my boss keeps weed in the office, should I warn coworkers about my chin tuck, and more

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

1. My boss keeps marijuana plants in the office

I live in Texas where cannabis, recreational or medical, is enough to get you sent to jail. It also doesn’t help that we’re in a conservative rural town with law enforcement eager to take you down for such a thing. My boss, a mid- to late- sixties woman who’s been smoking for years, has decided to move her all her gardening, weed included, into the office that I work alone in all day. I’m in my early twenties, and I’m the only one in my family of four who has a full-time job. In short, this job is paying my family’s bills.

My dad, who lives with us, is also on parole for a felony crime, and I’m worried about the possibility of getting in trouble with the law and how it will affect his case. I tried jokingly bringing up how bad it would be if I was in the room while something happened, but she brushed it off. We have a good relationship aside from this. I have no problem with her smoking and I need this job and like it, but I’m worried. What can I do? Is there anything I can do?

She missed your hint when you brought it up in a joking way — and in fact, you aren’t joking — so you need to address it in a way that makes it clear you’re serious. You’ll be better served by being straightforward about it: “I have no problem with weed personally but given the laws in Texas, I’m very uncomfortable having the plants here — I’m too worried about the legal consequences for us both. Could you take them back out of the office?”

Read an update to this letter

2. Should I warn my coworkers about my chin tuck?

I am a nonprofit administrative worker. For two years, I suffered from a debilitating condition that kept me unable to work. 18 months ago, I had a successful surgery to treat it (yay!) and after a long recovery, I re-entered the workforce. Sort of. I am still in my first year of re-entry, and so far it has been a patchwork of contract gigs.

I’m so grateful to the surgery that gave me my health back. Like a trickster, in return it gave me a double chin. I’ve given it plenty of consideration and have my heart set on a chin tuck and augmentation, which I think will help me feel more like myself. I’m hoping to get it done this winter because I’ll have the benefit of cold weather to camouflage the recovery with coats and scarves when out in public. It can’t be done during the spring due to some major commitments.

The recovery is short and I would be back at work in a week or less, but significant bruising and swelling around my neck could last 3-6 weeks, and I’m under no illusions that I could keep it all hidden under makeup or scarves at the office.

What’s my hesitation? My current contract placement is with a domestic and sexual abuse service organization. I don’t like disclosing medical information at work, but more than that I don’t like the idea of showing up with bruises on my throat without giving warning. A significant portion of staff are survivors of intimate partner violence or other abuse. I want to live my life, but I am very new here and I don’t want to alarm or possibly re-traumatize someone.

Should I inform my coworkers beforehand in an office-wide email? Or wait until the contract ends? Or do it during summer vacation if this contract turns into a permanent position (which is very possible)? (Note: I don’t work in client services. I work offsite in a small admin office where I only face coworkers.)

Don’t change your surgery date because of this! Have the surgery when you want. But yes, given your concerns, it makes sense to alert your coworkers ahead of time. You can keep it pretty vague, but an email to your team saying something like “I’m having surgery that will cause some heavy bruising on my neck for a few weeks, it’s nothing to be alarmed about” would likely be a kindness and prevent people from worrying about you. If it feels weird to do that as a new person or a contract worker, you could use that same language with your boss and ask if she’d recommend sharing it more broadly.

Read an update to this letter

3. My peer wants everyone to chip in for a holiday gift to our boss, even junior employees

I am a senior engineer on a small team within a larger organization. When I started five years ago, the reporting structure of my team was flat – everyone reported directly to my manager, Rosalind. Last year that changed, and now all of the junior engineers report to me, while my two coworkers (Greg and Alex) and I still report to Rosalind.

Every year Greg organizes a holiday gift for Rosalind and takes donations from the team. I know your thoughts on gifting upward, but when I started I didn’t want to rock the boat, and also Rosalind is a fantastic manager so I didn’t really mind contributing. But now Greg is still asking the entire team to contribute and it’s more problematic to me since he’s asking the junior engineers to contribute to a present to their bosses’ boss. Not to mention that any contribution from them is a larger portion of their salary than for the rest of the team.

Last year, I didn’t react quickly enough to Greg’s request and everyone just contributed to the present as usual. But I’d like to more proactively do something this year, hopefully before Greg sends out his request. How do I approach Greg about this? Should I also talk to Rosalind? I don’t want her to think that a change in her gift means anything about my appreciation for her as a manager. I’d also like to make clear to my reports that I am not looking for a present from them if they ask about it.

Yep, talk to Greg and Alex ASAP! Say something like, “I don’t want to ask the junior engineers to contribute to a gift for Rosalind this year. I’ve been reading that people should never gift upwards in an office because of the power dynamics, and I don’t feel right asking people who make less than her to put money toward a gift for her. She’s a great boss so let’s do a card from us, but I feel strongly that we should skip the gift.” Hell, if you want, you could say this in an email so that you can forward this article with it.

You shouldn’t need to address it with Rosalind herself, but if it’ll give you peace of mind you could. Once it’s worked out with Greg and Alex, you could say, “We don’t want the  junior engineers to feel any pressure to chip in for a gift because of the power dynamics, so we’re just doing a card this year. Please don’t read anything into that; it has nothing to do with my/our appreciation of you as a manager!”

4. Taking my team out for lunch when one person is remote

I manage a small team in academia. Most of us are on-site, but I have one employee who works full-time remote in another state. Normally, I like to take everyone out for brunch or lunch a couple of times a year, or bring in a meal, especially around the holidays, as a small “thank you” and an opportunity to connect socially. Obviously having one remote person makes this complicated. Any suggestions on what I can do to make sure they feel included?

Can you occasionally send them a food delivery gift card so they can have a meal delivered at the same time? I don’t think you need to do it every time — part of working remotely is that you’re going to miss some in-office food perks and generally people understand and are fine with that trade-off — but doing it for the bigger events (like the year-end one) would be a nice gesture that would make them feel appreciated. It also doesn’t have to be meal delivery; it could be a gift of something else you know they like, with a note saying “since you couldn’t be here for the holiday lunch” — just something to let them know they’re not being overlooked.

5. Should federal holidays be counted in your PTO?

I’ve noticed that some job ads offer “generous” PTO of four or six weeks … and 10 of those days (aka, two of those weeks) are federal holidays. Is it legal or right to combine federal holidays with PTO? It feels very misleading to me.

Yeah, that’s not how PTO is usually counted in the U.S. (although it does seem to be in some other countries). Typically “four weeks of PTO” means “you get 20 days off to spend as you please, plus whatever 9-11 federal holidays we’re closed.”

It’s legal for them to describe it the way they did, but it’s definitely misleading — and it’s really crappy if they’re not spelling it out at some point before people are hired, because it would be a horrible surprise to discover that your “four weeks” of PTO are actually two weeks, based on the framework people usually use for this.

{ 461 comments… read them below }

  1. Happy meal with extra happy*

    I wonder if the PTO thing is a new trend to appear more competitive? I was interviewing recently, and while it wasn’t in the job descriptions, I had two places describe their PTO package include ten federal holidays. (Without those holidays, there was about 4-5 weeks of PTO, so still a good deal, but still…)

    1. I&I*

      It’s not a great sign for the company. I had a boss who liked to consider himself delightfully generous for ‘giving’ us benefits he had no legal choice about, like the absolute minimum leave (a week of which had to be taken off over Christmas because the office was closed). He was a neurotic bully with an incredibly high staff turnover for such a competitive industry. I’d take it as a warning if I were you.

      1. That'sNotMyName*

        An employer went on about their “generous” parental leave policy of 12 weeks. I asked if this was structured the same way as FMLA.

        It *was* FMLA. He was talking about FMLA with all the restrictions it can entail (unpaid, work 1 year full time, use up any possible leave first…). I hadn’t even asked about parental leave, he’d volunteered this with enthusiasm.

    2. Catherine*

      It’s common where I live (Japan) for companies to advertise that they give you 120 days off/days of leave.

      Because they counted up weekends in that allotment, as if working 7 days a week is the default expectation that they’re generously exempting you from.

      1. Shiba Dad*

        I worked at a car dealership. We had one week of vacation. When asked about how long someone had to work there before they got more vacation, the owner said something to the effect of “you get every Sunday off. That is seven weeks of vacation”.

          1. Antilles*

            I’m pretty sure there are exactly two possibilities here, no more:
            Option 1.) He took tons of PTO, you could go weeks without seeing him spend more than a few minutes in the office, it’s possible he was actually a ghost. The hypocrisy never bothered him because it never crossed his mind.
            Option 2.) He never took a day off ever, you could go weeks without him being absent more than a few minutes, it’s possible he was actually a robot. The high turnover in his staff never bothered him because he just wrote people off as quitters.

      2. ThatGirl*

        I’ve worked weekends – I was a newspaper copy editor for four years – but even then a 5-day work week was standard, it just might be that your days off were Monday and Thursday or something.

        1. Verthandi*

          I like how my company handles non-default work weels. Mondays are one of my usual days off. Whenever a holiday falls on a Monday, I get a day of my choice to take off instead as my Alternative Work Schedule holiday. I just have to make sure my manager knows which day it’s going to be.

      3. Smithy*

        I used to have a coworker describe every weekend as a “two day vacation” – when I looked at him with a (hopefully workplace appropriate) mix of shock and disgust, he genuinely seemed surprised. My reply was that while I was glad he was able to use the time that way, that I really didn’t see time made available for “life admin” like grocery shopping, laundry, and getting an extra hour or two of sleep the same as vacation.

        If your worldview is one where getting an oil change, paying bills, and 101 other errands people do on the weekend is vacation-fun time, that is fantastic. Or if you have the money and lifestyle to arrange for other people to do all of those things – great. But lots of people don’t, and lots of people don’t see cleaning their bathroom while playing a podcast as vacation.

        1. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

          My cynical suspicion is that he is paying to have some of those things done (and there’s nothing wrong with sending your laundry out to a laundromat) and expecting his wife or girlfriend to deal with most of the rest, including things like ordering grocery deliveries, after keeping track of what’s needed.

          1. Smithy*

            To be honest, I do believe this guy was a mix of a) paying for laundry, grocery delivery b) having a partner to do home labor and c) wildly optimistic and finding genuine pleasure with assorted home tasks. Essentially that person who finds they can meditate while cleaning.

            He was also younger and in that space in life where he had a mix of enough money to start being really comfortable but no kids or responsibilities like aging parents to care for.

            And again, it’s great that his life was such that his weekends could function as a period of time where he could unwind to that degree. But as with many things, I think it’s important why calling out various “life admin” as activities that requires concentration, effort, and time to contribute to a functional household without being true unplug/unwind time.

        2. Hannah Lee*

          At one time years ago when I had a super demanding job which also required frequent travel, I had a couple of great light-bulb moments.

          One of which is when I caught up with a friend one evening after I’d had a dental cleaning that morning and I described it as being “so great that I had a chance to relax and not do anything for a few minutes. I think I actually dozed off a couple of times ” In the dentist chair. while someone actively cleaning my teeth.

          Sometimes a bad work environment can really warp your sense of normal. If that’s what managers are demanding and everyone else is doing it, it can be like the boiling frog thing that you don’t notice HOW bad it is until it’s really really bad.

          1. MigraineMonth*

            That reminds me of how relaxing I used to find flight delays when I traveled for work. It meant extra time to sit and read magazines instead of showing up for the last hour of work after 6 hours of travel.

        3. Nina*

          yeah, I work in a remote location (half hour drive to nearest service town, four hour drive to the town most employees actually have homes/family in), everyone stays in the service town during the week and goes home on weekends. When you have to get all your life admin stuff done on weekends (because there’s no bank, laundromat, dentist, &c, &c in the service town, and the mechanic and the doctor are open exactly 9-4), no, weekends are not a vacation.

    3. Constance Lloyd*

      My first professional job (2014) placed all time off in a single pool just as described in this letter. Sick time, vacation time, and every office holiday were all grouped together. I started in December and hadn’t had enough time to accrue sufficient time to cover the days the office was closed, which I wasn’t allowed to work, so my holidays were unpaid that year. This was not explained to me ahead of time, and if I hadn’t just left a really horrible work environment I might have walked out and found something else.

      1. Mm*

        Yep, similar situation. Mine was in the fine print of a 90-page benefit guide (not even in the PTO section, down in holidays they had a little blurb saying PTO must be used for holidays.) I’ll be taking Thanksgiving unpaid this year.

        1. Constance Lloyd*

          It’s so frustrating. Bare minimum, employers that operate this way should be clear about it upfront and allow new employees to go negative in their PTO balance to cover days they’re not permitted to work. But better yet, days I’m not permitted to work should be separated from the rest of my time off.

      2. SaraV*

        Yep. Worked in a health care system where this was the case. (Completely off-site from any type of patient care)
        Myself and a few others went from being temps to FTE’s right around this time of year. No PTO accrued for Thanksgiving, so that was unpaid. Just enough for Christmas Day, and then enough to cover for half a day on New Years’.

        1. Curious*

          Could be worse — I heard of one boss who only gave his employee half a day off for Christmas — until he was visited by 3 ghosts…

    4. Be kind, rewind*

      Recently, I’ve seen companies describe holidays as part of their “time off” benefits but not as PTO. I could see it being a plus is they have 15 holidays instead of 9.

      Also, many companies in my industry have a week-long Christmas and/or summer shutdown, which they also describe separately.

      Calling holidays part of PTO is extremely misleading. People think of PTO as time you get to use how you want, but holidays are set.

      1. Guacamole Bob*

        I can see this being helpful – it’s becoming less predictable who will have some federal holidays off (my kids had school last week on Veterans Day but my office was closed), and there are also a variety of other state and local holidays that some offices close for. Specifying that up front can help people see how the PTO allotment stacks up.

        1. MCMonkeyBean*

          It should be clear that it’s different than PTO though. The two companies I have worked for described as something like “17 days of PTO plus 8 holidays.”

        2. Fishsticks*

          I work in the healthcare industry, and while I am in marketing, our employer makes a point of “if the nurses don’t get this day off default, neither do you”. I don’t mind it overall, but it does make building up my PTO a little challenging, as I am constantly taking days off to match up with holidays where my kiddos aren’t in school and I can’t find childcare otherwise.

          Luckily, my PTO builds each week at a slightly more rapid rate than prior employers, so I bounce back relatively quickly. My childfree officemate takes SO MUCH time for vacations because she’s built hers up so much and I admit I’m terribly jealous, but also thrilled to live vicariously through her photos and stories.

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

            All else being equal, a day of PTO is slightly better than a company-mandated holiday. That’s if the total time off is the same. I would always take Christmas and Thanksgiving off, but I would only take Veterans Day, Presidents’ Day, and MLK day off some years and not others. This Veterans Day, my kids had no school, but were in Girl Scout activities all day, so I just worked.

            1. Pugetkayak*

              It’s always better to be off when everyone is off though, because then you always have some kind of catch up. The days my kid is in school but I’m off I definitely do something fun for myself! I’m a single mom, so I am definitely going skiing on those days this winter!

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

                I guess it must depend on what kind of work you do. In my line of work, if I am out for 1 day out of a two week pay period, I just do 10% less work.

    5. Starlike*

      I was actually just thinking that one of the things I’m going to address with my first batch of interns is that in our field (emergency veterinary medicine) you HAVE to make sure everyone is on the same page re: holidays before you accept a job. I love my job enough that it isn’t a dealbreaker, but they definitely took for granted that I’d understand that my colleague and I would be expected to cover EVERY holiday, while I wasn’t aware of that norm in the field because I was coming from another into an extremely niche role.

      1. Chip Biffington*

        I worked for an emergency veterinary hospital and the owner worked very hard to make sure that holiday coverage was fair and no one got stuck always working a holiday. Even within a field, companies have different norms!

      2. Jasper*

        You mean, between the two of you you need to cover every holiday? That’s already a very high load. one in three or four is really about the max acceptable. Surely you don’t mean that both of you need to work every holiday every year? That would be unconscionable.

        1. That'sNotMyName*

          It’s not a problem if you don’t celebrate that holiday. As long as I have some form of childcare, I’m fine working any federal holiday. Doubly so if it would mean that I didn’t have to use up all of my PTO on Jewish holidays.

    6. WellRed*

      It won’t appear more competitive next to job ads that list out the time separately unless it *actually* is coming competitive.

    7. Corgis rock*

      I had a job where we were staffed 24/7/365. Not everyone was going to get each holiday off. When I first started we had vacation time, sick time, and personal days. If you worked a holiday you could get a third day off that week if the schedule allowed. The schedule rarely allowed. When they switched to PTO they rolled the holidays into that which meant we now could take a day off for the holiday, it just might not be on the holiday.

      1. NewJobNewGal*

        Yes, I have seen this in healthcare where corporate wants the same policy for everyone. I had a job with this policy and left after a year partly because it was so stressful not having any PTO. I had to go an entire year saving PTO just in case I got sick. The kicker was how corp would declare another holiday like they were giving us a gift, when they were really taking one of our available PTO days and assigning when it had to be used.
        I thought I could work with so few days off, but it was just too much for me and I went to a job with real 4 weeks PTO.

      2. Nina*

        In my country the minimum requirement is 4 weeks PTO, plus 2 weeks sick leave, plus all applicable national and regional holidays. If an employer needs staff on a holiday, staff are allowed to refuse with no repercussions (retaliating against staff for refusing to work a holiday is a huge legal no-no), and anyone working on a holiday (or on their legally required to fall on a specific date Alternate Holiday if the actual holiday coincides with their normal day off) must be paid 1.5x their usual rate and given an additional day off to take whenever they want. The only exception is seasonal staff; you’re allowed to hire people specifically to work on holidays.

        Most employers, including a lot of retail, find it’s more cost-effective to close on holidays. There are a couple holidays where it’s a legal requirement for everything to be closed (except gas stations and corner dairies) for several days in a row.

    8. Jennifer*

      I had a job that included 10 sick days and 25 vacation days but those 25 days included 10 federal holidays because the company considered them all to be floating – ie if you got your manager’s permission, you could work remotely on 7 of the holidays and the office was actually open on President’s Day, Columbus Day, and MLK and people just came in or not (you had to notify your manager of what you were planning on doing). And you could rollover up to 200 hours of unused vacation each year (you could rollover all of the sick since they didn’t pay that out when you left).

    9. just another queer reader*

      I think it would be fine – actually good – for them to describe both upfront: “20 days PTO (sick and vacation time) plus 10 paid company holidays”

      Some companies have wildly more or less paid holidays, or lump sick time in with vacation or not. Best to just spell it out clearly for people.

    10. Guin*

      In my non-profit experience, hospitals are the absolutely WORST at including Federal holidays as part of their PTO. I interviewed at one where, if you wanted Christmas off, that counted against your PTO days. Academia is much better, if lower-paying.

      1. meowwwwww*

        My experience as well. I worked in administration. We couldn’t work holidays, but had to take PTO. I only worked four days a week and was saving up my measly PTO so I could have at least a couple weeks of my maternity leave paid. My boss “generously” (begrudgingly) allowed me to shift my four day work week to the days we didn’t have the holiday so I just didn’t get paid that day instead of taking PTO.

      2. Lily Rowan*

        I can see wanting to have uniform policies, though, so I get it. Hospitals need to have a ton of people working every day no matter what! So it seems silly for Comms to have to request Christmas off, but it’s a policy that applies to doctors as well.

      3. MCMonkeyBean*

        Well that sounds like the opposite–they aren’t including federal holidays as part of your PTO package, they just don’t give federal holidays off.

        1. MCMonkeyBean*

          I phrased that poorly, as my interpretation of the issue in the OP is not that holidays are actually part of the PTO package–but that they have those holidays off (which means they don’t get to choose those days off) and then they also have some PTO which is really a totally separate thing, but the company is adding those numbers together in job postings which makes the PTO bucket sound bigger than it is.

      4. madge*

        Agree, and hospitals attached to academia might be the worst of the worst. I do think Academia is after the title, particularly if you work at the Home of Homecoming where they just reduced PTO by 10 days per year in the name of “modernization” and were disingenuous throughout the process.

    11. mlem*

      My company’s new benefits “flyer” (a 9-page PDF) lists PTO under the heading “Flex your time”! (It’s a pretty tragic document.) But they’re both good and bad on the holidays thing — they advertise that you can eventually, with enough tenure, get 6.8 weeks of PTO; but they don’t mention that they now only observe six federal holidays (NY, Memorial, July 4, Labor, Thanksgiving, Christmas).

      No matter your group or tenure, you’re expected to be signed in for eight hours every day (or your alternate-shift/part-time equivalent) or account for the “missing” time with PTO or sick time. That is not what “flex time” means, as far as I know.

      Still, they do still observe those six holidays, and sick time is a separate bucket. I just wish they put more of a premium on transparency than on trying to market one of our few good benefits as something it’s not.

    12. DogTrainer*

      I work in a large healthcare system. When I started 8 years ago, I had never before worked in healthcare. During interviews, they advertised the job as having 28 days of PTO. I was like “Awesome!” and signed up. I only found out during the HR orientation that the 28 days included holidays, and I cried so hard on my drive home. It was really disappointing, and I felt quite misled.

      1. DogTrainer*

        To further clarify: The 28 days includes PTO, holidays, AND sick days. So it’s all in one “big” pool.

      2. Fishsticks*

        I work in healthcare, too, and my network does it by building PTO with each week you work at a slightly accelerated rate compared to other jobs I’ve had. It ends up with you having plenty of time to take off for sickness, holidays, vacation, etc – but this first year of building it up has been rough since it feels like just one thing after another keeps me using it.

        My employer was very honest about how PTO worked and that holidays were not a default and I could work any holiday if I wanted to use PTO for other things, I am never forced to take off a specific holiday and use up PTO. That mitigated a lot of the not getting holidays disappointment for me.

        1. ES*

          This is frustrating for me, I work in a clinic that’s part of a larger healthcare system. Our office is closed for 10 holidays and I couldn’t come to work if I wanted to, but the pay comes out of our PTO the same way it would if we were staffing a hospital that is open 24/7/365. So that’s automatically two weeks of “vacation” that I can’t use as I choose and there’s no way to negotiate for more time off since it’s a system-wide policy.

          1. Fishsticks*

            Yeah, that definitely sucks and is IMMENSELY frustrating for you! I would hate that. My supervisor actually has said she is fine with me coming in even when our office is “closed” – my badge opens the door, so I have come in on Saturdays or holidays and been the only person in the building before. It’s nice, since it gives me some great quiet deep-focus work time, and since my partner works for our city, he gets all the holidays off paid and is able to be home with our kids. That way, I have the time for teacher workdays and non-holidays days where school is closed is closed.

            Not being able to decide whether or not to use PTO on those days, but having the network claim it’s part of your “vacation” package, is deeply deceptive.

    13. Petey*

      It’s super common in the healthcare industry. And I unfortunately had that nasty surprise when I started in it (non-clinical support staff role) so didn’t even know that was a thing. One of many reasons I’m getting out of that industry.

    14. Out of Office*

      I get 4 weeks pto but I have to use 5 of those days during the annual company shutdown (Christmas to New Years). It kind of sucks because it’s not disclosed in the job ads or during the hiring process. I only new about it from Glassdoor reviews. I’ve never come close to using all my PTO but it would be nice if they said 3 weeks PTO and a paid week off over the end of the year. It would feel more honest that way instead of using it as an indicator of a better benefit for a U.S. company.

    15. Lacey*

      It could be. Companies are definitely scrambling to seem better than they are without doing anything extra.

      I’ve only ever seen “2 weeks PTO & 10 paid holidays” or similar, but it’s been a few years since I was job searching.

    16. K in Boston*

      I think this may be more common in some industries than others — for example, if you’re working in a 24-hour unit in a hospital, you are never guaranteed to have federal holidays off. If you’re working in a different “normal business hours” department in the same hospital, you may have the same PTO as someone in a 24-hour unit based on years of service, but “normal business hours” person may have federal holidays assumed as part of theirs, while “24-hour unit” person may not.

    17. Anecdata*

      I have noticed companies specifying # of public holidays, but as a separate line item than “pto”
      (And overall, I think it’s a good trend– I’ll never turn down specific information about concrete benefits from a potential job (way better than “generous vacation!”), and since federal holidays are optional, there’s a real difference between a company that observes 5 vs 10 of them

    18. Jack Russell Terrier*

      Yup – had a job like that – you had to accrue your federal holidays. This was a job where coverage was not an issue.

      A Jewish guy on my team said he wanted to work Christmas. He pointed out he was accruing leave for a religious holiday he didn’t celebrate and he didn’t want to use his PTO for that.

      He was allowed to work Christmas … .

    19. Ace in the Hole*

      Maybe I’m out of touch, or maybe this is a difference in public vs private sector, but this doesn’t seem strange to me.

      I’ve usually seen “PTO” as including all paid time off (holidays and vacation). If you want to talk about only vacation/personal leave time you’d say “vacation.” So a new employee at my org gets 26 days per year of PTO, which breaks down as 14 holidays and 12 vacation days. It’s an important distinction, especially since employees accrue a floating holiday in lieu if the holiday itself falls on their regular day off or if they work on the holiday. For example, this year only 2 of our 14 holidays are days I’d normally work but didn’t. I’m still entitled to the remaining 12 days!

  2. pcake*

    No. 5 – my husband’s job gives generous time off but doesn’t give holidays off at all. New Years, Easter, Christmas, Labor day – if you want one off, you have to use PTO.

    1. AcademiaNut*

      How employers handle it tends to vary with the type of work. If a business is open on stat holidays, employees generally need to use PTO to get the time off, but if the business is closed, it’s more likely to be a holiday that’s not counted against PTO.

      I’m waiting for the business that claims over 100 PTO days, and it turns out that they were counting weekends.

      1. Kate*

        Aren’t businesses that are open on state holidays typically the kind of businesses that are open on weekends as well? So it’s even suprisising that they don’t count weekend into PTO days.

        1. doreen*

          Not sure if you are talking about the US or elsewhere – but in the US, it is not uncommon for businesses to close on some Federal/State holidays ( Independence Day , Labor Day) but not others ( Columbus Day, Veteran’s Day)

        2. BurnerVonBraun*

          Not so much outside of service and retail… there are ~20 state holidays where I live, and 5 day manufacturing companies still give 8 or so off and ask for volunteers to staff critical operations (shockingly, there are technically ~50 federal holidays that exist in the US, but most of them are weird niche things and not given as days off)

          1. doreen*

            I don’t know where you’re getting ~50 from, but there are only 11 Federal holidays in the US where non-essential Federal offices are closed and federal employees get a paid day off.

            1. Hlao-roo*

              I did some poking around on Wikipedia, and BurnerVonBraun may be referring to “Annual special days recognized by presidential proclamation,” which include the public federal holidays.

              1. doreen*

                Maybe, but except for those eleven, they are no more ” federal holidays” than the weeks or months recognized by presidential proclamation are.

        3. Critical Rolls*

          Typically those organizations will still have weekend-equivalent scheduled days off for each employee every week, unless it’s a truly bonkers industry like the railroads or a truly screwy workplace.

    2. RabbitRabbit*

      I work for a clinic/hospital/medical school combo, and the employee type is not split between the hospital-based staff who have to work on any day vs the normal M-F staff. So all of our days off are in a single PTO pool and that includes any federal holidays.

      But for any place that would be naturally expected to be closed on federal holidays, it is a little disingenuous to try to hide that they count against your PTO days.

    3. The Other Dawn*

      Almost the same with my husband’s company. Certain departments within the company are required to be staffed 24/7, such as security, while others, like HR, would be the typical Monday through Friday schedule. My husband is in the security department, so if he wants a holiday off and it falls on a regularly scheduled day, then he has to take PTO. A department such as HR would just get the paid holiday without the hit to PTO.

      1. WellRed*

        That’s just wrong. I understand the need for coverage but nit by creating a second class of employees.

        1. The Other Dawn*

          It’s pretty standard for in-house security. The other options are to try and switch shifts with someone, or take the day off and work an extra shift at some other point during the week. I don’t remember if it’s standard for contract security or not since it’s been 20 years since he worked contract.

          1. Charlotte Lucas*

            Why not just give staff who have to work paid holidays a floating holiday? Seems the fairest, most logical solution.

            1. The Other Dawn*

              Since I don’t work there myself, I have no idea. It’s been that way through many acquisitions and mergers over the years and every entity along the way has done it the same way. People who are working on a holiday typically get the equivalent of double time and a half, and security there is paid quite well in general, so my husband and his team members are fine with it.

              1. doreen*

                I know people who get the equivalent of double-time and a half for working on holidays and usually ( not always) it’s that they get paid time and a half for working on the holiday plus a floating holiday. But even if they don’t get the floating holiday , getting an extra day’s pay is equivalent to getting a floating holiday and cashing out a day of leave at the end of the year.

      2. The Person from the Resume*

        Where I work if someone has a job with non-typical hours and they have to work a desginated holiday, they will get another extra (non-PTO) day off to make up for having to work the holiday.

        They may have to work the holiday because someone has to, but they will not miss out on equivalent hours off because they work a job requiring staffing 24/7.

        But, yes, I guess if it’s important enough to have the actual holiday off and someone is scheduled they may be able to take PTO. They may not if no one else wants to come in on the holiday. But there’s holiday premium pay so there’s even more incentive – you get extra money and still get a day off just not the one that’s the official holiday.

      3. No Longer Gig-less Data Analyst*

        My husband works in the engineering department of a TV station, and it’s the same deal. Anyone who is responsible for making sure the programming airs doesn’t get holidays off without using PTO, but the sales and admin staff do. He does get a bunch of floating holidays though, to use on other days throughout the year.

    4. anonymous educator*

      I once had a job like that, it was 4 weeks off, but PTO and sick time were in the same bucket. My previous job had 4 weeks PTO and 2 weeks sick time, which was not clear in the job offer, so I actually lost time off. I rarely get sick, but it was stressful making sure I had some sick time in reserve, especially when the pandemic started. Choosing between actual PTO and sick time sucks.

        1. Bucket List*

          Yes, PTO means paid time off, and it’s generally a bucket of both sick and vacation time.

          I guess technically federal holidays are a form of paid time off, but it feels a little disingenuous to put them in that bucket. OTOH, PTO has replaced vacation-sick-personal time for my entire tenure in the white collar work force. Maybe calling it PTO felt disingenuous when that started being a thing!

          1. mlem*

            I *think* recent Massachusetts law requires up to 40 hours of sick time, separate from other time off. (But I don’t know that the state requires an employer to offer any other time off, so it’s certainly a system that could be gamed.)

    5. Just Your Everyday Crone*

      Honestly, that’s a little fairer to people who don’t observe Christian holidays, at least. If someone has to take PTO for Rosh Hashana, others should have to for Xmas. With a commensurate increase in days off, obvs.

      1. Pugetkayak*

        We have 3 floating holidays, so that helps with that. I take federal religious holidays, but my son’s school is closed on all religious holidays for 4 different religions, so I have to take those days anyway.

    6. darlingpants*

      My husband’s old company did something similar: they shut down for the week of Thanksgiving, but other than that there were no holidays where the entire office closed. They sold it as an equity thing: if you don’t want to take off for Christmas or American Independence Day because you’re not Christian or American then, great, work those days and take your actual holiday off instead. Their overall PTO was good, but not outstanding, and I think most people were fine with the system.

    7. Indigo a la mode*

      I’m actually okay with that. As long as you get enough days that you can use 10 on holidays, it’s more inclusive than running a calendar around Christian holidays.

  3. KC*

    Regarding food delivery gift cards: before sending one to someone, make sure the company is active where they live. We looked into this and two employees had NO options for food delivery. The only thing employees had in common within a reasonable distance was Subway and McDonalds. I honestly don’t know how people live that way, but to each their own.

      1. Flossie Bobbsey*

        Second the idea to send a gift card for the employee to choose his or her own gift basket – somewhere like Harry & David in the U.S. has a lot of options.

    1. Yvette*

      In situations like that how about a gift card to a grocery store? The ones by me all have prepared food sections with a really great selection.

      1. Ayla*

        You’d want to check on the availability of grocery stores too. We have two near us–a very small cash-only family store, and a Walmart.

    2. The Prettiest Curse*

      Or consider recognising your staff in non-food related ways. I don’t eat restaurant food at all due to my food allergies. My work just gives me gift cards for John Lewis (upmarket UK department store) as thank-yous instead, which is fine. Maybe poll your staff to see if they would prefer lunch or a gift card and see what they say.

      1. Tinkerbell*

        Yep – an Amazon gift card (or other online retailer) can be spent on snacky treats or can be spent on something else entirely, but it still preserves the feel that this is an extra “thank-you” treat more than just adding a $20 bonus to a paycheck would!

        1. darcy*

          fwiw I would be quite upset to get an Amazon gift card as I try to avoid giving Amazon any money whenever possible. I quite often see Amazon gift cards suggested as an option that will please everyone but that’s not necessarily true!

          1. Mongrel*

            Short of an envelope with cash a Visa gift card is probably the least offensive and most useful.
            I’d also suggest letting the remote worker have a couple of extra hours or the afternoon off, most holiday & celebratory team lunches I’ve been on tend to overrun to some degree

            1. L-squared*

              I mean, they are remote. They are already likely getting more “free time”. Do they really need more. Can’t some perks just be for the people in the office?

              1. Colette*

                They’re working remotely, they are presumably still working the same hours they’d work in the office, so time off would still be appreciated.

                1. Here we go again*

                  When I did at home training it gave me an extra hour off because I wasn’t commuting and I could do quick chores around the house on my break. That’s a big perk.

              2. Esmeralda*

                OMG, this is why we can’t have nice things.

                NO, when people are working remotely, they are NOT getting more free time. They are working the same amount of hours as anyone else. They are WORKING.

                This is the kind of thinking that makes employers say, if you’re not in the office where I can see you, you must be screwing around and not working.

                Please rethink this.

                1. Yorick*

                  Honestly, I do have more free time now that I work from home. My schedule was always flexible due to pretty independent work, but when I was in the office it was much rarer for me to pop out in the middle of the day to run errands, have a long lunch, etc. Not to mention the commute, as other people have already pointed out.

                2. Eldritch Office Worker*

                  I agree with the other comments that there are ways time is reclaimed and there’s often increased flexibility – but that doesn’t mean there wasn’t some venom in the original comment, and it also doesn’t mean people wouldn’t benefit from an occasional afternoon off or some other perk. There’s a lot of tension around WFH and realizing people are still working and contributing and would like occasional benefits isn’t a dramatic suggestion.

                3. L-squared*

                  I work remote 2 days a week. Trust me, when I’m remote, there is more free time, even if my hours are the same. I can’t do laundry in the office. I have to commute, which removes some free time.

                4. ADidgeridooForYou*

                  I love working from home, but I think it’s totally fair to say that remote workers get more free time. There’s no commuting and everyone I know who WFH takes time out of their days to do some laundry, take the dog for a walk, etc. True, you might also be able to take those 15-minute breaks in the office, but to me that feels less like free time than doing so at home.

                1. L-squared*

                  I’m all for more perks for everyone. But I do feel that people who are being forced to go to the office should get something additional to make up for that.

            2. mlem*

              My coworkers were unhappy about Visa gift cards! (If you don’t spend the whole thing in one go, you apparently can’t use the balance unless your purchase *exactly* matches that balance, or something.)

              I knew they were weird so spent the whole thing in a larger grocery run as soon as I could. I liked it a lot better than the company’s standard holiday gift, and I’m sad they didn’t keep it as an option this year.

              (The gifts aren’t bad! Once upon a time, I think you either just accepted a turkey or turned it down; now you can choose from several different main-foodstuff-or-pie options. I just prefer the cash.)

          2. Yellow+Flotsam*

            There is no option that makes everyone happy. If you give gift cards to the wfh staff then in office staff can feel annoyed that they didn’t get one (free lunch is nice and all – but it’s still work, and rarely your own choice of food).

            If you give food – it won’t be what everyone likes. If you give a gift, someone will dislike it.

            I’d try keep the in office and wfh getting something similar (so lunches means food stuff) , but mostly I think wfh staff should accept that if you aren’t in the office you don’t get the free meal to make up for having to work through lunch.

            1. Wintermute*

              This is my take. I’d be fairly mad if my WFH coworkers got cash-equivalent while I got a few slices of pizza. It just adds insult to injury since having to be in-office is bad enough I’d already be looking for a job, to then turn around and favor them that heavily is sending a clear message.

            2. Smithy*

              100% on this.

              $20 in hand almost is always better than a lunch with coworkers as far as a gift goes. However, a lunch (regardless the quality) with coworkers potentially offers far more tangible work benefits than any highly personalized gift of double the value. In that manner the gifts will never be equal because the value is of the in-person time (during work hours, not on coworkers own funds) is different than the value of the gift.

              With that in mind, getting someone in the US a Deliveroo gift card is a complete waste as the app isn’t present here. And therefore taking the time to confirm that the meal equivalent card works is a worthy consideration. And if that’s unclear, a major grocery store chain, Walmart-Target, or Amazon are fair substitutes.

              If all of those truly offend someone’s ethical sensibilities, then I think the appropriate response would be to decline the substitute offer and acknowledge that the real gift is time with colleagues in person and should there ever be time when that person does travel to be with the team – to just find time for the team to connect then.

            3. Quinalla*

              I agree with this and Alison, I think it is nice to offer something for end of year, but not every time you take the team out to lunch. WFH does have different perks from working in the office and that is ok, but I do think it is nice to try to include both when feasible and to have a mix of in person only, online only and hybrid activities as well to be an inclusive as possible when you have people who WFH/remotely. For the most part, folks don’t mind having different perks as long as they aren’t ALWAYS being excluded from all the social, etc. activities. It is actually easier to find this balance when you have a more split team, I think it is great that OP is thinking about this.

              I would also do the thing no one (including me at times) every wants to do and that is ASK the remote employee about it. “Hey, I want to include you for our end of the year team lunch, I was thinking of getting you food delivery, what do you think?” They might have a great idea or they might be totally fine with OP plan, either way, asking not only doesn’t hurt it shows that you really care. This isn’t always possible, but if you can ask the person, I would!

              1. Smithy*

                Particularly in the context of just one remote employee – I’d really emphasize this.

                I was hired during COVID for a team that was still 100% remote, but for a team that previously had all be located in one area and could do things like happy hours, lunches, etc. And while it was nice to be thought of and included in assorted team bonding activities, I really wasn’t itching for a free lunch or well drinks but rather opportunities (or even just an opportunity) to connect more with my teammates in well facilitated zoom events. And not for strictly social reasons but COVID and being 100% remote, my onboarding was going so slowly and I was feeling behind in connecting with my colleagues to make our agenda oriented meetings easier and less rigid.

                Now this teammate may just be thrilled to get a Grubhub or gas gift card and call it a day. But when this types of gestures/gifts are in that $15-$30 range – having a staff member come back with a nonmaterial ask when the material options might understandably have limitations would make sense.

            4. The Prettiest Curse*

              Yeah, I mean, there’s no way to make everyone happy. Apart from people with food considerations like me, some people don’t ever want to do anything social with their colleagues, which is totally fine.

              I love the idea of a coffee/tea/hot gift basket (in a comment further down this thread.) Honestly, I think the best option is just letting people choose whatever form of recognition they want (from a shortlist), as they’ll probably complain less that way.

          3. L-squared*

            This is like the “not everyone eats sandwiches” argument.

            Sure, you don’t like it. But most people do. Nothing will please everyone. And I also don’t think companies need to personalize every thank you gift.

            1. Roland*

              So are the comments it was responding to though. “I object to Amazon” feels no more or less relevant than “what if they don’t have any food nearby” or “what if restaurants are off the table”.

              1. Eldritch Office Worker*

                I think the sandwiches rule gets a little muddy when we’re talking about employee benefits, because the goal of the advice is to find the solution with the broadest appeal.

                What my organization does is just “get lunch on us” which they can either expense or put on their company card. I’m fond of the flexibility of that approach, but I’m sure there are issues with it. It’s hard to be perfectly equitable in a hybrid situation, everyone kind of has to do what works best for them. In a situation where there’s only one or two remote employees simply asking them seems like the easiest solution.

                1. Roland*

                  Yeah, since we are talking about one employee, asking is all OP needs to do. All of these comments are evidence that no one solution is a silver bullet but also OP does not need to make sure “everyone” is happy, just one person.

          4. Sheworkshardforthemoney*

            Yea, I’m not a big Amazon fan but a gift card for Netflix, Spotify or any subscription service may be a good idea. Here in Canada, you can send money directly to bank accounts using e-transfers.

            1. Curmudgeon in California*

              See, I don’t use Spotify, my spouse already pays for Netflix, and most other niche stores and subscription services don’t even have anything I want. But Amazon lets me get what I want, and if the company is buying the gift card you aren’t actually giving Amazon a dime.

            2. Smithy*

              Being mindful that it’s very easy to either have a problem with most large companies or simply not use their products – I do wonder if an alternative might be to offer a gift card to a select number of telecoms companies?

              If you pick the 4 largest in your area/country, chances are most staff have either at least a phone or internet bill with one of them. (Particularly if your employer isn’t covering phone/internet….) And then in cases where they’re on something more niche or have all phone/internet covered (i.e. a spouses’ job covers everything), most of those companies also sell accessories.

              Maybe if the options were like AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, Spectrum-Xfinity, or Amazon – you’d cover a fairly wide base in the US.

      2. Kiwi*

        Or do a coffee/tea basket. My employer did that last year and it’s the first time I’ve been able to have everything in a gift like that due to my allergies, it was a really nice feeling!

    3. Nikki*

      Yikes, I hope you’re not so judgemental out loud to your co workers who have chosen to live in a different part of the country than you. Different people have different priorities when choosing where to live and having multiple food delivery options is just not that important to many people.

      1. Frank Doyle*

        Right? I don’t know how people live in places where it’s not dark and quiet at night, but I don’t go around saying that because I’m not an AH.

      2. LilPinkSock*

        Rural areas have had a rough couple of days here. Between yesterday’s hateful comment against the rural South and now this nonsense about a non-GrubHub area being positively unlivable…just let people be where they want to be!

    4. Llama Llama*

      I live in an area with plenty of food options if I chose to drive a little. However I am far enough out that I don’t get deliveries.

      I could list the perks of living farther out and disadvantages, but not getting food delivery and paying double for food is not one of them.

      That being said, you are right about the food delivery gift card. I would recommend asking what their favorite restaurant is and getting them a gift card there (or if it’s too local a visa gift card for it).

    5. Fishsticks*

      Gosh, yes. I grew up in a very small town in a very rural part of central Illinois. We moved to a midsized city in 2010 and I don’t think I could ever go back. Not even delivery, just the availability of GOOD food within a short, even walking, distance is… I can’t lose that. Although maybe I would cook more…

    6. Clobberin’ Time*

      Also, not all food delivery companies are reliable about gift cards. I am hearing from people in my network that they are running into certain large delivery companies deciding there is “potential gift card fraud” and refusing to honor gift cards.

    7. Citra*

      They do a thing called, “Cooking their own meals.” It’s done at home, using an oven and/or stovetop. First they go to a grocery store to buy ingredients–things like raw vegetables and meats, dry rice or pasta, etc.–and then they combine those things in pots and pans over heat. There are thousands of potential combinations. Many of us enjoy this process, and become quite good at it; there are lots of books on the subject, if it’s something you’re curious about. I’m happy to recommend some good titles!

      I’ve done it pretty much every day for most of my adult life. For a several-year chunk of that time, it really didn’t matter what restaurants were or were not close to us, because we couldn’t afford to eat in them more than a couple of times a year, anyway (McDonald’s was for birthdays and Mother’s Day only), and we still can’t afford to eat out very often–maybe twice a month we get fast food or pizza. We Poors have to make do as best we can, and “cooking meals” is a big part of that. (There is also a thing called “leftovers,” which can be very useful when it comes to stretching a food budget, but that’s more advanced, and sometimes involves adding fresh uncooked ingredients to previously-cooked ones, to create a different meal entirely.)

      (This is meant to be tongue-in-cheek, by the way, not rude.)

    8. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

      What we do for gift cards is ask the person to suggest places they might want a gift card to. That doesn’t scale well, but if they’re trying to treat a single remote employee telling them “we’re planning on sending you an x dollar gift card since you won’t be at the year-end luncheon – what food place would you like it for?” seems like the way to go.

      (Here it’s always $5 cards to coffee places as prizes for various things. The only Starbucks near my house closed early in the pandemic but I can walk to three good, local coffee places, so I generally request cards for the one that’s a local chain instead. Plus, we’re technically not supposed to buy Starbucks cards with work funds since they have some locations that serve alcohol, although I’ve never actually seen a Starbucks that does. Two of the three local places definitely do not sell alcohol and are thus allowed.)

    9. Lyudie*

      I live in a suburban area in a reasonably large metro area. I can get to multiple shopping areas in 10 – 15 min, and yet before Covid the only food delivery options were pizza. Even non-rural places don’t always have food delivery options, and as others have said this is rather disrespectful of rural areas.

    10. NoKC*

      Not everyone wants or likes to eat out. I prefer to make my own meals at home — cheaper, tastier, and more nutritious than the “food” at those places.

  4. Goldie*

    #5 I had a job previous that included holidays in PTO because I could chose to work on a holiday that wasn’t important to me (day after thanksgiving) and take a day off when I wanted.

    1. Kuddel Daddeldu*

      Yay to flexible holidays!
      Due to the nature of my job, I often work through weekends and holidays (ships do not stop for the weekend…) and it’s a hassle to record these on a post-it to remember to take them off at some time.
      Where I live, public holidays are always observed on the day – if the fall on a weekend, tough luck, we don’t get Monday off instead.
      On the other hand, 24 days of PTO are the legal minimum and 30 are common, in addition to sick leave (6 weeks per illness), so can’t complain.

    2. Meghan R*

      My partner works in banking and we were both incredibly surprised to find out that the day after thanksgiving is *not* a holiday there! So each year its a fight to see who can get it off on his team.

      1. The Person from the Resume*

        Whay are you surprised. It’s not a fedeal holiday. I am surprised by Americans who seem to think black Friday is a federal holiday or rather that Thanksgiving federal holiday is 2 days off. It’s not.

        I am very aware of this because my adult life has been spent working for the military or federal government and it is NOT a federal holiday. On a few occassions the president has made the Friday after Thanksgiving or the day after Christmas when Christmas fell on a Thursday and it was great, but it was very much am unusual event.

        Now a lot of people take the Friday off as annual leave because who wants to come in and work on Friday after a day of celebrations. Not a lot of folks.

        1. Grinch*

          Most states treat Thanksgiving as a 2-day holiday (Thurs & Fri). I actually did not realize it was not federal until reading your post. I have already learning my 1 new thing for this week and it is just Monday morning! (I can go home now, right?) :-)

          Of course going down the “federal holiday” road as to what employers will/will not give off then leads to consideration of the other federal holidays that few, if any, employers (at least in the South of the US) ever recognize, such as: MLK, Jr’s b-day, Washington’s b-day, Juneteenth, Columbus day, Veteran’s day. I work in legal and both in private practice and in-house work have never had any of those off. Occasionally school systems have recognized Veteran’s day and MLK, Jr b-day, but not the others. (I hear Columbus day is popular up north).

          2022 Holiday Schedule
          Date Holiday
          Friday, December 31 * New Year’s Day
          Monday, January 17 Birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr.
          Monday, February 21 ** Washington’s Birthday
          Monday, May 30 Memorial Day
          Monday, June 20 * Juneteenth National Independence Day
          Monday, July 04 Independence Day
          Monday, September 05 Labor Day
          Monday, October 10 Columbus Day
          Friday, November 11 Veterans Day
          Thursday, November 24 Thanksgiving Day
          Monday, December 26 * Christmas Day

        2. Critical Rolls*

          Banks are notorious for closing on every conceivable justification, and many non-retail places do close for both days due to low productivity and low traffic. This is not mysterious.

          1. doreen*

            I don’t know where banks close for any conceivable justification – I’ve never known a bank that closed on the day after Thanksgiving or any other day that is not either a Federal or state holiday. The closest I’ve ever seen was back when banks closed at 3 pm and kept one or two lobby windows open later – in that case, they would sometimes not keep the lobby windows open on New Years Eve or Christmas Eve.

          2. Baby Yoda*

            Banks are not permitted by regulatories to be closed more than 3 days in a row, so they are always open the day after Thanksgiving.

        3. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

          Day after Thanksgiving is my favorite working day. So quiet, peaceful, and great leftovers for lunch

      2. Adrian*

        US banks are open the day after Thanksgiving to prevent fraud over a 4-day weekend.

        In 2013 the bank robbers who heisted the Hatton Garden safe deposit boxes in London, struck during the 4-day Easter Holiday weekend. They tripped a silent alarm, but weren’t caught because bank security assumed it was a malfunction and didn’t check it out.

      3. PleaseNo*

        I LOVED working on the day after Thanksgiving — great commute, quiet office, easy parking. I thoroughly enjoyed it.
        I don’t celebrate Christmas, but I’m forced to take a holiday for it because it’s the United States. I wish I could take MY holiday as a holiday. Maybe some day…

    3. OyHiOh*

      Yes, I had a similar option at my previous job. I don’t celebrate Christmas so the ability to work then, having taken time off for High Holy Days earlier in the year, was lovely. Quiet days, able to get lots of admin side work done!

  5. Observer*

    #1 – Talk to your boss and make it crystal clear that you are NOT joking.

    If your boss won’t change what she is doing, start looking for a job. Look HARD. Because she really is putting you at risk. In the best case she’s just being astonishingly obtuse and self-centered. In the worst case, she is deliberately creating a cover story for you and is planning to throw you under the bus if anything happens. But even in the best case scenario – where she’s not trying to put you at risk and you are a white person who doesn’t check any negative stereotype boxes, it’s a real risk and one you shouldn’t have to deal with, and she’s being pretty awful.

    1. Pennyworth*

      Shifting your weed operation from home to your office where someone else could possibly end up being held responsible is a really low act. She is not a good person.

      1. Blackcat*

        This person is super unethical, and I’d be concerned about other unethical things as well. Even if the potted pot goes, it’s time for a new job.

      2. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        Honestly my first thought was that boss didn’t want the risk to her home anymore (or her spouse/family don’t want the risk) and so she moved it to her office.

        OP – it’s not fair, but you unfortunately need to be really clear that this is a dealbreaker for you, no jokes or softening words. And I have to agree with everybody else – time to really aggressively job hunt.

    2. Aggretsuko*

      Even if she moves the plants, what happens if the boss gets arrested on her own time? What happens to the business?

      1. Observer*

        That’s why the OP should be looking for another job. But at least the OP won’t be facing serious legal problems.

    3. Artemesia*

      This. This is SOOO obtuse that it has to be a real possibility that her plan if discovered is to tell cops the plants must be yours and ‘I had no idea.’ You are in real danger here. I would right now create some sort of secure paper trail on this including once you talk to her tomorrow, but it in a follow up email to her. While odds are this is not what is happening, I’d not ignore the possibility. Bit chance that this is planned or even if not planned she with her pricey lawyer would make it the plan.

      1. Bilateralrope*

        Yeah. I’d be going full CYA on this. If Texas is a one party consent state, record the conversation just in case the recording is necessary. If it’s a two party consent state, recording would be illegal but still tempting. Whatever happens, talk to your defense lawyer before revealing the recording to anyone else.

        Obviously confirm any conversations by email. Basically, act as if you don’t have a recording even if you took one.

        Finally, check if there is any legal liability for knowing about the plants but not reporting them. If there is, that might force the letter writer to go to the police first even if everyone prefers that they don’t get involved.

        Oh and start job hunting.

        1. D*

          Yes, that was my first concern. I had a teacher in middle school who got arrested along with her sons because they had plants in the basement and the parents knew but didn’t say anything, which made them liable under our state law. If I was OP, I’d check with a lawyer, too.

          1. Observer*

            That’s a very different situation. For one thing, the parents in that situation owned (or rented) the home, not the sons. For another it sounds like the sons were minors.

            The OP is in a totally different situation here.

      2. Bagpuss*

        Yes, I think that if she won’t remove them, follow up the conversation with an email (& print it and forward copies to your personal account so it’s not just on a work one.

        And job hunt as hard as you can. I am not familiar with how unemployment works in the US – would you be eligible if the reason you left was because the employer was breaking the law in this kind of way?

      3. Glomarization, Esq.*

        The LW should put nothing in writing about this. At this point, if the police come around, she has the option of shutting the f-ck up (as those Twitter lawyers like to say on “Shut the F-ck Up Friday”) while some kind of investigation proceeds. If she has put something in writing along the lines of the suggestion here, the police may explore the idea that she has knowledge of the illegal plants and the word “conspiracy” and “probable cause for a warrant to search the LW’s house” might come to their mind.

        The best way for the LW to CYA is to try to get another job immediately. “The boss is going to throw the LW under the bus if the plants are found” is bordering on fanfic, to me — but if that’s the case, then the LW shouldn’t go into a lot of detail with the boss about her dad and the reasons why her dad shouldn’t be within any degrees of separation of an office-based grow-op. It’s enough to say “I’m not comfortable working with illegal weed plants in the office, and I really need them to go, I can’t work under these conditions.”

        1. PinkCandyfloss*

          AGREED. I am stunned people are recommending this. DON’T put stuff about this in writing or record ANYTHING! All it does is prove you had knowledge of illegal activities and DIDN’T turn her in to law enforcement!

          1. Observer*

            Except that individuals don’t have a legal requirement to turn people in to law enforcement.

            Having said that, OP, PLEASE TALK TO A LAWYER. Do it now. Find out what you need to do to keep yourself safe.

        2. Wintermute*

          I share your shock, and I’m really surprised it wasn’t mentioned in the answer either. That state does not play, and when you’re talking plants you could very well be talking jail sentences of what they call “football numbers” (you know, “it’s 30, to the 40, he could go all the way!”)

          I wouldn’t set foot in that office tomorrow before I talked to a lawyer, even if it means losing my income. no income sucks, no freedom sucks more. And while it’s true in general that with a few narrow exceptions (E.g. child abuse in some states) no one is ever obligated to call the police on on anyone, nor is mere knowledge someone is breaking the law conspiracy (you need to commit an ‘affirmative act’ not merely passive acceptance), you shouldn’t trust your own best guess as to what would put you at risk.

          1. Observer*

            I wouldn’t set foot in that office tomorrow before I talked to a lawyer, even if it means losing my income. no income sucks, no freedom sucks more.

            Yes, I was thinking about this after I signed off – the OP *really* needs to see a lawyer. NOW.

          2. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

            Seriously. This is a grow, not just a bag of weed. “Possession with intent to distribute” is a whole different ballgame

        3. Where’s the Orchestra?*

          Not a lawyer but agreeing that a paper trail or recording could get you in more trouble, so talk to an actual lawyer first about those.

          And I already said it – But please get working on finding a new job that doesn’t put you in legal risk. Good employers don’t do that to their staff.

        4. Falling Diphthong*

          Seconding do not establish a paper trail about how you knew about the crime stuff and didn’t call the police.

          This is working off a mystery novel set in Texas, but I would guess one thing in play is the seizure of assets from those in the illegal drug trade–if the plants are at boss’s home, then law enforcement could seize her house. Assuming she rents the business space, there’s not as much to seize there.

        5. LW1*

          I think in my nervousness, I forgot to include some clarifying details in my letter. My boss isn’t a malicious person, she’s just an oblivious old white lady with a traumatic brain injury who uses weed to help with the pain. I genuinely don’t think she plans on pinning anything on me. Nevertheless, everyone’s right that she’s being a bit obtuse here. This isn’t her first instance of poor decision-making and it won’t be her last, and I think the best I can hope for is that by talking with her again I can make it clear how uncomfortable I am with this and that no matter what she says about asking for a warrant and knowing when to STFU (and yes, she is very keen on Twitter lawyers), it doesn’t change the fact that something illegal is still going on right under my nose.

          As for her knowing about my dad’s case, it’s a small business in a small town; she knows. She’s listened to me cry about it multiple times and comforted me. I think that’s part of what makes it hard. She’s a friend to me, not just a boss, and even though I know she has impaired judgement, I feel like she should be able to see the glaring problems with this grand plan of hers.

          1. Observer*

            My boss isn’t a malicious person, she’s just an oblivious old white lady with a traumatic brain injury who uses weed to help with the pain

            OK, so the worst case is not in play. But that doesn’t really change the fundamental problem here. She is absolutely putting you at risk. It’s all good and fine to “ask about a warrant”, but what happens if they have one? And it’s a myth that keeping your mouth shut is a wonderful way to protect yourself. It’s not. It *IS* important, because it keeps you from digging an even deeper hole. But if they find the weed or enough witnesses talk to the police / prosecutors about it, your keeping your mouth shut is not the thing that will keep you out of court or acquitted.

            When you talk to your boss you need to go past being uncomfortable. You need to be clear that despite her assurances, this is an actual risk that could upend your life. That’s a far higher bar.

          2. ABCYaBYE*

            LW, I’d definitely talk to a lawyer. Whether your boss intends it or not, she may have pulled you in on a crime. It doesn’t need to be the police that show up. If a guest saw the plants and reported something, you might be implicated. And you say she’s a friend, which is great. But you probably should be looking elsewhere if she’s doing things that would be characterized as poor decision-making.

          3. Rain's Small Hands*

            She sounds like someone you can be honest with. “I can’t stay in this job if the weed plants stay here – because of my family history if you get busted with the plants in the office, I’m going down and its going to affect my Dad as well. I really care about you, I really don’t care if you smoke, and I like my job, but this is a huge risk for my family and me. Can you move them by the end of the day?”

            They are weed plants, she can move them in a day. And if she fires you or doesn’t take action, you are in no different circumstances than if you quit because you can’t take the risk.

            And attorneys are expensive. I suspect that a conversation with an attorney in your small town is out of reach (and if its a small town, may do more harm than good if the attorney or their staff just tells ONE person. Yes, I know attorneys and their staffs have a responsibility to confidentiality – and I’ve known so many who gossip).

          4. Citra*

            Can your dad talk to his PO about this? He might have some suggestions or thoughts, if that’s an option your dad is comfortable with.

            1. LW1*

              Unfortunately, I’m not sure that’s an option. My dad’s PO is rather unresponsive. He’s asked her multiple questions about a variety of things ranging from informational to essential, and the only reason he knows she’s not dead is that every few months, she reminds him to check into his online portal.

          5. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

            Even if she isn’t planning to pin anything on you, she isn’t doing much to prevent someone else from pinning it on you–either the cops, or someone else who she tells about the cats having gotten into her pot plants and what she did to stop that from happening again.

            1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

              Or even her defense lawyer (that I’m betting she has the money to hire) after somebody sees the pot and calls the police.

              She has created a no win situation. From comments below it sounds like you have a plan in motion, but you need to really speed it up.

        6. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

          Honestly, the boss may not be planning to throw the LW under the bus, but I would put $$ on her doing it if it came down to going to jail herself.

          1. Irish Teacher.*

            Yes, that is what would concern me. I trust the LW’s judgement that her boss is a good person who does not intend to implicate her, but…it’s hard to know what anybody would do when facing jail time and I could see an older adult convincing themselves they have more to lose than a younger person. I’m not saying this is in any way TRUE, but “I can’t risk a criminal record at my age. My business would collapse, I’d lose my reputation and my business is meant to cover my savings. She’s young. People will just think she’s a kid experimenting and it will blow over.”

            Which really doesn’t sound like how it would work out if the LW was blamed but I could see a somewhat oblivious, naive older woman convincing herself of that rather than admitting to something that could lose her everything.

            1. wordswords*

              I’m trusting the LW’s read on her boss’s personality, and I think DANGER: Gumption Ahead’s statement putting $$ on her throwing LW under the bus if push comes to shove is really making assumptions. But a) there’s never any guarantee and nobody can really know how things will go down if they’re facing jail time, cop intimidation, etc, and b) it’s also entirely possible that the boss could accidentally say something that throws the LW under the bus in such a situation without meaning to do anything of the sort. All of which contributes to the importance of the LW making very sure there’s no evidence linking her to the weed and no paper trail about knowing about them, and talking to a lawyer outside their small town if at all possible to make sure she’s clear on what’s what.

        7. Tesuji*

          > “The boss is going to throw the LW under the bus if the plants are found” is bordering on fanfic, to me

          You clearly live in a different world than I do.

          In mine, the boss going “What, those are pot plants? I had no idea how they got there; they’re definitely not mine” if she gets caught is something that’s well within the realm of possibility.

          We don’t know enough to say that she’s actively planning on using LW as a fall guy, but similarly, I think it’s outright delusional to think that she’s definitely going to take full responsibility and protect LW if things go awry.

          She may or may not (and probably not) have it planned out, but in the heat of the moment, deciding that *she* can’t risk jail and besides, it’ll probably all work out for the girl somehow… who knows?

          The part I’d agree with you on is that the conversation should be a short and definitive one; this isn’t a position the LW really needs to justify. And that she had better be already looking for a new job, because the odds of things falling apart here are pretty high.

      4. Wintermute*

        before creating ANY kind of paper trail they need to talk to a lawyer. Because what you call a paper trail the state could very well call “conspiracy to commit drug trafficking”.

    4. Irish Teacher.*

      Given the circumstances, I would be quite afraid that even if the boss isn’t planning it, it could end with her throwing OP under the bus. If the police did find weed in the office and both people denied being the owner, I would be concerned that a young person in their early 20s, whose father has apparently had some encounter with the law 2ould be suspected before a business owner in her 60s. I hope I’m wrong and the police wouldn’t zero in on either of the without evidence, but I could see it happening.

      1. Richard Hershberger*

        Yup: Two negative stereotype boxes are already checked. A vigorous CYA operation is in order, ideally involving getting out of there.

      2. Daisy*

        Yeah, OP is at much more risk than her boss is here.
        There is a real reason her boss moved her plants from her (convenient) home and to an office she rarely works in…and it isn’t the water. Texas is not a state to play break-the-rules games about pot. It doesn’t matter if you think the boss is malicious, naive, or just plain stupid – she is definitely putting you at risk.
        OP, if you really like her ask that she move the pot plants out before you get to the office. If she doesn’t turn in your resignation as per that moment. This isn’t a case where you should give 2 weeks’ notice.

        1. This or That*

          Have the hard, blunt conversation with the boss.

          If she declines to immediately remove them, quit. On the spot. No notice.

          That may be enough to shock the boss into sanity, but if not…a few weeks (or even months) pay is less than legal fees and jail.

    5. DJ Abbott*

      Yes, always put documentation in a place where you can get it when you’re not at work. I always keep hard copies in case anything happens to my email or the Internet.
      Find a way to quit this job as soon as possible. Look at unemployment comp and see if you’re eligible if you quit because your boss is doing something illegal. When you do find a way to quit, do it without notice. Just quit the day you find something else and never go back there again.
      Good luck!

      1. Wintermute*

        This is why talking to a lawyer is so important. In general quitting because you were ASKED to violate the law would qualify you as a whistleblower, if you follow the right steps to qualify for protection. Merely being aware of your boss doing something illegal that could splatter onto you may or may not be– it is fact-dependent as well as dependent on state law.

        In general one of the steps to engage protections would be reporting the crime, which may or may not be wise here if it leads to a situation where you accuse the boss the boss accuses you and you have factors (much younger, family has criminal history) that would lead people to assumptions.

    6. LCH*

      in the event she is the first version, be very clear in your next discussion about how you do not want her weed to RUIN your life due to the law in TX.

      1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        And I wouldn’t bring up your father and his history as part of that conversation. This is about you and your future ability to be employed- and given how punitive some state’s drug laws are, it is not worth the risk.

        Get out of there as soon as you can.

    7. PinkCandyfloss*

      #1 she’s not just putting your job at risk. I don’t know how it works in TX but where I live, if illegal activity is going on inside a business, the business itself and all its property can be seized by the state. She could be risking her entire company. That might be enough to sway her into removing them if you can seek some anonymous legal advice and bring her some documentation about the risks.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        I actually assumed she moved the plants from the house for exactly this reason–she owns the house and rents the business space.

        1. LW1*

          She owns the space, unfortunately. And part of the driving reason for her to bring her gardening in here? Her husband’s cats ate some of her weed and were stoned out of their kitty minds for the rest of the day. Yeah. No worry about the cats, just frustration that they tore up her plants and a desire to move the weed elsewhere.

          1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

            Oh my LW1, glad the cats are okay, but that tells me all we probably need to know.

            She’s not going to worry about the legality of the weed, or the risks she’s forcing you to take. Please start working on getting a new job and get out of there as fast as possible.

          2. Observer*

            Her husband’s cats ate some of her weed and were stoned out of their kitty minds for the rest of the day. Yeah. No worry about the cats, just frustration that they tore up her plants

            That tells you all you need to know. She may be “nice” but she’s at a point where it’s hard to call her a good person. Or she’s a good person whose judgement is SO impaired that you can’t tell the difference.

            The key problem here is that she clearly is not taking basic responsibility and safety in mind. To her the only thing is “Do I have access to my weed?” without ANY thought to the safety of those around her.

            I’m not a cat person, nor a pet person. But the idea that her plants where where the cats could get at them at eat them is horrifying to me. Keep the environment safe is among the most BASIC of responsibilities of a pet owner. If she won’t do that for her husband and his pets, what makes you think she’s going to waste one second of concern or effort over YOUR safety vs easy access to her weed?

            1. I should be working*

              I’m a cat person and a (ahem) mature white woman who is very pot friendly & pro-legalization. My cognitive processes are also not as sharp as they used to be.

              All that being said, my first thought is to just put the plants in a room in the house the cat’s can’t enter. Create such a space if there isn’t one now. For goodness sake get them out of the office!

              1. KoiFeeder*

                This happened to a relative (had a plant for six months or so to help a friend with terminal cancer) and the issue was that one specific cat was determined to get in there and get himself stoned out of his mind. But the solution was that he went in the carrier until the plant was re-secured, not moving the plant into the office!

          3. Han's Solo*

            Christ on a cracker, I do not understand anyone’s obsession with weed. Yeah she uses it for medicinal purposes, okay, fine. But is cavalier enough about it to let her cats get into it. I rely on Rx benzodiazepines for panic attacks and OTC Tylenol (acetaminophen) and Ibuprofen for random aches and pains and cluster headaches. But I also keep that shit locked up so my 13 year old cat doesn’t get into it accidentally, like if I dropped a pill or just because he likes to eat random things he finds on the ground.

            Benzos, just to be super clear, should not be given to animals without their veterinarian’s guidance but especially to elderly pets. Much like with humans, respiratory distress is a real possibility.

            Acetaminophen and ibuprofen can be particularly toxic to cats–acetaminophen especially because cats can’t process it at all and could suffer fatal liver damage.

          4. Lana Kane*

            I don’t think your boss is even in the right state of mind to run a business. This is really disordered thinking. Please do tell (not ask, tell) her to move the plants but still start looking for something else ASAP.

          5. AnonyAnony*

            Wow. Just wow. Glad that cats are okay. However this tells me that she cares more about cats than she care about you. I believe you that she is not a malicious person, however the fact that she ignores a known risk and disregards you and your father’s life and safety, makes her behavior negligent and cruel. The issue is not who she is as a person, but her behavior puts you and your father in an extremely unsafe situation.

            I know you think of your boss as a friend but she is still human. We never really know what other humans are capable of.

    8. Dust Bunny*

      Trust me, y’all: White people get arrested for weed all the time in Texas. A twentysomething white person is very much the typical arrestee for even small amounts of weed and meth in small towns. But this isn’t a small amount, so the LW needs to get the heck out of there.

    9. Clobberin’ Time*

      Yes. Boss is employing stoner logic. Oh, I’ll just move the plants to my office, then I don’t have to worry about the cops raiding my house! And that is likely where the critical thinking stopped.

    10. lilsheba*

      OMG what kind of moron thinks it’s ok to grow WEED in the damn office? An older woman like that should know better! Great way to put herself and everyone else at risk. SMDH.

      1. Disabled trans lesbian*

        Unfortunately, there is a certain type of privileged older white woman who hasn’t had to face actual significant discrimination or risk thereof that she has just managed to skate past any issues, so she simply isn’t considering the risks to herself or to other people.
        Boss unfortunately seems like one of those women, especially given that OP has confirmed she tends to be obtuse and has demonstrated impaired judgment before this incident.
        Which to me is reason to recommend OP insist on getting those plants out of the office immediately and to seriously job search once those plants are out of the office.
        Boss is luckily not on the horrible level of the elongated muskrat, but she certainly is taking significant risk and given that she’s apparently the owner of OP’s company, if she gets arrested OP is very likely to be out of a job the moment Boss gets handcuffed so OP should get out before that moment.

    11. Verthandi*

      The worst case is that you *are* the cover story. Insist that she take her gardening project elsewhere.

  6. Catgirl*

    Anyone else getting the sense that the 60something cannabis smoking woman is white & the young letter writer worried (correctly so) about being caught with her plants is a POC? The situation just looks like white privilege to me.

    1. Happy meal with extra happy*

      I mean, that’s definitely a possibility, but as a youngish white woman (who think marijuana should be legalized), I would also be terrified to work in a office with illegal pot plants.

    2. Nice*

      I don’t really see how you can make this jump – nothing in the post indicated the race of either persons and there are plenty of other reasons the 60something might be carefree about this

    3. BuildMeUp*

      There’s really no way to know that based on the letter. I’m not sure it’s helpful to make assumptions like that – would it change the advice to the OP at all?

      1. Observer*

        I think that you are right that it really wouldn’t change the advice.

        I do see why Catgirl would jump to that, though. This boss is being REALLY obtuse and putting the OP at risk. Why does she not realize what she’s doing? Or does she just not care? Again, why would she be that cavalier? This is one possible answer. There are other possible answers, though. And as you say, it doesn’t really change the advice.

    4. Observer*

      I thought of that. The thing is I don’t think it REALLY changes the OP’s problem and options. Even if the OP is white, they are at pretty high risk here, and they really need to talk to Boss. And if Boss won’t get rid of the weed, they need to start looking for a job, and be ready to jump.

    5. Another Ashley*

      Yes I suspect the same. Being that cavalier about not just doing something illegal but exposing someone else to this illegal activity makes me think this person has enough social status to be regularly disregard certain social rules and laws. I also suspect that they are very upper-middle class if not outright wealthy.

  7. moonb*

    My job includes all holidays in PTO because we occasionally need to have coverage on them- but yes, I do have 5 weeks of PTO annually that is really federal holidays plus 3 weeks of vacation.

  8. nnn*

    Reading #2, I find myself wondering if wearing a mask would help cover the bruising? (A google image search for chin tuck bruising has mixed results.)

    If you’re in the kind of context where people would ask why you’re wearing a mask, you could say something like “I’m recovering from a medical procedure”

    1. Artemesia*

      anyone who is going to have surgery that leaves them with a bruised neck needs to give people a heads up ahead of time. No reason to suggest it is cosmetic — but tell them you are going to have a surgical procedure and it will leave bruising.

    2. The Prettiest Curse*

      I imagine that area of her face might feel pretty sensitive after surgery, so wearing a mask could be uncomfortable, at least in the immediate aftermath.

      1. Sylvan*

        Oh, good point. I mentioned a mask type (gaiter) in a different comment because that might cover the entire chin and neck area. But that couldn’t feel great right after surgery, could it?

    3. incognecko this time*

      I was in a similar position:
      – Had a medical condition that gave me a double chin
      – Got my condition treated
      – Got liposuction to get rid of the double chin

      I told people I was getting surgery to treat lingering effects from a medical condition, and that my neck would look bad for a bit. Nobody said anything, and if anyone figured out it was chin lipo or judged me for it, they kept it to themselves.

      Everyone’s recovery is different and will vary with the exact procedure, but as it turns out for me I only had a few days of bruising and by a week out my neck already looked better than it had before the surgery, and continued to improve for two to three months. Best wishes to the LW for a quick recovery!

  9. healthcare admin*

    I work for a healthcare group and we structure our PTO that way, because there is still a lot of required coverage on holidays, so not everyone can actually get the full federal holiday lineup. The idea is that this way anyone who has to work a holiday (we start out with volunteers but if necessary slots aren’t filled then people are voluntold) doesn’t effectively have one less day off than everyone else. It IS weird that they’re billing that amount as generous, though – we get about five weeks, but it’s not part of the “apply here” pitch and I was immediately told about needing to take PTO for holidays after getting that number, and why they did it that way.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        You’re kind of hung up on weekends and I’m not sure why. In a US org that works like this, departments with 24-7 coverage needs will still have set schedules to match each person’s agreed-upon hours, even if someone works weekends. If my work schedule this week is 4×10 Thursday through Sunday, and I want a Saturday off without trading the shift for another day, then yes, I’d put in for 10 hours of PTO on the Saturday to cover my shift, but if my scheduled work week is M-F, then I wouldn’t need to put in for PTO on the weekends because those are not part of my work week.

        1. Kate*

          Not sure why you think I’m “hung up on weekends”, but as you explained that your work does treat weekends the same way as bank holidays for PTO, like for OP#5, thanks.

          1. Yorick*

            But they don’t. They expect people to work 5 days a week instead of 7, so there aren’t 104 extra days in the PTO bucket to account for weekends. If a business is open 7 days a week, everyone gets a “weekend,” although it may not be on Saturday and Sunday.

          2. Jeebs*

            Have you legitimately just never worked in retail or any other job open 7 days a week? You seem very confused on how it works.

      2. Hlao-roo*

        I know some 7-days-a-week businesses have people on varying 5-days-a-week work schedules. So Person 1 works Sunday to Thursday and their “weekend” is Friday/Saturday. Person 2 works Tuesday to Saturday and their “weekend” is Sunday/Monday. Person 3 works Thursday to Monday and their “weekend” is Tuesday/Wednesday.

        I forget the particulars of how holidays were treated when one of my friends worked a Thursday to Monday schedule (I think that place was open on most federal holidays), but their vacation days worked the same as my vacation days at my Monday to Friday office job: don’t need to use vacation days during their “weekend,” only to take off their normal work week days.

      3. ThatGirl*

        Generally it’s still a 5 day work week (or a 4 x 10 or a 3 x 12 or whatever), it’s just that your “weekend” may not be Sat/Sun, it might be Tues/Wed or Mon/Thurs or whatever.

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      My hospital system does PTO this way for the same reason. I work in an administrative department, so any requests from my team for the official holidays are automatically approved, but we’re remote so if people want to work on a holiday and save the PTO for a different day they can.

      1. RabbitRabbit*

        Same here. When I was hired it was at the end of the year so I ended up coming in to work on days right around the holidays when everyone else was off (and basically only Security plus a couple other people were in those clinical buildings that were closed for the extended holiday). Now I’m at the point where I have extra days I need to burn before the end of the year cap hits, so I won’t be working the day after Thanksgiving like I used to.

    2. Yellow+Flotsam*

      I had colleagues whose job was like that (we worked together but under different contracts). Typically, those contracts required 24/7 work, and it was structured so that everyone worked a pattern of day shifts and night shifts, weekdays and weekends. If a holiday fell on your shift you had to work or take leave just like any other shift. There was no pay bonus for working a holiday etc., but they got paid a lot more because of it. If you were lucky, you got that contract and then a role that only had you working typical office hours and the only down side was a few extra days leave you had to make up each year.

    1. FisherCat*

      The total breeziness with which LW1’s boss apparently decided to just move all her gardening projects, including the illegal ones, into the workplace one day makes me wonder if whoever the boss lives with also objected to having them in the home, hence the move. And the boss is probably thinking that LW would have less standing to object than a spouse/parent/kid would. But that isn’t true! LW needs to make sure these plants are moved out with haste or that she is moved out of that workplace with haste. The total likelihood of something bad happening isn’t that high (most of us have police at our place of business quite rarely) but the risks, including felonies and the possibility of long prison time, are way too high to gamble with.

      1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        That was my worry up above. I hate to say it, but OP you really need a new job, time to start applying and get out of there.

  10. I'm the Phoebe in Any Group*

    On top of Alison’s advice about the pot plants, I would put it in writing. Send her an email with a BCC to your personal emal to let her know how uncomfortable you are with her pot plants in the office. Depending on what she says, you can either thank her for being willing to take them home or reiterate your concern.
    I agree with the person who is worried about your boss throwing you under the bus. I had the same concern.
    Whatever the outcome, I recommend job hunting. She has seriously bad judgment. I’m sorry you’re in this situation.

    1. DJ Abbott*

      IME heavy weed users are so zoned out they’re not aware of what they’re doing. She may have reached that stage.
      Either way it doesn’t change the advice.

    2. Morning reader*

      Disagree. This would make it clear you knew about them. Yes, you want to get them out of the office asap but if the office is busted between when you write this and when the plants are removed, it puts you at risk. At the very least, consult a Texas lawyer before you do this.

      1. Wintermute*

        hard agree. In general the risk should be minimal, but that is not zero and only a locally qualified lawyer can tell you what would or would not cross a line, a line which may or may not be readily apparent to a layperson.

    3. Glomarization, Esq.*

      The LW should absolutely not put anything in writing about the boss’s illegal activity. I’ve already commented about this idea so I won’t repeat it all here.

    4. Wintermute*

      I would ABSOLUTELY NOT DO THIS without talking to a lawyer first.

      Anything you say (or write down) can and will be used against you in a court of law, creating evidence may be a good idea, it may be a bad idea. A lawyer can help you sort that out.

      You could very well be right, in general with a few very narrow exceptions no one is ever obligated to inform the police of illegal activity, nor is merely being aware of the presence of an illegal substance or the commission of illegal acts enough to make you a co-conspirator. But I really wouldn’t stake my freedom on my own partial understanding of the law.

      1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        Hard agree with not putting anything other than “I’m leaving, my last day is X” in writing. Don’t do anything to get yourself pulled further into the boss’s legal mess.

    5. Eldritch Office Worker*

      Yes to job hunting, no to putting anything in writing. Do not document knowledge of illegal activity.

  11. CSRoadWarrior*

    #1 – If you were in California this would be a totally different story. But you are in Texas where, as you stated, it is still a felony. I would be worried as well.

    Take Alison’s advice. Make it clear to your boss that it is illegal and you are uncomfortable about it. And make sure she knows you are serious. Because risking the law is totally not worth it.

    1. Tinkerbell*

      I think part of the issue for people like OP#1’s boss is because weed IS legal so many places now, and has effectively been legal for a subset of the population (well-off whites who don’t often interact with the police) for longer, they really do just brush off any concerns as people being paranoid. If you’ve never had police search your house/car/pockets, and you’ve never been pulled over and interrogated for made-up reasons, you don’t know anyone who’s been arrested on drug charges, and all your friends smoke weed just like you do and have never had problems… well I’ll just say that my friends who partake are all stunningly blase about it. I don’t understand, but then I’ve always been more risk-averse than most.

      1. AcademiaNut*

        Exactly. The boss is regarding it as something that might, if the cop is having a bad day, result in a fine, but isn’t any more problematic than jaywalking or double parking. The LW, on the other hand, is legitimately worried that getting hauled up on drug charges for growing weed, not just using, will end up with consequences like jail time, a felony record permanently damaging her employment record, and her family ending up on the street.

        I don’t have any particular problem with casual weed use, as long as I don’t have to smell it, but I stay far away from it because I don’t want to get deported and lose my job and home. So not in my home, and not at my work, and not when I’m hanging out with someone.

      2. Qwerty*

        I’d say the mindset is more “I don’t agree with this law therefore it doesn’t matter” Because the blase folks I know include people who have been arrested.

        When I had my security clearance job and a pot charge (or even suspicion) would result in loss of clearance -> loss of job, I had coworkers trying to get other coworkers to use pot. Even after being told that pushing it at work could result in losing the government contract and our entire team getting laid off. Almost everyone involved had previously been quizzed about the FBI on their entire lives including drug use and had the risk explicitly laid out for them.

        1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

          “I’d say the mindset is more “I don’t agree with this law therefore it doesn’t matter” Because the blase folks I know include people who have been arrested.”

          This is the case where I live as well. But honestly it doesn’t matter if you don’t agree with that law – it’s still the law. And also, ignorance isn’t a defense. From a post up above from LW1 – it sounds like the boss is more concerned with her weed not being damaged than the risks to her employees. Sadly I think the best option is for OP to get a new job as fast as possible, I don’t think the manager is going to change.

      3. whingedrinking*

        Yup. Before marijuana was legalized for recreational use in Canada, I had to explain to my international students that 1. the buildings where cannabis was very obviously available were actually dispensaries and you needed a prescription; 2. of course lots of people still used marijuana recreationally, including in public places; 3. the police did not generally care because it was too much of a pain to arrest every stoner walking around with a joint BUT 4. I highly discouraged my students from this practice because while the risk was small, it could be quite serious.

  12. November Thirteenth*

    LW2, you are kind to consider your coworkers. I think Alison’s advice will avoid a scenario like I encountered a few years ago.

    An organization I worked for had a domestic violence awareness event where women would volunteer to get made up with bruises and such, and they’d go out into the organization and see how long it took for someone to ask them if they needed help. There was a scorecard and people would get called out for not assisting the women wearing makeup. One woman had surgery that week which caused swelling and bruising but she was doing well and glad to be at work. Folks kept finding her and insisting that she must be part of this awareness event so they wouldn’t be scored negatively. It was uncomfortable for everyone.

    1. Observer*

      Who on earth decided to do that?!

      That is NOT a good way to raise awareness! And it’s certainly not a way to get people to handle these situations appropriately.

      Did anyone work with an effective domestic violence organization on this hare brained idea?

      1. Kuddel Daddeldu*

        I’m a bit torn about it. I have zero experience with domestic violence and I know people often have a hard time recognizing and acting upon dangerous situations, so I can see where they come from. We do safety walkthroughs and had a similar scheme to challenge persons on site without a badge (several high-ranking managers participated in that); on the other hand, commenting on someone’s body is usually a no-go.
        I have no idea how to raise awareness and teach appropriate behavior beyond having everyone sit through a presentation. Same as first aid training; it has to be practical to teach you to overcome the hesitation to approach and touch a person who is injured, in pain – or maybe not, like a stroke victim. A presentation just does not cut it.

        1. bamcheeks*

          Part of the reason this is bizarre is because people saying, “Oh, how did you get that bruise? Do you need some help?” is not typically a major factor in people being able to leave abusive relationships. (It is for some! There’s a wide variety of experiences.) There might be a few situations where that is the help that’s needed, but it doesn’t do much to address financial coercion, mental health, housing, worries about children, feelings of humiliation, shame and low-self-worth– all the things that actually keep people in abusive relationships.

          As an organisation, if you want to support people experiencing domestic abuse, you link them up with expert help and make sure HR and managers are informed in how domestic abuse might manifest in the workplace (eg. absences, anxiety, not necessarily visible bruising!) and how to support and link staff up to resources.

          So this sounds gimmicky, potentially triggering for actual survivors, and is probably incentivising quite counter-productive behaviour.

          1. Ayla*

            Thank you for putting this so much more eloquently than I could.

            I know it took me a long time to realize things were wrong in my home life because I rarely experienced anything that left bruises. Even when it got physical, I rarely bruised–which left me and others thinking the situation “wasn’t that bad” when it was, actually, very bad.

            I also remember awkwardly explaining away marks when I DID have them, because I was embarrassed I’d “made him do that” and didn’t want anyone knowing I was such a screw up.

            Talking about signs of trouble is great, providing scripts and role-playing what to do when the issue arises is great. Cosplaying abuse isn’t.

            1. Slow Gin Lizz*

              Cosplaying abuse. Yes, that’s what to call it, and I’m horrified by it. I hope you’re in a better place, Ayla. You and bamcheeks put into words what I can’t regarding a company cosplaying abuse (with a scorecard? wtf, that’s messed up; sorry Nov 13th, I think your company was way off the mark here).

        2. Observer*

          We do safety walkthroughs and had a similar scheme to challenge persons on site without a badge (several high-ranking managers participated in that); on the other hand, commenting on someone’s body is usually a no-go.

          You’re comparing apples to oranges. And this is not just “commenting on someone’s body”.

          In the case of people not having badges, there is a clear and unambiguous signal – lack of badge – and a clear set of steps that people are expected to take. So doing that kind of test makes sense.

          Here, the signals are waaaay tricky and unclear and the appropriate steps are also very, very murky. Keep in mind that just asking someone about their bruises does absolutely nothing for the person. And there is no way any sort of “awareness raising” is going to give anyone the tools they need to actually be helpful in that kind of situation.

          What your “awareness” training should do is teach people the following:
          Abuse is not necessarily evident externally
          An abuse victim is not “broken” and should be treated with respect and compassion.
          If someone tells you that they are not in contact with X or to not give out their information to callers, no matter who says is calling, COOPERATE WITH THEM. Whatever you do, DO NOT argue with them or try to get them to change their mind.

        3. thelettermegan*

          The prevailing wisdeom these days is to provide passive information in private spaces, so a victim can reach out on their own terms.

          As good hearted as it may seem, prompting to people ask about bruises and question a person’s sense of security could be more alienating than helpful if it’s too aggresive.

          Signage in bathrooms stalls can be quite effective.

      2. The Prettiest Curse*

        And also, this encourages people to think of visible bruises as the major “sign” of domestic violence, which is a problem because:
        1. Many abusers know not to leave visible bruises and
        2. It completely omits mental abuse, including coercive control, simply because it doesn’t have a physical manifestation.

        Also, the idea of turning domestic violence awareness into some kind of scavenger hunt is frankly totally bizarre and quite disturbing.

      3. Wintermute*

        I need more information about context here. The only way I could potentially see this even remotely being a good idea is if they have some kind of mandatory reporting expectation and they’re checking to make sure people are following it. I’ve heard of things like that before in IT, where people who have a reporting expectation will be basically given something that looks strongly like something they should report (never actual illegal material, but, say, a suspicious file name, or if it’s financial stuff maybe they’ll have two spreadsheets “payment ledger.xls” and “real payment ledger.xls” or one named “cooked books.xls”) or something like that. Just to make sure it gets reported.

        That is literally the only context I can think of where this remotely makes any sense, otherwise you’re right it’s bizzare.

    2. bamcheeks*

      I’m guessing the organisation had no experience of working with survivors of domestic abuse and did not take advice from anyone with expertise in domestic violence? Because this is … bizarre.

      1. jasmine*


        Please folks, if you must do some DV activism, run it by someone who actually works in the field.

    3. nnn*

      That seems unhelpful – if I had bruising (from domestic violence or something else) this would incentivize me to hide it – maybe even go as far as to not show up at work while it was visible – just to avoid the awkwardness of literally everyone asking me if I need help!

  13. Observer*

    #1 – On a separate note – you mention your concern that this could affect your father’s case. I think you need to ignore that for the moment. It’s a legitimate concern of course, and it’s admirable that you are worried about him.

    But the most fundamental issue here is that your boss is putting you at risk. If you bring your father up to her, she’s likely to make all sorts of arguments why it’s not really a risk and how she doesn’t have any relationship with him or responsibility to him, blah, blah blah. To be clear – that’s gross. But it’s easy to see how someone like this could do that with a straight face. But, if you stick to the risk TO YOU, she can’t do that. I don’t think she actually will CARE per se, but I do think that she at least will realize that she can’t claim that she doesn’t have any relationship with you nor any responsibility to you as an employee with a straight face.

    Also, please be very clear that you would be completely right to be concerned about this and that her behavior would be just as bad even if your father were not in the picture. It is NOT OK for her to put you at risk and you are 100% in the right to worry about your own well being an safety, even aside from your father’s situation.

    1. AnotherLibrarian*

      Yes, absolutely. I would be looking for another job, OP1. Your boss is being troublingly cavalier. While I think it is more likely a case of 100% not thinking this through than any grand Machiavellian plan (because in my experience generally ignorance and apathy are more common explanations than malice), this is exposing you to potential harm and that is not okay.

      1. GythaOgden*

        Yup. I agree with you about boss’s motivation (and the benefits of Hanlon’s Razor are that your mistakes get given the benefit of the doubt in turn). This is still not a situation I’d want to be in at work and I’d be looking for the escape pod.

      2. Curmudgeon in California*

        Scenario: Interview

        Q: “Why are you looking for a new position?”
        A: “I need a more secure environment.”

        Seriously, find another job, but don’t talk about the real reason why, and don’t write anything down that can be discovered. At best you could play dumb and say you objected to “the plants that stink.” (IMO, weed plants stink when they start budding.)

    2. Kuddel Daddeldu*

      I think OP’s father’s history does increase the risk to OP. Should law enforcement notice the plants, it would further tip the scales towards “they belong to OP” in the cop’s minds, at least initially, and it’s hard to later shift a first impression.

      1. Daisy*

        Yeah, and small-town mentality (I grew up in one and now live in another) puts OP more at risk. I’m definitely not saying small-town cops are bad, many are dedicated to taking care of their town, but it is much harder to shine on your own when others have opinions about your relatives.

      2. Observer*

        That’s a good point. And I think that the OP is reasonable to worry about that aspect of it.

        But doesn’t really negate what I was trying to say. Which is that when you talk to your boss you need to focus on the risk to YOU. Especially given what you’ve told us here in the comments, it’s not likely she’s even going to actually care about your safety. Your father’s? Forget about it.

        And it’s FINE for you to focus on yourself (including the fact that your father’s presence increases your risk.) If you have a hard time with this concept, think about the oxygen mask thing that comes up all the time. If you get arrested for this, everyone in your household – including your father – is going to be MUCH worse off.

    3. Me (I think)*

      OP, it’s Texas, the police will charge you with growing weed for sale, and you’ll spend a long time in prison. The police will not care that it’s your boss’s weed. You are in the office with a weed growing operation.

      Your boss takes it all home today.

      1. WellRed*

        And if it’s seen as a weed growing operation I’m betting the business assets will be seized etc.

        1. PinkCandyfloss*

          This is also my concern. The owner can’t prove it’s NOT being sold to other people and is putting her entire business & livelihood at risk. In my state assets can be seized. If you have illegal contraband in your car, they take your car. Your house, they take your house. Your business is not exempt!

  14. Pennyworth*

    I think the age difference is more significant, and the work situation. LW #1 is young and works alone in the office every day. Who is more likely to be considered guilty of growing weed in that office – LW or a 60-something boss who apparently is hardly ever present? And is her boss likely to let LW take the rap?

    1. Artemesia*

      It could well be the plan. I hope the OP has already laid down some tracks on this e.g. the email and copies secured away from the office. Seeing a lawyer would not be a bad idea, but I know that is costly.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        Yes–I think everything about LW being more vulnerable than boss would be a feature in boss’s mind. Whether that was set up with malice aforethought or desperate blame shifting afterward is more academic than practical for LW.

    2. Observer*


      OP, please take this very seriously. There is a reason that several of us are jumping on this issue – and it is NOT that we are just a bunch of paranoid people.

      Please don’t convince yourself that “it couldn’t be” that she’s planning on using you as her shield. And CERTAINLY not that she’s “too nice” to let you take the fall when the smoke hits the fan, even if it wasn’t her original plan.

      It is POSSIBLE that she’s really that rare unicorn that truly has no bad intentions, and will protect you when things blow up. But even then, you will be facing a risk. And let’s be real – you are more likely to be struck by lightening than that.

      1. sometimeswhy*

        Even if she isn’t actively planning to throw LW1 under the bus, even if she wouldn’t do it impulsively in the moment, even if she wouldn’t accidentally imply that it’s the LW’s while she denies that it’s hers because whose else could it be, the cops may do all that for her.

        LW1, is she a good enough, responsible enough, clear-headed enough person to step up and say, “No, that’s mine,” while you’re in cuffs and your dad’s parole is at risk?

        1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

          I think the biggest question is “clearheaded enough.”

          Pot can affect mental processing, and LW1 also states that boss has suffered a TBI in the past as well. Sadly, I don’t know if your manager is in the right state of mind to really assess the damage to the rest of you about that the current location of these plants will do. I think you all now have to look out for your own best interests.

        2. Observer*

          LW1, is she a good enough, responsible enough, clear-headed enough person to step up and say, “No, that’s mine,” while you’re in cuffs and your dad’s parole is at risk?

          Highly unlikely. I mean, the best predictor of behavior is past behavior. And so far, she’s shown no concept of putting herself out at ALL for the safety of the OP (or even the animals that depend on her.)

    3. Ellis Bell*

      The fact that the LW has a family to support, rather than family support is also a vulnerability factor. The boss may realise consciously or unconsciously that on top of the usual power dynamics, LW can’t quit or blow the whistle. It’s not a good look and I wouldn’t trust her integrity when push comes to shove. LW needs to say directly, in writing to show a paper trail, that she objects and isn’t part of this.

      1. Observer*

        My first instinct was “yes” on the paper trail, but others have pointed out the potential risk here. So, I’m going to say that the OP just needs to get out, and they also need to talk to a lawyer.

        OP, I hope you can find some sort of legal assistance. If not, your only real safety is leaving the job, even without a new one lined up.

  15. Yes*

    #4 Definitely send a Doordash/food card! Working remote is a perk, and I don’t think remote and in-office workers need identical treatment. However, if it’s just one employee and just 2x a year, the gesture will go a long way and have little financial impact.

  16. Not Australian*

    Usually I’m not the first – or even the hundred-and-first – to jump on the ‘update’ train, but #1 today sounds like something that had better be dealt with quickly and I’ll be very eager to hear how it develops.

    1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      Yes – really hoping that OP is able to get out of this mess without it impacting her future ability to hold a job and make a living (as many places have incredibly draconian drug laws, and from what others are saying, I suspect Texas is in the very draconian category).

  17. Just my opinion*

    As a person who lives in the boonies, I can attest that there are small businesses and mom and pop stores but no chain stores nearby and door dash etc just do not deliver. My first thought was to send one of those pre packaged food boxes that could be prepared at home, but then you have to consider food allergies or food restrictions. Of course, since it is only one person, you could just ask. I would also ask what types of meals they prefer. For instance you would not want to send spicy foods to your employee if they an ulcer or pork to someone whose religion prohibits eating pork products. Personally, I’d prefer a fruit basket rather than a meal.

    1. Rebekah*

      Yes. A lot of people are talking about how hard it is to suit everyone with one gift, but this is literally one person. Work perks don’t need to be a surprise. Ask her if she would prefer a doordash card, Amazon card, Walmart card, or Visa gift card. It’s not that difficult.

    2. Misquoted*

      I am the only remote member of my team, so when they have their team lunches or holiday gatherings, I get to expense a lunch for myself, for up to $x, from wherever I like. It’s perfect. When my team has team outings (art museum, laser tag, whatever they have decided to do), I get the afternoon off, as they do, and I get to expense an activity for myself for up to $xn as well as the lunch. I’ve done this twice so far, and I’ve gone bowling or done something similar.

      1. Global Cat Herder*

        This is what I ended up suggesting, after they sent me a DoorDash gift card that I couldn’t use.

    3. AnonyAnony*

      Yeah I vote against sending those meal kit boxes that need to be prepared at home – Unless I specifically requested it, a gift that require me to put in additional work (in this case, cooking, which is a household chore) in order to enjoy it is not a desirable gift at all.

  18. Grizabella the Glamour Cat*

    Re #1, I agree with Alison’s advice, and I’d consider adding to it, as follows: IF pot smoking boss lady continues to display the same cavalier attitude toward the position she is putting the LW in, I would seriously consider calling the cops on her myself, once I was safely ensconced in a new job.

    I live in a state where weed is legal myself. Don’t use it personally, don’t care if anyone else does; however this goes way beyond live and let live and looking the other way when someone else lights up. This woman’s uncaring attitude about the possible ramifications for her employee incenses me, and the idea that she might possibly even have it in mind to throw the employee under the bus doesn’t seem at all remote. I wouldn’t put it past her to pull the same thing with the next person who comes to work there.

    LW is OF COURSE not obliged to do anything whatsoever beyond getting herself safely out of there and employed elsewhere, so I offer the above as only a suggestion that she may or may not wish to consider.

    1. darcy*

      If the owner pulls the same thing on the next person who works there then you’re just making that person more likely to get in trouble by calling the cops? And calling the cops on someone for potentially getting you in trouble with the law seems exceptionally petty given the potential risks. I’ve had some absolutely terrible bosses but I wouldn’t wish jail on anyone.

      1. rebelwithmouseyhair*

        If OP reports her boss, saying that when she was working there, the plants were there and belonged to her boss, and now she’s left, and there’s a new person there, who like OP is simply working there and the plants still belong to the boss, surely the police will be smart enough to realise that the plants belong to the boss? Why would they think the plants belong to the new hire? How likely is it that the boss would hire two separate people who both bring their weed farm to the office?

        1. Alpacas Are Not Dairy Animals*

          From the cops’ point of view the winning move is to assert that they were all in on it, and LW dropped the dime because of some kind of petty criminal dispute. They’ve now got three people on conspiracy charges (including LW) instead of one person on possession/intent to distribute charges.

        2. Clobberin’ Time*

          Would you stake your freedom on those cops answering your questions the “right way”? I sure wouldn’t and the LW shouldn’t either.

          1. rebelwithmouseyhair*

            I would, but I’m white and I live in a country where the police used to be civil (there has been a recent tendency to violence here but not enough for me to be scared of the police).

      2. jasmine*

        The OP can report after she quits but before someone new is hired. Though I wouldn’t do anything without first confirming that it’s a good idea with a lawyer.

        It’s not about pettiness. This woman is an active danger to her employees if she still doesn’t remove the weed after OP talks with her. I wouldn’t wish jail on anyone either. But if the boss is happy to risk her employees going to jail? I think calling the police to protect others would be justified.

        1. jasmine*

          OP, if you can’t afford to get in touch with a decent lawyer and your boss doesn’t remove the plants, keep your head down, get out, and don’t speak of this again. As others have said, cops are not your friend. For them, a win = an arrest. Legal protection is very important before talking to them.

      3. Observer*

        And calling the cops on someone for potentially getting you in trouble with the law seems exceptionally petty given the potential risks.

        Petty? How so?

        I find this interesting. Calling the cops on the boss is “putting her at risk” of something you “wouldn’t wish . . . on anyone”. But the Boss actively doing something that could the OP in jail is only “potentially getting you in trouble with the law”. Why the discrepancy? Why are you using such minimizing language about the OP’s risk, vs the boss’?

    2. Pennyworth*

      Does LW have a legal duty to report the weed enterprise to keep herself out of trouble? Her c Boss is making her complicit.

      1. Mockingjay*

        It’s a Catch-22. If she reports her Boss, the business may close or falter and she needs the income. If she doesn’t report her boss, she runs a very real risk of being arrested with life-altering consequences.

        OP1: 1) talk to your boss about removing the plants asap. 2) job search like crazy. 3) quietly consult Legal Aid. They can give you free or low cost advice about handling or avoiding potential repercussions on you. 4) be prepared to quit. I know you need the income, but this woman is deliberately entangling you in illegal circumstances. Prepare for it anyway you can.

        I am so sorry you are in this situation. Please write back and let us know how you are.

      2. Wintermute*

        That’s a tough one. In general, no, with only very narrow exceptions in some states you are never obligated to report a crime just because someone is doing something illegal. But only a competent lawyer with knowledge of state law can tell you just what risks you might face. In general your boss “owns” the office not you, but if you’re there with no one else around and the contraband you might be legally in possession of it, or you might not because your boss owns the building and office and you have no expectation of ownership over work property. Those are the kinds of questions that would depend on state law and the exact specific facts and which only a lawyer can answer

    3. Elinor*

      If LW1 gets a new job, it might be better to inform the cops, because the boss might claim that the weed belonged to an ex-employee.

      1. Wintermute*

        That’s why I’d talk to a lawyer first, because the cops showing up might provide an incentive to claim it belonged to an employee that wasn’t there when the cops weren’t involved. The lawyer can help you decide which of the available options protects you best and how you can be safe while doing it.

    4. MissElizaTudor*

      Involving the police would not be an ethical move in terms of potential effects on the boss. Being insensitive and uncaring about the risk you’re putting other people in does not mean someone should be arrested and jailed for violating incredibly unjust laws.

      More than that, though, bringing in law enforcement where none is yet involved put the LW and their family at risk. Just because you’re reporting something to the police doesn’t mean you won’t become a suspect or get in legal trouble for the thing your reporting or for something else. It isn’t worth the risk.

      1. Dust Bunny*

        Eh, the boss is putting the LW at risk by doing this and I really don’t think boss deserves more consideration here. She could just as well have moved the plants to somewhere else entirely and not involved her innocent employee. But she didn’t.

        1. Glomarization, Esq.*

          It’s not about the boss. It’s about the LW inviting more risk to herself and her household.

          1. Becca*

            And that’s a valid consideration, but the person Dust Bunny was replying to also said that it’s unethical to report the boss when the consequences for boss could be so bad, but given the boss isn’t giving OP the same consideration (especially since the original suggestion was to report only if the boss continued to not take the concerns seriously when laid out in full) I really isn’t unethical.

      2. The Mansplainer*

        Agree that bringing in law enforcement is a potential risk for the OP. However NOT bringing in law enforcement might also be a potential risk for the OP, when all of this comes to light in another way. Like I said elsewhere, I think the OP should talk to an expert of how to handle such a situation. So not me or other random people on the internet but a lawyer.

      3. Wintermute*

        It depends entirely on whether the LW is safe if they don’t report, which a lawyer can tell them. If they need to report to get unemployment then the boss really forced their hand by forcing them to quit by putting them at risk and putting them in a position they can’t get UI without invoking whistleblower status and calling the cops.

        A lawyer can tell them whether they are safe to let it lie or if they would place themselves at risk by not reporting, and how to go about doing things in such a way that they don’t suffer adverse consequences from any police attention on this situation.

      4. Student*

        I think many of us would have a different point of view on the ethics of this situation – protecting someone who’s committing a crime by not reporting them is generally unethical. The only reason you give to justify breaking the law is that you believe the OP’s boss is breaking a unjust law – and you’ve made the assumption in there that the OP’s boss is ONLY breaking an unjust law.

        I think laws against pot are stupid and unjust. However, I’ve known enough drug dealers (in states where pot is illegal) to also know they’re rarely breaking ONLY the unjust law. We don’t know whether these are only for the boss’s use, or are for distribution – but if she’s not keeping them at her home, I think that’s at least partial evidence for likely distribution. Do you know who she’s dealing to? No, you don’t – could be consenting adults, but it could be kids. Is she paying taxes on her illegal profits? Probably not. Is she cutting her weed with anything dangerous but cheap, like fentanyl or strichnine? Dunno – but cutting drugs isn’t uncommon. Is she getting any “gardening” supplies or side-business “financing” from cartels or other criminal organizations? No idea – but most of the drug dealers I once knew worked with some pretty awful people in their distribution networks, and thereby financed the cartel’s more awful behavior, even if they didn’t personally get their hands bloody. Is she using the business OP works at to launder her profits, or using their resources to run her side-business?

        I wouldn’t assume she’s doing all of this – but I’d be surprised if she did none of it.

        I’d rather it was legal so that people didn’t get into the shady business practices of black-market work. However, the reality of it is that sometimes once people break an unjust law, they also break a bunch of just and reasonable laws.

        1. MissElizaTudor*

          To me it sounded like this is someone who grows for themself, not a dealer, although that doesn’t change whether it’s wrong to report someone for the crime of growing weed. Based on what the LW has said in the comments, it sounds like the boss is growing for herself for medicinal purposes, and she moved them because her husband’s cat ate some. She’s irresponsible and putting others at risk, but not a dealer. Even if she was selling some, it’s a big stretch to think she’s involved in cutting weed with dangerous substances, selling to kids, or working with cartels. The dealers I’ve known didn’t do any of that. As for not paying taxes on some weed sales, being jailed for dealing is wildly disproportionate to the harm caused by small scale tax evasion.

          Thinking that it’s unethical to “protect” someone who is committing a crime by not reporting as a general rule seems underspecified. Surely that depends on the specific features of a given situation, like whether the law is just or unjust, whether breaking the law actively hurts someone, what the penalty will be, and how disproportionate the penalty is to the crime.

      5. Observer*

        Being insensitive and uncaring about the risk you’re putting other people in does not mean someone should be arrested and jailed for violating incredibly unjust laws.

        This person is not just being “insensitive and uncaring”. They are actively putting the OP at risk, and will probably continue to do this to the next person once the OP leaves. THAT is why they need to be stopped.

        It isn’t worth the risk.

        That’s a real issue, and a good reason why the OP should see if they can find a Legal Aid society or the like for advice.

        1. MissElizaTudor*

          Absolutely, she’s putting the LW at risk, and would be putting the next person at risk, and that’s horrible. But imo it’s still disproportionate to cause active and certain harm to her by turning her in somewhere that will pursue these cases and aim for jail time as a response to her putting people at risk of harm.

          There can be multiple real issues here. One is potential harm to the LW and their family, but another is the potential harm to someone of involving law enforcement. Someone can be a bad person who is putting other people at risk without the right course of action being to hurt them.

          1. Observer*

            I’m going to disagree with this. When someone is actively endangering other people, it’s not unethical to stop them even if that causes significant damage to the person doing harm.

            To me, what is unethical is placing the welfare of someone who is utterly cavalier to the basic safety of others over the basic safety of people who have done no harm. The harm here is NOT use of marijuana, but exposing someone to prison – especially since the reason they are doing it is because they are too lazy to keep their pets out of their plants.

    5. Observer*

      I would seriously consider calling the cops on her myself, once I was safely ensconced in a new job

      OP, before doing that, talk to a lawyer. Or see if you can do this completely anonymously.

  19. Ed123*

    #1 Sounds to me that her plan was to move the plants into the office so that she can throw LW under the bus if needed. Harder to do that if you keep your illegal plants at home.

    1. Tinkerbell*

      That would require her to acknowledge that there was a risk in the first place – I suspect it’s much more likely she’s just living in a world where marijuana laws have never affected HER personally so she’s just treating it like it’s legal now and no big deal.

    2. LCH*

      although, if i was trying to keep my pot plants secret, i would not bring them to work. it was a weird decision.

      1. LW1*

        I’ve stated above that I forgot some context, but my boss just makes weird decisions. Given her TBI, I think she really does just believe she’s living her truth and this is an extension of that. Unfortunately, I do not share that freedom to live her truth and I cannot cheer her on in her weirdness this time.

        1. Clobberin’ Time*

          One of her weird decisions might be to blame you for everything, if she’s arrested or questioned by the police. “It’s not MY weed, officer!” is a tired joke for a reason. That won’t be a funny joke if your panicking stoner boss thinks that pointing the finger at you and your dad would get her dumb ass out of trouble.

        2. Where’s the Orchestra?*

          This may seem like a pile on – but everything you add just makes me more convinced that aggressive job hunting is your best option here. Sounds like she’s not going to change, so you unfortunately will have to make the change.

        3. Observer*

          Unfortunately, I do not share that freedom to live her truth and I cannot cheer her on in her weirdness this time.

          No, you don’t have that freedom. It’s not fair to you. But now you are stuck making the least bad decision for yourself. And unfortunately, I think that the least bad decision may be to just quit. I hate that this is true.

          1. Sal*

            LW, you can call clinics or student practice organizations at local law schools. Even if they cannot directly advise you, they will likely be able to refer you to an org that can give you either advice or a better referral. This can be a slightly annoying daisy-chain of phone-tag but it’s honestly the best way I know to get someone actually helpful to help you. (former member of a student practice org who had “phone hours” where we pulled out an enormous binder to refer callers to other orgs because we only did one highly specific thing that 95% of our callers were not calling about, here.)

  20. Josephine*

    During the pandemic, my manager and I took turns working at the office and working from home. Every Wednesday for 5 weeks my team had a planning session during lunch and catered food. I worked from home on Wednesdays (not by choice) so I never got any of it. One Wednesday it was even my birthday and they still didn’t order a delivery for me at home :/ thought that was pretty rude

    1. L-squared*

      Could you have gone to the office on those days if you wanted or were you not allowed? If you could, and you wanted free lunch so bad, you should have just gone. If you couldn’t, well I’d still argue that you have more freedom at that point to cook what you like, as well as all the other freedoms that come from working from home that the office people weren’t getting that day.

      I feel like when many people are remote, sometimes you SHOULD give the in person people more perks like this so they feel slightly better about having to be there.

      1. rebelwithmouseyhair*

        Josephine says it was not by choice, and it was during the pandemic, so WFH was being enforced. And it’s particularly rough to be left out on your birthday. This is not an instance where telling her that she should be happy to be able to microwave fish at home is appropriate.

      2. Josephine*

        Yeah, I wasn’t allowed to come in. I was happy to work from home otherwise, but since the free fancy food happened many times, and only on the day of the week I was never there, the least they could’ve done was order food on my birthday (that they were aware was that day) to make me feel included and valued.

  21. Snacky snack snack*

    Lw 5
    My old office offered 4 weeks PTO but did not pay you for non statutory holidays unless you requested PTO. I live in Canada. Only half our holidays are federally regulated so we all had to keep up on which type of holiday was focing closure on the office. Super anoying and reduced our PTO to less than 3 weeks, which was rough considering all sick time came out of PTO as well.

    1. Monty & Millie's Mom*

      Yes. I commented below, and it’s similar for me (though I’m in U.S.). Bad enough that sick time comes out of PTO, but then it’s reduced further by holidays.

  22. CQ*

    On Letter #3: does anyone else find it shady that Rosalind hasn’t spoken up? I feel like it’s her responsibility to make it clear to everyone working under her that they do not need to spend their money on gifts for, that the best gift is continuing to do well at their jobs, etc.

    1. bamcheeks*

      I don’t think it’s necessarily shady– it can easily be something she either hasn’t thought about, or something she only thinks about when the presenting is happening and it seems rude to say, “thanks but no thanks” when people are actually giving you something, but then she forgets about it until it happens again next year. It does feel awkward to issue a “thanks very much, but please don’t” message.

      1. rebelwithmouseyhair*

        Yeah, I had never heard that gifting up should not be a thing before finding this website. So if Josephine doesn’t read AAM, maybe she doesn’t know either. I mean, I’ve always seen that the top guy gets sucked up to. My partner is in a position of power at work and people always suck up to him, clients are always giving him stuff and taking him to lunch and everyone seems to think it’s all perfectly normal. I always thought it sucked that the person earning the most also gets the most presents and I find it very refreshing to see the same attitude on a management website.

    2. The Other Dawn*

      No. It’s very likely she hasn’t thought of it, especially if she’s always been in working environments where giving a gift to the boss is normal. Every place I’ve worked, we’ve gifted to the boss. And when I became the boss, I often received a small gift from the team, like a cat calendar or a new Christmas ornament. It never occurred to me that I shouldn’t gift up or be gifted until I read it on this website. And honestly I still I think it’s fine if it’s a small token. But if people are expected to chip in for an expensive gift, that’s a hard no. At my current company, my peers and I don’t give to our manager, and my team doesn’t give to me; however, it’s quite normal for most other departments to gift up.

      1. rebelwithmouseyhair*

        I think a token gift is fine, and chipping in has to be voluntary, and preferably the amount should be proportionate to earnings. I remember feeling very grateful when I was told I didn’t have to chip in for a present when our Big Boss became a father, because I had only just started there, but now I think it’s perfectly normal.

    3. Bernice Clifton*

      In my experience, I don’t think some supervisors necessarily get the power differential issue. I haven’t been asked to chip in for a boss’s gift, but I have had a supervisor invite herself to lunch with peers and another one ask me to buy Avon from her.

  23. Gnome*

    Regarding the pot plants… OP may already be legally in hot water just knowing about them and not reporting, which makes me hesitant tell them to put it in writing. I think it might be wiser to tell them they cannot work in the office with them and will need to work from home going forward, if the work is the sort where that makes sense. Otherwise, the safest course may be to start job hunting and report it yourself. I say this because it is still illegal at the federal level, I believe, do the worst isnt police, but Federal enforcement.

    1. Lady_Lessa*

      I agree, and I think that one of her first steps would to be talk to a lawyer. The last thing that needs to happen if she were to hurt herself by making mistakes in reporting/not reporting this.

      1. The Mansplainer*

        Agree that indeed the best course of action is for the OP to talk to a lawyer as soon as possible. I think both reporting (it in the wrong way/to the wrong person) and not reporting it carry significant legal risks with them. Only a lawyer can help you plan the best course of action.

        In addition I want to say that I would start questioning everything when a boss turns my office-space into a weed farm. For example does she pay the required taxes/social insurances for you?

    2. Dust Bunny*

      I think she needs to start looking, anyway, because even if this weren’t pot, specifically, moving all of one’s gardening into one’s employee’s office sounds like a weird “we’re faaaamily” or “I’m the boss so I can do anything” lack of boundaries that will eventually go wrong in some other way.

      1. Allonge*

        Eh, if the only issue was that boss added some plants to the office, job searching would be a pretty extreme reaction.

        Unfortunately this is purely theorietical; boss shows an incredible lack of judgment and is a direct danger to OP, so…

  24. Mercurial*

    OP #4, unless there is a specific reason you would like to keep it secret (such as a nice surprise) I would advocate for asking your remote employee what would work for them. Is there a delivery service they would like a card for? Or a specific shop? Or an online retailer? If they choose, they will be able to select something that accounts for availability, dietary restrictions AND personal preference. And I imagine you would pre-plan for your in-office colleagues, likely by checking with them about their preferred venue, so it keeps parity.

    It’s a really kind thought, and as a fully-remote employee myself, I would LOVE if this was done for me. Even the thought would be appreciated as it rarely happens and I do miss a nice social meal with my frelleagues.

  25. Monty & Millie's Mom*

    RE #5: it’s REALLY crappy! My current job did that to me, actually. I’m working in health care, but administrative/clerical, and PTO is ridiculous. I had asked about earning PTO and how that worked when my office is closed for holidays, but I wasn’t clear enough about things. I get about 3 weeks of “PTO”, but that includes the holidays. So I get just over a week of actual PTO, and then the holidays also get paid. I can opt to take the holidays unpaid if I want to save my PTO for “me time”, but it’s so stupid. The only saving grace is that I work 3 12-hour days so I already get 4 days off a week and I can work with that. Of course, taking even 1 day of PTO is 12 hours and takes forever to save for, but there’s also a bit of flexibility with the days of the week I work, so I’ve been making it work so far. However, had I been more clear about the PTO policy, it would have factored enough into my decision to accept the job that I may not be here right now. So there’s that. I think I’m equally mad at myself for not clarifying and at the people who interviewed me who phrased it so carefully but cheerfully so it seemed like it was a good deal.

    1. Constance Lloyd*

      This was my situation. I also worked in healthcare, in the office side of a clinic system. These were technically two separate sister companies under a lot he same corporate umbrella. This distinction was important because one company was a nonprofit and the other, the side I worked for, was hugely profitable. When perks were restricted, the reasoning provided was that it was important to be consistent within the greater corporate family. When we works we’re being doled out, however, well of course the other side for more, they’re a different company, the rules have to be different.

    2. YuTaiTai*

      The more cheerful the interviewers are on a given subject the more one needs to investigate I am finding. Case in point current job where a breathy HR person insisted how much everyone LOVES to report to current boss.

  26. L-squared*

    #4. I think you are very nice to consider this remote person. But as someone who has to go in while many of my team members are remote, I kind of feel like this is one of those things that is totally fine that they miss out on. I’m sure they are more than happy to miss out on a couple $15 lunches in order to work in their sweat pants and never have to commute. Sometimes I feel like people get so hung up on making things equal, that they don’t look at it rationally. Let the people who come in get this additional “perk”. I’m sure they appreciate it.

    #5. My company does something like this, and its annoying. Granted, they don’t call it PTO. But they say something like “30 paid days off per year!”. When in reality, a lot of those are just holidays anyway. Its like, yeah, they aren’t “lying” but its definitely a bit misleading when written that way.

    1. abca*

      Not everyone is remote by choice. My office was closed during the pandemic (large organization wanted to reduce costs and close smaller locations), and I realize it could have been worse, I could have been let go or forced to move so I could work in the main office. But it’s not a perk that I now work from home every day. My office was pretty casual anyway so I wear the same clothes as at home and sneakers were fine. I really miss having ad hoc conversations with coworkers and people from other teams and I feel like this puts me at a disadvantage for my career.

      1. L-squared*

        Well, the “connection” aspect you are mentioning is, to me, very different from perks like the LW is discussing.

        I get that it wasn’t your choice. But you also have to see that you still get a level of freedom that your colleagues in an office don’t. You can schedule a repairman to come in at any time, do laundry, run a quick errand nearby, etc. All things that the in person people don’t get. So if they get a free lunch here and there seems to be a pretty fair trade off.

        The bigger question of long term career impacts is totally valid, but again, that isn’t what this letter is about.

          1. Roland*

            Huh? I WFH and I agree with pretty much everything L squared is saying. I do all of those things during my work day.

          2. L-squared*

            I actually WFT twice a week, so I really like it. However my issue is when my other colleagues, who are never in the office, act like they are being mistreated because we get free lunches or other miniscule “perks” which we’d all trade to WFH permanantly.

        1. sagc*

          Lotta assumptions here, buddy! I can do, like, one of those things.

          Also, getting a free lunch is extremely different from doing my own laundry in terms of how much I feel connected to my team.

        2. abca*

          I was responding to your comment that it was totally fine to not give perks to remote workers because they can work in sweat pants, and I wanted to note that from another perspective, on-site office workers are the lucky ones and then this lunch is yet another benefit for in-office workers. Sure there are some benefits to remote work too, but they’re also not really related to this lunch (there are also new downsides, such as the expectation of more flexibility/availability – since you don’t have a commute, please join this weekly 6AM meeting.)

      2. Roland*

        That’s not the situation here. The coworker is in a different state from everyone else. Even if they used to have an office in that other state (seems unlikely for academia) they would have been remote with respect to OP’s team already with all the lack of connection that comes with that.

    2. rebelwithmouseyhair*

      Alison did specifically say that it wasn’t necessary to always include the remote worker, but for a year-end meal, it would be nice.

      And while you plainly see that people WFH have tons of perks, consider also that not everyone likes it. Extroverts miss the buzz of seeing people, new hires find it harder to fit in as part of the team, youngsters don’t get the benefit of seniors’ experience (often gained simply from overhearing conversations in open-plan offices), there’s no serendipity, like you can’t engineer bumping into somebody and casually mentioning something to set a ball rolling. There are upsides to home and office, and it’s more a matter of personality than right or wrong.

    3. Colette*

      It’s true that working from home has its own perks – and so does the office (connection to other people, but also things like electricity, office supplies, etc.) It’s fine to say some perks are for in-office people only – I’ve worked places where they’d do on-site lunch-and-learns and supply lunch, or have fruit delivered a few times a week, or have a drinks cabinet, and it would be reasonable to say those things are only for the people in the office.

      But if you’re taking people out for lunch to show them you appreciate their work, leaving someone out is a statement, and it’s not a good idea.

      1. londonedit*

        Yeah, I don’t mind at all if the office bake-off is on a Thursday and that’s one of my WFH days, or if the people who attend a lunch event in person get a sandwich while I’m making my own lunch and dialling in from home. It costs me £9 a day to go into the office so I’d only go in on a non-office day if there was something to make it really worthwhile! But if it’s a team Christmas lunch then that’s different – I think in that case it should either be all in-person or all remote, I don’t think it’s fair for the members of the team who do work in the office to all go out together for an official ‘let’s celebrate the end of the year as a team’ thing and leave out the remote people.

  27. Morning reader*

    My advice to LW1 with the weed problem is a risk assessment based on details not in the letter. How many plants? One little spindly thing with no special lighting or attention, or many plants with their own set up for lights and irrigation, obviously for cultivated use? (If the latter, perhaps work remotely up until the plants are gone, or quit as soon as you have anything else lined up.) Letter says it’s “in the office where I work.” Is it in the office at large, or specifically in your own office? If it’s in the boss’s office, and it’s small and surrounded by other plants, and it would be plausible that you never noticed it or had anything to do with it, I think your risk might be low.
    (Still agreeing with others that you need to get out, or get the plant out, for your own protection.)
    IANAL but the Texas law that appears to apply is possession, with up to 2 ounces being a class b misdemeanor. Not something that you’d want on your record, but unlikely to send you to jail. But growing plants can weigh more than the usual dried stuff for sale because they still have moisture in them. So it might not take much to get to 2 ounces.
    A marijuana plant can be tall, strongly scented, and brighter green than surrounding plants so it is often very obvious. Perhaps boss thinks she is being discreet.
    I see some advice that suggests you should email her that you’re uncomfortable with it, to document your objection. I recommend the opposite. As long as the plant is there, you want to have plausible deniability that you know anything about it. Do not put anything in writing about it. (Delete this inquiry from your computer, too.)
    Quite frankly, in your position, if boss doesn’t remove the plant, and it’s in your area and you are required to take care of it, I’d arrange for it to have a little accident. Oops it fell off the plant stand so you cleaned up and threw it out. Oh that was your pot plant? So sorry, maybe you shouldn’t bring valuable plants to the office. (If you’re like me, you can kill anything green indoors by over- under-watering/too much sun/too little sun, or just consistently forgetting about it.) it is a weed and hard to kill but it doesn’t take much to ruin the quality of the product. Spindly little thing with no buds is probably not what she wants. (Alternatively, bring your cat to the office… some of them love grazing on tender buds. Oops! Again.) this could be a job for Weaponized Incompetence.

    1. MeepMeep123*

      I love this idea. Dispose of ALL the plants and the legal risk is gone. Tear into bits, flush down the toilet, fumigate the area.

      1. DJ Abbott*

        Yes, if you go this route you need to do a lot more than just put them in the trash. Law enforcement will go through the trash.
        Get rid of every trace in a way that they can’t be found again. The only way I’m able to think of at the moment is to tear them into small pieces and flush them. You wouldn’t want to take them somewhere else and bury them because you might get stopped while you have them in your possession.
        You would need to think about how your boss will react. Do you think she will fire you? That might be considered firing for cause and make you ineligible for unemployment comp. Of course she wouldn’t put in her documents that you destroyed her illegal plants, she would say something else.

  28. WellRed*

    My team all works remote but six plan to meet for lunch in December because we are local to HQ. My boss mentioned if we bring in food it will be easier for the three really remote workers, in two different time zones to “join us.” I plan to point out that having lunch on teams while they watch us eat (one is three hours behind us) isn’t anyones idea of a good time. I’ll suggest we consider food gift cards.

    1. somebodyelse*

      That is a good way to handle it. It’s honestly a pain in the butt to try to organize things like team lunches and treats anymore. Where before it could be as easy as picking up something on the way into the office or mid morning declaring a pizza day.

      Now it’s how do we include Wakeen who is 3 hours behind, or Mary who lives in the boonies and can’t get delivery. Of course there is Persephone who only uses ethically sourced delivery. I’m not allowed to give gift cards so I can’t send them a store card… even if I could, how do I get a gift card for a store that isn’t local to me, oh and how do I source meals for those working in the location in a different country?

      Yeah, my team building stuff has gone right out the window. Everything is exponentially harder to accomplish and takes 2-3 times the effort and planning.

      OP- Good luck with whatever you come up with and hopefully it will be appreciated.

  29. Dust Bunny*

    LW1: I know that jobs are often thin on the ground in small towns but start looking right now, because apart from this specific problem, this sounds like you work for a small business, no? A boss who would do this has such questionable judgment and lack of boundaries that if this doesn’t blow up something else eventually will.

    1. LW1*

      Got it right on the nose. And yeah, there are small blow ups due to misunderstandings and her memory issues, but I’m expecting the business will shut down sooner rather than later. It’s a niche industry and one of our five other employees is pretty much the only thing keeping us afloat right now. He’s coming up on where soon, he’ll be physically unfit to work and we’re all expecting to shut the doors when that day comes. I have another, smaller job on the side that helps, plus I’m a full-time student. I plan next semester to speed that up so I can get the certificate I’m after and leave for a more stable, better paying job in a different field.

      1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        LW1 – can you go to your boss at the other job and see if they can give you more hours there? If it’s in that same small town, maybe they are aware that things are looking at shutting down soonish and maybe they can be a bit of a bridge while you pick up more class hours to finish that certification sooner?

        1. LW1*

          I’m at my limit right now with the other job; it’s for my boss’s friend who lives on the other side of the state, so she’s rarely here and I work one day a week. And yeah, she’s aware of how the business is going, she is not aware of the weed. If either of us told her I get the feeling she would push my boss to take them back out of the office, so there’s that. In the meantime, my college program occasionally posts job openings in my intended field. I’m going to look through today and see if there are any I can apply for with my current education or if any of them will be willing to work with me.

      2. Dust Bunny*

        Yeah, this sounds exactly like what I thought might be going on.

        Sorry, I know “find another job” is easier said than done, but sometimes it’s all you can try to do because you can’t fix this situation.

  30. Up and Away*

    #3 – I was faced with a similar issue a few years ago. At the time, I was not aware of the “gifts should only flow down” rule, but realized after reading this blog that I needed to change what we were doing, which was to collect donations from everyone to give the boss a gift. I didn’t just want to stop though, feeling it would be weird. So, as an alternative, we changed it over to a holiday donation to a charity. He is on the board of one, so that’s the one I chose for the first year. I notified everyone of what we were doing, and it was very well received. Anyone who wanted to donate did, and those that didn’t, didn’t. No one is approached personally, and I do not do any kind of follow up. It’s worked out really well, and there are a lot of great charities to consider. And I think the boss was relieved not getting gifts from us anymore…I think it made him feel kind of awkward.

  31. Me*

    I (Canadian) recently had an employer talk about “12 extra days off per year,” almost all of which were stat holidays.

    1. I should really pick a name*

      To the Americans who don’t know, that means that the company legally HAS to either give you the day off with pay, or pay time and a half (in Ontario anyway)

  32. Mars*

    LW1: do not enter that location until it is clear. To your boss: “I can come in when the office is clear”, “I can’t come in while the office is still not clear”, “I’m happy to come in as soon as the office is clear, this is not negotiable”

    If she cuts your hours based on that, file for unemployment.

    1. I'm just here for the cats*

      That’s nice in theory but it’s not going to work for the OP who is the main source of income for their family. The boss will just be “ok then” and when she files for unemployment the boss can say she quit. And keep in mind unemployment does not cover everything. You only get part of your wages.

  33. Hiring Mgr*

    Anecdotally, there is small level of legal medical pot in Texas (friend’s mom w/cancer who lives in San Antonio gets it) but I don’t suppose that would be relevant to whether it should be in the office…

    1. Coral Reefer*

      Am happy (and a bit surprised) to hear that legal medical pot is okay in Texas. But I’m curious: would that sanction include cultivation of small amounts—i.e., one plant—too?

      1. Hiring Mgr*

        The way it was explained to me it’s for very limited cases…but I don’t live there so this is all second hand!

        1. LW1*

          It’s decriminalized in some larger cities here (most recently Dallas, I believe), but the legal THC content is o.3%. In addition, I’ve set up multiple appointments with my boss to see various doctors, all of whom say that her chronic pain due to her TBI doesn’t qualify her for an MMJ card, thus she continues growing her own and occasionally taking day trips to nearby states that are legal so she can smoke.

          1. Coral Reefer*

            Wow. Sorry to hear that, LW. The boss is more or less writing her own med-weed prescription, which could make your position even more precarious. For my own peace of mind, I think I’d be having that quiet chat with a lawyer just to get an idea of my own vulnerability here.

  34. Sylvan*

    LW2: Hope all goes well for you! I just wanted to say that, if you think you might want to cover your chin after surgery and you wear a mask in the office, a gaiter could cover the whole area.

  35. Remote Sally*

    LW4: Speaking from the perspective as the only remote worker on my in-office team, I would encourage you to just ask! I’m close enough geographically that I COULD attend the quarterly brunches/lunches if I chose to, but I really, really don’t want to – There’s a reason I prefer remote. However, my team always includes me on the invites with a “If you’re in town or can make it, we want you to know you’re always welcome!” which is lovely to make me feel included, and honestly, I don’t feel I need a gift card or anything else to make up for it. Not everyone is me, of course! But I did get a random gift card one year to a very popular, rather nice chain restaurant one Christmas…and it remains in my wallet six years later. I just don’t go to restaurants that often. A nice email of, “Hey, we know you can’t attend these things but we want you to feel appreciated: Can we send you a gift card to the restaurant of your choice? Let us know the name!” is an easy way to find out if it’s even wanted, and also to be sure it’s actually put to use.

  36. I am just here for the free pizza*

    #1 I live in a state where marijuana has been legal for over 5 years. You are allowed to grow at home. Not at work. If I were OP I would not set foot in that office even in this state where it’s legal to grow at home. And especially not where it’s not legal. This situation could be seen as constructive termination.

    1. HelloFromNY*

      Even if this was a legal state, this is still definitely not ok (The only exception might be if you work in that industry specifically). Would you grow tobacco at work? Would you make mead at work? No, because that’s not an appropriate time to be doing those things. It would make me question that person’s judgement about a lot of other things. Even in a legal state… do not do this!

  37. ABCYaBYE*

    LW1 – I mentioned this above, but I don’t just worry about the police. They may never know. But do you have visitors that come to your office at all? UPS drivers? Mail delivery? Random person? Can you trust them all? Someone visiting might see the plants and file a report. Then you have ZERO control. Talk to a lawyer ASAP and definitely tell your boss that you’re uncomfortable in the workplace with the plants and won’t be back in until they’re gone.

    I’m sure she means well and is a kind person. And frankly, I’m sure the plants are helping her manage her pain. That’s great for her. But not great for you…especially when you’re by yourself in a workplace and something obvious and obviously illegal is going on.

    1. Coral Reefer*

      That’s a good question, ABCYaBYE. Cannabis plants are pretty recognizable, even by those who don’t partake.

      Considering the legal possibilities others have described (conspiracy, etc.), I’m concerned about LW’s vulnerability here. This is a real heads-you-win/tails-I-lose situation for her.

      I agree that probably the best first step—again, as others have suggested—is that LW present a “hypothetical” situation to an attorney she trusts.

      Wishing you well, LW, and please let us know how it all unfolds.

    2. Observer*

      I’m sure she means well and is a kind person.

      I’m not so sure. What she is doing is simply out of line. And she KNOWS that this is a potential risk. She just thinks that she can hand-wave it away with mumbo jumbo about “living her truth”, asking for warrants and not answering anything the police ask.

      Either she is NOT a kind person or she is SO impaired that she does not even know how to act kindly anymore. Either way, the OP is pretty much hosed.

  38. Ashley Armbruster*

    #3, oof I’m sorry your in that situation. The fact this happens every year makes me wonder what the culture of the team and organization are? Does Greg do other things “above and beyond” similar to upwards gift giving?

    At my last job I was on a team where the most senior peer was always finding ways to “give”. She would always bring in cookies or desserts she baked and when our first director left, she put together a week-long event, where each day was themed towards our boss (like one day we’d dress up like her) and then at the end we would give her a big gift. I went along with it (I despised that director and was glad she was leaving lol) but it made me so uncomfortable. Then a year later, she and the other most senior peer on the team gave the person they reported to an ugly sweater sports jersey. I also know because I heard them whispering. She gave the rest of us small amazon gift cards (less than what the jersey cost). Thankfully I don’t work there anymore, but it was such a weird smoozing culture. This woman would always get promoted and hog all the work. A coincidence she was always giving things to upper management?

    I feel like Rosalind should have put an end to this. I think you can approach Greg and tell him how you’re uncomfortable with giving upwards and you don’t want your team to contribute.

      1. Ashley Armbruster*

        This coworker had a ton of pictures of our director, the plan was that we would each dress up like the director in the picture, and then take a new picture of us and make a slideshow of it.


          1. Ashley Armbruster*

            Unfortunately, the director loved that kind of stuff. So glad I’m not on that team. Those people were nuts!

  39. El+l*

    Your boss is putting you at risk of going to jail.

    You are willing to quit rather than go to jail for this job. So if she doesn’t move the plants, you will quit. On the spot, if necessary for your continued freedom.

    Those are the messages that she needs to hear – loud, clear, and in so many words – right now.

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      I agree with your premise, but I don’t think we can ignore in our advice that the LW is the sole wage earner for their family. Quitting on the spot is not a viable option.

      1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        This – quitting on the spot is a bit of a privilege, and not everyone is able to just quit on the spot because of their responsibilities.

      2. Observer*

        I don’t know if that’s true.

        I mean, I *do* get the problem for the OP. The thing is that as the sole wage earner, staying is also an extreme risk to her family. She could find herself out of a job with no warning, and under circumstances that make it even harder for her to find another job. And if she winds up arrested?

        So, the OP needs to weigh those risks.

      3. MeepMeep123*

        They can either quit on the spot and find another job without a felony on their record, or be forced to quit and spend some time in jail and then be unable to find any other job.

  40. PTO Scam*

    I was just offered a position where there were only 23 total days PTO including 7 holidays where the office is closed. I had never seen a place where you had to accrue holidays, I was so taken aback! Had I started this November I would have made it to January in the hole with PTO, not surprisingly their other benefits were not worth leaving over so I declined.

  41. Caryn Z.*

    Yeah I found out at my first “holiday” here that we have to use PTO for holidays. I’ve never worked anywhere with no paid holidays.

  42. HailRobonia*

    re #1: I recently learned that in the UK they refer to potted plants as “pot plants” – this came up over a discussion of returning to the office after the COVID lockdown and an acquaintance said she was sad that all the pot plants in her office died.

  43. CTA*

    For LW #5, I think everyone working in the US needs to take a closer look at how their employer counts holidays as part of PTO. Especially when you are considering the offer package, ask questions and don’t be afraid to keep asking when they don’t give you a clear answer.

    One time, I had an offer from a company that gave out 16 PTO days, of which 6 were holidays. I don’t believe those were flexible holidays either. When I asked about sick time, they gave me an answer about flex time and being allowed to take an hour off work for doctor’s appointments and making it up later. Making assumptions about what I need sick time for is not a good sign. That’s how I found out I would only have 10 days combined for vacation and sick time. That really shocked me because my previous employer had separate allotments for sick days and PTO days. This was September 2020 and before there was a Covid vaccine available. And they wanted to start returning to in-person/hybrid work that November. I turned down that offer.

  44. Global Cat Herder*

    LW2, it’s the been the convention at most places I’ve worked to send an email that’s basically “remember, I’m going to be out of the office all next week. Person A will cover Projects B&C, and Person D will cover Project E.”

    If that wouldn’t be too far out of the norm at your work, consider just adding to that “and when I return, I’ll have some bruising for a few days but it’s nothing to be concerned about.”

  45. TLC*

    LW 1 – This advice does not go far enough. You need to quit now and find another job. I live in a state with legal weed and one of the first to legalize medical marijuana before that. Even in my liberal state, before it was fully legal, people were arrested simply for helping a person with a fully licensed medical grow move from one place to another – simply for having a truck and helping move plants down the street.

    Considering the stakes, I wouldn’t risk it.

  46. Venus*

    I’d be tempted to soften the message by starting with Alison’s response:
    “I’m having surgery that will cause some heavy bruising on my neck for a few weeks, it’s nothing to be alarmed about.”
    and then adding something positive:
    “In fact it’s the last treatment in getting my health back on track and I’m so happy to get it done.”
    This really depends on you and your workplace, but putting it into a positive context could offset the response to extensive bruising in an area that can’t easily be covered up. I had surgery years ago on my face and thankfully I was able to stay home for the first couple weeks when the bruising was the worst, and when I returned to work I told anyone who asked that I was really happy with the results and felt healthier than before. I never gave details and thankfully no one asked as they all seemed reassured by my response and were happy for me.

  47. Mztery23*

    Re OP 2
    I understand the desire and need to feel like yourself again. But reading your text, it looks like you are fairly new there and also a contract worker? It’s possible at that point that when they see that you have significant bruising, even if you’ve worn them, they feel it would be inappropriate for you to work with clients. It may not be legal, may not even be mean, but having worked in agencies like this, I can say that many of my clients would be really distressed to be working with someone with significant neck bruising.

    1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      I don’t think she works directly with clients (she mentioned in the letter that it is co-workers she’s concerned about, but many of them have a ‘background’ of domestic violence).

      However even with a heads up, is there a chance that co-workers are going to be really uncomfortable around this? I do wonder if this is one of the cases where “delay the surgery” shouldn’t be ruled out – since it appears to be cosmetic and not medically necessary.

      1. Roland*

        It’s possible that some coworkers will be uncomfortable, but it will be up to them to manage that discomfort. And who’s to say that if OP did delay they wouldn’t run into other people who are made uncomfortable by neck bruising? The kindest thing for everyone is for OP to schedule the procedure that will make them feel better and give a heads-up so people know it isn’t DV, and everyone will have to do their best to manage their feelings for a bit.

  48. PTOhno*

    Here to commiserate! My org does the same with PTO. It’s so misleading. We get PTO in hours, so when I originally saw what my offer included I was thrilled, until it became clear that 80-100 PTO hours were holidays. And for federal holidays or days the office is closed, we are REQUIRED to use it.

    Add in that I work for a religious organization, so there are some holidays where I’m required to use PTO even if I’d rather be saving it for a different opportunity (like, say, maternity leave, which drained me of PTO I still haven’t earned back…sigh).

  49. Not Smokey the Bear*

    Ugh, I’m sorry for the person whose boss brings weed into the office. Years ago, before weed was legal here, my bosses used to (discretely) partake in the law office where we all worked as attorneys. I turned a blind eye. Then they put together a retreat in a more conservative state and sent a coworker in to chat with me ahead of time about whether I’d smoke on the retreat or have problems if they did. I said no problem, but I didn’t want to participate. We all went off to the retreat. A colleague from another country was pressured to smoke with them; she did it reluctantly. In fact, everyone but me joined them.

    Fast forward a couple of months, they pulled me aside to let me know it wasn’t working out. My working theory is that at least part of the reason is that they thought smoking weed presented legal or professional risk and my lack of participation made me more likely to squeal.

    I’m honestly not sure what I would have done with the benefit of hindsight. All to say that this is a fraught issue. I hope things work out better for you than they did for me.

    1. KoiFeeder*

      Honestly, weed or not weed, people shouldn’t be smoking (or vaping!) in the office anyways. There’s so many reasons people can’t be around that sort of thing, even before you get into folks not necessarily wanting to partake with the big bosses.

  50. Grace*

    On the gift card thing, I’m curious how much over the actual per-person budget you’re expected to go for these things. I coordinate food for groups sometimes, and we run about $2 a person (20-ish people, $40 for a bunch of mediocre sandwiches). Obviously sending someone a $2 gift card would be ridiculous, but getting it to something that you could use to buy an actual restaurant meal would mean that this one person represented a substantial chunk of my overall food budget.

    1. Ellenicorn*

      Alas, as a friend of LW1, I can assure you that the in office plants (being grown with aquaponics) aren’t hemp. The hemp grows out in the open on-site.

    2. Observer*

      That’s not really useful. What’s in the office is not some dried up plant material that’s hard to differentiate. The live plants do look different.

  51. InTheTumbleWeeds*

    My employer classifies vacation, holidays and sick days in one lump PTO category. If you need more you can ask your fellow employees to donate. :/

  52. This or That*

    Is the marijuana growing boss also the owner of the company? Is there nobody they answer to?

    If I found out someone was growing marijuana on company premises I would fire them on the spot.

    If the higher-ups in the company don’t know about this they should.

    According to google (which is never wrong) the penalty for growing marijuana in Texas ranges from 180 days top 99 years. The LW is right to feel concerned that she could be arrested. She wouldn’t be the first person caught up someone else’s crime.

    If the boss was arrested and was facing real jail time, what’s are the chances she would say: “that’s not mine, LW was growing it”?

  53. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

    It also doesn’t help that we’re in a conservative rural town with law enforcement eager to take you down for such a thing.

    LW1: Your boss isn’t just ignoring that marijuana is still illegal in Texas: she has forgotten or is ignoring the difference between a place where that law is enforced, and places where the local government can’t repeal the law, but has told the police that everything else is a higher priority than arresting marijuana users.

    I think your boss would do better, practically and legally, to drive to somewhere like Colorado and bring back a bunch of edibles, not in the original packaging, and keep them in a drawer where the cats can’t get at them.

    That would get her consistent, predictable amounts of THC and/or CBD; be better for her lungs; and reduce the chance that someone would think she was dealing.

    [Standard disclaimer: I am not a llama]

    1. Ellenicorn*

      No drive to Colorado necessary. This business is located literally an hour’s drive away from a town in the next state with legal dispensaries.

    2. DJ Abbott*

      I wish everyone would switch to edibles or capsules. Since it became legal here I’m not enjoying the stinking clouds of weed smoke on the street, or the fumes coming off some transit riders.

      But no, they’re attached to smoking it and apparently don’t care about lung damage. :p

  54. DJ*

    Why isn’t Rosalind stepping up and saying no gifts!! You’ve got a few options even if you do decide to continue gifting her including suggesting a monetary range as a guide, advise whatever you think is reasonable (although ppl like a price guide) or only those above a certain pay grade. But t Rosalind should have put a stop to it long ago!!

  55. Thomas Williams*

    On #2, I think the employee should coordinate with HR and their manager to communicate a reasonable “heads up” to their team or office while also maintaining their privacy. Such a communication may help in a number of ways; however, the employee shouldn’t have to sacrifice their right to privacy in order to make others feel more comfortable.

  56. HufferWare*

    LW5- almost every employer I’ve ever worked for (I am in the US) has taken holidays/days the office is closed out of my PTO. It sucks, is SUPER common in healthcare, and, I have come to learn, a big red flag in regards to how the company will treat you, your time, and your pay as something to “game”.

  57. Budgie Buddy*

    For OP #2:

    I have some experience with getting cosmetic surgery on my face, with a septo-rhinoplasty and yep the bruising looks nasty the first 5 days or so. It looked like someone broke my nose because in fact that’s what the procedure entails.

    It’s good that you are being mindful of not blindsiding the people you work with. I think taking off a couple days when bruising will be the most visible and emailing the people you work with most to give them a heads up is the best response. People will understand that you have a body and need to take care of it.

    (My neck also bruises super easily so I relate to this one. In my 20s I never got hickeys and yet now it’s like one dainty neck smooch leaves a giant purple mark. Whyyyyy)

  58. MeepMeep123*

    LW1 – this is an emergency and you’re at serious risk of ending up in jail. Don’t go back into that office. You’re there alone all day. What do you think your boss is going to do if you’re arrested? Nobly throw herself under the bus and say “No, no – these were my pot plants?” If the cops do show up, this is going to become your weed and your grow operation and Boss is going to stand there, looking sweet and elderly and innocent, and pretend that she had NO idea that anything THIS nefarious was going on in her office.

    Quit that job now. Seriously.

  59. WheresMyPen*

    My company (UK based) offers 25 days of holiday, but 3 of those we are required to use over the Christmas break. The last two years we’ve been gifted those 3 days by the company but I assume from next year we’ll be back to the old system. So really, I only have 22 days of holiday that I can use how I please. That always rankled a bit since other companies always close over Christmas and staff don’t have to use holiday.

  60. Managercanuck*

    For #4, we’re working a hybrid model, which helps, but we still do virtual lunches on occasion. Everyone orders something they like and work covers up to $25 of the bill. It works really well for our small group.

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