my coworker reeks of weed, I asked for help and got put on a PIP, and more

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

1. My coworker reeks of weed

I work at a very large company and have been here about a year. Due to Covid, I haven’t had to come into the office much, but now that I am, I have learned that my cube neighbor (who I’ve maybe seen in person a total of 10 times) enjoys smoking marijuana. I have a sensitive nose on normal days, but I’m currently five months pregnant and the smell is KILLING me. I don’t know if she smokes during the day, but the smell is definitely coming from her clothes and bag. I can smell it when she’s not at her desk and it’s especially strong when she puts on her jacket.

I truly don’t care if she wants to wake and bake and I have no desire to be a narc, but I just got past the nausea stage of pregnancy and now I feel physically ill any time we’re both in the office. I will also add that the application process for this job requires a drug test and weed is illegal in the state where we work, so telling my manager what’s up could get her in serious trouble and would make me feel like an utter jerk. I don’t think we’ll be going remote again anytime soon, so what do I do?

Assuming she’s not smoking at work but the smell is clinging to her from home, your coworker needs an old-timey smoking jacket.

Are you willing to talk to her about it? You could say something like, “This is awkward to bring up, but your clothes and bag smell really strongly of marijuana — not just today, but whenever we’re both in the office. I’m especially sensitive to smells right now and it’s making me feel sick when we’re in the office together. Normally with a smell sensitivity, I’d ask to move to a different work space, but I don’t think I can do that without explaining why. Is there something you can do on your side that would take care of it so that we can both avoid that?”

2. I asked for help building my skills and got put on a PIP

During a quarterly performance review, my boss expressed that I was managing a project to her standards. I still took responsibility for my mistakes and expressed a need for more structure. I also spoke about my desire to improve and grow in this role because it is somewhat rare to find my specific role. I saw this role as a great opportunity when I got hired right before the pandemic, and still do, even though it has been challenging working through certain large scale projects virtually.

In expressing my desire to grow in this company, I asked if we can create some kind of professional development plan. She agreed, and a month later, sent me a formal performance improvement plan outlining areas of improvement. The plan sounded punitive and like a warning, and included what I’m guessing is standard HR language stating that failure to improve within three months will result in action or ending employment. Did I set myself up for this plan and what sounds like a three-month probation? Should I not have not suggested the plan, or would it have happened inevitably?

Since the plan was shared, my boss has questioned my reasoning about many of my decisions around projects, and at times, I’ve felt like she was talking down to me when I asked for clarification. She doesn’t consider herself a micromanager, but maybe this is a result of asking for more structure. I’m also the first person she ever hired. I’m working on moving forward and seeing this major project through, which coincides with the end of the PIP review period (three months). I have also started looking for jobs, but have every intention of meeting what is outlined in the PIP.

To make sure I’m understanding correctly, your boss told you that your performance was fine and you asked for guidance that would help you do even better, and in response to that she came back with a formal improvement plan? Unless you misunderstood the performance evaluation and she was actually expressing concerns about your work (which doesn’t sound like the case), this is seriously messed up.

It’s possible that because she’s a new manager, she doesn’t understand what she sent you. She might think that if someone asks for help improving, this is the structure you use (and maybe she didn’t read the boilerplate that’s in there about consequences for failing to improve?). Could she have asked HR for a “development plan” (your language) and they sent her an improvement plan and she didn’t spot the difference? If so, she’s wildly incompetent, but it’s the only thing I can come up with to explain it.

You need to talk with her right away. Say this: “I’m worried we miscommunicated. My understanding from my quarterly review was that you were happy with my work. When I asked for a professional development plan, I was hoping for support in building on that work and making it even better. So I was blindsided by this improvement plan that talks about serious problems that could end with my firing in three months. Did I misunderstand your assessment in my quarterly review, or am I misunderstanding this written plan?”

If she tells you that the PIP is just a way to structure the support you asked for … no. Do not let her use a PIP for that. You shouldn’t have a PIP on file with HR if you’re not supposed to be on one. (And what if she were hit by a bus tomorrow and a new manager came in? All they’d know was that you were on a PIP and possibly on the road to being fired.) If this conversation doesn’t resolve it, you should talk to HR and ask for them to intervene in what sounds very much like a new manager misunderstanding.

Caveat: It’s possible that the PIP is totally separate from the conversation in your review meeting and she does have concerns about your work that she didn’t communicate well or that emerged later. If that’s the case, this conversation should bring that out.

3. Ending an interview when the salary is too low

My husband has been interviewing for new opportunities and one interview he had recently left both of us scratching our heads. He said that everything in the interview went swimmingly until his interviewer asked him about salary expectations. My husband offered a rate that is about 25% below the market salary, which is well documented due to our industry. His interviewer was astounded and told him that their range tops out at what would be an entry-level salary for our industry and that my husband was way over that. There isn’t an issue of overqualification and their range is not advertised anywhere on the listing.

When this happens, which obviously puts a huge damper on whole exchange, is there any saving grace to kind of gently end the process? Or will my husband just have to live with the fact that he may have offended his interviewer with his answer?

Interesting framing —your husband asked for a salary 25% below market and you’re worried that he offended the interviewer! In fact, the the interviewer should worry about offending him by offering an outrageously low salary, not the other way around. (Also, why is your husband offering to work for 25% below market?)

You can absolutely end an interview when it becomes clear that you’re too far apart on salary (or anything else, for that matter). I’d say it this way: “Ah, it sounds like we’re too far apart on salary and I shouldn’t take up any more of your time. I wish you the best in filling the position.”

4. I paid for transit benefits I never received

Before the pandemic, my organization offered pre-tax transit benefits on a quarterly basis in the form of credit cards or fare cards from our local transit authority. When the office shut down in March 2020, the benefits for the next three months were in the hands of HR, but were not distributed. In the rush of figuring things out as the pandemic was happening, staff was told on an all staff call that because it was easier from a payroll perspective, they’d be taking the elected amount out of our paychecks for the month of April 2020 and would figure something out when things were back to normal.

Well, it’s now May 2022! We never received our transit benefits OR got the funds that were taken in April 2020. Each time I ask, I’m given a new excuse/stall (“We’ll deal with it when we’re back in the office, but we can’t control when the building reopens.” “For tax reasons we can’t provide commuter benefits if we’re working from home but we have to make a decision if working from home is what we’re doing.”). Someone else thinks that the benefits expired and the org doesn’t want to be out the money, but I’m not sure that justification passes muster.

Is it a lot of money? No. But am I wrong for thinking this is wage theft because they took my earnings to pay for a promised/agreed upon benefit and never provided it? And is it not bizarre that no one is taking this seriously?

You’re not wrong, and it is bizarre. They took money from your check for benefits they didn’t provide. They owe you that money and they need to return it. Giving them a month or two of grace to figure it out during the chaos of the start of the pandemic was reasonable, but it’s been two years. They need to fix it. (And what happened with anyone who left their job in the last two years — were they just out that money because it hadn’t been paid back yet?)

Say this: “It’s now been two years since $X was deducted from my paycheck for transit benefits that we didn’t receive and I need to get it repaid. Can it be included with my next check?” Try to get your coworkers to join you in this — a bunch of voices will be louder than one. (And if they don’t take care of it quickly, try contacting your state department of labor for help.)

5. Hiring manager keeps me updated but the job was reposted

I know I’m overthinking it and I know there are a number of reasons for a job to be reposted. I know I shouldn’t let these things consume me as I will be miserable over it.

However, the hiring manager has been in touch with me (sometimes without me reaching out first) and letting me know that the hiring process is taking longer due to other factors.

I noticed my resume was downloaded again off LinkedIn despite me already interviewing for the company twice already. The same day it was downloaded, the company reposted the job I’m interviewing for (it had been down for over a month so I don’t think it was an automatic repost). This time around, they have not been posting on LinkedIn highlighting the job like they would for other jobs, but today they highlighted a different job they are hiring for but also briefly mention other roles including the role I am in the running for in the post of the other job.

I know this might just be the hiring manager unsure to pull the trigger on me or if they want to keep looking just to see what is out there. The hiring manager probably doesn’t want me to let go of the company just yet and that is why they keep me updated weekly.

But I need advice on what to do. Do I still email them weekly and ask for an update? Do I wait for them to reach out to me as they said they will keep me updated again when things change on their end? Do I reach out and inquire about the job being reposted? What can I do to help them pull the trigger on me?

You’re reading into things that don’t mean anything! Your resume might have been re-downloaded because an assistant needed a new copy for a file, or someone spilled coffee on the first one, or all sorts of other reasons. The job could have been reposted because they keep all their posts live until jobs are filled and someone just noticed this one expired. The hiring manager could be unsure about you, waiting to interview other candidates, reconfiguring the role, dealing with higher priorities, waiting for a decision-maker to be back from vacation, or a million other things. You just can’t read into any of this, and you’ll just make yourself more angsty if you keep trying to.

The best thing you can do is to mentally move on, assume you didn’t get the job, and let it be a pleasant surprise if you do. Don’t email weekly for updates — not because of anything in your letter but because that’s excessive in general. If they’re interested in hiring you, they’re not going to forget about you. If you really want to, you can mark your calendar to do one final check-in one month from now … but otherwise you’ve got to accept that you can’t make them move any faster, you don’t know what’s happening behind the scenes, and they’ll get in touch if they want to. Let it go and distract yourself with other jobs. Good luck!

{ 508 comments… read them below }

  1. EPLawyer*

    Smokers of any kind doe not realize how much their clothes, hair, belongings smell of smoke ALL. THE. TIME. They don’t smell it because they are so used to it. They do not get how it permeates literally everything.

    You would be doing this person a favor by telling them. It makes you sick to smell it but someone with authority/power smelling it could have pretty serious consequences for this person.

    1. Hanani*

      Agreed. I have no moral opinions about marijuana and think it should be legalized on the federal level, but ye gods, I wish I could ban all smoked or spat substances worldwide. The smells make me nauseated.

      For OP1’s coworker, she’s gone noseblind to the smell. If OP1 can smell it, even with pregnancy nose, then other people who could fire her over it might be able to smell it too. OP1 could definitely make up a reason to move (“I don’t know what it is but something in this office just makes me so nauseated”). If you’re willing to tell her and she’s willing to hear it, that would be a kindness.

      1. Princess Xena*

        There is a house on my commute home where the occupants smoke pot so vigorously that the entire road smells like a skunk from inside my car. I’m not even that scent sensitive and it’s awful.

          1. JSPA*

            Depends on your nose. I can absolutely smell when cars come by with people hotboxing; and pretty much by definition, that means they have the windows rolled up tight.

            (As an aside, people hotboxing is, to my mind, another reason to hope for more decriminalization; the worst place to be under variable, unpredictable levels of influence is “while driving”…but a lot more people are willing to risk seizure of their beater car, than their house…or their kids.)

            OP, due to legalities (and lack thereof) you might better refer to it as a “strong, identifiable smell.”

            Naming it creates too much of a threat (and takes away your last shred of ability to claim ignorance, if your workplace would theoretically require you to report it, or if coworker might go to management–in clean clothes–to say, “OP smelled my cremonial sage smudge stick and assumed I was smoking pot and threatened me.”) I’d make sure to telegraph, “I don’t mind if you do, but please don’t smell of it, nor anything else, near me.”

            If you’re out about the pregnancy at work, it’s simpler: “I’m going to be extra sensitive to smells due to a medical condition for the next X months.”

            If not, “I’ve been getting smell-triggered migraines, including from the specific smell that’s been clinging to your clothing and bag, as well as products that are used to cover up smells. I’m trying not to request official accommodation, as that would probably involve listing specific triggers, which is needlessly awkward and invasive.”

            Finally, remember that many people are in housing that’s not ideal, and glad to have it. Your coworker could be couch surfing with a permanently baked friend, or living with a parent who uses or grows, or moonlighting as a live-in aide to someone using it for chemo nausea, or in an appartment so permeated with the smell by a past occupant, that it’s still lingering. (Weed and tobaccco alike–if your home is permeated, it will stink your stuff up to the point where someone hypersensitive will be overwhelmed.)

            Ideally, ask them to do what they reasonably can do, to change the situtation, and be sensitive to hesitation / aware that partial measures may be the best they can do, rather than assuming that it’s simple, and a failure to immediately comply is a big old “F.U.”

            1. pancakes*

              I don’t see a good reason to be coy about what the smell is, no. That would be needlessly confusing. You are over- and under-thinking the “threats” you imagine, which are quite unlikely.

              1. Princesss Sparklepony*

                I believe it’s being coy to the higher ups and HR. Since weed is not legal in their states. So you don’t want to march into HR and say she reeks of weed because that could get her in trouble. And it’s about keeping it a bit on the down low with the worker to signal that you aren’t going to out them to HR. A bit of a wink and a nod…

                1. pancakes*

                  Those are two different things, though – wanting to be discreet with HR and wanting to be reassuring to the coworker that you’re not going to be heavy-handed or vengeful. Being coy with the coworker is at odds with being trustworthy. It’s also simply not necessary, unless there’s some reason to believe their communications are being monitored, even a brief in-person chat. That is not likely, and the chances of being misunderstood on account of intentionally being coy are not zero.

            2. pancakes*

              Also, regarding “a lot more people are willing to risk seizure of their beater car, than their house…or their kids.” The penalty for being caught toking in in your car is not that you instantly lose ownership of the car. Likewise a home and kids. My goodness.

              1. One of the Annes*

                Forfeiture is a very real legal consequence. People can and do lose their cars and houses.

                1. pancakes*

                  Of course, but it is not the instant result of being caught smoking weed in your car the way JSPA’s comment suggests, and doesn’t really have anything to do with the letter. Tangential catastrophizing isn’t helpful.

                2. One of the Annes*

                  @ pancakes: re: “Of course, but it is not the instant result of being caught smoking weed in your car the way JSPA’s comment suggests”

                  Actually, yes, yes it can be.

                3. Yorick*

                  Sure but if you get caught with drugs in your car you might go to jail or prison and lose your kids. Especially if you crash and get a DWI.

                4. Alpacas Are Not Dairy Animals*

                  Amplifying this. Police don’t even need to file charges to seize property and being found not guilty in no way means you will get your property back (it’s a civil process so the burden of proof is different.)

                5. Lydia*

                  @One of the Annes
                  Many jurisdictions don’t bother with people who are smoking weed because it’s more hassle than it’s worth. They are less likely to care at all that you are smoking weed in your car and be more concerned that you’re driving under the influence.

              2. BatManDan*

                Look up “civil asset forfeiture,” and then join the fight the end this incredible injustice.

                1. pancakes*

                  I am familiar with it and agree it’s a terrible injustice, but what on earth does it have to do with the letter? Is the idea that the letter writer can’t ask her coworker to try reducing or eliminating the scent because . . . civil asset forfeiture? That’s ridiculous .

              3. Where’s the Orchestra?*

                In my region being caught driving under the influence results in the immediate seizure and placement of your vehicle in an impound lot. If you are unable to pay the criminal fines plus the impound fees – well, that vehicle is then immediately and forever gone.
                Different regions have different penalties- it sounds like your region isn’t as strict as the ones the many of us live in.

                1. pancakes*

                  The penalties for driving under the influence are pretty strict everywhere, I think, but who is driving under the influence in this letter? I wouldn’t assume that absolutely everyone drives to and from work; I live in a city of 8+ million people and many of us don’t drive to work. The letter writer isn’t asking about how to confront someone who seems to be driving under the influence.

                2. Rocket*

                  @pancakes did you forget this conversation started because you replied to a comment about hotboxing in cars?

                3. pancakes*

                  Possibly the coworker is hotboxing in her car, yes. And? How are you connecting the dots between “someone mentioned hotboxing” and “maybe civil asset forfeiture is going to happen here and that will affect any potential conversation between the letter writer and their coworker because ________”? I’m not following how mentioning the former prompted the latter. Or prompted story time about what happens to people caught with drugs in their car.

              4. JelloStapler*

                Also keep in mind that in some areas, unfortunately, police are all too quick to use this as a reason to apply punishment for severely on certain populations than others.

                1. RabbitRabbit*

                  Along these lines, police have literally stolen (sorry, used civil asset forfeiture) to steal supposed “drug money” from people who were bringing cash to Las Vegas or to go buy a car. There definitely are police who go above and beyond in the “war on drugs.”

              5. JSPA*

                That still depends on the state (sadly). Never mind legalization- – there’s still huge disparity in decriminalization, and likewise, seizure of property.

                Google “civil forfeiture reform.”

            3. Observer*

              and takes away your last shred of ability to claim ignorance, if your workplace would theoretically require you to report it, or if coworker might go to management–in clean clothes–to say, “OP smelled my cremonial sage smudge stick and assumed I was smoking pot and threatened me.”

              If there is a reporting responsibility, the OP should think about it. But if the coworker complains? A halfway competent HR is NOT going to go after the OP. And even most incompetent HR department is not going to go after ONLY the op.

            1. Koalafied*

              The living plant itself has a powerful smell, and a grow operation will smell more strongly than than occasionally smoking if they haven’t specifically taken steps to make the grow room airtight.

              1. Splendid Colors*

                Yuuuup. A grow that isn’t filtering the exhaust will smell like a skunk orgy on a compost pile. There’s a certain industrial area in my city that has grows and dispensaries every few blocks because it meets whatever criteria for “away from homes” and “away from schools” that most warehouses don’t meet and you can smell it very, very clearly. Even through an N95 mask. (Same area has a lot of “gardening supply” stores that specialize in supplies for gardening indoors under lights.)

            2. Aphrodite*

              True, but the smell is strong if it is grown in quantity. I live in Santa Barbara, and just south of the city the city of Carpinteria has become a major area for large scale growers. The complaints about the smell from driver passing through and from residents is loud. And north of us in wine country we are seeing more fields turning to production of grass. I assume the complaints will start arising from that area in the not-too-distant future. I can only hope SB won’t be in a perpetual haze of it five years from now.

        1. RagingADHD*

          There are a couple of shopping centers near me where occasionally the entire parking lot is skunked up. It’s unbelievable. If we were a little more rural I would suspect actual skunks, but it’s too built up here, and too frequent.

          It’s not legal here, and the frequency of public smoking has skyrocketed in the last 2 years. I dunno if the police aren’t prioritizing it anymore, or if usage has gone up so much overall. People just aren’t even trying to be covert.

          I wouldn’t care if it weren’t so foul. Tobacco smoke is unpleasant, but weed smell is nasty.

          1. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

            It’s probably not actual skunks, but the parking lot of my old apartment building in Manhattan smelled of skunk many evenings, because there were skunks living in the park across the street, and they came around most evenings, looking for food in the trash. Residential, yes, but easy walking distance from two different subways.

            1. Rafflesia Reaper*

              I don’t know if you’re intending to imply that the skunks ride the subway, but I am choosing to believe your old neighborhood had transit-aware wildlife.

            2. RagingADHD*

              I saw a surprising amount of wildlife when we lived in Manhattan, but I would be terrified of a New York skunk. That’s gotta be one tough critter.

              1. Emily H*

                I once saw a dapper young woman walking a skunk on a leash down 23rd Street in Manhattan.

          2. TheRain'sSmallHands*

            One of the wonders of legal weed is the availability of legal edibles – which don’t have the overwhelming smell.

            1. Anonynony*

              No, but they are also a less controlled experience. The effects of smoking lasts 2-6 hours depending on dose, tolerance, etc. Edibles can last 8-12, sometimes more, and it’s much harder to control for dose. Many nighttime tokers wouldn’t consider an edible because they don’t want to wake up with lingering effects.

              1. Self Employed Employee*

                Agreed. That’s why drinkables are perfect. You can control the amoung, you can take them everywhere, and you won’t bother anyone..

                1. Princesss Sparklepony*

                  There’s drinkable weed? What ever will they think of next!
                  And thanks everyone for the information on edibles vs drinkables. Things I never knew…. I knew edibles could kind of backfire on you because it takes a while for them to take effect – yup, made that mistake in college. But did not know the longevity of the high.

                  Thanks again.

        2. tamarack and fireweed*

          As a preface, I have no problem with people smoking weed. Or even *occasional* *mild* weed aroma emanating from someone’s physical presence. What really surprises me is when I pass by another car or even house in my own car and get a whiff of the stuff.

      2. Some Dude*

        Cannabis especially is a very loud smell, and habitual smokers tend to not realize how much they reek of weed. I am a cannabis enthusiast, and I had a dry herb vaporizer in my work bag in a smell proof container (I never consume while working but find a puff before I get on the train home makes my commute much more tolerable), and STILL my bag reeked of weed

      3. MsSolo UK*

        When you say she can smell it “even with pregnancy nose” – I’m assuming it varies by person, but when i was pregnant I could smell what my neighbours were cooking for dinner through the wall – ooh, bacon sandwiches! Something cheesy tonight. Oh, they’re having curry, lefts have a curry too. Felt like a legit superpower for a while there.

        1. NicoleT*

          Same. I had to ask my husband to not cook meat while I was in the house and air the house out THOROUGHLY before I came home.

    2. Snuck*

      Agree. Speak up discreetly and directly to the person involved. The problem with being vague is that someone will come around sniffing to try to resolve the issue, that’s not good for your colleague. I presume your colleague knows at some level though – you don’t get that deep soaked in weed without having someone in your life saying “yo, you stink of weed” so maybe just point out that work has the same risks.

      If you don’t want to then you could ask for another desk on a pretext… “I would like to be closer to the toilets/lift/lunchroom” or “I find it very distracting being on the walkway” sort of stuff, but that makes you look like the problem.

    3. Unkempt Flatware*

      Sounds to me like she’s got the weed in her bag and jacket for it to keep smelling all day.

      1. Stitch*

        I was thinking maybe she was hotboxing or smoking in another enclosed area.

        I’m pro legalization but it does really stink and is as bad as colognes and scented products for migraines and nausea. It’s possible to take steps to control the smell.

      2. Asenath*

        Not necessarily. I’ve been mistaken for a smoker (of tobacco) when I was travelling with smokers, back in the day when that was not just common but allowed on public transportation, and although I also don’t smoke weed, I think the smell is as much or more “sticky” than that of tobacco. She could be living with someone who smokes weed regularly. But the advice is the same – tell her privately that you can smell it on her clothing, and (if you want to soften it a bit) that you get nauseous really easily due to your pregnancy, and the smell is making you feel sick.

        1. Yvette*

          I remember back in the day when smoking was allowed in bars and clubs, at the end of the night you would walk out at the end of an evening smelling as though you had smoked an entire pack yourself.

          1. RabbitRabbit*

            And having to keep bringing my stunk-up wool coat to the dry cleaners in my (young and poor 20s) was such a pain in the rear.

          2. Jamie Starr*

            Ahh, yes, the good old days. Heh. I have never been a smoker and I remember my shoulder-length hair reeking the next day, my throat would be scratchy, and my clothes would smell terrible. Good times!

            1. emmelemm*

              Ah yes, the long hair that catches the smell. I really am glad you can’t smoke in bars/restaurants any more.

          3. Lacey*

            Yes! When I was a kid I’d go to the bowling alley and come home smelling like a chain smoker.

          4. Koalafied*

            Having flashbacks to my college roommates and I Febrezing each other’s hair after leaving a smoky bar.

          5. L'étrangere*

            Oh yes, I remember coming home after an evening at the French bar and putting all my clothes out on the balcony to try to avoid having the whole apartment reeking by the morning. And then having to change the pillowcase the next day because my (short) hair alone had messed it up so badly. Ah, youth..

          6. GythaOgden*

            Yeah, it was awful. My parents knew I didn’t smoke, but they came close to thinking I did when I started going out as a teenager. My dad could spot nicotine stains on a singer’s fingers on TV, but he lost both parents to smoking related diseases before he was 30, so he had a real animus about it. What was really bad, though, was when I was in my first job after uni in 2001-02 and my colleagues smoked over meals out at lunchtime. So grateful for the bans a few years later!

            Apparently my parents expected me or my sister to try it, though. One thought I was more likely too; the other thought it was going to be my sister. Neither of us have had so much as a puff.

            I have never tried it, and I don’t drive, but the bizarre thing is that I have dreams where I do both, often at the same time. I’ve woken up wanting a cigarette before I realise I’ve never even touched one. The only way I can explain it is that I’m reliving some kind of past life…or an alternative, parallel one. Or am just trying it out when nothing can affect the real world.

        2. Cake or Death?*

          There’s a huge difference between cigarette smoke and weed smoke though. If you are in a car with someone smoking a cigarette, you will definitely smell like it. Weed smoke isn’t as strong and doesn’t cling to surfaces as much.

          I agree with Unkempt Flatware; she likely has some on her for it to smell that strong.

          1. Jamie Starr*

            Totally disagree. The other week we had a vendor come to our office to repair something and as soon as he walked by my desk it smelled like pot. The smell definitely clings to fabrics.

          2. Asenath*

            Back in the day, I could certainly smell weed smoke when no one in the vicinity was smoking at the time I smelled it. I’ve also noticed in on people who are not smoking at the time. The smell is very pervasive and lingering. I doubt if I’m the only one who can detect it that easily, because when recreational and medical use became legal in my area, the lingering smell from smoking it was an issue for many people living in apartment buildings, who didn’t distinguish between the undesirability of permitting smoking of tobacco and smoking of weed in their buildings.

            1. DJ Abbott*

              No one wants the stink of weed smoke in their home, and it’s just as common for people to be allergic to it. There is no difference in the undesirability.

              1. Splendid Colors*

                I am allergic to it and get both asthma attacks AND migraines. Of course my new apartment was surrounded by weed smokers on all sides (it’s a multistory building) and the balcony is above the part of the sidewalk where the tokers and cigarette smokers hang out. (There’s an alcove in the ground floor and a shade tree, so I can see why it’s The Spot.)

                The elevator reeks of weed after the tokers go back to their apartments, of course.

          3. Lacey*

            Oh I don’t know about that. Yesterday I was walking my dog and suddenly the strongest week smell made itself known. It couldn’t figure out where it was coming from, but as the cyclist in the distance came closer, it was very apparent that he was the source. And he certainly wasn’t smoking at that moment.

          4. Wants Green Things*

            Oh it absolutely is that strong and it absolutely permeates in any and all porous surfaces. You’ve gone noseblind to it. The rest of us could only be so lucky.

          5. L'étrangere*

            It’s been a long time since you shared a car with a weed smoker, Cake. Weed is quite different now and you can smell a smoker from across the street

          6. Canadian Librarian #72*

            I find that weed smoke doesn’t cling to things as badly as cigarette smoke does, but it definitely can cling, especially when someone is smoking frequently, if they’re doing it in their car, or in their house without good ventilation, and if they have an article of clothing they don’t wash frequently, like a jacket they take smoke breaks in. I’m a daily smoker (of weed, not cigs) and I’m very sensitive to the stigmatization of cannabis, but it is a reality that it has a smell and smokers of all kinds have to be cognizant of that and sensitive to their colleagues who can’t tolerate the smell for whatever reason (and pregnancy is a really good reason). Also, tbh, I just find it unprofessional to come to work reeking of anything, really – if you use medicinally during the work day (or recreationally – none of my business!), it’s incumbent on you to find ways to do so that don’t negatively impact your coworkers.

            1. Some Dude*

              Smokers also smoke more than cannabis users. A pack of cigarettes has about 20 grams of tobacco. A regular pot smoker might smoke a 1-2 grams a day, and not all at once.

      3. SheLooksFamiliar*

        I’m very sensitive to odor and fragrance. Smoke from tobacco, pot, hashish, and just about anything else you can toke is especially strong to me. I might not get physically sick from stale odor but I can still smell it loud and clear. So to speak.

    4. Batgirl*

      The weed smokers in our old neighbourhood must have got some sort of memo about the effects on their belongings because they all started smoking outside, even on really cold days. This meant my scent sensitive partner got a tailor made migraine if he ever wanted to open a window, hah.

    5. Artemesia*

      And don’t leave the solution vague. Suggest they get a jacket for the office and use a different smoking jacket. You can be vague about how the jacket got that way e.g. you may be around people who smoke weed — but you need to be clear that she needs to have a weed free wardrobe for the office and you don’t want to do anything that will get her in trouble — but this is making you sick.

      Smokers have no idea. I lived in a high rise and one family in the building was up in arms that someone was smoking weed in the stairwell and all sorts of tendentious announcements went out. I was in the elevator later with a young man taking his laundry down to the laundry room — you could hardly breathe for the weed smell and I don’t think he was at all aware of it.

      1. RagingADHD*

        It’s not the LWs job to figure out the solution for her. She can solve it any way she wants, as long as she solves it.

      2. Cohort 1*

        Suggest they get a jacket for the office and use a different smoking jacket.

        I once had a 12 yr old student whose mom was a smoker (tobacco). She smoked in the car on the 20 min. commute to school, and I presume in their house. He stunk of tobacco smoke. We did put his jacket out on the porch railing, which helped, but the smoke permeated his hair and clothes. Fortunately he was still socially clueless, so he didn’t mind having his jacket banned from the classroom and the windows kept open. I felt bad for him, both socially and physically. His mom was a really nice person so I can only assume she just didn’t recognize the problem.

        1. Avril Ludgateau*

          I went to elementary school with a girl in the same position. Kids were already mean to her for any number of childish non-reasons, and the stale cigarette smell that even permeated her text books didn’t help. Looking back, I have to say, I really judge her parents. Not that they smoked – we all have vices – but they did it so heavily around their child, and in a way their daughter clearly couldn’t escape. For a moment, forget even the smell, which was oppressive and alienating: what kind of effect did that amount of smoke have on this girl’s health?

    6. Seeking Second Childhood, CTA*

      It also stays on the clothes of family members. Do people pass drug tests if their family members smoke?

      1. Delta Delta*

        Yeah. Secondhand cannabis smoke should be insufficient to generate a positive test, unless the person is hotboxing on the regular.

      2. Cake or Death?*

        Well, clothes aren’t drug tested. And you’d have to be in a small enclosed area for hours on end surrounded by thick weed smoke for you to have second-hand exposure come up on a drug test.
        There’s very little THC in second-hand smoke, just like there’s very little nicotine in second-hand cigarette smoke.

    7. OP1*

      OP1 here:

      First and foremost, thank you all for your suggestions on phrasing. I don’t want to get her in trouble, I have no issues with weed under most circumstances, and frankly, I don’t work with her directly, so I don’t care about what she does or if she’s high at work. A few people mentioned that it might be dangerous for her to smoke on the job — it’s not. We’re just office drones in a highly regulated industry.

      I have wondered if she had weed in her bag, because that’s where the smell is the strongest. But I’m not going to start surreptitiously peeking through her stuff.

      All that said, it may all be a moot point as I suspect someone else beat me to the punch. Last week, she disappeared for two hours at lunch and came back smelling better. Then when she left she was very much NOT her normal, happy self. Mumbled goodbye and then shuffled off instead of making her usual small talk. Only time will tell, I haven’t crossed paths with her since, but fingers crossed I don’t have to say anything.

      Also, my pregnancy is not yet common knowledge at work and I’m not trying to make it common knowledge. My immediate team knows, but no one else does. I want to stem the tide of “how are you feeling?!” questions for as long as possible because, to be totally honest, I feel awful all the time and it’s exhausting to either say that or lie about it. It’s getting harder to hide, but at least I’m enjoying watching people’s faces as they look at me, think about whether to say something, and then decide they shouldn’t.

      1. Anonym*

        Ugh, OP, just here to share sympathy. I’m in early second trimester, feeling like crap, dreading telling my team (I only started 6 months ago), and had a sensitive nose even before pregnancy. Masks do help a little, at least. I’ve put one on when I don’t normally wear them outside just to limit stench and its accompanying effects.

        Glad the situation resolved itself for you, and hope your colleague got actionable info without facing a penalty for it.

        1. OP1*

          Ugh, I’m sorry stench has come for you as well. I feel like my most commonly used phrase these days is “WHAT IS THAT SMELL?!” It’s so bad that I can smell when our cats have been fed from upstairs and across the house.

          And I hope everything goes over well at work! Sending all the good vibes. :)

          1. CamJansen*

            I once hid a bulk sized bag if garlic bulbs under a cake dome in our basement and could STILL smell it two floors above with the basement door shut as if it was in my pockets. I didn’t want to waste it, but ended up throwing it out and we were a garlic free house for the remaining 5 months of my pregnancy.

            I also had a coworker whose desk was akin to a bath and body works endcap during that time. When I politely asked if she’d stop using scented lotion in our pod for a few months, I was met with “what am I supposed to use for my hands?!?”

            I’m standing in sympathy with you.

          2. Tinkerbell*

            One of my most vivid pregnancy memories was when my husband reheated microwave pizza… and I had a total meltdown over the smell proving he didn’t love me. Somehow. Pregnancy hormones are wild!

          3. Critical Rolls*

            I had to change soap because my *unscented* soap suddenly smelled like fermented death. Bodies be weird, but this at least will likely pass!

      2. Washi*

        Much sympathy! I’m about 8 months pregnant and have had nausea the entire time. Totally sympathize with wanting to keep it quiet as it is truly exhausting to be asked how I’m feeling all the time but have to pretend it’s all hunky dory (I’ve gotten weird reactions to being even semi-honest, so just going with “fine” at this point.) Surgical masks really do help though, not sure if that is an option? I work in home healthcare so I have to wear one anyway, but it’s actually been a godsend because I’m around a lot of funky smells and the mask both reduces the smell and makes my facial expressions in reaction to smells less obvious :)

      3. Mynona*

        I’m not pregnant, and I wouldn’t be able to work next to someone all day every day who smelled of weed. It’s just so strong and foul! I’m not surprised someone reported them.

      4. Observer*

        All that said, it may all be a moot point as I suspect someone else beat me to the punch.

        Not terribly surprising. That’s exactly the kind of scenario that I was thinking of.

      5. Hollywood Handshake*

        Just another recently pregnant lady offering sympathy. You’re not alone. I was sick this way all nine months of my pregnancy, but felt immediately better the moment I delivered a few weeks ago. It stinks (no pun intended)! Sorry you’re having this experience. It will be over soon enough!

      6. Cake or Death?*

        “I have wondered if she had weed in her bag, because that’s where the smell is the strongest. ”

        If it smells like straight skunk, and not like skunky smoke, it’s definitely weed in her bag.

        I’d just say something to her discreetly, most smokers would want to know.

      7. Betty*

        I totally sympathize with this– most of my pregnancy nausea happened before I was telling anyone, so just had to hope no one noticed the random puking after lunch at work. (FWIW, I did get some relief from gingins candy and from taking vitamin B6 + unisom at night [the latter exists as a combo prescription in Canada but not the US])
        I do think you can potentially say “I’ve been weirdly sensitive to smells lately” without necessarily disclosing the pregnancy, if you want.
        Best of luck to you!!!

      8. Anon Supervisor*

        I sympathize, OP. I work in a scent free office and since I quit smoking 10 years ago, developed some kind of hybrid bloodhound nose. I have to have unscented detergent and fabric softener, even though my husband is wistful for the smell of Tide, because even super mild scents can make me crazy (eyes itch and then I start getting a headache). About the only thing that doesn’t bother me is herbal and citrus bases. Anything that smells like sweet flowers or rose makes me want to commit arson.

    8. kittymommy*

      Seriously. The amount of friends who have argued with me that there is absolutely no possible way they smell of weed and if by some miracle they do it’s so subtle I can’t notice it and it would smell like babies and roses anyway do I can’t be offended by it is astounding.

      1. soontoberetired*

        They are all nose blind. All smokers, weed or cigars or cigarettes, smell of something. I worked in a non smoking office and we could tell when someone who smoked used the elevator – the smell on their clothes just lingered. Same things happen with people who where too much cologne or perfume – the smell follows them, but they just don’t notice.

        1. Anon Supervisor*

          Absolutely. When I quit smoking, I couldn’t believe how much people smelled like smoke and I didn’t even know they were smokers. For months after I quit I was constantly asking “WHAT STINKS IN HERE?” I’m sure people thought I was nuts.

      2. Texan In Exile*

        I was feeding a friend’s cat for a few weeks. She lives in an apartment building and every time I walked through the hall – masked – I could smell dope. Every single time. I couldn’t believe how strong it was.

        1. DJ Abbott*

          I live in a non-smoking building. One night I went to take the trash out and walked out of my door into a cloud of weed smoke. It was easy to identify which apartment it came from, and I reported it.
          I’m lucky it was weed and not cigarettes, because I have a very severe allergy to cigarettes.

          1. Splendid Colors*

            I have been reporting my neighbor for FIVE YEARS and the only thing my landlord will do is warn me to “stop violating your neighbor’s privacy.” Not only is smoking anything a lease violation, but possession of pot is illegal in Federally funded housing (as of 5/3/2022 it still is, idk about if the decriminalization bill passes).

    9. wine-dark sea*

      I went over to a friend’s house once, and she proudly told me how she only smokes on the balcony so that her house doesn’t smell like weed.

      …her entire house reeked of weed.

    10. Meep*

      My husband’s parents smoke and every time he comes back from visiting them, he smells like an ashtray. Despite the fact, that they smoke outside. It is not a fun smell regardless of if it’s tobacco or mj.

      1. Galadriel's Garden*

        Oh man, this. I love my MIL dearly but she smokes in her house and has for years, and I need to wash everything – my hair, my clothes, my body, any gifts she got me – immediately upon their entry into my house. Gift bags and tissue paper need to go straight to the trash, non-washable items need to go into the garage to air out. It just permeates *everything* to the extent that it’s overwhelming.

    11. Zephy*

      +1000000. I had someone in my office this morning who left all but visible stank trails behind him, like a Sim – disrespectful and gross no matter what the stank is, be it weed or tobacco or strong perfume or BO or anything, worse when it’s an illegal substance.

      1. Lydia*

        1. Weed isn’t illegal everywhere and I’m not sure why the fact that it is illegal in some places makes it somehow worse.
        2. Disrespect implies they’re doing it on purpose and many people who think they’re taking precautions don’t realize they’re still smelly.
        3. They’re not doing it at you, but you still get to mention it them if it’s bothering you.

    12. Brain the Brian*

      Another upvote on this comment: you absolutely do not want someone with power / authority to smell it and fire your coworker, LW1! (As an utter side note, I take medication that negatively interacts with marijuana smoke, even secondhand, so this would be a serious issue for me. Thanks to Alison for providing great wording for any future such interactions I need to have with coworkers.)

  2. Beth*

    OP1: I agree that the ideal option here would be to ask your coworker directly to help out with this. She has a vested interest in you not reporting this; I’m betting that if you make it clear you also don’t want to report her, she’ll be open to working with you on it.

    If that’s not possible for some reason, though, I think you can still ask to be reassigned to another desk. It might be as simple as pretending you don’t recognize the smell. “I’ve become really sensitive to smells while pregnant and I’m embarrassed to say that being around X is making me nauseous. I have no idea what the smell is, but it’s probably just my nose since I didn’t notice this before my pregnancy. Regardless, it’s making it hard to work; I’d really appreciate it if I could move to another desk” might be plenty to get what you need. After all, what is your manager going to do–walk over there and start sniffing her?

    1. Ms.Vader*

      Tbh the manager probably will thought hopefully with more tact. People have complained before about people with heavy body ordor and it would be up to the manager to discuss that with the person; so if they state this person smells, the manager will likely investigate. Now with the absurdity of drug laws in the States and ramifications if this person happens to be a BIPOC, I’d really recommend dealing directly with the person. And if it gets to the point they have to tell management, then they need to be upfront.

      1. Beth*

        If someone was complaining about terrible smells generally, I think you’re probably right–but the pregnancy piece actually meaningfully lowers the odds, I think! It’s well known that pregnancy can cause serious sensitivity to smells that are otherwise unoffensive, so OP having trouble here isn’t necessarily a reason to think the coworker actually smells bad in general–especially if OP emphasizes that this has only been an issue recently. (Yes, we know that the timeline has to do with OP being in office more…but if OP frames it as a pregnancy thing, I think there’s a real chance their manager won’t question it.)

        I do agree with you that working with the coworker is ideal, though. As I said originally, this suggestion is only for if that isn’t feasible for some reason.

        1. allathian*

          This is, of course, assuming that the LW’s employer knows about the pregnancy. I’m not in the US, but in Finland, where employee benefits in general and benefits related to pregnancy and childbearing in particular are much more employee-friendly than in the US. But even here, the pregnant person is obligated to give notice about their impending maternity leave just two months before their due date (it’s called maternity leave regardless of the gender of the pregnant person).

          1. Not a cat*

            Good for you! I worked for a Finnish company w/ remote employees in the states. Unfortunately, the US people didn’t benefit from the Finnish mandates and were extra terrible. I think it was because Head US Guy was a workaholic. For instance we had a standing Sunday AM call :(

        2. Random European*

          While emphasizing the pregnancy bit might lower the odds right here and now, as you say, that might end up with the manager going with a temporary fix, like a move to another desk for a few months. And, as OP doesn’t really at this point seem to know how their colleague smells outside of pregnancy, I’d worry that might just be postponing the awkwardness.

        3. Nanani*

          But wouldn’t manager notice the pot smell?
          I thought they wanted to not bring management to their corner of the building at all.

      2. Artemesia*

        If you say X smells, the manager will go take a sniff and know instantly what the smell is and this puts the co-worker at great risk in this state. Even if they sort of know, they don’t need to confront it — but if someone complains they will. She needs to bite the bullet and talk with the co-worker making clear that is is making her sick but she has no interest in causing her trouble — so a dope free work outfit is imperative. Maybe she has to keep her work outfits on a rack in the garage — or they can make a room in the apartment dope free, whatever. Maybe she keeps tops and jackets in a locker at work — or in a suitcase in her trunk. We don’t know what storage resources she may have, but she needs to figure out something.

        And even if weed were legal which it is in my state, it is reasonable to not have to breathe the stink of it at work.

        1. Be kind, rewind*

          Will they really, though? What manager is going to be like, I heard X smells, let me go sniff her and figure out what it is!

          1. Seeking Second Childhood, CTA*

            Considering we’ve had letters about managers telling co-workers to sniff each other? I’d say it’s pretty much inevitable. Probably they wouldn’t put their nose to clothing and sniff, but I bet they would come into the office and pay attention to any odor.

          2. General von Klinkerhoffen*

            I think it would be likely the next time the manager found herself in their part of the office she might be unable to help herself having a discreet sniff. Like, does LW just have pregnancy-nose, or is there actually a noticeable smell around here? I think that’s normal human curiosity.

            If she then recognised the smell (I wouldn’t) she might feel obliged to act on it. Like, “wait, oh no, that’s weed, ah crap”.

            1. Observer*

              Like, does LW just have pregnancy-nose, or is there actually a noticeable smell around here? I think that’s normal human curiosity.

              It’s not just curiosity. If there is a smell that’s bad enough to make someone feel sick, that’s something that a manager can’t ignore. And it’s reasonable to want to know if it’s just “pregnancy nose”, in which case you just move the person if you can, or something that would affect others as well.

    2. nnn*

      Building on this, if for whatever reason you do have to mention it to someone other than the co-worker in question, you could also act as though you think it’s cigarette smoke. If you’re a person who’s particularly scrupulous about not lying, you could just refer to it as “smoking.”

      Example: “I’ve become particularly sensitive to the smell of smoke while pregnant. Sometimes even if a person doesn’t smoke themselves but a member of their household smokes, I can still smell it on their clothes and it makes me nauseous, and unfortunately I seem to be having this kind of reaction to X.”

      The benefits of this are you aren’t narcing by mentioning marijuana and also aren’t raising the spectre of a mysterious smell that the manager would go investigate themselves – you’re even leaving room for the possibility that your co-worker isn’t the one doing the smoking.

      1. MK*

        Yes, I don’t think the OP needs to mention marijuana specifically, either to the person involved or anyone she may have to report it to. Given that it’s illegal and the stigma around it in general, it would lower the potential for drama if the OP just pretended to think it’s cigarettes.

      2. JoleneCarlDean*

        This is what I would do. Just call it “smoke.”
        I would not address with the coworker bc, realistically, I do not think there is anything she can do about it (other than stop smoking, which she is unlikely to do.) Its not just her jacket – it’s her hair, skin, clothes, purse…everything.
        If you raise with her, she will either (a) be a “how dare you try to infringe MY FREEDOM!!” type, which I’ve gotten from more than one smoker, or (b) try in earnest to remedy, but still smell like a walking ashtray.
        Either way, you still need to be moved, so just talk to HR and frame as “smoking”

      3. Smithy*

        I think this is a solid approach. And while it might highlight the OP as a bit naïve – it may also be a case where technically the company forbids marijuana but this particularly manager isn’t going to chase an employee due to their “perfume”. And given that pregnancy nose is a thing that people will either be sensitive to or not familiar with, it may also give credence to an idea that OP thinks Coworker’s perfume smells like rotting fish.

      4. Observer*

        also aren’t raising the spectre of a mysterious smell that the manager would go investigate themselves

        That’s not really true. Because the problem here is that the manager now has a problem on their hands – someone’s smoke is string enough that OP smells it. And the manager needs to know if it’s strong enough to bother other people. Because if it is, then the manager needs to try to ameliorate the situation, especially with tobacco smoke.

        you’re even leaving room for the possibility that your co-worker isn’t the one doing the smoking.

        True.

    3. RagingADHD*

      The LW said in a comment she hasn’t disclosed the pg at work and wants to avoid doing so as long as possible.

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

      The thing is if the OP can smell it so does everyone else. It’s just that it doesn’t bother others to the degree of the OP or they are not saying it bothers them
      I think the OP should be kind and let the coworker know that she smells and ask that she do something about it. I just hope she doesn’t start spraying febreeze or some perfume which will just make matters worse.

    5. Observer*

      After all, what is your manager going to do–walk over there and start sniffing her?

      Yes. Sure, if the manager is sane, they are not going to go over to CW and start sniffing her directly. But they probably would go over the OP’s desk and start sniffing. Or send facilities to do it. Because if someone came to me and told me that there is a bad smell that’s bad enough that they need to change their seat, I would want to know what is going on. I would not be jumping to weed, but there are so many possibilities that need to be taken care of that I would not feel comfortable with JUST moving the person.

      1. GythaOgden*

        Yup. Our building has had a few pungent issues due to spoiled food behind the fridge and we in Facilities are the ones handling it. I have zero sense of smell but had to go into the affected kitchen to do the routine flushing for legionella and immediately realised why the door had been left propped open. It took a while to work out what it was but the people who were returning to the office and were using the kitchen again naturally just wanted it to Go Away. We even called Pest Control to make sure it wasn’t a dead animal that had got in.

        We’d be all over it whatever it was. We’d go up. We’d try and diagnose it. We’re doing our job to keep people able to work in an office building. It looks like it’s been sorted out but it’s a routine thing and not really something that can be hidden or ignored for terribly long. I recognise the sensitivities involved here but they wouldn’t prevent us from doing our job.

    6. alienor*

      If they were just asking to move to another desk, they might not even have to single out X as being the source of the smell. I remember when I was pregnant, I was sensitive to all sorts of smells like carpet, paint, cleaning products etc. If they said “I’m pregnant and there’s a smell in my work area that’s making me nauseated” it could be almost anything.

  3. Butter Makes Things Better*

    For OP #3, did anything else happen during the month between the first convo with your boss and receiving the PIP that could explain why it turned into a PIP? Any feedback from her or issues with what’s listed on the PIP? My sense is probably not, given how conscientious OP sounds, but asking because a lot can happen in a month.

    If not, sorry to OP for having a boss this oblivious or incompetent!

    1. Stitch*

      At least in my organization, supervising a PIP is a big painful process and I can’t fathom how anyone could accidentally put someone on it. When we put someone on a PIP (the only time I’ve done it, person in question succeeded, thank goodness, and we got to end it early) we had multiple meetings about the exact goals and then weekly meetings about the PIP and the progress (which we had to document as well). It’s definitely concerning.

      1. NoviceManagerGuy*

        It’s definitely possible that the manager went to HR or her manager for advice, miscommunicated, and got guided into a PIP when it isn’t appropriate. It’s also possible that the things OP identified themselves as struggling with a truly basic job expectations and that once this was raised, it became clear to management that this was a fundamental problem.

        1. Hannah Lee*

          While that 2nd situation may be true, it seems like that’s the kind of thing you’d have a conversation about first, before deploying a PIP, because giving someone a review that says everything is fine, then pivoting to a PIP without a step in between seems … .not great.

          1. Mallory Janis Ian*

            Yes, where I work a manager can’t initiate a PIP without demonstrating that there have been progressive conversations with the employee with little to no improvement. They can’t just go straight for a PIP; HR would redirect them to the conversations that would need to have happened first.

        2. Gan Ainm*

          I think this seems likely, but it’s a failure in HRs part too then I would think. At our company to put someone on a pip HR is first going to ask how long the issue has been going on, what kind of coaching you’ve done thus far, how serious/ direct have the conversations been, have you warned the person the next step is a pip… especially with a new manager, you would think HR would be guiding this process a bit more.

          1. NoviceManagerGuy*

            Yes, anything like this is only possible if HR isn’t very good or is overeager about PIPs.

      2. The OTHER Other.*

        I wonder whether the miscommunication is by the LW. She says “My boss expressed that I was managing a project to her standards” but follows with “I still took responsibility for my mistakes”. It seems like the first clause is missing a “not”, which would be crucial. If there isn’t a typo and no other issue came up then it’s a terrible reaction by the boss.

        I don’t see how putting someone on a PIP could happen by accident but it seems a huge overreaction on her part, OP does say this is the boss’s first time managing so maybe she doesn’t really understand what a PIP is and thinks it’s for employee development? But developing the skills of your reports should not come with the threat of a “within three months, or you’re fired!” deadline.

        1. amcb13*

          I read it as “even though my boss said things were going fine, I proactively identified areas where I could have done better.”

        2. Polly Hedron*

          The OTHER Other. figured it out: LW2 responded (as AE*, below) that the first clause is missing a “not” and should have been

          During a quarterly performance review, my boss expressed that I was not managing a project to her standards.

          1. fluffy*

            That definitely changes the nature of the question significantly. I hope Allison sees the correction and re-answers based on that.

  4. staceyizme*

    I don’t know if it’s going to be possible to keep this between you and your colleague, OP1. She’s got a challenge ahead of her. You can’t be the only one who is affected by it and I’m not sure a smoking jacket or anything similar would help much because it wouldn’t cover her hair, her bag etc. She’d need to be systematic, attentive and consistent to eliminate the scent and she doesn’t sound like she’s taken any precautions so far. Could you just ask to be moved die to “a fragrance sensitivity “? You don’t have to specify what the scent is that’s triggering you. A general plea to scent-induced nausea will hopefully suffice. The concern about possible impact if management catches on is kind. But this might be less a case of “if” and more a case of “when” they do so.

    1. Princess Xena*

      She might not realize how strongly the smell is sticking to her. People become nose blind to smells. Additionally, it would be kind to let her know that there’s a very obvious tell to a behavior that could get her into an enormous amount of legal trouble.

    2. Just Your Everyday Crone*

      Changing the delivery form might help though, e.g. edibles or vape pen.

      1. Pool Lounger*

        Edibles would help, vape oen is variable. I dated someone who vaped all the time, and you could still smell the weed on him. Definitely not as bad, but it was there for sure. (As an aside, I’m always surprised when people still seem to be smoking pot. Everyone I see doing it is either vaping or eating gummies.)

        1. Feral Humanist*

          Access to legal weed means access to alternative delivery systems. I didn’t hear much about vaping until it legalized. People have obviously been making brownies and such for years, but that’s a lot more work than just buying a tin of gummies at your local dispensary. So the fact that it’s not legal in OP1’s state probably means her coworker has fewer options.

      2. cubone*

        People are so quick to recommend edibles, but they don’t have the same effect on everyone. I have a friend who smoked joints daily for years and has yet to find an edible that hasn’t made her extremely nauseous. Frankly, I also find edibles to be completely hit and miss, either way way too high a dose or zero effect at all. The consistency of edibles is a huge problem in most places, even where it’s legalized. Smoking or vaping can be much easier to dose correctly for some people.

        1. Some Dude*

          I hate edibles. They are metabolized differently and give a different high. They also take a while to kick in and last for a long time. It is way easier to dose smoking/vaping, not to mention its less processed to use flower. I also like the ritual of grinding weed and smoking/vaporizing it. I have a dry herb vaporizer that cuts down on the smell (although not completely). I got into dry herb vaporizers because I didn’t want to reek of weed in the house and blow weed smoke into my neighbors yard (I’m in a legal state). A decent dry herb vaporizer costs about the same as a decent water pipe, which is much more expensive than rolling papers and a bic lighter.

  5. Allonge*

    LW4 – just to say don’t let anyone tell you it does not matter because it’s ‘not a lot of money’. First, it obviously matters to some people, second, if it’s not a lot of money it should not be an issue for the company to repay you, and third – as you say, it does not matter – you were owed that money or benefits, and that’s the end of it.

    I am lucky enough that I would probably not notice the lack of money but this is the kind of thing that sticks with me for decades.

    1. Iron Chef Boyardee*

      Just want to reinforce what Allonge said.

      “don’t let anyone tell you it does not matter because it’s ‘not a lot of money’.”

      It may not be a lot of money to them, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a lot to you/

      As far as Allonge’s being “lucky enough that I would probably not notice the lack of money” – you, and anyone else fortunate to be in similar circumstances, may not notice it, but it’s still your money.

      1. Persephone Mulberry*

        Seconding both of these. I once emailed our HR person because they miscalculated my 401(k) match by $6. I almost didn’t, because who makes a fuss over $6? Who even notices a missing $6? (Me, obviously.) But it was part of my compensation that they owed me, and I knew if I didn’t speak up it would eat at me forever. And FWIW, HR person apologized for the error and the missing amount was deposited the next business day.

        1. Hazel*

          HR should always be mortified and apologize if they make an error with anyone’s pay!

        2. Anonym*

          Listen, you may have helped uncover some sort of issue that could have cost others a lot more. You did the right thing!

          1. Persephone Mulberry*

            I hadn’t thought about this, but you’re absolutely correct! They miscalculated part of a bonus at 75% match instead of 80%. If they did it on my check, they might have done it to everybody on this bonus cycle.

        3. TheRain'sSmallHands*

          I run a small consulting company – everyone is 1099 contractors. Because its small, I manually input their hours (they bill me). Although I double check, I’m not perfect and sometimes make mistakes. Bills get misplaced (sometimes they forget to send them), hours get mistyped. I tell my guys when they start “I’m human, I make mistakes….check your payments and make sure they match and get back to me if they don’t. I make mistakes, but I’ll fix them.”

          Its way better now that Quickbooks Desktop does ACH payments off of bills from the new version – one chance to screw up instead of two.

        4. bishbah*

          My HR once put an extra $13 of my pay into my HSA, which put me over the maximum contribution. Their solution was to pay me another $2 or so to cover the taxes on the overage (plus the tax on the extra income itself). All because it was too complicated for them to reverse properly.

        5. Maggie Perhaps*

          I’ve done the opposite for similar reasons. I was changing from part time to full time at the same time that management was doing paperwork for annual raises. Something got confused and I ended up getting a raise twice. I called payroll to let them know and to get it corrected. They didn’t correct it, so it was a nice little perk for me, but it was an error and I wanted it fixed because I was aware of it! (And because I was worried they’d claw it back at a later point.)

      2. TheRain'sSmallHands*

        Also, depending on the size of the company – a lot of small amounts of money can add up to a lot of money.

    2. Your local password resetter*

      Agreed. Messing with people’s paychecks is a huge deal, and they handled this really badly.
      Get your money back.

    3. Not so targeted advertising*

      I just want everyone to know that I got an ad for weed right smack in the middle of Q1.

    4. Hazel*

      I also agree with Allonge. This sort of thing infuriates me, and the amount doesn’t matter. The company doesn’t get to decide they’ll just keep your money and then give you excuses when you ask for it to be returned! Just no.

    5. MK*

      I remember a lecture about cyber crime where the lecturer said that smart criminals don’t use software to steal 4 million from a bank account, they steal 1 euro from 4 million bank accounts. This may be an insignificant amount for the individual workers, but my guess on this situation is that someone made a not-insignificant-amount mistake by neglecting to get a refund from the transit company, and now it’s too late, they can’t get a refund, the transit cards (or whatever) are probably expired, and the company doesn’t want to reimburse their employees.

    6. BRR*

      Whenever I’m owed money by a company and told “it’s not a lot of money” I reply with “great so than it won’t be an issue getting it to me” or “oh so will you give me my money and an extra $X since it’s not a lot?”

      I wonder if they couldn’t figure out how to process it at the time. I haven’t used transit benefits for many years so I can’t recall but I also wonder if the way they’re set up means you can’t adjust mid year, for 2020, and if they don’t roll over.

      1. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

        I could totally see not wanting to go through the hassle of ending and reimbursing in 2020 because they might have been thinking of the hassle of ending, reimbursing, and then starting them again, especially if the enrollment is set up for 1x/year. At the time, no one knew if things would be shut down for 3 weeks or 3 months. By 2021, though, you’d think they’d have figured out a way to reimburse for 2020 and then just repeat the process in 2021 and 2022. However, if it was a big, gnarly PITA to fix, and people being people, I can easily imagine a benefits administrator just ignoring this until enough people complained since it isn’t a big money/life-or-death benefit.

    7. Falling Diphthong*

      If it’s not a lot of money it should not be an issue for the company to repay you.
      This for all of these. If it’s a big deal to one party and (allegedly) not to the other, then obviously you quickly settle things the way the former wants. Since it’s not a big deal to the latter.

    8. Cmdrshpard*

      I actually am not sure if the company is legally allowed to reimburse the money.

      I think a lot of pre-tax payroll deductions are use it or lose it in the plan year. Flex spending, dependant care, etc… And the funds can only be disbursed for an eligible use. When you are fired or quit you lose any remaining balance.

      Since they were pretax deductions, your taxable income for the 2020 year would have to be recalculated, and you would end up having to file an amended tax return to properly show that you actually earned more in 2020.

      My understanding is they stopped the deductions after April 2020. Info think this is a much bigger headache than it is worth for all involved.

      1. Cmdrshpard*

        “When your employment with your current employer ends, you’ll lose access to your current commuter benefits account and any remaining funds on the official date of your termination. ”

        “Compensation reduction amounts not refundable. Unless an election is revoked in a manner consistent with paragraph (c) of this Q / A –14, an employee may not subsequently receive the compensation (in cash or any form other than by payment of a qualified transportation fringe under the employer’s plan).”

        https://help.zenefits.com/Commuter_Benefits/FAQs_About_Commuter_Benefits/05-What_Happens_to_My_Commuter_Benefits_Funds_When_I_Leave_My_Company/#:~:text=Any%20unused%20commuter%20benefits%20funds,for%20up%20to%2090%20days.

        1. Cmdrshpard*

          This provides a bit more info to direct situation at hand. IANAL but it seems the money should roll over (not sure how long) and can be used for other eligible commuter expenses. (parking, ride share etc ..) But it can’t be reimbursed/refunded.

          “The IRS released Information Letter 2020-0024 in response to an inquiry it received from a qualified transportation plan participant with unused transit benefits due to COIVD-19…..However, in Information Letter 2020-0024 the IRS cautions that the qualified transportation plan regulations do not authorize cash refunds of qualified transportation fringe benefits that are provided through a compensation reduction agreement.”

          https://www.wagnerlawgroup.com/blog/2020/11/irs-confirms-options-for-unused-qualified-transportation-benefits-due-to-covid-19/

        2. ArtK*

          That applies to a benefit paid for entirely by the company. In the OP’s case, the employees paid for the cards through payroll deduction. Pre-tax, that’s true, but it’s still the employee’s money.

          1. Cmdrshpard*

            No the “Compensation reduction amounts not refundable.” Means pre-tax payroll deductions.

            This is a known issue that needs a policy/legislative solution. New York times wrote an article about it. Because the money taken out reduced taxable income it is locked in so that it has to be used for the specific reason/expense. It can be rolled over indefinitely until you switch jobs. But if OP is fully remote now they can’t get it back. Reducing taxable income and then getting that amount in cash would be double dipping.

        3. MCMonkeyBean*

          This is a completely different situation and not remotely comparable. This isn’t losing access to benefits, this is being charged for benefits that were never actually received or really even offered. The company took money for something they never had any possibility of actually providing. They need to give the money back.

      2. Presea*

        Even if it is the case that affected employees can’t legally be reimbursed, then HR should still explain this clearly to everyone affected and apologize profusely and, if possible, make them whole in some other way.

        1. Cmdrshpard*

          I agree the company should explain everything what is happening or what happened.

          But I disagree that it is up to the company to make them whole in another way. The pandemic was not the companies fault, it messed up a lot of things for a lot of people. Is it crappy that the employees are out the money yes. But in the end I think this is just another unforseen consequence of the pandemic.

          1. Presea*

            I would say that even though the pandemic was not the company’s fault, the company still has withheld a portion of all affected employee’s compensation for two years. If absolutely nothing else, that could be spun into some horrid PR or even a lawsuit (even if said lawsuit might not have legs to get anywhere), so I stand by my opinion that the company should make the affected employees whole.

          2. Miss Muffet*

            Eh, maybe for that one month it would have been fine to say, hey, pandemic, very tricky situation here….but beyond that, they could have figured out a way to manage it.
            Pretax stuff can be tricky, and many commuter benefits require a quite-early election for the coming month. But the company should be able to figure out how to manage it after that first month’s issue. And even then – many, many companies were trying to figure out how to fix even that first month’s commuter stuff (since the lockdowns started after people might have elected for April). They can do it.

          3. The OTHER Other.*

            This really depends on whether the company spent to money on the transit cards (or whatever format) or not. If they bought cards which were useless because of the pandemic, that’s not anyone’s fault. But if they collected the money and didn’t buy the cards, then they owe it back to the employees. At this point the company is stonewalling, and such lack of transparency makes me lean towards the 2nd scenario.

      3. MCMonkeyBean*

        I don’t think this is correct because most people do their individual income taxes on a cash basis where the year you actually receive the money is what matters, rather than when you earned it. I don’t see any reason the money should not just be added to their next paycheck. There shouldn’t be any need to restate anything.

    9. RebelwithMouseyHair*

      ooooh yes! I was being petty insisting on being reimbursed when I bought a bar of soap for the loo, but it was also to impress on the boss that one of their responsibilities is making sure we have enough of everything before they waltz off to their country home with no signal.
      It took him about six months to give me the two euros it cost me, and I kept the coin on my desk for several more months, just to let him know I didn’t need the money.
      I mean, would he rather I call the health and safety officer to ask for them to inspect the premises?

    10. EngineeringFun*

      I was leaving academia to go back industry and a startup offered me below my teaching salary and below the salary I was making with just a masters not a new PHD. My response was “for what?” I thought they were offering me a part time or contract job. Not the best response on my part. The CEO got real mad yelling about how I was missing an opportunity. Ha! That shows how he treats his employees. I now make double that offer!

    11. Governmint Condition*

      We have a program like this here. It is administered by an outside vendor who provides cards to buy your transit fares with. The vendor lost a bid to a new one. They are basically making it very difficult to transfer the outstanding balances to the new company, probably out of spite. HR is trying to help, but there’s only so much they can do. They may have to take legal action, but as a government employer, they can’t legally reimburse anybody directly.

    12. The OTHER Other.*

      I’m amazed this company has shrugged and handwaved through this for this long. It’s been TWO YEARS.

    1. Kella*

      OP doesn’t want her coworker *fired*, she just wants her exposure to the scent to be reduced. Talking directly to her coworker is the logical thing to do. Reporting her is overkill.

    2. Scarlet2*

      So you’d be fine having the coworker fired and maybe even getting in legal trouble just to spare OP an uncomfortable discussion? Over someone who smokes pot in their own time?
      Wow.

      1. Bluest Monday*

        Coworker could be reeking because of someone in their household smoking pot. Would not be fair to lose a job in this circumstance. If you can buy pot, you can buy an air cleaner. And odor eliminator spray. And wash your clothes. No need to reek.

          1. Bluest Monday*

            I think Alison has commented in the past that tattling is not really a thing in the workplace. OP can go to their manager first, not directly to HR. AAM is full of letters by people who are too uncomfortable to say things.

    3. Beth*

      You wouldn’t feel bad getting someone potentially fired and potentially in legal trouble over an unpleasant scent? Even if you don’t personally approve of weed, you must see how disproportionate that is.

      1. Bluest Monday*

        I doubt OP is the only one noticing the scent unless coworker doesn’t use the bathroom, go to meetings, or go in any other common area. OP is not in the wrong here no matter what they decide to do. It’s more than just unpleasant, it’s making them sick and they have a right not to be made sick in the workplace.

        1. ecnaseener*

          Having a right doesn’t mean they can’t ask the person to address the problem like a rational adult. It’s called human decency.

          1. Bluest Monday*

            Nobody says they couldn’t ask the person, not mutually exclusive. OP being reluctant to confront this coworker about their odor hardly makes them an indecent human being. AAM is full of letters from people who are scared of directness and confrontation.

          1. Bluest Monday*

            People have jumped to the conclusion that coworker will be fired if OP tells their manager. There is no evidence that that would happen! Or that coworker will listen to OP!

            1. Kella*

              OP literally says “the application process for this job requires a drug test and weed is illegal in the state where we work, so telling my manager what’s up could get her in serious trouble.” If they are drug testing in order to work there, there is a good chance that testing positive on a drug test while employed could get you fired.

        2. Annie Moose*

          This is a situation where the coworker obviously has no idea she’s making OP sick! Putting someone at serious risk of being fired because they are unwittingly making you nauseous is a horrible way to handle the situation, and yes, I do think OP would be in the wrong if she took that route as opposed to actually letting the coworker know what’s going on! The coworker can’t fix the problem if she doesn’t know the problem exists.

    4. Mid*

      I would. Why wouldn’t you just talk to the person directly first? Same as you would if they had too much perfume, or smelled like cigarettes, or kept eating durian in the office. Talk to someone directly first, and then you can take further action if needed.

      1. Bluest Monday*

        Come on, these are difficult conversations that not everyone is comfortable having. People are afraid on here to confront coworkers about less sensitive issues than odor, for heaven’s sake. Manager make the big bucks and should have to deal with these things.

        1. metadata minion*

          Complaining about the smell of tobacco or perfume on someone’s clothes is unlikely to get them fired or reported to the police. I hate confrontation but I think I have a responsibility to not risk getting someone fired just because I don’t want to have a difficult conversation.

        2. pancakes*

          The simple fact that any of us can point to people online who are afraid of even the most minor confrontation is not in itself an argument in favor of dodging any particular confrontation. That’s just the way some people are. The fact that they exist doesn’t oblige you to become the same sort of person.

          1. Eldritch Office Worker*

            And in fact a solid chunk of advice on this blog is “get over it and have the conversation”, though Alison puts it more tactfully.

          2. Bluest Monday*

            Not people online, people on AAM! That’s half the letters, dodging confrontation about the most egregious of offenses! and the response is “use your words”. It’s like some of you haven’t been reading here long, not to mention that OP has to get within breathing distance of coworker to have this talk with them. Nobody is obliged to be like anybody.

            1. pancakes*

              Yes, I understood that’s what you meant. I’m not following as to why you seem to think the existence of many letters from people who are terribly hesitant to have even a mild confrontation indicates that it’s perfectly fine to be one of them? Yes, there are many people who have written in for advice about having done precisely that. It doesn’t follow that you would be doing the right thing in any particular situation by emulating them. No, of course you’re not “obliged” to try to behave more like someone who doesn’t avoid confrontation, but that doesn’t make it advisable or sensible to avoid any and all confrontation.

              The letter writer is “within breathing distance” of their coworker as it is because 1) that’s what the letter is about, breathing in the smell of weed that clings to the coworker, and 2) the letter specifies they are “cube neighbor[s].” It’s absurd to use not wanting to be physically near them as an excuse to avoid a conversation.

        3. RagingADHD*

          The fact that people are afraid to have ordinary conversations with their coworkers is not a good thing. Nor is it a good reason to needlessly screw over one’s coworker.

          Anxiety is sympathetic until you start actually hurting other people. Then it’s just a lame excuse for being a massive jerk.

          1. Scarlet2*

            THIS. Having difficult conversations sometimes is part of being an adult. And I say that as someone who’s generally anxious and hates conflict at work.

          2. Bluest Monday*

            One does not have to be anxious to shy away from confrontation. So funny I’m defending this, because I’m blunt and direct and confrontation does not scare or bother me. But that doesn’t make OP potentially a jerk or anyone else in a similar position. Nobody is saying coworker is a jerk for coming to work smelly. Coworker could be referred to EAP or something, many illegal drug users have not lost their job but received treatment instead. Why jump to the worst possible outcome?

            1. Meg*

              Lol I’d quit if my job tried to make me go to treatment for my cannabis habit. The problem is the smell for the OP, not the fact that the employee smokes.

            2. Observer*

              Actually, *IF* the OP were to go to HR / Management before talking to the coworker, they WOULD be a jerk, unless there was a reason to think that the coworker would react in a really bad way (eg violent etc.) It doesn’t really matter why. Getting someone into that much trouble when there is another way, even a very uncomfortable way, is just not a decent way to behave.

              Now, the OP actually is willing to talk to her coworker, so that’s not really an issue. But I’m calling it out, because I really don’t think it’s ok to defend (even theoretically) acting this way in general.

            3. pancakes*

              This is a very muddled point of view that I’m not sure I follow, but “that doesn’t make OP potentially a jerk” is simply a matter of opinion, not an argument for or against anything in particular. I think

              1. pancakes*

                Sorry, I hit Submit too soon. I meant to say, I think they would be a jerk to escalate this to management without having even a single conversation about the scent with their coworker first. A big jerk. It’s also not something they want to do themselves, which you don’t seem to be taking into consideration at all.

                I don’t know why you’re talking about “treatment.” There is no indication that the coworker is addicted to drugs. The fact that their clothes or hair or both smell does not mean they are addicted to marijuana.

            4. RagingADHD*

              I do think Coworker is being kind of a jerk for coming to work smelly. They should have common sense and think ahead. That’s mitigated by the assumption that for whatever reason they just can’t smell themselves. Maybe jerk factor 2-3 on a scale of 10.

              When is coworker is unknowingly bothering you with an easily-solved habit/behavior, it is always a jerk move to complain behind their back to management, without even attempting to have a casual conversation first. Jerk factor 6-7.

              To do so, knowing that there is a risk of serious repercussions on the coworker, is a massive jerk move. At least an 8/10. If management is known to be trigger-happy, could go as high as 10/10.

        4. Observer*

          Come on, these are difficult conversations that not everyone is comfortable having.

          Yes, and as Alison repeatedly points out, if you’re an adult you need to learn to have difficult conversations. (She’s more polite about than I am, but that’s what it comes down to.)

          This is especially true when the potential consequences of avoiding the conversation are so severe. Subjecting your coworker to a “talking to” by their manager so you can duck out on a difficult conversation? OK, I hear it. Getting them FIRED? Given what the OP says, that’s a real possibility. You don’t do that without good reason. Like, if you have to worry that someone might get violent.

          Now, if the OP had talked to the CW who refused to try to ameliorate the situation, that would be different. But the decent thing to do is to have the difficult conversation.

          1. Bluest Monday*

            There are MANY adults who have written here who wrote in because they did not want to have a difficult conversation. Being non-confrontational does not mean you aren’t an adult. Yes, there are times that the difficult conversation must be had, and I’ve been on the receiving end of an anonymous complaint and yes I thought it was childish. But there are times that managers must intervene.

            1. Observer*

              Being non-confrontational does not mean you aren’t an adult.

              Correct. But being so non-confrontational that you would put a person’s job at risk rather than talking to them is NOT the behavior of a mature and reasonable adult.

            2. pancakes*

              Why is this one of those times, in your view? You’re making conclusions, not arguments.

        5. Parakeet*

          I am one of the people who is afraid of minor confrontations, and while I would find this one a little awkward, I would absolutely rather have it than risk getting someone fired or in legal trouble. I realize different people with the same issues can have different fears and triggers around them, so my being fine with the idea of having it doesn’t mean that a similarly anxious person would also be, but I think this is one where one just has to power through. The potential stakes for the other person are just too high.

          And it’s actually pretty low on the scale of difficult conversations, IMO. It’s not like a conversation about, say, body odor. Thanks to the OP’s update we know it’s probably a moot point now anyway, someone else had the conversation, but it’s not like it’s a secret that some forms of weed have a distinctive smell. The other person probably just didn’t realize how much she smelled like weed because she’s used to it.

    5. Snuck*

      FWIW voyager1 I kind of understand your position.

      It’s illegal where they are living, the company has a policy against it I presume given the drug screens, and we don’t know the nature of their work but there could be ramifications if a person has it in their system while working (I know people who remotely drive Very Super Large Mining Trucks from an office in the city, thousands of kilometres away in minesite via remote control!).

      The person smoking has to have an inkling that there’s a risk they stink. If you can’t have the ‘uncomfortable’ conversation with them then an anonymous report is another option. It’s not ideal, but by the time a person is writing in to an advice column it’s usually not just a simple conversation or that’d be done already. Possibly this person (the Op, the other party) cannot do the uncomfortable well…

      1. allathian*

        Yeah, this. My response might be different if weed was legal in the LW’s area, but it’s not. The LW would be doing the coworker a favor by telling them that they can smell an illegal substance on the coworker’s jacket. It’s not a matter of if, but when someone in management will become aware of the smell and suspect that she’s smoking, and because it’s illegal in her area, she’d be facing legal trouble, and in all probability she’d be fired.

        I’m not opposed to edibles, but weed smoke makes me feel sick, even worse than tobacco. We’re trying to eliminate tobacco smoking here, so I doubt smoking weed will become legal any time soon…

        1. Scarlet2*

          Which is why going straight to an anonymous report would be a pretty awful thing to do.

            1. ecnaseener*

              But you just agreed with Snuck and voyager1 that reporting the person was totally fine.

        2. Julia*

          Personally I don’t think it makes it worse that weed is illegal in their state. Weed being illegal is a ridiculous injustice, nothing more, and I think all of us have a social responsibility to ensure nobody gets arrested for weed use where we can help it.

          I do have a problem with showing up to work high, though. I don’t think “waking and baking” is much better than showing up to work drunk, and if this coworker really reeks of weed all the time, it seems likely that she’s actually high, not just smelling from when she smoked yesterday evening in different clothes.

          Because LW’s state has a disproportionate punishment for this offense, I’d still be reluctant to report it. But I do think if that were NOT the case, it would be OK to report to the employer. I would certainly report it if someone came in smelling like alcohol every day.

          1. Meg*

            Thank you!! It’s not any worse because the OPs state has unjust laws about cannabis.

        3. Liz T*

          I think maybe there was a nesting fail, and you didn’t mean to “Yeah, this” someone advocating an anonymous report.

        4. Meg*

          I never would have been able to quit smoking cigarettes without (illegal) cannabis.

      2. Raboot*

        > by the time a person is writing in to an advice column it’s usually not just a simple conversation or that’d be done already

        That’s really not true. People don’t like to have awkward conversations, that doesn’t mean they can’t be effective (and less awkward than we’d think). Why assume the person wouldn’t be receptive to a conversation without even trying? Really callous to potentially get someone in legal trouble just because you’d be a little uncomfortable having a direct conversation. It’s okay to be a little uncomfortable for a moment.

        1. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

          I/d say somewhere between 1/3 and 1/2 of the letters to AAM are seeking scripts to address and issue. The letter didn’t mention prior conversations with the co-worker, so I’m thinking the LW just wanted some wording for a slightly awkward conversation.

            1. Nameless in Customer Service*

              I think you deserve kudos for that, and I wish you all good luck in the ensuing conversation!

          1. Julia*

            In fact, my own pet theory is that the type of person who’d write in to an advice column is often a particular personality type – maybe a little anxious, thoughtful, someone who’s likely to stew over a problem and think out the best way to address it rather than jumping right to doing something. That is not my personality type – I’m significantly more impulsive than that, but I love reading advice columns so I often note the discrepancy between the letter-writers’ instincts and what I’d do.

            1. Julia*

              Like, in this circumstance I’d have poked my head into this person’s cube the second or third time I was bothered by the smell and asked them to address it. I’m also the person who told a guy sitting next to me on a plane to please put his shoes back on due to the odor, and THAT was an awkward eight-hour flight after that!

              1. OP1*

                I’d probably benefit from a bit of your impulsiveness! And just thinking about foot odor on a plane made me gag. People are terrible.

              2. Koalafied*

                On behalf of everyone else on your plane, thank you! You’d think “don’t take your shoes off in public unless you’re at a pool or gymnastics class” wouldn’t be the kind of thing you’d have to tell adults.

                1. Observer*

                  You’d think so!

                  And agreed. I suspect that the crew were especially grateful.

        2. JelloStapler*

          Plus plenty of people write in asking for advice on how to phrase the comment or question to be professional, kind and clear.

        3. Bluest Monday*

          You might be a little uncomfortable, someone else might be extremely uncomfortable, people are different.

          I must say that weed is fine by me, I don’t partake but have no problem with those that do and I think illegality is ridiculous because the social harm of legal alcohol is far worse. There are legit medicinal uses, weed increases appetite and reduces pain for example. No pearl clutching here. I just don’t think OP should have to talk to someone when being in their presence makes her retch. How is that going to work exactly?

      3. Bluest Monday*

        The reeking person should be aware of the risk they are taking coming to work smelling like that, whether it’s them smoking or someone else. OP is simply no responsible for the possible fallout here.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood, CTA*

          See my take on it is that the co-worker should be MADE aware of the risk they take coming to work smelling that way.
          That one word difference puts the responsibility for any management punitive actions right onto the person who smells of smoke — not on the OP who states she does not want to get her co-worker fired.

        2. Anonym*

          Yeah, I doubt someone would, in full awareness of how much they smell, risk firing in this situation. The fact that they do this in a place where it’s illegal, working in a job where they drug test, in a regulated industry (I think OP mentioned in the comments above) makes it extremely likely that that don’t realize how strong the smell is. Smokers of various things are commonly nose-blind to it. Plus the fact that they may well live with another party that smokes and they don’t (I was that person at a certain point in my 20s – straightedge but living with stoners), it’s really unfair to report them given the likelihood that they’ll be fired! OP doesn’t even know for sure that the colleague is actually the smoker.

          Further, OP *doesn’t want to cause this person harm* so the advice is out of line with what OP is asking for. Cripes.

      4. CoveredinBees*

        Nearly half the issues people write into advice columnists about could be solved with a conversation, from what I’ve read. The reason a conversation hasn’t happened yet in those cases is:
        *The LW would rather the offender “just know” the issue without the LW having to say anything
        *The LW isn’t sure it is their place to say something
        *The LW needs help figuring out what to say
        *The other person refuses to engage

      5. I should really pick a name*

        by the time a person is writing in to an advice column it’s usually not just a simple conversation or that’d be done already

        I find it’s quite the opposite. People often write in looking for solutions that don’t involve an awkward situation.
        I’m kind of curious what percentage of Alison’s answers begin with “Have you tried talking to them?”

        1. Bluest Monday*

          So many people want painless, non-awkward confrontations. Magic words do not exist.

      6. pancakes*

        “If you can’t have the ‘uncomfortable’ conversation with them . . .”

        Hang on, do you not think the reason(s) why you can’t have that conversation matter at all? Excessive timidity is not a good reason to escalate this considering how disproportionate the response could be.

        “. . . and we don’t know the nature of their work but there could be ramifications if a person has it in their system while working . . .” It’s not reasonable to assume that this is the case and that the writer didn’t consider it important enough to mention. That would be an important detail.

      7. Falling Diphthong*

        I suspect that, as with office affairs, the reeking coworker will be convinced that only via an elaborate stealth surveillance program–possibly involving drones–could her carefully cloaked pot use have been detected by anyone.

        1. pancakes*

          The letter writer didn’t suggest her coworker is paranoid, or prone to a persecution complex, or otherwise seems to be out of her gourd.

          1. Scarlet2*

            Yeah. Some commenters are really making wild assumptions about this particular letter, based on absolutely nothing that’s actually written.

          2. biobotb*

            I think maybe they’re just referring to the fact that many smokers are convinced they don’t smell then they really, really do.

      8. Eldritch Office Worker*

        “by the time a person is writing in to an advice column it’s usually not just a simple conversation or that’d be done already”

        If that were true Alison would be out of business. Do you read the blog regularly? It’s EXTREMELY common that letter writers either don’t want to have a conversation or need advice on how to have the conversation, simple as it may seem from the outside.

        1. Bluest Monday*

          Plus one million, I have said this several times here. Folks are acting like a day goes by without a letter where a conversation is the answer, awkward as it may be.

      9. Siege*

        I mean, I wouldn’t anonymously report it just to avoid a difficult conversation, but I bet the company has a policy against stealing office supplies too, and it’s hard to imagine that people would be so ~outraged~ about reporting a violation of the company policy around that. Whether or not weed is legal in the area doesn’t really matter: the coworker is in violation of the company’s policies, in an extremely obvious way, and it is appropriate that they face some level of consequence for that, the same as they would if they got caught stealing office supplies.

        Some of us aren’t actually charmed by weed and the people who use it, particularly when they choose to share their habits with the world by not demonstrating the LEAST awareness that weed both stinks and clings. Some of us prefer to work with people who are sober, whatever that means, whether it means not drunk or not high. Often, this is a direct result of working with, living with, being related to, teaching, or generally dealing with people who are not sober and the chaos they can cause. As a person who is allergic to weed smoke, I have had to cancel a class because a college student came in reeking of it and it set off my allergy. I am pretty much unable to attend any music event, particularly outdoors. I don’t think it should be criminalized, but for god’s sake leave it at home so the rest of us can just live our lives.

        1. Lenora Rose*

          But like tobacco, the scent on clothes doesn’t actually prove the person smelling of it is the person who smokes. In this case there’s some extra scent around a handbag that implies it has carried pot directly which would mean personal use, but even THAT doesn’t imply personal use *at work*.

          In some ways those who jump to the conclusion that “Smells of it” = “is high right now” are starting to annoy me as much or more than the clueless folks who seem to think it doesn’t have a smell/they don’t smell of it.

          And for the record, I am allergic to tobacco smoke and have intimates who are the same for marijuana so I am definitely not on the side of those who smoke in public or get on a bus/ go into a business reeking of either.

    6. Asenath*

      I would never deal with this anonymously. In a group, like in an office, it will create massive mistrust between the target and the rest of the workers, since she will never know which one has the problem, and could easily lead to the target ignoring the complaint, thinking that if it was a genuine complaint, and not some kind of spiteful attempt to get her in trouble for drug use, the complainer would have the courtesy and kindness to approach her directly.

    7. MicroManagered*

      Yuck. I’m glad OP1 said she has no desire to be a narc. This idea sucks.

    8. Lily*

      Er, no.
      Some anonymous co-worker reported my non-marijuana-using husband to management for smelling like weed. Then my essential-oil-blend-with-patchouli-in-it-wearing husband got dragged into the office and had to defend himself against the weed accusation.
      He was very not happy about this.

    9. Karen*

      Really? I would feel terrible reporting something that could get someone fired. Do you realize how absolutely devastating it is for someone to lose their employment?
      The coworker didn’t do anything unkind to OP1, they just smell like weed. I think OP1 should speak to them about the smell, they would be doing their coworker a great kindness, and it gives them a chance to try to fix things. What kind of a cruel snitch would report this person anonymously?

    10. Seems obvious*

      I don’t think this is the best approach, but the outrage on the responses to this are a little much. If you live in a place where a drug is illegal and you take a job that requires a drug test, you assume a risk if you then use that drug.

    11. GythaOgden*

      I’m in Facilities, and most people come to us if there’s a problem with smells. We’d be investigating, making sure everything is cleaned up, and then trying to escalate to other methods of finding out what it was and then dealing with it.

      I wouldn’t expect it to be initially directed at anyone specific — in our building, you’d let us know at Reception and we’d put in a call to maintenance. But while I agree with being sensitive to the smoker employee, her rights ultimately don’t trump those of other people trying to work in the same area and being subjected to her smell.

      But if reported as a smell that needs investigating, that’s a long way off from going to management about a specific person doing a specific wrong thing. Weed is illegal here in the UK; the government has legalised CBD products but not THC, and I doubt there’d be an issue with mere possession, particularly outside work. (Our site is zero smoking but of course the loading bay backs on to a housing estate, so that’s where everyone goes…)

      But it might be that someone reported the smell to Facilities anyway, since it seems to have been sorted out without costing the individual much more than a change of clothes.

  6. voyager1*

    LW2: This is crazy. Saw something happen to a coworker at my old job just like this. I would be rushing for the exit. I am really feeling for you though. Hope this all works out.

    1. ferrina*

      I’ve had this happen twice. Both times my managers had nothing but praise for me, then when I pointed out a single area I could grow in (in one case to expand my role; in the other it was a legitimate weak spot where I was very mediocre, but not bad) suddenly they began questioning everything I did and finding “mistakes” everywhere. And in both cases, they increased my responsibilities while telling me I was underperforming! One boss denied my once-a-week telework request because I “wasn’t responsible enough for it” and in the same conversation told me that she wanted me to write a job description, hire, train and supervise a new staff member.

      I’m glad LW #2 is looking for a new job. There really isn’t any other way out of it, and it’s very possible that the manager has already poisoned LW’s reputation at the current company.

    2. Mynona*

      A version of this happened to me. As a new grad student, I disclosed to my advisor (himself a first-time advisor) that I struggled with severe writing anxiety and asked for advice. He was unsympathetic, and from that moment on I could do no right in his eyes. His negativity didn’t stop me from being the only student in my class to defend on time, an achievement that was all the more personally meaningful since I did it without help from him or the department.

      Now, I only project confidence to my managers until I get to know them, and I only ask for advice from those I know I can trust.

  7. dino*

    I’d love to hear an update from LW 2… that situation sounds particularly tricky, and I would love to hear what the miscommunication ends up being. I think Allison’s advice is spot on and I hope it all works out.

    1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      Agreed – also hoping for a good outcome, and hope we hear back from that OP. Sounds like there is a lot of miscommunication going on there.

    2. RC Rascal*

      Me too. There may be more going on than we realize. Could be the manager has an agenda.

    3. AE*

      LW2 here, and the “not” was left out this sentence: During a quarterly performance review, my boss expressed that I was *not* managing a project to her standards. I still took responsibility for my mistakes and expressed a need for more structure.

  8. Teekanne aus Schokolade*

    This is the moment I finally realized a smoking jacket has a purpose other than making someone look expensive

    1. short'n'stout (she/her)*

      Point of interest, smoking caps were also a thing, to keep the smell of smoke off the hair.

    2. Other Alice*

      TIL! I never gave it any thought before today either, but it makes sense given how much smoke lingers

    3. Anonym*

      It does! I’m prone to migraines from tobacco smoke and have a sensitive nose to boot, and one of my college roommates was an occasional smoker. She had a special robe which she’d wear while smoking on the porch. When finished, she’d take it off, turn it inside out and then stash it somewhere… actually not sure where. But she never smelled! And neither did her other clothes. I was genuinely surprised that it worked so well.

    4. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Years ago I worked with someone who didn’t want her husband to know she was smoking cigarettes. She had a special jacket and a glove for the hand that held the cigarette. Apparently it worked and he did not know. (I don’t know how he didn’t smell it on her hair though.)

      1. pancakes*

        That’s smart because the scent of smoke can really cling to people’s hands. Maybe she sprayed her hair with dry shampoo? Perfume would just give the scent of smoke + perfume.

      2. Bluest Monday*

        Probably a hidden HEPA filter somewhere. I had a friend who smoked in her house. As a heart patient, I cannot breathe smoke. Yet, her house never smelled at all because she had a powerful HEPA filtration device running at all times. She had long hair and it did not smell either. I have used Febreze in my hair for cooking odors before, so it is possible to successfully combat stink.

      3. MostlyAutonomous*

        My now-husband used to smoke cigarettes, and I absolutely cannot stand the smell. I asked him to wear a glove on the smoking hand while smoking and it was remarkably effective!

  9. Alianora*

    When I read #2 at first, I thought maybe the LW left out a ‘not’ in the sentence “During a quarterly performance review, my boss expressed that I was managing a project to her standards.” Of course the boss’s actions would make more sense if that was the case. I could honestly read the way the LW is talking about mistakes and challenges either way – that they were doing well but saw room for improvement, or that they weren’t doing well and acknowledged that.

    1. MEH Squared*

      Yes, I was wondering the same thing. Especially when that was, as you said, followed by, “I still took responsibility for my mistakes and expressed a need for more structure.” To me, that sounds as if she were talking about a way to do better in her position.

      I definitely think the OP needs to talk to her boss to clarify what she was trying to convey and to find out what her manager is thinking as well.

      1. Mockingjay*

        I think OP2 caught her manager off guard. Manager is new and up to now, had an employee who does her work well enough for the project to succeed, minor bumps and all. Then OP2 says, Hey, thanks, but I’d like to do better and grow my skills. Now manager has to come up with a plan and has no idea how to do it.

        [This is why managers must be trained! Management is a whole new set of skills, including employee training and promotional tracks. See Alison’s links!]

        OP2, when you talk with your manager, if she did reach out to HR to cobble together a plan and they simply sent her the PIP template, get that PIP removed from your file. It will affect your employment, at this company and at future companies.

        1. MEH Squared*

          Oh, duh! That makes sense when you put it that way. My brain was just getting stuck on the OP taking responsibility for her mistakes, which is more a thing when your manager chastises you. I can see the manager taking the OP’s self-reflection and running with it.

          1. Siege*

            Why? I’m responsible for putting on an event at my organization. I don’t need to be chastised by my manager to be able to see that X happened and was not successful, or Y didn’t happen and turned out to be very necessary, or Z was not a good presenter and I should have handled that differently once it became obvious. Particularly when we pivoted to virtual, there were mistakes made because we didn’t know what we didn’t know, and my boss didn’t need to chastise me to get me to see them.

            1. MEH Squared*

              Because many people don’t volunteer the mistakes they made. I, too, can see all-too-well the mistakes I’ve made, but I wouldn’t necessary list them to a boss unbidden. I may say something like, “Let’s brainstorm how to do this better”, but not necessarily, “I messed up.” That’s all.

    2. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      I think the letter is correct – OP is/was meeting the manager’s standard. Otherwise presumably she wouldn’t be asking the question about PIP at all, because the discussion would have been about “you aren’t meeting the standard and this is what you need to be doing differently” and then a PIP might be seen as harsh (depending on circumstances) but not totally out of left field.

    3. Sasha*

      Agreed – I think there is a chance the manager doesn’t understand what a PIP is, but honestly it seems more likely to me that the manager knows exactly what a PIP is and has just used woolly “how to reach your potential” phrasing and hints during the PIP discussion.

      We’ve seen it many time on here when managers write in and say “surely Bob must realise his work isn’t up to standard”, and “I had a meeting where I told him it would be great if he tried doing X, when what I actually meant was his job was at risk if he didn’t”.

      I hope I’m wrong OP! But talk to your manager.

      1. Rusty Shackelford*

        But if the LW left that out, the rest makes no sense – why would the LW be confused to be put on a PIP?

        1. Alianora*

          I did say “at first” because this letter is confusing however you read it. The face value interpretation is more likely, but I could see it either way.

          However – the LW doesn’t actually seem that confused to me. Surprised, but not really baffled. That reaction tracks if the manager was softening their negative feedback so that the LW knew there were problems but didn’t expect it to rise to the level of a PIP.

        2. Irish Teacher*

          Well, I guess the LW COULD mean “the manager said I was not managing one project to her standards, but that she was happy with the rest of my projects, so I assumed it wasn’t that huge an issue. I recognised that I had made mistakes and assumed we were on the same page about what I needed to improve on, but that she was satisfied overall.” That would fit with the question at the end about whether mentioning that she wanted help improving led to this or if it was inevitable anyway.

          However, it DOESN’T really fit with the “still” in the second sentence. “My manager said I was not managing a project to her standards, but I still admitted my mistakes” doesn’t really see to fit. “She said she was satisfied but I still admitted I’d made some mistakes” seems to fit better, but I can see that it could be read either way.

          I really hope we get an update on this one AND that it turns out to be a mistake and that the manager just gave the LW the wrong paperwork and there is really no PIP on her file or anything; the manager just thought the same format could be used for the Development Plan and forgot to “file off the serial numbers” on the stuff that didn’t apply.

    4. L.H. Puttgrass*

      Me too! I even submitted it as a typo before reading the rest of the letter and Alison’s response (oops). The whole thing makes more sense that way, but there’d be less to write in about that way, too.

      I wonder if LW2 could clarify.

    5. k8*

      i dont think it’s a typo? it makes total sense to me– the manager said she was satisfied, but the op pointed out that there were still some issues with the project despite that and felt that she herself could do better so asked for help improving.

      1. ferrina*

        Agree, I don’t think it’s a typo. I’ve had two managers do this- heap praise on my work, but the second I point out one of my weaknesses (not as an area of underperforming, but as an area I’d like to grow) it was like they switched a flip and suddenly saw me as a weak performer. I was micromanaged and constantly had any “mistake” pointed out, even as the manager continued to grow my responsibility (one manager put me on a PIP and two weeks later doubled the size of my direct reports and gave me the biggest account to work on. Mixed messages much?)
        I’m not sure why. I think it’s because they’re scared that “improvement” is the same as “weakness” and if they didn’t notice until you pointed it out, they’re worried about what else they may be missing. So they hedge their bets by calling you a weak performer (so if anyone else says something they can claim they always knew it) but still getting the most work out of you.

      2. Bluest Monday*

        But that doesn’t result in a formal improvement plan which negatively impacts the employee. Something is missing here.

    6. Troutwaxer*

      If the word “not” has been left out, the paperwork from the performance review should have reflected that there are serious problems. If this is a concern, the OP can use their performance review paperwork as a reality check. Maybe show it to a friend or co-worker and make sure everyone is on the same page.

      1. Troutwaxer*

        I should also add that if the problem is not easily resolved, it’s time to leave the company – this will be not just a red flag, but a gigantic red tent covering the entire building!

    7. Anne*

      OP2 here, and yes, the “not” got left out, hence my expression of taking responsibility, etc. Thanks to all who have provided insight, and apologies for the confusion!

    8. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

      yes, in another comment chain, OP2 said the word “not” was accidentally omitted there. It definitely changes things.

  10. amoeba*

    LW1: Just as it wasn’t mentioned here – not sure how the laws in your state are, but are you certain that she’s in fact smoking (illegal) marijuana? Here in Switzerland, that’s (for now still) illegal as well, but you can freely buy and smoke CBD cigarettes with exactly the same characteristic smell. So if she’s doing it that openly, despite the drug screen and all, that would’ve been my first assumption. Guess that would somewhat change the situation as it might remove the risk of her getting fired if you speak up? Although I have no idea how you’d find out, short of directly asking…

  11. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

    OP2 (PIP) I feel like HR or the managers boss (depending on how it’s typically done in that company) have also dropped the ball here. In most places a first line manager initiating a PIP would have to go through a lot of discussion with HR/grandboss to flush out why it’s needed, is the process being followed fairly, etc. Someone couldn’t just unilaterally put someone on a PIP like that.

    The other thing to keep in mind is whether the “on a PIP” status (assuming it’s a mistake) affects things like cost of living raises — sometimes being on a PIP or warning of some kind renders you ineligible for raises, promotions, bonus etc.

    1. ecnaseener*

      It took the manager a month to come back with the PIP, so we don’t know that she didn’t have those discussions.

      1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

        But even if she did have those discussions… I’d say HR/grandboss still dropped the ball in that case, if they didn’t probe enough to differentiate between “my employee is underperforming and I need to start a formal process of correcting it” vs “my employee expressed in her annual review that she wants to take on some additional development tasks and grow in her role, and I agreed that that would be good for her”.

    2. River Otter*

      It could be that boss, next level boss, and HR all have their heads up their rumps. That happened to me, and I had to take it to HR management, who reviewed it with next-next level management, to get the PIP rolled back.
      I would check the signatures on the PIP and jump right to the next level up to seek resolution.

    3. Rae*

      I totally agree with all of that. I could see that happening at my employer – we’ve currently got a lot of vacant positions at multiple levels of management, a lot of first-level management positions that are temporarily filled with 90-120 day assignments of employees with no previous supervisory experience, near complete turnover in the part of the HR department that handles routine staffing matters, and a performance management handbook that covers both improvement and development plans almost together. Also, I think PIP’s are not commonly done except in extreme circumstances because of the effect they have on the employees compensation and opportunities.

      So I could easily see an manager who’s never done either type of plan asking equally inexperienced HR how to do it, getting a response that ends up with them mistakenly making the wrong kind of plan, and a grand boss who also doesn’t have experience or doesn’t know about the employees history signing off unaware.

      Also, seconding the fact that even if it’s by mistake, yes, OP2 needs to get this fixed.

  12. Batgirl*

    OP4, I wonder if you’d have better luck plainly asking for the refund, rather than asking for the explanation, or sounding like you are asking if the benefits are still on. It sounds like the company had to get your permission to take the money but what if you rescinded that now? So whatever the excuse, respond with: “Oh that’s okay, I don’t need to wait for the scheme to be up and running, I just need the refund. I didn’t expect to be without the money for this long and I’m rescinding my agreement to take part in the scheme. I will also accept petty cash, or whatever but I’d like it refunded within the next pay period.”

  13. Oska*

    “Performance Improvement Plan” sounds like a positive thing if you don’t know the context it’s actually used in (although a manager should know). In my org, people sometimes search for templates and use whatever looks like it fits their purpose (or complain if a general template doesn’t look enough like it’s for their specific purpose). I can imagine someone looking up templates with “performance” in the title and, being unfamiliar with PIPs, deciding that the Performance Improvement Plan template sounded good based on the title. That would explain missing the boilerplate text too, half the point of templates is not having to think about the mandatory bits of copy sprinkled throughout forms, reports etc.

    1. Bluest Monday*

      Performance Improvement Plan is characteristically different than a Professional Development Plan. A manager should know that.

      1. Snow Globe*

        They should, but if they are a new manager and never had to put someone on a PIP before – and were never on one themselves – they may not have any idea.

        1. Bluest Monday*

          That’s pretty clueless. I’m not a manager and I know this. Nothing punitive at all about a Professional Development Plan.

      2. Allonge*

        And some managers will only learn after miximng them up once. No, ideally they would not but it’s not half as self-explanatory as you think when someone has been around these specific terms for some time.

      3. Falling Diphthong*

        Common theme here though is managers promoted to managing with zero training in managing.

      4. Rusty Shackelford*

        Managers should know lots of things, and yet we see here that they often do not.

    2. Irish Teacher*

      Yeah, I was thinking something like this. That she seems to be a new manager and she may have gone to HR and said something like “I need to put one of my reports on a Professional Development Plan. Can you help me with that?” and HR either misheard or thought she used the wrong term and said, “oh, did you mean a Preformance Improvement Plan?” and she thought “yeah, that must be it” and they gave her that form.

      It would imply a lot of poor communication and lack of clarity over procedures in the company, but I could see it happening.

      1. El l*

        It makes far more sense than any other explanation – especially given it’s the first time managing for this supervisor.

        OP sounds very conscientious – less likely they would let it get to a PIP point.

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

        What I don;t get is why would the manager go to HR for a professional development plan? I think there is more going on than the OP realizes. I hope we get an update

        1. Elizabeth West*

          If they didn’t know what they were doing, they might. OP said this is a new manager.

          1. Irish Teacher*

            Yeah, my thought was that the manager might not have been sure about how to create a Professional Development Plan and went to HR for advice, but then, I AM looking at this from abroad and am not familiar with a lot of the terminology and have never worked anywhere that even HAD a HR, so…that may or may not be a possible explanation.

        2. NaoNao*

          In my company, and in many others, HR’s duties extend to Professional Development–especially if the company is smaller or if Training and Development rolls up to HR rather than Operations or Support.
          My training team works very closely with HR to suggest training classes that meet the identified Performance Development needs, but HR actually also delivers specific training classes and conducts performance and talent reviews.

          HR isn’t always 100% punitive :)

        3. Bluest Monday*

          Yes, those are usually worked out individually with the employee, to specify training, potential stretch assignments, etc. HR would have little knowledge of what specifically applies to the work of any given position.

    3. L.H. Puttgrass*

      Even if hat were true, though, you’d think a manager would figure out the difference when it came time for the part about the employee getting fired if they don’t do X and Y. That’s pretty hard to confuse with a PDP, regardless of similar nomenclature.

    4. Rae*

      Yes, at my workplace someone might be told “just use the template online” and/or “if you can’t find the right template, just find one that’s close and modify it to make it work” which will usually have something that’s even further away from being right, or is one from 10 years ago based on policy that’s been phased out and replaced, and as often as not is also missing the most important paragraph of all the boilerplate text or something like that.

  14. MK*

    I agree that the OP would be better off going that, but I am confused about this situation. Why was the costs taken from the workers’ pay in April 2020, right in the middle of the first quarantine? If it was in the hands of HR in March 2020, what should have happened was that the company canceled the cards and asked for a refund from the transportation company, or maybe some extended voucher to be used in the future. It sounds to me as if HR messed that up, the cards are possibly now expired, and they trying to pass the cost off to the employees.

    1. Artemesia*

      I too assume the company bought the cards, they are now expired and they want to make the employees eat the cost rather than the employer.

    2. mreasy*

      Our transit program is adjustable on a monthly basis, so it sounds like maybe HR just didn’t put in the adjustment with the provider for April 2020 and doesn’t know how to fix it?

    3. BethDH*

      Agreed. To me this sounds like someone in HR messed it up and doesn’t want to admit to it so they’re hoping if they push people off long enough people will forget/stop asking. I feel sympathy for HR people who had a really hard time managing stuff in early pandemic (they’re humans too, thank you good HR people at my work who have been totally slammed this whole time!) but they still need to own it.
      That affects advice for OP because if it were me, I might try asking a different HR person in case the person responsible hasn’t been open about their mistake and is also the one OP is talking to now. If they want to politely warn the person they’ll be doing it they can.

    4. DCDM*

      I can’t speak for everywhere but in my area, changes to April’s transit deductions would need to be made by March 10

      1. MK*

        This isn’t a case of someone changing their mind about buying a quarterly pass, it’s the unforeseen circumstance of the pandemic. I don’t know how it usually works in my city, but the bus service wasn’t even running in April 2020, and there were restrictions all through May. A transportation company refusing to reimburse passes (or offer some other solution, like transferring the credit to next quarter/another year) because their rule is that the change must be made in March would be slammed down hard by the regulatory authority and the courts.

    5. Cmdrshpard*

      Pre-tax payroll deductions have many layers.

      There is the employee who’s check it gets taken out of. The employer, the 3rd party company that the employer usually contracts to deal with flex spending accounts, and then the actual transit company (bus/train etc). It takes time to make any changes/cancelations.

      The initial lockdown was a messed up time, lots of people (if not everyone) thought we would be back in two weeks. It makes sense people thought the April benefits would still be able to be used.

      The pandemic ran up against several legal issues that are not easily changed. I think a lot of people were trying their best.

      At the end of the day I don’t think a refund is possible.

      1. No Longer Looking*

        A refund for the company from the transit authority may not be possible, but a refund to the employees from the company is always possible and should have been done long ago.

  15. Kate*

    3 – most likely explanation is that it was supposed to be an entry level role, and they either communicated it badly or your husband is overestimating what level he’s at, or a bit of both. (I sometimes find the only clear indicator of what level a role is intended to be in the ad is the salary – I don’t know why they don’t just always post the salary).

    1. Elizabeth Bennett*

      Agreed with posting the salary, but I’ve also seen a lot of money-grabbers who don’t realize they’re not qualified for the job apply that have to be weeded out. Example, a guy with a string of 2-3 month job stints at fast food joints for the last two years applied for a security guard position, asking for $50,000 USD. The salary range was around $35,000 USD.

      When I hired my one-and-only employee a long time ago, my boss recommended phone screening them with three questions: 1) This is our salary range. Are you comfortable with that? 2) We are located at X Address. Are you comfortable with that commute?, and 3) Working hours are 8am to 5pm with little flexibility. Does this work for your schedule? I screened out a lot of applicants this way without spending a lot of time. Is it a best practice? I don’t know, but it was efficient.

      1. Robyn*

        I think this is a best practice! Or, second best, since putting it in the job posting may save you and potential applicants time if you immediately know it’s not going to work. I don’t understand employers who aren’t up front about salary or other non-negotiables.

        My husband applied for a job last year that he was excited about, did a phone screen with HR and met the hiring manager in person, had a good rapport with the manager and thought things went well. He was up front that he had 10 years experience in the field with bigger employers, but was ok with a pay cut in exchange for no commute. Hubby was surprised and a little mad when they came back a week later with, Thanks for speaking to us but this is really an entry level position and we plan to pay $15 an hour. Why wasn’t the first question during the phone screen, “I see you have a decade of experience. We’ve budgeted this role as entry level at $15 per hour. Does it make sense to keep talking?” Would have left my husband with a much better impression of the company, that’s for sure.

      2. Nameless in Customer Service*

        FWIW, as a job hunter I would LOVE it if every company did this screening, instead of doing two interviews only to be offered minimum wage to work in the no-public-transit suburban office rather than downtown.

    2. Elizabeth West*

      I’ve seen a lot of posts marked “entry-level” but requiring 3-5 years of experience. That’s not generally entry-level. I think they only say that so they can get away with offering the lowest salary possible. It’s deliberately confusing. But this company may also have a fuzzy idea of how to gauge experience level and communicate it clearly.

      And yes, please post the salary range in the ad.

      1. LilPinkSock*

        Ugh. Five years’s direct experience isn’t really entry level. Or at least, it’s not on the same level as an intern or a fresh graduate. You may be right, it’s a method of not paying an appropriate salary.

  16. No smoking here*

    It’s 2022, and smokers of all varieties have plenty of knowledge that they stink. They cannot smoke a product and not realize that there is an odor. They may be noseblind to the extent of it, as others have said, but they cannot be in complete ignorance that they’re unpleasantly whiffy. Any active smoker who goes about their daily life like this is rude and disrespectful to others.

    Because of the potential for transfer from their environment or housemates, I would give them a heads up and ask them to come up with a solution – but that would have an outer limit of two weeks. OP1, you are doing them a huge favor by pointing this out discreetly. It’s on them to function in a professional work environment, which they absolutely aren’t doing now. If a manager or HR rep smelled their reek, they run the risk of losing their job entirely. Their employment relationship is not your responsibility to manage. Unless there’s a medical condition here, smoking is something they can control and just don’t want to.

    I am personally pro-prohibition on this issue and would also have no problem reporting this to management. I know that is a highly unpopular opinion these days, but I come at it as someone who has had an asthmatic reaction to cigarette smoke for 25+ years and who is made thoroughly nauseous by the smell of cannabis. (Yes, I’d love to see tobacco shut down as well.) It’s disgusting and harmful to people around you.

    1. Workerbee*

      In 2022, everyone has finally realized that not everyone has had the exact same experiences, realizations, backgrounds, and inferences to “know something by now.” Nor does a person’s age automatically confer all this jubilant wisdom.

      There are kinder ways to deal with situations and people, and the advice given handles that admirably.

    2. Just Your Everyday Crone*

      I’m sympathetic to the smell issue, I think perfume should be outlawed, not that that will ever happen. But of all the triggering smells, weed is the only one that has potential benefits. When it’s between my migraines and someone else’s pain relief, it gets trickier.

    3. Falling Diphthong*

      They cannot smoke a product and not realize that there is an odor.
      My experience of humans says that this is not the case.

    4. MissElizaTudor*

      I urge you to rethink your stance that people should be put in cages, have their property seized or ruined, be forced to pay a fine they can’t afford, or at least have their lives upended because their behavior has a negative effect on you. It sucks that people are inconsiderate about smoking and it sucks that you get nauseated by it, but that doesn’t mean the solution is prohibition.

      Prohibition of a substance doesn’t just mean people stop using it. It means there needs to be an entire state apparatus to enforce that prohibition, and that enforcement harms people and communities, especially poor communities and minority communities. It also has costs in terms of money and real resources (e.g., what else could all the human hours and energy be spent on, what else could the materials to build jails be used for).

      1. BatManDan*

        Thank you for saying this so well. In the “war on drugs,” it’s clear that the drugs have won.

      2. SLP*

        Thank you. Cannabis was legalized in Canada in 2018. The sky has not fallen, none of the “prohibition” arguments have come to pass, and the world continues. It’s tightly regulated and taxed. Yep it smells like skunk. I’ve found since the legalization and the end to having to hide it, people have actually for the most part moderated themselves. I can’t remember the last time I smelled it anywhere lol. Stop making it the illegal forbidden fruit and some problems take care of themselves.
        BTW, the name “Marijuana” has racist origins, hence the use of the term Cannabis in Canada.

        1. Ex-Vancouverite*

          You might be a little nose-blind on this one. I also live in Canada, and chose to leave the city after legalization since I’m highly allergic; it’s rare to find an apartment complex or neighbourhood within my socioeconomic reach where I don’t get an exposure and I need to account for exposures on the occasions I go back to visit friends. Pre-legalization there tended to be more and larger safe areas for me.

      3. Eldritch Office Worker*

        Yes. Look, I have very bad asthma, the smell of cigarettes or pot smoke are very uncomfortable and sometimes borderline dangerous for me. So is pollen, dust, and a variety of other things. I’m sure my dog is also problematic to have in public for people with strong allergies or fears of dogs. The world is not always a comfortable place to live. That does not mean we should legislate all private behavior we don’t like or make people face legal consequences because of our preferences.

        1. 2020storm*

          It is problematic for me, i’m very allergic to dogs! I agree completely with this comment.

      4. Feral Humanist*

        Thank you! No smoking’s original comment displays a lack of understanding (I’m being charitable here) of the societal harm that has been perpetuated through the criminalization of cannabis, which we are only now beginning to address (albeit unevenly). It’s an unpopular opinion these days for many very good reasons. We know better than we did.

        Also, as I pointed out above, access to legal weed also means access to alternative delivery symptoms. Edibles don’t affect anyone else at all! Many people, once they have access to either vaping or edibles, don’t smoke it straight. I use cannabis for chronic insomnia (it is the only thing that works and my doctor himself told me that anything he could prescribe for me would be much worse), but I never smoke it; it’s always gummies or vaping.

      5. Bluest Monday*

        Prohibition doesn’t work and there was a precedent with liquor, it’s insane to think it would work with anything else. USA drug laws have their roots in racism and xenophobia. I recommend the book “Drug Crazy” , really great analysis of where America is with drugs and how it got to be this way. Eye-opening.

    5. Cat Tree*

      I have noticed that a lot of people think vaping doesn’t count. It’s possible that she’s vaping and just doesn’t realize that it also smells bad.

      It is amazing to me how often I see people vaping in non-smoking areas. I get that it’s not as smelly as regular smoking but it’s still bad enough to bother others.

      1. JustaTech*

        In my experience (your mileage may vary), vaping is smellier in the moment (the cloud is bigger, the artificial flavors are stronger scents) but at least when my brother switched to vaping from smoking (cigs and weed) he smelled better than he had since puberty (a very low bar, but noticeable) because it didn’t seem to linger/cling as badly.

      2. cubone*

        maybe some anecdotal, but I find the difference between vaping weed and vaping tobacco is significant, not just in smell, but in behaviour. I’ve never known anyone to vape weed indoors (without at least asking the people around them if it’s in their own home, kind of thing) but I have seen soooo many people start vaping e-cigarettes indoors in all sorts of places. Which is just wild to me.

    6. Esmeralda*

      And not just clothes, hair, skin… breath too. I tutored a high school kid once who I put on a strict “no-smoking the day you are meeting with me”, because his lungs were pumping out tobacco and weed stink and he had to sit next to me for us to work.

    7. Irish Teacher*

      I don’t know about that. If they grew up in a family where everybody smoked, they may well have been “nose blind” for a long time. And I have known smokers who absolutely refuse to believe that their smoking could have a negative impact on those around them. My grandmother used to INSIST a certain politician just made up the negatives about smoking and that anybody who said anything like that it stank was just believing him. In a way, I guess it makes sense: if you grew up around smokers and never noticed a smell, then it would be easy to think those who are complaining about it are making a fuss about nothing.

    8. Observer*

      It’s 2022, and smokers of all varieties have plenty of knowledge that they stink.

      You would think that, but it’s not necessarily the case. People really do get “nose blind” and somehow convince themselves that they are the “exception”.

    9. Observer*

      I am personally pro-prohibition on this issue

      We’ve been down that road numerous times. It’s never worked very well. What is more we are STILL trying to stay on the path, and it is NOT working. It’s time to find a better way to deal with the problem.

    10. wine not?*

      I’m 100% pro-legalization of cannabis, but I don’t understand how people think it’s acceptable to smoke before work and during their lunch. If someone was drinking every morning before work and at lunchtime, they’d (rightfully) be fired. But when it’s cannabis, it’s fine?

      I know the argument is that “people don’t get as impaired with cannabis as they do with alcohol.” But I’m not impaired if I drink half a glass of wine, and I’d be much more relaxed at my job. But if you do that, you’re an alcoholic. And yet, my coworker who smoked weed before coming to work… that’s normal?

      1. Feral Humanist*

        FWIW I don’t think that’s normal, I think for most people that’s indicative of a problem. (There are exceptions, such as folks to do it to manage PTSD or severe social anxiety.) I think people are less likely to be belligerent on weed than on alcohol, but I don’t think the “people don’t get as impaired” argument holds any real water.

        1. wine not?*

          I agree, but I feel like you and I are in the minority! I do understand the need to use weed for medicinal use. But I’d also argue that any medications that impair you shouldn’t be used before driving/before work. FWIW my coworkers were not using it for medicinal purposes.

      2. Yikez*

        1. I’ve never seen someone get fired for having a glass of wine at lunch.

        2. Cannabis has a medicinal use, wine doesn’t.

        1. wine not?*

          1. Maybe not the first time, but certainly regular alcohol use at lunch time is going to get you fired at a lot of places.

          2. Wine also has health benefits. Even if you’re using cannabis for medicinal use, you shouldn’t use it before work/before driving… just like you shouldn’t use other types of pain medications that impair you.

          1. Yikez*

            If you can find me a doctor who prescribes wine, please give me their name! Also, it depends on the drug. If you find a workplace that will fire you for taking anxiety meds before work then I’ll show you a workplace that is ripe for a lawsuit.

            1. wine-dark sea*

              My mom’s doctor prescribed her wine for her high cholesterol, but I’m not about to go putting his name on a public website, lol.

              Anxiety medications don’t impair you like weed does, so the comparison doesn’t hold water.

              I’m totally pro legalization, but if you’re not allowed to go to work after drinking, you shouldn’t be allowed to go to work after smoking, either. I don’t think this is an unreasonable standard.

              1. Feral Humanist*

                It depends on the anxiety medication. People react differently to them, and some anxiety meds DO impair some people. There are, in fact, lots of medications that people shouldn’t drive on, but that people need to function. A lot of pain medications, for example.

                If someone is using it medicinally and it lets them function (I’m thinking about severe social anxiety, as I noted above), then I’m not going to make a blanket statement that they shouldn’t be able to take it before work. People do what they gotta do, and I know folks who were unable to hold a job before they started on pot because their anxiety was so severe and nothing else has worked. But if that’s the case, they should definitely cover their own asses by getting a prescription.

              2. RosaL*

                My anxiety medication impairs me a whole lot more than weed does. Both are prescribed. This is not an argument for going into work intoxicated just that what you’re saying isn’t universally true. I have never been able to go into work after taking one of my anti anxiety pills.

        2. wine not?*

          Also, my coworkers who used to smoke every morning were not using it for medicinal purposes. I just don’t think it’s acceptable to smoke before driving and going to work, even though I’m in the minority.

          Drinking and driving has become much less socially acceptable (which is great!), but for some reason, people think it’s fine to smoke and drive.

          1. Feral Humanist*

            Yeah, no one I know thinks that it’s cool to get high and then drive to work. That’s not a thing most people over the age of twenty-five do. I think you might have some bias in your sample.

        3. WellRed*

          It’s only a medicinal use if it’s smoked as such. My roommate 100 percents smokes recreationally. And yeah, I donttget why it’s acceptable at 11am on a workday. Recently had to bring up the weed stink. Luckily it was an easy fix.

  17. Bluest Monday*

    Everyone telling the weed OP to talk to coworker is missing the point that being close to coworker makes her sick. Makes having a civil conversation difficult.

    1. I should really pick a name*

      The coworker is the OP’s cube neighbour. The OP is already close to the coworker. Having a conversation isn’t going to make the suffering appreciably worse.

      1. Bluest Monday*

        Maybe if she talks over the cubicle wall? You can’t decide if talking directly to this person would make OP more sick or not. I would say that conversations of this type should be in private anyway.

    2. Everything Bagel*

      You raise a good point that perhaps the letter writer should call her co-worker on a day when they’re not working in the office together to discuss it. Telling the co-worker she smells bad and is making the letter writer sick will probably be pretty awkward for the letter writer and the co-worker to sit together for the rest of the day. Perhaps a heads up before they get back in the office together would be a better way to approach it.

    3. Anonym*

      I don’t think anyone has missed that point. I am also pregnant and nauseous like the OP. I would feel similarly extra-ill in her situation. There’s nothing about it that prohibits kindly alerting the person to the problem. It’s not that effing hard. Sure, it’s a little uncomfortable, but that’s momentary. She wrote in for a script, and got one she can use. If the problem persists, she can certainly escalate, but it would be profoundly cowardly to risk someone’s livelihood to avoid 90 seconds of mild social discomfort.

      1. pancakes*

        Yes, thank you. People are making such ridiculous excuses for not having a conversation about this. Most people don’t want to cause someone to feel nauseous if they can help it, pregnant or not. I went through chemo and would sometimes encounter people on the subway with so much scent on I wanted to pass out. This is a daily issue and well worth a polite conversation.

        1. Bluest Monday*

          Nobody made excuses, if OP is OK with direct communication, have at it. She shouldn’t have to though if she will retch, and it sounded like they were that sensitive to the smell. It’s a lot easier with perfume, somebody can just not put it on. But reeking? Is it clothes, hair, belongings, or a combo? It’s sensitive.

    4. RagingADHD*

      Nobody has missed that. If they’re already close together, there is no practical difference between sitting quietly feeling sick and speaking up.

      1. Bluest Monday*

        Weed OP says they are cubicle neighbors. My workplace had larger cubicles, so not that close.

    5. MCMonkeyBean*

      I think OP’s issue is that she is stuck sitting next to that smell all day. She has been suffering through it so far, there is no reason to think that getting through one conversation about it is not possible.

  18. ijustworkhere*

    Yes, please end the interview if the money is way out of line with your expectations. Companies need to know that they aren’t being competitive in the marketplace.

    I am so tired of companies playing the “lowball” game. It should be required to post a hiring salary range for every job.

    1. LavaLamp(she/her)*

      In Colorado they’ve moved to make it mandatory for job ads to include salary.

  19. Shiba Dad*

    I am also curious why OP#3’s husband is asking 25% below market. Does OP#3 live in an area with a low cost of living and/or where the job market isn’t so great?

    OP’s hubby did nothing wrong. The company he interviewed with is stuck in 2009. Don’t be stuck there with them.

    1. winter frog*

      Perhaps the employer is in the nonprofit/government/education sector where pay could be normally lower than a comparable job in the private sector.

      1. Shiba Dad*

        It that context OP’s letter would make more sense. I saw “industry” in the post and my mind translates that to “private sector”. I should stop doing that.

    2. Antilles*

      I don’t get it at all. OP frames it as the husband knowingly undervaluing himself – saying the market rate is “well documented due to our industry” and he’s knowingly undercutting it by 25%. That would presumably include such things as cost of living or the private/public divide…but even if not, you could pretty easily find that out. Especially when interviewers are directly saying that you’re so far below the market that it’s basically an entry level salary. Even if you’re lucky enough to be in a position where you don’t really need the money and know you never will (e.g., if you’ve got enough in the bank to retire and are working just for something to do), why not just accept the normal market rate and donate the extra to charity or take an extra vacation or whatever?
      OP’s hubby did nothing wrong. The company he interviewed with is stuck in 2009. Don’t be stuck there with them.
      Personally, I think it’s a positive sign when a company wants to pay market rate – it’s the company that’s quietly thrilled to wildly undervalue staff that would worry me.

      1. Shiba Dad*

        Especially when interviewers are directly saying that you’re so far below the market that it’s basically an entry level salary.

        That’s not the case here. This is what OP wrote about this interviewer: His interviewer was astounded and told him that their range tops out at what would be an entry-level salary for our industry and that my husband was way over that.

    3. OP3*

      OP #3 here. The industry in question is biglaw and our rates for mid to senior level associate is very well documented due to the existence of ABOVETHELAW. The most recent level of raises in 2022 would put market comp for his level at 300k+. He’s being grossly underpaid as it is at his current firm which is why a 25% cut from market would still be fine by him. I thought the interviewer was out of line here but husband thought he had offended the interviewer(!!!). Just wanted some outside opinions so that he understands the importance of not undervaluing his work.

      1. Eldritch Office Worker*

        If the interviewer was offended, that’s not a place your husband wants to work. Getting offended by someone making a VERY reasonable salary request is a giant red flag as to how they’ll handle things going forward.

        That said, the interviewer might not have been offended – maybe they were just surprised. It’s good for companies to hear that they’re losing candidates over salary, which can be done with a very professional “well it sounds like we’re too far apart on salary, so I won’t take up any more of your time”. That’s FINE.

        Remind your husband that he’s interviewing them just as much as they’re interviewing him. He gets to have his own standards to enforce.

      2. Antilles*

        If he’s *that* grossly underpaid, I wonder if the interviewer was simply trying to help your husband out. Basically like the interviewer thinks your husband doesn’t realize what he’s worth and is trying to tell him yo, hint hint you really should be asking for way more hint hint.
        Personal story: A couple jobs back, I was also way underpaid – let’s say $50k. I was working with a recruiter who I’d known for a few years and told him my salary. He said “no, that’s way under market, promise me you’ll never say that to an interviewer since you should have been making around $75k. When people ask about your salary expectations, give them that market value”. When I interviewed, I followed that recruiter’s advice…and not a single interviewer blinked at me saying the market rate of $75k. Even though it was significantly higher than my current pay, since it was market rate, everybody just sort of nodded and went yeah, that’s fair – never lost an offer over it, never had an interview get awkward over asking for the market value, and well, that’s the salary I got too.

          1. Antilles*

            Ah, I might have misread it. I thought it was that the interviewer was saying that husband was “way over that” i.e., why are you asking for an entry level salary at your experience level.

      3. Anonym*

        If the interviewer is offended, that’s a big ol’ red flag. At a minimum they’re deeply out of touch and not good at hiring. Hope your husband finds a job at market rate in a better company soon!

      4. Foley*

        Ooof. 20+ years of BigLaw experience. I’ve seen this happen in two situations. In one, a lot of partners don’t remember the salary. It’s lockstep and they honestly often forget. In the other, they often offer non BigLaw lawyers making the jump entry level until they’re skills are ‘validated,’ then raise them to level if they work out.

        1. OP # 3*

          That’s a very interesting point since he is making the jump from a prominent boutique to biglaw. My husband would be working for the same kind of clients and industry so experience is not an issue. The firm in question hasn’t followed w/ the Cravath scale for quite some time and their mid to senior level associate salary is black box as opposed to lock step.

          1. Foley*

            This is such a teeny-tiny world, is there a way to find out – not just for this, but for other firms who have fallen off the lockstep payscale as he goes on this process? Alumni networks? Friend networks?

            This payscale change happened at a lot of places a few years back and while some have returned (bounding back during the pandemic – they did gangbusters this year and quite a few are doing VERY well in 2020 – as partners get payouts in first quarter), others haven’t, obviously.

            But I know almost every payscale at every BIGLAW firm because everyone talks. I was actually on a flight last month and sat next to a newly minted partner from Perkins Coie and the first thing we discussed was all the numbers. (partners fiduciary duty is a different conversation).

            Also, I get the black-box. But I’m going to be straight up honest, it’s kind of a way to pay less to women/POC/lower tier school graduates when they want to do that as well. That’s a different conversation, but maybe relevant which is why it’s important to try to get as much information as possible upfront.

            1. Foley*

              Ooops, that’s well in 2020, 2021, AND 2022 – especially as all the labor advising boosted profits. Also, I would not assume the BigLaw folks see boutique and BigLaw as equivalent. Those top 10 – 20 firms think they’re God’s gift and no one but people from those top firms *truly* understands BigLaw and anything outside of that is a big learning curve. It’s stupid, but I’ve heard more conversations like this than I can count.

      5. Shiba Dad*

        Thanks for the info.

        Yeah, don’t let your hubby undervalue himself. I’m trying to get my brother (20+ years of manufacturing supervisory experience with his current employer) to not do that. He wants to relocate back to where we grew up, which has lower COL than where he lives now. I think he is starting to realize he is underpaid at his current job and he shouldn’t base salary expectations around that salary.

      6. Rusty Shackelford*

        He’s being grossly underpaid as it is at his current firm which is why a 25% cut from market would still be fine by him.

        But that’s no reason for him to *ask* to be underpaid. He should ask for market pay.

        1. Kes*

          This. Even if husband would accept a lower offer, he should still ask for market, otherwise he’s lowballing himself and setting himself up to continue to be underpaid, albeit by less. Most companies won’t offer you more than you’ve asked for, but they may come back and offer less, unless you’re really so far apart they don’t think it makes sense to even make the offer, in which case it’s probably a bad fit. And that happens sometimes; some companies just underpay. If that happens consistently you may need to review or revise your expectations

          1. No Longer Looking*

            I’d suggest in his situation, when asked for salary requirements lead with something like “My research indicates that similar positions are paying roughly $X. I assume your company is close to market range taking other included benefits into account?”

      7. Abogado Avocado*

        OP3, my sense is that the question that could be asked here is why the interviewer thought your husband wasn’t worth the salary your husband quoted. Troublingly, it may be because the interviewer thought your husband was seeking a contract-lawyer position (which, in BigLaw, gives you a much lower salary for a much briefer work week) or because the interviewer decided that your husband isn’t bringing much to the table but his billing ability.

        For those who don’t understand how large law firms operate, associates are expected to bill and collect sufficient fees to cover their own costs — generally, salary + 30 percent for benefits — and their share of firm overhead and to provide a profit for the partners. As associates become more experienced, they are expected to do the foregoing, as well as to produce new business. In the end, partnership is not offered to those who bill the most (because any competent lawyer can do that), but to those who generate the most revenue for the firm and who produce the most new business. Thus, when BigLaw hires laterals (lawyers who have been out some years), it’s looking not only for lawyers who can bill and collect, but also for those who are most likely to produce new business.

        (And, yes, AboveTheLaw says yadda, yadda, yadda about what upper-level associates are paid. But, AboveTheLaw is terrible about reminding readers that those stratospheric salaries accrue only to associates who got in as baby lawyers and worked their way up, to legacies (the offspring of partners), or to lateral hires who are bringing business to the firm. )

        So why isn’t your husband’s strategy to low-ball his salary a good one in this situation? Because it communicates that your husband probably isn’t able to generate business on his own. If generating business is not your husband’s bag, then he may want to consider setting his sights lower than BigLaw or he may want to regroup and determine how to generate business in his current firm so that he has something to take with him if he leaves.

    4. KRM*

      The best response would be “Oh, I’m sorry, with that salary you’re clearly not looking to hire someone at my level”, if you don’t mind them getting probably snippy about it. But if you’re already asking 25% below market, and they’re only offering entry level–I’d feel comfortable calling them out on that like this, as for sure I would not be accepting a job there anytime soon. It’s one thing to be in a sector where pay is less than market normally. It’s quite another to be offered entry level when you’re not entry level.

  20. Katie*

    I work for a company who deals in billions of dollars in payroll. On Friday, my coworker and I figured out a terminated associate was underpaid by 130 of an 8000 payment they were supposed to get from early last year. Guess what? We are starting the process to get them their rightful money.

  21. Delta Delta*

    #1 – This seems pretty easy to me. OP can tell coworker that the pregnancy is making her incredibly sensitive to smells, and that the secondhand (third hand? passive?) smoke in her jacket and clothes is trigging her vomit reflex. If coworker is a decent person she’ll fix it. But it’s possible she doesn’t realize how strong it is, or that it’s causing such a problem. If she refuses, I think OP can ask to have her desk moved.

    I’ve shared this before, but I once worked somewhere where 3 departments – including HR – shared a floor and common kitchen. A woman in HR got pregnant and found the smell of microwave popcorn induced immediate projectile vomiting. So she emailed everyone on the floor, and everyone in my and the other department agreed not to make popcorn. The jerks in HR kept doing it and whined that it wasn’t fair they had to change their snack. Point being, for reasonable people, a request that involves “please don’t make me vomit” is probably going to be well-received.

    1. I should really pick a name*

      I kind of hope she made a point of vomiting in the HR section of the office.

    2. Lady_Lessa*

      That poor woman and the popcorn odor.

      While I have never had that issue, I can sympathize, because I cannot stand that odor either. Where I used to work the vent from the breakroom, which was across the hall, went into the back room of the lab, I could always smell the popcorn. Where I work now, there is greater distance and I’m not sure who, if anyone eats it.

      1. Mockingjay*

        Our local hospital banned microwave popcorn by the staff, because patients could smell it and got very grumbly because their conditions/diet usually precluded partaking of the snack. (And who remembers to wipe the microwave after heating one of those bags? The grease/fake butter covers the inside of the oven.)

      2. Delta Delta*

        I don’t like the smell either. It smells like a bottle of aspirin to me.

    3. JelloStapler*

      Tell me your HR does not care about staff without telling me your HR does not care about staff…

    1. MicroManagered*

      LOL Right?!

      Dear Ask A Manager, I just discovered my coworker smokes pot. How do I make friends?

      1. TyphoidMary*

        Dear Ask A Manager, I can smell pot on my coworker… and it’s clear she’s getting really subpar stuff. I worry that her connection is just giving her stems. How do I discreetly let her know that I can hook her up with some dank herb?!

    2. cubone*

      What a breath of fresh air (ha) in a comment section full of some truly awful takes.

  22. anonymous73*

    #1 Definitely talk to your colleague first. Explain the situation and also express that you don’t want to get her in trouble, but this needs to get resolved. And if she doesn’t comply go to your manager. It would be no different if she wore heavy perfume or lotion that affected you. I get migraines a lot and one of the triggers is strong smells (whether I find them pleasant or not). I have no issue with people smoking weed on their own time, but she knows the laws/rules of the company and chooses to ignore them. If you just wanted to tattle tat would be one thing. But the odor is affecting your health and it’s not on you to keep her from experiencing consequences.
    #2 Unless your manager has given you reason to think otherwise, I’d chalk it up to inexperience. Even if there was a miscommunication between her and HR, most people know that a PIP is not a good thing. Definitely meet with her and figure out where the disconnect is and loop in HR if needed.
    #3 You can most certainly end an interview when it’s clear that it’s not something that interests you for ANY reason. It’s a waste of everyone’s time to continue, and reasonable people will appreciate ending it early if you feel it’s not a good fit. And for future reference, get the salary range up front from whoever contacts you after submitting an application. There’s no point in having an interview if you’re not in the same ballpark.

  23. Hlao-roo*

    OP3: I had a phone screen with one company and about 15 minutes in, the recruiter asked what salary I was looking for. I told them, and they responded along the lines of “that’s above the top end of our range for this position and we won’t be able to meet that. I don’t want to take up any more of your time talking about [job title].” Basically, they used the recruiter version of Alison’s script and I thought it was very respectful of them.

    1. Miette*

      I’ve started asking at the phone screen stage so no one’s time is wasted. I am in a “horizontal” kind of job (marketing) and am well-established in two very different industries (high tech and non-profits) where my base salary requirement will be completely different based on who I’m talking to. Not to mention, even within industries, some firms are at the higher end than others.

    2. KRM*

      I have done that as well. It’s a good way to figure out what a company’s title structure is as well (at least in biotech). I was a senior associate scientist at one place, and lots of places don’t have that “associate scientist” track, just having “research associate” and then into “scientist”. So I’d apply to places that wanted a principal research associate, and the salary discussion would tell me what side of the spectrum I would fall on in their structure. I had one recruiter who I think wanted to have me in for an interview, but he wasn’t sure about salary, which told me that although he thought I had good skills and would be an asset, my title wasn’t what the group had the budget for (and likely projects for). It’s good information for both sides, and if I considered that company in the future, I would know what level they considered me to be at when looking at jobs available.

      1. Hlao-roo*

        Yeah, that’s pretty much what happened to me. The job title on the listing looked similar to the job title I had at the time, but that company uses the titles differently so the position was too junior (and thus didn’t pay enough) for me.

    3. The OTHER Other.*

      Many years ago I went through a phone screen that included salary expectations and was asked to come in to do an interview with the hiring manager the next day. After some background, hiring manager asked about my salary expectations and I reiterated what I’d said to the HR person on the phone. She made a face like she’d just smelled a dead animal and shook her head. I said I would consider a bit lower for good opportunities to advance and she just kept shaking her head. That was a huge disconnect between HR and the manager, and I told them both so. If it’s evident we are far apart on salary, why not have that conversation on the phone vs: having me schlep to your office to be rejected out of hand? That was a waste of everyone’s time.

      1. Formerly Frustrated Optimist*

        I had a somewhat analogous experience when I was searching: I’d had a phone screen with the hiring manager that had gone well, although salary was never discussed.

        Hiring manager brings me in for two interviews in one afternoon and meets with me first. After a few minutes in person, she did ask about my salary expectations. When I replied, she said, “This job doesn’t pay that.” I – like you – tried to gauge how far apart we were. I would have considered something slightly lower for the right opportunity. However, she (the hiring manager) said she didn’t know, and would have to get back to me.

        The rest of the afternoon was fairly uncomfortable because I was disappointed, but I did my best not to show it.

        I did hear back from the hiring manager’s underling a couple weeks later, and the salary was indeed too low for me to consider. I withdrew my application at that point.

        But to this day, I wonder if I should have called it quits right when the hiring manager said, “This job doesn’t pay that.” I’d welcome anyone’s thoughts on the subject!

        1. Hlao-roo*

          I think calling it quits vs waiting it out depends on how much you will agonize over the job while you’re waiting to hear back.

          If you’re the kind of person who won’t be able to stop thinking about it, so you spent a couple weeks with a dark cloud over your head only to hear you and the company were too far apart on salary, it makes sense to call it quits right away in the future.

          If you’re the kind of person who can put it out of your head and enjoy your life while you’re waiting to hear back, I think it makes sense to wait it out. This particular company was too far apart on salary, but you never know if a different company could come back with “the best we can offer you is $2,000 below your salary requirements” but they have a great benefits package/company culture/etc. that makes the job worthwhile.

          1. Formerly Frustrated Optimist*

            I think that’s a fair assessment; thank you.

            This company (OK, it was a private university) had the opportunity to inquire about salary with me during my phone screen, but for whatever reason, did not.

            Additionally, if the hiring manager was in a position to ask me about my salary requirements, it always struck me as odd that she knew “this job didn’t pay that,” but also didn’t know what the job paid. (I mean, what the heck….!?)

            The kicker? It was a job in the university’s *business* school.

            You know the expression, “The one that got away did you a favor”? Case in point!

  24. BA*

    OP4 – They took your money and didn’t provide the benefit that you paid for. They don’t owe you an explanation… they owe you the money back. This is YOUR money, not the company’s, that is paying for the transit benefit. It seems like they’re stalling in hopes that people forget about it and they don’t need to deal with the accounting. Continue to hold their feet to the fire, and get others to do the same.

  25. MCMonkeyBean*

    I wonder if for OP1 is there is a workable white lie that might make sense for your space to come up with another reason to ask your boss if you could move to different cube–like asking to be closer to the bathrooms or something?

    Unless you and your coworker are meant to be in the office at the same time specifically so you can work together in which case I suppose that isn’t really an option.

  26. Elsa*

    I live in a recreational weed state but in a non-smoking (of any kind) building. By choice. Every time I smell smoke in the hallway, I say loudly, “Wow, it really stinks of weed in here” hoping the guilty hear. Smokers really don’t think they smell – I think you will be doing her a favor to let her know.

    1. cubone*

      “I say loudly, “Wow, it really stinks of weed in here” hoping the guilty hear”

      I mean this in the nicest way possible, but if they do hear (which they probably don’t), the chance that overhearing a random passive aggressive comment makes them feel bad or reconsider is probably zero to none.

  27. Observer*

    #1 – Please speak up. You will be doing her a favor. We recently had to fire someone for marijuana use. Not that we care about what people do on their personal time, but they reeked of it, and it was creating a problem. (In this case, there was some suspicion that they were using at work.) Your coworker probably doesn’t realize how easy it is for someone to realize that she is using because she doesn’t realize how string the smell is. Once she realizes this, she will also realize that she’s putting her job at risk, as your employer DOES care what she’s doing after hours.

    On the other hand, if she’s not willing to try to mitigate the issue, then the repercussions are on her, because that’s just not a decent way to act.

  28. Minerva*

    Nothing to add that hasn’t been said, but I hope LW 2 has a positive update in the future. The whole thing is so strange!

  29. OyHiOh*

    For LW 5, imagine disorganization or incompetence rather than anything else.

    My organization recently hired. At one point early on, I was printing resumes as they came in, sorting into three pile, and handing off to my boss. As we realized we were going to have more interest in the position than we’d imagined, I had to backtrack and establish a digital file to go along with the boss’s hard copy. Although I’d saved most resumes to my drive prior to printing, I’d not saved all of them so when the need for a digital file became apparent, I need to download quite a few resumes a second time, a mountain of scanning, and then time on my end sorting the digital file to match how the hard copy had been organized.

    1. MMM*

      Hi OP#5 here. Thanks for this insight! I was also thinking this too as before I met the hiring manager, HR seemed a little disorganized after my first interview. They didn’t contact me for a week when they said they would and it wasn’t until I contacted them that they moved me onto the next interview.

      It’s hard not to read into every little detail though and I would feel more confident if the job wasn’t reposted.

  30. JelloStapler*

    We got a rental car in California once where the previous user had clearly enjoyed weed and they had tried to clean it out without much luck. They offered for us to get another car but at the time it didn’t seem too bothersome…

    By the end of the 48 hours, we wish we had asked to switch- it was awful. *gag*

    1. Rusty Shackelford*

      I was given a loaner car by the dealership where mine was being worked on. I had to sign an agreement that included not smoking in the car. I’m sure the previous driver signed the same agreement, but that didn’t stop them. I also thought I could deal with it, but 15 minutes later had to stop and buy a little Febreeze car air freshener (which actually worked pretty well).

    2. urguncle*

      I was a service writer about 10 years ago and my garage had this great customer with an Audi TT that he must have hotboxed daily. He was the nicest, chillest dude, never argued about prices or timing. Once he even bought all of the techs lunch just because he was in the area.

      That car smelled so strongly that merely opening the doors would instantly fill the entire 8-lift garage with the smell. One of the techs ended up having to change coveralls because he didn’t want to go home to his family smelling *that* strongly of weed. It seems to just permeate car seating.

      1. JustaTech*

        My brother (who smokes like a chimney) worked for a car detailer at some point that introduced him to a product that (it was claimed) could completely remove the smell of smoke from an enclosed space like a car. My response was “yeah, sure” because I just didn’t think it was possible, and if it worked why do so many used cars stink?

        Then I was visiting him at my parent’s house (they were away) and he was smoking inside (very much not OK) but he bought this “bomb” thing and, dang if it didn’t work! And I have a *very* sensitive nose. Now, I’m sure it’s toxic as all heck, and we still opened all the windows to air out the fake vanilla scent, but I was impressed.

        1. L'étrangere*

          When I inherited the car my stepfather had been ‘secretly’ smoking in for years, a friend suggested Febreze. It took literally soaking the entire car in it, including the rugs and fabric roof covering, and leaving it open to air out for an afternoon. But it worked well, no smoke and no perfume residue

    3. Nanani*

      This is also why places like hotels need to actually have non-smoking rooms/floors be permanently so – there’s no getting tobacco out of the furnishings between occupants.

    4. Gary Patterson’s Cat*

      Stale weed is definitely one of THOSE smells where the originator seems to go noseblind! (Much like cats!)

      Definitely mention it to your coworker in a nonjudgmental way, because they probably don’t realize it’s so awful.

    5. Slovenly Braid Cultist*

      We tried zipcar for a month, and one trip in the local hotboxmobile and we decided not to renew.

      It wasn’t the only reason, but it was a big one.

    6. Feral Historian*

      I had a similar experience in Colorado right after weed was legalized. I noted it on the rental form and then I drove 80mph on the highway with the windows down for a few hours, which cleared it right out.

  31. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

    OP1: I burn incense at home, quite a fair bit and it’s part of my religion. I honestly believed that people could barely smell it on me at work.

    One person actually set me straight – saying ‘look,I dunno what you’re burning and why but I can smell it on you quite strongly. Maybe have a different change of clothes for work?’

    So I do! There were a few suggestions from her later that I needed to wash my hair every day because the smell clings to everything but I can’t do that. Just the suggestion that *something* stinks, it’s a burning substance (and to be fair some of my incense can smell like pot) and that maybe I should change clothes was enough.

    Also didn’t result in a fight on morality :)

  32. Cake or Death?*

    If it smells that strongly, it’s likely because some on her person. I know a lot of people that smoke and that smoke doesn’t really cling to clothes for that long, unlike cigarette smoke. I mean, unless she’s just clambaking in a tiny closet with her coat and purse, it’s unlikely it would be that strong. But, CARRYING it on you will smell very strong. I’ve definitely run into that scenario.

    1. NeedRain47*

      My guess would be she’s smoking in her car before work, at lunch, etc. Smoking in a small enclosed enviroment where all the smoke is trapped… you can really, really smell it if they come inside right after that. Source: former coworkers smoking in their cars before work & at lunch.

      1. wine not?*

        I don’t understand how that’s become so acceptable… even when it’s legal, why is it okay to get high before work?? If you’re drinking alcohol every morning and at lunch, you’re an alcoholic… but it seems socially acceptable to smoke weed before work. When did this happen?

        It’s still illegal in my state, and I’m 100% pro-legalization. But my coworkers used to smoke every morning before driving to work and then again at lunch, and I thought that was so weird that it was seen as okay.

        1. Orange+You+Glad*

          It didn’t. I don’t know anywhere that it would be acceptable. Do people still do it? Sure. But if I had an employee show up visibly intoxicated on anything, I would say something.

          I know the medical aspect can cause a grey area but my understanding is that anyone using it medically is generally not prescribed to use so much they are stoned out of their mind.

          It’s still illegal in my state too, but we have medical now. I haven’t run into this issue yet at work but basically, as long as I don’t know, it’s not at the office, and it doesn’t affect the work, I’d rather not know what an employee is doing in their free time.

          1. GythaOgden*

            The UK legalised CBD products for medical or therapeutic use while keeping recreational THC extracts illegal. I don’t care if someone smokes it and I don’t care whether it’s legal, but our move seems like a reasonable way to begin that process.

            I was in the awkward situation where when CBD became legal, my mum, hitherto zero tolerance on any kind of drugs whatsoever, started pushing cannabis oil pills on my husband to try and treat his cancer. The friend who recommended it also said it did wonders for her relative with Aspergers, while looking directly at me.

            I don’t drink because I’m on meds that don’t play nicely with alcohol, so the strongest thing I take recreationally is caffeine. An ice cold coke blows away the cobwebs and coffee with milk relaxes me (and I’ve also got into iced tea). I’d rather avoid stuff that goes further, not because I disapprove entirely but because I know what works to relax me and have found my comfort zone.

            We did have a lecture once at school from brain chemist Susan Greenfield, a former student. She avoids any kind of stimulant, including caffeine, and although she knew she couldn’t convince all of us to give up tea and coffee and other substances that do affect brain chemistry (you can prise my cherry Pepsi Max out of my cold dead hands; shame I’m in the UK and it doesn’t actually contain ginseng) it was very interesting to see what she knew about it.

            Of course, someone with weird brain chemistry like me needed the meds just to become a functional adult, but I’d imagine knowing more about how it all works up there actually makes people more aware of what they put in to their bodies.

  33. MMM*

    Hello, this is OP5.

    I know I come off a little crazy in my question so I want to clarify the amount of communications I had with the hiring manager and HR person for my two interviews.

    I sent one thank you note each to them and the hiring manager replied back. I sent one update and the hiring manager replied back. The hiring manager then reached out to meet without me emailing them to give me an update. That is the extent of it all.

    I will not be emailing weekly. However, another recruiter at my current job who I’m close with gave me the advice to contact them sometime this week asking about my candidacy and bringing up the job being reposted. It’s been a 5 business days since the hiring manager reached out to me. I feel like if I wait maybe 3 or 4 more business days this week, I should be okay to email them. What do you think?

    1. Rowan*

      Another possibility, to add to Alison’s list, is that they’re hiring for more than one person in that role. There are several roles at my company where we’re looking for more multiples in the same role. So they could be on track to to hire you, and looking for someone(s) else just as awesome!

      1. MMM*

        This could be true but I’m also not sure. There is one thing I left out. The role is actually below my pay grade and I have more experience than what they are asking for. I would actually be taking a huge pay cut but I like the company and the role is my dream role. Maybe they reposted the job to see if they can find someone who fits the lower experience so they don’t feel bad for giving me a job where the pay is really low for me…OR and this is just me being very optimistic…they want to give me a role with a more senior title and higher pay than the original role that matches my actual experience, and then they will look for someone under me. However, if that’s the case, they should be hiring me ASAP to train me.

    2. Hlao-roo*

      I want to reiterate Alison’s point that they will not forget to hire you if they want to hire you. And a week or two feels like a long time to you, as a job-searcher. But for the hiring manager, who has all their normal job duties on top of looking for a candidate, two weeks isn’t that long at all.

      So if you really feel compelled to reach out, I would wait until two weeks after you last heard from them. But the best course of action for you right now is to assume you did not get this particular job, focus on applying to other jobs, and let it be a pleasant surprise if the hiring manager reaches out in the future with more information/an offer.

    3. Irish Reader*

      As an occasional hiring manager myself, I would read this as a wee bit high-maintenance, and I would caution against this. (Others may disagree, that’s ok, I can only give OP my own perspective).

      Alison’s advice is spot-on. You have to let it go. I’ve had to apply this advice to myself when I was job-hunting three years ago, so I know first-hand this isn’t easy when you want closure asap. If they like you, they will want to lock you in as soon as possible, but there could be some other interviews happening, and those candidates also deserve an equal shot.

      I’ve had candidates do this to me, and I completely get why. But if I give candidates a timeline – and I am as transparent as possible about interviewing other candidates and my best target dates for filling the role- then sending me more email in the meantime isn’t really going to make things go any faster. Now if you have a competing offer or want to withdraw, then yes, I would want to know, but otherwise I’m proceeding according to my schedule and timelines.

      For my last vacancy, I was juggling candidates from two agencies, internal applicants, and via my own LinkedIn. I posted the role on LinkedIn twice, as (1) the ad was attracting more junior candidates than anticipated (2) many applicants didn’t have suitable working visas for my country. For those reasons, I had to refine the wording and ad filters on those points.

      On the other hand: I think it is really good that the hiring manager is following up with you proactively, I’d see no reason why they wouldn’t continue to do that throughout their process. If they’ve told you they want to give you a more senior title, then it sounds like there needs to be some financial (plus other stakeholder) sign-off to make that happen. So please hold your horses – easier said than done, I know, but try to blank it out… I’ve been ghosted from more “final” interviews than I care to remember; it is never a done deal until you get the contract.

    4. Happy*

      It’s been a week since they last spoke with you! Reaching out again in the next 3-4 days is too much. They might still move you forward (and perhaps even hire you eventually) but contacting them again right now is much more likely to result in a mark against you for being too high maintenance than to work out to your benefit.

      Just wait to hear back from them. Or, like Alison said, maybe send them one email in a month.

  34. NeedRain47*

    LW#2 has my sympathy- I didn’t get put on a PIP, but in a similar fashion, I wrote in my annual evaluation that I was improving my time management planning for the large number of assorted things I work on. Not because I sucked at it but b/c I saw room for improvement. Despite zero problems or complains, somehow this became “you suck at time management and get a lower score on your evaluation”. There was no rectifying it.

    1. JustaTech*

      Some people always take things the worst possible way. We had a company survey a few years ago and one group was like “here are all the new projects we want to work on that we’re really excited about, and these are the specific things we want to learn” and after that was run through the “worst possible interpretation” machine we all got marked down for “not being engaged”. For being excited about new projects.

      I don’t get it, but it’s distressingly common.

  35. MCMonkeyBean*

    I’m confused about this part from HR on letter 4: “we have to make a decision if working from home is what we’re doing”

    This is about money they took in April 2020 right? If so, it seems beyond ridiculous for them to be saying they have to make a decision about whether you are working from home two years ago. Or have I misunderstood and they’ve been taking this money from your paycheck all this time?

  36. Nanani*

    The PIP one makes me sad for the world – if it WASN’T an honest misunderstanding about what a PIP is.

    If it was intentional, it seems to suggest the manager is one of those “project confidence no matter what” types that takes any honest, responsible acknowledgment of errors as an affront. The type of person that covers up all their mistakes (or refuses to accept they made any) and assumes everyone else does the same is often punitive of anyone “weak” (to their eyes) enough to acknowledge that they aren’t perfect every moment of the day.
    That attitude is poison, so I really hope the manager made a paperwork mistake and isn’t actually putting LW2 on a path to being fired over acknowledging that they have room to grow, like some kind of human being.

  37. JSRN*

    LW 2, take Alison’s advice and speak to your manager right away about the PIP. Either she really misunderstood what you were trying to say (imo highly unlikely), or she’s a bad manager. I do think Alison is being too gentle in saying the boss doesn’t understand what she sent you. Of course she knows she gave you a PIP. Being a new manager doesn’t excuse that and it’s her responsibility as the manager to ensure she’s providing appropriate feedback to her staff. Address this right away and follow it up with written confirmation of what you spoke about. If you don’t think your manager will be approachable, go directly to HR about this.

    This is different than your situation, but at my former job, my manager kept putting me on a PIP because she didn’t want me to transfer out of her dept. Like you, I asked her for more professional development so that I can be the best I can be. She asked me directly if I wanted to transfer into another dept. I told her at some point, yes I would like to move up and advance (I guess I should have not been honest). Well, she kept putting me on 3 month PIPs so that I couldn’t even apply for other roles within the company. When I told her that I want to stay in her dept, she “cancelled” the PIPs. Maybe your manager is threatened by your skillset and doesn’t want you to move up. It’s definitely possible.

    I don’t usually suggest this, but it may be best to look for another job (or at least another position in that company). I know it may not be easy for you right now, but this is not how a good manager reacts to their staff asking for development. Imo, it’s one of the signs of a bad boss and one of the many reasons I quit my old job.

  38. Khatul Madame*

    LW2’s experience illustrates the imperative NOT to show your vulnerabilities around your manager. Your manager is not your mentor or confidante, so do not assume they are on your side. If you feel a gap in your skills, try to work independently to improve.
    Sorry, LW2.

    1. Purple Cat*

      Umm, this is a really unfortunate take on a manager/employee relationship and not at all how it works in a good working environment. Caveat that of course I know there are a lot of lousy workplaces out there. A good manager WANTS to develop their employees and help them improve their skillsets. My boss is constantly giving me ideas for professional development courses and I recently got promoted and received a company-award, so it’s not like he’s disappointed in my work.

    2. UKDancer*

      I think this heavily depends on your manager and the relationship. As a manager I want my staff to develop and achieve their potential. I recognise it may result in their moving on but I want them to be all they can be. Likewise I look to my manager to support my development and help me achieve my potential.

      While there are undeniably bad managers out there, the majority of the ones I’ve had wanted to help and support me.

    3. Nameless in Customer Service*

      I know many commenters will disagree but personally, I agree. There is no way to know if one can trust one’s manager without risking one’s job, and that’s a hefty gamble. Better to smile, do one’s job as best one can, and remember that they are not necessarily on one’s side.

      1. Polly Hedron*

        I agree too. Trusting your manager is like trusting HR. You shouldn’t assume that they are on your side (unless, somehow, they have proved that they are).

  39. Hate that skunk smell*

    OP1 – I would highly suggest talking to your co-worker, but you may also want to consider investing (or better yet, have your workplace invest in) a HEPA-grade air filter for your desk. I had two running constantly while apartment neighbors with someone who smoked large quantities of marijuana and cigarettes 24/7. The filters won’t completely eliminate the smell but they sure will help.

  40. Gary Patterson’s Cat*

    3. Ending an interview when the salary is too low

    It’s frustrating, but when that happens it is perfectly ok to politely withdraw with something like: “For this position, I really need to be somewhere around $X per year. It sounds like we are very far apart based on your stated range. Based on this, it does not seem to make sense to move me forward in the hiring process, do you agree?” Followed by.
    “I wish you success in finding the right candidate, thank you for your consideration.”

    It happens. Personally, I’d always rather get this out of the way on phone screens before any interviews.

  41. wine not?*

    These comments have brought up something I’ve been trying to figure out. Cannabis is still illegal in my state, and I’m 100% pro-legalization. However, I don’t understand why it’s become so acceptable to smoke before work, before driving, etc.

    I know that just because LW’s coworker smells like weed, it doesn’t necessarily mean that she’s smoking before work and during breaks. But I have had coworkers who come to work talking about how they smoked that morning before driving to work and are going to go smoke again during lunch, and it’s socially acceptable. If I talked about drinking wine before work, everyone would (rightfully) call me an alcoholic… but weed is fine? I really don’t understand.

    I know the argument is that weed doesn’t impair you like alcohol does… but I’m not impaired after a few sips of wine, and I’d probably be a lot more relaxed at work if I had some….

    1. Hlao-roo*

      I think there are a few things going on with cannabis legalization/decriminalization:

      1) Because legalization is so recent in many places, there aren’t good cultural understandings the way there are for alcohol and cigarettes. (Don’t drink before work, illegal to drink and drive, don’t light up in someone else’s house without asking first, illegal to smoke inside restaurants, etc.)
      2) Some people may be thinking about weed the same way as cigarettes, especially if they smoke it. Can I smoke [cigarettes/weed] while driving? Yes. Can I smoke [cigarettes/weed] on my lunch break? Yes.

      This is not to say I agree with people who smoke before work, while driving, etc. This is just the best I can come up with to explain that behavior.

      1. wine not?*

        Interesting, thank you for chiming in! I feel like such a prude (not really the right word but not sure what word to use?) to be horrified when my coworker was bragging about how she smokes every day before work.

        1. Hlao-roo*

          I think the word you’re looking for is “square,” as in “I feel like such a square” (I say this as someone who is a total square).

    2. Nanani*

      Living somewhere that has legalized cannabis, there actually have been a lot of PSAs and clarifying signs around things like that. Don’t toke and drive because you are impaired; don’t smoke a joint in non-smoking places because no smoking signs still apply (ditto vaping), that sort of thing.

      1. wine not?*

        That makes sense! Maybe it’s more because it is illegal in my area, there really isn’t much talk about “don’t smoke and drive” because the language is still “don’t smoke, period.”

        People in my city tend to smoke EVERYWHERE, despite it being illegal, because you really won’t get in trouble…if you’re white. It’s still different for minorities, unfortunately.

        I’m 100% pro-legalization, but I’m just not okay with smoking and driving. But I seem to be the only one sometimes…. I also don’t think it’s okay to smoke recreationally before coming to work. But you run into the problem of, is it okay to smoke as, for example, PTSD treatment? Probably, but then would the person coming to work reeking of pot and seemingly impaired have to prove that their cannabis use is for their disorder? That seems like it’s none of your employer’s business….

        1. Nameless in Customer Service*

          Yeah, if the options are only “don’t do this or break the law” it’s harder to convey nuance to people.

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

      There are documented medical reasons for using cannabis and no medical reasons for alcohol so it’s not really comparing apples to apples. I know you’re thinking of it as recreational use, but you likely don’t know if your coworker (or anyone else) is using it as a medication — even casually, without a prescription or diagnosis — especially in a place where it is illegal. Studies seem to be indicating that cannabis isn’t nearly as addictive as alcohol either; so while it might be a logical step to assume someone drinking as soon as they wake up has a problem, it’s not quite as clear cut with cannabis. As it becomes legal, and as easy to obtain as alcohol, that info may change.

      As Nanani points out, it isn’t ok to drive under the influence of cannabis or anything really that impairs driving — so while the police don’t do PSA’s about it, don’t drive under the influence of decongestants or an antihistamine that makes you drowsy or slow to react either.

      1. wine not?*

        Well, in my coworker’s case, I do know that it was recreational. But I agree that just because someone smells like weed doesn’t mean they were necessarily using it recreationally that morning, before driving to work. What I’m more talking about is the culture around it… the fact that my coworkers felt comfortable smoking around me on break and telling me that they smoked every morning. The fact that they openly got high and then drove their cars… etc. I’m baffled at why this is culturally acceptable.

        That does make sense, though… In my area, it isn’t legal, so it’s not like there are PSAs or anything like that. I keep hearing people say they’re fine to drive after smoking… even when they are, to my eyes, obviously impaired. Maybe as it does become legal, it will become (paradoxically) less acceptable to smoke and drive.

        1. Gerry Keay*

          I don’t know if it is generally culturally acceptable! I live in a legalized area that’s very well known for it’s weed culture, and I’ve used weed daily both recreationally and medically (to manage chronic GI issues and anxiety symptoms) for about a decade. I am NOT this cavalier at work and don’t know anyone else who is. I only talk about weed with coworkers I know well and trust, and even then, I would never tell a coworker that I was smoking before work (even if I have done it a few times when my symptoms were bad enough that it was a small smoke before work or take a sick day). Might just be a weird sample you’re encountering!

        2. pieces_of_flair*

          Maybe your coworkers are just irresponsible? I don’t think there is a large-scale culture of driving/working while on cannabis being acceptable. I am a regular cannabis user in a state where it’s legal and it’s super not ok to drive under the influence or brag about using drugs/being impaired at work!

      2. Observer*

        no medical reasons for alcohol

        That’s actually not true. The problem is that research doesn’t get done because every time something like this comes up you get HOWLS of outrage at how IRRESPONSIBLE it is to “encourage drinking!”

        Something similar affects cannabis, although in the case of pot it’s worse because there is legal force behind it. There is a reason why most of the research has been done outside of the US – because it’s extremely difficult to do legal research in the US. Most of the logic is “Weed is so terrible, horrible, very bad and no good that we can’t even allow anyone to look at possible upsides.” Or that it’s “too dangerous” to allow anyone to do the research because it’s going to “encourage” people to abuse drugs. And not just pot, but it’s a “gateway drug!” If you use marijuana (or drink alcohol according to a lot of these folks) that’s your introduction to “hard drugs”.

    4. Gary Patterson's Cat*

      It is never acceptable to smoke weed and drive–even if you use it for medical purposes. If weed is legal in your state, the same rules apply as with alcohol and it’ is considered DUI – Driving Under the Influence. And believe me, I have always been for legalization of cannabis.

      1. Dahlia*

        Yeah when pot was legalized in Canada, there was a big push on campaigns regarding driving under the influence, actually.

  42. Antilla the Hon*

    When my kiddo was in elementary school, his teacher had a certain brand of plug-in air freshener. He would come home reeking of fake apple cinnamon air freshener—-hair, clothes, papers, etc. HATED that smell with a passion and hated that is was on my kid. At the time I didn’t know some of these things were toxic. There is a rep for that same company who lives in my neighborhood and every time I walk past her house I can smell that same nasty apple cinnamon smell!

    1. cubone*

      one time I left a necklace on the bathroom counter under a newly plugged in oil diffuser thing at my parents home. it took like 10 minutes after I put it back on for everyone to be like……….. what on EARTH is that awful smell. And it was me lol. It took like 3 showers scrubbing my chest with a loofah and soap to get rid of it and I had a migraine for days.

      Also “rep for that brand in the neighborhood”…… if this what I’m thinking of, oh boy that brand takes it to another level.

  43. Student*

    OP #2: I had something similar happen to me. Met with my manager for my annual review. He said everything was going great, no complaints or concerns about my performance. However, I told him about a problem I was running into consistently on projects – I’d get stuck waiting from someone else’s input on my project and it’d cause delays. I was looking for help figuring out how to get inputs from other people in a more timely manner.

    He put me on a PIP. He told me a large part of why he was doing so was because he was required, by his own management, to meet a certain quota of putting people on PIPs. I’d given him an easy way to fill his quota, in his mind. Take a problem that’s not really mine to fix, schedule delays from other people that were impacting me, put me on a PIP for timeliness. Do a few meetings with me for a few weeks, eventually resolve the issue by deciding I was doing everything I could to address the schedule delays, then close out the PIP.

    He didn’t really think through how I’d see it, though, or how it would impact me. He was just pleased he’d found an easy way to meet his PIP quota and didn’t really consider anything else. The meetings were pointless and deeply frustrating for me, the documentation was onerous, and the looming threat of potential terminating if the PIP didn’t resolve favorably was stressful. I changed jobs before the PIP wrapped up. I couldn’t see any potential upsides to this for me. I could see potential for a lot of career downsides, though, and didn’t want my manager’s PIP quota dragging my career progress down.

    1. ThursdaysGeek*

      Oooh. I wonder if management re-thought that concept of requiring PIPs for each team. How many people who want to do better end up leaving instead? Because I bet it wasn’t just you that left.

    2. MCMonkeyBean*

      Wow, a PIP quota is one of the most ridiculous things I’ve seen on this site!

  44. Anastasia*

    For LW #1, I wonder if the conversation would be a little easier and a little less awkward if they didn’t bring up marijuana at all and just said “you smell like smoke” without mentioning what kind of smoke it is?

  45. Recruited Recruiter*

    LW #3,
    Having worked in recruiting for the kind of place that offers a starting salary far below market for many jobs, I want to make sure that you know that your husband would likely have not been the first person that week to end the interview due to wage.

    My experience from the other side was a little different. I operated off of the posted starting hourly rate for the first two interviews. Then, during the third interview, they offered me a rate $3/hour below the posted rate. I showed them the posting with the rate specified (in my interview binder), and they said that included benefits. I immediately ended the interview and stated that I was unwilling to work for a company who would actively mislead applicants about their wages. I also left a glassdoor slamming this employer.

    Since they didn’t post the rate, Allison has good advice. I expected that response on any candidate above average.

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