can I say anything about my boss’s affair, how long should you wait when your interviewer is late for a Zoom call, and more

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

1. Can I say anything about my boss’s affair?

I’m 99% sure my boss and another subordinate are having an affair, but I’m not sure if I can or should say anything. A couple of days ago at lunch, I was sitting in the window of a restaurant and saw my boss, “Tim,” decidedly disheveled, hurriedly walking back to the office and tucking in his shirt. I then saw “Kristen” behind him a minute later, doing the same thing and fixing her hair. They had both come from the direction of my boss’s close-by apartment, which is the opposite way of the restaurant Kristen later said that they had lunch at.

This, in combination with how flirty they are and how much they’re always off by themselves and whispering, not to mention touching each other/fixing each other’s clothes, makes me think that they’re having an affair. Kristen has been given a lot of high-profile assignments despite how relatively new she is, and also immediately took over my boss’s corner office when he moved into one closer to other members of leadership. During meetings, they often derail the discussion with flirtatious banter, and the rest of us are left sitting there uncomfortably. Despite all these day-to-day issues, Tom and Kristen feel untouchable because everyone respects him and thinks she’s a ray of sunshine because of her bubbly personality — she even got kudos from our grandboss for her good attitude. I’m just not sure what to do or say at this point (like submitting an anonymous report to our hotline) if anything.

If you’ve got a hotline set up for anonymous reports, use it. If Tom is having an affair with someone he manages, that’s a major violation of professional ethics, as well as a legal liability for your company. If he’s also engaging in blatant favoritism toward his affair partner (and it sounds like he is), that’s an even bigger deal.

As a general rule, I’m not a fan of anonymous reports; they’re normally not taken as seriously as a report with a name attached and they can be impossible to investigate. But when your company has a hotline set up to report anonymously, they’re specifically offering you that avenue and you might as well use it. If that doesn’t work, you could also talk to HR and explicitly ask them to investigate without tying your name to it if at all possible, and to ensure you’re protected from retaliation either way.

2. How long should you wait when your interviewer is late for a Zoom call?

I’ve recently been interviewing for jobs and have had a few situations where the interviewer is extremely late or a no-show. I start to get nervous that I’m on the wrong Zoom link, or just not sure if they’ve forgotten. If it’s say, a 10 am scheduled meeting, at what point would you reach out to see if they’re coming? And if you have both the coordinator’s info and the info of the person who is supposed to be interviewing you, would you reach out to both, or just the coordinator?

Give it at least 15 minutes if you can. Interviewers shouldn’t be that late, but in reality they sometimes are, and you risk missing the interview entirely if you drop off earlier than that. But you can also send a message after 10 minutes letting them know you’re on the call and asking if they’d prefer to reschedule. If you have contact info for both the interviewer and the coordinator, send that message to them both.

3. Can my boss make us send him our personality test results?

Can my manager mandate that his reports take third party personality tests and send him the results for “team-building purposes”? The team is very tense right now, as he has been harassing and bullying anyone who has different ideas or ways of working than he does, so I don’t feel comfortable with him having that kind of information about me at his disposal.

He stated in his request that the tests are “morally neutral” and won’t be used “in any sort of official review capacity,” which makes me suspicious. In short, I don’t trust my manager to not use these test results for malicious purposes. Is there any recourse here that doesn’t make me a further target of his bullying? My company’s HR isn’t the strongest advocate for individual contributors, so I’m nervous to go to them.

Yes, he can do this … but he has no way to make you fill out a personality assessment honestly. So if you’re not comfortable going over his head about the bullying, your best option might be to fill out the assessment in whatever way you think is most likely to minimize negative attention from him (or to simply confuse him, which might be satisfying).

4. My coworker keeps giving feedback about me to my boss

I’ve started a new job, so I’m still learning the ropes around here. But there’s a particular quirk of a coworker, Augustus, that I haven’t encountered before, so I’m hoping to make sense of it. I have a certain skill set, and Augustus has a certain skill set. Sometimes those areas overlap so we’re often involved in the same projects, even though we have different areas of expertise. We also have vastly different titles, but we report to the same manager.

I am in regular meetings with Augustus, as well as on Slack channels and project management channels, and we say hello and engage in small talk often. Opportunities to communicate are ample, and we have nothing but good rapport with one another under normal circumstances.

But I have noticed — and this has happened more than once — that he will go to our manager with questions about what I’m doing or feedback about what I’m doing, rather than coming to me directly or commenting on Slack or in the preferred project management tool. It could be something as simple as why I chose to do something a certain way — something my manager might not even be able to answer. Which is why she will ask me during our 1:1 time, and then do her best to manage that response back to Augustus. Or, it could be a piece of feedback on something creatively that he felt should have been done differently.

Am I thinking about this too much? Wouldn’t it make sense for us to connect directly, or is there another issue I’m not considering? I’m thinking of addressing it with our manager in our next meeting because I’m just not sure why there’s a wall up with Augustus when there isn’t one in all other circumstances around the office.

I can see why you’re bothered by that! When you talk to each other so regularly and seemingly have good rapport, it’s strange that he’s going around you with such minor things rather than just bringing them to you directly.

Why not say mention it to him? The next time it happens, you could say, “Jane mentioned you’d asked her why I did X in Y way. The answer is Z. You can ask me directly about stuff like that; often Jane won’t know the answer without asking me anyway.” Or, “Jane told me you’d offered X feedback on my Y project. I’d be glad to get that kind of feedback from you directly — is there a reason you want to go through Jane?”

It would also be fine to say to Jane, “Can you encourage Augustus to give me this kind of feedback directly/come to me with this sort of question rather than sending it through you? We talk all the time and have a good relationship, and it would probably be more efficient for him to talk to me directly, unless there’s some reason you’d rather he do it this way.”

5. What’s up with my summer camp pay?

Do you have any advice/suggestions on how camp/camp pay works? I was hired to coordinate a Jewish day camp for our local community by a big regional camp. I’m thrilled to do this for our kids and didn’t anticipate making a lot of money, but I figured it was worth it for the experience and the staff discount for my child.

Well, I’m confused at how this is legal. I’m expected to do a ton of work, so much my hourly rate is below minimum wage. When I bring that up, I’m told camp staff is paid a “stipend,” not hourly. But we are a day camp and we aren’t getting room and board like the majority of the camp staff, who work overnight camp.

I’m getting paid $3,500 spread over May thru August, for five weeks of camp (40+ hours a week) and all the prep to make those camps happen — designing five weeks of camp activity, field trips, parent communications, etc. I hadn’t realized the $3,500 included all the prep. I wouldn’t have taken the job if I’d realized, honestly. I asked for an hourly breakdown and was told, “The stipend doesn’t have an hourly amount.” Does this all seem … okay? Is this just how camps work?

It’s probably legal. The Fair Labor Standards Act — the federal law that includes minimum wage and controls who is exempt from overtime and who isn’t — exempts camp employers from having to pay minimum wage and overtime, as long as the camp doesn’t operate for more than seven months in any calendar year (or, if during the preceding calendar year, the camp’s average receipts for any six months were not more than a third its average receipts for the other six months of the year).

{ 428 comments… read them below }

  1. linus*

    re: camp pay: it’s both legal and extremely common. i was paid about $2500 for three months of work at a camp with 36 hours off per week. unfortunatley everyone wants social reproduction but no one wants to pay for it.

    1. Heidi*

      I guess that’s why all my summer camps growing up were run by retirees, stay-at-home parents of older kids, and college students living at home.

      1. abankyteller*

        Here it’s all college students. I was a camp counselor in college. Looking back it’s insane how two 19-year-olds would be responsible for 15 six-year-olds from Sunday until Friday, sleeping in tents in the middle of the woods.

        1. Flipperty*

          I don’t know what summer camp is but that sounds absolutely insane. Who pays for their legal clearance and certificates to be around minors, or does the US not have laws around that?

          1. Susan Calvin*

            Maybe this is a translation issue, but the concept of having to be certified to be around minors sound kind of wild! (speaking as a non-American)

            1. Ferret*

              I don’t think needing checks for people working with children is that unusual? I can’t speak for the US but in the UK that is definitely a thing

              1. Betty*

                When I signed up to be a mentor for a NYC high school, the state of NY did a background check and took my fingerprints. I don’t know if it varies by state, but it was similar (minus the fingerprinting) in MA.

                1. Betty*

                  just re-read this, and I realize i wasn’t clear. what i meant is I don’t know if there are minimum federal standards for working with children/minors, with states possibly having additional criteria that must also be met. or if it’s completely up to individual states.

                2. Shiba Dad*

                  I’m also in the US. At an old job we did a fair amount of work in K-12 public schools. All of us who would do work at the schools had to pass an annual child abuse background check and we were fingerprinted every 5 years.

                  I don’t know if a camp run/owned by a private organization is required to use this same system.

                3. Meganly*

                  There is a version of the CORI check in MA that involves fingerprints! It’s required for teachers, bus drivers, childcare workers, etc. (basically anyone who is going to have regular unmonitored access to children).

              2. orange line avenger*

                In the US, people who work or volunteer with kids generally have to pass a kind of background check called a CORI, but its paid for by whatever organization is doing the hiring/bringing on volunteers.

                1. Chilipepper Attitude*

                  I work at a US uni that hosts a well-known summer camp. Part of our onboarding included rules about NOT, in any way at all, interacting with any campers for any reason. We had not been vetted to work with the kids and could not have any contact. They take this very seriously!

                2. CidsCamps*

                  I worked at a popular sports summer camp for 5 years in California. I never had to go through a background check and only did cursory water safety & CPR training. I’m still not sure why anyone thought two 13-year-olds should be in charge of 25+ 5-6 year olds by themselves, even only in a high school gym or football field. By the time I was 17, I was a senior counselor and was regularly in charge of 100+ kids with 1-2 other younger teenagers. This was also true when volunteering in school classrooms. Only time I was background checked was for volunteering with my church’s youth program because the national organization required it.

              3. Rorybird*

                I’m the full time assistant director of a summer camp and our background check process on employees and hiring process is VERY rigorous. Sex offender checks. State local and federal background checks. Reference checks…..
                We’re very careful who we let work with kids

                1. Michelle Smith*

                  I was a scout camp counselor the summer before I started college and don’t remember having to do any unusually rigorous background checks.

                2. fine tipped pen aficionado*

                  Re: Michelle, these sorts of things are not government mandated but are standard practice across the industry. But literally anyone can start a summer camp so there are plenty of outliers who don’t know and don’t care what’s happening in the industry.

                  Usually the real driving force behind these practices is that insurance will not cover your camp unless you have them in place.

                3. PhyllisB*

                  Not summer camp, but my husband teaches children’s Sunday school at our church and had to go through a background check.
                  Everyone in youth leadership has to.

                4. FeliciaFancyBottom*

                  I’m only a board member of a youth program and had to do background check. Technically the only reason I’m ever even around the children in the program is because my daughter is in the same program. Many of our board members don’t ever see the kids.

              4. Turquoisecow*

                My mom worked for a bus company (transporting kids to school, not like public transit) and she had to be fingerprinted regularly and presumably they ran a background check with that information.

            2. Violetta*

              Definitely a thing in a lot of European countries as well. You have to at least provide proof a clean criminal record, and specific countries/jobs will have higher requirements.

            3. Susan Calvin*

              “it was funnier in my head” strikes again – in my mind, “being around minors” is such a broad phrasing that it makes the concept of having to be certified for it would lead to kind of hilarious implications (will I not meet my niece until she turns 18? do I have to abandon my cart and leave the store when a teenager enters?), although of course that’s not what was meant here. Sorry!

              More seriously though, in my experience, there’s also a spectrum to these things, with “running a daycare” on one end, and “babysitting for neighbors you know well” on the other. A summer camp, run by and for the members of a (religious) community, could fall towards either end, depending on the scale of things imho.

              1. Irish Teacher*

                In Ireland at least, it’s if you work or volunteer with children or vulnerable adults. Babysitting doesn’t count, but working for any kind of formal organisation definitely does.

                Just checked and priests have to be garda vetted and they are far less closely involved with young people than the staff of a summer camp are.

                1. Susannah*

                  And we all know how well that worked out.
                  Given the church sex abuse scandals (that are still coming to light) I find it hard to believe there was much serious vetting going on.

              2. Ellis Bell*

                I think people really seriously underestimate how challenging it is to work with kids. Now matter how much natural talent and common sense you have, you need first aid, risk assessment skills, behaviour strategies in case of defiance, at a very minimum. If you’re missing even one of those things it won’t go too well. Obviously you don’t need those things with your own family, (because their parent isn’t entrusting a stranger) or when babysitting a sleeping child.

                1. Observer*

                  Obviously you don’t need those things with your own family, (because their parent isn’t entrusting a stranger) or when babysitting a sleeping child.

                  You mean that when someone is taking care of their own kid, none of these issues come up, or somehow resolve themselves? As for babysitting a sleeping kid, I would point out that a lot of baby sitting is not for s “sleeping child.” And also, a sleeping child can wake up. And that can be even worse than dealing with the rambunctious kid who you walked into the house with.

                2. Lenora Rose*

                  Observer: it’s more that when it’s your own kid, you don’t have to do a risk assessment about whether this *other* person is up to the task, which is made easier by background checks. You know your own background, even if you feel it’s wanting, and you know your kids and their quirks better. Also, it’s rare when you are working with more than 3 kids in the average household these days; I can think of one family I know with 5 kids, and the rest are 3 or less.

                  And yes, sleeping kids being babysat can get up, and things can happen, but your average babysitter doesn’t need day care levels of child care skills, and is usually either a known quantity or has taken a babysitting course that covers the essentials. Or both.

                3. Chirpy*

                  “Obviously you don’t need those things with your own family”

                  This is something that just boggles my mind when people look down on childless people who work with children. The summer camp I worked at included child psychology, behavioral issues, how to develop age-appropriate activities, first aid, etc in our staff training. Nobody gets those classes for popping out their own kid.

                  The number of parents who were flabbergasted by how well their child listened to us after just one week was sad (there is the cool factor of being camp staff, but it’s largely just taking time to actually talk AND LISTEN to kids. And explain why we do things a certain way instead of just imposing rules).

              3. Insert Clever Name Here*

                In my experience, it has to do with if both parties are private individuals (meaning, my neighbor’s high school daughter babysitting my kids) or if one of the parties is a business or organization (the teachers at the dance studio all have had background checks). This was true when I was a teen in the 00s as well — I didn’t need a background check to babysit my neighbor, but I did need one when I got a part-time job at a daycare.

                Private individuals can take whatever risks they would like, but a business/organization is held to higher standards and has to consider liability issues.

                Calling it a “certification” may be a translation issue if referring to background checks but could also mean other things, like first aid or life guard certifications.

              4. Gray Lady*

                In my state, my son had to get clearance to do summer maintenance in a school. Not during the school year, there was no summer school or kids’ activities of any kind in the building, but he needed the clearance because it was a school building.

              5. Radioactive Cyborg Llama*

                It would be wildly irresponsible for anyone running a camp not to do background checks both for the children’s benefit AND for the community’s financial well-being. A number of churches and the Boy Scouts have gone through bankruptcy due to sexual abuse tort cases. Abuse in religious communities has been especially high profile.

                1. Elizabeth West*

                  Tell me about it.

                  The sports camp I mentioned in another comment catered to rich evangelicals and they’re getting sued into oblivion (we hope) for not doing jack shit about rampant sexual abuse over decades of its existence. Every survivor including me has their fingers crossed that the damn thing gets shut down.

                  Background checks are useless if camp directors try to handle abuse themselves with Jesus instead of calling the f*cking police.

                2. Anon nj*

                  any camp I worked at and now my son is working has worked required background checks

            4. Irish Teacher*

              In Ireland, the rules about Garda (police) vetting are now extremely strict. When I worked in a school for students with special educational needs, Transition Year students (15 and 16 year olds) used to come in once a week to teach soccer skills and even they needed to be Garda vetted before they could come in, which I thought a little over the top as not only were they kids too, but they were never left alone with the children. There were always multiple staff from our school there and one or two of their teachers also accompanied them.

              Even my badminton club was deciding once whether to put the cut-off age at which one could join at 16 or 18 and they said we couldn’t have it any lower than that or the organisers would need to be Garda vetted. To play badminton for two hours a week.

            5. DataSci*

              Working with, in a paid or official volunteer capacity (like being chaperone for a school trip) often requires a background check in the US. Just “being around” minors, no, I don’t see how that could possibly work.

              1. doreen*

                Not just “being around” minors – if I work in a store I’m not going to need a background check just because minors come in . But also not only “working with” minors – administrative/custodial staff at a school/camp may need background checks even if they don’t work with children.

                1. fine tipped pen aficionado*

                  Yeah, our insurance requires any staff person with access to vulnerable populations OR their data to go through the same background checking process. Here in the US there’s no federal law mandating these things so it varies from org to org but there are industry standards that are generally driven by risk management.

            6. Cat's Paw for Cats*

              When I first went to work for a school district, I was fingerprinted and an FBI background check of all 50 states and US territories was conducted to make sure I was not a convicted pedophile. I had no problem with that whatsoever.

            7. Lenora Rose*

              Being around children in our school district (Canada) requires a background check that includes a child abuse registry and a police record check that includes a “vulnerable persons” check. (There’s also a school-specific training session added on that in our province at least, while it would likely be useful for camp, is not likely to be added). This includes contractors and other non-staff service providers.

              There is no “certified” status other than keeping those two record checks up to date if applying for a new role.

            8. Nina*

              In NZ and the UK it was definitely a thing – we call it ‘police vetting’ though. Basically you give your details to the event coordinator, tell them it’s okay to pass that on to the police, and the police give them a report saying that you have or have not got any prior convictions for, e.g., producing child sexual abuse material.

            9. Ellen N.*

              I don’t know if it’s a requirement for seasonal camp employees, but in the US, anybody who works in a school must pass a background check.

          2. Melissa*

            In the US, each state handles it, but in every state, camps and schools are extremely strict about background checks etc. For one thing, it is an enormous liability to run summer camps— if a kid gets abused in some way, the legal liability is massive, so the camps are highly motivated to hire vetted people.

            1. fine tipped pen aficionado*

              This is not strictly true because literally anyone can start a camp. It’s a really unregulated sector but the ones run by your local Parks & Rec office or affiliated with a national institution typically model their risk management on what the schools are doing and will have Sexual Abuse & Misconduct insurance and all the safeguards insurance companies require you to put in place before issuing that policy.

              BUT camps are highly unregulated so there are loads of outliers. You are right that these procedures are not really protections for the vulnerable but they are risk management tools for the organization. Any protections stemming from the tools are added benefits, but not really the goal. The goal is to show you made every effort to protect the vulnerable in a court of law, not that you succeed. Most people are human beings who do want to succeed, but these small distinctions matter a lot when creating policy & procedure.

              But I’ll get off my soap box! This is just a professional interest of mine so I like to discuss it.

              1. Hillary*

                Seconding that camps are highly unregulated. I’m actually volunteering at a day camp Wednesday without a background check, although the volunteer camp director has known me for 25 years. The teenagers are running the show (they get a full day of training before the rest of the kids show up), my volunteer role is to be a responsible adult and stop anything that would result in an emergency room trip.

                A lot of orgs just have a two adults policy – even those were mostly put in place relatively recently after the abuses in scouts started becoming widely known.

            2. raktajino*

              Tacking on: If you want to ensure your kid is in a camp that *does* adhere to some sort of regulations, look for an ACA-accredited camp.

              I don’t remember doing any background checks in the 00s for the ACA-accredited Camp Fire summer camp where I worked, but it was 20+ years ago and I was barely 18. I did go through background checks for every day camp I’ve worked at from 03-12. They were all associated with some larger secular organization: parks and rec, museums, schools, etc.

              Echoing others that it’s possible to find an unregulated camp. Sucks that parents have to do so much research and footwork.

              1. Chirpy*

                Yes, this. The camp I worked at was ACA (American Camp Association) accredited and it’s a pretty rigorous certification to get. They do certify religious and secular camps too, so don’t think that just because a camp is a special interest/focus you can’t find an accredited one.

          3. ScruffyInternHerder*

            I can only speak as a youth sports coach:

            My background check and my training via SafeSport are both required by my sports governing body. The costs for that come out of my pocket. But I am a volunteer coach, and I might feel differently if I were a paid coach.

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

            Summer camp is a wilderness type of place where people can send their kids, usually about a week but sometimes longer. Usually, there are cabins but sometimes kids will sleep in tents. They do activities, hike, fish, swim, etc. Often their is a theme for the camp, for example, the summer camp I went to was a church camp that many kids in my state went to. So there was an underlining religious tone to things. There’s also things like band camp or choir camp where kids go with instruments and have fun playing and learning.

            In the U.S. there typically isn’t any sort of certificate one needs to have to work with children, unless you are teaching in a school. The people in charge of the camp and who oversee the camp counselors will have the right degrees, certifications, etc. But the workers will not need any specific certifications. Except the counselors will most likely need to be CPR certified and probably basic first aid. But that can be done with a day class. The camp company could provide the training or they may request the camp counselors to go elsewhere. In my area the Red Cross has CPR and first aid training.

            There would be background checks, but many companies do that and so it is jus an expense they have.

            1. Person from the Resume*

              I’m familiar with band camp being run by the high school marching band. The band practices in the summer and then goes to a week long intensive program where they live together and practice their matching program all week long a bit before school. In these cases, it’s run by the school and all the school regulations would apply.

            2. Ace in the Hole*

              To add to this, the cost of these trainings and background checks is pretty low.

              I don’t deal with summer camps, but I have arranged similar trainings and security background checks for other purposes. The total cost of CPR/First aid training, child abuse central index background check, and mandated reporter training would be under $200 per person in my state.

              That’s not nothing, but it’s not horribly expensive either.

          5. Observer*

            Who pays for their legal clearance and certificates to be around minors, or does the US not have laws around that?

            Background checks are paid for by the organization. But the idea that you need some sort of “certification” (which implies training or formal qualifications vs clearance) to “be around children” – even in the sense you mean – is what’s insane to me.

            There is a difference between requiring something like a background check at any age and certification. Don’t get me wrong – there are some sorts of child care jobs where certification is sensible or even crucial. But not at the broad level you seem to be implying.

            1. New Jack Karyn*

              I’ve had to pay for my own background check when I got jobs in schools. In two different states.

          6. WantonSeedStitch*

            You don’t generally need certification, but a background check is standard. I had to have one done when I was volunteering with a once-a-week mentoring program at a local elementary school. The organization requesting the check pays for it.

          7. Ally McBeal*

            Not sure why you think that sounds insane – in the U.S. this is basically the default for summer camps. Generally the employer pays for the background check as well as any specific certificates like food safety. They probably don’t typically cover CPR training but would give hiring preference to people who already have that certification.

            What kind of certificates are required for being around minors?

          8. Ssssssssssssssssssssss*

            When I was a Scout leader (in Canada) and later when my daughter became one for a very brief period (at 16), it was an application form, three to five references, which were all contacted, a police records check and an interview.

            Then at least 10 hours of training (all online) plus the 3-hour mandatory Respect in Sports.

            I do believe the insurance part was handled by Scout Canada. Increasingly, the annual fee to participate was mostly to cover the insurance. And anything more than “we taking 25 kids into tents in the woods!” had to be vetted by someone above a regular leader.

          9. Student*

            That’s not a thing here.

            The 19-year-olds probably got a background check if they were working above-board at a summer camp. Hey, that sounds good, right?

            Plot twist! Many background checks only go back to your 18th birthday at earliest. So, the 18-year-olds just needed to have a clean record for about 1 year. They could literally commit murder at 17-and-a-half, but not have it not show up on many typical background checks.

            And that’s assuming the 19-year-olds were hired as real employees. It’s not hard to convince a 19-year-old to take a job “under the table”, meaning they get paid but have no real legal protections, and the employer doesn’t have to pay taxes. It’s illegal to do that, but the 19-year-old will too often just be happy to get paid at all, may not fully understand the laws they’d be breaking and protections they’re giving up, and the employer will be happy to duck out of a lot of rules.

            1. Spero*

              It’s not true that all background checks only go as far back as 18. In my state (SC) they only include crimes adjudicated in adult court BUT you can be charged as an adult as young as I believe 12 years old, depending on the crime. So a 17 year old who committed murder would almost certainly be charged as an adult, 15 would probably be charged as an adult for murder but as a child for petty theft or simple possession etc.

              When I used to run background checks for about 200 volunteers per year, there were many cases where charges from before 18 showed up on the check but it was only for serious crimes adjudicated in adult court. Several of the people in this situation THOUGHT the crime would not show because they were under 18 and were very surprised/upset to learn it did – I know some of them went on to get the crime sealed or expunged to avoid it showing on further background checks in the future.

              For us, the major issue was actually that crimes in other states didn’t show up. So we had people who were arrested for DV, child abuse, etc in another state but it didn’t show up unless we paid extra for a federal background check not just the $8 state check.

              1. Spero*

                Another thing that would sometimes happen is that a teen would be arrested/CHARGED as an adult for a crime, and then it would be reclassified/plead down to something that they was not something they would charged as an adult and it would be moved to youth court. Or the charge would be dropped, they would be found innocent, etc. They usually didn’t know the underlying initial charge would show up on the background check years later even if they were never convicted of it and many of them had to go get the initial arrest expunged/sealed (and pay for that) years later.

        2. FreeNowAndforever*

          Frankly, it’s only 19-year- olds who have the energy to do it. I was a unit leader at a Jewish day camp one summer when I was 40. I found it exhausting and I wasn’t spending all my time with the kids.

        3. Lucy P*

          I was a counselor at a day camp as a young teenager. At that age we were volunteers–the lowest of the staff. We got paid nothing, except maybe a small bonus at the end of summer. We had no training and no idea how to control kids who were acting up or, worse yet, how to handle kids who got into physical fights.
          The trade off was that the local high schools required service hours each year and the volunteer position covered all of the mandatory time.

        4. Elizabeth West*

          At my Catholic church camp, the counselors were all college students.

          At the (notorious) Christian sports camp I attended, they had paid staff — I remember some of them were adults with families. I can’t recall if counselors were also college students. I’m not sure how that worked at this particular organization. I think they were, and I think some of the lower-level staff were also college students. No idea of pay structure.

          People should be paid at least minimum wage even for a summer job, and especially one where they’re responsible for children. Unfortunately, when you throw churches into the mix, the rules change, because they’re often allowed to do things that regular businesses cannot do.

      1. MK*

        I am assuming it’s because it is akin to volunteer work? It wouldn’t be legal in my country, but camp employees are also required to have specific qualifications, even university students hired need to have relevant majors.

      2. Adam*

        My guess is that if camps had to pay all their employees minimum wage, they’d be so expensive basically nobody could afford them. Looking through the exemptions to minimum wage and overtime laws is often illuminating in terms of what jobs people think can’t actually be done given those constraints but are valuable to keep around.

      3. Twix*

        I think because the laws were designed for overnight camps, where staff are generally living at the camp and getting room and board covered and may be using some of the amenities and/or participating in some of the programming themselves. Because they’re at the camp and acting as staff members 24 hours per day, even though they’re not “on-duty” 24 hours per day, how to count hours worked is not clear. Neither is how to credit the room and board provided. Thus we have an exception that sidesteps the whole issue.

        1. raktajino*

          That was always the justification I heard at summer camps: They give you room and board. Since we’re on for 20-22 hours a day, minimum wage would be an exorbitant cost (let’s be real, we’re also on call during the night, even the specialists)

          The list of exemptions is wildly varied. Homeworkers making wreaths? Specifically wreaths? The theme of “people who don’t have many options for employment” is clear. Switchboard operators? That one’s bizarre, I should ask my former switchboard operator grandma if she knows why.

        2. Chirpy*

          This, at the camp I worked at, full-time summer staff were mostly early 20s. Not counting room and board, if you considered us “on call” for 23 hours a day, we got paid about 5 cents an hour. For the whole summer’s pay, it was similar to a full-time fast food job in the end. But, we could use the camp’s amenities and gear on weekends (canoes, horses, trails, tents, pool, bikes, art supplies, garden, tools, vans, etc, within reason) and there was more than once where I was drifting down a river on a beautiful day, having a good conversation with kids and coworker friends, and knowing I was getting paid for it. So it was worth it for that.

          When I worked there year-round, I did get paid more normally with set hours, and still free staff housing with most meals covered.

          The day camp I volunteered with did not pay anything at all, and I was expected to develop programming based on a handout. Just a completely different setup.

    2. AcademiaNut*

      At least with sleep away camp you’d get room and board with it. The LW isn’t even getting that, and, with a kid attending the camp, is well past the age most commenter are reminiscing about.

      1. MK*

        Sure, but I think the point is that this isn’t meant to be a regular job to make income. It’s more a bunch of people offering their services and getting a stipend for their trouble.

        1. metadata minion*

          It sounds like the LW, and many other camp counselors, wouldn’t be offering their services if they didn’t get paid for it. An intensive, round-the-clock job shouldn’t be treated as a fun volunteer gig.

          1. Lime green Pacer*

            In my province, camps must be “a *non-profit* educational or recreational camp for children, handicapped individuals, or religious groups” in order for camp counsellors and instructors to be exempted from minimum wage laws. So the idea apparently is that it is a for a positive social purpose and a quasi-volunteer position.

        2. Starting an agency...!*

          I was a former day camp counselor and didn’t realize that, tbh. As a middle class American (and an 18-yo dummy) I just sort of assumed that the hours would end up in line with minimum wage because of course they would! This is America! Spoiler, they did not.

          In the end it worked out for me because I was at the kind of fancy day camp for rich kids where the parents tipped heavily at the end of the summer but I didn’t know any of this going in and I think the organizers sort of took advantage of this information gap to keep the place running.

          1. atalanta0jess*

            Whoa, is tipping for day camp a thing? Like, just rich people, or for us poors too? I’ve never heard of this!!

            1. New Jack Karyn*

              Must be for rich folks. I went to day camps at the YMCA a few summers and I’m sure my parents didn’t tip anyone. This was many, many moons ago, however.

            2. Person from the Resume*

              Apparently for rich people who send their kids to fancy sleep away camps.

              I know this because an advice column letter (probably Slate’s Dear Prudence or Care and Feeding where a parent asked if it was okay to send their kids to camp knowing the parents could not (this year) afford to pay the “suggested tips” for counselors. The advice was “no” if you can’t afford the expected tip for service m, you can’t afford the service which I think is fair when going into a situation where tipping is expecting. The parents had been able to afford the tips in the past but were struggling the year they wrote in.

            3. constant_craving*

              I worked at a summer camp for several years and receiving any kind of gift from campers/their families was strictly prohibited (and needing knowledge of this guideline basically never came up). I would think camps that allow tipping are definitely the exception rather than the rule.

          2. Ssssssssssssssssssssss*


            After dealing with 25 chilren even over a single weekend, I would have much preferred a bottle of stronger stuff or a Starbucks card than a tip. Scouts leaders are all volunteers and some kids’ behaviours get worse when away from home.

            I don’t think we were allowed to accept gifts. I’m not sure as none were ever offered.

    3. bamcheeks*

      unfortunatley everyone wants social reproduction but no one wants to pay for it


      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        education? recreation? I’m usually pretty good with autocorrect err, but this has me baffled.

        1. OhGee*

          it’s not an autocorrect issue. social reproduction is about maintaining the existing social structures and conditions. someone with more expertise can explain it better but in this case it would mean people send their kids to camp with the peers they want them to associate with as they become adults, because the parents see that as setting up the peer networks that will get them good careers via networking/social connections. the comment here could be about OP (which I think would be very nasty) or the camp system in general (I’m really hoping they’re not implying this about Jewish day camps in particular, because horribly paid staff and summer camp as a form of social reproduction is definitely not exclusive to a particular faith community).

        2. Reba*

          Yes as in reproducing the society, in other words bringing up the next generation, teaching the parents generation’s values, skills and habits.

          The critique here being that most people can perceive that opportunities to educate children and give them certain kinds of experiences are valuable. But (in our system that depends completely on unpaid feminized care work) not valuable enough to actually pay for collectively.

        3. linus*

          within a marxist-feminist framework, “social reproduction” is another, often broader term to refer to reproductive labor. it can be broadly understood to refer to the uncompensated and unrecognized labor of care that enables a functioning and ongoing capitalist economy.

          summer camps exist for two reasons: under our current paradigm, public childcare (schools) closes for two to three months (traditionally so that children could perform unrecognized and uncompensated agricultural labor). in order for workers to continue production while their children are without public care, they are beholden to seek and purchase privatized care.

          the second reason summer camps exist is that within the structure of their care, they provide lessons to children that parents think are valuable. within the context of the camp where i worked, this included things like pitching a tent and tying knots. within the structure of the camp OP has written in about, it likely includes religious instruction.

          people broadly agree that caring for children is a good thing and teaching them things like tying knots (or in OP’s case, moving respectfully, thoughtfully, and knowledgeably through jewish society) is a good thing. no one wants to pay the people who teach children those things, though.

          everyone wants social reproduction; no one wants to pay for it.

          1. Not A Raccoon Keeper*

            I want to post both fire emojis and praise hand emojis to this, but I can’t do either so I’ll just say “THIS!”

            My camp counsellor experience was similar to linus’, but less knots or religion, and more just providing care at a wage far below minimum wage (and this is in Canada). The premium I made for lifeguarding in absoutely no way covered the costs of doing those certifications, either.

          2. DisgruntledPelican*

            As someone who works in Jewish supplemental education SO MUCH THIS. Parents of our students are so demanding and at the same time complain so much about the costs, even though the amount they are paying boils down to roughly $10 an hour for childcare and instruction.

      2. Stacy’s Mom*

        I think the original social reproduction commenter *intended* that phrase to mean something like reproducing a (positive) social environment and experience for their kids at summer camp, but that no one wants to pay camp counselors a fair wage to do that.

        What social reproduction actually means is the carrying on of social forces that perpetuate inequalities along race, socioeconomic, and gender lines (among others).

        I think it’s a case of someone hearing a phrase that sounds cool and ascribing their own meaning to it, or just misunderstanding. I really doubt they actually meant that people want to maintain the status quo over generations that marginalizes minority groups by sending their kids to sleepaway camp, and are only blocked in this agenda by cost.

        1. bamcheeks*

          I wasn’t disagreeing with it– I read it as Reba did, an extremely valid point about people wanting children to be raised but not wanting to pay for the necessary labour. But I realise from the responses that that wasn’t clear!

        2. SoloKid*

          Very many people DO that exact last sentence, whether or not they consciously understand how it marginalizes minorities. Almost everyone with kids wants to see them attend the same camps, schools, industries they did.

        3. goddess21*

          dude. for real, summer camp is a vehicle for reproducing class and racial hierarchy. think about it for like 3 seconds, and maybe hold off on snide remarks about others’ vocabularies.

          1. CC*

            It absolutely is… kids whose parents can afford a given camp get to know each other, which is networking, which influences who they know when it comes time to make decisions as adults. Expensive camps. Cheap camps. In my case, no camps at all. Summer camps were kind of mythical to me, they were things that only happened in stories.

      3. rayray*

        It’s the absolute truth. Look at careers like teaching, social services, caring for our senior population, childcare, and so much more. So much pouting these days about how no one wants to work anymore but these jobs are not paying anyone enough to survive. I make more at my lame office job where my effort is very minimal compared to what most of these jobs do.

        1. bamcheeks*

          yes, I meant it in a “wow, that’s a harsh truth extremely well-stated!” but I realise that wasn’t clear!

    4. Phoenix*

      Yep, when I was a summer camp counselor as a teenager, I calculated my hourly rate as 20 cents. I think I was paid like $800 for 10 weeks of round-the-clock work (it was a sleep away camp; we got 1 day off a month).

    5. What even*

      I worked at a JCC camp just north of Chicago about a decade ago. It was insane. They would get in a bunch of international kids to work the camp, and pay them even less. One girl got an infection in her hand from operating the rock climbing wall (her job), and was told if she went to urgent care, they would just send her home instead of paying for her treatment. They also insisted that one of my coworkers walk a mile during a severe thunderstorm to watch the kids who arrived early for day camp instead of just watching the kids themselves for 30 minutes. Not to mention the verbal abuse staff suffered and the horrendous living conditions. Our cabin was basically an open air lean-to and though there were laundry facilities on-site, we weren’t allowed to use them and had to take a taxi into the nearest town. Ugh.. So many bad memories.

      1. Philosophia*

        That’s appalling. And no one in authority called out the J on its obligations under Deuteronomy 24:14?

        1. What even*

          I think if anyone from the JCC knew how the camp ran, they would be appalled. Unfortunately, those who were in charge had once been counselors themselves and had a very ‘well, we had to do it’ attitude. Most had also never had ‘real’ jobs, so the idea of HR best practices just didn’t exist. Couple that with the fact most of the employees weren’t US Citizens and it was a recipe for disaster.

          They would also randomly fire people when they felt the staff was getting uppity. They fired one Australian lifeguard with two weeks left in the summer because she got a cold and had to take off two days. They packed up all of her stuff while we were working with the kids and she was on a plane back to Australia before we even knew she was gone.

          1. anon for this*

            You put your finger on some important things here. The “I was a counselor and what I did worked fine, so I can scale that up with no experience of other work and it’ll work fine” is not uncommon in camps. Many camps are affiliated with a faith, ethnic/language, or sports community and so have this longevity and lack of oversight. But camps across the US are “professionalizing” — I’ve seen this through being on the board of an org that supports a summer camp with scholarships and through starting a summer day camp myself at a university.

            Used to be summer day camp at the university was “reserve some rooms and don’t lose any kids.” Now it’s got background checks, safety of minors training, and the necessity for emergency action plans shared with staff (weather, injured child, allergy, active shooter). This is not bad to have. Similarly, the overnight camp I’m supporting through scholarships is affiliated with a larger organization that is really pushing to have safety plans on record, ensure staff get trained to carry out these basic actions, give some training on how to deal with behavioral issues, and ensure that more rigorous subject matter certifications are on file for all staff. But I saw the damage that can happen when a camp is run as a fiefdom, and so I’m in favor of this.

            1. anon for this*

              Right, and last I’ll comment that this overnight camp is super expensive, so expensive that without the scholarships I’d hesitate to send my own kid there, and I’m in tech.

              Cheap camp is run on cut corners, though. And that’s the tragedy of America.

      1. fine tipped pen aficionado*

        Having worked at one, probably not. I’m not going to lie it was a really fun summer, but also we had minimal training, we got paid $500 for the whole summer in 2008, if there was an emergency response plan I never saw it, and the nature of the camps mean staff spend a lot of time with campers where no one is able to supervise the staff. Most camps have a 2 staff with the camper group at all times rule, but it’s rarely followed and hard to enforce because the camps are so spread out that supervisors literally cannot see what staff are doing.

        I had a great summer and I think the kids I worked with did too, but the kids are just really, really vulnerable to whatever baggage their counselor brings with them. There’s a lot of harmful implicit bias that plays out even aside from safety concerns. And counselors just aren’t prepared to protect kids from each other, which is where most of the horror stories come in. At my camp, the group leader slept in their own tent and all the kids in the group were split into tents with 4 kids per tent. It’s just ripe for bullying and long-lasting emotional damage.

        The fact that camps do exist and they enjoy this highly unregulated space is because there is no way to run them in an ethical way that breaks even financially and is still useful as a place for kids of working parents to go when schools aren’t an option. An ethical camp would cost more than these parents could afford, defeating the purpose of the camp.

        1. Another Academic Librarian too*

          I went to an 8 week sleep-away camp in the early ’70s. The movie Meatballs was a good depiction. Looking back, the counselors were probably college students had no experience working with children let alone young teens. The majority of the campers came from one neighborhood in a city suburb and had been going to the camp for 4 or 5 years together. I was bullied daily. (13 year old girls) It purported to be a Jewish camp. I only learned to curse in Yiddish. No activities. Just hanging around.
          Only miserable memories.

        2. CampStaffer*

          I work at a summer camp and we just finished providing 3 full weeks of training to our staff, including CPR/first aid, all of whom are fully background checked. We have extensive safety and emergency procedures in place that are followed to a t. We are accredited through multiple agencies, and inspected by the health inspector. We pay our staff as well as we are able, we have tons of working families that use us for childcare (we’re overnight and day) and we offer extensive scholarships and partner with an organization that provides camp to children with incarcerated parents.
          All this is to say that I’m sorry your camp experience wasn’t great, but that particular camp is not reflective of the industry as a whole, and also that huge strides have been made in the last 15 years.

          1. FishOutofWater*

            What you describe sounds great until you hit “we pay our staff as well as we are able.” Does that mean you’re paying less than minimum wage? As a parent this would be a deal-breaker for me. And honestly something it never occurred to me I needed to ask but will going forward.

            1. CampStaffer*

              Well above minimum wage for hourly staff, and overnight staff get a flat weekly rate, plus room and board, at a rate competitive with other camps. The flat weekly rate for overnight staff is industry standard, and exempt from minimum wage requirements as Alison laid out. We are completely upfront about it when we hire, and pay international staff the same as domestic. We are non-profit.

              1. What even*

                The point is that the industry standard sucks. Just because it is legal, that doesn’t automatically make it okay. And room and board… Can you really call it room and board if the room is shared with 10 other people, eight of which are children the counselor is responsible for.. Showers are communal. Food is less than spectacular. You can call it room and board, but if you were to offer that option to a random pool of adults, you wouldn’t be able to charge more than $200/month for it.

          2. fine tipped pen aficionado*

            To me, the point is that a camp can be as good as yours or as bad as the one Another Academic Librarian described, but they can both look the same to parents. In the absence of regulation, you’re kind of rolling the dice and hoping you end up at Camp Staffer’s camp, not Academic Librarian’s.

            As someone else pointed out above, ACA Accreditation is a useful tool for telling the difference, but ultimately the whole system of childcare in the US needs to be overhauled.

      2. rayray*

        It would be great if they did exist, but staff still need to be paid a living wage. Even when I was a college student and lived at home, it didn’t seem worth it to be a counselor and get paid basically $.011 an hour to be a 24/7 babysitter. I probably would have mostly liked the job, but got paid way more working at a call center part-time.

      3. SoloKid*

        It’s the eternal tradeoff of “but it’s for the children!” vs “pay people a living wage for any work”.

      4. MigraineMonth*

        There are a lot of things that society says it values highly, but not enough to actually pay for. Caretaking (and other feminized work) is right at the top of the list. Instead of providing government subsidies (either to parents or childcare facilities) that would make raising children financially feasible, we pressure people who want to take care of children to do so for unlivable wages (that qualify them for the government services anyway).

        When I was on a college babysitting mailing list, I once received an angry rant about how I was greedy, selfish, and would never be allowed around his children. Why? Because I told him that he was going to have to pay more than $20 to get someone to watch his three children for 6 hours on a Saturday night.

      5. Ssssssssssssssssssssss*

        Having participated in many a sleepaway weekend camps and one weeklong as a Scout leader, and overall they were successful, I would say, yes, they should exist. These are unique experiences for the kids when done right. But if you’re not doing it as volunteers (what on earth were we all thinking? LOL), those running it should be paid properly.

        For a Scout camp, you have to plan plan plan and budget accordingly and be ready for anything. Scout camps had pages long detailed emergency plans with cell numbers, which leaders were attending, a schedule, we kept track of food and allergy issues and all manner of other health issues. One camp, we had a child who could suffer from night terrors (but didn’t on that camp), one who still wet the bed (these were 11 to 14 year olds), and one who needed special ADHD meds given at a very specific time (and we missed that window and had to get his mom to drive up to meet us as the kid was now completely unmanageable and there was evidence of coddling at home that he was expecting from us that wasn’t happening).

        That particular camp was also an amazing experience of cycling through hills and walking thru a flooded cave and cooking their own food and learning camp songs.

    6. FormerCampCook*

      That’s what it was for me, back in 2000-2004. This was a live-on camp, but I worked 60 hours a week (6 10 hour shifts) for 10 weeks in the kitchen. As we lived on camp, all meals were included (especially since we were the ones cooking them), along with paying for us to get there (most of us lived in a different state and needed to be flown in), so the pretty much minimum wage I was about even.
      I was a teenager and then college-student during those years, so it was perfect. I would have got the same amount of money if I worked that much at home (but I wouldn’t have – who would want to). It was perfect for that time of my life.
      Ultimately, it was easy work that felt more like hanging out with a productive result, and I got to spend 5 summers with great friends. In so many ways it was a paid vacation, and a great experience. I treasure my memories of those years. Which I guess is most camp employees do it – the experience and fun of it outweighs the low pay.

  2. Rebecca*

    LW 3: it might be sign of my own cynicism that my first thought was to corral all the other team members into answering the questionnaire in the exact same way.

    1. Jessica*

      This is a brilliant plan. You could also try answering everything the way you think your boss thinks he’d answer it.

      1. Slow Gin Lizz*

        I was thinking that. Try to emulate your boss’ personality and then he’ll think you’re his golden child.

      2. Sam I Am*

        This. He already thinks his ways and ideas are the best, so just lean into that. Even if you have to do the personality test, you don’t owe him honest responses.

    2. dphrodite*

      I like how you think. If everyone did all “3”s (or whatever the middle answer is for every question it could blow his mind while you retain all innocence.

      1. Bart*

        Good personality tests will flag responses like that as not valid. I don’t recommend it as a strategy.

        1. Katherine*

          I feel like “good personality test” is an oxymoron, at least in a work context.

          1. Antilles*

            Frankly, regardless of where you stand on personality tests at work generally, it’s definitely going to be garbage in this case given that the boss “has been harassing and bullying anyone who has different ideas or ways of working than he does”.

            This is definitely a guy who’s going to get the personality test results, decide that ___ is The Best personality and hassle everybody who isn’t ___. Even though the tests themselves very clearly explain that all personality types have strengths and weaknesses, that people can be adaptable, etc, etc, he’s definitely ignoring all those contexts/caveats, and going “ENTJ or GTFO!”

            1. MigraineMonth*

              I knew someone who got the same result as their manager on a personality test, then campaigned to have the boss *fire* anyone who didn’t, because only people exactly like them could do a good job in the role.

              Which is ironic, because she never actually did her job; she bragged to me that she outsourced all the work to people in countries with lower wages, which allowed her to have multiple full-time jobs at once.

        2. Tomato Soup*

          A well designed survey might do this but are there any validated “personality tests” out there?

        3. Mockingjay*

          Pretty sure the boss is pulling a free “assessment” off the internet. I sincerely doubt it has any authenticity as an analysis tool.

        4. Observer*

          Good personality tests will flag responses like that as not valid. I don’t recommend it as a strategy.

          I don’t see what the first half has to do with the second half.

          Even a bad test will flag responses like that. So? What makes it a bad strategy? It’s unlikely that the boss will actually see the specific questions, just get a “score” that says something like “cannot evaluate”. And if everyone does it, then it’s going to be hard for the boss to do much about it.

    3. Troi*

      Why do that? Then you’ve definitely drawn attention to yourselves and then that becomes the next big deal. The smarter move is to just fill it out in a way that doesn’t draw attention and just move on.

      1. Violetta*

        Yep. These ‘malicious compliance’ kind of tactics sound better in a comment section than they will play out in real life. Just fill out the questionnaire as blandly as possible.

        1. Slow Gin Lizz*

          Bland might be hard. If the test is stuff like “green or yellow?” and “squirrels or sparrows?” that makes it difficult. But then, if the test is stuff like that, the answers are all completely useless and it doesn’t matter what OP answers.

      2. Irish Teacher*

        I assume the idea is that if he is planning to (or even if he unconsciously) favour some groups above others or has it in his head that “I will never promote a 4,” that becomes more difficult if either everybody gets it or nobody does. It would theoretically prevent him from singling out somebody as a bullying victim based on their result.

        I agree it’s probably not a viable plan though. It would require too much organisation for one thing. And there’s always the danger somebody could tell him what was planned and then the person who suggested it becomes a target.

        So yeah, it would be a great ending in a sitcom but probably wouldn’t work in real life.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          If you can pull the entire office together to carry out this plan, then you can probably pull them together to carry out a more effective plan.

        2. Observer*

          I agree it’s probably not a viable plan though. It would require too much organisation for one thing. And there’s always the danger somebody could tell him what was planned and then the person who suggested it becomes a target.

          You may be right about this. It’s the “tattling” issue I would be most worried about here – and this is one of the few places I would consider the word tattling appropriate. But I think that if even 8 or nine out of 10 staff did this, I would throw a wrench in the works.

          Still may not be worth it, though. As you said, it’s a lot of organizing. I would think that the OP might be better off organizing folks to push above his head or looking for a new job if there is no one upstairs to talk to.

    4. NotBatman*

      Honestly, these tests are all baloney anyway (source: I’m a psychometrician) and there’s nothing whatsoever wrong with answering how you think your boss would want you to answer. Don’t necessarily make it obvious that that’s what you’re doing (e.g. don’t choose the middle option for every answer) but spend as little time as possible on it and don’t worry about being honest.

      1. Slow Gin Lizz*

        I agree with you that they are all baloney, but the boss probably doesn’t so that is probably why OP is worried about how they fill out the test. It sounds like OP is worried boss doesn’t like them and will treat them badly if they fill it out honestly, so I also agree that doing it in a slightly less-than-honest fashion will probably benefit them best.

        1. Manage me like I am an INTP please*

          In the past, I’ve tried to answer the questions so I’d come out as the type that would make the manager manage me in the way that suits me best. It helps if they’re using a well-known brand of bogus personality test like Myers-Briggs. Unfortunately, this is a lot of work and it doesn’t pay off if the manager doesn’t actually adapt their management style to whatever they think my personality is. It did make me feel a little in control of my personal boundaries though, which was nice.

    5. Jones... E Jones*

      My team and I had to do one of these for a very nosy former boss who thought that Meyers-Briggs belongs with religious texts. We went to HR, HR backed boss. So I wrote a quick program that randomized answers for each question and gave it to the team.

      He was so confused. He thought he’d had us all figured out.

      1. DataSci*

        I had to read this twice before realizing that “Meyers-Briggs belongs with religious texts” was from the POV of a religious person, rather than an atheist!

      2. MigraineMonth*

        I took Meyers-Briggs and tried to give honest responses. I landed very close to the middle on all four categories, so I doubt anyone learned anything interesting.

    6. CarrieOakie*

      This. We once got handed a form to sign at my old job that listed a lot of nonsense – like if you left/were fire you couldn’t get a job at any other company in the same business. Not even the same job – I could go from being a manager to a receptionist if the company were in the same industry! So I had my mom (who go has experience with this kind of BS) look it over and cross out a lot of it. I initialed and dated each one then returned it. After several others did the same. Their HR was not amused but backed down when I offered to have my lawyer look it over.

    7. Spero*

      This might be a good option because based on my past boss who did this – step two is that he tells all the staff what other staff scored and we were required to go around (in a staff meeting) and say ‘well I’m x and you’re y so we have 1,2,3 differences to keep in mind if we partner on a project in the future, OR ‘so this test showed difference 1 between us which is why we had conflict a on this project last year.’

      It lasted for 4 hours. It was excruciating. And since almost everyone had one of 3 types, it was insanely repetitive yet never became less humiliating as the next person looked at you and repeated what the last 12 had said about your personality.

  3. abankyteller*

    Camp pay: this is, unfortunately, how it works with summer camps of all kinds. You’re certainly right to be upset because it IS absolutely not enough pay for the work, but your camp isn’t doing anything out of the ordinary. In the mid 2000s I was a counselor at a sleepaway camp, and worked Sunday morning through Friday evening for $210 per week. With our daily “time off” of two hours–where we could go somewhere within camp to relax without campers but could not leave the property)–I made less than $2 per hour. Still one of the most fun and rewarding jobs I’ve ever had, though.

    1. Cascadia*

      Yup, in 2004 I made a whopping $12 a DAY for working Sunday through Friday, 24 hours a day, being in charge of young children! I loved my camp so much, but the was truly abysmal. A few years later I was the head female counselor and clocked in at $36 a DAY for 5.5 days a week, all day and night, not allowed to leave camp property, for 9 weeks. Still, best job I ever had, made lifelong friendships and memories and think back on camp with nothing but fondness.

    2. Morte*

      Yup this matches my experience working at a GSUSA camp. Although we were allowed to leave premises for our 2 hours break. We had some session arrangements where we worked 10 days in a row before we got a full day off. I was administrative staff so I got paid a tiny bit more than the counselors and I didn’t live in a unit with campers (the ad staff had their own cabin). We joked that we got paid in love and hot dogs (the food was actually fantastic!). I figured out my hourly pay once and it was 2$ and change ten years ago!

      1. RabbitRabbit*

        My sister and mother worked at a Girl Scout camp for a couple summers – my sister had been a Scout – until my mother said that the pay wasn’t enough for her to make it through summers and she needed to stop. I know my sister loved the experience but yeah, the pay was horrid.

      2. Somewhere in Texas*

        I volunteered as a camp as a teenager and I remember there being a potato at every meal, which was so good.

        They also had a salad bar that the Brownie-aged girl scouts would make salads consisting of only cheese, bacon bits, croutons and ranch. No salad or greens in sight. To this day I fondly refer to that as a “brownie salad.”

        1. IrishGirl*

          that sounds like soemthing my kid would do when i am not around to make them add some greens.

    3. Moira Rose*

      I think I made $0.85/hour circa 1997. I thought it was just illegal but didn’t much care — I’m glad Alison set me straight!

    4. Owlet101*

      I also worked for a residential camp in the summers of 2012-2014. I made about $250 a week as a normal counselor. Later summers I got a little more because I became and archery instructor and unit leader, but not much more.

      Our hours were the same as yours. Sunday-Thursday. My first year it was Sunday-Friday. But Main Office noticed that their staff were getting burnt out with just Saturday off. So they changed it the following years. However, we could leave the camp during our 2 hour break, thankfully. I often didn’t but I remember adventuring out to society with my coworkers when our breaks were 7:30-9:30pm (Those were some long days.)

      This was still my favorite job. I miss it every summer. I met so many different people from different areas, different backgrounds, and just not in my normal bubble. It changed me to be a better person. I would not give up the experience I had for the world.

      I do wish the pay was better. Because then I could justify taking some sort of time off our asking my boss the put my job on hold (summers are fairly slow in academia office work.) So I could work there again.

    5. Nelalvai*

      I worked a summer camp in 2016 and I remember calculating my hourly rate–even using GENEROUS estimates of the value of room & board, it was only $4/hour, or about 50% minimum wage at that time/state. Not illegal, and not surprising–it was a nonprofit specifically geared towards children of low-income families. I had a miserable time, but that was due to the director, not the pay.

    6. Good Luck*

      I attended a camp and then was asked to be an assistant counselor for one week during the summer. You had to be at least 16. The only thing I received was a free week of camp, but still had to work for most of it. This was a horseback riding camp. At some point they needed the hay in the fields bailed. So they made all of the assistant counselors bail hay. It was horrendous and not something I signed up for at all. It was hours of really hard work in 90 degree heat. We bailed hay then stacked in the barn. I could barely move after. At 16 I was 5’3 and like 100lbs. I threw up I was so exhausted. The next day they asked for volunteers and I didn’t and got yelled at. Then they threatened to send me home. I never went back to camp again. I still wonder how they got away with it.

      1. MCMonkeyBean*

        I remember when I was a teen I really wanted to be a “CIT” (counselor in training) but my dad wouldn’t allow it because he was opposed on principal to the fact that CITs not only didn’t get paid but actually still had to pay.

    7. BurritoBar*

      Feeling extremely lucky reading all these comments — from 2012-2014 while I was an undergrad, I was an overnight counselor at a summer camp for middle schoolers that was hosted by the university. I “worked” 9pm-9am six nights a week all summer. Lights out was at 10:30pm and I walked the kids to the dining hall for breakfast at 8:30, so I basically worked two hours out of every shift, but I still got paid $10/hour for the entire twelve hours. $120/night plus free breakfast to sleep in a private dorm room, and in my three years I was only woken up by a camper with a nighttime issue (spider in room) once. I was able to work a second job during the daytime and have never been so flush with cash. Not sure if the good pay was because it was a public university? But SCORE.

    8. No H*

      Yup, even recently. I got an email in 2018 from a sleepaway camp in New England trying to get me or other members of my Midwestern college club to join as counselors/instructors in our niche sport. I think they were offering $300-350 per week, and you had to get yourself there, again several states away from our college. I deleted the email, we all had summer jobs that were much better paying and much closer.

  4. Hmm*

    I disagree on the advice for number one. I wouldn’t say anything since OP isn’t actually sure. That’s something serious to not be sure about. One of the things AAM has taught me over the years is not to make assumptions. “Coming from the direction of an apartment” is the incredibly broad and there may be reasons for the office allocation. He may even be playing favourites but not the affair.

    Those are my thoughts on the question, but I also paused at this:
    [[thinks she’s a ray of sunshine because of her bubbly personality — she even got kudos from our grandboss for her good attitude.]]
    Do you disagree that she should’ve gotten praise, or that she has a good work attitude and personality? It sounds like you’re saying her personality is put-on or something. I’m doing my best to give benefit of the doubt, but I can’t lie. I’m wondering about OP’s relationship with her.

    1. Happy meal with extra happy*

      Eh, unless OP is lying (and we generally should be taking letter writers at their word), the boss and employee are also derailing group meetings with uncomfortable flirting. Maybe they’re not having an affair, but it sounds like their relationship (at whatever level it may be) is affecting the office, so they probably should be spoken with.

      1. Blue*

        And if OP turns out to be mistaken, HR can figure that out by investigating. She doesn’t have to barge in and say that it’s definitely happening or spread gossip, she can just report what she’s observed to the relevant authority.

          1. Snowbert*

            No, spreading gossip would be discussing it with all get coworkers. Reporting relevant information to relevant authorities isn’t gossipping.

          2. Ed U Cate*

            Uh, no, it very much is not, and if you genuinely believe that you are wildly misunderstanding the concept. If that is the case, please do some work to educate yourself on what gossip actually is and why it is harmful, and why reporting genuine issues to relevant authorities absolutely does not fall into that category. It is alarming that you would think that, let alone spread it around. What you are saying could in itself be harmful and cause damage, and it should not be repeated, as it has a chilling effect on reporting of ethical issues.

          3. Critical Rolls*

            No, gossip is speculating or passing on rumors of questionable origin just for giggles. Reporting a situation one has personally observed troubling work out comes from, to the proper authority who will investigate but otherwise keep it confidential, is not. At all.

          4. Kella*

            No? OP would be telling a person/department whose job it is to share the information with as few people as possible and only when completely necessary, and whose job it is to evaluate the reports for credibility AND take concrete, productive action if the reports are found to be true. All of that is directly counter to the mechanisms of gossip. OP could also offer the information as, “These are behaviors that I’ve observed and I’m concerned they might be having an affair” which is very different from telling someone completely unaffected by the situation that you definitely know an affair is happening.

      2. EPLawyer*

        Affair or not it is having a definite effect on work. Meetings are derailed, the new person gets all the high profile assignments, which affects others’ opportunities. Even if it not an affair,, he is clearly favoring one employee over another for … non work related reasons. Even if its not an affair, they are subjecting others to inappropriate work place banter. No one should have to sit through a meeting where two people are flirting.

        HR needs to know about this today.

        1. Abogado Avocado*

          I agree. This needs to be investigated, and from the point of view that EPLawyer has highlighted.

          I would not recommend starting with the allegations of the affair when going to HR or reporting this anonymously. Rather, I’d start with the favoritism and flirting because that’s visible to all employees and affects the workplace. In my experience, the resulting investigation will include the question: what is the nature of your relationship? Even if the parties here seek to diminish it by saying, “Eh, it’s just a close friendship,” trust me, HR is not going to bless a “close friendship” when it’s resulting in favoritism and exposing the team at work to flirting.

        2. MassMatt*

          I agree. In general I would MYOB an about a work affair but this is a manager and subordinate, which should not happen, and it is clearly affecting work. This couple sounds insufferable.

    2. Mid*

      At minimum, derailing meetings with flirting could be quickly verging into sexual harassment territory (meaning a meeting room full of people who are forced to listen to their innuendos would be the ones being harassed, even if the comments aren’t directed towards them.) This should be something that is reported. It’s also likely that OP isn’t the only one seeing a pattern of favorable treatment + flirting, and since it’s a boss and a direct report, there should be an investigation to make sure everything is above board. Even if nothing is happening, the fact that it looks like there could be an affair, or at least inappropriate conduct, matters.

    3. nnn*

      This is a strange take. OP doesn’t need to be 100% certain before reporting or claim she knows for sure. She’s seeing concerning behavior (not mainly the lunchtime rendezvous–it’s all the rest of it that’s most concerning) and she can report that, the company can investigate. They’re not going to just assume an anonymous report is correct. They’re going to look into it, as they should.

      1. Observer*

        This is where I come down. The thing they saw by itself? Would raise my eyebrows a bit. In connection with the unnecessary falsehood? Definitely eye-brow raise. But still none of my business. In the context of everything else? Definite issue here. And while the existence (or not) of an actual affair may be the “juicy” part of the story, it’s the wider pattern of behavior that’s a real problem and what makes the issue worth reporting.

        I would hope that competent HR is not going to go from a single anonymous report to going with guns blazing to start firing people.

    4. Ellis Bell*

      Those aren’t the main details in the letter, they just add to the problematic flirting and favouritism issue. Also, OP is the one who’s there; can we take them at their word?

    5. Roland*

      The only action OP is considering is “tell someone with the power to investigate more and take firther action”. They are not a jury member held up to a standard of guilt beyond all reasonable doubt. HR isn’t going to hear this report and then immediately fire the guy with no investigation.

    6. SAS*

      Yeah, I would definitely not report the lunchtime sighting and associated leaps of judgement but there is plenty of concrete behaviours and issues happening in the workplace that OP should still report on given how it’s affecting her workplace environment regardless of any affair.

      1. Allonge*

        Obviously OP can report whatever they feel comfortable reporting, but as we are talking of an anonymous hotline, the more info they can share the better. I would not omit a reasonable indication of something physical going on.

        Depending on how the anonymity is set up, the potential investigator may not be in the position to follow up with OP directly. They will draw their own conclusions based on their own investigation in any case. OP can let the hotline know as much as they can.

        1. Flipperty*

          It’s interesting to read all the comments (using “we take LWs at their word!” to justify that something inappropriate is going on), considering the really quite large number of letters Alison has posted from women who were wrongly accused of having affairs/flirting.

          1. MCMonkeyBean*

            That’s the point of asking HR to investigate–they can determine whether or not anything inappropriate is going on for themselves.

            It would be inappropriate for OP to conduct their own investigation or spread gossip with their coworkers. It would absolutely be the correct course of action to mention concerns to someone in HR to be followed up on.

          2. Kella*

            We take LW’s at their word because

            a. They have far more information than we do
            b. Speculating on what the OP might be misrepresenting makes all the info in the letter useless.
            c. People are unlikely to want to write in for advice if they know the comment section has a tendency to doubt and undermine them.

            Which is why we take this LW’s word that she’s seen signs her boss might be having an affair with her coworker AND we take other LW’s word that they have been falsely accused of having an affair or flirting. In both cases, *we* are in the worst possible position to investigate the credibility of the LW’s claims. That does not mean it is unethical for anyone to investigate them.

        2. DataSci*

          I’m not sure about this. HR may be more likely to investigate the more sordid claims of a secret lunchtime rendezvous first, and not bother with the blander claims of flirting in meetings if the former turn out to be unsubstantiated. I’d stick with reporting what I was confident in and what has other witnesses (meeting flirting).

          1. Chutney Jitney*

            If it’s anything like my old company’s hotline, it’s not inside HR. It was a specific outside HR consultant who came in and led the investigation, someone who knew nobody involved and could therefore be impartial.

          2. Allonge*

            HR – if they function correctly – investigate the whole case as one, not 6 separate individual issues. This is not a criminal procedure where separate charges must be proven one by one, it’s an inappropriate workplace relationship with multiple signs and outcomes.

            1. As If*

              Yeah, I don’t understand the perspective that HR will be led astray by the most salacious part of the report, and will conclude nothing is amiss because there’s no evidence of an affair. They’re going to investigate if there is an inappropriate relationship — and it can be inappropriate for a manager and report to have a very close relationship even if it’s not sexual or romantic in nature.

      2. JSPA*

        it’s the lying about where they were that makes it suspicious; shirt tucking and rumpled hair can have many reasons, but why would one lie about one’s whereabouts?

        1. Mockingjay*

          Kristen could simply say she changed her mind about where to go to lunch.

          The important piece here is what to report. There are very clear instances of inappropriate behavior in meetings with witnesses, preferable office space and task assignments. Start with those. And while an affair is highly inappropriate and possibly against company rules, Kristen could have very valid credentials which earned her the corner office and high profile assignments. People can do good and questionable things at the same time.

          Report it, let the investigation commence; however, OP1 may not be notified of the ultimate outcome or the outcome might not be what OP thinks it should be.

          1. President Porpoise*

            Well, except she shared where they ‘ate’ after the fact. So this is unlikely. I’d report personally. The favoritism can have very negative outcomes for literally everyone else on the team, since they won’t be given the same opportunities to advance even if they should.

      3. Daisy-dog*

        For instance, if they were leaving the apartment, why not freshen up there? It’s not like an office or supply closet that doesn’t have a mirror. Plus, this directly doesn’t impact OP1. But everything else is definitely worth investigating.

    7. Kella*

      An affair is something that it’s very difficult for an employee to know for certain is happening, unless they a. walk in on them in the act or b. one of the participants of the affair tells the employee directly.

      Which is why what’s needed here is an *investigation*. It’s not on OP to definitively determine whether an affair is occurring or not. That’s HR’s job.

      And I think OP mentioned the comments about her coworker’s sunniness to demonstrate that even though she’s new, she is highly favored in the company, and therefore it might be harder to report her for something.

      1. Flipperty*

        Removed. To make this explicit since you’ve now repeated it after the first comment was removed for the same reason: You cannot accuse the LW of assuming the only way the Kristen can have gained her success is via sleeping with the boss. The letter doesn’t say that, and you are violating multiple commenting rules. Please pass this post by rather than continuing to assert that. – Alison

    8. philmar*

      I agree with you, Hmm. I think this is one of those instances where if you describe what you saw at lunch, you are “tattling” (I think it’s appropriate in this case because the lunch thing is not work-related). None of the other stuff points at an affair, and if the grandboss likes Kristen because of her positive attitude, complaining will make you sound bitter in comparison. There is also nothing in there saying that Kristen is not capable of carrying out the high-profile assignments — has she screwed any of them up or embarrassed the company with her incompetence? I think it’s a really unfair leap that will punish Kristen way more than Tim to say they are having an affair.

      1. eisa*

        “None of the other stuff points at an affair”

        Did you read this part of the letter ?

        ” [… ] how much they’re always off by themselves and whispering, not to mention touching each other/fixing each other’s clothes. […]
        During meetings, they often derail the discussion with flirtatious banter, and the rest of us are left sitting there uncomfortably.”

        Question : How often do you and your supervisor touch each other and fix each other’s clothes ?

        Even leaving aside the appearance of favoritism (corner office, plum assignments); even leaving aside the possible/probable lunchtime assignation:
        They give every impression of having an affair, in plain view of everybody.

        1. EPLawyer*

          The fixing each other’s clothes really jumped out at me. Unless it is someone saying hey yuor collar is messed up, let me fix it for you, its a reallly intimate thing. And I doubt their collars are messed up all the much.

          1. Ginger Baker*

            This. I can count on one hand the number of times I have touched a colleague’s clothes at work in over 20 years of working. I’m not even sure I get to “once” really – on the few occasions I have pointed out something askew, a loose thread, etc., it was always verbally so the person themselves could fix.

            1. WantonSeedStitch*

              I’ve had a couple times when I’ve said something like, “hey, you have a loose thread/your collar is hecked up/etc. Want me to get that for you?” if it’s been in a tricky to manage spot, and had my coworker say yes. But I WAITED FOR PERMISSION to do so, rather than assume it was OK.

            2. fhqwhgads*

              Yeah, I’ve definitely said “hey there’s a leaf on your shoulder” or something. I don’t take the leaf off. The closest thing to me adjusting someone else’s clothing is like…I was walking next to them and my watch got caught on their (billowy, moving in wind) sweater or something similar, and so said “adjustment” was really “ack we’re stuck!”

          2. Betty*

            I mean, famously, Princess Margaret and Peter Townsend were discovered by the press because of exactly this (she removed a bit of fluff from his lapel on QEII’s coronation day).

          3. OP1*

            Yeah, this is much more than that. For instance, she once just started fixing his tie in the elevator because “It was bugging me” and she explained a story about how he didn’t know how to tie one because [personal anecdote from his childhood].” Another time he was teasing her about her shoelaces being too loose and she basically dared him to tie them better, which he did. It’s hard to describe. They have what I would call a strangely intimate repertoire for a male two decades older than his female subordinate, but at the same time I feel like if I said anything during one of those instances I would feel like the one stirring the pot.

            1. LF*

              “Another time he was teasing her about her shoelaces being too loose and she basically dared him to tie them better, which he did.”


      2. MsM*

        I hate the concept that going to HR is “tattling.” There’s something going on that’s getting in the way of OP doing their job and impacting departmental morale, and a conversation with OP’s boss isn’t an option because OP reasonably fears that will result in inaction at best and retaliation at worst. If HR doesn’t think there’s enough to act on or there isn’t a problem here, let them decide that.

        1. philmar*

          I agree that going to HR with a work problem is not tattling, which is why I think saying that you saw Kristen and Tim coming back from lunch while adjusting their clothes is not worthy, and is frivolous and “tattling.”

          1. MsM*

            But you’re obviously not just going to say that. You’re going to point to it as the latest development in a pattern of troubling behavior that has you concerned about favoritism and professionalism and your ability to bring concerns to your boss openly. I really don’t understand the urge to rug-sweep here. Kristen (maybe) hasn’t messed up the assignments no one else would be getting handed at this stage of her tenure (yet), so it’s OP’s job to protect her even though she’s either a willing participant in the unprofessional behavior, or needs HR’s help to get out of this? (Or both?)

          2. Workerbee*

            I wish we could get away from the playground concept of “tattling,” especially when it’s a work-related issue. “Tattling/Don’t be a tattle-tale” is used by children who don’t want to be held accountable for their behavior, and with the hope that the person who is affected will be cowed by the name-calling.

            1. philmar*

              I think I’m pretty clear in explaining why this is tattling, a concept that I said in my first comment should generally not apply to the workplace.

          3. Totally Minnie*

            Please stop pushing the tattling narrative. These are adults in a workplace. Telling HR the things you’ve observed about your boss’s inappropriate relationship with a subordinate is not tattling. This is an incredibly serious allegation. LW’s observations can help HR determine what their next steps should be, so I would advise them not to leave anything out. They should provide HR with a clear picture of everything they know so that HR will have enough information to plan their investigation.

          4. MigraineMonth*

            If this were two coworkers at the same level, I’d probably be with you that the possible lunchtime sex break is the least important part of the behavior. Unfortunately, this is between a manager and their subordinate, which would make a physical affair both ethically and legally risky.

            The OP should *not* gossip, but they should pass along everything they observed to the hotline and leave it to the experts to investigate.

      3. Allonge*

        If there is no affair, the investigation will find nothing. But you are ignoring several signs mentioned by OP that there is indeed at least inappropriate attachment / behavior. The Deed TM need not have happened for this to be inappropriate.

        Is it likely that Kristen would have heavier consequences than Tom? Unfortunately, yes (I would argue that it’s in her interest to stop the relationship or one of their jobs at least). But they are both behaving inappropriately all the same, and OP and the rest of the team should not be subjected to this. It’s work-related as there is an ongoing behavior at work, with what seems like consequences in the work field (projects, office etc).

        1. Observer*

          Is it likely that Kristen would have heavier consequences than Tom? Unfortunately, yes

          You are probably right, and it stinks. But that’s not the OP’s problem to deal with. The reality is that they have good reason to feel that they, and other staff, are being put at a disadvantage by this behavior. And they have a right to protect themselves, even if it means that one of the guilty parties is going to take a heavier hit than the other.

          To me, Boss is a bigger problem simply by virtue of being the boss. He’s the one with the power and he’s the one apparently abusing it in terms of how he’s treating everyone else.

          1. MassMatt*

            Both parties exercised poor judgment (though I am sure they thought they were being extremely discreet) but the manager is the one who abused power both in initiating the affair and in showing favoritism to the subordinate. It is sadly common for companies to fire the subordinate while the manager goes free, but that’s another issue.

            1. MigraineMonth*

              If I ruled the world, the boss would always get fired for having an affair with anyone in their reporting chain.

    9. Violetta*

      I agree. They were ‘coming from the direction of an apartment’ but still fixing their clothing? I wouldn’t mention this sighting at all because it will sound like OP is reading into things. Stick to the facts (i.e. the derailing meetings)

      1. MsM*

        OP is making an (IMO) entirely reasonable inference based on the other behavior. If things appear to be escalating, that’s relevant information.

        1. Myrin*

          Yeah, and I think some people aren’t reading this as “escalating” simply because OP mentions the clothes-fixing thing first, which gives it a bit of a “this is the main and most egregious thing I have observed” feeling instead of what it is, the latest hint towards something more between a boss and his subordinate after a long list of other concerning hints.

          1. Blue*

            Yeah, I read it as OP suspecting that something was going on, because of the flirting and everything else, and the lunchtime incident was the most recent and the one that tipped the situation over to writing to Alison for advice. But it seems that many people are reading this as the lunch thing being the biggest “evidence” OP has, and it’s coloring the tone of the responses.

            Because of this, I wonder if it would be better for OP to leave it off entirely if she up bringing it up to HR/making an anonymous report, or focusing more on everything else, because they might see it the same way.

      2. Candy*

        Yeah, the two of them fixing their hair or shirts while walking back to the office doesn’t sound like slam dunk evidence of an affair to me. If they were having a quickie at his apartment, presumably they would have finished dressing before leaving the apartment?

        I frequently fix up my hair and makeup as I get close to/into my office, especially after eating or on windy days. Doesn’t mean I’m having an affair on my lunch break.

        OP should bring up how meeting discussions are being derailed, question why they may have been passed over for high-profile assignments they feel they were qualified for, or other issues that directly affect their work

    10. MicroManagered*

      I was surprised by the advice to make an anonymous report as well. I know we take letter writers at their word but there are also times that Alison will call out obvious assumptions and leaps in judgment, which I was really surprised she didn’t do here. This letter is pretty heavy on biased language and assumptions (Tom and Kristen feel untouchable — how does OP know how they feel?) and the “evidence” is circumstantial rather than substantive.

      They were walking from the direction of his apartment? You mean, like, east/west? And she was fixing her hair? Could be an affair, could be a windy day. But if they were just at his apartment, they had plenty of time to do up their clothes and fix their hair before they walked back to work. This is a huge reach to me and it’s just not enough for me to say yeah, go do something that might get them fired. The bits about the new girl getting the best office and “flirting” in meetings just… didn’t quite convince me either. Personally I would watch, but not report.

      1. DinoZebra*

        I understand the “Tom and Kristen feel untouchable” wording to mean that to the Letter Writer it feels that Tom and Karen are untouchable not that Letter Writer is claiming to know what Tom and Karen are feeling (although they behaviour may well suggest that they think/feel that)

        1. MicroManagered*

          You think OP means “it feels to me like Tom and Kristen are untouchable” instead of “Tom and Kristen’s feelings are that they’re untouchable”?

          I guess I can see that. Could be semantics/interpretation. Taken as a whole though, the letter still feels very biased.

          I will say that I’ve been in Kristen’s shoes and had someone start rumors that I was having an affair with the grandboss, so *I* might be biased here too.

    11. kittybutton*

      I honestly had a similar reaction to the OP. I understand that Alison will always take OPs at their word, but I would push back a bit on OP to encourage them to consider whether it is possible that they are unfairly viewing this situation. For example, the scene on the street sounds a lot like a movie depiction of stealth lovers leaving their love nest than real life. In reality if Tim and Kristen slept together in his apartment, what then?…he dressed and left but didn’t tuck in his shirt until he was back on the street? Kristen waited behind for a few minutes but didn’t fix her hair until she was on the street?

    12. Cat's Paw for Cats*

      I completely disagree. I was the head of my organization (now retired) and conducted a number of these investigations over the years. Make no mistake, there is quite enough information here to warrant an investigation of these people. If there is not an affair, then there is no harm done. The investigation will be closed and no action taken. OP should absolutely bring this to HR’s attention so that they can determine if there is any wrongdoing.

      1. OP1*

        Thank you for saying that, I’m not a writer by trade and it was really hard for me to describe what I’ve been seeing. I just feel like they go right up to the line of actual describable, reportable behavior. And now they’ve started doing things like walking in together almost every morning.

        1. Marcella*

          Definitely report it. Stuff like this poisons morale. And on the chance they’re NOT having an affair, they need to realize how they’re coming across so they can correct their behavior.

          I’ve been in several workplaces where it’s clear people are having an affair and it seems that they never realize how obvious they are or the impact on their reputation – especially if it’s male boss, female subordinate.

          I’ve also been in workplaces where 2 people started a relationship and handled it well – made changes so no one reported to anyone, no one got an unfair advantage, etc. It’s night and day.

      2. thatmarketingchick*

        To say that being falsely accused of having an affair won’t harm anyone is 100% incorrect. It would be horribly embarrassing and probably change her ability to trust anyone she worked with. Signed, someone who has been falsely accused of having an affair.

        1. MicroManagered*

          I’ve also been falsely accused of having an affair with a grandboss and agree! In my case, there was no investigation because it was a baseless rumor, but I can tell you if there had been — at that point in my life, it would’ve been extremely damaging to my mental health. Luckily in my case, everyone could tell it was just gossip from an obvious bully. She left pretty shortly after and then got fired from her new job after like a month.

        2. Cat's Paw for Cats*

          I think you misunderstand investigations of this nature. If they are performed correctly, they are fact finding missions. They seek to confirm or not specific behaviors and also are an opportunity to reinforce expectations. It would be both inappropriate and counterproductive to accuse anyone of anything. These inquiries can and should be handled tactfully and tastefully.

          If you were falsely accused of having an affair or anything else, then your managers failed you.

        3. Just another manager*

          Exactly, and I say this as someone who was reported as having an affair with a colleague I scarcely knew. He was having an affair… with another colleague he worked closely with who looked a lot like me. Whoever reported us clearly wasn’t someone who knew me (or probably her).

          But it’s been 15 years, and occasionally I’ll run into people from that organization. And they’ll hint about it, because not only did HR not keep their mouths shut, but they gossiped about the wrong person. It was (and still is, when I think about it) devastating.

          1. rebelwithmouseyhair*

            So it’s the gossip that was devastating, more than the false accusation that was quickly cleared up?
            I too have been falsely accused of having an affair, at an after-hours party in front of all my colleagues, who dutifully laughed at the boss’s crass “joke” (something about him wanting to watch me dance with the young dev who very clearly was crushing hard on me).
            When I mentioned how furious I was to some of them later, none of them even remembered what the boss had said, because it was just a stupid wacky remark to them and they were just waiting for him to leave so they could start on the hard drinking.

    13. Trout 'Waver*

      If a new hire is getting opportunities that senior staff aren’t, that’s the main problem. By itself, that’s enough to investigate.

    14. Peanut Hamper*

      Nope, it should be reported.

      This is not a court of law and you are not trying to convict. You are reporting a situation that may be problematic (and in fact, some aspects of it already are) and are letting the appropriate people investigate it and follow up on it.

      Your responsibility ends there, unless HR wants to follow up with you.

    15. El l*

      Skepticism about jumping to conclusions is good – that was my initial reaction too.

      If it were a smaller company without a robust HR, any sort of whistleblowing/anonymous reporting wouldn’t be possible, and there’d likely be few avenues for OP to do anything. And regardless if there were no change in how the boss treated the rest of the team I might advise letting it slide.

      But it’s probably worth reporting them. Because it’s not just about what they get up to off the clock. There are stakes for the broader team, and clear breaks in professional judgment are happening and they affect OP.

    16. learnedthehardway*

      If I were the OP, I would carefully assess whether to speak with the HR team about it. Is there someone she trusts is professional and not likely to say where the concern came from?

      Otherwise, I would keep my mouth shut and my head down. The Grandboss clearly thinks the female coworker is doing a great job. The manager seems somewhat untouchable.

      Spreading gossip is a bad idea, generally. And flagging something for investigation depends on whether the HR team is professional and discreet.

      1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        Meetings are being derailed, people are being made uncomfortable, and more importantly Kristen gets first priority in seating and project assignments. That she gets those high-profile assignments means others on the team should be getting them and don’t. Should OP keep their mouth shut and wait until half the team has left because of this?

    17. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      I’ve had some experience with the Toms and Kristens of the world, even came very close to being one at one point. Almost lost a project assignment because of one workplace affair going on between my boss and a teammate, almost lost my job because of another at another job. This is a big big deal. I admit I have never reported anyone to HR, but there are situations when, knowing what I know about workplace dynamics now, I would do so without hesitation. This is one of them. And, it is possible to have a bubbly personality and a good attitude and also be engaged in an unethical situation with one’s manager. The two aren’t mutually exclusive.

  5. Not Australian*

    OP#1 – you don’t say exactly how large your organisation is, but it’s very possible you won’t be the only person to have noticed this or even reported it: the ‘flirtatious banter in meetings’ at least is unlikely to have gone unnoticed by others. I’d go ahead, personally, on the basis that *of course* HR will want to hear about it – after all, there wouldn’t be an anonymous tip line if they weren’t prepared to receive anonymous tips. It’s up to them, then, what they do about it – if anything.

    1. Bagpuss*

      I agree.
      -Also try to report as factually as possible and be clear about what you observed and what the impact on you was:
      There is a lot flirtatious banter in meetings , for example [give and example].
      I felt uncomfortable being exposed to this sexualised conversation.

      Kristen is the newest member of the department but has been given given profile assignments such as X and Y.
      Others in the department such as A & B have the skills and expertise to deal with those project, them being given to Kristen is perceived as favoritism based on her closeness with Tim .

      There is a lot of physical closeness and contact between Tim and Kristen, such as Kritsen straightening Tim’s tie (or whatever has been happening) neither of them behave in this way to other workers of either gender.

      Tim and Kristen have been leaving and returning to the office at the same time, they appear disheveled when they return.

      Tim and Kristen have stated that they went out to lunch together, however no other colleagues were invited, and Tim is not in the habit of taking other who report to him out to lunch (assuming this is true)

      You can then say something like ‘I have been made to feel very uncomfortable witnessing Tim and Kristen’s flirting and sexualised behavior. Obviously I don’t know details of their relation but it appears that they are very close and that Tim is treating Kristen differently, and more favorably, than his other reports as a result of his personal relationship with her .

    2. Area Woman*

      My boss was having an obvious affair with another manager when I was at another company. Someone caught them making out in the office so it was known by everyone. They ate lunch together with the door closed, he washed her dishes after. They talked for hours in the parking lot (???) after work. They often took the same half day off. I quit very quickly because the boss was bad for a lot of other reasons also. I brought it up at my exit interview about how gross it was and distracting but nothing was really done. They both still work there its been about 5 years of this nonsense according to other employees.

      I would find a new job. It adds to gossip and toxicity.

  6. Camp Letter OP*

    Thanks for answering! I figured there had to be some reason this was allowed. I feel worse for the counselors I’m supervising, who are truly making pennies an hour.

    1. Grew up Orthodox in NYC (currently OTD)*

      If it’s any comfort there- at least based on my fairly narrow experience, there’s a significant social expectation that parents will tip the counselors at the end of the summer, or even at the end of each camp ‘half’. Depending on the community, that can come out to quite a lot. Not that it excuses the shoddy pay culture at summer camps in general in any way. And it doesn’t really help you either, because I think only counselors get tips.

      This system is long overdue for a pay fairness overhaul, but with the way things look on the labor market in general I’m not very optimistic :(

      1. Kate*

        Yeah I was a camp counselor in the US for a bit, and the economics of it blew my mind.

        1) Tipping: coming from outside the US, the idea that I would receive tips was INSANE to me. About 25% of my stipend package was what they called “guaranteed tips”: if I got less than 800 bucks in tips, then the camp would make up the difference.

        2) overseas recruitment: as I mentioned, I came from outside the US. Slightly less than half of us did. We had no special skills to speak of, it was a way to pay us wayyyyyy less and call it an “exchange visitor program”.

        1. Kate*

          (Actually now that I think about it, my math is off. It was 1650 for the summer, plus 600 guaranteed tips)

        2. General von Klinkerhoffen*

          This kind of thing is heavily advertised to students here in the UK, as a way to pass the summer without patricide and earn fractionally more money than you spend.

      2. Cat Tree*

        Ugh. I’m a parent of a toddler and I’ve been looking into different childcare options during the summer when she is school age. I guess it just never becomes affordable, huh? If tipping is the expectation I will certainly do it. But it would be so much easier for the camp to just charge me more and pay the counselors more. If I’m paying the same amount in the end, it would be so much easier for me to make plans.

        This sounds like the worst of two worlds – tipping culture and unsubsidized childcare.

        1. Observer*

          No, the tips are not that high per parent. It’s not nothing, not THAT much compared to the rest of camp costs. And it’s a lot like tipping in restaurants etc. Which is not a great model, but it’s a common US thing.

          1. MigraineMonth*

            I feel strongly that tipping should not be expected. Until then, I also make sure I tip well.

        2. BethDH*

          Yeah, I’m a parent and I’d never heard of this! There is a huge range of costs for summer camps that seem superficially similar (so not specialty activities and such), which means you can’t even follow the usual tipping rules based on percentage of service cost, because then you’d just pay underpaid people less.

          1. Grew up Orthodox in NYC (currently OTD)*

            Apologies, I realize that I specified in my username but not in my actual answer- this was my experience specifically of Orthodox Jewish summer camps (day and sleepaway), I had meant to include that detail but I forgot. Since LW is talking about a Jewish summer camp, I meant to address that.

        3. Starbuck*

          I don’t think tipping is the norm at all for day camps, FYI. I work one and it’s not FLSA exempt, so everyone is making an actual hourly wage (and not working overnight or unpaid OT).

      3. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Tipping the counselors is new to me. Is that regional? Type of camp? Sleepover only?

        My kid’s daycamps have had so very many different counselors this wouave been a logistics nightmare just finding them.

        1. doreen*

          I think the tipping is only for sleep away camps – one problem with tipping culture figuring out how similar jobs are tread

        2. negligent apparitions*

          My kids in the Midwest have been to both day camps and sleepaway camps, Girl Scout and church camps, and I have never tipped nor heard of other parents tipping.

          1. Melissa*

            Same here. My son attends a camp in Maine for 3 weeks. There are dozens of counselors. How would I know which ones to tip? There are two in his cabin, but also an art counselor and a kayaking counselor and a dude who teaches them to build bonfires…

          2. wordswords*

            Yeah, I grew up in the Midwest and New England and went to sleepaway camp for years, and have never heard of parents tipping. Maybe my family just missed the memo — it’s possible! there were a number of kids of families much richer than mine at my camp! — but although I was never a counselor there, two of my brothers were for several years, and have never mentioned it either. I’m wondering if maybe this is heavily dependent on the region/subculture/camp/etc.

          3. Way Harsh, Tai*

            Also in the Midwest and tips are definitely an expectation in my experience. My kids aren’t old enough for sleepaway camp yet, but I give a small tip to the counselors at the end of day camp as a thank you. Maybe it depends on the location? I’m in a HCOL area with a gifting culture that (imo) leans towards extravagant.

          4. Alanna*

            I was a counselor at a reasonably well-known sleepaway camp on and off for a decade — I loved it so much that I would take vacation from my job and go back for a few weeks well into my 20s. I have never heard of tipping counselors and there’s absolutely no way my camp would have encouraged or condoned it!

            And I never made more than $100/week for 24/7 work so it’s not like it was discouraged because we were so generously compensated.

        3. Falling Diphthong*

          My kids are now in their 20s; I never tipped at their day camps. And I am certain that if that was the expectation an email would have gone out.

        4. This Old House*

          My kids attend municipally run day camp on the East Coast and there’s a definite expectation of tipping counselors. There are substantial, sometimes heated, threads about it in the mommy groups every year, but the clearest indication is that last year, they sent home a list of who your kids’ counselors were . . . the last week of camp. If you think that’s important info for me to know about who’s caring for my kids, it should go out the first week of camp. Since it didn’t, it was a pretty clear unspoken instruction on who to make checks out to. (I complained.)

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

            Maybe it’s an east cost thing? I grew up in Minnesota and it was certainly not a thing. Other folx from midwest are saying the same thing.

            It might also depend on what type of camp and who the target consumers are. An upper middle class specialty camp, yeah I can see a tipping culture. A religious camp that has scholarship for poor kids to attend, no tipping.

          2. DataSci*

            It may be as much a “one camp for the summer” vs “week by week” situation as a regional one. Most day camps in my area are weekly – you can sign kids up for the whole summer at some but other kids will come and go, it’s not an all or nothing situation.

          1. Curiouser and Curiouser*

            I worked at a Day Camp in the DC area and I never got tips, and now I’m salty. (Not actually. It was a long time ago haha)

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

          Yeah that seems wildly off to expect tips. My experience at camp is that I don’t think my mom even met the camp counselor, except maybe at the very first day. typically it was drop off with other members of the organization checking us in. We said goodbye to our parents and they told us where to go. Then the counselor came took us to our cabin. A week later for pick up it was the same thing we waited for our parents, the camp organizers checked us out. Granted this would have been the late 90’s but still.

        6. Claire*

          I worked at a day camp in NY for many summers in the late 90’s. We did occasionally get tips from parents. It wasn’t expected, but we always really appreciated it when it happened.

        7. Spero*

          My kids daycare asks us to contribute to a ‘staff gift’ a few times a year which basically breaks down as a tip, and she’s been in camps where they ask for parents to contribute to a ‘thank you for counselor’ as a cash gift.

        8. Grew up Orthodox in NYC (currently OTD)*

          I apologize! I meant to specify that I was talking about Jewish summer camps, which is what LW was talking about. I put it in my username and then forgot to include that detail in the comment itself.

      4. Your Computer Guy*

        I was never tipped as a camp counselor. Worked a day camp in southern US for a private school.
        I’m sending my kids to summer day camp in a couple of weeks and it wouldn’t occur to me to tip. How much are people tipping? And who do you give the tip to? There’s many different counselors.

      5. Perfectly Particular*

        Oh crap. I had no idea we were supposed to tip camp counselors! I’m not usually stingy, and now I feel bad! OTOH – camp is so expensive, and our summer childcare budget could only stretch so far… What is a normal amount for this?

        1. EPLawyer*

          That’s the big part. Camps are EXPENSIVE. Yet, the counselors are paid a pittance. I get it, location rental and insurance can be expensive, but even County run programs at County Facilites are expensive as heck.

          1. Not Tom, Just Petty*

            And for the other end of the spectrum: nursing homes and assisted living facilities. County run or private (had family in both). Pay huge amounts. Staff makes less than $10/hr.

        2. former camp sounselor*

          I worked at a summer camp in Indiana for 2 summers and no one ever tipped us. I think this is a very camp or region specific thing, as others have noted.

      6. Stacy*

        I worked as a day camp counselor and lifeguard for under minimum wage. We also had a few weeks of overnight camp (whose staff was all volunteer). There was definitely no tipping, but the camp was inexpensive and many of the families were low income.

        If i found out the job pays under minimum wage, and it seems like the camp is actually making money, I would wish them luck finding a new director.

      7. Ella Bee*

        When I worked at an overnight camp in the Midwest we were specifically told that we weren’t allowed to accept tips! We also just never saw the majority of the parents since most of the campers arrived/left via busses provided by the camp.

      8. linus*

        this is not universal across orgs– i was informed under no uncertain terms that if we accepted gifts or tips from parents of any kind, we would be fired without recourse.

    2. fine tipped pen aficionado*

      Hey OP! When I worked for a girl scout sleep away camp in 2008, I made $500 for the whole summer as a camp counselor. I work in Parks & Rec now, and our org requires that day camp counselors follow the same pay rules as any other municipal employee instead of exploiting the camp loopholes, so they all start at $15.85 per hour, which is not enough to afford rent but better than $500 for the whole summer.

      You’ll probably find similar rules at Parks & Rec camps across the country because municipal HR departments are simply unwilling and/or unable to have an entirely different set of processes and rules for such a small and ephemeral group of staff. That doesn’t super help with your current situation, but food for thought!

    3. Patty Mayonnaise*

      OP, I am really shocked by these responses – I worked at a JCC day camp and was paid the hourly minimum wage in the early to mid 00s. I thought the camp payment loophole was only for sleepaway camp, so I wonder if these laws are by state.

  7. Laure001*

    Can you leave? If you feel you’ve been taken in and they should have told you it involved the prep, you could just go. Maybe if young people begin to refuse the pitiful pay they will realize they have to change things…

    1. Peanut Hamper*

      Yeah, that will probably leave a lot of kids in the lurch.

      Plus, if you read some of the other comments, the economics of providing camps for kids is not a high-profit situation. This is not about big huge greedy corporations paying a pittance; it’s a completely different situation.

      1. fine tipped pen aficionado*

        Correct. It’s true that the luxury camps for rich kids which do actually turn a profit also pay their counselors a pittance, but they are such a small segment of the market it’s not super worth considering in a larger conversation.

        This is just one piece of the huge tapestry of how inaccessible and unsustainable the childcare model is in the US. That’s what camps are; dressed up childcare for working parents. Which is something that’s needed, but the poor conditions and compensation for the people who operate it inevitably lead to lower standards of care for the children, which the parents don’t want but most parents already need assistance to afford camp rates as they are.

        Childcare is just super broken here and summer camp, sleep away or day camp, is part of that.

        1. MigraineMonth*

          The US: We won’t pay our childcare workers or teachers a decent wage, but hey, we give them food stamps!

      2. Saddy Hour*

        Not that I have a solution for this, but it strikes me that this same rhetoric is used to justify underpaying a loooot of people. It’s for the good of your community! You will personally hurt people if you don’t accept less money than you can live on! Do it because you love to help and it’s your job to set yourself on fire so others can stay warm!

        1. fine tipped pen aficionado*

          Yeah it’s tough. The problem is that the parties most affected by the situation (childcare workers and parents) don’t really have avenues to fix the situation, but they both have the power to make the situation worse for each other. It’s a failing of the entire system so it needs to be solved at the system level, but we have very little influence over our policymakers so we end up directing our frustration at the people we can reach even if they aren’t the real source of the problem.

        2. sundae funday*

          I think it sets a really bad precedent to tell teens and young adults that they need to be taken advantage of so they don’t leave the kids “in a lurch.”

          The camp is probably operating under the assumption that people this age are still being supported by their parents, so the money is just some extra spending money. But that totally ignores the reality of today….

      3. Falling Diphthong*

        “If you don’t continue on this path, you will leave a lot of kids in the lurch” can be used to justify continuing to do absolutely anything connected to youth activities.

        1. Peanut Hamper*

          Very true, but outside of teaching–which is paid for by taxes–people refusing to do this kind of work is not really going to change the pay structure. The pay structure exists because we as a society say that we value our youth, but do not put our money where our mouth is.

          1. MigraineMonth*

            I had a man send me an unhinged email when I told him he would have to pay more than $3.50/hour to get a college student to babysit his three kids for him. Wanting to be paid the going rate for on-campus jobs was obviously selfish and showed I didn’t care about children at all.

            1. Peanut Hamper*

              Yes, but working for an individual (who will probably not have any support behind him) is different that working for an organization (which does have support, albeit probably not enough).

              I think it wasn’t just his email that was unhinged. I feel sorry for his children.

      4. sundae funday*

        This rhetoric is really harmful and is how people end up getting taken advantage of in jobs. Even teens and young adults deserve fair compensation for their time and labor–and they’re going to have to learn to stand up for themselves at some point.

        Kids who may or may not be “in the lurch” shouldn’t factor into the decision. If a particular model is unsustainable without taking unfair advantage of people, then it’s unsustainable, period.

        This is the same reason there’s a lifeguard shortage in the United States.

        1. Peanut Hamper*

          Everything you are saying is true, but it is also why this isn’t going to be solved by someone just up and refusing to work for such low pay. This needs to be taken up at least one or two (if not more) societal levels to be properly fixed. This is a systemic problem inherent to capitalism. One person (or two, or ten) saying “yeah, no, I’m not going to work for such a pittance, and don’t try to guilt me into doing it” is not going to change the overarching structure that makes thing a reality.

          Like the old saying says, I’ll stop complaining when the schools have all the money they need and the army has to have a bake sale to buy some bombs. Our priorities are truly fucked up.

    2. BethDH*

      I agree with your larger point about it being okay to quit when a job isn’t what you were told it would be, just wanted to point out that OP is likely not a “young person” in the sense you seem to mean, as they mention a reason for working there being to get the staff discount on registering their kid.
      That makes the ramifications different as OP might well lose childcare for their kid in addition to the job (and conversely, that discount is part of their compensation, though I suspect they’re still underpaid by a lot).

  8. Em*

    re LW 3: I recently had to do a personality test for our annual dept summit, which made me quite uncomfortable. Personality tests can be fun for personal interest (let’s be honest, mostly because they’re an ego boost, but also for self reflection) but I’m very skeptical when people swear by them or believe knowing someone’s assessment will make it that much easier to work together. I also feel like I am a different personality at work than in my personal life… so I decided to answer neutral on every single question. It spat out a personality type for me, I cringed through the day of the summit devoted to the tests, which included the usual heavy handed “analysis” and made me feel like I was back in school, forced to participate in a guidance class activity. If these tests were being requested in the context of a bullying boss, I would 100% fly under the radar by rigging the test to avoid exposing anything the boss thought was unfavorable.

    1. LifeBeforeCorona*

      I did those kinds of tests twice. The first time was for a career change and I answered honestly. The second time was for a toxic workplace and all my answers were skewed towards what my manager considered a good employee to be. I’m introverted and on my second assessment I came across as the most optimistic rah rah apple polisher in the world.

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        I have also “faked” a personality test for a toxic boss. Highly recommend. 10/10 would do again.

    2. Beth*

      During my one round of serving on a non-profit board, we had a particularly BS “personality test” as one of the activities for our annual “retreat”. I looked at the thing and flatly refused to participate. Fortunately, I was a volunteer and there was no leverage to make me comply.

      I originally agreed to serve on that board because I was curious about how boards function. I left with the impression that they don’t.

      1. Betty*

        Well, it sure sounds like that one didn’t, at least! I was on a board that was very functional, so it really depends. I can’t even imagine a scenario where board members would do those sorts of “tests.”

        1. Lily Rowan*

          If you think about it as working style, it can be helpful to learn about how other people work best! And I would think that could be especially true in a volunteer board situation, where there isn’t much of a hierarchy.

          1. MsM*

            Yeah, but I think that’s probably better covered in a workshop that discusses how to navigate those differences more generally than starting with a personality test.

    3. Elizabeth West*

      This happened to me twice. The first time, the trainer told us not to take it seriously, that it was changeable and even she didn’t put much stock in it. I don’t think anyone really did — they seemed to forget it after a while.

      The second time, to my chagrin, we were told that the results are accessible to other employees on the online platform we were encouraged to sign up for. They insisted it was not to be considered in reviews, but IDK how someone would not have “Oh Susan is a Hufflepuff / Ravenclaw cusp; that’s why she does X/does not do Y” in the back of their minds. Or be tempted to look it up.

  9. Kiitemso*

    #4. I hope this doesn’t turn out to be a similar situation but I had an insecure colleague once who did this to a different member of her team in order to undermine them. The boss was puzzled about most of her questions and feedback and kind of assumed because he didn’t understand the job this team did in detail that the feedback meant that the team member was doing a poor job.

    In reality that member was doing a good job in all accounts and trying to train the underminer in different tasks so she could do the full job description and the underminer didn’t really want those more difficult tasks. Eventually the situation resolved when she decided to resign and the boss caught on before that when team member went on holiday and a lot of tasks went undone because the underminer didn’t know how to do them at all.

    I agree that talking to both involved about that should hopefully fix the problem.

  10. Elsa*

    Re: letter #2 – I interview a lot of candidates over zoom, and if I were late to an interview I would expect to hear from the candidate five minutes after the scheduled start time. There is a higher expectation of being on time for zoom meetings than for live meetings, so five minutes is already quite late.

    1. 34avemovieguy*

      That’s interesting. I usually don’t send a message out until 10-15 min after. 5 min seems too short a grace period. I mean if a previous meeting is running late or an assignment is just finishing up, I wouldn’t expect someone to be watching their email anyway. After 15 min I will send an email saying I’m sorry to catch you at a bad time, let’s find another time for this meeting.

      Also, in my experience, people are more late to zoom meetings because there’s no travel time (even from desk to conference room)to factor in

      1. Elsa*

        I wouldn’t expect a candidate to log off after 5 minutes, but I would expect a “where are you” email at that point, and then log off at 15 minutes. When I’m meeting with someone (candidate, colleague, client) and they are late, I usually send a “where are you” email before the 5 minute mark, and log off after 10-15.

        1. Stacy*

          When I do interviews, I don’t know that the candidate actually has my contact info yet. Sure, they know my name, and can probably guess at my email, but we haven’t had any interaction yet—all of their contact at that point has been through HR.

    2. I should really pick a name*

      You’re late and you have expectations regarding hearing from the candidate?

      1. Elsa*

        Yes, normally if I’m running 5 minutes late then that’s the point where the person who’s waiting for me gets in touch to ask where I am. If they emailed me when I was only one or two minutes late that would be weird, but emailing after 5 minutes is totally normal and expected.

        1. Allonge*

          May be normal (I agree it’s a good idea) but you make it sound like you would be upset that someone only emailed you after 10 minutes of waiting instead of 5. I am not sure you mean to imply this!

          1. ecnaseener*

            I think you’re attaching judgment to the word “expect” that’s not actually attached in this context.

          2. Firecat*

            I didn’t get that at all. Seems like you are reading into the word “expect” a bit.

              1. Elsa*

                Nope, didn’t mean I’d be upset if they didn’t. Just meant it was normal and acceptable for them to email after 5 minutes – no need to sit there waiting for 10 minutes.

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

          Why wouldn’t you email the candidate yourself if you are running late? Maybe in your situation, you have given the candidate your email, but sometimes its someone else who arranges all of the interviews but another person is actually interviewing them.

          I can understand if you are having tech problems, you probably can’t email them. But if you are on another Zoom meeting that’s running late couldn’t you just email?

          1. Elsa*

            Of course! But occasionally I’ve just forgotten about a meeting or lost track of time, and in that case the sooner the person gets in touch the better.

      2. learnedthehardway*

        It’s a good idea for the candidate to send an email – just saying, “Hi, I’m online but don’t see you.”

        There have been times when I have been on the call and someone else has apparnetly been on the call, and yet we haven’t connected. Once it was because the meeting got rescheduled with another meeting address, but the person used the old address. Another time I have no idea what happened.

        1. Drago Cucina*

          This is a good point.

          Last year when telephone interviewing for my current job I logged into the phone number provided by HR. Fortunately, I was using my computer phone system because after 5 minutes of waiting the interviewer called me on my cell phone wondering where I was. We had each been given a different number.

          I assumed they were just running late. But, after 10 minutes I would definitely called HR about the issue.

    3. KHB*

      I agree – five minutes is plenty. If it turns out that there was a snafu with the link or a miscommunication about the scheduled time, pinging somebody about it right away means you have a chance to get the interview back on track without losing too much time.

      I had this happen recently with an important interview (for journalism, not hiring). The interviewee’s assistant told the interviewee that I’d be calling at hour X, and told me to call at hour X+1. (I think the assistant got confused over time-zone differences.) At hour X + 15 minutes, the interviewee emailed to ask where I was. It was too late for me to call then and there, and I almost lost the chance to talk to her. If she’d emailed after 5 minutes, we might have salvaged something.

      1. Be kind, rewind*

        I agree with this. Especially if it’s only a 30-minute interview. 15 minutes is half the time, so waiting that long leaves no choice but to reschedule. Might as well not have said anything.

      2. Office Lobster DJ*

        Yes, I think I’d send an e-mail after 5 minutes or so just to make sure I’m in the right place myself, along the lines of what AthenaC suggests below. Without any response, I would wait the 15 minutes and either try a phone call or just log off at that point.

      3. Elizabeth West*

        Yep, how I did it was after a few minutes, they got an email. Or the person who set it up got it if I didn’t have the interviewer’s contact information.

        After fifteen minutes with no reply, I would send another email: “I haven’t heard from you and I need to hop off to prepare for another meeting; please let me know if you would like to reschedule.” It didn’t matter if I didn’t really have another meeting.

        One person set up the meeting and never showed up at all or contacted me. They went directly on the naughty list of I-will-never-apply-here-again companies.

    4. AthenaC*

      I would even say reach out at 3 minutes just to say “I’m here in the meeting / Zoom lobby! Look forward to speaking.”

      I cannot count the number of times I’ve done this and received an updated Zoom link where everyone is already there waiting for me.

      1. Lily Rowan*

        I was going to say this! It is not uncommon in my experience for the zoom links to get screwed up along the way (especially when the internal interviewers might have received a different calendar appointment than the external interviewee)

    5. korangeen*

      I agree! Waiting 10-15 minutes before even attempting to contact someone is way too long. Sometimes calendar invites automatically include a Teams or Google Meet link when there’s a different link in the description for Zoom or some other platform, and you’ve clicked the wrong link and your interviewers are all sitting there waiting for you on a different platform. Or possibly your interviewer got wrapped up in something and forgot and they need a reminder. If you’re waiting 10-15 minutes before you even start contacting people to figure out what’s going on, you’ve lost a huge chunk of your interviewing time and screwed yourself over. I’d say start drafting your email/text message saying “I’m here, do I have the right link?” at 3-4 minutes, and send it at 4-5 minutes.

      1. korangeen*

        Especially if you don’t have the interviewer’s direct contact info and you have to communicate through the HR person. It’s probably going to take a few minutes to work things out. So don’t spend too long waiting before you contact someone!

      2. Mimmy*

        Sometimes calendar invites automatically include a Teams or Google Meet link when there’s a different link in the description for Zoom or some other platform, and you’ve clicked the wrong link and your interviewers are all sitting there waiting for you on a different platform.

        This happened to me at a recent internal interview. It was supposed to be the Hiring Manager plus two panelists. The HM and I logged on to Zoom right at the start time. After a few minutes, she contacted one of the other panelists; they had logged onto Teams, which is automatically included in our calendar invites.

    6. Theon, Theon, it rhymes with neon*

      For people commenting on “expect”: “expect” is one of those words with two shades of meaning: epistemic and deontic. Epistemic means having to do with predictions, deontic means having to do with obligations.

      So “I would expect to hear from them” in an epistemic sense means “I wouldn’t be surprised if I heard from them,” i.e. “it would be reasonable for them to email me.”

      In contrast, “I would expect to hear from them” in a deontic sense means, “I would feel it was their responsibility to contact me after 5 minutes.”

      Some of the people on the thread are taking this in the deontic sense, but I think it makes the most sense as epistemic: Elsa would be blaming herself if she were more than 5 minutes late, because of the high standard for timeliness, and would not at all be surprised to hear from a candidate at that point.

      The “expectation” of “there is a higher expectation of being on time” is clearly used in the deontic sense: people feel you have a responsibility to show up at that time, not just that they won’t be surprised if you do.

        1. Theon, Theon, it rhymes with neon*

          I find it very fascinating!

          Here’s an example to capture the difference:

          Epistemic: “I expect my boss to be late to this meeting.” (Because he always is.)
          Deontic: “I expect my boss to be on time to this meeting.” (Because it’s important to be respectful of people’s time.)

    7. Way Harsh, Tai*

      Agreed. I think 10 minutes is too long to wait! 5 minutes is a nice grace period. And it’s just plain rude as the interviewer to show up 15 minutes late (or not at all!!) with no notice or follow-up, I don’t care how busy you are. Think about the impression that makes on the candidate.

    8. Elitist Semicolon*

      Wow, how different we are! I wouldn’t write after only 5 minutes, because that’s about the amount of time it could take someone to realize they’re at 15% battery and have to grab their power cord, which is in their office so they have to dash down the hall and grab it and then shift their stuff to a chair closer to the wall outlet – or if Zoom burps and tries to update instead of opening or something else equally mundane. Heck, even differences in clocks could account for 5 minutes – if mine is two minutes fast and yours is 3 minutes slow, then boom – one of us has sent email that could irritate the person on the other end, who thinks they’re on time.

      1. korangeen*

        I really hope an interviewer wouldn’t be irritated by a short message asking if the Zoom link is correct! (Whereas I CAN see the interviewer getting irritated if they’re sitting there on Zoom for 15 minutes waiting for the interviewee who has the wrong link but hasn’t tried to check if it’s correct.)

        1. korangeen*

          Plus since most all computer and phone clocks are now connected to the internet, I wouldn’t expect there to be a 5 minute difference between anyone’s clocks.

          1. KHB*

            Yes to all of this. And also: If you’re doing something as important as conducting a job interview, and you don’t even think to check until a minute before the scheduled time that you have your devices charged and/or plugged in and/or have chargers close at hand, then badly done you. Interviewing is a two-way street, and candidates who have options are not going to be impressed by interviewers who don’t respect their time. Yes, sometimes delays happen that are truly beyond your control, but (1) they should be as rare as possible, (2) you should apologize for them, and (3) at the very least, you shouldn’t be miffed if you get a “Hey, I’m here, am I in the right place?” email from a candidate in that circumstance.

          2. rebelwithmouseyhair*

            somehow, this is the case between my phone and my partner’s, he refuses to believe his can be wrong yet mine seems to be synchronised with the rest of the world and his is not…

  11. Rorybird*

    I have worked for a summer camp both full time and part time for 20 years. It’s my career. What you’re talking about is very common and honestly you’re getting paid fairly well. I know camp employees that make much less than $3,500. It’s not great I know. And my camp is working hard to pay fair wages (we’re an overnight camp so room and board are provided and considered part of the compensation). Most employees are paid a weekly rate in the $200-$300 area. Our more skilled employees like nurse, cook, facilities make $500-1000 weekly. Our nurse and cook make more than I do and I’m full time year round and the assistant Director! That’s mostly because those jobs are VERY difficult to fill and so you have to pay well.

    1. Melissa*

      My son attends a summer camp in remote Maine. One year, they advertised for a nurse. I considered applying because it would be a fun way to spend a few weeks! But I realized that nursing in a remote area is very different from what I’ve done in my suburb. Like, if a kid gets bee-sting anaphylaxis, and the hospital is half an hour away, that’s a different ballgame!

      1. Ms. Frizzle*

        For one (completely awful) summer I was a counselor at an overnight camp for folks with disabilities. We were up in the mountains over an hour from the nearest hospital. They drilled and drilled into us to call the local ambulance earlier rather than later because of the drive. One of my campers started having long, repeated seizures one night, and it was so scary to know that it would take her that long to get to treatment–but in the end she was ok.

        1. Indolent Libertine*

          Rorybird says, between these 2 comments, that they work full time year round; that the nurse and cook are two of the highest paid employees, paid up to $1000/week for the 10 week season, which would seem to top out at $10,000; and that these employees make more than they do, so Mid inferring a salary of around $10,000 isn’t unreasonable based on the math of what Rorybird wrote. Now, maybe what Rorybird meant was that the nurse and cook make more per week during the camp season than they make per week year round, which would open up the possibility that their salary is up to $50,000-ish?

  12. LifeBeforeCorona*

    LW1 Report them on the hotline. It sounds like their behaviour is so obvious that others have noticed and they may be already on HR radar.

    1. Luna*

      I’m wondering if HR or the higher ups even care, *if* this is so obvious that it’s a known secret, and they haven’t already done something about it.

      1. Falling Diphthong*


        They might not care.

        The whole office might be on a similar (or slower) timeline to OP of debating whether this has reached the point of reporting it.

        Upper management may have just become aware of the optics and are in the “I wonder if this is someone else’s problem to fix? I wonder if they’ll get bored and keep their hands to themselves if we ignore them for a few more weeks?” phase.

      2. Victoria Everglot*

        Higher-ups and HR can both be startlingly oblivious if they don’t work with someone on a day to day basis. It’s also possible these two people behave better when Big Boss walks by or something.

        1. Eldritch Office Worker*

          Yeah HR often doesn’t have the line of sight to know about things that are obvious to everyone else. They may be missing context, they probably aren’t in these meetings, they may not be able to discern a one-off from a pattern if they do notice something.

          Regardless, they set up this hotline as a tool for people to use, so I would assume they want people to use it. If something is going on that’s uncomfortable, assume Big Boss or HR don’t know, or don’t know the extent. Worst case scenario you’re adding to a pile of existing complaints – which is still good. Repeated reports are harder to ignore.

  13. SimpleAutie*

    I’m confused about the camp pay thing. If they don’t operate more than 7 months of the year, how could they *not* have 6 months that were at least twice as lucrative as the other 6 months?

    1. I should really pick a name*

      I think you missed the “or”.
      The 6 month condition only applies if they operate more than 7 months.

    2. Peanut Hamper*

      This whole thing confused me, as well, but there is a really good link in the example that Allison provided.

      I think the point of the six-month test is to ensure that this really is a seasonal type of operation where they make most of their money (and thus need the most employees) during a particular season, and don’t really make enough money the rest of the year to have a full-time staff. Requiring a minimum wage might place an undue hardship on the organization, especially if it is a non-profit.

  14. Also-ADHD*

    For LW4, it’s hard to know without knowing the titles and dynamics, but is it possible the manager is asking for feedback from Augustus about LW (since they’re new)? I’ve seen managers that do this, and not necessarily in a “bad” way, and then might ask follow up questions, though it sounds awkward here. But the feedback itself sometimes sounds petty or weird, so I don’t know—but that could also come from it being solicited and Augustus only having small things to say.

    1. ecnaseener*

      I was thinking the same about the feedback. The actual questions about why LW made specific choices are weirder to funnel through the boss…but maybe those questions were actually feedback from Augustus — he says “I don’t think LW should have done it this way / their predecessor wouldn’t have done it this way” and the boss is correctly translating that to “LW is doing some things differently than their predecessor, which is fine, but I can check what the rationale was.”

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

        Unless it was something Augustus thought of in the moment as he was talking with the boss and thought they would know?

    2. Daisy-dog*

      My thought was that Augustus just doesn’t feel comfortable going to LW directly yet – maybe once they have a stronger relationship he will. Why he has so much feedback to give is a different question.

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

        That was my thought too. Or maybe Augustus had a bad experience with someone in the past when he asked them about why they made a specific decision. So now he is going through the boss because he doesn’t want to get yelled at.

        1. Office Lobster DJ*

          I was thinking along these lines as well. It very much sounds like either something outside of OP created this dynamic or Augustus/this workplace is invested in communicating through designated proper channels. Either way, it’s worth bringing up but OP probably can’t fully change it on her own.

    3. wordswords*

      Yeah. The feedback made more (potential) sense to me — either that the manager had indeed solicited some amount of feedback, or that Augustus thought to himself, “Well, LW4 is new, so I should pass on feedback to their manager.” But the questions about LW’s reasoning and process don’t really make sense to ask the manager, from the sound of it. So that part is weird, and casts some more doubt for me on whether the feedback was solicited either.

  15. I should really pick a name*

    If you wouldn’t have taken the job if you knew this, could quit now.

    1. Peanut Hamper*

      That would probably end up leaving a whole bunch of kids in the lurch, unfortunately.

      1. Totally Minnie*

        You’re not wrong, but I recently left a “for the children” style career because the “you’ll be leaving children and families in the lurch” rhetoric makes it extremely easy for managers to guilt and manipulate their employees. Our society tells people in these kinds of fields – both explicitly and implicitly – that’s it’s better for them to allow themselves to be exploited than to let the children down. It’s a lot of pressure and a lot of people completely burn themselves out over it.

        If we don’t want children and families to be left in the lurch, then employees who provide support to children and families should be paid appropriately and provided with the tools, resources, and rest time they need to be effective. One person quitting a summer camp over low pay may not accomplish that on its own, but if enough people do it over time, it may start to have the desired effect.

      2. I should really pick a name*

        It would, but that’s on the organization for not being up front about compensation.

        1. SoloKid*

          They seemed very up front about compensation, but not about what the job entails, or didn’t expect OP5 to be that naïve about it.

          1. Chutney Jitney*

            Stop blaming the OP. It isn’t naive to assume you will be paid fairly for your labor.

            I love how you both say “They were very up front” and then immediately contradict that “but not about what the job entails” – like what else is there to be “up front” about?

            They were clearly not up front, as the OP stated she would not have taken the job if she had known the terms.

            1. SoloKid*

              It was more an indictment of how much work there is around childcare and not an insult towards OP herself. Working the “camp life” is pretty well known to be underpaid and strenuous and “done for the children”.

              Like teaching…. People would definitely think a teacher naive (while still agreeing they should be paid more) if they wrote in asking if it was normal it is to stay late doing prep work etc.

            2. Camp staff op*

              Thank you, I’ve written in before about other issues and I’m really regretting doing it again. Apparently everyone else in the world except me knew it was legal to pay people literal cents for work if it’s at a summer camp…

  16. Luna*

    LW1 – Drop a hint anonymously, if you’ve got a way to do that. If not, perhaps try to put a foot down here and there, just so that their behavior gets reined in a little bit. If there’s a meeting and it derails because those two have banter going on, pipe up with “Alright, we’re veering off a little here, back to the Teapot Construction’s issue with the latest design…”

    And focus on the work-side of things, like how their overt behavior is making it difficult to meet deadlines or keep the workflow going as well as before. Their behavior is already pretty open, it seems, so I don’t think ‘making it clear that we all know’ will change much, if anything. But keeping the aim on the professional side of things sounds good to me. Has nothing to do with personal opinion, but all with work.

    Which, if your workplace is even remotely decently would already have said something, if it’s really *this* obvious, and especially regarding the power-imbalance

    1. ClaireW*

      It is unrealistic and unreasonable to suggest OP either ‘hint’ or even worse ‘put a foot down’ about *their boss* behaving a certain way, never mind a peer. This is not the OP’s job and they should never be put in that position, s0 suggesting they put all of that on themselves rather than use the anonymous line and stay safe from repercussions (especially given we already know the boss has no issue with favorable/unfair treatment of his employees) is a much safer option.

    2. Antilles*

      Trying to “put a foot down” isn’t going to solve the issue.
      First off, someone this brazen isn’t likely to suddenly fix their behavior because they’re hinted at by a subordinate.
      Second, who cares about the banter in meetings? Let’s assume that OP’s hinting around meeting derails works. Okay cool, you saved yourself two wasted minutes of banter but…that still leaves Kristin getting plum assignments, perks like better offices, etc. That’s what’s really impactful to OP’s career long term and unfortunately that’s not something that’s getting resolved by OP-the-subordinate; that needs higher level management and HR to address.

    3. Observer*

      Drop a hint anonymously

      Hints are a really, really bad idea. Fortunately, there is a hotline, so the OP can stay anonymous while giving a clear and factual account of the problem.

      perhaps try to put a foot down here and there

      The OP is in no position to put their foot down.

      If there’s a meeting and it derails because those two have banter going on, pipe up with “Alright, we’re veering off a little here, back to the Teapot Construction’s issue with the latest design…”

      That only works if the OP is the one running the meeting. And there is a limit to how much you can do that, and where those things are useful.

  17. Ex-prof*

    LW #5– Welcome to summer camp, where minimum wage doesn’t exist. And yours is a day camp! At a sleepaway camp, it’s worse.

    I’ve worked for well under a dollar an hour at camps, along with having a time-off schedule that would make a Victorian servant shake her head in sympathy.

    At one time it was a way of keeping summer camps affordable. But now that summer camps are no longer affordable, I think underpaying the staff is just habit.

    1. Peanut Hamper*

      Part of the expense is the just the huge cost of insurance which is ridiculously expensive and getting worse.

  18. Be kind, rewind*

    #4 I would go with the second option first: ask your manager to encourage your colleague to come to you directly. That way, you get your manager’s buy-in on that approach, too.

    Some people feel strongly that it’s not their place to give feedback to a coworker, and that may depend on company culture, as well, if the team in general doesn’t promote open dialogue and feedback.

    So this could be a quirk of your colleague or an indication of the company culture, but your boss probably has a better sense of how well it will go over for you to ask Augustus to engage with you directly.

    1. commensally*

      It’s also possible he’s coming from a previous job situation where the manager wanted all communication about team members’ work routed through them in order to “reduce conflict” or “stay informed” or something. Is this toxic? Yes, but I’ve seen it more than once. Alison’s advice still applies though; your manager may need to directly tell him that culture is different there.

  19. LTR FTW*

    Am I the only one that feels like situation in #1 is yucky but not actionable? Without physical evidence I wouldn’t feel right making the accusation of an inappropriate affair. I’m particularly thinking about the fallout for the woman, because I really don’t love the assumption that she’s gotten the plum assignments and the nice office because she’s screwing the boss. I feel like all we *really* know here is that they are flirty. Which is kinda gross but not immoral. Anyway, personally I’d stay out of it.

    1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

      I’d still report the touching and banter since I’d assume that HR would just tell them to knock it off and they’d stop being so weird at work

      1. MsM*

        Yeah, I’m really not sure how OP is supposed to “stay out of it” when every meeting apparently requires having to figure out how to navigate it. Apart from trying to change departments or leave the job entirely, that is, and then they’ll have to talk to HR about why they decided to do that anyway.

    2. FashionablyEvil*

      I don’t think you need to allege an affair: the flirtatious behavior and favoritism are enough on their own.

      1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        How does one even get “physical evidence” unless they are one of the APs? Saying OP needs to wait to collect it is… well, not actionable.

    3. Peanut Hamper*

      This is not a court of law and you are not trying to convict. You are reporting a situation that may be problematic (and in fact, some aspects of it already are) and are letting the appropriate people investigate it and follow up on it.

      1. ecnaseener*

        +1. People raise these same points for more serious issues too, like sexual harassment, and it doesn’t hold water. Making an initial report isn’t condemning anyone and doesn’t need an airtight case, it’s just flagging it for the people who have the resources, and the obligation, to look into it properly.

    4. Lady Danbury*

      The situation described in the letter is definitely something that a well run organization would want to know. If nothing else, it opens them up to potential sexual harassment/hostile work environment claims from Kristen, not to mention the impact on other coworkers. Even if it’s just inappropriate flirting with no affair and the assignments/office have nothing to do with their behavior, the whole situation reflects extremely poorly on Tim as a manager.

      The whole reason why workplace norms forbid inappropriate relationships between managers and subordinates is so that people like OP (and potentially her coworkers) don’t have legitimate reasons to speculate about favorable treatment towards the subordinate. If an entire room of people are uncomfortable about their interactions, they’re already doing something “wrong”, even if if the “wrong” isn’t an affair. Workplaces shouldn’t be concerned with whether something is “moral” but whether it’s ethical and professional. And right now, their behavior is neither.

    5. Firecat*

      Its odd to me that a handful of people think there needs to be ironclad irrefutable evidence of an affair before even letting HR know so they can investigate a potential inappropriate relationship between a manager and subordinate.

      Also people keep saying the consequences will be worse for the woman, but at every company I’ve worked at the boss would for sure be fired. Managers are held more accountable for ethics violations. She may or may not be fired but she is more likely to be a victim of harassment or feel like she didn’t have a choice but to reciprocate his feelings.

    6. EPLawyer*

      I’m not sure I want to know what physical evidence would look like here.

      Okay its not an affair, but its still blatant favoritism toward a report. Which is still wrong. If it were a guy and they were always off in a corner discussing sports ball of some kind and derailing meetings to discuss last night’s game and the guy got all the plum assignments because he is Boss’ best buddy, its STILL a problem.

      1. Sparkles McFadden*

        Exactly. You don’t have to include salacious details. You’d just report what you’ve observed directly, which is:

        – The flirtatious banter, which is unprofessional behavior which derails meetings and makes other attendees uncomfortable.

        – The blatant favoritism resulting in high-profile assignments going to only the favored person.

      2. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        Yes, this.

        To LTR FTW’s “I really don’t love the assumption that she’s gotten the plum assignments and the nice office because she’s screwing the boss” – yes, I think this gets thrown out too soon and on too little evidence often (she got a promotion? must be screwing the boss. She got a 5% raise and everyone else got 3%? Definitely screwing that boss. But if a guy gets a promotion or an extra 2% raise, everyone just assumes it’s for his merits and all is good with the world) and I’ve pushed back on this talk from my teammates at the past about various women at our company. But whatever these two are doing is problematic all around, affair or not.

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

      yeah if it was only that they both looked ruffled on the way back to the office, then I would say No don’t report it, because it could just be a weird coincidence. But given all the other evidence, the touching and flirting, which also derails meetings while others have to sit and listen to it, then yes this does need to be reported. Even if it’s just reporting that Tim and Kristin talk and derail meetings and they talk in a way that makes me feel uncomfortable

      1. umami*

        Yeah, that first description gives me pause, because let’s say they were in his apartment close by; why would they have both left with shirts untucked and looking disheveled? You wouldn’t walk out of your own apartment after a liaison like this and not … make sure you look decent. It could be a case of confirmation bias. The other issues do seem more reportable, though.

    8. As If*

      It’s not an accusation; it’s a report. It’s not in LW’s purview to furnish evidence (and I’m not sure what that would even mean…photos?). LW reports what she personally has seen, and HR takes it from there. If they find nothing wrong, great! But the flirting and touching in meetings is inappropriate, and so is favoring an employee for personal reasons, whether the reason is that they’re having an affair or that they’re platonic buddies.

    9. MissB*

      Yeah, I’d lean the same way.

      Once upon a time, I worked for the fed government in an internship. It was a small technical department with about 12 folks, including me. Our section boss retired, and one of the 12 took his place. I didn’t like the new boss that much – mostly just because the older section boss was a great mentor, and the new person – not so much.

      Then I started noticing the new boss spending a lot of time in whispered conversations with a woman that was only a few years older than me (I was at the end of my college years). They were both married, and it seemed very clear to me that they were messing around. She’d be in his office for hours with the door closed. Just super uncomfy.

      Turns out he wasn’t having an affair with her – he was having an affair with another woman in the department (who was also married and whose spouse also worked for the same fed agency on the same floor). I’d moved on by then and started my career elsewhere with a different employer. I ran into him a few times at a local federal agency (different than the one I interned at) – he’d been demoted and moved to another federal agency. Guess there are consequences to stuff like that, which was good to know.

      I stopped making assumptions at that point. I don’t know enough about most situations to really come to a conclusion. Not sure I’d report it, but I’d understand if the OP did.

    10. Observer*

      because I really don’t love the assumption that she’s gotten the plum assignments and the nice office because she’s screwing the boss.

      It’s one thing to make such an assumption without any context, or just “she’s really good looking” or something like that. But *in THIS context*, it’s a reasonable assumption to make. And it’s one I would just as easily make if the genders were reversed.

      I feel like all we *really* know here is that they are flirty. Which is kinda gross but not immoral.

      The issue here is not morality. If that were the issue, then I would say that NONE of it is the OP’s business. The problem is that there is a direct effect on the OP and the rest of the office. For one thing, no one should be forced to deal with other people’s intimate flirtations at work. Even if they weren’t derailing meetings, it’s a level of grossness that people really should not be subjected to.

      And the OP has no obligation to accept the penalty inherent in not being “favored” by the boss for reasons that have nothing to do with work because situations exist where people get unfairly painted.

      Also, the idea that the OP is not allowed to draw reasonable conclusions nor ask for some sort of investigation unless and until they have complete and controvertible evidence of wrong doing is pretty toxic. It has nothing to do with fairness. But it’s generally promulgated by people who are trying to keep others from looking too closely at their behavior or the behavior of the people they favor.

    11. She of Many Hats*

      Yeah, it’s yucky but it is actionable because the manager is creating the appearance of Quid Pro Quo even if there’s only smoke and no fire. He is also using language in meetings that also creates, in the best scenario, the optics of sexual harassment for those not consensually participating. This behavior opens the company up to significant legal risk by creating even the appearance of inappropriate behaviors. And this is just the stuff that is seen by and impacting the whole team and doesn’t include the hallway interactions & outside behaviors.

  20. Lemon Zinger*

    I WFH and disagree with the advice for #2. I don’t wait more than 10 minutes, 5 if the meeting is scheduled for 30 minutes or less. When I worked in an office, I didn’t wait around longer than 10-15 minutes for an in-person meeting.

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      That’s splitting hairs a bit, but I also think important context is that it’s an interview, not a regular meeting. Depending on where someone is in their job search it might not be worth blowing an opportunity because the interviewer is running late.

      1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

        For an interview, I’d already blocked off the time, so I’d hang around for the duration. I’d treat my boss’ appointments (or grandboss, all the way up the food chain) the same way.

        If it’s a peer in an organization I already work for, I’ll wait one-quarter of the appointment, up to an hour. 8 minutes for a half hour, 15 minutes for an hour, an hour for anything 4+ hours. After that, I switch to salvaging my time.

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

      This is for an interview, not a regular meeting. Why would you take the chance and miss out on an interview (especially if its something you really want) just because they were 5-10 minutes late. It could have been something beyond their control, like the Wifi going out in the building or their computer doing a mandatory update in the middle of the work day.

  21. New Yorker*

    LW1 – I would leave it at they have the appearance of an affair, and that alone is not good for morale.

    LW5 – yep this is what summer camps do. Many of the senior people do it for love or family discount. I have one friend with divorced parents who were grateful that he had a job that he got fed at (his mom told him, eat a big lunch).

  22. Hawk*

    For LW2 (Zoom): Because I live in a more remote area than the nonprofit I go to for therapy, I mostly have therapy through Zoom. While not the same, there is definitely a 5-10 minute leeway (apointments running over, Zoom problems) space that I give. Any more than 10 minutes, like Alison says, is when I call their office or check in by email. With work, I usually factor in about 10 minutes, too, just because technology isn’t as reliable as we all wish it would be. I last applied for jobs before Zoom interviews were a thing (still under a decade ago), and I would still recommend that 10-15 minute leeway, but if they haven’t contacted you some other way between 10 and 15 minutes, I would follow Alison’s advice exactly.

    For LW4, I’ve been on Augustus’ side. I was new at a location recently and mostly went through my boss to ask questions that I could/should have asked my department head (he is in charge of programs/etc, but not people). I wasn’t comfortable with asking him even though we get along really well because at that point I hadn’t figured out his communication style yet, which was especially difficult as I’m neurodivergent and struggle with understanding what people want from me. I had previously worked with my boss before, and was more comfortable asking her questions. I would definitely do what Alison says. After meeting with my department head and actually talking in a specific meeting about what he actually was looking towards, I was able to understand what was going on better.

    LW5, I’m sorry. Camp pay is utter nonsense, and the way the US structures pay (especially anything that is under “minimum pay”) is frustrating on a good day. My family couldn’t afford even our local camps without my mom volunteering, which brought the costs down (I grew up in a high cost of living area). The fact that the people who run the camps aren’t paid much at all is flabberghasting to me.

  23. Rachel*

    My first job was as a camp counselor in the late ’90s when I was about 16-17. I got paid $300 for the entire summer to work with 3- and 4-year-olds. At some point during a staff meeting someone pointed out that if we calculated our hourly wage, it worked out to about $1 an hour. Yikes!

  24. radiant*

    LW2 – I had an interview recently where the hiring manager was seemingly running late, I gave it five minutes and then started typing an email to the effect of, “I’m still available to talk today, if you’re running behind or an emergency has cropped up, let me know if you want to reschedule”, but they joined the Zoom about three seconds before I was about to press send (and apologised profusely!)

  25. Qwerty*

    OP2 – Send a message after 5min, but still stay on the call for 15min. I usually turn off my camera and microphone after 5min so I can relax

    When sending the message to the recruiter/coordinator/interviewer, I keep it light and ask if I have the right link (interviewer and I were sent different links once) or if we need to reschedule due to something coming up.

  26. JobHopper*

    You’re probably better off thinking about the discount you are getting for the camp.

    I went to a camp twice in one summer, just to get three kids in for the price of one. the food was free, the board was free, and for my new to camping kiddo, I could watch from a safe distance to make sure they had a good experience.
    My salary was $250 per week. Camp easily cost twice that for one student back then– kiddos are in their 30’s now.

    Your camp may be a non-profit and any profit they do make has to be put back into the camp. In fact, the stipend salary scheme is probably part of their approved budget for the year.

    I hope you have a good camping experience for your child and a rewarding summer for your work.

    1. Camp Letter OP*

      There’s no discount for day camp staff. I just found out. I’m paying more than I’m getting paid to send my daughter for the time I’m working.

  27. Lizy*

    $3500 for 5 weeks??? DANG! I think I got like $1600 for 8-9 weeks staffing an overnight camp. Granted, this was 15+ years ago (sheesh) but still.
    “Room” was a platform tent lol. We got 2 hours time-off every day. Some staff were a little more flexible about that – like time-off would start after breakfast and go until lunch, but others were pretty stringent. Camp was in the middle of nowhere, so 2 hours was not really enough to drive the 20+ minutes to town and do whatever and then drive back.
    Also, keep in mind that “board” is food, so if you’re getting lunch, technically you are getting “board”, too.

    But yes – highly normal. Camp pay sucks. Not unlike teachers – we don’t do it for the pay. My time as camp staff is VASTLY outshined by my time as a camper, and that’s 100% due to the awesome staff I had as a kid. I would not be the same person now without my summer camp times…

    1. Camp staff op*

      We don’t get lunch. We pay for our camp shirts, that are required twice a week.

  28. DameB*

    Hey – my kid’s camp uses CIT (counselors in training) for a lot of things. These are 16 & 17 year olds who do a lot of the work of the camp. And they PAY THE CAMP for the privilege! It’s bonkers.

  29. Elsewise*

    #2, bit of advice- double-check that you have the right link! I had an interview once where I was emailed a different link than what appeared in the calendar, so I logged on using the email link and waited and waited, while the interviewers logged on to the calendar link and waited and waited. It took 15 minutes to figure it out, and by the time I logged in to the right one I was super late to the interview. Fortunately, everyone was understanding and I got the job, but it took about an hour after the interview for my heart rate to return to normal.

  30. Wrench Turner*

    I’ve been ghosted by two zoom interviewers last month. Both sent me links, I logged in and waited… and waited. The first one, I gave up after an hour. Never heard from them again. The second one, I waited an hour and just as I’m getting ready to log out, I receive an email cancelling the meeting. The only thing in the email were the words “salary concerns”. They couldn’t even be bothered with capital letters and punctuation. Good times.

  31. Lex*

    Re: Camp pay. Eh, I’d dispute this particular set of circumstances being normal in the camp sphere. (I was camp staff and eventually a director for years.)

    One set stipend for a limited day session = normal
    Set stipend that is low for the hourly equivalent but is ostensibly balanced out by room and board at a sleepaway camp = normal

    But essentially expecting you to perform a full-time curriculum design AND staff position for a set stipend isn’t standard.

    I maintain many friends in the youth work sphere, and no where are they asking camp staff to also design sessions unless those staff members are moving into leadership. That work is done by experienced adults who draw full-time salaries. They’re low salaries, yes. But that should still be full-time work and full-time pay.

    1. Alanna*

      There’s definitely some variation here — I was a longtime camp counselor at a foreign language immersion camp. The highest level of curricular planning was done by people with some expertise (usually they were teachers during the school year), but everybody did planning for day-to-day lessons, activities, and programs. And even the teachers were stipend staff whose hourly pay was nothing like what they made during the school year! Most of us were college kids whose only instructional qualification was that we spoke the language reasonably well.

      It was a ton of work! We’d stay up late every night planning after the kids were asleep, and then show up at breakfast, somehow bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, to facilitate all the activities we’d planned the night before. But I think it’s actually much easier to do this at a sleepaway camp where it’s all part of the weird little alternate world that you live in for a summer. If you’re at day camp and going home to your normal life at night, rather than gathered in the main camp hall eating everything in sight at 1 am with a bunch of other college kids, it’s a much tougher pill to swallow that you’re working that much.

  32. Margaret Cavendish*

    #3 has a very “the beatings will continue until morale improves” feel, doesn’t it?

    Good luck, OP!

  33. Concerned*

    I’m curious as to why the letter writer who has the unfortunate and underpaid camp position felt it was necessary to mention that it was a Jewish camp. It does sound like that LW is part of the community (“our kids”), but even still, I’m left a little uncomfortable with that being left in, since it’s not a relevant detail of the problem the LW is talking about (from other comments here and what I’ve seen elsewhere, this is endemic in all summer camps) but risks the implication that Jews and Jewish summer camps are particularly stingy and hardnosed.

    (I know Allison is Jewish herself, and may or may not agree with me here. But we don’t all have the same opinions in the community.)

    1. Camp Letter OP*

      I am the writer, I am a religious Jew. I’m not sure why you think its not a relevant detail, since its a basic fact. If you’re editing your life on the internet in order to avoid antisemitism, then antisemites have already won.

    2. Bunny Lake Is Found*

      I live in a urban area with a significant Jewish population and attendance at summer camp and eventually becoming a CIT or counselor is a pretty big culture thing here. I suspect the reasoning for the detail might be that the letter writer themselves is wondering if the low pay is a variant on the “we’re like family at this company” situation OR if it is industry wide to under pay OR if they just work for a really low paying camp? Turns out it is an industry wide problem.

  34. Managercanuck*

    Re LW2 – We’re going through interviews for a couple of positions right now, and we make sure to include “while it is X’s intent to call you at precisely that time, please allow a few minutes flexibility just in case”.

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