. Gnome*

              I was so excited for you until you said cap sleeves. I hate them. Why can’t women’s clothing have real sleeves?! Sorry, but I get irritated because even in online shopping it’s hard to find stuff that is reasonable sometimes because “everybody” loves/has/wears X.

              1. londonedit*

                With you on the cap sleeves hatred! I can’t understand why people say they’re flattering – they make my arms look about three times their normal size! Give me a normal t-shirt.

              2. Shoez*

                Agree, I get that it varies by body type but I do like the men’s version more than the “girlie” version sometimes. I was part of at least one company branded purchase where the women’s version was weirdly skimpy and close-fitting while the men’s were, ya know, regular looking shirts. Cap sleeves! WTF.

                1. Zelda*

                  There are some fine lines where “sized to fit women” slides into “sized to fit how we think women *ought* to be built” and “sized to showcase women’s bodies for the male gaze.”

              3. Just Another Cog in the Machine*

                I am a woman who usually prefers to order the men’s (or “unisex”) size shirt in these situations because I have wide shoulders (cap sleeves DO NOT work for me) and am tall for a woman (and just above average male height). But I appreciate having the option.

                My husband is extremely tall. The only reason he’s able to wear “normal” size shirts is because most of his extra height is in his legs. My brother, almost the same height, is the exact opposite.

                1. ScruffyInternHerder*

                  Same, and I appreciate the option.

                  But that’s just it, don’t override my “Men’s Small” because guess what? I know that you get Nike golf shirts and a women’s XL in that line fit my at that point 10 year old son. So don’t just say “oh surely that’s a mistake, get her a women’s XL, it’ll be fine”. No, no it won’t.

                  They did that once at OldJob. When asked why I never wore it, I pointed out that the dress code banned crop tops.

                2. PeanutButter*

                  LOL the number of times as a teen I had to explain to church leaders that I wasn’t violating the dress code by wearing a tank top I was wearing THEIR YOUTH GROUP TSHIRT because they got the women’s cut with narrow shoulders and cap sleeves… >:|

              4. Sylvan*

                Same. Hate the short torso thing, too. I just want like… men’s shirts with wider hips.

              5. Filosofickle*

                OTOH I love cap sleeves! Regular sleeves on mens/unisex look stupid on me. Either I have to cut them or roll them. I’ve only learned to make peace with regular Ts by getting really comfortable with a pair of scissors — shorten the sleeves, cut out the neckline, and hack a few inches off the bottom and then we can talk. I vastly prefer a women’s cut, but I need it to be a lot larger than they often come.

          3. Observer*

            Besides, women shouldn’t expect things to fit. My wife has a horrible time finding clothing that fits and she just makes do.”

            Someone actually SAID that?! Does this group have any employees? Do they work on policy issues? Because in the first case, this is a lawsuit waiting to happen. In the second, you know that you’ve got at least one decision maker who is explicitly on board with gender-based discrimination.

          4. Candi*

            “Besides, women shouldn’t expect things to fit. My wife has a horrible time finding clothing that fits and she just makes do.”

            Just because something happens doesn’t mean it’s right.

      2. Alana Bloom*

        As a small woman, I hate this so much. I’ve received several shirts that I only wear as pajama shirts or try to pawn off onto my S.O. because the smallest option available was a “unisex” (i.e. men’s) medium.

        It’s not exactly the same as OP’s situation (there is no societal stigma against my size), but it is yet another reason why companies should actually check sizes before ordering if they want the clothing to be wearable by their employees.

        1. Hazel*

          At my last company, my team leader was buying $200 sneakers for everyone on the team. Yay! And they had the company logo on them. Yay! They didn’t come in wide. Boo! But they were FREE $200 shoes so I went to a store and tried some on to find the best size. I ordered the men’s size that was closest, and I still can’t wear them because they’re too narrow. Duh. Every time I think I can “make do” with the wrong size, it never works. So now I’m donating brand new $200 sneakers to our local thrift shop. At least it will help raise money for HIV research & treatment.

      3. This is a name, I guess*

        My gym is trying to be non-gendered (it’s a very queer space), but is finding that “nongendered” sizing is just men’s sizing. As a fat, short woman, a lot of stuff doesn’t fit me. To get a zip-up hoodie to cover my ample boobs, the sleeves end up being 6-8in too long. Pant legs are an foot too long. I’ve said over and over that we need “short” and “tall” sizes to accommodate different proportions. “One size” unfortunately almost always means mens.

        1. Lizzo*

          Do you think folks (in this specific situation, but also in general) would be willing to pay more for customized clothing that results in a better fit? I’m not talking about a surcharge for those who are outside the standard (?) sizing charts, but custom for *everyone*, and a standard pricing structure across the board.

          I know I personally would pay a bit extra if I knew that I was getting something that fit me well, which in turn would mean I would wear it more, but I have the discretionary funds to do that. (And I also recognize that customized = additional labor on someone’s part, and they should be fairly compensated for that work).

    7. mreasy*

      This is why I never make clothing, as the person who handles all our company swag! Having handled tour merch for ages & dealt with all the minimum orders per size and so many companies not offering anything above an XL…it’s much tougher than other items people would like as well.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood, CTA*

        Or more… the company logo items I’ve had the longest and use the most are a picnic/stadium blanket, a sturdy restockable first aid kit, and a basic-tools kit.

        1. Hazel*

          Yes! Stuff like that is the best. In addition to the sizing issues, I just don’t wear t-shirts. I would prefer my swag to be useful. I have way too much non-useful stuff that I’m working on getting out of my house.

      2. Harper the Other One*

        You deserve a medal for getting this.

        Seriously, aside from fit issues, I can think of SO many swag items I’d prefer to having a company shirt.

        1. Selina Luna*

          Truth. My school district always gets shirts for everyone for the new school year, and… well, last year they were white. Women all had to wear another shirt underneath or risk being “obscene.” I use mine when I’m grouting a mosaic because I use black grout and I don’t want something I actually like to get black cement all over it.

      3. EPLawyer*

        We did shirts once for our club’s golf outing. FOUR years later we were still unloading shirts. Every year it got brought up to do them again, every year I pointed out that we still had shirts from the first time. Clothing has such individual fit that you are ALWAYS going to have left overs and people that nothing fits. WHY do that to people or your organization.

      4. NotAnotherManager!*

        This is how my company does it. I have a great LL Bean toiletry tote that I have been using for well over a decade and a nice, compact picnic set that we use much more often than I thought we would. And nice umbrellas. They do those every few years or people start stealing other people’s (usually inadvertently since they all look the same). My current company just got us all stainless Yeti mugs, which have gotten a lot of use.

        I feel like fleece vests are becoming the tech bro hoodie of the 2020s. I cannot think of when I’d wear one, TBH. It’s usually my arms that are cold, not my core.

        1. Daisy-dog*

          I thought the same, but bought a vest (not fleece) to try the style a few years ago. For me, warming my core does a lot to make me feel warmer all over.

        2. Pippin*

          The university I work at acknowledges years of service for every five years. Which means they have to switch out the swag every five years..well, I guess they don’t HAVE to, but they kindly do. The first five years it was a “unisex” one-size fits-all tee shirt, that I still wear as a sleep shirt. Then they wisely switched to non-clothing but still logoed swag-a roll up fleece picnic blanket, an umbrella, a travel mug. This year (the ceremony is in August) is the start of a new cycle AND my 25-year anniversary so I can’t wait to see what the swag is! In addition to swag, one also gets a nice gift card (5-10-15 years) or a “grossed-up” amount of extra money in there paycheck. For me this year it will be $1,000!

      5. DataSci*

        Thank you! The best company swag I have is the non-clothing stuff. A nice insulated water bottle one place, a soft fluffy blanket throw from my current job. And the two-year anniversary backpack (I’m in tech, two years at one place is a decent tenure) from two jobs ago that I still use every time I go into the office.

        1. Curmudgeon in California*

          When my last university job was moving IT off campus into a very much unwanted open plan building, they gave us both a really nice, sturdy laptop backpack *and* a gym bag (they had an on-site gym). People still hated the open plan, but the backpack and gym bag were nice. I’m still using mine 5 years later.

      6. Candi*

        I don’t have any company swag, but my college passes stuff out.

        I like the stylus pens myself. They also do key rings, lanyards, pencils, pens, and notebooks. For Fall welcome the new victims students, they break out the water bottles and other fancy stuff.

        They save clothing for the overpriced bookstore.

    8. Chili pepper Attitude*

      My company handled work clothing better than most it seems.

      If possible, they ordered samples. And they made a new order form/spreadsheet for every item of clothing (polo, fleece, etc) where we listed the size we wanted for that item, not our size. I might want a fleece that was a little big or a women’s shirt in one size and a “unisex” shirt in a different size. So we had control over the sizing and it worked well. I never heard anyone complain about sizing.

    9. Bunny*

      I’m a plus size woman. The reason my news outlet wins awards is because of my reporting. I cannot wear any of the swag. The skinny interns can. It’s… humiliating. I should be angry, but I’m embarrassed. “Thanks for your hard work, but you don’t fit the mold.”

      1. Hazel*

        I’m angry on your behalf! I hope you will take your excellent reporting and writing to a better employer!

    10. iliketoknit*

      Letting people enter their size was exactly what I was coming here to say. I am all the way Team Letter Writer here (I’d need a 2X myself), but even if the company was intentionally being anti-fat and had no interest in offering larger sizes, a random distribution of S-M-L is likely either to 1) leave people without options because size distribution at the company is unlikely to match whatever distribution they chose, or 2) result in a bunch of unworn vests, if they overbought. To be clear, these things are *way* less bad than ignoring the variability of human size and putting the OP in the position of having to spell out a reality of their life that others absolutely ignore, but they’re still negative outcomes.

      As an aside, I’ve been fat long enough that I am always amazed to run into people who don’t even have to think about not fitting into “standard” sizes. What must that be like? Stupid “standardized” clothing sizes that are anything but. I wish we could go back to the days when clothing was made for you, personally, to measure.

      1. Curmudgeon in California*

        Yeah, I’ve been fat since puberty. Other kids broke out in zits, I broke out in fat.

        The number of people I know who fit “standard” sizes is very low – too heavy, too thin, too tall, too short, bigger/smaller shoulders, arms, hips, bellies, butts, feet, etc.

        I’m just glad I know how to sew/adjust stuff. I can buy oversized and tailor it.

    11. Minerva*

      This is the only correct way to do it if you are going to order clothes for you staff as gifts.

      I wear a women’s medium T and I cannot tell you how many times I, and smaller women, find ourselves swimming in men’s larges because “that was all that was left” by the time we got our free company branded shirts. Free sleep shirts I guess…

      But that is just an inconvenience for us. To exclude larger body types entirely is awful.

    12. Dragon_Dreamer*

      The bent metal fastener once changed their uniform shirts so that men git a pole, women had to wear babydolls. At the time, I was extremely overendowed. Management said that anyone wearing the wrong style would be written up. The largest babydoll was an XXL, though in otherbrands it would have been an L at best.

      I had been wearing the men’s style, but the (female) manager insisted I put on this danged babydoll shirt. I did. Dear readers, the best analogy I can give was that I looked like a mushroom, with my chest squeezed up near my neck. My sales would probably have increased, though!

      The manager took one look, swore, and got me a men’s style. Never heard another word about it.

      1. Wonder*

        I had the same kind of situation in my first job out of college. I worked for a lobbyist and the (very thin) executive director ordered t-shirts for our day at the state capital. I’m a well-endowed woman, and I normally wear a size 3x men’s t-shirt. She ordered me a woman’s large. Then she insisted I wear it because it “was only one day, and everyone needed to match.” Let’s just say that thin white t-shirt showed off my *ahem* assets very well. It was too tight to wear another shirt underneath. She never ordered t-shirts again.

        1. Curmudgeon in California*

          LOL. I wear a mens 3X. I can’t even get a women’s large over my shoulders.

          (If I got in on they’d have to cut it off, because I couldn’t move in it…)

      2. Candi*

        “Management said that anyone wearing the wrong style would be written up.”

        So they were making the employees where clothing based on their gender? I believe there’s been court cases about that. Of course, frontline retail employees usually can’t risk doing something about it.

        1. Dragon_Dreamer*

          I’m sure they were going to use the defense that it was only the STYLE they were differentiating by gender.

    13. soontoberetired*

      My company offers multiple sizes in its branded clothing – the bigger problem is that the branded clothing runs small so an XL is really a large, etc, but at least they know we come in all shapes and sizes!

    14. Banana*

      My employer typically asks for sizes before ordering, works with vendors who carry sizes up to 3X for women, and orders extras in a range of sizes (so we have some shirts for new people, and so we have options if someone orders a Medium and it turns out they need a Large, etc.) Sometimes the options for people needing larger sizes is more limited (example, we’re ordering shirts in company colors – charcoal gray and royal blue, but the vendor only carries charcoal gray for sizes above XL and we don’t meet their quantity minimum for exceptions.)

      One thing I HAVE seen us do, though, is let
      the stock of shirts for new people get down to limited size options before reordering. We try not to do that, but I’ve been in the position of hiring a new person and going to grab them some swag in their first week and realizing we only have small, medium, and one 3XL shirts left. They’re not uniform shirts and are more of a nice to have, and we have a couple of set events during the year that we typically place shirt orders for, and no one person is responsible for shirt inventory aside from that, so it’s kind of a mildly crappy oops instead of a major culture issue IMO, unless the person ordering during the last event neglected to plan for a range of sizes to stock in the first place.

    15. Lab Boss*

      My company retains the size we order the first time we request company clothing, so then they can order to suit. This did bite me though- the first company clothing I ever got was a zip-up fleece. As an extremely large man I was super exited that I could get an OVERSIZE fleece that would be big and baggy and cozy. And that’s how the company came to think that I wore 6XL shirts, and how I ended up with a “thanks for being a first responder” t-shirt that hits me at about midi-skirt length :D

    16. Erin*

      This seems like a really straightforward way that also keeps each person’s sizing info as a need-to-know kind of thing.

      The super bonkers part of this is that there are many brands that create corporate-branded apparel in an inclusive size range.

      I’m sorry this happened to you, LW1. I hope that the person who ordered the vests discreetly and quickly finds a supplier to make one for you in your size, and I hope they don’t make a big show of giving it to you. I also hope that they remember to find a size-inclusive brand for any future clothing orders.

    17. LPUK*

      I know! when there is so much discussion in the media about changing body sizes, you’d have had to have your head in a bucket for 20 years not to know that SML just won’t cut it! I work with a French company, and when we needed to order branded polo shirts for the presenters on a key product launch, we not only did a wider range of sizes but also slim fit and relaxed for options because we wanted people to feel OK wearing them ( and the French ladies had been known to get previous options tailored to fit them, it was that important to them). As a result , everyone on the day looked great and felt comfortable ( except me, because I had to to give my shirt away to someone else who’s option didn’t fit them, had to wear the only remaining big size and looked like a bag lady, but hey I am agency-side and could hide behind a pillar for most of it)

    18. ThatGirl*

      My company loves to give out company-branded swag. Last year they ordered really fancy jackets for everyone – we’re talking removable fleece insert, removable hood, all kinds of fancy little details – they’re nice jackets! I am also a larger size person but I thought if they were unisex, an XL should fit. Turned out to be a woman’s cut, so I couldn’t zip it — but here’s the good part, the HR person who was handling the ordering was very happy to let me swap it, I ended up with a men’s version (and then accidentally grabbed a Tall, so the sleeves are too long, but I no longer care). I was grateful that changing sizes wasn’t a big deal and that they had ordered extras in every size from XS to like, 3XL to fit a wide variety of bodies.

    19. BongoFury*

      My husband needs the Tall version of any shirt. When his work insisted he wear uniforms and only allowed the standard S-XL sizes, he wore the regular size and it looked like he was wearing a midriff. It made the point, but instead of being reasonable they insisted he buy the uniform shirts himself since “no one would ever use those when you leave”. Sigh.

      What is really egregious is the coworker asking why she had a problem. That coworker knew exactly why she didn’t want a vest, he just wanted to see her admit it. I would bet the coworker is thin with a mean streak about people he considers undesirable.

    20. KuklaRed*

      2 companies I have worked for really went out of their way to provide company-logowear in a wide range of sizes. My current company does that for some items but not others. For example, the tee shirts we get come in sizes big enough to fit me fine, although I am not really a big tee shirt wearer. But last summer when they sent us a big box of stuff for our annual all-company get together (which had to be remote again), the track suit they sent me wouldn’t fit a Barbie doll. Many people complained about this, so it wasn’t just me.

      The first company that made sure there would be logowear that fit me made me feel so good and included. Until they eliminated my job the minute I recovered from surgery. C’est la vie.

    21. I'm Just Here For The Cats!*

      #2 This is frustrating and I feel for you. I’ve had problems like this before but never about work stuff. As an average size person (US women’s 16-18 size) Large is often just a little too snug and I don’t like tight clothes so I go up to XL. I am sure that there were many people who are not as heavy as you are who would have preferred an XL or XXL. I have a friend who is shorter and has a tiny waist but she is “well endowed” as she puts it. So she wears XL tops even though she’s only a 6 or something. She would be in the same boat as you.
      I like what my former employer did. Every year they had a gift you could choose. You got a link to the company website and were able to pick 1 item from the approved selection. One year it was laptop bags. So you could choose a messenger style bag or a purse type of bag, or a backpack. However, the next year it was long-sleeved shirts and you could choose from a couple of styles, your size, and color. This seemed to work the best because the company was able to order the exact amount of shirts in the correct sizes and no one felt left out. The only problem I had was that I was positive I chose XL but they gave me an XXL. The sizes ran on the bigger side so I was swimming in it.
      But I wish more places did something like this. Even if it was a google poll asking for your size it would be better than just guessing how many people want what sizes.

    22. Orange You Glad*

      We had a survey go out where we entered our size and mailing address for company clothes. Of course, they drop-ship them from China so the sizes are always waaaaay off and mine didn’t even arrive this year. Last year the shirts for women were cut more “fitting” and were made of see-through material. I don’t think I’ll ever get company-branded shirts that I can wear.

    23. Momma Bear*

      We order shirts on a regular basis for employees and always ask about sizes. For a lot of reasons people may not wear the size you think they do. I like a fitted shirt. My coworker does not. If we have to change a vendor or product, we get samples because one M is not another vendor’s M. It makes us look bad if people are in ill-fitting branded clothes at a trade show.

      I bet OP is far from the only person who will be affected and if OP says anything, I’d point that out. OP’s company is very short sighted to only order three sizes. It is a waste of effort and money.

      1. Observer*

        I bet OP is far from the only person who will be affected and if OP says anything, I’d point that out. OP’s company is very short sighted to only order three sizes. It is a waste of effort and money.

        Totally and completely true.

    24. Office Lobster DJ*

      Let people provide their own sizes, but even then make sure you provide a size chart for the item to make up for wildly inconsistent sizing, even between items of the same brand.

      Flashing back to one group ordering experience, where I was handed the final product with a weak smile and a “Now don’t get mad…” The organizer had gone rogue after collecting tee shirt sizes and decided to order some extremely tight and short style that ended up fitting very few of us.

    25. Size Inclusive LW*

      Ohmygoodness. I was not expecting such a quick response from Alison and an 8 am meeting this morning so I’m a bit late to the comments.

      Thank you everyone for the support. As much as I logically know I’m not wrong to be frustrated, sometimes the early 2000s teenage girl within panics.

      I have learned since writing in that the vests for employees were a bit of an afterthought. Vests were ordered for the attendees of a small conference that was hosted by our sister company (both with the same owner/CEO), and they decided to order enough for employees of both companies at the last minute. But from what I’ve heard from, they still only ordered S/M/L. Which means it wasn’t just employee affected by the lack of inclusivity, but conference attendees as well. Yikes.

      This is not the first or only way it has been made clear to me that our CEO is a fatphobic. His religion involves extremely strict dietary restrictions, and any time company wide lunches were ordered he would loudly proclaim how unhealthy it all was. In one of our (rare, we are still WFH) meetings, we had to remind him that if were expected in the office from 10a-2p, we either needed a long enough lunch break to go get food (there is no kitchen or working microwaves at the office right now), or lunch should be ordered. Which lead to a 15 minute pseudo-lecture about how unhealthy the Jimmy John’s he ordered for us was. “There’s 1000 calories in each sandwich! Just take off the cheese, it still tastes like cheese but without the calories and fat”. It was awful.

      It’s also part of a much larger pattern of employees, no matter how much value they bring the company or how hard they work, not truly being appreciated. Combined with his sometimes extremely condescending style of management (I’m an experienced teapot designer, I do not need to be shown that handles are a possibility when I have made many in my career, and yes, that did happen, though it obviously was not teapot handles).

      It’s been a major issue for me recently. I’ve been in the interview process for a new job for the past few weeks, so perhaps I’ll have some Friday good news soon.

      1. Insert Clever Name Here*

        Wow, the CEO is…concerning. Sending good thoughts that you get out of there FAST!

        1. Size Inclusive LW*

          The interviews have gone very well, and in the last follow-up round the hiring manager said “That’s great to hear”, “That’s exactly what I wanted to hear”, “That’s a perfect example” SEVERAL times, so I’m hopeful but also trying really hard not to get convinced it’s in the bag.

          I’m also having to sit on my hands to not email the recruiter until at least Monday (maybe Tuesday, I just realized they have Monday off for Patriot’s Day, the company is based in Boston and apparently that’s a state holiday? They gave me their company holiday calendar before the main set of interviews).

          1. JustaTech*

            1) Oh good luck in your interviews!
            2) Yup, it’s a holiday in Boston, commemorating the Battles of Lexington and Concord. It’s also the Boston Marathon. The marathon runs not all the way to downtown but through a bunch of the city and makes a mess of traffic and transit, so most in-city places call it a day off.

            1. Lizzo*

              Patriot’s Day is also a holiday in Maine. (Maine was a part of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts until 1820.)

      2. Observer*

        Your CEO is . . . special. I can understand how he thinks that he gets to to this to his staff, although he’s totally WRONG. But doing this to his CUSTOMERS? You know, customers DO have options that they can exercise much more easily that staff can.

      3. JamminOnMyPlanner*

        Woah that’s insane! I thought it was just ignorance, but no… that’s malice.

      4. Candi*

        Best wishes for the awesomest new job heading your way the fastest!

        I bet if you told him the daily calorie intake for women being 1800 cal. was the result of rounding down he’d weasel-word a denial. (Same for the male 2000. And that whole decision-making process had a lot of bias in it.)

        In related new, on Sunday I spent over four hours working on an online computer lab for an assignment. Once I was done, I was so hungry I ate twice as much food as I usually do before I was full. You need those calories to fuel your work!

    26. ModernHypatia*

      I am just very “I’m going to need a 3X” or “Can I get the size guide so I can tell you what size I need?” about it.

      With something like this, I’d just have gone “Those sizes won’t work at all for me, there’s no point in my doing the drive to pick one up. Can you let me know in advance if you plan to do a future order so I can get something that does fit me?” and let them deal with the awkwardness.

      (I am fat, but I also have very broad shoulders for someone of my height, and the bone’s not going anywhere.)

      1. Curmudgeon in California*

        Seriously! Even if I lost half my weight to be “normal”, I’d still have very broad shoulders and big boobs. The smallest I could wear is a mens XL based on my shoulders.

    27. MCMonkeyBean*

      Yeah, I know it isn’t a ton better but I don’t think I’ve ever seen a time when people just order sizes in bulk that didn’t at least include XL!

      1. Size Inclusive LW*

        Seriously though!

        Like I’d still be a bit frustrated they didn’t try to be size inclusive, but at least go up to XL! It’s at least more reasonable than just L.

    28. 2 Cents*

      Op #2, I am also fat and I’ve also come to terms with it. My last company ordered t-shirts and the doofus CEO said in front of everyone “and the 3XL can be used as a tablecloth!” Guess who wears a 3X. I was livid. I was already looking but this was just further kindling on the pile. People are so careless sometimes.

      1. Bookworm*

        That is horrible! I’m so sorry you experienced that. I hope someone read your CEO the riot act, but alas I know it’s unlikely.

    29. JustaTech*

      My company has this too and it’s great! It also means that when departments or Employee Resource groups want to give out clothing swag they don’t have to ask for sizing, they just run a tool and find out how many of each size.

      My department has a huge range of size of people and it was really nice to not see the folks on either end of the spectrum pick up a shirt and look defeated.

    30. HS Teacher*

      We have polo shirts with our school mascot on them, and they’re very nice. I purchased one because it looked nice and was reasonably priced. Then I gained a little weight and couldn’t fit it anymore. Unfortunately, they only went up to L.

      Anyway, a colleague started to text me periodically to remind me to wear my school shirt (the one I paid for with my own money, thank you very much). I finally had to tell her I can’t fit the dang thing and to please stop asking me to wear it. She then suggested I just switch it out for another, callously not realizing they didn’t have a size above the one I had. I resented having to explain that, and if I’d known there would be an expectation to wear it, I’d have never purchased it.

    31. Hosta*

      We have a similar system, but some teams still ignore the fact that we have everyone’s preferred size available to any admin to pull as needed. We also have a policy that all wearable giveaways have to use inclusive sizing. We still run into issues with folks at either end of the spectrum not being able to get things that fit.

  3. Fikly*

    #5: Since you asked about health insurance coverage, I wanted to flag that this is not always the case for health insurance specifically. The state laws that apply to health insurance policies are the ones from the state the insurance policy is written in, not the one the employer is based in, or the one the employee works in. Even if you have a “national” plan, it’s always written in one specific state.

    This comes up often for fertility coverage and related care. So if you work in say, Illinois, your employer is based in New York, but they purchase health insurance from Horizon Blue (based in NJ) then the Illinois law that requires coverage for IVF does not apply, nor the New York one. Only New Jersey laws apply.

    1. LisTF*

      Came here to say this. Your insurance is going to follow the laws of the plan state, wherever you live, travel, or work. So if you have Blue Cross of Illinois but live across the border in Indiana and commute to work daily, or live in Michigan and telecommute, the insurance is gonna follow and cover only what Illinois law requires.

    2. MI Dawn*

      Working for health insurance, as I do, I want to say that your answer is partially correct. It also depends on how the employer pays for the health insurance. If they pay on a monthly scheduled fee (think equal payment plan for your electricity sort of thing), then they have to abide by all of the state regulations. If they pay on a “you used XX amount of health care last month, so you owe us XX+Y(management fee)” basis, then they can decide – at least in my state – what coverage they want to offer for certain things like infertility benefits, and they don’t have to abide by the state regulations, only the federally mandated ones. They can pick and choose which of the state regulations they follow – if any!

      1. Shoez*

        This confirms what I’ve always believed, which is that it’s not knowable from the outside what insurance will or will not cover, no matter how much information you think you have. You’ll never know until you try to use it!

        1. JamminOnMyPlanner*

          Yes, even if you call and speak to a representative before your appointment and tell them exactly what you’re asking them to cover… and they tell you yes, it’s covered… it still might not be!

          I work in mental health and previously worked in billing. I would call people’s insurance companies and ask if something is covered… they’d say yes… and then… it wasn’t covered.

      2. MI Dawn*

        And, I should also say…it also depends on how many people are on the policy. In my state, even if you’re a monthly fee plan, if you are under a certain amount of employees (usually 500), you are exempt from many of the more expensive state regulations.

        1. fhqwhgads*

          Sincere question: if that’s the case, what is the point of the state regulations? I’m not trying to let perfect be the enemy of the good, but it seems like this would make the state by state regs very easy to almost never apply.

    3. Irish girl*

      This is a great example. Infertility is required to be covered in MA but only for a MA based health plan and a MA based employer. My company offered Cigna for our CW plan which was based in Utah so they got around the MA law. Thankfully i had purchased the MA based health plan and it was fully covered.

  4. Heidi*

    For Letter #1, wouldn’t the most likely source be the students who were actually there? There is no reason for them to keep that kind of thing to themselves.

    1. I Should Be Sleeping*

      Exactly! I’d have thought this would be all over the school far faster than any disciplinary action could have taken place!

      1. MN_Jen*

        God, yes. I teach in a middle school. If a teacher said the n-word in front of students, I would hear about it – from students – within two hours of that class ending.

    2. Eyes Kiwami*

      Yes, if it was money mismanagement or something along those lines, I could see Dan worried about gossip. But it’s kinda hard to get mad about gossip about something you said in front of others. People heard it, there’s no way that wasn’t getting out somehow.

      1. Mongrel*

        And parents will ask at some point.
        It’s never a good look when this is the first time the staff would have heard about this

      2. Heidi*

        That’s probably why the ex-chair was willing to talk about it to OP (and those other faculty). He knew it was only a matter of time. No need for OP to feel guilty if it was never a secret to begin with.

    3. A.N. O'Nyme*

      This. I can almost guarantee the entire student body knew about it before the day was out.

      1. Kacihall*

        I’m not sure I agree with that. When I was in high school, my band director was arrested for sleeping with some of his students. I had been complaining about his inappropriate relationships with some of his students for 3 years – I didn’t know the extent of it but he wasn’t subtle. The day he got arrested, a boy had gotten in an argument with him in class. The next day, about a third of the school had heard that I lied to get him arrested, another third had heard that the cops had arrested him because he called the boy stupid in front of the whole class, and the other third didn’t care.
        Sorry for the long story. TLDR; Student gossip is great at spreading stories, and can usually get what they SAW correct, but the reasons thing happened aren’t usually among the correct gossip.

        1. ecnaseener*

          Ok, but that’s not really relevant to this case. As you said, the simple facts of what people saw (heard) will be generally correct. 25 students witnessed this man saying the N word, which is what spread. The reasons he said it might get jumbled, I guess, but that doesn’t affect LW.

        2. A.N. O'Nyme*

          Except here the inciting incident (saying the n-word) happened in front of students, they didn’t just see the result (losing the chair position) as was the case in your story. You’re actually not disagreeing with me at all – you claim student gossip gets what they saw correct, and they saw the whole thing start to finish, not just the finish.

    4. Seeking Second Childhood, CTA*

      If OP1 wants a script, I’d lean on this. Because the students told enough people for it to get to theBoard, rght?

      1. After 33 years ...*

        In our place, it would be on the local media before the day was out, IMO deservedly so.

        1. Slow Gin Lizz*

          Yeah, this is a big enough deal that I’m honestly surprised the guy is allowed to keep teaching at all. But I guess the school is being nice and giving him a second chance.

          1. myprivatename*

            I used to be a teacher and when I was, I said that word more than once.

            Only in one context: when I confronted a (usually black) teen for saying that word, and they tried playing the innocent “what did I say??” game.

            Between my “never say the n-word” instinct and my “never let ’em see you sweat” instinct, I let the latter win – in the context of quoting them back to themselves for clarity.

            I’m deeply ambivalent about that choice, but spent much of my teaching career in survival mode :/

            1. Slow Gin Lizz*

              I agree it does depend on the context, but if the guy used it in a situation where it was bad enough for him to get demoted because of it, seems like keeping him on as a teacher isn’t a great idea. I once was gently reprimanded when I used the word in a work meeting while quoting a book I read (and I was in fact quoting a quote that the book used to illustrate a point) without realizing that it was such an offensive word (I was naive, before that job I didn’t pay much attention to popular culture nor how that particular word had become taboo). I was not using it to insult anyone, nor would I ever. This job understood that so that’s why I was only gently reprimanded (and rightfully so!), but if the teacher was actually using the word racistly (to coin an adverb), then I can’t quite grasp why he wasn’t completely fired.

      2. L'etrangere*

        Repeating something which was said in public is not gossip. And in this case, I’d put it more on the level of public service. Other racist professors need to hear what could happen if they give in to their base instincts. Students need to hear that the administration supported them (even if only in a half-assed way). The public needs to know that the university is not going to become a hotbed of white supremacy. I’m also surprised the press hasn’t intervened, but the instant demotion might have been part of a deal

    5. Batgirl*

      I would definitely have heard this from my students way before an adult would have found a discreet time to gossip with me.

    6. K Diehl*

      Yes! The Chair said the slur in front of STUDENTS. One of these students reported this – to other students, a parent, other staff member and then the chair was demoted. This was already spreading like wildfire – even before the rest of the staff got wind of it. No way this was going away without widespread knowledge

      1. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

        Not to mention the Board and anyone else they told. Between students, parents, and administration who decided on the consequences, I’d put money on at least 100 people knowing what happened before the LW even heard about him losing his position

    7. AnonAnon*

      Totally agree with this. No way something like this would be kept secret for a minute!

      Although I’ll add: my read on LW1 is more about “I felt guilty to have talked about Chair’s downfall with glee, was I the AH?” than “Should I have told anyone about this awful thing that Chair did?” LW’s worry about being the source of the news feels like misplaced guilt to me.

      1. Candi*

        I think bigotry being smacked down should be celebrated, but YMMV.

        (Smacked, as in, disciplined for the offense and related offenses. On-going figurative torture is not on, and just “justifies” them in their own minds.)

    8. Observer*

      For Letter #1, wouldn’t the most likely source be the students who were actually there? There is no reason for them to keep that kind of thing to themselves.

      Agreed. The only reason to think otherwise is that this guy is an idiot and was telling a bunch of people. But I have no doubt whatsoever that the kids talked about it all over the place.

    9. fhqwhgads*

      Plus, if the guy told one person, he might as well have told have a dozen. If he told three, he basically told everyone himself anyway. Let alone factoring in the witnesses.

  5. Zelda*

    May I suggest one wording change for #2?

    “To explain that my body won’t fit in what you’re providing” becomes “to explain that what you’re providing won’t fit my body.” Clothes should serve people; people shouldn’t need to serve clothes. IMHO.

      1. Purple Cat*

        Alison I just have to say how much I really appreciate that you take people’s comments into consideration and often change your advice to suit. You are such an embodiment of “know better, do better”. And your starting point is pretty high already!

    1. Jam on Toast*

      Thanks to a long stint in grad school, I am perfectly positioned to answer this obscure question. Probably not what my advisor intended, but meh, his loss, AAM’s gain. The first mass produced clothes occurred in the 1860s, with the need to make hundreds of thousands of Union uniforms (initially, everyone got to design their own uniforms…the gaudier the better. They quickly figured out that it’s hard to tell who’s on your team IF YOU DON’T WEAR SIMILAR UNIFORMS) To establish the sizing, they took height, weight, measurements of things like chests and waists and inseam from recruits. Women’s clothing manufacturers took note, but while they did have sizing options in their pre-made clothing, there weren’t any universal sizing conventions, and usually it was just bust or waist. If you were ‘stout’ you were pretty much stuck with a dressmaker or sewing for yourself. In the 19th century, pre-made clothing was made popular because of catalogues and department stores. After WW2, the US government did a huge measurement survey, intended to standardized sizing and reduce costs for manufacturers (no need to make your own numbers..use Uncle Sam’s). Those 80 yo numbers are the basis of all our sizing in manufacturers clothes today because they’re whats used to draft the patterns. If you sew, you may notice that the pattern sizing is much larger. 8 in RTW, 14 in McCall’s. That’s because they still use the 1940s numbers. People have been asking for updated averages for decades but it hasn’t happened. But of course, clothing manufacturers also realized that people are vain and they started changing the numbers on their branded sizing. That’s why you’re a 4 in one store, a 6 in another and 10 ina third. You also see it if you shop internationally. They have their own tables and so a medium in Japan, for instance, is going to be much smaller because the bodies they measured and averaged are different than the US or Britain.

      1. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

        Nicole Rudolph on youtube did an excellent video on the history of standardized sizes, if people are interested in learning more.

        1. kristinyc*

          Omg, I went to college with her and worked with her in our theatre costume shop! She’s incredibly talented.

        2. voluptuousfire*

          That sounds awesome! I pulled it up and I could easily get lost in a rabbit hole with this YouTube channel. :)

      2. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

        If it’s any consolation, XY doesn’t fix everything.

        I have a peer who’s a fellow hockey fan. He owns several jerseys,* all 54’s,* and they fit as-intended (they’d be snug if he was wearing the pads underneath). HR gets him 54″ chest company shirts and he literally can’t squeeze in to them.

        *I asked one day during a power cut. I think 52’s would fit better, but he actually likes clothes a little loose.

      3. Emmy Noether*

        I’ve found that Big 4 sewing patterns (McCall’s, Vogue, Butterick, Simplicity) often have very, very weird sizing though. If you make the size corresponding to your measurements, it will turn out at least two sizes too large.

      4. Userper Cranberries*

        My “favorite” is when they take those out of date averages and just size everything up evenly to make plus sizes. Like, yes, I need a bigger bust/waist area, but I don’t need a v-neck down to my sternum and shoulder seams at my biceps, thanks!

        1. Curmudgeon in California*

          This. I loathe plus size v-necks because they just… expand those too, so the bottom of the V is below the nipple line and the shoulders are so open that my bra shows and it falls off my shoulders.

          I can take a pattern and size it up better than most manufacturers. Most just add extra width at the middle of the front and back, maybe also at the underarm/side seems. This makes the necklines distorted. You actually need to adjust it in the middle, sides, and along the breast/shoulderblade verticals, as well as the lengths and drop. But it’s an art that many fast fashion manufacturers don’t get. Most just put a size medium pattern on a copier and blow it up by x percent, and it shows.

  6. IT Relationship Manager*

    LW #2!

    I dread office wear like this too. When I was in charge of ordering clothes either I got sizes from everyone or for big mass orders I’d get a lot of sizes. It’s so awkward for someone to come by and not have a size big enough and then expects you to wear it.

    And if any men want a tip when ordering sizes, women’s cuts run small! An XL in men’s is not the same as an XL in a women’s shirt. It’s closer to two sizes difference!

    I hope your office gets better about this or you find a better company with that matching 401k!

    1. AcademiaNut*

      The men’s sizes thing is also annoying. I generally use giveaway t-shirts as pyjamas, because I can choose between one that goes over my hips and is baggy everywhere else, and one that fits the rest of me but can’t be pulled down past my waist. I also find that men’s long sleeved garments have longer arms than comparable women’s sizes. So if you’re doing clothing, order men’s and women’s fits in the full range of sizes. If you’re a big company, having sample sizes for people to try on before ordering is even better, given the wide variation that can be found in a given size label.

      1. Over It*

        Unisex sizing is men’s sizing, and as someone who’s five foot nothing, that small t-shirt is going to be a mini-dress on me. Not a great look. And laughable that LW’s company thought no one would need above a size large.

        1. Marion Ravenwood*

          This. I’m 5’2″ and occasionally get sent T shirts from music PRs as promotional things for my job, and even when I can specify a small size it’s always a ‘unisex’ (ie men’s) shirt. I’m not going to be petty and turn down free stuff, but the shirt inevitably gets either relegated to use as nightwear in summer or shoved into a drawer and forgotten about.

          1. Workerbee*

            It isn’t being petty to let a department in charge of promotions know that their promo has effectively failed. They’re the ones making erroneous assumption.

        2. Harper the Other One*

          One retail job I worked, the company was trying to standardize/professionalize their small chain, so they “helpfully” ordered us all company logo button-down shirts. In “unisex” sizes. I looked ridiculous trying to tuck about five yards of fabric into my waistband (of COURSE they required shirts to be tucked in!) and rolling the cuffs up before buttoning, but my short and extremely slender coworker looked even worse. We were the only two women in the branch and none of the sales bros understood why we were so annoyed.

        3. This is a name, I guess*

          I’m a fat, short woman, and unisex sizing is also terrible for me. To get clothing to fit over my chest in “unisex” clothing, I always end up with sleeves that are 6′-8′ too long and an extra foot of length down my thighs. Pants are always 10″ too long.

          True unisex would come in both “tall” and “short”, and the “short” sizes wouldn’t be baby-doll tees and form-fitting “feminine” cuts. It would be standard cut clothes meant for shorter people.

      2. londonedit*

        I’ve never worked anywhere with branded clothing (it’s really not a thing in my industry; tote bags are about as far as we go) but I have a ton of experience with ‘unisex’ sizing when it comes to race t-shirts! Most half-marathons/marathons/other running events will offer a free t-shirt to everyone who finishes, and most of the time it’s ‘unisex’ sizing. Which means I have to choose between a small, which will inevitably be too tight on my hips, or a medium, which will be OK on the hips but too big everywhere else. It’s a miracle when you get one that actually fits! Some races have solved the problem by getting people to buy the t-shirts in advance, which means they can offer a greater range of sizes and you can actually choose the one you want (it’s also better for the environment because they’re only ordering/printing the stuff people have actually ordered) but obviously that means there’s a financial impact for the participants. I’m still sad that my London Marathon finisher’s t-shirt from 2013 is a) cotton and therefore totally impractical for running (they changed to proper technical t-shirts the following year) and b) a men’s large, so only really useful as a nightdress (by the time I’d finished there were no smaller sizes left!)

        1. Slow Gin Lizz*

          My first marathon was NYC and I was SO excited. Didn’t realize that the shirts were men’s sizes so although I do still wear it (because of *course* I do, it was my first marathon!) I am swimming in it. I really want to run NY again so that I can get a NY marathon shirt that fits me. (But since I haven’t run more than 3 miles in over 6 years, I don’t know when I’ll get up to that mileage. Oh well, someday….)

          1. londonedit*

            Yeah, I’d like to do London again and get a proper t-shirt, but my last marathon was 7 years ago! There was quite a cool thing a few years ago, in the year of their millionth finisher, when you could buy a commemorative t-shirt with your unique finisher number on it (I was somewhere around the 900,000th person to finish the race!) and that’s a proper technical top. But I’d like to be able to run in a finisher’s t-shirt!

            1. Slow Gin Lizz*

              Oooh, that IS cool! I’m also sad that my 2013 Boston shirt doesn’t fit right, I should’ve bought the next size up. Learned my lesson for 2014 so at least that year’s shirt is perfect. But I still wear all three of them. My only two Bostons, of course I wear them. But I love the idea of having your unique finisher number on a shirt, that’s really neat.

          2. AnotherJen*

            If you can any sewing at all, you can take a too-large T-shirt and take in the side seams. (If you’re me, and you absolutely don’t wear round collars, you can also convert most T-shirts into at least a notch collar.) I’ve decided that I straight-up don’t care for wearing round-neck Tees, and either gave them all away, or converted them into something else.

            (I realize this doesn’t apply to the OP, who is getting gear that won’t fit FROM WORK, but the rest of us, if we have shirts we are attached to, have the option of altering them.)

        2. Delta Delta*

          My dear husband took quite the plunge and did a half marathon with me several years ago. He tried hard and he finished and when he got to the end the coordinators had given away all the XL shirts. He isn’t a big branded t-shirt guy, but he felt like his accomplishment got overshadowed by the fact he couldn’t even get a shirt that fit at the end. I’m a big fan of the day-before swag bag pickup so you don’t have to mess around with end-of-race silliness like this.

        3. anne of mean gables*

          I was an avid runner from ~1998 to 2010, and the landscape on offering women’s cut, or at least having enough XS sizes available, was just starting to change in my last few years in the sport (at least in the mid-atlantic/northeast). Then I switched to cycling, where we get to be excited if the race promoter actually offers women’s fields at all…

          1. kendall^2*

            I did a multi-day bike ride where the largest women’s jersey just about cut off circulation to my arms. They had larger sizes in men’s, so I swapped, but was really annoyed at the assumption that no woman who wore a larger size would possibly participate in this fund-raising ride (ie def. *not* a race). I rarely wear the men’s one either, because that doesn’t fit particularly well, just better than the women’s.

            1. sb51*

              Yep. There’s very few companies out there doing event/team custom gear in women’s at all, and even fewer have anything above what they’re calling an “XL” (which is a medium or the small end of large in street sizes). Sigh. (To anyone reading this as an event organizer: if you’re in the US, you want either Voler or Aerotech. Aerotech goes up slightly larger, Voler’s product quality is nicer.)

              1. Lizzo*

                For larger cycling clothing for women, I have heard really good things about Machines for Freedom. (This is for off-the-shelf stuff, not team or event things.)

            2. Bookworm*

              Ugh yes this. It’s so upsetting how small the size ranges run on active clothing (hiking clothes, cycling gear, triathlon gear, swimsuits intended for strenuous lap/open water swimming…) The fatphobia is so blatant, and the messages we get that both “oh stop being lazy, just go exercise and you’ll be thin” and “there’s no way any fat person is exercising so why make clothing that allows fat people to comfortably exercise?” just make me want to scream.

      3. L*

        As long as you let people choose which style they want, and don’t just assume that people presenting as women want the women’s style! I absolutely hate most things that come with women’s t-shirts – large v necks, cap sleeves, and it being cut to be weirdly short. I much prefer men’s/unisex styles!

        1. Curmudgeon in California*

          Seriously. Most women’s sized wear, even if it fits my torso, is too short and has arms that act as tourniquets.

          I have this problem with Lane Bryant all the time.

    2. grlgoddess*

      Yes! I used to work at a t-shirt store, and could comfortably fit a men’s medium, but could barely squeeze into a women’s XL. Women’s sizing is a scam

      1. John Smith*

        Have a feel for us short and thin guys too (with atypical body size ratios). I usually have to resort to buying large youth size clothes (great for pricing as no tax, but clothing with Bob the Builder embroided on them aren’t a great look on an adult). When I wear PPE from work, I invariably look like I’m going to a “dress up like your dad for work” day. Having murder with corporate trying to get them to accept 4 sizes don’t fit all and end up buying my own from a non approved supplier and fight to reclaim the cost. Sorry, but we’re not all 6 feet odd hunks with bulging chests and biceps! And I’m entitled to wear PPE that doesn’t drag on the floor!

        1. londonedit*

          Before they started doing actual women’s football shirts (shockingly recently; the England women’s team was playing in men’s kit until 2019) I used to buy the biggest children’s size – age 13-14 or whatever. Added bonus of no VAT! Thankfully I can now buy a replica shirt that fits me properly, but it is way more expensive.

          1. UKDancer*

            I went to the London Transport Museum and I was fascinated to see that the female staff of TfL (company responsible for the underground) fought quite hard to get PPE and uniforms in actual women’s sizes because the ones that they were given were for men. TfL actually had kit designed for their female staff as a result.

            1. londonedit*

              Yeah, it is fascinating how in the 21st century it could still be deemed perfectly acceptable for women to just make do with men’s kit/uniforms (and probably still is in many companies!)

              1. SarahKay*

                Oh yes! I had a years-long fight to get our company to supply lab coats for women that had all the same pockets and fastenings as men’s coats, and without the ‘decorative’ cuffs that just meant a poppa was pressing into your wristbone all the time you were typing.
                At one point the supplier told me that there was no point in having women’s-fit coats, since there were so few of us, as it was far harder to repurpose them. I suggested that telling me it was acceptable for women to be wearing ill-fitting garments, but not men, was not a good look in the 21st century. This was all of three years ago! Grrrr

        2. Seeking Second Childhood, CTA*

          A long time ago, I dated someone who was built like a jockey…. he did mail-order before mail-order was cool.

      2. Going Up!*

        My absolute favourite fitting t-shirt is the one I bought to benefit planned parenthood in 2016. It’s black it says “nasty woman” on it. It’s an XL in women’s sizing and it FITS! Like, every time I pull it out I look at it and think “that’s too small” and I put it on and IT FITS. One of these days I’m going to track down just who did them because the sizing is amazeballs.

          1. Slow Gin Lizz*

            I have the same shirt too! I would get up and go look (since I WFH) and tell you but my cat just curled up on my lap so, alas, I cannot. But if she decides to get up I will go check the label.

            1. Slow Gin Lizz*

              Ok, Nasty Woman shirt says that it’s made with authentic, organic nastiness. The company that made it is Omaze but I think that’s just the fundraising platform or something like that, not the actual brand of shirt. I guess the nastiness is the key to the great fit.

        1. A duck walks into a bar*

          I have that same shirt! And it is the single best fitting t-shirt I have. I got the 2X and it is amazing.

      3. Person from the Resume*

        I’ll agree with this.

        I regularly get men’s unisex Med or Large and that usually works.

        Women’s sizing is such a crap shoot. Maybe because it’s offered less often, I have less data points, but actually I think unisex sizing is fairly standard and woman’s cuts vary by brand so you can’t know your size / how it fits without trying it on.

        OTOH if you expect your employees to wear this and look somewhat professional, the company needs to figure this out. Branded fleece vests don’t need to fit as well as shirts so nice try. Only sizes small, med, large??? WTH? Most adult males I know want at least XL! Many need larger sizes than that.

        1. Metadata minion*

          Yes! I’m usually a medium if I want form-fitting or a large if I want some roominess, and there’s one brand where I can barely squeeze into an XL t-shirt.

      4. MCMonkeyBean*

        I’m fairly sure that most of the time “women’s” shirts are actually “junior’s” shirts. I do actually prefer the cut of them, but have learned I usually need to go up *two* full sizes.

      5. Aggresuko*

        There’s “Bella” shirts at my volunteer job that the shortest woman in the entire organization has to order XL to fit into. I gave up on getting a woman’s shirt with that vendor.

      6. Kal*

        The size difference in mens to womens designs really is significant! My partner usually wears small to medium mens clothes, while I typically wear anywhere from large to 3X womens clothes. We can swap clothes quite comfortably and fit well in each other’s clothes (as well as mass-produced off the rack clothing fits, at least, which is really not well at all for so many reasons).

    3. Emmy Noether*

      I think that without getting people’s input before, one would have to over-order by a lot to ensure that the last person to pick up still got their size. The only way it could work was if it wasn’t a one-time thing, but there were clothes available permanently and sizes that ran out got reordered.

      In my experience, it’s a good idea to get a few more of each size even if it’s based on a list where people indicated their size. You wouldn’t believe the number of people who change their mind between ordering and pickup (or just forget), or put down some kind of vanity size. I’ve seen it lead to drama so many times.

      1. Dark Macadamia*

        Or even just weird sizing! I’ve ordered plenty of shirts online based on the provided size chart only for them to fit horribly – sometimes with different styles from the same brand requiring completely different sizes to achieve the same fit on my body.

        1. Emmy Noether*

          yes, and the way that usually plays out is that half of the people will take the size they ordered and never wear it (because it doesn’t fit), and half will take the size that actually fits but they didn’t order, and then when the last few people show up and there are only XS left (that fit no-one), shit hits the fan.

        2. londonedit*

          Don’t even get me started on jeans that fit perfectly in one colour, so you order another pair in a different colour and those ones won’t even go over one leg…

          1. Asenath*

            From the same company, even! I really don’t know what the manufacturers are thinking. Maybe they’re sewing the size labels on at random?

            1. bamcheeks*

              Probably just buying from multiple manufacturers with no quality control between them?

              1. Seeking Second Childhood, CTA*

                Production methods matter. Factories increase speed of production by cutting more layers of fabric at one time. The drawback is that every layer of fabric you add means you get more variation in the size of the pieces cut.

          2. paxfelis*

            If they can size men’s jeans with waist and inseam, they can size women’s jeans with waist and inseam! It wouldn’t be perfect, but it’d be better than we’ve got now.

        3. A.N. O'Nyme*

          Doesn’t even have to be online – I once tried on two blouses in the store that were the same brand and model in a different pattern, allegedly in the same size. One of them was to narrow around the shoulders and made me look like I was auditioning for the role of Quasimodo, the other was basically a tent.

          1. Christmas Carol*

            I bought two pairs of shoes once, identical except for color. The pink ones were a bit loose. The ivory ones were a half size larger, but were a bit tight.

      2. Observer*

        I think that without getting people’s input before, one would have to over-order by a lot to ensure that the last person to pick up still got their size

        Yes. Which is why getting pre-orders is smart. But if you can’t / don’t want to AT LEAST get a reasonably broad range of sizes!

    4. Middle Name Danger*

      At my old company I’d always get an email asking me if I really meant I wanted a men’s large or XL, not women’s. It was lowkey humiliating to explain that yes, I meant what I ordered, that’s what will fit. I wasn’t out as trans yet but I’ve always been too fat for womenswear ironically my chest, the most identifiably feminine part of my body, made most women’s but shirts impossible to wear.

      1. Rolly*

        Did they ask you to explain or just confirm? If it was me I would have just written “Yes, men’s XL” either way.

        I see people make errors of so many kinds on forms, it seems a kindness to double check something that is unusual.

      2. MsM*

        I don’t have any particular embarrassment about affirming that yes, I want the men’s cut, but it’s very difficult to figure out a work-appropriate way to say, “I think Victoria’s Secret must have designed the women’s version, because it clearly doesn’t account for anything above a double D.”

    5. Beau*

      My employer recently ordered new polos for everyone. The old ones we had were high quality and fit pretty well. The new ones were unisex and by that I mean they made one pattern in a men’s large and just made the other ones wider or narrower. The XS and S would fit a toddler bodybuilder because the arm holes were MASSIVE and the body was incredibly narrow. I had bat wings when I put it on. They were also long enough to be a nightgown on our 6’2″ trim guy. Huge waste of money because everyone is wearing the old, worn old shirts. Of course we can’t pay an extra $2 for decent quality!

      1. alienor*

        Ugh, I hate the “wider or narrower” school of sizing. My daughter is tall with long legs, and buying skirts and dresses is a struggle, because you can go up infinite sizes and they just get wider, not longer. I have a long torso and the same problem with tops–if I go up a size, I’m drowning in it and still have exposed midriff skin.

        1. NotAnotherManager!*

          Lands End makes tall shirts. I am short-torso’ed but well-endowed, and the LE tall option in both shirts and swim tops is a lifesaver to get clothing that actually covers my waist and doesn’t ride up every time I raise my arms.

        2. Rusty Shackelford*

          Conversely, I’ve noticed in plus sizes that they seem to think if you’re wide, you’re also long.

        3. Arabella Flynn*

          Adjusting pattern sizes is an art form. I set out to make a classic Star Trek uniform once. There is something that purports to be a pattern in one of the old old technical manuals. It was plainly drafted by someone who did not sew.

          Aside from missing several construction pieces that were necessary to actually make it a dress, the instructions for grading were to simply scale up the grid squares it was printed on. Just… that’s not how this works. That’s not how ANY of this works.

    6. Rolly*

      The OP didn’t say they dread office wear – they are unhappy none fit. They wrote “sure, a vest. That’s cool.” Not great, but not dreading it.

  7. V*

    Aww, lw 2 I feel that. I rarely fit into company provided apparel and am old and ornery enough to straight out tell the organizers that. Especially if the apparel is accompanied with statements about wanting us to feel welcome and/or included.

    1. Asenath*

      I generally don’t buy branded items, and usually don’t bother to pick up the freebie T-shirts you get for participating. Mainly, this is not only because it usually doesn’t fit, but because I don’t like the style or the material (for example, the vests in the letter – I don’t own a vest because I don’t like them). There’s no way on earth I’d bother to travel to pick up something I didn’t want, and if I were questioned, I’d have no hesitation or embarrassment in saying “You don’t have anything that will fit me”. I guess it’s a good thing I don’t work anywhere with required company-provided gear, because I also know that different companies produce clothing of different sizes with the same size label attached. I’d get a deserved reputation as a curmudgeon before I started my first day.

    2. nozenfordaddy*

      Same. I once had a lovely argument with the person in charge of ordering branded polo shirts for an event who insisted that i had to have a women’s polo shirt and not a men’s. But didn’t seem to grasp the concept of the women’s shirt sizes not being large enough for me. To her credit once I got very candid about sausage casings not being appropriate conference attire she understood.

      I mean she was still hung up on my needing a women’s polo shirt not a men’s (the difference eludes me but seemed important to her) but she did manage to get corporate to find and order me a women’s polo in an extended size. I just would have worn a men’s polo but if she wanted to die on a gendered hill and I get some sort of shirt for the conference I didn’t care.

      1. Arabella Flynn*

        The women’s version probably had some subtle differences in style. Not everyone would notice, but it’s the kind of thing you can’t unsee once you learn to see it, and it upsets the fashion lobe of your brain. If you stated the problem was that the women’s shirts weren’t large enough (as opposed to that you just liked the men’s style better) I probably would have done the same. If you didn’t care which kind you got so long as it fit, her solution made you both happy!

  8. Jessica*

    Re LW2, I think that often people think “well, we’ve picked a size range that’ll cover almost everyone!” and decide that maybe if there’s just one person it doesn’t work for, that’s good enough. But those people never think about what it’s like to BE that one person and be systematically excluded every time, over and over.
    I know someone who volunteered for years for a charitable event that gave the volunteers free T-shirts. They didn’t get the shirts in a size she could wear. I don’t think anyone involved ever stopped to think about the fact that this person had been volunteering for more than ten years and not even once gotten a share of the swag she had to watch them hand out to everyone else every year.

    1. Eyes Kiwami*

      This is a great point. When people think about averages or “this will cover almost everyone”, what they think they’re saying is “everyone will get something they might be a little dissatisfied with”, but what they are actually saying is, “some people will not get anything because they aren’t covered.” They’re not thinking about who is excluded from “almost everyone” and how that feels.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        I love it (not) when people do not even listen to what they are saying. “It will fit ALMOST everyone.” So what is the plan for those it does not fit???

        With most tasks I have been assigned at work, I can not get it ALMOST right. I have to get it right, period. If I get shirts for almost everyone, then I have failed to do the task successfully because not everyone has a shirt.
        smh.

    2. ecnaseener*

      In the case of this letter, if they thought they were covering almost everybody with just S/M/L they were ludicrously mistaken. If they had included XL I might buy that.

      1. Lab Boss*

        As someone who runs 2XL-3XL depending on how it’s cut, I’m down with this for the most part. If it’s something like a required work uniform or even “this shirt is your entire holiday bonus” then yeah I expect them to give me an option that works. When it’s something like a random freebie giveaway or promotional shirt, well, I’m >2 standard deviations above the mean, it’s not that crazy that they’re not catering to me.

      2. Zennish*

        This. Assuming we’re talking about the US, the “average” woman is size 16-18. (Per a 2016 study in the International Journal of Fashion Design, Technology, and Education.) To fit “almost everyone” your starting average would be XL, minimum. The OP’s company (and also the entire clothing industry) is massively out of touch.

      3. Daisy-dog*

        Yes, is the person who placed the orders used to working with high school clubs? I could see those 3 sizes fitting more than half of a group of teenagers.

        1. Observer*

          More than half? You do realize that although that’s TECHNICALLY “most”, in reality, that is NOT what people mean when they say most in this kind of context. Buying stuff that’s going to exclude 30-40% of your staff is just nuts. And even worse if you are actually dealing with teens.

      4. Observer*

        In the case of this letter, if they thought they were covering almost everybody with just S/M/L they were ludicrously mistaken. If they had included XL I might buy that.

        Agreed. Because XL is not some “niche” size. It’s extremely common.

  9. Over It*

    #2 you have every right to be annoyed. I have the opposite problem as a very petite person, and while I know it’s so much harder for plus size people to get clothing that fits correctly and I’m in no way suggesting my experience is the same, this issue has come up at work for me too. Most companies will order unisex sizes, which is really just men’s sizing, and not order below a small. I’m a women’s XS, and a unisex S fits closer to a women’s M while failing to properly account for hips and chest. I don’t care about free company t-shirts that never have to leave the back of my closet, but I once worked for one company that required us to wear branded t-shirts as part of a uniform. I had to fight for weeks to get them to order women’s cut t-shirts in my size, and they put up such a stink about how hard it was to order and how much extra it cost them! I just wanted to show up to work wearing clothing that fit properly. Situations like this can be so easily avoided by just asking people what size they wear.

    1. EmmaPoet*

      This. Good luck getting a tee that doesn’t bag or gap at the neck so badly you can see my navel, or alternately is so tight at the bosom that you could probably measure my bra size by eyes alone while loose everywhere else, because “unisex” actually means “men.”

  10. Unkempt Flatware*

    I don’t think we should keep racists’ secrets at all. It should be considered a public service to out these people. Poor kids.

    1. Wendy2*

      Agreed! I would feel differently if the reason he left was more personal, e.g. he dropped an f-bomb while talking with his boss in private, but “I used the n-word” says something about his character that isn’t likely to have been limited to that single incident.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Yep. I so very much agree with Alison.

      OP, if you say nothing then that could be construed as “covering” for them. I fail to see how this is gossiping. Don’t cover for other people. Period.

      1. Observer*

        I don’t agree. Obviously if the OP got asked about it, especially in a context similar to references, etc. That would be a different thing, and the OP would have an obligation to share what they know. But in this context, I don’t think that the OP had an OBLIGATION to spread the word.

    3. Middle Name Danger*

      Yes! I read the title expecting to disagree with LW’s choice but nah. Tell everyone. Imagine being a Black student in that district and finding out not only that he used that word, but that your teacher kept it hush-hush.

    4. LPUK*

      yeah, I’m a little worried that they were TELLING people they got demoted because they were racist, as if that were a terrible and unfair thing to happen instead of The Only Acceptable Choice

      1. Observer*

        Yeah. That jumped out at me, too. Like “Yeah, you messed up. Do you not realize that you messed up?!?!?!”

    5. Nameless in Customer Service*

      Frankly, I’m concerned that LW #1 said, ” If I respected him, I would have kept this information to myself.” “Respectable” racists should not be shielded.

      1. Anonny*

        If I heard that kind of information, I would no longer respect him. Especially if he’s not black. (I mean, if he’s black then he may have been using it as a reclaimed slur – so it’s not a racist thing, it’s just extremely poor judgement from someone who should be an experienced teacher.)

      2. fhqwhgads*

        I assumed that bit meant if he’d been demoted for a different reason, she’d have kept that reason for the demotion to herself. Not that someone she previously respected revealing themselves to be racist deserves discretion.

      3. SnappinTerrapin*

        I think she is questioning whether she was motivated by her dislike of the former chair, based on other traits she criticized, rather than by the merits of the offense that led to demotion.

        I don’t get the impression that either LW or former Chair disagree with the school having the right to take disciplinary action. I sort of got the impression (which could reflect my own preconceived notions) that Chair was ruefully acknowledging that he was in the wrong. But it’s possible that other readers are correct in their assumption that Chair thought he was unfairly treated.

        For my part, I tend to draw a hard line about leaders exercising poor judgment. In that light, I absolutely agree that the school board was correct to sanction Chair’s misconduct. My first impulse is that a harsher sanction would have been appropriate, but we don’t know the full context. The Board is responsible for weighing the circumstances of the offense and determining how to handle it. I don’t know what led them to this serious, but non-terminal sanction, so I will hope they got it right.

    6. Spearmint*

      We don’t know if he’s racist, actually. The letter just stated that he said it in front of students. He may have said it while reading from a book like Huckleberry Finn, or said it to refer to the word rather than use the word (e.g. “n***** is a racist slur”).

      1. Nameless in Customer Service*

        Being as that it’s still possible to teach _Huckleberry Finn_, _Native Son_ and so on, I’m pretty sure such a context would have exonerated him or at least have been worth mentioning by LW#1.

      2. Gerry Keay*

        Oh please, if he said the word in a historical or literary context, that obviously would have been included in the letter. Rolling my eyes so hard at this leap to “maybe everyone’s being TOO woke” response. There’s of course the possibility that he’s Black and said it as a reclaimed slur, which ya know, still shows pretty bad judgement to curse in front of students, but the content of the letter makes me think that’s not the case given that OP explicitly called him racist. Let’s stop bending over backwards to excuse people saying slurs in front of students who are there to learn.

        1. Observer*

          Good point.

          What would you be willing to bet that this “people are just TOOOO sensitive and woke these days!” line is exactly what ExChair said?

      3. Gracely*

        I taught Huck Finn and managed to never utter the n-word, so…

        I mean, seriously, part of teaching that book is discussing why that word is used throughout it, and being sensitive to students as we teach it, etc.. If you’re teaching Huck Finn, you’re HYPER aware of how you’re speaking about the n-word, and how you really, really cannot just being saying it. In most cases, for reading aloud purposes, a different word gets substituted (after discussing with students why you’re using a different word).

        We don’t need to make excuses for people who say the n-word. Period.

        1. Observer*

          Actually, if you actually teaching the book, and substitution in another word, you might as well just not read the book.

          Having said that, there is no way he got demoted for reading that work as part of reading Huck Finn as part of the curriculum. There are a half a dozen different reasons to say that, but the most obvious one is that he would have ABSOLUTELY made a big point of it when talking to the OP and all of the other people he complained about.

          1. SnappinTerrapin*

            I grew up in the Jim Crow South. I have a visceral reaction to hearing the word.

            I think Huck Finn is a great literary work for understanding the attitudes that led to the War Between the States, the Jim Crow Era, and the Civil Rights Movement. Huck’s struggles between the things he had been taught were right and the things he felt were right because of his friendship have enlightened more than one Southern white who struggled with the same issues in later generations.

            Editing the offensive word out of the text would weaken the impact for the reader trying to understand Huck’s dilemma.

            However, I see no reason why the word needs to be spoken in the classroom for the students to get the point. Having been a child who looked up offensive words in the dictionary and experienced some sort of thrill from doing so, I know that saying the word out loud can actually undermine the message by focusing attention on the “forbidden” rather than on the reason that the word evokes painful memories of generations of mistreatment.

            If I were teaching a course on the book, I would explain to the class the thoughts I just shared, and tell them that we can read from the text aloud without uttering the word, and we can discuss the text without uttering the word, but that it is appropriate to discuss the feelings the word engenders and the attitude reflected in its use.

            Frankly, I’d take the same approach in a class of more mature students. It reduces the likelihood of someone using the discussion as license to deliberately shock or offend.

            1. Observer*

              I grew up in the Jim Crow South. I have a visceral reaction to hearing the word.

              I didn’t grow up there, but I also have the reaction.

              I think that it’s a reasonable discussion to have. But in either case, I think that it is imperative to make it clear that the book is NOT an excuse (or “reason”) to use the word in any other context. Even when *discussing* the text as opposed to reading it.

              Shock is not always a bad thing. The key thing is to use VERY sparingly. Like cayenne pepper – a pinch in the right place can do wonders for food. Used in the wrong foods or just too much even in the right food? You’ve got a bunch of waste and ticked off people.

      4. Candi*

        Really?

        Unless you’re reading quotes and not self-censoring/agreed-upon censoring, there is no reason to say that specific word when discussing the book. And most places with sense censor because that word is ten kinds of offensive.

        For the record, I’ve personally read Huckleberry Finn. You can absolutely take out every n-word and still have a readable, understandable story, ready for discussion and teaching about bias and acceptance. (I also think it’s nowhere as good as Tom Sawyer.)

        1. Observer*

          You can absolutely take out every n-word and still have a readable, understandable story, ready for discussion and teaching about bias and acceptance.

          Not actually the case. Yes, you still have a decent story. But you lose an enormous amount of the point and impact of the story. Because a large part of what shapes the attitudes in the book is the use of that kind of language. In a sense, the very offensiveness of the language is the point – it’s what allows otherwise decent people like Huck and the Widow to treat people so badly.

          I also think that Huck Finn is a much more powerful book than Tom Sawyer. Much darker, not so much fun. But a really powerful exploration of morality and growth.

          Regardless, though, if Huck Finn were part of the curriculum and the only time the word had been used was when reading it, after the appropriate discussion with the students, he would not have been demoted. AND he would have been carrying on very explicitly about how he was thrown under the bus for just following the curriculum. Which he didn’t.

          1. SnappinTerrapin*

            I agree that the presence of the word in the text emphasizes the weight of the social conventions that led otherwise decent people to tolerate, and sometimes participate in, injustice for so long. I think it should be read without removing the word from the book, but that these points can be made without the distraction of providing young people with an excuse to publicly utter an offensive and shocking word.

            I grew up hearing the word used in casual conversation. Saying the word has a corrosive effect that is distinct from reading it in the novel. The more casually it is used, the more it tends to dehumanize everyone involved.

            1. Observer*

              Agreed. I was absolutely NOT trying to imply that the word should actually be used in discussion of the book, but ONLY in the reading of the actual text.

              And that’s why I am absolutely sure that this was not the context of the former Chair’s demotion. If all he had done was to read a text that was part of the curriculum, it would have been handled differently – and he would have described it differently.

          2. A Black Educator*

            You’re doing an awful lot of speaking for Black people and Black students (who don’t come to school to have their oppression serve as a learning experience) here. Sit this one out.

    7. EmmaPoet*

      Agreed. Racists shouldn’t get to be racist privately and not have to deal with any blowback because of it.

  11. Marian the Librarian*

    For LW3 – I’ve had the same issue in previous jobs. I always asked for some sort of ongoing, fill-in-the-gaps sort of project. Something that was low-priority but still had to get done and would take a long time. Depending where you are, it could look like filing, rearranging the supply closet, weeding out duplicate files on the share drive or in a client database, reviewing and revising workflow documentation, or whatever else you might come up with together. I work in libraries, so my “back pocket” projects tended to be things like shelf reading or updating inventories. That way, when your boss is too busy to give you your next project, or you only have 30 min before you leave, you’ll still have something productive to do!

    1. Wendy2*

      There are ALWAYS shelves to read. It’s like sweeping the floor – even if you just did it twenty minutes ago, you could probably do it again and get some non-zero result.

    2. John Smith*

      I was going to suggest similar. You could also spend time reflecting on work done and making notes to bring to your next performance meeting (assuming you have them). Sometimes just reading corporate materials will do – your company’s intranet, staff handbook, policies and procedures etc. All work related and can fill in short periods of time. Otherwise, an email to the team stating you have free time and are able to help anyone who might need it will reflect well on you and would be welcome in a non-dysfunctional workplace.

    3. TheRain'sSmallHands*

      Another option – discuss it with your manager – is training. Depending on the type of work you do, spending time learning to do VLOOKUPS in Excel or a little bit of scripting or figuring out Sharepoint may have significant upsides for both you and your employer. I got most of my PMP training during down hours at my job. Which since they wanted me to do project management, benefited them and me.

    4. Queen of the Introverts*

      OP #3, really hope I’m not your manager, but if I am, don’t worry, I’m avoiding you too because I don’t have any work to give you.

      I work in a cyclical industry where work flows through the different departments. It can also be one of those situations where it would take more effort to get someone up to speed on a project than it would to just finish the project and have them jump on at the beginning of new projects.

      1. Candi*

        From that perspective, what would you like your employees to be working on during downtime?

    5. B*

      OP Here – I found since I submitted this that I had been making mistakes in some of my work – anxiety doesn’t help. So I have a new rule where I read everything three times before sending it in.

      But yeah it’s Friday at noon and I have nothing to do and it’s very stressful. I’m in a very small department. I want to be proactive and I’m really anxious about the idea of somehow getting “discovered” that I don’t have work to do.

      My role involves a lot of meetings, but those are very front-heavy in the week so by Thurs/Fri I just have time for projects all day – projects that I don’t have.

      (More context – I’m coming out of a very toxic job situation so residual feelings from that doesn’t help)

      I am the type of worker who wants to be busy for most of the day because that reduces this anxiety. I can’t tell if this lapse in work projects is my fault or a management issue.

  12. Arantella*

    As someone who works in logo’d garments, #2’s employer definitely messed up. To start with, XL is a far more common size than S, so if they were going with just three sizes, they should have gone for M, L & XL. Heck, XXL might be more common than S. But really, they should have just asked people’s sizes and ordered them, with maybe a few extras. We do XXL! And 3XL & 4XL! They might have to go with a different brand for 5XL and 6XL, but it’s a fleece vest. You can get one in any size you need.

    Of course, the supplier will be out of stock of half the sizes due to supply chain issues, but that’s not just a problem with the large sizes.

    1. Mona-Lisa Saperstein*

      I’m glad to hear this perspective! I was actually thinking the same thing — there’s no way that sizes S-L are the three sizes most commonly ordered. I fit into a S, but I would never order that size because I would only use branded work t-shirts to sleep in.

    2. Curmudgeon in California*

      They have an expression in my industry: “Developer sizes”. Often that means M, L, XL and XXL in mens standard fit. Because yes, sedentary lifestyles are common among software developers.

  13. I Should Be Sleeping*

    Office wear in the default range of sizes (mens sizes, of course) is often simply shaped wrong.

    “Going around your body” is not the same thing as actually fitting. If you’ve got a bust, you have to size up, and then clothing can be ridiculously too long. Vests are probably a fairly safe choice, overall, but—whoo boy—mens “L” is the largest? That’s going to exclude a lot of people.

    1. SpEd Teacher*

      Right, a lot of “normal” sized men wear larger than an L. Like, lots of people you don’t think of as fat are bigger than an L.

      1. Littorally*

        This. There’s such a discrepancy between what the popular imagination calls “fat” and at what size daily life (clothing, seating, weight limits, etc) starts to become difficult.

        1. Eldritch Office Worker*

          The disconnect is astounding. Maybe in part because people lie about these things to avoid being shamed, but I doubt anyone would look at my body and accurately guess both my weight and clothing size. But if something has a weight limit that’s actually going to affect me whether you realize it or not! Infuriating.

        2. Candi*

          It doesn’t help when media has a young woman who is maybe 20 pounds over medically preferred fat percentage, and just a little chubby, and put her in a script where she’s ohmygod she’s SO FAT. URGH.

          Even chubby young men in media aren’t that much over. I was genuinely surprised at how plump Augustus Gloop was in the Charlie and the Chocolate Factory film -I was expecting someone more like the Gloop from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, due to Hollywood’s lack of realistic perception.

    2. Kacihall*

      Sometimes trying to fit over a large busy means it’s too short, because the material that’s supposeed to cover your waist is somewhere directly under your boobs!

      1. NotAnotherManager!*

        Same. When I choose my own clothes, I get tall shirts to give me extra length to accommodate the size of my chest. I have to hem sleeves sometimes, but that’s better than having my chest turn a regular into a crop top.

        1. Curmudgeon in California*

          Yep. Plus, women’s clothes, even in plus sizes, tend to assume you are somewhere around 5 foot in height, not 5’8″ or taller. Most women’s shirts, even if they fit me in the shoulders, chest and waist ride up above my pants when I even just put my hand up or stretch.

  14. Prefer my pets*

    #1

    When the reason someone is demoted/reassigned/resigns/whatever is because they have demonstrated something like racism, bigotry, sexual harassment, etc I strongly feel it is everyone’s responsibility to make sure that information is spread as widely as possible. Otherwise they too often get away with it because “it was just one time” (no, once that you heard), “he doesn’t really mean it”, “he won’t do it again”. Meanwhile, more vulnerable kids are subject to vitriol and probable discrimination from a racist in a position of power who is far more likely to be believed in he said/she said. It’s less extreme but really little different from molesting priests & BoyScout leaders being moved from location to location with no one watching out for repeat abuses.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      I am not even sure demotion is enough. This is a person who clearly does not grasp some of the basics of the job.

      1. Flower necklace*

        At my school, department chairs get an extra planning period. So if he was demoted, it’s possible they had to add another class to his schedule – i.e. he’d actually be spending more time in front of students as a result of the demotion, not less.

    2. SnappinTerrapin*

      You raise valid points, and I am tempted to agree.

      Another line of thinking is that imposing a serious sanction affords someone the opportunity to reflect, repent, and chart a better course for the future.

      Unfortunately, with all the variables in human nature, it’s impossible to be certain which is the correct course in many individual cases.

      I wouldn’t have criticized the Board if they had terminated Chair instead of demoting him. That would’ve been my initial impulse. It’s at least possible that they made a better choice than I’d’ve leaned toward. Presumably they had more information than I do.

  15. It’s all good*

    #2 – I sell promotional items including logo apparel for employees. I ALWAYS mention extended sizes if they don’t have a custom list of sizes. One time I threw in 15% of their order in Extended sizes for free! I didn’t want anyone to be left out. (Unfortunately extended sizes can cost up to 20% more and I think that is a deterrent (insert angry emoji here).

  16. John Smith*

    #5. Just want to give a shout out to Florida’s ban on “use leave or lose it”. Even in the UK we don’t have this (though some employers do allow a small amount of roll over). I know the US gets some stick on employment benefits but lets give some credit here. Shame other states (and countries) don’t follow suit.

    1. Emmy Noether*

      The thing about rolling over is that vacation time is literally money from an accounting point of view. So rolling it over means the company carries a debt to the employee, that goes up with any raises he gets, and that the employee can cash in at any time, all of which isn’t great.

      The way it’s resolved where I am is that the employer can’t make you lose it, but they *can* make you use it (forced vacation). In practice you mostly get a lot of reminder emails from HR.

        1. Emmy Noether*

          yes and no.
          If you see it as a loan/debt, there’s always the risk that it goes bad and will never be paid out. There’s also no interest paid on it, so if there are no raises, it effectively loses value. Depends on how it plays out in each case.

          1. MK*

            But you aren’t suppose to see it as a loan, you are supposed to use it. It’s part of your compensation like your salary, you are supposed to collect it when it is due, not leave it at the company till you want it.

            1. Rolly*

              “Supposed to” – sure from an accounting perspective and perhaps a company perspective.

              But from an employee perspective it’s more valuable when we can choose how/when to use it. You’re “supposed” to use it to make your life better so we can be fresh for work. I could not carry over enough vacation from last year to this year, though I need it badly this year for a life event. So I’m suffering and coming to work when I really don’t want to – it’s hurting me and hurting my work.

              But yeah, accounting.

              1. MK*

                A legal mandate can’t be about what is the ideal outcome for any given person at any given time. Use it or lose it policies are problematic for the employees, because they often end up losing part of their agreed compensation. Uncapped roll-over to the next year is problematic for the company, because they carry it as debt in their books. A ban on losing the time off, while allowing the employer to forbid roll-over, is more equitable in general, plus it complies with the intended use of time off.

                1. TheRain'sSmallHands*

                  Personally I’ve always liked capped rollovers with buy outs. You can roll over up to X weeks, you can get paid out Y amount at the end of the year. Keeps the liabilities down.

                  One of the worst companies I worked for was “use it or loose it” with a calendar year end fiscal year and a very busy last quarter. So employees would plan to take time off around Christmas, have it revoked by management when they needed to get software capitalized before FYE, and then lose the vacation. Merry Christmas. (And we don’t understand why we have high turnover).

      1. MK*

        Well, yes. Time off is part of the employee’s compensation and the company has an obligation to give it to them, because they owe it. There is zero justification for not paying it out.

        And yes, “forcing” you to use it is perfectly fine. But if the company had a healthy culture about using PTO, they wouldn’t need to do this.

        1. doreen*

          My government employer had a healthy culture about using time off – but in my part of the agency some people lost leave every year. There was a specific day ( for me, Jan 1) where you would lose anything over 40 days of vacation leave. Any other day of the year, there was no limit. We worked a 37.5 hour week , so the first 2.5 hours of overtime in a week were comp time , most people earned 20 vacation days and 13 sick days a year and everyone also earned 5 personal days a year. In addition to all that leave, work schedules were very flexible – which meant that people tended not to use leave to wait for the plumber or go to the third grade class play. It took some planning to use it all up – but if there wasn’t some sort of limit on how much could be in the bank , that’s how you get government workers being paid for two years after they retire or pensions based on double the actual salary because the last year included a lump sum payment for 260 vacation days that were accrued over 30 years.

          1. MK*

            I bet it took “some planning” to not use leave to wait for the plumber or go to the class party. And, if you 40 days of leave on January, why wouldn’t you use your leave for these things going forward, instead of adjusting your schedule? Maybe your employer didn’t pressure people not to use time off, but it sounds as if workers still operated as if time off should be taken only when there is no alternative or younhad definite plans, and that’s not really the point of it.

            1. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

              I’m guilty of this. My work is super flexible about schedules and completely supportive of taking leave, but I still flex my schedule around anything that is 4 hrs or less. In my head I don’t want to waste “vacation time” on routine stuff if I don’t need to. This is definitely a me thing, not my employer’s thing.

            2. Two Dog Night*

              Hang on… are you saying people with flexible schedules should be required to use leave for brief absences instead of rearranging things? That’s not how a lot of businesses operate, and it pretty much defeats the purpose of having flexibility.

            3. doreen*

              Oh, I agree that those workers were operating that way – I don’t know why. I wasn’t one of them and I never lost a day until I retired at which point I lost a single day (only because I realized too late that Christmas and News Year’s Day were on Saturday which gave me two extra days to use up). But it wasn’t the overall culture and my employer didn’t pressure people not to take time off , whatever it was it was something specific to those people – but the fact that those people exist doesn’t necessarily tell you anything about the employer.

        2. One of the Spreadsheet Horde*

          “Use it or lose it” when in a healthy culture can be a good thing. When I had vacation that could roll over, I wasn’t as careful about planning for time off. Plus it felt like taking vacation was a burden or a way to fall behind. By the time I left, I got paid out for a lot of unused vacation but I had started burning out.

          In my current company where vacation does not roll over, making use of all of your days is a thing of pride. The non customer impacting areas are run with a skeleton staff in December. While we have workaholics that lose days, it has been a healthier policy for me than I had expected when joining the company.

        3. Emmy Noether*

          I’ve actually found that it encourages a healthy culture. People take their leave because everyone understands that they will take it one way or the other at some point, so there’s no sense in pressuring people not to take it. I’ve only heard of one actual instance of forced leave, and that wasn’t even someone I knew personally.

      2. Chili pepper Attitude*

        I live in Florida and work for a government. Our holiday time does roll over but there is a cap. It’s pretty generous but managers routinely bump up against this cap bc they find it difficult to take time off. So we do have that law, but there is not a lot of good to say about Florida employment or other laws right now.

      3. pancakes*

        In re “isn’t great”: Oh my.

        Also, if the company isn’t a start-up, fly-by-night, or poorly run, there’s little risk of the debt never being paid out.

        Emmy, you are missing the forest for the trees.

        1. Emmy Noether*

          I’m not an accountant, so I can only repeat my layman’s understanding of the reasoning. And that was that carrying random unplannable debt to employees indefinitely is not a good thing, which makes sense. You also can’t ask your employer to hold your salary indefinitely and pay it out later, and it’s the same for vacation time. The bankruptcy scenario was more of a throwaway.

          The other thing is, of course, that the point of having vacation time is that people actually take vacation time.

          It should be coupled, of course, with otherwise reasonable policies, such as a good amount of leave in the first place, being able to take large chunks of it in the beginning of the year (not having to wait for it to accumulate), unlimited sick leave, etc.

      4. RebelwithMouseyHair*

        We have that here in France. Leave is accrued as from 1 June, so you have to use up last year’s accrual before 31 May. What with people scrambling to finish up their leave, and there being at least three public holidays in May, with many people off on the Friday when the holiday falls on a Thursday, this usually means it’s one of the least productive months, probably only August and maybe July would be worse.
        (Yet France is apparently the country with the highest productivity in Europe)

      5. AntsOnMyTable*

        When I was finishing up nursing school I was a tech at a hospital. When I occasionally needed day’s off to study my manager let me take “approved absences” instead of using my PTO. It was awesome because I was able to hoard what I had and when I changed roles into an RN that PTO was now worth an extra 2k.

    2. Bagpuss*

      In the UK, you *can’t* legally roll over statutory leave, it has to be taken in the year it’s accrued (I think to try to ensure that people are not pressured not to take their full leave)
      The exceptions are when someone has been on maternity or paternity leave, or long term sick leave, so couldn’t take their leave. And it can only be paid out, instead of being taken, when you leave employment.
      They made a temporary exception due to the pandemic that leave can roll over until (I think) the end of this year, from 2020/2021.
      But normally it’s only any contractual leave over the statutory minimum which might (depending on the contract) be able to roll over.
      We now send a reminder round about 3 months before the end of the holiday year to anyone who hasn’t taken or booked all/ most o their leave so we don’t end up having to make them take it in the last few weeks.

      1. KateM*

        Yes, the “use it or lose it” does have the other side of coin meaning “the employer is not allowed to press you to not take the vacation you have earned”.

        1. Bagpuss*

          Yes, here , you don’t lose it*, but you may end up with your employer having to tell you to take your time before the year ends, so you could end up having to take off a week in late December, for instance, if the holiday year runs with the calendar year and you haven’t taken all your statutory leave.

          *Any holiday which contractual rather than statutory can be on a ‘use it or lose it’ basis depending on what your contract says, and I think can also be on the basis that you can agree to pay out if people don’t use it

          1. bamcheeks*

            the wooooorst is when you work for a university or something else that runs on the academic year, but the leave year finishes at the end of March. It’s still a really busy time of the year, but everyone’s got a week’s leave to use up! It’s much better when the leave year ends in August-September because you can actually use up all those days at a quiet time of the year when it’s genuinely nice to be off.

            1. KateM*

              I *think* it’s not so strict here, as in you can still take all your leave in summer, especially in teaching – actually in teaching it’s probably mandatory to take (at least most of) your leave during summer break, or if not mandatory, you’d risk to seriously ruin your relationship with employer if you “worked” when there were no students and took holidays during busy time of school year.

            2. I'm Just Here For The Cats!*

              At my university we have 2 times a year that leave expires and it depends on your roll. So university hourly staff has January through December and academic staff and any salaried people go by the fiscal year. so July through June. For both of these 40 hours automatically rolls over.

            1. Seeking Second Childhood, CTA*

              Not illegal in many states of the US, “just” an employer for people to leave.

              1. KateM*

                Illegal in my country, though, if we are still speaking about “refusing to let your employee to take the vacation they have earned”.

      2. londonedit*

        Yeah, we can roll over 5 days of leave into the next year (this is holiday allowance; sick leave is something completely separate) but we have to use them by March 31st. In 2021 they made an exception so that we could roll over up to 10 days from 2020 and use them at any point in the year, but now we’re back to the usual system. I like the fact that you can’t be pressured into not using holiday, and fortunately my employer is really good about reminding people to make sure they have holiday booked in – I know it’s a financial burden for them, too, but they’re genuinely coming at it from a ‘please take your holiday, it’s good for your mental health’ perspective which I appreciate.

        1. UKDancer*

          Yes we can roll over 5 days into the next year and we’re encouraged to take our leave for physical and mental health benefits which most people do. You can also buy and sell up to a week’s leave but I don’t know how that works because for me the leave we’ve got is sufficient for my needs.

          1. londonedit*

            I think we can buy/sell up to a week’s leave, too, or at least that’s been the case with other companies I’ve worked for. I’ve never looked into it properly either.

            Makes me laugh now to think how everyone put off taking holiday in 2020 because we were all ‘waiting for things to get back to normal later in the year’ – ha!

            1. Emmy Noether*

              I put off my holiday in 2020 for the opposite reason – I was saving to use my leave for childcare if things completely shut down again, which then didn’t happen. Then had to scramble to use it before the deadline, along with everyone else.

            2. kitryan*

              I was hesitant to take too much leave in spring/summer 2020 because I could see layoffs on the horizon and didn’t want to give them the idea that they’d be fine without me.
              It backfired a bit since our leave is mostly use it or lose it and when work came back x2 in the summer/fall and they *did* layoff my teammate I ended up not being able to use about 5 days of my expiring time, which sucked.

        2. Incoming Principal*

          However, we had the worst whiplash from this rule.
          Many people took the last week of March off to use their days before end of Q1.
          This meant a complete crunch before people went on vacation and an even worse crunch after they came back because we are rushing everything in anticipation the Easter break when clients go on vacation.

        3. Rolly*

          I’ve been at my employer more than a decade, and we can only rollover a little and that experiences at the end of January. I need a lot of vacation this year for a life event, but don’t have enough, so it sucks. Whereas normally I’d take a day off here or there to get a break, now I can’t – I have to scrimp every day to make it this year.

          Flexibility has value – the more constrained something is the less valuable it is.

      3. KateM*

        I suppose “it can only be paid out, instead of being taken, when you leave employment” means that “the only time you can ask to get your paid vacation days as just extra money instead of actual vacation is when you leave employment”, not “when you leave employment, you can’t take your vacation but it can only be paid out”? I read it the second way the first couple of times but I guess it’s really first. My country is the same – you can’t just give up your rest time and instead have extra money (or your employer can’t force you to do that), you must have your rest time, too.

        1. Bagpuss*

          Sorry it wasn’t clearer!
          Yes, when your employment terminates, you are entitled to be paid for any leave that you have accrued but haven’t taken, but for the statutory leave, that’s the only situation where you can get money instead of time off.

          There’s no legal reason you can’t take leave during your notice period and it’s very common for people to do so they have some (paid) time off between jobs. (but employers can turn down holiday requests, and can require people to use their holiday, so it would be open to an employer to refuse holiday requests when someone is in their notice period, if they need them to work the full notice, and they could require them to take holiday (so if they had 5 days holiday entitlement left and had a 4 week notice period, the employer could tell them they have to take holiday for the last week, rather than paying them for a weeks worth of holiday.
          Similarly, when someone is going back to work after maternity leave it’s quite common for them to use some of the holiday they built up while they were on Mat. Leave so they have a few more weeks after their mat. leave ends before they actually go back,

          1. KateM*

            I think the idea of earning paid vacation time while on (paid?) maternity leave may be very alien to American readers…

            1. Keller*

              Why? I earned PTO while on maternity leave. Just because it isn’t mandated at the federal level doesn’t mean no employers have good leave policies. It just means that there is a lot of variation.

              1. Bumblebee*

                Me too. I was protected by FMLA but my employer didn’t have a real maternity leave, so I was using vacation and sick time. That’s bad for other reasons, but at least it didn’t halt my accrual of further sick and vacation time.

            2. doreen*

              I think it’s the concept of paid maternity leave itself that would be alien – in a situation where you earn vacation time per pay period or per month, I’m pretty sure most Americans earn the same amount of vacation even if they were on vacation for some or all of it.

            3. Aitch Arr*

              If the maternity leave is concurrent with FMLA, the employee should still be accruing PTO/vacation while on leave.

        2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          My employer (which doesn’t do use-it-or-lose-it, you can roll over as much as you want, but there is an accrual cap of 360 hours after which you just stop accruing until you get back below the cap) has an opt-in program every year as part of our annual benefits enrollment to cash out up to 80 hours of PTO on a certain pay period in the following fall, with the caveat that you still have to have I think 80 hours left in your bucket after the cash-out. (So if I had 120, it would cash out 40, but if I had 200 it would cash out the full 80.)

    3. fhqwhgads*

      California consider vacation pay earned income, so it doesn’t have to rollover, but if it doesn’t rollover, it has to be paid out in the applicable pay period. I forget at the moment if that’s the last one before it would’ve expired or the first after it does, but either way, you either get the time or the money. The California law doesn’t prohibit accrual caps though. So those that DO allow it to rollover in CA can sometimes avoid having a giant bucket of money on the books by having the accrual cap be something like whatever the most vacation they give anyone is in one year. So you can’t pile up anymore that would need to be paid out.

  17. hellohello*

    I’ve worked in person and remotely in California, as well as several other states with relatively strong worker protection laws, and it’s really cemented my resolve to never work in a state that doesn’t have those in place. I’ve watched several friends see tens to hundred of hours of unused PTO go down the drain while they were wildly overworked the last few years because use it or lose it policies are legal in their states and boy, am I never going to subject myself to that unless it’s absolutely unavoidable.

  18. Kevin Sours*

    Not all “use it or lose it” policies are banned. Caps on accruals are allowed. In general once accrued vacation is here is pretty much sacrosanct (including cashing it out if you leave) but how or if vacation is accrued is entirely at the discretion of the employer (hence the popularity of “unlimited” vacation plans which basically means that vacation doesn’t accrue and thus they aren’t responsible for paying it out if you leave)

    1. Mallory Janis Ian*

      We have a use it or lose it policy on anything over 240 hours of leave, and HR sends notices to affected employees and their supervisors in October or November advising them of their status. They have the option of taking the leave or donating the overage to the catastrophic leave bank (for people with family, medical, etc. issues who have used up all their own leave).

  19. Waving not Drowning*

    OP2 – similar situation here – the majority of the merch ordered by Marketing at my workplace goes to a Large. I’m a 2xl. I’m very matter of fact about it, saying that they won’t fit, but, my kids will love it (and they do – they are very proud supporters of my workplace LOL). I have requested they order in the larger sizes – but none seem to make it to my Team.

    On the other hand – I order in tshirts for volunteers for an event (not work related), and, as part of the registration process I ask them to note down their tshirt size so I can make sure I have enough of each size available. And, I make sure there are small small, and large large sizes available!

  20. Sopranohannah*

    #1 I hope you’re in a medium size city in Virginia, because I hope this didn’t happen twice recently. If it makes you feel better the story here has been spreading around, so much that I, a person who doesn’t work at the school or even live in the city, has heard it. This type of gross misconduct is going to get around.

    1. Flower necklace*

      Interesting! I teach at a high school in Virginia and hadn’t heard of it, although I teach in a large, densely populated area (so not medium sized).

      Am I reading the letter correctly and the only consequence was Dan losing his position as department chair? He wasn’t actually fired? Maybe things work differently at other schools, but where I am department chair is lot of work for very little compensation. I’m surprised that there wouldn’t be more severe consequences, given what he did.

      1. Shiba Dad*

        I googled “Virginia teacher n-word in class”. The first result is a teacher from Virginia fired for calling a student the n-word. Good riddance!

        Another search result that came up is a teacher at a San Diego charter school who read a poem with the n-word in it and didn’t censor the word. She was suspended.

        I can understand arguments can be made both for and against handling these two scenarios differently. Perhaps OP’s coworker did something like the second scenario. That might explain demotion instead of more serious punishment.

        1. SweetestCin*

          I’m a little more surprised that a teacher now wouldn’t automatically censor that word while reading out loud, especially in a K-12 atmosphere. (All bets off for university level)

          Last century (props to whoever started this), my elementary school teacher told us that there was an offensive word in Huckleberry Finn that was NOT to be used ever by anyone. And that she would be using a different phrase in its place, because she was NOT going to read it aloud to fourth graders.

      2. Phony Genius*

        If the teacher is in a union, it is possible that this was part of a negotiated deal during the disciplinary process.

      3. Sopranohannah*

        I heard the story from another teacher at the school, who got it from her students who were in this guys class. The only reason he wasn’t fired was that the staff was so short that the school would be out of some legal compliance if they lost one more teacher. I asked why they didn’t just offer a retiree a bunch of money to cover the position. This wouldn’t work because the retirees were already covering other positions.

        My friend was livid and emailed her principle that she was never going to respond to another micromanaging email. She knew they couldn’t do anything to her.

        1. Flower necklace*

          Wow. Just wow. I know the teacher shortage is bad, but I’m surprised admin didn’t work harder to find another solution.

          1. Sopranohannah*

            And the situation is still a CF at the school. Someone from admin or the school district has to be in this dude’s classes at all times. Perhaps, a good thing, as if the higher ups are being inconvenienced daily, they’ll be more likely to fix the situation.

        2. Candi*

          Under US federal law, teachers laws should technically be counted as hourly work. Except the feds exempted teachers (and a few other jobs) and said, nope, salary.

          Whatever the thinking behind that decision, it meant teachers have been drastically underpaid for the hours they put in and the work they do for decades.

          Now it’s biting back.

  21. pcake*

    I hate clothes that are only available in S, M and L, and I despise companies that only make or supply those sizes.

    My husband is 6′ 7″, so if he were to wear a standard men’s large vest, it would literally look like he’s wearing a child’s size. None of my family including my son, daughter, her daughter or I can fit men’s or women’s S, M or L sized clothes of any sort. My late mother was a standard woman’s large except for her large bosom, and her mother was just overweight enough to need to wear XL.

    1. Dinwar*

      I feel your husband’s pain! I’m 6’4″ and a buck eighty soaking wet, with gangly arms and legs and broad shoulders. I’ve got exactly one long-sleeved shirt that fits, due to an issue with the manufacturing process screwing up the arm length. A shirt that fits my chest generally doesn’t fit my shoulders and has no possibility of fitting my arms. A shirt that fits my arms/shoulders looks huge on my chest/stomach. The only truly comfortable clothing I have is the stuff my wife made me for Medieval re-enactment.

      The history of clothing is interesting. One issue is that trends switch between “baggy” and “skin-tight”. Look at Medieval paintings, for example, and you see that the clothing was often tailored to the body (except for rich people, who wore baggy cloths to show off). Our current society optimizes cloths not for wearing, but for manufacturing–make everything sort of fit close enough in a few sizes, so the machines don’t have to do much work. Tailoring clothing is more annoying than wearing stuff that doesn’t quite fit right, and our society accepts a wider range as “fitting right” than societies that embrace tighter clothing.

      1. Oakwood*

        When I ask for a tall size, I’m always asked: can’t you just order a larger non-tall size to get the extra length?

        No. The shoulders will be down around my elbows and the neck opening will look like I’m wearing a hula-hoop around my neck.

        Try putting on a t-shirt that is two sizes to large and tell me why I should be happy wearing something that fits that poorly.

        It’s been a couple of decades since I’ve been included in any company clothing swag. I know I’m hard to fit; I don’t really expect to get something every time, but never getting and being left out because the company won’t even make an effort doesn’t improve your morale.

        This whole company t-shirt discussion could easily morph into a discussion of the dark side of company swag.

    2. Observer*

      I despise companies that only make or supply those sizes.

      I highly, highly doubt that these vests actually only come in S,M and L. I’d be willing to bet that it was all down to whoever as doing the ordering.

  22. Medusa*

    My biggest problem with LW1 is that they care more about protecting their former boss’s reputation than they do about the fact that he’s an openly racist educator putting Black youth in harm’s way merely by being in a position of power over them. I’m actually quite flummoxed that someone would worry they should’ve kept them to themselves when everyone should know about it and protect the kids that educators are supposed to be educating.

    1. Mona-Lisa Saperstein*

      I’m also surprised that this was even a question. This isn’t “gossip.” Gossip is when you spread a rumor that your boss is having an affair or something. This is important information that students and parents deserve to know — information that reflects on this teacher’s ability to teach any student in the school.

      I would be very upset if I knew that the teachers at my kid’s school WEREN’T sharing this information out of a concern that it would be gossiping. We shouldn’t protect racists.

      1. Mallory Janis Ian*

        Same. I would think that if they’re protecting a racist, it is because they are racist, too.

    2. Person from the Resume*

      Well, the guy was fired before she found out so it’s not like there was no consquences for his actions. The LW wasn’t obligated to tell the leadership in order that they be aware.

      I don’t quite understand the LW’s concern about possibly being a gossip, but I don’t think she has an oligation to tell anyone, especially her coworkers.

      1. Person from the Resume*

        OK I reread and “stepping down” was unclear to me, but I guess he wasn’t fired.

        I stand by telling your coworkers does not have the impact of telling the leadership that you think guy needs to go (perhaps a united front with other teachers) or warning parents so that they’re aware of that the students are being taught by someone who uses racist slurs.

    3. fhqwhgads*

      I don’t know why I thought this, but I thought they were worried about being seen as a “gossiper” more than protecting the person in question.

      1. Candi*

        I think there’s also a bit of feeling guilty for the schadenfreude of seeing the racist get his for being racist.

        1. SnappinTerrapin*

          I think that’s what LW is struggling with.

          “Am I motivated by my pre-existing dislike, or by the actual circumstances leading to his demotion?”

      2. pancakes*

        I’m not sure that’s much better. That’s still muddled, and very self-regarding. What happened here will have had an impact on students, and the person’s focus is on “yeah, but what do people think about me and my very minor role in all this, and my personal feelings about it”? Their own personal feelings aren’t very important in terms of impact on the community here, and aren’t very important in terms of making ethically sound decisions, either.

        1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

          To be fair, it’s probably not up to OP to decide on any policies to protect black students or the community.
          And if you take that stance, most LWs could be told “yes, but we’re past the tipping point for global warming so you worrying about your role in spreading gossip about another teacher is ridiculous, you should be out tying yourself to railings to make the government implement a ban on fossil fuels”.

          1. pancakes*

            Not quite, no, I don’t think environmental concerns have rendered people quite that incapable of thinking lucidly about anything else! Wow.

  23. Chili pepper Attitude*

    OP #2, did I see you on the clock app? We don’t speculate about who people are here so I’m sorry if this is out of order! I enjoyed your take on it there if that was you. If it is not you, you are not alone in this (as the comments here show!).

    I wish everyone success in finding appropriately sized swag from here on out!

    1. Size Inclusive LW*

      Hahaha yes that was me on the clock app.

      I changed my coworker’s name here because he’s very slightly more likely to see this than the video (but still extremely unlikely to, I know he’s not a regular reader).

  24. Trying to Change Careers*

    LW3, I’m having the same problem right now, except I’ve been at my job a while, and even though I’ve never had performance issues (that I know of; my boss keeps saying everything is fine and he has no issues to discuss) or been disciplined, my work just keeps stalling out. Sometimes it’s a project-based thing; my job depends on someone else doing X before I do Y so others on the team may be in the same boat. (So I frequently can’t create my own work.) But sometimes it seems like everyone else on my team is getting picked for projects and I’m not, and since my boss claims there are no issues with my performance, I don’t know why this is happening. I assume either he truly does have problems with me or someone else complained about my work and he just doesn’t want to tell me. (Like you I have work anxiety at times, so this is what I’m assuming.)

    I’ve started asking for work once or twice only and then watching LinkedIn Learning courses or other videos relevant to my field. And yes, I am job searching, because working like this is a complete drain and I want to be valued and make more of an impact. I hate feeling worthless at work. I hope since you’re only a month in that it gets better for you!

  25. Gnome*

    #1 I am a woman who is petite, broad shouldered, large chested, and now (thanks to some medical issues) have a bit of a pot belly. There is literally NO size in clothes that fits me correctly (and for some reason petite sleeves are like three inches too long too). Why do companies DO this? I mean, I get it, but also, it seems really complicated for free swag. Why not avoid it entirely? Get bas all caps, pens, mugs, etc. Or at least offer them along with the shirt/hoodie/whatever.

    1. Gnome*

      Sorry! Apparently upset on OPs behalf and not caffeinated is a bad combo. Should have said #2… Will go drink coffee.

    2. anonymous73*

      Clothing sizes in general are BS. I’ve bought 2 pairs of jeans from the same store, same size, same style, same color and they fit differently. I’m plus size, and prefer women’s t-shirts because they’re more flattering, but they’re usually cut smaller and the larger sizes barely fit sometimes. I have a long torso but short arms and legs, so every long sleeved shirt covers half of my hand, and all my pants drag the ground. It’s all very frustrating.

  26. Elsa*

    #1– If it was said in front of students, no one is likely to think a teacher is the source of the gossip anyway. It was never a secret to begin with.

  27. Llellayena*

    #2 – S/M/L isn’t the only problem with ordering clothing. Women’s sizes are not standardized across the industry like mens sizes (oh for buying jeans by waist/length!). So a M from one company might be an XL at another. If you just ask for basic sizes without providing the size chart from that company, people (mostly women) are likely to end up with a size that won’t fit even if the tag says it should.

    I have a useless company-branded jacket in my closet because of exactly this. Ordered a M (which is what all my jackets were) and found out after it arrived and I looked up the size chart that I needed an XL. And other women in the office had the same issue! The men were all walking around in their brand new, properly sized jackets though…

    1. Batgirl*

      My partner actually has the worst time buying jeans by waist and length because they just aren’t guaranteed to fit him in the thigh. I’d have the same issue if women’s jeans worked that way! I’d need them to add in a hip and thigh measurement too. Cut matters a LOT. Both of us are struggling since slim and skinny cuts became de rigueur.

      1. A.N. O'Nyme*

        It’s legit one of the reasons I’ve taken up sewing – it’s not unusual for your thighs to be a different size from your hips or something like that. Recently bought a book of sewing patterns that had their own sizing chart and took all the measurements – for tops alone I technically have three different sizes depending on which measurements you use.

      2. pancakes*

        All the sites I’m familiar with that sell jeans do give hip and length measurements. If you’re in the UK maybe try Bershka. If there’s a brand you find elsewhere that you like, check to see whether Matches carries the same style – they give the measurements in full in the “Size and fit” tab.

        1. CCC*

          Hip and length =/= hip, length, and thigh. I buy clothing 2 sizes up, have it taken in 1 size in the hip, and 2 sizes in the waist. It doesn’t fit around my leg otherwise.

        2. Batgirl*

          Thank you, I have a wide curve between my waist – hip – thigh differentials, so I will take all the tips!!

      3. doreen*

        Cut absolutely matters a lot – but if I’m buying women’s jeans or pants I might have a choice between three inseam lengths if I’m lucky (all of which are too long for me). Men’s sizes usually have at least 5 or 6 lengths (most of which are still too long for me)

        1. pancakes*

          Yes. Length is a simple fix for a tailor, though. Better to have pants that are too long to start with than too short!

    2. pancakes*

      Always look at the size chart. Always! Very few brands or manufacturers don’t have one available somewhere online.

      1. No Tribble At All*

        Asked for size chart. HR said they didn’t have one. HR then announces we’re all getting logo jackets. I was so sad! They knew the brand!! They could’ve given me a size chart!!!! I’m fully prepared to cry crocodile tears at the social where they hand them out if mine’s too small.

        1. pancakes*

          That’s just lazy on their part. No harm in asking where they’re ordering from if they try that again, though.

      2. Rusty Shackelford*

        The size chart isn’t the whole story. I wear Torrid jeans. According to their size charts, all Torrid jeans have the same measurements. And yet I know I can’t wear Style X because the waist will be too small. And I bought a pair of Style Y jeans in one color that fit perfectly, but when I bought a different shade of Style Y jeans a couple of weeks later, I couldn’t even button them.

        1. pancakes*

          That’s true, yeah. And very annoying! I’ve encountered that with other brands. My boyfriend is an ex-designer and says this happens because they’re made in different factories and the company doesn’t have quality control in place to keep them all consistent.

          1. The New Wanderer*

            I wonder if that’s the main explanation on why different colors of the same clothing item fit differently! I got a pair of shorts that I really liked, so ordered two more pairs online in different colors. One fit exactly like the original pair, the other was super baggy and when I compared it with the original, it was two full inches larger at the waistband despite being labeled as the same size.

            1. pancakes*

              That is specifically the scenario I asked him about, different colors of the same style having a different fit, yeah. I suppose it’s also possible that sometimes different dye lots of the fabric respond differently during the cutting process. That could change the fit too, even within the same color.

  28. Seriously?*

    I was a teacher for 21 years. If Dan said this in front of students I can guarantee you that the kids are talking. And embellishing. I’m sure most everyone at that school knows something by now.

  29. Oakwood*

    Re: Clothing doesn’t fit.

    They aren’t going to listen to you.

    I am very tall. I’ve tried for decades to get companies to order polos and other company wear in tall sizes. Even going so far as to find vendors that provide tall sizes. All to no avail.

    I gave up and finally told them to order them in my wife’s size.

    1. Shiba Dad*

      I’ve had this conversation:

      Boss – “Why do you never wear the company shirts we provided you?”
      Me – “You gave me XL. I wear XXL.”
      Boss – “The XL should fit you.”
      Me – “XL doesn’t fit me.”
      Boss – “It should. An XL fits me”
      Me – “We aren’t built at all alike”
      Boss – “Well, we had samples here. Why didn’t you say something then?”
      Me – “I did. I’ll find the email if you like”
      Boss – “Don’t be a smartass. If you guys aren’t guys aren’t going to wear these shirts we’re going to stop buying them”
      Me – “Ohhkay”
      Boss – (leaves my office)
      Me – *headdesk*

      1. Anonymous for this*

        I have … highly inconvenient mammary glands. For some reason everyone always thinks a medium shirt should fit me. I guess I’m supposed to cut holes for them. It’s a fight I’ve given up having.

        1. Candi*

          I am now wishing someone does do the “cut a hole for the crumb shelf” (with a t-shirt underneath) and comes back to AAM with the results from their boss.

      2. Batgirl*

        This is very funny and easy to sympathize with. I wonder if the magical thinking re sizes also came out in other management decisions from this guy.

        1. Shiba Dad*

          Definitely. He would have “this is the way this thing is” moments and there was often no dissuading him that the thing in question wasn’t the way he thought it was. That is, until it was too obvious to ignore. Sometimes that wasn’t enough to change his mind.

          1. Candi*

            That goes beyond magical thinking and into insisting on the existence of alternate realities.

    2. Other Alice*

      They MIGHT listen if you insist. I’ve had some luck with the nonprofit I volunteer with. They offer shirts for volunteers at their events and they used to carry only mens sizes (volunteers are 80% men). It took two years of insisting that they wouldn’t fit me but they eventually switched to a supplier that had womens sizes and I placed a lone order for a woman’s size S. Lo and behold, now the rest of the women on the team are ordering shirts and wearing them to our events. It’s still frustrating that the leadership’s response is “oh we thought women didn’t want the shirts, we thought if they were interested they would have ordered men’s sizes, who knew there was a difference between men and women’s sizes” despite me TELLING them those things for 2 years. It really depends how much time and effort LW wants to put into asking for the correct size, knowing that they might not listen anyway.

      1. Oakwood*

        I think part of the problem for me is the promotional products industry doesn’t carry tall sizes as a rule.

        Those few tall shirts available to vendors tend to be the high end, expensive brands.

        As a tall person, I’m used to paying an arm and a leg for clothing. It goes with the territory. But, most companies balk at paying $75 for a tall shirt for one employee when the cost for their other employees is $20 a shirt.

      2. Batgirl*

        Going by the letter I think there’s a ton of other things the OP would rather have to feel appreciated than something that is basically free company logo advertising. I think getting the sizes right was in the “least they could do” category rather than “I feel super motivated to fix this”. The OP is not alone, I’ll tell you that. My partner was asked how the mental health day pizza went down and he said “well there was no allergen information provided or sought so it was actually pretty aggravating to watch people eating something I couldn’t risk trying”. (He stopped himself from mentioning that getting hardline pressured to wear a mental health awareness badge, is the reverse of relaxing because that element didn’t seem open to commentary). Then today, he got an Easter card with free mini eggs from his company, which he can actually eat, and he was all “Aww. They decided to use money on something that’s not paying us”. He actually gets paid pretty well, but they’re terrible at meaningful feedback and rely on silly fluff to do it, when it just comes across as a waste of time and money. It’s not that hard! People want good working conditions and genuine specific-to-them feedback. Simply put, people don’t care about this shit.

      3. Mallory Janis Ian*

        I hate men’s t-shirts. Even if you get them in a comparable size, they are still boxy and the neckline is high. I like women’s shirts that have a scoop- or v-neck and that are slightly shaped so that they’re not boxy and baggy where the waist dips in.

  30. Minerva*

    Q5 – In the States I believe it “where the majority of the work is taking place” is the standard no? For example I have a co-worker who has a temporary arrangement to live/work in NY though the team in is FL. He still regularly travels down here for busy periods, but he once mentioned that he pays NY taxes because “more than 51%” of his work is there.

    I do know that, with the embracing of hybrid work arrangements, my company has been very adamant about “You can work remote, you can work out of state for a brief period of time, but you cannot work outside the US, even on a flex day”

    1. mlem*

      My company is in one New England state. We used to have the option of 1 or sometimes even 2 WFH days a week, but never more than 50% because a lot of staff are out-of-state and the company didn’t want to cross that 50% threshold. Now we’re “hybrid”, so they did a lot of work to get several adjacent states cleared for more-than-50%-WFH … but they haven’t gotten all of them yet. It’s complicated to work out. My coworker who lives in the nearest adjacent state has to keep very close track of where he worked when; he says each state takes a corresponding percentage of the taxes each year, I think.

    2. Tax mom*

      No, it’s where the work is done. NFL players pay state income taxes on each state they play a game in.

      1. Minerva*

        I thought jock taxes were specifically written and targeted towards constantly travelling high earning professionals such as athletes?

        Granted my co-worker doesn’t have to worry about getting state income tax in FL at all, but when he worked out the arrangement with my company that was how it was explained to him.

        1. Kevin Sours*

          My wife gets dinged when she does onsite work in another state. It’s mostly annoying because we have to file in that state and pay them in inconsequential amount of money. On the other hand when I was living in Maryland and working in Virginia I only paid Maryland income tax… so ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

  31. Really?*

    #5: I’m full- time remote, have been for years. Certain things (withholding taxes) follow your state of residence; others tend to depend on the employers (or insurers) state as mentioned above. I had an individual health plan when I came aboard that I was happy with, my employer agreed to pay a portion of that cost (through my salary) in lieu of my joining the very expensive company plan (northeastern policy in a high cost state). I live in a no state income tax state and rarely venture up to the head office, so no state tax is withheld. Note that the payroll company screwed it up and withheld the company’s home state taxes for several months at the beginning, but that was easily resolved and repaid. For those that work remote, check your paystubs, particularly at the outset.

    1. Shiba Dad*

      I had the same thing happen with state taxes as well. I caught it on my first paystub. Apparently my employer (small division of Fortune 500 company) does this to everyone.

      While not the end of the world, they apparently couldn’t move withholding for the wrong state to my state. I had to file wrong state’s income tax for a refund and pay unwithheld tax to my state.

      1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

        I did that for years. Then my employer’s home state decided they assessed full tax liability on anything withheld to that state, so now I owe 100% in my “work” state and ~75% in my “home” state (home state gives credit before-deductions, work state’s liability is after-deductions).

        My job claims the same thing–and they won’t let me opt-out of state withholding to only make manual estimated payments, either.

        We found out when the pandemic brought on an automatic audit of all out-of-state filings. I wish congress would just standardize the mess across the entire US.

          1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

            It’s plausible enough to fool two CPAs and the company’s lawyer, so… *shrug*.

            I can pay it or I can have my wages garnished.

              1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

                They’ve abused the Interstate Commerce clause to extend their reach so many times that I can’t imagine it wouldn’t get invoked again.

                1. pancakes*

                  That is an opinion some people have about a different clause and different body of case law.

  32. Rain rain go away*

    What happens if a company requires you to live in the state they are based, but you are really not living in the address you’ve provided to HR?
    This happened at my company. In 2020, a lot of people moved out of the company’s home state (company had relocated there a few years prior and a lot of people didn’t love it). Many have not moved back. Company sent an email requiring people to live in the state, though still allowed WFH. I think a lot of people are taking a don’t ask, don’t tell approach.
    Company is going to start requiring people to return to the office soon, but I was curious about this.

    1. Minerva*

      IANAL – But sounds like a legal and tax nightmare for your company if the government finds out. And a fireable offense for the employee. It may also be considered address fraud based on how far the employee is taking it (ie they aren’t just lying to the company, they are lying to the IRS and state governments)

    2. Person from the Resume*

      I’d say that the company is responsible for correcting laws they broke inadvertantly … like they need to pay back payroll taxes to the state that they employee actually worked. To include fixing the overtime issues for example if the out of state employee worked in California. It’s my understanding that companies have to pay the employee for what they worked even if the problem is caused by the employee. The hourly non-exempt employee who keeps working late must be paid even as they’re disciplined for not following the boss’s order to not work overtime without permission. Punishment cannot be not paying them. I think the same goes for whatever implications come for laws broken by not accurately knowing whish laws applied to the employee at that time.

      If this happened because employees lied about their addresses after being told they needed to live in the same state as the company, the company is well within it’s right to fire the employees imediately before they even finish whatever corrective action is needed with taxes and legal situation.

      1. miss chevious*

        Yeah, this is basically correct (source: my company is dealing with something similar right now). The company will have to make good on the taxes, wages, and penalties that apply, but the employees can definitely lose their jobs for it, especially if they misrepresented where they were. We have rules about remote work and relocation for reasons, but a lot of employees are under the impression that “remote is remote” which is not the case for corporations at all.

      2. Candi*

        The pay ’em no matter what is thanks to bad employers who would tell their workers to work overtime, but make sure there was no written record of the order, than claim that the overtime was unauthorized and the workers weren’t getting paid. So that loophole had to be closed.

        If you research the employee abuse going on before FLSA, and read what FLSA covers, some of it is almost a point-by-point “NO, you can’t do that anymore.”

    3. Dinwar*

      Something similar happened in my company, but accidently. A group of us were on a project site for an extended period–long enough that the federal government informed us we needed to be on a Temporary Duty Assignment document. Made life fun for about six months as we scrambled to figure out how to handle the retroactive taxes and such. It didn’t hit me too hard, because I live in the state where I work, but some of my coworkers were in states with no income tax and suddenly had to pay my state’s taxes. We thought we were doing everything right–travel is a normal part of our job, and year-long projects are sought after because of the stability they offer–the IRS just decided otherwise.

      The company did right by us, and now we’re coming out ahead n terms of how we all dealt with the issue. But it was a major headache and the higher ups still get upset talking about it (not with us, with the situation).

    4. Madeleine Matilda*

      Alison has discussed this in several AAM posts. If an employee works (and maybe lives in ) another state from the employer it creates a legal nexus that requires the employer to be paying unemployment tax and other such things to the state where the employee is. So if an employee was fired they might find themselves having trouble receiving unemployment benefits since the employer wasn’t paying the employee’s state of residence.

  33. Woman in America*

    OP 2, I empathize SO much. I’m also a fat woman and I always hold my breath when I’m told about company swag, wondering how large they come in. Recently I’ve worked at companies that have accommodated my size, but there’s always that fear that they won’t. It’s ridiculous that we have to be concerned about that. So many people in the US are fat. It just is what it is. So, I feel you.

  34. anonymous73*

    #1 I don’t think you did anything wrong here. People have the right to know what happened and you heard it directly from the one it happened to, not 2nd (or 3rd or 4th) hand. You weren’t spreading gossip and rumors based on speculation, you were informing a few others about what actually happened. The only person to blame here if the person who was removed as chair.
    #2 I feel your pain. Every time a company has provided free clothing, it rarely fits me. You have every right to be annoyed by this and I would speak up. Just be matter of fact about it.
    #3 you’ve been there for a month and you’re essentially still learning. It’s great that you want to be busy, but it’s okay to have down time. If you have regular meetings with your manager, just let them know that you have bandwidth to take on more work and ask what the expectations are for your role so you have a clear picture moving forward.
    #4 You mention your former manager as the reason for leaving, but is that the only reason? Was it just a personality conflict or were they a terrible manager? If it’s the latter, you may want to consider that the company put them in that role and there may be other issues. Unless you’re unhappy in your new role, I wouldn’t be so eager to try and get back there.

  35. Sick of Workplace Bullshit*

    OP #1, I daresay if you actually respected Dan, he wouldn’t be the type of person to use the N word. Yes, it’s satisfying when an ass gets their comeuppance, but that’s also really valuable information for other people to have about him.

  36. LilPinkSock*

    LW #1: No, you shouldn’t have held your tongue. Your colleague did a racist thing in front of an entire classroom of students—I’m sure you’re not the only one talking about what happened, and rightfully so. I guess I just don’t care that much is a racist’s feelings are hurt that people may be gossiping about him.

  37. Just my 4 cents*

    #2 – For any of you who order clothing (and for those of you who have good companies), consider if the person can purchase something similar somewhere else and have the logo embroidered on it at company cost. For instance, my husband who is 6’9″ cannot wear typical promo clothes. So his company said, you can spend X on a shirt you like and send it to Y place to get the logo embroidered. He loved this solution!

    1. Rusty Shackelford*

      My organization has done this and it works well. We’ve also done the thing where you send your logo to Lands End and people can order anything they want, which is my favorite solution (as long as the organization is paying… it’s pretty spendy if you have to buy your own).

  38. MCMonkeyBean*

    OP1, in my opinion you have 0 reason to feel bad about anything. It sounds like he volunteered the information to you freely and largely unprompted and didn’t ask you to keep it secret. And it turned out to be about him being shitty, not like some personal private situation he was dealing with. There is absolutely no reason that information needs to be kept private, and honestly if he was a terrible boss to you all for years and he lost his title over being a terrible person I don’t think there is even anything wrong with you enjoying it a little bit, as long as you’re not like outright gloating and being obnoxious about it. Feel your feelings!

    1. anonymous73*

      I would even go so far as to say that had he asked her to keep it secret, she was well within her right to tell people about it. That is not something you keep secret. It’s not gossip or speculation – it’s facts from the source. And as others have said in the comments, if he said it in front of a class, I can guarantee the students were talking about it too.

  39. Workerbee*

    #2 Company-branded clothing, vendor-given clothing…I’ve mostly given up on anything that really fits, since I don’t fit into the general/average measurements of what they deem S/M/L/etc. Long torsos & long arms need not apply, evidently.

    What’s worse is when you get the “unisex” clothing that, at least back in the day, was almost always men’s sizing, as the default gender. Sometimes that works; sometimes it really, really doesn’t.

    These days, whenever I am in charge of ordering branded clothing (which is fortunately rare), I always make sure there are at least men’s and women’s versions in a full range of sizes, and that the vendor can provide an actual measurement breakdown for each size. And then I clearly state to the recipients that if they find one gender’s version more appealing than the other, to go ahead and select it, no side-eyes from me!

    Mind you, branded clothing is still a hassle and obligation, both ordering and wearing, IMO.

    1. LMB*

      Sometimes it looks like inclusive sizing but really isn’t, especially when it’s gendered. Some of these brands offer a women’s 2XL but it will be the equivalent of like a size 16 for example.

  40. LMB*

    I’ve been there with the vests. Those branded products often run small on top of it, especially if they offer “men’s” and “women’s” sizes. Around the time I wore about an XL (maybe size 16-18) I ordered a women’s 2X or XXL and I couldn’t zipper it. It was embarrassing at the event where we got them and everyone at my table tried them on I knew it wouldn’t fit and I was like ehhhh I don’t want to try it on now.

  41. just passing through*

    #3: Just as an anecdotal data point: my SO recently moved to a different team in his company (a different role as well). He tells me that he has very little work to do compared to the people who have been on the team a while, even after the time it took to adjust to the new role. But he’s realized why: the employees who have been there a while not only have to do new projects, they have to maintain their old ones, so they’re assigned the same number of projects as him but they have more to do overall. So depending on your industry, it’s possible that your work is expected to ramp up naturally without more being assigned. Of course, that doesn’t mean you can’t also ask your boss for things to keep busy with in the meantime!

    1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

      In that same vein, I know two peer programmers who have nominally similar workloads, but one spends half the day idle because they design their code to anticipate and avoid foreseeable maintenance, and the other just tries to power through their queue as quickly as possible. Each task gets done faster until the tasks that never arise are taken into account.

  42. Brett*

    #2
    As a very short man, everyone on the other end of sizes normally gets left out as well. I used to be fine with a standard medium, but it is extremely common now for giveaways in men’s clothing to only be XL and up. And then I got even smaller. I wear a men’s XS now (or women’s 4-6 or boys 16/L/XL though neither of those comes close to cut right to fit me). I can pretty much count on every company giveaway being reusable as a tent for me.

    Having organized a few events, these company giveaways are not going to go away and the size selection is not really going to change. As long as you stay in the standard size ranges and standard colors, they are cheap to do. Which is why they won’t be carrying sizes outside of those standard ranges either.

    So, on to something helpful. Men’s sizes run bigger than women’s sizes. At least for shirts, the cuts can be similar enough to swap out. For me, I will try to get a women’s S if I can. For you, a men’s XL might work much better and is more likely to be offer than a women’s XL. Clothing giveaways won’t go away because they are cheap and easy

  43. Observer*

    #1 – I’m sure that you are not THE source for this spreading like wildfire. For one thing, what makes you think that none of the students have mentioned this to anyone? In fact, I would bet that the reason that the school acted so quickly (relatively speaking) and strongly is because they were afraid of it coming out before the school could get ahead of it.

    For another, your Former Chair (FC) was clearly talking about it. If you know of at least 2 other people he mentioned it to, I’d be willing to bet that he told more than 3 of you.

    And that makes me think that it’s probably a good thing that this information spread. I’m not usually one for gossip. AND I do think that if someone made a mistake – even a really serious one! – it’s often a good thing to allow that person to move forward, once you’ve made sure that their ability to do further damage is curtailed and that appropriate consequences have happened. Especially if the problem behavior is in the distant past. The problem that makes me take a different tack here is that this guy doesn’t seem to have learned even the most basic lesson here. Not only is he not ashamed to tell people that he used that word in front of students! , he is “clearly upset” that he’s being punished appropriately for that incredible lapse.

    Most people with sense to mess up generally don’t want to discuss it, and they try to avoid taking the “it’s not fair I was punished” with anyone outside of their immediate circle. This guy… not so much. Does he really not see that he messed up big time? That’s another huge red flag.

  44. memyselfandi*

    I was coming here to mention that the problem exists on the small side, too. In a dress pattern I am a size 12 or 14, but as manufacturers have shifted their sizing, I now take a size 8 or 10 off the rack and many items that are “Small” fit me depending on how I want the garment to fit. I am 5’5″ and 135 pounds. Hardly the smallest person around. I want to focus on the “how I want the garment to fit” aspect of that, because that throws clothing sizing out the window and body shape and size irrelevant. I think how you want to feel in a garment is the most important thing to consider.

    1. Lydia*

      I just saw a TikTok video of a slim woman in a t-shirt ranting about how it was marked Large. Not a child’s large, a large from the women’s section of the store. If this woman had pulled a medium, it wouldn’t have fit her. When she lifted her arms wearing the large, her stomach was exposed. Sizing for women’s clothing is absurd.

      1. Jack Russell Terrier*

        This is an issue for those that are short too! I’m under 5′ and slim, but solidly built so issues are:
        *will this fit over my shoulders and boobs
        *model in photo is 5’11 and wearing size s.

        It’s all bonkers, from every angle

        1. Lady Catherine de Bourgh*

          Don’t get me started on companies that offer Tall sizes and Plus sizes but no Tall Plus. Because obviously if you’re tall you can’t be fat and if you’re fat you must be short….

          1. Astronomical Feline*

            Most tall doesn’t fit me (36” .9m inseam and 6’ 1.8m wing span). (Basically i have extremely long limbs) Mens sizes mostly do but don’t account for hips so i don’t like mens pants. Mostly can wear mens shirts and tops, but there are semi common cases of sleeves being too short and not having enough room for my plague tummy. I’ve seen places that have tall plus sizes (mostly small brands) but their talls arent tall enough for me

          2. Resident Catholicville, USA*

            I’ve had the opposite problem my whole life- I’m 5’3″ and overweight. Pants are routinely 4 inches too long for me and I have to scrunch up long sleeves. I’m so super picky about my clothes that I hate when employers offer to give me branded ware. Last job, I had three pieces of clothing from them, all in 3x.

            1) Scratchy, ill fitting, too short sleeved, gapped front, woman cut polo-type shirt.

            2) T-shirt sized for a man- it was so large that probably it’d fit the Incredible Hulk.

            3) A really nice jacket hoodie that fit perfectly and I’d kill to have 5 more of.

            I get why companies want their employees to have branded ware, but really, it’s probably time for them to move on. When last job offered a travel mug, I used it every day, purposely put the logo out front and center, and made sure I was seen using it because “spirit” and “morale” were a thing the president looked for and I never wore the clothes. (Even the hoodie- I loved it, but it wasn’t right with my work clothes, so I repped our company outside of work.)

          3. L*

            But if you’re fat you can’t be TOO short. Because Petite Plus sizes don’t really exist either, outside of a few specialized stores. If you’re fat you must be between the height of 5’5 and 5’9, no exceptions.

          4. whingedrinking*

            Don’t even get me started on garment manufacturers who don’t seem to have heard the phrase “hip-to-waist ratio” – or if they have, they don’t realize that it’s possible for it to be greater than 1:1. Plus-sized people are not cylinders, we still have waists.

            1. I take tea*

              And some of us are seal shaped and don’t have waists at all… Still not a cylinder.

    2. M_Lynn*

      I’m sure you mean well in expanding the scope of this conversation, but the LW is talking about clothes that literally cannot fit onto her body. “How I want the garment to fit” is a completely different topic, and not one suited for this conversation. This is about discrimination and fat phobia, not about the clothing industry or how clothes make you feel. Thin people center themselves in conversations like this all the time, and I encourage you to think about the humiliation fat folks feel when having to talk about their bodies like this with their colleagues who are deliberately excluding them.

        1. Candi*

          If someone fails to educate themselves, their ignorance becomes deliberate.

          (That applies to a lot of things.)

          1. Rolly*

            So if you don’t try to overcome all your ignorance, whatever remains is deliberate?

            Wow.

            I can see saying they’re doing a bad job and not trying hard enough to understand, but the OPs description makes it pretty clear they want the OP to be included, but are incompetent.

            1. Candi*

              We live in an age of information being more accessible than ever, to a larger percentage of the population than ever, in humanity’s known history.

              If someone would rather cling to their ignorance, rather than try to resolve it by reading or listening, than their ignorance is deliberate, and no pity is to be given when it bites them in the butt.

              If they don’t have access, that’s another matter. But if they didn’t in the past but now do, then it’s still on them to do something about not knowing about things.

              1. pancakes*

                What specific resources should the employer in this scenario read or listen to in order to get informed that employees larger than themselves won’t in fact fit into a size L? I don’t think it’s malice for people who fit into straight sizes to not spend much time thinking about the upper limits of straight sizes. It’s certainly ignorant for all but the smallest employers to realize that plus sizes are common, but I wouldn’t go so far as to say it’s deliberate. I’m not sure what your basis is for saying so. The fact that the impact is harmful doesn’t make it intentional.

        2. M_Lynn*

          I don’t know if it’s better to say they’re ignorant. I doubt someone could be so clueless as to know that lots of people wear sizes larger than a L. Or that someone is so bad at their job, that they are unable to consider who their coworkers are when ordering branded clothing. It seems to be a small company, so this is extra egregious to not think about the needed sizing for people you’re trying to offer a perk to. That’s not really a more generous reading than being deliberately exclusive.

          1. pancakes*

            “Considering who their coworkers are” is a can of worms in itself, though. Ordering a 1X or 2X or whatnot for someone who would be happy with a L wouldn’t go over well. Anyone ordering clothes should ask rather than guess, period.

      1. ffs*

        ‘This is about discrimination and fat phobia, not about the clothing industry or how clothes make you feel.’
        So the clothing industry and how clothes make someone feel don’t intersect with discrimination and fat phobia? Thanks for policing that intersection.

        1. MN_Jen*

          They are related topics, but they are different.

          I have multiple fabric aversions – for example, I have to cut off the neckline of all of my t-shirts because I can’t stand that stretchy material. I often hate wearing any company apparel, especially since some fabrics alone raise my baseline anxiety.

          My situation is not the same as OP’s. Being a size that US clothing considers “standard”, but feeling uncomfortable in your clothes or occasionally having sizing issues is not the same situation as what OP is posting about, because it does not include the (very well-documented) stigma associated with fatness.

          Fat stigma is a very real problem. People’s ignorance affects how fat people are treated on a regular basis. Fat stigma affects their jobs, their earning potential, and their medical care. And microaggressions like what OP wrote about continues this stigma.

          When non-fat people shift the conversation and center themselves, it also continues the stigma. Most posters weren’t trying to do this intentionally; they are trying to relate to empathize with OP. But having trouble figuring out the right size in a store, or wearing a shirt that is uncomfortable, is not going to affect our earning potential, healthcare, and personal treatment.

          We should all be standing against fat phobia, and we need to make sure fat voices are centered in that conversation.

          1. MadCatter*

            I just wanted to emphasize all of this and how clearly it lays out some of the difficulties that fat people go through. I understand the desire to relate with other people and to find a common struggle, but fatphobia is so insidious inside our (US for me) culture that it is incredibly difficult to navigate any aspect of life without encountering it. It sucks to have an uncomfortable piece of clothing, but for a straight sized person it may mean wearing a shirt that is too short or an unflattering color. For me, it means having no clothing. Sitting in a group of people who are all wearing the same thing, except for you, is humiliating.

        2. Size Inclusive LW*

          It’s a different conversation though.

          Society has tried to condition us all to believe that being fat is shameful, that it’s a moral failure.

          So a smaller person saying their shirt doesn’t fit them the way they’d prefer, or is too big, has very different connotations and feelings and anxieties surrounding it than me having to say “I cannot wear it because because it will not fit at all” and having to wait for the penny to drop that it’s because I’m fat. When, again, that is seen as shameful and some kind of personal failing on my part.

          There is even an entire certain kind of smaller woman (generally younger, and thankfully vanishingly rare compared to how it was at the height of low rise jeans) that PRIDE themselves when a small is too large.

          And it’s not just around fashion. Medical fatphobia leads to all sorts of issues as well, that are beyond the scope of this. But let’s just say it doesn’t matter why I go to the doctor, even an injury, I will receive a weight lecture and pamphlets about healthy eating. I’m in my 30s JUST NOW getting medical care that doesn’t assume my weight is the cause of any and all issues, rather than a symptom of one (PCOS).

          So yeah, changing the conversation from fatphobia and size inclusivity can kind of dismiss the systemic and societal nature of it. Wanting a certain sleeve length or a different cut is all well and good, but that is not on the same level as what’s happening here.

  45. Purple Cat*

    My company did our year-end gifts correctly. You can choose non-clothing items, and for anything clothing related, it comes in extended sizes and typically, are available for try on ahead of time (COVID has complicated things). Employees submit google forms so the info is private and then the orders are placed. More legwork and organization ahead of time, but everybody gets what they want!

  46. I'm Just Here For The Cats!*

    #2 This is frustrating and I feel for you. I’ve had problems like this before but never about work stuff. As an average size person (US women’s 16-18 size) Large is often just a little too snug and I don’t like tight clothes so I go up to XL. I am sure that there were many people who are not as heavy as you are who would have preferred an XL or XXL. I have a friend who is shorter and has a tiny waist but she is “well endowed” as she puts it. So she wears XL tops even though she’s only a 6 or something. She would be in the same boat as you.
    I like what my former employer did. Every year they had a gift you could choose. You got a link to the company website and were able to pick 1 item from the approved selection. One year it was laptop bags. So you could choose a messenger style bag or a purse type of bag, or a backpack. However, the next year it was long-sleeved shirts and you could choose from a couple of styles, your size, and color. This seemed to work the best because the company was able to order the exact amount of shirts in the correct sizes and no one felt left out. The only problem I had was that I was positive I chose XL but they gave me an XXL. The sizes ran on the bigger side so I was swimming in it.
    But I wish more places did something like this. Even if it was a google poll asking for your size it would be better than just guessing how many people want what sizes.

  47. A ProdMgr*

    OP2, you’re exactly the right amount of annoyed. Gifting people clothes that don’t fit is obnoxious.

    My workplace randomly sent me and a bunch of other new-ish hires boxes of swag. I wear an XL and the shirts in it were mediums. I asked about a replacement and was told “oh, we only had medium, so we just sent that to everyone.” I gave the shirts to my kid. A few months later, they sent me a second box, also size medium.

  48. Dasein9*

    #2 Trans guy here and also fat. It’s really hard for anyone who isn’t standard-sized and standard-shaped to get clothing that fits right in general, so branded clothing for work is always an issue.

    It would be so so so easy to give bags or scarves or other items that don’t have to fit instead. Why trigger people’s dysphoria or dysmorphia when you don’t have to?

  49. Ms. Dribblington*

    OP#2: I am sorry to say that, as a plus size, this has happened to me so many times over the last 20 years that I often just don’t get the clothing, or if I get pressured, I take the largest size and throw it in the back of my closet in the pile of unused branded fleeces, vests and pullovers, until finally I get motivated and donate them. The industry that I work just loves to give employees branded clothing every year.

    I do wish people would accept “No thank you” more often. About two years ago, I was dealing with a co-worker who orders the branded clothing and he refused to accept my “no, thank you, I don’t want one”. I ended up telling him bluntly that none of the offered sizes were big enough and that I really didn’t need one, that it was no problem. He wouldn’t let it go. He kept emailing me, even after my repeated declines, started offering to look into getting more sizes, wanted to know my size. I finally told him that the exchange was making me uncomfortable and that I appreciated his efforts but I didn’t want to discuss it further. I didn’t want a fuss or special effort to be made just for me.

    1. Ms. Dribblington*

      Adding: A year after the specific incident that I mentioned, branded clothing was once again made available (same co-worker in charge), only this time, employees were directed to an ordering page with choices of various nice winter jackets–and there were STILL no women’s plus sizes! Ug, whatever. I told my husband to look at the choices and he picked out a down jacket for himself. Turns out he really likes that jacket and has been wearing it a lot. At least someone benefited!

  50. Observer*

    #2 – You’ve gotten a ton of great feedback. One thing I didn’t see (yet – I have not read ALL of the comments so far) is a point that I think might be a bit more useful if your company is as clueless as they sound. That is that if the only sizes that their vendor offers are sm, med, and lg, they are DEFINITELY dealing with a vendor that has poor selection and is probably overcharging. Because I don’t think I’ve seen a single vendor in the last decade that doesn’t offer an XL size, and mostly even XXL. Even 3X is not so uncommon although that tends still to be seen as “niche”. But XL, while officially being “not standard” is SO common that if a vendor doesn’t have that, they don’t have even a basic “normal” selection.

    It might also not be a bad idea to point out to your lead that asking people why they can’t use some swag that the company is giving out is often a bad idea, unless you are one of the people who needs to make decisions about the next purchase. When it’s clothes, it’s even worse. Doing it in public also adds to it being problematic. Asking about clothes (or food) in public? VERY bad idea. Your response is far from unusual, and for some people it’s even worse. Don’t do that to people, Dave.

    1. me*

      This. I used to work for a trucking company and was in charge of swag. It is very easy to find shirts in mens and womens sizes that go from XS – 5XL. Or larger, but S-5XL was our minimum range.

  51. Former call centre worker*

    #2
    Obviously the company is wrong for not getting items to fit everyone, but maybe they shouldn’t be giving out free clothing at all if it’s not part of a uniform or for a specific purpose and if it’s not been requested by employees. I think a lot of branded promotional items probably sit at the back of the wardrobe for a few years before ending up in landfill like a lot of unworn clothing. I had to decline a promotional t shirt recently because I just haven’t got the space for clothes I don’t specifically want or need.

    1. Rusty Shackelford*

      And before someone says “donate it, someone will love it!” – I’ve been on the board and worked as a volunteer for a charity shop and no one buys branded promotion items unless (a) the item is especially desirable and the logo is obscure enough to be ignored (think a black North Face jacket with a small black logo) or (b) the logo is from an organization they might pay to wear anyway (sports team). If you can donate them to an organization that gives clothing away rather than selling it, and if they’re really needed (warm jackets rather than just t-shirts), they might be a useful donation. Otherwise, you’re just forcing someone else to pay to dispose of your garbage.

    2. Doctors Whom*

      My late father in law was SO proud of his kids (and me). Whenever we got free shirts at work – in tech, so this would happen probably annually – we would get them in his size and gift them to him.

      That man could talk your ear off about the price of chicken at Meijers, but man was he proud of us and anyone who asked about his shirts would get their ear talked off:)

    3. anonymous73*

      Quite honestly, most of the swag I’ve ever gotten from work has been donated or thrown away because it’s not something I will wear/use/need. Employees want higher pay, better benefits and to be treated like adults. We don’t want “stuff”. One of the nicest items I got was from my most recent company – it was an Under Armor laptop backpack. Unfortunately I already have one from the before times when I would travel for work, and now I work from home full time so it sits in my closet.

  52. Zee*

    Re: #5
    What happens if you live on a state border but work a hybrid schedule? So a few days a week the work is being done at your home in VA, but then some of it is being done in your office in MD.

    1. Doctors Whom*

      Those states usually have a reciprocal agreement regarding taxes, but other rules can vary.