my coworker trash-talks other women’s clothes, putting work expenses on a personal credit card, and more

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

1. My senior colleague trash-talks other women’s clothes

During the pandemic, I worked with a senior executive on a project (I don’t report directly to her) and we’ve continued to chat about mundane things on Slack. Slowly it developed into a friendship where she often vents about work-related things to me. I know it crosses a line, but the information she shares is interesting and I know better than to ever tell anyone else how much we talk.

Pre-pandemic, we had a casual dress code which she strongly disapproved of. We’re now “business casual” and jeans are allowed. She continues to nitpick to me almost everyday — calling people’s outfits “ugly” or “atrocious” and still too casual. She strongly implies that I should wear heels and a dress to advance my career.

I typically wear dress pants, blouses, and blazers to work. I do wear heels and dresses to events but it doesn’t make sense in my role to dress like that everyday. The kicker is, her style is not to my taste at all: structured Ralph Lauren dresses in patterns that look very dated to me, aka corporate office wear circa 2010. Other staff I work with have applauded other women’s attire in the office but never her. However, in her mind, she is a superb dresser and everyone should strive to dress like her.

She continues to persist with her comments. I try to ignore them or switch topics, but it’s getting worse every day as more and more staff return to the office. I once commented on how unfair it is that some male staff are wearing casual wear and no one comments, but women’s attire is totally up for critiquing. She agreed with me in the moment, but then the next day went right back to it.

Any advice on how to stop these unwanted comments? She’s very senior to me so I have to tread carefully. I still like and respect her outside of this too, so I feel like I’m stuck between a rock and a hard place.

Two options: You can mildly but matter-of-factly push back in the moment, with comments like, “Oh, I liked Jane’s outfit today” or “I think she looks nice!” Maybe throw in, “I’ve come to appreciate the new dress code and think it’s good we’re adapting with the times.”

Or you can go this route: “I’ve noticed we talk about women’s outfits but not men’s, and I’m trying hard not to fall into that anymore.” And then the next time: “We’re doing it again! So, what did you think about (work topic)?” By “we” here, you really mean “you,” but “we” gives her some face-saving cover.

2. My company wants me to put conference expenses on my personal credit card

I have never before worked in a role that requires travel or expense reporting, but I will be attending a conference later this year with a few of my team members. The attendance fee for the conference will be direct billed to our company, but I’ve just learned we will be responsible for paying for the hotel and meals and then submitting an expense report to be reimbursed. I understand that’s the norm at my company, but the hotel charge will be well over four figures and I’m a single person in an entry-level position.

When I brought this up with my supervisor, the response was to the tune of, “Well, if you don’t have the credit to cover this, then we’ll have to figure something out.” I don’t think this was meant maliciously but it makes me concerned about whether I should even pursue this because I don’t want it to become some kind of condescending conversation about my personal finances. I can put this charge on a credit card, but it’s by no means a small amount of money and it makes me uncomfortable to have to drop that kind of a charge all at once because I don’t know when I’ll get reimbursed.

Should I push back on this or am I being unreasonable? Personally I think it’s absurd to expect us to pay this, but I don’t know if that’s just my inexperience with expense reporting talking.

It is messed up that a lot of companies expect employees to front expenses like this and then wait for reimbursement, but it’s also very common (more on that here). It’s also perfectly reasonable to explain you can’t do it.

I think you might be reading too much into your manager’s comment! It sounds like they’re willing to figure something out if you explain it’s a hardship, and I’d assume that means that it’ll go on a company card or a more senior person’s card, not that you’re in a for a conversation about your personal finances (which would be wildly inappropriate and not typical in a situation like this).

Go back to your manager and say, “What are the options since I can’t put this on my personal card? Can it go on a company card or be direct billed up-front?”

3. Should I explain to my coworkers that I’m tired because of anxiety meds?

I’m a summer intern (also one year into college) at a large software engineering company. I just finished my second week on-site. Two coworkers are mentoring me and teaching me to use our software. So far, I’ve gotten wonderful feedback that I’m learning fast and asking great questions. The internship is through a program the company has with my school, and they can give feedback that way too. I’ve been trying to make myself trust that people won’t stew on negative feedback and will tell me about any problems right away. I’ve tried to make it clear I want that.

So my issue: I’ve struggled with anxiety for a while. I’m working on changing meds, which I started last Tuesday, working with a doctor. So far the new meds seem to be working really well on one of my issues at least. But for the rest of the week, I was feeling really tired, out-of-it, and sort of on autopilot. I wasn’t able to be engaged, ask many questions, or take much initiative in learning. My doctor says that this is a common side effect and hopefully it will be gone in a few days, but it might not be. I don’t know if anyone at work has noticed.

Assuming that I am feeling fine this week, I shouldn’t say anything, right? I don’t think anyone noticed, but if they did I’ll show that I’m past it by being engaged. But if I’m still feeling out of it, should I say something? I’m comfortable discussing this and not embarrassed at all, but it seems like something I probably shouldn’t volunteer? My reasons for saying something would be a) so people know I’m not just checked out, and b) so people will be patient with me and be clear with what I should be doing to keep learning.

This is an amazing company that I would love to work for in the future, and I don’t want to jeopardize that by saying nothing and them thinking I’m lazy or unfocused, or by oversharing and making them uncomfortable.

If your sense is that no one noticed last week and you feel fine this week, there’s no need to say anything. Lean into being engaged this week and that should be all you need to do.

But if you still feel sluggish this week, do say something to the people who are training you, as well as your manager if you have a lot of interaction with her. You don’t need to go into detail about the condition the meds are for; that would be an overshare and isn’t a necessary part of the message you need to communicate. The right amount of info is just, “In case you’ve noticed me seeming less energetic in the past week, I wanted to mention that I’m changing medications and the adjustment period is making me tired but I expect to be back to normal very quickly.”

4. Etiquette when backing out of speaking on a panel

I was invited to do a volunteer author talk for a panel in August. I cannot make the panel anymore due to work conflicts, but I know two people who might be interested. Do I let the event organizer know, then suggest names, or do I confirm if one of the two people is interested before telling the event organizer?

It is on Zoom so it doesn’t require travel. It is a volunteer panel and I do not get paid other than receiving free books. What else do I need to consider?

Tell the organizer ASAP, and when you do, mention that you thought of two other people who might be able to fill in, although you can’t say for sure, and offer to connect them if she’s interested. I would not check with the other two people beforehand because (1) that’ll slow down your notification to the event organizer, who needs to know ASAP, (2) the organizer might have their own back-ups they’d prefer to contact, and (3) there’s no point in having your contacts check their schedules and consider whether they’d say yes to the commitment before you know if the organizer will even want to invite them.

5. How to pay someone who’s working from home with Covid

I’d like to ask your opinion on the correct way to pay someone who is out sick with Covid but is working from home. This person is salary exempt in Texas.

Working from home is working! You need to pay them just like you would if they were working in the office.

If the issue is that they’re working less hours per day than they would be if they weren’t sick, the law governing exempt employees says that if they work any part of the week, you need to pay for them for the full week; that’s the nature of being exempt. (There are some narrow exceptions to that, like the first and last week of work. And you can deduct pay for full days of absence if they’ve exhausted all their sick leave. But you can’t legally dock an exempt employee’s pay just because they’re working fewer hours a day, working from home, or being less productive because of sickness.)

{ 401 comments… read them below }

  1. Cold and Tired*

    #3: does your payroll department do any sort of advances for big travel expenses like this?

    When I was new in my job I took long trips overseas every month that frequently cost $3-4k for hotel and food, which I had to pay for on my own credit cards and get reimbursed after. I was really young and that wiped my credit for the month, but my company would let me take an advance of an amount i designated (usually the expected hotel cost since you know that ahead of time) so I could pay my credit card immediately. I’d then submit receipts after I got back, and get paid the difference. It was a huge life saver until my credit and savings increased.

    So it might be worth asking if that’s an option. My company has a lot of travel and a decent number of younger hires so they knew it would be tough on people, so I’m not sure if your payroll has had the same idea or not.

    1. Asenath*

      I was just going to say this! That, and go to whoever handles money, since they will know the ins and outs of reimbursements better than your boss. When I started at my last job, I was not used to traveling for work (or, of course, getting reimbursed) and I was strongly encouraged to participate in regular travel which always included plane fares to major cities and staying in rather more expensive hotels (so as to be close to the event) than I ever used. And I was not only just starting in a pretty low-level position, I was coming off a period of not having much income, sometimes none. I asked, and there was an option for travel expenses, which made it all possible, and the person in finance who handled travel expenses walked me through all the complicated paperwork. Actually, it was only a little more complicated than the basic travel request. Later, when I had more financial resources and confidence that I would be reimbursed quickly (that is, before I paid interest), I chose to use my personal credit card, but those early trips were all paid for using travel advances for all the major costs.

    2. Lea*

      Yeah I think my office had a mechanism to do this, the fiscal people would have to cut a check? Idk.

      Personally I can get a travel card but it’s way less hassle to use my personal card and the company reimburses quickly but I understand the writers concern in their situation.

    3. Falling Diphthong*

      Just want to add to OP: I am familiar with the tight credit of people in their early 20s–even for those who are meticulous about paying their bills on time–a) from reading here; b) because my daughter has hit this snag, where on moving to Europe she wanted to increase her credit for planned travel, and the credit card companies were like “OooOOooh, you’ve been spending more money recently, absolutely not.” Even though she had done every solid thing to build a good credit rating you should do; she wound up having to pay her bill twice a month when traveling so she wouldn’t go over the limit. Very frustrating.

      I mention this because to the older folk at your company this may be something they haven’t had to think about in a long time, and it’s all vague recollection: “My credit limit was about $2000/month, so for young people today it’s 2-3 times that, right?” or “I sorta recall in the 90s calling and asking them to up my limit, and they did no problem.” So be clear and factual about why fronting thousands of dollars is hard for you, because the older folk may in fact lack the context to instantly realize that your credit and savings are not like theirs now, or theirs of 20 years back.

      Also: Check with people about how timely reimbursements are; sometimes expenses submitted any time before the next paycheck are on it, and sometimes it’s longer. And Cold and Tired’s advice is good–them fronting you the money, rather than vv, may be an option.

      1. Magenta Sky*

        “Also: Check with people about how timely reimbursements are; sometimes expenses submitted any time before the next paycheck are on it, and sometimes it’s longer.”

        This is one of the key things to consider. A lot of companies will delay for a long time, even when it creates real hardship. I never hesitated to put something on my personal card, because it was never more than a few days to get a check (and if I needed it sooner, they’d cut a check while I waited), but the people I work for are exceptional.

        1. NotAnotherManager!*

          One of the best things our new CFO did when they took over was to do weekly reimbursement runs. People get paid back within five business days for the vast majority of expenses – large ones where the appropriate pre-approval process was not followed can be delayed. Oh, and reimbursement via direct deposit, not check. You know, 21st century-like.

          The CFO immediately preceding took months to pay people back. I am not sure if it was because of the disorganized nature of the department under their iron-fisted rule, their insistence on approving/signing every check (yes, check, not direct deposit) for a 500+ person organization, or if they were slow-rolling expenses to manipulate cashflow numbers. I felt like I spent at least 10% of my time trying to track down payment status of expense reports I’d approved for some poor recent grad who needed to pay their rent. It was embarrassing, and I used my personal card a lot to prevent these issues from cropping up (and was then questioned as to why I was expensing something instead of the person who incurred the expense – because you don’t pay people back fast enough to make their rent, accounting department).

          In any event, the new CFO is a dream, and I’ve not had to follow up on a single expense reimbursement since they took over. Expense handling was completely overhauled within their first three months on the job, they were so horrified. I have a number of entry-level folks, and she called me and let me know that (1) none of them should feel obligated to use a personal card for any company expense and issued us a department credit card immediately and (2) she understood that reimbursement had historically been bad and that we should call her personally if we encountered any issues, especially at the entry-level since their finances may not allow for the same level of unbudgeted expenses as the more highly compensated.

    4. Stitch*

      I wants to add: when companies do this it’s absolutely crucial they timely reimburse people. Otherwise you’re asking your employees to potentially pay the interest on work expenses.

      My dirty lens here is that my husband’s old company had the reimburse model, but they were often late. Without my salary, we wouldn’t have been able to pay off the bill sometimes. But one month they were late reimbursing some very expensive international travel costs when he had to go to both Japan and Australia and we ended up having to carry a balance and pay the interest (and credit cards often have stiff interest). That was hundreds of dollars of interest the company refused to reimburse, despite that we’d paid off everything except the travel costs (and covered what we could of those).

      Yes, you get “points” but it simply wasn’t worth it. This wasn’t the only reason my spouse moved on, but it was part of it.

      1. Bongofury*

        I had a hotel incorrectly charge my credit card for the entire stay of our whole team (5 people, 6 nights) and by the time they refunded it, interest kicked in. The hotel refused to refund more then their “mistake” so I was stuck paying a huge interest fee. After that I use one of those prepaid credit cards that only lets you charge exactly what you authorize. Never again.

        1. Starbuck*

          Wow, the company should definitely have reimbursed you for the interest fee! That’s outrageous.

    5. 3DogNight*

      Also, having a high balance on your card impacts your credit score. Companies don’t care, but we should! Push back.

      1. Hazel*

        Even though there may be ways to make it possible for you to pay with your credit card, I don’t think you should do it, especially when they said they have an alternative. It’s too much risk, IMO. You have to protect your financial health, and the company doesn’t have the incentive to take that as seriously as you do.

    6. Miette*

      I’ll add my own early career experiences: I recall having very bad credit in my early 20s and, although I had a corporate card, I was still on the hook to pay it off each month. If I didn’t, I’d be responsible for the fees, and it would further tarnish my already craptastic credit. I became very neurotic about doing expense reports–like, they’d be the first thing I’d do as soon as I was back in the office (I was in sales at the time). An actual side benefit: all that paying-off-of-monthly-balances I did helped improve my credit.

      Fast forward to today, and as a manager I would never ask this of any employee. Perhaps there’s a manager in your chain of command with a company card that can do it, or your manager should speak with the folks in accounting about options. If this is a long-standing practice at the company, you’re likely not the first one that has asked about it. This is the perfect place where a good manager should be advocating for you–I hope they do.

    7. Chris Rozon*

      Re: fronting business expenses….

      You’ve got this all wrong, you’re about to enter the amazing world of credit card points, aka “let the company pay for your next vacation!”

      Get a Chase credit card that offers the best current sign up bonus – generally anywhere from 60k to 100k points for spending $4000 over a fee months (which you’ll do easily with some business travel and your basic bills.) Those points are worth at least 1 cents each toward travel (the Sapphire cards are good because points are worth $1.25 and $1.50 each, but have annual fees that may make it not worthwhile for you) PLUS you’ll get between 1 and 5 points per dollar you spend.

      Net effect to you: $600-$1000 of free travel to you in the first year!

      1. FrivYeti*

        This only works if you have the finances to be *approved* for a credit card like that, which many young entry-level folks don’t have. A lot of those cards require fairly substantial credit ratings.

        1. Christopher Rozon*

          Worst case, get the branded credit card for the hotel and airline you’re using. They’re easier to obtain and once you start using them on the airline/at the hotel you’ll be racking up points towards elite benefits – more upgrades, better seats, stuff like that. There’s always an angle to play.

          The biggest issue here is that the OP doesn’t know their company’s reimbursement schedule. Most companies have a set “submit by this date, get reimbursed on this date” policy, as long as you know the deadlines you can plan your expenses accordingly.

          1. COHikerGirl*

            Even branded cards can be harder to get. I declared bankruptcy in 2016. At that point, I could get exactly zero credit cards. I was completely unable to front business expenses because I was also living paycheck to paycheck.

            It’s not as easy as you make it out to be. There are plenty of circumstances where someone might not want to do something like that.

      2. NotAnotherManager!*

        This is how a number of my entry-level folks handle expenses. I offer them the company card for some of the administrative fees their projects require, but I get a lot of, “Do I have to or can I use my miles/rewards card?” Because our finance department is snappy with reimbursement – usually within five business days – they prefer to do that. HOWEVER, it’s important to have an alternative for those who do not wish to use their own card for business expenses.

      3. Clobberin’ Time*

        You’re that guy in the joke about the economist stranded on a desert island, where the punchline is “Assume we have a can opener.”

        The problem here is not that nobody else is aware of travel rewards cards! It’s that nobody should have to take on debt they don’t want or that puts their finances at risk on behalf of their employer.

    8. Petty Betty*

      I’ve flat out used the line “my financial advisor and accountant have explicitly told me NOT to do this and have some very negative things to say about any company that requires it. Can we make alternative arrangements?”

      It has worked in all but one job, and that job wasn’t worth keeping (nor did I).

  2. Aggretsuko*

    My old boss actually gave me the option to go to conferences, which I declined (mostly because my teammates were arseholes), but also because of this whole credit card reimbursement thing. I don’t want to rack up a few thousand on a credit card, not sure if I could handle that in the first place and I also try not to use more than like 30% of the available credit, and who the hell knows if/when they will reimburse you? I took enough travel finance classes to not be sure if that would even go through.

    I think it’s pretty divey to expect people to use their own credit for these things. Giant organizations should have that kind of money/credit available to cover you, right?

    1. Rolly*

      “I took enough travel finance classes to not be sure if that would even go through. ”

      Are you saying you took multiple classes on travel finance and are not sure if an expense agreed with your boss for work would be reimbursed at all?

      1. nelliebelle1197*

        I don’t even understand what a “travel finance class” might be, who would offer it, how much material there would be to teach/learn, and why one would take it. Outside of financial management classes for travel agents, I am not even seeing this online!

    2. Kiko*

      From what I understand, companies like people to use their personal credit cards (especially at larger companies), because it’s much easier for teams to hit their card’s credit maximums vs when people submit for reimbursement. Someone who works in accounting or payroll may have a better explanation, though.

      1. Cringing 24/7*

        (As a precursor, I work in accounting, accounts payable, and expense report processing, but my experience is not necessarily indicative of how every company works)

        Most employee card systems allow you to set a lot of things such as credit limits, individual transaction limits, and even limits on what types of business transactions can be processed (like gas vs restaurant vs grocery), but there are typically administration fees to pay for having these cards. So, some companies may just reimburse directly to their employees because it’s cheaper for the business (no admin or card fees).

        Another reason to do expense reimbursements rather than giving a corporate card to an employee is that when an employee has a corporate card and uses it for *anything* (even non-work related items), the corporation now owes that money to the card company and cannot dispute it because they signed an agreement stating that they would pay authorized charges on the card (and this would be considered authorized because the business gave the employee access to and authorization to use the card). By choosing to reimburse employees after the fact, the business can look at the individual transactions and pick and choose what is a reasonable expense to reimburse (this can definitely be abused by unethical companies, but it can also be used to say that it’s unreasonable to reimburse the 2 bottles of wine someone bought themselves with their lunch).

      2. pancakes*

        That doesn’t sound right to me because the bigger the company, the bigger their line of credit should be. If they’re able to pay their bills I don’t know why they wouldn’t be able to show the credit card companies that and get the maximum raised?

      3. Warrior princess xena*

        Actually it’s primarily an anti-fraud thing. People are far less likely to rack up huge and unnecessary expenses on the company dime if they have to use their own card and run the risk of it being (correctly) not reimbursed. A pair of professors at my old college got into nearly 60k of unnecessary purchases before the college caught them.

        1. TheRain'sSmallHands*

          Additionally, its a TVM thing – interest is expensive, its expensive in quantity when they have 1000 people with corporate cards, and they can push that interest to employees. I always think that expecting someone to travel – even occasionally – and not providing a corporate card are red flags in a company caring far more about its bottom line than about its people.

          1. Elizabeth West*

            Agreed on the red flag.
            I had a corporate credit card at Exjob and I never went anywhere. I used it exactly once, to pay for a team lunch. If a midsized company can do that, a big one not doing it is suspect.

          2. Rose*

            I expect my company to care more about the bottom line than about me. It’s a company, not my friend. Whenever I find a job that works better for me, I will leave without a second thought for the good of the company.

            I still expect my company to behave ethically. If they want something, i.e. for me to travel, it’s not ethical for them to try to use their power over me to force me to pay, even just by forcing my to take on the interest so that they don’t have to. Trying to force travel expenses onto your employees and counting on them feeling too uncomfortable to push back is not ethical behavior.

        2. Clobberin’ Time*

          That’s nonsense. Best practices to prevent fraud do not include sticking employees with floating the business expenses. If your old college didn’t catch these professors, it’s because nobody was paying attention.

          1. KatieP*

            University business office manager with travel as a specialty here. I agree. It’s been my experience that reimbursements are more fraud-prone (the old, “get reimbursed for this expense that I got refunded,” trick is still a thing) than entity-owned credit card. I suspect the original commentor’s fiscal office missed some key safeguards.

            As to LW2, hopefully your organization has a credit card program. Depending on your program, they may need a couple of weeks to arrange for a card for you. Our credit card program provides cards in the employee’s name, but the bill is paid by the University and doesn’t affect the employee’s credit.

            Our challenge here recently has been people waiting until a week after the last minute to ask for a credit card. Hopefully that isn’t the case here.

    3. Beth*

      I recommend getting a no-fee credit card with a good rewards program. Your company wants you to use your own credit? Fine — you get to keep the rebate credits, which can add up to quite a lot.

      I have never had any problem with getting reimbursed, either.

      1. Hej*

        But … not everyone has access to no fee or even high limit cards. You need a pretty decent score for that.

        1. AnonToday*

          Yeah, I had about 3 decades of good credit before I got a Delta Skymiles AMEX for grad school travel. When I had my first job, I couldn’t even get a Sears card for a few years!

    4. Meow*

      Funny enough, I went to a conference once and the *corporate card* got declined for the car rental home. Too many people were using the corporate card and it went over the limit. It was 3 am and we were trapped at the airport, so I put it on my personal card. Then that turned into another nightmare when the rental service didn’t check the car back in, so I got charged for our drive home AND for the next person who drove it for 3 days across the country. Thankfully our Executive Assistant was more than happy to yell at the rental service for me and Discover told me they would remove the charge if we couldn’t get it straightened out.

      Anyway there’s no real lesson here, just that the logistics of these things are always a pain in the ass, whether they’re paid for up front or reimbursed. I do think the company should pay up front as much as possible to avoid putting any financial hardship on the employee though.

      1. Not Your Sweetheart*

        I worked at Big Hotel Chain for years. Corporate cards declined frequently. Either too many people were using the account, or there was a limit on what could be charged each transaction. A few times, someone one in the office forgot to do something. Huge hassle for the guest.

    5. I've Escaped Cubicle Land*

      As someone who’s followed the Dave Ramsey Baby Steps for a years this would be a no go for me. 1) I don’t have a credit card and I’m not willing to get one, Also I had my zero FICO score frozen after someone used my social security # to file a fake unemployment claim during the pandemic shut down . 2) there is no way I’m fronting any job 1000s of $ that they *should* reimburse me for when I don’t know the time frame for the reimbursement, especially on a system that will charge me interest on those $1000s. 3) No job has ever paid me enough $ that I’d be willing to spend $1000s to attend a work event. I would politely inquire into how the company could pay up front for all those arrangements or they would get the politically correct office version of Just NO.

      1. Faith the twilight slayer*

        Agreed. I will never, ever pay up front for something for the company I work for. If they can’t afford the costs of travel, they shouldn’t be making people travel.

    6. Lynn Whitehat*

      I get a lot out of conferences, and I find them really valuable for staying current. If someone is dead-set on not having a credit card, or not using it for work, OK. But at least talk to your manager and see if there is another way to pay for the conferences. There probably is!

  3. Heidi*

    For Letter 2, it’s possible the supervisor said “we’ll figure something out” because they don’t actually know what options are available. When I asked our finance people the same question, I found out that I could get a travel advance to pay for airfare and hotel. I’ll submit my receipts after the trip, and if I underspend the advance, I give the rest of the money back, and if I overspend, I get reimbursed for the rest.

      1. Corpo*

        There are much better ways of handling it. My company uses two solutions: TravelPerk and Expensify. The former basically allows you to submit and book travel plans in advance, with a manager approving them and authorizing payment on a company credit card. There’s an app and online connectivity, so that’s pretty useful. The latter is a really easy way of logging expenses. You can scan receipts using your phone, and it’ll extract the data (most of the time) on it. It can be a bit hit or miss with faded receipts sometimes, but then it alerts you and you fill in the info manually.

        Our US and EU offices all use them, and they’re pretty reliable. I honestly don’t know why companies still expect people to front those charges themselves in this day and age.

        1. Clisby*

          I don’t either. Back when I was still working, I didn’t have a travel-heavy job but occasionally was sent to a professional conference or the like. My employers always paid the known costs up-front (conference fee, airfare, hotel, rental car if needed.) I would pay for things like meals and taxis, and put in for reimbursement for those – obviously much less than the big ticket items.

        2. Rolly*

          It’s bad to be expected to front the charges, but I liked doing it in the past because I built up a powerful credit history pretty rapidly through business expenses.

          1. Alex*

            Another plus, using your own card can help you get free points. Although, it doesn’t fully offset the burden of having to use your own card while waiting for reimbursement.

            1. Elizabeth West*

              Yeah, and it doesn’t help if you don’t have or can’t get a card for whatever reason. Entry-level salaries are not exactly conducive to that.

    1. UKDancer*

      My company and my previous company do the same. It was very useful in my earlier career when I didn’t have a large credit card balance and expenses took forever. My current company pays expenses a lot more quickly so I don’t tend to bother with the advance. They also mostly pay the hotel bill on the corporate card so my expenses are limited to incidentals which makes a lot of difference.

      In my experience there’s usually a solution but it may be something to check with your finance people rather than the boss as they’re more likely (in my experience) to know the rules. I don’t know if OP has a staff handbook or intranet but it might be there. If not perhaps ask someone in finance / HR rather than your actual supervisor to see what options might exist.

      1. BethDH*

        Agree! Everywhere I’ve worked has had a different way of handling it but they’ve all had something they can do to minimize the impact of carrying expenses this way. This is not a shameful thing to ask and I don’t get the sense that your boss has any intention of prying (unless there’s something about their other behavior you didn’t share).
        I absolutely remember feeling weird — unprofessional or not a real adult somehow? — when I had to ask about this stuff because I really couldn’t have covered the costs alongside my normal life. Now that it’s just that I don’t want to, I feel way less anxious about it.

      2. KRM*

        And your supervisor may not know because they’re at a point where it’s fine for them to carry the expense on their own card, and that’s what they do, and they’ve never looked into the options. So for sure OP ask finance or HR, because they should absolutely have something in place–the minimum is probably you telling them that airfare/hotel are X amount and they front you that right away, and you get reimbursement for your incidentals.

    2. Cringing 24/7*

      This is highly likely. Most people outside of the accounts payable/finance/whatever relevant department aren’t going to know what other options are available unless they’ve used those options themselves, so you’ll need to ask, because this is an unreasonable burden to put on a new, entry-level employee. And (I say this as someone in the AP department who processes expense reports), unless your company is absolutely unreasonable, there will absolutely be an alternative or workaround that they can implement in this situation.

    3. Nesprin*

      We also immediately reimburse large travel costs pre travel- i.e. if you need to book conference for 1500 and hotel for another 1000 in February for travel in September, we allow people to immediately request reimbursement in February, and then submit another travel reimbursement in September for meals/incidentals/etc/

  4. RosyGlasses*

    One other thing to consider for the traveling OP; even if the company says they will cover it with a corporate card, make sure they have supplied you or the hotel with a signed waiver for the expense (there is a specific name but my brain is failing me). Otherwise even if they reserve it to be paid with the corporate card, the hotel may still require you to put your card down with a hold for the final amount and/or incidentals. This happened to me on a trip and I had to wait for the boss traveling with me to show up and give the physical card to cover incidentals as well as the final bill. If corporate faxes in paperwork to the hotel ahead of time; you can avoid that headache.

    I’m glad we now have a third party service that we book flights and hotel travel thru so that folks only use their personal cards for food and taxis.

    1. Tinkerbell*

      Yep – and even if it’s all sorted out to be paid on a corporate card, you may still need to provide your own personal card when you check in “for incidentals” (but really so they have someone to go after if you trash the room). In my experience, if you’re very clear that you’re providing this for verification ONLY and you’re not authorizing any part of the room charge, they’ll double-check to make sure the corporate card goes through so you don’t end up with a surprise bill. (This never happened to me, luckily, but a friend worked for a company who had a habit of financial mismanagement. She flat-out refused to do any more travel for them unless a senior employee was along to use their own card.)

    2. QA Peon*

      If they do use a corporate card to pay, try to get information ahead of time -who’s corporate card is it? Can you get their phone number? If you’re arriving on a weekend, is there an emergency contact or should you call that person’s cell?

      While you’re at it, if that person is different from whoever booked the travel – get the booking person’s contact info too.

      I mean, just in case. Not talking from experience or anything, lol

      1. rosyglasses*

        Yeah – that one experience I had was very instructive for other occasions when I had to travel!! I also had never traveled solo on a business trip before (since my boss was flying separately) and had forgotten to calculate in taxis and flight snacks/meals. We were tighter than tight with finances at that time and waiting for the paycheck to deposit on pacific time the next day was a nail biter!

    3. Ruth*

      Yes and call the hotel multiple times to make sure they received it and have it on file. It’s been a few years since I had to do this, but I remember having to fax the form several times before they acknowledged that they had it!

      1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        Speaking from experience as a former front desk employee – please make sure you are calling the hotel before about 4pm local for the hotel – because often those forms are routed to the Group Sales person, or the Assistant Desk Manager. And (at least in the major chain I worked at) those people frequently started their days at 7 AM, so they were present to help with the checkout rushes. If you called looking to see if that sort of billing authorization paperwork was received, sorry but all I could do would be to tell you that Manager would be the one to check with, please hold while I connect you to their extension.

    4. Lily Rowan*

      Yes, I have definitely checked into a hotel with the assurance that my job was pre-paying for the room, and had that not be the case in the moment. I had the credit to float the expense, but it was pretty shocking!

      I didn’t think of this at the time, but if this does come up and you are traveling with anyone else more senior, you could see if they would put it on your card. Now I’m older and have lots of credit and plenty of money and would be happy to get the miles.

    5. Spero*

      Yes! Every hotel chain has a slightly different name so I usually just ask for the ‘card authorization form.’ Typically they want a signed form and a copy of the card front and back, sometimes they also want a copy of the ID of the person whose name is on the card (I put the card on top of my ID so only my name shows not address/social/DOB etc).
      Then – most importantly – the traveler NEEDS A COPY of this form! I always give a printout of the reservation and the auth form to my staff before they travel, or scan a copy to their email so they can pull it up. That way if the hotel has lost it (which happens about 1/3 of the time) the traveler can provide a backup copy to the hotel without delaying check in.

    6. DragoCucina*

      Yes. I was so glad when hotels started having a system where we could reserve a room for someone and pay with the business credit card (with my name on it). We would have to fax in forms and have it authorized for Wakeen to stay. Previously I sometimes had to put my name on the room, inform the hotel that Wakeen was going to be my roommate, checking-in first, and would have the credit card. It was a silly game.

      I hated having the business card tied to my personal credit. The city would sometimes dither cutting checks for bills. Then I would get flak from elected officials for there being interest charges. Well, have a back-up for when the clerk is on vacation.

    7. LilPinkSock*

      Credit card authorization form. I’ve had to submit them for hotel stays and group dinners.

  5. Taco*

    Different take on #2 – I worked for a company that has grown fast so its policies didn’t keep up. Only high ranking people has credit cards everyone else used their personal credit cards and were reimbursed.

    I got a lot of points and mileage that way and built up credit quickly, earned a bunch of free hotel stays etc. 15 years ago this was more standard, the company now is behind the times. I remember a few people being disappointed when work moved us to corporate credit cards.

    1. Mary Jane*

      I’ve heard this from people before and honestly I’ve never been in a position where I had enough business expenses to be worth any meaningful amount of “points”. Also, access to amount and/or quality of credit could be different among certain marginalized groups, so ensuring you have a way to prepay corporate expenses that is not stigmatized is also a step towards better DE&I. I think that encouraging people to reconsider things from a new perspective is fine, but I would hope that anyone in a management position wouldn’t try to frame this to their staff members as a benefit or privilege as much as just a potential option. A good way to handle it would be to say something like “some people like to use their personal credit cards for this to collect points, but if you’d rather have the company handle it then this is the process.” Provide the information for company prepayment up front and don’t make it seem embarrassing or inconvenient if people want to use that method.

    2. Princess Xena*

      I work at a firm with a similar policy – I know they have corporate cards/travel allowance policies when needed but they also allow the use of personal cards and are good at paying back within the week. I’ve racked up some $300 in cash back points and quite a few airline and hotel points. I recognise that I’m privileged in being able to set aside 1-2k for a week and a half and am all for companies having all the options though. And having a company that reliably repays within a week of the expense report.

    3. MK*

      I think that only applies and offers a significant benefit to workers who travel (and/or have other business expenses) very frequently. If you go to a couple of conferences/business trips a year, it’s unlikely to be worth it.

      1. Stitch*

        We did once rack up enough points for a free stay in a very nice Hawaiian resort but my husband looked at his hotel report and he’d literally spent more nights in hotels than he had at home that year. He moved on from that job. When you’re first out of college, that’s one thing but it’s exhausting (and very hard on your family).

        1. Texan In Exile*

          I was traveling with a co-worker who complained about other co-workers we saw bumped to first class. I said, “Are you really envious of someone who has to travel so much that they get that status?”

      2. Flash Packet*

        Nah. Every extra point / cash reward that I get when my company pays for my 2-4 times a year travel that I’ve put on my personal card is all good. Is it enough on its own for a round-trip flight? Nope. Is it enough for a full tank of gas? Ayup.

        I’ll take it.

    4. Perfectly Particular*

      Agree – I’ve always had a corporate card, but at old job we were free to use our personal cards – yay points! I was sad when I found that new job requires use of the corporate card, and you have to explain on your expense report if you use your personal card or cash to pay for something.

      Getting back to the OP though – there may be a corporate card that you can apply for that your boss chooses not to use or just didn’t think of. This type of card has your name on it, and will be billed to you, but typically has a very high (or no) limit, and doesn’t have any impact on your credit score. I’ve had one since I was a co-op student.

    5. mreasy*

      My company lets us use our own cards or offers corporate cards for anyone who travels. This is ideal because I do earn a ton of miles by booking work travel & other expenses via my card – and they do pay back quickly. Though when I was much younger I worked for a company that required us to use our own cards – including for overseas travel & hotels! I had barely any available credit then so had to have my boss book on her card. And it was stressful / felt shameful to ask!

      1. Sunflower*

        My suggestion was going to be for the OP to ask her boss to put the hotel and flight on his card and use her card for meals/smaller expenses. I used to put our interns and entry level assistants travel on my card without issue all the time. I got the points and my company always reimbursed back within a week of submission.

        1. Lab Boss*

          That’s how we work it. Our company assumes everyone will use their personal cards (and is rigorous about prompt repayment, I don’t know of anyone who’d had interest accrue)- but it’s laid out to you when you get approved for your very first conference, that all you have to do is come to your boss about not being willing/able to put something on your personal card and they’ll either handle it themselves or find another workaround. As a boss I’ve paid for a few team members’ flights over the years, and also had one of my team insist on paying for every possible expense (including some of mine) on her personal card to rack up points for a honeymoon flight. As long as we track what dollars come out of what budget pool the company is very flexible on it.

    6. Falling Diphthong*

      Fronting the cost of business travel to Asia a few times a year isn’t worth the potential to get a free hotel room somewhere. Especially if your company takes more than a week to issue reimbursements–this only pays off if you have enough of a financial cushion to pay the credit card bill in full when it comes in and wait on the reimbursement.

      1. Not Gen X, Not Millennial*

        Its interesting how different people want different things — In my old company that was almost a riot and folks threatened to quit when the company decided that 1) all travel expenses had to be on a corporate card and 2) all airfare was to be paid by the company through a special account. This resulted in that minimal points were earned for travel. Folks desperately wanted to be able to use their corporate card….now this job was high paying where with bonuses 22 year olds were making close to / exceeding 100k so plenty had the disposal income to front two weeks of expenses (which was the typical turnaround to be paid).

        In contrast the senior folk didn’t care cause the points were not worth the hassle of doing complicated expense reports (for the charges that were on a personal card).

        1. Not Gen X, Not Millennial*

          Sorry no edit button — folks desperately wanted to use their personal card……….story makes zero sense without fixing that fact!

      2. Koalafied*

        My company will reimburse as soon as you have a receipt showing you paid with a credit card. They don’t make you wait until the credit card bill arrives or has been paid to submit a claim. They process reimbursements within 10 business days, and the credit card bill typically comes around 25 days before it’s due or starts incurring interest, so there’s more than enough time under this system to get reimbursed for the expense before the bill has to be paid or starts incurring interest.

        1. Koalafied*

          (Which, to be clear, I’m not putting forward as an argument why anyone should be expected to do this! Just that it’s very possible to have a system that lets employees use personal cards if they want and have the available credit without having to pay anything out of pocket.)

        2. Maggie*

          Yes, I’m very confused why so many people think you immediately owe interest on credit cards. Your statement window has to close and then you usually have 25-30 days from closure to pay without interest.

          1. Nina*

            Some people’s finances are tight enough that they can’t pay off the credit card until the reimbursement comes through (at least, not without skimping on something like food or rent or bills) so if the company takes more than 25-30 days to pay the reimbursement, yeah, they’ll get into interest.

    7. RuralGirl*

      1000%. I used to travel every two weeks for work and I had a personal credit card for this purpose. I was swimming in airline miles and every vacation I took while I worked there was virtually free. It was a perk of the job (from my perspective, which is admittedly privileged). They moved to P cards right around the time I left. I still miss those free vacations. Sigh.

    8. I'm A Little Teapot*

      Yeah, if you have the credit available then using your personal credit card can be really nice. I got a bunch of free flights when I was living far from family. But my company was good about providing advances or the team would have someone else pay for things. It was also the norm that the highest ranking person paid, so that tended to spare the people who couldn’t manage a few thousand on their cards.

    9. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

      My work has us put everything on personal cards except flights and rental car (booked on company card). Thus far it hasn’t been an issue because hotel costs aren’t too horrible and they reimburse within the pay period (2 weeks) you submit your claim unless you do it on the last day of the pay period. Technically you could go 1 month without being paid back, but it hasn’t happened to me (yet)

  6. Retired Accountant*

    OP #2, you could ask co-workers about the expense reimbursement process. In some companies you can upload receipts and be reimbursed within days, often by direct deposit. In other companies, not so much.

      1. calonkat*

        I work for state government. Weeks is the soonest I’ve ever gotten reimbursed (I submit, it gets approved by my manager, then it goes to our division’s manager for approval, then it goes to the financial people in our agency for approval, then it goes to the state financial department for approval and maybe paying. If anyone want’s changes, it all starts over again.)

  7. Mary Jane*

    #2 – I would decline to put stuff like this on my personal card out of general principle. If worst comes to worst and the company closes its doors between the time I pay this charge and the time I would normally be reimbursed, I’d be stuck holding the bag. I know you feel like you’re inviting commentary into your life by bringing up personal finances, but really I think we’d all benefit if people normalized saying “I’m unwilling and/or unable to float my employer money to cover their business expenses out of my personal finances.” If people want to talk about why/how you should be able to afford it, it’s ok to push back and say something like “I can afford to live and take care of myself/my family. I can’t afford to be a short-term credit lender for my employer.”

    Alternatively, just say that you don’t use consumer credit, or don’t carry a high enough limit. I have exactly 1 credit card and it has a $2000 limit. I also can’t prepay the card to exceed the limit (e.g. if I owed $0 and paid $1000 on the card it would say I have a -$1000 balance but only $2k available credit). This is a deliberate choice on my part — for several years before this one I had a different card that was only $1000, and now that Visa debit cards are a thing I’m planning to switch over to a bank that offers them as soon as I stop procrastinating. I think society’s laissez-faire attitude towards consumer debt harms more people than it benefits, and unless you put significant effort into manufactured spending (e.g. where you use your credit card to buy gift cards to the grocery store you normally shop at for a discount on the face value of the gift card), you almost never come out ahead with credit card reward programs. I’m not going to judge people for their choices unless they push me on mine, but honestly I think the idea that responsible adulthood means finally getting your own credit card is a DeBeers diamond-level scam by credit companies and I’m not playing along. It might make you feel better if you make your limited credit a deliberate choice and stop thinking of it as a judgement on the conditions/quality/maturity your financial management.

    1. Raboot*

      A lot of your suggested responses are way more aggressive than is warranted – paying and expensing is something many people are happy to do. Obviously people should not HAVE to do it but it’s not a monstrous policy as long as people like you and OP can do things otherwise.

      Also, I am definitely not giving you financial advice and you should do what works for you, but you seem misinformed about credit cards, in the US at least. Like this part:

      > unless you put significant effort into manufactured spending (e.g. where you use your credit card to buy gift cards to the grocery store you normally shop at for a discount on the face value of the gift card), you almost never come out ahead with credit card reward programs.

      What? I buy pretty much everything with my one credit card and it costs me nothing (no time, no money) compared to using debit. The rewards program for my card costs 25 dollars a year and with just turning all my points into cash back I still come ahead easily. And people can get more out of them without”manufactured” spending, just having multiple cards that offer better rewards for specific purchases they were already going to make. I think you have a really specific image in mind of who uses credit cards and how they do it and that image is not accurate. I’m not saying everyone is like me but it’s not this one thing you’re imagining either

      And the whole thing about “you might feel better if you don’t use a credit card at all” is honestly just bad financial advice. It’s one thing to talk about the huge problems with credit and credit scores in this country but it’s another to tell someone to just opt out as if there are no consequences. Like the difference between “your company’s dress code is bullshit” (sure) and “you should wear PJs to work” (no???).

      1. Tinkerbell*

        My credit card gives me 1.5% cash back – meaning if I run most of my bills through my card and then pay it off every month, I save several hundred dollars a year and pay no fees whatsoever. (The credit card company still makes money because merchants pay more than that 1.5% for the convenience of accepting credit cards.)

        1. Mary Jane*

          Haha, yes, I know how credit cards and their reward systems work. I was talking about the well-documented tendency for people to spend more on credit cards than with other forms of payment went I said you don’t come out ahead. That seems to be a sticking point for a lot of people so I also included a couple links in another comment if you’d like to read further on it.

        2. Cat Tree*

          Yeah, I use my credit card for as much as possible and pay off the balance each month. It’s so much more convenient than cash or checks and more secure than debit because if it gets stolen it doesn’t link to my actual money. Plus I basically just get a 1-3% discount on everything because of cash back. I also roll my eyes when people claim you get penalized for using credit responsibly. I have never carried a balance and never paid any interest on credit cards but I still have an excellent credit score.

          I get it that some people have difficulty using credit, and in those cases they are doing the responsible thing by understanding themselves and avoiding credit cards altogether. But plenty of people use credit in a way that benefits them personally.

          1. All The Words*

            I can’t speak to the wider world, but in the U.S., not using credit at all comes with its own set of problems simply because it results in not having a credit score. I just had to delay purchasing a house because I had to spend some months establishing my existence to the credit agencies.

            That being said, I’m glad I’m not in a position where I’d be asked to cover expenses out of my personal finances. Just… no. It doesn’t matter how good the company is with reimbursement, my credit line or bank balance are simply not available for an employer to use.

            1. A Simple Narwhal*

              My parents tell the story of back in the day (late 70s early 80s) when they were in their early 20s and were trying to apply for a loan for either a car or a house and while they had no debt, good savings, and steady jobs, since they had never used a credit card or paid off any debts they literally had zero credit and were denied the loan. The bank person told them to go get any credit card, buy a stick of gum with it, pay it off, and then come back in a month since that would establish they had good credit.

              I’m sure the story has been simplified and slightly exaggerated (as parent stories tend to be!) but the gist that you need to establish good/any credit if you want to get a loan someday absolutely holds up.

              1. Lab Boss*

                Even still- I used to use strictly Debit so I never spent money I didn’t have, until a financial advisor pointed out I wasn’t building credit and suggested I pick one fairly consistent expense (like Gas) and always buy that on credit so I had a consistent history of on time payments. That was my policy right up until I qualified for a no-fee rewards card and now I do everything on Credit (I’m lucky enough that I never NEED to push my limits, so as long as I tend my budget well I’m able to always pay before interest accrues).

          2. RussianInTexas*

            Same. I have not used my debit card for over a decade now. The only time I use checks is when it’s impossible not to, like a landscaping service.
            I pay off my balance every month, and my credit score is in 800s.
            And there is no issue of the card being stolen or skimmed and my actual money gone. They are a lot more secure than debit cards.
            The cashback is nice too.

        3. Where’s the Orchestra?*

          Spouse and I have a 1.5 % cash back card – but it pays the cash back into the college funds we set up for Junior and Mini Orchestra.

          Are credit cards for everyone no, but it’s about having options so that people are able to get what works best for them.

      2. Willis*

        Yeah, it’s fine to tell an employer you aren’t able to use a personal credit card for travel expenses, but the rest of MJ’s comment is irrelevant at best. Plenty of people get credit card points or cash back or whatever without buying a bunch of discount grocery gift cards. It’s fine if you don’t want a credit card, but plenty of people use them without issue, and your personal dislike of consumer credit is really not anything actionable for the OP.

        1. Mary Jane*

          I got the impression from OP’s post that they felt uncomfortable or maybe embarrassed at asking their boss for an alternative payment method. I was trying to provide another perspective to let them know that it’s ok to not want to do that, and that limited credit can be a choice people make rather than a failure to “adult”. It’s fine if it’s not what you want, but irrelevant and not actionable seems an interesting way to characterize someone presenting an alternative point of view.

          1. BethDH*

            I get what you mean about credit being tied to “adulting” in a lot of current culture and I think that’s really important for OP to hear, but I have to say I didn’t get that part of the message at all from your original comment.

          2. Willis*

            The part about how the OP should approach her work is relevant and actionable, the longer part about why you personally don’t want a credit card isn’t.

      3. Mary Jane*

        Oh, it seems like my comment with links went into moderation. I’ve been responding to everyone with “check out the comment where I explained myself better and provided actual sources!” so I hope Alison releases it from purgatory soon.

        But if I came across as aggressive, that has more to do with the concept of employers expecting employees to float their business expenses (which is often done by very large corporations for their own convenience and not because employees clamoured for the ability to use their own credit cards for the points). That was not meant to be a script to use when bringing up the issue with your boss for the first time as much as a commentary on the whole phenomenon.

        1. Sunflower*

          Personal card usage has very little to do with employers expecting employees to float their expenses. In fact, making everyone travel under corporate cards would be much less of an accounting nightmare as all corp cards are required to be reconciled by the end of the month then paid to the creditor while personal cards usually allow a 60 day period to submit expenses and many people expense after that (I’ve seen people expense hotels/flights a year after the purchase). As long as you are a company with a legit expense system, expenses are paid out within days of submission. If your company isn’t using a system like this and not paying out on time, you’re working for a bad company. Every large company I’ve worked at pays out expenses within days before my statement is even due.

      4. Jack Russell Terrier*

        This actually came close to happening. I was a contractor after being full time. There was a lot of trouble once – the company wasn’t paying either my billed hours or my expenses, which were quite a bit. My boss, who had his downside, of course, was great with loyalty and this sort of fairness. He called me before I could call him to say that yes, the company was filing for bankruptcy and that even if he had to pay it out of his own pocket he’d make sure I was got the money owing. He added that there were two different companies that he was talking to about bringing over the whole team. Worked out – I did get paid new company is so much better!

        But yes, this is a valid concern.

    2. Rara Avis*

      I have a no -fee credit card that I pay off in full every month and I earn travel awards, so I can get money back from travel-related expenses, which they define VERY broadly. I often book my own travel and get reimbursed later, after a nightmare experience with a cancelled flight where I couldn’t rebook since I couldn’t contact the person who could authorize the corporate card it was booked on.

      1. Mary Jane*

        Yeah, I can see why you might want more control over your ability to spend in an emergency situation if you experienced that.

        I elaborated on my comment about “not coming out ahead” with credit cards higher up in the thread with a couple links since it seems like that was unclear in my original comment.

    3. I'm Done*

      If you pay your credit card(s) in full every month you definitely will benefit from their rewards programs. The key is paying the cards off every month to avoid interest charges. I pay everything with my credit cards. I usually don’t even carry cash. I also find it much easier to track my spending because I can see where the money went.

      1. Mary Jane*

        I posted some links above in response to Raboot. I’m not sure how much to explain my thinking without the conversation devolving into “you’re wrong” / “no, you are”, but in brief summary my comment about not coming out ahead with credit card points was due to studies showing the difference in spending between credit cards and cash. I tried really hard not to make a value judgement on people who do choose to use credit cards (as opposed to the exploitative nature of the credit system, which I have real concerns with) so I’m kind of frustrated with a couple of the responses I got which seemed a little more pointed at me than I thought was warranted and I’m not sure I’m striking the right balance between informative and argumentative but I tried.

        1. LDN Layabout*

          I think the problem is, as it usually is when the proposed solution to an issue is ‘don’t play into the system!’, that it ignores the fact that the system is set up to have an impact on your life whether you choose to use it or not.

          And while it’s easy to say that the system is exploitative (and it is), telling people not to do it without acknowledging how it could make their lives harder in the long run is also unhelpful. As long as your credit score is tied into things like ‘can you get shelter’, then unfortunately yes, getting a credit card and building it while you’re young is actually the responsible thing to do.

          If you live in a place where you can easily rent without a decent credit history or buy a house without a mortgage and you never intend to do much traveling, then maybe you don’t need a credit card. But, for example, if you ever choose to travel where you need to book flights or intend to use hotels, you’d be foolish not to have access to a credit card with certain features, or you’d need access to hefty cash reserves.

          1. Pumpkin215*

            I completely agree with you LDN Layabout. Learning to use credit responsibly is an excellent example of responsible financial management.

            I had a friend that was in her late 30’s and never used credit cards. She had trouble getting a mortgage because of her lack of credit history. She paid cash for her car and expenses and thought that on paper, she was a responsible consumer. It had the opposite impact.

            Using credit responsibly is absolutely beneficial. Like many of the users that commented, I also pay my balance in full every single month. I do not pay interest or fees and benefit from a great cash back program as well as continuing to build a responsible credit history.

            Mary Jane’s original post does have an air of “haha! I see through this scam and the rest of you do not!” when in reality, she is missing out on building credit and actual benefits, but that is her choice.

            1. Clisby*

              Yeah, my mother just could not grasp why paying cash for everything didn’t indicate you were a good credit risk. My father and I kept trying to explain to her that for all lenders know, you pay cash because you’re a TERRIBLE credit risk.

          2. pancakes*

            Yes – or even just rent a car. Most of the rental services in the US want a credit card for that. It’s possible to do it without one but often burdensome.

        2. Colette*

          You’re confusing statistics with individuals. It’s true that many people spend more when using a credit card, and that many people pay a lot of money on credit card interest and get into a lot of financial trouble. It is not true that every person spends more when using a credit card, or that every person who uses a credit card will get into financial trouble.

          Similarly, if the average life expectancy is 75, that doesn’t mean that a 35 year old should cross the street without looking both ways.

    4. Cat*

      I don’t think comparing credit cards to diamonds is an accurate comparison at all. I agree that credit card companies can be predatory, but there are also the most secure way to spend money. That’s not a scam. It’s a great option as long are you trust yourself to not spend money you don’t have and can keep track of your spending. For most credit cards, you don’t need to jump through hoops to get rewards– you just pay for things with the card and then get cash back at the end of the month.

      1. londonedit*

        Credit cards with rewards/cashback aren’t so common here in the UK (usually the ones that offer rewards have a monthly fee or stipulate a certain minimum monthly spend) but it’s definitely true here that paying with a credit card can offer more protection – any purchase over £100 is covered by Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act, which means it’s easier to get your money back if something’s faulty or doesn’t arrive or whatever than it would be if you’d paid with a debit card. So the advice is often to pay for bigger-ticket items like holidays or electrical goods over £100 with a credit card. But of course credit cards are subject to spending limits and interest, so if you’re going to be using a credit card then you need to have the means to pay it off every month. I have a credit card with a small spending limit which I occasionally use for more expensive things, but I make sure I pay it off in full straight away.

        1. LDN Layabout*

          They’re not uncommon to be fair and places like moneysavingexpert tend to be pretty good about helping you do the maths to see if they’d work for you. Most providers who do reward cards, even in the UK, will have a non-fee paying option and a lot of bank issued credit cards now have cashback and reward options where they didn’t before.

          They tend to be more points/rewards oriented vs. cashback in the UK, but if you do your monthly spending on them it can be reasonably easy to get things like free flights/upgrades over the space of a year or two.

        2. Yorick*

          The coverage component is a great point. I have disputed charges on my credit card because they were incorrect or I didn’t receive the goods twice, and I got my money back. The credit card company can make headway with other businesses better than an individual can.

          1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

            Currently actually doing this right now as the company sent me a defective item and now is trying to deny me a refund. Oh well, they may now debate with my credit card.

          2. KRM*

            Yes, and if there are fraudulent charges on your card, you can freeze the card and dispute the charges. It’s a great layer of consumer protection in addition to the rewards/building credit history. With a debit card or cash you’re SOL if you’re robbed/your number is stolen.

        3. I've Escaped Cubicle Land*

          Credit cards weren’t even a thing in the US until the 1950s or 60s if I remember right. That they now are considered by so many to be essential shows how wide spread the debt problem is in the US. And you can get a loan without a credit history, you just have to go thru a bank willing to do manual underwriting. And show things like income vs expenditures and your utility bill payment history. There was 1 car company that was specifically advertised as renting with a debt card vs a credit card but they were recently bought out and that policy has changed. As far as utility companies, house rentals, etc. goes, I’ve found that if you mention you don’t do credit because you follow the DR BabySteps most companies have a system in place for that. (Heck several places have been happier to consider me just cause they know Babysteppers follow a budget and pay their bills) Usually you just have to pay a little more in deposit, or show some check stubbs/bill history/ or references. And yes the system does work. I make less then $33000 a year and I have absolutely no debt, own my home (bought a year ago outright with no loan) and drive a dependable car. I pay cash for most things, or use my debit card. And I have a full 6 month Emergency Fund to fall back on.

          1. Dolly was Right*

            The way people spend has also completely changed. The internet didn’t exist then and cybersecurity was not a thing. Of course essential services and businesses need to have mechanisms in place for people without credit cards for pay for services. It’s the same way you can no longer get a paper paycheck- it’s either DD into your bank account or put on a spending card. It doesn’t mean it’s not a hassle, inconvenient or not as beneficial to you as having a CC could be.

            I would never use a debit card anywhere except an ATM. My CC has been lost/info stolen a few times. I call the creditor, spend 5 mins on the phone and my money is back. It’s up to the creditor for them to get the money back but I don’t pay. If money from your debit card is gone, it’s on you to get it back and it could take weeks- if you figure it out at all. The inconvenience on life it would take to completely avoid online purchases or constantly visiting an ATM vs using a card is not worth it in this day and age. Also personally, I don’t feel comfortable having more than $100 on my person and storing more than $300 in my home.

            No one is claiming you can’t be secure without a credit card but as far as all of the things you have (home, car, EF), I have the same plus more and I use a credit card to pay for literally everything. DR is really only good for people with out of control spending who need hard limits. His methods aren’t the best for people who have spending control and are looking for their best financial position.

            1. I've Escaped Cubicle Land*

              My visa debit card has the same protections as a credit card. The one time my purse was stolen I was able to shut it down within 5 minutes as I personally knew the branch manager at my local bank. I’ve also disputed a charge before and had the bank replace the $ within 24 hours.

              1. Rose*

                “I personally knew the branch manager at my local bank” – you realize this is not the norm, right?

                1. pancakes*

                  Fwiw, when mine was compromised I was able to get a quick shut-down and replacement without having any particular contacts at my local branch. It seems that some people here are exaggerating the risks a bit.

              2. LDN Layabout*

                So if you buy from a company that goes under, you pay, but the company goes under before you receive your service/product, your debit card charge will be refunded?

                Because that’s the big major plus of credit cards over here, must be wild to have those protections on a debit card.

      2. Maggie*

        I mean, diamonds aren’t really a “scam” either. They’re something that people are willing to buy that are totally unnecessary to living life and no one has to buy one really under any circumstances. I get that people hate diamonds, but they aren’t a scam more so than any other overpriced non-necessity.

    5. Decidedly Me*

      I’ve never paid a cent of interest on my credit cards – all the spending I would have done normally goes on credit instead and it gets paid off before interest accrues. I’ve gotten a ton of cash back, points, and other perks too.

      Also, Visa debit cards have been around for a long time (at least in the US). My first debit card was one.

    6. Jessica*

      Mary Jane, I really appreciated your comment. Yes, I also get all the counterpoints people are making about how managing credit this way or that has benefited them. But I really hate this LW’s situation and the assumption that they have to live a certain way. Maybe someone doesn’t want a credit card, maybe they can’t get one, whatever, it’s just not any of the employer’s business and the employer should not be exploiting their employees as a source of free lending for their convenience.

      1. KRM*

        I suspect that the supervisor is at a point where they prefer to use their own card to book and then get reimbursed. It does not meant that is the company mandate! It just means the supervisor hasn’t had to think about the alternatives! So the advice is for OP to go to HR/finance and have them work it out with OP! There is so far no evidence that this company *expects* employees to front expenses. And if they do but they also reimburse within a week of expense submission, then there still may not be any issue at all with OP. They just need to ask the right people!!

        1. UKDancer*

          Yes. I mean my boss is usually the last person I’d go to for detailed advice on how the rules on expenses worked. He’s sufficiently senior that he’s not needed to think about how things might work for someone more junior for a long time.

          I think it’s fine for the OP to check with HR or Finance, work out a solution and go to the boss and get them to sign it off.

          I mean the description by the OP sounds more like their boss is someone who doesn’t know what they can do rather than someone who is refusing to do anything.

      2. Raboot*

        But no one is saying OP has to do anything. Neither their boss nor the comments are saying that. I just think coming out swinging with “I refuse to give the business a personal loan” is way more aggressive than is needed and “no one should use a credit card” is not great advice. Many people don’t see paying for travel on their card as “exploitation”. OP is NOT wrong for not wanting or not being able to pay, but the company isn’t inherently evil either as all we know for now is that boss is willing to find a workaround.

      3. quill*

        Yeah. The problem is that not everyone is eligible for the amount of credit that this payback arrangement with a company assumes, they may rack up interest even if they are (Because travel is expensive!) and it’s a strain when the company doesn’t reimburse within the same fiscal month as the charges occur.

    7. Esmeralda*

      I got a credit card when I went to college. It was strictly for emergencies — things that had to be paid for on the spot, that I could in no way afford, and which could not be put off. Such as unexpected need for a plane ticket home, towing and car repair (the accident was not my fault, but I had to front the expenses while waiting on the other person’s insurance), and so on.

      The problem isn’t the card. The problem is how it’s used.

      Currently I just use a debit card for everything. My husband uses a credit card, unfortunately, because he only partially pays every month even though we have the money to pay in full (after 30+ years it’s clear I cannot get him to understand why this unnecessarily costs more…).

    8. lilsheba*

      I use my credit card to make payments on bills, buy groceries, buy gas, etc that I would be paying for anyway if I used my debit, but I get the rewards for it and definitely come out ahead. I put the reward money into a savings account and it’s grown quite a bit going that route.

    9. TheRain'sSmallHands*

      ….” but really I think we’d all benefit if people normalized saying “I’m unwilling and/or unable to float my employer money to cover their business expenses out of my personal finances.””

      Frankly, I’d like to see this as a law. Some of the companies I’ve worked with really played fast and loose with reimbursements – they were very late (the time value of money thing here works in their favor – you are paying interest, they are not). One I had real concerns about its viability as a company and wondered if the bill would get paid. But really, its the principle – employees should not be fronting money to a business to cover business expenses. If the company then thinks its worthwhile to scrutinize expense reports and card charges, and dock pay for uncovered expenses, have them sign a form.

      The law wouldn’t have to be absolute – companies could offer either a credit card OR reimbursement. But they’d have to offer a card or put airfare and hotel on a purchase order or corporate account. And it could have limits – i.e. airfare/hotel/conference costs which are hundreds/thousands of dollars would require the offer of the company paying up front – but you could make an employee cover their per diem out of pocket and submit for reimbursement since that is a smaller and more controllable expense.

    10. Koala dreams*

      Yes, I agree with you. It doesn’t matter if you don’t have a credit card or just don’t want to use it for business expenses, it’s okay to ask for another way to pay anyway. There are so many reasons people could have for not wanting to pay with a personal card.

      Also, I’d like to add that it’s normal to have to spend some time asking around for the procedures about expenses in a new job. Different companies have different procedures, so even if you are super experienced with business travel you still have to ask when you start a new job. Sometimes when you’re new you have the feeling that “everyone” knows these things, but that’s not true.

    11. Maggie*

      If you don’t carry a balance on your cards then yeah you will come out ahead on points and bonuses. If your system works for you, great, but not everyone with a CC is in consumer debt or accruing interest. I’m not going to leave hundreds or thousands in points and bonuses on the table every year. Also credit cards are much more protected from theft and many offer insurance for your purchases. They have actual benefits for some people. If those benefits aren’t appealing, hey that’s cool too.

  8. Allonge*

    Hi LW1, I feel you on the rock and the hard place thing.

    I know this is not what you asked, but maybe you can also limit your time with this coworker a bit? You mention knowing not to tell anyone else how much you talk but longer term these things are noticable to others and you don’t want a reputation of you-and-her-talk-trash-about-others. Not to mention that having this much focus on what people wear is not really appropriate in most workplaces, so I question her judgment a bit.

    More to the point though: maybe sometimes when she gets to the criticising other women part of the discussion you can need to go back to work or remember you wanted to ask her about something different job-related? Does she go back to talking about women’s dresses even if you ask her a question?

    1. ferrina*

      I agree that this might be a relationship to pull back on (though I see the value of the information).

      You can also try withdrawing from the clothing comment. It sounds like most of this communication is on Slack, right? Whenever she makes a clothing comment, just don’t respond. If she asks “sorry, I got pulled away. So what about [Other Topic]?” If she pushes you, you can use Alison’s script about trying to get away from commenting on other’s clothes. The withdrawal tactic means that she won’t get any sort of validation or social response from clothing comments, essentially removing the positive reinforcement for any sort of clothing comments (even if your previous comments were just “huh”). Sometimes this is enough to prompt folks into focusing on other topics that do get more response

    2. Mockingjay*

      OP1 has more control here to manage the conversation than she thinks. This is a colleague, not a supervisor or manager. OP1 can set some pretty firm boundaries: limit interactions outside of work tasks, not respond to the clothing critiques, and so on.

      OP1, one thing that stood out was your statement “the information she shares is interesting and I know better than to ever tell anyone else how much we talk.” I think there’s some unconscious glee in knowing things coworkers on your level don’t. Even if you don’t do anything with the information, you’ve set up recurring gossip sessions with Senior Colleague. Put that energy into the relationships with your peers.

      1. EPLawyer*

        It’s not a colleague, it’s a senior person, even if not her supervisor.

        But yes, the fact you find her information interesting says that you get something out of the gossip sessions. You might want to examine this. Also, given what you said about her, including her own sense of what is right and wrong in the workplace, you might want to pull back on ALL of it. Her judgment is questionable and over time it may lead to skewing yours.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        While I agree that some stuff is interesting, OP, in the end it probably won’t serve you well. She’s probably building herself a reputation as one of those women who works to undermine other women. Her tactic is to be supercritical of clothing and berate other women for it. I grew up around this crap. Sorry, but I don’t dress for anyone’s entertainment and this includes other women. I am sure that if she looked at what I am wearing on any given day she would find something to say.

        I really love Alison’s last paragraph about men’s clothing vs women’s clothing. I’d take that and work it, if it were me. For me, I’d be thinking I am not here to watch what other people are wearing and grade them on it. That’s not my job.

        She’s basically an unhappy person, OP. And if you think about other things she comes up with to talk about this might register as true for you. It does become a distraction from the work itself and I have seen it lead into maligning people (women) in other ways. This type of talk can be “sowing seeds” of general discontent. If we don’t talk negatively about others behind their backs it becomes much, much easier to get along with them when we do see them.

        What starts out as interesting can become a burden. I have to ask. Do you see her chatting and confiding in others the way she does you? Look at people who have been there longer than you. Do they get into conversations with her or do they avoid her? Your story here triggered a red flag from my work memories.
        I remember one Not Good situation where the boss was trying to befriend me. I wondered why no one else stood around and talked with her. But I took it as a clue and watched what I said. Finally one coworker reached her breaking point. “NSNR, Our boss is NOT your friend. Boss is NO friend to you, NSNR.” Yeah the coworker used my full name like I was a five year old child. Anyway, I was not surprised by this news. I could see how my boss talked about others and I knew that was how she talked about me behind my back. And in this case, pot/kettle, as the coworker was probably no friend to me either. That place was a hole.

        We can use our words to lift people up or we can use words to pull them down. Take a look at this with a broader picture in mind, OP.

        1. English Rose*

          The only problem with the men’s clothing vs women’s clothing approach is it may open the door to critiques of men as well, so OP will have double the rubbish to deal with: “Did you even see that backward baseball cap George had on today, does he think he’s 18?”
          Unlikely perhaps as she clearly seems to be going for women, but you never know!

    3. Generic Name*

      I agree with this advice. I also couldn’t help but notice that in the midst of you stating your discomfort with your colleague criticizing other women’s clothing choices, you…..criticized your colleague’s clothing choices. Obviously I have no way of knowing why your colleague gossips with you so much and if you’ve said or done anything in the past to indicate that you are a receptive audience to her, but I think it’s worthwhile to reflect on your own actions here a bit.

      1. CanRelate*

        I caught this too! Not only is it a criticism, its a pretty specific one! I dont think I could tell you what a dated pattern is, and I dont think receiving complements on clothing should be a marker of success. It may have been just a comment to clarify that she perhaps isn’t a fashion expert, but really, the comments are inappropriate even is she IS queen fashion of fashion town.

        Try not to fall prey to the same patterns, OP.

        1. AnonToday*

          I saw it as evidence that the senior colleague is out of touch with current fashion, which seems relevant to me. It’s like when my mother was giving me work fashion advice (and social fashion advice!) based on what SHE wore 30 years ago. Mom was pretty insulted that I wouldn’t take her advice–but I was the one who worked in an office (she hadn’t worked in 30 years) and went dancing with other 20-somethings.

    4. learnedthehardway*

      One thing that the OP#1 can do is to put things in her own perspective while calling out the sexism. Eg. assuming the OP and colleague are female – “You know, I was thinking about it, and us criticizing women’s clothing is really just us internalizing the sexism levelled at women. We shouldn’t do that. We both know that people perform well regardless of what they wear.”

      Putting things in one’s own point of view is a good way to shut things down by assuming joint responsibility for the problematic attitude.

      1. Nina*

        mmm I’m going to go with not telling the senior person known to say nasty things about people behind their backs what she should and shouldn’t do. In OP’s place I would be looking for ways to gently disengage.

  9. Mary Jane*

    #5 – I’m curious if you’re the employer or employee in this situation. If you’re the employee I’m sorry your sick and I wish you a quick and complete recovery. If you’re the employer I hope you’re seeking to do right by your employee, and also please normalize requiring people to wear masks when they’re symptomatic even when it’s not COVID like I’d common in many Asian countries, because COVID is not the only contagious disease out there and we’d all benefit from that cultural shift!

    1. Rara Avis*

      I’m with you on the masks. I’ve had one cold in 2 1/2 years — as a teacher, I used to get one every few months.

    2. Mangled metaphor*

      Please also normalise working from home IS working!
      (Unless the unasked question is how to get them to stop working and recuperate properly – they still need to be paid, by the way, assuming they’ve accrued sick leave)
      I can maybe understand the question if the employee is non-exempt, as (from what I understand – I’m not in the US, so the whole idea of “do I *have* to pay my staff” is a bit of a wonky one to me – is that non-exempt is paid only for hours worked, which would be harder to track while at home and ill.
      I’m not sure how widespread it is, but I also understand some companies implemented specific covid-sick policies. Maybe check if your company has one of those to see how it covers the sickness part of PTO and make sure your employee rests enough to get well.

      1. Allonge*

        I am so hoping this question is about ‘I don’t know how to hand over their envelope of cash while they are contagious’. Because, otherwise, yeah…

    3. Mary Jane*

      Ugh, I obviously meant “sorry *you’re* sick” and “like *is* common in many Asian countries”… My kingdom for an edit button!

    4. GammaGirl1908*

      Here for the fact that **working from home is working.** If a person is working 100% from home, then you don’t need to try to figure out how to punish them.

      If what you mean is that the person is 81% but not 100%, and so they are checking in to keep critical things moving but maybe not putting in full days, that is one thing.

      If what you mean is that they are very ill, but your office culture is not OK with taking the day(s) off when you’re actually sick, that is another thing.

      And then if what you mean is they are fully working from home, but you can’t see them and therefore you don’t really think that they are working and you want to dock their pay because of it, that’s a third thing entirely.

      Which is it?

      1. Mary Jane*

        The question was so wonderfully short that it leaves a bunch of room for interpretation. I’m really curious about the circumstances that prompted the OP’s question.

      2. Nanani*

        And honestly, if they dragged themselves to work with a non-covid cold or something, they’d still be at 81% but we wouldn’t see this waffle about whether WORK NEEDS TO BE PAID

        Like come on 5, do you hear yourself.

      3. Stuckinacrazyjob*

        Nod. I work for home almost all the time and they pay me the normal amount. They wanted me to take FMLA for my covid week but after the fact they decided I had worked ( I was watching court and training on my work computer) and could use sick time

    5. anonymous73*

      If you want to wear a mask for everything, go for it, but we don’t need to “normalize” it. Once they lifted the mask mandate in my state, I got sick 3 times within a few months. So wearing a mask ALL the time can actually have a negative effect on some people.

      What needs to change are sick leave policies so people don’t feel forced to go to the office when they’re contagious.

      1. Pocket Mouse*

        Wait, what? I don’t see how you concluded frequent mask-wearing has a negative effect because you got sick multiple times after (presumably) you and/or people around you stopped wearing a mask. It’s not like your immune system got lazy after all that mask-wearing and didn’t feel like getting back to work… it just shows that precautions were working as intended. Also, Mary Jane was advocating for wearing a mask *when symptomatic* with any illness—neither just when symptomatic with COVID, nor all the time.

        I wholeheartedly agree with your second paragraph though.

        1. Double A*

          My daughter didn’t get sick for 2 years during the pandemic because she was in our bubble, and has been sick literally ever 2 weeks since she started daycare this year. I *do* think she’s sick more than she would have been if she had been regularly exposed throughout a couple of years (though I can’t prove it. I certainly hope this amount of illness isn’t par for the course with kids, though I know they do get sick a lot). It is what it is, but I take the OP’s point about getting more illnesses in a row now that we’re not masking.

          1. Pocket Mouse*

            That sounds like a similar frequency as when my nibling started daycare a couple years before the pandemic- not to say that every kid goes through it, just that it’s not unheard of prior to this past year or so. It sucks, and I really hope it eases up for you daughter and your family soon.

          2. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

            Not sure how old she is, but my nieces and nephews were 2-5 before the pandemic and were sick every other week then (with siblings of course giving illnesses to each other). No one got sick for 2 years thanks to masking. Now they are back to the regularly scheduled illnesses of kids 4-7 just like before the pandemic. They were all in school/daycare prior to 2020 and it was impressive the number of random illnesses they brought home and gave to the family, and then, of course, the siblings took to their own schools and shared the wealth. I would bet at any given time in any daycare or school class 1-2 kids are transmitting illness, usually because they are getting sick or finished having symptoms but still shedding disease causing microbes.

            1. AnonToday*

              I was just reading an article this morning saying that pediatricians are baffled/concerned by how the usual seasonality of colds/flu/RSV are all scrambled up. They’re seeing kids who have ALL THE THINGS AT ONCE, too. They’re not sure if it’s just because the usual cycles were disrupted by COVID precautions, or if COVID is actually competing with the other viruses, messing with immunity, or what. (About a decade ago, a study showed that measles can erase someone’s immunity to diseases they’ve already had.)

        2. RebelwithMouseyHair*

          Actually, immune systems can totally “get lazy” and inefficient if they don’t come in contact with enough germs. This whole mask thing was perhaps necessary to prevent the spread of Covid, but it also prevented the spread of other benign diseases too, with the result that we now, as a society, have far fewer antibodies to far fewer diseases.
          Sure, it’s great as an individual not to get sick, but from the perspective of public health, if you live in a sanitised bubble, your immune system is going to get weaker, or alternatively it might get confused, and start fighting things that are not germs (which is what happens when you develop allergies).

      2. Dragon*

        Or WFH policies to allow people to WFH when they’re too sick or contagious to come into the office, but functional enough to work.

        1. KRM*

          Yes! Sometimes people who are sick just need to sleep a little later. Then they get up, feel OK, do some critical work, meet a deadline, then maybe they need to nap a little. But they’re still working! If they’re only at 60% instead of 100% for a couple days, it doesn’t matter. They’re still prioritizing and getting things done!

          1. Flash Packet*

            And, if you’re me, that “sleep a little later” means that I’m actually logged in and working 2 hours before I would if I’d gone into the office.

            Working from home, I can roll out of bed at 6:30 AM and be online and functional by 7:00 AM.

            When I have to go into the office, I get up at 5:15 AM to be out of the house by 7:40 AM to be in my cube and logged in by 9:00 AM.

          2. RebelwithMouseyHair*

            Those who struggle to get into work despite being sick are probably only going to get 40% done because of the commuting.

        2. Stay-Home-When-Sick-Please*

          An official policy is great but a culture shift also has to be in place. My old company’s policy just said “stay home if you’re sick” and “you can use vacation time if you are sick” (we didn’t have specific sick time or a general umbrella PTO, just “vacation”). You weren’t required to use vacation time, even though some management insisted that it was required for their employees, but the expectation was that if you didn’t use vacation time and stayed home then you either had to “make up the time” or “work from home if you feel up to it”.

          I thought it was ridiculous to tell someone who is sick to make up the time, like it’s their fault they got sick, and I never had enough extra vacation time to use so when I was sick I often just told my boss I would be working from home. However, the culture was very much “you get ONE day”, so even if I was still sick after day 1, I often felt obligated to come in day 2 even if I was still feeling ill. Occasionally I would feel too sick to actually work when I was home, but seeing as I was SICK I would just log in and check emails between naps and not really do much else. I felt guilty about this when I was a fresh new entry level employee, but a few years in I said ehh the company usually gets enough good work out of me, one day of me not really working won’t put a wrench in the wheel.

      3. Lenora Rose*

        Did I misunderstand, or did you really just argue that getting sick multiple times after *ceasing to* wear masks anymore was somehow the fault of masks?

        1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

          It is totally a fact. People weren’t getting sick and therefore were not building up antibodies. As a society we now have less ammunition to fight disease. Talking in terms of public health.

          1. Lenora Rose*

            Yes, I know living in an overly sterile environment makes your immune system less robust overall, at least in the long term. (As noted above, we don’t know if some of this is also Covid making peoples’ immune systems less robust in its wake.* )

            That’s still not the same thing as “The fault of masks”. That implies the masks made you sick, and that therefore wearing masks in future when you are symptomatically sick and out in public is a bad thing, when it really really isn’t.

            * I was reading a study that showed that catching Omicron variants of Covid actually makes you *more* susceptible to Omicron variants – though not to other variants – and reduced the benefit of boosters. And we know that some diseases like measles can “erase” bits of the immune system unrelated to measles. But as well as the high percentage of the population known to have caught Covid, there’s also the number of places that threw up their hands and *stopped testing* during major waves, and the strong likelihood of asymptomatic carriers going under the radar. So we don’t know if having colds and flus pop up together is two years of supposed sterility (my family and I were still outdoors seasonally and our house is far from sterile, so while we avoided exposure to standard human-carried disease, I doubt we avoided all the smaller pathogens that people usually mean when they talk about too much sterility) or other factors. But it definitely wasn’t “All the fault of masks” in the way the person I was replying to meant.

      4. quill*

        “once they lifted the mask mandate in my state I got sick”

        My friend, I think you have gotten cause and effect backwards. Removing the mask mandate is what suddenly exposed you to germs, not previously wearing the mask.

      5. Elizabeth West*

        The cultural mask thing as I understand it is to wear a mask when you yourself are sick or feeling under the weather and need to go out, so you don’t spread germs to others. It’s not necessarily about wearing it all the time every minute of every day, world without end, amen.

        I’m 100% with you on the sick leave policies. Being ill doesn’t mean someone is lazy or entitled. It happens. People need time to get better. I’ve had colds bad enough where a day or two of solid rest would definitely have sped up my recovery.

      6. Clisby*

        So they lifted the mask mandate and you got sick 3 times in a few months? Seems pretty obvious you would have been better off if mask wearing had been normalized. It wasn’t mask wearing that had a negative effect on you. It was lifting the mask mandate.

    6. pancakes*

      I assumed employer. I’m more curious why anyone would think an employer’s obligations to pay workers is a matter of opinion rather than law. We have laws about this stuff. It’s not as if every employer gets to reinvent the wheel.

      1. DragoCucina*

        I’m always disheartened when employers want to treat employees as exempt when it’s to their benefit and as hourly when it isn’t. I had a board chair that tried to do this with me. Of course this is the guy who tried to tell me employees weren’t allowed to come to open door meetings. Uh, no.

    7. Nancy*

      I rather we normalize people staying home when they have symptoms and normalize a generous sick leave policy. I don’t want to be around someone if they have symptoms from any contagious illness, period.

      That said, if a person is working from home they need to get paid, regardless of why they are working from home.

  10. The Prettiest Curse*

    #4 – Event coordinator here. Alison is right – let the organisers know ASAP. Tell them that you can suggest a couple of substitutes and provide the names and contact info of the substitutes. The organisers will check their availability – that’s not on you. This kind of thing happens fairly often with panels, so the organisers may have already have a list of names that they threw around during the planning process.

    Finally, please make sure that your suggested replacements are reliable. There’s nothing worse than a late substitute who doesn’t respond to communications about stuff that you urgently need them to do!

    1. After 33 years ...*

      However, I would send the prospective replacement a short, informal e-mail – “X might be contacting you to be a panelist discussing Y”. I like to know what’s coming, especially if I’m really not the right person to speak on Y, or from the perspective that the organizer is looking for.

      1. Slovenly Braid Cultist*

        While I agree it’s nice to check in with people before signing them up to be contacted, I don’t think the same etiquette applies here as, say, a reference check; the LW is not the person organizing the panel and has no real authority to contact people for it.

        The recommendation is a courtesy to the organizer but the organizer might well have contingency plans in place (I’d be surprised if they didn’t!) and I think there’s too much room for miscommunication with the LW bringing new people into this situation on their own initiative.

        I can just imagine LW’s friend hearing this, agreeing to do it with the LW, not realizing the LW can’t make that offer, and either showing up to a panel they’re not on OR holding an irrational grudge over being “snubbed” by an organization that didn’t actually have a panel role to fill because they went ahead with their own backup.

        I know the LW wouldn’t be trying to make a formal offer, but honestly, I see little things get misconstrued into big ones all the time– you can’t guarantee that the recipient wouldn’t give the ‘heads-up’ more weight than it deserves. It sounds like a huge headache waiting to happen, and mostly for the organizers. If a panelist tried to insert themselves into planning my event this way, they would drop down to the very bottom of the list of people I’d want to invite to be a panelist next time.

        1. After 33 years ...*

          YMMV. I would always give informal notice, and I like to receive the same.
          Having been volunteered to participate in situations where I’m not qualified or willing to speak, my first question to the organizer would be, “Who gave you my name?”. If I know an invite might be coming, I can avoid being startled. If it doesn’t come, no problem.

          1. binge eating cereal*

            I can see this from both sides (having been on both sides). The key here is INFORMAL notice and being clear that you passed on someone’s name and they may POTENTIALLY be contacted. I’ve had folks back out and INVITE someone else to present on their behalf when it wasn’t the wish of the organizers.

            Also as the organizer, I’m always going to lead the invite with “So and so gave your name as a potential speaker” and end with an an opt-out for any reason of their choosing. I cannot fathom sending a presumptuous invitation without context, but I know it’s done WAY too often.

            1. The Prettiest Curse*

              Yes, this is exactly the right way to handle this, from both the event planner and ex-panel member perspectives!

  11. FICO follower*

    LW2 may also need to consider their FICO score.

    I had a business trip that brought my usage on my credit card to 85% and my FICO score dropped 31 points. The next month when I paid it off my score shot up…a whopping 9 points.

    It was an issue because I was preparing to refinance my house around that time and I was asked about it by the lender. So, beware.

    1. Decidedly Me*

      Usage during the month isn’t reported – the final total when the billing cycle ends is what gets reported. So, even if you use 85% of your credit, if you pay it down to 3% before the cycle closes, 3% is reported.

      Now, of course, you need to be able to afford to do that, but wanted to add this so folks don’t think that just using the card a lot more automatically hurts credit.

      1. Purple Cat*

        When you say “before the cycle closes” does that just mean paying the entire bill in full before it’s due? Or paying down the balance BEFORE the statement is issued?

        1. NotMy(Fancy)RealName*

          It’s the balance on the statement that gets reported. So, your second statement is the correct one.

  12. Fikly*

    LW1: Based on the examples you gave, this is not actually an issue of her disapproving of a more casual dress code. What you describe wearing is not more casual than what she is wearing. It’s her believing that women should wear dresses not pants, which is gross, sexist, and in terms of needing it for career success, utterly false except in a few places at this point. Pants are not more casual than a dress for a woman. Just like with dresses, there are things you can wear ranging from extremely casual to very formal that include pants.

    Given your company’s dress code, and what you are observing other people wear and the lack of commentary about that, it’s pretty safe to assume that’s not the case for you. Given she is so off base for this, I’d be hesitant to trust her judgement about anything else on the topic of career. I don’t know how old she is, but in the kindest light, this is an extremely outdated view and if she hasn’t realized things have changed, chances are she hasn’t realized things have changed about anything else, either.

    1. Perfectly Particular*

      The woman stating this is very senior in the company, and therefore likely has true influence over OP’s career. Is she really making a recommendation, or is she stating an expectation?

      1. Jack Straw from Wichita*

        Regardless of whether it’s a request or a requirement, believing that women need to wear dresses and heels is gross. My manager has been told she needs to take more care with her appearance in meetings with high-level folks, which is fine (doing a bit with her hair, changing out of her hoodie/pjs). Telling her she needs dresses and heels… is not.

        1. lilsheba*

          Agreed. We’ve proven for the last 2 years that what you’re wearing doesn’t affect the work AT ALL. And no one should be expected to wear heels, they are very damaging to the feet and frankly need to go away. People should be able to just dress for comfort, not shallow reasons like how it looks.

          1. AnonToday*

            I wore heels under 2″ as part of the 1990s office dress code, and wrecked my feet permanently. Now I can only wear flats with orthotics that don’t fit in anything “cute.” Luckily, I’ve reached a stage of “too old to care about fashion” and my self-employment is in a field where cute shoes are optional. (Closed-toe shoes are mandatory, however.)

    2. Be kind, rewind*

      I think this is a good point about judgement. OP seems to like getting behind the scenes info from a more senior person, but how much of this person’s insight is actually useful? What else is she off base about?

      1. pancakes*

        That’s what I was coming down here to say. The letter writer said “I still like and respect her outside of this too,” and I’m struggling to see why. She’s reportedly doing this junior high routine every day, and in the bigger picture view, she’s unleashing it on a lower-level staffer, who has limited options for pushing back. It’s a gross way to behave, and I’m not sure how her takes on other aspects of office politics could be so much sharper and more lucid than her very rigid and dated ideas about how women ought to dress for work.

    3. OP#1*

      OP#1 here – I can’t get into much more detail on this forum but they have been helpful in my career trajectory as well as many other women in the company. I think that’s why this situation baffles me more.

      1. Smithy*

        I think this is a case where two things can happen simultaneously and not be correlated despite thinking they might be – I once heard a research radiologist phrase this (horribly, but I’ve never forgotten it) as being “fat and ugly”.

        This woman can be both very instrumental in paving avenues for success for other women, while also having some very negative traits. In this case it may be more garden variety retrograde views of fashion coupled with a tendency towards catty gossip, while also being super professional and business minded on other topics. It may also be part of some more old school, problematic views on women in the workplace – or it may be part of how she builds “her crew”. Essentially exchanging in gossip and secrets between those on in the in and those on the out.

        Long term what’s challenging about mentors like this is that it can become harder and harder to tease out the good professional mentorship from what’s problematic. And so while you may always know that you’re on “safe” ground with her, it messes with your red flag sensors in other workplace environments or puts you in an overly aggressive stance in a largely healthy one. My biggest advice in these cases is to try and make sure you never report into her directly and also try to find ways to cool down communication to being a little less frequent, a little slower to respond. Really well but slightly toxic people like this don’t need to be thrown in the garbage when they’re super powerful in our field – but getting too close to them can mess with our own perceptions.

        1. Jack Straw from Wichita*

          Agreed. My current manager has been helpful in my career trajectory. She’s also not well-liked by many, so her help and sponsorship have also been an albatross I need to get out from under. It’s hard to balance.

        2. pancakes*

          “it may be more garden variety retrograde views of fashion coupled with a tendency towards catty gossip, while also being super professional and business minded on other topics.”

          The conventional standards of what is and isn’t “super professional and business minded” don’t seem nearly as divisible from the catty views as you make them out to be. It’s not a coincidence that black women, for example, have often targeted for having “unprofessional” hair. There is a tremendous amount of overlap and mutual reinforcement between the mindset of very rigid, trad, socially conservative people like the woman in this letter and other forms of conservatism and authoritarianism.

          1. pancakes*

            Definitely, but when people are talking about strategy for advancing in their career sometimes they are talking about what they want for themselves, not just survival.

            1. Russian in Texas*

              I still don’t see anything wrong here, sorry. Dealing with awful people to advance your career is a sacrifice many don’t really feel that bad about.

              1. pancakes*

                People value different things. Many people would rather not compromise their personal values for work if they can avoid it, but yes, I’ve certainly noticed that some people truly don’t mind. I’m not disagreeing with you that that’s an option.

  13. Language Lover*

    lw #1

    You’re in a tough spot given how high up she is. I think I’d do my best to discourage through disinterest.

    Coworker: They have a terrible suit.
    You: I’ve never been all that into fashion. Everything looks good to me.

    Coworker: I can’t believe they wore those pants.
    You: silence
    Just ignore them. That’s the benefit of Slack conversations. They don’t always require a response.

    1. JSPA*

      There’s also the white lie of praise;

      “oh, I think most of us wish we could look as good and put together as you in a dress, but people have to wear what works for them.”

      “If people feel awkward, they’ll look like a hot mess even in ______.”

      “If we need to take photos, so long as you’re front and center, we’ll be fine.”

      If there’s some underlying insecurity, this sets it to rest; if there’s nothing but ego turtles all the way down, it still works.

    2. Longtime Reader, Rare Commenter*

      Agree on disinterest or ignoring (or Alison’s suggestion of changing the subject). Seems like anything else, such as Alison’s first suggestion of a mild response of “Oh, I thought her outfit was fine,” will just egg her on. And I sense that because of the power dynamics, you’re hesitant to confront her about her criticism of other women’s outfits.

    3. eeeek*

      Agree – I’d go with an unobjectionable response (“I never really notice what people are wearing, as long as they’re working well”), non-response (“oh – fashion” ), or silence with a slightly chilly stare/head tilt, rather than saying anything that could be interpreted as encouragement to pursue the topic. Then get out the bean-dip (for those of you who remember eHell?) and change the topic to anything more interesting.

      I admit I would really be tempted to bring the topic up in other contexts (perhaps repeatedly) – like, if I were engaged in a conversation about women supporting other women in the workplace, or talking about how people hold women to standards from which men seem to be exempt. Citing that behavior as one among many examples where women (unwittingly?) drag each other down or where women are held to different standards might allow the idea to seep in.

      What I’d WANT to do would be to show up for work in a power suit right out of the era of the OG Dress for Success books (1977?) Swaths of unbreathable polyester, oversized jackets with shoulder pads and chest padding to minimize those boobies, pussybow blouses and lacy details to reassure the menfolk that it’s a suit – but FEMININE, sensible but sexy enough shoes. I might even tease my hair and give it a good crust of hair spray. THEN I WILL FINALLY BE SUCCESSFULL.

      1. pancakes*

        I don’t think “everything looks good to me” is going to come off as unobjectionable or plausible in this context. I also don’t think it’s going to help the letter writer’s career to pretend to be incapable of even perceiving things that are important to an executive they work with.

        1. Generic Name*

          Yeah, I agree that for this OP, that statement will come off as disingenuous. She said her mentor/friend wears dated “2010s Ralph Lauren Dresses”, which to me says she has more than a passing interest in fashion. I consider myself fairly fashion forward, and I have no idea what that style of dress is. I agree with the general sentiment of the first comment that she needs to pull back from this person.

        2. Language Lover*

          FWIW, everything looks fine to me does describe me with fashion in most contexts. Almost always at work.

          You covered? If the answer is yes, I rarely think beyond that unless I’d want to wear what they’re wearing.

          1. pancakes*

            But you’re not the letter writer. I’m not questioning whether there are people who feel that way in the world; I’m saying that I doubt the letter writer can convincingly pretend to be one of them at this point.

  14. bamcheeks*

    patterns that look very dated to me, aka corporate office wear circa 2010

    Speaking as a 43yo, I am burned.

    1. Assume the best*

      Yeah, I have no idea what patterns are ‘very 2010’. I wear my work clothes for many years and think what I wear is pretty timeless. Trouser shapes have changed, but basic work dresses? Then again, I don’t critique other people’s styles so long as they are clean, neat and keep their bits covered.

    2. Luna*

      The term ‘dated’ sounds extra odd to me when it’s used for a fashion that was, apparently, very common only a good 10 years ago. That’s more what I’d expect to read for things dating 1990s or earlier.

      1. londonedit*

        And of course the 1990s are ‘back’ in fashion terms – I keep seeing teenagers wearing things we all wore 25 years ago!

        1. Nobby Nobbs*

          Saw a kid the other weekend I could have been in middle school with in the mid aughts. Multiple scrunchies, converse sneakers, one of those skirts with all the flounces I coveted so hard circa seventh grade- it was like she’d stepped out of a time machine!

            1. UKDancer*

              Add me to the scrunchie wearing crowd. I’ve never stopped because I like how they look in my hair.

          1. Lily Rowan*

            And I’m old enough that when you say scrunchies and flouncy skirts, I picture the fashions when I was in middle school in the mid-80s!

            1. Flash Packet*

              I’m old enough that when you say scrunchies and flouncy skirts, I picture the fashions I was selling as an 18-year old Assistant Manager at The Merry-Go-Round in a suburban mall in the mid-1980’s!

              Also…. leather jackets covered in random zippers, parachute pants, sequined gloves (sold singularly, not as a pair), and mesh fingerless gloves with lacy cuffs (sold in pairs).

          2. quill*

            I’m watching jeans become the mistake that they were when I was in junior high and wondering why retro insists on doing this to us.

            On the other hand, the brightly colored skorts that I enjoyed in junior high might be coming back, which is nice.

            1. So Many Pets*

              Same. My youngest is in middle school and she and her friends are currently wearing high-waisted, pleated pants – essentially the same look from my middle school years in the 80s. Why, fashion? Why???

              1. quill*

                High waisted I don’t mind, since I have very tall hips, but could we, in the year 2022, offer more than one waist height / leg width at a time?

        2. NoviceManagerGuy*

          I raided the dress-up box to find hats my kids could wear to summer camp, so today the little two are going in a very 90s Astros hat and a 3-2-1 Contact hat.

          1. Forkeater*

            Thanks a lot, now I’m going to have the 3-2-1 contact theme song running through my head all day!

          1. bamcheeks*

            I lived in Manchester in about 2011 when the Stone Roses came back and played a gig. Turned out, every single thirtysomething man in the city had a Kangol hat and an anorak they kept at the back of the wardrobe for just such an occasion. Walking around town that day was surreal.

            1. pancakes*

              I had a cantaloupe-colored angora Kangol bucket hat in the Madchester heyday, and I’d entirely forgotten it until recently. And now I kind of want the same one again, in cream, because people are wearing them again! I’m probably not going to, especially for summer, but I find it all very funny. And a bit painful that I didn’t hang on to more of my things, since apparently they’re worth a fortune on resale sites.

      2. Empress Ki*

        Same for me, but it depends on how old we are.
        Back in the 90’s, when I was a young adult, I would have referred to a 1980 outfit as very dated.

      3. CheeryO*

        There are plenty of early 2010s trends that are dated by now. Chevron, coral and mint, twee fashion, etc.

    3. Why the judgement*

      Yeah, it stood out to me that the LW basically judged her superior in the same way her superior is doing to other people. The superior’s attire and LW’s opinion of it isn’t relevant to the issue at hand.

      1. bamcheeks*

        Oh, I am not getting at LW, it just made me laugh. I think it’s perfectly OK to say that you don’t care for someone’s style as long as you’re not being mean about it, and if you’re in your 20s, then the styles of ten to twelve years ago DO feel like they’re from a million years ago because time and trends move so much faster. I mean, I know I personally would not wear above-the-knee tulip dresses any more– but they’re still in my head as Smart And Also Stylish Businesswear, because ten years ago is barely any time to me these days!

      2. OP#1*

        I’m the original letter writer. After re-reading that line – it does come off a bit catty! You know some of their outfits are nice, especially in a formal setting. What I was getting at is that I didn’t appreciate the helpful tips from them on where I should shop etc because a lot of their outfits aren’t to my personal taste. I could have worded that differently.

        1. Abigail*

          I think that you have to take or leave the “information” you are getting from this source.

          Sometimes when you communicate with people to get information you get more than you bargained for.

        2. eeeek*

          That’s how I read what you wrote.
          I (cis F) was reminded of something that happened several years ago. We had hired a recent college graduate (F presenting), who was new to town and new to the type of role. She was asking for advice about shopping for professional clothes. It seems that after a few weeks in the office, she realized – as she said – that her wardrobe “needed to graduate from college, too”. I offered that many of my colleagues whom I considered “put together and chic” were finding reliable basics and classic styles at Talbots and Anne Taylor Loft, etc.
          She looked horrified. And I realized that no, that vibe was definitely not to her personal taste. So I adjusted the advice to “there is no dress code, but we do appreciate front-facing staff to look neat and put-together, leaning toward modest but not prude” and suggested she talk with some much younger colleagues. She figured it out. (And we still laugh about it.)

          1. Ana Gram*

            This reminds me of when I moved to an office job for my first time in my early 30’s. I had only worked uniformed positions before that and wasn’t sure how to dress. I asked the guy who would be my supervisor and he told me that the admin’s attire was consistent with the dress code. Well. She was a great admin but about 30 years older than me and had a style that I would describe as matronly. I finally just decided to buy a couple sweaters and some dress pants and wear those for a few weeks until I could scope out other women in the office… it worked out pretty well and I found a work look that fit me.

            Style is very personal!

        3. EBStarr*

          That line made me laugh! Yes, maybe a bit catty, but your superior is kind of asking for it. I mean I assume you don’t go around at work telling everyone you think her outfit looks SO 2012, you’re just pointing out the hypocrisy of her being a jerk about everyone else’s style.

          I’m wearing a dress to work today that I am pretty sure is in fact from 2012, but I like my own style and I don’t go around critiquing others so I didn’t feel too stung lol.

    4. Irish Teacher*

      Yeah, I was thinking 2010 is DATED now (I’m about your age, by the way), but then I thought, I suppose in the year 2000, I would have thought something from 1988 dated, so…maybe it just sounds like less time has passed because we’re early in the millennium. Or maybe it’s just ’cause I’m getting older! I’ve had a lot of my clothes ten years or more.

      1. bamcheeks*

        In the mid-nineties, I started wearing my mum’s 70s maxidresses and skirts, and I was always amazed that she had Preserved them for so long– twenty years! like museum pieces! Nowadays, it just seems like of course I still have things from the early 00s– like, a couple of things that I adored and kept deliberately, but also quite a few things that I just haven’t got around to throwing out yet even if I haven’t technically worn them in ten years…

        1. Irish Teacher*

          To be fair, my “style” is sort of sweaters and pencil skirts that…doesn’t really change that much. If I were big into fashion, I might see greater changes.

    5. Anya Last Nerve*

      I’m currently wearing a pair of black pants that I purchased around 2010 so….

      1. Elle by the sea*

        Well, I have clothes from the early 2000s and from earlier as well and I am in my mid-to-late 30s. I, too, wonder what dated means in today’s world when literally everything is on trend. :)

    6. Critical Rolls*

      Right? Les ouchies. XD (might as well throw it back with the text emoji, too!) Style is so personal, no one should be policing it unless there’s and active, clear dress code violation. The tables can always turn.

      If I were LW1, I would probably not engage in conversation about whether I like someone’s outfit or not, because that’s subjective, unwinnable, and extends the undesirable topic. I do like the “trying not to focus so much on women’s appearance” angle since greyrocking and redirection haven’t been very effective. I might even ask them to help me! “I’ve gotten in a bad habit of critiquing my colleagues’ appearances, and I want to be more professional. Can you help me catch myself and change the topic if I do that?”

    7. GenXGeezer*

      Please help an old person and point me to some pictures of what a dated 2010 outfit would look like? I am afraid I may be wearing these as well. It is SO HARD to figure out what is both not dated and also acknowledging the fact that you *shouldn’t* dress like a 22 year old when you’re 42.

      1. bamcheeks*

        I pictured the kind of on-the-knee very structured shift dress that Julianna Margulies wears a lot of in The Good Wife and Birgitte wears in Borgen. I had two or three of these in 2012-2014 when I was working in a more corporate environment. I probably stopped wearing them sometime between 2018-2020 because I was in a less corporate environment anyway, and then I gave them away about six months ago when I realised that despite going back to the office, I am very unlikely to wear anything that’s shorter than mid-calf. (That’s partly why the comment made me laugh– because I recognised that I have actually moved on from that style but I hadn’t consciously noticed!)

        However, I’ve kept a couple of pairs of midwaisted bootcut wool trousers, because they come back in and out even though I prefer my high-waist tapered ones at the moment.

        1. GenXGeezer*

          Ah, thank you. I definitely have a good collection of that type of dress in my closet – would never have thought of them as being dated. Eek. I have been remote and before that was working with mostly people my age and older so I guess we were just aging and becoming dated together, lol.

        2. OP1*

          LW1 – you are bang on in your description. That’s very similar to their preference. I didn’t mean to imply it was ugly – those dresses still look nice for formal events. It’s just – it really doesn’t make sense to for everyone to wear everyday in what we do.

      2. Just Another Starving Artist*

        The 2010s were big on peplum, twee super femme blouses, and abstract patterns that at the time seemed fashion forward but ten years after the fact feel a bit done. I don’t know if senior colleague is wearing any of that or if she’s just basic Ralph Lauren preppy (which is perfectly fine and acceptable, just not exactly fashion forward), but when I hear 2010s specifically, I think of peplum, twee and 3/4 length sleeves.

        1. J*

          In addition to your own, I was going to include colorful tights (usually overlaps with twee), colorful skinny pants (a la Kate Middleton’s preppy looks from this era), high-low hems on skirts and dresses, large bubble style or animal necklaces, bolero shrugs and batwing sleeves. Peplum is always the one that jumps out. There were some strange booties of that era, cuffed, toeless and heeled. Cardigans that weren’t boleros were shorter than today’s and heavily adorned thanks to twee. Lots of belted cardigans if they did go longer. Ruffles all around the chest. Ballet flats with rounded toes.

          There was also a weird overlap with juniors fashion trying to be business casual (think Degrassi’s Holly J and Gossip Girl) so for younger workers back then I have noticed some who still dress of that era with no change which is aging in its own way. 2010 is a little early for peak chevron but that’s always a tell.

          1. Just Another Starving Artist*

            Oh goodness, so many boleros, so many ruffles, so much bejeweled everything. That was a fashion era I’m happy to see the back of.

          2. AnonToday*

            I took one look at high-low hems and thought “That will NOT age gracefully.” I’m fairly fashion-oblivious but when I see people wearing them occasionally, it’s always a surprise.

    8. I've Escaped Cubicle Land*

      Just wait a few more years and then that fashion will be vintage or retro. Every thing that comes around, comes back around. My son and niece laughed at high school pics of my friends in tight 80’s jeans. When they hit middle and high school skinny jeans were all the rage and they tried to ask me to pay mall prices for the same kind of jeans they had laughed at previously. A line skirts tend to stay in fashion just because the flatter so many figures. Peasant skirts or mini skirts come and go in popularity regularly. If you take the shoulder pads out of things, and throw the right accessories you can update many an outfit.

    9. Mim*

      Seriously. I’m about the same age as you, and the only reason I don’t have clothes in rotation from 2010 (or earlier) is that January 2011 is when I started wearing maternity clothes, and then never fit the same way into my pre-pregnancy clothes after pregnancy. (However, I do sleep in some 11 year old maternity shirts. I guess that’s a self burn. The height of sexy — a middle aged person in 11 year old, worn out maternity clothes.)

      Of course, none of what I had was fashionable back then, anyway.

  15. Sleepy cat*

    #2 Is paying by invoice a thing over there? I don’t use credit cards for work stuff at all – it’s all done by invoice to my employer.

    1. Trade credit*

      Many vendors won’t offer trade credit (which is what paying on invoice is) without a credit application from the company.

      Which is time and resource intensive.

    2. Asenath*

      Some businesses, especially smaller ones, don’t like to use invoices for payment. I got the impression that there were sometimes delays in their processing. We had various ways of paying for things – invoices, purchase orders (I’m no finance person, maybe this was similar? I’d get approval for what I wanted, Finance would give me a purchase order number which I’d supply to the supplier), official credit card (I worked one place where they were commonplace, and another where only the most senior people had one, although someone in Finance had one for small local purchases, and you could go through her if you needed the use of a credit card), and, of course, as I mentioned earlier, the personal credit card or cash advance method for traveling.

    3. bamcheeks*

      Yeah, this has really changed over the 20 years I’ve been working in the university sector in the UK. I did tons of travel in my first job, and generally speaking carried most of it on my personal credit card. In the last ten-fifteen years, all the universities I’ve worked at have switched over to doing as much as possible through a contracted travel agent because it makes the financial processing much simpler and massively decreases audit risk.

    4. Purple Cat*

      For true “business” expenses – yes at my company everything is done on PO and invoices. But travel is different. You can’t have an airline send your company an invoice for your plane tickets.
      The answer would (should) absolutely be different if OP would be expected to pay for raw material costs on a personal card (for example). That’s a sign of a company in financial distress.

      1. bamcheeks*

        You can’t have an airline send your company an invoice for your plane tickets

        You — can’t?! This is done all the time in the UK. Usually through an intermediate (eg. a travel agency), but IME in the public sector and large private organisations it’s completely normal for business travel to be booked and paid for through PO & invoice.

    5. Person from the Resume*

      Airlines, hotels, and restaurants won’t send an invoice to a company for individual tickets, rooms, and meals.

      They might have a way to invoice if the business was chartering a flight, renting a block of rooms, or catering an event. Invoices are the conclusion of a contract cost, though, right? The company signs a contract for something upcoming and they pay after. The airline, hotel, and restaurant business demand payment when making the reservation or at the moment of conclusion of service.

      1. pancakes*

        I read a lot of other people’s emails in my work and couldn’t count the number of times I’ve seen a big company invoiced for a block of rooms. Very common! Likewise restaurants (or private rooms in them) booked for meetings, likewise travel agents booking flights.

        1. KRM*

          But I think you have to either be buying a lot of rooms/flights together, or you have a relationship with an agency. I don’t think I can call JetBlue to book a flight and then say “please invoice Company for this flight”. They’d refuse to book me. If I connect to JetBlue through a company website that just has them invoice back to the company, that’s a totally different thing.

          1. pancakes*

            A lot of companies do have relationships with corporate travel agents, though. That’s not an unusual thing for a company that frequently has people traveling to set up.

            1. MsClaw*

              Yeah, but there’s a big difference between ‘we’re booking 20 rooms for a conference’ and ‘we’re sending two employees to a conference’.

              Likewise Chipotle isn’t going to accept pay by invoice for the lunch you picked up between sessions.

              I’ll also point out, when I traveled for work I had a ‘corporate card’….. but it was actually *my* card, in my name, that impacted my credit. It wasn’t a card that gave me access to a corporate account. I was still responsible for the balance whether I got reimbursed in time or not. What it did give me was the ability to waive interest and fees if I could demonstrate that I had not been reimbursed in a timely fashion. Happily that didn’t come up.

              1. pancakes*

                In my experience, companies that use these services use them for all travel, whether they are sending two or twenty people to the conference. Yes, I know that people don’t say “put it on my tab” at Chipotle if they’re ordering at the counter rather than through corporate catering.

  16. JSPA*

    #3, rather than mentioning meds, you could also grab a covid test (so the following is true) and then say, “I felt sluggish enough at the end of the week to do a covid test, which was fine. I’m thinking of checking in with a doctor if I don’t snap out of it in a couple more days. In case it’s been visible, I wanted to acknowledge that I’m a few percent short of my A game.”

    It says, “bear with me” and “I’m being responsible” but does not disclose already being medicated (which is none of their business, and will likely lead to increasingly awkward conversations from people wanting to compare experiences on, say, seasonal allergy meds (which people totally chat about at work, in my experience, as there’s minimal side eye given to, “having seasonal allergies”).

    IMO, it’s better if all you have to field is suggestions about sleep and vitamins. (And it’s not actually a lie; you will presumably will be checking in with your doctor about dose adjustment if you remain groggy.)

    1. BubbleTea*

      Why not just say “I was feeling a bit dazed last week, but I’m feeling better now!” or something along those lines? I fully expect someone in their second week of a new job to be quite tired and overloaded – everything is new and there’s a fountain of information to try and gulp down. No need to give more information at all (though I fully agree with you about not mentioning medication unless you want to talk about the medication).

      1. Allonge*

        I don’t know. If I hear ‘feeling a bit dazed last week’ I don’t necessarily think medical issue, it can be something like… ok, too much partying maybe? I prefer a stronger indication that we are talking about something health-related.

        Totally agree on the ‘people get tired in their first weeks in a new job’ thing though!

        1. UKDancer*

          Definitely. I changed jobs within my company in March and I was absolutely cream crackered the first 2 weeks from just trying to learn the new subject and the new duties. I’d expect people to be a bit less outgoing while they’re getting used to the new job.

        2. quill*

          I think it’s safer to stick with “I felt under the weather, but it’s not contagious” if you have to bring it up.

      2. bamcheeks*

        I fully expect someone in their second week of a new job to be quite tired and overloaded

        Strongly agree with this– unless LW is like, actively falling asleep in the middle of the day, I suspect what feels like “I am completely out of it” looks like normal “yes I am quieter than last week that’s because I’m madly assimilating all the information I learned and working out what’s important”.

        It’s a completely normal stage of learning, LW– you ask tons of questions in the first week because everything is new! and different! and you don’t know what’s important-new and what’s unimportant-new!– and then the questions slow down because you’ve got to figure out what to do with all the answers and new stuff you got in the first week. A week or two later you start asking questions again, but this time they are more directly related to the job you’re doing because you’ve started to work out what information you NEED, rather than just sucking in every possible new bit of information.

        By all means make the apology if you think you need to, but if you were my new employee/intern I would almost certainly reassure you that this was normal and we didn’t expect the questions / engagement to stay at the same level right the way through!

      3. JSPA*

        a) as a term, dazed has some baggage, a la “dazed and confused.”

        b) OP doesn’t yet know if they’re out of the woods.

        c) OP’s “normal” apparently isn’t “overloaded” or “tired” (though OP, if you’re assuming you’re not supposed to be overloaded and tired, and are taking that alone as a reason to adjust meds–which I doubt–I’ll chime in on it being normal to be overloaded and tired at this point.)

    2. Allonge*

      I would not do this. It’s a brutal amount of lies for something that may not even be an issue.

      It’s OP3’s first weeks in this place, nobody has a baseline against which to measure how engaged they appear to be! Not asking many questions is not necessarily a bad sign: plenty of people learn without asking!questions!every!minute. I don’t know what ‘not taking much initiative in learning’ looks like, but it’s also not necessarily an issue e.g. if OP is still going through semi-structured induction and showing up there.

      Being tired sucks and if OP feels this or anything else actually has an impact on their learning, they should say something. But keep it general as Alison suggested.

      1. JSPA*

        “I felt really out of it, but I’ll make sure you don’t worry about the most worrisome-to-others reason for being out of it” isn’t some huge pile of lies, though. It’s forestalling a reasonable worry. (People getting Covid these days are pretty likely to have, as symptoms, “feeling really flat for a few days.”)

        It’s right up there with, “Oh, I can’t give blood this month because of totally anodyne reason” (as discussed in the “giving blood” letter). If you don’t want to share a specific medical condition or mention being in treatment, making vague gestures to a very common shared experience is one of the safest ways to do it.

        1. Loulou*

          Okay, but if someone says they can’t give blood for a reason other than the real reason, I’m not now thinking they are coming to work despite having symptoms of a contagious disease. I just don’t get why you’d introduce that possibility.

        2. Allonge*

          Lies should be deployed seldom and strategically.

          Based on what OP wrote, there is a strong chance that nobody noticed anything amiss. If someone thinks that OP looks tired, being in their first two weeks at a new job is more than enough explanation.

          In this context suspicion of COVID is quite a big leap still! People can be tired for roughly a thousand different medical reasons, or a billion different combination thereof, a lot of which are contagious. Specifically and proactively saying it could be COVID but it’s probably not (tests are not foolproof) has zero reassurance value for me and it draws attention to issue. What do you answer if someone asks ‘oh, do you want to get checked out by a doctor?’. It’s unnecessarily complex. Lies should be simple.

          If someone was bugging OP to disclose, then sure, lie, misdirect, whatever – they are not entitled to specifics. In this case ‘medication acting weird, will be sorted out’ is perfectly ok, it gives a reassurance of a known cause – no COVID – and it’s vague enough that it could be anything.

    3. TechWorker*

      Seems like an odd thing to recommend – the n what world is it better for an employer to think you might be contagious (even if not covid) vs ‘being on some medication’ – which is innocuous and could be for anything at all, but doesn’t generally imply contagious…

      1. Irish Teacher*

        And especially since covid antigen tests are known to give many false negatives. If I heard that, I’d be thinking “this person probably doesn’t have covid, but it’s still not certain and it’s quite possible they have SOMETHING contagious.”

      2. ecnaseener*

        Yeah, if LW doesn’t want to A) look like a jerk and/or B) be urged to stay home, they should not imply they came to work with something potentially contagious.

    4. Decidedly Me*

      I definitely wouldn’t do this! Feeling bad all week, around other people, and took a test at the end of the week? That will leave a lot of people feeling that OP is irresponsible. Potential COVID exposures/infections shouldn’t be used as a lie. COVID is no joke

      1. JSPA*

        I’m in an area where people are occasionally urged to test every few days, if they feel a bit “meh,” even with no other symptoms than, “a bit meh.”

        It’s quite true that this is now highly variable. OP, if you’re not in that situation, this isn’t reasonable.

        But for anyone, “I feel unmotivated and unfocused” on Thursday can certainly become, “Hey, I still feel that way on Saturday, that’s unusual enough to check it out.”

    5. Hiring Mgr*

      I don’t think i would say that because it sounds like you’re coming to work sick (even if it’s not Covid) so they might just say go home for the day…then you’re deeper into the lie.

    6. ferrina*

      A simpler version of this-
      “I’ve been feeling a bit under the weather this week. It’s definitely not Covid (don’t worry, that was the first thing I checked) and my doctor thinks it will resolve in a few days, but if not, I’ll be going back to the doctor.”

      No lies necessary. Any follow up questions can be met with “I’m taking care of it and my doctor is sure I’ll bounce back in a few days. I hope it does-I’m really looking forward to feeling myself again. So tell me more about [Work Thing].”

      1. Slow Gin Lizz*

        Honestly, of all the options available, I feel like telling them that you’re on a new medication that is making you feel more tired than usual is probably the best one. If you tell them you thought you might have covid, that’ll make them nervous that maybe you do have covid; you know that covid is unlikely to be the culprit because you know it’s about the meds, so why not reassure them that that is the case? You do not have to say what the meds are for and it’s none of their business so I wouldn’t if I were you. But just telling them you’re on meds is probably not a big deal, unless they are terrible people who want to know your full medical history or something.

        And in fact I once *was* you, though it was nearly a year into a new job, not the first few weeks. But my doc had switched up my anxiety meds and they immediately made me so tired I could barely function. I slept on the train the whole way home that night, which I never did. I remember trying to explain to a couple of coworkers how to do something and fumbling words, trying to remember the right order of things…it was a mess. I called the doc on day 2 or 3 of the new meds and told them I needed something different because this would not work for me. Doc tried to convince me that the drowsiness would go away after a week or two but I was like, Uh, I can’t even handle another day or two of this, no way. So they prescribed me something different which does not make me sleepy at all and I’ve been on it for at least five years now with no issues. I mention this, OP, just to say that if you are still feeling sleepy there are other anxiety med options out there that don’t have this side effect and while of course your doctor will have better advice for you than I do, it’s definitely worth talking to your doctor about it and seeing if they have other options for medication that might work for you. Good luck!!

        1. Alianora*

          Yes, I started Lexapro a couple months ago, and it was hitting me pretty hard with the tiredness and headaches. I just told my manager that I started a new medicine that had some side effects. No need to say what it’s for. Making up a story about Covid is needlessly complicated, and as others have pointed out, it kind of makes you look bad.

          (I took one day off because it was that bad and I didn’t feel comfortable driving, but I understand why the LW starting a new job might not want to take a sick day so early.)

    7. Colette*

      Why lie? “I started some new medication, and I’m a little more sluggish than usual” is perfectly fine to say.

      1. Willis*

        And I would only say that if you continue to feel sluggish this week.

        Otherwise, just say nothing!! They’ve complimented you and things seem to be going well, there’s not any reason to apologize, let alone to pretend you thought you might have had covid or some other overly-convoluted story. A little variation in the numbers of questions you asked over the course of two weeks in a new job is really unlikely to ping on anyone’s radar and, like others mentioned, slight sluggishness over a couple days when you start a new job is not really that out of the norm anyway.

      2. Aww, coffee, no*

        I’ve known people get wiped out by simple hayfever tablets (even the theoretically non-drowsy ones) so medication doesn’t have to mean anything serious.

    8. Loulou*

      Why lie and imply that you think you may have COVID (and came to work thinking that??) when you could just…say nothing OR tell a not-detailed version of the truth?

      1. JSPA*

        Maybe I’m missing something, but I thought I’d formulated to statement to say, not that you thought you had it, but that you tested out of an abundance of caution. Apparently I missed the mark. Again, the presuppositions in such a conversation will be very dependent on your region, your region’s policies, your workplace, and your workplace’s policies. I’m conditioned by a workplace where “any blahs = please test” or where people test 3 x a week regardless.

        Plenty of people are no doubt in jobs where you only test if you have solid reason to believe you might be infected.

  17. Zaphod Beeblebrox*

    LW2 – maybe they want the option to remove excess guacamole from your claim?

    1. Like Chess, But With Puncture Wounds*

      I once had our accounting department reject an expense report for an excessive tip to the taxi driver. (Which was not excessive; it was a tip on the full amount and not the meter amount; the meter didn’t show the surcharge for leaving NYC to go to Newark Airport. It couldn’t have been the first time they’d seen that … and yet, there you go!

      At the same company, the CFO (!) questioned me about tipping a dollar at the valet parking garage in our building (for weekend work).

      It was a pleasure when I landed at a company where no receipts were needed for anything under $75.

  18. Luna*

    LW#1 – Just give her one very simple message. “Prada, remember that just as you judge other people’s clothes, they might also be judging *yours*.” Maybe reminding her that people might be judging her, and talking about her the way she does of others, could shake her.
    Chances are, people aren’t talking about her because they really don’t have her in their mind’s forefront a lot, they have better things to think about. Or they do, but have the decency to not mention it anywhere but in their own mind.

    Lw#3 – If anyone does notice, just give a short explanation of, “Ah, some of my meds are having that side-effect on me right now.” Not making a big deal out of it, indicating that it’s a temporary thing, and you don’t even have to go into detail about what meds it is. You could add, “I’ll work a bit harder to get through that head fog.” You know there’s an issue, but you are doing what you can to not have it affect your work too much.

    1. iliketoknit*

      It doesn’t sound to me like this person would be upset by others evaluating her clothes – those people would just be wrong/have bad taste.

    2. NoviceManagerGuy*

      That seems difficult with somebody significantly above the LW in the hierarchy.

      1. ferrina*

        Agree. This is too adversarial for someone higher up (especially someone who you know is comfortable talking behind people’s backs).

        It also normalizes this kind of judgement- “Oh, everyone is doing it! Just most people are too polite to say so.” In reality, it sounds like most people aren’t doing it, and if they are, it’s because they noticed someone looks exceptionally nice today.

  19. Spooncake*

    LW3- you don’t have to say anything at all if you don’t want to or don’t feel it’s necessary. But if you do want to mention it, you should be fine with a quick “I’m on some medication that makes me pretty tired- nothing to worry about, I should be back to my usual self soon”. You don’t have to disclose your anxiety to anybody, and reasonable folks will accept the basic explanation just fine.

  20. PannaLisenka*

    #3; depends on the office culture, I should say. In my current office I am very open about being depressed and having an eating disorder, and my colleagues know that when I am cranky and/or withdrawn it has nothing to do with my attitude or work ethic. And everybody is very understanding and helpful.

    My last job? And the one before? And the one before that? Nope. I would be eaten alive and ridiculed. Try to figure out if anybody else mentions their mental health and how it’s received to gauge what to do.

    1. ecnaseener*

      As a brand-new intern, I would say LW should just play it safe and not disclose their anxiety. They haven’t had enough time to figure out for sure if their office is a safe place to disclose — even if they’ve heard one or two people mention mental health and no one’s seemed to bat an eye, they can’t know for sure that it won’t negatively affect their manager’s perception of them and the resulting reference.

    2. LW #3*

      Good point. I’m really really bad at getting a bead on culture like that without incredibly blatant signs (like a manager saying “Mental health is stupid and you’re fired”), though. And if I did mention something and people were a bit weird around me, I would be completely oblivious.

  21. Living That Teacher Life*

    #1 – This is the perfect time to use bland, non-affirming statements when you feel like you have to give a response. I say things like, “Well, everyone has their own personal style.” That pretty much discourages further criticism.

      1. Anya Last Nerve*

        Can I ask what type of field you work in? I am in a very conservative environment and it will definitely hold you back if you are perceived as not polished (I have even heard men trash talk the type of shoes worn by other men). I think this woman sounds like many executives – male and female – in my industry so I’m not relating to some of shocked comments because it seems so common to me.

        1. Angstrom*

          There’s a big difference between *having* an opinion about a colleague’s clothing and expressing it, especially to a subordinate.
          It’d be one thing if it was being done in a positive, mentoring manner: “That style is often perceived as X, which may not be what you intend or want.” Or if there’s a specific business case: “We’ve got visitors from headquarters coming in tomorrow, so I’d like everyone who’s part of the tour to dress appropriately”. Trash-talking shows poor character and a lack of discretion. It is abysmal management practice.

          1. OP1*

            LW1 here: I don’t really chat with her for the gossip but thanks for that assumption. More just interesting context and background info. The issue in my post is the only time she really speaks out of line and I’ve also tried to counteract it myself. Other commenters respectfully suggested distancing myself and that’s probably my best bet.

  22. Irish Teacher*

    #2, I wouldn’t read too much into your supervisor’s comment. It sounds much like when I went to the secretary in my first professional job to ask when I would be paid and she said not for two weeks, but they could arrange something if that would cause me hardship. They didn’t mean anything other than that they knew I was just out of college and had relocated across the country for the job. I’d imagine your boss just meant something similar, that the norm is for employees to pay themselves and claim reimbursement, but she realises this cost might be high for an entry-level employee and therefore they can arrange something else if it’s not an option for you. I doubt she is interested in your personal finances, beyond, “I can’t afford this at the moment; what are the alternatives?”

    #3, I totally agree that if it becomes a concern, you can just say you are adjusting to new medication. I’m on medication for not having a thyroid and while I’ve never had problems with it, apparently many people have issues with things like tiredness and sluggishness so people aren’t necessarily going to jump to mental health. And it’s probably better if they don’t because unfortunately, there are still people who see mental health issues differently from physical ones and who might start tiptoeing around you or might read everything you do in relation to mental health. I mean, it would quite possibly be fine, but as an intern, it’s probably best to err on the side of caution and just keep it vague. Especially since you are only going to be there a short time and don’t really need people to know details.

  23. Been There, Done That*

    LW1 – I’d recommend being cautious with this woman in general. Several years ago I befriended someone at work who was senior to me and I considered her a really close friend. She would confide in me and share her gripes about others and tell me I wasn’t like that. Fast forward a couple years and she turned on me when I started realizing she was using her complaints to make me feel sorry for her and help her with work I shouldn’t have been helping her with. When I tried to create some healthy boundaries she turned on me and it was awful. Even now she still says really nasty things to me and I dread every interaction. When someone criticizes everyone but you it can make you feel really special but sometimes they’re doing it to manipulate you.

    1. Irish Teacher*

      Yup, I always assume that if somebody is talking about others meanly to me but being nice to me, they are probably doing the same in reverse when talking to others – being nice to them but being mean about me.

    2. AlexandrinaVictoria*

      Yes yes yes! Reading this made me think of the evilest person I’ve ever worked with, who would gossip and seek your opinion then use it against you in the future. Also, she is probably trashing YOU behind your back. Accept no favors, express no opinions, and disengage.

    3. Esmae*

      Seconded. I had a similar experience, and when she turned on me her seniority made it a really difficult situation. I should have realized that griping to me about others would eventually turn into griping to someone else about me, but I didn’t until it was too late.

    4. pancakes*

      Yeah. I’m also wondering why this woman was so quick to develop a close, chatty relationship with an underling in another department. Sometimes that’s fine and good; sometimes that’s a person who has alienated their peers. Not entirely dissimilar to the way some college students still hang around with high schoolers. The high schoolers think they’re cool and sophisticated and those people’s peers generally do not.

  24. Ally McBeal*

    OP1: What makes you so sure she’s not gossiping/talking smack about you behind your back? That realization helped me start doing a better job of avoiding malicious gossip like this – if they’ll gossip with you about others, they’ll probably gossip with others about you.

    1. OP#1*

      OP#1 here. I completely acknowledge that this is probably happening. Never thought otherwise. I should limit my interactions, at least when it comes to this type of chatting.

      1. Ally McBeal*

        Unless she is vital to your current job responsibilities or future career prospects, I would distance yourself entirely. It sounds like she might be dealing with a case of internalized misogyny on top of issues about workplace-appropriate behavior/boundaries, and that eats away at you over time. People who spend that much of their spare time maligning or nitpicking others is not the kind of person that I personally want to be around.

        1. Ugh*

          A case of misogyny??? Two women complaining about what other women are wearing is the men’s fault. This is … a stretch.

          1. EBStarr*

            The definition of misogyny is hatred of women, FYI; and when the word “internalized” is in front of it, it refers to women who hate women. It has nothing to do with men. Someone may be stretching, but it’s not Ally McBeal.

            1. Ally McBeal*

              Thank you. I would quibble that internalized misogyny does usually have something to do with men, or more accurately male supremacy/the patriarchy, but yes, women can be misogynist. I was raised by one and it took me way too long to figure it out and start deprogramming.

          2. pancakes*

            Please, please read up on internalized misogyny today. Or soon. This isn’t complicated and it’s important to understand.

          3. Irish Teacher*

            Ally McBeal didn’t mention men. She was saying that the woman who is complaining about what other women wear is being anti-women by doing so. That’s a fact; whether she intends to or not, she is treating women differently than men and expecting a higher standard from women than she does from men; that is pretty much the definition of misogyny. It doesn’t have to be men’s fault to be misogyny; it just has to disadvantage women, which this does.

            The OP is working with somebody who will treat her worse than men because she is a woman. The fact that the person doing it is a woman doesn’t mean it’s not sexist.

      2. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        In your shoes I would probably slowly taper off the non work conversations, just a “sorry, project X is just taking up more time of late” vein. Sort of a professional it’s not you it’s me.

        But don’t turn off the professional interactions, those are still really valuable.

  25. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

    #2 – don’t sweat that comment at all. Your manager is just saying out loud what you’re thinking, right?

    “I may not have a big enough limit on my card to handle this. Even if I do, if I don’t get reimbursed before the next billing cycle I may not be able to cover the minimum payment.”

    So your manager is going to go to accounting and see if they can get you an advance on the anticipated expenses, or charge the hotel room to a corporate account, or something.

    1. Ray Gillette*

      This is a general observation and not specific to LW2 at all, but I’ve found that it’s surprisingly common for people to be really uncomfortable hearing their own thoughts come out of someone else’s mouth.

  26. Catalyst*

    OP #2 – I don’t think your manager is judging you, I probably would have used the same wording but not meant anything about your finances, just that we can work it out. I remember being newer to the workforce and traveling (not often) for work but not having the credit for it. Most companies will work something out with you where they pay for the hotel on a company card (as noted above, get an authorization form if you can) or give you an advance. Paying for meals on your own and being reimbursed is pretty much unavoidable but hopefully that won’t be so expensive that it’s prohibitive for you (though if it is, a per diem may be able to be worked out with your company ahead of time). You can definitely also ask about turn around time on expenses and the process so that you know what to expect. It’s a totally normal question to ask that I know a lot of people feel weird about.

    Just a note not necessarily to OP#2 but people in general who think that a company should give anyone who does any traveling company cards – from an administration standpoint this is really hard. The more credit cards you have out there the harder it is to deal with accounting for those cards. Chasing down receipts (legally required to claim any expense on your taxes) and approvals from people is really labor intensive and if someone isn’t traveling regularly it just doesn’t make sense. As well, by having a lot of cards the company opens themselves up to more fraud whether it be from their own employees (yes, I have seen this happen) or from outside of the organization. I feel for people who travel and don’t have the credit/funds but I also understand the complications of administration a company credit card program. Which is why a good company will work with their employees to find a solution. Mini rant over.

  27. Abigail*

    LW1: you are having these conversations on Slack because you like office gossip. Now you are getting office gossip. What did you think was going to happen?

  28. toolittletoolate*

    # 5–OMG I had a flashback to a HORRIBLE boss I had who was completely obnoxious about this issue. I had a direct report who had worked many hours late into the night to work on a project (50+ hours for several weeks) who then turned in a time sheet with 39 hours on it. My boss wanted me to tell her that she had to use an hour of sick time to make her hours equal 40.

    I flat out said I would not do that, that she had given the organization plenty and this was not the way to treat a professional employee who had shown great loyalty to meet a tough deadline. He talked to her and made her take the sick time for the hour anyway, and he counseled me on my ‘insubordinate attitude. ”

    I am so glad I found another job soon thereafter.

    1. Like Chess, But With Puncture Wounds*

      Why didn’t she report the 50-hour weeks? Did the company have a limit and enforce the delusion that nobody worked overtime?

      If she was hourly, this is illegal, of course. If salaried, then the company is hiding their heads in the sand and not getting any measure of how overworked people there are (and no way for them to understand turnover).

  29. binge eating cereal*

    The correct way to pay someone who is working from home is direct deposit, or by mailing their paycheck to their home.

      1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        I think the only thing to question is are they working full time or not (and I’m not taking about taking a short break to make lunch or flip laundry, but more a they are in the meeting but then take a three hour nap because they are so sick they need that big break). If they are working almost full hours, then just send the normal paycheck in the normal fashion. But I think it’s okay to take a temp check, and remind that sick time is an option if the employee needs to be just resting and recuperating to heal.

        1. fhqwhgads*

          I wondered if they mentioned Texas because they’re working from home in Texas but the company is just over the border to somewhere else? If so it’s a totally different question and they should’ve said that, but otherwise the answer is indeed “the same way you pay them if they were in the office”.

  30. Purple Cat*

    LW2 – I really hope your manager meant “we’ll follow the process we already have for exceptions” when he said “we’ll figure it out”.
    My company has us book expenses on personal cards, but they are exceptionally quick with turnaround time on reimbursement – as in the following week. So you would absolutely have cash in hand before your statement came.
    We ALSO allow for these purchases to go on our corporate card in cases where the individual can’t cover. It just needs Manager sign-off.

  31. Ssssssssssssssssssssssssssssss*

    Most jobs I know require payment up front and then reimbursement later, even if they had a corporately issued credit card. A well oiled Payables department should pay you back promptly.

    But there were a few who got a loan to cover expenses, or an advance of the anticipated funds required to cover the costs.

    A hotel can send a third-party application form and a corporate card can then be set up to cover room and taxes (sometimes more) with a front and back scan of the card and ID. It’s more work (for the secretary handling the fomr and cards) but doable.

  32. Snoflinga*

    I’m an office manager who handles a lot of the travel for my company, and many hotels require that the credit card used to pay for the stay be in the name of the person staying there. Security reasons, I suppose. I can book flights and rental cars and conferences, but not hotels. So this honestly might not be on your office at all, just a frustrating quirk that needs working around. Think of it as a problem you and your office can solve together, rather than a problem created by your office.

    1. Snarky Snarkerson*

      I’m sorry, but that is simply not true for all hotels. Perhaps you are using one with a strict policy, but a firm discussion can override that policy.

    2. Cringing 24/7*

      I handle hotel reservations for employees for my company as well and have never come across this – I wonder if it’s a regional difference. All hotel reservations I make are in Texas.

    3. Ana Gram*

      I travel fairly regularly for work and haven’t found this to be true at all. It’s easier in the hotel, I’m sure, but none of them have ever refused to accept payment by fax. (Why are we still facing in 2022? Who knows…)

      1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        Faxes are harder to hack than an email.

        But yes, there need to be other ways to handle sending confidential information, it is now the year 2022.

        (Yes, I work in medical records….I spend a lot of time dealing with faxes.)

    4. Ex-Teacher*

      That’s likely for personal trips, but hotels absolutely understand the nature of business travel and company cards.

    5. fhqwhgads*

      Every hotel I’ve ever worked with had a form you had to file with them before the person checked it that authorized the blah blah blah. It’s extremely standard for corporate travel. If you’re dealing with tiny boutique hotels, maybe not, but all the big chains can do this. But it needs to be arranged in advance.

    6. Anhaga*

      I was hoping someone else was going to bring this up. The last time I traveled for work, the hotel (a Marriott hotel in a major east coast US city) wanted to see the physical credit card that the reservation had been made with and were unhappy when I didn’t have it. Planning a trip to the same conference this year, but with a different employer, my employer stated that because so many hotels do this, they have employees put hotels on their personal cards and then reimburse them as fast as possible after the trip. So it must be more than one hotel, and certainly more than just boutique hotels. My current employer is going to be most frequently dealing with conference hotels, so maybe that makes a difference?

  33. anonymous73*

    #1 Just because this person is a senior executive doesn’t mean you can’t speak up if they’re being inappropriate or making you uncomfortable with their topics of conversation. If you fear retaliation for speaking up, talk to your boss or HR too. But I would push back the next time she brings it up. “I would appreciate it if you would stop commenting on my clothing and using me as a sounding board for the clothing that other employees wear. It’s starting to make me uncomfortable (or insert any other feeling in here).”
    #2 I’ve always paid company expenses on my own card and been reimbursed. I can understand your hesitation if you aren’t able to do so, so speak up! Have a direct conversation with your manager – don’t hint around it being an issue – and make sure they come up with a solution.

    1. NoviceManagerGuy*

      It shouldn’t mean the LW can’t speak up, but realistically it does – we’ve already established we’re dealing with a jerk here – and I would guess Critical Cressida has receipts that don’t paint the LW in a great light either. The best thing to do is disengage.

  34. Person from the Resume*

    How to pay someone who’s working from home with Covid
    I’d like to ask your opinion on the correct way to pay someone who is out sick with Covid but is working from home. This person is salary exempt in Texas.

    I honestly read this question as a logistics one. It’s HOW not HOW MUCH. You pay them the same way you normally do which, I hope, is direct deposit. If you’re handing out checks in the office on pay day, it’s, well, however you pay someone who doesn’t work on pay day.

    I feel like Alison answered how should I dock an employee’s pay if they’re working from home because of COVID? How much can I dock an employee’s pay if they’re working from home because of COVID? The answer is of course not at all if they are working their full hours. And since they are exempt the answer is not at all, but if they aren’t working a full day you can charge sick time or another form of PTO.

    This seems to be coming from a manager who has never had anyone work from home before but is being accomidating only because of COVID. If that is the case the employee may not be able to work a full day not only because of being unwell but because the business is not set up to support work from home. But the LW left off a lot of information required to give a more informed answer.

    1. pancakes*

      Wouldn’t how to technically pay this person be more of a question for their payroll person than an advice column? I don’t think that’s what they meant.

  35. LW #3*

    Hi, LW #3 here. Sorry I wasn’t able to engage when this went up, it was the middle of the night. Alison, thank you for answering!

    I ended up taking Monday off because this hadn’t resolved and something else flared up. In the email to my team I did explain it was meds I was adjusting. I’m going in today. The tiredness has faded, so hopefully I’m in the clear, but we are still adjusting the meds, so it might come back, which is part of why I did give my team some context.

    To clarify something another comment mentioned – the problem is that my instruction is very much not structured at all. Which is really hard to manage when I’m not operating at peak capacity.

    1. Allonge*

      Hi, sorry to hear it got worse before it got better, but well done for managing this! People get sick and take meds all the time, so in any reasonable place this should not be an issue.

      And sure, if your training is not that structured, that makes it difficult to manage. But this is also something the company will be aware of and account for if they have any sense at all. I am sure you will do great!

      1. LW #3*

        Thank you! Yeah, my company has been really really great about this, and about my migraines too. I’m really grateful to be working for reasonable people and not anyone I would have to write in here about.

  36. Justme, The OG*

    LW #1, I’m also concerned that your “friend” is in a management position and gossip[ing or giving you information about other people. That’s a HUGE red flag.

  37. HungryLawyer*

    OP2, I’m saying this from personal experience: if your hotel is charged to someone else’s card/a corporate card, make sure to call the hotel and ask about how they will handle check-in if you don’t have the physical card with you. You don’t want to be slapped with a huge temporary hold on your card!

  38. Purple Cat*

    LW1 – I’m wondering if you shouldn’t try doing an “all-in” conversation with her on her clothing viewpoints. “Suzy – you keep bringing up clothing, what is your dress code expectations?”
    Then let her ramble on. You can throw in some “why?” Along the way. And then at the end of the conversation “thanks for sharing your viewpoints, I have a clear picture so we don’t need to continue to discuss individual attire choices any more.”
    And then next time she brings it up you can do the – “remember we’ve already discussed this.”

  39. Spicy Tuna*

    Curious about #2 (and anyone else that has to get reimbursed for company business / travel) – what would the company do if you didn’t have a credit card? I once worked with a guy who didn’t have one. Our company worked with a travel agent that booked and paid for flights and hotel, and this guy just paid cash for things like meals and cabs and submitted the receipts. But while it’s unusual for adults to not have a credit card, it’s certainly not *required* of all adults.

    1. Mynona*

      I do not have a credit card and travel for work 2-3 times/year and am a non-profit employee who makes very little money. At my last job, there was no option to receive an advance, so I flat-out told my boss that I don’t have a credit card and have no way to pay up front out of pocket for a 2-week research trip to Europe (flight included!) to be reimbursed eventually at some point in the distant future. They gave me a corporate card. It was great. My current employer provides advances up to the amount of the approved trip budget (I have to submit an itemized budget to Finance months in advance and be approved.) Anything I can’t support with receipts, I have to pay back.

      TBH, I’ve had so many bad experiences with travel reimbursement that I might never admit to an employer that I have a credit card, even if I ultimately get one.

    2. Doctors Whom*

      We will do advances based on the estimated costs.

      For meals and incidentals we default to paying local per diem at the established government rate for the locality – this is actually our preferred practice and there are very few situations where you’d be submitting actuals. So cutting an advance based on the anticipated hotel, transit and per diem is straightforward. BUT you have to do it a couple weeks in advance because it’s a separate business process and you need to make sure all the approvals are in before the week’s expense run – all expense reimbursements and advances are only paid on Thursday, with approvals needed to be complete by COB Tuesday.

      Our travel agency handles all flight reservations on our corporate account so that just stays the same. I have no idea how they guarantee the hotels and rental cars but it gets done. We no longer have corporate cards. They were a pain to deal with and most people preferred using personal cards, so the cost of maintaining & administering the corporate card accounts was just not worth it. I don’t know if we still have the ability to issue them in rare circumstances.

  40. Dragonfly7*

    I also hate having to put work expenses on a credit card and waiting for reimbursement, especially since no company is willing to cover the interest that accrues while waiting around for them to reimburse it.

    1. Maggie*

      If it takes them more than 30-60 days to reimburse that is a huge problem! You don’t accrue interest right away provided you pay the balance within that timeframe which is minimum 30 days

        1. pancakes*

          For a start, that person could go to the department responsible for this policy – or, better yet, get together a group of other employees to go talk to them with – and say, “we don’t think it’s fair that the burden to carry interest on these expenses is on us. We want that to change.” The fact that that’s not a guaranteed easy win doesn’t mean it isn’t worth even trying.

  41. M.W.*

    OP1 – as a few others have already mentioned, the best thing you can do is work to reestablish some boundaries in your professional relationship with this woman. This situation actually has very little to do with dress codes. She’s being inappropriate by 1. gossiping to someone who is, as you describe, in a much lower position than her and 2. trashing coworkers. It’s even worse that all of this is in writing on a company Slack thread.

    I know you probably feel that you are just listening to her gripe, but should this relationship ever sour (and she sounds fickle enough that it likely will), this has the potential to negatively affect YOU more than her because she’s higher up than you. Distance yourself. The juicy gossip isn’t worth the damage to your professional reputation.

  42. Churlish Gambino*

    LW3, if the tiredness side-effects don’t wear off eventually, ask your doctor if you can switch to taking your anti-anxiety meds at night instead of in the morning (assuming this is when you take them). I’m on an antidepressant and was absolutely crashing every day around 3-4 pm and when I met with my prescriber, they suggested taking the meds in the evening/before bed instead of in the morning and I haven’t been tired during the day (well, outside of an actually tiring day) since. Maybe that’ll help you, too.

    The adjustment period can be rough — I hope yours is short-lived!

    1. Slow Gin Lizz*

      Yes, this! Talk to your doctor about different options because being tired all day suuuuuuuuucks. I mentioned above that I had a similar reaction to anxiety meds but also I had terrible insomnia that after 10+ years is finally resolved and the difference is life-changing. It’s amazing how different it is to go through life not feeling like I need a nap every single afternoon.

  43. Erin*

    LW2: I have been here! I didn’t have the open to spend on my credit card, and I was also concerned that my expenses would take a while for processing (this was about 20 years ago, and the corporate expense reconciliation took a while at my former company).

    Anyway, I was really up front about how this trip would impact me financially. My manager had been in the working world for much longer, and he had forgotten about how these expenses can really impact a single person on a starting salary. He offered to have me use his corporate card to book travel & hotel. It totally saved me. He was a great manager in many ways!

    Speaking up also served as a catalyst for my company providing corporate cards to all employees who travel, not just senior management. 2 other employees (one entry level like me, and another who was mid-level) approached me to thank me for getting this conversation started because they were also not able to float the credit card charges for corporate travel up front. It can be a significant burden for many people, and you have nothing to be embarrassed about.

  44. Soprani*

    LW2 – Travel reimbursement for a full trip is essentially an employee loaning business trip expense costs to the company. As an employee you shouldn’t need to hold that responsibility. In the US it has an effect on your credit score and could affect your ability to obtain a home loan. Outdated policies are sometimes the core of corporate problems, and this sort of policy is behind the times. Be matter of fact and let your supervisor know that you need a different solution.
    Solutions: a short term use virtual company travel card, a pre-funded company travel card, a traditional company travel card, a per diem/lodging cash advance, a central company travel card lodged with the hotel – this would leave you with the cost of of meals/accidentals and requires an authorization form to be submitted to the hotel, or similar authorization form with a departmental Pcard (maybe an admin holds one)
    Is there someone with a company card attending the conference with you? If so, you may be able to obtain permission for them to pay for your hotel with their company card.
    Otherwise, submit your travel reimbursement as soon as you can and follow up with your approver to ensure a timely payment to you.

  45. Orange+You+Glad*

    #2 It’s always interesting to read other people’s perspectives on this site. Being able to pay for my travel on my credit card (thus getting rewards points, hotel points, airline miles, etc for myself) and getting reimbursed is something I consider a perk. If my company tries to get me to use a company card in the future, I will riot.

    It’s worth asking around about your company’s reimbursement procedures too. Unless you work for a very disorganized company, I don’t see why they wouldn’t reimburse you right away. My company uses an app to submit expense reports so I can track my expenses in real-time and submit my report immediately once the travel is completed and reimbursement payments to employees are made every Wednesday. If your company has a sales team or any other group that travels frequently, they probably have a good system for reimbursing expenses.

    If you really don’t have the credit, your boss will probably make arrangements to either prepay your expenses or have another coworker pay for your expenses while you are traveling. If I were traveling with you I would volunteer to do this and double my points for the trip.

    1. Angstrom*

      IF you have the credit and a good company reimbursement system, using a personal card can be a perk. You can accumulate rewards and build your credit history.
      If you don’t have the credit and/or the reimbursement process is slow, using a personal card for large company expenses can feel like teetering on the edge of financial disaster.

      1. Eldritch Office Worker*

        Yep, and as other commenters have pointed out the reliability of companies to reimburse in a timely manner varies widely.

      2. Colette*

        And if you have to book flights in advance but the company won’t reimburse until after the travel, it can be very expensive to carry the cost.

    2. Maggie*

      Yeah I have a corp card now which is great for convenience but I used to churn credit card points and bonuses with work reimbursement and it rocked! Obviously not possible for all people but it works for some. I can still collect hotel and airline points through our travel agency so I won’t totally riot!

    3. Lightning*

      I mean, you’ll still get the hotel and airline points even if it’s on the company card, that’s not connected to your CC at all.

      The CC rewards points are a perk though (if your circumstances allow, of course, as discussed in all the other comments.)

      (Husband’s company has company cards. He still gets all the hotel and airline points. (And he travels a good bit too, so we’re planning a first-class trip to Europe once this COVID thing is finally truly behind us.))

  46. Observer*

    #5 – I want to emphasize that what Alison says is not her opinion – it IS THE LAW. Like it or not, you think it’s stupid or your boss does. None of that matters – this is what the law requires. If you don’t believe it, ask your lawyer.

  47. Yes Way Vouvray*

    LW #1 – The issue here isn’t dress codes, it’s talking about people behind their backs. Next time it happens I would say something like “gosh, I hope you don’t talk about my clothes like that!” or if that feels too bold “I hope nobody talks about my clothes like that.”

  48. Whenindoubtgohigher*

    It is messed up, unfair, and inappropriate that companies expect employees to pay for large expenses up front. It is essentially *giving the company a loan*. Another downside for employees is a potential negative impact on their credit score. At a previous employer where I traveled regularly for recruiting and was expected to pay for everything then get reimbursed, my credit score dropped significantly because (according to the credit agencies) I was charging too high a percentage of my income each month. Never mind that I paid the balance in full each month.

    It took multiple appeals to corporate HR for them to understand how wildly wrong this was.

    1. Generic Name*

      An interest-free loan at that. And that’s the best case scenario where you have enough financial cushion to pay your credit card off if you company doesn’t reimburse you in a timely manner. If you can’t pay your business expense in a given month, YOU are on the hook for the interest while your company is not. I agree that it’s really crappy that companies do this. I think you can tell your supervisor that it’s not in your budget to cover that cost up front and ask to use a corporate card or ask for an advance on expected travel expenses.

  49. Crotchet*

    For #1 – I would caution against staying in a close work friendship with this person. I would gently pull back while remaining warmly collegial and grey rock the gossip/mean-spirited talk about others. Don’t feed into the trash talk. I’ve had two coworkers, both supervisors, like this, and both times the relationships went very, very, very, very south the instant I stopped toeing the line, such as saying “no, won’t do that” to violating a law and giving a notice period wherein I essentially became non-valuable to my supervisor “friend” (who wanted me to do all his work). In hindsight, what I learned was that people who will be nasty toward others will ultimately become nasty toward me, and it’s a matter of when, not if. When they show you who they are, believe them, and your instincts appear to be screaming at you that something isn’t sitting right.

  50. CheesePlease*

    OP#3 – even in smaller companies I have worked for in the past, it was common for the company to book hotel, flights and car rental (ie: $$$) and then I would pay for food / gas / taxi to the airport etc and be reimbursed in the next pay period (given a timely approval of my expense report). I think you could lay it out and say “I would prefer not to have $x on my credit card statement, would it be possible for the company to book the conference fees and flight, and then I will submit reimbursement request for further expenses?”

    1. Asenath*

      I think my employer didn’t do things that way because for the big trips there would be so many people traveling, all on slightly different schedules and focusing on slightly different periods during the event, that it was simpler to let everyone do their own hotel and travel bookings. Someone I know has to use a piece of software provided by a company that her employer has a contract with to do all travel booking, and it’s been a real headache. Part of the problem is that she’s in Canada and the company that owns the software is in the US, and the software tends to schedule all flights through the US (even when the don’t begin or end there) adding on border crossings and unnecessary connections, and part of it may be that she’s often going to smaller or more unusual destinations. She ends up working out her itinerary online, and then figuring out how to make the software accept it. That gave me a bad impression of computerized options. My employer did have the option of having a human travel agent work out the trip (not that long ago, actually), but that service was limited to people rather higher in the hierarchy than I ever was who also traveled far more often.

  51. Cj*

    Alison said that the intern with anxiety should say she is switching medications and it is making her tired while she adjusts to it, but she expects to be back to normal soon. But the OP actually said that her doctor told her this is a common side effect that usually goes away in a few days, but sometimes doesn’t. It is absolutely not a certainty that it will go away soon.

    She might have to change her meds several times before she finds one that works and doesn’t have side effects. My husband is has taken numerous anti-anxiety meds, and they all have way worse side effects than what xanax does. He’s been taking that for over 20 years and it still makes him groggy.

  52. Kayem*

    LW2, definitely follow Alison’s advice. Unless you’ve already experienced how promptly the company will reimburse you, it’s better to try alternative methods if covering the expenses yourself is a hardship. For example, they might cover the expenses, but do they cover the interest and other fees you will incur on your credit card? These can affect your credit score, as will how much balance you carry and your debt-to-credit ratio as a result of putting such a large amount on a card. Also, what if you have an emergency, but are unable to use your card because funds are still encumbered?

    Even with the employers who reimbursed swiftly, I’ve never had one who paid for the fees and interest that my credit card generated as a result of having to use it for mandatory travel/conference/training.

  53. Spicy Tuna*

    I once worked for a company that required a lot of international travel. No one had corporate cards, so all expenses except for airfare were paid for by the employee and reimbursed (it was an airline, so there was no cost for us to fly). Unfortunately, they reimbursed using a different exchange rate than the one used by the credit card company. It always left the reimbursement a few dollars short. Generally, it wasn’t a significant amount of money, but the job was supremely low paid for the amount of work / hours required, so it always seemed patently wrong!

  54. Verde*

    #2 – In this era, where there are so many expense card systems available that are easy to set up, use, and manage, it’s a shame that this is still an issue. Standard bank corporate cards are a pain to manage, but there are things like Divvy out there (and several to choose from) that make it so simple to have cards for everyone. Working in nonprofit, where most of our staff is *really* underpaid, I am incredibly loathe to ask anyone to spend personal money on company expenses. Being able to provide cards to all of our staff and control the available balances easily makes a vast difference. Push back!

  55. toomagicalforthisworld*

    OP #3: I have to respectfully disagree about mentioning medication. DON’T DO IT OP! Please! There are sooooo many ableist pigs out there that do not have the brain capacity to even begin to understand developmental disabilities, learning disabilities, and mental illnesses let alone know the difference between the three (there are people who actually think autism is a mental illness!). In my personal experience, every time I have mentioned anything about medication, people have reacted very ignorantly towards me then a few weeks later, they’re making excuses to have me fired saying it’s “performance” even though right before I mentioned anything, I was complimented daily (this is how companies *try* to get away with firing you for having a disability–I settled out of court with the company that did this to me). In my son’s experience, his medication was making him spacey and he told his coworker that it was a side-effect of his medication as she was asking him if he was okay. She completely flipped out and got all dramatic and promptly called their boss and like a histrionic idiot, squawked like a chicken on the phone about how “uncomfortable” she was and all this other bs. If you must tell anyone, only tell HR and your immediate supervisor. Document your interactions before and after letting them know with dates and times. Have all communications in writing if possible. If you notice people starting to ignore you or exclude you from meetings or act differently around you(act afraid of you, are overly formal, use a condescending tone, etc), document that as well. You never know with people. Your coworkers and supervisor may seem okay but trust me, they are NOT your friends and they may be the type of people who will act like that idiot chicken my son works with if you disclose anything about taking “medication”.

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