should I suggest my employee with mobility issues get a different job?

A reader writes:

I run a small call center, which is on the third floor of a building without an elevator. Due to the nature of our phone system and the job, we cannot offer employees the option to work from home, nor do we have any other locations.

We have an employee who, from a work standpoint, is a good employee. He has good numbers, he gets good reviews from customers, and he doesn’t miss work. But I’m concerned about him from a health and mobility standpoint. He uses two canes and is significantly overweight. When he arrives to work, it takes him a solid 10 minutes to get up the stairs and at least 20 to 30 minutes to catch his breath from walking up the stairs, and he moves extremely slowly around the office and is clearly in pain. I have found myself more than once worrying that he’s going to have a heart attack or fall down the stairs when he’s moving around.

He has health insurance, so I assume he utilizes his doctor, and he doesn’t complain about the stairs so I recognize that this problem is mostly in my head. I keep wanting to recommend that he find a position that doesn’t require him walking up two flights of stairs each day, to help him put less stress on his body. But I also recognize that I’m not his doctor and there are no actual issues for me to address. Should I say something or just let this guy be until he decides it’s an issue?

I answer this question — and three others — over at Inc. today, where I’m revisiting letters that have been buried in the archives here from years ago (and sometimes updating/expanding my answers to them). You can read it here.

Other questions I’m answering there today include:

  • Office parties where the destination and activity are kept secret
  • Male coworkers apologize for swearing around me
  • Recruiter approached me, now wants a resume

{ 339 comments… read them below }

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      I know this is an old letter but I am still seething a little bit. Also I’m having trouble finding the original letter. But Alison’s answer is spot on, at least.

      1. Eldritch Office Worker*

        I should add: I appreciate OP getting the gut check and not acting without thinking it through.

        1. Eldritch Office Worker*

          Thank you! Like Tio that’s more recent than I hoped but I am interested to peruse the comments

          1. Eldritch Office Worker*

            Okay, I’m glad I read the comments and suggest others do as well. OP…did not word the letter well, but took everything on the chin and had some very good takeaways overall.

    2. Heart&Vine*

      Seriously. Trying to figure out how to best raise concern about your coworker’s health is one thing but to frame it as “Have you ever thought about getting a different job?” is just… wow.

      1. Fiona Orange*

        If his condition was affecting his ability to do his job, then yes, OP should say something. Otherwise, keep quiet.

        1. Fikly*

          Um, no. Not unless it’s a core job responsibility.

          Otherwise this is the price OP pays for not providing an accessible workplace and reasonable accommodations. This is a choice OP is making.

          1. RussianInTexas*

            We don’t know if it’s OP’s choice. They say “run” the center, which does not mean they are the owner of it.

            1. Fikly*

              Way to miss the point. If the OP isn’t the owner, then it’s the price whoever owns it pays.

              If OP is just getting a salary, it’s even more something they should say nothing about, and stop thinking they know better than the actual people around them who are just trying to make an income and get health insurance in a society that wants them to die for being disabled.

              1. RussianInTexas*

                I am not missing any points. I don’t disagree that OP should say nothing. They absolutely shouldn’t.
                But if OP isn’t the owner, OP isn’t making the choice in not providing an accessible workplace.

        2. NotHR*

          In the UK at least the manager may need to discuss the mobility issue during a fire drill if the staff member struggled to evacuate effectively in an emergency. They may need to discuss a personal evacuation plan etc. You still can’t suggest they get another job though.

          1. dawbs*

            By and large, the solution for wheelchair users in the US is “wait in the stairwell for rescue and hope we don’t let you die”. Evacuation chairs are expensive–occasionally there are grants though.
            (I wish I was kidding. I did basically get to tell a wheelchair using new staffer at my work this recently. Whee ableism. I kinda hate it here)

            This is even considered acceptable in schools with disabled children.

      2. Itsa Me, Mario*

        I could see some of this potentially being appropriate if the letter included, “I recently heard about an opening for a job that would be a perfect fit for this employee, and which is based on the first floor. How can I tactfully recommend that they apply without referring to their health?”

        But just, like… have you considered not working here? Woof.

        1. Ellen N.*

          Even recommending a specific other job to the employee would be horrible and, I assume, illegal.

          1. WantonSeedStitch*

            If you didn’t frame it as being for reasons of (perceived) health, it would be fine. “Joe, I just saw a position for a widget team supervisor in Department X opened up. Since you’re our widget expert and you had mentioned you were looking for management experience, it sounded right up your alley.”

          2. Ink*

            Only if the health issue ends up in the communication. Overthinking the implications of an internal transfer because you assume it’d be an appealing option partially due to accessibility is only a problem if it makes it to the words that come out of your mouth. I think the situation Itsa Me, Mario had in mind was more “There’s a job he’s very qualified for but I’m assuming more about his preferences than I should”

          3. MassMatt*

            What? I would guess at LEAST half the people on this site got a job because someone recommended them, or have recommended someone for a job. On what basis is that illegal?

            I completely agree with Alison on the advice, please don’t police the abilities of the disabled for them, that sort of paternalism is part of the reason why unemployment and underemployment are so rampant for the disabled.

            For all we know this employee might *really* need this particular job, or look forward to that stairway climb (which I notice he is doing in lieu of the elevator?) as his exercise of the day.

            1. RussianInTexas*

              There is no elevator in the building, which in itself may not be an ADA violation depending on the building size.

              1. Mimmy*

                I think it depends on the type of building too. If the building isn’t open to the public (i.e., houses mainly office space), I think the requirements are less stringent. I’d have to look at my ADA reference materials to be sure.

              2. Good Enough For Government Work*

                It also depends where OP is. For instance, in the UK, businesses are not required to be accessible if they’re in a listed (i.e. old and legally protected) building, or for a few other reasons.

            2. Cyndi*

              Recommending someone for a job is a very different beast from recommending to your direct report, uninvited, that they should go get a different job.

            3. littlehope*

              I absolutely think this letter-writer was well-intentioned, and I get that it can be hard to watch someone who looks like they’re struggling without being tempted to step in, but look, here’s what you have to remember: us disabled people live in these bodies all the time, and I promise we’ve thought about how we get stuff done at least as much as you have! There’s probably a reason we’re doing things how we’re doing them, even if it looks less than optimal to you.

    3. Tradd*

      I have severe osteoarthritis in both knees. I was diagnosed partway through working at current company. I have a disabled parking placard. Hurts like hell to walk long distances. I sit near the back door but only executives and managers are allowed to use that entrance. Two other employees with mobility issues (they have permanent plates for their vehicles that allow them to use disabled parking spots). They sit near the back door too. The way the building is in the office park, the disabled spots are near front door. Using front door requires us to walk through entire building to get to our desks. A longer walk. Executives REFUSE to allow us to use the back door for a shorter walk. We’re peasants. We were told we could move our desks to the front. But those cubicles are full of trash and old computers and we’d have to clean them out ourselves. I consulted an employment attorney who is a friend. I was told that we do not have an ADA case because the company offered a solution (move to different desk).

  1. Beth*

    I would also opt out of a Secret Office Party that runs from 4-11pm–even if it did tell me what the plan was, where it was happening, etc! That’s too long and I have a personal life I like to live in my after-work hours. That goes double when they won’t even tell you where it is, much less what’s happening there.

    1. Pastor Petty Labelle*

      Especially when you have no way to leave early. If you are going to have an event that runs that long, make sure people can arrive and leave on their own.

      But in general, this is a big no. Surprises work best when you know the recipient likes them. In an office setting, that is probably not the case with even the majority of people.

      1. Irish Teacher*

        Yup, our parties usually run from maybe around 4 or 5pm until…I dunno, the early hours of the morning. Not sure exactly how much counts as the party and how much is just people carrying things on themselves afterwards. We generally have a meal, then book a pub and then some people go on to clubs or whatever. But people come in an out as pleases them. I go to the meal, then generally head away around 8 or 9, whereas others just come for the drinks afterwards.

        Expecting everybody to remain for 7 hours….I reckon that would be too much for a lot of people.

      2. Gingerbread Lady*

        LW1: Alison is absolutely right; do NOT suggest that your employee get another job unless YOU want HR to suggest that YOU get another job yourself because you’ve just violated the ADA!

        That being said, I doubt that this employee is the only one who finds the stairs difficult; other people may struggle with them as well, just less obviously. Would your company be willing to put in stairlifts? I’m sure that ALL your employees would appreciate those!

        And even employees who don’t need stairlifts now would surely appreciate them later on – including you! There’s a saying that you should remember: “The process of living makes us all only temporarily able-bodied. What you do for others now will benefit YOU later on!”

        1. Quill*

          Yep. The end goal is to get old… where at some point we will all end up needing some help. Can OP necessarily change anything about the building? No, but they certainly can advocate for it (and a potential route for this is hey, we may be missing talent because this is not an accessible location!)

        2. Belle of the Midwest*

          I had never heard this saying but it’s a good one. Years ago Itzhak Perlman (violinist and conductor) wrote an op-ed about how accommodations such as ramps and elevators made work and life better not only for those who needed to use them, but for everyone, such as the UPS man hauling in packages on a cart, or children who haven’t yet mastered climbing stairs. You get the idea.

          1. Gingerbread Lady*

            That saying – about the process of living making us all only temporarily able-bodied – was one that was up on the bulletin board of my department (Special Education) when I was getting my master’s degree many decades ago. It’s just as true now, of course, and I’ve never forgotten it!

      3. Stuckinacrazyjob*

        ( shudders) it’s all my fears. crowds and being trapped and surprises. what’s next having to stand up in front of people who are judging you?

    2. Lynn*

      And it is exponentially worse when you are being bussed in and can’t escape. So: too long, no idea what it is or if I’ll enjoy it (let alone enjoying it for 7 hours) AND I can’t get away if is terrible. That earns a “heck no” from me too.

      1. Unkempt Flatware*

        Yep. I learned a long time ago to never ever put myself in a position where I am captive. I won’t accept rides to work in a blizzard, allow a realtor to drive me, or even agree to be the driver for others to an event (and have to wait for everyone to be ready to leave).

      2. But what to call me?*

        The combination of all of it is just…

        There are things I would happily do from 4-11 pm, including with my coworkers, who I generally enjoy spending time with. There are also things that would have me having a full-on meltdown after a fraction of that time if I had no way to get out of there once I noticed myself heading towards that point, even if I enjoyed them in the beginning. There are things I’d be willing to give a try because they *could* be lots of fun for that long while knowing that if they ended up being a problem I could just cut out early. There also are things that other people think are fun that I would never try in a million years because I just don’t like them. This is a 7 hour evening event (possibly after work? so people might already be worn out from the work day?) that no one has enough information to decide whether to opt out of in advance, no one can make any preparations that might allow them to participate in less-than-accommodating events because they don’t know what events to prepare for (do I need my fancy earplugs? what shoes can I get away with? can I eat the food? are they feeding us at all?) AND there’s no way to opt out once you’re there and you know what’s happening or to call it a night partway through, because there’s no way to leave! You’d also better not have any sudden emergencies come up at home, because you’re sure not rushing back to take care of them without any transportation.

        It’s practically designed to make the event as inaccessible as possible for as many people as possible.

      3. Cyndi*

        I’m not even a true crime enjoyer but a voice in my head immediately shrieks NEVER LET THEM TAKE YOU TO A SECOND LOCATION every time I think about it. Surprise event can be fun but for God’s sake let people leave!

        1. Cyndi*

          To be clear I’m not implying any actual ill intent! But I’m surprised by the planners’ assumption that most people would be comfortable with that setup.

          1. House On The Rock*

            My first thought was “if I’m going to be ritually murdered it’s not going to be with coworkers!”.

        2. duinath*

          imagine getting this invite as a new employee. we’re going to take you somewhere, we’re not telling you where, and you have no way to leave until 11 at night (or possibly ever, if they sacrifice your soul to the arby’s demon).

        3. Ellis Bell*

          Honestly my first thought was that this is the kind of invitation you get from a serial killer. I agree with you that it’s not actually physically dangerous or ill intentioned but they’re disempowering people just for their own plans to work, which is great for them I suppose. They are removing people’s ability to leave, or (in my gluten intolerant case) possibly even feed themselves. Like if you’re up for anything and you’ve never been to a badly planned event it probably sounds great, but the experienced among us knows there’s all kinds of things that can go wrong. Just off the top of my head I’m thinking about when a venue doesn’t have enough toilets, or the decibel shattering convention centre letter. What about when someone feels ill or gets an emergency message from home? Bad planning 1/10.

      4. Alex*

        I have this thing where I can’t stand to not be in control of my own transportation, so this is a huge no for me. Being held captive for hours on end is not my idea of a party.

    3. WillowSunstar*

      Me too, because 11 PM is too late for me to be driving home. Plus I get hives at night some nights, especially when under stress, and would need to be able to safely drive. Surely the company has to realize some people have health issues that would prohibit them from doing certain things.

    4. Emikyu*

      Same here. Plus, as Alison mentioned, disability access can be an issue. For a party that long, I would almost certainly need to use my wheelchair (I can walk a bit, but not that much, and if you won’t tell me what the activity is then I can’t be assured I’ll be able to sit in one place), and oftentimes what able-bodied people think is wheelchair accessible just… isn’t. So sure, maybe it’ll be fine – but there’s a reasonable chance I’d just be stranded somewhere in my chair without transportation while everyone does a thing. So nope, not signing up for a surprise.

      1. Ink*

        And the busses! Is the company hiring them specifically for this? Did they factor in space for wheelchairs, crutches, oxygen tanks, etc.? Did they even ask, since people might need more/larger stuff than they take to their office job on a normal day? A wheelchair takes up more space than a cane, etc. And anyone in your shoes might show up and be unable to get on the bus at all, because it was cheaper to cram people in. And what about people who can’t make it the whole stretch but also don’t know how long they will make it? How strongly is driving yourself discouraged?

        Because if you come down strong enough against driving, I’m out. If I can escape as needed, I can come whether stuff starts acting up 2 hours in or I make it the whole time. It’s a secret location, so you can’t even arrange with someone to pick you up at X time, because you don’t know how long the drive would be for them. No one can arrange their schedule around that, because they don’t know if it’s a 20 minute drive, or 90 minutes. If I’m stuck there until 11 I can’t go, because I have no way of knowing whether I’ll make it that late ahead of time… and that’s for something sedentary and relatively quiet. Which there’s no way of gauging for a SECRET ACTIVITY

    5. Richard Hershberger*

      It’s actually even worse than that. Getting back to the office at 11 p.m. means getting home when? Depends on how long your commute is. It could easily be midnight. Then take an hour to unwind and you aren’t getting to bed until one in the morning. That is when I usually am coming out of my first REM cycle and get up to pee. Getting to bed at one means the next day, and perhaps the day after that, is shot while my body gets back to normal. Are they sacrificing a work day? Of course not. Good money that this party is on Friday or Saturday evening.

      1. The OG Sleepless*

        Yep! I have an extremely rigid sleep cycle. It annoys me no end, but I can’t change it. The last time I stayed out that late was to take my daughter to a bucket-list concert on the other side of the city. It took me a week to recover. My kids are the only people I will do something like that for.

    6. nm*

      If yall gonna put me on a bus and not tell me where it’s going I’m gonna think you’re kidnapping me tbh.

      1. Ink*

        This is always very much the vibe for activities like this for me too. If it’s something fun, that I’ll find enjoyable… you should be able to tell me. That goes down significantly if it’s a secret though. I just want to know what I’m getting into! An incident with a church group as a teenager comes to mind, in which we were told we were going on a 2 mile hike, which all of the adults knew was in fact a 15 mile hike through a very hilly area. The broader activity that was a part of had lots of us in a more adventurous mood than usual, and the percentage up for it would be DRASTICALLY larger than if we had a normal evening activity doing the same. Communicate with people!

        1. Fiona Orange*

          Wow. That’s really bad! I guess your church leaders forgot the part of the Bible that says it’s a sin to lie.

          1. Ink*

            It was super weird! Completely out of character for them 99% of the time. And it was an up-in-everyone’s-business kind of place enough that I don’t think they would have done it if there were any disability issues (and they would know) but still. That’s so much longer than you said!! Why!!

        2. Cyborg Llama Horde*

          Maybe your youth group was extraordinarily fit, but no group I’ve ever been a part of in my entire life was 100% composed of people who could physically manage a 15 mile hike (over rough terrain, no less!) in a reasonable amount of time. Not to mention that I would prepare VERY differently for a fifteen mile hike than a two mile walk.

          I’m a person who can go five or six miles once I start walking, and I’m always very careful to warn new walking buddies that they need to tell me when they turn around, because I can absolutely walk somebody to blisters without even trying to. (If I’m the one who knows the area, I do try to make expectations clear when we come to places to turn off — “So if we go that way we’ll be home in half a mile, and if we continue this way it’s between a mile and a half and three more miles, depending on how we go” etc.) And while I HAVE walked 15 miles in a day, it’s not something I would guarantee that I could do on a random day, and I definitely need the right shoes/clothes/water etc.

          1. Kelly L.*

            I remember there was some MLM that did this a few years ago on their company trip. They told everyone it would be a short walk, and it turned out to be extremely long, which they were supposed to be happy about because grindset, or something. And they were in the tropics, and just thinking about the sunburn makes me shudder. Not to even mention the people who would have needed their scheduled medications for a longer trip.

          2. Lenora Rose*

            When I was in college I literally walked for a full day more than once by my own choice. But when we had a 4 hour hike **foisted on us**, that was still hellish. Just like most issues with consent.

          3. AngryOctopus*

            Yes, my shoes for a 2 mile hike are going to be VERY different for shoes for a 15 mile hike! Not to mention, as you said, clothing and water.
            I would nope right out of a surprise activity 1-that long and 2-that unknown. Not OK.

    7. H3llifIknow*

      Same. Alternatively, I might drive and follow the bus there. Presumably one could do so, and if it looks sketchy, leave, or go in at least KNOWING I could leave if I wanted to. But yeah…weird. Like I’m a lunatic about surprises. I HATE THEM and not knowing WHAT TO WEAR would give me hives.

    8. Bilateralrope*

      I work nights, so the 11pm ending is not a problem for me.

      But the 4pm start is. That’s about when I get up on a work day. Later on my days off. If my employer wants me to mess with my sleep, they need to give me a good reason.

    9. starsaphire*

      …and then the babysitter calls with an emergency at 8:30 PM, what do you do?

      …or then you have an allergic reaction to the “secret ingredient” in the special meal, and then what do you do?

      So many different scenarios in which this is a terrible, terrible idea for just about anyone, except maybe for able-bodied younger folk who don’t have dependents.

      1. Hedgehog O'Brien*

        ^^ Yes, exactly this. I posted another comment about this, but my husband’s employer used to do these and my biggest concern was always what to do in case of an emergency if I didn’t know where he was.

      2. But what to call me?*

        I honestly can’t think of anyone I know who would be happy committing 7+ hours of their lives to an unknown event in an unknown location that they would not be able to leave, regardless of age, dependents, or disability status. I’m sure these people exist, but I can’t think of any.

        Maybe if it was planned by someone who knows them very well and who they trust to make 100% good decisions about what they would enjoy? Which would generally not be most people’s employer.

    10. Ex-Teacher*

      I have a spouse and child at home, and if there’s an emergency I need to get somewhere. I’m not okay being taken away from my car to a mystery location, making it hard or impossible to get there in an emergency (or for them to get to me).

    11. Lenora Rose*

      So much this. I have children, and a spouse. I have hobbies. I’m usually in bed before this outing would end, and when I’m not it’s MY choice, dammit.

      And note, if it’s being bussed away from the party, is it going to peoples’ homes, or back to the office? Not looking forward to an additional commute…

    12. Your Mate in Oz*

      I’m still irritated by the lovely harbour cruise we went on in one workplace. Team of about 15, boat that was big enough for us but not a lot bigger. It was all going well but then one person had a few too many drinks and started aggressively explaining that he’s very, very racist and specifically against some of the other staff. Once the boss decided that party time was over it took another hour to get back to the dock.

      I left that workplace not long afterwards, as did a couple of others. That wasn’t the only thing but it was definitely a thing. But my policy with work events now is that I have a way to leave without being dependent on other people.

  2. Jane Bingley*

    Changing jobs as a disabled person can be extremely difficult. Disabled people are more likely to be unemployed or underemployed. Changing health plans is extremely stressful and it can be difficult to calculate whether a new job will be cheaper or more expensive, because salary is only one piece of the calculation and health care plans are opaque even for employees, let alone applicants. Ableist discrimination at the interview stage is rampant, and even if someone is able to avoid disclosing their disability during the application process, it’s hard to know whether you’ll face discrimination in the workplace.

    He is highly aware of the ways this job is not ideal. For one reason or another, he hasn’t left – because other benefits make this job worth it, or because he hasn’t been able to secure alternate employment that better meets his needs. You definitely don’t need to give him advice – it won’t be helpful.

    1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

      In addition to that, there’s no guarantee that the person you backfill him with will be as good at the job, LW. While your heart may be in a good place, the advice may well be a lose/lose scenario–he ends up in a worse job and you end up with a worse employee.

    2. Pounce de Lion*

      Yes, I disagree with “if he’s not complaining, then there’s no problem.” A wise manager looks ahead a few moves.

      What the manager should be doing is advocating for a better working environment for the whole team. The company is already violating ADA by being unable to hire workers who can’t walk up stairs. What happens if someone breaks a leg, do they have to quit? Is that where the LW got that idea in the first place?

      1. Happy meal with extra happy*

        That’s not necessarily legally true. (Not saying it shouldn’t be, but I don’t want people to think it is and thus rely on it.)

      2. Jane Bingley*

        Looking ahead is definitely a good idea! Every workplace leadership team should be asking itself how they can reduce barriers and improve accessibility.

        They should not be starting personal conversations about disability with employees who haven’t raised it, though. And they DEFINITELY should not be telling quit.

      3. lilsheba*

        Yeah I’m sorry but I don’t care what the job is, if it is a call center it CAN be done from home. Them saying it can’t be in bs. ANY computer based job can be done from home, period. If a bank can do it, anyone can do it. Or add an elevator. You can’t have this place be so difficult for disabled people. I am a part time wheelchair user and if I had to go to work in a place like that I would be in so much pain I couldn’t function and no job is worth that. I NEED to work from home also because my apartment is completely inaccessible.

        1. Lenora Rose*

          I wonder when the original letter came from? Because the opinion on can/can’t be done from home changed significantly since 2019, even if the reality before then was mostly that there was a mental block about it.

          1. UKDancer*

            Yes, also simply because something can technically be done from home, doesn’t mean it will be done as well or in the same way. Or that people will want it done from home.

            My bank for example is trying to get as many people as possible banking online and using the phone banking system. There is always a massive queue in branch for people who want to speak to a person face to face.

            1. Freya*

              My job absolutely can be done from home, my boss sets us all up so that we can (I’m the only one without kids, and if your kid’s childcare falls through, the assumption is that you call and let the boss know you’re working from home).

              In practice, this means that, amongst other things, you call the office every time you need MFA (that isn’t logging in to something under your own trackable login) because client’s banking dongle thingies are locked up in the office and everything else that can gets its codes sent to a mobile phone that lives in the office and is used for nothing else (authorising the superannuation payments HAS to happen, even if you’re in a car accident, and getting the codes sent to a phone that can be easily audited is an audit trail thing)

            2. Lenora Rose*

              Online / from home seems to be better for the day to day grind, with in person as an option for the deviation from the norm. Paying the same bills I pay every month? Online. Something even slightly weird? In person. The last time, this was “I need one printed cheque because my kids’ daycare is a dinosaur as far as payment options and it takes weeks for a new chequebook to arrive.”

      4. Correct.*

        “What the manager should be doing is advocating for a better working environment for the whole team.” YES.

      5. Reluctant Mezzo*

        What happens to *all* the employees if there is a fire? Granted, they would need to take the stairs anyway because elevator Bad in a fire, but that building is just a disaster waiting to happen.

        1. MsSolo (UK)*

          Yes. There’s this idea that an elevator in a two storey building (or a three storey building, in this case) is an accommodation, but in a 20 storey building it’s standard, like there’s some secret number of storeys that turns the exact same device from “disability accommodation” into “business as usual”. But in a fire, you can’t use it, and let me tell you you’re not getting hundreds of able bodied people down 20 flights of stairs fast enough to meet fire drill requirements in most buildings any more than you’re getting one guy who uses walking sticks out. Everyone benefits from architectural design that takes all needs into account, whether that’s including safe spaces that the fire service can evacuate people from on the 20th floor or putting in a lift to the 2nd.

          (I appreciate this is outside of LW’s control, obviously, but Inclusive By Design is a bit of a soapbox for me, and “everyone will benefit” can gain more traction when advocating for a staff member than “we need to do this for this one guy”)

          1. A friendly reminder*

            “let me tell you you’re not getting hundreds of able bodied people down 20 flights of stairs fast enough to meet fire drill requirements in most buildings any more than you’re getting one guy who uses walking sticks out.”

            This. THIS. In the office high-rise I work in we’re told to just walk down the stairs calmly. If me and another one or two people had to carry someone out who needed help, we could keep up with the general flow.

            Earlier someone said they were told to leave a disabled person behind when leaving a building so the fire department would not have to rescue even more people, and to me that’s BS in a normal evacuation in a well-designed building.

    3. Mayor of Llamatown*

      “He is highly aware of the ways this job is not ideal. For one reason or another, he hasn’t left – because other benefits make this job worth it, or because he hasn’t been able to secure alternate employment that better meets his needs. You definitely don’t need to give him advice – it won’t be helpful.”

      Came here to say this as well. He’s not climbing those stairs with all that difficulty and thinking it’s all good. He’s physically uncomfortable. It’s not pleasant for him. You don’t need to point that out to him. It sounds like he’s a good employee, so he probably feels some satisfaction in his work, and he’s continuing to succeed, which means this should just be a non issue until he tells you it’s an issue.

    4. Despachito*

      An acquaintance of mine has just lost his job.

      He has a lot of health issues – among others he is severely overweight and suffers from depression. He said he had to take sick time quite often recently because of his health problems, and honestly admitted his work has not been up to par due to that for some time.

      I feel sorry for him, he is a very good person and has a lot on his plate. However, as he was also open and honest in saying his productivity at that job had been severely lagging behind for quite some time, I can understand that there is a breaking point when the employer is unable to accommodate the employee anymore and has to let them go.

      However, nothing like that seems to be happening in LW1’s case. The employee is not struggling with the work itself, just with the work settings, and therefore it is not up to the OP to interfere. I also think she should leave him alone (but I can see she is coming from a good place)

      1. The More You Know*

        FYI — the history of the term “grandfathered” is linked to disenfranchising black voters in the late 19th century (in the US). You may want to consider using a term that doesn’t have such a negative racial connotation/history.

        1. Radioactive Cyborg Llama*

          “Legacied” is an option, as is simply “exempt” or “sometimes older buildings [under a certain size] are exempt.”

        2. the bat in the office popcorn machine*

          There is no right and wrong to this. I agree – II am Black and I didn’t even know the background of the phrase, but I was left with a “okay, what now?” You come off really passive aggressive with the “maybe you’re projecting?” comment as well – is your intention to teach or just to give information? There is a clear difference. You’re the one who started this conversation – follow it through, that’s what social justice work is. If you get as defensive as the person you’re trying to educate, then you’re just looking for a fight.

          Part of educating people does include giving them a new option upfront because the more work you ask someone to do on the back end, the less likely it is to stick. Because again, no one is using it with any negative connotation (at least, I assume) so of course when they use it in a comment and someone comes in saying “you said a bad word! :(” they’re going to think they’re getting scolded. The way U.S. culture handles things leans toward punitive — if someone is saying “hey consider not saying that,” people respond as if the other person is saying they are bad, not what they’re taught is bad because of the system they live in or that the word is bad & it’s not their fault for not knowing. It’s not a black-and-white world. A lot of people in social justice spaces already do give alternatives because they know the reality and they don’t know who the person they’re speaking to’s background.

          The person that offered exempt and legacy did the work already so it’s fine, but this whole comment thread is such a headache.

        3. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Removed a 16-comment thread in reply to this full of arguing and personal attacks. Those of you who were involved in the personal sniping, please review the commenting rules; I’m about to start permanently banning people who violate them after this reminder.

      2. Quill*

        I’ve worked in more than one of those and yeah, probably.

        (Ours was… an effort was made but a 45 degree 3 foot wide plywood ramp into the basement does not actually make anything accessible. Combined with a blind 180 turn it just becomes a death slide for anything with wheels.)

        1. But what to call me?*

          A 45 degree ramp?
          Does that even count as making an effort?

          Maybe they thought it could double as a fun little mini-rollercoaster?

          1. Quill*

            It was plywood over stairs and every time I had to take a cart of samples through there I wondered if they were trying to kill me or if they thought they could compete with the local amusement park.

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      There could be a variety of reasons, OP probably isn’t well equipped to address that part.

    2. Ellis Bell*

      I was just coming here to say this: are there no legal requirements that the building must be more accessible? It seems strange to me that that’s not the case….

      1. That's True*

        Probably an old building that hasn’t been updated so it’s not required to comply with accessibility regulations.

      2. Eldritch Office Worker*

        All right I wasn’t gonna put on my rant hat but there seems to be general curiosity so here we go:

        ADA accessibility laws are not as comprehensive as people think they are. If you live in a place with a lot of modern construction, you may not run into this. But I live in Boston where there are a lot of office buildings are not new constructions, and the laws around renovating existing facilities are very different than the laws around building new ones. Title III leaves a lot of room for existing facilities not to renovate due to cost, impact, and business size.

        Now if the employee were writing in I might suggest he contact a lawyer and get a consultation on whether or not his workplace were truly exempt – but that would still be at personal time and cost, things disabled people don’t have a ton of to spare generally speaking. We run into this a lot in offices, restaurants, stores, public transportation facilities that are “broken” for months on end…this is very common.

        1. Richard Hershberger*

          My church only put in an elevator about fifteen years ago. This was in the new side: only a bit over a century old. It was astonishingly expensive, about three quarters of a million dollars. The layout of the building allowed for the elevator to be added to the exterior. I can easily imagine a layout that didn’t allow for that, which I suspect would vastly increase the cost.

        2. Starbuck*

          Yes, and it’s wack that the only enforcement mechanism is that you have to personally sue the company / building owner etc. to maybe get them to change. There’s no enforcement office that you can report violations to that will actually do anything independent of that.

          1. Michelle Smith*

            Right, but an enforcement mechanism only works if there is something to enforce. If exempt? You’re just screwed.

          2. AMT*

            This is why I get so angry when newspapers run negative stories about “serial plaintiffs” who go around filing hundreds of lawsuits for ADA violations. People have been so conditioned by corporate propaganda about so-called frivolous lawsuits that they don’t stop to think about the fact that a lot of human rights laws can’t be enforced without lawsuits. Take away the fear of lawsuits, and businesses’ incentive to comply with the ADA is nil. There is no ADA Police going around inspecting public buildings or ticketing businesses. Disabled people *are* the ADA police.

            1. Your Mate in Oz*

              The flip side of that is that old buildings are a systematic issue. Look at the older part of whatever city is nearest you and do a quick count: how many of those buildings are fully ADA compliant? Roughly how many elevators, ramps, interal layout changes, new toilets etc would be needed for each block of the city?

              Now ask: if we closed those buildings until we could refit them, how inconvenient would that be? How many would be left vacant by the owners because the rent could never cover the cost of the refit?

              It’s annoying from both sides, and the only immediate solution is to go back 100 or 200 or 500 years and force them to work to modern rules. The work-around of allowing people to rent spaces that work for them and let “the market” push building owners to refit as they can afford to is less awful than just shutting down large parts of the city.

        3. Michelle Smith*

          I’m disabled in New York City and can confirm this is 100% percent accurate.

          The last time I took public transit to a station that was labeled “accessible,” I found out that it was only accessible until 5 pm (by getting there too late, not knowing there was a time limit). The area with the elevators was blocked off. My only choice was to turn around and go home or slowly drag myself up the stairs to the ground floor. It’s so bad here that my ex with CP bought a the lightest weight wheelchair she could find so that she could drag herself AND HER CHAIR up the subway stairs because there were so few accessible stations in Brooklyn. The ADA does some pretty powerful things, but it does not magically fix accessibility issues in older cities.

          1. Eldritch Office Worker*

            Ugh I’m so sorry. I’ve had to drag myself up the station stairs too. It’s absolutely unacceptable but also there’s very very little that can be done about it, and municipalities tend to have no time or concern for disabled people because we’re such a small part of the population and typically have very little weight or money to throw around.

          2. A friendly reminder*

            NYC subways are a disgrace in this regard. A number of stations near me were renovated to great hoopla a few years ago w/o adding elevators. WTF.

        4. metadata minion*

          Yep. Many buildings get renovated in tiny bits rather than getting the overhaul they really need, because if you do renovate a building beyond a certain point, you have to make it ADA-compliant while you’re at it.

          1. Eldritch Office Worker*

            Only if the cost to do so is less than 20% of the cost of the total renovation, which is it’s own whole thing but is good to know. However spending a lot of money at once definitely makes that it more likely you’d stay under that threshold, so if you don’t want to spend a lot of money + 20% that’s the strategy.

            Though I’ll also say – some places only have the budget to do things bits at a time and accessibility doesn’t even cross their minds. There’s a problem with awareness as much as intentionality, a lot of the time.

            1. metadata minion*

              Oh, I’m not accusing everyone who does this of cynically only updating one thing at the time to screw over disabled people! So much of the time there really isn’t the budget, much as I wish that making things accessible would be at the top of the list rather than an annoying side note. I work in a university library that desperately needs an entire new building, but meanwhile we definitely don’t have the budget to make our current stacks accessible. On several floors the shelves are so close together that they’re not even easily accessible if you’re particularly broad-shouldered, let alone if you’re in a wheelchair, and we literally don’t have the space to reinstall them farther apart. (We could get compact shelving, but the floors aren’t strong enough to put them anywhere but the bottom floor, and if we did that the extra weight might sink us into the swamp. No, really.)

              1. Eldritch Office Worker*

                “We might sink into the swamp” is a MUCH more common situation in a lot of cities and regions than people expect!

                1. Quill*

                  When people think draining a swamp is reasonable they end up finding out that it’s a TERRIBLE place to build on.

                  Usually too late.

                  #leave wetlands alone

                2. OfOtherWorlds*

                  IIRC swamps tend to occur naturally at the mouths of large navigable rivers where humans like to build cities.

              2. Ink*

                One of those “If I ruled the world” things. Why aren’t updates/maintenance to historic, educational, and municipal structures subsidized? None of those should be broadly inaccessible, falling apart, or spending half their electricity bill heating all the air that gets out through poorly-insulated walls! You can’t do it all, sometimes something like the steepest stairs on earth is part of a historic building’s significance and places like your library flat out weren’t built anticipating how much Stuff a university of any size tends to have nowadays, but it should be ten times easier to make it *better*!

        5. Ink*

          Keeping an eye out somewhere like a college campus can be nuts. You often have a mix of recent builds and stuff that’s decades old (if not more; I just went to a newer school). And even new buildings often appear to have ramps etc. added at the last possible stage of construction. We had a very shiny new conference center… and the ramp at the front would be a squeeze in summer for many if not most wheelchairs. In winter it lost a couple inches to snow and ice banked against the building and was barely passable for me, walking. Our most iconic/central building had things added thoughtfully, but adding an elevator to another pair (joining the gap for a v cold stairwell and elevator) somehow did terrible things to the newly-joined basement. They could only do so much, they’re protected buildings… but again, I walked to class. And the grade on the basement floors was steep enough that I have no idea what they were thinking, if your shoes were wet from rain or snow outside you were suddenly skiing. (sorry, inaccessible architecture pushes my buttons like almost nothing else.

        6. INTPLibrarian*

          Often not even broken. Purposely unusable. My completely anecdotal guess is that around 50% of those doors with automatic push buttons work, but they’re locked.

          1. Random Bystander*

            Or one of the stupidest constructions I saw, ever. It seemed to be a case of ‘we checked the box, there’s a ramp’ without making sure that it was at all functional.

            To make it worse, the building in question wasn’t really that old, but, here’s the layout: store has a small parking lot in front of it. Directly in front of the store is a raised sidewalk running the length of the storefront, sidewalk is maybe 3 inches or so above the paved surface of the parking lot. On the end of this sidewalk (which is just standard 36″ width) is the ramp up to the raised sidewalk. Now, the doors in/out are at a direct right angle to where one would end up if using the ramp, *and* the door opened outwards (directly across the top of the ramp for the first door). I’m not even sure the doorways were sufficiently wide, as they had a metal pole in the middle, so one would not be able to navigate by entering/exiting through the center instead of door 1 or door 2. I still can’t figure out how that was approved.

            1. Freya*

              Council in my area put the new council building plans out for public comment a couple of years ago. My comment? The underground carpark’s only Accessible exit was a lift in the keycard-required staff/tenants only part of the carpark and could not be accessed from the labelled-Accessible parking.

      3. hereforthecomments*

        I worked at a university in a building that had previously been student housing. It had no elevator and was three floors. I was told that it was described as “unsuitable student housing” and therefore the university didn’t have to update it with elevators and ramps and so on, even though they were using it as an office building. And yes, we did have employees with difficulty using the stairs, which is how I came to be having the above conversation. I did my best to push accommodations, but I had zero power.

    3. She of Many Hats*

      In the US, many buildings got grandfathered in, even if they are not “Olde” buildings. Buildings from as recently as the 1980s & 1990s have exceptions. My building’s parking ramp is supposedly accessible but doesn’t have automatic doors to the elevator lobbies or into the building making even the ground floor handicap spots difficult to use especially in the winter. When I asked about upgrading them, I was told it was too expensive to replace or to add power to the existing doors.

      1. A CAD Monkey*

        that’s building management being cheap. an accessible opener is typically less that $1k (though some do run several thousand), the install of an electrical connection and the opener should run anywhere from $500-1000 depending on the contractor and ceiling access path to the doors. so for maybe $2500, the doors could be made accessible.

    4. OfOtherWorlds*

      In Europe and the East Coast of North America you generally have a choice between accessibility, location (and public transit access), and cost. You can pick two but you won’t find all three.

  3. Deja Vu*

    My boss suggested I get a new job because of my health conditions. I smiled and nodded, then contacted HR. May have thrown around terms like “medical discrimination” and filed an ADA request. Miraculously the subject never came up again.

  4. Purple Jello*

    I’m a woman; I virtually never swear at work. Most people there have never heard me swear.

    If someone continued with this nonsense of calling me out BY NAME to apologize, I’d look them in the eye and calmly say “I’ve heard the word f***/s***/d***/whatever before; no need to apologize. Carry on.”

    Incidentally, when I was a LOT younger and started a new job with a boss who swore like a sailor, I think I visibly flinched the first few times he dropped the f-bomb. He actually changed and eventually stopped swearing in most circumstances, probably because of me and also trying to stop swearing in front of his toddler daughter.

      1. Nobby Nobbs*

        I favor “It’s okay, you can say ****,” in as deadpan a voice as possible. What I actually mean is “Swear or don’t, just stop advertising that you’re not comfortable working with women and pretending it’s courtesy dammit!” but the first one is more likely to get a funny reaction and the second just gets mens’ backs up.

        1. I went to school with only 1 Jennifer*

          My mother-in-law has a mouth like a gol-derned sailor… and she taught high-school English for many years. She had to retrain herself in so many ways. Wel all thought it was hilarious.

    1. Richard Hershberger*

      Al Swearengen:
      [to Cy Tolliver] You do no wanna be a dirt-worshipping heathen from this f***ing point forward, [to Joannie Stubbs] pardon my French.

      Joanie Stubbs:
      Oh, I speak French.

    2. metadata minion*

      Yeah, I also almost never swear, because I like the clear A Boundary Has Been Crossed message it sends when I finally do. But I genuinely don’t care if other people swear, and it drives me up the wall when they treat me like some fainting flower. I will happily geek out about the sociolinguistics of profanity and expletive infixation and delightedly take notes if you drop some combination of swears I haven’t heard before.

      1. Quill*

        There was a point in my career where hearing the F-bomb in the lab was the signal to prepare for full evacuation.

        “Ah Shit” generally means something much more minor, like spilling something on the benchtop that isn’t a huge deal but will take time, has happened

      2. The OG Sleepless*

        So, I have this (totally unintended) serious, proper affect. I look like a person you don’t want to misbehave around. The first time someone hears me swear, it surprises them so much they usually start to laugh.

        Well, I don’t want people to laugh when I’m frustrated. So when I have a new coworker, I make a point of swearing around them pre-emptively. Yes. I am a swearer. I’m OK if you are one, too. Don’t do it in front of clients, but if it’s just us, let those f-bombs fall like rain.

    3. Avery*

      Reminds me of when a (well-intentioned, I’m sure) new boss asked me (female-presenting, on the young side and looking even younger than I am) if I was okay with clients swearing on occasion.
      I’m not sure if I misinterpreted the question or just wanted additional clarification, but I made it clear that I was fine with it so long as they weren’t swearing AT me.
      I… might have mentioned my retail experience when said new boss raised an eyebrow at that one. Though I don’t know that even retail involved much customer swearing, just customers taking out their anger on the wrong person, which bugs me a lot more than any particular swear words would.

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        This! I answered phone lines for military health benefits. If swearing bothered me, that job would’ve been a lot harder.

    4. WantonSeedStitch*

      I’m a woman, and I very rarely swear at work, mostly because I’m in management and want to be extra conscious of presenting myself in a professional manner. I do, however, curse like a sailor when neither coworkers nor kids are around. If my male peers said “oh, sorry about the language, Wanton!” I would be tempted to respond with “yeah, Bill, watch your f***ing language!”

      1. Buni*

        The one time a man did apologise for swearing in front of me I replied “I should f****** welll think so too.”.

        1. Good Enough For Government Work*

          As a ‘girly girl’ who swears like a sailor whenever possible, my go-to is always “How f*cking dare you swear in my hearing!”

          1. Kit*

            I usually note that “I curse like a f*cking lady!” but that’s more for when people are attempting to police my language than their own. (I have, on occasion, appended, “and I know because I learned it from my mother!” but never in her hearing because she’ll take the p*ss out of me for it.)

          2. Elle by the sea*

            Hahaha! I like this answer! However I would rather tolerate apologies issued to me personally for swearing than being continuously heckled for not swearing.

            I hardly ever swear. I grew up in a family when swearing is used only in very special circumstances, when you really want to emphasise something extremely serious. My mother literally sees people engaging in a sexual act when someone causally says “f***”. I am the same. I guess we aren’t neurotypical.

            I am not really bothered by people swearing around me (or even at me), nor do I ever make comments to people about their swearing habits. But still, wherever I went, people used to pick up on the fact that I didn’t swear. They found it fake and kept asking me why. They started sharing articles which claim that people who are intelligent swear and those who don’t swear have a lower level of intelligence and linguistic abilities. Weird.

            1. Imtheone*

              I teach and tutor children. No swearing by staff in schools. I’ve found that many people have to severely curtail the swearing so it doesn’t pop out around the students.

              Similarly, teachers often address each other by title (Ms X, Mr. Y) even when no kids are around. It can be too hard to switch gears when you are juggling lots of things.

    5. not nice, don't care*

      My response would be to ask why dudes are targeting me with sexist behavior. Use all the scary HR words to frame the fuckery.

    6. CountryLass*

      I have a client who made some comments I pulled him up on (inappropriate things for an 8-= man to say to a 40ish woman) and he apologised, Then he was talking about something else a few days later and f-bombed and said “oh, i suppose I can’t say that now, can I?” I pointed out that swearing is not an issue, commenting on my body however, is.

      He has no idea when I get to full flow I can probably out-swear my local barracks! Obviously I still have words I find offensive (c-word and anything racially/homophobically related and so on) but as long as a client is not directing it at me, I generally ignore it. I swear when I vent, so I don’t see why I should get offended when they do the same!

  5. Jessica Clubber Lang*

    Pardon my ignorance on this, but I assumed all buildings these days had to have some level of accessibility… Like how would someone in a wheelchair get around?

    1. Samwise*

      No, an older building that would need massive retrofits would not necessarily have to be made accessible throughout. The ADA does not require it.

      In the OP’s building, someone in a wheelchair could not get around, so they could not physically access areas that are only reached by stairs.

    2. FearNot*

      At least in my area of the US, this is only true if the building is newer or has work done to bring it up to code. We have plenty of “historic” buildings in my town that have zero elevators or even ramps to get inside.

      1. TechWorker*

        Also true in the U.K. I work in an older office building with no ground floor offices (ground floor is parking and communal areas) and no lifts. We currently do not have any employees who can’t use stairs, but if we hired someone who did we’d struggle. (We are already trying to persuade corporate to either spend ££ on updates or on a whole new office… so hopefully this won’t be true forever!)

        1. Freya*

          In Australia, too. The legislation here is the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) and the paperwork laying out the minimum requirements is the Disability (Access to Premises-Buildings) Standards and the National Construction Code (NCC). New buildings must comply when built; older buildings must comply when there’s major renovations.

    3. MsJaytee*

      I can’t remember the name for it but the only way to enforce the ADA is to sue. Obviously many organisations take action so they’re not in a position to be sued, but others do nothing and hope no-one sues them. So even if they’re supposed to be accessible they may not do anything until they’re forced into it.

      The reason I know this is because there are people who test the ADA and sue even though they may not be a customer/employee etc. And a case is about to go to the Supreme Court where a company is trying to get cases brought by these testers thrown out as they claim they don’t have standing to sue. If they win it’ll gut the ADA.

      1. Michelle Smith*

        The other commenters are correct, a lot of these buildings are NOT required to be gutted to conform to the ADA. If they aren’t required to make renovations, suing is not going to help. A lawsuit only acts as an enforcement mechanism if there is an underlying cause of action – otherwise you don’t have a claim.

        From the ADATA website (sorry I don’t know how to do fancy quote blocks on a comment section like I’ve seen others do but everything after this is copy/paste):

        Is my building “grandfathered in” under the older 1991 ADA Standards for Accessible Design or do I need to comply with the 2010 ADA Standards?
        The ADA does not have a provision to “grandfather” a facility but it does have a provision called “safe harbor” in the 2010 ADA regulations for businesses and state and local governments. A “safe harbor” means that you do not have to make modifications to elements in a building that comply with the 1991 ADA Standards(link is external), even if the 2010 ADA Standards(link is external) have different requirements for them. For example the 1991 ADA Standards permitted controls, such as a light switch, to be 54 inches high maximum for a side reach. The 2010 ADA Standards lowered that to 48 inches maximum. If the light switch was installed before March 15, 2012 (the date the 2010 ADA Standards went into effect) it does not need to be lowered to 48 inches. This provision is applied on an element-by-element basis. However, if you choose to alter elements that were in compliance with the 1991 ADA Standards, the altered elements must comply with the 2010 ADA Standards.

        Please note that “safe harbor” does not apply to elements that were NOT addressed in the original 1991 ADA Standards but ARE addressed in the 2010 ADA Standards. These elements include recreation facilities such as swimming pools, play areas, exercise machines, miniature golf facilities, fishing piers, boating facilities, and bowling alleys. Public accommodations must remove architectural barriers to these elements when it is readily achievable to do so. State and local governments must ensure program accessibility at these recreational areas.

        1. Peanut Hamper*

          sorry I don’t know how to do fancy quote blocks on a comment section like I’ve seen others do

          Instructions are in the “How to Comment” link. It’s at the end of that page.

    4. Siege*

      I mean … they don’t. My mother used a mobility scooter for the last 18 months of her life and the number of places she couldn’t go to, or couldn’t go to safely, is really quite high. The ADA is barely the floor for accommodations, and a lot of things are covered under it that aren’t actually safe or useful. One of the funnier issues was the time she needed to use a bathroom in a medical facility and I counted SEVEN different issues with accessibility that I’m certain didn’t really add up to an ADA violation because there are “other bathrooms in the facility” that were more compliant.

      There are just maddening things, like one step to get into a building isn’t necessarily an ADA violation. But it is neither a cure-all in its current form, nor meaningfully enforced/applied, and mostly it’s applied because someone affected by access issues opts to complain or sue.

    5. Some people’s children!*

      As others have said, an older building doesn’t have to be retrofitted. You can also consider the cost of accommodations and how practical they might be. By way of example, I worked in management in a police/fire dispatch center. About 15 years ago We had someone who was blind who applied for a dispatcher job. It would have cost several million dollars to accommodate him. Basically we needed to buy a completely new dispatch computer system since the ancient one we had wouldn’t interface with special equipment he needed. Even if that were possible the lead time was around 18 months. By the time I left that job about 6 years ago we could have accommodated him easily and it would have been interesting to see how it worked!

    6. Judge Judy and Executioner*

      My office would in no way be able to accommodate an individual who used a wheelchair or other mobility aids. After I pointed this out last year, my work is now trying to get the building owner, a large medical organization, to pay for making the building accessible. It’s a stalemate, and so far has only gotten us one minor change. Living in the Midwest, it’s sadly unsurprising that most buildings are not accessible. Even doctor’s offices and other medical providers are often in buildings not accessible to wheelchair users, it’s a huge barrier in accessing care.

      1. Ipsissima*

        And working in healthcare is even worse. I’m not a wheelchair user (yet. I will be eventually) but I have mobility issues, and laboratories, nursing stations, and operating rooms are astonishingly inaccessible, to the point that I’m having to reconsider my entire career.

    7. DisabledInBoston*

      Here in Boston there are tons of medical offices that aren’t accessible. Dentists are particularly prone to non-accessible office space.

      I once stopped at a Subway near North Station that had a gigantic step into the store and a sign that said “Disabled and need help? Come in and let our staff know what you need”. No phone number, no way to complain.

      So many restaurants don’t leave enough room between tables to even walk in the door. Others put out big placemats in front of their doors that don’t just block their entrance but enough of the sidewalk that it’s impossible to pass.

      I could go on and on and on…

  6. Samwise*

    Employee with mobility issues:

    OMFG. Disabled people are not helpless, they don’t need to be rescued, they don’t need do-gooders to tell them to quit their jobs because it’s haaarrrdddd for them to get to work. They have a right to make decisions for themselves. Your employee gets up the stairs and arrives at work. Your discomfort with his pain and his physical struggles is YOUR problem.

    Is he arriving a work late? Is he unable to work for the first 20-30 minutes? Address that. If not, mind your own freakin business and treat this man equitably and respectfully, just as you would any employee without an obvious disability

    Sorry –Samwise now steps off the soapbox, my very favorite soapbox…

    1. Jessica Clubber Lang*

      I agree overall, but if I see someone struggling with stairs or similar, I’m going to at least ask once if I can help, are you ok etc..

      1. Samwise*

        Sure, that’s completely reasonable.

        OP wants to tell this man that he needs a different job. That’s not reasonable.

        1. Eldritch Office Worker*

          My office manager has asked if I can reasonably leave the building during a fire or if she should speak with the building about my options if the elevator is down. THAT’S fine. This is medical discrimination masking as compassion.

          1. JustJack*

            We had a quadraplegic in a wheelchair working here. My company devised a plan and asked four strong people to help out. In the event of a fire, they went directly to him or met him at the top of the stairs, and carried him and chair down and up stairs. Weird building.

            1. somehow*

              I work in an old building that has an elevator, but when it comes to a possible fire, we are instructed to get ourselves, and only ourselves, out, since rescuing someone could mean firefighters rushing in to save not one person, but four people or what have you (and I am nearly certain that comes from our local fire department).

              It’s tough to think about that, but that’s something an applicant to our workplace would have to consider if differently-abled physically.

              1. A friendly reminder*

                That’s interesting. I wonder who advised you of that. The fire people who gave us briefings said we should make reasonable choices – for example, if someone needs help getting down the stairs, and it’s not slowing us down much, help them. That’s not rescuing them BTW – that’s helping someone evacuate, which is not the same.

                But if we can’t help, inform fire personnel immediately. In fact, ideally inform the building’s fire control team of people who may need help proactively in our emergency plans.

                1. A friendly reminder*

                  Adding, evacuation from our 20+ story building was walking slowly but steadily down the stairs. Often just a few flights to a safer floor, though full-building evacuation is possible. It’s not running or even really rushing. So if a few people can help someone who is disable keep up with that slow/steady exit, that’s fine

      2. Dahlia*

        I kind of wonder what exactly you expect you’ll be able to do if someone is struggling with the stairs?

        1. Jessica Clubber Lang*

          Offer to help them? Maybe they have a bag or computer and I could hold it for them.
          Maybe they’d want to to grab onto my arm or something like that if it makes it easier.

          1. Quill*

            Carrying that, opening the door, walking on the “wrong” side so that they can manage both cane and railing instead of being expected to drive on the right side of the stairs, can you run up and tell meeting organizer that I will be there a little late because of all these damn stairs, etc.

        2. Samwise*

          That’s why one asks “Is there anything I can do to help?” Disabled people are aware of what assistance they do and don’t need. And if it’s something you can’t do, then it’s ok to say, “I’m so sorry, I can’t do that. Do you want me to find someone who can?”

          For instance, I can “spot” someone going up or down the stairs (because I know how to safely steady or “push” them should they teeter or tip), but I can’t safely lift them.

          I have a family member with similar difficulties. They respond to offers of help with “just walk at my pace and chat with me”.

          1. I Have RBF*

            I’m mobility impaired and fat, and am slooow going down stairs, usually on the left side. I have lost count of the number of people who will stand below me on the stairs and ask if they can help me. I try to be polite, but, frankly, if I fall when they are like that, I will probably hurt them more than myself. Taking my arm won’t help, it’ll just unbalance me, and a person half my weight trying to “spot” me from below is at a greater risk for injury than I am.

            My usual response is “No thanks, I’ve got it. I’m just slow and careful.”

          2. I Have RBF*

            Yeah, the best thing someone can do for me is carry stuff, so that I can use my good arm for the railing. Holding on to me will throw me off balance, and “spotting” me will make me worry about falling on them and hurting them.

      3. Ellis Bell*

        I think I would offer to help if I had a way of helping, like if they were carrying something I could relieve them of, or there’s a little known goods elevator at the back that’s totally clean and safe, if a bit inelegant, but what OP is suggesting is not help. There’s a big difference between “I can campaign for work from home permission if that’s at all helpful to you” and “Hey, there’s nothing to be done about these stairs, so have you heard there are other jobs out there?”

    2. Ms. Murchison*

      It can be difficult to see someone in your life in constant pain, and the instinct to want to do something to help is natural. LW1 just took it in the wrong direction.

      1. rebelwithmouseyhair*

        It’s wanting to help, and it’s also not wanting to see the person struggle. “Get this person to a place where I can’t see that they’re in pain” is a far less worthy sentiment than “I don’t want this person to suffer”.

    3. TPS Reporter*

      still could be a good move for OP to consider long term alternative options for space that are accessible or on the first place. they’re going to prohibit a future candidate pool plus existing staff who may develop a disability. Overall it does seem like a safety concern as well.

      1. Samwise*

        Yes. Employers and builders need to consider universal design.

        Most everyone can use a ramp or a curb-cut, able bodied or not. Not everyone can use the stairs or step up/down a curb. (Anyone who has pushed a stroller or a shopping cart can appreciate this)

        Most everyone can read documents that follow good practice for accessibility. Not everyone can read a block of text saved as a single image.

        Those of us who are able-bodied — it’s good to remember that we are all TEMPORARILY able-bodied. Anyone can become ill or the victim of an accident, and you have your whole life to lose an ability for awhile or forever.

        1. Quill*

          I’m one of the few for whom ramps can be a problem (when the ankle does not bend, it does not bend at those angles specifically! Fun times meeting my orthopedist, who for obvious reasons had primarily ramp access…) and the curb cut effect still applies. Because it turns out that having more than one way to do something makes sense for a lot of situations – Not just buildings and document design, but having the ability to do things in writing (see: email) for easier records keeping instead of only having people phone in, the ability to type OR handwrite to fill out paperwork, or in situations where ramps are safer in the winter because no matter how often you salt and shovel the steps stuff gathers in the edges…

          *looks around and spots that nobody is here but the choir* Anyway accessible design is good and having more than one option is optimal.

          1. TPS reporter*

            exactly, not to mention going up or down multiple flights of stairs can be dangerous for anyone carrying something, has wet shoes, simply gets distracted. I trip on my own stairs a lot at home. accessibility for all is the way to go. I hope OP was able to move out of that space at some point.

        2. CompetingDisabilities*

          A lot of the new raised dot ramps interfere with white cane usage…apparently they’re designed to make the ramp less slippery when wet, but they’ve essentially prevented visually impaired folks from using the sidewalk at all. So yeah, you do need to be careful when you say things designed for accessibility work for everyone.

          1. rebelwithmouseyhair*

            That’s weird. We have raised dots on the pavement here (I believe it’s to comply with an EU directive), and the point is to let visually impaired people know that there’s a zebra crossing there. I’ve never heard that the raised dots could be problematic, then again I don’t know anyone whose visual impairment requires the use of a cane.

          2. TPS Reporter*

            I was honestly thinking moving to an office with an elevator or on the first floor. having multiple flights of stairs be the only way to get there just doesn’t seem great for the majority of people. but it’s good point to raise that not all accessibility accommodations work for everyone.

  7. Fluffy Fish*

    OP 1’s of the world if you have any capital at all it would be well used advocating for accessible locations not because of this employee but because frankly all buildings should be accessible for everyone. Businesses move locations all the time so while it may be difficult it’s unlikely to be impossible.

    1. Dek*

      Alternatively, look into making WFH a more plausible/acceptable option for your company. It seems odd to me that a call center can’t do that. And it wouldn’t really be something for YOU to suggest he do, but simply an option made available.

  8. Iroqdemic*

    My personal favorite comeback for someone who apologizes for swearing in front of me is, “Yes, please watch your f’ing language. I would f’ing NEVER!” Like, I’m an adult here, fellas, you don’t need to watch my delicate sensibilities. Believe me, you will know if I’m offended.

    1. FrivYeti*

      There was someone I knew who responded to that sort of thing with “my f’ing virgin ears!” Stuck with me for a long time.

      1. Some people’s children!*

        I had a male coworker who told me he didn’t understand the drunken sailor reference until he met me! Apologizing would bug me more especially in those “apologize and I won’t officially reprimand you” scenarios.

  9. Monkey Princess*

    4-11pm!? And this, my dear children, is how anyone who acts as a caregiver of anyone, which usually means “women”), people with invisible disabilities, and anyone with obligations outside of work gets sidelined, told they’re “not a team player,” and tracked out of career advancement. “Oh, you’re thinking Jane for that promotion? Hmm. No, nothing wrong with her work: it’s great, actually. But it just feels like she doesn’t have the rapport with her coworkers that we want to see in management. She’s a very 9-5 employee, you know? Does what she needs to, but doesn’t go above that, and doesn’t seem interested in participating in the team culture. What about Mark? He’s a great guy, always around.”

    1. MountainAir*

      This is literally the first thing I thought of – I’m coming at it as someone with young kids, but truly anyone with caregiving responsibilities is going to have a hard time saying yes to this setup. There is no universe where I’m getting on a bus to be away for seven hours without knowing where I’m going. How do I know if I’ll have cell service? How do I know I will be able to leave if my family needs me? What if my phone dies and I need to be able to tell my sitter or family member how to reach me?

      Seven hours is also too long! But yes, you’re dead on. You can’t say yes to these things blindly if you have meaningful obligations outside of work, and this kind of thing accumulates into a perception that you’re not invested. I truly can’t think of what benefit you get from doing this that isn’t strongly outweighed to potential costs.

        1. I Have RBF*


          Blind destinations without the ability to leave? Crank up the nerves and trapped thing!

          Meals that I don’t know what is in them and I may not be able to eat, without ability to seek anything elsewhere? A recipe for hangry.

          Unknown activities that may aggravate my disabilities, injure me or leave me stuck waiting at a bus for everyone to get back? Cue the “odd person out” gimp thing. (I am pretty adventurous, but if it involves hiking/walking more than a block or two? Count. Me. OUT!)

    2. Unkempt Flatware*

      All I thought of is how much this would mess with my very serious sleep schedule. I’m recovering from a 5 year bout of extreme insomnia (slept 10 hours a week). Just thinking of it would have me screwed up. These expectations could undo some very hard work on my part.

      And once when I cited this as an issue with attending a conference, my boss said, “I was sleepy too”. Lol I would have killed to feel simply sleepy back in those days.

      1. madge*

        THANK YOU. There are so many reasons why this situation won’t work for countless people (I stopped counting at four for myself). But I get enraged when people try to equate “sleepy” and actual #&%$ing sleep disorders that one has tried desperately for years to manage

      1. TPS Reporter*

        yeah is this a frat house or a workplace? argh. I would seriously dislike this in a personal or a work context.

  10. Sled dog mama*

    I am not disabled and less than two sentences in I was practically yelling at my screen “ABLEISM!!! RED ALERT!!!!”
    Alison’s advice is spot on this is a you problem, mind your own business and keep the good employee employed.

    1. Peanut Hamper*

      Right? I mean, even if he were a bad employee, you would deal with the performance issues and leave the disability aspect out of it.

      1. I Have RBF*

        Seriously. If the guy can’t climb the stairs for whatever reason, that’s one thing. But he can. It may be slow, but the job may be the only time he gets “exercise”. If he had a problem, it would be up to him to raise. Since he hasn’t, you shouldn’t.

      2. Deluxe Mixed Nuts*

        Yes. When are people going to stop commening on other people’s body’s as if it’s their business to do so?

    2. somehow*

      This is a great way to discourage people from writing in for advice. At least the LW is asking about this. Isn’t that what this blog is for?

  11. Turingtested*

    LW 1, I think this is one of those cases where management is completely different than one’s personal life. If he were a friend, it could be kind/compassionate to ask if he’s struggling and suggest something easier. But as a manager it’s cruel to imply he can’t manage his health (legal issues aside).

    I know this is not part of your letter but it’s a very common accommodation under the ADA to allow people grace on start times for this type of situation. So a lot of people who have successful careers go through this and there’s no reason to think he’ll be different.

    1. Michelle Smith*

      As a disabled person with serious mobility limitations, I would just like to remind folks that ableism can come from friends too. If you want to ask me if there’s anything you can do to be supportive, that’s fine. If you want to ask me how you should deal with X or Y situation if it comes up, that’s fine too (e.g., how I’d like you to respond if someone says something rude to me, what kinds of accessibility to call ahead and check for before booking a reservation at a restaurant so we don’t end up going some place I can’t get into or pee at, etc.). But please, please, PLEASE do not give unsolicited advice about (1) how to manage my disability or (2) whether I should change jobs to something physically easier from your perspective. LW1’s proposed suggestion to her employee is something that creates legal liability for her company, but even coming from a friend, I would find it highly frustrating and inappropriate.

      1. Keeley Jones, The Independent Woman*

        My husband has mobility issues and exactly this. Trust me whatever advice someone has to offer, we’ve been through it already.

          1. I Have RBF*

            If I had a dollar for every time someone suggested something useless for dealing with my disability, I would have my house paid off by now, and I live in a high cost area. (The worst? “Have you tried yoga?” Yoga does not accommodate hemiparesis.)

            1. Freya*

              Thiiiiis… Frickin’ yoga is a Bad Idea for my hyperflexibility-associated issues.

              (I do pilates with a very very good physiotherapist instead, she’s amazing and modifies everything on the fly for each individual in the class based on where they are and what they’re working on and their individual aims; every single person in the class has a different subset of chronic issues and/or injuries to be accommodated and she laughs with us when we throw shade or physio balls at her)

      2. Turingtested*

        Thank you very much! I was definitely thinking of advice I’ve gotten for managing my (invisible) disabilities. I don’t mind a caring “it seems like this job is making things worse are you looking” vs “keep that job and you’ll end up committed” which seems much meaner. Of course there is a difference and I really appreciate you taking time to educate me which is not your job.

    2. Irish Teacher.*

      To be honest, I don’t think I’d recommend giving that kind of advice as a friend either.

      I mean, if you knew a friend was struggling with the stairs at their job and was actively jobsearching and you heard of a job on the ground floor of a building or in a more modern building that you thought they’d be interested in, it would be reasonable to mention it to them, but just “hey, if you find the stairs at your job too difficult, have you thought of looking for a new job?” would be hard to suggest without it sounding like the speaker thinks the person they are talking to isn’t very smart.

      But yeah, it’s even worse coming from a boss because it could sound like the boss wants them out.

  12. Elephant In The Room*

    Swearing: I never think to in the moment, but want to remember to stop uncomfortable conversations (where “offender”and listener both acknowledge the unspoken) by asking questions to bring out the offense in broad daylight. Years ago, a male state trooper asked me, after explaining various aspects of truck inspections, “Are you wet yet?” Shocked, I said nothing. I’ve often wished that I’d played dumb, “What do you mean?” It was years ago and it still bothers me.

    You could respond to the sexist swearing apologist in a cheerful tone, “Why are you f——apologizing to me?” With or without the cheery cursing, it might wake him up?

  13. Yup!*

    Secret party stuff tends to favour the young/healthy/extroverted/single. It’s so hard to just get up and go for hours when you have to plan babysitting, food/activity restrictions, medication, and other daily responsibilities. Plus being trapped in one space is hard for people who are introverted and need to recharge, since they can’t decide to leave when they’re done for the night. I do get it–it’s bonding time–but I’ve reached a life stage where it’s so much better to know ahead and plan accordingly.

    I also heard from an ex colleague that their company surprised employees with a holiday dinner experience at a restaurant that was all in the dark. One employee took one look at the sign when they arrived and noped out of there. Really not well thought out.

    1. Fiona Orange*

      “Secret party stuff tends to favour the young”

      Not necessarily. When my grandmother was alive and healthy, she belonged to a senior center that often had “surprise” outings just like the ones described in the letter. The difference is that all the guests were, well, senior citizens! So they didn’t have jobs, small children at home, etc. and it was completely opt-in. It wasn’t something that was sponsored by work that could put you on bad standing with your employer if you didn’t show up.

      So I think it’s a good idea for either the young OR the old- just not the middle-aged ones who have families and responsibilities outside of work.

      1. Starbuck*

        This is in a work context; the statement was accurate. Obviously retired people tend to have more flexibility in their schedules.

    2. TPS Reporter*

      It seems like the employer is losing the point of having a work outing- it’s to show appreciation and not alienate or cause anxiety.

      1. Your Mate in Oz*

        For some employers it’s a chance to do something they enjoy and making staff show gratitude for it is a side benefit.

        I worked in one pretty diverse place that was absolutely regemented when it came to staff appreciation: we will go to an entertainment venue where alcohol is available, there will be a smoking area, and meat will be the focus of the meal. Attendance was not technically compulsory but the “volunteer entertainment committee” were very enthusiastic about signing people up. Workplace had not just the usual Jewish+Muslim+Hindu religions, but also Tamil+Sri Lankan (both sides of the civil war!), a couple of technically-former-alcoholics and several vegetarians. But the owners of the company were smokers who drank socially and ate meat, so no problem…

    3. AnonORama*

      Technically yes, but this sounds miserable to me and I’m able-bodied, not a caregiver, ambivert (don’t mind after-hours work events) and while I’m not particularly young, I don’t have any health issues or reasons I couldn’t join. But this still sounds like the opposite of fun! I don’t want to be surprised by an event I don’t know about, or trapped on a bus ride of unknown length, or expected to stay somewhere unknown for 7 hours. I COULD do this, unlike a lot of folks on the thread, but the question is whether I’d CHOOSE to. Solid nope!

      1. Ukdancer*

        Yes when we have to suffer MBTI I type fairly extrovert but I don’t want to spend that long with my colleagues because we’ve not got that much in common apart from work and i prefer to influct ny extraversion on my friends.

        I hate not knowing how long things will last and not being able to control my exit. So extrovert or not this is not my idea of a good time.

  14. SheLooksFamiliar*

    Recruiters ask for resumes not only because we’ve all gotten used to the format. It’s possible a Word or pdf document is requested because the hiring manager is traveling and won’t be able to access the online bio. It’s also possible the employer needs a resume for recordkeeping compliance. It’s great to have an online bio – I do, too – but a resume is documentation of a candidate’s interest in a discussion, and a storable, retrievable document of that interaction.

    I lean towards, ‘Resumes are just the document we’ve grown accustomed to reading,’ and that it works both ways. Candidates often ask for soft-copy job descriptions, even though our jobs are posted and we share the link with them. There’s nothing wrong with any of this, in my opinion.

    Also: My team asks candidates they contact directly for resumes all the time, up to the VP level, without any pushback. Most people keep them updated in case they get contacted out of the blue, if for no other reason.


      Yeah, I had a meeting with a recruiter a few years ago that I intended to be an info gathering call for ME. Even though he’d seen my LinkedIn profile, he emailed me 30 minutes before the call to ask for a resume because he didn’t like looking at online profiles, so I had to throw mine together to sent it over to him. (I later gathered that wires got crossed and he thought he was doing the first interview; he was shocked to learn near the end of the call that I hadn’t even applied yet for the position.) I didn’t balk at this request, even if it did throw me into a bit of panic.

    2. English Rose*

      “Most people keep them updated in case they get contacted out of the blue, if for no other reason.”
      Yes absolutely, I can never understand why people don’t maintain an up-to-date resume. There are so many circumstances where you might need it in a hurry – lay-offs, horrible new boss, new financial challenges. I check mine at the beginning of every quarter to make sure it’s still relevant.

      1. I Have RBF*

        I don’t maintain an up-to-date resume, but only because I don’t put the current job on there yet.

        Updating it is a matter of simply taking my previous resume, editing the end dates on the previous job and adding the current one. At most, it’s half an hour, because I’m simply copying and editing the old one into something current. Depending on how long I’ve been at my current gig, I might drop the oldest item off, too.

    3. Freya*

      I have a master resume that has everything – it gets updated when I do a Thing that would make a good addition to the achievements for a listed job, or the responsibilities change or whatever, or when I get a new qualification or an updated one. When I actually have to send it, the content gets culled for relevance, so the six or so pages ends up being two pages of extremely relevant info.

  15. HonorBox*

    OP1 – To reiterate what Alison said. DO NOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES SAY ANYTHING. Especially because the employee is good, there is nothing good that will come from saying anything.

    OP3 – I like to swear. I do it well. So I’d for sure suggest quipping back, “I don’t f-ing care.”

  16. desdemona*

    My favorite response ever to someone apologizing for swearing was from a college roommate, who told the story as follows:
    Worker A: “Ah, f***!”
    Worker B: “Hey, watch your mouth, there’s a lady here!”
    Roommate, in a cheerful tone: “Hey, I ain’t a f***ing lady!”

        1. Your Mate in Oz*

          I had a flatmate who was talking to his mother on the phone and suddenly exclaimed “oh fuck did I swear”. We all burst out laughing then had to explain to him what he’d said.

          (20-odd years later I still remember it)

  17. Green great dragon*

    Completely agree with everyone’s “My god, NO” take on the first letter, but where I am it would be necessary to consider how he will evacuate in the case of a fire. Which might be that he just goes faster than he normally manages and deals with the consequence, but might mean getting one of those special chairs for taking wheelchair users down stairs, for example.

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      Yes, I mentioned in another comment before I read this that this came up at my workplace and it was fine – but that’s different than suggesting someone get a different job.

    2. Jm*

      The fire safety aspect came to my mind too but it appears to be far less than a discrimination concern

  18. nnn*

    I never really thought about swearing as gendered before, and now I’m idly wondering if men (or, at least, men who perceive swearing as gendered) would find it emasculating if someone apologized for swearing in front of them.

    I (female) have inadvertently let slip strong language from time to time, then immediately apologized for my language on the grounds that it’s unprofessional. I’m wondering in retrospect if my male interlocutors might see it as I’m treating them as unmanly

    1. Exhausted Electricity*

      depends on the dude. I’ve found the answer is either “Yes they’re offended you apologized” or “they see how ridiculous they’re being and stop apologizing for swearing.”

    2. Richard Hershberger*

      Swearing as gendered is a very old trope. In the early days of baseball, clubs strived to get ladies in the audience. It was believed to improve the behavior of the male spectators. This is not only gendered, but classist. Those clubs sought ladies, not women in general.

      1. Quill*

        Women of a certain class (and race. That was definitely in there) have been expected to appear innocent and unworldly for enough years that even though at present I doubt there is an actually statistically significant gendered divide in how much people swear overall these days, the tropes still persist.

        (That said my favorite bit of lore from “swearing has a gendered context” days is that my mom refers to a seam-ripper as a cusser because, ONLY when surrounded by other ladies, my grandmother punctuated every instance of having to undo a seam with “shitdamnhell” which is not a four letter word because it’s three of them strung together.)

    3. FrivYeti*

      You’ll probably get different answers from different folks, but here’s my thought: swearing isn’t *technically* seen as gendered by toxic masculinity, there’s an extra step involved. Swearing is impolite, and there is a patriarchal belief that it’s okay for men to be impolite to other men (especially ‘working class’ men), but not okay for men to be impolite to women. These belief structures also believe that women should never be impolite, so women who swear are unlikely to be judged for apologizing to men (especially compared to being judged for swearing in the first place, which women are likely to be judged for more harshly than men.)

      1. Radioactive Cyborg Llama*

        Would these people be the same ones who think that “equality” would require that women are willing to have men punch them as a way to resolve conflict?

    4. metadata minion*

      The key here is that it’s traditionally considered rude for men to swear in front of women. Men swearing around other men isn’t the most refined behavior, but you don’t need to apologize for it in casual settings. But swearing in front of a lady is crass and offensive. Women, being delicate blossoms, are assumed not to swear even around other women, but to do so around men would probably be even more not done than the other way around.

      If you’re just apologizing for swearing in general, around anyone at work, it’s unlikely to come off as gendered and is pretty normal in office environments.

      [To be absolutely clear, my first paragraph is describing a particular sort of old-fashioned prescriptivist social standard, not anything I think should actually be a rule.]

    5. Dinwar*

      “I never really thought about swearing as gendered before, and now I’m idly wondering if men (or, at least, men who perceive swearing as gendered) would find it emasculating if someone apologized for swearing in front of them.”

      I work in a construction-adjacent field. One guy has a literal “F-bomb” swear jar (he was trying to be good….). Another had a curse-laden rant written on a gas can, the gist of which was not to empty his can. Note that clients, regulators, and the like routinely show up at our jobsite and office. They’re worse than we are, to be honest; at least when they’re around we try to limit swearing, whereas they don’t even make the attempt most of the time. I’ve also worked with some folks who just don’t cuss. Some for religious reasons, some for other reasons. This includes both men and women. If you can work 10 hours a day behind a drill rig and give me good boring logs, I don’t care.

      I’ve had people apologize for swearing around me before, of a variety of sexes/genders. I took it merely as a sign that they weren’t familiar with our culture yet. We’re all far more concerned with the substantive content of your statement than with the wrapping paper. (Writing’s different. Gotta be careful with things that can end up in court.) But that’s not a gendered thing, it’s an experience-level thing.

    6. Ellis Bell*

      I kind of love it that both you and the OP are complete strangers to the sexist habit of treating swearing as a male pasttime, to be done away from the ladies (are you younger too, or do you live in a fairer dimension?). I grew up with well versed in this stuff, and it was an issue for me as soon as I was old enough for males to swear, but never okay for me. I can’t believe OP made it to 28 without encountering this! To clear matters up, you wouldn’t be able to make a guy who subscribes to this stuff feel emasculated. He’d assume you were apologizing for being unladylike. If you hadn’t apologized around this kind of person, you can get lectured about the swearing. One guy, who swore like a trooper frequently, told me “It’s not big and it’s not clever”. This only applies to swearing around douchebags. If the men you swore in front of are at all modern/egalitarian they will have assumed you apologized for professionalism, not for swearing while female.

      1. Dinwar*

        “(are you younger too, or do you live in a fairer dimension?)”

        Probably different income/socioeconomic brackets. One side of my family styles itself upper-middle-class, and tried to abide by such rules (with limited success because it’s ridiculous). The other side of my family was definitely blue-collar working class (mechanics, welders, carpenters, farmers, that sort of thing, all on the lower end of the income scale), and EVERYONE swore. Until you were old enough to be considered an adult you didn’t swear around adults, but after that swearing was just part of how folks spoke. When you’re in a population where a significant number of people are missing digits or limbs due to accidents, objectively petty things like “clean” language tend to be treated as, well, petty.

      2. somehow*

        “I can’t believe OP made it to 28 without encountering this!”

        Perhaps things are improving out there. Isn’t that a good thing?

      3. nnn*

        I’m not younger – I’m actually old enough that things were highly gender segregated in my childhood. (Not as official policy, just as a general social norm that, like, boys are yucky.)

        So I and the other girls in my class first learned swear words in Grade 1, from the big Grade 2 girls. I didn’t know and didn’t care where the boys were. (Probably off being yucky somewhere.)

        Eventually some boys became less yucky and my conversations with them included swear words in exactly the same way my conversations with girls included swear words, because why wouldn’t they?

        And the kind of boys who have the attitudes described in the letter continued to be yucky for unrelated reasons, so I didn’t spend enough time with them to find out if they had distinct opinions about swear words.


      I’ve never apologized but did have a Southern gentleman colleague (who also told me women can’t lead men, believe it or not) tell me that I swear too much.

      I told him to f*ck off for that comment.

    8. not nice, don't care*

      Yes, (notall)men expect women to apologize for breaking the rules of acceptable womanhood. They have no fucks for swearing, just for women stepping out of line.

    9. rebelwithmouseyhair*

      Insofar as this would be a sexist reaction from them, I’m not sure you should worry much about it.

  19. Baron*

    OP1: person with disability here. I don’t 100% agree with Alison’s saying that you’re not being compassionate—maybe that is your intent! But I do agree that such a thing will never be *heard* as compassionate, whatever the intent behind it.

    I might be more militant about this stuff than some people, but no matter what, if a boss said to me, “With your disability, wouldn’t you be more comfortable working somewhere else?”, I would hear, “They want to fire me and they’re trying to be ‘nice’ about it. They’re discriminating against me.” It would be a complete relationship-killer.

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      She is commenting on the intent, because she is talking to the person who is expressing their intention. However if she were talking to the employee, I doubt she would say they have to worry about the intent or temper their feelings about it.

    2. Deja Vu*

      My boss was acting from a place of compassion when he said this to me – but all I heard was “I want to fire you” with a side of “I understand your medical conditions & accessibility needs better than you.” It’s insulting! Thankfully HR handled it; the next step would have been a lawyer.

    1. Daughter of Ada and Grace*

      The phrasing of this question (“Due to the nature of our phone system”) suggests that this particular call center isn’t set up to allow employees to work from home, likely for reasons related to the phone system. (Or wasn’t, at the time the letter was originally written.) It’s entirely possible that in the intervening years this company has upgraded their equipment so this is no longer an issue and work from home is possible.

    2. Czhorat*

      That depends on the call center. Some might use a phone system or a computer system which must be accessed in person and is not configured for remote access.

      1. MsJayTee*

        My employer also contented that telephony based employees were not allowed to work from home, until there was a global pandemic.

        It’s amazing what disabled people were told wasn’t possible, then when COVID happened and non-disabled people need the same accessibility it was suddenly possible.

        The LW is probably genuine in thinking it’s not possible. But I’ve found that’s often because they haven’t tried, or the people who could make it happen say it’s not possible. So often companies have the thought process of ‘it hasn’t been done so it can’t be done’.

      1. MsJayTee*

        My comment doesn’t say all call centre workers can work from home, just that call centre workers can work from home.

        In my experience it is a job that many people think must be done in the office. When there are other options.

    3. bamcheeks*

      It’s also not necessarily the case that OP’s team member would prefer to work from home if that was an option! He might be someone who prefers to come into the office for all the same reasons someone without mobility difficulties might prefer it. Offering the option to work from home if it’s possible is a good thing— to everyone! not just your disabled employees— but assuming that the person with mobility difficulties would prefer to work from home is another kind of ableism.

      1. Eldritch Office Worker*

        Yes thank you for pointing this out. As a disabled person who prefers to work in the office, this is a conversation that gets very tiring very quickly.

        1. Ukdancer*

          Definitely. I have a couple of colleagues with physical disabilities and they were both the first back after lockdown because working in their reasonably adjusted offices with their customised workstations was preferable to remote work.

          it’s definitely best to ask rather than guess people’s preferences.

        2. Atalanta*

          Agreed. And while I think the option to work from home is beneficial for disabled employees, making it be the only solution offered does nothing to make the world at large more accessible or accepting of disabled people.

      2. MsJayTee*

        I never suggested the employee would want to work from home. In my experience of being a disabled employee and getting accommodations put in place, the best thing for everyone is multiple options. That way it’s easiest to find the best way that works for employer and employee.

  20. Exhausted Electricity*

    LW 1: even without getting into the potential for a medical discrimiation lawsuit that others have mentioned… I’m going to say what I told a similarly “helpful” relative: It is beyond rude and inappropriate to bring up someone’s weight, it is hurtful, it does not show compassion, it will come across to your employee as cruel.

    LW about the cursing: I was in a similar position until I pointed out I knew those words already. No one believed me until I fell in a ditch on an outdoor portion of my job duties and the stream of profanity that left my mouth scared people.

  21. Hedgehog O'Brien*

    So my husband’s workplace used to do “Secret Location” retreats and one year, and my biggest concern with these things after that is family members potentially not knowing where someone was, or even where they were en route to, in case of an emergency. One year on the day of their secret retreat, I hadn’t heard from him yet and there ended up being a massive gas explosion at a building that could very easily have been the site of their retreat based on the size and type of facility. I spent the next 2 hours frantically trying to call my husband to make sure he was OK, finally got a hold of him and confirmed where he was and that he was fine. After that I gently suggested that maybe the event organizers could let family members/emergency contacts know where they were going via email, even if it was kept a secret from the employees themselves. They’ve thankfully stopped doing these events, so it’s a non-issue now.

    1. Fiona Orange*

      “and my biggest concern with these things after that is family members potentially not knowing where someone was, or even where they were en route to, in case of an emergency”

      That would have been an issue 20-40 years ago, but now that everyone has cell phones, not so much.

      1. Quill*

        I live in a part of the country where the ability to actually get cell phone service can be decided by exactly where in the shadow of a mountain you’re standing, so yes, it’s still a concern even with cell phones. And even in relatively urban areas.

      2. I went to school with only 1 Jennifer*

        My in-laws live in the same city as me, but in their neighborhood, cell access depends SO much on where you are in the neighborhood. (Mostly you can do all the phone stuff via your wi-fi if you’re at home.) And this is a neighborhood where the *oldest* houses are 20 years old.

    2. Indolent Libertine*

      I was thinking exactly this. In these days of mass shootings and other such terrible things, I would be super uncomfortable with nobody in my family being able to know where I am for such a long stretch and the only people who *do* know where I am all being there with me.

      1. amoeba*

        I mean, once you’ve arrived, you can let people know, though? Not that I don’t see any problems with this, but unless there’s zero cell phone coverage and no WiFi or it’s a “digital detox” thing, I’d just send a message once I’m there. (Hell, if I was super worried for some reason, I might even just share my location on WhatsApp during the trip there!)

    3. But what to call me?*

      I’m really surprised to learn about so many places doing this. I had never heard of it before today and am having a hard time imagining how so many employers think this is a good idea – although I guess I shouldn’t be that surprised, given the kinds of things we hear about on this site.

      1. rebelwithmouseyhair*

        Of course they love doing it. It’s a power play: we know where we are going and you don’t. It’s just disguised as fun. I can’t imagine they enjoy watching employee reactions like parents enjoy watching their kids opening their Christmas presents.

  22. Former Retail Lifer*

    #2: I just had something similar happen! We had a regional meeting and, for my city, it was an hour and a half drive so we carpooled. We were told there would be a “surprise” at the meeting and to wear comfortable shoes. The meeting was cut short and then they told us that we were going to a baseball game. Fellow commenters, I HATE BASEBALL. They got us a private club room and catered lunch, which should have been a positive. However, I’ve been there almost a decade and, still, there were no vegetarian options for me. We were at a ballpark, so there was no vegetarian food I could buy to eat except for popcorn or peanuts. Because we carpooled and everyone else wanted to stay, I was stuck at a game I didn’t want to watch without any food I could eat. Had I known what the “surprise” was, I would have opted out of it and just taken the earlier meeting portion via Teams.

    1. Richard Hershberger*

      Nowadays a ball park should have vegetarian food available, but I would not be surprised if some don’t, particularly if we are talking minor league parks.

      1. Peanut Hamper*

        If you asked for vegetarian options at our local minor league park, they would probably say that they could leave the mustard off your hot dog.

      2. Former Retail Lifer*

        This is the midwest. There’s nothing to eat at a sports venue that’s vegetarian besides some snacks.

        And beer!

        1. Richard Hershberger*

          I am in Maryland. The closest minor league park offers a black bean burger. Move up to the Orioles and you have a fairly wide selection.

      3. amoeba*

        In Europe, at least there will always be pretzels and most of the time fries as well! Plus sweet stuff. Would be quite shocked if there was literally nothing vegetarian to eat. (I’ve actually encountered problems quite recently at a tennis tournament – but at least there was baked goods! No hot/salty vegetarian food was bad enough…)

        1. rebelwithmouseyhair*

          Pretzels and fries may be edible but I don’t count that as a meal. We veggies like to eat nutritious food.

    2. DivergentStitches*

      Dang, I would have Doordashed something and asked to go meet my DD delivery person outside the gates so that I could have something to eat. I have no shame, though.

    3. birb*

      They KNEW people would opt out, that’s why its a surprise. They think they know better than their employees, so to them the problem is “negative employees will come up with excuses to not come to our team events if they know what they are in advance, so the solution is to not tell them in advance!”

    4. I Have RBF*

      I wish my food issues could be solved by something as simple as a vegetarian menu.

      I react quite strongly to stuff made with soybean oil. Explosive diarrhea within half an hour strongly. Most commercial and catered food, even the “vegetarian” or “healthy” stuff is made with liberal amounts of soybean oil. The only way I can go to these places is to bring my own snacks to eat, and stadiums don’t let you do that nowadays so they can preserve their monopoly on food (that I can’t eat.) Even simple bread products and tortillas are made with f’ing soybean oil.

      Needless to say, surprise destinations are very problematic to me, for both food reasons and mobility impairment reasons. I would opt out too.

  23. Cyndi*

    I worked at a store where both employees and customers were overwhelmingly majority male and the bar for decorum was VERY low–we could say sh*t and d*mn and h*ll in front of customers, as long as we weren’t speaking directly to children, but might be mildly told off for saying f*ck. Male customers were always apologizing for swearing in front of me and I HATED it. I would just stare blankly and say something like “Why? Do you think I don’t know what a dick is?”

    1. Czhorat*

      Yeah, too many guys do this. In some ways I think it’s worse than openly hostile sexism because it’s cloaked in the idea that they’re being kind and sensitive to you, while in reality they see you as lesser or, at the very best, other.

      If I f-ing swear at the job I’ll do it in front of everyone.

    2. Purple Jello*

      Yeah, if they’re aware enough to apologize for swearing, they’re aware enough to not swear in the first place if they thought it would offend me.

  24. H.Regalis*

    LW1 – Yeah, don’t touch this with a thirty-nine-and-a-half-foot pole. Your employee is an adult and he gets to make his own decisions about how to live his life.

    For people commenting wondering why the building doesn’t have an elevator: Retrofitting buildings due to new regulations is expensive and not required by law in most places. This also varies by how expensive the retrofitting is. For example, where I live all new commercial buildings, along with residential buildings that are bigger than a duplex, are required to have sprinkler systems. Older buildings are not required by law to retrofit these; however, but all residential buildings regardless of size are required to comply with another retrofit: Having carbon monoxide detectors.

  25. DivergentStitches*

    The call center employee has also possibly (probably?) suffered from employment discrimination due to his disability in the past, and his options for another job may be severely limited.

  26. She of Many Hats*

    LW 1: I would recommend raising your concern with HR, company facilities head, and the building management. Push to get ADA accessibility into the building, not just for your person, but for anyone who wants or needs to use the building. Definitely point out the liabilities if there was any sort of emergency ranging from someone needing EMTs to a fire to a weather disaster such as a tornado.

    1. Unkempt Flatware*

      I agree. Anyone can find themselves less mobile than the day before and at the very least, this office should be practicing evacuation regularly.

    2. Avery*

      I just wanted to say that I love your username on here. Not sure if it’s meant to be interpreted literally or figuratively, but either way I’m right there with you in the many hats department.

  27. Itsa Me, Mario*

    Re the resume letter. Is there, like, a point at which people assume their reputation precedes them, and they don’t need to provide a resume? This letter felt wildly out of touch to me, as someone who is an independent contributor in a support role. I can’t imagine entering into any kind of hiring process without at least expecting that someone, somewhere, would want a resume. But maybe if you’re an extremely high-profile exec who can be easily googled?

    Even in a previous part of my career, when I was a freelancer in a field where hiring decisions are often relatively informal, and where I would get calls from folks in my personal network basically asking if I wanted the job, usually they’d ask me to send along a resume that they could forward on to upper level folks who might want to glance over it.

    1. Ms. Murchison*

      I think you’re reading something more into the letter than is there. I don’t get the impression that LW4 thinks they’re so important that they don’t need a resume, they just don’t have the time to create one from scratch right now and aren’t driven enough to job hunt to make the time. It’s the usual push-pull of who is more invested – LW4 has put in as much time as they want to in the process, so if the employer is seriously interested in this candidate, they need to decide if they’re willing to make do with an online profile that provides exactly the same information but just isn’t in a Word doc or pdf format.

      1. Eldritch Office Worker*

        Yes, this is great framing. Often when you’re headhunted you don’t have a resume on hand or the desire/motivation/time to create one quickly. It’s not uncommon to ask for one at some point in the process, but on two days notice it’s perfectly reasonable for a candidate to decide that’s not doable on their end.

        1. I Have RBF*

          See, I don’t understand this “not having a resume on hand” thing.

          I always have the resume I used to get my current job on hand. If I get headhunted for a job, I just update the dates of my prior gig and add my current one, and *presto*, new resume. I never write a resume from scratch now.

          Heck, if the recruiter is in a hurry I’ve given the older one to them with a note that my current position isn’t on there yet.

          1. askalice*

            It sounds like you have a fairly stable, one job at a time, kind of gig. I am a contract worker who has held a range of roles roughly in the same industry, but different enough that I definitely have to tailor my CV each time to suit the exact type of role I am applying for. It’s not as simple as add the latest gig. Gosh, even providing a short bio has to be edited to the event. I had to decline one recently cause they gave me a deadline of Monday on a Thursday afternoon, and I was going on holidays. Not to mention the presumption I would spend my weekend preparing it.

            1. I Have RBF*

              Yes, and IME most people do.

              But the expectation that you will jump to comply over a weekend is just… annoying.

      2. Itsa Me, Mario*

        If I wasn’t interested enough in the job to update my resume, I’d just say that. Not get huffy that an online bio wasn’t enough to get me the job. I’ve definitely had recruiters reach out to me with potential job opportunities, and I have declined to pursue a few of them because I didn’t have an updated resume and wasn’t interested enough to prioritize doing that. My response was something like “Thanks for thinking of me, but I’m not looking for work at this time,” not “why don’t you just google me”.

  28. Ms. Murchison*

    LW1 — As others have said above, advocate for a lift system on the stairs if possible, and any other accommodations you can think of (would he like to have a desk closer to the stairs/bathroom/break room?), but otherwise let him go about his day. And try to adjust yourself to the knowledge that some people live with constant, chronic pain.

    LW2 — Yikes, what a nightmare. If my company intended to transport me to a location where I would be stuck, unable to leave of my own volition, for seven hours, that late at night, and refused to disclose where they were taking me? I would feel incredibly unsafe participating.

    1. somehow*

      Describing someone as “significantly overweight” seems to be part of the LW’s big-picture description of seeking clarification.

      I really wish this forum could drop the habit of assuming the worst about LWs right off the bat.

  29. Corelle*

    I managed a team in a two-story office building without an elevator a few years back, and one of the people on my team, Emily, had significant joint pain and other health problems that made the stairs a visible struggle (she later got both knees replaced). My division filled the entire second story, and eventually grew to the point where we needed to add a small pod of desks downstairs. I assumed Emily would want one of the downstairs desks and claimed one on her behalf – this was early in the planning process and the new seating arrangements hadn’t been shared outside of the management team yet. When the changes were announced, I happily told Emily I’d snagged her one of the downstairs desks so she wouldn’t need to struggle with the stairs anymore.

    Friends, Emily was NOT happy with me. I will point out that it was my first year managing and my own manager also wanted Emily downstairs and was coaching me to make it happen. I pressured Emily to move and tried to frame it as a safety issue (in a fire drill, she needed assistance to get downstairs quickly enough.) Emily went over my head and got my grandboss involved and he VERY firmly gave me feedback similar to Alison’s in this letter. It was eye-opening for me and I took it to heart and apologized to Emily. She doesn’t work for me anymore, but she’s permanently remote now and happy as a clam.

  30. Jaybeetee*

    I remember this original letter. I’d be interested in an update from this person, as I’m wondering if the “WFH isn’t feasible” issue has changed since Covid? A number of companies – call centres included – that didn’t really see WFH as a possible thing for them, changed their ways in recent years.

  31. CLC*

    Also, does anyone else think LW1 is concerned about liability if the employee does fall down the stairs or have a heart attack? It’s written like they’re just “concerned” for the employee’s health, but I think they are concerned about having disabled (and apparently, fat) people working for them because they have such an inaccessible location. It just seems to be even less ethical/legal than it appears on the surface.

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      I think that’s reading something that’s not there. The inaccessibility of the location is discussed at length in other comments, and assuming they’re legally exempt (high likelihood) and the employee hasn’t requested any kind of accommodation, this isn’t really on the table.

  32. Ellis Bell*

    OP3, there’s so much transactional assumption baked into these types of exchanges. This makes it really easy not to play ball and just upend the whole thing. Making these comments he’s basically putting a tea tray on top of paper straws. He’s so certain that 1) you don’t swear, 2) you’re offended by swearing, 3) even if 1 and 2 don’t apply, you wouldn’t advertise the fact, 4) you appreciate the apology either way because you know and deeply care about his sexist upbringing (for some mystifying reason). The most subtle upending tactics are just to ask him what he means what he’s apologizing (easier if swearing is basically punctuation to you). So: “Why, what did you do?”, “Why are you apologizing, I agree? “No, I think the new process is definitely fucked; there’s no better word”, “Why what’s wrong with saying that?” “Why are you apologizing, I didn’t make the new computer system?” “Is it unprofessional to swear here or something, because my f bombs are still littered from when the printer was broken?” Bonus points if you forget every explanation of how “I’m just apologizing for swearing” and go back to quizzical mode, puzzled face etc the next time he apologizes. Simpler and quicker is “I don’t give a fuck if you swear” or “Women have been swearing for some time now, George”

  33. Scriveaaa*

    Not sure if anyone’s caught this yet, but there’s a mildly entertaining error on letter 2. It reads:

    Also, keeping people out from 4-11 p.m. with no way to return on their own is (A) a really long time, and (7) a lot later than some people would want, particularly if they have kids or an earlier sleeping schedule.

    Not quite sure where 7 came from :)

    1. Evan Þ*

      Now that you mention it, 7:00 might be “a lot later than some people would want, particularly if they have kids”. :)

    2. Elsewise*

      I spotted that too. I choose to imagine an ellipses in between them, implying that the reasons went from A-Z and then looped back around to include 1-7. Or it’s a typo, but my way’s funnier.

  34. Snooks*

    Wheelchair user here. Even if there is an elevator large enough to turn around in so you can reach the buttons, there are often problems with opening and closing interior doors and having a wide enough path to maneuver between furniture.

  35. umami*

    I mean, can we stop with the patronizing attitude concerning swearing around women? It’s so annoying. Dude, I spent years in the military, primarily around men, stop acting like women need any sort of protection from curse words. That is not even on the list of issues we have in the fucking workplace.

    1. Purple Jello*

      Exactly! Swearing is the least of my problems, and men’s apology for it is just an example on how women are seen as different.

  36. Wisdom Weaver*

    I’m lucky enough to have a job where I really like all of my colleagues, but there is NO WAY that I would agree to be taken to an unknown location and kept there FOR SEVEN STRAIGHT HOURS!

    What on earth are these people thinking – that their subordinates have no lives of their own and no right to have have them? I can’t imagine any other way of thinking that would persuade them that shuttling people off to some undisclosed location for the equivalent of an entire work day is either sane or acceptable!

  37. Come On Eileen*

    Question for Alyson or others: what would a proper response be to the person apologizing for cursing — if you aren’t offended, but just prefer not to hear cursing in the workplace?

    1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

      My goto is “Say what you will; just be grammatically correct.”

      (i.e. “Pass the ****ed salt”, not “pass the **** salt.”)

    2. Elsajeni*

      I think the move here is just to accept the apology — trying to get into the nuances of “I don’t object to you swearing for the reason you seem to have assumed, but I do object to you swearing” is just going to confuse the issue. “Thanks; I would rather you don’t swear around me.”

  38. Fellow Canadian*

    I feel LW4– I work at an Australian company, and every Australian male I work with will apologize for swearing in front of me, even though I certainly swear more than they do.

    this one time, my Australian coworker called someone a D***head without apologizing to me afterwards, I nearly cried tears of joy. it really made me feel like I’d arrived.

    1. Ipsissima*

      I misread that as “coworker called me a dickhead” and am now envisioning a very perplexed coworker wondering why that made you so happy

      1. Freya*

        Given ‘Straya, it’s all in the intonation and delivery. It’s entirely possible to say that here and be complimentary :-P

  39. JustJack*

    LW1 – I am with everyone else, encouraging you to not say anything. However, like another person, I will put it in monetary reasons. Discrimination against disabled people is real. Being on disability limits one’s income. If the disabled person is receiving any help from the govt, they may not be able to change jobs, because they might get paid more and lose their benefits. Disability income is very limiting. We all want to make the big bucks and we cant do that if we are on govt assistance or govt stipend. This may be the only job they can get.

  40. Ciela*

    I cuss like a sailor, never *at* people, but at inventory, machinery, etc. Many years ago a co-worker did apologize for cussing in front of me, and I did tell him, “I don’t give a f*ck if you curse”.
    But the other side of that, more recently, a different co-worker was listening to music that had no fewer 30 swears in 90 seconds. That lands differently somehow? My male boss had already told him that such music was not appropriate to have playing at work, but was told “no one else can hear it.” WTF?

  41. the bat in the office popcorn machine*

    If #1 is worried about a lawsuit or something, talk to a lawyer. Otherwise, let that employee make choices for themselves and leave them alone, ffs. They’re doing good work.

    For #3, my old boss, who was a woman, would do the same. Specifically, in a group of all women, would just single me out to apologize. So weird – she was older but many of my coworkers were my age. It’s oddly disrespectful in any case, more so when its a man doing it & the ‘delicate precious lady ears’ connotation behind it.

  42. rebelwithmouseyhair*

    At my previous job, we were told that the destination for our annual meeting was to be a surprise. Since the meet-up point was in a city right on the border, my Indian colleagues were worried that we might cross that border. I ended up calling the woman who organised the meeting, explaining that the non-EU employees would need to have their passport on them to cross the border, so please could we know at least that. She told me they should bring their passports, but in the end we didn’t cross the border at all, so they brought them for nothing. She told us that simply to prevent us from getting a shred of information more than the others. I was pissed off on their behalf.

  43. Candi*

    If the guy is “severely overweight”, he may regard the daily climb to work as a good thing. Time and motivation to exercise can be difficult, but if you’re getting paid to be somewhere, and getting there and/or doing the job require exercise, that covers both time and motivation.

    It’s one of the reasons I’m not fussing about the retail job I just got in spite of my IT degree -I do need to lose at least 50 pounds for my own health. (Hypothyroidism and other medical and situational fun.)

    (As for the degree… I’m missing certs.)

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