employee’s drinking affects her work, live-zooming a Covid test, and more

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

1. Employee’s drinking is affecting her work

An employee at our organization, Jane, is outstanding at her job … and also clearly needs help.

I am not Jane’s direct supervisor, but I manage employees she works closely with. Jane regularly shows up at events visibly intoxicated (both casual outside-of-work get-togethers with coworkers, and formal work events during which alcohol is served, like dinners, galas, etc.). In fact, I can’t remember the last time she showed up to one of those sober. Because it’s never affected her work product, managers haven’t addressed it with her in any formal type of way. Coworkers who have tried to approach the conversation from a place of friendship were met with anger.

Jane is well-liked in the office, and I can’t emphasize enough how strong her work is.

Recently, Jane agreed to work on a project that falls outside her typical work schedule. She missed an important meeting that required her attendance because she was so hungover. Now that this HAS affected her work product, what is management’s responsibility to do something … and what do we do? I really don’t want Jane to get fired, I’m just deeply worried about her safety and well-being.

I’m wondering why no one has addressed it before now! The organization had standing to address it as soon as Jane started showing up drunk to work events. The first time that happened it would have been very, very reasonable to tell her that could never happen again, as well as have a larger conversation about what might be going on.

In any case, her manager, HR, or someone else in her chain of command needs to talk to her right away about what’s going on — laying out their concern for her (is she driving to these events?), the risk to her career, and a clear requirement that she not drink before or during work or work events, as well as whatever the organization is prepared to do to support her in getting treatment (including time off if needed). And if you have an EAP, this is very much EAP referral time — both for her, and potentially for whoever is going to handle this conversation as well.

2. Live-zooming a Covid test with HR

My friend’s company just instituted a new policy around Covid today — if you are positive, you must zoom with HR and take a rapid test in real time and wait and show the results. The zooms will be recorded. (If you take a PCR test, you can just forward the results.)

To me, this feels like basically accusing employees of lying about having Covid. And also seems invasive to have to spend time on a zoom with an HR person, when you’re probably already feeling sick.

Of course, the main issue occurring to me is that false negatives are common with rapid tests. So this seems very problematic for the company — they seem more focused on keeping their employees in the office, rather than helping to ensure there’s not a spread there.

Wondering what you think of this, specifically is it legal and also is it as odd as I think it is? Or maybe this is a thing?

Yeah, this seems like a policy designed to keep people at work at all costs — including the cost of having them spread Covid, since as you point out, false negatives are very, very common on rapid tests, particularly in the first days of infection.

But it’s legal, as far as I can figure out. (Employers are allowed to require Covid testing and to see the results, because of the nature of the threat to public health.) It’s just remarkably bad policy.

Also, what happens if someone tests negative? Are they denied sick leave even if they’re sick? Do the employer just think it will intimidate people into not pretending to have Covid when they don’t? The whole thing is weird.

3. Why does Indeed tell me if an employer viewed my application?

I noticed that Indeed now tells you if someone views your application. The job I applied to through the site is a long shot, but I thought I’d apply because maybe they won’t find anyone with more niche-specific experience. I know they viewed my application from what the website told me. Since I know it’s a long shot, I’m not exactly sitting on the edge of my chair hoping for an interview email, screening phone call, nor anything else. But I think I’d be in knots if this was a job I was really excited about and thought I had a real shot at. It just seems like a way to get someone’s hopes up and it doesn’t change the outcome; all I’d know is that they looked at my resume and I’d be left wondering. Should I follow up with them? (Probably not.) Will they contact me? If so, when? I don’t see the benefit to letting people know their resume was viewed but unworthy of follow-up. How does knowing the resume was looked at add value? I get that they probably think this is beneficial to people who hate not hearing from a company, but it’s really not better. It makes no difference to me if I don’t ultimately get contacted for a phone screening or interview.

I’m wondering if there are people who like this? Maybe they like knowing that the reason they didn’t get called is because they just weren’t what the employer wanted and not because the employer didn’t even look. Maybe some people like that it gives some very vague sense of the progress? But just because they looked at an application after one week, I still won’t know if they’ll do one interview or three or if funding will slow down hiring.

So what gives? I don’t know why a job hiring site would be so out of sync what people really need. If they need to make themselves more marketable, aren’t there other practical things they can do? What would those things be that benefit employees and applicants?

I think you’re right that it’s marketing — it feels like something they can offer applicants, so they are. Some applicants do feel like any additional transparency they can get into a hiring process is a good thing (since it can feel so opaque from the candidate’s side), but you’re right that it’s not actionable and can give people a false sense of having more information when they really don’t.

Stuff that would be more useful for job sites to add (and which some sites do have): an automated system to confirm jobs are still open and remove them when they’re not; better and more accurate categorizations of jobs as on-site, remote, hybrid, or temporarily remote; something that lets you see the employer’s posting history (including now-removed jobs so you can see how often they’ve hired for the same role in the past); better guidance for employers on writing plain-language, accurate job descriptions; and requirements to post salary ranges.

4. I was rejected for not having experience I do have

I recently interviewed with a new employer. I wasn’t actively looking, although at each step, I became more excited about the position, and the people I met with demonstrably were more excited by me, too. But I wasn’t too disappointed when I received a very gracious and thoughtful rejection email from the recruiter I’d been working with throughout the process. I have no hurt feelings about the time spent, I’m grateful for the opportunity to have met with smart and dedicated people, and there’s a real connection there now, which could result in another opportunity in the future. I’m ready to write all this in a reply email, as I’ve done with other rejections, but I’m stuck on one aspect I haven’t encountered before: they’ve misunderstood part of my background in a pretty significant way.

In the rejection email, the recruiter noted a specific type of experience which they thought I lacked, and that they went with someone who has that experience. But I actually do have that experience, lots of it. It’s noted on my resume; however, it never came up in any of the interview discussions. Each discussion focused on other areas of the job and seemed to downplay this particular skill/experience, though I talked about it in my work sample.

Normally, in replying to this type of rejection, I’d say I understand their focus on X and that I hope they will keep me in mind for any future opportunities, either after I have deeper X experience, or in a role more focused on Y. But I don’t know how to address this: should I simply skip over their specific feedback, and reply as if it were a more generic rejection, with something along the lines of “I hope there may be another opportunity in future”? I don’t think I can correct their misconception without sounding like sour grapes, but I also don’t know how seriously they’ll take my candidacy for future positions if they continue to assume I don’t have X experience. Is that an issue better tackled in a future cover letter at that time, should it even happen?

If they hadn’t already hired someone, I’d urge you to clarify right away with something like, “I did want to mention that I do have X experience (fill in details). I of course understand that lots of factors go into a hiring decision but in case that changes your assessment, I’d be happy to talk further. But otherwise, I enjoyed our conversations and hope we might have an opportunity to talk again in the future.”

In this case, though, where they’ve already hired someone, I’d word it more like: “I did want to mention that I do have X experience (fill in details), so if there’s a similar role open in the future, I hope we might have an opportunity to talk further.”

Also, for what it’s worth, while it’s possible that they really missed that you had that experience, it’s also possible that something got lost in translation with the recruiter (like the hiring manager talked about how glad they are that the new hire has experience in X and that wrongly ended up in the recruiter’s email as the primary reason for the selection), or that the person they hired had more of that experience, or so forth. Either way, it’s reasonable to respond with something like the above.

Read an update to this letter

5. Should I explicitly ask a networking contact for help finding a job?

I am starting a job hunt in which I am trying to make the transition from nonprofits to for-profits, and I just had a great networking zoom call with a friend-of-a-friend. I wrote my thank you and included my resume (he offered to review it and give me some feedback), but at the end I hit a stumbling block — do I explicitly say, “If you hear of anyone hiring for a position you think I’d be a good fit for, please pass it along” or is that implied? Is it rude to call it out so baldly? Or is it good to be clear about my needs and intentions? Does it make me seem serious and direct or grasping and needy? Is this the kind of thing that men do that helps them get ahead and I’m just socialized to avoid it? Am I overthinking it?

It is very standard to include something like the line you suggested. It is not overstepping or grasping or rude — it’s pretty expected, actually!

{ 350 comments… read them below }

  1. Totally For Sure*

    OP #4, I feel like it’s a red flag they didn’t even comprehend that experience listed in your resume…

      1. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

        “Red flag” is up there with “gaslighting” for overused, misused, jargon-y term of the decade, IMO.

        1. hamsterpants*

          Agreed. A red flag is everyone getting angry and defensive when you ask about working hours and compensation.

          A recruiter possibly misstating the reason for a rejection is… Basic human stuff?

          1. Keeley Jones, The Independent Woman*

            Yes…I lurk around Reddit and any rejection is a “red flag” that the company is terrible because they “obviously hired someone’s relative/wanted someone for cheap”

            Or, IDK, maybe there was someone who was actually a bit better.

            1. pancakes*

              It’s not good the way people can get stuck in those reinforcement loops with one another. Upvote culture makes it worse – there’s an underlying idea that the more popular a take is, the more true or correct or worthy it is, when sometimes it’s just sentiment, maybe not even fitting sentiment.

            2. Vio*

              overuse has pretty much defanged the term from having meant “a large and clear warning” to “a small and potentially problematic warning to keep an eye out for other possible issues in case it’s part of a pattern”. it’ll probably eventually mean “a minor annoyance that’s almost immediately forgotten”

    1. Loulou*

      But we don’t know that! Like Alison said, it could have been a misunderstanding or something that got lost in translation.

      1. 1,000 Snails in a Lady Skin*

        Agreed. My company’s default rejection says something like “we went with candidates with more experience” regardless of what the person’s resume looks like (and regardless of whether or not we even have other candidates in the pipeline).

        I don’t always love this because I’ve seen at least one candidate tweeting “how much more experience could I have had? I have 7 years in teapot making and 12 in teapot management and I should be a perfect fit!”

        In reality, we were actually looking for other skills that the candidate did not have, but we don’t communicate that to them! We have actually hired candidates with LESS experience but stronger soft skills like critical thinking, so if someone were to look on LinkedIn and find the new hire, that rejection reason of ‘not enough experience’ wouldn’t make any sense!

        All this to say — yes there can many times be a disconnect between why the hiring manager is rejecting someone and what the recruiter is willing / able to say to candidates, but keep looking and the perfect job will be out there!

        1. EPLawyer*

          this actually sounds like a plausible reason. They just have a generic response. Even when it doesn’t apply to a specific candidate.

        2. Disabled trans lesbian*

          I would urge you to not do so, it’s really crappy for candidates and it reeks of bullshit. I myself have been on the receiving end of this, and I definitely suspected it was a cover-up to reject me for my Disability. That is just crappy for all involved.

        3. Cakeroll*

          OP#4 here; I agree that the disconnect between hiring manager and recruiter feels most likely here. I hadn’t considered it until Alison pointed it out, but in hindsight a similar disconnect happened earlier in the process, with the work sample, so it makes a lot of sense here too.

          I do appreciate the perspective from Totally For Sure too, though – I got myself very invested in this opportunity, perhaps over-invested, so the prompt to take a step back and consider “well maybe this job wasn’t THAT perfect” is useful, even if I ultimately don’t agree that this one email indicates a red flag.

      2. Artemesia*

        Assume it is not the reason. It is the excuse. A rejection is not an invitation to debate. If there is an intermediary involved then let them know you have this experience so they don’t misrepresent you in the future. Otherwise, it is just boilerplate to cover a decision they have made because they liked another candidate better.

        1. Antilles*

          The chances are that it’s simply boilerplate, but there’s at least a chance it’s not, so I think it’s fine to reply as Alison suggests – send your usual “thanks for your time” closure email but also include a sentence clarifying that you have that experience.
          If it truly was a mistake, that gets you back in the running; if it’s just an excuse or boilerplate, then they “thanks for your time” portion closes the loop and parts you on good terms. No downside, but with a possible (albeit unlikely) upside.
          It’s effectively a hail mary pass at the end of the game – unlikely to work, but costs you nothing, so why not roll the dice? But you shouldn’t expect it to turn in to anything; mentally assume the decision is final and move on.

          1. Cakeroll*

            OP#4 here; thanks for your perspective! I agree – worst case, I feel better having closed it out on good terms. Best case, I actually change a mind or two, which could turn into something in future as they grow and open up new positions.

      3. quill*

        Yes, also keep in mind: out of all parties involved in this interview, the recruiter probably knows the least about what your resume experience actually means.

        The number of times that recruiters have messed up acronyms or assumed I am qualified for fields I’ve barely heard of…

    2. Kiwiapple*

      Not everything is a “red flag”. Mistakes happen – I am sure you’ve made some too in your time.

    3. Keeley Jones, The Independent Woman*

      I’m not so sure. Years ago I interviewed at a company that had/has a pretty good reputation for being a great place to work. I was rejected via a phone call from the recruiter saying they were looking for someone with X experience. I had that, it was on my resume, but none of the interviewers asked my a single thing about X.

      It was one of those interview where you meet with 3-4 different people separately vs a panel. Each one had a preprinted list of questions. Now it could be that some of the others skipped skill X yet the hiring manager assumed they had asked that or somehow it got missed. I’m not a fan of these kind of interviews for this reason.

      All this to say, even great employers can have bad interview processes, I’d need more than this one yellow flag to write them off.

      1. Cakeroll*

        OP#4 here; I’ve actually been guilty of this, along with colleagues, in our own interviewing panels. We selected a candidate (who accepted, and is working with us now) based on their telling us about Y experience, unsolicited. We didn’t make any mention of Y experience in the job description, and it wasn’t part of any of our structured interview questions; no other candidates discussed Y. But in the final decision-making, between several great and similar candidates, that mention of Y was what impressed us most and made the “tie-breaker”. In hindsight, if Y was so impressive to us, we should have discussed that as a team beforehand (an interviewing best practice we always seem to intend to do, but never seem to actually schedule time for) and included it in the process, so everyone had an equal opportunity to impress us with it.

        All the more reason for me to reply to this email – I know this group and this recruiter take equitable hiring very seriously, and even if my reply doesn’t get me this job, it may help them to improve their processes.

        1. Purple Cat*

          I appreciate you coming back with feedback and comments!
          Was “x” even listed in the job requirement? If so, did it seem like a prominent requirement for the job?
          If it was listed, the only thing you could have possibly done differently is when they asked if you had any other questions (Hopefully somebody asked you that) you could have said “The job description spoke about X, will that really be part of the role?”
          When job descriptions are usually so terrible , it’s hard to know what skills/experiences are realistic to follow-up on and when to just write-off what was written.

          1. Cakeroll*

            An excellent thought – I hadn’t even considered going back to the JD. But your instinct is right – there’s only one bullet point relevant to X under responsibilities – in the middle of the list. No other reference to X in the Experience/Qualifications section or elsewhere in the JD other than an implicit understanding of “well, someone doing the job of Chair Building probably sits in the chairs as part of that”. Based on the JD (which is actually one of the better ones I’ve seen – it’s what made me so interested in this role despite not actively looking for a new job), I think I focused on X an appropriate amount. The items which are heavily emphasized in the JD are the skills and experience I spent more time on.

            This gives me even more reassurance that this wasn’t a critical miss on my part, and just a sometimes-it’s-not-a-yes that I can move past. While also providing them a little bit of feedback on how they can improve their processes in future. Thanks for your perspective!

    4. Petty Betty*

      I had an interview last year. Union position, ENTRY LEVEL. I’ve been a union administrative worker for a while, and overall, have 20 years administrative experience. An entry level position was *nothing*, but it was the first open admin position in town through the union and I was the top of the list.

      The interview went well, but they declined to hire me because I “didn’t have enough experience”. I *did* call it out on the phone call. If 20 years of administrative experience isn’t enough for an entry level position that I know they hire 20 year olds for, what exactly were they looking for? Stammeringly, I was told that they actually did have someone that somebody wanted to hire and interviews were just a formality pushed by the union. Gee, thanks. Maybe say something so I don’t waste my time?
      I did report it to the union. In 10 months, the union was unable to find me anything in my own town that wasn’t temporary. I moved back to federal contracting instead.

  2. soontoberetired*

    I am appalled about the situation in letter1. Someone should have stepped up immediately. I have worked with people who have come to work drunk, or gotten so drunk at events they don’t remember what happens! It just gets worse.

    1. Bébé Chat*

      Same… And how could it not impact her work, I mean it’s terrible to have an employee visibly drunk at every work events, the clients for sure noticed and it’s colouring their impression of the company. This poor employee needs help !

      1. Jora Malli*

        Alison’s talked about it in previous posts, for most people your job is not just accomplishing your assigned tasks. There are elements of cooperation and collaboration and workplace safety that are included in that as well. So even if Jane was still accomplishing her assigned tasks flawlessly, coming to work drunk was absolutely having an impact on her relationships with her coworkers and on workplace safety. Her bosses should absolutely have talked to her the first time in happened and escalated it every subsequent time.

    2. Assume the best*

      Yeah, when I was very junior but fairly experienced, I was assigned to ‘assist’ a more senior colleague who developed a drinking problem after a tragic death in their family. I did my best, we were all sympathetic, but it was bad. The client was very unhappy, and I ended up leaving the firm due to the impossible situation I was in.

    3. Knope Knope Knope.*

      I have so much sympathy for LW1. Alcoholics can have a way of manipulating situations. It is hard to impossible to regulate another adult’s drinking—especially when there are no visible consequences. I can understand why it is hard to lay down a rule about why one person can’t drink at an event where alcohol is being served. Sometimes “visibly drunk” can just mean Jane has that glassy eyed look again and is repeating the same stories over and over, and I can see why it feels heavy handed to or awkward to address that with consequences. The LW didn’t expand on events or if this is a business with clients but if there are I think that gives more standing to bring this up as it will impact perception of the company. But I do think it is worth management or HR talking to Jane even if clients aren’t a factor. Someone with authority should let her know her level of intoxication isn’t appropriate for those events and that she won’t be served or a manager/someone she respects could talk to her about the impact that her intoxication has on how she is perceived. If she’s an alcoholic in denial I doubt that will change much, sadly. Mostly I want to say to OP to manage the issues—like missing meetings—as they arise. Don’t create or prevent a crisis (something I have learned in al anon) and try to free yourself of thinking you can help solve this for Jane. She has to be ready, and it will be a long, hard road. The best role you can play in her recovery (since you sound like you care about that) is to let the natural consequences of her drinking occur. Talk to management about following up on her behavior each time, cut her off at official events, and have her face consequences for missed work. I think that’s all you can do and all you owe Jane. I wish her well.

      1. Cringing 24/7*

        Jane meeting criticism with anger very much adds plausibility to your suggestion of being an alcoholic in denial.

        1. Green Goose*

          Yeah sigh, I unfortunately have a close family member and a separate former friend who would both react with anger when their problematic drinking was brought up. The conversation was never logical and never lead to the “aha!” moment I was hoping for.

      2. Observer*

        I have so much sympathy for LW1.

        Yes, this is mostly not on the OP to manage. Jane is not in their chain of command. The one thing that the OP can and SHOULD do is make sure that they shield their staff as much as possible from the fall out of Jane’s behavior, and make sure that management knows when something happens that affects their staff.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      Insurance. One place I worked they had to list the people who were required to drive for their jobs. The insurance company wanted their driving records and there was a bunch of other stuff. If the company (members of the company) know this person is drunk and driving. I can bet the insurance company will not be happy. The company appears to have no willingness to mitigate risks.

      This might be something TPTB understand clearly. However, in thinking of myself as having authority in this situation, if an employee had an accident, while drunk on company time, that would be something that kept me awake at night. This is a bfd.

      1. Sally*

        I agree. And not to derail, but when I moved to Boston and saw BFD on the fire trucks, it made me chuckle.

        1. OhNo*

          We can certainly hope, but given the regularity with which this seems to be occurring… Well, once is all it takes.

    5. EvilQueenRegina*

      We had a Jane at my old job, and I know someone did try to raise it with her manager, but the response she got was “We have to be careful, because she’s covered by the Disability Discrimination Act” (I’m in the UK. From what I understand now, long after the event, this manager did have more scope to address it than she seemed to think). But at the time, Jane was turning up to work drunk, calling in sick with questionable explanations which she would sometimes contradict herself over. Popular rumour in the office at the time was that she had something on her manager because no one else would have got away with that much (I don’t know if there was any truth in that).

      People trying to raise it continued to be shut down. Some were more sympathetic to her than others (those who had to pick up her slack would get more frustrated than those who it didn’t directly impact that much). Eventually, after she hadn’t turned up at work for about six months, we were told that “Jane wasn’t coming back” – no further explanation. I don’t know if there were discussions behind the scenes with senior management or HR that the rest of the team weren’t aware of, but at the time there was a bit of a perception that her direct manager wasn’t handling it.

      1. Jam Today*

        “after she hadn’t turned up at work for about six months”

        …what? Like, was she in rehab or did she just disappear and it took people six months to stop paying her?

        1. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

          Not an alcohol related situation, but one of Mr. Gumption’s friends worked for a company where, after a merger, they legit forgot about him. He was their only employee in Vienna, Austria, after the merger his direct report boss was in the Emirates, and he just kind of slipped through the cracks. He kept doing his job, emailing his boss his deliverables, and enjoying the lovely corporate housing next to St. Stephens. It took 3 years for them to realize that this budget line still existed and they had an employee in Vienna that they meant to layoff after the merger.

          1. The Tin Man*

            That’s wild, but I can totally see that happening. I hope they had a discussion with him instead of just “fixing the glitch” a la Office Space!

          2. RebelwithMouseyHair*

            My BIL had resigned his job to emigrate to Canada, just one month before the company went bust. The boss hadn’t logged any information in the system about his resignation, and he received his full severance as if he’d been made redundant further to the bankruptcy. Luckily he hadn’t closed his bank account and was able to enjoy that money!!

        2. londonedit*

          If something like that happened where I work, I’d presume there were things going on behind the scenes between Jane and her manager/HR (like she’d been signed off work sick), but that hadn’t been communicated to the office in general (because it’s a sensitive subject and Jane has a right to privacy, etc) and HR only made an announcement when it had been agreed that Jane wouldn’t be returning to work.

        3. EvilQueenRegina*

          I know it started out with her just going off grid – one of her relatives rang the office once asking if she was coming in to work because the family were having trouble getting hold of her. That ended up with her manager ringing her and she said she was going through withdrawal and didn’t want her family to see her like that. If she ever did end up in rehab, I never knew about it.

    6. Falling Diphthong*

      I’ll posit a trajectory something like:
      • Good grief, Jane is drunk. Surely a one-time aberration that she will realize and correct on her own.
      • Jane is drunk again. Should someone say something? Am I the someone? I bet I’m not the someone.
      • It feels like we’ve waited to long to address this, and now it will be awkward. Begging the question of why no one spoke up the first or second time.

      1. Blue Glass*

        I can definitely see that happening. The whole thing sounds awkward, but it has to be addressed by someone.

      2. Lunch Ghost*

        To me it sounds like they didn’t want to discipline/fire her for something she did “outside of work” (like the stories you hear about people getting fired for social media pictures at bars or whatever)– and didn’t realize that a work event isn’t actually outside of work.

        1. Cait*

          I can see them giving her a pass at an employee happy hour because, while it’s with colleagues, it’s not necessarily a work event. It’s a gray area. But a gala? A formal dinner? That’s different. If she’s in a professional setting and drunk, something needed to be said immediately. And I think they should mention this when speaking to her. “Jane, I know we didn’t bring this up the moment it happened and we should have, but the fact that you have become intoxicated at several, formal work events has become very problematic. We are addressing this from a professional standpoint but also want you to know we’re coming from a place of concern. We need you to know that this can never happen again, whether at a social happy hour or a business event or anything in between, and if it does, your job will be at risk. That said, we’d like to offer you help in the form of X, Y, and Z. We think you do wonderful work but we need you to know that this behavior simply can’t continue. Is there anything else we can do for you to assist you with this?”

      3. anonymous73*

        I think in this situation, they were thinking that it’s not affecting her work product – as in what she produces while in the office – and not realizing that showing up at formal work events IS affecting her work product. Now that she’s dropping the ball on her actual work, they feel it’s time to address it, when it should have been addressed much sooner.

        1. SheLooksFamiliar*

          Agreed. A long-ago colleague would drink heavily at lunch, openly joking about his ‘Tee martooni’ lunches on his way out the door. He kept liquor in his office, too, but no one ever saw him drink from it. Several employees voiced their concerns but he was never disciplined because none of us saw him drink onsite. Our division VP said, ‘Hey, I don’t care what he does as long as he produces results.’

          It took a couple of clients complaining about his behavior during those lunches to get our VP to finally address the matter.

      4. Vermont Green*

        “…both casual outside-of-work get-togethers with coworkers, and formal work events during which alcohol is served, like dinners, galas, etc.”
        First, these are events where drinking alcohol is appropriate, and where work isn’t carried out, so, with others drinking, her drunkenness is simply a matter of degree. So I applaud the OP for *not* addressing it with her; the idea would be to ask if she is OK, or make sure she is safe to drive home, as one would with a friend.
        (I would like to suggest that she might be showing up drunk because these social occasions are stressful for her, and she can’t navigate them sober.)
        When she showed up late due to her drinking, she should be disciplined for being late, for poor planning, and so forth, and let her come to her own conclusions that drinking is causing problems for her. This is indeed a case where her work is affected.
        I say “no” to a nanny HR or boss prying into the health conditions of excellent workers.

        1. Colette*

          I disagree with this. It would be reasonable for the employer to have the expectation that, even if alcohol is available, their employees won’t be drunk, and to address her behaviour. If she’s drinking because the occasions are stressful for her, that doesn’t excuse it – it’s still inappropriate behaviour.

          1. Alpacas Are Not Dairy Animals*

            ‘Drunk’ is pretty nebulous. Is it over the legal limit to drive? Is it x number of drinks? Is it behaving a certain way? Is it just “this person isn’t acting like they usually do”?

            The first (if driving is involved) and third seem reasonable for an employer to have expectations around. The second and fourth don’t.

            1. Colette*

              It’s reasonable for employers to have requirements around drinking – both how much you drink (i.e. “we expect you to have no more than 2 alcoholic drinks over the course of the evening”) and how you behave (i.e. “Overly friendly or aggressive behaviour is not acceptable”). I think all 4 are reasonable expectations.

              1. Yoyoyo*

                Yes, every place I’ve worked that had alcohol at functions had written policies outlining what was considered acceptable behavior around alcohol consumption at those events.

                1. pancakes*

                  I think that’s common. It’s really not all that difficult to say someone seems to be impaired, either.

            2. Green Goose*

              Yeah, I have a family member with a drinking problem and they literally appear strange and intoxicated after one drink, think slurring slowed speech that gets worse. Whereas other people can have multiple drinks and act professional.

              It seems like in Jane’s case it might have to be “no drinking prior to or during work events” and that is just for her, because trying to set limits or soft boundaries like “just one drink is okay” will give her wiggle room to smash the boundary. “One drink, okay I’ll have a Long Island!”

        2. Observer*

          First, these are events where drinking alcohol is appropriate, and where work isn’t carried out, so, with others drinking, her drunkenness is simply a matter of degree.

          Absolutely NOT the case. Drinking and being drunk are not the same thing. She was *drunk*. That is NOT ok in a client facing situation. Also, degree DOES legitimately matter in most cases.

          I would like to suggest that she might be showing up drunk because these social occasions are stressful for her, and she can’t navigate them sober.

          So? You talk about “nanny” HR when they want to stop is, but YOU are doing even MORE “nannying” in trying to make up a reason why the company should look the other way when someone is behaving poorly.

        3. Jora Malli*

          For your theory that she was showing up drunk because she was nervous about coming to the event, there was a letter here a while back from a person asking if it would be okay to have a shot before public speaking events, and the response from both Alison and the commenters was a resounding “that is not a good idea and you should find a better coping mechanism.”

          And it’s not “prying into health conditions” to insist that people not be intoxicated at work. I sometimes experience severe pain and I have medication that handles the normal stuff while leaving me clear headed, and stronger stuff that makes me pretty loopy. It would not be inappropriate for my boss to discipline me for taking the stronger, loopy-making medication while I’m at work, because I’m expected to not be impaired while I’m working. Same goes for Jane. Yes, alcoholism is an illness, but that doesn’t mean they have to let her be drunk while she’s working, and gala events with coworkers and clients ARE working.

        4. si*

          Turning up drunk is not an appropriate solution to finding social occasions stressful. And everything is a matter of degree! Turning up 5 minutes late occasionally vs turning up two hours late every day is also a matter of degree, but you wouldn’t expect a manager to respond in the same way to both (even if the two-hours-late person had an understandable reason for it). Jane is using alcohol to an inappropriate degree and it is affecting how she performs at formal work events. It matters.

        5. Clobberin' Time*

          This “excellent worker” just missed an important work function because of her hangover.

      5. lilsheba*

        I really really hope this person isn’t driving drunk on top of everything else. I am a believer that if someone drives drunk they should lose their license period. Don’t give them a second chance to hurt or kill someone or themselves. As for the person needing help, they definitely do but people like that tend to not accept it until they hit bottom and feel they finally need it themselves.

    7. Shiba Dad*

      OP emphasized that Jane’s work is very strong. Managers often overlook problematic behavior of “good” employees. Behavior that they wouldn’t tolerate from lower achievers. It always seems to get to a point where the behavior can’t be tolerated any longer, like OP’s situation.

      Lather, rinse, repeat.

      1. The Original K.*

        I have a friend whose sibling is a high-functioning alcoholic and it’s overlooked at work because part of “high-functioning” means their work is excellent and directly contributes to the success of the org. It’s also an industry in which a) substance abuse isn’t uncommon and b) bad behavior in general is often overlooked for high performers. So yeah, I can see how this happened.

    8. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      In fairness it sounded like some people did attempt to help on a personal level – but that the coworker with the issues shut them down/denied all issues/refused to believe there was a problem.

    9. Artemesia*

      Where I worked HR would give an ultimatum: go to rehab and get clean or be fired. It transformed the life of a colleague who had been a drunk for years. He got sober; he and his wife had another child (they had a daughter who was about 10 and after he got clean, they had a little boy). His wife later told me it saved his life and their family; she was thrilled that the workplace had done this.

      Ignoring it when it is this dramatically bad seems like a terrible idea both for the worker and for the liability of the workplace when things go very wrong.

      1. Keeley Jones, The Independent Woman*

        This is very similar to a former coworker of mine. She got into AA, met her now husband there, they started their own business had a child. I just saw her post last week that both her and her husband have been sober for 15 years! I’m so happy for her. My former boss gave her the ultimatum, but she did the work.
        I hope Jane can turn it around too.

      2. NancyDrew*

        This happened in my office, too. We had a long-term employee who slowly descended into drug abuse. Often he would stop showing up to work for literal months at a time. Our HR chose compassion, and worked with him to guide him towards getting clean.

    10. Morgan*

      I have a bit more sympathy. This is such a sensitive subject even outside of a work context. It can be an impossible situation when the person gets defensive in the way OP mentioned the subject of the letter was.

  3. Allonge*

    #2 – Blergh. How is this even supposed to do anything?

    First, it’s not like you cannot cheat it if you “want to test positive”. Maybe not all rapid tests are the same but the ones around here consist of 3-4 different bits and a series of steps to follow, most of which don’t happen at camera level because otherwise you spill the liquids etc. It would need a pretty elaborate and multi-camera setup to discourage a switcheroo.

    Second: how much time does HR have again? Not just to be setting this up and watching it live, but recording it for future viewing? It takes at least 15 minutes just waiting for the test to go one line / two lines, and all the things before?

    Third, what’s it get the company other than questionable video content?

      1. WoodswomanWrites*

        Exactly. I’m trying to imagine the conversation that led to this policy.

        “Our employees can’t be trusted to take COVID tests. How can we ensure that they’re doing it?”
        “I know what we can do. We can make them take a rapid test while we’re watching.”
        “Great idea. But what if the HR team suddenly has amnesia and can’t remember if they took the test or if we watched the entire 15-minute process?”
        “Good point. Let’s record it!”

        Seriously, this whole thing makes me gag.

        1. Llama face!*

          “Seriously, this whole thing makes me gag.”
          Which, ironically, is also exactly what they’d be treated to visual and sound effects of since hereabouts we do the throat AND nose swabbing and I have a very enthusiastic gag reflex. Also my eyes start pouring tears and my nose runs. NOT a sight or sound you want to experience on camera!

          1. Allonge*

            I get these huge sneezing fits that last as long as the test, just about. Also fun to watch.

            1. pancakes*

              It sure would be a shame if you were close to the mic for all that! It’s like a scene out of Mr. Bean or a Peter Sellers movie, an employee twirling a swab up their nose on camera while someone in HR watches.

        2. Fae Kamen*

          I had the same reaction when my workplace proposed exactly this. We have government contracts at different levels and precise documentation to justify every little decision is often required. I was not looking forward to spitting repeatedly into a tube in front of our HR person, but thankfully the policy didn’t proceed.

          1. LL*

            Are you sure that the zoom is with HR and not with an outside firm? My husband had to do something similar but sent away the results for processing (1 day turnaround). The zoom was with the test manufacturer, not his workplace. It was just to prove the sample they got was really yours.

            1. doreen*

              There are also proctored home tests where the company supervises collecting the sample and testing and emails you the result.

            2. Ana Gram*

              Yeah, this was the case for travel for awhile. I’m wondering if it’s something similar.

            3. Sally*

              I still have one of those. It turned out to be a PCR test that you do at home with them watching on Zoom, and then you send it in to be processed
              Before I got it, I was hoping they were sending me a regular at-home kit so my housemate could use it (this was back when the home tests were in VERY short supply). I assume that since the company was paying for it, they wanted to make sure an employee was using it.

      2. bluephone*

        Normally I try not to critique other people’s fetishes but man, this is a weird fetish. Especially for an HR department.

    1. Zombeyonce*

      I feel bad for the HR intern that gets stuck doing video calls with people swabbing their runny noses all day long.

    2. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

      I don’t offhand know how to fake a positive covid test, that having not been a thing I previously had any interest in doing, but it also sounds like that means this employer is expecting the employee to use up an additional test just to prove to work that they’re positive even when the employee already knows that they are.

      How many tests do they expect their workers to have on-hand at all times? In my particular case, my workplace will provide me with all the free covid tests that I want so I have a big stash at them at home to use every time I might want to play the “allergies or covid” game (I have seasonal allergies, so this happens a lot – I also wear kn95 masks basically all the time outside my home to either avoid pollen or lower the stakes of the covid test being a false negative, depending on whether I’m outside or inside). I suspect that this isn’t universal, though, and I would extremely angry if a person known to have covid had to go to a store to buy an additional covid test same-day just so they could prove to their work that they “really” had covid after they’d already tested positive and should be isolating.

      1. NotRealAnonForThis*

        My workplace has been on the side of “definitely better than decent” as far as Covid restrictions (we still have “anyone in your immediate household is positive, or if you known 15+ mins indoor exposure to a positive case, you work from home for a minimum of 5 calendar days; test-in at the 6 day mark” which is NOT the norm where I live) and I don’t believe we’re provided with tests. Insurance with which we may get them at no charge to us, yes, but physically provided them? Not so much.

        1. voyager1*

          You can get the tests from the US government for free. Just got a package yesterday. Took about a week turnaround.

        2. Elenna*

          My workplace has also been pretty good about Covid restrictions and also has definitely not provided tests. Then again, their policy (at least for people like me who are still WFH 4 days a week anyways) is that if you have Covid symptoms that are not normal for you (e.g. not normal seasonal allergies) you should work from home *even if you’ve tested negative*. So I guess from their POV there’s not too much advantage to providing us with tests as we’ll just stay home regardless.

      2. darlingpants*

        There were some twitter threads about it after rumors kids in the UK were faking it to get out of school. If you add something acidic (in the thread I read, orange juice or coke) the line will light up. I think this is why the rules around eating and drinking anything 30 minutes before doing a throat swab are so strict: eating and drinking can affect the pH of your throat and the pH of the swab can give a false positive.

        1. Elenna*

          …well that would have been good to know *before* the time I did a Covid test at the dinner table. :D

          (I don’t recall exactly whether I actually ate anything before doing the test or not. In any case, it came up negative.)

    3. Princess Xena*

      One of the local schools in my area now gives video lesson exceptions to any children with covid – but not anyone who has a regular cold, or the flu, which led to a non-covid strain of cold hitting nearly every single child and parent there. FFS, you have the infrastructure now to do video lessons. How about letting sick kids stay home, period?

      1. J.B.*

        Ever since schools stopped requiring masks, we have had cold after cold come through the house. We test each time, which has always been negative. But the kids are still sick so I keep them home. I would rather not have every non-covid virus shared either!

        1. BubbleTea*

          The non-covid coronaviruses like the cold and flu are behaving in weird ways now too, which seems to be partly due to covid precautions in the early days. They’re more virulent and we are being harder hit because our immunity is lower. But somehow no other illness is seen as mattering any more! “Don’t worry, it’s not covid”… I’d rather not get anything, thanks!

          1. Happily Retired*

            Flu isn’t one of the coronaviruses (it’s the influenza virus, lol!), but I agree! One of the very (very, very, very) few things I miss about the first year of Covid is simply never once having a URI and consequently no asthma flares.

      2. NoviceManagerGuy*

        It’s crazy how this pandemic has led some people to decide that being sick isn’t real.

        1. Oxford Comma*

          Oh, that’s not a new attitude. Just talk to anyone with an “invisible” illness. I have coworkers who think a migraine is just a bad headache and don’t get why I can’t just take some Tylenol and power through it.

          1. NoviceManagerGuy*

            That is awful and not new, you’re certainly right – while many people think illnesses they can’t see or experience aren’t real, I feel like more people are now pretending illnesses everybody’s experienced, like bad colds, aren’t real.

            1. Sally*

              I agree! When I read that letter, I thought – what difference does it make? Sick = sick = don’t come to work.

          2. Willow Pillow*

            Yep, I had an employer who refused minor (to them) accommodations for sensory sensitivity, and when things got too overwhelming for me to work a full 8 hours they told me I could only take sick leave for physical health issues.

        2. Elder Millennial*

          Right, this policy also seems to imply that if your test is negative you can work despite being sick. Which… not necessarily? I understand that sometimes people will be able to work with a cold, but the last time I had the flu I would definitely not have been able to do anything useful. I was barely able to heat up a microwave meal for myself everyday.

        3. Observer*

          Uh, that’s not a pandemic effect.

          This site alone has about a gazillion letters about employers who won’t let people stay home when they are sick. And look at the news from the last 10 years to see how many major fast food chains wound up with outbreaks because food handlers were still being required to come in while sick with transmissible illnesses. And then, just look at the kinds of policies around illness that seem to be pretty standard in schools.

          1. pancakes*

            It’s also not a new thing with regard to vaccines specifically. I was a bit freaked out when I started looking into the number of Hep A outbreaks spread via restaurants, and there’s a vaccine for it! I think there are two, actually. And there are law firms that do Hep A liability litigation as their main practice, because it goes around nonetheless.

      3. Zephy*

        Ugh, this. The university I work for allows students/staff to attend class/work remotely, but only for five days and only if they, personally, test positive for Covid, not for any other reason (including “another member of my household has Covid and I either need to care for them or they can’t quarantine within the house, so I have been exposed” – you have to either use PTO or keep coming to work unless/until you test positive). The infrastructure is already there! There is nothing magical about having Covid that makes Zoom work, you’re already paying for whatever software licenses, my entire job is already done 100% on a computer, there is zero reason other than butts-in-seats mentality that I can’t work from home. I’m not salty about it, why do you ask?

        1. an academic*

          I don’t fault a university for trying to encourage in-person classes. The in-class experience is nothing like Zoom university. At least in my classes, students are discussing questions with each other and completing worksheets. My class sessions are recorded, but the students in their reflections say that they learn more from the in-person sessions than they do from watching the recorded sessions.
          I theoretically could do it synchronous hybrid but won’t because I found that I am unable to simultaneously pay attention to both in-person and remote students. Because I typically walk into the seats during discussions to answer questions / facilitate, I find that doing group work occurs more seamlessly and is easier to encourage in-person.
          However, I do let students miss 3 weeks of classes (out of a 10 week quarter) without penalty to their grade (for whatever reason, not just COVID), which I think is a reasonable accommodation, and the total participation grade is less than 10% of their final grade. My classes are mostly 18-20 year olds, so if I didn’t have some incentive for them to come in, a lot of them just wouldn’t and would never make the realization that going to classes helps them learn. That in turn hurts the experience for the students who do come because they wouldn’t have workgroup partners and feel like suckers for coming in.

    4. Up and Away*

      There are people out there who are faking positive Covid tests; they take a picture of “a” positive home test and send it to their employer. I’m kind of surprised that people don’t think that happens.

      1. I should really pick a name*

        I have to suspect that employees who do that have other notable shortcomings as well.

        My take on this is that it means the employer doesn’t trust their employees. If they don’t trust their employees, they need to improve their hiring.

        1. Once and Future Queen*

          In my experience, this is a management problem–distrustful management suspicious that all employees are trying to put one over. I worked at a place that was so exhausting in this way. The CEO had the audacity to publicly lecture a project team for coming to work at 10am when they’d been at the office until 2am the night before to get a client build done.

          1. Elenna*

            To paraphrase a line from Tamora Pierce’s book Squire, management that thinks employees always steal usually gets employees that do.

            Not saying there are never bad employees at firms with good managers, of course. But I suspect what happens often is that the managers make it clear they don’t trust or respect their employees, so the employees figure they may as well live down to it.

        2. Nanani*


          The kind of person who would bother to fake a sick test, or set up any other elaborate work-missing excuse, is usually not honest and reliable overall.
          Dishonest people assume everyone else is dishonest and it shows in their results.

      2. Lemonlime*

        It’s not that it doesn’t happen…. but again its the old ‘punish the many for the few’. If people are willing to send in fake results so they get extra (likely unpaid) days off then they’re also the ones who will figure out some way to scam the recorded test. *Switch a postive test for a negative right off camera. Most people aren’t looking for time off unpaid/ use sick days. If you have an employee you don’t trust enough to send in real results then you have an employee problem. As in you as the manager shouldn’t trust that employee with anything and then if that’s the case why are you still employing them?
        If your company has tons of employees that will fake tests then that’s a cultural problem. Again nothing filming sick people will solve.

      3. Nikkole*

        I see people on reddit all the time asking for pictures of positive tests they can send to work or school.

        1. pancakes*

          I don’t doubt that for a moment, but it’s not as if people didn’t dodge work or school before Covid. People who want to do that find a way somehow or other. In the US too few people get paid sick leave, probably even fewer have generous time off, and most people nonetheless occasionally need some time off for important errands to run, appointments, or obligations to meet that they can’t otherwise get away from work for.

      4. EPLawyer*

        I am sure the number of people doing that are vanishingly small. I mean what would they gain? Especially in the US where you are unlikely to get the time off paid.

        This is right up there with, if I don’t see your butt in a chair, you must not be working. And No One Wants to Work Anymore.

        It’s just bad management. If your employee is faking covid tests, then you address THAT. You don’t then presume everyone is lying.

      5. Antilles*

        I’m sure it does happen. I am also sure that it’s a tiny fraction of people given the relatively small reward (a few days off) and huge potential risk if you’re caught (destroying your reputation, potentially being fired immediately).
        Is the small possibility that someone is faking Covid in your office worth the downsides? The hit to morale from employees thinking you don’t trust them, the HR time wasted staring at zoom cameras? The feeling that the company cares more about butts-in-seats than actually stopping the spread of Covid? The implication that if you can’t produce a positive Covid test you’re clearly not sick even if you have other symptoms (e.g., vomiting) that would normally keep you at home?

        1. Lab Boss*

          As a scientist I can tell you: Yes, it’s extremely easy to fake a positive on the standard Binax kits I’m seeing most people in the US using.

      6. Nancy*

        A small number of people, just like everything else in life because nothing is 100%.

        If people are sick let them stay home, regardless of what they have.

      7. Observer*

        There are people out there who are faking positive Covid tests; they take a picture of “a” positive home test and send it to their employer. I’m kind of surprised that people don’t think that happens.

        No one thinks that it “could not” happen. What they are saying is that it is HIGHLY unlikely that it’s such a common thing that a company needs to institute a whole complicated and time consuming procedure to get a handle on the “problem.” If it is THAT common in any give workplace, then they have muuuuuch bigger problems.

      8. Jora Malli*

        I mean, you can buy positive pregnancy tests online, I wouldn’t be surprised if people started selling positive covid tests for people who want to get out of work.

    5. anon24*

      Haha, you all would have loved the fact that *my boss* did my rapid covid test the two times I needed them (having had covid previously, I was 99% sure I was not sick with covid but wanted to make sure). This was also before they were easily available to get at home.

      That sounds outrageous, but actually I’m in EMS so she’s a paramedic and also gives me my flu shot every year. And the first time I was so tired and ill and she came to my home and did the covid test for me and I was just so grateful because she tested me and I went back to bed and didn’t have to get up and drive anywhere. The second time I was working and hadn’t felt right for a few days so I just went to her office and she tested me to make sure. I always love hearing the difference in normality between my job and most jobs.

    6. Daisy-dog*

      This was part of the initial proposal when the federal govt was going to mandate vaccines for everyone (not just govt employees). Those with a valid exemption would have to take a weekly test in front of someone – on camera if they worked at a site without HR or similar position. The tests would need to be provided by the employer.

      So the spirit of this idea was not to try to find fakers, it was trying to ensure that the weekly testing actually happened. And also because the federal paid Covid leave expired, to find those that are testing positive and are trying to keep working because otherwise they’d have to go unpaid or burn their PTO.

      Thankfully, this was considered to be too burdensome and logistically difficult to actually implement for everyone. But clearly some individual companies like the idea and are manipulating it to fit their own interests.

    7. Lab Boss*

      It sounds like the company may think they need traceable results. For returning from the UK I had to get a negative COVID test. I just got a PCR test from a medical center but one option was a monitored at-home rapid test, which some of my colleagues did. You have to do the entire process on camera with someone from the testing company so they can certify you did the test correctly.

      Now there’s some problems there- a true traceable test is monitored by someone who’s trained to do that, not some random company representative, and they’re a health care provider so (if it were in the US) it would be more likely bound by HIPAA. My first thought here was that some higher-up found out about the European monitored at-home tests and decided that was a good idea, without really understanding why or how they should be done.

    8. Esmeralda*

      You can cheat by lying about taking the test or by lying about the results. Or submitting someone else’s test results.

      I mean, I agree, this is not something most people would even think to cheat on. But it’s certainly possible to do so.

    9. Dee Tee*

      In #2, the employer is likely both wasting money and using a yuck! process.

      There are companies that do supervised at-home rapid covid tests 24 hours a day. The company eMed is the most well-known she in the USA. If the employer wants “official” results, this is a much better and more professional alternative.

    10. WillowSunstar*

      How does this whole thing not violate HIPAA? Yes you should be honest if you have COVID, but we still have HIPAA in the USA, don’t we? I do not see anywhere in that regulation that COVID must be the one, single, universal exception to the rule.

      Seriously, I would consider leaving a company that does this, because what else do they violate normal boundaries on?

    11. Sometimes Evil HR Lady*

      I started a new job early 2022 as an HR Manager and found out the HR Generalist that was now reporting to me had been requiring employees to take Covid tests live on Zoom to prove they had it or didn’t have it.

      I immediately ran this up the chain to the C-Level to request this stop because:
      1. I don’t want to watch people stick things up their noses
      2. When we hire adults to do a job we need to give them the benefit of the doubt and not treat them like untrustworthy humans.

      Turns out nobody had any idea this deranged HR Generalist was doing this and I quickly found out this was just the tip of the iceberg of bad judgment coming from this person.

    12. Kuddel Daddeldu*

      I am, as part of my job, assessing how trained professionals take Covid tests. In many cases, even they do it wrong.
      One issue is that the instructions for use vary from test to test (where to take the sample, how long the sample needs to stay in the buffer solution, how many drops, when to read the results) and it matters.
      A PCR test sample is taken by professionals that usually have more training as it is way more expensive.
      So if the HR person guiding the test via Zoom is trained, knows the exact instructions for use for the test you are using (ideally provided by the company), and actually guides rather than just observes, there is value in the policy.

  4. Don’t Pay Me Less Because of Body Parts*

    @Alison, in case you want another business, I would pay for access to a job site run by you with everything like you described in #3!

    1. Zombeyonce*

      Just imagine! A site where everyone knows what the salary is from the posting, clear postings because vaguery is prohibited and confusing posts get taken down, no company allowed to post “entry level” jobs that also require 3 years of experience… The list of amazingness is endless!

    2. Sloanicota*

      Just the salaries would make a huge difference to me. I’m in nonprofit and I use Idealist. I’m sorry to say that less than half the jobs I’m potentially interested in are listing salaries. And in this sector, it’s really important because some jobs have totally unrealistic expectations and there’s no point talking to someone who is offering 40K for full time specialized work. For this job search I have time on my side so I’m simply not proceeding with any post that doesn’t list some kind of salary range – it’s their loss, and I hope they don’t find someone and need to re-post. I would love a job board that wouldn’t let postings skip this.

  5. Zombeyonce*

    If a drunken Jane injures herself or someone else because she’s drunk at a company event or drives drunk leaving them, it seems like the company could be subjecting itself to some liability for allowing this. Whether or not she shows up drunk, it sounds like she’s continuing to drink and not getting cut off. If LW1 is having trouble getting traction on the idea of having someone talk to Jane about this, the liability angle could help.

    1. The Prettiest Curse*

      Yes, if she is doing any kind of event work (as opposed to being there to schmooze clients or network), there are a multitude of ways in which she could either damage company property or seriously hurt someone or herself. Not to mention the potential reputational damage to the company, especially if she ever gets hold of a mic.

      Alison is right, this should have been addressed the first time this happened. A staff member who shows up to events drunk is the stuff of nightmares if you’re an events person!

      1. Sloanicota*

        I also sympathize with Jane, having done a TON of event work for nonprofits myself and dealing first-hand with the amount of alcohol that can be a part of these events. Jane is showing up drunk which is already completely unacceptable – but it’s very easy to over-do it at receptions accidentally or to feel like there’s a drinking culture you need to be part of. It would be easy to develop a problem that way too. It takes practice to always have a drink in your hand and seem convivial and festive and also barely touch the drink for the entire 4 or 6 hours or however long you’re there. I have seen so many new professionals screw it up.

    2. NotRealAnonForThis*

      IANAL by any means – but I’m curious what the legal bar for “knowledge” would be.

      Basically because I’m a big dork and this sounds like a potential plot for Law and Order, and it would be interesting.

      1. DataGirl*

        I can definitely imagine a Law and Order episode of this, where the manager/company gets charged with negligent homicide after a known drunk employee leaves a work event and kills themselves/someone else. Heck, I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see it as a real legal case in the US.

        1. RegBarclay*

          We had a case locally where a company was sued for letting a really drunk employee leave the premises in his own car (during work hours) – the employee drove his SUV into the back of a sedan and killed a three people including two children. I don’t know the eventual outcome of the lawsuit but part of the reason the company was sued was because they KNEW he had a drinking problem though from what I recall they were trying to get him to accept help.

          1. BlueSwimmer*

            I work in a high school where an excellent teacher a drinking problem. When she was visibly drunk at work one day, the school resource officer met her in the parking lot when she tried to leave and told her that if she got into the car and started driving, he would have to arrest her for DUI. She called her husband to pick her up and started the retirement process.

    3. Person from the Resume*

      I don’t think a company has much liability from someone driving drunk leaving an event. Jane might have rode with someone else, called for a ride, was going to stop in time to sobor up before she drove. My friends are responsible people. They figure out to get around when drinking, and I’d assume that of my coworkers too.

      We’re talking a dinner or gala where the organization is serving alcohol. If they had legal concerns about it, they wouldn’t be serving it in in the first place.

      1. Wintermute*

        I agree. “Dram shop laws” that give a bar liability exist because they create an **exception** to the norm. In general you don’t have liability just for knowing someone is drunk, unless you do something to create a duty of care to that person (such as selling them alcohol). Obviously there are nuances there, but that’s a big reason companies hire bartenders for events, because the caterer has the training (and insurance, most likely) and takes the liability rather than the host company.

        1. Clobberin' Time*

          One of the nuances is that this person is an employee and is drinking or being drunk at a work function. If Jane drives home and kills someone, or gropes a client, is the company liable? The answer to that will depend on where it happens (state laws vary) and the specific facts – but no sane company wants the headache of trying to defend themselves in this situation.

      2. Lab Boss*

        It’s always been my (non-lawyer) understanding that the more of a role the company takes in providing the alcohol, the more liable they could potentially be. My company used to have picnics with kegs of beer- you got a wristband when you checked in and got your ID reviewed by some random HR person, and then it was self-serve with no control. That got shut down over liability concerns, compared to something like going to a baseball game and letting people buy beer where the liability for ID’s and over-serving is now on the professional, licensed providers.

      3. Sloanicota*

        This is why events are typically required to be staffed with a real bartender and why that service is quite expensive; professional bar tenders carry liability insurance and also have training on how to recognize people who have had too much and cut them off. When I was an events bartended, I was told that I could be personally sued as well as get the company sued if I overserved a customer and let them drive afterwards. I assume this takes the liability off the company in some ways. It also seems hard at busy crowded events where people could be handing drinks to someone else, but those are the rules as I understood them.

        1. Wintermute*

          it is hard, but it’s part of why a good bartender is worth their weight in gold and also makes a pretty good wage. They’re trained to spot overserved people and call them to the attention of security, to spot people who are ferrying drinks and cut them off (“Sorry, bud, but your buddy there’s had way too many, if you’re going to keep pouring it down his throat I can’t serve you either”), to defuse tension about cutting people off and more. and on top of that the caterer that employs a travelling bartender will have liability insurance, record of staff certifications and training, and other things to help ward off liability.

          1. Sloanicota*

            I have tried to explain this to my nonprofit when they want to just have a board member bartend!

  6. Knitting Cat Lady*

    #1: if this is in the US and the utter disaster that is public transit there it is inevitable that she’s drunk driving on the regular.

    she’s a ticking time bomb and will kill someone sooner rather than later.

    1. Julia*

      I live in the US, don’t own a car, and take public transit or Uber/Lyft everywhere. I’ve noticed there’s a large contingent of Americans who assume everyone in this country drives, but believe me, there are lots and lots of us who don’t, particularly in cities.

    2. Maggie*

      Not really inevitable… Uber exists … even in small towns. I got one in a tiny town in western New York without trouble. Her drinking is obv a problem and needs to be addressed but there’s 0 guarantee that she’s driving drunk or going to kill someone. Or she could live in a city with transit such as nyc or Chicago. I don’t really think it’s fair to say it “inevitable that she will drunk drive and kill someone”.

    3. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I see that you are in Europe so may not know this, but there are many parts of the U.S. where it’s easy to function without a car. Obviously if she is driving drunk it is a very serious issue and must be dealt with ASAP, but we can’t possibly know with the kind of certainty you’re presenting here! I ask that we not present speculation as certain fact so I’m going to close this subthread.

  7. Silverose*

    For #1 – if your company has an EAP benefit, some companies do mandated EAP referrals if a worker’s mental health or substance use is negatively affecting their job – as in, it becomes part of a PIP and condition of continued employment. Generally, either their direct supervisor or an HR employee makes the initial call for the referral, depending on company policy, then instructs the employee to call in and follow through with the recommended sessions or course of treatment (in these cases, a clinical specialist at the EAP may do an assessment by phone before services). In those cases, the EAP has to tell the employer whether or not the employee followed through with the referral and service, but does not get any other information about the service received, maintaining as much worker privacy as possible. Source: I used to work for an EAP; these types of calls weren’t uncommon.

  8. Ben Marcus Consulting*


    This is reasonable. OSHA does not allow for unsupervised COVID tests. Either the employee has a PCR test they take home and send off to a lab for processing, they go to a testing site, or someone from the company observes the testing and results of a rapid test. Doing this via zoom seems to be the most reasonable response, and most convenient for the employee.

    1. AcademiaNut*

      It an official test result is needed for insurance results, doing it over a video conference is a reasonable alternative to having to go for an in person test. Where I live, you can basically do a video conferencing rapid test with medical staff when official results are needed (insurance, COVID leave, that sort of thing). It reduces the load on PCR testing facilities and you don’t have to go and hang out with a bunch of people while positive. The difference is that it’s through the medical system, not your employer, and you can choose to go to a testing facility if you want (and get PCR test if you’re symptomatic or a family member is positive, but are testing negative on a rapid test).

    2. Willis*

      Are those rules related to confirming positive tests though? I can understand observing a rapid test to make sure its negative or requiring a negative PCR result before having people return to work, and that seems more in line with what OSHA would be concerned with. But it sounds like what the OP is talking about is on the front end of covid…having to prove you’re actually sick in order to stay home.

    3. Fluffy Fish*

      Can you provide a reference for that OSHA requirement? I looked at the ETS and did not find any guidance related to how testing is done – only that unvaxed need to test regularly and if employees do test positive the need to not be at work.

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

        Yes I want to know specifically where Ben Marcus Consulting is getting their information. I could see it being required in a health care setting but it would put a hardship on most businesses.

    4. Lab Boss*

      I commented along similar lines on a different thread- if it’s a legal requirement, can the “observer” just be whoever the company assigns to watch? I would have guessed there would need to be some more advanced training requirements to properly monitor a test and confirm it was done correctly, but I may well be wrong.

    5. Observer*

      This is reasonable. OSHA does not allow for unsupervised COVID tests.

      What are you talking about?

      This is what OSHA says:

      What should employers do when an employee tests positive for COVID-19?

      Workers who test positive for COVID-19 will be notified of their results by their healthcare providers or public health department and will likely be advised to self-isolate or seek medical care. OSHA recommends that workers tell their supervisors if they have tested positive for COVID-19 so that employers can take steps to protect other workers. Such steps can include cleaning and disinfection and removing or isolating the COVID-19 positive worker (e.g., by allowing that worker to telework). Employers who become aware of a case among their workers should:

      Follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendations for community-related exposure to someone with known or suspected COVID-19.
      Follow CDC recommendations for when employees can return to work after having COVID-19.
      Follow CDC cleaning and disinfection recommendations to protect other employees.

      In settings covered by the Emergency Temporary Standard for Healthcare, employers should consult the standard for requirements on employee notification, medical removal, and medical removal protection benefits.

    6. yala*

      This doesn’t sound remotely reasonable. Furthermore, it sounds invasive af, AND insulting. It’s essentially calling your employees liars.

      I can’t imagine a justification that outweighs the invasiveness.

    7. Ben Marcus Consulting*


      Say what about OSHA: It’s apart of the ETS. Self-admin testing is only permissible only if the employer or qualified Telehealth provider observes the test.

      Shouldn’t it just be for negative tests: You don’t know the status until a qualified test is done.

      Locality: LW’s register leads me to believe US. Mileage will very with which states really focus on this, and that certainly trickles down to the employer level.

      Rationale: COVID is a public health emergency and bad actors are a thing; observation is meant to eliminate false reports for both negative and positive testing. I’ve read the comments & letters on this blog enough to know that many of you feel people are majorly downplaying the severity of COVID, you don’t want someone pretending they’re negative when an observed test would have indicated otherwise. This is compounded by the fact that jurisdictions have payment clauses in place for employees that test positive for COVID. In many areas, either the employer pays the employee due to workplace exposure, or the employee becomes eligible for UI.

      1. bamcheeks*

        you don’t want someone pretending they’re negative when an observed test would have indicated otherwise

        But there’s zero indication the company is doing this to identify people lying about being negative, only that they are doing it for reported positives.

      2. you're misunderstanding*

        That’s about testing to keep workplaces safe. This letter is about making people prove they deserve sick time. That’s not what the OSHA standard addresses. Otherwise other workplaces would also be making people live zoom their tests when calling out sick and they are not.

      3. Fluffy Fish*

        We are asking for the LINK to the specific ETS. As I stated the one I read said absolutely nothing about any such requirement.

      4. Willis*

        My point was if someone is already telling you they have covid, OSHA regs do not require a monitored test to confirm it. It says that right in the FAQs. But that’s what the OP seems to be describing…their work requiring a monitored positive test in order to stay home. If someone’s sick, they should be able to stay home even if a covid test is negative!

        1. Wisteria*

          “their work requiring a monitored positive test in order to stay home.”

          That’s not in the letter. Here’s what the OP actually said:

          My friend’s company just instituted a new policy around Covid today — if you are positive, you must zoom with HR and take a rapid test in real time and wait and show the results. The zooms will be recorded. (If you take a PCR test, you can just forward the results.)

          1. It’s OP’s friend’s company, not OP’s company.
          2. No information is provided on the purpose of the observed test. The only information provided is about OP’s emotional state (To me, this feels like basically accusing employees of lying about having Covid. ).

          Taking OP at their word, we don’t even know that the monitored test has to have a positive result. We just know that employees have to take a test while monitored. That’s all that was provided in terms of factual information.

          If someone is telling you they have COVID, common sense says to require confirmation of a negative test before allowing them back to work, and either a monitored self-test or forwarded results from a PCR test will do the trick, which scenario is just as consistent with the facts provided as yours is.

          I suggest taking a step back. Requiring a monitored test is quite reasonable under a number of circumstances.

          1. Willis*

            Uh, that’s literally what I wrote in my first comment. That there is a difference between the two scenarios. But thanks, I guess.

  9. Felis alwayshungryis*

    2 – why are we treating Covid as being that different to any other illness? Nobody makes you show a snotty tissue if you’re out with a cold, or video evidence of your tummy bug (now I’d pity THAT HR intern).

    If you have Covid you’re sick and shouldn’t come in, if you have a cold, you’re sick and shouldn’t come in, if you have norovirus, you’re sick and shouldn’t come in.

    1. John Smith*

      Very good point. Would they like to watch someone change and clean their stoma bag? Drop in on a patient’s cancer diagnosis appointment? I think the policy is utterly obnoxious and I’m sure that if this was tried in Europe, human rights legislation would come in to play. I’d be telling HR were to shove their swab stick, and it wouldn’t be up their nose…

      1. Super Admin*

        Here in the UK I’m not sure it would be legal. Companies aren’t supposed to know if you’re vaccinated or not unless they have a reallllly good reason for collecting that data. At my company we don’t even have to report a positive covid test, though they’ve asked us to do so if we feel comfortable sharing the information. HR watching us do a test would be unimaginable.

        1. Aww, coffee, no*

          Oddly enough, so long as it’s not recorded, them watching you take the test probably is legal. Collecting and holding personal data on someone is very restricted by GDPR/UK equivalent, but requiring you to let someone watch you take the test doesn’t fall into that category, so is probably allowed.
          Bonkers, but allowed.
          In which case you can bet I’d make sure to poke my throat for extra gagging noises!

    2. FashionablyEvil*

      This is what I don’t understand about this policy either. Just because you don’t have Covid, doesn’t mean you couldn’t have any other illness where it would be a good idea to stay home. Bizarre.

      1. Ama*

        Yes I was just collaborating with a colleague on the other side of the country who thought he had a sinus infection for three days, before he tested positive for COVID — he probably felt worse on the three days before his first positive test than after. Even if he hadn’t ever tested positive he still needed to stay home.

    3. Person from the Resume*

      I agree; there’s some missing info like is there a special category of COVID leave? Are employees saying I feel fine but I’m testing positive for COVID so I’m out sick and work doesn’t believe it?

      If I’m sick enough to take a COVID test (versus testing because of a possible exposure) then I’m quite possibly sick enough to stay home.

      1. Loulou*

        Well, you might take a COVID test for reasons other than feeling sick (like you were exposed to someone who tested positive). We’ve had plenty of people who were positive but not sick themselves end up needing to stay home — it never crossed my mind that they were lying!

        1. Loulou*

          Sorry, I saw you mentioned being exposed in a parenthetical — not disagreeing with you, just reinforcing there may be plenty of people in that exact situation.

    4. anonymous73*

      This was my first thought. Unless they have a specific policy for using sick time when you have COVID, this makes zero sense. If I’m sick I’m calling out, and if I’m contagious but feeling fine I’ll WFH if allowed… but I don’t provide details because frankly it’s nobody’s business.

    5. Not your typical admin*

      Absolutly! If you’re sick, you’re sick. It shouldn’t matter if it’s covid or any other illness.

      1. JustAnotherKate*

        There’s a weird culture around this at some workplaces, at least as far as I can tell from my workplace and anecdotes! For example, I had a teammate tell us that he’d visited his brother, who had the flu, the weekend before and he wasn’t feeling great, but if his Covid test was negative he’d be in the office the next day. No really, please don’t feel like you have to come in and give everyone the flu just because it’s not Covid. No viruses needed, thank you very much! (We no longer have Covid-specific leave, and we do have paid sick leave, so I don’t think that was the issue unless he was out of sick leave. Even then, we have a leave bank!)


      A few years pre-Covid, I was a junior HR person at a grocery/food service establishment, and state law required us, meaning me because hello junior, to track when employees had exclusionary symptoms that would keep them away from work for at least 24 hours. I got pretty used to recording things along the lines of “Clementina Warbleworth, diarrhea, 10 am and 1 pm Thursday the 4th.” That was all I wanted to know. Believe me. It was enough knowing when everyone had the runs in an organization of 100+ people and two locations.

      Did people abuse it? Sure, I had kids ask during training, “so if I’m super hungover and I throw up, that’s exclusionary?” and I’d be willing to bet that there was some apocryphal (apocraphal?) diarrhea in there, but honestly, I’d rather assume that I don’t want Clementina making people sandwiches today.

    7. Lily Rowan*

      But a lot of places make you get a doctor’s note. This is less onerous than that!

    8. Loulou*

      But we *are* treating COVID differently from other illnesses! If I test positive and have mild symptoms on day 1 I still have to stay home from work until day 5 (even if I feel better on day 3). That’s different from other illnesses! It’s ridiculous to make employees do a test on zoom, but I’m assuming it’s tied to some sort of special sick leave bank to cover the full isolation, or (I hope not this!) employees being required to use at least 5 of their normal pool of sick days before they can return.

      1. DataSci*

        Yes, that’s a good point, though part of it is because we don’t have the same sort of easy at-home testing for other contagious illnesses. I know I’ve had an asymptomatic case of COVID, because I tested positive when my son had it last month (he was asymptomatic too; his school tests all kids and staff every two weeks, and every week during omicron). For all I know, I’ve had a case of the flu that was mild enough (thanks to getting the flu shot) that I didn’t realize I was sick, but without at-home testing I just never knew about it. (And Kiddo had to stay home until day TEN, even with zero symptoms – his school’s a lot stricter than the federal guidelines.)

    9. Office Lobster DJ*

      I appreciate the sentiment of sick meaning sick, but presumably the company has mandatory isolation policies for employees with Covid that they don’t for a cold, where people MUST be out for a certain length of time, regardless of whether they feel sick for the whole time or not.

      Frankly, if we’re going to be watching people stick swabs up their nose anyway, I’d rather see a “test to return” policy, where you need to test negative on camera to return after having confirmed/suspected Covid.

    10. Mid*

      I’ve also been seeing the flip side—employers acting like if you don’t have COVID, you aren’t sick. My friend had influenza (which is making some nasty rounds in my area currently) and her boss asked if she tested positive for COVID, and then when she didn’t, asked her to come into the office. She was still *very* sick and declined to work in the office.

    11. Esmeralda*

      Because covid is not the same as an ordinary cold or even the flu (this year).

      It is not the same as food poisoning or norovirus.

      If you don’t believe that, I refer you to the death toll from covid over the past two years. People are still dying from covid. People who survive are still getting long term affects, some of them quite serious.

      I agree, if you have any of the illnesses you list, don’t come to work. That doesn’t have anything to do with the need to test for covid if you’re showing symptoms (which can look a lot like a cold or the flu)

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

    For the covid test, I’m assuming these are at home tests and not the antigen tests you take at a clinic. Because if you are in a health care facility I think there WOULD be some sort of legal issue. Many places do not allow photographs in doctors offices and I’m sure recording a video chat would be a problem too. I know the testing clinic my community had there was a big waiting room that everyone went to wait the 15 minutes for the results. That would be a violation of other privacy if someone was sitting there on video chat.
    Even the at home tests have you wait like 15 minutes. What are you doing for those 15 minutes on the call? Plus if you really wanted to cheat I’m sure you n cou I d come up with something. Get a positive test from someone who tested positive and just swap the result stick out. Or draw an extra line. This is just so weird,

    1. Libby*

      This, so very much. If it’s at a doctors office, I don’t know any that allow recording or pictures, so I would push back hard on these grounds.

    2. Antilles*

      I don’t think the first paragraph is an issue. The company’s worry is about people “lying about tests” so having a test taken by an outside third party in a health care setting is almost certainly exempt – in the same way that a (bad) company might grill you over taking a sick day but accept it if you bring in a written doctor’s note. So I’d guess if your answer is “I took a Covid test at an actual laboratory, here’s the printed copy of the official LabCorp (or whoever) test results”, that would be acceptable on its’ own with no need for a zoom call.
      It’s still really dumb policy for all sorts of other reasons though.

  11. Sleepy cat*

    #3 Another reason why this is pointless: it just means someone viewed your application, but not that it was screened/sifted. Maybe the same team manages online postings and reviews applications. Or maybe they need to be sent along to someone else.

    For example our team assistant gets online applications (albeit not from Indeed) from our HR team, who anonymise them first. Our assistant checks they’ve included certain things and then passes them along to the people who actually need to score them. Knowing someone ‘viewed’ your application tells you zip.

    And really this is very bad design – adding features that do not help anyone and will actively annoy lots of people.

    1. ecnaseener*

      Yes, I was thinking the same thing. Someone clicks on your application, the phone rings and they get caught up in other things, they don’t get around to actually reviewing your application for who knows how long but you’re getting a notification that they’ve looked and thinking that means they’ve reviewed it.

    2. JM in England*

      Yes, the “someone” who viewed your application might not necessarily be the hiring manager.

    3. OP3*

      This was my thought. Like it means it was opened. By who? What if they got distracted by something like a phone call like JM says? What if…? What if…? There’s so many scenarios where it doesn’t actually lead to my application getting to the right person, it doesn’t lead to a rejection letter, nor does it lead to an interview. I’d almost find it MORE rude if I though someone saw my resume and still didn’t have the “decency” to at least send a thanks but no thanks email, but yet as we know from AAM, radio silence from employers is SO common and it’s really not worth my adding value judgements to it,,so it feels like a teeny tiny piece of adding transparency which will ultimately feel meaningless if it just stops there.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        LinkedIn actually says the job poster viewed it, some of the time. I’ve seen Your application was viewed on Indeed, but on LinkedIn, I’ve seen both someone at BestX Company viewed your application and also Fergus Jobposter McDude viewed your application when I applied through the platform itself.

        Also, when you apply through the platform on LI, even if you go to the company site, it shares your profile, so you might also see Fergus Jobposter McDude viewed your profile.

        Personally, I would rather find out when Fergus emails or calls me for an interview.

    4. Lana Kane*

      I can imagine all the calls that hiring managers will be getting. “I know you saw my resume! Why didn’t you call me?! When’s my interview?!”

    5. The OTHER Other*

      L#3 seems to be proof that when it comes to job searching you can’t please everyone. People complain about not getting rejections from employers but often argue with them when they do. Some people want a phone call, others get angry that someone called them to tell them “no” and want a letter or e-mail. Some people want details of why they were rejected so they can improve their application next time, others see this as an opening to debate why they were unfairly passed over. Others would prefer not to get this kind of feedback; why don’t they just cut to the “no, thanks”, but others are offended at receiving form letters.

      In this case, Indeed is giving at least some information that someone received and opened the application. It seems strange to me that people would prefer to have less information than more, or complain about the information because it might be imperfect.

      Back before applying online was the norm, it was common to field many “did you get my application” type calls. If the answer was “yes” that still wasn’t a guarantee that the decision makers got it nor are free of all distractions when they do. This Indeed feature seems to be providing more or less the same info.

      1. Observer*

        In this case, Indeed is giving at least some information that someone received and opened the application. It seems strange to me that people would prefer to have less information than more, or complain about the information because it might be imperfect.

        People are not complaining because the information is “imperfect” but because it is, at best, useless information masquerading as a “feature”.

        1. OP3*

          This! I’m not complaining about being given information. I’m trying to understand the intent of the information, as I couldn’t understand how this vague detail was supposed to be of value.

      2. Colette*

        “Someone at the company looked at my application” isn’t useful information, though, and it sets people up to expect a response that may not be coming (or may not be coming for months). I guess if you’re someone who distrusts technology, it gives you some assurance that it made it to the company, but that information changes nothing for you. You don’t have an interview, or a phone screen, or any indication that you will ever have one.

      3. Willow Pillow*

        I applied for my current job via Linkedin. 3 days after I applied, I received a rejection email from Linkedin. Another 4 days later, the hiring manager phoned me to set up an interview… I’m sure the rejection was sent automatically because someone didn’t tick a box in Linkedin to tell it otherwise.

        The Linkedin post resulted in me seeing the opening, but it was more work for me (I still needed to apply through the employer system) and for them (they would have needed to update Linkedin to avoid the false rejection). I have nothing against my employer for that, but I’m not complaining that “it might be imperfect”, I’m complaining because it was outright incorrect.

  12. CurrentlyBill*

    OP3: It does provide validation that the application made it completely through Indeed’s system. That’s valuable process information for folks who like to know their status. It’s not so much actionable data as it is confirmatory data.

    1. Sleepy cat*

      No, it doesn’t – as you don’t know it’s reached the right person.

      I would always apply direct and not through Indeed.

      1. OP3*

        For what it’s worth, I apply direct when I can. However, I’ve come across a few companies that only post on indeed. It’s… strange. I’m sure this isn’t the only website that does it, it’s just the only place I’ve encountered this so far

        1. Lyudie*

          Zip Recruiter does this as well. As a job seeker, I liked it because it seemed like *something* was happening vs my application sitting lost in the ether, but it’s true that you don’t know who viewed it and it’s not something you can act on.

          1. Elizabeth West*

            When OldExjob was hiring, they usually did it through CareerBuilder (aka Spam Central, lol). They could set it up so the application went straight to our HR person’s email. So they did actually see it. I don’t know if you can do that for Indeed or LinkedIn.

    2. Emmy Noether*

      This is what I was thinking. It’s a bit like a read receipt on emails. Of course you don’t know it was openend by the right person, or that it was actually read, not just clicked on. But you DO know that it made it through the system to an actual inbox and didn’t get bounced due to attachments being too large or a mistyped or obsolete adress or classified as spam.

      1. OP3*

        That’s interesting. It’s definitely a different perspective. I appreciate knowing that you have this perspective. I think for me that feels a bit hollow; I think it lets me know it’s not just wandering around in cyber space.

        To me, it sort of feels like when people have read receipts turned on on their texts though. Like I know they read the text… but then if they don’t answer soon I’m more likely to be annoyed cause not the text is open and they’re less likely to come back and answer. What if they opened it by accident while getting into a car and don’t even know if the text is there? Should I text again when it’s been 24 hours to be like “hey I know you read/opened this and you haven’t answered, just want to make sure you haven’t forgotten”.

        So basically what I am saying is that, for me, it can plausibly be useful to at least know it was accessed, BUT only when there is follow through in a reasonable amount of time via a rejection email, interview offer, etc. and with jobs, you don’t necessarily have a way to follow up with the right person / department if you didn’t apply by email, and the “right” time to follow up is so subjective (1 week to 1 month let’s say, hypothetically) AND I’ve learned from AAM that follow up on applications is pretty much not ok (or at least not productive) even if you’re perception is that the company is rude by not even doing things like rejecting you while it’s more likely to be ok to follow up after interviews but not earlier in the process then that.

        1. Leenie*

          I hate to say it, but I think you should consider someone having opened your resume to be essentially meaningless. I’m hiring for a position right now, and a patient person from our HR department will screen dozens of resumes and send me maybe four of them. And since she’s screening for multiple positions from multiple sources, I’d be surprised if they’re actually sending rejections to the hundreds of people she might screen but not contact in any week. We make sure that anyone we’re in contact with gets updated with a rejection or an offer. But her having opened a resume definitely doesn’t mean it will reach me (because I’m only supposed to be getting likely candidates), and I have no idea if HR gives any feedback at all to the people who I’ll never see. I’m sorry if that sounds grim. I just don’t think the Indeed feature sounds at all helpful. Good luck in your search, and I hope your resume is the right match and gets to the right desk!

          1. OP3*

            Thank you! This is my thought too. Someone looking at my resume feels meaningless and I’m glad to be reading these comments and getting more context.

        2. Emmy Noether*

          People’s reaction to this kind of thing are fascinatingly different. My point of view is: I’m not worse off for having this information (even if it’s a tiny bit of information). If the site didn’t send this type of thing, all the same things could happen! Someone could still open it and be distracted or whatever, just invisibly to you. This is not particle physics where the act of observing changes the state of being of the observed thing.

          So to me, it’s not hurting anything, even if it’s not helping much, so I don’t see why I’d have a problem with it. I think since for you it’s triggering an impatience/annoyance reaction you could look if you can turn the notifications off?

        3. Parakeet*

          For me, I appreciate the information about timing. I’ve applied to jobs where I heard back one way or another within a few days, and jobs where it was so long since I had applied that I assumed I was never hearing from them again but then I got an interview. Knowing that someone accessed an application isn’t a perfect proxy for timing, of course. They could access it and then not read it for a month. But it’s an imperfect proxy and I’m a sucker for anything that seems like relevant information.

    3. anonymous73*

      It actually provides no information other than SOMEONE looked at your resume. Recruiters can look at your resume if it’s posted on the site. There is no way to know that someone associated with the application sent is the one who looked at it.

  13. NZ policy wonk*

    OP 5: I have in the past used a sentence like “if you hear of any roles you think I’d be a good fit for, I would be most appreciative if you’d pass my details along. Let me know if you do and I’ll reciprocate with a glass of wine/cup of coffee on me!” I think the beverage offer informalises it a bit in a good way, and reminds them to let you know so you can keep tracks on where your cv is going.

    1. Peachtree*

      I’m really surprised this has worked for you! This would sound like straight-up bribery in most places. “Get my CV to where I want it, and I’ll take you out for a drink” is not the message to send, especially when it’s their job (as recruiters) to do this … because they get paid if they place you.

      1. Karl Havoc*

        This is a friend of a friend networking contact, not a recruiter. And it would be very strange if someone thought a single cup of coffee was a bribe to secure a job referral. I don’t think many people are that desperate for a free coffee.

        1. Charlotte Lucas*

          Agreed. Also, it turns a work-related contact into a friendly social message. (“I’m not just using you for how you can help my career. I see you as a person who it would be pleasant to spend time with.”)

        2. KateM*

          Friend of a friend is not my drinking buddy. My reaction to this suggestion was that “so, if I pass your details along, I will be expected to waste my time drinking with a stranger something I dislike? I think I’ll skip…” Maybe I’m just an extreme introvert, though. :)

          1. Karl Havoc*

            So then you say, “oh, that’s not necessary, I’m just happy to help!” and everyone is happy. Also, taking professional contacts out for a coffee is an extremely normal thing – weird to equate that with a “drinking buddy”

      2. Purple Cat*

        “bribery”? That feels a bit extreme. This is a way of thanking the networking contact (notably NOT a recruiter) for their time and effort. Personally I would decouple it from the act of them passing on your resume, and as a thank you for just investing their time at all.

    2. LW5*

      Thanks for this, I had also initially planned on a “when you are in [my city], I’d love to buy you a drink” message (we don’t live in the same place) but chickened out on that, too — the intersection of social anxiety and imposter syndrome is gnarly!

      Added both sentiments into my second thank you for the resume feedback I got, fingers crossed I can get out of the nonprofit vortex!

      1. BethDH*

        You point out something really helpful to me, which is the way social anxiety plays out in this. I have the same issue with these kinds of networking emails and I had been trying to deal with it entirely as a professional problem but some of the things that help with the social part might help us both.
        I still get anxious asking for references from people who have told me they are happy to be references.

      2. Office Lobster DJ*

        Would it feel more comfortable to phrase it as “If you’re ever in/Next time you’re in [my city], I’d love to catch up over coffee – my treat!”?

  14. KateM*

    How does someone being drunk at work events not influence their work – isn’t whatever impression you leave on your coworkers and possibly clients part of that?

    1. ecnaseener*

      The letter specified it didn’t affect her work product – obviously that’s a silly line to draw, that the product is the only thing that matters at work, but that’s the logic.

      1. anonymous73*

        But that’s the wrong way to look at it. Your reputation is part of your work product.

    2. LilyP*

      Eh, I also read it as maybe more casual/not company sponsored events. Jane the Event Coordinator showing up drunk to the company-organized product launch celebration dinner with all the clients would have an obvious work impact. Jane the Software Engineer showing up drunk to the coworker-organized Friday after-work happy hour at the local bar….if her coworkers are still happy to work with her during work and she’s not, like, sexually harassing people at the bar or getting into fights, I can see why a manager might feel like there isn’t a quantifiable enough work impact to push hard on, especially if she’s getting angry about advice.

      1. I should really pick a name*

        The co-worker is showing up drunk to both unofficial and official company events

        both casual outside-of-work get-togethers with coworkers, and formal work events during which alcohol is served, like dinners, galas, etc.

    3. Purple Cat*

      I read it as the LW was focused on the M-F 9-5 portion of Jane’s work not being impacted.

      1. Decima Dewey*

        Or taking it for granted that, since Jane’s work is still close to the range of her best work, that her drinking isn’t affecting her work. It’s hard to see how it couldn’t: mistakes that Jane fixes when she’s sober(er) so that management, only seeing the end product, doesn’t realize how much Jane had to put in later to bring it into acceptable shape.

        I think it’s *been* affecting her work. It’s just that now the affect can’t be ignored.

  15. rudster*

    Re. #2, it could always be worse. At least the company isn’t making you film yourself doing one of those super-accurate anal swabs that the Chinese were subjecting foreign visitors to a while back.

    1. Aww, coffee, no*

      Oh my goodness! I had no idea that anal swabs were a thing for Covid, that really would be a step too far if a company wanted that.

  16. pcake*

    LW2, the biggest issue I see here is that Omicron often tests negative one, two or three times before positive, even in the same session. This has happened to a lot of my friends this year – in fact, it happened to a buddy just two days ago., and another friend did 4 rapid tests in a row before the fifth gave her a strong positive, which turned out to be correct. She was quite ill for a couple weeks.

    It’s been in the news repeatedly that tests often miss Omacron. You might find 2 or 3 links to this news, email to HR and ask for clarification.

    1. Inkhorn*

      This. My office has a covid cluster at the moment, including several people who were sick enough or symptomatic enough to stay home despite a negative RAT then tested positive the next day. I’m going to wait until next week before celebrating my (apparent) escape regardless of continuing to test negative.

      1. anti social socialite*

        Similar thing happened to my friend. Her husband tested positive, but she continually tested negative (with the at home kit) despite having symptoms and being in close contact with her husband (naturally). Her doctor recommended she utilize the swap like a strep test and bam, positive test.

    2. Damn it, Hardison!*

      Exactly. My husband was home with a fever, cough, and congestion for all last week. 3 negative (rapid) tests, but I would bet that it was Covid. There was a good article in the New York Times a couple weeks ago that explained why people (esp. those vaccinated) might have negative tests but actually have a mild case of Covid. Fortunately husband’s work was understanding (he works with the public) and the only reaction he got was a “get well and don’t come in this week.”

    3. Anya Last Nerve*

      I’m unclear if OP is saying this is required in order to access some distinct Covid sick leave? I would think if you are sick with symptoms, Covid or not, you take regular sick leave but they are requiring the evidence of a positive Covid test in order to take the additional sick leave. Otherwise I can’t see why they would care if you were out with Covid or just taking PTO. Maybe OP can clarify? But if it’s distinct Covid leave, I don’t think the company can say “well as long as you THINK it’s probably Covid, that’s cool take the extra leave.”

      1. RegBarclay*

        That’s what I was wondering – I can call out sick for up to 3 days with no documentation but if I want to use the COVID-specific leave my employer offers (separate from the PTO I would use for regular illness) I would presumably need to provide proof it was COVID. This seems a good compromise for cases where the employee can’t get a PCR appointment or doesn’t want to leave the house to go to it.

    4. Purple Cat*

      My best friend did several at-home tests – all negative. Did a rapid PCR test to be clear before seeing family – negative. THEN got the positive result several days later when she tested AGAIN after still not feeling well.

    5. Elizabeth West*

      Hmm, I had a cough a while back and tested negative twice. No fever, though. But the timing was suspicious.

      I agree, maybe mention that when talking to HR.

  17. Turingtested*

    LW 1: I quit drinking 6 years ago and have a lot of experience working with people in the recovery/relapse cycle. A lot of people in active addiction thinks no one notices that they’re intoxicated. It’s actually a kindness to let them know people can tell.

    Second, please talk to your HR department. Companies have different rules about how to handle potentially intoxicated employees and you want to make sure you’re following procedures.

    Just as a side note, she won’t be able to quit until she’s ready. You could do everything right, extend her compassion, your company could pay for rehab, and she might continue the behavior. This is not a reflection on you, just the sad reality of substance abuse.

    When I quit drinking I went from good, reliable employee to top performer.

    1. Harper the Other One*

      I think this is so important to keep in mind for OP. They need to hold in their mind that she may not improve and even that they may have to fire her for repeated intoxication at work (or poor performance caused by her addiction) at some point. That would be sad and really unfortunate, but it’s a reality of addiction and it’s very easy for folks to build up guilt about not doing “enough.”

      1. BethDH*

        The other thing to remember is that it is not always a kindness to keep someone employed and not performing. I know two people where job repercussions were the thing that got through to them (one firing, one being taken off a big project and told directly it was because of concerns about the effect of their drinking).
        Both are in much better situations now, 5ish years down the road. One of them didn’t get into confronting it right away after the job stuff, but it was the first thing he couldn’t blow off as just what everyone’s doing and his family being uptight when they were upset.
        And that’s without even getting into being fair to the people who work with this woman!

      2. Wintermute*

        I think a lot of people hesitate due to that. A lot of companies, quite reasonably and perfectly understandably, it’s one-and-done. you’re fired for even once. And like I said given the rats’ nest of legal, ethical and job-related concerns that’s entirely reasonable. But it does make people tend to hesitate because they worry they’re “getting someone fired” (when in reality no, it’s their unacceptable behavior that is getting them fired).

    2. Old friend of Bill W*

      I have over 22 years of sobriety but still cringe over memories. Turingtested is 100% correct – Jane will not quit until she faces the cold hard truth that she can’t drink. That being said, the company can and should bring this up as a problem and refer her to EAP. Posters above have pointed out there is a liability issue if she’s drunk at work functions. Jane may not want to face the truth and will deny there is a problem. But please bring it up, repeatedly if needed. With luck, eventually the message will get through.

      1. Thin Mints didn't make me thin*

        Just want to offer respect to you and other people in recovery who are posting/reading here. I have never had an addiction problem myself but I’ve been close to those who have. Recovery is a grueling process and I salute you for staying sober (just for today!).

      2. EPLawyer*

        To be perfectly blunt — the company is not doing her any favors by letting it slide. If she won’t face up to the cold hard truth until she faces consequences, then the longer the consequences are put off, the longer she can deny there is a problem.

        Letting her know there will be consequences if she continues to show up drunk to events or missing meetings due to being hung over may actually be helping her in the long run. Provided the consequences are actually enforced.

        Carrot (EAP, pay for Rehab) and stick (shape up or ship out) approach.

        1. Student*

          I’d argue that the OP is not in a position to take that kind of action. OP1 is in a position to alert the right people at the company, and I’d encourage them to do so – repeatedly as new instances of this happen, if necessary. If you have reason to believe the drunk co-worker is driving while drunk, tip off the cops about it at the time; you can potentially tell them enough to catch her in the act.

          I would not encourage OP1 to actually confront the drunk co-worker about it. I’ve had to confront drunks. It’s unpleasant and sometimes dangerous. If you do not have the authority to enforce immediate consequences, it’s likely to backfire on you – everyone else generally wants to keep the peace, and they’ll point fingers at you for rocking the boat while making excuses for the drunk, especially if there’s a strong “alcohol culture” in the company. Even if you don’t have to deal with that, if the drunk walks away from a confrontation with no immediate consequences, it may embolden them. Since OP1 can’t enforce any actual consequence, given OP1 is not in the drunk’s management chain, OP1 ought to leave it to somebody who can.

          If viable, OP1 may want to encourage the organization to do a little due-diligence digging. Some drunks are high functioning and good at their job. Some just charm the people around them into covering for them. I worked with one of the latter for a while – he was very well-thought-of by his bosses, but his subordinates were carrying all the weight for him and he was a mix of king and tyrant toward them to keep them cowed. In addition to being drunk at work and encouraging his favored subordinates to drink at work, he was violating a bunch of safety protocols and gambling on the company credit card. Eventually the latter is what finally cost him his job.

          1. EPLawyer*

            Oh I wasn’t clear. I wasn’t suggesting OP do it. I think her COMPANY needs to do it.

        2. bamcheeks*

          The other thing is that there are lots and lots of different patterns of addictive drinking and people can have wildly varying levels of functionality. By the sound of it, Jane has enough control to keep her drinking separate from a standard working day: that’s probably a line for her. Making it clear that evening functions fall into the “cannot be visibly drunk” category may not stop her drinking, but may mean that she is able to restrict her drinking at / around those events the same way she does during the standard working day— which is not necessarily a win for Jane or her family but solves as much of the problem as her employer can control.

    3. Charlotte Lucas*

      Also, don’t forget EAP for those who work closely with her or are her work friends. They might want to know how they can help or how to deal with the situation.

    4. Maggie*

      This is so true about addiction. Unfortunately I had to leave my last job due to my boss’s serious drinking problem. She was sent home from work multiple times, forced into leave, and I’m sure other things I wasn’t privy to. She isn’t stopping until she decides and it’s not going to be now from what I can tell, so I got out of there because it’s obviously very different when it’s your boss.

  18. Beth G*

    #1, I’ve had two scenarios where I had incapacitated employees I supervised, and was tasked with addressing the issue. One went swimmingly well, and she ultimately went for professional help, later on thanked me profusely for my support and push to seek help. The other went disastrously. She ended up quitting bc she thought we were “out to get her”. I guess that was a success in that she was no longer an employee with liabilities. But I always wonder why one scenario went well and the other didn’t. I did have a better relationship with the first, so I hope she saw my concern for what it was, and had a less cordial (but not conflictual) relationship with the second. It also could have been where they were at in their lives and how ready they were to hear what needed to be heard. I’ll never know, and hope I don’t have to try out the experiment a third time.

    1. Person from the Resume*

      I suspect it wasn’t so much you, but where they were at in their lives and how ready they were to hear what needed to be heard. Some are in the denial stage hence you’re out to get her. She’s fine. She doesn’t have a problem. She’s handling things well. The other had seen the problems and knew they had one and your conversation pushed them in their decision to seek help.

      Being closer helps too I’m sure, but addicts talk a lot about rock bottom. Lots need to be there or close before they acknowledge the problem.

    2. anonymous73*

      Addicts are often in denial and you can’t force anyone to get help if they don’t want help or can’t admit that they have a problem. So they blame everyone else. I’m sure you did everything right, but the second person just wasn’t ready to hear it.

    3. Wintermute*

      I’ll second the people saying that it’s not you– it’s them. everyone has their own mental conception of what rock bottom is. For some people being called to task by an employer and having their job threatened is “enough”. For other people they won’t reach that same “holy crap, this is out of control and I can’t keep living this way, I don’t want to be this person anymore” point until their first night in jail, or when they’ve spent time homeless– for some people they can make even that seem normal enough as long as they can keep using.

      You really can’t make their success your benchmark because it has nothing to do with you and everything to do with them: where they are in their life, how addicted they are, how much of their self-worth they put into their job and thus how much of a blow to their ego/self-image a threat to their career is, whether other people are pressing them on other fronts (being threatened with your whole life falling apart can have a multiplicative effect– or can be so overwhelming it causes someone to retreat even further into mood altering with substances) and a hundred other factors.

    4. Observer*

      But I always wonder why one scenario went well and the other didn’t.

      There are about a billion reasons for that. And for the most part, you can’t really know.

      You did what you could. I know that it’s hard not to wonder why, but I hope it’s not something that you spend a lot of thought on.

    5. Alexandrine*

      Unfortunately, some people will deny they have a problem, no matter what.

      My father was a functional alcoholic for years (held down white collar management jobs). As soon as work ended, he was hitting the bottle. He would drive me places while drunk, or while actively throwing back a cocktail.

      The only thing that stopped him was getting hospitalized with late-stage cirrhosis and a dying liver (which forced him to dry out in the hospital). Being actively dying was literally the only thing that could stop him. My mother apparently threatened to leave him and take us kids away, he injured himself while drunk multiple times, and he and I only have any relationship at all because of my mother, and none of that stopped him. Imminent death was the only thing that got through to him

      And now that he’s lived for much longer than his initial prognosis, he’s drinking again…

    6. Irish Teacher*

      Probably just different personalities or as you say, what stage they were at in dealing with the issue. Some people just aren’t ready to deal with something/admit they have a problem at the moment (or maybe ever) and some people are just more inclined to confrontation. It’s also possible the second person had negative experiences with other authority figures and saw all authority as being against them.

  19. Irish Teacher*

    I wonder is number 4 a generic letter? It doesn’t really sound that way, given what she said about it being thoughtful and so on, but if they sent out the same letter to a number of people, it would make sense that it didn’t fit everybody.

    For number 3, I think the benefit is that you know the process worked. They have your application, you don’t need to do any more about it and can move on to the next application or whatever or just wait until they get to the point where they start narrowing candidates down for interview. I don’t think it would get my hopes up; I assume the people I am applying to will see my application and likely shortly after I send it. I don’t expect them to decide who they will interview until the application deadline, when they will presumably have all the applications in and will be able to compare. I think it lets you know you don’t have to follow up, there’s no doubt that the application has been viewed.

    1. Freelance Anything*

      #4 I had the same interview as a few friends once and we all got completely bizarre feedback; that in some cases completely contradicted our personalities.

      Generously, someone mixed up our interview notes and just assigned them randomly as a ‘fix’.

      Not so generously, the interviewer was paying so little attention they just threw out generic sounding reasons.

      It’s impossible to know. I think Alison’s advice is spot on and the correction may be nudge to do better (assuming there was truly no terrible miscommunication).

    2. Cakeroll*

      OP#4 here; I suspect you’re in the right direction. The entire experience was very thoughtfully-done – it’s a senior role on a small team in a small company, so I don’t think the recruiter is just sending the same feedback to everyone. However, I do suspect the feedback is genericized – that the hiring manager mentioned some specific things in their internal discussion/decision-making, and the recruiter provided me with a vague summary. I’m going to craft a reply in line with Alison’s advice and what other commenters have suggested, and I may also CC the hiring manager to make sure that, if there was a misassumption, they at least see the correction and so can have a clearer picture for any future opportunity.

  20. Not So NewReader*

    For OP 1. Many alcoholics are quite likeable. This seems to ramp up the storyline a bit. So this very likeable person has a problem that needs to be addressed and it’s a pretty normal instinct to not want to address it. Left unaddressed this person could seriously hurt themselves or others. (And worse can happen.) Having the conversation AFTER the event is like allowing preventable things to happen.

    Next. I work in a job adjacent to people who work with numerous alcoholics (think similar to a rehab, but that’s not the arena). Their comments are the same over and over. Alcoholics can be such great workers, exemplary in fact. I am sure there is an explanation why the correlation exists. But doing great work cannot be a crutch for not addressing the situation. It’s still a problem regardless of work quality/quantity. I’d like to point out that it can be an inroad. “Jane, you do such great work. With this in mind, we’d like you here with us for as long as you would like to stay. But we are a bit concerned that may not happen and that is why I am talking with you today.”

    Someone else would get better wording, but you see the overall idea.

    1. Koalafied*

      I don’t think there’s a correlation between alcoholics and being great workers so much as there’s a survivorship bias at play – the ones who aren’t great workers struggle to hold a job, so the high-functioning alcoholics are the subset of alcoholics that people have the most exposure to as co-workers.

      1. Laney Boggs*

        yeaahhhh I don’t want to get off subject but there are several alcoholics I know that can’t keep a job because of it (and some, not all, who are incredibly UNlikeable). It’s the same with literally any substance abuse; some people are incredibly affable and high-functioning, and some are… not.

    2. Alexandrine*

      My father is absolutely one of these alcoholics. When I was a little kid, adults would always make jokes about how my dad wouldn’t leave the party til the bar closed. He also held skilled white collar management jobs and charmed everyone outside of our household. (Meanwhile, he was driving me places while drunk, screaming at and belittling me, and sometimes injuring himself or me.) Some “functional” alcoholics put up a good front.

  21. OutofOffice*

    #2 – is this for positive case tracking and/or special leave? I had to send in a picture of my positive at-home test, but that was only used to approve COVID-related leave that didn’t impact my regular sick time. If I didn’t send it, I could still use my regular sick time and/or work from home (our policy is that if you feel sick at all, even if you think it’s just allergies or a case of the sniffles, you stay home).

    Even still, sitting on a recorded Zoom with people watching my stick something up my nose and then waiting for 15 minutes while feeling sick sounds atrocious and would make me feel like they thought I was not trustworthy.

  22. LilyP*

    For #3 I suspect it’s designed to get you to look at Indeed more than to provide a specific benefit to you. They’re manufacturing a little tidbit of news to push notify you about, or a hook to keep you checking back for “progress” on your applications for as often and as long as possible

    1. OP3*

      That’s my thought too. And while I specifically mentioned indeed in my letter, I’m sure it’s not the only website that does this. It’s not something I was seeing pre grad school though so I was like “huh, aside from trying to get me to visit their website/like their website more, how is this actually adding value?” Cause I get it from a marketing standpoint and, like Allison said, it at least gives the illusion of more transparency, but I think that her other ideas would probably have more value added. I suppose that this is a nice effort or whatever though… but I’m glad I found out about it on a job I had little investment in and can thus prepare myself before I apply for a job I really want (in cases where applying through a job website or emailing someone isn’t available, jobs seem to be fairly split where I live)

    2. Very Social*

      Yes, my thoughts exactly. Indeed isn’t saying “this is a great idea that would be super helpful to candidates”–they’re saying “this is a way to get candidates thinking about Indeed more often.”

  23. L-squared*

    #3. I look at this the same way I look at people who like to have read notifications on their texts. I personally am not of those people. These days so many people feel the need to have the certainty of knowing it went through. I’ve read threads on reddit about why people have them on, because to me, it seems they just cause more issues. But people say knowing it went through and when kind of soothes their anxiety. So maybe indeed just built on that.

  24. Bill and Heather's Excellent Adventure*

    LW1, you say that Jane’s drinking has “never affected her work product, managers haven’t addressed it with her in any formal type of way”. But she is showing up to formal work events “visibly intoxicated”! That does affect how the company is perceived and it has clearly affected how Jane is perceived, so why haven’t managers done something before now? It really sounds like management didn’t care about Jane’s problems as long as she kept producing good results. Things shouldn’t have been allowed to get to this point. I know she’s not your direct report but you should definitely be talking to her manager about your concern over her behaviour so they (and HR and whoever else) can get Jane some help.

    1. Intent to Flounce*

      That’s assuming that clients are present at these events – it’s possible they are work only affairs. We’ve had work events such as summer parties in the past where people have imbibed far more than is sensible and as a result TPTB have put limits on drinks now via tokens/vouchers. (People have got around it still, but anyone getting trollied repeatedly could expect to have a chat with someone afterwards – a first offense is usually assumed to be a mistake so I could see how this situation would come about).

      1. Bill and Heather's Excellent Adventure*

        Even if external customers are not present at these events, internal customers would be. This doesn’t give a good impression of Jane or her department.

        a first offense is usually assumed to be a mistake so I could see how this situation would come about

        Except Jane has gone way beyond ‘a first offence’ and instead of intervening in any way, management have let the situation deteriorate. I appreciate OP genuinely wants to help Jane but it shouldn’t have got this far in the first place.

    2. Dust Bunny*

      I was just getting on here to say this: Showing up drunk at work events would 100% be construed as “affecting your work” where I work, and I would consider our HR to be very humane. You could not do this here and not have it addressed.

      1. Clisby*

        That’s where I come down. Jane’s not just having one drink too many once in a blue moon at a work event, she’s *coming to the work event already under the influence*. I don’t see how that’s not relevant to her work.

  25. NYWeasel*

    Op 4: As a hiring manager, first my feedback usually gets translated by the HR partner who is unfamiliar with the type of work we do. So as AAM says, there’s a high chance that it may not be exactly what the hiring manager said. But even if it is, there may be context being left out.

    For example, I once interviewed an internal candidate who I’ve worked with before, but in a different capacity than the role I was hiring for. We give all candidates a short intro describing what skills we’re assessing for, then ask a fixed set of questions that are designed to assess more of the “how” someone works rather than what they’ve done, but are easy enough for candidates to weave in relevant details. So I explained to Fergus, a skilled Oxen Wrangler, that we were looking for someone with both Yak Handling and Gnu Wrestling experience. Fergus only answered the “How” parts of the questions — “I approach all animals with an open mind and let them determine how fast the process goes”, but never once mentioned ANY relevant skills. We even asked him to share any experience from his other jobs that might apply to this job, and again he talked very broadly with no specifics. So while his resume mentioned he worked for GnuMasters, it was super unclear if the wrestling he did there was with Oxen or Gnu. Fergus didn’t move on to the next stage of interviews, as we had candidates with extensive Yak and Gnu experience, and I told the HR partner that we chose not to move forward with Fergus because he didn’t *demonstrate* the experience we’re looking for. I wouldn’t say he didn’t have it—he might very well be quite good at it. He just didn’t bring any of it out in his answers. There’s a nuance there that’s unfortunately easy to drop off—if I said “Fergus was weak with Gnu”, he might feel that being at Gnu Masters should show he was strong in it, when I was referring to his answers in comparison to other candidates.

    Now, you may be saying “Ah, but NYWeasel, my resume says quite clearly that I’m certified in both YakNinja and Gnu Level C certifications, so they should know I was strong in it.” And yeah, maybe the manager screwed up royally or got you confused with another candidate. If that’s the case, it sucks for sure. Hiring managers are human and if we’re hiring, it means we’re also shorthanded and probably stressed. But as AAM says, you aren’t going to get them to reverse a hiring decision at this point, so even if they say “Ooops, my bad”, it’s not really going to make the situation feel better to you. So my recommendation is to think about the ways you speak to your experience in interviews. Fergus could have easily said “My primary focus was Oxen, but I supported the Gnu division regularly, and here’s how I adjusted my approach when I dealt with Gnu.” That’s probably the best way to move forward from this situation.

    I’ve been on your side of the fence myself, and I know how stressful this all is, so I wish you the best of luck as you continue your job search!

    1. Cakeroll*

      OP#4 here; this is a really useful perspective, thank you. Combined with Alison’s advice, I do suspect this is most likely something lost in translation, which did actually happen earlier in the process with the work sample. I can imagine the hiring manager telling them something more like “Cakeroll’s experience in X doesn’t seem as much of a focus in the last few years” or “Cakeroll has a lot of experience in X, but for a slightly different kind of customer” and that was diluted down into the recruiter’s well-intentioned message.

  26. AthenaC*

    #2 – I could see a rationale for live-zooming COVID tests if they’ve had people lying about being NEGATIVE and then coming to work and spreading COVID … but that’s not the scenario OP describes, so I’m not sure why HR wants to spend their time doing this.

    1. Irish Teacher*

      I had to reread because I was sure this was the concern. I may be biased by being in education where there WAS a lot of concern that parents who understandably have to work might lie and say an asymptomatic child tested negative.

      1. AthenaC*

        Exactly – in my children’s schools, their COVID protocols were a mess and not enforced at ALL. The predictable result was lots of exposure for my kids, husband and I. Thanks goodness none of us are high risk and are privileged enough to be able to quarantine with little extra effort … but I was still pretty irritated at how avoidable it was.

    2. Just a thought*

      I had to chuckle at this. I can assure you HR DOESN’T want to spend their time doing this. Someone in their less than infinite wisdom decided this would be a great way to either 1. prove people were using COVID pay only for COVID positives (and not just claiming it’s COVID) or 2. a way to prevent people from claiming they have to quarantine for x amount of days due to another minor illness.

      But as others mentioned, negative at home tests are often incorrect. Our motto here is “a positive is a positive, but a negative is not necessarily a negative.” If you have a known exposure, your negative test has to be a PCR test to return to work.

      1. BethDH*

        Not sure if this is the part Dr. Rebecca meant, but people post when they hear things from job postings. So you’ll know that fancy-phd Joe has heard from institutions c and d about scheduling a phone interview and from place a about a campus visit while you’re still sitting there wondering whether they even read your 50+ page application (about half of which is customized for that school).

        1. Dr. Rebecca*

          Yes, that’s the one.

          There’s a wikia where you can search job postings by academic discipline, and it lists the entire posting, with space for people to comment on what they’ve heard about it: if people have gotten interview requests or requests for letters of recommendation, when the position has been filled, if there is or is rumored to be an internal candidate, etc. It’s both very useful, and *extremely* misery inducing. Do I participate? Yes. Do I absolutely hate myself for it? Also yes.

  27. AskingForIt*

    LW#5 – Yes, definitely ask for what you would like them to do! From the contact’s side, I would not want to risk over-stepping by sharing a resume of someone I knew without their permission. Not to mention potential privacy issues in the EU and other non-US locations (and even potentially some US states in the near future). All that aside, it might not cross their mind to recommend you for positions if you did not approach them about it or ask in advance – depending on the scope of your prior conversations and asks.

    I would encourage you to include parameters with your ask instead of leaving it at “anyone hiring for a position.” Maybe consider things such as: at a ___ type of company, or private medical office vs. hospital, or in-house counsel vs. law firm, or non-profit vs. government vs. academic vs. private company, or even specifically like at the company they work for or name a few companies where you know they have contacts and you would be interested in working or further networking. Maybe that was all previously discussed at your meeting, in which case it still wouldn’t hurt to re-iterate it in the email with your resume so it makes it very easy for them.

  28. Person from the Resume*

    LW#1 Since you’re not her manager, it’s not your responsibility, but it is Jane’s manager’s responsibilty and perhaps a few more levels up to make sure Jane’s boss handles this delicate but too long delayed conversation.

    I don’t know how everyone seems to know that Jane missed the out of work hours meeting because she was hungover. If you didn’t KNOW that for sure the manager could address it as missing a required meeting and that can’t happen again. She needs to be reliable esepcially for the speical important project. But since she has history of showing up at work dinners and galas visibly drunk, even then the manager could address that out of normal work hours Jane has appeared drunk at work events and it can’t happen again. Jane needs to take steps to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

    My thoughts: Be compassionate. Offer whatever assistance work can (see HR and EAP first) to help her / help her find help. Stress that this is negatively impacting her work, and it can’t happen again. Offer to take her off the project that falls outside her typical work schedule if she wishes. If she refuses stress that if she misses or shows up drunk/drinks at another work even, she will be pulled from big, important project. She she cannot show up drunk, be visible drunk, drink at any work events in the future.

    Be kind and compassionate, but make it about her work performance. Missing work because she’s hungover or being drunk/drinking at events will have an impact on her employment. We don’t know if she’s in denial or not. We don’t know if she’s ready to get help or not. I’m guessing she doesn’t realize that she’s been visibly drunk at work events and “everyone” knows, but maybe she does. Make it about her work performance because that’s what her manager and employer have authority to have an opinion on.

  29. Bossy Magoo*

    Re: Indeed should offer guidance to employers on writing ads in plain language. Amen to this! For several years I wanted out of my 15-year job but when I looked at ads for jobs with my title, I couldn’t even understand what they were asking for. I was likely qualified but felt I wouldn’t be able to bluff my way through an interview if I couldn’t understand even the ad. One day I saw one that was written in a very simple and straightforward way, with a touch of humor too. I thought it was a good sign about the company culture. When I was interviewing, I mentioned that their ad being so well-written was part of why I applied. I got the job and have been here for over a year. The culture was definitely well-represented by the ad. Direct, no head games, nothing flashy and pretentious…just a bunch of people working hard and enjoying collaborating with each other.

    1. irene adler*

      Maybe how the ad is written should be considered a yellow flag when it’s difficult to suss out what the employer is looking for.

      My complaints about job ads:
      listing 30+ bullet points for job duties – that’s one per day per calendar month. C’mon!
      And, every biotech company indicates they are “fast-paced”. Is there another kind of work environment?

  30. anonymous73*

    #1 you need to re-frame your way of thinking. Jane showing up drunk to formal work events IS affecting her work product. It’s not just about what she does in the office.
    #3 for a job you say is a long shot, you seem a bit obsessed with it. Others can look at your resume on Indeed, not just those associated with jobs you’ve applied to. Do yourself a favor and stop trying to figure out who looked at your resume and why. Apply for jobs that interest you, and know that nothing about job hunting is personal.

  31. Purple Cat*

    How does the ADA impact how employers handle alcoholism? Does there have to be some type of treatment plan happening for the employee to be protected?

    1. Fluffy Fish*

      ADA doesn’t protect people with disabilities no matter what – it requires reasonable accommodations.

      Time off for treatment = reasonable.
      Being allowed to show up to work in any capacity intoxicated = not reasonable.

    2. Eldritch Office Worker*

      HR here – The technical answer to your question is no, but there aren’t any accommodations I can think of that wouldn’t require some kind of treatment plan to be enacted. MAYBE exemption from events where alcohol is served? That would depend on the job duties. If your job is event planner that might be an undue hardship on the employer.

      But the question with ADA is how is the condition being accommodated. Time off for hangovers? Not reasonable. Time off for treatment? Absolutely. Being allowed to be at work drunk? Absolutely not. Sober friendly options for work sponsored social events? Probably!

      This is very case specific but basically the office would be inclined legally to support sobriety moreso than put up with the negative effects of intoxication, regardless of diagnosed alcoholism.

      1. Purple Cat*

        Thank you! Very clear explanation. The focus on “supporting sobriety” more than “putting up with the negative effects of intoxication” makes sense.

    3. Wintermute*

      the ADA is clear– active users are not protected at all. You can fire someone for alcohol use.

      If you are NOT an active user you are protected. You cannot be fired for having been an alcoholic/being a dry alcoholic/being a recovering alcoholic/however you want to phrase it.

      This does create some unfortunate catch-22 situations, and discourages honesty but I think most people would agree that companies should not be forced to tolerate people who are intoxicated at work, even once.

      1. Eldritch Office Worker*

        Correct. The reason I didn’t word it quite this starkly is “being a recovering alcoholic” is just dicey territory and relapse is so common that in practice it tends to be operationally recommended to be proactive about supporting sobriety.

        But yes bottom line if you show up to work drunk you have no legal protections.

        1. Wintermute*

          That’s fair, when you get into accommodations you made some excellent points about how even though active use has no protection there are reasonable accommodations that could be requested, things that let people avoid drinking situations or put them in compromising positions.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        from the SHRM website, article titled “Are employees undergoing treatment for drug and alcohol addictions covered under the ADA?” October 2020:

        Although alcoholism and drug addiction may both be disabilities under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), they are, in some respects, treated differently. An alcoholic is generally a person with a disability under the ADA, whereas someone who is addicted to drugs is protected under the ADA only if he or she is not currently using illegal drugs.

        According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s (EEOC’s) Technical Assistance Manual: Title I of the ADA, “A person who currently uses alcohol is not automatically denied protection simply because of the alcohol use. An alcoholic is a person with a disability under the ADA and may be entitled to consideration of accommodation, if s/he is qualified to perform the essential functions of a job. However, an employer may discipline, discharge or deny employment to an alcoholic whose use of alcohol adversely affects job performance or conduct to the extent that s/he is not ‘qualified.’ “

        So yeah, it can be.

  32. I should really pick a name*


    I’d probably say “If you hear of anyone hiring for a position you think I’d be a good fit for, please let me know”. I would love the idea of someone handing out my resume without me knowing about it. Could get really awkward if they call you for a phone screen and you’re not familiar with the company at all.

  33. Zach*

    #2- So regardless, I think that the whole “proving on zoom you have COVID” thing is BS, but I’m curious if the company has special COVID sick time? Where I work, they added a few extra sick days that you could use only for COVID infections.

    Either way though, I still think this is BS. It’s just marginally less crappy if it’s so the sick time can be applied to COVID-specific sick time. Very marginally.

  34. Linda Evangelista*

    OP4- something very similar just happened to me, except I was offered a more junior role than the one I had interviewed for (with the HR recruiter and with 7 separate individuals on the team). The recruiter cited the number of years of experience the senior role required… which is the exact number I had. So I responded similarly to what Alison suggested. I did ask about any concerns they had and got no response. Either way, it was frustrating and a red flag. Sometimes I wonder if they just made up an excuse.

  35. Seven If You Count Bad John*

    “Also, what happens if someone tests negative? Are they denied sick leave even if they’re sick?”

    Oh man, THIS PART. It seems like all of a sudden illness only “counts” if it’s Covid! “I have a cold but don’t worry it’s not Covid” I assure you, first of all, I don’t want your cold; second, if I have a cold I don’t want to hand it to someone else; third, when I get sick, I want to recuperate, not work! I don’t want you working around me with a cold or the flu or with norovirus or anything else, and this was true before Covid!

    Just because it’s not Covid doesn’t mean you’re not sick! Argh, this is becoming one my pet peeves this year.

    1. Dr. Rebecca*

      Mine too!! People have been like “my throat is all scratchy, but it’s not covid, wtf,” and I want to shake them and be like…you know there are still other illnesses out there that produce the same symptoms, yes??

    2. Irish Teacher*

      Yup, I went to a conference where a speaker started coughing and said, “don’t worry, it’s not covid. It’s just the flu.” Now, maybe she was using “flu” as a lot of people do to mean a cold or just random “I have a cough and don’t know if it’s allergies or what, but it’s not serious,” but my immediate thought was “um, I don’t want to catch the flu either.”

      1. Eldritch Office Worker*

        Depending on the strain, as someone with moderate asthma the flu could potentially be more dangerous for me than COVID. Can people just…not.

        That said allergies are AWFUL right now where I am so I am having to go around assuring people I’m not sick pretty constantly. But I am actually not sick.

        1. OyHiOh*

          I have a few plain cloth masks I’ve written on with fabric paint: “Pollen Dust Smoke”

          Works very well for the ligit pollen/dust/smoke days and also, a good excuse when I just don’t want to smile.

        2. londonedit*

          Yep, I’m doing a lot of ‘It’s not Covid, promise! My hayfever is appalling at the moment!!’ But if I didn’t know it was hayfever I’d be staying away from people whether it was a bad cold or Covid itself.

    3. Elizabeth West*

      This is why I wish wearing masks when you’re not feeling well had caught on here way before COVID. Catching the office crud in general is not fun even if you’re not high-risk.

  36. Observer*

    #1 – I want to point out that if Jane was regularly showing up to client events noticeably drunk it WAS already affecting her work. Because interacting with clients appropriately is part of the job, and being drunk is, by definition, not appropriate interaction.

    There is not a lot YOU can do. As for the rest, Alison is totally on the money. It’s good that you are not trying to get her fired. But, please don’t try to protect her from the consequences of her actions. From what you say she’s in deep denial and protecting her will only make that worse. And the FIRST thing that any alcoholic needs to do in order to makes things better for themselves is to acknowledge the problem.

    1. Bill and Heather's Excellent Adventure*

      if Jane was regularly showing up to client events noticeably drunk it WAS already affecting her work. Because interacting with clients appropriately is part of the job, and being drunk is, by definition, not appropriate interaction.


  37. Freelance Anything*

    #4 I had the same interview as a few friends once and we all got completely bizarre feedback; that in some cases completely contradicted our personalities.

    Generously, someone mixed up our interview notes and just assigned them randomly as a ‘fix’.

    Not so generously, the interviewer was paying so little attention they just threw out generic sounding reasons.

    It’s impossible to know. I think Alison’s advice is spot on and the correction may be nudge to do better (assuming there was truly no terrible miscommunication).

    1. Cakeroll*

      OP#4 here. Coincidentally, my close colleague also interviewed for this position, but hadn’t completed the process (was still on the work sample). I’m curious if, now that the position is being “closed out”, they’re going to get any feedback.

  38. OyHiOh*

    For #3, LinkedIn does a version of this too. If you apply for a job, LI will let you know if that employer looks at your resume. I noticed this on the employer side, and there’s no way for us to opt out of notification. I would imagine there might be something on the applicant side that allows opt out, but I haven’t gone looking because I haven’t applied for any jobs through that platform.

    1. irene adler*

      Ziprecruiter does same. In fact, if the employer views the resume multiple times, they inform the candidate of this and include some stat about multiple views = X% higher chance of being hired. Sigh.

  39. Veryanon*

    Making an employee live zoom a rapid COVID test may not be illegal, but feels pretty icky and invasive. I wouldn’t recommend it if your goal is to maintain any level of morale among your staff. Who comes up with these ideas? I don’t want to watch someone swab a COVID test around in their nose, good lord.

  40. alferd g packer, esq*

    Fun fact: in Colorado, employers may *not* require proof of a positive COVID test. They can ask for proof of a negative test prior to return to work, but not a positive test.

  41. My Best Guess*

    A while back, we surveyed employees about their vaccination status and we required them to upload their vaccine card. We needed to be really careful about how we stored their medical information so that we remained HIPAA compliant. I would be surprised if cloud storage of a Zoom meeting recording follows the guidelines. So, while there may not be an issue with HR watching the test, recording and storing the process may be a big risky move.

  42. Free Meerkats*

    I’m not ragging on the LW #3, but if you look through the AAM archives (or even this comment thread), you’ll find that it doesn’t matter what an employer, or in this case Indeed, does in hiring, someone won’t like it. How many letters have we seen that say a version of the following, “Why did they reject me by email when a phone call is better?”, “Why did they call me to reject me, don’t they know email is better?”, etc, etc.

    If Indeed shows that and you don’t care, don’t look at it.

    1. OP3*

      I’m wondering if you’re misunderstanding (or maybe I should have more clearly stated). I’m not actually unhappy at all. This is a new employment experience for me and I was simply mulling it over. I actually inevitably don’t give a flying f**k if indeed or ziprecruiter or LinkedIn or any other website gives me this information; I might think it’s useless and not really of value to me and so on, but I think it can be really beneficial for people like me to actually understand why. I’m sure I’m not the only one but I’m for sure the kind of person where if this happened more than once it would go from “this is weird and pointless, but whatever” to “this is actively annoying me”; is it a dumb thing to care about? 100%, but job hunting, as we all know, is very discouraging and can distort your views. That all said, I’m glad I asked AAM before it became a giant (and unnecessary) annoyance. I am glad to be learning about employment things like this, even if it’s a more mundane concern :)

  43. Elizabeth West*

    #3–LinkedIn does this too and I don’t like it either.

    Stuff that would be more useful for job sites to add (and which some sites do have): an automated system to confirm jobs are still open and remove them when they’re not; better and more accurate categorizations of jobs as on-site, remote, hybrid, or temporarily remote; something that lets you see the employer’s posting history (including now-removed jobs so you can see how often they’ve hired for the same role in the past); better guidance for employers on writing plain-language, accurate job descriptions; and requirements to post salary ranges.

    This entire paragraph, particularly the bold bits.

  44. Xaraja*

    I recently tested positive for COVID on a rapid test. My HR department asked for a photo of the results for their records but said if I didn’t have it that would be ok too. It has felt extremely weird this whole time talking to HR and my boss about my symptoms and my doctor’s appt and what help I’m getting from my doctor to get better faster, but that’s life in the COVID era. They’ve been very understanding and haven’t asked for much detail really. Still weird.

    1. Veryanon*

      At my company, we have occupational health nurses who have these conversations with COVID-positive employees, so that managers and HR don’t have to have access to medical information that they really don’t need. I recognize that not every employer has that resource, though. Unfortunately, with COVID, we (meaning HR) basically had to rewrite the playbook when it comes to dealing with confidential medical information. We do our best to keep that information confidential, but it’s almost impossible to keep it completely private especially if there’s been an exposure at a worksite and contact tracing is required.
      I hope you feel better soon.

    2. Elizabeth West*

      As someone who has managed to escape it so far (I think), I’m definitely taking a date-stamped picture if I test positive.
      I’m glad your company is being reasonable and supportive.

  45. Dual Peppin Whiskey*

    Hey Alison, with LW #1, I don’t mean to be skeptical, but if/when the employee comes to work/a work event after drinking again in the future, what would you suggest be done in that moment? I’m assuming call her a cab home and…put her on a PIP the next day? Terminate the next day? I’m really curious how firm of a line you would suggest be drawn with this.

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

      Alcoholism may be covered under the ADA. So the company might have to tread lightly. You can’t even necessarily know from a single incident that it is alcohol; maybe they take a medication at 5 PM every day that has side effect similar to intoxication?

      Also if the employee is as high performance (during the day) as LW1 says, it seems likely to be worth it to at least give them a chance to get it under control.

      1. Observer*

        The ADA doesn’t require any allowance for being drunk on the job. What it DOES require is allowing staff to do things like take (possibly unpaid) time for treatment, flex their schedule as necessary and practical for treatment, etc.

      2. Wintermute*

        Alcoholism and alcohol use are different things. Companies are not required to tolerate alcohol (or any other drug) use. It’s a sticky area because it’s the only “disability” in which the symptom (alcohol use) can get you fired, despite being a disability on paper.

        And it really doesn’t matter. If you pull them into a meeting to fire them and they claim it was medication, I’d put things on hold and get legal advice, but it’s very likely you can fire someone for appearing intoxicated, plus the letter indicated she is drinking at the events themselves so I find it fairly farfetched that it wouldn’t be alcohol.

        Fun fact: “level of drunkenness” is one of **only two** exceptions to the expert testimony rule. Normally to give an opinion in court, you need to be an expert of some kind. Like if you’re called into court to testify in a vehicle-related case, your opinion as to someone’s speed is not valid testimony unless you’re trained in speed estimation and the court qualifies you as an expert. Level of intoxication and emotional state are the only exceptions to this– every adult on the planet is presumed to be competent at discerning whether someone is drunk or angry.

  46. Ray Gillette*

    Letter 1: Jane sounds like my old coworker Sterling (I wrote in about him, the letter will show up if you search his name). There was a period where he was showing up drunk to work events, but it didn’t impact his work product. Then it started to very definitely impact his work product.

  47. Lisa*

    #2) I am wondering if there has been someone caught faking a COVID diagnosis in order to get some additional paid time off work…. I wonder this because many times when policies like this are put in place it is because someone was caught doing something dishonest and unfortunately in these cases some copies will jump right into putting a new policy in place and policing everyone.

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

      I was wondering if people were faking negative results to come into the office. “It’s no worse than a cold, and that TPS report is due today!”

    2. irene adler*

      Tempting to do this as I’d sure like some time off. But no, I won’t actually do this.

  48. GreenDoor*

    LW 1 – Just to think about…are you absolutely sure the employee abuses alcohol? If yes, then yea, you need to have a candid “this behavior cannot continue and here are some resources” conversation. But if you’re not actually sure, maybe approach the conversation a little different. My co-worker exhibited all the classic behaviors of an alcoholic right around when the pandemic started so the natural assumption was that he was dealing with pandemic anxieties by abusing alcohol. But my boss approached it with, “You have been doing A, B, and C and failing to do X, Y, and Z….what’s going on?” Like many people with a problem, he was in denial about how obvious it was. But it turns out he had a bona fide medical issue, was working with his health providers, and they were having a hard time calibrating his medications. The off behavior was just meds that needed adjusting. So the “can you tell me what’s going on” approach is, I think, a better way to go if you have no proof of substance abuse. Plus, if you really want to keep the employee, it opens the door for them to ask about accommodations they might need. Good luck to you!

    1. Wintermute*

      The problem with just asking is you open the door to an excuse. One of the defining features of addiction is addicts lie, they lie about their use, they lie about the quantity of their use (for example, basically everyone that has ever blown a .24 BAC tells the cops they had “two beers”), they lie about the last time they used (Two beers two hours before the event is usually more like five beers five minutes before the event), they lie about their level of intoxication (or may be genuinely unable to discern it because to them it’s baseline normal)

      If you confront someone about their apparent intoxication and they provide a medical excuse that’s a whole different kettle of fish, but it should start with being blunt, not just “what’s going on?”, which will just get you a “tired and emotional” excuse from most active addicts, but rather “you appeared intoxicated, {that cannot happen again/we’re going to have to let you go}” and if they offer some excuse at that point, you should go from there doing your due diligence to verify.

  49. Eirishis*

    LW #1, but really everyone – as both an HR professional and someone in active recovery from alcoholism, do not be afraid to take action here. Don’t let Jane’s work record, steller personality, or whatever hold you or anyone else back. If she is intoxicated on the job or too hungover to report, she is a legal and/or financial liability and should go into progressive discipline (with off ramps if she seeks treatment if your policies allow for it).

    But this is as much for her as for your employer. I know countless people for whom losing (or almost losing) a job saved their life and, possibly, the lives of others.

    While I know there are numerous opinions about AA, but there is a chapter in the Big Book addressed “To Employers” that basically reiterates this – support them if they try to recover, but if they don’t, cut them loose to save your firm and hopefully wake them up. I highly encourage any manager to read it (and forgive the dated and sometimes gendered language from 1935).


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