can I ask for a raise because I stopped getting high at work, how to talk about a firing socially, and more

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

1. Can I ask for a raise since I’m not getting high at work anymore?

I am a customer service manager. Recently, I quit getting high at work. My marijuana use here was no secret, and sometimes even encouraged by ownership. I recently took a long break from cannabis, and discovered that I am much, much better at my job without it. Who figures.

I have a review coming up, and I’m wondering if there’s any possible way to leverage “I’m not taking bong hits, and my performance has improved vastly” into more money without making it sound like my previously stoned work was not worth my salary. Is there any artful way of handling this?

Leave the weed out of it entirely. If you’re performing at a higher level now, that’s what you should build your case for a raise around — leaving the reason behind the change out of the discussion (just like you would if your work improved because you were getting better sleep or finally left your crap boyfriend or so forth).

That said, if the change has been relatively recent, you need to wait a while longer. There’s not enough case for a raise if it’s just “my work has been better for the last few weeks.” You need a sustained period of higher-level work to point to — generally an absolute minimum of six months (and always at least a year from when your salary was last set, unless something very significant about the job itself changed).

2. How to talk about a firing socially

I am in a situation where all signs point to me being fired from my current job. I’ve been using a lot of your prior advice about how to improve job performance issues and talking to my manager candidly about expectations and performance. However, it’s very much looking like a “when, not if” situation.

My question is: when that shoe drops, how do I discuss it in social situations? You’ve talked about how to address it in interviews, but what do I say about it to friends and family? Do I bring it up proactively, or do I wait until somebody asks about work? It will come out eventually and since many of my friends are from grad school, it would be helpful to let them know that I’m looking for work to activate that network. (For context, I am financially independent of my family and have been for several years now. I wouldn’t be asking for money from them!)

It’s really up to you! It definitely makes sense to share it proactively with people you’d like emotional support from; beyond that, you can announce it or not, as you feel like. If you don’t announce it to someone and they ask about work, it’s fine to just say, “Actually, I’m back on the market” … and then you can either share more or not, as you feel like doing. If someone asks what happened and you don’t want to get into it, it’s okay to say, “It wasn’t the right fit” or “they really needed someone to do X and that’s not my strength — I’m better at Y.” That’s not to say you need to dance around the fact that you were fired; there’s nothing shameful about it and if you want to share it, you should — this is just advice for navigating it if you’d rather not.

All of this also applies with people in your network who you specifically want to know you’re looking for work; you can still use language like the above with them if you’d like to. And if you want to proactively contact them to let them know you’re looking, you could start with, “I’m back on the market and looking for X.” You can fill in as much or as little detail as you want to from there.

3. Coworker is posting daily bible verses on the company social channel

I work for a large U.S. company, one that you’ve definitely heard of. We have an instant messaging app that the whole company uses, with different “channels” for different groups. My immediate team has a channel, my entire department has a channel, and so on, including one channel for the entire company, with approximately 128k people who see it.

For the past three days, a person (non-management) has started the day by posting a bible verse of the day. The first two had overtly Christian titles and were multiple paragraphs long, encouraging readers to “commit to Christ.” This morning his verse was much shorter and had no title, so I wonder if someone spoke to him about it. Between 10 and 20 people have responded with “like” emojis to each post.

Since the channel is company-wide, someone in HR has to have seen these. I know it’s only been three days, but many, many employees (myself included) are not Christians. And I really don’t want to be proselytized to while trying to find instant messages that actually do pertain to me.

However, the channel is, by definition, a social channel. There’s someone who posts (non-offensive) jokes, and someone who posts fun polls asking things like “What’s your favorite rock band of all time?” So the vibe for the channel is pretty much “anything goes.”

Should I point out the bible verses to my HR rep? Or should I just ignore them and hope that the poster gets tired or bored and stops sending them?

You should absolutely complain to HR and say you don’t want to be proselytized to at work. I wouldn’t assume they’ve seen it (not everyone reads company social channels or sees every message on them). It’s also possible someone in HR saw it and wrongly thought it would be fine as long as no one is complaining; scuttle that by being the person who complains.

Read an update to this letter

4. Can your boss refuse to let you ever eat lunch while at work?

Several years ago, I worked for a truly horrendous woman at a mid-sized company. From day one she set out to make my life miserable. I know most bad boss behavior is not illegal, but there was one thing that I always wondered about: she refused to let me have lunch. I couldn’t pop across the street to grab a sandwich, or even leave my desk to eat food brought from home in the break room. I would even try to eat while I was working, but she stated this was a distraction from my work and therefore not allowed. Twice, she called a lunch meeting and ordered food for everyone else but me. When I tried to eat afterwards, she reprimanded me.

She frequently demanded that I sit at my desk until 100% of my work was completed, which was regularly 10-12 hour days. I was classified as exempt so break and meal period protections don’t apply, but can management legally refuse to allow an exempt employee any kind of break at all? And can they refuse to allow you to eat while working? I did try mentioning that I was legally allowed to have a break and she told me that since I was exempt I wasn’t legally allowed anything, and skipping a few meals wouldn’t hurt me.

For the record, I only lasted working for her for two months. I tried to bring my concerns to HR and they were useless, so I walked out of that office in the middle of the day and didn’t even tell my boss I was quitting. This was clearly not the only horrible thing she did, and I had no qualms burning that bridge.

You’re right that state meal and break protections mostly only cover non-exempt workers — but a handful states do extend those protections to exempt workers too. So first and foremost, check your state’s laws.

Regardless, though, it sounds like your boss was specifically targeting you and trying to make you miserable in a particularly sadistic way. It’s ridiculous that HR refused to intervene, and you were right to get out without bothering with notice.

5. When and how long can you take FMLA for bonding with a new baby?

My wife is a teacher with a due date after the school year ends, and her contract is supposed to only obligate her to work the 180 days of the school year.

Her principal told her she might not be able to take as much time off (or at least get paid for it) next fall as we had planned since some of it falls more than 12 weeks after the child will be born. She only gets paid for FMLA if she uses sick days, so we had planned to use up most (not all since we need a buffer) of her accumulated sick days and then use my company’s more generous paternity benefits afterward, but this would limit how many sick days she could use that way.

Can employers block taking newborn bonding FMLA that starts a few months after the birth of the baby? If you can use sick days for maternity leave generally, can your employer limit you to only using them for days that fall before 12 weeks after the birth?

No! You’re allowed to take FMLA for the birth of a baby and to bond with the child during the 12-month period that begins on the date of the birth. That’s any time in the 12 months, not 12 weeks, following the birth.

The only thing I can figure the principal might be thinking is that you get a total of 12 weeks of FMLA per year, so maybe she misunderstood and thought your wife was proposing using those first 12 weeks over the summer and then more in the fall? But since her contract gives her the summer off anyway, that wouldn’t make any sense.

{ 498 comments… read them below }

  1. I'm the Phoebe in Any Group*

    Question number one was the first time I laughed out loud from a headline at Ask a Manager.

    1. Scout Finch*

      Sorry – put it in the wrong spot. Please remove both of my comments when you can.

    2. E*

      ” I recently took a long break from cannabis, and discovered that I am much, much better at my job without it.’ made me laugh so hard, I don’t even know why

      1. Wendy Darling*

        For me it is 100% the laughter at every person I knew in college who was like “I’m better at X when I’m high!” when everyone listening absolutely knew from observation that no they were not.

        Except this one dude who had terrible anxiety about public speaking but gave magnificent presentations when high. He was right.

        1. Rainy*

          My dad had a classmate in his master’s degree coursework (which he did at night when I was young) who would kill the 2ish hours between getting off work and classes starting at the bar, and the guy did super well in all his courses except the one that he tried taking the final exam sober, which he bombed.

          State dependent learning ftw I guess.

          1. Boof*

            Gonna say anyone who thinks they do X better while intoxicated probably isn’t doing X that well, or is talking about when they try to do X while in serious withdrawls or with another unmedicated problem (and most of the time “self medication” is not really appropriate medication… MAYBE some slight exceptions for cannabis – alcohol is pretty much more toxic than any actual medication that might be used for the things it helps with) etc etc IDK it drives me up the wall when I hear that as both a physician and seeing people go through detox / rehab / etc on the medical side of things

        2. rebelwithmouseyhair*

          A colleague of mine recounted that the boys in her class all smoked a joint just before their philosophy exam (always the first exam for the baccalaureate in France). They all got brilliant marks, and she only just scraped through, despite having put much more revision work in.

      2. rebelwithmouseyhair*

        Sure, there is a comic element to this post. I would like to put in a gentle reminder that “recreational” users are often self-medicating, even when they may seem to just be taking life easy and getting high for the fun of it. OP may have been using through a dark period and managed to stop simply because their problems were resolved.
        Alison doesn’t judge, she simply explains what OP’s best course of action would be, and that’s really classy of her.

    3. Thin Mints didn't make me thin*

      You’ve already given yourself a raise by spending less on weed!

    4. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      I am really weirded out by “encouraged by management” and want to know more about that.

      1. Unkempt Flatware*

        Not uncommon in the ski resorts I worked in. They’re called Safety Meetings in such similar industries. Ask me how many bosses I’ve smoked with.

    5. laser99*

      That was a lulu. “I’m only late to work twice a week now instead of every day like before, doesn’t that merit a raise???”

    6. DJ Hymnotic*

      “I’m not high, so my salary needs to be.”

      In all serious, I can’t help but wonder if the “wait at least a year before asking for a raise” conventional wisdom has changed as a result of covid/the Great Resignation/inflation/etc.? That may have been the case pre-covid when employers still held almost all the cards after the Great Recession, but has the 2021-onward labor shortage shaken up that particular Etch-a-Sketch at all? Not saying our bosses should be shaken down for raises every other month (if only), but it also seems like a whole lot can change in a year in this economy–including job responsibilities (whether written or unwritten).

      1. Need More Sunshine*

        I think if you have a strong case to ask for a raise earlier, it can be worth it, but like Alison said, it should be if something about the job fundamentally changed (like new responsibilities added to your place), or if it was clear from the beginning that the company was working you up to certain new wage in steps, or if outside factors change (inflation, for example).

    7. Emily Byrd Starr*

      Seriously! I used to teach preschool, and I often told my students, “You don’t get a star for not doing something that you shouldn’t do. You only get a star when you do something good that’s beyond what you’re supposed to do.” OP needs to go back to preschool. Either that, or they’re so clueless that they don’t understand that smoking weed at work is something that you’re not supposed to do.

    8. Random Dice*

      Me too!

      “I’m not stoned at work, er not anymore, where’s my cookie?” is the most hilarious take ever.

  2. Pastor Petty Labelle (formerly EPLawyer)*

    #2 Activate your network now. If you know it is coming, don’t wait to be fired. You don’t know how long it will take to find another job. Plus if you find something you can resign instead of waiting for the hammer to fall.

    Just tell your network you are looking to move on. Which is true

    1. straws*

      Yes! I was laid off earlier this year and made a quick post about it in a couple of places out of frustration. I was mostly venting and wasn’t planning on using those posts as networking, but I had 3 people reach out for my resume that day and an interview 2 days later. I had a job within 2 weeks, for a position that wasn’t posted anywhere yet. Obviously that’s super fast, but if I hadn’t posted to let people know, who knows how long I’d have been unemployed. Definitely let people know! If you’re on LinkedIn, there are SO many layoffs that have happened this year and a lot of people posting, so you can get an idea of wording and who is getting a lot of commenting/traction with their posts just from browsing around.

    2. It Actually Takes a Village*

      Yes, seriously. Any extra effort you’re putting in to your current job right now would be best used making steps towards a new job! Good luck.

    3. hbc*

      100% agree. And it’s a lot easier to have those conversations when it’s more along the lines of “I’m looking for something new, this isn’t the right thing for me” versus “Ack, I need income after being terminated because I couldn’t hack it!” The latter being what it feels like, even though almost everyone understands the nuance.

    4. Observer*

      Activate your network now. If you know it is coming, don’t wait to be fired.


      Worst case, if you get fired before you find something, you’re network will already be activated. It’s going to be a just a bit easier for you at a time when things are going to be a bit rough.

    5. Smithy*

      Completely agree with this.

      I also think that there’s such a sharp divide between the social/emotional reality of how it feels to be fired/laid-off vs the pragmatic/logical reality of the functional need to just find another job. So activating your networks by saying that you’re looking to move on, that you’re open to conversations about new jobs, looking to take coffees, etc etc etc can both serve that functional step of putting you out there. And then also provide you some emotional protection of not having to widely announce news that may still make you feel a bit raw.

      It’s not that acknowledging this tension makes it go away, but hopefully it can contextualize why that framing is helpful and at a difficult time. A few years from now, maybe it’ll be easy to share a lighthearted post that starts “The day I was fired, I was wearing all blue” – but there’s no need to force that now. Finding phrases that are both true and protect those more emotionally vulnerable parts of your life right now are valuable and good to hold onto.

      1. LW2*

        Thank you for this! The emotional vulnerability is the part I have been struggling with the most.

    6. LW2*

      Thank you all for the advice (and moral support)!

      I’ve been applying to positions quietly since things started to go downhill, but I see the need to get past the shame (which Alison was right to name and right about being unnecessary) I’m feeling about the situation and start reaching out to folks/explicitly activating my network.

      1. Observer*

        I’m glad to hear that you’re reaching out.

        I hope you find something that’s a better fit quickly.

      2. Hillary*

        One of the things that really helped me was someone further along in their career telling me everyone’s been fired at some point. While it isn’t literally true, we all know folks who’ve been fired over things beyond their control. Everyone who knows you will default to empathy/sympathy and helpfulness.

        You’ve got this. Hugs.

      3. Michelle Smith*

        You’re going to be alright LW2. It’s something that’s really hard for people. What you’re feeling is pretty normal and it will get better once you’ve found that next role. Please email Alison and update us when you do, because we are all rooting for you!

    7. ferrina*

      Yes! Adding my voice to the chorus- no need to wait! You know it’s not working out and you’d like a new job soon, so just start looking!
      You can say “I’m looking for a role in ABC or DEF”. You don’t need to say that a firing is imminent.

      When you talk about it, you’ve got options.
      Vague: “My employer and I parted ways. It wasn’t a good fit. But I’m excited about the future, because….” (Note that you immediately change the conversation)
      Detailed: “I was let go because [reasons why it wasn’t a good fit]. I learned that I really want a role that [reasons while you’ll be awesome at your next role].” (The goal here is to show that your experience is something you learned from and you know why it didn’t work and how to ensure your next role is a good fit).
      Friends-only: “[Whatever you want]”. Have a few friends that understand confidentiality that you can say whatever you want to. Even if it’s just “I’m feeling X, and I’d rather not talk about it right now.”

      1. Anon for Reasons*

        I’m echoing and expanding on how you frame your leaving. You don’t have to say you’re being or have been fired. “I’ve left Company.” “I’m thinking of leaving Company.” A family member of mine was fired for something socially bad and the firing wasn’t handled well. This was a big employer in a small town so gossip would have been career killing. The company is limited about what they can say to the general public about why someone is let go. So my family member always said they “left” (not quit, not was fired) and gave realistic reasons for why they would have left on their own–cause these things are rarely one-sided. They talked about what they wanted and where they wanted to go. How much better they felt now that they’re out of that company. You don’t owe anyone the back fence gossip. You can stick to the chamber of commerce version. Don’t lie on applications or when talking to agencies, but your network doesn’t need to know you’ve been fired or why.

        1. Anon for Reasons*

          And one more thing, it’s very possible your firing is being dragged out to give you an opportunity to start your job search. Most people don’t like firing someone so if they can give you a long enough notice so you take care of the problem yourself, then that’s great. Look at this as a kindness and ramp up the search you’re going to have to start anyway.

    8. Llama Llama Workplace Drama*

      Yup! I got put on a PIP earlier this year (by a new manager after 7+ years of ‘exceeds expectations’ reviews) There was something about me that she didn’t like. So I found a new job. 3 weeks after contacting people in my network to let them know that I was looking I had an offer for something with higher pay.

      It’s always easier to negotiate salary when you’re not out of work. Don’t wait for them to fire you!

      1. LW2*

        Congratulations on the new role!

        I’m definitely not waiting – I’ve been applying to roles that are a better fit for me (the bad fit is a large contributing factor to the situation) as it’s become clear that this job won’t work out. Like Anon above referenced, the org I’m at has been doing me a kindness of being explicit that there is not really a way to right the ship and giving me time to get my ducks in a row.

        A lot of what motivated me to ask the question was about how to talk about the situation when reaching out to folks in my network – so that I can hopefully do what you were able to do! The advice from the post and comments is incredibly helpful! And thank you for the example of things working out well!

  3. Lorna*

    LW1: In all fairness, asking for a raise because they’ve stopped being stoned at work feels like asking to be praised for having stopped drinking pints during working hours.

    1. Hazel Atlas*

      I think the weed use is a red herring. Their performance was acceptable while working high. They’re just a much better employee and making higher level contributions without it. Try reframing it in your head with different causes – an employee performing better after getting a medical condition under control, or after finishing night school and being able to fully focus on work, or after moving closer to work and not having a stressful commute. The reason for the change isn’t the point, the fact that they’re doing significantly better work is.

      1. John Smith*

        I dont think we don’t actually know how their performance was in the stoned age. It may be inferred that it was acceptable by the fact employment continued, but it could be that the performance was sub par and management did nothing about it or had not got round to addressing it (given that marijuana use was encouraged, let alone tolerated, that wouldn’t surprise me).

        The request would be problematic if “much better” performance equates to standard performance expected of everyone.

      2. Lorna*

        Not sure how the struggle of getting a medical condition under control equates to giving up smoking weed to be less foggy at work. I admit, I’m biased here as a person with severe disabilities – especially having to prove every day how valid my work contributions are. So the comparison does sting a bit.

        1. Well...*

          As someone who has had to get medical conditions under control, especially dealing with fogginess due to meds not being calibrated & flare-ups, I think it’s a closer comparison to weed than drinking is to weed. I don’t find being compared to weed users insulting, but there is a real difference in that it sounds like LW has the privilege to stop using whenever, and medical stuff isn’t usually like that. OTOH, stoping using substances isn’t as easy as it sounds and varies a lot by the person when it comes to weed.

        2. Peanut Hamper*

          It was an exercise in reframing it in your head–not suggested as the actual equivalent. The point was to find something that LW could relate to. Any one person may not be able to relate to any or all of the possibilities that Hazel Atlas suggested.

        3. What The Freaking What*

          That would burn me too. TBH, I was taken aback by the entitlement of the whole question from the letter writer. Unless one works in the cannabis industry (and maybe they do, and that context would be great to have), it should be a unilateral expectation of your company, supervisor, and colleagues that you come to work ready to work. If any colleagues had to pick up the slack for their stoned work that’s unfair and the fact that they can now count on you that you don’t get stoned anymore is the bare minimum, or at least should be.

          1. Jackalope*

            I guess I don’t really see it as “entitlement” when Management was encouraging the weed usage while at work. That tells me there’s a good chance that many (possibly most?) employees at this job are probably also doing the same, almost certainly including said members of management themselves. That’s a bad way to run a company – I can only imagine that it’s a very small business, or a start-up, or something along those lines – but while what you’re saying would be true at most jobs, it holds less weight at a job where management is actively encouraging employees to get high at work.

            1. What The Freaking What*

              I read later that the OP doesn’t appear to be from the U.S. so according to them, this is more normalized behavior in their part of the world. But in the context I read the letter initially (that they were based in the U.S.); it read as entitlement to me in the fact that they were now no longer performing the work while they were purposely impaired and wanted to be rewarded for that. When my thought process would have been glad that I didn’t suffer consequences of intentionally working while high and getting fired.

              1. Eukomos*

                There are plenty of places in the US where being blitzed at work is normal. Best pizza shop in my US town has a truly impressive weed smoking culture, no matter how much turnover they get you are always checked out by the highest cashier ever. The pizza’s great though, and they do successfully make you a pizza when you ask and not set themselves on fire (somehow). So things continue as they are. If they fired everyone who smoked there they’d have to shut down. Honestly, I prefer it to the restaurants where the staff are clearly doing cocaine in the back, which is a whole lot of them once you learn what to look for. Not all jobs are white-collar, rule-bound situations!

                1. TheAG*

                  HAHA there is a restaurant by me that has a weed-related name and all the sandwiches on the menu are marijuana references.
                  I read the reviews and they’re *hilarious*.

                  …the food was good but the employees were really slow
                  …the food is great but they always forget to put things in the bag

                2. Some dude*

                  I live in a legal state and frontline employees frequently smell like cannabis.

                  I’d also say that, anecdotally, a fair amount of white-collar workers are also under the influence at work. I have friends who work in tech and their workplaces seem pretty druggy – a lot of cannabis use, a lot of prescription meds, and a lot of other substances.

                  i’ll also say that for every person you come across who is visibly stoned, there are probably several other folks who are using cannabis but able to maintain. It’s one of those substances where people can truly function on it without seeming impaired depending on their tolerance and biochemistry.

                3. Random Dice*

                  “they do successfully make you a pizza when you ask and not set themselves on fire (somehow)”

                  I laughed hard at this.

          2. Eldritch Office Worker*

            I agree the wording of the question is exceedingly casual, and I can understand why that may grate, but we don’t know that OP isn’t managing a medical condition or working at a job/industry where it’s just not a big deal (cannabis industry not being the exclusive option there). The advice is correct – the context doesn’t necessarily matter, the change in performance is the focus.

            1. What The Freaking What*

              If it was for medical purposes, that is a huge piece of information to be left out, but would change my thought process on the letter entirely. Again though, even if managing a temporary medical condition, the expectation is that the employer knows the performance you’re capable of, accepts that temporarily that’s not possible, and when you are capable of returning to that level of performance, you do so.

          3. Alpacas Are Not Dairy Animals*

            If the work got done, they came to work ready to work, QED.

            I’ve also worked with people who got high on their smoke breaks and frankly the work was so easy there was no slack to pick up. Acting like one’s coworkers are the only safety net between you and the overwork abyss is laughably unrealistic for most jobs.

          4. Emily Byrd Starr*

            My brother-in-law’s nephew works in the cannabis industry (he grows it) and he never gets stoned at work. That would be like a bartender getting drunk at work.

        4. Hazel Atlas*

          I intended no offense and I’m sorry it stung. I had an employee a few years ago who had a chronic illness. Her job was very basic admin work and she was decent at it, and was a lovely person. About a year after I hired her, she changed doctors and got on a new treatment plan that made a huge difference with her illness. She felt much better and she was able to do more advanced work that eventually earned her a promotion and a raise. That’s what I was specifically thinking of with that example. I didn’t mean to diminish people who are ill or equate them to people with substance abuse problems.

      3. CityMouse*

        As Alison pointed out, the real.issue in this letter is “recently”. Having been a mentor, variation in performamce is extremely normal. To justify a raise there needs to be a sustained pattern of improvement and “recent” simply isn’t going to cut it.

      4. MCMonkeyBean*

        Unless you are working a commission-based job, most people’s pay doesn’t fluctuate based on how well they are doing at their job. I think honestly they don’t have much of an argument regardless of the reason for improvement.

        1. Lydia*

          That’s not true, though, and Alison has plenty of advice on here on how to ask for a pay increase for a myriad reason.

          1. MCMonkeyBean*

            When a company hires you for a job, it is kind of a built in expectation that you will do it well. It won’t always be the case of course, but that’s presumably what all partied intend during the initial salary negotiations.

            If you start doing *more* or *higher level* work then that’s something to ask for a raise over. But if you are just doing the exact same job that they hired you at salary X for then they are not going to give you more than salary X because you suddenly stopped being stoned and started being good at the job you already agreed to do for salary X. Just like you shouldn’t expect to get a sudden salary cut if you get sick and underperform for a month. Salaries do not fluctuate like that.

      5. Observer*

        I think the weed use is a red herring.

        That’s true. And Allison addresses this – giving much the same advice as you do. But I think that the point still stands. You don’t deserve a raise because you stopped drinking, sleeping or doing drugs on the job.

        1. ferrina*

          Or because you stopped browsing Facebook during work hours, or because you started wearing more formal clothes, or because you’re not constantly rude to your coworkers, etc, etc.

          There’s a lot of ways to have mediocre performance and/or poor performance. Part of being an experienced professional is figuring out what helps you achieve your best performance. The way you know that you’ve found a better strategy is that you get better results. Changing strategies isn’t the part of the equation that matters to your employer- it’s getting better results. After all, isn’t that the reason we change strategies?

      6. Boof*

        I’m going to agree; you’re trading work for money, if you’re doing more/better work it’s reasonable to ask for more money; the reasons behind it really shouldn’t be a factor for the employer (I guess unless you’re doing something unsustainable/unethical; but again, unless the employer is pressuring everyone do an unsustainable amount of work / isn’t allowing different people to do less for less compensation etc as needed, that’s not really on the employer to dig into unless they’re seeing some kind of obvious red flag)

    2. Nina*

      They’re asking for a raise because they started doing a thing (abstaining from weed) that has has measurably improved their work performance and that their boss doesn’t care one way or another about.

      If I have, say, ADHD, and my boss is completely fine with my performance unmedicated, and I decide to start taking meds for my ADHD as a personal decision, I might expect my work performance to go up from that place of ‘completely fine’ and yeah, I might expect better pay for better work, even if that’s not the primary reason I’m taking the meds.

      In OP’s case, the ‘med’ is ‘less cannabis’.

  4. Gingertapple*

    Oh, heavens, number 1. Ask for the raise and don’t mention the Lettuce… when I was in my late twenties, back in the crazy days, I had an admin workin for me and she asked… for a raise because she stopped… “doing purée” with the mail clerk in the bushes behind the annex… I had to let her go because… she said it in front of my boss… granted I may have anyways…

    1. Mister_L*

      Don’t know about the US, but I think mentioning you used to get high on the job is a good way to make your employer enact a surprise-drugtest-policy.

      1. New Jack Karyn*

        At a lot of places, drug testing for THC would lead to a lot of empty shifts and unanswered phones.

        1. Mister_L*

          Like I said, I’m not from the US.
          On the other hand, there’s a figure of speech im my language that roughly translates: “I’m too drunk to stand, so just sit me down in the driver’s seat.”
          Yes, there are PSA-campaigns every couple years, they just don’t work.

          1. Mr. Shark*

            Mister_L, I really would like to know that saying in your native language if you can post it here. I love hearing these types of sayings from other languages.

              1. Matt*

                I know a similar one (in German too):
                “Herr Inspektor, ich muss fahren! Ich kann doch nicht mehr gehen!”
                (“Officer, I have to drive! I can’t walk anymore!”)

        2. Owlet101*

          My SO works in the office of a factory. He asked HR about drug tests (after finding a lot of empty cans and other evidence that 3rd shift was under the influence.) HR said exactly that. They only test if there has been an incident where someone was hurt, because if they did regular or random testing they wouldn’t have floor staff anymore. Sure, it’s written into their policy that they can do random test but they don’t.

          Kind of scary to think about. Especially considering their forklift drivers apparently have issues with running into columns a lot.

          1. New Jack Karyn*

            I mean, testing for alcohol is a lot easier than testing for THC, and a whole lot more indicative of being under the influence.

    2. I should really pick a name*


      I’m not sure what you actually mean. There’s no need to use euphemisms here.

      1. Glomarization, Esq.*

        And there’s no need to get on their case when you could use search terms puree drug euphemism to learn what it means.

        1. Bit o' Brit*

          I didn’t even get that it was a drug euphemism (I thought it might be a sex act), so even that requires a level of familiarity that can’t be assumed.

          1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

            I didn’t even get that it was a drug euphemism (I thought it might be a sex act), so even that requires a level of familiarity that can’t be assumed.

            I did, too, but either one fits the story well enough…

          2. Enai*

            You can also put me in the category “thought it was a sex act”. I just reasoned it was an excessively local euphemism.

        2. Observer*

          It doesn’t even matter. It’s enough that it’s quite obvious that they are doing SOMETHING very illicit.

        3. Butterfly Counter*

          I did. Still coming up empty. Lots of general lists of drug slang, but nothing that stands out after a full 5 minutes of searching.

      2. Madame Arcati*

        I assumed Gingertappie was quoting the admin, hence the quotation marks. So it was their euphemism. Not one I have heard before but I got the gist.

      1. Ssssssssssssssssssssssssss*

        According to the Urban Dictionary, it’s “A joint filled only with cannabis and no tobacco. Therefore ‘purely’ cannabis hence the name.”

        I had never heard of that either! Hell, I’m so square, I didn’t know ppl cut their weed with tobacco.

          1. Ssssssssssssssssssssssssss*

            IN the office. You can smoke outside, at least 9 metres from a door. And smoking doesn’t get you high.

            1. Charlotte Lucas*

              Not if no tobacco products are allowed on the property at all. Then you do what kids in my high school did & smoke just over the property line.

            2. Eldritch Office Worker*

              There are plenty of places that have tobacco free “campuses” – any company grounds.

              1. Ssssssssssssssssssssssssss*

                Oh, right. If not a tobacco-free property, the bylaw here is a minimum of nine metres from a door or a bus stop.

                I’m going to assume that all public schools are tobacco-free, hence explaining the janitor hiding behind something but just off school property for his nicotine fix.

              2. Dust Bunny*

                I work for a very large medical center that is, in theory at least, tobacco-free all over. As in, the entire small-town-sized campus, indoors and out.

        1. Timothy (TRiG)*

          My understanding (having never tried either) is that pure cannabis doesn’t burn very well, so mixing it with tobacco helps.

          1. Eldritch Office Worker*

            It’s just a different feeling, some people prefer it. Cannabis and nicotine do different things to your body so you’re mixing experiences.

          2. Giant Kittie*

            I know & have known tons of people over the decades who smoke weed, I don’t know any who actually mix it with tobacco, even those who smoke cigarettes or use tobacco in other forms.

        2. doreen*

          Also according to Urban Dictionary , it’s “a type of haze commonly found in the Washington Heights section of New York City”

          ( “Haze” is apparently a particular strain of weed)

  5. Kerri*

    LW4- I don’t understand how it’s legal to make someone work for 10-12 hours without a break, and not allowing them to leave their desk as well. I’m not American, so I’m not really clear on exempt and non-exempt, but how would you ever retain staff if you treat them like this? I wouldn’t have lasted even a week at this job, let alone two months!

    1. Jujyfruits*

      I don’t either and I am American. I’ve always lived in states that require a lunch break, exempt or not.

      1. Chocolate Teapot*

        I would be waiting for Boss to have a meeting away from her desk, then making a dash for it.

        1. Boof*

          I think I would just stare at boss and walk out to the break room and eat a sandwich, and dare them to fire me for doing so.
          In my 20s I’m not sure I would have realized I should do that but 40s me would definitely be ok with telling an unreasonable boss “nope!” and seeing what happens while job searching.

      2. ScruffyInternHerder*

        Did anyone else note this line from the letter?

        “I did try mentioning that I was legally allowed to have a break and she told me that since I was exempt I wasn’t legally allowed anything, and skipping a few meals wouldn’t hurt me.”

        The last eight words y’all. Holy bananapants.

        1. Lyudie*

          I’m getting the vibe that this boss was singling LW out for being overweight. Yikes this woman is something.

          1. Elizabeth West*

            That’s exactly what popped into my head when I read it. What a gross bully.

          2. Typing machine*

            This was my feeling as well, that LW was being singled out for her weight or what the boss perceived as an unacceptable weight, and that comment really sealed the deal!

          3. I am Emily's failing memory*

            Yep, that combined with “ordered lunch for everyone but me” and this is clearly not about the boss having some weird hang-up about lunchtime productivity or desk coverage. She had some weird hang-up specifically with LW. Maybe because she thought she was overweight or maybe for another reason – I think controlling access to food is one of the more common tools that abusive people reach for when they’re trying to demonstrate power over someone. Cults often incorporate very specific dietary restrictions for this reason. NXIVM, for example (which was recently somewhat back in the news with Alison Mack’s release from prison).

            1. Wendy Darling*

              I had a boss who liked to order lunch for everyone except whoever she was currently mad at. At first I thought it was just me but then one day I watched her go around and ask everyone in the office except me and one other person what they wanted for lunch. Not sure what the other person did, but she was mad at me 100% of the time for having the temerity to negotiate salary and refusing to just make up data when we didn’t have it.

              I foolishly lasted 8 months at that job and I WISH I’d quit after 2.

          4. Susannah*

            Also my suspicion, and it’s abusive. Reminds me of the LW whose manager asked her if she’d be willing to become “thin and edgy” so she could have more face time with clients. Yikes.
            Expose this boss on Glassdoor, please!

            1. ferrina*

              100% agree that this boss is abusive. Controlling access to things that are necessary to live (like food and sleep) is abuse 101. It is designed to trigger the survival part of the brain (the amygdala, sometimes called the “lizard brain” because it modulates the prehistoric survival instincts). The amygdala cannot tell a difference between a social threat and a physical one. It can send you into stress response, which becomes about “how do I survive this singular encounter?” It is not designed for long-term thinking and often stops you from seeing the bigger picture and making a strategic decision (or stops your from realizing “this isn’t how things work! what whacky world have I walked into?!”).

              Good on LW for getting out so quickly! This boss wasn’t just bananapants, she was also wearing a red flag blouse with a jacket made of bees.

          5. Boof*

            Toxic body ideals mean the LW could be overweight, underweight, or a star athlete in peak form and still somehow some people will think that’s a go to insult.

        2. WillowSunstar*

          How I read it was it sounded like the boss was a major fat-phobe, and HR was being complicit.

        3. House On The Rock*

          Yes that struck me as especially cruel from an already deeply cruel person. I am so glad OP got out of there, but the thought of someone being subjected to that is absolutely horrifying.

        4. I Have RBF*

          Yeah, I sense some fat shaming or deliberate imposition of food restriction “for LWs Own Good™”

          I would be very, very angry if someone did this too me to “force” me to reduce my food intake. I went through the “we are going on Weight Watchers” from my mother as a teenager. She cheated, I starved, because there was nothing for me to nibble on in the house, not even carrots. “We” did not go on WW, “I” was forced to reduce my intake, to the point that I was able to pull out my hair in clumps (unbalanced nutrition). I still didn’t lose any weight.

          When other people try to control my food or eating without my consent I get very, very angry. It’s not rational, but I know I have the response. I would have to quit.

    2. New Jack Karyn*

      I mean, the thing to do is document. If she tries to stop you from leaving to get a sandwich, follow up with an email. “Just to clarify, per our earlier conversation, I may not leave my desk for lunch until all tasks are done, nor may I eat at my desk–do I have that correct?” and bcc your personal email.

      Or just go, and let her write you up. Get fired for eating lunch, and see what that gets her.

    3. amoeba*

      I was also really surprised – I mean, I get that there are no requirements for except people as to length and frequency of breaks, but denying employees basic bodily functions while at work sounds like it should be violating some law, at least?

      1. Armchair Analyst*

        I’m just really glad they stopped doing it together because shrubbery can get really uncomfortable especially for 2 people

      2. Caterina*

        In Virginia, for example, employers are not legally required to give employees any breaks at all.

        I’m not sure many people know just *how* incredibly worker-unfriendly much of the US is in terms of legal protections. There is a LOT that companies can legally get away with.

        1. Emmy Noether*

          wait, I assume even if there are no “breaks”, employees do have to be allowed to at least drink water and go to the bathroom for health and safety reasons, right?! I mean, real breaks are *also* needed for health and safety, but the consequences of dehydration and/or not evacuating are much more immediate and severe.

          1. NotAnotherManager!*

            Texas literally just passed a law banning local ordinances that required construction workers to take mandatory water breaks every 4 hours. While temperatures are routinely exceeding 100 degrees. Employers can (and obviously should) allow and require water breaks in those conditions, but they are no longer legally required to do so.

            1. Waiting on the bus*

              What in the world was the justification for that? Were the politicians who signed this also twirling their villain mustaches and cackling evilly? It boggles the mind how cruel and inhumane some people can be.

                1. DJ Abbott*

                  This whole thing seems like an effort to make people more poor and desperate. Make jobs so inhumane people quit or don’t take them, then they’re unemployed, then desperate and easy to exploit.
                  Reproductive rights also-poor single mothers are easier to exploit, and so are their children, when they’re old enough to work.

      3. Eldritch Office Worker*

        I work in a state with a lot of employee rights and sometimes forget that’s…really not universal. But some states don’t require breaks.

        1. JustaTech*

          I was once comparing the worker break laws between two sites, one in a state with lots of worker protections and one in a state with … fewer.

          In the second state the law appeared to be “you can’t schedule someone to work more than 36 continuous hours”, with nothing about any kind of break at all. My coworkers were convinced that this couldn’t be correct, but we couldn’t find anything else, so we just dropped the whole question.

      4. AcademiaNut*

        I think they’re required to allow access to potable water and bathroom breaks. So possibly the LW could sneak a granola bar while peeing. But if there’s no law requiring breaks, or requiring that employees be allowed to eat, or mandating maximum workday lengths, there’s also no “within reason” or “as long as they get enough food and sleep” exemptions.

        There was a letter a while ago about employees at a restaurant, where they had to purchase food at the restaurant to eat. They were not allowed to bring in outside food and were not allowed to leave to eat, but also couldn’t afford the restaurant food. And people were literally getting faint.

    4. bamcheeks*

      I mea, she didn’t retain staff. LW walked out after two months.

      I think lower worker rights / perception of power do make a difference, but this boss’s abusive (and targeted) behaviour was so outside any normal practice that I’m not sure it comes down to specific laws. They were clearly banking on having an employee they could intimidate and threaten, regardless od what the actual law said. I think the bigger picture here matters far more: it’s less about the strict letter of the law and more about whether employees feel like they can seek help, whether the law is likely to be on their side, what sort of support will be available if you leave a job, how easy it would be to find another job and so on. Thank goodness LW was in a position where they were able to leave, and I hope it didn’t cost them too badly.

      1. Hornswoggler*

        I noticed that her colleagues also seemed to go along with it – the meeting where everyone was fed but her must have been noticed by the other people attending, but nobody said anything?!

        1. Lily Rowan*

          I’m sure the other employees knew how the boss was and were trying to keep their jobs there anyway. So then it’s a relief to have the target firmly on someone else.

          I am not saying this is OK, just that I can see why other people didn’t speak up.

          1. GreyjoyGardens*

            Agreed. While it seems like somebody *should* have stood up for LW4, given how cruel this boss was, it’s probable that everyone just threw LW under the bus out of sheer terror. Anything to avoid being next. That is what happens in very dysfunctional environments ruled by fear.

            1. AngryOctopus*

              Yes, you get into the “better her than me” mindset, because you don’t want to be the next target. And with HR apparently less than useless, it’s likely nobody felt that they had any recourse. Very glad the LW got out!

            2. ferrina*

              Possibly they didn’t know. Or they knew that it wouldn’t matter if they said anything.
              I had an unreasonable boss that everyone knew was unreasonable, but they also knew that nothing they said would stop her. And she might even take it out on me just to prove a point (the point being: “you can’t tell me what to do! I’m right and your wrong! I’ve stuck my fingers in my ears and I can’t hear you, lalalala!”)

        2. Nebula*

          I wonder whether the boss had said something to the others like ‘OP asked me not to get anything for her’. I mean, you’d hope the other people didn’t know what was really going on, but I am well aware that it’s entirely possible everyone did and was just “politely” ignoring it.

          1. amoeba*

            Yeah, like, if I were, for instance, a client or an external collaborator, I’d just assume that the one person not eating is doing so by choice! Probably even with internal colleagues, especially for a one-off meeting. If nobody says something, asking “hey, why is XY not eating?” would seem quite nosy to me because I’d assume there was a reason (and not “manager is bananapants”, but something more normal like a health/diet issue!)

        3. Observer*

          I noticed that. And that tells me that this place was so dysfunctional that it wouldn’t matter if there was a law that the boss was breaking.

          In my experience, the kind of HR (individual or organizational) that won’t deal with misbehavior of this sort either doesn’t care or doesn’t know the law.

        4. bamcheeks*

          If the boss was making it very clear that they had deliberately withheld food from LW, then yeah, bananapants dysfunctional workplace as well as bananapants abusive boss. But I can think of multiple ways they could have done that that wouldn’t make it obvious that LW was being victimised. I mean, every month or so there’s an AAM letter from someone who can’t eat at a work event because of a health issue or a specific dietary requirement or simple preferene, and the general consensus is that it’s frankly rude and annoying to have people going, “Are you not eating? Why are you not eating? Sure you don’t want something? Here, you should have something!”

          It’s absolutely the case that some incidents of workplace bullying happen in plain sight and everyone just looks the other way because they don’t know what to do, and it’s absolutely possible that this is one of them. But it could also be the subtle insidious “nobody else knows this is happening” kind.

        5. Wendy Darling*

          When my boss used to do that to me no one ever said or did anything and I have no idea why but it still pisses me off when I think about it.

          They also all liked to gush about what an amazingly great place it was to work. I dunno, maybe it was a great place for them to work as long as someone else was the scapegoat.

    5. Empress Ki*

      I am surprised as well. Someone could faint. What if the person has medication to take with food. Or they could be diabetic, who knows !
      I would faint if I couldn’t take food for 10-12 hours.

      1. FitPro not Fitspo*

        I might not faint, but the first day that happened would be the last. I’m a hangry person, so I would probably have told the boss to stick it the first time I was told eating was a distraction, and been fired.

        1. WillowSunstar*

          I would have quit because I grew up with a fat-phobic mother and it would have been extremely triggering. Not going to put myself through that as an adult.

          1. I Have RBF*

            This. The term “rage quit” would have been appropriate if this happened to me.

      2. Ellis Bell*

        I do feel faint if I don’t eat regularly, and I have been in positions were I have had to say so. IME, using the word ‘faint’ is quite powerful when you say it matter of factly. I have been in the situation where people think lunch is for wimps, and spelling out how it will affect you focuses their minds on whether they want to deal with you having a medical issue on their watch. It doesn’t give people empathy though, and it is always a flag.

          1. Observer*

            They had an HR person – you generally don’t see that in companies that are too small to be covered by the ADA. The bigger problem is that I don’t think anyone cares.

      3. Ann Onymous*

        If the letter writer had diabetes, this probably would be illegal under the Americans with Disabilities Act which generally protects a person’s right to have food whenever and wherever they need it as part of staying safe with diabetes.

        1. Lydia*

          Except that it shouldn’t take a law like the ADA to force a boss into basic human decency and yet, here we are.

        2. Stuff*

          I mean, Walmart refused to provide such an accomodation to my father, and he was a manager. Which probably directly contributed to my father’s death at 55 years old, because he was struggling to control his diabetes.

          1. Enai*

            I’m sorry they did that, Stuff. And impotently outraged on your and your father’s behalf.

            If you want to read about misfortune befalling the horrible retailer, google (or duckduckgo or something) the phrase “why walmart failed in germany” and enjoy the schadenfreude. Doesn’t make it better, but reminds you that the beast can bleed.

      4. ferrina*

        I get reeeeally cranky if I go for 4 hours without eating. If I went for 10? Oh, that hangriness would leave devastation in it’s wake.

        Could I just get a doctor’s note that says I have a medical condition that requires I eat on a regular basis? The condition: being human.

    6. Varthema*

      Wild, isn’t it? I think it makes more sense if you frame it in the US’s overall legal context. Most countries have a pretty detailed legal code denoting what is legal and what isn’t, but (to oversimplify a lot) in the US, pretty much everything is legal until someone says it isn’t, whether the courts or the legislature.

      The courts are really only allowed to rule according to what’s in the constitution, which is pretty minimalist and only outlines some extremely basic rights. Trying to pass something in the national-level legislature is kind of a huge thing, and often requires something to break horribly before it gets to that level (for example, right after 9/11 there was suddenly a spate of acts and laws passed). And passing federal laws is REALLY difficult to do especially when it comes to workers’ rights (since giving workers rights requires taking away latitude from businesses, which…y’know, lobbies, plus American fetishization of the Self-Made Businessman and all the good he can do if the government just gets out of his durn way).

      So basically, very little is ILLEGAL on a national level, with a notable exception being those protected categories Alison keeps mentioning because those are specifically outlined in laws passed by Congress and SCOTUS has decided a few times that those rights include x groups that have come along since (for example, they decided that discrimination against a pregnant person falls under the existing gender discrimination, as did sexual orientation). (I think I’m right here but am open to correction!)

      But it is much easier to pass laws at the state level – fewer people involved, fewer interest groups involved, small grassroots organizations can wield more influence – so that’s why certain states have much more robust workers’ rights.

    7. Melissa*

      This isn’t really a country-related thing. Obviously any workplace allows people to work during a day-long shift! This woman was just a sadist and I’m glad the LW was able to leave quickly.

      1. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

        Yeah, I’m pretty sure that this woman would continue her awfulness no matter what the actual employment laws were. Maybe strict laws would make the boss curtail her awfulness in specific ways, but I don’t think she really cares about the law. Just about control and power.

        Strict employment laws would probably not even have helped in the big picture. They would have encouraged OP#4 to try to defend her rights and use them to make the job work out, when what she actually needed to do was leave. No law can protect against determined cruelty.

        1. Nebula*

          I don’t know why you think that strict employment laws would have made the situation worse. Coming from somewhere that does have legally mandated breaks, I can see two ways that would have made OP’s situation better. 1) HR would have been more likely to take notice since this is something that could actually get them into legal trouble, and therefore OP would at least have been able to have lunch while still working there. 2) OP could have taken the employer to tribunal after leaving and likely got a payout. The boss ordering lunch for everyone except her, and any comms with HR would make it a pretty open and shut case.

          1. Lydia*

            We frequently here about HR in the States that ignore things that will get them legally in trouble. The US has some protections and a modicum of legal requirements, but that doesn’t stop some HR people from either pretending ignorance, being ignorant, or actively not caring what the law says. Laws existing doesn’t prevent people from being crappy.

            1. Nebula*

              I never said they would prevent people from being crappy, I’m just surprised that lots of people seem to think that wouldn’t help, when it’s something the OP specifically brought up.

            2. Ask a Stoner*

              Strong workers rights laws with an enforcement mechanism do indeed help. But the US allows employees to be treated like trash.

      2. YetAnotherAnalyst*

        Just to clarify, because I think worker protections are important: it’s still a country thing. Almost every workplace in the US will allow breaks for everyone, but when there’s no legal requirement that they allow them, sadists like this boss can do what they like with minimal repercussions.
        The power difference between an employee and their employer is pretty significant. It takes something like a union or the government to even that playing field, if the employer decides to take advantage.

        1. Spearmint*

          It’s more nuanced than that. I believe most/all states do require meal periods and beaks for non-exempt employees, which most jobs are (especially at the lower wnd where people are most vulnerable).

          But yes, the fact that these protections don’t often extend to salaried is bad.

          1. Sorrischian*

            Not all. Quoting verbatim from : “Wisconsin law does not require that employers provide brief rest periods, coffee breaks, or meal periods to adult employees, although the Department recommends that employers do so.”

            1. Lydia*

              I think, and I could be totally wrong, the states that don’t require it in their laws frequently don’t because they feel the Federal law covers it. A state not requiring breaks doesn’t supersede the federal law that does; it just means they don’t have an additional specific state law on the books that is stricter than the federal law.

              1. FrivYeti*

                Nope, US federal law does not require either meal or rest breaks for any employees under any circumstances. The law only covers how such breaks are treated.

              2. RussianInTexas*

                The federal law does not require meal breaks for any employees and leaves it up to the states.
                Only 21 states has laws about meal breaks for adults.

                1. JustaTech*

                  The fact that we’re specifying “adults” is an additional level of awful. Like, Joe can have a lunch break today, while he’s 17, but tomorrow he turns 18 and no more lunch!

                2. Lydia*

                  Well, fuck me. You would think that would be a bare minimum type thing to include in the FLSA.

              3. RussianInTexas*

                And no, the states that do not require them are the states that are “business friendly”, not because there is some federal anything. Same states usually do not require sick time, vacation time, vacation payouts, etc.

          2. Observer*

            Most states that require breaks also require that for exempt employees as well.

            Again, not universal, but still.

            Also, what do you want to bet that the OP was misclassified?

      3. Artemesia*

        this is one where you carry a banana and a sandwich, eat at your desk and claim unemployment if fired for it.

    8. 123*

      The boss was clearly targeting this one individual for harassment, for whatever stupid reason.

    9. Sam-I-Am*

      Race to the bottom is what is truly exceptional about the US. Governor Abbott of Texas just got rid of mandatory hydration breaks that companies had to give construction workers per certain city ordinances.
      When they say our people are our greatest resource, it’s because we churn and burn people like they’re fossil fuels-there to be used up.

    10. Daisy-dog*

      There isn’t a federal law in the US that protects against breaks for exempt employees. But I’m really wondering if OP qualified to be exempt. Being controlled to that level doesn’t seem like their responsibilities would rise to the exemption for many roles because there is an expectation of some level of autonomy in decision-making.

      Unfortunately, there are some roles (like teacher) that are always allowed to be exempt.

    11. Veryanon*

      It’s legal in the sense that many states in the US, as well as federal wage and hour laws, don’t mandate meal breaks or bio breaks for exempt (non-hourly) employees. However, I would argue that this LW has a case for a civil action of constructive discharge, as well as possibly some kind of discrimination (without knowing more about the LW’s demographics it’s hard to say what protected category LW falls into). Also, this manager is clearly a bully of the worst kind. Ugh.

    12. Rebecca*

      Yes, as another non-American, this blows my mind. Here you could call our Department of Labor the very first day a manager tried this and they would investigate.

      Aside from anything else, it’s a terrible way to get maximum productivity from your employees! Who does their best work hungry and angry?

      1. DJ*

        I worked somewhere that refused to provide a microwave so staff couldn’t bring in left overs to heat up. Felt when needed to get a new fridge didn’t need to be large enough for staff to store their food (only 5-6 staff) just enough for mil for tea and coffee for clients. And it was thought to be a huge perk that staff could use these supplies.

    13. DJ*

      Surely it’s an occupational health and safety issue to not be allowed to eat meals at work. And if you have a medical condition that requires you to eat regularly ie hypoglycaemia, diabetes then that would be a Disability discrimination issue. Harder if there is no diagnosis ie feel woozy if don’t eat regularly, discomfort of hunger.
      Amazes me what employers are allowed to get away with. Good on you for walking

    14. Burger Bob*

      I’m a pharmacist. We are exempt. If you know a chain pharmacist, there is a good chance they have worked a twelve hour shift with no break before. I have definitely done my share of those in the days before they let us close for lunch. But even in those times, we were allowed to eat while working. Now whether or not there actually was time to shove food in your face could be a different story, but nobody tried to tell us we simply couldn’t eat.

  6. Kayem*

    If LW 3’s company is that big, there’s a good chance they will have an HR department that will put a stop to it. Unless it’s some place like Hobby Lobby…

    I tried to be amazed at the gumption that employee must have posting proselytizing messages for a specific religion in the chat channel to 128k employees, but I grew up in a heavily conservative Christian area. I can’t even pick up groceries for my parents without the produce proselytizing at me.

    1. Carl*

      Ugh. “Freedom of religion” is being redefined by this court majority of wack-a-dos to mean “Freedom to cram my Christianity down the throats of everyone else in any setting without limitation.” I feel like we are 6 months away from a decision that we violate our coworkers’ “freedom” unless we read and praise their Christian preaching.

      So, in normal times, I would be like – this coworker is out of line! In new crazy times, I’m like – oh, the court will be so made that you didn’t join that prayer circle.

      1. Observer*

        “Freedom of religion” is being redefined by this court majority of wack-a-dos to mean “Freedom to cram my Christianity down the throats of everyone else in any setting without limitation.”

        So far there has not been any decision that allows employers to proselytize, nor to allow employees to actually proselytize (as opposed to posting religious quotes.)

        It does no one any good to pretend otherwise, as it emboldens the idiots who believe these claims and then get offended when their employers shut them down.

          1. Observer*

            Neither of them say what you claim they do.

            I’m not arguing about whether these are good decisions. But they simply do NOT forbid employers from prohibiting proselytization at work.

      2. Katydid*

        I’m not worried that will happen! All it will take for proselytizing Christians to discover the importance of freedom from other people shoving their religion down your throat is this: a concerted effort from an entirely different (non-Christian, esp. non-Abrahamic) religious group to convert large masses of citizens. Suddenly they’ll be keen on the separation of church and state!

      3. eeeek*

        Agreed. I have had a (thankfully, former) coworker use this line of thinking to defend her “right” to lay hands on to pray over colleagues suffering from various ailments. I had to tell her I had a right not to be assaulted by her touching me without permission, and do so publicly enough that others felt empowered to tell her the same thing when she assaulted them with her “healing.” I was shocked that this had to happen multiple times before her supervisor (who practices a different flavor of the Christian faith) finally had an HR conversation with her about it.

        I have had other colleagues express concern that when I am in situations where there is public prayer / statements of faith and mission etc. (I visit a lot of religious colleges in my line of work.) When hosts pray, I do indeed “only sit there” instead of “really participating” in the prayer. I sit quietly, hands in my lap and eyes down, making grocery lists in my head, and wait. I believe the most respectful thing I can do is be civil because I’m a guest – and it would be offensive to my hosts, and to me, to pretend to believe something I don’t. The line between pretense and mockery is very thin.

    2. Venus*

      I would absolutely complain, but the change from day 2 to 3 suggests that HR did talk to the employee.

    3. LW # 3*

      I think someone must have spoken to him about it, because the last time he posted a bible verse was June 27th. He then started posting somewhat more business-related (and shorter) quotations (which is fine for this social channel, and something that others do, too). Last week (week of July 4th, a holiday here in the U.S.) he didn’t post at all.
      We’ll see what happens. If he starts up again, I will contact my HR rep…
      And LOL re: the produce proselytizing…

        1. ENFP in Texas*


          (If the coworker does start posting religious content again, can you post some Pastafarian content? or even CoS stuff? that might get the point across pretty quickly.)

      1. Richard Hershberger*

        Apparently not relevant, but one classic response to such persons is to reply with Biblical verses they don’t like. My go-to is Acts 2:44-45, where we learn that the earliest Christians were communists. But really, the possibilities are endless. People who use the Bible this way have a very limited take on it, reading it with great care to avoid the vast swaths of text they don’t like.

        1. Chief of Station, Chicago*

          Ezekiel 23:20 is good for that, too

          “What do you mean, of horses?”

          1. Burger Bob*

            Such a classic. There are so many great ones. I’m a lifelong Christian, and you better believe I know a bunch of humorously naughty verses that we used to giggle over in middle school years (and I still do as an adult, if I’m being honest).

    4. Phony Genius*

      Regarding your last sentence, I never realized that Veggie Tales was based on reality!

    5. Jessica*

      On one of the many, many posts that have been on AAM about Christians being awful, a lawyer pointed out that proselytizing at work is actually legally protected to some degree.

      And I feel like barely anyone knows that–I assumed HR departments’ tepidness in dealing with Christians openly harassing coworkers was because Christianity is so normalized in the US, at least, that people just sort of accept that people are going to harass you about Jesus.

      And I feel like EVERYONE needs to know that, because that is law that needs to change.

  7. Chrissssss*

    LW4 (not allowed to have lunches)

    Good for you for walking out. Not being allowed to have lunch “because it’s a distraction” is obviously a very poor excuse of an excuse. You know what is distracting AF? (Retoric question. I’m sure you know!) Being hungry.

    1. Jackalope*

      Yeah, this is one of those things that always gets to me about bosses like this. I know that some people can skip lunch and be fine (although the number of people who are actually fine is less in my observation than the number of people who *think* they’re fine). Most people, however, are not able to function as well if they don’t get fuel, and a break. You’re setting it up so that you aren’t getting work that’s as high-quality as what you’d get if your employees had food and a break.

      1. coffee*

        I think that bosses like these care a lot more about making their staff suffer than getting high quality work from them.

        As far as I can understand it, they create a situation where their staff are using all their energy just to get through the day, and therefore the boss doesn’t have to worry about what their staff will expect from them.

        1. Kelly*

          I worked for a guy like that. If I was in the field with him I had better pack something because he wasn’t stopping for ANYTHING. He had gained some weight and decided to just start skipping meals. He also threw away treats that clients sent, including from right off my work desk (before he took that away and gave himself a private office while didn’t have anything). Office Space was a documentary.

        2. doreen*

          I can actually sort of understand bosses who treat the whole staff badly – I don’t think it’s right but I can sort of understand. What I don’t understand is people who (like the boss in the letter) target one person practically from their first day

          1. AngryOctopus*

            I do wonder if this boss was targeting LW because they like to have one target, and everyone else kept their heads down because 1-at least it wasn’t them and 2-they already knew what LW found out, which was that HR was useless in this situation. It’s still a situation where the boss treats everyone badly, but it’s only overt for the 1 person at a time.

          2. Boof*

            I don’t think there are many sadists out there but there are a few who genuinely enjoy making people distressed. Maybe this boss was one of them. Or maybe the boss wasn’t a True Sadist ™ but had been dumped on and their maladaptive coping strategy was to take it out on someone else (I actually don’t really see one as inherently more sympathetic than the other, just tossing out situations is just genuinely mean out of some kind of primary gain rather than for secondary gain)

        3. Observer*

          I think that bosses like these care a lot more about making their staff suffer than getting high quality work from them.


      2. Radioactive Cyborg Llama*

        I worked a case with a guy who always wanted to go through lunch when we were taking depositions even though every time I said we couldn’t because I needed to eat. I got more then one grateful look from a deponent. Weirdly, my hypoglycemia didn’t cure itself on deposition dates.

      3. Observer*

        You’re setting it up so that you aren’t getting work that’s as high-quality as what you’d get if your employees had food and a break.

        Yes. You think that the Boss doesn’t know that? *IF* they care, then it’s deliberate, in my opinion.

      4. Irish Teacher*

        My feeling is that this boss was targetting the LW for some reason and the idea of not getting as high-quality work would be a feature and not a bug, as that would give her valid reasons to humiliate the LW or put her on a PIP or whatever.

      5. rebelwithmouseyhair*

        I mean, I got myself a dog to make sure I have a break and take him for a long walk, because otherwise I’d just work hard all day and realise at some point that I’m running out of steam because I didn’t get out for some fresh air.
        The little fella has no idea how useful he is! He just wants cuddles, and thoroughly deserves them.

    2. WishIWasATimeTraveller*

      Yes, this! Some days I have zero interest in food, others I’m a ravenous beast. On a hungry day, if I need food and can’t get any, I can’t think of anything else and my work output suffers until I am fed and human again.

    3. NotAnotherManager!*

      Agreed. LW4’s boss had something seriously wrong with her, and shame on HR for not doing anything about it. Outside of the whole being reasonable human being thing… no one does their best work when they’re hungry. Ten to twelve hours without food? I’d be useless.

      And ordering lunch for everyone but LW4? That’s some next-level assholery.

    4. Observer*

      Not being allowed to have lunch “because it’s a distraction” is obviously a very poor excuse of an excuse. You know what is distracting AF? (Retoric question. I’m sure you know!) Being hungry.

      Oh, the boss’ excuse was not about the *OP* being distracted, but about other people being “distracted” by the daily evidence of the Boss’ jerkitude!

      Let’s face it, she specifically refused her permission to eat at a lunch meeting where everyone was eating. That’s not even on the same planet as faux worry about “distraction”.

  8. AJ*

    If LW3’s coworker is posting something that’s multiple paragraphs and uses the phrase or meaning, “Commit to Christ”, they’re not just posting Bible verses, they’re posting a sermon. As a person of allegedly the same faith, I find this incredibly obnoxious.

    1. Insert Clever Name Here*

      Serrrriously. This would get a “knock it off, Mary” from me in the channel.

    2. Caroline*

      I would have complained the second time it happened, and I would have started posting work by by Chris Hitchens and Richard Dawkins in reply. Every. Time. Obviously this would lead to the proselytizer getting butt-hurt because they always do in these scenarios and hopefully lead to all religious talk being excised completely from work channels. Completely. All. Of. It.

      1. Marie*

        Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins? Come on, live a little… Quote Anton LaVey.

      2. metadata minion*

        If you have to do this, can you at least pick an atheist who doesn’t go the all-religion-is-evil route so people from marginalized religions aren’t getting harassed from both sides?

        1. Jessica*

          Not to mention posting quotes by a guy who’s defended sexual assault of children and sexual assault of women as “natural” and good.

      3. Jessica*

        So, as a Jewish woman who’s experienced harassment from Christians at work, people posting quotes by white supremacist sexual harassers don’t exactly make me feel safer.

    3. LW # 3*

      I was kind of surprised that they kept posting… I really thought that after the first time, someone would have pulled the person aside and said “Knock it off.”
      but it seems like someone has, because there hasn’t been a peep from the person since before last week…

      1. It Actually Takes a Village*

        That’s a relief.

        Honestly, with the right wing Christian push that’s happening around the globe, we need to be vigilant about not letting “public” spaces become religious spaces.

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

        I’m wondering if everyone else thought that someone else would say something, but no one did.
        If I were you I’d put something in the chat. Like, this isn’t the place or something. Or if you wanted to be petty find something from your religious texts and post that in response. If someone says anything “Oh I thought we were sharing our religion at work?”

        1. fine tipped pen aficionado*

          I always try to push back on this stuff publicly when I can to demonstrate to others that it isn’t okay and someone is on their side too.

          But also… this stuff is so obnoxious and pervasive that getting petty is warranted and I support it.

        2. JenLP*

          I’m the exact kind of petty who would google similar themes from their post in other religious texts and post that to the chat with commentary about how amazing it is that there is such common ground between so many faiths and it’s great we get to explore that.

          Would I get in trouble? Probably, but seriously I am this petty

    1. Straight Laced Sue*

      Yes, yes, yes. I’m also hereby nominating LW4’s ex-box for a worst boss of the year award.
      OP, I am horrified to hear that you went through that abuse. It’s one of the most unpleasant stories I’ve come across on AAM.
      I am glad you walked out, and hope you are doing ok.

      1. Enai*

        I agree with the nomination. I hope it still counst as “worst boss of the year” even though it was long ago.

  9. Bilateralrope*

    LW4: 10-12 hour work days where you’re not allowed to eat sounds like a health and safety issue. So that’s where I’d look to see if it’s illegal. Maybe contact whatever agency enforces health and safety laws in the workplace to see what they say as it’s probably not explicitly written down anywhere. Though you ended the risk by quitting, so there might not be much they will do.

    An honest glassdoor review might cause the business some pain. Or provoke some retaliation because your boss will know you posted it.

    1. Coverage Associate*

      Good point. INYL, but I understand that the law requires access to bathrooms with hot and cold or tepid running water and to drinking water. Even if the law doesn’t say so, it doesn’t make sense to have them at the work place if employees are forbidden from using them their entire work day.

      Food breaks are a little different. As an exempt employee, I have been scheduled for a 10 hour work day without a meal break. (Actually, the work day was 13 hours, but the first 3 were in the informal office where I could eat at my desk.)

      1. Zelda*

        It seems to me that the wording of the law is “access” to bathrooms and water for a reason– it’s not just that those things have to be present in the workplace, but that employees must *have access* to them, which includes being able to use them.

      2. Burger Bob*

        The difference in this scenario though is that boss wasn’t even allowing eating at the desk while continuing to work. I’m an exempt employee, and I’ve done plenty of twelve hour days with no meal break, but we weren’t forbidden from eating on the job. We were still fully allowed to put food in our face while working.

    2. FashionablyEvil*

      There’s actually an acronym in patient safety (I’M SAFE) which specifies things that can prevent someone from engaging in safe behaviors. The E stands for “eating and elimination” because someone who hasn’t had a chance to eat or use the restroom is likely to be distracted and make a mistake.

  10. tommy*


    aaaaand this is why fatness should be a protected class. if it were a protected class, there would at least be some legal basis for leaning on HR about it. it might not work, but it would be a starting point.

    maybe the LW isn’t any degree of fat — they might not be! — but given “she told me that… skipping a few meals wouldn’t hurt me,” they might be. it’s the type of comment said to fat people all the time.

    (i use the word “fat” in the fat activist way, neutral and descriptive: tall, short, fat, thin. of course it’s been weaponized and many people don’t use it this way, but in activist context we reclaim it.)

    1. fat and sassy*

      this is EXACTLY what I thought. it’s got “fat shaming” written all over it. I completely agree with your whole comment

    2. Bit o' Brit*

      I don’t think it should stop at fatness, physical attributes should be a protected class. Height, weight, the length of your hair, the length of your fingernails, tattoos, piercings, if it doesn’t affect your ability to carry out the job it shouldn’t matter. Require long hair/beards to be tied back or under a hairnet if needed, have a typing test if long fingernails might be a problem for some but not others, require people to not be visibly dirty or excessively dishevelled and cover anything non-PG when customer facing, but that’s as far as an employer should need to go.

      1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

        the length of your hair

        the length, styling, natural hue, and current hue of your hair

        Although on my good days, I was amused by the irony of (previous jobs’) Management’s claims that I have no soul.

      2. Avery*

        In theory, and in a perfect world, absolutely.
        In the imperfect world we live in, though, getting every single aspect of personal appearance added to the legal protected classes would be significantly harder than simply adding weight, and the latter would be easier to show specific examples of discrimination and avoid most/all instances of “but X appearance trait actually matters on the job!” as well.

      3. Jessica*

        I agree that those things should also be protected, but can we not lump weight in with aesthetic/expressive choices about one’s appearance?

        Given that 95% of people can’t lose weight long-term, and there are at least 60 different causes of obesity, most of which are beyond an individual’s control, it’s inaccurate. The idea that it’s a choice/laziness/lack of regard for one’s health is also where a lot of anti-fat stigma comes from in the first place.

        1. I Have RBF*

          The idea that it’s a choice/laziness/lack of regard for one’s health is also where a lot of anti-fat stigma comes from in the first place.


          I’ve been fat since puberty. Other kids got zits, I got fat. I’ve been on multiple diets, some at my parents’ command. None. Of. It. Worked. If anything, I’d be 10 pounds more after each and every failed diet. My metabolism got really, really efficient after all those bouts of calorie restriction, so now I extract more of the calories out of what I eat… so I’m fat.

          Yes, I’ve heard just about every fat-shaming, concern-trolling piece of “folk wisdom” about diets and exercise. It’s all BS.

    3. Empress Ki*

      Agree. I am fat, and I need to have regular meals/snacks to help me lower my weight. There is nothing like skipping meals to make me gain weight !

      1. Haha*

        Yup, nothing makes you gain weight like starving yourself – it basically teaches your body there’s a food shortage so it needs to hang on to every bit of energy, usually stored as fat.

      2. lostclone*

        It wouldn’t have mattered if eating did make the lw gain weight though – it’s not something that’s any of the boss’s business.

        1. Queer Earthling*

          This. Fat people deserve respect at all times, not only if they’re trying to lose weight.

          1. Bit o' Brit*

            This absolutely, no one should have to caveat their existence as if being a certain size is a moral failing.

    4. lostclone*

      Yeah, my first thought was that LW4’s boss may have been deliberately nasty because of LW4’s size (pure speculation on my part, of course)

      1. AnonORama*

        And/or because she wanted to be as hurtful as possible, and fatphobia is so entrenched that most people will be upset if their weight is targeted, no matter what they weigh. I’m not fat, but I had a boss who realized that my body image was terrible and would ALLLLLWAYS twist the knife by commenting on my food choices and looks — for example, “Do you know how many calories are in that?” or “Isn’t that dress getting a little tight?” — in front of others. I don’t happen to be fat, but she knew it was a way to keep me down.

        (NONE of which is to say that I’ve experienced even 1% of the nasty crap that happens to people who are fat. Just that people use others’ weight to be nasty no matter what. So, not just a bully — a lazy bully!)

    5. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

      Wouldn’t have helped, not in this case. If fatness was a protected class, Awful Boss would either have just ignored it, or found some other way to be cruel.

      1. fine tipped pen aficionado*

        Regulations sometimes work by preventing bad behavior and sometimes by punishing it. The risk of punitive damages blowing through your bottom line creates a lot of norms that protect people.

        In some cases, and this might be one, regulations don’t work at all. But that’s not a reason not to try, I think.

    6. Stuart Foote*

      This is insane and makes the whole idea of protecting vulnerable groups look bad (as does any abuse of otherwise good ideas). It seems clear that the boss was bullying the LW for reasons that had nothing to do with weight (unless LW was leaving something out). 99% of people who read that story would be outraged but their first response would NOT be “We need to make sure no one is mean to fat people.” Sometimes people are just cruel and there isn’t a social justice angle.

      1. Dahlia*

        The letter said: “I did try mentioning that I was legally allowed to have a break and she told me that since I was exempt I wasn’t legally allowed anything, and skipping a few meals wouldn’t hurt me.”

        That’s not clear that it’s not about LW’s weight.

      2. Peanut Hamper*

        The letter does not mention that LW is fat, that is true. But that does not mean that it’s “clear that the boss was bullying the LW for reasons that had nothing to do with weight”. I’m not sure how you arrived at that line of reasoning.

        The whole “you could afford to miss a few meals” comment is one that is very often directed at fat people. I’m trying to imagine a scenario in which that would be directed at a not-fat person, and coming up blank.

        1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

          Agree with you so long as we caveat to not-“fat”, because people’s interpretation of acceptable weight boundaries varies widely. In one office “fat” might mean US6 (UK10); in another it might only kick in more around the US14/UK18 region. This kind of discrimination stems from the eye of the beholder, not the measurements of the victim.

      3. Irish Teacher*

        Honestly, I think it is very reasonable to make sure people aren’t just cruel in the workplace, regardless of whether there is a social justice angle or not.

        I would also say that there is definitely a social justice angle to bullying people considered to be overweight, whether that is what is going on in the LW’s case or not. I definitely wouldn’t think it’s clear that she was bullying her for another reason. I will say the idea that the boss considered the LW overweight didn’t occur to me (I took the “you can afford to miss a few meals” more as a typical bullying comment making out the LW was complaining about nothing. “It’s only one meal a day; you’re not going to starve or anything. What’s all the fuss about?”) but I could definitely read it the other way too, implying the LW to be overweight, whether she is or not.

        But even if she is being bullied for a reason that is not related to her weight or any other social justice issue, that still doesn’t mean it’s not serious or that there shouldn’t be consequences to any kind of cruelty, bullying or harrassment at work, even without a social justice angle. If somebody is bullying somebody else because they don’t like the length of their hair, the bully should still be fired and there should be policies to ensure that that happens.

        I really don’t think having protections to ensure nobody is bullied without consequences makes protected groups look bad. Yeah, there are people who will argue that “oh, so we can’t even pick on people for *insert minor thing now* Gosh, everything’s a social justice issue nowadays,” but the reality is, those are generally people who have no intention of caring about marginalised groups anyway. I doubt there is anybody who did care about racism or sexism or homophobia who stopped doing so because they realised there were also protections to prevent people from being bullied for reasons not related to prejudice. like being tall or short or whatever.

    7. Observer*

      there would at least be some legal basis for leaning on HR about it. it might not work, but it would be a starting point.

      Highly, highly unlikely. While there is no federal law that requires any employee to have a meal break, that doesn’t mean that there was no legal protection already in place. Also, with HR this bad, it doesn’t really matter.

      Look at the crazy stories we’ve seen just on this site with HR that wouldn’t do anything about behavior that was blatantly illegal. And then, go look at all of the actions that DOL and their state counterpart have taken against companies doing blatantly illegal stuff.

  11. Punk*

    OP5: I think the principal views is as the LW’s wife having the whole summer away from teaching as leave, and then using the FMLA as “bonus time,” which isn’t cool, but she might be thinking of teachers who gave birth at other times in the school year and, just due to timing, were not able to tack 12 weeks directly onto summer vacation. I’ve also heard of situations where a teacher who doesn’t start the year with her new students wouldn’t always be able to show up in December and start teaching 3 months later; the best case scenario is that the school is on a semester schedule and she starts back halfway through the year.

    She’s being lousy, but this is the “logic” you’re arguing against. You need to find out what exact schedule the principal thinks your wife is asking for, and your wife needs to solidify the starting date of her FMLA. This stuff is why a lot of teachers end up just taking the whole year off, and part of why teaching has a reputation for being a five-year career. (I’m not saying it’s right or always legal, just that it happens, and the LW should be prepared to counter these points.)

    1. Evergreen*

      Be sure to check what her district’s contract says. I noticed the other day that depending on when the child is born, my district has two different maximum leave lengths.

    2. Op5*

      Don’t worry, the same day I sent the question in we talked to the union rep and hr. Sick leave can be used for child bonding time in our case, not just medical recovery.

      1. Sit Down John, Sit Down*

        Good! I was told the same thing as your wife 16 years ago. My son was due right at the end of the summer and I was told I would lose that FMLA time if he was born before school started (I would get only 11 weeks instead of 12, for example). I didn’t know enough to question it. In the end, he was born on the 3rd day of school.

      2. Armchair Analyst*

        even in office world, I was told in 2015 I had to use up all of my sick leave & vacation time before FMLA would “kick in” and don’t forget short-term disability leave I think i had to use that too or it only kicked in in certain situations like a c-section.

        1. Op5*

          We’d love for her to get any type of paid maternity leave, even based on short term disability. All she can do is use her sick leave.

      3. 2 Cents*

        I’m so glad you got an answer. My relative worked for the NYC public schools and was told incorrect info. She ended up having her pay docked for an entire year because they didn’t calculate her paid/unpaid leave accurately. It was fun. It’s not like they don’t employ, like, 100K teachers or anything.

      4. J!*

        I’m glad to hear it, OP. I was going to suggest that if you had a union your steward should be your first stop because this principal sounds sketchy!

    3. IrishGirl*

      Does your wife get short term disability? If so, they might require FMLA run concurrent with that and then she wouldnt have any time left. Not sure how that works for teachers over the summer though.

  12. Cheesesteak in Paradise*


    You can take FMLA for care for a family member like an infant. You can’t take *sick leave* more than 12 weeks after birth (I believe it’s actually 6 weeks for regular delivery and 8 weeks for a C-section). That may be the distinction- your wife isn’t eligible to use her accumulated sick leave when she’s no longer considered physically recovering. She could take unpaid time off or vacation time.

    1. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Parental leave is a third category for many employers.

      OP if it’s not a standalone private school this may be worth confirming with regional administration once your wife determines her legal rights.

    2. bamcheeks*

      Out of interest, is this a blanket 6-8 weeks, or does it change if you or your baby have medical needs beyond the (extremely broad!) “norm”? Could your doctor sign you off for longer if you weren’t able to go back to work after six weeks?

      1. A fellow teacher*

        At least in my district, you can get additional FMLA leave days for situations like that if medical needs beyond the “norm”. The key thing is that is considered a different FMLA request. Additionally, if the OP’s spouse’s school is anything like my district, any additional leave required for the baby’s needs might still be unpaid because paid sick days are only for personal illness, not family illness. In my district, we can take up to 30 days for illness in the family at half pay, so in that scenario, a teacher would get up to 30 days at half pay if the baby had additional health needs that required parental care beyond the 6/8 weeks.

        Additionally, what’s also infuriating about all of this is that in most districts (and in many other professions as well), teachers only get paid parental leave if they have the sick days to cover it. Because many teachers use up their sick days to cover their parental leave, then they have no sick days left over for when they inevitably get sick during the school year (which is bound to happen between germ exposure at school and through the kiddo being in daycare, which are tiny germ factories). As a society, we want teachers to take care of other people’s children but generally do not support them to take care of their own kids (or themselves). I get in trouble if I call out sick more than three times a year, which is absurd given how many different illnesses I am exposed to as a teacher. I love many parts of my job (the ones that involve the amazing young people at my school) but the systemic issues and bureaucracy are terrible.

        1. TeaCoziesRUs*

          Your last sentence is why I have an education degree and teaching license but chose not to use either. Subbing is the best way for me to enjoy the kiddos without dealing with hassles around obnoxious parents, layers of bureaucracy, targeting by school boards, etc.

        2. JustaTech*

          My third grade teacher came down with 2 weeks of laryngitis every year like clockwork. So the first book we read in the year was about Helen Keller, and we all learned the finger-spelling part of sign language, so that she could sort-of teach when she couldn’t speak.
          (We also read The Trumpet of the Swan, a kids books about a mute trumpeter swan that plays the trumpet and learns to write on a slate with chalk – and we all had our own slates with chalk so we would play at only interacting by writing on our slates.)

          It was all very cool to learn, but it would have been nice if she could have just taken a few sick days to recover before whatever it was turned into laryngitis.

      2. Kageb*

        So part of that 6-8 week confusion is that the pay portion is actually under a different policy that is completely separate from FMLA. FMLA only provides you with job protection/the ability to take up to 12 weeks unpaid and come back. If you want/are getting paid at all during an FMLA leave, that is going to be under either a Short Term Disability or Parental Leave payment policy (or other leave policy).

        Short Term Disability provides the payments based only on when you yourself would be physically unable to work and is almost always 6/8 weeks in the USA depending on delivery type – UNLESS you yourself has some major complication rendering you to be in the hospital for longer. If that were to happen and you were physically unable to work, then you could have a longer approved payment period.

        Parental Leave payment policies can be state-mandated or voluntary by the company and can have different payment terms. They can also be concurrent/impacted by if you also have a Short Term Disability policy. These can also require the use of your sick days to get paid. Typically these types of policies don’t have options to extend payment periods if you had a major medical complication (whereas Short Term Disability potentially could/you could roll into a Long Term Disability policy).

        I agree with everyone that probably the issue is that the district has a Short Term Disability policy for the payment portion and the intended plan might be past the normal 6-8 week valid payout period….

      3. Name*

        The 6-8 weeks is more about the mom recovering from delivery as opposed to maternal/baby bonding leave. Any leave for the baby would be under taking care of a family member.

      4. Clisby Williams*

        When I was pregnant, I was told that the 6/8 weeks could be extended if a doctor certified it was medically necessary. My understanding was that seldom happened; the 6/8 weeks was the default. I could not have just chosen to take more than 6 weeks of sick leave even though I had more than 6 weeks banked.

    3. Op5*

      There is no such thing as vacation time for her. It’s sick leave or her 3 personal days. Fmla is never paid at all without sick days.

      1. A fellow teacher*

        I’m a teacher and that’s unfortunately how it is at my district. We can take 6 weeks of FMLA leave postpartum that are paid if you have the accumulated sick leave (or 8 if you had a c section). If you want to take additional leave beyond the 6/8 weeks after the baby is born, you can take up to 89 unpaid leave days (these count as consecutive calendar days, not work days). And non gestational parents can take 3 days of paid leave to take care of their spouses, and no paid leave beyond that (though they can take up to 89 ayuda of unpaid leave). If you adopt, you get no paid leave. Basically, my district treats it so that paid leave is only paid because it is actually sick leave for the gestational parent’s physical recovery, and not at all for bonding. It’s infuriating.

        So, if you have a baby born during the summer more than 6/8 weeks before the school year starts, then teachers in my district do not get any paid parental leave during the year, though you can take additional FMLA leave unpaid. However, you can qualify for additional paid leave if you have some medical issue and your doctor will write you out for longer. So, for example, I had some ongoing birth related pain issues after my first child was born. I gave birth in June right at the end of the school year, should have gone back to work in late August, but was approved for additional FMLA leave due to that issue. The key thing is that additional leave was not for parent child bonding or caregiving, but because of a “different” medical issue. If you have a sympathetic doctor, that can be an option to pursue. In my district, a group of teachers has been trying to persuade our union to fight for better parental leave for both gestational and non-gestational parents in our next contract negotiation, but it’s been an uphill battle.

        1. Bumblebee*

          I read an article this weekend that also said if teachers take time off during the school year for new babies they have to pay their own substitutes? So if they don’t time their conception and delivery specifically to the school year it can be very expensive. Can any teachers explain further?

          1. Name*

            Not sure what country or state that is in. I’ve worked HR for 3 school districts in 2 separate states. Teachers do not pay for their own subs, regardless of why they are out. It’s something the district budgets for.

        2. Daisy-dog*

          Not meaning to nitpick, but I think it’s important to ensure people understand the terms properly.
          – FMLA is NEVER paid. It is job protection (at employers with 50+ employees).
          – FMLA can run concurrently with a different paid leave – ie: short-term disability, parental leave, PTO, sick days, vacation days, personal days, state disability, etc. The pay amount and length of time are determined by the disability provider or the employer’s policies.

      2. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

        Im afraid that’s what her school is saying. If the school year is more than 6/8 weeks after the birth, she can’t take any more paid time for bonding. She’d still be eligible for unpaid time via FMLA for 12 weeks total for the year.

    4. Llama Llama*

      You are taking the rules that you think apply to your job and applying it to a completely different companies. What companies do and do not pay for are specific to each company.

      It sounds like OP wife did check into it and the district is obligated to pay.

      1. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

        FMLA is unpaid time off. Sick leave is paid. Bonding time with an infant is not considered sick time. It’s not an individual company thing – you can’t take sick time to bond with an older baby, that’s just a fact in the US. You can take the unpaid FMLA time but it didn’t sound like that’s what OP wanted.

        1. MCMonkeyBean*

          What you can and cannot take sick leave for is not “a fact in the US” because the US doesn’t have any laws around sick leave at the federal level. (And states that do have laws, I am fairly certain they would be around the minimum that employers MUST offer, why would they dictate that employers are *not allowed* to let employees use sick time for certain things?)

        2. Spearmint*

          It may not be considered at your employer, but there are no laws about this. Sick time can be used for whatever the employer thinks it can be. See for example how some jobs let employees use sick time for checkups and others don’t, for example.

        3. I went to school with only 1 Jennifer*

          > You can’t take *sick leave* more than 12 weeks after birth (I believe it’s actually 6 weeks for regular delivery and 8 weeks for a C-section)

          This is not written into law in the US, and probably not in any state. It is specific to some company somewhere, and companies can make whatever rules they want to, as long as they don’t violate existing laws.

  13. Not A Manager*

    Given the current state of the Supreme Court, if the company allows people to post whatever non-religious stuff they want, what’s the basis for saying they can’t post religious stuff?

    Is this a “best practices” thing, or is it actually (under current law) prohibited to post religious content in this context? Does this hinge on him explicitly inviting people to “commit to Christ”? Would it all be okay if he didn’t append that to his messages? Does it matter that he’s a peer and not a supervisor?

    1. Name*

      Potential discrimination on the basis of religion. Are they going to let a Muslim, Buddhist, Satanist, Atheist, LDS, Fundamentalist, etc. post or will they take those down?

        1. Elizabeth West*

          That’s the idea behind the discrimination laws, but YMMV.

          Adding, it doesn’t matter whether the channel is “social” or not — it’s still a work channel in a work environment so the rules still apply.

      1. LW # 3*

        After ‘the proselytizer’ started posting, one of my Muslim coworkers posted some pictures and info about the Hajj (the trip to Mecca that Muslims take)…

        1. ScruffyInternHerder*

          I would honestly find that to be pretty interesting (photos and information about the Hajj, as I grew up in a fairly “lily white area” with a standing school rule about homework not being assigned on Wednesday nights because of church services).

        2. Charlotte Lucas*

          I don’t find this the same. The first coworker is proselytizing. The second is informing of something he did, while also giving context. (No different than, say, going to a wedding & explaining some traditions that were part of it. And I understand that Hajj is much, much more important spiritually, but I ‘m comparing to something almost everyone has experienced.)

          1. LW # 3*

            Yeah, seeing a picture of Mecca crowded with those who have made the Hajj is, somehow, way different than being exhorted to ‘commit to Christ.’

            1. Observer*

              Not just somehow – it’s pretty explicit.

              One is information sharing. The other is proselytizing.

              1. Charlotte Lucas*

                Yes, I assume that the Muslim coworker was not exhorting everyone to follow the teachings of Mohammed.

            2. Irish Teacher*

              Yeah, I would have no problem with seeing a coworker’s pictures of making the Hajj, any more than I have a problem with a colleague showing around their pictures of their visit to Knock or talking about how they went to see the Pope when he visited Ireland.

              Somebody encouraging me to follow their religion strikes me as very different.

              It’s the difference between “this is what I believe” and “you should believe this.”

        3. Jessica*

          I think posting pictures of your trip (or, for that matter, your wedding), even though it may have elements that are religious (or “religious,” since a lot of cultures don’t have the same sort of religious/secular distinctions Christianity does), is pretty different from explicitly ordering people to convert to your religion.

    2. Yes Anastasia*

      The recent Supreme Court ruling is about putting limits on the state’s ability to (according to the majority framing) “compel speech”, not about limiting employers’ duty to protect employees from religious harassment (which is still illegal under the Civil Rights Act). Repeated acts of proselytizing can shade into religious discrimination, so employers have a right to shut it down.

    3. Clisby Williams*

      I think it’s a good idea for employers to shut down proselytizing at work, but I’m not aware of any US law saying private employers are *required* to do so. I mean, depending on what’s being said, it might rise to the level of creating a hostile work environment, but what the LW is describing doesn’t sound like that.

    4. Eliot Waugh*

      I don’t think LW3 is looking to make a federal case of this. Many things that may be legal are still rude, and pushing your religion on strangers and coworkers is one of those things.

      1. Eldritch Office Worker*

        Yes but when you’re talking about a place where one person’s manners may run up against another person’s protected class you really do need to be careful.

        Religious harassment (proselytizing at work) can be illegal, but EEOC guidance is not entirely black and white on the issue.

      2. LW # 3*

        Nope… I wasn’t looking to make a federal case…. just looking for guidance on whether or not I was justified in thinking this was not something that the entire company should have to wade through…
        And the person posting seems to have stopped, so it’s a moot point now.

    5. Student*

      This isn’t strictly about any religious content whatsoever, so please don’t try to pretend we’re talking about all religious discussion when we are actually talking, specifically, about trying to convert your co-workers to your religion.

      Trying to convert other co-workers to your religion, in the context of work, will come off to many people of other religions as religious harassment. There’s a degree of what the person speaking intends, but there is also a degree of how the listener experiences it. When you try to convert someone else to your religion, there is an implicit message you send that you find their current religion wrong and inferior – otherwise there is no need to convert anyone.

      The harassment of others based on a protected class (religion) is the specific problem. Generally, one instance of harassment is not enough to raise legal concerns, but an ongoing pattern of harassment (…posting conversion-oriented sermons daily in a work channel that others need to use for work purposes, so they can’t ignore it), and broad harassment (~100k people in the channel; if it’s the US and the sermon person is of a major religion, then probably at least ~67k people were getting told daily that their religion is wrong by this guy, since religions tend to top out at 33% population buy-in here) are both signs this will likely meet the legal threshold for religious harassment.

      If you want to have your favorite verse hanging in your cubicle, that’s a different matter. It may be culturally out-of-step at some businesses, but it’s generally going to be legal, and there are many offices where it would not get you a second look. However, if your favorite verse talks about how other people are damned for following their own faith, or inferior based on sex or gender, or something of that nature, then it could constitute harassment based on protected characteristics. Just like having an image of a nude hanging in your cube would generally be considered sexual harassment of co-workers.

    6. Observer*

      if the company allows people to post whatever non-religious stuff they want, what’s the basis for saying they can’t post religious stuff?

      That’s not the issue, though. The problem is that they are posting *proselytizing* content. That’s a different category.

      Does it matter that he’s a peer and not a supervisor?

      It could make a huge difference for non-overtly proselytizing content.

      1. Anecdata*

        But what part makes it proselytizing, is I think the core of the question here?
        (and I am also curious, both from a legal and a social perspective)

        My best guess is, legally, it’s the call-to-action element (commit your life to Christ) : so a company could say both “I committed my life to Christ; it looks like XYZ; and it was super meaningful to me” and “I made the Hajj; it looks like XYZ; and it was super meaningful to me” are okay but neither can append “and you should too”?

        1. Silver Robin*

          Not sure about legally, but as for socially:

          A Christian getting really into their Christianity *on a work channel* sets of the spidey senses. A Muslim doing the same (posting from the Quran, for example) would also feel weird. There is a presumption that it is important/valuable to the audience to hear those words. That is different than, say, “here is an important cultural event I attended and some info about it”. Photos of Christmas dinner vs photos from Eid, same deal. Yay, celebration! Not proselytizing.

          Muslims have also been on the receiving end of some really terrible bigotry in the US, and often have cultural backgrounds that are non-European, so their traditions/how they celebrate look different, so there is more explanation that could go into it from a cultural education standpoint. It would feel really weird for a Christian to explain how Easter works, for example. Most of us are well aware. But Ramadan? Eid-al-Fitr? Not as well known. And there is lots of culturally specific things that go into those celebrations (even Christmas around the world looks very different!) on top of religious/spiritual things to contextualize the event itself. So sharing stuff from that perspective comes off more as cross-cultural connection/exchange/yay diversity rather than the majority reinforcing its norms.

        2. Observer*

          But what part makes it proselytizing, is I think the core of the question here?

          When someone says “you should commit to ~~deity of choice~~” there is just no way to claim that it’s NOT proselytizing, though. So it’s not really relevant.

          I do think that from a legal pov your examples are probably pretty good, at least when coming from a colleague at the same level. From someone at a higher level that could be more problematic.

    7. TPS reporter*

      it’s an interesting case because it involves a newer technology and space, the virtual social channel. so it reaches many people beyond someone hanging up a bible verse in their cube. but it’s also a specifically social channel and isn’t targeting a particular person. does anyone need to look at the social channel for a work purpose? at the same time I still think you could and should have guidelines for appropriate messages in the work channel, but if you said no religious content at all you would be in trouble.

    8. Anti-discrimination*

      Contrary what some believe religious expression is not prohibited in the workplace:
      “Employers should not try to suppress all religious expression in the workplace. Title VII requires that employers accommodate an employee’s sincerely held religious belief in engaging in religious expression in the workplace to the extent that they can do so without undue hardship on the operation of the business. In determining whether permitting an employee to pray, proselytize, or engage in other forms of religiously oriented expression in the workplace would pose an undue hardship, relevant considerations may include the effect such expression has on co-workers, customers, or business operations.”

      Banks v. Service Am. Corp., 952 F. Supp. 703 (D. Kan. 1996). The employer discharged two
      food service employees who refused to stop greeting customers with religious greetings such as God Bless You and Praise the Lord. The court held that plaintiffs presented a triable issue of fact regarding whether the employer could have accommodated them without undue hardship. A reasonable jury could find that no undue hardship was posed. The employer received only 20 to 25 complaints while serving approximately 130,000 to 195,000 customers — a complaint rate of between .01025 and .01923 percent — and the employer presented no evidence of decreased use of the cafeteria or religious polarization among customers.

  14. Cora*

    For #2, a number of people in my circle have just said they’re “back on the market” or “looking for a new opportunity”, both in person and on linked in. I don’t know if those were firings or layoffs – I suspect layoffs based on the companies – but no one is prying or asking details beyond that.

  15. TeapotNinja*

    Can we nominate LW4’s boss as worst boss 2023 candidate even though this happened several years ago?

    Also in that same situation I would’ve just went out to grab lunch and see what she would’ve done. I think there would’ve been quite a high chance the boss would’ve resorted in assault, or some other physical altercation from what I’m reading in that letter.

    And resigning by cod would’ve been very, very tempting.

    1. Empress Ki*

      Oh yeah. Buy cod for lunch, and leave it on her desk when she tells you to stop eating.

  16. I should really pick a name*

    Anyone else horrified by the idea of a chat channel with 128K people?

    1. Ann Onymous*

      Yes! Hopefully whatever chat tool they’re using has the ability to mute notifications on specific channels. I know that’s the first thing I’d be doing.

    2. LW # 3*

      It’s a big company… and yes, we can mute any group channels we’re in… or choose to leave group channels.

  17. It is healthy to know you know nothing - Dao De Jing*

    If LW3 isn’t comfortable being the person who complains to HR, there is the option to post selective quotes from other religions and philosophies on the same social channel.
    I’m passively atheist but I still find words of wisdom and simple kindness in many different religions.

    1. LW # 3*

      I’m not afraid… I was just hoping to avoid having to spend the time contacting HR and pointing them to the posts… and then enduring whatever might follow, which could have been a lecture on respecting all faiths…

    2. Julia*

      The core issue is that one shouldn’t post religious quotes on a company wide social channel. Posting non-Christian ones implies people from all religions should proselytize.

      I’m an agnostic and while I do find some religious quotes interesting I’m not going to share them large scale at work.

    3. Jessica*

      Yeah, no, as a member of a religion that prohibits proselytizing, this ain’t it, chief.

      “You should all be just as gross as the Christians” isn’t helpful, and ignores power relations in hegemonic Christian societies, where it can be *actively dangerous* for members of minority cultures to be perceived as proselytizing.

  18. no.*

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: don’t come to work intoxicated. Good job getting sober but really???

    1. Empress Ki*

      I think most people know that they should come to work sober, but some people have addictions and it can be hard for them.

    2. Eliot Waugh*

      Yeah, barring a prescription it should not be that hard to save your mind altering substances for when you get home.

      And no, coffee is not the same. The “caffeine is a drug too!” argument is disingenuous and we all know it.

      1. Yours sincerely, Raymond Holt*

        A key thing about drugs is that they’re addictive. So of course it can be hard for some people to control their use.

        1. Eliot Waugh*

          Oh I understand. I’m a recovering alcoholic. Doesn’t make the times I was drunk at work in any way acceptable.

          1. Yours sincerely, Raymond Holt*

            It’s not acceptable but you said “it shouldn’t be hard.” Of course it’s hard.

          1. Yours sincerely, Raymond Holt*

            OK but we know the drug in question here and many people do find it hard to stop using it. There’s not much point in saying it “shouldn’t” be hard not to do it.

    3. Caramel & Cheddar*

      I think it’s compounded by this line in the letter: “My marijuana use here was no secret, and sometimes even encouraged by ownership.” If ownership was actively encouraging it on occasion, I can see why the LW thought it wasn’t actually as big a problem as it turned out to be. Personally, this would make me question ownership’s own judgement, but that’s not what LW wrote in about.

    4. Eldritch Office Worker*

      a) not an issue in this case so not sure why you’re bringing it up, they stopped. Though “getting sober” is certainly not a term they use nor one we should impose on them.
      b) a lot of people use marijuana to manage medical conditions and we have no context about why OP was working high.
      c) a lot of prescription medications and conditions cause cognitive fog as well – I have to take klonopin at work some days, to offset the side effects of other medications I’m on. I have bad chronic pains days and vaping a little THC makes me way more functional than I would be otherwise. I currently have long covid and my mind is not at it’s sharpest. My employer knows all these things, as did OP’s employer. They weren’t doing anything underhanded or deceitful.

    5. Past Lurker*

      I wonder if they work for a place that sells weed in a place where it’s legal?

    6. Peanut Hamper*

      This sounds unnecessarily harsh. We have no idea what LW’s life was like/is like and they do not deserve this level of snippiness.

      Come down off your mountain.

      1. BoksBooks*

        Is this where we’re at? that we have to be understanding of people being intoxicated at work now? Is literally nothing held to standard in the guise of being tolerant?

        1. Peanut Hamper*

          Please tell me what your standard is, in that case.

          All I’m asking is that we be tolerant of people asking questions and be tolerant of the reasons they are asking those questions. I am not saying that we should tolerate intoxication at work. But cut it out with the damn snippiness as a way make yourself feel superior. If you can’t be nice, at least be silent.

        2. Dahlia*

          How is it affecting you? Where’s the line, also? Can I get drunk and write a book and sell it? Can I be high and stream on twitch and make money that way? Are you deeply offended about that time I was nanny-ing on codeine because I’d had my wisdom teeth out six days before?

          1. Joron Twiner*

            Wow I would not leave my children with someone who was on codeine…
            Clearly there is a difference between going to work and serving others while on mind-altering drugs vs. writing a book or twitch streaming or being at home while on drugs.

            1. Dahlia*

              I told their mother and she was fine with it. It didn’t affect me besides taking away the pain. I’ve been on massive amounts of morphine and it didn’t make me high or impaired.

              Honestly if you’re expecting everyone to be sober, restaurants are the last place you should be going.

  19. Mila*

    Lw 5 – I think FMLA is actually irrelevant here – teacher wants to only use paid time, which is her sick time, irrespective of whether it’s FMLA related – so I think the answer is dependent on what restrictions the employee can put on her paid sick time, not her FMLA leave.

    Also, would the fact that she’s on a 180 day contract be relevant here? How does FMLA even apply to contract employees? Presumably differently than year round employees?

    1. Name*

      Even though a teacher is contracted, it’s not a typical contractor position. FMLA applies like it would for everyone else. And FMLA does matter here. It keeps the district from filling her position. If not on FMLA and they did fill her position, then they could move her to another school and/or grade level depending on her certification. Doesn’t seem like much but if they are elementary, it can mean having to build a whole new classroom.

      1. Teacher*

        Eligibility for FMLA is based on total numbers of hours worked per year, and teachers generally fall just over that number, especially when you factor in additional time spent planning and grading. Additionally, the school year is 180 days for students, but generally more days for teachers due to in service days. Teachers are not generally contracted positions they way I think Mila is referring to. Many, but not all, public school teaching jobs are union jobs, and thus the union negotiates a contract with the school district.

          1. Name*

            LOL no problem. I work in HR and am currently with my 3rd school district but first one with unions. The first two were in a non-union state. There was a statewide teacher’s union but it doesn’t have negotiating power the way a traditional union would.

    2. Caffeinated Panda*

      FMLA does have a couple of special rules for teachers that not everyone is aware of to minimize disruption for students, but as far as I know they apply to leaves near the end of the year or intermittent leave, not to the start of the year.

      As far as paid leave policies go, I know there was a case in Illinois not long ago where a teacher took unpaid leave at the start of the year to bond with her child who was born earlier in the summer, similar to OP5, and then sued the district saying she should have been allowed to defer the 30 days paid leave that district policy allowed teachers who gave birth during the school year. The Illinois Supreme Court decided against her. That wouldn’t hold weight in other states, but it’s possible that it’s part of the background information that the principal is confusing along with the special FMLA rules for teachers.

      1. Name*

        Sick paid leave is to recover from childbirth, not to bond with the baby. After 6-8 weeks, she should have recovered unless a doctor’s not said otherwise. At that, she’d be unable to use sick leave but could potentially use personal days if they school district used those. That’s why she was denied and the court ruled against her.
        *Not saying I agree with it but I’ve worked HR in 3 school districts. It sucks but it’s the way it goes.

  20. MsJaytee*

    LW4: Isn’t that a health and safety issue? I get migraines and one of my biggest triggers is skipping meals. If I wasn’t able to eat lunch I would be in bed ill by the end of the day. Even if someone doesn’t have a medical decision, preventing them from eating isn’t good for their health.

    1. ecnaseener*

      It certainly is a health and safety issue, but that doesn’t make it automatically illegal. As far as I can tell OSHA hasn’t set any requirements or anything.

  21. Name*

    LW 5 – as someone who works HR for a school district, go to the HR department and ignore the principal. Some fun ones:
    – a principal wanted to fire someone because his wife had a baby, he wasn’t responding to texts/phone calls/emails, and he wasn’t on FMLA.
    – a principal said that we overpaid someone who was working 35 hours a week but their schedule was for 30. They tried to argue that the person was on contract and overpaid (they weren’t). Then, they told me that we needed to pay them time and a half because the person worked more than they were scheduled to. They finally went to the head of the HR department because they didn’t believe me.
    – a principal said that any overtime not preapproved was not eligible for comp time or OT pay.
    Principals know a lot but they tend to not know HR.

  22. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

    #1: Loving the obliviousness & sheer nerve of OP1 !
    (I hope no coworker/frenemy encourages her to actually do this for the lols)

    1. Madame Arcati*

      Hmmm, I’d say that’s a slightly harsh reading of it. It seems to me perfectly possible, even likely that it’s not sheer nerve but that in OP’s head the improvement at work and the reason for it are so inextricably linked she hasn’t realised that she can say, subject to other conditions, “I’ve upped my game” and no need to get into the whys and wherefores.
      Then she was thoughtful and sought advice from a reliable source, which doesn’t seem oblivious either – if she were, she’d have just gone ahead.

    2. Zarniwoop*

      In a normal workplace this would be obliviousness. But this is not a normal workplace: “ My marijuana use here was no secret, *and sometimes even encouraged by ownership.*” It’s good that OP is reaching out of his immediate environment for information on what’s considered reasonable in the rest of the world.

  23. doreen*

    LW # 5 – This
    “Her principal told her she might not be able to take as much time off (or at least get paid for it) next fall as we had planned since some of it falls more than 12 weeks after the child will be born. ” sounds like principal is not sure of the policy – and that’s very likely, so someone should check with HR. But also, since the LW says “at least get paid for it” it’s possible that the issue is not taking the FMLA leave ( which you are entitled to within 12 months of the birth) but taking sick leave which may be subject to other restrictions. For example, my employer allowed me to use sick leave to care for a family member with a medical condition and of course for my own medical condition – so if I took FMLA leave right after the birth until my doctor allowed me to return to work, I could use my sick leave. If my husband or child was ill and needed me to care for them , I could use my sick leave. But I couldn’t use my sick leave to bond with a baby six months after I gave birth, just as I couldn’t use sick leave to bond with a child I adopted.

  24. Seahorse*

    Can I ask for a raise because I’ve never gotten high at work? I’ve never sent excerpts of religious texts to the whole company either – that should at least be worth a nice bonus!

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      If your work performance has improved over a significant period of time then yes, you can. Good job.

  25. Glomarization, Esq.*

    “Your work improved because you were getting better sleep or finally left your crap boyfriend or so forth” is not the same as “Your work improved because you quit deliberately impairing yourself with substances while at work.”

    Obviously I agree with the overall advice — no, you can’t say “I should get a raise because I’m no longer working while impaired” — but it does this letter-writer a disservice, I think, to compare working while self-impaired with working while drowsy or while distracted with personal problems caused outside of work.

    And before someone nitpicks about “drowsy,” yes, of course, that can cause health and safety problems in the workplace. But Alison is comparing deliberately substance-impairing oneself, which is completely preventable, with hypothetical sleeping problems outside of one’s control. that might cause impairment. Both impairments might cause health and safety problems at work, but they’re pretty darn different.

    1. M*

      I’m not sure that I really understand the difference. I mean I guess I do in terms of “personal choice” but not the difference it makes in raising one’s work performance. In a previous job, for example, I was slacking off quite a bit because Covid blues and understaffing were killing my motivation. One day I just decided that I was going to get it together, and miraculously I sustained high performance on sheer willpower, and did in fact leverage that into a raise and a promotion. Was my performance improvement illegitimate because I was choosing to slack off in the past?

      I feel like a lot of the responses to this letter are making a knee-jerk reaction based on the moral value of drugs. Under the view that it’s actually about choosing to impair one’s productivity in general, I would argue that I’m impairing myself by not taking fish oil supplements, or not doing yoga every morning (or any kind of lifestyle change that I know is beneficial to me but that I don’t sustain for various reasons) and therefore if I start doing these things and it leads to my work performance improving, there’s no value in that. (Obviously I wouldn’t go to my boss and ask for a raise on account of my fish oil, but I think the comment was about the comparison in actions, not the LW’s question itself)

  26. Name*

    LW 3 – go to someone high up in HR. I work HR and we had a coworker (specialist, so lower level position) who decided to share a morning devotional through email to a coworker who was going through a hard time and CC’d the rest of us on it (6 people in total). Those two were ok with it, the rest of us were “eh”. An executive director found out after a few days and told her to stop (not sure how the message was delivered). It’s easier to get ahead of the game and put a stop to it now than to let it continue until someone gets offended (or not promoted/hired/pay raise) and gets a lawyer to say it’s discrimination.

  27. DJ Abbott*

    LW3, I grew up in a fundamentalist area. It is probably obvious that this channel is not for a religion, and this person is posting sermons anyway. It’s a blatant and deliberate attempt at conversion in one of the most inappropriate venues.
    Someone who is this pushy and disingenuous probably won’t stop easily. It should be reported each time, every time.
    If they’re like the fundamentalists I’ve known, when they’re shut down from chat channels they will keep trying to convert under the radar. Some of them never give it up even when they get in serious trouble.
    I hope your company has a good, competent, HR that will shut this down hard right away. Those who have to deal with this employee in person should be prepared for him to try to convert them one on one too.
    Good luck to all of you!

    1. Richard Hershberger*

      I’m not sure it is a genuine attempt at conversion. It certainly isn’t a strategy likely to succeed. A better explanation, I think, is that it ticks off the evangelism box, like leaving religious tracts wherever you go, without requiring any direct interaction. It also serves as virtue signaling, for those who consider this a virtue.

      1. DJ Abbott*

        Maybe, but I’ve personally seen the behavior I described. There are people who do this. They seem obsessed with conversion and do this everywhere.
        It’s not likely to succeed – and it could be they’re following instructions from their pastor that set them up to fail, so they’ll be even more dependent on their church.

      2. Jessica*

        It’s not about converting people.

        Christians know as well as non-Christians that just peppering random people with bible verses and exhortations to come to Jesus isn’t an effective persuasive technique.

        They do it for the same reason men catcall random women.

        It’s not about convincing people to convert (or to have sex). It’s about establishing who gets to feel comfortable and at home in a shared space–and who doesn’t.

  28. Safely Retired*

    On the bible verses, I think it would be fun (though a bad idea) to post your own quotes, choosing passages nobody wants to talk about. A bit of googling turned up one site claiming to have the 14 most abominable verses, and there are some whoppers. Slavery? Sure. Sell your daughter into slavery? Fine.

      1. Lady_Lessa*

        Most Christians ignore that book. I think if they could, they would remove it altogether.

        1. Student*

          They can remove it, if they so wish. There is a long and rich history of choosing which religious texts are authoritative to each religious sect, and deciding how to translate and interpret them.

          They choose not to.

          Ergo, the people in power in your religious faith are not nearly as keen to distance themselves from the Song of Solomon as you, personally, are.

          1. Lady_Lessa*

            I didn’t mean to imply that I was distancing myself from the book. In fact, in my started book stack is one by Bernard of Clairvaux on the Biblical book.

            But the main time books were removed from the Christian canon was Martin Luther went with a different Hebrew canon from the Catholics. Since then, the list(s) have stayed constant.

        2. Richard Hershberger*

          This might be true for American Evangelical Protestants, but it is not true in any general sense. It doesn’t feature strongly in the common lectionary, but chapter 2 verses 8-13 makes an appearance. Mostly, it is treated as something of an oddball book, which puts it in good company.

    1. Enai*

      I’d prefer quoting the sermon where Jesus himself admonishes the showy people who pray on street corners and such, specifically in order to be seen praying (Matthew, chapter 6, verses 5-7).

      Then again, maybe this would be seen as an invitation to start a whole theological discussion, instead of shutting it down. Not any better than the status quo.

      1. LW # 3*

        I wouldn’t mind a theological discussion (though I think I would at work)… but I do mind if someone tells me to commit myself to Christ…

        1. Enai*

          Very understandable. I meant that instead of feeling chastised, your preaching coworker might think you’re a possible ally to assist in ministering to your lost & heathen coworkers, prolonging the whole thing.

  29. Melissa*

    I’ve never worked for the kind of company in 3, but honestly an “anything-goes” social channel sounds like a bad idea. One person’s inspirational daily quotes are another person’s heresy, you know?

    1. LW # 3*

      Well, “anythin g goes” within reason… There’s an assumption that no one is going to do anything really stupid…

      1. metadata minion*

        There’s a similar channel on my workplace Slack — there aren’t any stated rules, but there’s a general understanding that you have the same common-sense constraints on in-person workplace conversation (if anything, a bit more so, since anyone can read it whereas in person you know which of your coworkers is cool with conversations about religion or spiders or whatever).

    2. Jennifer Strange*

      I’m sure most people recognize that “anything goes” means within the confines of what is appropriate at work. In the same way that folks working in-office might chat about last night’s episode of Secret Invasion, but aren’t going to start discussing their favorite sex positions.

    3. fine tipped pen aficionado*

      I often struggle with wanting to create structure that prevents anyone from being harmed by one person’s bad judgment, but if you use that approach too much it really erodes autonomy and personality.

      I’m trying to get more comfortable with finding situations where it’s reasonable to expect that people exercise good judgment and then correcting people when they don’t. I think we need to really focus on only resorting to structural solutions (like removing general chats) when we see a pattern of bad judgment.

      1. Eldritch Office Worker*

        And I think there are levels of scale. “Anything goes” is way more permissive than most general chats I see. It’s okay to say “okay, let’s be more explicit – ‘anything work appropriate goes'”. Taking it back a few degrees instead of deleting open chat altogether, to start.

        On the other side of it “this one person really abuses our flexible work policy” is not a reason to take away the flexible work policy for everyone. So the level of impact on other employees and the reactiveness of the fix matter.

  30. 15 Pieces of Flair*

    LW4- Your assessment of the situation is spot on. Employers who ignore biological necessities signal that they view employees as cogs rather than humans.

    The two worst places I ever worked both deprioritized lunch. My chain of command and the majority of my (salaried, exempt) coworkers regularly worked 10+ hour days with no lunch break and expected me to do the same. They acted as though I was violating professional norms by insisting on eating something, which I always did. The lunch issue was indicative of the culture; these places expected employees to put their own needs last in all circumstances.

    1. Jay (no, the other one)*

      I started a new job six weeks after I had gastric bypass. When I started, my schedule included an hour for lunch. A few months later they changed it to half an hour. I’m a doc, so when I’m seeing patients I can’t eat or drink during visits, and I’m not supposed to drink anything for 30 minutes after I eat, and that point it still took me about half an hour to eat an adequate lunch.

      I had to get a note from my doctor saying I needed an hour for lunch for medical reasons. I was not trying to reduce my patient load – I was happy to extend my day by 30 minutes. I was doing home visits so I wasn’t keeping anyone in the office. My PCP gave me the note along with a serious eyeroll at the request.

    2. GreyjoyGardens*

      This jogged a memory of a stint of employment I had, years ago, in what was termed a “digital sweatshop” (during the first part of the dot com boom, employing graphic designers, programmers and the like). I got the side-eye from all my coworkers when I went to have lunch and was told to “hurry back.” Most people did not take lunch. I did not last very long.

      1. JustaTech*

        That sounds like the mindset of the guy who invented Soylent – he said that eating interfered with his productivity and was “drudgery” (not cooking, but eating).

        I get that some people feel that food is just fuel, but I’ve never heard even those people describe chewing as “drudgery”.

        1. Dahlia*

          I honestly do kind of experience that sometimes and hear that from other neurodiverse people. Sometimes food that doesn’t “excite” your brain enough kind of stops being food to you. Like imagine if you had oatmeal for every meal for a month. No sugar, no flavouring, just plain oatmeal. On your 90th bowl of plain oatmeal, would you still be enjoying it?

          1. JustaTech*

            You know, I never thought about it that way.
            I assumed that the Soylent guy was like so many other Silicon Valley types, creating a business to meet the needs previously met by his mom (cooking, cleaning, laundry, scheduling), and just didn’t have the interest or skills to make good food, or the willingness to pay (possibly a lot) to buy food he liked.

            I never considered that he genuinely might not find *any* food enjoyable, even part of the time. And if all food is unpalatable, then a drink you can chug and be done with would make getting your necessary calories/nutrients a whole lot easier.

            (And of course if that was true it wouldn’t be part of the official company story because yo, America/Silicon Valley doesn’t do a great job with being open about accessibility stuff.)

    3. MikeM_inMD*

      Late Friday, one of my upstream folk sent out an all-hands meeting notice for this Thursday, which runs from 11:00 to 13:00. There’s no mention of lunch being provided. If it isn’t, I’m going to sit there and eat something that is very aromatic or very loud.

      1. This_is_Todays_Name*

        That’s a little passive aggressive and frankly rude and punishing to those around you who aren’t responsible for your missed lunch. Eat? Sure, but it needn’t be loud and/or smelly! A sandwich, a salad, a wrap, etc… What would you normally eat? I never get the impulse to “get back” at people for things that really just deserve an eye roll and an adjustment of normal plans for A DAY.

  31. CityMouse*

    Re: LW1, WHY your job performance has improved doesn’t matter as much as the fact that it’s recent. I train newer people as part of my job and I had this employee who would work these brilliant months, burn herself out, then crash the next month. The inconsistency ended up being killer because she made a lot of mistakes during the crash month. I spent a lot of time working with her on how to keep her performance at a good but sustainable level.

    So someone all of a sudden improving for a month or two really doesn’t tell me as much as a longer, more sustained pattern of improvement. my personal experience is sudden dramatic improvement (without something really concrete like an employee who finished a difficult move) generally levels off at best.

  32. a name to remember*

    LW 3: I legitimately had to go check our large company’s you have certainly heard of social channel because we also had an issue with this. The person in question has more switched to inspirational quotes rather than just bible verses, though they sneak in from time to time.

    Our company had an issue with a certain religious social group on our channels, and eventually cut down on who could make groups, and that they had to have a business purpose to avoid deletion. The thinly veiled harassment ceased after that point.

    1. LW # 3*

      Interesting… Sounds like it started at your company long before it started at mine… Though there may have been instances in the past at my employer that I’m not aware of…

  33. Lalchi11*

    OP 5- school districts sometimes have really weird rules regarding parental leave. I would look at her contract and the CBA to see what it says. It may be different than the FMLA rules.

    1. ijustworkhere*

      In our organization, our policy states that we offer 6 employer paid weeks, and those have to be taken consecutively. (Our payroll people managed to win that one by complaining about how hard it would be to track intermittent employer paid leave; personally I don’t see why that should be so difficult, but hey, I just work here).

      You can take the other six weeks intermittently anytime within the 12 months following the date of birth, adoption, or beginning of foster care., as per the federal law. That might also be a factor in some way for the LW’s wife.

  34. ZSD*

    #3. As a hypothetical, would the advice be different if this person had started a different opt-in channel specifically for people who are interested in seeing Christian content? It’s not clear to me if this company allows people to start separate channels for cyclists, dog lovers, etc., but if so, could one start a separate opt-in channel for members of a certain faith without it being a problem?

    1. LW # 3*

      I think that would be OK… we have channels for dog and cat lovers, for jokes, things like that…

    2. It Actually Takes a Village*

      Given the current hostile takeover of Christian fascists in the US, Canada, and many other places in the world, this would be so, so, bad.

      1. fine tipped pen aficionado*

        On the one hand I feel like having a channel for Christians would reinforce the idea to everyone else that their religion is special in some way and is afforded special privileges and protections that people of other religions or no religion are not afforded.

        On the other hand, I feel like them having their own channel would make me less likely to encounter their church talk elsewhere and I’m for that. Also like… peeping into that channel would give me a good idea of which coworkers to avoid socially and I’m for that as well.

        1. ZSD*

          Well, I think it would be implicit that you could also have channels for adherents of other religions, so Christians wouldn’t then be getting singled out as special.

      2. Jessica*

        Eh, quarantining them so they can prooftext at each other instead of harassing non-Christians seems like a decent solution in an imperfect world.

    3. Ginger Cat Lady*

      The point of the posts is to evangelize, though, and so even if you gave them their own space, they’d post outside of it because it’s the “nonbelievers” they are trying to reach.
      Give the JW or Mormons their own neighborhood and they’re still going to go to other neighborhoods to knock doors.

    4. Irish Teacher*

      Honestly, as a Catholic, I’m not even sure I’d find what the coworker is doing appropriate in a situation like that. Even in a channel for Christian content, I’d be wary of anything that tries to tell others how they should practice their faith. “Commit to Christ” sounds pretty general and like something all or most Christians would do, but I find people who post stuff like that often have pretty strong opinions on what that looks like and those vary greatly from denomination to denomination.

      Even when sharing with fellow-Christians, I’d be inclined to say it should be restricted to “this is what I believe” and not “this is what you should believe,” especially since in the workplace, there are likely to be people from many different denominations.

    5. Random Dice*

      No, that would be wildly inappropriate in any workplace except a specifically religious workplace.

  35. Always Bring Pickles to a Potluck*

    I don’t understand how posting Bible verses is considered proselytizing and is therefore illegal but forcing workers to listen to Christian music all day isn’t and is therefore legal. (I think both are wrong, but this is something I can’t reconcile logically.)

    1. LW # 3*

      Oops… nesting problem. My comment below was in response to “Always Bring Pickles to a Potluck.” And I wasn’t questioning the legality of it… there are no laws against posting such stuff in the U.S. as far as I know… but it was icky.

    2. fine tipped pen aficionado*

      It’s a difficult distinction to make without seeing the posts, but I think we can trust LW’s judgment that the verses were a call to action rather than a more benign “I read this today and it made me happy”.

      The call to action part is the important distinction. Obviously neither of them make for an inclusive or especially healthy workplace, but intention matters legally and directly soliciting religious commitment is distinct from having music playing that might have a similar message. Now, if your manager brings a radio to your desk and makes you look them in the eyes while they play a song called “Come to Jesus”, that’s proselytizing. But if it’s background noise, that’s passive and therefore not.

      All that being said, I’m not a lawyer, this is just how I understand the matter. Trying to help!

      1. LW # 3*

        Interesting… I’m certainly not a lawyer either. I hadn’t put ‘intent matters’ into words, but I feel like the intent was what disturbed me. When the poster switched to just simple, short bible verses, it wasn’t as disturbing to me as when the posting was a mile-long series of ‘daily devotionals,’ followed by an exhortation to ‘commit to Christ.’

        1. Jay (no, the other one)*

          I’m Jewish. Daily Bible verses would make me uncomfortable and likely to nope out of the channel. Exhortations to “commit to Christ” would send me straight to HR. They are different. I would strongly prefer no religious content in work communications at all and if the Bible verses were in a work-related channel I had to read I would complain. In a purely optional social channel I’d save my capital for other things. Active proselytizing is seriously not OK no matter where it’s happening.

      2. Jessica*

        I would consider being forced to listen to Christian music all day a hostile workplace.

        I should be able to do my work at an office that isn’t blaring music extolling the religion that’s been trying to wipe out my people for 2000 years.

        1. fine tipped pen aficionado*

          Fully agree. Bringing up religion, especially a religion that has created trauma and will be a trigger for so many people, is not something a good, inclusive, or healthy workplace will do. And I feel like legally should be equivalent, or at least on the same scale, but my understanding of US case law is that it is not. Again, not a lawyer so I welcome correction from someone with expertise.

    3. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

      imo imposing a religious (or any other) earworm would be excruciating, far worse than written verses which you can skip over anyway

      1. Dahlia*

        Been there and it is. I worked at a Christian store for a while (I’m not Christian but I like money) and at the time they had one CD. 9 songs. About Jesus.

        They EMBEDDED in my brain. If I ever meet that singer in a dark alley, only one of us is making it out.

    4. This_is_Todays_Name*

      Why do you think “forcing workers to listen to Christian music all day” isn’t illegal? There have been letters here about Christian music being played and the LWs have been advised it is NOT okay and they should complain about it. I definitely would.

    5. Irish Teacher*

      I think both are problematic and should not happen in the workplace, but I do think that posting “commit to Christ” typed verses is worse than playing Christian music or posting “the Lord has done great things for me” typed verses (I’d put the latter two on the same level and would think both problematic unless it was say a religious workplace or something; I’d find the “commit to Christ” problematic even in most religious workplaces and would say it at least borders on harrassment).

      There was a discussion a while back about what topics are completely unacceptable in the workplace and I found it hard to think of specific topics but one thing I feel strongly should be off-limits is pushing anything (well, except maybe stuff like treating others with respect), whether it’s a religion, a political viewpoint, MLM products, lifestyle choices (living together before marriage, not living together before marriage, wearing make-up, not wearing make-up, whatever), medical or health advice, etc…

      Playing Christian music in a secular workplace does favour one group and excludes people who are not Christian and could be triggering for people with religious trauma and at least sets a toe over the line into pushing a particular religion, but “commit to Christ” is pretty clearly pushing an agenda and implies a criticism of anybody who is not Christian and also probably anybody who practices Christianity differently than the speaker (there is often an implication that if other Christians were truly “committed to Christ” they would live a similar lifestyle to the speaker and sometimes support the same politics as the speaker).

      And telling people who belong to another religion to “commit to Christ” is pretty offensive.

      I’m not saying any of this to disagree with you, by the way. I do agree that both are wrong. Just sort of went off on a tangent on my thoughts about this and why this bothers me even more than stuff that centres Christian as “the norm.”

  36. MCMonkeyBean*

    For LW 2 – I think there is a lot less stigma around being fired than their used to be and I hope you will be comfortable sharing your situation with friends and family that you want to lean on emotionally!

    For your grad school network I would not bring it up proactively though. If you are hoping to network to learn of job openings it’s probably better to leave the firing out of those initial conversations and just say you’re looking for a new job. If you haven’t worked with them directly before then that would be pretty much the only thing they know about your work experience.

  37. LW # 3*

    It wasn’t just bible verses… he was encouraging us to all “commit to Christ,” and the verses started out being 5 paragraphs long…
    It just feels to me like religion and politics should be avoided in an all-employee channel… And urging your Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Jewish, atheist, and agnostic co-workers to “commit to Christ” is just… icky!

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      “It just feels to me like religion and politics should be avoided in an all-employee channel”

      That’s generally a good rule of thumb

    2. BellyButton*

      It is so gross. I can’t understand why HR and their manager didn’t step in immediately.

    3. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      Yeah, I can scan past a post that is a quick quote about something I’m not interested in (and the occasional bible quote I could handle), but religious calls to action need to go.

      This goes above the “hey everyone, I’m going to participate in the Thanksgiving Day Fun Run, I hope you’ll all join me” level of all-employee water cooler channel chat. (Or even a “it’s election day tomorrow! Don’t forget to vote for your favorite candidates!”)

    4. Sparkles McFadden*

      I am a big fan of avoiding HR, but not in a case like this. So, yeah…go to HR. Talk to other people and encourage them to talk to HR as well. People need to push back on this any way possible. If this person is doing this in a Slack channel, imagine what they’re doing with individuals in person, so everyone possible needs to report this to HR.

      People get scared because “Oh no! It’s religion so I can’t say anything” which is how the proselytizers get away with it. A lot of proselytizers get instructions on how to push back in ways that might make critics question themselves or worry about telling them they can’t proselytize. They come back at you with false analogies saying things such as “If people can talk about their interests at work then I can talk about Jesus because He is my interest.” Some of them just blather about freedom of religion or freedom of speech and they ultimately end up telling you you’re persecuting them. It’s all scare tactics designed to make people let them do whatever they want.

      1. Shandra*

        In a similar vein, I met a former Muslim “Nadia,” who told me about her Muslim acquaintance “Lina.”

        Lina wasn’t observant, but she wore the hijab. For her it was about power, not piety. People couldn’t challenge her in the face of an obvious religious symbol.

        1. Shandra*

          To clarify, Nadia knew Lina was nonobservant and eventually asked her why she wore the hijab.

  38. cabbagepants*

    LW5 You don’t mention your location but in recent years many US states have enacted paid family leave. In general it’s hard for your employer to opt out (which is a good thing). Please check if your state is one of them! For example, my state only rolled out their leave in 2021.

  39. TX_Trucker*

    #5. Employees can absolutely take protected FMLA bonding leave anytime during the first year. But it doesn’t have to be paid under federal law. If your school policy is that only “sick” FMLA time is paid, that is a terrible practice, but allowable. I would check into your state laws, because several states do require payment for bonding time. And/or if you have a disability policy, please check into those provisions as well. For example, if you were in New Jersey, and have family leave insurance, your bonding time would be paid anytime during the first twelve months.

    1. not a hippo*

      Yes and no. Intermittent fasting is a thing people do. But in this case, it should be a crime to deny an employee their lunch break. But it’s ‘Murica so whattya gonna do ¯⁠\⁠_⁠(⁠ツ⁠)⁠_⁠/⁠¯

      1. Giant Kittie*

        The point you are missing is that it’s not up to the employer to make that decision for the employee.

  40. Garlic Microwaver*

    Can we please create a Best Headline of the Year in addition to Worst Boss of the Year? 1 takes the cake.

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      No I don’t think mocking letter writers is in line with the general goals of the site

      1. This_is_Todays_Name*

        I don’t see how that’s “mocking” the LW when 1) the LW prolly didn’t write it; Alison did and distilled the information as provided by the LW and 2) it’s an accurate synopsis of the letter.

  41. Observer*

    #1 – Weed use at work.

    Honestly, I think you should start looking for a new job.

    Your workplace sounds like a major mess. And it’s pretty obvious that it has messed up your sense of appropriate workplace culture.

    The idea that your employer actually *encouraged* marijuana use while on the job is insane. This is NOT good management by any stretch of the imagination. I’m assuming that you weren’t doing anything safety critical, but still! And the fact that you think that stopping to do that is something worthy of a raise tells me that you’ve to some extent internalize this Alice in Wonderland thinking.

    Take a good hard look at your actual performance – perhaps with the help of a friend who is willing to be straight with you even if you don’t like what they have to say. If you still believe that your performance has improved significantly, the by all means ask for a raise. But leave out your drug use. If you’ve improved a lot, you deserve a raise regardless of the reason you improved. (And it will avoid them trying to sidestep the request by telling you that they never asked you to stop smoking weed in the office.)

    1. Enai*

      I wish to upvote this comment.
      Also, good for you, OP #1. Quitting or significantly reducing drug consumption can’t be easy.

    2. Zarniwoop*

      I’d be concerned that management that had previously encouraged me to get high at work might not reward me for not getting high at work.

  42. Bruce*

    Wow, LW1 reminds me of the summer job I had at a factory, in the late 70s, in San Francisco… all these facts are relevant! At lunch most of us would gather on a sunny spot on the roof, and many would have a smoke along with their lunch. It was not tobacco, and while I was a broke teenager who was saving for college there was enough weed in the air to get a mild contact high. The manager would sometimes come out and have a toke or two. Then we would all head back into the shop, where we worked with old machine equipment with minimal safety guards.

    This went on until one of the stoniest dudes caught his finger in a flywheel press (it was pedal activated without any safety switches to make sure your hands were out of the way). He went off on disability and never came back (I ran into him on the Quad at UC Berkeley later that summer, he was playing guitar with the mangled finger in a huge cast and as high as a kite)… The next day the manager came out and sheepishly announced that pot was no longer on the menu at lunch time.

    That summer was full of many firsts for me as a new high school grad: first contact high, first serious girl friend, and first exposure to a serious industrial accident!

  43. Aelfwynn*

    My guess is that Lw1 works in the restaurant industry, where this kind of thing (at least according to Anthony Bourdain) is pretty common.

  44. Also-ADHD*

    For the teacher, the union contract (if her area is union) might stipulate additional benefits during an immediate 12 week FMLA that don’t always apply later because they’re tied to short term disability programs. FMLA covers bonding but STD doesn’t, so I’ve seen that in contracts before, where the district supplied a strong STD that could be used during maternity.

  45. Jessica*

    Re #3:

    Minimum bars for being a decent human:

    -Don’t hit on people in situations where they can’t leave (work, on the bus)
    -Don’t proselytize at people in situations where they can’t leave (work, on the bus)

    Go to HR. This is harassment.

  46. Greg*

    Haven’t seen this yet, so for LW5: my wife is a teacher and also had a child over the summer. She couldn’t access some state-based benefits I could specifically because she is a collectively bargained employee.

  47. This_is_Todays_Name*

    “Hey Boss, I’m finally actually doing the job I was hired for at a normal level. Can I have a raise for not being half-assing it at work anymore?”

    Please PLEASE tell us how that conversation went for you.

    1. no.*

      Oh but don’t be mean to the poor person who thought it was ok to be intoxicated at work :(

      1. Ray Gillette*

        When I was fresh out of college, I got an internship at a company where the CEO would wander around the office with a bottle of tequila and insist that people take shots with him. Obviously I was the problem for thinking it was okay to drink at work, not the CEO who insisted on pouring shots for the 22-year-old intern.

        1. Bruce*

          My BIL works at a brewery, they get a daily “shift beer” to enjoy after work but he says there used to be a lot more mid-shift beer breaks. As the founding staff has aged the older guys have cut back for health reasons and the atmosphere is less free-wheeling than it used to be, which is a good thing considering all the country roads with deep ditches outside of town!

  48. Turanga Leela*

    OP #5: Employers in general, and school districts in particular for some reason, get FMLA for parental leave wrong all the time. We had to navigate this with my husband after our child was born. The school district HR person insisted on a doctor’s note, and she was impervious to arguments that this was not a medical issue and my husband’s doctor couldn’t add anything useful.

    What eventually helped was sending along a pamphlet from the Department of Labor explaining that it’s fine to use FMLA for bonding time, and no medical documentation should be necessary.

  49. Ally McBeal*

    LW 3: Never, ever count on a Christian getting bored of posting Bible verses everywhere. Speaking from experience, it simply won’t happen.

  50. Tangerina Warbleworth*

    Oh, this was a fun read. So:
    LW 1: what about all of your coworkers who have never hit the bong at work and have therefore done better work than you this whole time? Shouldn’t they get raises? Get over yourself and don’t even start that whole canard.
    LW3: I’d start quoting the Analects of Confucius, the Lotus Sutra, and Coco Chanel. Maybe Elvis, too.
    LW4: there WILL be a consequence for that stupid woman if she ever hires a diabetic.

  51. 420*

    I can’t tell you how much I appreciate that the comment count was 420 when I looked at this….

    Of course, I just ruined that…

  52. Semi-retired admin*

    LW #5 As someone who worked in education for many years, never, ever listen to the principal when it comes to salary related personnel issues! They just don’t know. Go straight to payroll or the district’s benefits manager. Yes, I know there are exceptions, but I’ve seen so many principals give out misinformation that hurt the staff!

  53. Raida*

    3. Coworker is posting daily bible verses on the company social channel

    I would do a quick FYI to HR, saying that you can see what already looks like a pattern of them winding down and removing Christ references, but you feel it’s important to let HR know since proselytizing at work can lead to religious harassment issues.

    As for me, I’d be so tempted to post quotes from the widest variety of religions, beliefs, philosophies and make it clear that every time it’s a different one – but I don’t think that it’s a good use of time to thumb my nose at someone who’s put up some Christ-y stuff (until they’re actually a tool about it)

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