my company is pressuring us to donate huge amounts of money to a coworker

A reader writes:

I am a high volume sales professional for a very successful company. I have a group of peer colleagues with similar tenure. A few years ago the company hired Jane in a support role for our team. From day one, Jane has been terrible at her job. However, Jane is best friends with the CEO’s wife, so has an “immunity shield.” Jane’s incompetence regularly impacts both my job and personal life, requiring me to work late at night and on weekends to make up for her errors. She logs in late each day and logs off by 3:00 or 3:30 pm. She is absent from work at least one day each week and takes far more vacation than those of us that have earned the maximum amount of vacation our company offers. While many have taken note of this, there is never any recourse because of Jane’s friendship with the CEO’s wife. Jane makes a six figure salary.

Recently, Jane’s husband John passed away. They have two high school children. It is a very sad situation and Jane received an outpouring of sympathy from our team and other coworkers.

Then our team leader called a meeting and stated that we would all be contributing to a team fund for Jane to cover expenses. It was suggested that our monetary contributions should be “generous.” Most contributed $250. The CEO also let it slip that Jane would be given two and a half months of paid leave while she “navigates this difficult time.”

Then, an email was sent out that there was a separate company-wide collection for Jane. This email came several days before our holiday bonuses, and it was suggested that we all “dig deep,” as Jane’s son is ready to head off to college. The goal for this fundraiser is $25,000 (from a company of about 120 people, meaning they are expecting $200 per person) with the company matching dollar for dollar each donation. The CEO is organizing this fundraising campaign and tracking the donations. They are also asking for everyone to “throw in” gift cards to Amazon and the local grocery store as well.

That same day, a coworker found a GoFundMe set up by Jane herself, in which she is asking friends, family and coworkers of both Jane and John for financial support so that she can be relived of the “burden” of providing for her children and send her son off to college in the fall. Jane’s fundraising goal is $50,000.

While I feel very badly for Jane’s loss, I cannot help but be appalled at how the company is handling this. Our normal company policy is three days of paid bereavement. Another long-time employee lost an 11-year-old child recently, and she got the three days. That’s it — no extra time off, no company fundraising effort, nothing.

Not only is Jane receiving her full salary, she received our team financial gift ($3,000), the company is fundraising for $25,000 (potentially $50K with the company matching), collecting gift cards, and Jane’s own GoFundMe has reached $16K of her $50K goal.

I feel backed into a corner. While I did contribute the $250, that was more than I was comfortable giving. Most of the people in the organization that are being asked to make big donations make less than Jane. I myself have two kids in college, but I am expected to pay for Jane’s son? It seems that Jane and John may not have adequately planned for their future, but why are her coworkers being essentially strong-armed into paying for their lack of planning?

A coworker from another department confided that she attempted to speak up, saying that this was a big ask from employees, and commenting that others have not received the same treatment. She was immediately shut down.

What is your take on this and how should we, as employees, have handled this? Does this violate HR or labor laws?

Your company is getting this wrong on a number of fronts.

First, it’s horribly wrong to have such a massive disparity in how they’re treating Jane versus how they treated the employee who lost her child and only got three days of leave.

Second, if the company wants to help employees who suffer personal losses — which would be a lovely thing to do — that money should come from their own funds. They have no claim on employees’ personal funds, and it’s not okay to pressure people to donate their own money, no matter how compelling the cause might be. Some companies do have a tradition of employee-organized fundraisers for colleagues in these situations, but (a) those fundraisers are generally employee-led, not imposed from the top down and (b) they’re optional, not mandatory, and definitely don’t have the CEO tracking donations and pressuring people to pony up.

Third, it sure looks the company’s leaders are rallying for Jane in this way because she’s friends with the CEO’s wife. That would be deeply problematic under any circumstances, but when you’ve got someone else on staff who lost her child and got none of this, I can’t imagine how anyone in your company’s leadership thinks this is okay.

That said, I think you’re mixing up some of the issues. Jane’s personal GoFundMe isn’t really the issue; she can do whatever fundraising she wants outside of work. And whether Jane and John adequately planned for their future isn’t the issue either (and really, many families would be in difficult financial straits if one parent died). You do have understandable concerns about Jane (like that her terrible work habits impact you and she clearly was getting special treatment at work before this tragedy happened), but the GoFundMe and her personal planning shouldn’t be in that category.

The problem is your company — with their obvious and over-the-top favoritism in two awful situations, and with their strong-arming people into donating, and with Jane’s immunity before all this happened.

The best thing you and your coworkers can do is to maintain strong boundaries around your own money! When you’re pressured to contribute, it’s okay to decline. If you’re asked about it directly, you can say, “I can’t, there’s no room in my budget.” The more of you who do that, the easier it will get for everyone who wants to do that (and I am sure you’re not the only one). Of course, when everyone else is chipping in, even when they don’t want to, it gets harder to be the one person who declines. But you still can … and when you do, other people are a lot more likely to realize that they can too.

To answer your question about the legalities of what your company is doing: it’s crappy but legal unless (a) someone can show that they’re treating grieving employees differently based on protected factors like race, gender, or religion or (b) the pressure to donate becomes truly mandatory and the amount required takes anyone’s wages below minimum wage for that pay period.

Read an update to this letter. 

{ 277 comments… read them below }

  1. Sloanicota*

    I advise OP not to consider the GoFundMe as some sort of mandatory giving thing; it was probably set up for friends & family, and the fact that you already donated a different way gets you totally off the hook for that. Some people will probably share or push the link in different ways but just mentally discount yourself from that. Invitations are not commands.

    1. I should really pick a name*

      Just pointing out that even if there was no work collection, they’re not on the hook for any donation.

      1. jojo*

        Tell the CEO that you already gave all you could to the shop collection. Suggest he add the shop collection to the company collection. Also point out that Jane will receive her husband’s social security number any minor kids. Plus his life insurance. Plus any pension or 401k money’s he was eligible for.

        1. Princess Sparklepony*

          Yes, OP already gave. And gave a very healthy amount. No shame in saying now – Sorry, I’m tapped out. I’d also mention that they already gave a hefty sum. It’s not like they didn’t give anything. They did.

  2. Rick Tq*

    OP, Run, don’t walk, to a local competitor and get a new position. You will be forced to drag Jane behind you for as long as you work there.

    1. Jujuju*

      I second that! It sounds like there are general issues with your company and how they handle this situation is a symptom of their disfunctional management style overall.

    2. A Simple Narwhal*

      Yes 1000%! Even if this latest mess never happened the company has shown that Jane is not going anywhere and she will be able to do whatever she wants at your expense. Time to get out!

      …I wonder if work will be easier for the LW while Jane is out on leave. Sometimes it’s easier to do something yourself right the first time rather than go back and fix someone else’s mistakes. Either way it’s a good time to take a step back at work and spend your energy on finding a new job.

    3. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      This is my advice as well. Vote with your feet and get out of dodge. They are never going to value the other employees they way they value their family and friends. The best way you can value yourself (and help others even a bit) is to vote with your feet and leave.

    4. Pip*

      YES! Oh my goodness this company is awful in both letting Jane do whatever she wants at work because of her connections, and in strong-arming employees to make financial contributions to help Jane. You don’t need to quit without a job lined up, but definitely spend time finding an employer who treats their employees more fairly, and who doesn’t force everyone to put up with an albatross like Jane! You deserve so much better OP!

  3. Pool Noodle Barnacle Pen0s*

    You are not obligated to participate in this grift. I know a lot of people might have a problem with me using that word, but that’s what this is. She got hooked up with a high paid do-nothing job by her bestie, which she has been milking, and now she has a new angle to milk. This company is a toxic waste dump. I would have been searching already just because of having to pick up her slack.

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      I’d also be curious to know whether CEO is also sole proprietor, or if this scheme is stealing from other owners.

    2. Cut & Run*

      Easier said than done for many sales jobs. I worked for companies that made jumping ship very challenging. For example, in my experience, say Diane works in sales and worked her way up to have a GREAT list. But she gets fed up, and wants to leave and starts looking at sales roles that are similar to the industry she knows. There’s a very good chance that someone at the company she’s jumping ship to already has those great clients on their list so she’s probably going to have to rebuild 85% of her list on her own.

      Yes, if her relationship with client is stronger, she can leverage that to her advantage, but she may not win, or have to split commission, and just really make it hard to build relationships with the new colleagues.

      I feel so bad for the person who lost their child. What a slap in the face. I hope they find a much better job soon.

      1. Keats*

        This is the kind of comment I love. I’m in healthcare, and the concept of a list didn’t even occur to me. Thanks for pointing out one the many barriers that can make it difficult to “just” leave a job.

        1. Sopranohannah*

          You’re right. I’m also in healthcare and it’s not something we really think about. Healthcare has a lot of downsides, but one of the good things is that you rarely have to stay in a completely toxic situation. There are too many employers who need your services.

      2. Bunny Lake Is Found*

        Thank you! I do think sometimes folks don’t realize that not all jobs are as easy to pick up and leave, especially someone in the LW’s shoes who is earning a lot but has significant expenses. Even if this situation is only the tip of the hive, if LW is paying for two full time college tuitions, they may not be able to take the financial hit involved bailing on the job, even if it is full of bees.

        1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

          Agreed – leaving my not be simple; but that doesn’t mean you can’t at least look to see if better exists out there. Because maybe it is – but if you don’t look, you’ll never know.

          In the mean time – “sorry my budget can’t stretch to include that right now” for every single fundraiser in office. (And make sure they don’t try any sneaky paycheck deductions as well.)

          1. Bunny Lake Is Found*

            I think this comes down to the industry. There are many places where there is a significant chance LW’s managers may suspect they are job hunting and LW might have to deal with the fall-out (which may mean LW’s manager takes steps to keep LW around or it may mean they start freezing LW out to minimize the damage from their departure). It is on LW to weigh the possible benefits and risks as we don’t know what hit they may take in even trying to leave AND we don’t know if the Jane debacle is the only issue or the cringe cherry on a toxic workplace cupcake.

            1. Reluctant Mezzo*

              Location also matters. The one big employer in a small town has a fairly captive labor pool.

      3. Resident Catholicville, U.S.A.*

        I don’t know how it is in sale specifically, but in truck brokerage, they had a non-compete clause in our contracts and basically, you couldn’t do truck brokerage in the area for at least 2 years. Fortunately, I jumped ship to another company, but in billing, way away from sales and client relations, so my company didn’t enforce that, but they were prepared to if I was in brokerage sales in any capacity.

  4. The Original K.*

    I’d be disheartened to the point of leaving if I were the employee who lost her child. What a slap in the face.

    1. Valancy Stirling*

      I got to that part and audibly gasped. Even without the blatant favoritism, giving a grieving parent only THREE DAYS OFF is heartless. Add their bending over backwards for Jane, and I’d be job searching immediately.

      1. It's Sara not Sarah*

        Not that unusual. When my husband died I got three days off but without pay.

        1. HearTwoFour*

          I’m so sorry about your husband. Your employer is trash but I’m truly sorry for your loss.

        2. HearTwoFour*

          I’m so sorry about your husband. Your employer is trash, but I’m truly sorry for your loss.

          1. HearTwoFour*

            Sorry for commenting twice. The first time my wifi cut out so I didn’t think it posted.

            1. Lady_Lessa*

              Let me second your comment to “It’s Sara, not Sarah”.

              (and appreciation about the Wifi)

            2. Mr. Shark*

              No, it needed to be said more than once.

              I’m so sorry about your husband, Sara not Sarah. Your employer is trash, but I’m truly sorry for your loss.

      2. A Penguin!*

        I don’t agree that 3 days bereavement for a child is inherently heartless. Everywhere I’ve worked I’m pretty sure the policy has been 3 or 5 days for that. It’s a terrible position to be in, but the amount isn’t out of the norm from what I’ve seen.

        Now, giving one person the company-standard 3 days and giving another multiple months… THAT is terrible.

        1. The Original K.*

          I’m not sure what my current employer’s policy is but a previous employer gave a week for spouses, parents, grandparents, and children (including adoptive and step) and three days for everyone else. The PTO was fairly generous (bereavement was outside of PTO), so if you wanted to pad that time off with PTO, that was fine. I lost a grandparent while I worked there and took the full week.

          1. Rosemary*

            A week seems generous for grandparents; not nearly enough for spouse or child (I feel like parent falls somewhere in between)

            1. The Original K.*

              I was grateful for it and would have used a week’s worth of PTO if bereavement was less than that (or nonexistent). I was very close to my grandparents. (Adoptive, step and bio siblings were also included in the one-week category. I forgot to include them.)

              1. Rufus Bumblesplat*

                One of my previous employers offered a flat 2 days of bereavement leave regardless of circumstances. When I lost a sibling to suicide my manager thought this was ridiculous and quietly let me take off as much time as I needed, which I was very grateful for as I was a mess.

                It probably helped that I had been a very good employee for 6+ years. I was also already in the middle of my notice period as I had a new job lined up, so even if our Head Office had caught wind of it I was perfectly willing to be fired for my absences.

          2. MAC*

            My company, which is otherwise exceptional, has an odd qualifier for bereavement leave. In addition to the standard child, spouse, parents, siblings, etc., it has a provision for in-laws … but only if they are through your spouse.
            So if my (fictional) husband’s sister dies, I get 3 days (5 if we have to travel) but if my brother’s wife dies I get no time. I have no understanding of why this distinction is thought to be reasonable.

            1. Violet*

              My company has the same policy – 5 days of bereavement leave for immediate blood relatives (spouses, children, parents, siblings, grandparents) and 3 days for your spouse’s immediate relatives. For anyone else and pets, you can take regular PTO (and they are good about approving it or letting people take a little extra time or work remotely if needed)

        2. Ex-prof*

          From what I’ve seen, I don’t think most parents who have lost a child should even be expected to speak coherently for two weeks. I’m not talking here about the grief process but about the initial shock.

        3. RaeNYC*

          We had a team member (and close friend) who lost a baby a couple of years ago. I think after 3 days, she was still being sedated. Heck, our team was in shock for weeks. We didn’t expect her back full time for 2-3 months at least – it doesn’t cost anything to be compassionate in the situation.

          1. spruce*

            This also happened to a coworker of mine. Months later, when she was able to speak about what happened, she explained that her doctor basically put her on sick leave for as long as was needed, regardless of what our company allowed (I think our company’s policy is 10 working days for the loss of a child). We are in a country where sick leave is unlimited and covered by the state as long as it’s prescribed by a medical professional (I think after 3 months social services get involved to avoid fraud, but that’s it).

        4. Richard Hershberger*

          “Heartless” and “not out of the norm” are not mutually incompatible.

          1. A Girl Named Fred*

            Exactly what I was thinking. Just because it’s commonplace doesn’t mean it’s not deeply wrong.

          2. K in Boston*

            Yes, my sentiments exactly — that something can be both “standard” and “heartless.”

            At my previous employer, you got 1 bereavement day for a grandparent, 2 for a parent, and 3 for a child. There were some good things about the company…but that certainly wasn’t one of them.

            1. Richard Hershberger*

              Back in my previous life when I was a flunky for Walmart, they gave me ample time to fly across the country for my grandmother’s funeral. I have few nice things to say about working for Walmart, but credit where credit is due.

              1. Gosling*

                Wal-mart also allowed my mother to use my father’s discount card for a full year after he passed away, so they have SOME good policies.

        5. umami*

          Yes, bereavement leave is generally 3 days, but a person can also request to add any of their accrued leave time. I don’t think taking bereavement leave means you MUST return to work after 3 days, just that you would need to use a different leave pool to stay out longer.

        6. Artemesia*

          anything less than a paid week for a close bereavement — spouse or child is monstrous.

        7. Flowers*

          I wrote below that im so livid for this coworker

          but 3 days is very standard and common. I was gone from work for 3 weeks – I had 3 days bereavement + 1 week PTO + remaining I took unpaid.

          Current company is also 3 days. I know if I were to experience that I don’t think I’d ever even bother coming back to work and i don’t think anyone would expect to see me back in 3 days.

        8. miss_chevious*

          Yes, our official policy is also three days of bereavement. Of course, the idea isn’t the the person be okay or come back to work in three days, just that those days don’t come out of the PTO or short term leave reservoirs. What made me gasp out loud was not that the first employee got the standard three days, but that Jane got months and months paid. Best course would be to treat every employee who faces a loss as flexibly and supportively as possible, but barring that, everyone should be treated in accordance with policies.

        9. allathian*

          Yes, this. This is a much worse case of nepotism than the daughter of a lawyer who wanted her coworkers to stop introducing her as her father’s daughter.

          I’m in Finland, and I was shocked to learn that by law we’re entitled to exactly zero days of bereavement leave for the death of a child, born or unborn. That said, grieving parents do get leave, it’s just not called bereavement leave. Most get a note for something like acute depression and anxiety caused by a personal loss. When I had my two miscarriages, I got three days to a week of medical leave because I was physically unfit to work (I was 42 and 46 when those pregnancies happened and didn’t expect to carry to term, and the latter was definitely unplanned, so I was more relieved than upset by the miscarriage). When my coworker’s adult stepson died by suicide, he took a week’s sick leave to deal with the bureaucracy of violent death and to help organize the funeral, and to support his grieving wife who had a month’s sick leave at least.

        10. rebelwithmouseyhair*

          It’s just been increased from five to 12 days here in France, specifically for the loss of a child. For parents and siblings, you get three days.

      3. This Old House*

        I think 3-5 days is pretty typical for bereavement leave. It’s not supposed to be the only amount you’re allowed to take, it’s the specific additional leave that doesn’t come out of your existing vacation/personal/PTO buckets.

      4. Dust Bunny*

        This has been discussed on AAM before: The three days is to start handling funeral arrangements, etc. Nobody is pretending it’s all the time you need to grieve.

        1. Tired but happy*

          I worked for a company who expected me to get over a close family death and broke a whole bunch of labour laws in the process. It was dehumanizing and I still carry a lot of trauma from it.

          At another job, a friend’s mom passed who was like a mother to me and I fell apart and needed a mental health day and a coworker snidely commented “It’s not like she was /your/ mother”

          And that’s one of the reasons I left that job without a safety net.

      5. Ellie*

        I don’t suppose you could send out a reply all to the second fundraiser and say that since you have already given to Jane, can this new fundraiser go to support X since she recently lost her child?

        You’d have to know if the person is going to be comfortable with it though. And probably be prepared to be fired. But it’s tempting.

      6. The Salmon of Doubt*

        When my mom died I got three days. She died on a Wednesday night. I got TH, F and M, and was back in the office on T. And I was completely and totally useless at that point. Sure, I sat there at my desk, but literally nothing I did could even remotely be called “working.” Oh, and it had already been announced that we were all being downsized the following month (the day before Thanksgiving in the US). Honestly, I probably should have cut my losses and just quit right then, but I was too young / inexperienced and too broke to do anything but wander around in a daze and try to keep it together because I thought I had to. The job was a complete sh!t show to begin with (I was assigned to 4 managers, one of them twice, in the 10 months between when I started and the whole office was laid off.) It really messed with my sense of “normal” for a very long time. But I will NEVER forgive them for just THREE days. The most important person in my life (at that point) died and I was supposed to figure it out in THREE days?

    2. EPLawyer*

      I was wondering if everyone else got the Jane treatment in a similar situation. Then I got to that part. I am QUITE sure grieving parent is already looking for a new job.

      CEO can run the company how he wants. If he is not the owner, the owners/shareholders can either keep him or not. If he is the owner, again can do what he wants. But no one has to go along with it. I know easier said than done, but this company has shown you EXACTLY who they are — Believe them.

    3. LifeBeforeCorona*

      Especially if the bereaved parent is getting emails to “dig deep” to help out the other co-worker.

      1. Flowers*

        man…if I were that person, I would look for another job, and then post these emails everywhere, with context and publically name the company. So so so shameful

          1. Reality Biting*

            Absolutely not. The company showed deep insensitivity and revealed their lack of equanimity. Those are not sufficient reasons for Grieving Parent to set her own career ablaze.

  5. Frickityfrack*

    Ugh, this sucks in so many ways. I’d be looking for a new job, tbh, and then on my way out, I’d suggest that if they insist on paying Jane, maybe they could pay her *not* to work, because it would be more helpful to other staff that way. This company clearly hasn’t cared about employee morale for a long time, but essentially demanding a significant amount of money from everyone is waaaay over the line for me.

  6. Snarkus Aurelius*

    Also corporate matching for philanthropic efforts is bullshit. If corporations want to donate to charity, then they should just do that instead of pressuring other people to donate so they can cheap out if donations are low.

    Don’t fall for this crap, people.

    P.S. way to create a tax penalty for Jane in her time of need though. I’m not a tax expert, but those amounts greatly exceed the tax-free amount!

        1. Snarkus Aurelius*

          Especially if there was a death in the immediate family. That alone changes Jane’s tax filing status.

          Plus major deposits and withdrawals trigger certain oversights like the IRS and DHS. That’s how Denny Hastert got caught.

            1. merula*

              Thanks for pointing this out! And after this year, “Qualifying Widow(er)” kicks in for two years which in most ways is equivalent to MFJ.

          1. Joanne*

            Well if people gave cash and gift cards, that would change things with taxes if Jane didn’t report it correct. Bc I have no idea. But the way this is going, nothing would surprise me

        2. Snarkus Aurelius*

          Especially if there was a death in the immediate family. That alone changes Jane’s tax filing status.

          Plus major deposits and withdrawals trigger certain oversights like the IRS and DHS. That’s how Denny Hastert got caught because he tried to stagger his withdrawals, which is crazy illegal.

    1. Cut & Run*

      I agree. I also question when asked to donate at the point-of-sale area at stores to round up or donate a specific dollar amount. Like who gets credit (and the potential deduction) for those donations?

      1. Ex-prof*

        The one that frosts me is when the store tries to get you to buy food items from their stock for the local food bank. The store doesn’t just get the credit for the donation, it also gets the markup.

        1. MigraineMonth*

          More importantly, food banks need money far more than nonperishable food items. Consider the costs of collecting and storing donated items, many of which aren’t actually what they need. Additionally, food banks are more likely to get discounts on purchases (for their nonprofit status or bulk sizing), and may be able to use money to purchase fresh items such as produce, meat and dairy.

          If you’d throw it away otherwise, go ahead and donate the food item. If you want to meaningfully help the food bank’s mission, give them cash.

          1. goddessoftransitory*

            And paying to transport the food–the food banks around here are running low on so many things, but offered donations often come from far enough away that they literally can’t afford to go get them or have them shipped.

        2. Burger Bob*

          Yeah those are just a tax write-off and a good PR move for the company. They get to claim that they donated $X, even though all they really did was forward their customers’ donations. That’s why I don’t do those. If I want to donate to the organization, I’ll do it directly.

      2. Beth*

        That company does. That’s why you should never do that. If you donate, do it on your own so you get the credit.

        1. Tio*

          Actually, they don’t. You can claim them on your own taxes, it’s just difficult to track and unlikely to make a difference on your taxes, and you are supposed to save the receipt and everything in case you were for some reason audited.

      3. Katya Zamo*

        For donations in which you “round up” i.e. it’s above the amount you would be paying for your items, the company doesn’t get the deduction, they are acting as a “pass through” for individuals’ donations, and don’t receive any tax credit for that. When the company says they’ll “donation a percentage or amount from every purchase” then yes, in that case they get the credit and deduction.

      4. MigraineMonth*

        The company can’t claim the deduction for customers’ donations; it can claim a deduction if it donated its own money for matching. There are a thousand sketchy things corporations do to avoid paying taxes, but point-of-sale donations actually aren’t one of them.

        1. anon today*

          It might not help them with taxes, but I’ve heard they trumpet the donation for publicity as “[Company] raised $___ for [Cause]” and include the donations they solicited from customers.

        2. Bob-White of the Glen*

          It can be sketchy if it’s their own charity they are rounding up for. Was just asked for a $.98 donation at Taco Bell, “to help educate teenagers.” Yeah, I’m sure most of that goes directly to scholarships for non-employees.

      5. rebelwithmouseyhair*

        Yeah I always say no I’m not donating. They make you feel bad, but I already have ongoing monthly payments to Amnesty and Doctors without Borders, I make regular donations to our town’s “eat local eat organic” scheme, which provides organic veg to people in need, I donate both time and money working as a counsellor at an NGO, and honestly I think that’s plenty. I also vote for the parties who promise to take the most from the rich and give it to the poor, in the hopes that my taxes will be used to redistribute wealth. I’m not going to help a bunch of capitalists pretend to be generous.

    2. Beth*

      In the US, gift tax applies to the donor, not the recipient. Gifts are tax-free to the recipient.
      Jane isn’t facing any penalty.

      For the donor, any one person can give up to $17,000 to any other person per calendar year without it triggering gift tax. Your CEO and his wife could each give $34,000 to Jane, and another $32k to each of their kids — but that would be their own money and not the money they extort out of their employees. OPM (Other people’s money) is soooo easy to give away.

      1. Beth*

        Mistyped: that should have been “another $34k to each of the kids”. The tax-free gifting limit is increased every year, like most items in the tax code that benefit the wealthy. $17k per donor per recipient is the 2023 limit.

    3. Boof*

      TBH I feel a bit of the same way about matching retirement contributions; I mean yes the logic is maybe that gives people some slight extra incentive to save, but probably it means those least able/willing to save have even less

    4. My Cabbages!*

      Just to be clear because it’s a common misconception…any additional tax burden would be significantly less than the money she’s getting. Situations where the taxes on money received end up costing more are extremely rare and mostly only on the lower end of the income acale.

  7. BellyButton*

    When something similar happened at a company I worked for, I stayed non-committal.

    “We are raising funds for Jane”
    “I heard about that! What a lovely gesture.”

    “Did you donate to Jane’s fund?”
    “I heard about that! It is such a lovely gesture.”

    “I am still taking donations for Jane….”
    “That is great! I hope it helps her get through this tough time.”

    People were so confused that I never gave a straight answer that they sort of just looked baffled and would walk away. I have found this technique works great when I have little leverage or enough “safety” to come right out and tell them no.

    1. Sparkles McFadden*

      I second this tactic. It’s polite and professional and it works really well.

    2. emmelemm*

      Unfortunately, it sounds like the CEO here is keeping a spreadsheet, so eventually it will be very apparent that the amount LW has given is $0.

      1. Humanitarian*

        “A spreadsheet…well thank goodness for Excel! Now, about those reports…”

      1. Angstrom*

        Sad if true, but not Jane’s coworkers responsibility to fix, or to be pressured into fixing.

      2. Miri12*

        Six figures could mean $100k or $900k, which are obviously very meaningfully different amounts. Even $100,000 goes very quickly in expensive cities, especially if your life style depended on a spouse’s salary.
        I don’t fault Jane for being unprepared financially for her husband’s unplanned death. She’s plenty culpable on other fronts though.

        1. anon today*

          Where I live, $100K is about 90% of the Area Median Income for a single person, let alone a family. The city next over has a requirement that builders include some “affordable housing” for people making up to 100% of the Area Median Income.

          My bestie’s husband died young but had enough life insurance that his wife never needed to rush to get a new job after his death or subsequent layoffs. Both of them are/were engineers. So’s Husband #2.

        2. thatoneoverthere*

          Agreed that Jane’s finances may be very impacted by her husbands death. Especially if his sudden death came with a multitude of hospital bills. $100k in areas like LA, San Francisco, NYC etc is like a median salary. I am not really faulting Jane for the fundraising. I know someone that lost a child and he had to be life flighted. The family was pretty well off financially but a the cost of life flight was nearly $50k. Not many people have the resources to comfortably pay off $50k, even if you are well off.

          I do think it’s terrible they basically did all this for Jane and next to nothing for the co-worker that lost her 11 year old. That is horrendous. I don’t think I could even think about working for months if I lost a child.

    1. Keeley Jones, The Independent Woman*

      Many people do not have adequate life insurance, so I am not surprised. Income level really doesn’t have much to do with it either, people just don’t think it will happen to them.

      (PSA, if you don’t have a life insurance policy outside of your employer, get one ASAP)

      1. londonedit*

        Yep. I have a friend whose husband died in tragic circumstances a few years ago, and when it came out that she was struggling to find the money needed for the funeral etc, several people of my acquaintance made comments (not in her earshot, but still) along the lines of ‘What, he didn’t have life insurance? They don’t have any savings?’ And no, they didn’t. They were in their thirties and renting in an expensive city – a lot of people don’t think about life insurance until they get a mortgage, and savings can be hard to build up when your everyday expenses are high. They both had the sort of high-flying jobs that people assume come with loads of money, but life insurance wasn’t something they’d sorted out. Hindsight is a wonderful thing.

        I do think the OP’s company is being completely unreasonable with all of this, and I’d be deeply uncomfortable at being asked to contribute a decent chunk of money to something like this. If the company wants to pay her full salary and give her time off and donate a sum to her GoFundMe, that’s fine, but they also need to make sure the response is proportionate and followed through on whenever an employee suffers the loss of a close relative. But yeah, not everyone has life insurance and savings on hand to pay for all the things that go along with a sudden death.

        1. Expelliarmus*

          I think it also doesn’t help that most life insurance tends to expect you to be at least 50 years old when applying for a policy (ex. Colonial Penn)

          1. AnonAnon*

            Not true. You can get it at any age. The younger you are, the cheaper the premium is.
            My home/auto insurance company offers it.

            But a lot of companies offer life insurance as part of your benefit. I am hoping he had at least something like that which would more than cover a funeral and even pay for a good chunk of college.

          2. Y'all Come Back Now, Ya Hear?*

            I have life insurance, as does my husband – both through work and through our own policies bundled with our car insurance and home insurance. We each purchased it around our respective 30th birthdays – with the assumption that by the time it runs out when we are 50, that we will hopefully have enough savings to cover what it would cover now.

            1. TeaCoziesRUs*

              That’s how we set up mine. Since I’m currently a homemaker, we set my term at $1M – because he would essentially have to hire a nanny or have a family member move in to take my place. It expires shortly after the youngest has to college – because if I die after that he won’t need a caretaker for our kids. I also have a much smaller whole life policy, which will basically cover my final expenses.

              Nothing says I AM a valuable contributing member of society quite like realizing that I have a $1M policy for being “just” a housewife.

          3. Seashell*

            That’s whole life insurance. For most people with dependent children/spouses, term insurance is a better option.

            1. MigraineMonth*

              Whole life insurance is an entirely different beast; it’s basically municipal bond investment taking advantage of life insurance tax breaks. The premiums are immense, but you can also cash out the value of the what you put in before you die.

          4. DanniellaBee*

            I am 34 and have multiple life insurance policies. Our financial planner did a great job of explaining that life insurance is all about risk management and sudden income loss for living loved ones and dependents.

          5. I have RBF*

            My life insurance policy started when I was 18. Some years I’ve struggled to make the payment, but I did it, because even though they’ve rejiggered the policy to cost more money unilaterally, it’s still cheaper than getting a new one when you are over 50.

          6. Jacqueline*

            They can also reject you. My husband has some health problems, and it took three tries to find a company that was willing to provide a policy.

        2. Avid Reader*

          Life insurance requires a death certificate to claim, depending on where you live, it can take longer than some might imagine. When my husband died, it took six months to get his death certificate. I was fortunate to have other options, but others won’t get life insurance money in time for a funeral in most cases. Keep this mind when planning.

          1. I have RBF*

            Yeah, I have fronted the money to get people cremated before, because you don’t get the death certificate that lets you access their funds or their life insurance until after you pay the funeral home. Sometimes I’ve been paid back.

            So, essentially, in order to claim the life insurance money, you have to spend it all on the funeral arrangements first.

            I actually need to set aside my “funeral fund” again, because it got depleted in 2019.

          2. Not Okay*

            In my experience, funeral homes will proceed if you assign the policy to them. They send you the balance remaining after deducting for the agreed upon services. No need to wait for an insurance payout to get the services performed. Funeral homes also expedite getting death certificates.

        3. Not Okay*

          I have worked for many companies, all of whom offered group term life insurance as a benefit. It’s so cheap for younger folks! And is especially needed when you haven’t built up savings yet. Financial literacy should be taught in schools.

      2. ENFP in Texas*

        The only reason I was able to keep the house when my husband died unexpectedly was because he had maxed out his life insurance at his job. He earned a third more than I did, and I would never have been able to afford the mortgage and bills on my salary alone. He was 47 and I was 39, and we had just bought the house 3 years prior.

      3. Starbuck*

        I dunno, is it really necessary if you have no dependents, no debt, and enough savings that your estate could easily be used to pay for funeral expenses? I’ve never seen the point for my situation.

        1. Hlao-roo*

          The only thing I can think of is that a life insurance payout may be faster and easier for your family to access to pay for funeral expenses than savings. You might have enough in a bank account to cover funeral expenses, but the process for the account beneficiaries to access that money (or for it to go through the estate process if you don’t have any beneficiaries assigned) is likely longer and more complicated than receiving a life insurance payout.

          As a person with no dependents and no debt, I have opted in to my workplace 1x annual salary life insurance (I don’t have to pay any premiums for it) so my family can easily cover any funeral expenses.

          1. Starbuck*

            Oh, my workplace definitely doesn’t offer anything like that, we don’t even technically have retirement. And I don’t own a house or anything. Sounds like just adding them on whatever paperwork my bank would want, and drawing up a will would be a better use of my time and resources than life insurance.

        2. Boof*

          Life insurance is paying money against the odds of financial catastrophy; if it won’t be catastrophy it isn’t worth paying the money to ensure it. Better odds of return to save or invest the money.
          So I have life insurance on myself, I don’t have it on my husband; I’m the main (only) earner. I mean it would REALLY REALLY SUCK if my husband unexpectedly died, but the hit wouldn’t really be financial. So it doesn’t make sense to spend a ton of money now to insure him; but I pay a ton of money against the possibility of my own lost earnings through death or serious debility (it’s both life and own-speciality disability insurance)

          1. Harper the Other One*

            Just as a side note for this: if children are involved make sure a stay at home parent also has life insurance. It seems like an unnecessary expense sometimes but if the SAH parent is providing childcare and they die, suddenly the working parent has to pay for child care. We’ve known a family get stung by that and fortunately they had a family member who was able to provide after school care or they would have been in big financial trouble.

          2. Burger Bob*

            My husband and I go ahead and have it for both of us. We get it relatively cheaply as an offered benefit through our jobs, and this way if both of us bite the dust simultaneously in some kind of tragic accident or something, our secondary beneficiaries (aging parents) get a payout that will hopefully help take care of them in our absence.

        3. Not Okay*

          Prepay for your own final expenses and you are good. Pre need is what it’s called. Folks with lots of money may not need insurance, but everybody else sure does.

        4. Tom*

          Your parents, if they’re still alive, and especially if you have no siblings, might appreciate having a little bit of extra cushion in their bank account for expenses.
          That’s why I have life insurance, anyway, despite being in your situation.

      4. Exiled in TX*

        Love her or hate her, this is one of the most valuable pieces of advice I took from Susie Orman.

      5. Zoe Karvounopsina*

        We also don’t know what costs they had in the run up to his death, whether he had ongoing medical issues… and, to be fair, we shouldn’t! But life insurance can be difficult to get–I’m currently finding it very hard due to a history of depression. Obviously this is not OP’s problem, and no reason for her to donate, but we should judge Jane on what we know, not what we assume.

    2. Corrigan*

      I thought similarly, but really what this workplace is doing wouldn’t be appropriate in any case.

    3. Snarkus Aurelius*

      I thought most white collar jobs offer life insurance policies? Is that just my experience?

      I wouldn’t assume these two didn’t have any. I’d wager they did.

      1. The Original K.*

        Mine does. I have the minimum because it’s free, and I also have an external policy. (If my employer’s policy cost me anything I’d opt out because of my own policy.)

      2. Toads, Beetles, Bats*

        I’ve never worked anywhere that offered more than $10,000 if I kick the bucket, unless I wanted to buy extra. That ain’t gonna keep the mortgage paid very long.

        1. Liz*

          My employer offers life insurance covering 1.25x annual salary with no premium for me, but I also have a supplemental policy that covers 5x my annual salary. As someone who’s married with a young child, anything lower would be almost useless. At least this way the mortgage is completely paid off and there’s 1-2 years of living expenses.

          1. A person in retail*

            First job was white collar and you got 1x salary up to $50k for free. (I made more than that.) Then I had some government jobs that I don’t actually remember if they had life insurance. Now I work retail and (if you are eligible for benefits) there is again some number that I can’t recall if the free amount is 1x pay up to 50k (which would be around 30k for me) or if it’s just 50k. (I don’t remember because I don’t have dependents, so either works for me, just need enough to cover funeral and such. So I didn’t really think about it beyond “Do I need more? Nope.”)

      3. Artemesia*

        She may well have substantial life insurance and just be grifting. It would be astonishing to me that anyone with kids would not have a huge policy on the breadwinner. This is being responsible for your family 101.

        Can’t get over the fact that this same business gave someone who lost a child 3 days off.

          1. Starbuck*

            I think maybe in the while-collar salaried office work world that makes sense as an expectation, but I feel like this is very class and occupation dependent. Only about half of US adults have life insurance, and the data tells us that people with higher incomes are much more likely to have it.

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

        That’s been my experience too, but it amounts to about a year salary at most, so not really set-for-life insurance money. It wouldn’t keep my theoretical spouse and kids in the same lifestyle that they would have prior to my death, just cover funeral and other expenses while the surviving spouse figured out the family finances on a single income. Even a million dollar policy isn’t going to last a lifetime.

      5. COHikerGirl*

        All but one of mine have not. The one that did the free part was like $10k. I got my own outside of that because anything tied to an employer isn’t great.

    4. The Person from the Resume*

      I generally avoid donating to fundraising efforts in situations like this. Jane is now a single parent, but she makes a six figure salary! Her husband who likely made a decent salary of his own and should have had life insurance to provide for his family in case of his death. It’s not my responsibility to help someone that should have helped themselves, and honestly I’d be pretty doubtful that Jane’s family actually needs the help based on knowledge of her salary. It’s become very knee-jerk to assume that people need money after a death in the family. Many people live so close the the edge of poverty that they do, but Jane’s family doesn’t sound like one of them.

      I can’t tell from the letter if the LW already donated to her own team’s fund for Jane to cover expenses, but of the LW did just keep repeating “I already donated to a bereavement fund for Jane’s family.”

      Wow! There was one big issue with this company before this situation. The blatent favortism was already obvious, and they’re taking it to the next level with this tragedy. LW needs to decide is they can avoid donating more money to Jane’s family without impact to their career. But I recommend the LW start looking for a new job.

      1. LoJo*

        How quickly does life insurance pay out? Serious question. I also agree that this employer is asking too much.

        Plus, there’s legislation pending that anything over $600 has to be reported. How would that law engage with this situation?

        Not making light of the situation, but Chris Rock had a joke in his stand up over the weekend. He was making fun of corporate matching. Example: Subaru advertising that they would donate $250 to the charity of choice of any car buyers. He laughed and said “just give me the $250 dollars” instead of some random charity…I agree!

          1. LoJo*

            I was thinking about the donor. If an individual donor exceeds $600 via Venmo or a GoFundMe effort, does that need to be reported?

            Also, could these donations impact the college bound kid’s financial aid?

        1. Ann Perkins*

          I used to work at a big name life insurance company, though I didn’t process claims myself. They pay out pretty quickly generally, like as soon as you get the death certificate. If there’s something that seems fishy like if it’s a possible suicide still within the suicide clause of the policy, they’ll wait until the investigation is done, but those sorts of cases are probably less than 1% of all payouts. It’s known with any of the reputable life insurance companies that you do not mess around with timely payout of death claims.

    5. Ex-prof*

      Well, we don’t know that he didn’t. Jane seems determined to collect on all available fronts, no?

      1. greenland*

        This is unkind. There’s no indication in the letter than Jane herself did anything other than set up a GoFundMe (very common, and I have to imagine she was getting a lot of people asking “How can I support you? Do you have a GoFundMe?” when she shared the news.) We certainly have no reason to assume that Jane is in any way involved with the company collection efforts.

        1. Sloanicota*

          Yeah, it’s kind of gross to be investigating Jane’s decisions here. I’m not Team Bootstrap at the best of times. It’s enough to say that the company is overstepping by pressuring people to donate and that OP is not obligated to give anything at all.

          1. Loulou*

            Agreed, I’m not sure how the details in this letter merit such uncharitable speculation about Jane’s actions.

      2. Bunny Lake Is Found*

        Yeah, this is a bit unkind. Jane just seems to have been going along being bad at her job (hell, given the bubble she was placed in by the CEO’s wife, who knows if she even is fully aware of how bad she was doing? I can’t imagine her managers were EVER allowed to give her anything but positive reviews) and had her spouse unexpectedly die. No reason to suspect she pressured the CEO’s wife to make the CEO extort money from her co-workers. And if Jane was offered 2 months paid leave (or asked how much paid leave she would want), I don’t think we can blame Jane for taking it. As far as the GoFundMe, I have seen it for many people who have sudden expenses and it really isn’t that much out of left field. So unless Jane shows up pressuring coworkers for cash, I will hold off on seeing her as trying to turn her spouse’s death into a cash grab.

    6. CheesePlease*

      There is nothing to indicate this, nor does everyone who has life insurance is financially equipped to deal with a sudden loss.

      As Allison said, Jane is allowed to make a GoFundMe, ask friends to share it etc. The CEO is out of line in 1) coercing employees to donate large sums of money and 2) show favoritism by allowing leave and setting up company fundraisers etc when that is not the standard practice.

    7. CheesePlease*

      There is nothing about Jane and John’s financial planning strategies that would merit the company’s actions in this situation. Even if they had nothing, the CEO should not be asking for major donations or giving special treatment when other employees were shown much less support.

      On top of that, having savings, life insurance etc does not guarantee anyone is financially equipped to handle a sudden loss.

      The villain here is not John and Jane for lack of planning, or even Jane for her incompetence, but only the CEO and the people who have allowed that behavior. Discussing Jane and John’s personal lives doesn’t help OP

    8. Dutch*

      *Jane makes six figures

      And still makes six figures!

      I have sympathy with someone else’s loss, but I wouldn’t be contributing anything more than towards flowers and a card.

    9. Coverage Associate*

      Perhaps the same condition that caused the sudden loss made him uninsurable. A person can have chronic conditions, live a normal life, and it be very hard to get life insurance, especially at amounts to replace high salaries and especially at the ages where kids are entering college.

      1. Endorable*

        This is very true. My husband was uninsurable, and it was very stressful for me until the kids were grown and out of the house. He died relatively young, and there was no insurance windfall. We had definitely planned our finances around this possibility, though.

    10. Anonosaurus*

      There’s a lot wrong in this situation, but I’d be slow to criticise Jane for the fact her husband (presumably) didn’t have life insurance. A lot of people don’t plan for the worst happening or they don’t qualify for insurance due to preexisting conditions etc. Ripping off an employer (which sucks, but the employer is enthusiastically participating in that process) is reprehensible but Jane and her late husband didn’t plan any worse for his death than millions of other couples.

      1. H3llifIknow*

        Why do you presume that? For all we know, on top of everything her buddy and the CEO have done for her, and the money extorted from her colleagues, she may very well have received hundreds of thousands in life insurance, his pension, survivor benefits, 401K payout, whatever. What we DO know from the letter, is that the CEO seems to think that Jane should not have to pay for anything going forward, to include her kids’ education and that not just the company but her colleagues should be the ones to subsidize it regardless of their OWN financial situation–I wonder how many of THEM could pay outright cash for their kids’ college!

    11. Ellie*

      Maybe he did? We don’t know if Jane needs the money. She may not even be aware of what the company’s doing.

  8. H3llifIknow*

    I think someone needs to go to HR (if there is one) or someone in authority and say, “So and so lost her 11 year old and was treated much less kindly by the company; she may have a cause of action for discrimination because the optics around ALL OF THIS are awful.”

    OP you work for a horrible company. I’d not have given anything personally once I found out what the company was doing. The fact that the CEO and his wife are going so far overboard is just… well my gob is smacked but good!

    1. Yoyoyo*

      As Alison noted, what they are doing is crappy but legal unless they are treating grieving employees differently based on a protected class, so it doesn’t sound like there is a discrimination case here.

      That being said, this company is terrible.

      1. Need More Sunshine*

        But HR should still care – even if it’s not illegal, HR is (usually) also in charge of general company morale and managing any perception of possible illegal activity too. But agreeing, the company sounds terrible and often HR can’t do jack if leadership doesn’t back it (speaking as HR myself…)

      2. H3llifIknow*

        Yes, that’s why I said, “she may have a cause of action for discrimination…” For all we know the mother is a POC, or a member of a protected class. If so, the company could be in deep doodoo. But I still think someone needs to speak for her, even if she doesn’t speak up for herself. If HR is ANY GOOD at all, they’ll be horrified at the optics of treating Jane like a queen while basically dismissing the grieving mother :(

    1. Rainy*

      I’ve noticed that too. It feels like a bunch of toxic employers were unable to be sufficiently awful to their employees for a while and are motivated to catch up.

  9. V*

    Honestly I’d be taking the coworker who lost their child out for lunch/drinks if they want and asking what help they want in finding a better position so they can flip this company the bird. And then I’d be leaving myself. (This comment contains hyperbole, but not that much – mishandling of bereavement is definitely part of why I left my last, otherwise awesome, job.)

    1. Keats*

      I’m still stunned at how horrible bereavement leave is. My mom is a hospice nurse, whereas I work in an ancillary health department at a big box store.

      I got more leave than she did when her father died. It’s unacceptable.

      1. Cruciatus*

        My sister is a doctor at a medical clinic, I work as staff at a university. I got 5 days for my mom’s death and she got I think only 2 or 3 (and I was able to take another week off using PTO whereas it’s much harder for her to do the same, even for a situation like this).

      2. Boof*

        I can’t tell from this letter but as I understand it, bereavement leave is just a specific bucket of time off (hopefully PTO) and is usually really short; it doesn’t mean that’s all the time off allowed the employer can have other PTO, FMLA, etc at their discretion.

    2. rebelwithmouseyhair*

      I agree, and conversely because my ToxicBoss2 was actually really kind when my father died: I was given indefinite leave, told to come back when I felt up to it. I stayed away for three weeks, came back and was unproductive for a week, then I was due to leave for our family holiday, after which I was able to bounce back. They paid me in full for all that time, when I had assumed it would be unpaid leave.
      I had been thinking of leaving, but they got several more years out of me on the strength of that kindness.

    1. H3llifIknow*

      That’s an assumption. Good HR is there to make sure the company is protected, not just the “VIPs” of the company. In fact, if HR stays out of a situation they should have gotten involved in, we’ve all seen where they get dragged thru the mud for it. Heck HR may be the ONLY ones in the company able to make him see the error of his actions (which were likely driven by his wife, Jane’s buddy).

  10. BooksAndTea*

    I find giving money directly to a family when someone dies odd. I worked one place where someone spouse passed away very suddenly. We all chipped in to provide catering meal prep for our coworker, because her child had food allergies that made eating out difficult. I wouldn’t want to just give money that can be used for anything.

    1. Feral Humanist*

      The abrupt loss of income in a household that still has more or less the same expenses (and now has, presumably, funeral expenses, which can be thousands of dollars) can be very difficult. The bureaucracy of death is challenging to navigate, and it is worse when you have grief-related brain fog. I don’t think there is anything wrong, in general, with giving money in these situations when money is what is needed, and I would certainly never presume to tell someone what they can use it on (not my business to decide what is and is not a necessary expense). What is happening here is obviously BS and truly terrible behavior on the part of the company, but I completely understand how and why someone might end up needing money more than casseroles after the death of a partner/co-parent.

      1. ViewFromHere*

        Certainly the CEO and people better positioned than Jane can donate. But the tricky part is asking people who are perhaps making $50,000 a year to donate to help Jane (making more than $100,000 per year). I’m cynical about GFMs given that I have personally seen a couple by people who were financially well-equipped to handle the circumstance they were seeing help with.

    2. FashionablyEvil*

      Cash is so much easier to deal with. We had a family emergency last summer and cash was so much easier to deal with. I didn’t have to think about what I was buying, figuring out if I had enough on the Doordash gift card, if I’d already used the Doordash gift card, etc.

    3. Anonosaurus*

      I don’t really understand why it’s a bad thing that cash “could be used for anything” – of course it can, that’s kind of the point. Its not really up to the giver to monitor how a person in distress spends money, like some things are worthy expenditures and others are not. If you think they’re going to run off to Vegas with the cash, maybe don’t give in the first place?

      Signed, widow who spent some of the bereavement benefits the government gave her on wine and chocolate to numb the awfulness and doesn’t feel guilty about that.

    4. Generic Name*

      I think it depends on your local culture. This would be odd in the culture I grew up in, but when my father in law died, the residents of his village gave the family just enough to cover the burial expenses. A neighbor hand-made the wooden coffin, he was buried in the family cemetery, and they had the graveside service a few days early so they wouldn’t have to pay for embalming. The community gathered together to help the family. It was really amazing.

    5. Luca*

      OT, sometimes cash is more needed than items which are otherwise useful. $500 in supermarket gift cards is fine in themselves, but one can’t pay the electric bill with them.

    6. rebelwithmouseyhair*

      In my partner’s culture, everyone gives money at funerals (and birthdays and weddings). I thought it was off, and maybe the grieving family might feel insulted, but they have always shown gratitude and mostly told him what they would be using the money for, usually paying various funeral or burial costs.
      Just recently, I found out that a woman who volunteers at the same NGO as me had lost her husband to suicide. She was a SAHM to four young boys, at least one of whom has special needs. I wanted to do a gofundme for her and ask everyone from the NGO if they could contribute, and I was told not to, because she might not want everyone knowing what happened. I ended up just sending money with a card and she wrote back to thank me. She didn’t say what she’d do with the money but since I know money was tight I know she’ll use it on necessities.

    7. MCMonkeyBean*

      I mean, no one should ever feel *obligated* to donate in these situations but I admit I find your stance of “I wouldn’t want to just give money that can be used for anything” to be very odd.

      “Money that can be used for anything” is honestly about the most useful thing you can give in pretty much any situation. This is true for donations to places like food banks and it is true when donating to individual people going through a hard time. Because the people or organizations that you are giving to know most what they actually need most in that moment, whether it is to pay for food to eat or the mortgage to keep the roof over their head or the hospital bills or the funeral bills etc etc.

    8. H3llifIknow*

      Maybe it’s a midwest thing….but we’ve always put money or a check into cards for the funeral. I think it stems from “ye olden days” when a funeral was a big expense and not a lot of people had insurance etc… but … my big midwestern family still does it… *Shrug*

    9. Alpacas Are Not Dairy Animals*

      That’s kind of the point, that it can be used for anything. The person receiving knows what they need in far more detail than the person giving.

      The problem here is an unrelated one: the person receiving also already has more than the people giving.

  11. Onward*

    “Another long-time employee lost an 11-year-old child recently, and she got the three days. That’s it — no extra time off, no company fundraising effort, nothing.”

    Oh wtf. That’s awful!

  12. drinking Mello Yello*

    Companies that want to be supportive just need to Give their employees going through a hard time what they need instead of pressuring the employee’s coworker’s to provide the support. Asking/pressuring employees with vastly more limited resources when compared to an Entire Company to donate things like money and PTO when the company could just, you know, provide that themselves if they wanted to is just gauche and crappy. It’s the whole wanting the Appearance of being supportive without actually doing the Actions of being supportive thing. :/

    1. drinking Mello Yello*

      And provide it equitably. No huge crappy disparities like between Jane and the coworker who lost their 11 year old child. :/

      1. Kyrielle*

        This. I can see some potential financial differences – Jane has lost someone who was providing income to the household, the coworker who lost their child has not – but the paid time for grief should surely be somewhat equivalent. And if medical bills occurred due to how the child passed, that family may also have an unexpected need for money.

        1. rebelwithmouseyhair*

          I totally agree that it’s not fair for Jane to get months off and heaps of donated money while the bereaved mother only got three days.
          Howewer, it’s not paid time for grief. The days of paid leave in times of bereavement are because it takes time to deal with death: travelling autopsies inquiries getting the death certificate organising the funeral dealing with tombstones and obituaries etc.
          I mean, I imagine that grief over losing a child simply never ends, but at some point you have to swallow hard and get back to work.

          1. H3llifIknow*

            But Jane, after losing her spouse shouldn’t “have to swallow hard and get back to work”? That may not be what you meant, but it sure is what it sounded like. Having lost both sets of parents and both sets of in laws, I’ve had to take time off as executor to deal with stuff, I’m not sure why you seem to think that it makes sense for Jane to need all that time off, but not the grieving mother who ALSO had to arrange a funeral, perhaps an and all of the same things that Jane has to do, including a tombstone, etc… FOR HER CHILD. I know I personally could “swallow hard” and move on faster if my husband died than one of my children. I doubt I’d be able to get out of bed for weeks.

    2. The Original K.*

      Yep – it’s like those stories of people donating their sick and/or vacation time to their colleagues when the colleague has a medical need. They’re framed as heartwarming, but they aren’t. The employer could just give the employee leave, yet they choose to pass that burden on to the employees. It’s gross.

      1. A Simple Narwhal*

        Ugh I hate how those stories are lauded as feel-good. The same for “this child ran a lemonade stand and now their mother can get a healthcare treatment!” or “there was a fundraiser and now the 85 year old worker can afford to retire!”. It lifts up the immediate positive outcome but completely ignores the horrific systems that make those situations common and possible in the first place.

        Agreed that pushing the cost onto individuals is gross. Either the company cares or they don’t, and they should stop pretending otherwise with this deceptive fundraising nonsense.

      2. AnonORama*

        Ugggh, I’m always so conflicted about this because it is gross, but I’ll take on a bit of the burden (manager, salaried, no kids, 400+ hours accrued sick time) than make a single mom go unpaid because she got cancer or her kid needs surgery or whatever. I admit, when asked I just donate because I have tons of sick time I can’t cash out. I don’t want to stop donating to make the point that management sucks, because that only punishes the folks who need leave. But it’s worth thinking about working on senior management to provide more leave instead of asking staff to find it in their hearts to give up their own sick time. I’m not a leader or a rabble-rouser by any means, but it is pretty ridiculous if you think about it.

        1. I'm fabulous!*

          At an old job, I had maybe a month’s worth of sick paid days. A colleague became ill due to a mold condition in our building and ran out of hers. I asked management if I could donate some of mine to her; was told no.

  13. Khatul Madame*

    I am as disgusted and appalled as all other commenters. However, I don’t understand why the LW is still feeling pressured after they contributed $250. I hope they are not tracking every person’s donations!
    Anyway, I love BellyButton’s suggestion upthread to wax poetic about the giving campaign, and the LW can righteously say “I am glad to be part of this effort!” (eyeroll)

    1. BaskingInMyWindowlessOffice*

      It said the CEO is running this second campaign and is tracking donations. Ugh.

  14. HearTwoFour*

    I wonder if the employee who lost her 11 year old son was also strong-armed into donating, which would be really sick.

  15. Ex-prof*

    Two months into the year and the contenders for worst boss are really piling up.

    The employee who got 3 days bereavement leave for an 11-year-old child isn’t the letter writer, but really needs to look for another job.

    1. I should really pick a name*

      Doesn’t look particularly different from other years.

      Now I want to look at some data and see if there are any months that nominees appear from more frequently…

  16. BellyButton*

    One company I worked for allowed employees to donate their PTO and sick leave to other people. WTF. I got 10 days for the entire year, if someone needs more time off, do the right thing as a company and give it to them.

    1. Bunny Lake Is Found*

      I think it is for workplaces where you can just accrue time from year to year without a cap. My mother was a teacher and when she retired I think she had something like 196 sick days. She worked for over 3 decades, started when the union contracts were amazing, and is one of those people who never gets a cold.

  17. How About This*

    If anyone asked me whether I’d donated, I’d say, “It sounds like Jane is covered, but [employee who lost an 11YO] may need some support. I’m planning to send her something instead.”

    1. BaskingInMyWindowlessOffice*

      I thought about suggesting that last part but I would check with that employee first. They may not want to be on the radar like that.

  18. SMH*

    I am not sure the best option but I would look at trying to out the company as a whole based on how they treat Jane vs other employees. Maybe stake holders or clients would be appalled and shame the company into backing off. Maybe copies of the emails and pressure being applied sent to news agencies and/or associations would help. I understand there is risk involved but printed copies will be harder to trace and especially if sent anonymously.
    It does appear that the company will retaliate if any negative actions are taken which is very disappointing. I would state if asked to give to any CEO gifts or other such nonsense in the future that all my extra gift money was given to Jane and I cannot give to anyone else.
    I would say this right now if I thought it would help but it may not.
    “Jane’s situation reminded me how important it is to have a will and life insurance in place. I am using my small amount of extra funds to implement these items and cannot give at this time. It would be great if the company could bring in experts at their cost to review what everyone should have in place before someone passes on.”

  19. Maraschino. You know, like in cherry*

    Sounds like it’s time to update your resume. You can then leave a very facts-based review on Glassdoor *sips tea*

    I’m so sorry OP, but I think your best bet is to leave if possible.

  20. Michelle Smith*

    I think Alison is 100% right, but I think her answer doesn’t quite fully respond to what I think is the more important issue – the fact that you are routinely working late and on weekends to pick up for Jane’s lack of teamwork. If I were in your situation, I would be looking for a new job ASAP — preferably securing something new before she comes back from her leave. This isn’t a place I’d want to continue working at under these circumstances, which may even worsen once she comes back given her grief.

  21. Introvert girl*

    Could you send an e-mail asking of this 2,5 months for bereavement will be a company wide thing and if so the coworker who lost her child can still take it?

    1. BaskingInMyWindowlessOffice*

      I thought about suggesting that last part but I would check with that employee first. They may not want to be on the radar like that.

      1. H3llifIknow*

        They can certainly send an email saying, “Is the new bereavement policy 2.5 months, and if so, is it retroactive at all?” Then it kinda makes the point w/o saying, “Sue could really use that time after her child died.”

  22. CatCat*

    The CEO also let it slip that Jane would be given two and a half months of paid leave while she “navigates this difficult time.”

    What an amazing and compassionate benefit this would be if provided to all employees.

    Too bad that instead it’s based entirely on who your buddies are. I’m appalled at that.

  23. DisneyChannelThis*

    For everyone outraged at the 3 day bereavement policy, I’m curious what your work’s policy is. Mine has a 3 day leave for immediate family policy with some leeway for like grandparents etc. I always thought that was reasonable until now….

    1. OrdinaryJoe*

      Mine is 3 days, too, I think for pretty much anyone considered “family”. I’ve never used it and never got into it with staff. If you said death & family, I didn’t dig into the exact relationship and just put it down for 3 days, plus whatever else they wanted. Bad time already, no sense adding stress to people’s plates and I never had anyone who I thought was abusing it.

    2. Person from the Resume*

      I’m not outraged by 3 days. 3 days is pretty standard. Generally the employee combines it with regular PTO and take off what they need. As Alison has stated before, it’s not intended to allow the person to finish the grieving process. This is for the activities associated with the funeral process.

      What is outrageously unfair is the favoritism being shown to Jane versus the other employee who also lost an immediate family member recently.

    3. Hiring Mgr*

      We don’t have one – unlimited vacation, so sick time, vacation, bereavement etc isn’t separate or allotted, you just take time off. If one of my employees lost a child, I would tell them to take all the time they need regardless of policy

      1. Extroverted Bean Counter*

        I’ve had a handful of colleagues lose a close family member (or be impacted by some crisis) over my years at my current company. Every time they were told “take the time you need.” We’re all salaried, we don’t have time sheets, and people came back when they felt it was reasonable. For some it was only a day or so. For others it was longer. No one took off to Disney World and partied for three months with the leeway.

        1. Extroverted Bean Counter*

          I should say we DO have limited vacation days (2-3 weeks, depending), and unlimited sick time that gets kicked to Short Term Disability if you’re out for 5+ days. But for emergencies, no one keeps track. Just come back when you’re ready.

    4. Onward*

      I think people aren’t so much outraged with 3 days of bereavement (which is pretty standard) as they are by the fact that they’re rolling out the red carpet for the employee who is friends with the CEO’s wife, while the person who lost a child only got those 3 days. It’s the comparison in how those two situations were treated.

    5. I should really pick a name*

      It’s possible for something to be common and cause outrage at the same time.

      1. V*

        Yes. Like, why shouldn’t we be outraged and be loud about our outrage? I hear “well, you can still take other leave, it’s just for making arrangements,” but often bereavement of someone close comes after burning through every other bit of leave available. And it’s just inhumane and stupid, and a symptom of the way corporations understaff to increase shareholder value. Why is this norm okay? Why aren’t we structuring work so that there is space for life to come first when it needs to? Why is putting family needs first something that only independently wealthy people can count on? Is that actually the society we want to live in?

    6. State University Midwest bereavement*

      5 days of paid leave for immediate family members (Father, Mother, Sister, Brother, Spouse, Domestic Partner, Civil Union Partner, Child, including child of a same-sex domestic partner or civil union partner (if unborn, gestational age must be 20 or more weeks), Grandparent, Grandchild, including grandchild of a same-sex domestic partner or civil union partner, Individual in a biological, adopted, foster, legal ward, step or in loco parentis relationship; In-law (grandmother-, grandfather-, mother-, father-, brother-, sister-, son-, and daughter-in-law), including a relative of a same-sex domestic partner or civil union partner (grandmother, grandfather, mother, father, brother, sister, son, and daughter); Member of the employee’s household)
      Optional: 5 more unpaid days.

      -one day of paid leave for a relative other than the above who is not a member of the employee’s household – aunt, uncle, niece, nephew, or cousin of the employee. (Such relatives are regarded as members of the immediate family only if in residence in the employee’s household.)

    7. Sweet Tooth*

      We get up to 20 days for the loss of a loved one (a term that is intentionally not defined because a loved one might not be a familial relationship). We also get 2 days for the loss of a pet. I feel privileged to work for a company that cares about us all.

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

      Same — 3 days for bereavement — and then I can use vacation/sick/family or even temporary disability leave after that depending on the circumstances. Alison has often noted that bereavement leave is not really to cover the amount of time a person would need to grieve the death of a loved one.

    9. Dust Bunny*

      Mine is 3 days, which I think is pretty much within standard range. But my understanding is that it’s for beginning funeral plans, etc. Nobody is pretending that that’s all you’re expected to grieve.

      The two and a half months is . . . I’ve never heard of anything even remotely like that before.

    10. Reed Weird*

      Just looked, and ours is two days for immediate family and one for extended. I know informally the company is willing to be flexible for unpaid leave, one person was out for a good three months because his brother died.

    11. Bit o' Brit*

      Ours is 5 days for immediate family (including siblings and grandparents, IIRC) taken as needed, but two weeks for your/your spouse’s child under the age of 18 including stillbirth (24+ week pregnancy) taken in week-long blocks.

      Other bereavements there’s no specific policy, just a note to talk to HR if you need time.

    12. H3llifIknow*

      Mine varies from 3-5, but they are also very flexible. When MIL died, in Hawaii, I went for 16 days and they allowed me to work when I could, take what time I needed, because we were executors of her trust and you cannot do that crap from 4000 miles away!

  24. Tio*

    If OP is ready to nuke the job, they could always email back on one of the company wide emails about Jane’s fundraising and say something like “Oh, this is great! Is there a link to the company fundraiser for [employee who lost their child] as well? I can’t find it”

    This will certainly call down retaliation but if you can get another offer or just want to go nuclear, do it

  25. LifeBeforeCorona*

    Personally, I would be very tempted to set up a GoFundme for the colleague who lost their child and stare down anyone who asks why.

  26. Kella*

    The only reason the personal GoFundMe and the “planning for the future” comment are relevant to the OP, I think, is just that the fact that Jane has already raised $16,000 from another source and the main need being listed is the college education of her son, indicates that this isn’t a matter of “Who needs this support most?” or “Who will help Jane if we don’t?” OP is being put in a position of determining whether or not Jane’s need is great enough to merit so much financial contributions so it makes sense that OP was thinking about it in that way. But I agree that those points are not the heart of the issue here and the company shouldn’t be evaluating who needs help raising money for their kid’s college education in the first place.

  27. A Simple Narwhal*

    My heart aches for the coworker who lost their child. What a horrific situation to begin with, infinitely magnified by the blatantly unequal treatment. I don’t think I’d be able to stay at the company after that, and I imagine if that person wrote in Alison would be telling them to job hunt.

    LW should consider leaving too – Jane’s special treatment was bad enough to begin with, knowing how deep it runs would have me running for the hills.

  28. Hiring Mgr*

    Obviously the company shouldn’t be pressuring anyone into donating but does all the background on Jane really matter? What difference does it make if she makes six figures, makes errors, takes longer vacations, is pals with CEO, etc.

    IMO the worst part of all this is the other employee who lost the child only being able to take three days – that might be standard but it’s pretty f’d up imo. I’d rather focus improving that than going off on a woman who just lost her husband.

    1. Peanut Hamper*

      Wow, so you aren’t phased by nepotism, and the fact that Jane’s work is always wrong, she’s always gone when she should be work, she gets paid more than she’s worth when that pay could go to other workers who are presumably pulling not just their own weight but also some of Jane’s?

      Pardon me, but your Stockholm Syndrome is showing.

      Even leaving out the bit about the coworker who lost a child, this is still pretty appalling behavior on the part of LW’s management. There is no way in hell I would work for a company like this.

      1. Hiring Mgr*

        I don’t see how Stockholm syndrome is relevant here, but I’m agreeing with you – the company is awful.

      2. M. from P.*

        It does make the discrepancy more grating but I agree, it would be unfair even if Jane were a stellar employee.

      3. MCMonkeyBean*

        I think their point is that whether or not Jane is good at her job should not have any bearing on how much the company does or doesn’t support her after her husband’s death and I agree! The fact that Jane is getting a weird and excessive amount of support from the company beyond what any other employee gets is not okay, but it’s not because she’s bad at her job. It would not be okay if she were good at her job either. Whether your not you are good at your job should not have an impact on how much bereavement leave you receive.

    2. Pierrot*

      The thing that you are most upset about is directly tied to the first part of your comment. Jane is directly connected to the CEO and has been able to get away with not doing her job and impacting LW’s ability to get her work done without facing any consequences. There is already a clear double standard for her. Then her husband dies and the CEO rallies around her, giving her 2 months of leave and a large fundraiser. Meanwhile the parent who lost her child gets 3 days off and nothing else.

      It’s not that Jane’s poor work performance means that she doesn’t deserve help and support. It’s that the company has a history of treating her better than her colleagues and the disparity between their response to Jane and the coworker who lost her child is the latest and most egregious example of the preferential treatment/nepotism.

      1. Hiring Mgr*

        That’s true but I was trying to say that the parent getting only three days off is terrible regardless of how much time Jane is getting or why.

        It’s hard for me to fathom any reasonable employer saying “Sorry, it’s only been three days but we need you back at the office” to someone who just lost a child.

        1. H3llifIknow*

          More likely the employee got 3 PAID days…. I’m sure she could have taken more unpaid, but some people just don’t have the ability to take unpaid time. That is the problem. Giving someone else 2.5 months of PAID time, while this person had to make a choice to come back while still grieving is beyond the pale.

    3. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      Oh it matters. Jane would’ve gotten 3 days and nothing else if she hadn’t been pals with the CEO.

      Also, Jane’s coworkers (including the one that lost her child, I presume) are being shaken down for pretty substantial amounts. There were several years in my past when I wouldn’t have been able to give $250, and that’s just for one collection of the two that are being organized by the company. That’s on top of the company match and the 2.5 month paid leave, and who’s to say the company isn’t going to turn around at annual review time and say they simply don’t have money in the budget for raises this year? The company is treating her better than her colleagues *at the expense of her colleagues*. All because… she’s friends with the CEO’s wife? If I worked there, I’d take it all to mean that I would never make any headway in this job *and would actually lose money working there* unless I befriended the CEO’s family, like, yesterday.

    4. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

      1. Jane has already been making heavy withdrawals from the Bank of Goodwill from all her coworkers, since they’ve been doing her work. Now they’re asking for more, this time in cash. It’s infuriating.
      2. Most people don’t mind helping the less fortunate. Having to give money to people who already have more money than you is infuriating.
      3. When I donate money, I want that money to go do some good. I wouldn’t trust Jane to use the money wisely.

  29. WillowSunstar*

    For sure, I would need to decline, having a car loan, student loan payments, and medical bills. I would be happy to cook or bake something for the person, or contribute in another way, but for sure could not do it with money.

    1. H3llifIknow*

      I think that’s a pretty rude and unkind thing to say. When there is a tragedy or disaster anywhere in the world, the US responds in droves. Saying the US is generally heartless is untrue, and frankly, offensive.

  30. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

    Similar to what Alison said, I think you need to separate out a couple things when assessing this situation. The key things here are that a) you’re all being pressured to donate a lot of money to Jane by people with a lot of power in the company and b) it’s an extremely clear example of favouritism. Not cool.

    I can see why Jane being bad at her job makes it extra annoying. You already resent her. (I would resent her, too!) She has made your job harder and now you’re getting pressured to give her like $500. But I’d argue that the above is not OK even if Jane was awesome at her job.

    I also see how it would grate that she’s getting money from all sorts of places – her regular salary, various work initiatives, GoFundMe, who knows what else. But analyzing how much she “needs” or is reasonable isn’t going to take you down a helpful path.

    I’d suggest that you focus on the two key things above and quietly enjoy your couple months of Jane-free time.

  31. Flowers*

    I am SO LIVID for the coworker who lost a child. I can’t even imagine (actually I can) and it’s the kind of feeling that makes you want to scream and have the earth shake.

    Personal story – my dad died and I was notified at work. I left work to attend the funeral in another country and was gone for a few weeks. I got a few condolence messages and some people approached me when I came back to work. That’s it.

    A while later, another coworker’s mother died, also in a different country; she was “forced” to take the day off the day of the funeral. They sent around a card and took donations for her. My grandboss never liked me and made that clear; this coworker was her favorite person (the favoritism was absolutely clear as day). Some of the rationale was that I was able to take time off to go to the funeral and this coworker was a workaholic so she was “more deserving.” It’s not like it was a huge sum of money but it was just such a crappy feeling.

  32. I can't even with this*

    I know it’s only March and there are many bad bosses yet to come, but this employer deserves to be in the running for Worst Boss of 2023

  33. Veryanon*

    Yes, this is gross, especially considering the other employee who lost her 11 year old child got nothing. Yuck.

  34. Emily*

    It seems like a lot of comments are derailing over how much Jane makes and whether or not her husband has life insurance, but frankly that does not matter. What matters is that what OP’s company is asking/demanding is wildly innapropriate. It would be innapropriate no matter what Jane’s income level was and whether or not her husband had life insurance. If the company wants to be generous, they can be generous with their own money, though the disparity in how they treated the employee who lost an 11 year old child and how they are treating Jane is appaling.

  35. Supposed Teacher*

    I’d quit and put the whole company on blast, cc all email on the last day. **** these garbage people.

    1. WillowSunstar*

      If you’re in person at all, quit by leaving a message in fish in the break room. (Evil grin.)

  36. AnonInCanada*

    OP, I would seriously recommend you dust off your resume and start job hunting. As long as Jane’s untouchable and receiving all these favours from your company just because she’s well known to the CEO, you and your colleagues will be seen as little more than someone who should always cater to her. Holy (insert expletive) this is worse than (a certain politician’s who shall remain nameless)’s snake oil selling grifting campaign!

  37. anonanon*

    For what it’s worth, my brother had just started his senior year of college when my father died, his job chose to continue ‘paying’ him for the rest of the year to help my mom out with the sudden loss of income as she was paying for my brothers tuition. My parents had savings and my dad had life insurance so it wasn’t strictly necessary, but it was a kind and helpful gesture. That said, the money wasn’t coming from individual employees, which I do agree is not okay. But the act of giving money to a family dealing with sudden loss is not inherently weird – the problem here is the unequal response to loss and the source of the money (specifically, coming from employees and not the company), not the gesture itself.

  38. Nothankyou*

    Well the good thing with so many sources of fundraising is that you can just say “Oh, I already did that via X” and if you get called on it, just act confused…”Oh, there were so many different places collecting money, I lost track of which ones I gave what to, maybe I donated it via Y instead”

  39. LateForTheParty*

    I’m sorry but I have limited funds for this kind of thing. I am directing my money towards the co-worker who lost a child. Would you like to make a contribution?

  40. TootsNYC*

    “I’m sorry, I simply can’t contribute. I’m saving as much of my money as I can in case I pass away early, so my family won’t have to rely on the kindness of other people.”

  41. Here for the Insurance*

    What they’re doing absolutely sucks.

    That said, I think this is a good example of a situation where you can (should) separate your feelings from your actions. Regardless of how the whole thing makes you feel, the only actionable thing to do here is to establish and maintain your boundaries about your money. You can do this directly (them: “We’re collecting money for Jane.” You: “No, thank you.”) or indirectly (them: “We’re collecting money for Jane.” You: “That’s such a kind gesture. [change subject]”).

    The key to this is to keep telling yourself 1) it’s *your* money, 2) nobody but you gets a vote in how you spend it, and 3) you don’t have to spend it differently no matter who attempts to tell/pressure/guilt you. What they want or expect is totally irrelevant. They have NO RIGHT to your money.

  42. Cheesesticks*

    Since this is coming directly from the CEO, I wonder if there is a board of directors or something similar that could be notified of this? Anonymously of course. This forced giving, especially a significant amount like being ordered to is way out of line.

    I am sure if there is anyone who doesn’t go along with this will lose their job at some point… of course with most states being “at will” the CEO will wait long enough so it won’t be obvious the firing is an act of retaliation.

  43. Database Developer Dude*

    No is a complete sentence.

    If I were being pressured to give a generous donation for a colleague that makes far more than I do, I’d be absolutely livid! It’s bad enough that we already do this on a national basis.

  44. laser99*

    I was about to make a joke like “Ha ha, can you lot believe it’s still only March? We’ve already got enough material for three years’ worth of Worst Boss of the Year Awards!!!”
    But nothing about this is funny. Just today’s submissions seem to prove that companies and/or employees seem emboldened as never before to behave immorally, with little or no fear of consequences.

  45. Fez Knots*

    I would argue that Jane gets much of this special treatment not just because she’s friends with powerful people, but she’s got other employees covering for her errors at work. How would those powerful relationships shift if they were aware of just how poorly Jane was doing her job?

    Aside from refusing to contribute to a problematic money collection, I would stop covering for Jane in every way. Alison has written at length on how to do this, review some of those posts and be assured that you’re under no obligation to continue helping this person. Sure, it’s an even harder time to revoke your assistance based on the tragedy Jane has experienced. But Jane has for years shown she doesn’t care about how her actions effect others. Even at this tragic moment in her life, there’s a startling lack of empathy.

    Keep your pocket book closed but also, stop helping! And start job hunting, obviously.

  46. design ghost*

    I really don’t like all the comments saying this is “obviously a grift” and that Jane’s “found another way of milking people for money” or whatever.

    Taking the LW at their word, this women’s husband just died. Why are you assuming nefarious intent just because, what, she’s bad at her job? Benefitting from nepotism (which Jane absolutely has been, no question there) doesn’t automatically mean she’s using her husband’s death to scam people for money holy shit.

  47. Wren*

    tbh this whole comment section is pretty gross (or, to put it another way, unkind). Yeah, Jane sucks as an employee and gets special treatment, you can resent her for that, but assuming she’s grifting? Because her husband died? It may be hard for the LW to put her anger towards the CEO and upper management because she’s in the moment and has to deal with both them and Jane every day, but the comment section isn’t. And seeing people act like Jane’s grifting when HER HUSBAND DIED is really terrible! Maybe take some of your own advice and be kinder, dang

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