boss uses therapy to analyze our interactions, former coworker listed me as her manager, and more

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

1. My boss uses therapy to analyze all our interactions

I’m a new therapist two months into the job, and I have noticed that my clinical supervisor has a tendency to analyze me to my face when I have a question she wasn’t anticipating, when we disagree on a non-clinical issue or are attempting to solve a workplace issue. She is also my direct managerial supervisor, so I think something is coming up from the dual relationship.

To give examples, she will say things like, “I don’t know what’s in your story to make you think that [insert really common workplace norm/expectation].” “It seems your mind is imagining scenarios that are making you fearful” [about a legitimate, common workplace question that wasn’t accounted for in the employee handbook and she later agreed to include because “I’ve learned from couples work that sometimes the way to get the other person to work with me is to humor their unreasonable request, even though it shouldn’t take that.”] There is a lot more, like opening a salary/benefits discussion a few months ago stating “from my view it seems you have been having ‘racing thoughts’” — because I had sent her a simple, bullet-point list of questions, as she had no information on my benefits and I was due to start in less than a week. Telling me I “have a paranoid part” when in our initial interview discussion I learned they weren’t sure if they had funding for the position, but they wanted me to accept the offer on good faith they would secure a grant — that they had been rejected for the previous year. (I waited until they got the grant to accept.)

It seems anything I do can and will be analyzed. I just want to know — is this normal? It makes me really uncomfortable and angry to have someone question “my story,” when I just have a question about PTO. There are three other employees at my level and one other full LPC in the practice, but the other LPC’s schedule is too full, which is why I’m with the clinical supervisor I have for management.

I want to say something, but I know that some amount of therapizing during the clinical part of supervision is normal (example: “what came up for you when your client said XYZ?”). Ironically she is an incredible clinical supervisor, so it also worries me that I’m damaging our relationship when I push back. Recently when discussing a major part of my contract that was left out, we got into a tense back and forth because I wanted it in writing and she wanted me to “use your knowledge of me and trust me to honor this, let that guide you, not your fear of workplace power dynamics.”

No, this isn’t normal. It’s bad management — she should be focusing on behaviors, concrete actions, and outcomes, not whatever she imagines you’re feeling — and she’s not your therapist, she’s your manager. As your boss, she shouldn’t be assessing you through a therapeutic lens at all (and you’re undoubtedly right that her dual role is contributing to the issue). Frankly, some of it sounds … abusive is too strong a word here, but manipulative? Gaslighty? She’s weaponizing the language of therapy to avoid dealing with very basic employment issues.

It might not be intentional — maybe this is the lens through which she sees everything in life — but it’s making her a terrible manager and colleague.

2. Employer thinks I accepted a job they never offered me

I sent out applications for two jobs, and I only intended on choosing the better of the two since I’m not in a place where I can work two jobs. Job A was first, and it went so smoothly I thought I was dreaming. I got along with everyone and the store manager went into detail about what would be expected of me should I be hired and my hourly pay. She was open about my benefits, how many hours I’d be working, the work environment, training, and potential room for growth. I left feeling great, but kept my options open just in case.

During the interview with Job B, the manager vaguely told me I would be working very, very long shifts. This was a major reason I left my previous job of three years, and I respectfully let her know that I wasn’t interested anything similar. In addition, the manager spent most of the time talking about how frustrating her younger employees were and how everyone kept disobeying her. She didn’t mention benefits, weekly schedules, or even pay rate. It felt like I was there to listen to her complain about her current employees. The same day she wanted me to consent to a background check, which I did, and ran it on the spot. No interview did this before with me and it made me feel very uneasy. Nowhere in the application did it said “urgently hiring” or that they were hiring on the spot. It came across as being very pushy.

Not even a full 24 hours after the interview, Job B calls me back, but not for a offer. I was being asked to work because someone called in. I wasn’t given any training, I still didn’t know the hourly pay or benefits, and most of all I never accepted a job offer from them because I was never given one.

I’m concerned that Job B is assuming that because I showed up to the interview, this meant I wanted to work for them right away. But the only thing I consented to is a background check and nothing more. I didn’t even complete any onboarding paperwork and Job B has been trying to get me to work hours that told her I did not and could not work anyway. Job A didn’t go about it this way; I received an offer from them that I happily accepted.

How do I decline a job offer that I wasn’t given? Should I decline the assumed “job offer” as normal or should I politely tell Job B that there are some assumptions that are being made? Does this sound odd or am I overreacting?

Is this retail? It sounds a lot like retail, where there’s sometimes a strange assumption that if you interview, you’ve as good as accepted the offer.

Call Job B back and say, “I appreciate the offer but I’ve decided to accept a different job. Thanks for talking with me, and all the best with your hiring.”

If you were still open to considering Job B but wanted more info first — which isn’t your situation — you could say, “Before I could accept the offer, I’d need more information about the pay rate, schedule, and benefits. Could we go over that now, or schedule a call to do it later?”

3. Bathroom etiquette

Your recent article about angry notes in workplaces made me think of an office I worked in a few years ago, and I’d be interested to get your take on it.

At the time I was going through an IBS flare-up. Nothing super serious, but it meant that I was using the toilet quite frequently. A few weeks after I started, a note popped up in the office bathroom I’d been using. From memory I think there was a little poem about “using the brush after you flush”! I don’t know for sure that it was targeted at me, but given the timing I think it probably was a result of my use of the bathroom, even if the person who put it up didn’t know I was the culprit.

At the time I was quite embarrassed but also a little annoyed. I was already spending more time in the bathroom than I would have liked, and wasn’t always able to take extra time to ensure that the inside of the bowl was pristine before I rushed back to my desk. So, was I out of order here?

You’ll find two camps on this: the camp that feels toilets will sometimes show they’ve been used for the purpose they’re intended for, and the camp that feels you need to take 15 extra seconds to remove that evidence when the toilet is shared with others.

Personally, I’m in the second camp — if it’s a shared bathroom, you should leave it in the condition you found it in. I don’t think you were outrageously rude and you don’t need to feel shame or anything like that, but in general you should take the 15 seconds to leave things just as clean for the next person.

4. My former coworker listed me as her manager

I had something weird happen the other day. I received a call from a company saying that Katie, my coworker when I worked retail, had listed me as her manager and they wanted to know about her work ethic, etc.

Katie was a seasonal worker and I was a part-timer. I was never Katie’s manager. I would have been considered a senior coworker because I had been there longer but I had no managerial power over her. She was seasonal so never got a performance review (performance reviews were for people who worked in the company for a year). The only manager thing I really did was tell her stuff like:“Hey, Boss says we need to move this. Can you help me with that?” Or “Hey, why don’t you go straighten up that part of the floor?” I usually worked the night shift as did Katie and our actual manager usually worked the day shift. I acknowledge that I may have seemed like a manager to Katie but she never told me she was putting me down as a reference and, in fact, we never spoke after the season we worked together.

I was honest with the caller saying that we had been coworkers and I was not her manager but she’d been a good coworker for the short time we worked together. I have no idea if she got the job. But, like, what would be the best way to handle this?

You handled it correctly: you were honest about your role relative to hers and how long you worked together, and you gave an honest assessment within that context. Ideally you would have included something like, “Our manager usually worked a different shift from us and I’d been there longer than Katie, so that might be why she put me down” but it’s not a huge deal that you didn’t; it’s not your job to explain why Katie picked the references she did (and I imagine you were caught off-guard anyway since she didn’t check in with you before listing you).

If you want, you can contact Katie and tell her you got a reference call for her and that they mistakenly thought you were her manager … but you’re not obligated to do that. (She should have contacted you first to tell you she was listing you as a reference, but not everyone knows to do that. It’s the kind of thing that can feel obvious when you have more experience, but doesn’t feel obvious when you don’t.)

5. Not paying people who don’t submit a timesheet on time

I am a supervisor at a multinational consulting firm in the U.S. The majority of our staff are also on billable hours and required (as per industry standard) to submit timesheets on a weekly basis.

The finance department will chase late timesheets for a couple days but have threatened to not pay people for submitting a timesheet in a timely enough manner. This just happened to one of my staff — her paycheck was short a week’s time and while finance did pay her for that time, it was late. (I was out of the country for this week and not available.) We both think this appears to violate the Fair Labor Standards Act. Does it, and if so, how should we approach getting the company to resolve the practice? We definitely have some growing pains but this isn’t a small company nor a young one.

Logistically it is critical that staff submit their time in a timely manner for our billing and client budgeting, but that’s a separate issue here.

Yes, this is illegal — under both the FLSA and your state’s laws. Your state will specify how quickly employees need to be paid — usually worded as “within X weeks of the work being performed.” Employers are obligated to pay employees within that time period regardless of whether a timesheet was submitted late and even if it wasn’t submitted at all. Google your state name and “paycheck law” to find out the law for your state specifically. Once you have that info, send it to whoever manages the finance person who’s doing this with a note saying, “This violates state law and we legally cannot do it.”

I’m sympathetic to the finance team’s struggle — getting people to turn in timesheets on time is a pain — but they can’t withhold paychecks as a tool to make it happen.

{ 795 comments… read them below }

  1. Not A Manager*

    LW1 – I wish you could turn this language on her. “I don’t know what’s in your story that you think [normal workplace thing] is unusual.” “It seems like you find adhering to legal norms to be personally threatening somehow.” I know you probably can’t do this, but I wish you could.

    1. Hmm*

      Yeah this one is really bad. A therapist should know that this behavior is really inappropriate. What do they say to couples in therapy about how they talk to each other?? I sympathize with the LW; my husband had to go through the licensure process to be a counselor, and it’s hard to find clinical supervisors at that stage in a healthy setting that isn’t working with really challenging populations. But this really does sound abusive or at the very least unhealthy.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        I read that one thinking “this is weaponizing language” and then Alison said that very thing. I would guess the manager is combining her skill set with a kind of magical thinking where if she looks at every “problem” through a therapy lens she’ll find an answer. That is impossible, of course–PTO has nothing to do with racing thoughts, etc.

        1. Observer*

          with a kind of magical thinking where if she looks at every “problem” through a therapy lens she’ll find an answer.

          I think you’re giving her too much credit. I think your phrase “weaponizing language” is on the money – and it indicates bad faith and manipulation on the part of the supervisor, not an attempt to actually find a “solution” or “explanation.”

          1. Mongrel*

            I’d go 50/50 between that and the supervisor was promoted from counselor and given no training in how to manage other people.

            1. Wintermute*

              I think this is the least conspiracy-theory-like answer– a lot of managers are promoted because they’re good individual contributors with no thought to how they’ll be managing people. Whether that’s someone who’s really good at being a network engineer or a therapist.

              In this case, absent actual management training she’s seized on “ah! but I know ALL ABOUT managing relationships! I’m an EXPERT at managing relationships so how hard can this be?!” and leans into her clinical mode when trying to manage a workplace– unaware that a boss/subordinate relationship IS VERY INTENTIONALLY NOT SUPPOSED TO BE LIKE AN INTIMATE RELATIONSHIP. There’s supposed to be firewalls up, there’s not supposed to be unconditional trust, and there’s absolutely not supposed to be the same degree of concern for each other’s viewpoints.

              If you’re in a marriage with someone you can’t trust to put your needs on par with their own, that’s a problem. If you’re in a workplace you can’t trust to put your needs on par with those of the business and management that’s “a job”.

              1. Csethiro Ceredin*

                Agreed! But it honestly doesn’t sound like she is a good therapist either if she talks like this to her clients.

                1. S*

                  Yes, as I was reading this I was thinking, “I sure hope she doesn’t talk to her clients that way!”

                2. Lenora Rose*

                  Yes, even the example text for relationships “do what the partner wants, even if it’s unreasonable, to make the peace” is highly dubious advice outside a very narrow context. (The issue is usually not that the desired thing is “unreasonable” so much as it is that one partner’s desire to understand the motivation of every option even when minor or obviously harmless is getting in the way of getting things done.)

                  Actually telling people to concede to unreasonable asks is the opposite of healthy therapist advice, and if my therapist did that I’d be considering strongly whether they actually should be my therapist.

            2. somanyquestions*

              I think the supervisor is the kind of person who is a therapist because they believe it gives them power to manipulate people.

            3. Lexie*

              I worked in a mental health adjacent field for a while. To be a supervisor you had to have a master’s degree, this meant that people with masters’ in areas like social work or psychology went from working with clients to supervising staff. They had no idea what to do because grad school taught them to be therapists not supervisors.

          2. Lavender*

            Agreed. It seems like Jane’s “solution” here is to convince OP that their (very normal and reasonable) requests are actually unreasonable. That’s not a good strategy for a manger—or anybody, for that matter.

            1. Totally Minnie*

              Yes. This appears to be the boss trying to make LW believe that the problem is in their own mind and not with the lack of workplace policies and communication.

              LW, do you feel like you can respond with something like “I’m not one of your patients and it’s inappropriate for you to speculate on my mental state” and then state your question again?

              That’s my short term suggestion. My long term suggestion is that this boss is awful and you should get out.

              1. Margaret Cavendish*

                I feel like that script is maybe a level 2 or level 3 response – as an escalation after OP tries something a bit gentler. Something like “Can we make a point of separating the therapeutic questions from the managerial questions? I understand what you’re saying, but right now I really just need an answer on the TPS reports.”

                1. Mockingjay*

                  OP1, add context at the beginning of the inquiry, whether verbal or email. “Hi, quick question about PTO, do I submit the request to you or does it go to Martha?” “Boss, as a follow-up on the Smith case, I plan on contacting X Services; do you concur?”

                  Importantly: I re-read the examples OP1 provided. What I see is a manager who either doesn’t like or doesn’t know how to do the admin part of her job – benefits, salary discussions, approving leave requests. Is there anyone else who can handle those inquiries? Direct those questions to HR or the benefits coordinator while copying Boss to keep her in the loop. Mention it to her offhand: “hey, should I direct admin questions to Fred and just copy you? Would that streamline things?” Of course, you can’t make a manager do her job, nor should you do it for her, but it’s worth a try to alleviate minor matters. Then you have a little more capital to use for important client/clinical matters.

                2. Cthulhu's Librarian*

                  Maybe, but the person who I knew who behaved like this while training to be a therapist definitely needed the more direct version of “not your patient, don’t speak to/treat me like I am.”

                  The problem is that they think they’re being helpful. You need to ensure they know that is unwelcome.

                3. Azure Jane Lunatic*

                  Yeah, I think it’s worth pushing the “I need you to have your manager hat on, not your clinical supervisor hat on” distinction

            2. kitryan*

              Agreed x2 :)
              It’s pathologizing everything OP1 asks about or needs. Just one step further and you get that situation where, if someone is known to have ADHD or BPD or some other diagnosed mental condition, everything they do is attributed to that condition and thus can be ignored or brushed aside.

              1. rebelwithmouseyhair*

                and for those who lack the appropriate male anatomy, everything can be blamed on their hormones or time of month.

            3. TootsNYC*

              to convince OP that their (very normal and reasonable) requests are actually unreasonable. That’s not a good strategy for a manger—or anybody, for that matter.

              And especially not a therapist.

              She’s not even doing therapy right

              1. rebelwithmouseyhair*

                Yeah, she’s using notions she learned during her studies, but weaponising them, using them to manipulate others, rather than using them to help people understand their problems. This is why therapy doesn’t work with narcissists: they simply take therapy as an opportunity to learn how better to manipulate others.

            4. linger*

              Away in a manager-therapist’s head,
              Analysis will twist whatever you’ve said.
              Your sensible workplace requirement will be
              Cast as a complaint that demands therapy.

        2. Tinkerbell*

          This has come up a lot on social media recently due to a certain celebrity who claimed to be “enforcing his boundaries” while insisting his girlfriend curtail her social life and bend over backwards to please him. The language of therapy gets easily weaponized because it makes the bully sound so *reasonable* – after all, they’re using the terms that usually only get taught to the victims of trauma! It’s like when someone is losing an internet argument and suddenly starts speaking like an 18th century gentleman (“Good sir, I pray you re-read my post, for you mistake my missive…”) – and it does work a lot of the time, unfortunately.

          Good on you for pushing back, OP1. You CAN establish a boundary – “You are using therapy language and concepts in a work conversation where they are inappropriate. I did not come to you to make me feel better, I came to you to solve X issue. Please let’s focus on that.”

          1. Wintermute*

            the same exact thing came to mind for me, therapy language is so easily weaponized, “the in-touch-with-their-feelings abuser” is a whole recognized subtype. Their go-to tactic for manipulation is the language of therapy and subtly altering or shifting the goalposts of legitimate communication techniques to abusive ends.

            Theraputics is just a tactic. In the hands of an ethical practitioner they use those techniques to make you your best self and correct maladaptive behavior and destructive thinking. But the flip side is called “brainwashing” and it uses many of the same techniques to normalize unhealthy thoughts and instill destructive behaviors. The same techniques can often work both ways.

              1. There You Are*

                And it’s the reason that it’s a bad idea in a lot of cases for the abusive partner to go to therapy, especially couples’ counseling. They just gain a new set of tools to abuse their partner with.

              2. Wintermute*

                that’s a great analogy– there are many things used in medicine that are potentially vicious poisons. Colchicine, used for intractable gout, is a great example: a modest overdose mimics the effects of fatal radiation poisoning basically. But there’s tons of other medicines that started as poisons first: atropine, curare derivatives, digitalis, etc. Most are second-line or drugs of last resort these days because there are safer examples but the ancient medical adage is true that “the dose makes the poison”.

          2. Lavender*

            I thought of that situation too. Unfortunately, the whole “using therapy-speak to justify manipulative/controlling/abusive behavior” thing is really common.

          3. Irish Teacher*

            It reminds me of a really bizarre interaction I had with somebody online. We were having what I considered a casual relaxed discussion of text interpretation and reasons people might dislike characters not intended to be villains. I pointed out that sometimes an author may show a character doing something bad that the author does not realise is bad or expressing a view that is bigoted but the author doesn’t realise this ’cause they share it and that the people isn’t necessarily misinterpreting the character and they responded with something like “but don’t you think the person commenting should get therapy anyway to deal with their anger over a fictional character” and I said something like “well, maybe if they are regularly finding themselves deeply upset over stuff but I don’t think most people who post online that they dislike a character are really upset about it” and they replied with “I’m ending this discussion because you are clearly really stressed and I don’t want to take that stress into my life.”

            In that case, it was just utterly bizarre and somewhat amusing because they were so off-base and had no power over me and…it just seemed totally weird because it wasn’t even like I had even fully said they were wrong. If they felt they were “losing,” they could just have said, “oh, I was just thinking of cases where people seem really overly-invested, not when they just point out bad writing” and I’d probably have thought I misread what they’d written.

            And yeah, it does derail the conversation. Now in that case, I didn’t care and had no interest in continuing anyway, but if I did, there would really have been no way to go on without coming across as if I thought my need to prove my point outweighed their right not to be stressed by imagining my being stressed.

            The last part really makes me pretty much rule out any possibility this therapist doesn’t know what she is doing or that she just sees everything through the lens of therapy, because even in therapy, if one partner were behaving suspiciously – working late after going out more dressed up than they usually would for work, getting a lot of messages that they are very secretive about, etc – and the other partner suspected cheating, would she say the suspicious partner should “use your knowledge of your partner and trust them to be faithful, let that guide you, not your fear of being cheated on.”

            That is the language of manipulation, not of therapy.

            I think the difficulty with pushing back is that this is her boss. But I do think your script is good.

          4. Boof*

            Yes i like the script you offered; As tempting it is to use therapy language that’s exactly what needs to stop

          5. CommanderBanana*

            Yup, which, enforcing boundaries sounds so reasonable until you learn that one of those boundaries was telling his girlfriend, a professional surfer, that she couldn’t wear swimsuits!

            1. ThatGirl*

              it also wildly misunderstands what a boundary is. A boundary would be “I don’t want to date someone who takes photos in swimsuits, so let’s part ways,” it’s not “you can’t take photos of yourself wearing swimsuits”.

              1. Boof*

                I think that example is still about controlling someone else, not a personal boundary, a reasonable boundary is “i don’t want to wear a [certain style of] swimsuit” not “my [parter/friend/family/etc] can never wear certain styles of swimsuits “

                1. zaracat*

                  I disagree, they’re not forbidding the other person from doing anything; they’re only setting a limit on their own behaviour (dating vs not dating).

                2. Book Badger, Attorney-at-Claw*

                  Boundaries often effect the behavior of other people; that’s the point of them. “Stop calling me late at night” is technically controlling someone else’s behavior (in that you’re telling them not to do a specific thing), but it’s also enforcing a boundary.

            2. Quill*

              A boundary is something about yourself, not about another person (But also that’s never stopped controlling glassbowls)

            3. IDidntStarttheFire*

              Well, I read the text and he didn’t tell her she couldn’t wear swimsuits. He objected to her posting what he considered sexy photos of herself in thongs on her social media, specifically, as well as hanging out with other men, but he didn’t say she “couldn’t” he said “if these are the things you need/want to do, then I’m not the person for you, as it erodes my trust” (total paraphrase, too lazy to go look up the exact texts). So, honestly when I read his texts, I was like “huh, this isn’t what I was expecting AT ALL…. these aren’t “nice” texts but they weren’t nearly as controlling or abusive as she tried to make them sound.

              1. justcommentary*

                His other texts did include requesting that she not hang out with “unstable” women, not surf with men (not just photos), and not do modeling. Plus their relationship started because he messaged her about her surfing photos, which is super hypocritical. To me those were definitely the seeds of a controlling, abusive partner if not straight up that.

              2. Leenie*

                I found the thread of texts to be infuriating, honestly. He absolutely was using therapy-speak to attempt to control his girlfriend – personally and professionally. He’s a textbook example of why you aren’t supposed to go to therapy with an abusive partner. It gives them skills to manipulate you, the relationship, and the people around you. His texts were misogynistic control cloaked in plausible deniability.

        3. Cherries Jubilee*

          She’s also using the therapy-talk to avoid ever having to admit fault or grow as a manager, which is something for which she might benefit from therapy

        4. Quill*

          Yes. This is one of the reasons why arguing with people online, or having political discussions, often fails – because when people take specific words or phrases as having outsized importance, and then use them in self-justifying ways, it makes it basically impossible to hold a conversation.

          This boss is dodging all questions and accountability by bringing the conversations to her perceptions of OP’s mental state, which is 1) not her business as a boss 2) not her business as a therapist / someone in a therapy role because OP is not her therapy client 3) A red flag overall given how dismissive she is.

      2. JSPA*

        Gaslighting therapists are THE WORST. Right up there with acknowledged cults (there being quite some resemblance in the tactics).

        In OP’s shoes, I’d stay long enough to move on in a planned way, and no longer, for three reasons:

        one, that it’s personally miserable to be picked at so intimately by someone horrible.

        the second, that being associated with that sort of person can color people’s assumptions about you and your practices and boundaries (unfair though that is).

        the third, that this is an organization who allow that person to remain in place (!) and provide therapy for vulnerable clients (!!) and even supervise and attempt to “break” the normal therapists they manage to bring on board. That doesn’t speak highly of their standards (and guardrails) more generally.

        This is “hellmouth” territory.

        1. duinath*

          i was also thinking she sounded like an aspiring cult leader, tbh. if she acts like this with patients, it’s just a matter of time before someone files a very serious complaint (assuming someone hasn’t already).

      3. Up and Away*

        I couldn’t agree more with this. I’ll go out on a limb and say she sounds downright dangerous.

        1. Birch*

          yep, this. Alison didn’t want to say abusive but I will. This is someone who knows better, who has one of the most stringent ethical obligations that exists, someone who has the power to help heal or thoroughly f*ck with people’s minds, and who is abusing that power. That’s terrifying.

      4. Willow Pillow*

        I wonder if this would be a reportable breach of their professional standards/code of conduct? It would be worth looking into.

        1. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

          I work in that field – lawyer prosecuting mental healthcare professionals before their licensing boards. It sounds like it would be difficult to make a case from that. It doesn’t sound like she is providing poor clinical supervision, and we don’t regulate employment management. It could be a dual relationship issue, but many practices are sole practitioners who supervise residents, and obviously they would need to be the manager too. And we do not want to restrict those arrangements as they may be the only decent post-graduate pre-licensure supervision options in some areas, like rural areas that are underserved. And it does not relate directly to clients. But it is troubling, I agree.

      5. TootsNYC*

        it’s bad therapy!
        Your therapist isn’t supposed to attack your motivations, or assign them to you out of her imaginations.

    2. Martin Blackwood*

      This is what I was thinking, as well.
      “You seem to view my self advocacy very negatively. Why is that? Standing up for oneself demonstrates confidence and self esteem.”
      You might be able to get the first couple sentences out in a professional way that’s not overly therapyish, tbh.

    3. BattleCat*

      Makes you wonder what conversations with her friends and family are like
      “Use your knowledge of me to trust that I can pick the best movie for us to watch; don’t be guided by your fear of my partiality for Michael Bay…”

      1. Tribbles*

        You assume her friends and family are still talking to her at this point. I would be looking for the door everytime I saw her, if this is indeed the way she speaks in every interaction.

      2. Pastor Petty Labelle*

        I strongly suspect she does use therapy language in every day interactions. As a means of control. As mentioned its weaponized therapy.

        OP, you need another boss. She isn’t going to change. This is going to warp your norms of how offices — even therapy offices — function. I also seriously question whether she is that good at the clinical side of it or you just think she is because her language makes more sense there.

        1. rebelwithmouseyhair*

          Yes this is what I was thinking. It may be possible to come across as an all-knowing person, and get results simply because a directive attitude with patients will result in patients doing as they’re told. However, it wouldn’t be effective in the long term, since it simply creates a dependency on the therapist, with the patient asking what to do rather than learning to work out what to do themselves. Of course, a manipulative therapist would be delighted with this outcome, they could manipulate their patient’s friends and family too, and stir up all sorts of trouble.

      3. Melody Powers*

        I decided not to go on a 3rd date with someone because by the 2nd I had noticed her habit of psychoanalyzing the people in her life, and I didn’t want to be one of them. She hadn’t done it to me yet (aloud) but I could see it in my future if I kept going with her.

    4. Ellis Bell*

      Yes, it almost invites speculation about what someone who likes to put words in others’ mouths, and judge what people feel, instead of asking how they feel, needs to do in couples work! Putting that temptation aside, I think the tactic the boss is using is pointed enough for OP to be able to easily refer to and ask that they not discuss things in this way. Something like “I didn’t say anything about fear or paranoia, and I’d really appreciate it if you focused more on the the words X and y, instead of ones I didn’t say.”. Or “I appreciate you’re trying to gain insight here (this softening intro can be dropped if you want to) but honestly that kind of statement about my psyche feels overly personal for the workplace, and it isn’t really correct either.” or “I came to talk to you about X which is a very garden variety work topic. I appreciate that the therapy language is aimed at helping us gain insight here, but right now it’s just making the issue too complex when I just need y.”

      1. Wintermute*

        I wouldn’t necessarily say it means anything about her therapeutic work– after all a big part of facilitation is reading through to the underlying motive or feeling and exposing it so you can discuss the real issue at hand. In relationships things can become symbols with loaded meanings very fast– reminded of a Captain Awkward post where someone who was not a traditional type was perturbed how bothered they were about not getting an engagement ring. The issue wasn’t the ring, the ring had become a symbol for poor financial planning, lies about finances and inability to make plans and follow through. That bare spot on her finger had turned into a representation of all his broken plans and all the things that would totally happen one day soon(TM).

        So a big part of couples therapy can be digging down into the real meaning, so the couple stops arguing about dishes and cheese singles and gets to the real issues: not doing the dishes makes him feel like she doesn’t contribute to the household enough, and him not buying the cheese she likes makes her feel like her preferences and desires are unimportant and that he can’t even be bothered to remember what she likes and doesn’t like.

        That said, I agree with the rest of what you said, the solution is to cut through the fog of feelings to the concrete at hand. I would also add in normalizing language, to emphasize that this is a really highly normal workplace conversation and not a maladaptive Thing To Be Solved– something like “I understand you want to gain more insight here, but I think it’s distracting us from the fact that benefits are a hugely important part of someone’s financial planning, it’s not anxiety behavior to want to have the information you need to plan wisely.” Adding in “it’s something everyone discusses when starting a new job, it’s not pathological.”

        1. Ellis Bell*

          I was kidding, obviously you can’t mind read someone’s situation based on a few things they’ve said (however tempting!)

      2. Carol the happy elf*

        Q: How many therapists does it take to change a lightbulb?
        A: Only one, but the lightbulb has to really WANT to change.

      3. Not Tom, Just Petty*

        “I appreciate you’re trying to gain insight here”
        I’m reading quickly at work and my eyes blurred “gain insight” into “gaslight”
        and thought, “that DOES get to the point.”

      4. Irish Teacher*

        I love this phrasing: “I appreciate you’re trying to gain insight here (this softening intro can be dropped if you want to) but honestly that kind of statement about my psyche feels overly personal for the workplace, and it isn’t really correct either.”

    5. Boof*

      “Why are you pathologizing normal workplace requests and boundaries ? What role do you see yourself in with me, manager or therapist?” – yeah i can’t quite pull it off but i wish! Better to stick with something like *blank look* “this is a normal request” [hold firm on request]

    6. Katherine*

      As a former therapist who has been in a similar situation, using therapuetic language back at her might actually be an effective technique, because that’s the language she understands. “I feel like you are approaching this as a therapist instead of a manager. For a minute can we take off our therapist hats and put on our business hats?” Tangent but I used to be in a situation where if I said “no”, it was ignored, but if I said “I have set a boundary and I expect you to respect my boundary” it was respected.
      Humor can also sometimes be helpful. “Can you confirm this position will be funded?” “You’re having paranoid ideation” “Maybe, but also, I do like being able to buy groceries!”

      1. Sara M*

        I agree very much with, “I feel like you are approaching this as a therapist instead of a manager. For a minute can we take off our therapist hats and put on our business hats?”

        Great response.

    7. LW #1*


      I don’t have time to respond to everything people have mentioned in the comments, but I just want to say I’ve appreciated reading them all and will hopefully have a good update in a month or two. Things are looking considerably up, and the most egregious issue (amending the contract) has been resolved. And now, thanks to the comments, I feel much, much more empowered to be even more direct than I have been when she uses the language of therapy to avoid administrative management conflict. In the “tense conversation” I described, she told me I have a certain “exacting character trait that can be off-putting to others” — i.e. I was doing much of what commenters suggested (ex: “Hmm, can you tell me what you mean by ‘racing thoughts?’” ; “It seems like we’re talking in circles about my possible motivations and not getting anywhere on ABC issue — how about we focus on hammering out the details on XYZ business norm?”). So… I may be doubting myself in my head, but I am no wilting flower!

      She is someone who has been pushed into the admin lead role (small nonprofit) and I think it’s an unconscious response on her end, not a calculated move. Doesn’t make it better/change the impact, but just wanted to note — I have seen her clinical work via video tape for the last 1.5 years (this was my internship site when I was an LPC student) and she is well-respected in the local professional community, so I’m not concerned about this being how she conducts sessions with clients or how she teaches/supervises me and others to act. This seems to me, and a few others who know her who I’ve talked to, to just be the way her dislike of being in the admin role is coming out. And given the fact that many helping professions/nonprofits are heavily coded and devalued as “women’s work” and capitalize on said female employees following stereotypical roles (ex: long-suffering, silent martyr for the cause), I don’t think she has ever had someone push back against this behavior in a professional manner before. I know for a fact a good number of folks who have worked at the non-profit in the past (which has a long history of similar management that predates her), and here “trust” has been the end-all-be-all and it was accepted. I don’t function that way!

      Anyway, ironically part of the reason I was hired is because I am, in her words, “more business-minded,” and at some point I will be taking on certain administrative responsibilities. This is another one of the reasons I was paired with her for admin management in addition to clinical management. And another one of the reasons I will do everything in my power to not succumb to the very common pitfall of how this industry under-prepares and over-burdens employees in a way that leads to blurred boundaries and ethical abuses all around.

      Anyway, more in a few months. Thank you all!

      1. Zarniwoop*

        Next time she mentions the “exacting character trait that can be off-putting to others” remind her that it’s the “business-minded” attitude you were specifically hired for.

  2. Eric*


    I’m in the other camp. Cleaning toilets isn’t part of my job description and wasn’t what I was hired to do. sorry.

    1. Not A Manager*

      That’s… odd? It’s like saying that you won’t wash your own dishes in the break room because you’re not a dishwasher.

      1. Cayce*

        I’ve seen the same argument for that, and for not making a pot of coffee when you take the last of it. I don’t know what it is, but “I don’t get paid to make coffee” when it takes thirty seconds to empty the basket and refill it, is a take I never expected to see.

        1. Susannah*

          Also – does that mean people think their colleagues are paid to make coffee? This is just about being a courteous co-worker.

      2. Area Woman*

        But there IS someone with cleaning toilets as their job. No one else has the job to wash my dishes. They are not the same scenario.

        1. amoeba*

          Sure, but the toilets only get cleaned once a day, typically! Does that mean you want everybody to just… live with the skid marks all day? I’m not squeamish, but that’s quite gross!

          1. metadata minion*

            I have no objection to cleaning the toilet if there’s a brush available, but I also have no problem with skid marks, provided the toilet is actually being cleaned regularly. The grime is in the toilet; I’m not touching it. If it were on the floor or the seat it would be another thing entirely, but for me toilets have a sort of baseline uncleanliness about them and I don’t expect people to completely hide that they’ve pooped.

            1. My Useless 2 Cents*

              Toilet should be cleaned if it would prevent someone using it next but the fact that someone used the toilet before you does not make it unusable, even if all the evidence of use didn’t get taken by the flush.

            2. Littorally*

              Yeah, this.

              Clean the seat because that directly impacts the next person to use it. The presence of skid marks does not have any material impact on the next person’s ability to use the toilet for its intended function, so that is perfectly fine to leave as is.

              Plus, I can’t say I’ve ever been in a workplace where toilet brushes/cleaning solution were made accessible to employees. Everything lives in (locked!) custodial closets or on a custodian’s cart, and I would feel much weirder about helping myself to stuff on someone’s cart than I would about leaving a bit of a mark in the bowl of a toilet.

              1. constant_craving*

                Yup. This whole debate is bizarre to me because I’ve never worked somewhere where a brush would have been available to use. They’re not typically in public restrooms either. If it were expected that people made toilets look like they’ve never been used each time they use one, then you’d think it’d be common to provide the tools to do so.

                1. Kim*

                  Is a toilet brush not standard office toilet equipment? I’ve never not seen a toilet with a brush.

                2. allathian*

                  @Kim, this probably varies depending on the office, and it can also depend on the geographical area. At my office, there are brushes in the single-user toilets but there’s no cleaning solution available for employees to use.

                  That said, all of our toilets have bidet showers, they’re required by our building code, but I’ve never seen an auto-flush toilet in an office building.

                3. Lenora Rose*

                  @Kim; plunger. yes. Scrub brush? No. Cleaner to make using the scrub brush worthwhile? Heck no. The only exception I can think of is somewhere so small there’s nowhere else for the cleaner’s stuff to go (ie, a small independent business, not an office).

            3. Alpacas Are Not Dairy Animals*

              Agree. I want the parts of the toilet I touch to be clean, but a toilet is a toilet. We all know what goes in there.

          2. AnonForThis*

            I seem to fall into the first camp, because if there isn’t a sanitary issue with the parts of the toilet I touch (i.e. seat, handle, floor), it doesn’t bother me. I’ll plunge if it’s stopped up, but I wouldn’t have thought to reach for the brush (though this comment section has me rethinking that!).

            Actually, I find toilet brushes pretty gross; it seems like a way to transfer feces from the toilet to brush holder/floor.

            1. Rose*

              Thank you!! Came looking for this comment.

              If I can see skidmarks, I know that another human has pooped in the toilet. I’m not exactly scandalized and I don’t spend a ton of time staring at them.

              But if someone has dipped a brush into toilet water, scrubbed actual poop with that brush, and then moved that brush back to where it came from… unless there is some miraculous instantaneous drying toilet brush I’m not aware of, you have now flung/dripped little poop particles on the floor, toilet seat, or lord knows where else. That’s actually disgusting. Also, skid marks will go away after a few flushes, but is anyone cleaning and replacing those brushes? Just leave the poop in the toilet where it belongs!

              1. TootsNYC*

                especially because there won’t also be a toilet-cleaning solution, which could act to destroy bacteria and viruses in the toilet water.

            2. MCMonkeyBean*

              I can’t decide where I fall on this honestly because I don’t think I’ve ever worked anywhere that had a toilet brush there for employees to use!

              1. alienor*

                Me either. Everyplace I’ve worked has been a big office building with multi-stall bathrooms and a custodial staff to maintain them. The only things expected of employees were to flush and to throw any trash we might generate into the designated receptacles.

            3. sb51*

              Yeah, if I’m going to get out a toilet brush at home, I’m going to get out the toilet soap, do a full cleaning, and then use several flushes with a soak in between to let the disinfectant work and to clean the brush to the extent that I feel it’s clean enough to remove from the toilet. That’s a fine thing to do when cleaning at home because I just let it soak while cleaning something else, but not feasible in a work toilet.

        2. Firm Believer*

          Not always. In our small office, we don’t have someone cleaning toilets every day. Once every two weeks. This is such an arrogant perspective.

          1. NothingIsLittle*

            I don’t understand how it is arrogant to point out that most workplaces have some sort of janitorial staff or a position with janitorial duties whose job is, in part, to clean the toilets.

          2. I Have RBF*

            Yuck. I’m sorry your management is so cheap on janitorial services. This is not normal.

            Seriously, most company bathrooms I’ve been in you can’t even find a plunger, much less a toilet brush and cleaning solution.

      3. StressedButOkay*

        My workplace has a dishwasher, sink, soap, etc., for me to wash up in the lunch room after myself. But I have never had a toilet brush in any of the bathrooms in the places I work at?

    2. ButtonUp*

      It’s never even occurred to me to clean a toilet bowl at work! Is it common to have a toilet brush there in the bathroom anyway? Especially at larger work places with large multi-stall bathrooms. I don’t feel like I’m above it or something, it just seems strange.

      1. Lauren*

        I agree. I have worked at many jobs in my lifetime, and I can’t think of a single place with a toilet brush in the bathroom. YMMV

        1. GythaOgden*

          Yeah, they’re in ours.

          I’m surprised on a forum where people are continually admonished to be kind that people have no clue how to do the little things that make everyone’s day a bit better. It’s like clearing your tray in a canteen or fast food restaurant or finding a bin for rubbish while eating on the hoof — you do it because you made the mess and it’s part of being a respectful and engaged citizen at the most basic level.

          If you want to, say, demand someone else give you a break or throw you a bone in more significant ways at work or out of the house, it’s only reasonable for you to be conscious of what you can do to make their day just slightly better as well. A sophisticated society like ours where people want to be taken care of by other people means we have to pitch in and not treat them badly either. On a very fundamental level, we are all human, we all have issues, and if we want understanding and grace when we need it, then we should really extend it to other people even if it is an inconvenience to us to do it.

          1. Tommy Girl*

            I’m still not cleaning a public toilet in my nice work clothes. A little brown streak isn’t that bad. It’s what a toilet is for. I wipe pee off the seat, but not get all into the inside of the bowl. That’s really gross! I only do that with gloves on at home. I’m not touching and seeing/smelling some grody communal toilet brush!

            1. Dark Macadamia*

              Seriously. A mess where no one will accidentally touch it or be unable to use the space because of it is nothing like leaving food or trash where someone could trip over it, need to move it, etc.

              Also I’m a teacher and usually have less than 5 minutes for a bathroom break, so scrubbing a toilet would result in 30 kids hanging around unsupervised AND missing instructional time… which doesn’t seem particularly “respectful and engaged” to me.

              1. Dark Macadamia*

                It’s also never occurred to me that briefly seeing skid marks would be something that might make my day worse or reflect poorly on the person who left them. I’m not standing in a bathroom lamenting man’s inhumanity to man because someone didn’t flush twice lol

                1. misspiggy*

                  That is the key. If you’ve actually made the bathroom less safe to use, do something about it if you can. Otherwise, it’s a bathroom used my many people and expectations need to be managed accordingly.

                  I do have to clean toilets sometimes to make them safe for others to use, and that involves leaning down and using the brush. I’ll often end up with splashes of water on my face or sometimes in my eye, which does have a chance of being bad for me health wise. I don’t mind taking that risk if it’s necessary, but not otherwise.

                2. Emmy Noether*

                  reply to misspiggy, ran out of nesting:

                  Splashes on your FACE?! I have never had that happen, ever.

                3. RabbitRabbit*

                  To the best of my understanding, IBS tends to produce… explosions rather than skid marks. It may well be that the spatter is not anywhere near the water, and may even be up under or on the seat rim. If it’s a single-toilet bathroom, imagine being a man lifting the seat to that, or to see it around the upper rim before you’re about to sit down.

                4. Princess Trachea-Aurelia Belaroth*

                  @RabbitRabbit I would say that would indeed be a different circumstance.

                5. Littorally*

                  Honestly, that’s the behavior I find super rude! It’s a public/communal restroom. You will occasionally be exposed to indirect evidence that other people use this room for its intended purposes. Suck it up.

                  There was a coworker at my old job who used to loudly announce any time he walked into the restroom and found the odor less than felicitous. Real fun to be in the middle of a, well, stall use, and have someone loudly going “Ugh, why does it smell in here?” Buddy, if it smells like poop in the bathroom, I think you are intelligent enough to connect the dots.

              2. Irish Teacher*

                Yeah, I was thinking that for me, it depends on the state of the toilet. I do think people should take a few seconds to ensure the seat is clean and dry and that everything has been flushed down and that they haven’t left toilet paper on the floor or a pad peeping out of the bin for them.

                But a skid mark at the bottom of the toilet? That definitely wouldn’t bother me and it wouldn’t occur to me to take a toilet brush and clean something like that away.

                Reading RabbitRabbit’s comments, if there were marks at the top, then yeah, I’d probably feel a bit differently about that and I would feel that should sort of be wiped away.

            2. MK*

              You seem to have a bizarre idea about what using a toilet brush is like. You are not kneeling on the floor holding the brush in your hand and scrubbing; it’s a brush with a long handle that cleans any residue with a simple swipe, considerably cleaner for you than wiping the toilet seat.

              And yes, a little brown streak is “that bad”, it smells, becomes hard over time and makes it gross for the next person using the toilet. I wonder how you handle it when the person before you is similarly disinclined to do anything not in their job description and it’s you finding the toilet with residue.

              1. misspiggy*

                Using a toilet brush in a cramped communal cubicle always equals at least a couple of spatters of water in the face for me. That’s not good for health if you’re doing it regularly without protective gear.

                If I cleaned a communal toilet every time I left a mark, rather than my current approach of every time it’s…worse than that, I’d be getting splattered at least twice a day every day. (And I would injure myself because I’m not very healthy in general). Could healthy people cut a little slack to those who are ill and tired but still have to work?

                1. Earlk*

                  Sorry, but you need to rethink your technique and go in more gently- I don’t think I’ve ever managed to splash myself while cleaning the toilet with a brush.

                2. BRR*

                  I…don’t even know how that happens let alone every time. The good news is there are better techniques so this doesn’t happen to you.

                3. L-squared*

                  WHat are you doing where you are getting splashes of water in your face? I truly don’t understand this. I’m in my 40s. Been using toilet brushes for at least 30 years. I have NEVER splashed my face.

                4. Lady_Lessa*

                  Are you using the brush, out of the water in the bottom, to do the rim which is underneath the seat?

                  I sometimes do it for the skid marks that I leave, but they are below the water line.

                5. Ali*

                  I agree with you! Those little plastic bristles splatter things everywhere. Very confused by everyone who thinks this is a clean activity to engage in!

                6. Anonymous 75*

                  As someone who has IBS I have never sprayed my face with toilet water when cleaning a toilet. I don’t even understand how that happens.

                7. Anna*

                  Y’all who are talking about never having heard of splashing while using a toilet brush: do you by any chance all not live in the US?

                  Cause I’m quite certain at this point there’s a genuine disconnect between the structures of the toilets and bathrooms that people are thinking of. Like, for one thing the water level and aggression of flushing is quite different, I’ve gotten splashed by automatic flushing toilets before and that didn’t even get into using a brush. And American bathroom stalls are *tiny*.

                  But I’m now also wondering what we’re thinking of by toilet brush . . . because not only have I never seen one in a public restroom, the ones I’ve seen in private homes have all been so short I’d absolutely have to kneel pretty far to get anything in the toilet.

                8. HelenofWhat*

                  For your own sake, see if you can get a longer handled brush if your face is that close to the water!
                  I’ve not had to clean a toilet at work (none of the many places I’ve worked here in the US have included brushes in the restroom, sometimes not even plungers – they were cleaned multiple times a week if not daily by custodial staff). I do clean at home and we’ve always had handles long enough that I could bend a bit and get to the bottom. I stand up before flushing so I’m out of the splash zone.

            3. Myrin*

              Reading your comments here, you seem to be having an unusual hangup about communal toilet brushes. (Unusual to me, at least – possibly that’s the standard view where you are!)
              The handle isn’t any grosser than a toilet doorknob, usually so long that you don’t even come particularly close to the bowl itself, and unless you’re swinging it around wildly, it isn’t going to spray more than flushing is itself.

              (And FWIW and certainly TMI, I poop at work every day and my “nice work clothes” so far haven’t been affected by that. Neither have I ever felt the need to wear gloves – I always thoroughly wash my hands directly after using the toilet but the five-second-wipe I do with the brush wouldn’t really warrant donning some anyway.)

              1. zuzu*

                There’s toilet paper right nearby you can use to wrap the handle so you don’t even have to put your bare skin on the icky bits.

                But let’s be real – most of the time, a second or even third flush will take care of the skidmarks. No brushing necessary.

              1. Bit o' Brit*

                I take the attitude that visual evidence of a toilet being used at the bottom of said toilet until it is properly cleaned isn’t anyone’s problem. Using a brush with no cleaning chemicals to accompany it is just putting crap in the toilet brush holder instead of the bowl.

                1. CityMouse*

                  I agree with this 100%. If the streakmark is under the water, it’s just going to flush away with a subsequent use. It can’t stink up the bathroom from under the water. transferring the poop onto a brush exposed to air seems to be making everything about the situation worse.

                2. Spencer Hastings*

                  I also agree with this. Making sure not to leave a mess on the seat is obviously important, but for the rest of it: Alison and the others are free to do it their way, of course, but in my opinion it is *definitely* supererogatory.

                3. Princess Trachea-Aurelia Belaroth*

                  This is my perspective. Since apparently people have a significant problem with it I may consider staying and doing multiple flushes from now on when this happens, but I had always not done that in consideration of saving water, with the assurance someone else would be flushing again within an hour or two at max. But I’ve never worked somewhere that kept a toilet brush in the bathroom. Not that I think it doesn’t happen, but I typically have worked in schools, large office buildings, and restaurants, where custodians and owners don’t want random loose and unsanitary cleaning items strewn around the building.

                4. DrSalty*

                  Agree. If you don’t have toilet bowl cleaner, then scrubbing with the brush is just spreading poop around.

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

                  Also, cleaning people will say you should let the brush dry. If you use it, especially without a cleaner, its not only just pushing poo around and getting it on the brush, but when you put it back in the holder it causes more problems. you should hang the brush so it drips down into the toilet to let it dry a bit before putting it back.

                  I’ve never been in a workplace bathroom that had the brush by the toilet but I bet if you looked at that little dish it sits in there is going to be all sort of gross stuff because you don’t think to clean that.

            4. SoloKid*

              Agreed! I’ll wipe a seat but definitely not the inside of a bowl. (Not that our work provides it anyway.)

            5. Firm Believer*

              I don’t think anyone is saying to clean the toilet. Its about not leaving a mess in the toilet behind you with a quick swipe of the brush.

          2. Jackalope*

            I don’t have a problem with the idea in theory, but we don’t have any toilet brushes in my work restrooms. That is apparently a janitorial staff only responsibility.

            1. GythaOgden*

              A quick email to Facilities might be in order (speaking as a Facilities person myself). We supply them at our workplace, but it’s easily sorted out and they’re probably not terribly expensive at wholesale rates.

              1. Beany*

                There may be a scale issue at play here. Some people work in small premises where the bathrooms are closer to those you encounter in a home (single-occupancy, toilet cistern at back level with a flush handle, lots of shelves and nooks and crannies, free-standing dispensers — or even bars of soap!) … while others are in a larger, more corporate environment with multiple cubicles, sensor-controlled flushing, sensor-controlled taps, sensor-controlled EVERYTHING.

                I work in the latter kind of environment, and *nothing* extraneous is going to survive there. They don’t want free-standing things like toilet brushes or plungers being brought in. There’s no place for them, nor for any cleaning chemicals.

          3. Higgs Bison*

            It’s more like taking the trash out every time you put something in, so no one has to know you used it to throw out your takeout containers.

            1. Alpacas Are Not Dairy Animals*

              Including the degree to which, expanded across the whole of society, it would actually become much more wasteful (through multiple flushes and whatnot) to hide the waste than acknowledge it.

          4. MLAW*

            I have 30 years of work experience with different companies, and there has NEVER been a toilet brush in the restrooms. For this reason alone, I think it is not standard or common courtesy to clean streaks in a toilet. (If necessary, I will readily flush additional times to remove as much debris as possible.)

            1. Routine_Poutine*

              I came to say exactly this- I have literally never seen a toilet brush in a work bathroom in my 30+ years working.

            2. Littorally*

              Yeah. I guess I can understand people having different perspectives if their office bathrooms are more like home bathrooms and the presence of a plunger or brush is routine, but I have to feel like even those folks have been in public restrooms SOMEWHERE where cleaning supplies are not left out for the general public to access. And in that case, your options are pretty limited to sticking your hand in toilet bowl water to scrub with TP, flush a billion times in the hope it wears away the skid, or leave it and let the paid custodial staff handle it.

          5. Rose*

            How can you possibly think it’s unkind for people to have worked in offices with no toilet brush? Did you want them to clean the toilets with their hands? What a weird complaint.

      2. Emmy Noether*

        May depend on location. In my experience, even public toilets have brushes, though usually in a truly pitiable state.

        1. Becky*

          It’s hard to generalize about what’s found in bathrooms because it will vary wildly. I’ve always worked in public service jobs (healthcare, schools, and libraries) and I’ve never seen a toilet brush in any of them. That’s because all my jobs have been unionized and we had our own cleaning staff at all of them. So my only option would be to call the cleaners to come clean the bathroom if it needed attention, since that’s their job.

          1. Myrin*

            I’m beginning to think that this might be regional/cultural because I’ve literally never encountered a toilet anywhere (public, public-but-as-part-of-an-establishment-like-a-hospital-or-city-hall, private) where there wasn’t a toilet brush next to it; I remember encountering the concept of “no brush” here on this very site, actually, which was foreign to me up until that point.

            1. Emmy Noether*

              I agree. Although even in Europe, I think I have encountered some without brushes. Like the truly horrendous free city or public transport station ones that are supposedly self-cleaning, the ones with damp (if any) toilet paper and drug paraphernalia on the ground, that make you want to take a whole-body desinfectant shower anyway. A few skid marks don’t make those all that much worse anyway.

            2. Hanani*

              It must be regional/cultural, because I’ve never or extremely rarely encountered a toilet brush outside of a private home. Additionally, the majority of private homes I’ve been in don’t have one that is visible to me – it may be in a cabinet or something.

              I didn’t grow up using one either, and don’t have one in my own home. I do scrub my toilet both on a schedule and off-schedule when the situation demands it, but I use gloves and a wipe.

            3. amoeba*

              It must be! The whole discussion seems super weird to me – hereabouts you’re very definitely expected to clean up any skid marks and there are brushes (almost) everywhere.

              1. I Have RBF*

                Whereas where I live it’s very unusual to have any cleaning supplies like that available in public restrooms. Sure, at someone’s house they might have a brush, plunger and cleaning solution next to the toilet, but seldom at a workplace or publicly available restroom.

              2. Global Cat Herder*

                I’m an American who travels frequently to Europe for work. Every single European toilet I’ve seen had a small brush holder mounted on the wall next to it – even public toilets like the airport. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a brush in an American office toilet.

          2. Ellis Bell*

            My school has great cleaners who are pretty on top of things. There are still toilet brushes supplied just in case someone wants to use one.

          3. Phryne*

            But are they carrying a brush around with them in a cart from toilet to toilet? That would feel weird to me… and very unhygienic, I mean where do they keep it, what else does it touch? We have brushes in our school toilets so the cleaners can use them as well as anybody else…

            (I’m in the ‘not too bothered by a skid down in the bowl camp’. I expect people to keep the sink and the rim clean, aka, stuff I need to touch. Inside of the bowl? I’m going to be facing that with an end that won’t complain about the view anyway. But if there is a brush and I make a bigger mess, I do clean it)

            1. BB*

              Our offices have small janitorial closets. Presumably they take them out of there.
              I definitely have rarely if ever seen a toilet brush in an office environment just left out. I’m even thinking to the hotels I stay at, and I don’t think it’s typical to see them even there.
              I would never consider scrubbing a bowl outside a private home to be my responsibility. Although I’m horrified by the “splashed in the face” scenario (what!) when I scrub at home sometimes it does splash and I get water on my foot or leg. I like to shower after cleaning the toilet. So it’s not something I’d be keen to do at an office and feel gross all day.

              1. Phryne*

                The placement of brushes in the stalls seems to partially be a cultural thing. I live in the Netherlands and I feel it is quite normal here to have them in the toilets of all sorts of places including more public or semi-public ones. Though I do wonder if at least some of the ‘I’ve never even seen a brush in a toilet ever’ people have simply never noticed their presence as they generally are in the ‘and I would not touch them anyway’ camp, so never looked for them. They tend to be tucked out of sight and also are the kind of normal that your mind skips over.

                Personally I feel life is a lot more relaxed when I do not go around getting upset about stuff like this. Neither using a toilet with a skidmark nor touching a toilet brush outside the safety of your home will give one cooties, so why worry about it.

                1. YetAnotherAnalyst*

                  If you think about the standard American public restroom, there really isn’t anywhere for a toilet brush to hide – you can see the entire floor of the stall before you even go in, and everything in the stall is mounted on the dividers so the floor can be mopped without moving anything. Toilet brushes, plungers, etc are all in a locked janitorial closet somewhere. I’m actually having a little trouble picturing where a brush could go in an environment like that – the only ones I’ve seen in the wild are in much more home-like single occupancy bathrooms in like, family restaurants and really small businesses.

                2. Emmy Noether*

                  Public bathrooms often have wall-mounted brush holders. Actually, they’re also nice for home for ease of mopping the floor, and because they can’t tip over.

            2. LavaLamp (she/her)*

              Actually where I work the do keep it in a cart locked away. I work where we do all the laundry for hospitals so it’s very strict about that. We have a room for surgical towels and whatnot. Plus the cleaning folks are unionized and clean those rooms like 2 to 4 times a day.

      3. stratospherica*

        I work in a very large office building (almost exclusively for my company) and we don’t have toilet brushes. Honestly, I kind of wish we did have them, because sometimes I end up inflicting some trauma on the bowl and I don’t feel comfortable leaving it in that state for someone else to use. I end up taking a bunch of toilet paper and just doing what I can, but I’d really rather not have to stick my hand down there if possible…

        1. miseleigh*

          Laying some toilet paper on the water’s surface before you go can help, if you know what you’re expecting.

      4. Allonge*

        Presumably in OP’s workplace in question there were brushes available as otherwise the question would be ‘am I obliged to ask maintenance for a brush’.

        For what it’s worth, I never worked anywhere that did not have a brush in each stall.

      5. Adam*

        It definitely depends on location. I don’t ever remember seeing a brush in a stall in the places I’ve lived in the US (including in homes or nice offices), but they’re ubiquitous here in the UK.

      6. nnn*

        It was common to have toilet brushes in public washrooms in Germany when I lived there some time ago, but I haven’t seen it in North America.

        I don’t think OP is in Germany because “use the brush after you flush” wouldn’t rhyme in German.

        I don’t know if it would occur to me to use a toilet brush to clean up after myself in my workplace because I’ve never been in the situation where a toilet brush was immediately available in my work washroom* and a toilet brush would be helpful, so it isn’t actively on my radar as A Thing I Might Do.

        *(When I had a job that included cleaning the toilets, the toilet brush lived on the cleaning cart that we brought to the washrooms when taking our scheduled turn cleaning the washroom. If I’d wanted to brush the toilet immediately after my own use, I would have had to go to the back room, get a key, go to the storage closet, get the cleaning cart, take the cart to the washroom, return it to the storage closet, return the key to the back room. Which is a bit much when you’re on a timed break where you also need to eat.)

          1. Laura*

            We used to have toilet brushes, and an eight-liner (in German, in rhyme and meter) on the inside of every loo door. With a cute cartoon animal.

            People were quick to complain when the loos were icky.

            1. Hanani*

              Oh yes, the cute German bathroom signs with rhyming instructions to flush and scrub the toilet fascinated me when I first encountered them.

            2. Moths*

              “Auch auf diesem Klo gibt es eine Klobürste. Bitte benutz sie auch.” Or something like that — my spelling and memory is a little fuzzy. But nearly 20 years since I worked in Germany, I can still remember that sign staring at me every time I used the toilet!

        1. I am Emily's failing memory*

          I’m beginning to think this is connected to American toilets typically having much more water in the bowl than European ones. I haven’t enough experience outside of the US or Europe to say about other areas, but my experience was that it would be much easier to “make a mess” of a European toilet because a lot more of your “droppings” land on the porcelain above the water line.

          1. Weaponized Pumpkin*

            American standards are changing, and the newest low flow toilets (mandated in my state of CA) have almost no water in the bowl. Which creates much more of a skid mark problem!

          2. Anna*

            Ya – I suspect varying bathroom structures and toilet construction is a confounding factor here.

            With standard American toilets (e.g., ones with a high water line and/or aggressive auto-flush), it’s legitimately hard to put in a brush without a little splashing + as people have mentioned, it’s much less likely to leave skid marks that won’t go away by the next flush. Not to mention a lot of American bathroom stalls are *tiny*, like “you would be unable to spread your arms to your sides” tiny. There’s nowhere for the brush to be!

            Personally, I’d be a lot more grossed out by a frequently used toilet brush in the room, that has regularly touched poop and is now outside the toilet and likely leaving droplets on the seat and floor every time it moves from the toilet to its holder. (How is that. . . not smellier than skid marks?) But I agree using a brush is a reasonable expectation if you’re in an area where brushes are regularly provided and your coworkers are also using it.

      7. Falling Diphthong*

        I’m guessing a single room akin to a home bathroom, with one toilet. The design of the bowl can make a huge difference here, where the upstairs toilet never needs this and the downstairs one it’s pretty frequent–so if someone has usually encountered the former they may stumble on encountering the latter.

        And I side with Alison–if there is evidence of poo on the bowl, spending 30 seconds with the brush and flushing again is a reasonable norm.

      8. The Taking of Official Notice*

        We’ve had cleaners in every office I’ve worked in—even in a nonprofit setting where we owned our building(s).

      9. Also-ADHD*

        If there’s toilet brush, I’d think to clean any residue if I left any (and I don’t quite get the “not checking that it was pristine—a poop stain is obvious). That’s not really fully cleaning a toilet though AND if there were no brush, that’s different of course. Crap happens. But if there is a brush, why not use it? You know if you’ve left a poop stain.

      10. umami*

        I have never seen a toilet brush in an office bathroom, so that sounded strange to me, too. Presumably, the OP’s office does have that, so it seems like the expectation would be to at least swirl the brush through quickly if it’s needed.

      11. zuzu*

        This reminds me of my utterly batshit former coworker, who was obsessed with the small staff bathroom off the loading dock. We worked in a library, and she was the “operations manager” (really the office manager, but a previous director had given the previous occupant of the job a title bump in lieu of pay raise; our girl thought she was above doing office work and ran the show). She decreed that the single-occupant, locking bathroom was for women only and men would have to use the public restrooms. She put a full-length mirror in there, but placed it FACING the toilet. But she went on a rampage whenever someone who was not authorized to use the bathroom used it, such as the delivery and mail guys who often came through, as this was right off a *loading dock.*

        She frequently raged that she had to put on gloves, a mask, and goggles and scrub out the toilet because someone had pooped “all over” it. She suspected one of the delivery guys, and got a new keypad lock for the door (which did not lock from the inside). Our other coworkers were Not Happy about any of this, since she and her obsessions were working their last nerve.

        Now, I’d cut her some slack, because I was newish and all this had happened around the same time I’d walked into one of our public restrooms to find a legitimate horrorshow (and walked right back out). I thought *that* was the kind of mess she was talking about. But as the frequency of these complaints mounted, I realized it just couldn’t be *that* happening that much. Finally, it came out: when she talked about poop “all over” the toilet, she meant skidmarks at the bottom of the toilet. The kind that could be flushed away.

        We were all thrilled when she took another job during the pandemic, and the mirror got moved to a different wall and the lock changed back on that bathroom the very next day.

      12. KayDeeAye*

        All I can say is that my workplace doesn’t have and has never had a toilet brush available. So there’s that.

      13. I Have RBF*

        I’ve only seen a toilet brush in the bathroom of small mom&pop type operations, with single seater accomodations. I’ve never seen one in a place with individual stalls.

    3. One day*

      Would you clean the toilet if you were at home and made a mess? In my family you’d be sent back to make it decent for the next person. Work is the same.

      1. Samwise*

        Actually, work is NOT the same as home. At home, I’m responsible for the toilet in my house. If I’m a guest at someone else’s house, I’ll also try my best to keep things tidy.

        At work, the cleaning staff clean the bathrooms, with approved products and tools and wearing gloves etc.

        I got no problem cleaning toilets at home. I’m not cleaning toilets at work. Where I don’t have cleaning gloves or a toilet brush or toilet cleanser.

        1. amoeba*

          Well, obviously there was a brush in OP’s bathroom!

          Also, at least here, where toilet brushes are very common and expected to be used – it’s not the same thing as a full cleaning! You just do it if there’s a mark when you’re done, it takes five seconds. Nothing to do with the procedure involving products and gloves etc. (which is obviously still necessary on a regular basis, but certainly not after every poop!)

      2. Bit o' Brit*

        No. At my home the toilet is cleaned on a schedule, and in between it accumulates evidence of use. Work is the same.

        1. misspiggy*

          Maybe the issue is that cleaners should be paid to do their rounds more frequently.

          1. Beany*

            Perhaps, but unless the cleaners are actually hovering at the door waiting for each user to finish up, there’s always going to be a window of time where messes linger. Might be a few minutes, might be a few hours.

      3. SoloKid*

        Definitely not, unless the mess is on a surface where other people’s skin touches. We also clean on a schedule.

      4. Michelle Smith*

        No, not this kind of “mess.” It’ll eventually flush away over time.

        I am the only person in my home though, so the comparison isn’t really relevant IMO.

    4. Emmy Noether*

      Mh, is putting your used dishes in the dishwasher, throwing away your food wrappers and used snotty tissues and wiping your muddy shoes upon entering a building in your job description? Or do you leave behind a trail of trash, dirt, and stink wherever you go? Is flushing the toilet in your job description? Isn’t that also part of cleaning the toilet and hence you don’t have to do it?

      These are not job duties, they are human-being-in-shared-spaces duties.

      1. Tinkerbell*

        Washing my dishes is fine. Wiping up after a spill is reasonable, digging out the chlorox to thoroughly scrub and disinfect the counter afterward is not. Every place I’ve ever worked has had cleaning staff who do the office deep cleaning, and we were only responsible for keeping our areas decluttered and surface-level usable.

        As for using a shared toilet brush which has who knows how many other people’s feces on it and which is likely to spray droplets of contaminants into the air if I scrub with it… I’ll leave that for the person with the mask and gloves, thanks. I’ll use the plunger if I clog the toilet but I shouldn’t have to pretend I don’t poop!

        1. Joron Twiner*

          Wouldn’t there also be germs on the plunger? I’m confused by the idea that you’d be willing to use the plunger but not the scrub brush.

          1. Ricardo the great*

            Not plunging tenders the toilet useless. The same is not true for leaving a few streaks behind.

          2. Roland*

            A clogged toilet is a much more serious problem than one with evidence that someone pooped here once. It’s pretty reasonable to say “I’ll do something gross in a semi-emergency but not otherwise”.

            1. Higgs Bison*

              This. It’s not necessarily “I won’t do something unsanitary” but rather “the bar for doing something is higher when it’s unsanitary, especially without the equipment to make it more sanitary.”

        2. Emmy Noether*

          A 5-second twirl of the brush is much, much closer to quickly wiping up a spill than to scrubbing a counter with chlorox. I’d say it’s pretty equivalet, except less likely to get you dirty. It IS about surface level usability, not deep cleaning (the toilets still need to also be deep cleaned regularly)! And like with the spill, the sooner you do it, the easier and more effective it is.

          1. Myrin*

            Yeah, I’m wondering if people are imagining different things here – we’re not talking about a deep dive into the bowl but about sparing others from having to look directly at your shit stains (sorry for being crass but really, that’s what this is about)!

            1. londonedit*

              Yeah, it’s not ‘cleaning the toilet’, it’s giving a quick swish round with the loo brush just so there aren’t any lingering stains. In my mind it’s absolutely equivalent to grabbing a cloth and wiping the kitchen counter if you spill something while you’re making your lunch. No one is saying you have to deep-clean the loo, but in my world it’s polite to give the bowl a quick brush if you’ve left stains there.

              1. Media Monkey*

                absolutely. i’m amazed that people liken this to “cleaning the toilet”. and as for touching the brush, don’t you just flush, wipe the toilet and then wash your hands?

                1. Princess Trachea-Aurelia Belaroth*

                  To offer a perspective, for me it’s not so much that I would mind using the brush, but that I consider the existence of an open-air multi-use dry toilet brush that sits beside the toilet and is not cleaned to be infinitely dirtier than an average skid mark below the water line that will go away either with a few flushes or after soaking for a bit. My brain interprets using a toilet brush as creating a bigger mess than the one it cleans up.

                2. MigraineMonth*

                  @Princess Trachea-Aurelia Belaroth

                  This is my perspective too. If I’m not using a cleaner to disinfect the brush after use, it seems like the brush and wherever it drip-dried (I’m assuming that happens somewhere?) would be gross.

                  I’ve also lived in communities that saved water by never flushing after urinating, so the idea of doing multiple flushes just to remove poop streaks under the waterline, or flushing again to clean the brush, strikes me as wasteful. Gross is in the eye of the beholder, apparently.

            2. Underdog*

              I am not sure why picking up a toilet brush to give a quick swirl to remove a skid mark or what-have-you is so outside the same level as wiping up the counter if you splash a bunch of water around. Even if the brush handle has aerosoled droplets of waste, you can wash your hands! Additionally, I hate the be the bearer of bad news, but EVERTYHING in that stall is covered in the same droplets. The toilet roll, the door handle, etc. I am sympathetic to IBS, I recently took a medication that gave me similar symptoms, and I always made sure to remove any visible evidence of that in any shared restroom. I would say it added 5 seconds to my bathroom break at most and I’m sure my coworkers appreciated it, even if they weren’t aware of it.

      2. John Smith*

        Well said. I think the thought “this is not my job, we have cleaners” is highly disrespectful. We were taught at school not to treat our environment as something for someone else to deal with, and anyone who suggested that cleaners, maintenance staff were responsible for cleaning up someone else’s mess was in for a rude awakening.

        Most toilets I’ve been in have a brush. It’s there for a reason and it’s not exclusive in terms of who uses it.

        1. stratospherica*

          Yeah, and my concern is that the cleaners don’t clean up after every single use. I want to leave it in a state where the person who uses it after me is able to use it comfortably.

        2. Jackalope*

          As I mentioned above, my current (and past) workplaces have/had no toilet brushes, so it’s not an option even if someone wanted to.

          I can see how shoving everything off on the cleaners could be rude, but I would argue that that’s more if you either a) act in a demeaning or condescending manner towards them or b) deliberately leave huge messes for them that you could have taken care of. At my jobs saying “it’s the cleaners’ responsibility to deal with this” is a way to say, “It’s the responsibility of the people who have the training and equipment to deal with bodily fluids in a safe and appropriate manner.” I say this as someone who WAS the person who took care of this at one of my jobs; I was fine doing it there, where I had appropriate clothing on (good for cleaning, not nice office clothing), and had access to the right supplies. At my current job those things aren’t the case.

          (That being said, I would be less bothered by using a toilet brush than by a lot of other things, but again we don’t have them, so the powers that be have decided that that is indeed not our job.)

        3. MigraineMonth*

          I’m assuming your janitors aren’t unionized. Doing a unionized job when that isn’t what you are hired for can get you in trouble in my workplace. (No, we don’t have access to toilet brushes.)

        4. Anna*

          Hard agree that “I don’t want to do it cause gross, so the cleaners should deal with it” as a motivation would be a bad reason to not use a brush, and would be disrespectful.

          But I’m curious if there’s a bit of missing cultural context here, because as someone in the US: I know my college, at least, had signs *everywhere* explicitly telling people that they should alert cleaning staff immediately when there were biohazards (poop outside of toilets, vomit, blood, etc.) instead of trying to fix it themselves. And I’ve seen similar public requests pretty much everywhere that’s more likely than average to have bodily fluids around, like hospitals.

          This wasn’t because “cleaning staff are beneath you so let them do gross things.” It was because they had training, supplies, and PPE to deal with biohazards safely, and to clean it in a way that would minimize the risk of getting other people sick. Someone trying to deal with, say, vomit by wiping it off without disinfecting or informing anyone, is a really good way to spread illness. It’s not the sight or the smell that was the main problem, it’s the germs that tend to come with “materials that came out of someone else’s body and have been sitting around in the open air a while.”

          The idea of using a brush without disinfectant comes across as much closer to wiping up vomit with paper towel and saying it’s “clean” cause no one can see it, to me. I suspect in practice it probably isn’t, given to my knowledge there isn’t a dramatic increase in fecal-borne illness in areas that routinely use brushes. But it activates that visceral “poop in places it shouldn’t be will make you ill” narrative that’s been drilled into my head since a young age. Stale drip water in a shallow brush holder, whether rational or not, registers much stronger as “danger” to me than skid marks do. You can’t accidentally bump a toilet and have skid marks splash out.

      3. SoloKid*

        Washing dishes is largely to preserve usable space in the sink. The smell and visuals are a benefitting factor.

        Skidmarks don’t take up any room.

        1. amoeba*

          Well, compare it to wiping the countertop if you spilled some coffee, then! Do you also leave that for the cleaning personnel?

          1. Anna*

            I find this a really weird comparison. Partially because a coffee stain on a countertop is also going to prevent people from using the countertop effectively (unlike skid marks, which was the original point).

            But even more than that, wiping up a coffee stain? Does not? Involve spreading around fecal matter? The way a brush in a toilet does?

            I’m with a lot of the other Americans here in that I see using a brush without cleaning the toilet or using disinfectant as equivalent to making a larger mess – you are taking a biohazard from somewhere it can’t really hurt anybody (the inside of the toilet), and putting droplets of it onto the seat, floor, and holder where even more bacteria can grow in the stale damp environment, via moving a dirty wet brush from outside the toilet. Rinsing it in more water via flushing does not make it “clean,” and brushes do not dry in 15 seconds. And droplets from a brush that was directly rubbed on poop is a pretty different concentration of contamination than aerosolized particles caused by flushing.

            Like, I’m going to assume in practice the safety difference is not dramatic (given there are both countries that brush regularly and those that don’t, and to my knowledge do not have a significant difference in frequency of fecal borne illness). So some of that probably *is* a cultural difference in what is perceived as dangerous and gross, and not a fact based one. And I would still brush if I was in an area where brushes were provided and were largely used by coworkers, despite being majorly squicked, because at that point it’s part of an implied social contract.

            But I find the “people just don’t want to do basic cleaning after themselves” takes here to be disingenuous, especially because they’re mostly leveled at people who 1000% agree things like flushing and wiping a counter are expected and reasonable things to do. There’s a *big* difference between “I don’t think I should pick up after myself” and, what appears to be the much more common motivation in this comment section, “I don’t think brushing a toilet will make it cleaner or more pleasant for the next user.” I personally would greatly prefer to walk into a bathroom with skid marks than one where I had to see and smell an uncleaned toilet brush!

    5. Tommy Girl*

      Me too! I’m not cleaning toilets when I’m all dressed up for work. Brush could drip on me. I only clean toilets when I’m in grubby cleaning clothes, and usually with gloves on. My super judgy former coworker would always make this big production of wiping the bathroom counters with her paper towel she dried her hands with. I’m not doing that either, because then my hands are dirty again! Those few drops of water aren’t hurting anyone. A few brown streaks in a toilet (that will likely be gone with another flush) are fine too.

      1. DataSci*

        If they’ll be “gone with another flush”, then flush again. I’ll happily flush twice if needed – with high-powered toilets like you find in offices that’s usually sufficient – but I’m not scrubbing (even if there was a brush, which I’ve never seen at work).

      2. Ticotac*

        I understand the idea of not wanting to get dirty, but I have to admit I’m kinda weirded out by the idea that using the brush is more likely than not to drip on me or cause a splash (???). The way I do it, it’s a pretty delicate movement happening away from me, and if dripping happens then it happens *on the toilet*, nowhere near me. Do other people just pump the brush down the toilet? Are they trying to churn butter? I guess that it needs more energy if the stuff is caked in, but that’s why you brush it away from the beginning- so it doesn’t get caked in and won’t need to be chiseled off.

        I’m also not sure I get how wiping the counter with the paper towel just used to dry the hands would make your hands dirty, like the towel is “protecting” your hands? I mean, my proper-hand-washing training said to use the towel you just wiped your hands with to turn off the water to keep your hands bacteria-free, so I feel like wiping a couple of drops isn’t much different.

        Just to be clear, I don’t think wiping the bathroom counter is necessary, a couple of drops of water on the bathroom counter happen and it’s not even remotely as disgusting as having to see somebody’s else poop or wiping down their pee from the toilet rim. I just think it’s a who-cares issue rather than a it-will-make-me-dirty issue.

        Unless people routinely leave lakes on the bathroom counters, but in that case, just like having skid marks so caked in that you have to energetically scrub to get it out, we’re speaking of something that would have been dealt with more effectively with a bit of attention. Like, I never had to wipe down a bathroom counter because I never splashed water all around me when washing my hands.

    6. GythaOgden*

      Yeah, but you work in a shared environment. You don’t have to get out the chemicals — but just like you, I hope, flush the thing, you can take a few seconds to brush as well.

      1. Tommy Girl*

        I am fascinated by this. There are people who brush their toilet every time they use it? really? How gross honestly, those brushes spray stuff around. I have a friend who’s offended I don’t have a toilet brush out in my powder room. There is no where to hide it and I think it’s gross/common to have one out. It’s in a little caddy in the cleaning bin that my bi-weekly house cleaner uses.

        1. Emmy Noether*

          Not every time, only if there is residue. You leave brown streaks to dry on for potentially two weeks?! And don’t think that’s gross/common to have literal shit on display in your bathroom?

          1. Interested party (pooper)*

            please confirm your answer to this Tommy Girl, as I’m fascinated too!

            1. Wendy Darling*

              Oh no you might not be able to judge someone if they don’t answer!!!

              I find the judgement-slinging in this thread much more distasteful than the state of anybody’s toilet.

              1. Interested party (pooper)*

                I’m sorry if you think I’m being judgemental Wendy Darling. Tommy Girl specifically said it was “gross/common” to have a toilet brush available for a visitor to use. I find it very interesting that they might consider that action gross/common but leaving poo stains visible to guests not gross/common. The discrepancy there is pretty interesting, not that I’m saying there’s anything wrong with the discrepancy, just that I’m fascinated by it!

                1. bamcheeks*

                  I’m not Tommy Girl, but I’d agree with this too. My mum wouldn’t have toilet brushes in the house, and for preference, I wouldn’t either. We do have them because my partner prefers them. I would frankly much rather my guests leave stains in the toilet bowl where it’s perfectly easy to wipe them off (with gloves and toilet cleaner!) than that they scrub the toilet themselves and leave a pooey water dripping off a brush!

                  Are any of the pro-toilet brush people willing to acknowledge the disgustingness of the toilet-brush? I do sympathise with people grossed out by poo in the toilet bowl, but I can’t see any of the pro-brush people acknowledging that being disgusted by the toilet brush is a legitimate point of view.

                2. Emmy Noether*

                  reply to bamcheeks:

                  yes, toilet brushes are very gross. However, I usually use a second flush to rinse the brush, so it’s not more disgusting than the bowl itself, and at least there is no *visible* or *smellable* poop left. With some practice and care and a holder that is not too far away, dripping on the floor is rare. Brush gets desinfected on the same rythm as bowl, so it’s about the same level of disgusting.

                  And I disagree that wiping stains off later is “perfectly easy”. By the time I get to cleaning the guest bathroom after longer-stay guests have left, it could have dried on for multiple days in the heat (above water line, as discussed elsewhere). That takes actual scrubbing, with a scrubby sponge and my hands in the toilet bowl, not just quick wiping (even the brush won’t work at that point). Please don’t make me do that for poop that isn’t even mine! Muuuuch easier when it’s fresh.

                3. bamcheeks*

                  @Emmy Noether– it is *much* more disgusting to me, because a) it’s outside the bowl, which is horrifying; b) it’s spiky and designed to retain Stuff, unlike glazed, impermeable porcelain, which is horrifying squared. (We have the silicone kind, which is marginally less grim than the traditional brush kind, but still incredibly grim.)

                  I appreciate that other people feel differently, but you will never, ever convince me that a toilet brush is anything other than an abomination.

                4. Allonge*

                  To bamcheeks – obviously a toilet brush is not a sterile tool, but I think we have a very different vision on how it’s to be used. After taking care of any marks, you can flush, swirl the brush in the new, clean water and gently knock it against the bowl until the residue is gone / most of the water drips off.

                  In my world toilet brushes come with a holder that takes any water still dripping off them and that water is definitely not full of (visible) poop any more. You dump it into the toilet every once in a while.

                  To be honest I am equally puzzled by using a toilet cleaner (whatever that is) without a brush! I clean my toilet with bleach or similar but use a brush to move it around.

                5. Cherries Jubilee*

                  I would be really surprised if a guest used my toilet brush! Unless it was really extraordinary, like they were sick and 2-3 flushes wouldn’t cut it. And I’ve never seen a public or workplace toilet that had a toilet brush near it.

                  This is definitely regional at best, and isn’t some kind of basic etiquette to expect people to know.

                6. Nynaeve*

                  Reply to Emmy:

                  I have never had a mark on my toilet, above or below the water line, that required more effort than applying toilet bowl cleaner, following the instructions on the bottle regarding how much to use and how long to let it sit for, and then scrubbing it away with the toilet brush. I would never put my hands inside the bowl and clean it with a sponge, even while wearing gloves. Cleaning the inside of the bowl can be accomplished with both feet on the ground, only bending over enough to reach with the brush/wand. And I only clean my household bathrooms weekly, at the most. What are you people doing that results in things getting crusted on the inside of your toilets? Even if it is above the resting water line, the flushing action swirls water around the whole thing. It, at the least, rinses itself.

                  This whole thread is fascinating. Someone could base a Masters’ Thesis on it.

                7. amoeba*

                  @Cherries Jubilee

                  “This is definitely regional at best, and isn’t some kind of basic etiquette to expect people to know.”

                  Well, yes and no – it’s certainly regional/cultural, but I’d say in Europe it is indeed considered basic etiquette. Seems to be different in the US (which is fascinating to me, as I’ve never even considered it might differ in other places! Shows how we think from Hollywood films that we know how life is on the other side of the pond, but this kind of thing somehow never comes up…)

                8. bamcheeks*

                  @amoeba Not sure whether you’re using “Europe” to mean continental Europe, but I am in the UK!

          2. Myrin*

            I reckon this might be the old “Does ‘bi-weekly’ mean ‘twice a week’ or ‘every two weeks’?” thing.

          3. Lily*

            how do they “dry on” in the water? A couple different people have said this and I’m wondering if not only cultural differences but also toilet shape differences might be in play. In my experience after ten or fifteen minutes have passed, any skid mark has loosened enough to flush away the next time, no scrubbing required.

            I’m also in the US and only learned of this idea – brushing the toilet after every use – a couple years ago from an Australian friend. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a public/multi-user toilet with a brush in it, although some nicer restaurant ones might have them – I always assumed that was to make it look more home-y.

            But I have all sorts of mechanics questions too, just from never having been taught this is a thing. When I brush / clean my own toilet I use disinfectant and still have to be careful with letting it drip into the bowl so as not to drip the toilet water somewhere between the bowl and the holder, and of course gross residue builds up on the brush and in the bottom of the holder. I find myself wondering how you get the poop off the brush after brushing the toilet… Do you just accept seeing other people’s poop in that context as the price of having cleaner-looking toilets, and throw away the brushes periodically?

            1. CityMouse*

              This is exactly me. If it’s under the water, IMO it’s much more sanitary to let it flush away next time than to get poop on the brush. I do clean my toilet brushes but it’s not an easy thing to do because of the harsher cleaner that’s used on them. You have to wear gloves to

              1. Also-ADHD*

                If it’s going to flush away next time, why not double flush? That confuses me totally.

                1. miseleigh*

                  Occasionally there might be something left even after a second flush, but subsequent flushes would clear it at some point, especially if toilet paper is also swirling around the bowl. I’d assume most people here would certainly do a second flush if it’s warranted, but using even more water for a small remaining streak seems unnecessary.

                2. Stuckinacrazyjob*

                  I’d double flush because tbh I don’t remember seeing toilet brushes at work ( US, South)

            2. MissElizaTudor*

              I’m in the US and I don’t think I’ve ever seen a public toilet with a brush, and I also have these mechanics questions. It seems like it would be grosser to have a dirty or wet toilet brush sitting there than anything I’ve seen in a work toilet.

              Are the toilets and/or brushes outside the US different in some way that makes this less complicated?

              1. MissElizaTudor*

                Ohhh, the water level is much higher in US toilets. Seems like that would make a big difference in how likely skid marks/residue are, and therefore how necessary a toilet brush would be in a public bathroom.

                1. CityMouse*

                  I guess? I’ve never noticed a difference with the low flow toilets in the UK or Continental Europe. And any place with those old school tank toilets (only ever seen those in continental Europe) the flush is more furious.

                2. lucanus cervus*

                  Ohh is it? Brit here and I’ve been wondering how on earth everyone is splashing themselves while brushing the toilet, maybe that’s why. I don’t think I’ve ever thrown water around while cleaning mine.

                3. Quill*

                  This actually seems to me like it would make it worse. Because if the water is that low, rinsing the brush down in it is likely to do absolutely nothing, so the brush is unmistakably covered in poop. Not to mention the microbiological fact that e-coli smells a lot worse when in an oxygenated environment… And the fact that trusting the general public to clean up after themselves is overall a losing prospect, doubly so when it’s a task nobody really wants to do to begin with.

            3. Myrin*

              (FWIW, I’m not familiar with people using a brush after literally every toilet use but just when you’ve pooped and then only when it leaves marks, so there might be some more intricacies to this yet!)

              Certainly bowl shape makes a difference – apparently the setup where everything falls onto a “platform” before flushing is a specifically German thing (which I learned here on AAM! It’s what I’m used to and hadn’t realised isn’t universal) but possibly other structures exist in other areas.

              However, a great many toilets aren’t like that anymore and in fact, from what I’ve seen of US toilets on TV/youtube, these look identical to those at, for example, my place of work. With that being said, skidmarks are generally not submerged here, at least not fully, so I’m thinking there might still be a difference in… angle, possibly? Not using a brush makes much more sense to me if everything isn’t right out in the open as it generally is here.

              Also water strength. Years ago, I read someone’s joking comment that you could flush a sheep down an American toilet. Hyperbole, of course, but the fact that this was even brought up together with others’ reactions made me realise that our flush strength seems to be MUCH weaker, which probably also contributes to the discussion at hand – very often, I’d have to flush at least five times to get rid of any residue so it’s much more efficient to simply use a brush for a few seconds.

              As for your last point, it’s probably a mix of everything – you rinse the brush as well as you can in a final flush, yes, you do accept some poop particles in the brush, and yes, the brushes get replaced regularly.

              1. bamcheeks*

                German toilets are definitely more prone to showing marks than the kind we have in the UK. We have small kids with small bottoms which don’t always dangle directly over the water, so it’s very common for there to be marks after the first flush, but they’ve usually gone two flushes later.

                I personally am on the “toilet brushes are way more disgusting than evidence of use” end of the spectrum– I think that anything contained within the bowl is less grim than spreading the muck onto the brush and potentially dripping on the floor and in general the whole thing gives me the boak. If is REALLY needs attention, I’d rather use a wad of toilet paper, flush immediately and then wash my hands half a dozen times than use a toilet brush!

                1. AnonForThis*

                  I think my feeling about toilet brushes comes from the fact that it seems difficult to clean/disinfect them without using bathroom cleaner. So if I clean up some poop with the brush and “rinse” it in the clean water, now I have poop in the toilet, poop on the brush and poop in the brush holder.

                2. bamcheeks*

                  Yeah, exactly. It is just baffling to me that someone can think “rinse this spiky brush in water so there’s no visible shit” is the same as “this is now clean”. That’s not how germs work!

                  And realistically I know this is far more about *feelings* of disgust than actual risk– I am not aware of anyone who picked up dysentery from a toilet brush– but that’s equally true of visible marks in the loo. The whole thing is about what you perceive as more disgusting, and I don’t quite get why the pro-toilet-brush people think their answer is the RIGHT ONE rather than their preference. .

              2. Emmy Noether*

                My reply to Lily is pending in moderation (possibly for the repeated use of the word poop, which seems reasonable). I agree with Myrin.

              3. Tomato Soup*

                We have the shelf thing and walk flushing strength in the Netherlands too. Mostly in homes and maybe smaller businesses. There, it is common to also have a full set of cleaning products and tools out for people to use. Including cleaners, so you’re not just redistributing the poop. I will do a quick swish in those settings because it will sit out in the air. In the US, where a raging river will carry away everything but a streak that sits under water? Nope.

              4. zuzu*

                I had a pre-war apartment in Brooklyn that had one of those toilets with no tank, just a pipe, and a silver flush lever on the side.

                I swear that thing opened a portal to another dimension every time it flushed.

                God, I miss that toilet. I’ve never had one that was as trouble-free since.

                1. Relentlessly Socratic*

                  OMG, those types of potty are amazing–just stay back or you’ll wind up in a different quadrant of the galaxy along with your “business”

            4. Avogirl*

              Agree cultural difference and also plumbing differences in play. In Australia (and UK and Europe) there is less water so more chance of leave behinds, and culturally it’s really nasty to not give it a quick wipe.

              1. Deadlochian*

                I’ve lived in Australia most of my life (45 years) and this is the first time I’ve ever heard of such a thing.

                1. Jack Russell Terrier*

                  I’ve just come back to the US from the UK and Italy. It reminded me that they have self loos where the self can catch poo and barely any water at the bottom. US loos are a ski slope straight down and have quite a high water mark! The US ones definitely have less chance of evidence left behind.

            5. Falling Diphthong*

              Toilet bowl shape definitely makes a significant difference. (And exactly why it’s a problem in one toilet but not another may be a mystery to the ordinary humans using the toilets, so even if replacing the toilet was an option for them, they may not be able to figure out which one won’t have this problem. Thus leaving the brush available.)

              But yeah, if a streak wasn’t removed by the first flush, another flush isn’t likely to do anything.

            6. umami*

              After I brush, I close the seat down onto the brush handle so that it is suspended over the bowl to dry (basically so it’s parallel to the floor). The seat will hold it in place until it dries. And I clean the brushes about once a month with hydrogen peroxide – I have one in each bathroom so it doesn’t have to be carried around.

            7. amoeba*

              You just flush a second time to rinse out the brush (worst case a third) – I’ve almost never had any issue with (visible) stains on the brush!
              Then for the next cleaning, you use it with cleaner so it gets disinfected together with the bowl – and you probably change it once it starts looking old and battered (have never seen one actually get stained or whatever, just… old.)

              1. This Old House*

                This may come down to which you think is worse – visible poop where it’s not coming into contact with anyone (streaks in the bowl) or invisible poop germs where someone could potentially come into contact with it (undisinfected toilet brush hanging out in the bathroom between cleanings). I decidedly prefer the former.

          4. This Old House*

            As someone who does not brush the toilet every time I use it, or every time a streak is left, I can guarantee that the streaks do not stick around for 2 weeks! That would be horrifying, but they really just kind of take care of themselves after a little while. If they don’t, of course I’d get out the brush – AND the cleaner. The idea of using a toilet brush without cleaner, and then hanging it up again or putting it back in the holder, with absolutely no cleaning or disinfecting whatsoever, is the grossest, most horrifying thing that has been proposed in this thread.

          5. Ticotac*

            I am kinda confused by the fact that people keep talking about how using the brush causes splashes or sprays, because in my experience it’s a very gentle wipe. I’m starting to wonder if the splashing/spraying happens because the streaks are left to dry, leading to them being caked in and needing more brushing to chisel them off? ‘Cause yeah, in my toilet-cleaning experience I never emerged soaked in toilet water.

          6. Michelle Smith*

            They’re not drying for two weeks. This is overly dramatic and uncharitable. It will wash off on its own in the next couple of flushes. The difference is only whether they waste water flushing it over and over right then or take the more reasonable approach of just flushing the next time they need to use the toilet, which probably will be in the next couple of hours if they drink a normal amount of water.

        2. londonedit*

          I live on my own, but if there are stains left in the loo after I’ve used it, then of course I use the loo brush to clean up. It takes ten seconds to whizz the brush round and stick a bit of loo cleaner around the bowl, and it means the loo stays fresh and clean all the time. I definitely wouldn’t leave it weeks – it’d gross me out every time I used the loo and it’s much easier to keep things clean if you do a quick clean as you go rather than waiting for dirt to build up before you have to blitz it.

          1. umami*

            True, I keep the bowl cleaner on the back of the toilet so that I can squeeze it under the rim after I flush nearly every time (or at least once a day if not after every use). It really does keep the bowl as fresh and clean as possible until a weekly cleaning. In the guest bathroom it’s under the sink in case anyone needs it rather than on display, and there’s always a brush and plunger available (a lesson I learned after the stepson visited once and woke up his dad to ask for the plunger lol, I’m sure he was embarrassed).

            1. LJ*

              And then next time do you do your business on top of the cleaner? Aren’t you risking splashing yourself with the chemicals?

              Otherwise that would be multiple flushes to clear the cleaner out, which seems like a lot to do every day

    7. Ari*

      Not just that. My office has bathrooms with multiple stalls and no cleaning products in sight. I’m not above cleaning, but I have no way to do so. There are no cabinets in the bathroom or immediately outside it. I don’t even know where the toilet paper rolls are stored.

      1. GythaOgden*

        There’s no need to actually clean the toilet. A toilet brush should be standing beside the toilet, and it takes a few seconds to do a once over with it.

        If they’re not there, maybe they need to be.

        1. Myla*

          I’m with Ari, I’ve never worked anywhere that had toilet brushes in th e stalls and I very ra rely see this in any public ba throom.

          Best you can do is put more toilet paper in the bowl and flush again.

        2. Wendy Darling*

          I have literally never in my entire life seen a workplace bathroom with a toilet brush in it. I have never worked anywhere that had one. I used to travel a lot to client sites for work so I’ve been in loads of offices I didn’t normally work in and never saw a toilet brush.

          1. Happy meal with extra happy*

            Yeah, I feel like there needs to be a big flashing comment at the top somewhere – in (many? All?) parts of the US, there are almost never toilet brushes next to toilets, either in public or work bathrooms. It’s just not a thing. But, I think a lot of people on this thread are picturing us just refusing to use available brushes, when they’re not even an option if we wanted.

            1. Allonge*

              I imagine that the OP would have mentioned being asked to use a brush when there was none available!

            2. amoeba*

              I do now wonder whether the OP is originally from a different country/region than the one she works in now? From this thread, this could easily happen to an American in Europe… ;)

        3. Burger Bob*

          The idea of using just the brush with no disinfectant is incredibly gross to me. Now there are poop germs all over the brush, and you’re just going to put it…where, exactly? Back hanging up somewhere? Where it will drip its poop germs outside of the toilet? If there’s no disinfecting happening, I’m not using the brush.

    8. learnedthehardway*

      It’s just polite and civilized behaviour to not leave a mess for the next user of the bathroom.

      I think it is reasonable to ensure the toilet bowl is devoid of content (except water) and to wipe the seat if something adheres. That might mean flushing twice or using some toilet paper to wipe up a drip.

    9. Boolie*

      When you turn in your old equipment to IT, are you the type to leave it grubby and crumby too because it’s “not your job”? Really hate receiving someone’s old laptop when it’s all grody.

      1. Michelle Smith*

        Would you rather deal with a few crumbs or broken equipment from someone who soaked the computer in Lysol? I have no idea how to clean a laptop except to wipe it off with a dry cloth. If that means there are some crumbs left over, I’m sorry?

      2. misspiggy*

        Sounding like a broken record here but if an employer is not paying for sanitisation of laptops and keyboards when they’re transferred to new users, they are appalling cheapskates or very oblivious.

    10. Tomato Soup*

      I think there is a huge difference between cleaning anything that would come in contact with someone’s body and creating the illusion that the toilet has never yet been used for its intended purpose. The former is hygiene the later reminds me of when my mom would throw half a roll of toilet paper over a properly wrapped used pad or tampon. Even the vaguest of shape had to get covered. In a bathroom that was attached only to my bedroom.

    11. L-squared*

      I mean, neither is sweeping up. But if I make a mess and spill a bunch of chips on the floor, I’m goin to sweep them up

      1. This Old House*

        But the toilet is where poop belongs! Saying you need to clean the poop out of the toilet is more like saying you need empty the trash of the spilled chips after you’ve swept them up and thrown them away.

    12. Boof*

      I do think there’s a vast difference between, say wiping off the seats and making sure you didn’t leave stray TP around, and cleaning out the bowl. I can’t say I’ve ever seen a toilet brush in our work restroom, although the toilets also do a pretty good job of getting everything out without extra help.

    13. Slobomov*

      Holy shit. I consider myself a minor work slob. My desk is a mess. I take my shoes off. I shudder at the mulch under by keyboard but do nothing about it.

      But even I brush off any shitstreaks i leave behind.

    14. Dust Bunny*

      I think cleaning toilets is absolutely my responsibility if I’m the one who created the mess.

    15. zuzu*

      We’re probably talking a courtesy flush, at most.

      And honestly, if you’re the one who blew it up, you’re the one who ought to put it back in order for the next person. The people whose job it is to clean the toilets aren’t there after every use.

    16. Mrs. Smith*

      Do people not know about the trick of lining the bowl with a little bit of TP before taking care of business? It prevents most streaks. Just drop in a small amount of paper, do what nature requires, wipe, flush – mess goes away because icky stuff never actually hits the ceramic bottom. Wash hands & skip away!

        1. LJ*

          Wait are people pooping at drastically different angles or something? How do you not have splash back without putting some paper down

          This whole conversation is fascinating

    17. ReallyBadPerson*

      Not to be too gross about it, but for people with IBS, there is sometimes, um, spray, and yes, you do need to clean that up because your colleagues don’t want to sit in your poo.

      1. Burger Bob*

        I’m curious of the logistic of how spray could escape the bowl? Unless you are a hoverer and don’t actually sit on the toilet, I guess. If you fully sit down, stuff shouldn’t be spraying anywhere except inside the toilet bowl.

    18. Studeny*

      I’ll use a plunger if I clog a toilet.

      I’ll wipe the seat if I notice I’ve left it damp inadvertently.

      I’ll replace toilet paper if it’s gotten very low or ran out.

      I’ll ask somebody to refill the soap.

      Those are all functional and integral to the bathroom’s core mission.

      I’m not brushing the work toilet. That’s aesthetic. Sorry, but no. It doesn’t bother me, and I don’t think toilet aesthetics are very important. My workplaces generally agree that’s out of scope – I have never worked somewhere that provides a toilet brush.

      I’m also not going to use scented products to cover up smells. Also aesthetic. Bathrooms sometimes smell. If they smell a lot, then your bathroom probably needs more ventilation to address a potential health issue, not more perfume to cover it up.

    19. Sales Manager*

      Messing them up wasn’t part of your job description nor what you were hired to do either and yet you seem perfectly comfortable with that part.

      Clean up after yourself, gross.

    20. fhqwhgads*

      Yeah, there’s also the third camp which is:
      It’s not a question of whether I think it’s acceptable to see it’s been used or not. It’s that it’s not my responsibility to clean the toilets. It is the responsibility of the union janitorial staff, and I am explicitly not to do it. And if the cleaning isn’t frequent enough for folks’ liking, that’s something to take up with the people in charge of the cleaning schedule, not individual’s who use the restroom.
      But there can still be people in an office who fall into the post’s camps 1 or 2 and not realize 3 is the reality they’re living in.

    21. EngineerMom*

      My general rule of thumb is that if it’s inside the toilet and not causing the toilet to cease function (it’s not going to contact the next user, and it’s not clogging the toilet), it’s not my problem.

      If something has gotten on a surface that another user might potentially touch, like the lid or handle, then yeah – clean up after yourself, or find the appropriate person to help you.

      But not inside the toilet. I don’t have the correct PPE on me during a bathroom break to deal with that while working an office job!

      Side note: this is way different than washing your own dishes in the company sink. Presumably, there is a janitor or someone paid to clean the place – if you use the sink to wash your dishes, you could reasonably be expected to wipe up any water that splashes out of the sink (so future users don’t end up with wet spots on clothing) or maybe empty the drain trap if you had a lot of food on your dishes, but you’re NOT expected to deep-clean the sink and surrounding area (or dry the sink – I had one weird coworker who would get up in arms when people would use the sink, but not dry it?? So strange) – that’s on the janitor.

    22. Kim*

      Yikes. This is very classist. Do you also leave crumbs all over the kitchen after you’ve made lunch?

    23. mountainshadows299*

      This is such a bizarre debate to me. I always do an extra courtesy flush if things don’t go down fully, but it would truly never occur to me to literally brush the inside of the bowl where EVERYONE ELSE’S germs also are.

      If someone truly thinks less of me as a person because a streak of my poo is left in the bowl (where it’s supposed to be and where you won’t touch it) after multiple flushes… Meh.

    24. rebelwithmouseyhair*

      username checks out. pfff!
      Cleaning up after yourself and leaving places in the state you found them or better is part of what makes you a kind, considerate individual.
      Thank goodness I don’t work with you, it must be hell.

  3. Dina*

    Clinical supervisors and work managers are absolutely not the same thing! That is a horrifying breach of ethics!

    1. Liz*

      I came here to say the same thing. Therapeutic talk can often be a part of clinical supervision, but not management. I’m not sure about LW’s location, but I’m pretty sure (in my part of the world, at least) your clinical supervisor and management supervisor cannot be one and the same person. There needs to be some clarification of roles here. This strikes me as someone who has only trained in clinical supervision and is applying it across the board as a manager, and really inappropriately too.

      1. Lead Balloon*

        That was my understanding too. I thought it was because it would be difficult for the supervisee to be transparent and honest about clinical situations when the person you are talking to also has the ability to make management decisions about you. But this supervisor/manager has flipped that on its head.

        I am skeptical about how good a therapist they can be if they are so lacking in awareness about the boundaries they are trampling all over.

      2. Anastasia Beaverhousen*

        In the US your clinical supervisor and your job supervisor can be the same person as long as they have the right clinical qualifications.

        1. doreen*

          Although I was not in a licensed field myself, I worked with social workers , psychologists , mental health counselors and so on. And if they had both a job supervisor and a clinical supervisor , it was almost always the same person. And I say if because it’s possible for someone to have only one – if I’m the only social worker at a private school, I may not have a clinical supervisor or I might work at an agency where I operate as if it was my own private practice except for clinical supervision ( a certain number of hours of supervised practice is often required for a license)

    2. Naomi*

      I’m glad to hear those roles are usually separated! Even as a layperson, I know it would be unethical for OP’s boss to be their actual therapist, so the boss should definitely know better than to treat an employee like a patient. (There was a Captain Awkward letter once about the converse–a psychiatrist who was crossing professional boundaries by hiring patients to work in her office.) It sounds like in this case, combining those roles has blurred the lines so that OP is second-guessing whether this behavior is normal.

    3. Margaret Cavendish*

      I was going to say the same as well. At least in the context of her managerial role, she’s acting as a therapist without your consent – that might be the easiest place to draw the line between the breach of ethics and plain old bad management.

      It’s worth asking your regulatory body for advice – I’m sure this won’t be a new situation to them. Good luck!

    4. Freiheit*

      Oh God I experienced a similar breach of ethics when I called a therapy practice that was a mandated reporting unit for a church (also, these therapists were paid by the church so that should have been a signal, though I thought if they were state-licensed they had to adhere to some normal protocol). I called to report that one of the clergy they worked with was actively abusing members of the congregation, and I kid you not, was told by the very therapist who I had seen like 5 years before for two sessions, “Well, I remember, you had a definite struggle with authority figures, are you sure you’re not just projecting? I don’t feel we need to worry about your complaint any farther until you do some digging into your own motivations”. To this day I wish I went to the state board and police. Absolute gaslighting.

    5. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

      Well, in my state at least, there are supervisors who run solo practices and therefore are going to be both manager and clinical supervisor. While I agree with the concerns about dual relationships, I imagine it would be hard to have enough supervision options available if they put those kinds of restrictions on the supervision, especially in more rural and underserved areas.

  4. LinZella*

    OP 1 – Your supervisor (and I might use that term lightly), while good at her main job of being a therapist FOR her clients, her skills as a manager to you (NOT a patient) are sorely lacking.
    This isn’t uncommon. Think of a well-respected and very effective teacher who is promoted to be the school principal. Same environment, however, very much a different job and a hugely different skill set is required.
    Hopefully you can change supervisors someway or use your therapy skills to get her to stay on the logistical topics you need her for. Ignoring the analyzing and keep re-focusing her can be good practice for your work with your actual clients.
    Good luck!

    1. Well...*

      Dude if my therapist talked to me like this I would change therapists sooooo fast. It’s hard for me to believe dismissing someone’s concerns and talking down to them is helpful to the craft. If my therapist called me paranoid for reasonable af concerns, I would never be able to trust her judgement. I feel like not knowing the difference between paranoia and valid concern is a pretty fatal flaw for a therapist.

      Also how the heck does entertaining unreasonable demands while telling the person you think they are unreasonable supposed to help with couples counseling?

      1. AnonForThis*

        I would walk out in the middle of a session if my therapist told me I was paranoid for wanting to make sure I was paid at my job, and I would tell anyone who would listen–and oversight organizations–what a terrible therapist they were. WTF.

        This isn’t the case where “manager gets a bit too touchy-feely”. We all know what that looks like (“we’re faaaaaamily”). This is abusive, IMO.

      2. Anna*

        Same. I feel like framing the issue as someone over-applying therapy talk is giving the therapist here too much credit – the behavior described would be inappropriate in a therapy session, too.

    2. I Have RBF*

      I have to admit, if it was me the second time she pulled that it would be “Could we please not play the game of psychoanalyzing routine workplace questions? Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar, and worrying about getting paid and other bureaucratic issues is normal, not paranoid or driven by some deep trauma.” Sheesh.

      When I was a teenager my mother got her degree in marriage, family and child counseling. She tried the psycholingo stuff on me. It didn’t work. It just caused more conflict because I hate people trying to manipulate me, and obvious manipulation using psychobabble is obvious.

  5. ENFP in Texas*

    Recently when discussing a major part of my contract that was left out, we got into a tense back and forth because I wanted it in writing and she wanted me to “use your knowledge of me and trust me to honor this, let that guide you, not your fear of workplace power dynamics.”

    It’s not about “trust”, it’s about a legal contract. Trust is all well and good, but if it’s not in writing it won’t hold up if there’s an issue or question. I don’t care how much she says she’ll “honor” it.

    “I do trust you. But now I’m starting to wonder what is in your story to makes you hesitant to put my contract in writing.”

    1. Jackalope*

      I would also point out that your specific supervisor may not be in that position forever; she might get promoted, take a job somewhere else, etc. If that happens then what becomes of your trust agreement? It’s gone. But a contract in writing will still be around.

      1. HonorBox*

        This is such a great point. I trust my boss implicitly (we’ve worked together for more than a decade, actually at two different places). That said, if my boss were to leave, I’d want to make sure I had specifics of any agreement in writing… which by the way, my boss would totally want me to have, as well.

      2. Paulina*

        That was my thinking too. OP1’s manager isn’t the one who would be paying them, or not; the company will (or not). The manager often has responsibility for following up with HR to ensure that the right clauses make it into the contract, but the contract is not with the manager. That the manager is deflecting rather than following up makes it sound like the manager made promises to OP that were never going to be part of the actual contract. Maybe the situation is “they won’t agree to this flexibility in writing but we do it in practice so don’t worry about it,” but that’s still about what that specific person does when managing rather than an actual entitlement of the employee, and you can never know how long things like that will last or what the fallout might be when they stop.

      3. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

        I think she was referring to the clinical supervision contract. You have to have one on file with the licensing board in most states while you complete your residency/post-grad supervision, and it is not transferable, unlike any employment contracts. So if the supervisor were to leave, OP would need a new contract with a new clinical supervisor in order to complete her residency.

        Of course, if it is an employment contract, you are right on target there.

    2. Anna*

      100%. People acting in good faith do not respond this way to contract negotiations: it is very low risk for her to put something she fully intends to respect in writing.

      Unless you were asking for something that would require pages and pages of edits and a lot of internal legal review, or something so vague as to be functionally unenforceable, her response was off-the-walls bananapants. And a *major* red flag.

      1. Some words*

        This is Svengali level manipulation/gaslighting.

        It’s making my skin crawl just thinking about it.

  6. Zircon*

    Letter #1. I’m not sure what your professional practice is, but I am a social worker. Most of the professional disciplines I have worked with have either a Code of Ethics, a Regulatory requirement or a Supervision Policy that ensures that a practitioner does not have a supervisory relationship with anyone in their line of management. Have a look at all of the above (no matter what country or profession you are in, these documents will exist) and see if there is anything that supports you asking for external supervision, or at least for supervision outside of your management line. The issues that are discussed in supervision can be very sensitive and may impact decisions about promotion or even performance that a manager makes.

    1. SnappinTerrapin*

      I assume that “supervision” and “supervisory” are terms of art in your profession, with different meanings from my lay understanding of the words. Could you help me understand what the words mean in this context?

      1. Reba*

        Clinical supervision or practice supervision is different in different fields, but basically is a regular structure for providers to talk with a more experienced peer about their work, reflect on experiences, identify where they could use more training, and so on. It’s a form of pedagogy, it’s about learning and seeking support, not a performance review. It can be individual and/or in a group. For most fields a certain number of hours is required in order to be licensed, and it can also be done throughout one’s career. In many places, supervisors also need to get special training/credentials to do this.

        Meanwhile the managerial side is operational, about whether policies are met, performance/competence in terms of time and resource management, client outcomes in a wider view, etc.

        So for the former to be effective and candid, it is considered best practice for it to be separate from the latter.

      2. e*

        I can only speak to social work, but in that context clinical supervision is when someone who is new in their career/doesn’t have the highest possible clinical license yet meets with someone who is more experienced/fully licensed on a regular basis to help the newbie process the clinical work they are doing with clients and develop their skills. A certain number of hours of clinical supervision are generally required for licensure. Supervision in this context doesn’t have anything to do with the “supervisor” assigning you new work, firing you, or that kind of thing.

        As LW says, clinical supervision can involve some discussion of the supervisee’s emotions or other personal topics, as part of the supervisee reflecting on their practice. It sounds like in this case that is bleeding into non-clinical supervision, which is definitely awkward and not a great dynamic.

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

        I work with counselors and have to explain this to folx sometimes. This is going to be for LPC (Licensed Professional Counselors) but it’s similar for other counseling and therapist titles, which oddly vary state by state. There is a requirement (at least in the U.S.) that after graduation the counselor gets their training license, often called an IT. This means they have completed all of their education and testing and they have a graduate degree in mental health. States dictate that new counselors have to have completed X amount of hours under the supervision of a clinical supervisor (someone who is no longer in training and usually has been working for several years). In most states, it’s around 3000 direct hours with clients but it varies. It typically takes about 2-3 years. The clinical supervisor will review the other person’s clinical notes and documentation and sign off on them, they will discuss cases and focus on the development of the new counselor.

        So I could see a clinical supervisor checking in with the trainee and saying something like ” “what came up for you when your client said XYZ?” which as the OP said is normal. I could even see something like asking about their “story” in the context of case management. Like if the OP seemed stressed because a client was presenting suicidal idealization and they were impacted by suicide at one point. But everything else that is going on is NOT normal.

      4. Marie*

        This depends a lot on your credentials and how your state licenses them. Insurance gets involved, too, because they’ll pay out different rates depending on licensure. Which is better than it used to be — in my state, ten years ago, insurance wouldn’t allow any pre-licensed billing, which meant you had to somehow gain your clinical licensure without ever being paid for clinical work.

        I’m a clinical social worker. I was required to receive thousands of hours of clinical supervision after getting my degree to become clinically licensed. Clinical supervision is intended to focus on my clinical skills. I also couldn’t bill insurance for clients without a clinical supervisor signing off, and insurance paid a lower rate.

        Clinical supervision is paid out of pocket by the supervisee, and is typically the same rate as therapy ($100-$300 per hour). This is not affordable on the jobs available to pre-licensed social workers, unless you want to take ten years or so to get licensed (which some licensing boards will not allow).

        As a recruitment and retention tool, agencies will offer free clinical supervision to pre-licensed employees. Often in return you receive a low wage — insurance payouts are lower, a clinical supervisor has to be paid from those rates, and must reduce client hours paid at a higher insurance rate that they could be taking instead of seeing you. Sometimes you must agree to pay back all the supervision received if you leave within a certain number of years.

        The agency is already losing money by having a clinical supervisor oversee you. They’re not going to separately hire and pay an administrative supervisor as well, since their wages are also coming out of your reduced insurance payout. So the clinical supervisor is just told to handle all of that.

        This leads to pre-licensed workers staffing the lowest paid, most difficult jobs, being afraid to leave due to the financial and potentially lifelong licensing impact, receiving minimal and poor supervision, and once their hours are completed, becoming clinically licensed even though they may never have been taught basic clinical skills.

        It’s a bad situation.

      5. SnappinTerrapin*

        I appreciate the replies. The added context helps me understand the situation better.

      6. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

        Clinical supervision is usually provided to individuals who have completed their graduate programs and need supervision/residency hours before they can obtain full licensure to practice independently. It also can occur when the licensing Board takes disciplinary action on a licensee and requires that they go on probation and engage in clinical supervision for a period of time. It is separate from management supervision. However, in my state at least, there are supervisors who run solo practices and therefore are going to be bother manager and clinical supervisor. While I agree with the concerns about dual relationships, I imagine it would be hard to have enough supervision options available if they put those kinds of restrictions on the supervision, especially in more rural and underserved areas.

    2. doreen*

      I am a bit confused as well – I’m not a social worker or mental health counselor or anything else that requires a license but I worked in adjacent fields and in my experience, the social workers, psychologists , mental health counselors, etc , I worked with had a single supervisor. There wasn’t one person supervising the clinical portion while someone else dealt with management. But I also saw enough supervisor /supervisee interactions to know that there was no question of the supervisor analyzing the supervisee – it just didn’t happen. I’m almost wondering is the supervisor in the letter in confused about their actual role – from my understanding, it is very common for a therapist to be in therapy themself.

      1. Master Procrastinator*

        I can’t speak to cultural/regional differences, but clinical supervisors for therapeutic work and practice supervisors for social work are completely distinct from managerial roles and tend to be linked to requirements by governing bodies. Both employed and self-employed practitioners will have clinical supervision. For the self-employed, it’s at their own expense, and sometimes employers provide clinical supervisors in-house but not always, so you may not be aware of what a colleague’s clinical supervision arrangements are. People management clinical supervision involve different (but to some extent, overlapping) skill sets. The fact that they share a name probably confuses things!

        As others have mentioned, it’s generally a conflict of interest for a person who has the power to fire you to also be your clinical supervisor, because you need to be able to be honest, vulnerable and able to reflect on what you could improve in a specific client interaction without worrying about possible repercussions. There’s no excuse for someone with that level of authority in either role to be confused about the boundaries involved.
        At the risk of psychoanalysing them (oh well, at least I’m not their boss!), I think this supervisor might lack confidence or interest in the managerial side of their role and as a result, they really lean into therapising – a skill that they feel competent in. Unfortunately for everyone, a blatant disregard for boundaries and a tendency towards DARVO and gaslighting does not equal a competent therapist!

    1. I had a bad gaslighty therapist*

      Those where my thoughs too. I had a therapist telling me I had an anxety disorder despite not having the main symptoms, because according to her “I had them but not allowing myself to feel them”. At the same time, other symproms where dismissed, because “they where just in my imagination”. Guess why I didn’t get back a second time.

      And what LW1 described was far too similar to that persons attitude.

    2. misspiggy*

      Yep. I’ve worked with people like that. Their clients are as distressed as their staff. And you see young staff adopting their methods and you realise why social care and mental health provision are in such a mess.

    3. M. from P.*

      Yes, came here to say the same thing. If they are using therapy speak to manipulate their way out of their managerial obligations then they are most likely doing the same with clients/patients who are in a still more vulnerable position.
      I’d stay vigilant in that position.

        1. goddess21*

          oh f&ck yeah. sounds like you have met or worked with someone like this. it can be hard to recognize how evil it is, because competence is reassuring! but they just want you to obey, and/or suffer in ways that they consider “correct” or empathize with personally. it’s dark, yo.

    4. Harper the Other One*

      Yeah, my first thought was “this feels very… off.” Especially the comments about “I’ve learned from couples work that sometimes the way to get the other person to work with me is to humor their unreasonable request, even though it shouldn’t take that.” My husband and I just finished some work with a couples counsellor and that’s a very concerning framework that would have made me extremely uncomfortable in sessions.

      1. Verthandi*

        When I read that part of the letter, my brain filled in the silent part. “…and your request is unreasonable.”

        This is icky on so many levels.

      2. Paulina*

        And I’ve learned from actually dealing with people in the workplace that “to humor their unreasonable request” also needs to include not explicitly labelling it as an unreasonable request. Basically this supervisor is telling OP1 that the supervisor will only proceed with considering OP1’s concerns under the understanding that OP1 is wrong about them. Yikes.

    5. Wintermute*

      I am not sure we can draw conclusions about that, but it does raise some eyebrows for sure.

      At the very least it sounds like someone who treats learning a certain set of therapeutic techniques like being handed a hammer, and now sees themselves surrounded by nails.

      1. goddess21*

        recommend that you try imagining the experiences of a person in pain who gets beat down with that hammer, friend

      2. Observer*

        I am not sure we can draw conclusions about that,

        Oh yes we can. Even in your “best case” scenario, that’s not how a good therapist works!

      3. Kella*

        The problem here, though, isn’t just that she’s applying therapeutic techniques to a managerial relationship. The problem is that the techniques she’s using are *bad* even in the context of therapy.

        In the examples OP gave, their clinical supervisor wanted to dig into the pathology of the fact that OP had a totally normal workplace expectation, or a list of common workplace questions. That’s not just framing it in terms of feelings, that’s categorizing completely normal communication as disordered.

        Her clinical supervisor also explicitly said that when offering counseling to couples, she “humors unreasonable requests” in order to get one of them to work with her. Good therapists don’t dismiss your requests as unreasonable and then pretend they are. They look to find out *what your motivation is* for having that request in the first place.

        And lastly, describing OP’s evidence-based concerns about funding for the position as “a paranoid part” is incredibly alarming. It implies that it isn’t possible that OP’s concerns could be legitimate, and just the act of worrying is disordered. Can you imagine a client coming to you and telling you, “I’m worried my boss isn’t going to pay me next week. They didn’t pay me last week,” and calling them paranoid??? When anxiety comes up, good therapists dig into whether or not their concern is founded in reality, and if it is, what steps they can take to mitigate the risk or the fallout.

        All of these patterns of behavior undermine the person reporting a problem and frame *any* emotion they are having as disordered, which is an incredibly dangerous thing to teach therapy patients.

    6. Irish Teacher*

      Yeah, my immediate thought was that I am really worried about her interactions with clients.

    7. ecnaseener*

      Yeppppp. I was immediately reminded of a particular therapist who did the same thing to me, used therapy-speak to demean perfectly reasonable things I asked for.

      Idk whether she’s doing it on purpose or it’s just a case of “to a person with a hammer the whole world’s a nail,” but it’s not conscientious work.

    8. triss merigold*

      Yeah, this letter is absolutely chilling. if anything I think OP is wildly underreacting, and if there’s any way to report this up the chain, they need to do it. And don’t rely on her as a font of experience and knowledge. her ethics are way too shot.

      1. Observer*

        And don’t rely on her as a font of experience and knowledge. her ethics are way too shot.


        I’m so glad that so many people are highlighting this. Both because I hope it helps the OP realize that they aren’t over-reacting. But also because I had a very strong reaction and I was wondering just a bit if I was the only one.

    9. zuzu*

      Sounds like the kind of therapist who gets easily manipulated by the abusive half of a couple to weaponize therapy against the abused half.

      1. goddess21*

        good call. and/or one who takes the side of abusive institutions or cultures against an individual client. therapist’s need for comfort and certainty in that kind of shutting-down.

    10. idwtpaun*

      I was about to make the same comment. If she’s misusing therapeutic language in a work context like this, maybe out of incompetence, but possibly in order to deliberately manipulate people, then how can she be trusted not to encourage her patients/clients to do the same? I’m inclined to be concerned for any couple undergoing marriage counselling with her.

    11. lucanus cervus*

      Yeah, this person gives me the horrors. She uses therapeutic language to wriggle her way out of obligations and around boundaries. Bleeeahhh.

  7. Never Knew I Was a Dancer*

    LW1–WOW that is manipulative as [all get out]. Using therapist-speak to assert power over you, to ignore and belittle your normal and legitimate concerns? To try to take away and scoff at needs for basic safeguards like a contract and funding for employment?

    Gonna repeat what’s often echoed in these comments sections:
    – Beware of how being managed by her in the longer term can warp your sense of normal
    – No, what she is doing is not professional, reasonable, or quite frankly acceptable

    1. Observer*

      It also sounds like if this were an actual therapy session, it would be very bad therapy.

      1. MM*

        Yes. She sounds a lot like the therapist I had who developed a major case of counter-transference, disregarded multiple ethical boundaries (I did not know enough about the relevant ethical standards at the time to recognize this), and at the end of our work together accused me of not being in touch with my feelings because I wasn’t sad enough for him that we wouldn’t be seeing each other anymore.

        1. Naomi*

          Wow, yikes. I recently parted ways with a therapist (nothing wrong, he just completed his residency) and he checked in that I felt okay about the transition, assured me that he trusted the colleague who would be taking over, etc. If a therapist insisted I should feel sadder about leaving them, I would be creeped out and relieved to be escaping!

        2. It's me*

          I would be in touch with my feelings about that. They wouldn’t be the feelings he wanted.

  8. phira*

    Eh, disagree with Alison on LW3, or more specifically, I feel like the answer is too general for the situation. IBS/IBD can be very hard to hide from coworkers because of how frequently you go to the bathroom and how long you are in there for. I wouldn’t be surprised if the person who left the note knew that they were targeting the LW. And leaving a passive-aggressive poem note about using the toilet brush feels inappropriate.

    Basically, if the question were just, “Do you think people should use the toilet brush–if there is one in the bathroom/stall–after going number 2?” then Alison’s answer works perfectly. But this particular situation–where it would not have been feasible or even useful to use a toilet brush every single time when the LW was very sick–I think that whoever left the note did the wrong thing.

    (I have IBD and it made my working life hellishly and occasionally traumatically difficult. A note like the one the LW encountered would have reduced me to tears immediately.)

    1. Angelina*

      How would it have been unfeasible or un-useful to use the toilet brush every single time though?
      I can’t imagine that this poor note-leaver was in the wrong for saying “please don’t make me look at your excrement!”

      1. misspiggy*

        There’s quite a divide emerging today between people who have no idea what intestinal dysfunction is like and those who do. Maybe start listening. Also, why not lobby for better professional toilet cleaning if your bathrooms aren’t to your liking?

        1. Hrodvitnir*

          I have significant intestinal dysfunction and I feel strongly that leaving shit on the toilet bowl when there’s another option is disgusting and rude. I don’t love you weaponising bowel disorders here at all.

          IF there is no brush/it’s not realistic for you to completely clean it, that’s fine. But leaving diarrhoea in the bowl because you feel bad about taking so many breaks, while sympathetic, is not that.

        2. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

          A sensible accommodation is noone noting/commenting on bathroom breaks (which no decent person should for anyone) and having brushes in every loo (every job I had during 40 years working)
          UNreasonable is leaving a dirty smelly bowl of poop for the next person

        3. L-squared*

          The problem is, at MOST companies, the cleaning crew isn’t coming in until after hours, so if OP leaves a mess there at 9, and another mess at 11, and another at 1, then its going to be a pretty gross situation.

          This has nothing to do with having intenstinal dysfunction, its about being courteous to your coworkers.

          1. misspiggy*

            What’s being debated across this thread is whether people should clean the toilet bowl to remove visual evidence of what it’s been used for. We all agree that leaving any mess which might be physically harmful to colleagues is a no no.

            At the beginning of my office career, cleaners went round three times a day. Now once is more normal. Is it really my responsibility to make up for cost cutting?

            1. The Unspeakable Queen Lisa*

              This is a false question. If you make a mess, of any kind, it is your responsibility to clean it up. The cleaning staff is irrelevant here. I assume you wouldn’t spill a cup of coffee on the counter and walk away because you know the cleaners will get it 5 hours later.

              Feeling time pressure because you think you’ve been in the bathroom too long is something I sympathize with, bu that doesn’t change your obligation to clean up after yourself, or me after myself. Talk back to the paranoid voice in your head and take those extra moments to be polite.

        4. M2*

          Why is it the responsibility of someone else to clean up after an adult?! Hiring a cleaner to clean your excrement is not cool. (Someone who dealt with IBS for periods of time).

          Your excrement when flushed spreads germs (close the lid if you have one when you flush) and if someone has to flush your excrement it will spread and could spread those germs to them.

          Clean up after yourself, you’re an adult! My 6 year old used the toilet cleaner if he makes a mess and he’s 6!!!!

          1. SoloKid*

            Oh lord, excrement being sprayed during a flush 20 minutes later has a much less chance of spreading ick than immediately using a brush and taking it back out of the water. Let’s not pretend it’s a safety thing when people are just ick about the visuals.

            1. Allonge*

              People being ick about the toilet brush that is there anyway (I know, not in all cases, but when it’s supplied) is better?

              1. Rainbow*

                Your cleaners are valuable members of your business; they are there to maintain standards. They are not there to clean up your shit, or to be treated like shit. They are not there to clean up other people’s leftover excrement. They are not.

                1. New Jack Karyn*

                  Well, no. The cleaners are there to clean things, and that includes toilets. Occasionally, there is some residue inside the toilet from its usage. It is not classist or inhumane to expect cleaners to deal with that.

        5. Rocket Raccoon*

          My husband has IBS and he quick-cleans the toilet every time. Not a full weekly scrub, but he does a wipe or swish if needed.

        6. rebelwithmouseyhair*

          If the professional cleaner comes in on Tuesdays, and someone leaves skid marks on Wednesday, it doesns’t matter how well they clean the toilet, I’ll still see those skid marks for an entire week.
          And while I see that some have argued that skid marks don’t affect the next user, I would counter that the problem is that once they are there, the toilet doesn’t seem clean, making the next person more likely to leave something else dirty. Because when you’re in a clean place, you don’t dare make it dirty, but if the place is already dirty, you somehow feel like permission has been given to no longer keep it clean. This is why I clean up before guests come round.

      2. fhqwhgads*

        FWIW it also just occurred to me that I’ve never been in a workplace bathroom that had a brush or cleaning supplies in it. But I realize part of the premise is “there is one” or else the note left the LW makes no sense. Still the whole conversation is kind of alien to me, and I’m wondering if my experience is the unicorn.

        1. rebelwithmouseyhair*

          I’m really baffled as I can’t remember ever working in a place where there wasn’t a loo brush!

    2. popko*

      Yeah, I’ve never even worked at a workplace that had a toilet brush in the bathroom, and if I had the opportunity I do think that I would use it, but I do have to say– I’ve also never worked somewhere that the toilet tanks refilled quickly enough that the full “flush, brush, wait until the toilet resets to be able to flush the now-dingy water again” cycle would have actually taken anywhere near as few as 15 seconds. If I was having to make a ton of bathroom trips from an IBS flare-up, I could see letting things lie, as it were, especially if it was a time-sensitive job of some kind.

      1. Ellis Bell*

        If a toilet brush is provided, it’s not expected that you use it to get the toilet gleaming; I’m finding some of the comments upthread about donning gloves and using products mid-work day to be highly amusing. If there’s a toilet brush there, it’s just to aid the process of flushing and to make the toilet a bit more usable for the next person. I hear you on lazy plumbing systems and that if you’re in a rush, you might leave some dingy water. But if you leave some dingy water, the net person only has to flush – that’s far preferable to them scrubbing it for you, or deciding the toilet is unusable. I’ve only ever worked in buildings were we have been short on space, and therefore toilet cubicles; so there’s always one or two toilets favoured by those who want to go number two. Usually the furthest stall from the door, or the disabled toilet. I have noticed that the cleaners usually make sure there is a brush supplied in these locations, even if they don’t outfit every stall!

        1. Happy meal with extra happy*

          You’re still working off the assumption that it’s possible that a toilet brush may be there – I’ve never ever seen that at a workplace in the US, and multiple other commenters here haven’t either. It’s just not a thing to see in a work/public bathroom.

            1. Happy meal with extra happy*

              Yes, that’s assuming that there could be a toilet brush; it could be an option. From my experience, there is NEVER a toilet brush provided. There is no “if”.

              1. amoeba*

                Well, there is apparently one in OP’s workplace, otherwise that would be one weird poem.

        2. popko*

          Eh, this is one of those cases that just highlights how different everybody’s ideas of etiquette, grossness, etc. are– I would so much rather use a streaky toilet than one that had dingy unflushed water in it. (Especially because flushing after the streaks have had some time to sit usually cleans them off anyway!)

      2. rebelwithmouseyhair*

        If you press the button that only lets half the cistern content flush, there’s some waiting to be flushed immediately.

        1. Leenie*

          That’s a specific toilet design, which I haven’t typically seen in office buildings in the US. Many times, it’s the auto-flusher, where you have to look for a tiny button if it doesn’t automatically flush when you stand up, as it’s supposed to do. I think think there are a lot of design factors and assumptions that people are working from, which are impacting their opinions of what constitutes polite behavior.

    3. Wendy Darling*

      I thank my lucky stars that I developed IBS after I started working from home. It’s mostly pretty well controlled now but it wasn’t for a while there, and dealing with that in an office environment would have suuuuuuuucked. Like, the horrid scratchy cheap TP alone D:

      And after the judgement level in some of these comments I won’t be shitting at work ever again if I can help it. Woof.

    4. ecnaseener*

      I actually don’t see the note as passive-aggressive – it’s a perfectly direct note and it really wouldn’t be reasonable to walk up to any one person and say “you take the most bathroom breaks, is it you leaving the poop? If so, please use the brush.”

      1. Sko’den*

        I agree with you, and I’m not usually pro-note. The note is also a way to say this doesn’t apply only to LW, it applies to all of us.

        My former roommate was dealing with IBS for a bit and someone at her corporate job reported her to the anonymous ethics line for “going to the bathroom to play on her phone”.

    5. L-squared*

      I mean, even if she is sick, if she is leaving a mess in the bathroom everytime, I think its fair to leave that note. I think the note, even if passive aggressive, is kinder than confronting her about it.

  9. Sunny*

    I’m confused about the timesheet letter. I get that legally people have to be paid, but if they haven’t turned in a time sheet, on what basis is the pay amount generated? It doesn’t seem beyond the pale that a paycheque can’t be written when finance doesn’t know how many hours the person worked. Or am I misunderstanding something about the situation?

    1. Can Can Cannot*

      It’s up to the company to figure it out. That being said, the company can punish the employee for not turning in a timesheet on time, up to and including termination. But they still have to pay the employee for the hours worked.

    2. Not Australian*

      Presumably they have ‘core hours’ that must be worked in every pay period, so in the absence of a time sheet they just get the baseline pay and any discrepancy is sorted out later. Makes the payroll department’s lives very awkward, of course.

      1. Some words*

        That’s how my employer handles it. In the absence of a time card one will get paid for core hours, which will be adjusted as needed once they receive it.

        1. Alternative Person*

          Same at mine. If you don’t turn in any hours adjustments (usually overtime related) in time you just get your salary. Anything after the due date goes to the next pay period.

          It does occasionally cause issues for the hourly-time staff though because they don’t have core hours.

      2. AcademiaCat*

        That isn’t always the case though. I help manage payroll for a number of students for whom this is often their first job. They might work anywhere from 20 to 0 hours in a given week, and we have no way of knowing how many until they report them. The frequency with which students reply to “Payroll closes in 1 hour and I still don’t have your hours worked!” emails with “oh, I didn’t work last week” is frustrating.

    3. Dina*

      I’ve had to do timesheets as a salaried employee before – they were paying me the same no matter what. (They were trying to account for time spent on different projects.)

      1. ScruffyInternHerder*

        Same. Some of the projects I’ve worked on (typically federal) have required certified payroll, including that of office staff. My pay never varies as I’m salaried and exempt, but they still have to account for the hours.

      2. Totally Minnie*

        This is how my current job works. We all work 40 hours a week and get paid the same salary each pay period, but we have to submit a time sheet that indicates the breakdown in how our time was divided between projects.

      3. Pilcrow*

        Same here.

        I’ve worked as a W-2 (salaried) consultant and have had to submit up to 3 different time sheets: to my consulting employer for billing the client, to the client’s project time tracker so the client can bill *their* customers, and finally to the client’s ‘contractor’ tracker.

        Timesheets are always going to be an issue, but I’d ask the OP’s company to look at how difficult the time tracking/timesheet submission process is. Way back when I started it was filling out a 5 part carbonless copy, getting it signed, then faxing/mailing it back to the consulting company. Later they dropped the carbonless copies for a glitchy spreadsheet that still had to be *faxed* but not signed. Then they let us email the thing in. When I left they finally ditched paper and had a fairly stable online portal. More people submitted their timesheets on time with every improvement.

        1. LW5*

          We have an easy to use electronic portal. The lateness is definitely about the employee simply not doing it then any barriers to getting it done easily or in a timely manner.

      4. fhqwhgads*

        Yeah it sounds like that’s the case in the letter too since it seems most of the concern about the timesheet is billable hours, not purely hours worked.

    4. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      I had a friend who was an accountant at an hourly factory. When they didn’t get timesheets for a department they looked at what the normal number of scheduled hours would have been and submitted that for any missing timecards. They would then process payroll corrections when the time cards came in.

      I don’t know if this was standard everywhere – but that place was hourly shift work, so it was the best system they could come up with. For salaried workers, I would assume that what one would do is just pay the normal salary and get the timecard later.

      1. Peanut Hamper*

        Yes, I have seen this before. The company has to pay you something so a reasonable estimation based on prior weeks is logical.

        It’s a bookkeeping nightmare in a lot of situations, but people have to be paid. That’s kind of what keeps them coming back.

        1. PayrollSucks*

          I do payroll and you are correct, when you have mistakes or have guessed at peoples hours just so that you can get them paid it becomes a nightmare to fix. The other issue with people needing to get in time sheets is it’s not as easy as people think, they assume you get paid on Friday so we have to have your stuff Thursday. We do our payroll through a service that calculates taxes and direct deposits the funds, we have to submit the payroll to them on Tuesday for everyone to get paid Friday. Then if you have to pay someone more it’s an extra payroll so an extra fee.
          For the salaried people who do timesheets, I agree, it’s super annoying, but I also have done the billing from those time sheets, so I understand both sides!

          1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

            Oh yeah – I remember quite a few venting sessions from friend when they first started that job because they took over from a person who was very sweet – but not very effective or efficient. The whole system was a mess – made worse by some folks who didn’t want to follow Any standardized system at all and were Shocked! when the new management pushed them all out for cause over a course of five months (also a new CEO who had taken over for the old now retired CEO). The former CEO had protected them from consequences for years – the New CEO, gave chances but then followed the process for getting out people who caused problems for others/other departments (especially payroll).

          2. Anonymosity*

            At my company, if you don’t submit on Friday, you have to fill out a manual timesheet and turn it in on Monday. The threat of that annoyance is usually enough.

            They also send out multiple emails before a holiday so you have no excuse.

          3. Faith the Twilight Slayer*

            Are you my fabulous coworker who sits upstairs? Because I can literally imagine him saying this word for word. If you recognize the phrase “rose gold butterflies” let me know.

    5. Wendy Darling*

      I’ve had multiple jobs where the majority of my work was on client projects and I had to fill out a timesheet for the purposes of client billing and budgeting, but I was salaried/overtime exempt so said timesheet had zero impact on my pay — I got paid the same every pay period no matter what.

      The finance people still had aneurisms if you didn’t submit your timesheet though. One job memorably they started making us turn in our timesheets for the week by end of day Thursday, so we had to fill in our hours for Friday before Friday even happened. We were supposed to submit amended timesheets if we were wrong about Friday but no one ever did — what actually happened was my entire team just stopped tracking time and started guesstimating our timesheets.

      1. Other Alice*

        Oh god yes, my company starts sending reminders to turn in time sheets around Friday noon. I’m salaried and they’re only used to track which projects I’m on, so clients will be billed accordingly. Invariably every time I’ve submitted my time sheets early, something comes up and I have to work on a different project than I planned. I don’t bother to recall the time sheets and fix them, I just change the hours for next week so the totals are fine.

        At least it’s better than when I started, when we had to submit time DAILY. It got changed I assume because everyone in my department was wasting so much time filling and reviewing time sheets.

    6. Jujyfruits*

      Yeah I’m confused too. My employer pays weekly and if we don’t submit by the deadline, we won’t get paid until the next week. They’re not withholding pay, they just have nothing to base it on without a time sheet. It’s all over their policies and onboarding.

      1. scandi*

        They are withholding pay though, if they delay paying beyond the legally stipulated time frame. If the hours were worked, the employer has an obligation to pay you. Policies cannot be in violation of actual laws. They can pay for their best estimate as to the number of hours you worked if you don’t submit the timesheet, but they do have to pay you.

        1. Jujyfruits*

          Wow that is so surprising. I didn’t realize it’s illegal in my state. I haven’t been late submitting my time. I wonder if they’d pay me if I was, but they make it seem like they won’t to get people to submit on time? It’s a national staffing agency so it would be surprising for them to break the law.

          1. fhqwhgads*

            Check your state’s laws. You mentioned being paid weekly, and it’s possible local law might say something like “no more than X days after the work” or “by Xth of the month” or other tricky factors. So it is possible if the normal pay schedule is more frequent than required by law, they could theoretically pay you late but still by the legal deadline. But if the timesheet were never submitted, they can’t just never pay for that period. But the exact threshold is complicated and location-dependent. At least that’s my understanding.

      2. ecnaseener*

        With weekly paychecks, maybe your employer has time to delay by 1 week and still meet your state’s timing requirement.

        1. Slightly Less Evil Bunny*

          According to what Alison wrote (usually worded as “within X weeks of the work being performed”), it can vary by state. So it sounds like paying someone one week late may not actually be illegal if it’s within the guidelines that are set out.

      3. Observer*

        Yeah I’m confused too. My employer pays weekly and if we don’t submit by the deadline, we won’t get paid until the next week. They’re not withholding pay, they just have nothing to base it on without a time sheet. It’s all over their policies and onboarding.

        Doesn’t make it legal. No matter how many policies you have.

        People need to be paid within a certain time frame (check your state for the exact amount of time you have.) And there are no exceptions for people who haven’t submitted their time sheets. You HAVE TO do a good faith reasonable estimate of worked hours.

    7. bamcheeks*

      Yeah, I’m kind of fascinated by this because it’s totally different to how pay works in the UK. We don’t have any laws specifying that you have to be paid within specific time, as far as I know, and “if you don’t submit your timesheet by the 15th, you don’t get paid this month” is a totally normal way of doing things. And I’ve processed timesheets months after the actual time worked.

      1. Irish Teacher*

        Yeah, pretty much the same in Ireland. I am currently correcting the state exams and I have been paid my advance, but…I’m expecting the rest of the pay sometime in September. For work done between late June and late July. And we do get warned that if our paysheet thing is late or not completed properly, there could be a delay in paying us.

        I do think it’s a good law though. People are depending on their pay. I mean, the exam stuff doesn’t matter for most people, as it’s basically bonus pay, but for young teachers who aren’t paid for the summer, it means they have no income at all coming in this month, as they obviously can’t get social welfare while working.

      2. I am Emily's failing memory*

        I don’t know for a fact if this is true, but my gut tells me that the US law is probably a reaction to some case of a past robber baron or abusive corporation that would require very complicated timesheets and then frequently reject a large amount of them over minor errors as an excuse to not pay staff on time with any regularity.

        Like, “oh, you dated the signature line 6/10 but it was actually 6/11, invalid timesheet, no pay this cycle, we’ll get you on the next one!” Or, “oh, you have to stand in line to turn your punch cards in on Friday with a hard cutoff at 5:15, so when the line moves slow a few people at the back might miss the cutoff and won’t get paid that week!”

        It just seems like the kind of thing a creative person who exploits labor would think they were very clever for figuring out how to do, which makes me think it was almost certainly something that has been done by the kind of employer who e.g. locks workers inside a factory so they can’t get out when there’s a fire.

        1. New Jack Karyn*

          The law is definitely a reaction to payroll fuckery on the part of US employers, you’re right. The amount of wage theft is ridiculous.

    8. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Our timesheets for hourly workers are automatically generated based on their clocking, and if they haven’t clocked their normal scheduled hours for a pay period (including any approved PTO, which is on their manager to approve), the extra comes out of their PTO and is listed as “Shortfall”.

      1. Faith the Twilight Slayer*

        Ooohhh as a timesheet chaser I would have loved this policy! You start using people’s PTO and I imagine they’d learn pretty quickly. At least I hope they would.

    9. BubbleTea*

      They presumably know whether or not someone was at work, so the timesheet is more about what they were doing (which project for billable hours etc).

      My ex employed people and had to submit timesheets to payroll before the pay period had finished (stupid confusing policy). The final week of the month was paid based on predicted hours and corrections were made the next month.

      1. Wintermute*

        That’s what trips me up, if your assumptions are correct then yeah it should be easy, but more and more people work flexible hours these days and more and more people work from home. It’s no longer a case where hourly workers are mostly blue collar and people would notice no one is at the bumper bolting station or that the parts desk doesn’t have anyone at it.

        1. doreen*

          Even before remote work, I’ve always had jobs where no one, not the payroll people or even my supervisor would know how many hours I worked without a timesheet/timecard. In one job, the payroll people wouldn’t even know if I took a day or a week off without a timesheet. Requiring employers to pay even without a timesheet being submitted makes sense in a world where most people work in a factory/store/office and the supervisor/manager will know if Betty didn’t come in Tuesday or left two hours early Wednesday. At my jobs my supervisor wouldn’t necessarily know I left two hours early Wednesday – they might possibly know I left at 3 pm Wednesday but they wouldn’t always remember or even know that I left early to make up for the hours I worked on Monday.

          The fact that people had to be paid without submitting timesheets resulted in emails going out that so and so hasn’t submitted their last X timesheets. Sometimes, people would submit them at the point where their direct deposit was going to be cut off – but I knew more than one person who got paid for days/hours they didn’t work and then had that excess pay deducted later. Sometimes they didn’t expect it because they didn’t realize they were out of vacation time.

          1. Observer*

            Requiring employers to pay even without a timesheet being submitted makes sense in a world where most people work in a factory/store/office and the supervisor/manager will know if Betty didn’t come in Tuesday or left two hours early Wednesday

            It also makes sense in a world where your pay can get withheld totally or just for an unreasonably long time if someone does something incorrect. Like one person up-thread noted that if you don’t get your timesheet in on time, you don’t get paid that month. Oops. That may not matter to people who have several months worth of living expenses in the bank. But it DOES matter if you are one of the multitude of people who do NOT have that kind of cushion.

            Remember the letter from the supervisor who was ticked that the company bent over backwards to help out an employee whose payroll had been missed twice? Did you notice how many people pointed out that the at least one reason that the company HAD to do that was because they were *legally required* to do that?

            The law does not require that people are paid the day after they work. Which means that you don’t have to insist on time sheets before the end of the period. But it does require that you find some way to figure it out.

            1. doreen*

              No, the law doesn’t insist that people get paid the day after the work – but it seems to me that it’s possible for there to be a middle ground between “you don’t get paid for a month because you submitted your timesheet at 9 am Thursday instead of by 4 pm Wed” and ” I have to pay you your normal pay even though I don’t know if you did any work and I can’t get in touch with you to find out” ( Which could result from the situation upthread where due to a combination of law, union rules and regulations the employees reported directly to the client and the agency might not know that they quit or were fired by the client.)

    10. Wintermute*

      I’ve always wondered that myself– the law is what the law is but the practicalities always tripped me up. In a context where your boss sees you working or you’d be missed (e.g. a factory job) that’s one t hing, but what about a job where you don’t have set hours or even a set workplace?

    11. Deb*

      Really? Looking at their security camera’s, schedules, calendars, IT data. Asking managers, colleagues, etc.

      The same thing you’d do for an employee who died before they finished their timesheet. Or do you also think it’s “beyond the pale” to pay the deceased’s estate what you owe?

      1. Deb*

        *not beyond the pale not to.

        Double negative is important here, otherwise I’m mischaracterizing what you said.

      2. doreen*

        Cameras , schedules and managers can only tell you so much – and it very much depends on the job. I had jobs where I worked in multiple places , where my supervisor worked three hours away, where the IT information wouldn’t reflect large parts of my work. If I started off doing field work in the morning without stopping at the office and didn’t go back to the office when I had finished, my supervisor might remember that I worked that day but wouldn’t know the exact number of hours.

        It was always a huge problem when people suddenly went out on extended sick leave and their supervisor would have to reconstruct weeks worth of timesheets. But actually, what happened when someone died was that they were paid 7.5 hours a day up until the last day they worked. Because it wasn’t a common occurence.

        1. Daisy-dog*

          You can pay them inaccurately. You can’t not pay them at all. In OP’s example, the employee wasn’t paid for an entire week. But not paying someone for one day when they still get an approximation for the 4 days that they can verify is acceptable.

      3. Heather*

        Launching a full fledged investigation is warranted if someone literally can’t fill out their timesheet anymore (although if someone died I would hope the employer could assume typical hours and not nickel and dime the survivors), but it’s not good use of time for a routine “I just couldn’t be bothered to submit it on time” which with some people happens frequently. Letting it slide to the next pay cycle is a natural enough consequence in that case imo…

        1. Emmy Noether*

          yeah, spending hours to review security footage because someone didn’t spend 10 minutes filling out their sheet seems… inefficient, to say the least (and what about people who work from home? Very little data to base anything on).

          I don’t know what the solution is if the pay amount is based on the time sheets, because withholding pay also seems wrong… Possibly standing next to them or calling them until it’s filled out – still more efficient than an investigation. Or else change the system to one where employees have to (virtually) badge in/out in real time when they start and stop working, at least that way one gets total hours worked.

        2. hbc*

          But it’s an illegal natural consequence, so you go with something else. Like taking all their time as PTO if they don’t submit a timesheet, and maybe they even forfeit some of that PTO permanently even after they submit a correction. And/or making it impossible for a person who’s late submitting a timesheet more than once a year to get the highest review and raise. And/or making the timeliness of direct reports’ paperwork a metric for assessing their manager.

          There are other ways to make the timesheet a priority for an employee.

        3. Observer*

          Letting it slide to the next pay cycle is a natural enough consequence in that case imo…

          Which is not going to fly if the next pay period is far enough away. The law doesn’t care WHY you are penalizing people. You are not allowed to do it.

          Which is one reason I think many companies use 2 week rather than monthly payroll – in many states, that gives them some wiggle room, whereas missing a monthly payroll and not paying till the next month will almost certainly be illegal.

      4. Burr... it's cold in here!*

        In my previous employment, I oversaw a program that had 150+ employees who worked in clients’ homes. Due to the weirdness of state laws, union requirements, and regulations, the clients set the hours the employee was working, the employee reported directly to the client if they couldn’t work or were going on vacation (as opposed to the agency), and the only notification that the agency ever got that an employee was not working was that there were not hours billed on a time sheet. Sometimes, clients fired employees or employees quit and did not tell us so we could even be unaware that an employee was actually no longer working for us.
        If we did not get time sheets, because they were all paper time sheets, then we would attempt to contact the employee and the client. If we didn’t hear back from either of them (Which happened regularly), we genuinely had no idea how much to pay the person. Some people worked the same hours all the time, but others’ hours could vary significantly.

        It was incredibly frustrating. I had to point out to a number of employees that we shouldn’t have to work this hard to try to give them money for their time. I believe now all time sheets are electronic and employees clock in on their phones at the start of each shift. So much easier!

    12. LW5*

      The staff in question and the majority of our staff are all salaried exempt workers and correctly categorized as such – their hours have no bearing on their regular pay.

      This is confusing, I know, to people who are either salaried and don’t track their time or hourly and obviously do. Consulting and law firms and probably one or two other industries like hours are built on the general concept of “time and materials” – we charge our clients directly for the hours and part hours we work on specific projects for them which are spelled out in each contract for each client – what we’re doing, what we are specifically NOT going to do, what the budget is and what we’ll do if we may need to exceed it (which is always to get authorization in writing to do so). So it is a Really Big Deal to know weekly what Person A worked on – X hours for Project 1 (and often which tasks), etc. But if I sent Person A to a conference or training all week, they wouldn’t bill hours to clients (some other code), but they’d still get paid the same!

      I’m going to leave another comment about how the industry works and how timesheets have been managed various places on its own thread.

      1. M*

        This is how it works for me in consulting and I have been made aware that more than 2 late timesheets a year will affect my performance review. Definitely makes it a priority. But not paying me if I was late submitting is not going to fly here in Canada either.

      2. Observer*

        The staff in question and the majority of our staff are all salaried exempt workers and correctly categorized as such – their hours have no bearing on their regular pay.

        Then it’s not only illegal (because it’s illegal regardless of whether the timesheets affect their pay), but just a jerk power move.

        1. LW5*

          A little, maybe, but I see it based on my experienced here as a desperate threat from an overworked finance office that just didn’t know they shouldn’t do that. So not only do we need to halt that, we need to give them better tools.

          1. Faith the Twilight Slayer*

            I saw up thread about a workplace that used a person’s PTO to make up for hours not recorded in a pay period. I bet folks would pay better attention if they knew they’d be losing PTO. I get that your finance department shouldn’t have done it, no question. But it speaks to a larger issue, which is: one department has to beg, borrow, and (literally) steal in order to do WHAT THEIR JOB IS.

            In my opinion, timesheets are something that are routine, and a requirement of my job, so I do it. No one should be surprised when timesheets are due. No one has had timesheet due dates crazily switched up on them. No one has been actively prevented from filling out a timesheet. You do it because you’re supposed to, and it’s not like it’s a difficult task.

            People will disagree with me, but not doing this simple thing speaks to a lack of respect for others in the workplace (I also have a sliding scale on how this speaks to a particular person’s work overall and I am rarely wrong). Your information is needed for them to do their job. Just as reports are due, presentations are due, billing is due, timesheets are due as well. Unfortunately, management seems to sometimes not see it this way, and no one ever receives consequences for messing with payroll. Because it’s just payroll, right? But your (as in the collective “your” and not you, OP) apathy towards your timesheet is screwing with someone else’s ability to do their job. Which affects their ability to make a living. Don’t be that horrible timesheet person. Finance never forgives, and we never forget.

            1. LW5*

              You are 100% right but the problem is that some folks learn bad habits or have different expectations and after years in the business struggle to change them. Telling them “just do it” doesn’t really solve the problem even if it does set them up for further penalty. People KNOW and they still seem to struggle with it. As consultants, especially PMs, I don’t see anyone around me that’s ever apathetic but some view the problem as unavoidable.

              The PTO thing only flew at that company because you could make timesheet adjustments weeks later if you really had to and certainly the following week (strongly discouraged the week prior to invoicing). When you discovered that you’d been “docked” a bunch of PTO you filled out your timesheet right the following week and backed it out. Can’t do that here.

    13. Also-ADHD*

      It likely depends on whether there is a legal argument the company could know the hours worked some other way in terms of the timely aspect, but they also can’t not accept late time sheets and pay the employees back in a timely manner if they truly had no way of knowing.

    14. Generic Name*

      I’d love to know what the best practices for this are. My small consulting company has the same problem, and they seem to resort to frantically calling, sending emails (some with memes). It was really bad when one employee was having a medical crisis but apparently didn’t tell anyone, so she hadn’t filled out her time sheet for 2 weeks, and hadn’t told her boss she was sick, and she wasn’t answering anyone’s emails, calls, or texts.

      1. Daisy-dog*

        So in my experience, we would terminate with the reason “Job Abandonment”. (After exhausting all methods of contact including a wellness visit from local police/etc. if feels appropriate for the individual and area.) However, once the employee resurfaced, we would consider reinstating her once more details of the situation were shared.

    15. Jinni*

      If it’s consulting, the time sheets are unrelated to time worked. In most consulting firms and law firms they use carrot and stick tactics to get timesheets in to get CLIENTS to pay. The employees are usually exempt (though bonuses are sometimes part of the carrots), so pay is not related. However, I have seen partners draw held when timesheets aren’t turned in. But they aren’t employees.

    16. Daisy-dog*

      For hourly employees, it’s pretty rare that there isn’t a system with a partial timesheet somewhere. It’s usually just a couple missing punches that have to be filled in. I have worked with an employee who did work a truly random schedule – including occasional 12-hour days and Sundays (not normal for the role) – but I always had most of his timecard available and could ask him what was missing or make approximations. If there is an entire missing week (and no record of PTO scheduled or termination), then they get paid what their average weekly amount is.

    17. Mystik Spiral*

      Exactly. And as a payroll professional I will say JUST TURN IN YOUR TIMESHEET!!! It is SO frustrating to chase them down and knowing you have NO recourse if they don’t is frankly infuriating. Yes we can guess how you are supposed to be paid, but then inevitably it will need to be fixed later. It’s a pain. It takes literal seconds to turn in a timecard, unless you work for many different jobs and cost codes, in which case, fill it out as the week progresses. Come on.

    18. Garblesnark*

      yeah, me too. I used to do payroll for a staffing service, and if employees didn’t turn in a timesheet, or answer my call, text, and/or email asking whether they worked, or communicate with the billing team that the client had scheduled them, I had no way to know they’d even gone to work. there has to be *some* level of employee responsibility to communicate work hours. It’s minimal! but it exists.

  10. goddessoftransitory*

    LW2, this is a very, very common “hiring” method used in a lot of big box retailers like Target, Walmart, etc.; you go in to fill out an application and suddenly you and ten other people are being handed schedules and badges. The idea is that if management skips over any actual hiring interview you can’t negotiate pay rates, PTO, and so on. Barbara Eherenrich went into the practice in her fantastic book Nickel and Dimed.

    1. Tinkerbell*

      Also you don’t have anything on paper (on your end) to point to later if they break labor practices – they can say “oh, we don’t provide lunch breaks” (if your state doesn’t mandate them) or “forget” that they said you could have Saturdays off and even if they were promised verbally, there’s not much you can do.

    2. Mister_L*

      My first job (unironically) had a poster on the wall saying: “The art of HR management is pulling the employees over the table so fast that they mistake the heat from the friction for the warmth of the nest.”

    3. LifeBeforeCorona*

      Yes, I went to an interview like that. My resume was barely glanced at and I was handed onboard paperwork after a few general questions. I left and realized that I had been hired and that I didn’t want the job because of this and several other red flags. When I called back to decline it was impossible to navigate the phone system and find someone to speak with since the person who interviewed me never gave me their name. I ended up ghosting them but not by choice.

    4. doreen*

      I’m not going to say that it’s not a common practice among big box retailers – but it’s not to avoid negotiating pay rates , PTO etc. I’ve had plenty of jobs where they didn’t negotiate pay rates or PTO or schedules or anything else – and they still interviewed people and actually told people they were hired rather than calling them 24 hours later and simply asking them to work. At the least , they would call and say ” You’re hired – you start tomorrow at 4″. It absolutely happens that they don’t actually “offer” you the job because they assume that you will take it if you are hired – but that’s not the same as giving the first ten people who show up badges and schedules.

    5. Former Red and Khaki*

      Uh, unless Target is wildly different in other states/areas (and to be fair, I only worked in MN stores, which is where Target originated, so maybe the standards are higher) – we absolutely did NOT hire anyone on the spot like that, and we definitely didn’t throw people into work without at least SOME training. We had a two step hiring process – you were first interviewed by a team lead, and if they liked you, you moved on to a second interview with an executive team lead that same day if they were available. If you were hired, you did paperwork with HR, and then you came in to do the initial training with HR where they show you the safety videos and all that, and then there was a two week training schedule where you shadowed your team lead or other coworkers. I don’t doubt that other big box retailers do that kind of thing, though.

      1. You can call*

        I agree. I worked a Target, of course this was 15 years ago, and my experience was similar to yours. We definitely had training, and I had to formally accept the offer before they started scheduling me.

    6. A Poster Has No Name*

      I wouldn’t say it’s common among big-box retailers. I got a second job at Target a few years ago and I had an actual interview. I was told I was hired at the end of it, given the starting pay rate and told I would get a call from HR to schedule orientation if I accepted the offer. I don’t know if I could have negotiated anything, but it was a part-time seasonal job so I knew going in that negotiation wasn’t really going to be a thing.

      During orientation we got a store tour, got some basic first-day training, filled out the paperwork, brought IDs, etc. etc. and got our training schedule.

      Handing people schedules & badges without at least having people fill out paperwork for taxes and ID verification and whatnot would be pretty foolish for a big company that would be more likely attract the attention of regulators if they were skipping those formalities.

    7. Cherries Jubilee*

      That happened to me interviewing for a kitchen job at a nursing home (not a nicely run one, thankfully now defunct). The “interview” was actually a tour /orientation, and at the end she was just like “so see you tomorrow!”

      I found out months later (in my last week; it was a summer job) that I was supposed to have had blood borne pathogens training, dementia training… all kinds of things. Got nothin.

    8. Malarkey01*

      Honestly I think it’s very common in all the minimum wage, high turnover, shift work jobs (those that used to be thought of as “high school jobs” even though they weren’t just high schoolers). When I hired for fast food and movie theaters a lot of time the interview was “does this person seem like they could show up to work, not steal, and not be a disaster”. If it was a yes you were getting minimum wage and. I benefits and put on the schedule so there was no offer extended (other than can you start on Thursday?)

  11. GythaOgden*

    Yup. I know the frustration of gastric distress (although it manifests in indigestion more than anything else — I had to make a pitstop at the newsagent yesterday for something to quieten down an angry stomach and even bought some throat lozenges for the aftermath of reflux) but I agree with Alison. Being ill doesn’t exempt you from taking a moment to clean up.

    I was sick in a taxi once on the way home from work while ill. I had a raging migraine and wasn’t drunk, but I was racing my stomach home and thought a taxi would give me the edge. Alas, after an hour of being jostled about in a train, I didn’t make it and had to pay the £50 cleaning fee — the guy was sorry for me, but he couldn’t work for the rest of the day because he needed to clean the taxi. It was so, so embarrassing, and the migraine had been triggered by lots of angry tears at my husband’s dire condition (on my current meds I’ve traded easier solutions to migraines for getting them when I get angry-upset) buuuuut…the consequences of such illnesses are what they are. (This is also why with headaches I prefer to pop a few paracetamol and stay at work. Home is an hour and a half away at best depending on the trains and bus connections and so leaving work early is the absolute last resort.)

    Things happen, and it’s no fun and nobody’s fault, but it is respectful to other people that we deal with the issue ourselves and not leave it for others. Just remember, I think, that we’re not the only one going through issues, internal or external or both. We’re the centre of our own world, but not of others, and communal environments need a bit of TLC because however bad your day might be, there might be someone else having it even worse.

    1. coffee*

      I did see a suggestion from someone once that you can buy “emesis bags”, which are basically a bag designed for throwing up in and then throwing out. I had never heard of them but they do seem convenient for nausea-on-the-go.

      (I wound up not needing them, so I don’t know how well they worked, or whether they’d be of any use to you. But I’ve never heard of them before or since, so I just wanted to mention it in case you also hadn’t heard of them but might find them useful.)

        1. Generic Name*

          Not quite. It’s a plastic bag shaped like a tube with a rigid plastic ring at the top.

          1. I Have RBF*

            Yep. We keep them around my house because my spouse has reflux and also gets carsick. Tidy and disposable.

          2. kitryan*

            Yeah, I have a few that I was given at an ER visit a couple years ago, that I held onto, because they seemed so fit for purpose.
            They’re handy to have by the bed, just in case, when you’re feeling a bit ick, or to tuck in a bag if you’ve a tendency to motion sickness or whatever. They take up about the same amount of space as a ziplock and are easy to aim into because of the top ring and easy to close up and dispose of.

      1. Bit o' Brit*

        While I’ve not ever used them for this purpose, since getting a dog I just carry a roll of dog waste bags everywhere. Compact, water/muck-proof, good capacity, they’re surprisingly useful to have on hand.

        1. umami*

          I also suffer from migraines and carry these! I always have one or two in my car lined with a paper towel in case I’m feeling poorly and end up stuck in traffic, sadly based on a real experience :(

        2. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

          Yep, I have a pocket that has a roll of dog waste bags and a little bottle of hand sanitizer. Useful for the obvious, also handy whenever you have anything gross and/or wet come into your life unexpectedly. Before we had more clarity on fomites versus aerosols for covid, I’d also use one inside-out for things like touching an ATM, then re-use it for the intended purpose with the already-potentially-contaminated inside touching the dog waste.

      2. Heather*

        yes, I’m a nurse and these are in every hospital room. But you can buy them at CVS! They’re a plastic bag attached to a collapsible ring that holds it open. You can stash them in your purse/briefcase.

        1. GythaOgden*

          Replying to everyone on this thread at once but these all sound like good ideas. My handbag is like a TARDIS (no joke, I’ve found umbrellas in there I never knew I still had) so I’m thinking that I have compostable bags which would do just the trick and fit the bag. It’ll help things go down better and not add any more single-use bags to the waste-heap.

        2. Panicked*

          Or car! The last time we were in the ER, I asked to take a few for the puke-y kid I was transporting back home. They gave me an entire stack and told me “Put them in your purse, your car, your backpack, your work bag, literally everywhere.” They have saved me countless times. (The joys of having a kid with chronic vomiting!)

    2. Emmy Noether*

      I just want to say, off topic, I’m sorry for your and your husband’s conditions, and your onerous commute. That’s a lot to handle! Wishing you all the best.

      1. GythaOgden*

        Thanks. Hubby passed away four years ago next month. The commute sucks but I love where I work and the people I work with, and the job might (cross fingers) be changing slightly to get me something crunchier to do as well as a couple of WFH days, which would be awesome.

        But yeah, it’s been a rough few years. The only saving grace is that hubby didn’t live to see the pandemic. It would have driven him stir-crazy, and additionally if COVID hadn’t carried him off, I know several people who died simply because it wasn’t safe for them to be taken in to hospital during lockdown, and he might have been one of those unlucky ones. He’s at peace, though, we had a memorial cricket match on Friday and raised a lot of money for his hospice (and it was the only day that week it didn’t rain) and things are slowly coming together for me. I’m grateful to a lot of people here at AAM for helping me think more constructively about my future.

        1. Relentlessly Socratic*

          One of my dearest friends (here in the US) is a hospice nurse, and I teared up at your mention of a memorial cricket match and donation to hub’s hospice. Sending much love to you over the InterWebs.

          1. GythaOgden*

            Say thank you to your friend from me. I would move heaven and earth to support hospices. They do a lot for people beforehand as well, and they are an oasis of peace and calm in what can be a Byzantine and chaotic health system over here at least.

            I went for an interview with a local medical equipment service the other week and I was evidently one of very few candidates and had been pulled because of my health service experience. It would have been great service to others since hubby and I have both benefited from their assistance. While I couldn’t have taken the job — they were dealing with so much workload that they needed someone who didn’t have a traumatic background with the situations at hand and it was actually better for their employees to be somewhat removed from the situation — it cemented my desire to continue working within public healthcare myself. Luckily my regional manager has come back with a plan to keep me working with the people I know and love but give me a bit more to do in terms of admin and potentially allow me to go full time and hybrid, which would really help me stay where I feel valued and where I can make a difference.

            From this thread as well, I’ve got the message that Facilities is a valuable but undervalued part of any kind of workplace. It actually made me want to stay in it because it’s crucial to the people getting things done who don’t see what we do to keep things pleasant and safe but complain loudly if we don’t. All people are asking here is to for them pick up after themselves a bit. It would make our jobs easier and more pleasant (the cleaners can spend their time on places that need deeper and more thorough cleaning rather than scraping crusty toilets) and the environment just that little bit better for everyone else.

  12. Observer*

    #1- Therapy

    I see that others have commented on how out of line your supervisor is. And also that you clinical supervision should be separate from your management.

    But also, your manager / clinical supervisor is actually NOT analyzing you. What is doing is using clinical / therapy language to try to bamboozle you. With your first examples I *might* have been able to buy “inappropriate analysis”. But then we get to your last incident where she used that language specifically to get you to forgo a totally standard workplace process. That’s not “therapy” or “analysis”. That’s flat out manipulation.

    I’m not sure I would trust her as a clinical supervisor, to be honest. She may know her stuff, but her ethics are out the window.

    1. Mainly Lurking (UK)*

      I agree, and I think OP might find it worthwhile to spend some time thinking about what has actually been happening in their clinical supervision sessions and whether any red flags start to pop up.

    2. The answer is (probably) 42*

      Also I would see if you could bring this up to a supervisory board or something of that nature. Can therapists be disbarred like lawyers?

    3. Wintermute*

      I’m with you here, it’s not therapy, because the point is not a maladaptive or discomforting behavior that they are trying to help you resolve. They are trying to resolve THEIR OWN discomfort with a situation by therapy-ing at you.

      It isn’t a formal violation (no patient relationship exists) but it is a violation in principle of the most major ethical foundation of all medicine especially mental health: “medicine is practiced for the benefit of the patient”

    4. Irish Teacher*

      Agreed. As I said elsewhere in a comment in moderation, it would also be problematic if she told a person who was concerned their partner might be cheating on them to, “use your knowledge of your partner and trust him/her to honor this, let that guide you, not your fear of being cheated on.”

      She is basically saying, “don’t establish boundaries. Just trust the other person is perfect and do what they want, assuming they must have good reasons for any poor behaviour.”

      That is…extremely bad therapy and is basically a formula for teaching people to tolerate abuse or other poor behaviour. I am not saying she is abusive, but following that logic to its extreme would allow her to abuse with impunity if she wished to do so.

        1. Paulina*

          And OP’s only been working there for two months. The knowledge of their supervisor that they’re supposed to be basing this “trust” on is not nearly as extensive as it would need to be for that level of trust. (Especially since the organization has a track record that actually leads to less trust.) I’m reminded of Kaa singing “Trust in Me”.

      1. Observer*

        I am not saying she is abusive, but following that logic to its extreme would allow her to abuse with impunity if she wished to do so.

        Except that she actually IS being abusive. She’s trying to get the OP to agree to things, and not put things in writing that SHOULD be in writing. And given that the place wanted the OP to commit before funding for the position was secured, the OP has reason to worry.

    5. Keymaster of Gozer*

      It’s like the abusive people who go to couple’s therapy and come out with a whole NEW set of ways to mess with their partner’s head. A little knowledge can be very dangerous and while I’m not saying OP’s boss is abusive IRL she’s certainly starting to have similar wording.

      (My ex was a MASTER at getting me to disbelieve my own feelings)

  13. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

    #3 Part of basic adulting is consideration for others in shared spaces.

    Very few places will have a professional cleaner lurking ft in the loo to scrub off skidmarks – or to clean pee off seats – after each individual user.

    However, everywhere I’ve worked (several European countries) and every gym I’ve used had a loo brush in each loo cubicle. I’d escalate up the chain (:D) if missing, as obviously people can’t otherwise clean up after themselves.

    1. Tommy Girl*

      Why do a few skid marks bother you? Pee on the seat I get, that could touch you, and adults shouldn’t pee on the seats, but a few brown streaks far away from you? You really expect non cleaners to scrub those? That’s gross!

      1. GythaOgden*

        Put it this way: why is it gross to clean up your own mess, but not gross for someone else to use a toilet with your mess still clinging to the bowl.

        It takes ten seconds. Just do it.

        1. Higgs Bison*

          It’s gross to transfer a poopy brush that hasn’t also touched sanitizer out of the bowl to drip everywhere. It’s no grosser to me to see a skid mark than to see a diaper or tampon in the trash. It’s where it belongs. (A non-flush is different, like an overflowing trash can. That’s a case of “take care of your mess.”)

          1. Cat Tree*

            Fully agree, and that’s a great analogy with similar things in the trash (which I also don’t touch).

          2. Emmy Noether*

            Nah, taking out the trash would be analogous to emptying out the septic tank (where there is one). Skid marks are analogous to leaving drips/crumbs of what you threw away on the trashcan lid or side (foot-pedal operated trashcan so you don’t have to touch the lid, still gross).

            The only difference between a skid mark and a whole unflushed turd is quantity. If where the poo belongs is in the toilet and that’s sufficiently taken care of, I don’t need to flush either.

          3. Expelliarmus*

            Yeah, if I ever use a toilet brush (not at work because I’ve never seen them available there), I use cleaner with it; the idea of using the brush without cleaner doesn’t sit right with me. As much as I don’t like frivolous flushing, I’ll happily do that instead of use a toilet brush without cleaner.

            1. My Useless 2 Cents*

              I know I’m more grossed out about touching the brush and what the brush may be leaving in it’s wake then the sight of a little poop in the bowl.

              I’ve yet to discover the secret of getting the brush from the bowl to it’s stand/container without some dripping of dirty water. Although I’ve recently heard a trick, leave the brushing for last, then put the brush between the bowl and the seat to air dry. But that would only work if you could guarantee no one would need to use the toilet for 20-30 min and then you would have to go back to the bathroom to put the brush in it’s stand, so not a good solution for work.

              1. Expelliarmus*

                Yeah, if we need to clean toilets outside of our homes, there needs to be a good strategy for not dripping brush water that doesn’t involve putting a toilet out of commission for half an hour.

          4. rebelwithmouseyhair*

            You clean the brush as well!
            Thing is, once there are skid marks, people will feel entitled to leave other dirt or mess there. When the place is pristine, nobody dares make a mess, but once there are a few marks, people don’t bother to clean up after themselves.
            We have two toilets in our house. I only use one of them, and clean it every time. I use product only when the dirt doesn’t shift with a quick scrub. Everyone leaves that toilet perfectly clean.
            Only my partner uses the other one, and he leaves it dirty. If others start using it too, it’s soon utterly filthy and nobody wants to use it any more.
            Also, I’ve noticed that people systematically prefer to use the cleaner toilet. Once I’ve explained that I never clean the upstairs toilet simply because I never use it, everyone stops using that toilet. So those who claim that the skid marks don’t matter are actually being rather hypocritical.

      2. Allonge*

        Perhaps people are bothered by them becasue they are in fact, gross, not the cleaning them up?

      3. Falling Diphthong*

        Genuinely head scratching that to clean them would be grosser than to just carry on with them as decor.

        1. Gyne*

          Right, how is it “gross” to clean something but “not gross” to leave that exact thing out for someone else to clean?

          1. metadata minion*

            To me, poop belongs in the toilet. If I’m using a toilet brush without any sort of bleach or other sanitizer, there is now poop on the brush, which I’m then removing from the toilet without any way to clean the brush itself.

            1. Burger Bob*

              This. I am absolutely boggled by the revelation that so many people are apparently regularly using a toilet brush WITHOUT any kind of disinfectant involved and just….putting it back, outside of the toilet. That is bizarre. Never have I ever used a toilet brush sans cleaning chemicals, and I never will unless some truly strange emergency compels it. Poop streaks confined to a toilet bowl are not that emergency.

    2. CityMouse*

      I have never worked anywhere with a toilet brush in the stall (includes US and a couple EU countries). Most of my workplaces have been large places with 5+ stalls in each bathroom.

      1. doreen*

        I’ve never seen them in that sort of restroom – but I do see them in single toilet rooms

      2. TX_trucker*

        My company has multiple offices across Texas. The large offices with 50+ employees have no toilet brushes. But the small offices with a single toilet have all sorts of supplies in the restroom: toilet brush, plunger, lysol, etc. Our big offices have daily janitorial service, and some even have twice daily service. But our small offices with employees in the single digits only receive weekly janitorial service. And in those offices, I fully expect staff to clean up after themselves.

    3. Helvetica*

      Was going to say the same – the brushes are always there, and most places already have a similar sign as well. Don’t consider it particularly offensive or outrageous to ask such things.

    4. Cherries Jubilee*

      Another part of adulting is realizing that your cultural expectations are not universal. It’s not expected anywhere I’ve been to use a toilet brush a) anywhere but your own home, b) more than once a week or so during the routine bathroom clean, and c) especially at work? I think others have nailed it about US toilets having so much water that visible residue is minor/rare/ goes away after a couple flushes. But also, unless you totally exploded, seeing minor poo marks just is not weird?

      Like a lot of people are saying “it only takes 15 seconds.” But it also only takes… literally ever once hearing someone expect such a thing. Which about half of us here clearly haven’t.

      1. Pescadero*

        “Another part of adulting is realizing that your cultural expectations are not universal.”


        I really wonder how the “brush the bowl after every use because I can’t see streaks” folks would deal in Mexico – where you can’t flush toilet paper, and your poo paper just goes in the regular trash can in the bathroom.

    5. GythaOgden*

      One other thing — it’s not the best use of a cleaner’s time either. They’re paid to do deeper things than clean up messes that other people are too dainty to touch. I work side by side with both cleaners and maintenance and they’re there to do the really horrible stuff that involves chemicals and tools and drill bits and really gungey crap and sanitising the clinic after a long day of use (people wipe up after each use, use paper runners on the beds etc but if they’re seeing people back to back there’s not much time to deep clean after everyone).

      It’s like leaving the sink full of dirty dishes when you get a cleaner coming to your home. While cleaners clean, it’s better for you and your own household bottom line to be scrupulous about allowing them to do their job by doing your own basic stuff first. Businesses are no different — if everyone left skid marks on the toilets in our building, that’s quite a lot of work that the cleaners are doing even to get to the more intense cleaning that toilets in regular use need and that they really are better off doing.

      People are very good about things like climate change or broader social justice when they’re things that maybe we as individuals can’t change but need to talk about and work as a collective towards. However, they seem to have a blind spot when it comes to their own immediate environment and how it impacts others who work alongside them. If we all picked up after ourselves, the people who are trained to go deeper don’t have to waste time doing that, and we don’t get angry people coming to reception to complain that someone left the toilet in a mess.

      If we all did our bit individually, the world would be in a much better shape than it currently is. But if people simply refuse to accept that responsibility, humanity has zero hope on anything that poses a real existential threat. They say charity begins at home — and so do things like environmental issues.

  14. Santiago*

    I wonder if it’s worth just expressing directly: “We are both mentor-mentee and employer-employee. While I appreciate your expertise as a mentor, XYZ is standard business practice in our secondary relationship. When can/can you ACTION REQUESTED”

    The other thing is a lot of times admins run the show, and people in these introspective professions may not really work with the nuts and bolts of things. If there is someone who is administrative, consider working with them directly and just side stepping this boss. (If they have external grant funding, then they should be big enough to have some sort of admin support I would gander, but obviously, we don’t know.)

  15. Tommy Girl*

    I bet the people that are advocating for scrubbing toilets every time you use them overlap heavily with the people who think people (and esp women) shouldn’t poop in a public bathroom. Just saying. Bodily functions happen. A little skid mark far away in the toilet isn’t weird or horrible. To me, what would be horrible would be to be forced to clean public bathrooms, sans gloves, with communal toilet brushes, in my nice work clothes, while I’m just trying to get my own work done.

    1. Tommy Girl*

      Also, one task in one of my first jobs was plunging and cleaning waterpark toilets. Which I propose are some of the grossest you could do. So I’m not above it all, but I just need to be in the right gear, and be able to properly clean myself afterwards.

      1. Jujyfruits*

        I agree with you. I’ve also never worked somewhere with a communal toilet brush and what would I even clean with in that case? No thanks, leave it to the person with the right tools!

    2. Emmy Noether*

      Nah, I will happily poop anywhere, and don’t mind people in the next stall pooping at the same time also. Just please remove your poop completely once you’re done. Skid marks are disgusting, and stinky. By your logic, why even flush? That sprays much more.

      1. GythaOgden*

        I can see the issue with there being no brush, but maybe if people raised the issue with Facilities then it might get sorted. The posh one I have at home cost £10 (it has silicone spikes rather than the normal synthetic bristles and is easier to clean; I bought it after a blockage necessitated me getting inside the loo with a plumber’s snake and seeing exactly what was down there that wasn’t being swallowed up by the abyssal maw) but an ordinary one can probably be bought for a few dollars at retail and less wholesale. Cross fingers but I’m being trained on purchase orders at the end of the summer and it would be my job to provide the equipment that can be used by others to do the basic things that make the office just a little more pleasant for everyone to be in.

        Aside from that, simply existing in a communal environment, as we know from countless posts here, can be frustrating. When other people have loud music or eat smelly foods, that’s their issue and we’re always advising people to use their words. Our toilets at work have signs up with the usual cheesy rhyme. But this too is something that — in the OP — other people (who presumably didn’t want to be doing it or weren’t being paid for it or were wearing their nice clothes or whatever) were having to clean up, and it’s heavily implied that there is a brush in their office. So not sure what the issue is with the actual advice Alison gave.

        TLDR: if there is a brush, there’s no reason not to use it.

        1. Jackalope*

          Your specific use of vocabulary here makes me think you’re in the UK. In the US it tends to work differently than in Europe (as someone who has lived and worked in both the US and in Europe, and has travelled in multiple other European countries). US toilets are shaped differently and have a different flush pattern, so skid marks are more likely to end up underwater and to go away within a flush or two. And none of my US jobs have involved a bathroom with a toilet brush; I could totally imagine that in a small office with a one-stall bathroom but I’ve always worked at larger employers than that. At least in the parts of the US where I’ve worked, it’s truly considered something that professional janitorial staff should handle and not something that regular employees will deal with, but it’s also a rarer issue because of the angle of the toilets and such.

    3. CityMouse*

      I’m going to come out and controversially say I find it gross to use a toilet brush to immediately clean skidmarks off a toilet. It means your toilet brush is likely to end up a lot poopier when most time those skidmarks will just flush away with the next use. I just find the idea of getting tons of poop on the toilet brush unnecessarily a bit gross. For messes that are stuck on and won’t flush, sure. But using it every time you poop seems like unnecessarily creating another mess (on the brush) that’s much harder to clean.

      1. bamcheeks*

        yeah, I find it interesting that there’s absolutely no quarter given for this point of view! I can sympathise with the people who apparently absolutely hate seeing poo marks on the toilet bowl, but personally that’s WAY less gross to me than a brush permanently sat by the toilet which is literally covered in poo and dripping pooey water!

      2. Lisa Vanderpump*

        If it will flush away with the next flush, then maybe OP should flush twice.

        1. CityMouse*

          Sometimes it has to “soak” more or less. It won’t flush immediately but it’ll flush in like 5 minutes.

          I also think flushing multiple times to remove skidmarks is wasteful.

      3. Cat Tree*

        Yeah, a communal toilet brush is far grosser than skid marks in a place that will never contact my skin. I’m not touching that brush and I’m not gonna drip from a marinating brush onto the floor.

      4. ecnaseener*

        I agree! Unless there’s also some toilet bowl cleaner with the brush, you’re just wiping directly at the poop and rinsing it in the standing water, and then leaving it out for hours/days/until a custodian comes by to clean the brush?? I sure hope y’all aren’t doing that at home where your toothbrushes are!

      5. Burger Bob*

        Agreed. I’m pretty baffled by this concept of scrubbing poop with a brush and no disinfectant and then returning said brush to its place outside the toilet bowl. That’s just gross. I don’t want poop smeared on my toilet brush at all, but especially not if it’s not getting soaked in something sanitizing in the process.

    4. Hrodvitnir*

      Wow. You are most emphatically wrong. But it interesting to know the viewpoint of people who do not clean up after themselves.

    5. Empress Ki*

      It’s only basic cleaning after yourself. We don’t need gloves to hold the brush, no more than we need gloves to flush the toilets. Washing hands after using the toilets will do the work.

      1. Pescadero*

        I think it’s been 20 years since I worked somewhere you had to touch a toilet to flush it… and I’d guess ~80% of the public bathrooms I use are also automated flush – for precisely the reason that touching a toilet is unsanitary.

        1. Empress Ki*

          I live in Europe. I very rarely see an automated flush. But anyway, washing hands solves the problem.

    6. M. from P.*

      Nope, that’s not true.
      There seems to be quite a divide on this but I think it’s more along the lines of how we were raised/ taught as children and young adults. Nothing to do with the presence or absence of intestinal issues or whether we use the public bathroom for number twos.
      Where I come from it’s considered rude and gross not to swipe the bowl after yourself if you’ve left a skid mark and there are toilet brushes in each stall. I even use the brush in the work bathroom if there are skidmarks from a previous user since I don’t want a colleague using the bathroom immediately after me to think I am the person who didn’t clean after themselves. It does take ten seconds and does not cause any splashing if you do it gently. I usually use a bit of toilet paper around my hand to avoid touching the handle (same as with flushing). Then I wash my hands and open the door with a paper towel.
      I have lived in two EU countries and visited several more.
      Interesting thread to be sure!

    7. Falling Diphthong*

      It’s not every time you use the toilet. It’s every time the flush didn’t handle clearing the toilet.

    8. hbc*

      I poop in whatever bathroom is nearest when I feel the urge, which has been plenty of times at work and other public places. I also clean 100% of the time if there is a brush provided and I have left any deposit above the water line. Since it’s all still wet, it just takes a quick swipe with the brush, and it looks good as new.

      I mean, I wouldn’t leave a toilet bowl looking like a Jackson Pollock painting if I was a guest in someone’s home, so why should I leave it like that for Mary in Accounting?

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          I sincerely do not think it’s limited to that.

          Certainly as a “humans using shared spaces” thing, it is not the case that excrement never hits above the water line.

      1. Higgs Bison*

        It “looks good as new” without a chemical cleaner the same way that a kitchen counter “looks good as new” when you use a paper towel to wipe up the raw chicken juice.

        1. Burger Bob*

          THIS. And what’s more, it would be like you then place that paper towel in some sort of standing receptacle to drip dry until you use it again later???? Like these people saying to use a toilet brush, apparently with just water, are not also saying you then immediately throw the brush away, so…..yeah, I’m not into it.

    9. Marillenbaum*

      You seem really invested in the idea that taking 10-15 seconds to wipe something up is an unreasonable ask (and now, apparently, antifeminist?)–it isn’t. If a brush is available (not a guarantee), and if there is a stain, it is good practice to give it a quick little scrub and a second flush. If that grosses you out, wrap the handle with extra paper and scrub your hands thoroughly afterwards, but other people are not excessively delicate little flowers for wanting the space to be as clean after you used it as it was before.

    10. rebelwithmouseyhair*

      Why do you need gloves? Don’t you wash your hands after a visit to the toilet?

  16. wbw*

    OP2: Not quite the same thing, but if it is indeed retail, this reminded me of in college when I interviewed for a seasonal job at Gap when I was home for the holiday and they offered me the job. I went in to fill out paperwork and make it official, did so, and then the manager working with me on the paperwork said “cool, it’s pretty busy, so uh, there are the walkies over there, grab one, why don’t you start by working the front of the store?”

    Had truly no idea I would be expected to work, and more than that, had absolutely zero idea how to do the job but I grabbed a walkie and went to the front and then like… pretended to work at the Gap for a few hours because I had no idea what else I was supposed to do.

    So I guess add to the anecdote pile of: Retail’s weird sometimes!

    1. Panicked*

      Retail is really weird. I worked at Victoria’s Secret way back when and was given relatively decent retail onboarding: read this binder, wear black pants and blazer, can you work overtime today? I did have to measure my manager for a bra before I was allowed out of “training” which was uncomfortable, but hey, retail is weird.

  17. Interested party (pooper)*

    Those of you in the “only cleaners should have to wield a toilet brush” camp – do you think that still applies in tiny offices with no specific cleaner? I’m asking in a genuine state of interest.

    I work in a small office as a doctor (Gynaecologist). I’m there with one other doctor occasionally, but mostly just myself and two reception staff. The reception staff do the cleaning duties that arise (wipe down trolleys etc) and I’m sure check the toilets after patients use then and clean if needed.

    I really can’t imagine leaving brown steaks in the bowl for them to deal with when I use the toilet though. Wouldn’t you find that highly embarrassing? I would feel so rude to do that, as if I’m saying it’s “beneath me” to clean my own poo.

    Would that bother you given these people have a primarily administrative role with a bit of cleaning added on? or do you think it’s just part of the deal?

    1. Bit o' Brit*

      I’m of the opinion that “tiny offices with no specific cleaner” should not exist in the first place. Part of the budgeted cost of office space should include dedicated cleaning whether that’s by explicitly making all required cleaning part of someone’s job description or contracting out to a commercial cleaning firm. Anything else is ripe for misunderstandings and consequential resentment.

      1. Jujyfruits*

        Yeah I hope that’s not real. Medical facilities should be cleaned differently than regular bathrooms. Considering it takes months to see any doctors right now, I’d rather they spend their time seeing patients.

      2. misspiggy*

        I very much agree. Either toilet cleaning is paid for, or there is a gap in the basic facilities management of the place and it’s not safe.

      3. Interested party (pooper)*

        Small offices with only a few people by regular clients who might need to use the bathroom are quite common! Lawyers, accountants, beauty therapists, physios and a myriad of other services are provided by small private businesses with less than five employees. It seems highly impractical that all of these outsource their cleaning, so most explicitly (as in my case) do include cleaning as tasks provided by employees who are primarily engaged in admin roles.

        Maybe I didn’t make my original post clear enough, but cleaning IS explicitly part of these employees role. A very small part. In that case, would you feel it was ok to leave them to deal with any toilet streaks? I personally would feel rude doing so, but I’m interested in your thoughts.

        1. I Have RBF*

          My old chiro has his office in a converted house, and a mostly house-style single seater bathroom. He did not have a toilet brush out in the open. I’m sure that his admin cleaned the toilet daily.

      4. rebelwithmouseyhair*

        When there are no more people in the office than in a private home, doing office work rather than dealing with biohasards, you do not need industrial strength anything. We all poop, therefore we all should be able to clean up a toilet. It goes without saying that if everyone cleans up after themselves, the toilet is simply always clean. There really is nothing that warrants a professional cleaning service.

        You do realise that germs are a necessary evil? If you never come in contact with germs, your immune system cannot learn to make antibodies.

      1. CityMouse*

        Agreed. I worked as a receptionist in a small medical office and we shared cleaners with the other medical offices in the building. But they specifically were certified to clean medical facilities. We’d tidy and wipe down the waiting area as needed and clean the private kitchen but we were absolutely not expected to clean patient rooms.

    2. ecnaseener*

      Good lord, I would be much more embarrassed to be running a gynecology office where the toilets are never professionally cleaned.

      1. Enai*

        You do realize that “professional” just means “is done by a person who gets paid to do it”, not “is done well” ? Sometimes, doing it oneself is much better.

        Also: medical professionals are, in fact, professionals and know how to properly sanitize all sorts of surfaces after contact with all sorts of bodily fluids. Why would the restroom and feces be the exception?

        1. YetAnotherAnalyst*

          But reception staff are generally not medical professionals. And I’m under the impression medical cleaning requires separate certification; it’s more involved than standard office janitorial services.

          There’s also a time consideration, right? Like, say you’ve got your reception staff for 40 hours a week; are they really spending 2-3 hours a day cleaning the office and bathroom and exam rooms?

    3. Mo*

      I think it’s super gross if there is only a brush and no disinfectant cleaner provided. I don’t want people dripping unsanitized poopy water on the floor. If there’s no adequate cleaner, it’s much better to leave it all in the toilet and not use the brush.

    4. YetAnotherAnalyst*

      I find it somewhat alarming that a medical office doesn’t get professionally cleaned, but taking that as read… I’m assuming that there’s some sort of scheduled cleaning done by the reception staff? And that whoever is assigned the cleaning has access to gloves, toilet bowl cleaner / disinfectant, etc?
      I don’t think it’s “beneath me” to clean a toilet – I clean the ones at home, after all. If I have guests over, I have zero problem cleaning the toilet if they left streaks, but I would find it super weird and a little gross if they cleaned the bowl without toilet cleaner or dug through my cabinets for cleaner and gloves, etc. Though I guess how would I even know?

  18. Dhaskoi*


    Your boss is gaslighting you.
    So far you have successfully resisted.
    Keep resisting and look for a new job before your sense of reality – and specifically your rights as an employee – is badly warped.

    1. Enai*

      Yes, “gaslighting” is so often misused as a term for just lying, but in this case, the supervisor actually does appear to try to manipulate OP into giving up her own perspective and neglect her own interests in favor of the supervisor’s interests. The fact that supervisor is also a therapist makes it more effective and scarier.

    2. reg*

      agreed. the term gaslighting has become overused but here it’s virtually textbook. the manager is trying to make you feel like there’s something wrong with you when she knows there isn’t. as someone whose field has clinical supervisors as managers, this is not normal. you are normal, and you don’t deserve to be treated like this. i encourage you to report her for ethics violations, but it’s completely understandable if you’re not comfortable doing that.

    3. Generic Name*

      I’m leaning this way as well. Even if our boss isn’t trying to make you feel crazy (which is what gaslighting is, for those that might think it’s just being a bully or an asshole), she’s definitely being manipulative. Reading how your boss talks to you reminds me of how my ex husband started talking to me after he got into therapy. He’ll use phrases such as, “that’s your perspective” and “I can see you feel differently” when I would factually and unemotionally bring up things like him not paying child support or withholding parenting time. Like, my dude, court orders aren’t just my feelings or my perspective. Your manager is trying to twist your normal and reasonable questions about policy into some kind of pathology on your part.

    4. Observer*

      Keep resisting and look for a new job before your sense of reality – and specifically your rights as an employee – is badly warped.

      Yes. And also your sense of appropriate therapy boundaries and ethics.

  19. Rainbow*

    LW4: It might not be Katie’s mistake. I was told I could put down any referees from my previous job in one application, so one I included was a former coworker, and I listed him as coworker. He knew my job best out of everyone and I thought he could speak to my specific expertise if asked. But the terrible HR at the new place just asked him whether I had taken any holiday in a certain time, which he obviously couldn’t confirm (we are in the UK; this is ridiculous), and also harassed one of my other referees to submit a letter she had already submitted, even when I had actually started my new role. I literally had to go and tell them to stop harassing my referee because she was having a stressful time and it was upsetting her.

    1. Paulina*

      Yes. The paperwork may simply be getting processed by someone who assumed that all the references were former managers. And really, what is the actual manager going to be able to say about Katie’s work, when the manager didn’t work on the same shift as Katie?

  20. Keymaster of Gozer*

    OP1: I’ve had therapists like her who’ll turn absolutely everything I say or ask into a ‘what happened to make you worry about that?’ discussion and it. Is. Not. Helpful.

    It’s belittling. I’m not talking about the times where you actually do need to investigate the reason but when it’s the response to absolutely everything. Goddess knows how many therapists I’ve had over the years but the ones like your boss I remember vividly and not for a good reason.

    So not only is she a lousy coworker and boss but I don’t believe she’s a good therapist either.

    As to the management side of things: when asked a factual question it’s really bizarre for a manager to evade with feelings analysis. If SQL server 213478 is a smouldering heap of wires and a new one needs to be purchased I don’t much care that my boss wants me to examine why this is making me frustrated – I want her to sign off the purchase!

  21. The answer is (probably) 42*

    LW1: I’d go even further than Alison’s advice here- it sounds like the way she’s behaving is a significant breach of ethics, and I’d encourage you to report her to a supervisory board or some kind of professional entity like that. I am not sure how it works with therapists but I imagine there’s gotta be some kind of authority you can bring this to.

    Also, I know that the word ‘gaslighting’ gets thrown around on the internet a lot where that isn’t really what’s going on, but in this case I think gaslighting is exactly what’s she’s doing, and intentionally so. She’s trying to undermine your perception of reality and make you disbelieve your own interpretation of events. That calls into question even the clinical side of things here, the work that she’s supposed to be doing with you. You may be getting extremely harmful feedback that will impact the quality of service you can provide to your clients. This is a Really Big Deal!

  22. Loz*

    #5 – I don’t quite know how finance are supposed to pay a person if they don’t yet know how many hours (if any) they’ve worked.

    Unless of course I misinterpreted and the staff are a known # of hours and the timesheet is for client allocation, in which case I get the frustration from finance (though you can’t not pay people!).

    1. Hlao-roo*

      For salaried/overtime exempt workers, the pay will be the same each pay period. Finance only needs to timesheets to determine which project budgets the money comes from, but they know the amount so they can pay the employees the correct amount without timesheets.

      For hourly and salaried/non-exempt workers, it’s on the company to figure out how many hours the employees worked. There could be a clock in/clock out system, managers could note how many hours each employee worked manually, etc.

      I’m sure some companies have their systems set up so the timesheet tracks both client allocation and hours worked, but timesheets aren’t the only way to track hours worked. If timesheets aren’t adequate for tracking hours worked, it’s on the company to implement another solution.

      1. Tantallum99*

        Our company for example does not have a time clock. (It’s a medium sized nonprofit and ours is the only department that has hourly and part time employees with varying hours)
        If someone does not do a time sheet to tell us how much to pay them, we would have to guess. We could (and do) make an educated guess but it’s still not 100% accurate and often requires adjustments later. It takes about 30 seconds to do a timesheet and it amazes me that some people don’t spend that time to ensure they get the proper pay and save themselves a lot of time later to do corrections. Everyone forgets once in awhile but we really want to pay people! Correctly for the right amount of hours including any overtime they may have worked!

        1. Seahorse*

          Yes, I used to run payroll for about 40 people every week. That’s pretty small compared to a lot of companies. This was in a trade based job, so their time went to things like repair at Mrs. Smith’s house – 6 hours, apartment update project – 20 hours, after hours call at Mr. Jackson’s house – 5 hours on time & a half.

          It was pretty easy for them to report their hours, and they were supposed to do it as soon as they finished a call. The paperwork time was part of the job time. And yet…

          There’s no way I was going to chase down that many people every week or painstakingly try to put together their schedules as some comments are suggesting. That would be a complete waste of my time and would have delayed payroll for the whole branch.

          Every single week, I’d have a handful of people who didn’t turn in a timecard and then would get mad when they didn’t get their overtime pay or had to “lose” money the next pay period to balance out overpayment.

          People need to be paid, but it really throws me when they don’t want to put in the necessary (minor) effort to be accurately compensated.

        2. Observer*

          If someone does not do a time sheet to tell us how much to pay them, we would have to guess. We could (and do) make an educated guess but it’s still not 100% accurate and often requires adjustments later.

          Which is exactly what the law requires.

          It takes about 30 seconds to do a timesheet and it amazes me that some people don’t spend that time to ensure they get the proper pay and save themselves a lot of time later to do corrections.

          Well, if that’s all it really takes, that’s one thing. But sometimes it’s a lot more burdensome. And right now I’m fighting with out timeclock system app, which doesn’t always properly register punches. Fortunately, we’re changing to a new system!

          To take an utterly absurd example – many years ago, our someone in payroll tried to forbid anyone from filling in their time sheets on a computer and then printing and signing it. Because apparently one of our auditors complained that timesheets have to be done by hand. I did push back, because requiring paper was already causing major problems. I “won”. And fortunately, we moved to an electronic system, which for all it’s faults has made it much easier for most people to get their timesheets in.

        3. doreen*

          It takes about 30 seconds to do a timesheet and it amazes me that some people don’t spend that time to ensure they get the proper pay and save themselves a lot of time later to do corrections.

          This always amazed me , too. At my job it would take a few seconds a day to fill out the timesheet – you didn’t have to divide the time between projects or clients. It was just four entries per day – in, out to lunch, back from lunch, and out for the day. An extra code if you worked overtime. Even if you made all the entries at the end of the pay period , it still only took a few minutes. But people would still gets weeks behind , even though that resulted in people figuratively standing over them to make sure they were completed. Actual time cards probably would have worked better but the union contract prohibited them.

        4. fhqwhgads*

          It takes much longer than 30 seconds to do a timesheet if the reason you’re doing it is tracking billable hours to multiple clients/projects, not the overall time you worked. Still, I worked in consulting before and fought this fight and to all my colleagues kvetching it took them hours to do a timesheet I said “well it takes me less than 10 minutes per day, so maybe enter it as you go and you’ll be less frustrated about the entry and finance will be less frustrated about not getting to bill people on time?”
          Which is to say “it’s actually less effort to do it on time” is a reasonable approach for the people in OP’s office to take instead of the not paying people nonsense. But “it takes 30 seconds” is not.

    2. Sam*

      Some workplaces are different, but for an example, when I worked at a law firm we had both salaried lawyers who had to do timekeeping in order to bill clients, and we had non-exempt staff, like my secretary, who had to clock in/out to track their hours for overtime.

      For the former, we got the same salary regardless of how many hours we billed (plus a bonus at the end of the year if you hit billing targets). Failing to fill out “timesheets” in that circumstance would have no impact on your weekly salary, but would be a pain for accounting/finance because they couldn’t bill the clients. One firm I worked at would do things like take away direct deposit and require you to get paid by paper check if you were consistently delinquent with your timekeeping (so you were still getting paid, but it was more annoying).

      For the latter, if staff failed to do their timekeeping, they still needed to get paid, but would only get paid for “baseline” hours (I.e., 40 hours/week) and any overtime or adjustments would have to be reflected in future pay periods once the time was submitted. Presumably someone would notice and escalate if non-exempt staff were actually not showing up to their job for weeks on end.

    3. I'm A Little Teapot*

      I’m an auditor. I specifically ask payroll staff what they do if someone doesn’t turn in a time sheet. The correct answer is to hunt down that timesheet, and if there’s a really good reason why it’s not in, then with written authorization from an appropriate management figure, you can pay them. Really good reasons are things such as unplanned absences (illness, bereavement, etc). If there are technical issues with whatever the usual timesheet process is, then you figure out a substitute of some sort.

      Being busy is not a good reason. Not wanting to do it is not a good reason. Thinking you’re above the rules is not a good reason. Forgetting is not a good reason. Not having a timesheet and paying them without question is how you lose money to fraud. It’s a hassle, but you 100% can enforce timesheets while still paying people on time.

      1. LW5*

        You encapsulate it perfectly, particularly for things that just aren’t good reasons (I also do a lot of auditing though not financial of course). I of course want to focus on two things – one, helping my staff find the right tools for themselves, whatever they are, to eliminate the problem, and two, making sure the right people at the company are working with finance and payroll so they have better tools too and aren’t resorting to the illegal ones. The latter is a little more delicate but hopefully easier.

      2. I'm A Little Teapot*

        And before people get all up in arms about the law – hunting down the time sheet absolutely can include the boss standing over their shoulder while they do their time sheet so that payroll goes out on time. And I would absolutely expect management or HR to get involved when it’s a repeat issue. I’ve seen instances where employees end up getting fired because they don’t do their timesheet. I’ve also seen instances where there’s accommodations in place of some sort to assist people who have legitimate issues.

      3. Observer*

        Removed. Please do not scold people like this here, use all caps (yelling), etc. – Alison

        1. I'm A Little Teapot*

          Actually, yes I write audit findings, and reports, and present to boards. I’m also aware that it’s illegal to not pay people on time. Aside from the legal aspect, it’s a giant red flag of serious issues somewhere. I didn’t include every bit of detail in my comment, because yes there needs to be documentation on what happened. But when the process works as it’s supposed to, you get down to the wire and either you get what is needed to pay the employee, or you figure out that Jane Doe is in the payroll system and Jane Doe doesn’t exist – which means there isn’t a legal reason to pay them. At that point, the lawyers get called and they call the shots, and I as auditor bow out. Aside from possibly getting involved to figure out how the ghost employee ended up in the system.

      4. bronzekat*

        I think you missed LW5’s update that these are salaried exempt employees being threatened with docked pay based on timesheets. As salaried exempt employees, they have a standard weekly rate, not an hourly rate. The timesheets are needed for client billing, not payroll.

  23. Howdy*

    #3, i don’t think this has been said yet, so I’ll add my 2 cents. I suspect the desire for toilet scrubbing after use has less to do with the sight of the skid marks and more to do with the lingering smell that may result from it remaining in the bowl. And while, I would never ever write a note like that, I don’t think it’s unreasonable to want the shared rest room to smell as fresh as it reasonably can.

    That said I’ve never been in a public restroom with a brush and I would be hesitant to touch one if I had been. It’s not environmentally sound, but may a second flush would due the trick on occasion.

    1. Empress Ki*

      I don’t understand the issue with touching the handle of a toilet brush. That is resolved with washing hands afterwards.

      1. Anna*

        You’re right that touching the handle is resolved by hand washing – but the smell and droplets left after it touches poop and is at best rinsed in standing water aren’t. (Fwiw, I live in an area where toilets and soap dispensers and the like are often touchless precisely because they want to minimize germs getting spread from everyone touching those)

  24. Lily*

    Bookmarking this comment section to re-read whenever I’m wondering whether 100% work-from-home might be problematic for my mental health, as a reminder to never take for granted the joyous wonder of using my own bathroom, unsullied by workmate’s skidmarks, free from pass-ag notes, as clean or as dirty as I have chosen to leave it, always well-stocked with ample cleaning supplies and my favourite handsoap.

    1. Delta Delta*

      I’m generally WFH and my only bathroom issue is the kitten who NEEDS to be in the bathroom every time I go in there. But it’s so not a problem, because kitten.

    2. Lily (looks like there's 2 lilies here)*

      Lol, I can’t work from home ’cause it’s way too comfortable.

  25. Zarniwoop*

    “Ironically she is an incredible clinical supervisor”
    Is she really?

    In her managerial capacity she behaving badly: insulting you to your face (“I’ll humor your unreasonable request”), dismissing your concerns, and attempting to get you to act against your own best interests.

    Does she treat patients that way? Is she training you to treat patients that way? Are you getting a master class in manipulation?

    1. Wintermute*

      ooooh I had NOT thought of that last part.

      This is something well worthy of some deep introspection, you might be learning some very bad habits. I’m not ready to say she IS a bad therapist, therapy and management are two wholly different worlds and it’s possible to be good at one and not the other, but I would say someone lacking personal insight and heavy on manipulative traits raises real red flags.

    2. JSPA*

      That’s my worry. Clients can be effusive BECAUSE they have been effectively gaslit. Or because she’s basically broken their sense of self entirely, on the path to building it back up in some new configuration. Cult members are also (often) blissful (until the house of cards tumbles).

      At minimum, be careful about taking her processes and the metrics used to assess success at face value.

      I’m (of course) not damning all “effective but unorthodox” methods–but a fair bit of blatant abuse has taken place under people who believe they intuit the motivations of others, and are only tasked with badgering or bamboozling them into admitting it.

    3. Fluffy Fish*

      All of this.

      There’s not a snowballs chance in hades she who has no boundaries, who weaponizes therapeutic terms, who pathologizes normal interactions is a good clinician.

      OP should take a step back and reevaluate this person. Or for a quicker solution – run and dont look back.

    4. Observer*

      Does she treat patients that way? Is she training you to treat patients that way? Are you getting a master class in manipulation?

      Exactly. This is encapsulated one of my concerns perfectly.

  26. Higgs Bison*

    I don’t see how it’s a 15 second task to clean the toilet bowl after you go unless your goal is to hide the evidence the same way as hiding a body by dragging it across the floor. Without chemical cleanup (with the contact time in manufacturers instructions) you’re just putting any germs from the poop into the toilet bowl brush holder and anywhere between that and the bowl.

    1. CityMouse*

      People keep describing these offices with brushes in every stall, used constantly,and the idea of these poop crusted brushes in every stall seems really gross.

    2. Dust Bunny*

      I have always assumed it was a given that toilet brushes are gross, which is why they have holders in the first place and why normal people presumably bleach them regularly, and you shake the water off into the bowl before you put them back in the holder so they don’t drip?

      I assume, also, that these bathrooms are cleaned regularly and that people have sense enough to not, like, sit on the floor in there. Otherwise, if you walk down the sidewalk or through the grass I guarantee that your shoes have the same germs on them, anyway.

      1. rebelwithmouseyhair*

        And also, that once you’ve finished pooping and cleaning up all traces of same, you wash your hands!! No need for gloves!!! And you do it carefully so you don’t splash anything especially not your work clothes!!!!

  27. Anna*

    LW 1 – That is. The opposite of normal. (And the dynamic you’re describing would get even more infuriating when serious workplace issues arise, trust me. Can you imagine that “hm, what is in your story that makes your think this is a problem” if you were, say, reporting a coworker’s inappropriate behavior or trying to ask for a raise?)

    Like absolute best case scenario, she’s both inclined to treat all interactions as a therapy session *and* is shockingly bad at analysis and predicting responses to said analysis. Frankly, if I was a therapy patient and someone tried to pull that behavior on me over basic logistical questions about the Consent To Care Agreement or insurance, I would leave. Her behavior would be off-key even if she *was* your therapist. If this is just her default state and you learn things from this woman, it would likely include pretty bad habits.

    Worst case scenario, she’s doing this on purpose. As in, she’s trying to reframe anything that vaguely sounds like holding her or the firm accountable as a “you” problem, specifically a “your mental health” problem. And that is. Very bad. It’s pretty much the definition of gaslighting. Honestly I’ve had much milder versions of that really mess with my head. It’s worth getting away from that *quickly*, because that sort of thing on a long term basis skews people’s understanding of normal self-advocacy in the workplace.

    I don’t think it’s even worth debating whether she’s doing this on purpose or not, because my answer to both scenarios would be to run. Run fast.

    1. Observer*

      I don’t think it’s even worth debating whether she’s doing this on purpose or not, because my answer to both scenarios would be to run. Run fast.

      Good point!

      1. AnonORama*

        Totally. As soon as someone brings up another person’s “story” like this, as far as I can tell it means ” something about you and your past is making you say/do something here that’s wrong…it may not be your fault but it’s 100% a You Problem.” Which isn’t a great way to frame it even in therapy, and ridiculous when someone wants an employment contract or a guarantee of funding. And her habit of using loaded words like “fearful” and “unreasonable” is just an attempt to put you down and keep you there. Run for the hills!

  28. Seahorse*

    I’ve learned a great deal about public toilets around the world this morning. That was unexpected.

    #2 is definitely food service or retail. I had the same experience of showing up for an interview and the hiring manager assuming I was now fully available to work whatever hours at whatever wage they bothered to give. I was not.

    Once I also got a formal offer from a different place, filled out hiring paperwork, and then never got put on the schedule.

    At my favorite food interview, I was told, “You didn’t show up to the interview drunk, so you’re already ahead of the person who came in this morning. When do you want to start?” That one was actually a decent job.

    Hiring and scheduling are wild in retail, and lots of places hide behind disorganization to take advantage of workers. They complain no one wants to work, but then refuse to offer consistent schedules, pay as little as they legally can, and fail to communicate or train people at all. It’s not the front line workers’ fault that system is falling apart.

    1. GythaOgden*

      IDK about that! My dad worked on a local sewage plant and the clean-up of a local polluted swamp as a civil engineer project manager. Remember in Red Dwarf where Rimmer has a collection of telegraph pole photos? Imagine that every family slide session in the 1980s, but with power plants and…sewage treatment works.

      I seem to be following in Dad’s footsteps by being in Facilities. When my supervisor is off we have to go round flushing sinks and toilets to ensure legionella doesn’t fester too much. So I guess if there is a deadly bacterium lurking in the pipes I’m on the frontline. When the pandemic hit we went from doing a few outlets which didn’t get daily use to doing the whole building because everything was technically ‘low use’.

      So maybe it’s just me but yeah, people don’t know what we protect you from and this is why brushing a skidmark away is the least people can do to keep their building working and pleasant to be in. I’m not the most fastidious person at home but when these threads happen from the other perspective, the responses are radically different. So I’m quite surprised by the response myself.

  29. Irish Teacher*

    Honestly, even in her role as therapist, what LW1’s manager is doing would be incredibly inappropriate and controlling. She is using the language of therapy to imply she is always in the wrong. Even when doing couples’ therapy, I hope she isn’t just assuming one partner is correct and analysing all the other person’s actions and words in the context of “they can’t possibly really think he/she is wrong so there must be some underlying problem that is causing them to misinterpret this perfect person.”

    Saying she’s learnt the best thing to do is basically to just accommodate unreasonable requests is putting herself both as one of the people in the dispute and the neutral arbitrator and she cannot be both.

    Honestly, she sounds to me like a first year psychology student who has learnt the language but doesn’t understand things like the need to take context into account (for example, has the person a legitimate concern) or things like conflict of interest (such as, you cannot accurately analyse a conflict you are involved in) or how to evaluate her own feelings.

    The part about “your mind imagining scenarios” is textbook gaslighting.

    It’s not like analysing your interactions with clients because there she ispresumably a dispassionate observer. Plus there is a huge difference between “what feelings did this raise in you?” and “I am telling you this interaction raised these feelings in you and I have determined them to be irrational and therefore you should just do as I say and never question me because I have determined that any questions will come from irrational fear.”

    1. Anna*

      Ya, I think your last sentence there is really important. *Asking* about what you’re feeling is normal in therapy, as can variations of “hey I’m noticing a big change in body language / behaviors you’ve told me in the past can be a sign something’s wrong, what’s going on?”

      But *telling* someone what they must be feeling is pretty consistently ineffective (at best) in therapy. And adding in external judgements to it like “unreasonable” is pretty actively unhelpful.

  30. Deb*

    #5: “not paying Arne because the person responsible for submitting Arne’s timesheet hasn’t done so” is exactly the same thing as “not paying Arne because the person responsible for printing Arne’s paycheck hasn’t done so”.

    Pay your people.

    1. Peanut Hamper*

      Except in most cases, the person responsible for submitting Arne’s time sheet is Arne themselves. In most companies, managers only have to approve what is already submitted. And they can’t approve it if it hasn’t been submitted.

        1. linger*

          It changes the locus of control: specifically, whether the employee’s own actions can facilitate the process of payment.
          The employer still has a duty to pay something for work performed. And in many jurisdictions there is a duty to pay in a reasonably timely manner (with some differences in detail about the timeframe required, and/or any preconditions needing to be met). OP has commented that their local jurisdiction is strict about the timeframe, with late-payment penalties added.
          Nevertheless, if the employee denies their employer accurate information about the quantity of work performed, then the employer cannot reasonably be held to any guarantee that payment will be both timely and accurate.

          OP’s specific case is simpler: the employee is salaried, so their payment due is predictable, and the company cannot withhold it, even though the employee has not submitted the client billing-hour breakdown that would allow the company to recoup that expense from the client. Completing the billing-hour documentation could, however, be made a requirement for continued employment.

  31. Pam Troglodytes*

    I had a visceral reaction to Letter 1- I agree with others thay this is manipulative and gaslighty, but I find it quite horrifying too. I get the profound creeps. To be speculating on your deep life experience, semi-diagnosing you, acting like she has god-like powers of insight and knowledge about you without consenting to such a role…. gives me the chills. Not sure if anyone has said this yet but if you can start looking for a different job I would be… this behaviour is not normal and utterly innappropriate, and sounds like it would lead to overall toxicity. Like many others, I always think about Alison’s advice to leave before you adopt maladaptive workplace practices from a weird (in this case, creepy) environment

  32. Heather*

    #2- I know someone who recently had that same experience… but it was a caregiver/aide position, through a home health agency. She interviewed briefly by phone, filed out zero paperwork, and then got a text saying “Hey can you go to [address] today, because the aide called out.” That’ll give you chills if you’ve ever needed to hire an aide for a loved one.

    1. Harper the Other One*

      Caregiving systems are already so stressed; they need a drastic revamp (including my better pay.) My father is now in memory care and his caregivers were really only necessary for companionship/supervision so my mother could get breaks – about as easy as caregiving services get – but life happens and when one’s of his aides wasn’t able to come for a shift, the agency could rarely fill it.

      1. Heather*

        Absolutely. That industry is really a nightmare. The pay is so low, and the working conditions are so often terrible, that those workers who are good typically move on as soon as they can get something else. So there’s a glimmer of hope when a good, caring, competent aide shows up at the house— and then two weeks later they disappear.

        1. NotRealAnonForThis*

          Agree to all of it. We had a brief stint with home health a few years back, and there were definitely visits that later wound up with us in the ER (one torqued the PICC line when the dressing was changed – nope, daughter’s doc said she’d meet us in the ER to review it because she was not screwing around with the situation. After the second visit from the same home health nurse and same ER visit that same night, I politely requested that she not visit our house again) and it was just lack of staffing….and that was pre-panini!

        2. Panicked*

          I agree. I worked for Child Protective Services for several years. Quite a few of the parents I worked with were home health aides. Often, they had lost custody of their children due to addiction issues and physical neglect, but they were caring 1:1 for elderly and/or vulnerable people.

          Now I am NOT saying that they shouldn’t be earning a living in any way they can, nor am I debating that the care they provide for others may not be the same as their home situation, but what I am saying is that I would not feel comfortable having someone who tests positive for methamphetamines or physically scarred their child caring for my loved ones.

  33. Harper the Other One*

    #5 – separate from any legality re. when and how to pay hours, I feel like companies need to focus on minimizing the burden of submitting time. There are SO many tools you can use now – the time tracker my company uses has both web based and app options, with presets so you can program in client or project names; the project management software we use actually also has the option of a built in time tracker that would start and stop counting as you change status of tasks. If it’s consistently an issue getting people to submit time sheets, maybe the company needs to review how that’s done and figure out a better solution.

    1. LW5*

      We have had many discussions over my two decades in this business about this and people fall into a couple of camps. One, if you’re doing your timesheet throughout the day like you should be (prevents over or underbilling time, is faster in the long run) it’s not a significant percentage of time. Two, if there is a higher level of complexity in what’s needed for your projects and billing (say, a project where work has to be billed with very specific comments across many tasks on a daily if not weekly basis) that time should be billable and folded into the budget. The second option is Really Hard – clients usually don’t like it, project managers don’t want to use budget for it, and so on. We have a hard enough time getting enough project management budget billed which is a whole different exhausting crisis.

      And we DO have ALL those tools! But people must use them. We all hate timesheets. But we like getting paid (as a company). If someone just … doesn’t do their time, everyone is really stuck.

      1. FashionablyEvil*

        We get locked out of our computers if we don’t complete our timesheets by noon the following day. You can delay it for a couple of hours, but you eventually have to do it.

      2. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

        Does travel play into this too? When I was doing Sunday-out, Friday-home consulting, the last thing I wanted to do was fill out my timesheet. Even though being stuck on the plane is the perfect time to do it.

        1. LW5*

          Do it early. We’re not “last minute travel same day” sort of places so if you know already what that’s going to look like, fill it out ahead of time. (We also try not to have people travel on the weekends when it’s avoidable but sometimes it’s not). Yes, you might miss a travel delay on that Friday, but you would be able to edit it over the weekend or maybe worst case send a note to finance Monday morning. Some projects it would also be OK to just represent the hours on the following week’s sheet and some not (in general you clearly should only show hours on the days worked but sometimes people do end up putting them on the following week if the client/project systems can accommodate that).

          We also make it a little easier here – you don’t need to be on the VPN to access the timesheet. At my last firm you did. (Shockingly the VPN doesn’t work so well when you’re between California and Hong Kong.)

      3. OlympiasEpiriot*

        My enormous company has a very awkward T/S system with no time tracker integral to the system. I have WatchMe by flamebrain on my computer to help me track my time instead, then I copy it in. Additionally, we have to submit it by COB in our time zone on the *Thursday* of the w/ending Friday.

        Mind Boggled.

        At my last firm, we had to submit by COB of first business day after close of pay period. Here, if I did something different on Friday than what I predicted, I have to complete an excel sheet with the update and e-mail it.


  34. Lavender*

    LW1: Frankly, even if Jane was your therapist, she doesn’t sound like a very good one!

    If my therapist told me that I sounded “paranoid” because I was uncertain about the outcome of a grant application, or that I was having “racing thoughts” because I wanted to know the details of my compensation package before starting a job…well, let’s just say she wouldn’t be my therapist for very long. The fact that she’s pathologizing your (very normal and reasonable) behavior would make me question her ability to treat irrational thoughts/behaviors in patients.

    1. rebelwithmouseyhair*

      Totally. It sounds like she’s bullying you into thinking you’re off somehow, aka gaslighting, aka manipulating. While this may come across as homing in on problems with a patient, it may also be quite creepy.
      She reminds me of a person I was friends with for a while (until she realised that my wealth of experience dealing with narcissists made me hard to manipulate). She had an uncanny ability to guess when a woman was pregnant, and would then start talking to her as if it were common knowledge “When are you due?” when the woman hadn’t said a word about it. Everyone was focussed on the “wow how did you know?” facet, and only later did it occur to us that actually, it was really creepy, and the woman in question may not have wanted to discuss her pregnancy at all.

  35. Tantallum99*

    Q on #5: if someone won’t turn in a timesheet, how do you know how much to pay them???

    I get that you have to pay people, and that repeated failure to complete timesheets can and should be managed like failure to complete any other project, but for practical purposes in the short term: if an hourly employee has not and will not turn in a timesheet by the deadline, what should payroll do, guess?

    1. Deb*

      Check cameras, schedules, calendars, computer login data. Ask managers, coworkers and desk neighbours.

      The same things you’d do if the employee had gotten hit by a bus before finishing their timesheet, therefore. Payroll – and labor law compliance generally – shouldn’t have a bus factor of 1, same as any other important part of the business. And if it does, err on the side of caution and pay them 168 hours a week so that the company can run its business in a shitty way and still be compliant.

      1. Pastor Petty Labelle*

        No payroll should not have to jump through hoops to pay someone.

        I get why the law is there. Its a good law. But part of me is, bet that person never forgets to submit their timesheet on time again, when they missed a paycheck.

        Don’t make other people’s jobs harder because you can’t do a basic thing that is for YOU in the long run.

    2. Peanut Hamper*

      This has been answered above, but the usual solution is to base it on prior paychecks. If they work an average of 20 hours, pay them for 20 hours. If they work an average of 40 hours, pay them for 40 hours.

      1. Boof*

        Agree, pay them an average, adjust when the timesheet is in. ok for the check to be late as long as it’s within the required pay period tho. It eventually might mean firing someone just won’t turn in timesheets if that’s a critical part of the job.

    3. I should really pick a name*

      I suspect this is a situation where the timesheet is more about billable hours than actual hours worked and one can pay based on a standard amount of hours worked.

    4. LW5*

      Well, on top of this, there are 100% remote workers and also many direct reports don’t necessarily sit in the same office as their line manager. (In our industry, you don’t do all your work for your line manager and some people don’t do any for long periods of time.)

      This isn’t related to hourly workers though or we’d be talking about really different tools.

      1. Freya*

        LW5, from your letter, it seems you manage the employee who didn’t get paid because of not submitting their timecard on time.

        I hope that you are addressing this issue with them through disciplinary action.

        1. LW5*

          That is correct. Disciplinary action isn’t really something available for this problem at this stage though – without going into a lot of unnecessary detail about unrelated work things. I am addressing it… and … have been addressing it to some success for many months.

          1. Walk in the Garden*

            You obviously know your office best. In my case, I work in defense, and I have to fill out my timesheet daily with every hour accounted for in 6 min increments. I get where you are coming from. There have been various corporate policies for handling timesheets that aren’t filled out and signed at the end of a pay period, depending on the company where I worked. You may not be in a position to influence this, but it sounds like your company might need such a policy. For example, one place I worked would automatically fill out the empty spaces with PTO. To get your PTO back, you had to go in and modify your timesheet. How to automatically handle incomplete timesheets is probably not something you can implement, but maybe you could share your thoughts with the appropriate ears.

            Speaking of policies, if the employee is not following timesheet policy, that’s the kind of thing where in most places you could issue a PIP. If there is not a timesheet policy in writing (and I am sure there is, just that you don’t mention as such explicitly), then your company needs such a policy.

            I used to be That Employee. It started after my management engaged in some underhanded activities with me, and I developed a massive anxiety disorder as a result. It never got better at that company, but I am happy to say that I’ve changed companies 3 times since and it hasn’t been a systemic problem with me since! Maybe That Employee can reform for you. Maybe they can’t. I hope it gets better bc I know the headaches it causes.

            1. LW5*

              You definitely get it and I’ve seen all of these things. I mention that at an old firm they also did the PTO thing in one office but they cannot do that here because they cannot back out time in the same we could there. The entire accounting department ground to a halt when someone did once. That’s another problem naturally.

              I didn’t realize defense contractors had 6 minute increments. Exhausting…. 15 is more than enough for me, I’m also not a lawyer for a reason!

              But at the end of the day, you really get at the biggest issue many people who don’t live in billable time world don’t, lucky for them – the anxiety associated with timesheets, billable time, the week to week metrics and all the associated things. For the most part, I have seen that serial offenders need their anxiety addressed, not just an order to “fix it” but there’s a limit to what I can do in my role.

    5. Observer*

      if an hourly employee has not and will not turn in a timesheet by the deadline, what should payroll do, guess?

      Make a good faith estimate, using past history and whatever information you can glean from supervisors, email etc. And document what you based yourself on.

    6. bronzekat*

      Salaried exempt employees in the US have set pay rates – and have specific rules around when this amount can be docked.

  36. LlamaLawyer*

    One thing that folks are missing in the toilet debate is that, especially with folks with bowel issues, the remains often aren’t limited to a skid mark or two. I live with someone with such issues. There can be splatter (sorry to be gross) to portions of the bowl that aren’t submerged in water and aren’t going to go away with a flush or two. If there are means available to remove it quickly and easily, that is a courteous thing to do.

    1. Becca*

      Yeah, I’ve had a couple of poops that I’d want to clean up after or be embarrassed if they happened in public, so I was wondering if it was that kind of issue.

      That said, I’m in the I’ve never seen a communal toilet brush anywhere camp and it’s clearly a cultural thing. I feel it would come across weird to ask work to order a toilet brush unless you did often have those kinds of poops. (I was rather surprised at the answer here, since she’s in the US too unless that’s changed. Maybe even in the US it’s regional?)

      1. Former Retail Lifer*

        I’ve only ever seen a toilet brush in a staff bathroom when I worked in retail. We cleaned our own bathrooms and didn’t use cleaners, so it made sense there. I’ve never seen a toilet brush in the bathroom of any of my office jobs.

    2. Shan*

      Yeah, my ex-husband has Crohn’s and he was always *so* courteous. He could mostly avoid a mess by doing well-timed flushes… he’d perfected the art.

    3. Observer*

      Yeah, that’s different. Anything like that needs to be cleaned up (assuming the bathroom is properly outfitted.)

  37. Nysee*

    Ironically she is an incredible clinical supervisor, so it also worries me that I’m damaging our relationship when I push back.

    Yep. That’s what the boss wants. To be so unreasonable that you throw your hands up and back down. There’s no relationship to worry about damaging; she’s a crappy manager.

    1. Lavender*

      Yeah, I thought so too. Honestly, it seems like the relationship has already been damaged (and not by OP).

  38. DJ Abbott*

    #1, Job B sounds like the grocery store I worked at. I went to the interview, and either at or shortly after the interview they gave me a verbal offer and I accepted. And it was for a position I hadn’t applied for. I had applied for a cashier, and they hired me to work in the deli.
    It was good because I hadn’t done retail work in decades, and I needed the retail experience to get the job I have now. But there were reasons for the high turnover and desperation to hire. You were smart to turn down job B.

  39. But Not the Hippopotamus*

    OP1 – Therapists are really hard to come by. I spent months – nearly a year – trying to get one for my teen and I’m not even talking in-network. I would leave your manager as a therapist because she seems unhinged and more interested in pathologizing than solving issues. It is so bad that it has you questioning really common things that you know are normal! Please, for the sake of folks who actually need therapy, find a way out of this situation before you get warped. Whether that is a new job or insisting that the current dual role setup isn’t working for you.

  40. Peanut Hamper*

    #1 — This is just a huge pile of red flags. I would definitely be looking to get out. Good managers (and good therapists) do not do this.

  41. I should really pick a name*

    Remember that you’re allowed to ask questions.

    When they ask for a background check, you could ask if this means you’re getting an offer (assuming the check goes well).

    When they ask you to cover a shift, you could ask if that means they’re offering you the job.

  42. I should really pick a name*

    use your knowledge of me and trust me to honor this, let that guide you, not your fear of workplace power dynamics

    “My knowledge and trust of you is why I want this in writing”

    (This is tongue and cheek, it should be in writing regardless of if you trust them or not)

  43. Sheep Thrills*

    This bathroom cleaning thing is a little inconceivable to me. My last employer didn’t technically allow us to clean beyond basic dusting or a wipe down; it was considered a liability if anyone got hurt. Brushes weren’t even available.

    I can’t imagine cleaning a toilet after a single use – let alone if it’s not part of my job. It’s also not what I want my employees focusing on.

    Plus, if the standard is leave it as you found it, let’s not even go there on the gross things I’ve flushed for others…

  44. Nethwen*

    #2 Job without Offer

    This reminds me of one of my most mortifying learning experiences. I had only experienced the type of job acquisition where you interview and then they call to tell you when to show up.

    I was interviewing for a different type of job and would need to move for it. After the interview, I sent the person an email asking for housing information (it was a seasonal job where they specifically said they could help you locate housing).

    When they finally replied, I believe through a phone call, they very kindly informed me that they offered the job to someone else. It was one of the most embarrassing moments of my professional life, but that’s when I learned that an interview does not always equal a job – some places make formal offers and pick between candidates and an interview isn’t just a checkbox formality. It was an introduction to a whole new world of job protocols.

    1. bamcheeks*

      I feel this was also on the employer for not notifying you that they’d gone with someone else until you rang!

      1. Nethwen*

        Nah, it was me. I emailed within 15 minutes of the interview. They responded within 48 hours. That’s reasonable to get through all the interviews and decide who to hire.

  45. No Real Name Here*

    LW1: I work at a social services agency. My “letters” mean I could be a therapist, and I work with many people in the same boat. Your boss’ behavior is not normal, at all. My training and experience make me a compassionate human when it comes to workplace issues, but I’ve never therapized anyone when it comes to workplace issues.

    Your supervisor’s behavior isn’t normal at all.

  46. CountryLass*

    LW6 – I’m curious as to how people are getting paid without a time sheet? I am in the uk, and part of our office has casual workers who only work for a specific activity 2-3 days a month, but occasionally drafted in for similar events. We have to submit their timesheets each month for them to be paid in the usual salary run for the rest of us. If someone did not submit theirs to us, I assume it would be rolled over to the next pay period. Obviously if we did not get it in on time we would grovel and beg Accounts to pay them ASAP, but if we did not get it, they can’t get paid. Like my mileage claim. If I don’t submit it, they don’t just guess how much travelling I have done and pay me that.

    How can your payroll department pay someone if they don’t know what they worked?

    1. LW5*

      This is in the US so that matters. This is a salaried employee without overtime so that also matters. Not expenses but actual regular payroll. In the US it is illegal to withhold pay for lack of a timesheet and it’s relevant that it’s not even a reasonable argument to make (wrongly anyway) that we don’t know how much to pay them – they get paid the same no matter what. In particular, the company would owe this person a penalty of a percentage for every single day they were late. Rolling to the next pay period would add up fast.

  47. LondonLady*

    #LW1 – you are absolutely entitled to have a manager who is there for you as a manager as well as a clinical supervisor who excels in that role. I’m wondering if you can be frank about this while using respectful and therapist-friendly language? eg “I greatly value your amazing skills as a clinical supervisor and am learning so much about X from you in those interactions. I am thinking we would both benefit from a clearer separation from those clinical conversations when we have to deal with more practical workplace management issues, thereby enabling us to make best use of time by focusing on the logistical matters at hand. How do you suggest we frame that?” or something like that?

  48. LW5*

    Very exciting to have my letter chosen!

    Some more detail on timesheets. It got left out, but the person in question and the majority of people at this firm are salaried workers and are not paid overtime. Their timesheets have no bearing on their direct week to week pay. We use timesheets to track how much time is spent on which project for which client which is critical because we bring in revenue based on the contracted work with our clients – those contracts lay out in various detail how much money or time is to be spent on part or all of the project, and what work is in or out of scope without further authorization in writing from that client. In short – we can’t know what we’ve spent on a project without a timesheet, we can’t invoice that client correctly and we can’t get paid.

    Every consulting firm I’ve ever worked for has struggled with making sure this information is tracked in a timely manner. No one likes it. That’s life. We have lots of good tools to support time tracking and training and all that, but you still have to track your time (really, you are supposed to track continuously throughout the day – it prevents under or overbilling). But people are getting paid the same no matter what they bill on a week to week basis – they could bill 0 hours because they were in training, at a conference, on vacation, sick – still get paid. Same if they billed a crazy amount. Beating billable goals factors into things like raises and promotions and bonuses, but not regular pay.

    At larger firms, a HUGE amount of effort is spent making sure this data is in on time. You would get a LOT of reminders starting the day they are due and increasing in personal focus and sternness as your tardiness grew. This is a bigger problem for Timesheet Offenders who wait until they need to submit their time to fill them out at all – admin staff can’t just go in, see that the timesheet is basically done and help solve the problem. Some of us bill to the same couple of projects every week. I’ve had weeks where I billed to closer to 20, plus the overhead codes for business development and so on. Only I can accurately do my timesheet so finance is probably literally ripping their hair out weekly over this. We as a firm need better carrots and sticks, but this isn’t that.


    Instead of (as Alison suggested) going to the head of finance (for Reasons), I actually went to a much more senior person who had the authority and clout to have the right conversations with the right people and have them be received correctly. I used the same kind of language “this just happened while I was out, we did get it resolved but…. we really can’t be doing that, it’s illegal, so can you help me find a way to solve this problem with finance?” And he did. Naturally after we discussed the importance of timesheets. I do not know what the resolution is going to be and I’m very sympathetic to a finance department who’s not been able to grow as fast as the rest of the company but they need to get more and better support from the parts of the company that can help with this.

    1. RH*

      I worked at a time and materials consulting firm until recently (now at a nonprofit) so getting flashbacks and sending you all the sympathy! I was a project manager, so I was often getting heartburn because I couldn’t tell how much billable time people had tracked this week, and therefore whether the project budget was on track. It’s so challenging because people hate filling out their timesheet with the kind of detail that most consulting firms need (such as which client and which project, ideally on a daily basis) – which I totally get because it’s a huge pain – but when people don’t, it causes big challenges for project managers and finance. I don’t know what the solution is – we never figured it out.
      To be clear, that in no way justifies withholding pay, that’s very much not okay. Just thinking about how this is something that every consulting firm seems to struggle with.

      1. LW5*

        Because no one wants to do the things that don’t feel like Their Job! I sympathize. And if you have a difficult client (which can either be themselves or their systems) you might have an additional order of magnitude in PM complexity. Exerting control over the kinds of people on your projects might be the most important part of being a PM- and training them, clearly and directly, including with written documentation, what the expectations for the project/client are.

        The solution is unfortunately a human one. Track your work.

    2. Mill Miker*

      Please tell me this isn’t for creative/knowledge work and paired with a “All tasks have an estimate, and time logged to the task should match the estimate, or be proceeded by conversation about why” rule, and a “Your whole day needs to be accounted for” rule, where even the non-billable stuff has to be logged to specific non-billable tasks (vs. a general bucket).

      I’ve seen that too many times, and under that setup almost everyone is in either the “struggling” or “fudging things” buckets.

      You mention “billing zero hours” and “overhead codes”, so I’m going to be optimistic and assume you’re not. Although it sounds like you’re in an industry where that’s a distinct possibility, so if this isn’t your problem employees first job, maybe they’re dealing with some baggage from places that were a bit more difficult.

      1. LW5*

        Well… yes? It’s not creative work but it is often knowledge based work. It is indeed true that all tasks have an estimate as determined by a contract with the client and overbilling does need to be discussed with the project manager and then sometimes with the client. You can’t just bill 20 hours to a task budgeted for 10 and 1) not tell anyone till after the fact and 2) not attempt to address it before doing the work. That’s pretty much consulting 101 and we emphasize it repeatedly. We’re also not just making stuff up when we budget time on tasks. And we do need people to allocate their work time in the day to what they do, billable or otherwise. With the timesheet thing – definitely baggage and we’ve all got some of it.

    3. Enai*

      Thank you for the update! I often wonder what the LWs ended up doing and if Alison’s advice even reached them in time.

      1. LW5*

        I’m sure this isn’t the case for most, but I wrote to her yesterday! And she emailed me to say it was published! In my case I’d already had the first conversation per my update (avid reading of this site) but it was very useful to see the response. It’s also definitely useful for people engaging in today’s morning post! And really it’s on me somewhat too – I knew finance would threaten people with this and I didn’t do anything about it until now.

  49. Anastasia Beaverhousen*

    #1: Yeah, as a therapist also my boss never tries to psychoanalyze me. That is a huge ethical violation in creating an dual relationship, and also you never agreed for them to be your therapist. There may be value in clarifying their view of their roll in asking “are you approaching this as a manager or a therapist because I am not comfortable with you as my therapist as you are already my manager”. There may also be value in going to HR and letting them know the boundaries they are crossing with many of their comments and how it is making you uncomfortable.

  50. Burning Out At Both Ends*

    LW 5: whats the reminder process for everyone?
    our timesheets are due monday at 10am, so on fridays at 5pm a reminder email goes out, and then on Monday at 9:50a if you haven’t submitted, your timesheet approver/manager sends a “turn it in NOW” message or shows up at your desk to tell you to turn it in.
    a few people have gotten the “please don’t make it harder for us to pay you” talk for being repeat offenders but 0 threats about not being paid.

    1. LW5*

      Here it’s much less over the top than at other firms (and I will say, some people who came up through the bigger ones struggle more because they’re used to the constant reminders and they kind of tune it out until they get too many….)

      We have an automatic email that goes out Monday mornings to remind people YOUR TIMESHEET WAS DUE ON FRIDAY JACKASS (the last word implied), and then after a couple more hours payroll is hunting you down personally via email and then Teams. At that point they usually get your supervisor involved. They’re very clear with you on why what you’re doing is screwing everything up.

      Really you can edit them up to the point they are approved Monday morning and I think that reality does introduce delay but it’s something I’d keep – people work on the weekends and they also work late Fridays so even if you have your finance approvals going on West Coast Friday night you’ll have issues.

      We have enough purely remote staff plus traveling ones (including both myself and this person) so that dropping by a desk can’t work all the time, though that’s definitely happening elsewhere.

    2. But Not the Hippopotamus*

      I am currently paid monthly with twice-monthly timesheets. The timesheet starts having a reminder in it to sign it at the end of the pay period a few days beforehand. There are multiple emails the day of and timecard approvers will start reminding people around 3 PM. If you haven’t signed by the end of the day, your manager will know it and hound you. The late-sign list gets moved up the managerial chain pretty fast.

      It is expected that you will let your manager know if you are working late that day or if you end up unable to sign for some reason (personal emergency means you are on a plane or something) they can go in and fill it out/sign with a HOLD code to keep you off the naughty list.

      We also have daily requirements and if you haven’t filled it out from the day before, you will hear from your manager before noon.

      Also, if managers don’t approve them in time, it goes to their management.

      basically, the only way you will miss it is if you are in a coma… and they have a procedure for that.

  51. CK*

    LW1 – I know you’ve already gotten a ton of feedback here but just want to reiterate, from a fellow therapist, THIS IS NOT NORMAL OR OKAY. Wildly inappropriate and it’s concerning to me from both a management *and* a clinical perspective that this is how she is acting with you. Red flags abound.

  52. StaringatComputers*

    On LW5 I think my big question is how would finance know how much to pay someone? If there’s no timesheet how will they know how many hours the worker worked.

    1. Hlao-roo*

      LW5 commented elsewhere in the thread that the employees in question are salaried exempt, so their paychecks will be the same each pay period regardless of the number of hours worked.

    2. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

      On LW5 I think my big question is how would finance know how much to pay someone?

      I’d think minimum wage for 60 (1 week) or 120 (2 weeks) with the balance to come on the following cheque would be pretty good incentive to do the timesheet and provide CYA to the employer for most employees.

  53. HonorBox*

    LW1 – Whether your supervisor is intending to or not, they’re manipulating you. It is hard to know the intent (though I have suspicions), but no matter what, it is manipulative. It may very well be that she’s just not had experience with management / supervisory functions and is relying on her clinical training. But it would likely be worth pushing back, either with her directly, or scheduling time with the other LPC to push back. Because when you’re sending a few questions, there’s no “racing thoughts” discussion necessary. You’re asking questions about work. When you’re asking about PTO, there’s no “story” that needs to be discussed (largely because there’s probably no “story” anyway). You’re looking for straightforward answers, not looking for analysis and deeper meaning.

    I know you said the other LPC’s schedule is full, but if you could find some time with them outside of regular hours, it would probably be worthwhile. Just noting that you’ve found it incredibly difficult to get answers without having to explore deeper meaning might be helpful. Because a lot of the things you’re asking about and asking for are simple employment-related questions that will impact you beyond the time you have a relationship with your present supervisor.

    Also, I do have to say that I find it sort of odd that she’s suggesting you trust her when she’s done nothing so far to make you trust that you can get a straightforward answer.

  54. Dust Bunny*

    Frankly, some of it sounds … abusive is too strong a word here, but manipulative? Gaslighty? She’s weaponizing the language of therapy to avoid dealing with very basic employment issues.

    Seconding this, hard. She might not realize she’s doing it, but I would be she kinda does. This sounds really manipulative and avoid-the-topic-y.

  55. umami*

    ‘use your knowledge of me and trust me to honor this, let that guide you, not your fear of workplace power dynamics.’

    Just … wat? LOL that is not how that works. OP, your instincts on this are spot-on. Trust isn’t something that is blindly given, especially in the workplace. There is nothing unreasonable about anything you have asked about, and such basis office interactions don’t need to be analyzed for deeper meaning.

      1. rebelwithmouseyhair*

        Yeah? I mean, I think I’m pretty trustworthy, I do what I say I will do, and I prefer everything in writing simply because I’m also forgetful. If someone wants something in writing, it’s no problem because of course I’m going to do it. Putting it in writing simply clarifies everything for everyone.

  56. Dances with Light*

    LW1: Your supervisor’s attempts to dissuade you from getting normal workplace information in writing (“use your knowledge of me and trust me to honor this”) is the very reason why John Adams advocated “a government of laws and not of men”. When important policies – whether in the workplace, the government or anywhere else – are left up to the individuals in charge and are not impartially mandated by written rules and laws, those individuals are free to use their own personal whims to force their subordinates to do anything that suits their supervisors’ fancy at the moment. That wouldn’t have worked as a guideline to govern this country and it doesn’t work as a way to run a workplace now!

    LW1, your supervisor’s behavior is NOT normal, is NOT ethical and is NOT honorable. Does she supervise any of your peers? If so, are THEY experiencing the same runaround that you’re getting? And is there no HR department where you work? Your questions about the terms of your employment are not only normal, they’re STANDARD; most people can’t afford to work in a position in which ALL the terms of their employment aren’t spelled out and where they’re “soft-scolded” for even bringing up the subject. This is nutty as an almond grove and you’re right to recognize it!

  57. Shanderson*

    My gut reaction to this was feeling appalled. Analysis and patient debrief is definitely necessary between therapists because you need to keep your own shit together and on top of bias, but applying it to scenarios like this is manipulative at best and abusive at worst. How sure are you that she is a good practitioner? Do you see her sessions? If she has taken out of couples work that sometimes you need to “humour an unreasonable request” that is a red flag the size of Texas to me, and all of this seems incredibly irresponsible. Can you speak anonymously (or not anonymously if comfortable) to your licensing/professional oversight body to get some perspective? I would be very curious as to their take.

  58. Rachel*

    I think there is a disconnect in the toilet cleaning letter.

    Some people seem to think it’s a quick wipe down with a toilet brush.

    Some people seem to think it’s a full toilet clean with cleaning products.

    These are two wildly different things and everybody is talking past each other

    1. Higgs Bison*

      Some of us do hear both arguments but disagree with the premise of one. I for one hear “quick wipe down with the toilet brush” and think “taking poop out of the toilet without sanitizing it” and therefore go “it only makes sense to either leave the skid mark for the weekly cleaning or do a cleaning with chemicals. Half measures like using the brush on its own are bad hygiene with good optics.”

      1. Burger Bob*

        Same here. Scenario 1 does not exist to me. There is no world in which I clean the toilet for any length of time or with any level of brushing intensity if there are not cleaning chemicals involved. I’m not swirling a brush around in a poopy toilet and then removing said brush from the bowl to hang in a holder and drip poop water who knows where. The poop stays in the bowl unless and until actual cleaning products are in play.

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

    LW1 this is so unusual I cannot put it into words, I just had to jump to the comments before reading the other letters. This person is treating you wrong. When I started working at a counseling center my boss was the head counselor and also did supervision (Im not a counselor). When I had an issue about my PTO I didn’t get told I was fearful.
    Does she have any experience outside of clinical supervision? Does she realize that she should be acting like a boss and not just a clinical supervisor? It almost seems like she doesn’t know how to do non-clinical management so she is just relying on this. But I could never see a clinical supervisor tell someone their common workplace questions were based on fear and unreasonable or “use your knowledge of me and trust me to honor this, let that guide you, not your fear of workplace power dynamics.”

    Heck, I want to tell you to say that you don’t know her and you don’t trust her because every time you ask a reasonable question she gaslights you in this way. I would honestly push back with her and ask her why she is doing this, but I don’t think that’s going to do much good. Maybe if there is a way you can separate your clinical time from when you are asking about non-clinical questions that might help put some barriers. But really unless you can go to the other therapist or an HR person if you have one I don’t know what more you could do. Maybe this is just how the office runs.

  60. Jake*

    For #3, Alison’s language is so much better than what I run into. My coworkers use language like, “If you don’t leave it like that in your house, you shouldn’t leave it like that here!” in an exasperated tone.

    It’s not helpful because frankly, at home, I don’t spend time to make the bowl look pristine. Additionally, the bowls at my house come 100x cleaner when I flush than those at work do.

    If it was approached from Alison’s point of view that you should leave a shared resource in the same condition you found it, I’d have made a much better effort.

  61. SaffyTaffy*

    LW1, I know Alison said this is not normal, and I agree it’s not normal in the real world, but… It IS normal in your field. I have been working alongside counselors and DPsychs for 15 years, and it is absolutely a hazard of the industry to work with people who do this.
    You know the thing they say, like “not every camp counselor is a pedophile, but every pedophile wants to be a camp counselor,” so it’s a hazard of that industry? I think you’ll find during the course of what I hope is a long, rewarding career that some people get into your field because they’re batcrackers.
    But Alison is right that it’s lousy management and clearly an attempt to manipulate you. Don’t be afraid to reframe what she’s saying right to her face, and remember that it’s normal for therapists to move around until they find a clinic that suits them.

    1. Marie*

      Unfortunately true. Therapists get an UNREAL amount of automatic credibility. You could say the most bizarre thing, then add “I’m a therapist,” and nobody will question you. It’s a horrifying amount of unearned power.

      Even the most well-meaning buffoon will eventually become an unintentional terror after decades of never being questioned. Add in even a little bit of intelligence, arrogance, and love of power, and you get a terror that leaves a 50 mile crater of supervisees who left the field before they even started, and clients who refuse to ever try therapy again.

      Agencies and insurance companies squeezing therapists for every penny they can get really ensures there will always be a place for intentionally or unintentionally cruel supervisors in the field, so they don’t natural consequence themselves out of a job.

  62. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

    LW1: I’m the engineeriest engineer you’re ever going to meet. I believe that engineering techniques and heuristics are applicable to other parts of life: analysis then synthesis, treating certain things as black boxes and not worrying about the internals, working from first principles, process improvement, +/- 5% is close enough for most cases, etc.

    But at least I have the self-awareness not to TELL people flat-out that I’m analyzing a situation as an engineer, instead of as a spouse, family member, friend, etc.

    Your boss is especially clueless if they can’t see that mental therapeutic techniques, and especially the associated lingo, are inappropriate to the boss-employee relationship.

  63. 2 Cents*

    OP #5: I work in an industry where time sheets need to be submitted (though we’re all salaried at 40 hours; the time sheets are to bill clients). The worst threat is no PTO is approved until all time sheets are up to date, but I’ve never heard of pay being withheld since that’s illegal.

    1. Boof*

      Nice, that seems like it strikes a good balance of strong motivation but not overly onerous (or illegal!)

    2. LW5*

      I’ve heard of that too and this is the first firm where the threat and the follow-through were made!

      At one of my older firms one office handled it by filling out your sheet with PTO to fill in the gaps but you could back out time and adjust so it wasn’t a permanent punishment. That worked well but we wouldn’t be able to do that here for several reasons.

      1. 2 Cents*

        Ooo, that’s cruel, making it PTO for incomplete days. I will say time sheet compliance became much better! And yes, I was a culprit. I started checking my time sheets and then submitting PTO requests LOL, so it had the desired effect.

  64. Therapist Boss*

    OP 1: I’m a seasoned, licensed therapist who also has years of experience supervising other therapists. I want to affirm that what your boss is doing is not okay! And it’s not normal within the mental health field. Yes, absolutely clinical supervision typically includes some invitations for self-reflection. But what she is doing is pathologizing you for asking basic questions! That’s not okay for a therapist to do, and not okay for a supervisor to do. Clinical knowledge should not be wielded as a weapon. I hear that you respect her clinical knowledge and skills…but there are other skilled clinical supervisors out there who will treat you with respect, model healthy communication and boundaries, and not use their clinical knowledge to attack you. What she is doing is deeply inappropriate, and I would get out. You deserve to grow your clinical skills with someone who supports you and doesn’t undermine you this way.

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

      yes this! And since the OP is new I’m afraid this supervisor is going to teach the OP that this is normal and how things should be done.
      I’m wondering if the OP could reach out to the others there who may have had the same person for supervision and see if they have had similar experiences. If nothing else the OP should talk to whoever is in charge and tell them about what is happening. Hopefully this is just something with the supervisor and is not something systematic with the whole practice.

  65. Another Week*

    A former employee used to require people to go in person to pick up timesheets when they missed cutoffs for submitting billable hours. First time may have been from HR, but 2+ was from a high up management person. You then got a lecture about the importance of promptly submitting them. I got it once, he likened it to a regular habit of brushing your teeth. As a Junior attorney, it was effective since you don’t want to come to attention that way. I think it worked for most people, but not egregious offenders. For them, I figure it would start to impact their bonus at some point.

    1. LW5*

      We don’t have paper timesheets and we have a lot of widely distributed staff – I’d literally have to get on a plane and knock on someone’s home door to check on their timesheet if we wanted to handled it in person.

      We have timesheet offenders at all levels of the company though… it’s not enough to hold you back in your career I have observed. Affecting a bonus might help, because there’s a metric most places about following through on procedures. But… bonuses in consulting firms are tied to overall profit so there’s a weak individual connection to that in the first place.

  66. Rage*

    OP1: I’m an LPC-in-training (third career) and I’d be running for the hills if a job supervisor did this to me. Very very unprofessional. I think you’re spot-on that it’s a dual relationship – which isn’t terribly uncommon, but also she should know to separate those two roles, and she’s not.

    If you were able to secure an outside clinical supervisor, I’d suggest you go that route, and then you can effectively push back against her unreasonable workplace demands in a more traditional employee-supervisor relationship.

    It’s kind of ironic that one of my courses this summer is “Career Development” – I want to toss this story out to my classmates and get their opinions on it.

  67. Anon in Canada*

    #2 is absolutely normal in low-paid retail, food service or hospitality jobs. There is no “offer” and no built-in opportunity to turn it down – if you interview, you’re deemed to want the job, so you’ll just be told “you’re hired”. It’s simply how it works, and is not something to complain about – the only problem in this story is not having disclosed how much the job pays during the interview (or in the ad). This can be very disconcerting to someone used to the hiring process of more “professional” jobs!

    1. Fluffy Fish*

      Its a perfectly valid thing to complain about.

      Just because something is done, doesn’t mean its a good or right thing to do. Retail, food service and hospitality are all notoriously dysfunctional workplaces. I’d argue that more people need to complain and advocate for change.

      The other workplace was capable of hiring in a normal professional way.

      1. Anon in Canada*

        But they can’t actually coerce you to work for them. If you get the call saying “you’re hired”, you can always say no (although you may burn the bridge with that hiring manager if you do, they still can’t force you).

        Other than not disclosing the pay and scheduling at the interview, this is all par for the course in those industries, and is just another way in which low-paid service jobs are different from professional jobs. Just like in those fields, it’s common to start immediately if you’re not currently employed, and that even if employed, you’d be laughed at if you tried to push back your start date by more than the 2 week notice period. Or that handing a paper resume in person is still a thing in restaurants (though not so much in retail).

        1. Fluffy Fish*

          I’m not sure what you are getting at. No one said anything about being coerced.

          OP’s issue is with not being explicitly offered a position and the employer assuming they are just going to start. No job should be assuming anything. All jobs should make an explicit offer of employment. Be it “Can you start next Tuesday?” or “You’re hired, when can you start?” All jobs require preemployment paperwork of some kind – at least tax related. Most require at least some training.

          Both myself and my child have worked those type of jobs. “You are hired” has always been an explicit conversation.

          It doesn’t matter if its common in a field. It’s wrong and it’s poor management. OP is absolutely correct in their assessment.

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

      But I don’t think this was retail, at least the OP didnt say it was. Even in retail you get told what the pay rate is! And calling to see if they can work now? that sounds crazy. They don’t even know what the job entails because they never got to have a conversation.

    3. doreen*

      The part that’s not normal for even retail or food service is never being told that you’re hired. It’s normal not to get an “offer” which implies that you can turn it town but it’s normal to get some indication that you’re hired – even if it’s just “Be here at noon on Thursday” or a call asking if you can start on Friday. Being called a day or two later and asked to work because someone called in isn’t so normal.

    4. GythaOgden*

      As someone who was temp to perm originally, I’d actually jump at a similar thing — I’m not sure it’s very common in more senior jobs, but in situations where they need a butt in a chair or boots on the ground ASAP it’s useful for a certain kind of person who can be more agile than usual.

      I did one such stint at a local hotel bar and was so bad at it (zero training then asked to do someone’s wedding!!) I never did more than one shift. I still think the time I was served a bad watery cocktail at a golf club Christmas party was karma for me evidently spoiling someone else’s wedding. I have now become a Mocktail Mistress (went teetotal after alcohol started not playing nicely with my medication) and learned how to pour a good drink for myself. However, it didn’t stop me being able to drop everything and turn up at a placement and try to show a prospective employer what I’m good at.

      In my current position it’s not something I can do because I have to give a month’s notice at my permanent job (UK) and the unicorn job hasn’t come along that would be worth torching all my bridges for, but in the past it was good for me to be able to roll up my sleeves and get to work because it circumvented a process that proved very hard to get noticed in otherwise. When I got into this current job I was grateful enough to have something stable that my notoriously hard to please supervisor was able to relinquish one of her duties onto my shoulders (because I was bored and wanted something to do) and everyone said to me that they’d never heard her praise anyone like she praised me.

      I’m actually making a bit of progress with my current situation in getting the regional management to give me more administrative duties and allow me to get out from under the problem of being an underemployed receptionist in order to get ahead a bit further. I feel like I’m interviewing every day but getting paid for it, and it’s helpful to someone who really isn’t very competitive on paper to show them what I can do.

  68. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

    LW1: I’m the engineeriest engineer who ever engineered. I think a lot of engineering techniques are applicable to most areas of life: working from first principles, analysis then synthesis, treating certain things as black boxes and not worrying about the internals, +/- 5% is close enough for most things, process improvement, etc.

    But I have enough self-awareness to know that I shouldn’t TELL people that I’m being an engineer, when what I really should be at that moment is a relative, friend, neighbor, boss, etc.

    The fact that your boss uses the techniques of therapy – and the specific language of therapy – in day-to-day interactions with you is a massive red flag.

    (apologies if this double-posts)

    1. Rage*

      As someone who has dated engineers….most of them don’t have the level of insight that you do. So I may have to revoke your “Engineeriest Engineer” card. :p

      1. Verthandi*

        I know someone who would refer to checking the baby’s diaper as “checking the output buffer”.

        1. rebelwithmouseyhair*

          My brother-in-law told me our table was “badly calibrated”. I laughed and said that most people would just say “wobbly”. He’d only learned English for his job, so he’d never even heard the word “wobbly”. I was delighted to teach him, because it’s a wonderful word that means just what it should mean from the sound of it.
          (I realise I’m outing myself as one of the linguistiest linguists as I’m telling this story)

  69. Metadata Janktress*

    OP1, everyone has said this already, but oh my goodness, that is INCREDIBLY manipulative and it’s not okay.

  70. Mandie*

    I slightly disagree with Alison about LW1’s boss. To me, this IS abusive. It’s appalling, and it’s definitely gaslighting. Hearing these kinds of responses to totally normal work questions over and over for a long period of time could definitely make a person question their reality, and damage their sense of self. Seriously – a bulleted list is an indication of “racing thoughts”? It feels like she’s intentionally playing with LW’s psyche. This woman is sick.

    1. Irish Teacher*

      Yeah, the “racing thoughts” made absolutely no sense to me. While it might not be feasible to do this to your boss, I think it would be reasonable if the LW were to look at her in confusion and say “um, no, I haven’t,” in a tone that suggests that was a very weird thing for her to think. Because it was.

  71. El l*

    She’s using the common language you have of therapy to knock you down a peg and to cover her own failures and anxieties. Notice the circumstances when she uses this language. Does she accuse you of having issues when you give her positive feedback?

    Yep, manipulative. Run.

  72. Marie*

    Ooh, I’m hopping mad, LW1.

    I’ve been a therapist and a clinical supervisor. In all honesty, it can be hard not to drop into therapy speak with staff, because you do it all day, and it becomes a natural response to “somebody is directing their feelings at me, though the issue at hand isn’t really about me”, which describes most difficult work discussions.

    But that’s the job. You don’t supervise if you can’t do it. You can fire your therapist, but you can’t fire your boss, so bosses have a duty to never become their staff’s involuntary, inescapable therapist.

    And we also have a duty to role model professional, business conversations in the context of emotions, because therapists have to do that with clients every time they discuss billing or the cancellation policy. That’s a therapy skill a boss who is a therapist must have, because a therapist must have it.

    This is separate from the problem of using therapy speak to dismiss and pathologize somebody’s concerns. That’s arrogant, unskilled, and avoidant, whether you do it to clients or staff. Clients must be able to criticize therapists and ask for changes without being completely dismissed, even if the issue *does* turn out to be their own problems — managing those conflicts with dignity and curiosity is a baseline therapeutic skill.

    But this is RAMPANT behavior in therapy clinics, especially nonprofits. The hours, pay, training, and physical safety in the therapy field is in a dire state. For a variety of complicated reasons, therapists often do not have the legal right to unionize for better conditions, leaving their only option quitting the clinic (or field).

    So if you can’t pay, train, or protect your staff, the next best way to get them to stay is to bully them about their character, and whether it’s suited to being a therapist. Oh, you want pay? Gosh, I thought you were here for the clients, not money. Oh, you want office safety procedures? I guess I thought you’d worked through your trauma reactions.

    It’s a great way to make somebody insecure that defending themselves or leaving their workplace means their entire professional identity is a fraud, and they have to stay and put up with bad treatment to prove it isn’t. In a business that can live and die on professional networks and referrals, getting your professionalism badmouthed is a very real threat.

    This is bad management, LW1. I don’t know what your boss looks like in session, so can’t say it’s also a deficit in clinical skill, but it’s certainly a deficit in clinical ethics.

    1. goddess21*

      wow, the labor angle of this is fascinating and not something I ever considered. the person who treated me that way was a solo practitioner, but one of their hobby horses was that i should change fields and become a therapist! very weird. i always felt like i was working for a dissatisfied boss in that situation, and i guess i was.

    2. LW #1*

      I’m waiting until the dust settles to share what so far seems to be a very positive update, but just wanted to say thank you for this message in particular. I have professional experience prior to becoming a therapist (not much, but 2-3 years post undergrad with an incredibly professional social service nonprofit with good work-life boundaries + being an avid AAM reader has taught me so much), so just everything you said rings true to me and it feels good to have that validated from someone senior in the field. And everything you said about the labor issue is *chef’s kiss* perfectly said and horribly accurate. And until more of us commit to standing up for professional boundaries in classically toxic agencies (like you describe) or commit to forming group practices/nonprofits of our own that value the same norms of LITERALLY EVERY OTHER PROFESSION, the bonkers folks in the field will keep poisoning things for everyone. Anyway, thanks again.

      1. Marie*

        So sorry to hear this resonates, LW1, but glad to hear you holding to your sense of reality and worth here.

        Therapy clinics can really be their own special universe of toxic work, especially if they’re also nonprofits. Very few other workplaces give you that heady mixture of “how dare you want to pee during the day, why would we pay for your desk and chair, very selfish of you to not be working at 3 pm on Sunday, why did you block out a lunch break, good luck with that subpoena let us know how it goes, reimburse us for your mandatory training, 55k starting salary, masters required.”

        One reframe I used sometimes to snap myself out of the guilt trips was taking them seriously. My supervisor tells me I don’t care about my client’s well-being because I wouldn’t add a 7 pm slot? Well, what’s the plan to transfer my clients elsewhere, since clearly you couldn’t ethically let a therapist who doesn’t care about clients see them? I dont have an ethical commitment to the work because I asked for a raise? I presume you’re contacting the licensing board to tell them about this serious charge? I am too abrasive and disruptive because I asked when the front door lock would be fixed after a client kicked it in? Well, gosh, I look forward to the Performance Improvement Plan where you coach me on my conduct.

        If it was a real workplace issue, it would be treated like one, instead of immediately dropped once the intended effect of shutting you up is achieved. A real supervisor who cared about good clinical work would not send somebody with racing thoughts and active paranoia off to see clients.

  73. Somehow_I_Manage*

    LW1- Your boss is legitimately scary and not someone I would choose to be around.

  74. metadata minion*

    #1 – Wow, no, that is not normal. It also makes me kind of skeptical of her value as a therapist — she sounds like one of those therapists (sadly very, very common) who refuse to believe that any anxiety or distress could be from justified causes.

  75. BellyButton*

    #1 I am appalled by this. She is a mad colleague, manager, and therapist. I would start calling her out on it ASAP.
    “I am not sure why you think a question about PTO has anything to do with anything other than clarifying X”
    “I don’t appreciate you attempting to analyze me when I am simply asking a normal workplace question.”
    “I am not your client, please don’t analyze me.”

    It isn’t ok, you are not her client, you are not needing to be analyzed. It feels so icky and like she is using it to manipulate/control you in some way?? ICK ICK ICK. If it doesn’t stop I would 10000000% escalate it.

  76. Timesheet Mistress*

    #5 if you’re going to be OOO you need to have someone cover you for making sure your employees get their timesheets done (and approved if that’s needed). Yes it is entirely illegal what your company did (I mean, I can’t believe they did that!!) but tell your report to stop being a shitty co-worker and to get her timesheet in. I spend way too much time in my job chasing people down for timesheets and it delays my work and puts deadlines I have at risk…they’re not even tied to payroll too which makes the impetus to do them even less.

    1. LW5*

      I was never contacted about the late timesheet at all so I had no idea this was happening – line managers don’t approve timesheets here. As I mentioned, the two things are at heart disconnected – dealing with the company doing something illegal is happening separately and in parallel to dealing with the employee (and the latter wasn’t a question here, I am handling that.)

      I think it’s also important that no one respond to “company did an illegal thing to someone because they didn’t follow a process in a timely fashion” with “well if you just did it right the first time the illegal thing would never have happened to you!” Yes obviously but the company controls their own actions and regardless of the employee doing that right or wrong, they don’t get to behave that way.

      1. Hiring Mgr*

        If these are all salaried workers, maybe there’s a way to untether the timesheets to their pay? Regardless of the legalities, the current way doesn’t seem that efficient

        1. LW5*

          I am hoping that conversation is now ongoing. Without going into too much detail, I think that there’s a legacy operation to our payroll system that’s connected to the timesheets in a silly way that needs to be unconnected. It’s not automatic so it should be a human adjustment.

      2. Observer*

        I think it’s also important that no one respond to “company did an illegal thing to someone because they didn’t follow a process in a timely fashion” with “well if you just did it right the first time the illegal thing would never have happened to you!” Yes obviously but the company controls their own actions and regardless of the employee doing that right or wrong, they don’t get to behave that way.

        I like your approach. Yes, time sheets, especially with the break downs DO have to go it. And you’re working on that. But that still doesn’t mean that the company gets to do what it wants, regardless of legality. It’s great that you see that part too.

        I saw that you’ve pulled in someone higher up in the hierarchy on this. I think that that was a very smart move.

        1. LW5*

          The messenger always matters. Sometimes I’m the right one, but I wasn’t going to risk a backlash on this issue because at its heard it’s a systemic one and I needed the right person to handle it.

          Plus it surely got me bonus points with that person and I might need them later.

  77. Cypress*

    Fellow IBS-haver here, and one who has has blown up a few toilets in their professional career. I’m definitely more on the self-conscious side about it (especially after overhearing some colleagues complain about the state the toilets while I was in the other stall. Ouch.). I’d absolutely clean it myself if I had the option, especially since I don’t want to make life harder for the cleaning crews in our building….

    … But I’ve never worked in an office where there was a brush in the bathrooms. I’m surprised about the number of people who have.

  78. Ama*

    For OP4 — years ago I was in a job where I frequently supervised temp workers (and they were truly temps, as in we called them in to cover for a week or two when particular roles were out). One day I was very surprised to receive a form from the US military asking me to serve as a reference for one of these temps. I actually didn’t initially recognize the name but I kept all of our temp names and the hours worked on my calendar since I had to submit their hours to the agency, and I was able to identify that he worked for us for a week nearly six months prior. It wasn’t clear from the form whether he’d made clear to the military that it was a short term temp assignment or if the limitations of the military’s form just couldn’t really handle temp assignments. The form had short answers on it so I did my best to make it clear that he was a good and reliable worker but he was a temp who worked for us for a week. I hope it was sufficient for him to get whatever position he was after.

    You don’t really have any way of knowing whether Katie really said you were her manager or if the limitations of the employer’s system meant she listed a contact and the reference checker assumed it was her manager, but I think you handled it as well as you could have under the circumstances. I have in my younger days had to list coworkers instead of managers for certain jobs because the managers were no longer reachable (although I did try to make that clear to the reference checker and also gave my references a heads up).

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

      This is a valid point! Also, as others have said, Katie might have put the OP down as a supervisor, because it sounds like as a senior staff member OP’s role was to give directions. And so either Katie misunderstood OP’s role as This person tells me what to do and keeps us on task = this person is a supervisor or manger. OR the HR team misunderstood Katie when she gave the reference. I could also see Katie not knowing that a reference is a reference of your character working and not just a way to verify employment.

  79. Tobias Funke*

    LW1, this gave me chest pains! I don’t have any good advice but I want to validate how aggravating and inappropriate that behavior is. I am a clinician as well and have encountered tens and tens of these people. They won’t or can’t turn off the therapy language for whatever reason (and I will not even attempt to guess their reasons as I don’t know what they are) and it makes them IMPOSSIBLE. They won’t be held accountable to even totally reasonable standards and expectations and they won’t give straight answers to direct questions. All that couch talk (IFS and parts work when you are trying to advocate for yourself in a very normal way??????) is wildly inappropriate in that context.

    Just know it is not normal or okay although it is disconcertingly common.

  80. Former Retail Lifer*

    LW#2: I’ve been desperate to bring someone on when I managed retail stores, but this is something else. There needs to be a job offer (even just a verbal offer) and, at minimum, your tax paperwork needs to be filled out before you can start working. I once had someone start the same day, right after the interview, but we did that bare minimum first.

    LW#3: Is there a cleaning staff on-site during business hours that can come in and clean messes throughout the day? Are there cleaners that come every night after the business closes? Or are the bathrooms professionally cleaned just a few times a week (like where I work)? If it’s one of the latter two, please use the brush. I’ve actually never seen a toilet brush in a bathroom since I worked in retail, when we were our own cleaners, but its presence makes me think that cleaning isn’t daily and some assistance is requested.

  81. Kan*

    OP #1: Obviously, the manager/clinical supervisor blurring is highly inappropriate and that kind of interpersonal weaponization is likely to have pretty strong defenses against any kind of push back.

    However, I think the pushback could be “I’m really benefiting from your clinical supervision when it comes to my work with clients. When I’m in ‘clinical supervision’, you often ask me questions that encourage me to consider what I’m bringing to the table. I find it really valuable. When I come to you with questions related to my role as an employee, I’d like you to take off your clinical supervisor hat, and put on your employer/manager hat. It’s not appropriate for managers to speculate about my mental health, my childhood, or my psyche when discussing work rules/pay/scope of work/contracts/performance evaluations. Clinical supervision is clearly defined in the profession, and focused on improving my skills with clients. It doesn’t extend to employer/employee interactions.

    I question your assumption that the clinical supervision is really good. What you’re learning may have more to do with your earnestness to learn and improve, and less to do with what she’s bringing to the supervision.

    Another option: Anytime she inappropriatly speculates on your psyche, you could chuckle and say “Oh, I checked the DSM; I’d have to have a lot more symptoms, of a much longer duration, before you could call a bullet list of questions ‘racing thoughts’.”

    1. Marie*

      Yes, or innocently ask if the same standards apply to clients! “My client asked me about how they’ll be receiving bills — so that’s their paranoid part, right?” “My client sent me a bulletpointed list of questions about intake, so do you think their racing thoughts are anxiety related or indicative of a manic state?”

      Honestly, putting it into a client context makes it all the more clear how clinically inappropriate this treatment is. You would have professional concerns about a colleague discussing their clients in this way.

      1. Irish Teacher*

        I’d be a little afraid she’d agree. “Yes, that indicates paranoia. You should take care not to encourage it. Don’t tell them anything about the cost in advance and if they ask, encourage them to trust you. They need to learn to take it for granted that we won’t overcharge them and not question our bills.”

        I’m exaggerating a little with the quoting. I don’t think she’d actually imply that they should be free to overcharge without question. But I could see her treating the clients in the same way she treats the LW and agreeing with suggestions that the clients’ questions should be dismissed and treated as symptoms.

        1. Marie*

          True! Though it would probably be good to know if that was her perspective. We can give a lot of deference in this field to people with years of experience on us, or a higher title or credential, without ever hearing them actually describe their practice or values. Hearing a supervisor say something like that would jolt me from, “I think they kinda suck as a boss???” to “oh cool I better get out of here before I get ordered to do something that puts my license at risk.”

  82. morethantired*


    I agree with everyone on how not okay this is.

    My suggestion is to try “grey rocking” this person. Be as unemotional and bland as possible. Then perhaps even begin saying “I would prefer we try to leave emotions out of this.” She’s so off base that I’m not sure it would stop her from accusing you of being irrational, but it may help you to just try not to give her any energy. I’m so sorry you’re going through this and I hope something better comes along.

  83. My Useless 2 Cents*

    Regarding #4, especially given that it is retail, I seem to remember that it used to be super common for applications to ask for manager’s name on the line of past experience. Katie might not per OP’s name down as reference, just listed her as the person she remembered being her supervisor.
    I worked retail during college and was often given the evening hours because of class schedule. During that time, at best I could give you my coworkers name but had no clue what my true manager’s name was. Most of my supervisors/night-shift managers were only part-time employee’s so I don’t think that is a reason to rule out OP as night shift supervisor/manager either.
    It sounds like OP is looking for an out but thinks Katie lied to this new company which is a harsh stance to take. Given a seasonal position and that OP was directing where, what, and how Katie was working during her shift, it is not out of the range of possibilities that Katie saw OP as her supervisor/night-manager.

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

      I’m wondering if Katie didn’t realize that OP wasn’t a supervisor or manager. If this was her first job she might have thought supervisor = person who gives me tasks and is in charge. Since OP was more of a senior person with that responsibility I can see this being confusing.

    2. doreen*

      I’m guessing that it’s a combination – Katie probably saw the OP as her supervisor/manager for a variety of reasons, including that the actual manager worked a different shift and in certain jobs, “manager/supervisor” actually means something more like “senior coworker” – they are in charge for the particular shift they are working but don’t have any real role in hiring/firing/performance reviews/raises. There are still applications around that ask for the supervisor/manager’s name for each position in addition to references. I would absolutely ask someone before I put them down as a reference – but who my manager/supervisor was is basically a factual question and I wouldn’t think to ask about that.

  84. HugeTractsofLand*

    LW1, I’m so proud of you for soldiering past her condescending language to get what you need. I do worry that if you stay there long enough it will erode your sense of what’s normal to ask, because she’s definitely trying to repress your questions. I’d keep documenting the issues she tries to turn back on you, because eventually there might be a higher up you can show it to who can put a stop to it. In the meantime, maybe try one of these scripts?

    -“When you bring in clinical language, it really blurs the lines. This is a work issue, not a session.”
    -“Can we not speculate about my psyche? We’re talking about company benefits.”
    -“Can we talk about work without diagnosing? This is a really typical question.”
    -“This feels off-topic. What I asked was…”
    -“Huh. So what’s the answer to [question I actually asked]?”

  85. Marie*

    While I’m furious at the way this boss is treating you, LW1, I do want to say that the therapy field is not immune from the same problems in other fields, where a good employee is promoted to management based on their skills in their previous role, not whether they have the skills needed to manage. I also have found that therapy clinics often do not train their staff on the administrative side of supervision, and end up with supervisors who assume surely somebody else is handling payroll, scheduling, onboarding, work quality convos, etc., not realizing they’re the person who’s expected to do those things.

    A lot of therapy skills translate very well into management, but management also requires some skills that you don’t routinely use in therapy, and that many therapists find difficult or distasteful, or would be totally inappropriate in therapy. Managers have to directly and clearly order people around, tell them when they’re doing something wrong, and create negative consequences for them, regardless of how badly it makes somebody feel, or how it triggers them. It’s not that you can’t be kind or caring as a manager, but it’s a secondary goal instead of primary.

    Without natural skill and/or training and support in wielding that kind of scary power over others, everybody goes for quick hacks, like micromanagement, abdicating authority, or if your main skill set is therapy, you start doing therapy.

    Your supervisor’s bad management here indicates whoever is supervising them isn’t doing their job, either.

    I’ve had clinical supervisors like this before. Sometimes they respond better to emotion — that’s what they keep trying to turn everything into, like a hammer looking for a nail. It goes against what we learn about how to behave in business environments, but asking about your work related concern with your anxiety and frustration and fears fully apparent in your face and voice might suddenly move them to action, when a neutral business-like presentation of concerns won’t.

    1. Lady_Lessa*

      I see something similar in science and technology. Lab and formulation skills don’t make someone a good manager.