getting out of a party that’s not accessible, angry coworker, and more

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

But first, a quick announcement: Due to the quantity of updates we have, posts on Thursday will publish at 11 am, 12:15 pm, 1:15 pm, 2:15 pm, 3:30 pm, 5 pm, and 6 pm (all times Eastern).

1. Getting out of a holiday party that’s not accessible

The holiday season is upon us and I don’t want to go to my organization’s holiday party. For one, I absolutely detest awkward forced work socializing — there are a couple of coworkers I’m chummy with and have hung out with outside of the office, but that’s about it. More importantly, the venue (our department head’s home) is not handicapped accessible. I have a progressive degenerative condition that affects my mobility and I walk with a very noticeable limp. For reasons I don’t want to go into here, my organization is not legally obligated to make accommodations for me. This has been grating to say the least, but when I took the job, my condition hadn’t progressed as far and I thought I’d be okay.

I went to the holiday party last year. There is a fairly steep staircase to get into the home, not to mention parking is a substantial walk away from the house. Last year, there were at least 100 people crammed in with nowhere to sit (any potentially available seating had been removed to make space for all the bodies). I had to be on my feet for over two hours and the physical discomfort of standing was too much. I’m not planning on attending this year.

Here’s the problem: it’s very important to my boss that everyone attends. Our small team is a tiny part of the department that, although necessary, no one really cares about and I have a strong suspicion that our boss has a big ol’ chip on his shoulder about it. It seems to me that it’s REALLY important to him that our team be present in full force at department events: we get “attendance mandatory” emails for trainings and events that other teams only loosely show up to, and when one of my coworkers was late to last year’s party, my boss made comments about her tardiness multiple times. This wasn’t some sit-down eight-course meal and no one was told to show up at a specific time.

I have been planning to take PTO once the date is announced but having just taken a substantial vacation, I’d rather not waste 8 hours on this. Do you have any suggestions for other ways to handle this? I should add that while the logistics are less than favorable (walking, stairs, standing on my feet for hours), they’re not necessarily impossible. I’m still mobile enough that I could go. I just don’t think I should have to stress/compromise my body any more than I already am for this job.

The fact that your boss really wants everyone to attend does not mean that he’ll still push you once he understands you’re physically unable to! Sure, maybe he will — but give him the chance to act like a reasonable human first, because chances are good that he’ll back off if you explain the problem. You could say, “Unfortunately I won’t be able to attend. I found last year that the house isn’t very accessible for me, and physically it’s just not an option this year. I hope everyone has a great time!” Say it like of course this will make sense to him, because there’s such a high chance that it will.

If he pushes anyway, try saying, “If we can do it at a venue that’s more accessible, I’d be glad to come. I know it’s probably too late for this year, but maybe we can look at that for next year.”

2. How do I remain dispassionate when my coworker is getting passionately angry?

I’ve decided I’m definitely going to start job hunting next week, because leadership treats my coworkers and me terribly. The problem is what to do between now and then. I don’t want to quit with nothing lined up, because that seems unwise and a paycheck is a paycheck, but my equally fed up coworker, who is also going to be leaving some time in the next few months, keeps getting worked up and passionate about “why can’t we tell them this isn’t right?” and “how can they do this to us?” (Answer: because they don’t care, we’ve tried that, it didn’t work.) I’m finding it very difficult to remain dispassionate when coworker is being enraged. What’s the best way to not break down and quit before I have an offer letter in hand for literally anywhere else?

Can you talk to them about it? Try saying, “You know I agree with you, but I’m convinced nothing is going to change and meanwhile I need this job until I find a new one. When you complain, it gets me worked up too and I’m worried I’ll end up walking off the job in a rage, which would be disastrous for my finances. Can you help me by not focusing on it so much when we talk?” You could add, “I will happily rant with you over drinks once I have another job, but I really need to keep my sanity here until I do.”

3. Should you negotiate severance?

Should you negotiate your severance package the same way you would with your salary offer? For example, should you be looking at equity among others with the same title, or is that not really appropriate for a severance package? I was in a situation where six of us on the same team with the same title and role were laid off. One person was offered a package of higher value. Did the remaining five have standing to at least try negotiating for that higher package? If not, then what is the appropriate criteria to base your negotiations on?

You can sometimes negotiate severance, but it’s not a given. Most commonly the amount of severance is based on your tenure with the company — so it’s possible that your coworker who got offered more had been there longer. Otherwise, though, when companies are willing to negotiate severance, it’s because there’s some incentive for them to do it — like they’re concerned that you’ll sue over a real or perceived legal issue like discrimination (because in exchange for severance, they’ll have you sign a release of any legal claims) or because it will get you to agree to stay through a transition, or so forth. Sometimes they’ll agree to more if you can point out they’ve acted badly, like if you just moved to their city six weeks ago to take the job they’re now laying you off from. But if you don’t have anything like that to use as leverage, they’re probably not going to negotiate it (although that doesn’t mean you can’t still ask).

4. Verb tenses on resumes

How do you handle verb tenses on your resume when you are talking about your current job, but describing a specific accomplishment that occurred in the past and is no longer occurring? Is it okay to mix past and present tenses? I think it can be confusing for the reader, but I haven’t figured out how else to handle it.

It’s fine to mix past and present tenses as long as it’s clear that you’re doing it because some of the work you’re describing is ongoing and some is in the past (and that will indeed be clear if you’re writing clearly).

{ 179 comments… read them below }

  1. Educator*

    Hmm, I would be very careful with that passionately complaining coworker. Given their anger, is it possible they might say something to someone in authority, like your manager, that you hate your job too and also plan to leave?

    If you want to avoid the risk of being penalized for their attitude or even forced out before you are ready, I would give them as little ammunition as possible. “That sounds frustrating. Let’s talk about something distracting-it is better for my mental well-being not to complain too much. Have you watched the latest episode of…”

    1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      People like this will never actually express it to someone in authority, so I think OP is safe there.

      It is really exhausting to be around someone like that though — the only thing that has a chance of working imo is just not really reacting at all when she goes into these rages – “how can they get away with treating us like this?!?!?!?” – “hmm, yeah, I dunno”.

      If I had a conversation with her about it I’d ask what she hoped to get as a reaction from me by acting like this. I might ask if she was job hunting or wanted any help with a resume.

      I wonder if she is like it with everyone (who isn’t the enemy “they” who are doing this to her) – I bet she has control of who and when she has these ragey outbursts.

      1. GythaOgden*

        I agree. I was subject to it in my previous position and after a promotion my mental health is much better even only three weeks in.

        It’s not that I didn’t sympathise or even empathise with the complaints, it’s just when it’s every single day and you’re trying to make the most of the situation and keep some dignity intact, it can poison your own outlook to the point where you struggle to get anything reasonable done. I was on a team day yesterday with the people I’m the admin for and it was amazing how different it is when people buy in, but also how much mood can affect other people. Both hope and despair are contagious and I’m lucky to be in a situation where it’s hope that’s going round rather than bitterness and anger.

        1. Allonge*

          This. It’s like an energy vampire in the end – no malice as such, in this case, but it does not ‘enhance your calm’, to quote the classics.

          Also, on a very basic level – it’s time I don’t always have. A good complaints session is what, 20 minutes + 5 to calm down? Per day? That’s a lot if there is work I need to be doing.

          1. Lenora Rose*

            And that’s if they do a calm down. I have a Very-Ex-friend who used to vent, and I thought at first I was being supportive by listening and letting her get it out of her system… but at the end of her venting she was so emotional and furious she was shaking, and not only did it never leave her system, it made it worse. Small slights became Massive Betrayals, etc. I stopped supporting the venting so much, and tried more often to turn the subject.

            (The Very-Ex part is related in that, to nobody’s surprise including my own by then, I ended up being accused of a Massive Betrayal in turn.)

            So now, while I’m not against an occasional vent session, I watch to see if this is the kind that leads to getting it out, or the kind that leads to perseveration on the problem. And I can guess from this letter and from the regular repetition that this is the latter. And the main way this would change my advice is to be quicker in shutting it down — ideally first by raising it in one of the occasions when it’s not already happening, because otherwise their Outrage at you calling for an end to it might mean all the emotional winding up snaps back at you.

      2. Mongrel*

        “People like this will never actually express it to someone in authority, so I think OP is safe there.”
        There is a risk that they will go on a tear at an exit interview, possibly throwing their co-workers under the bus by saying that ‘everyone’ feels the same

        1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

          Or “It’s not just me, LW has an interview next week!” etc. I think LW would be wise to keep this in mind.

        2. Smithy*

          Yeah….I also think that when someone is this upset, never under-estimate how much they start using the “royal we” when talking to other peers at a similar level. This notion that all Program Officers or Admins are equally upset, and therefore it’s safe to similarly vent about how “everyone is looking for a new job, like me, OP, etc.”

          Bad work environments can create a lot of cutthroat survival tactics, and just because you’re miserable and looking for a way out….someone with the same job but on another team may also be frustrated, but happens to have a super cool boss, getting assignments they really like, and are getting married in 9 months – so not looking to leave for the near future. But to them, their survival tactic may 100% include telling their boss about who’s looking for a new job.

        3. Allonge*

          To be honest, that risk is already there because it’s unlikely that coworker thinks OP does not agree with them.

          This is the case even if OP never ever said a word of agreement about the complaints, (which, too is a bit unlikely, but it’s not possible to tell just based on the letter).

      3. Seeking Second Childhood*

        An everyday grump no.
        A frequent rager? Yes, yes they might.

        “They’re trying to shut down this team and we all know it. What are they going to do when we all get jobs and leave?”

        Change “they” to “you” and this sounds like the whole team is job-hunting.

        Worse, they put it in writing and it gets forwarded.

    2. Am I LW 2?*

      I didn’t get a notice that my email would go live today, so I’m not sure if I’m the OP for this, but I wrote in about something identical a few months ago. I’m, personally, still here, but that’s because our entire department’s leadership quit and the frantically newly hired director has dumped our team lead’s responsibilities on me for lack of anyone else who can do it during the hiring freeze, and I’m quite willing to suffer for a few months for the sake of a reference who will say I handled them well, as I don’t expect new director to last any longer than old director.

      1. Am I LW 2?*

        Passionate coworker’s still having passionate outbursts, although they’re less frequent, because over the last few months since I submitted my letter, there’s been a wave of directors quitting as they become fed up with the conditions being imposed (organization’s in a position where they feel they need to keep expanding or a competitor will drive us out of business, so they’re spending a ton of money buying up new sites, but this means we’re deeply in the red, so they keep making we need to tighten our belts speeches. In their defense, they might actually be right, but coming after the prolonged trauma that was covid, people are dropping like flies).

      2. ferrina*

        Thanks for the update! If you’ve got the energy, work on that job search. Even if it’s only a few hours a week (I got my current job from a job search that I only did 2x per week for a few hours each….I just didn’t have the time/energy for more than that).

        You know it’s unlikely to change, and it’s better to get out sooner rather than when you’re desperate. It’s better for your mental health, and it’s better for your job prospects- desperate people don’t make good decisions, and you’re more likely to end up at another not-good place if you are desperate and take the first thing you can.
        Good luck!

    3. MCMonkeyBean*

      I took from the context of the letter that OP is currently getting worked up and openly agreeing with their coworker, and now they are looking to step back from that.

      1. Pastor Petty Labelle*

        Which a simple Hey this is not good for our mental health to be all worked up over something we can’t change, so let’s not do that anymore okay would probably work. Then stick to it, if coworker keeps ranting keeping repeating that you prefer not to go over this again.

        1. ferrina*

          Or even “You know I agree with you, but I need a mental break from talking about work. Tell me about [SUBJECT CHANGE]”

          I’ve had really good results with this. It makes the coworker feel validated (“I agree with you”) and also clearly defines your needs. Adding a subject change at the end helps redirect the conversation.

          1. Smithy*

            I agree with this approach, particularly if this is a person who you generically like or are just not in a place to dislike.

            When I was at my most toxic, and therefore ranty coworker, place – one thing that could easily happen was getting stuck in a routine where your good vent buddy would get stuck in a cycle that you couldn’t easily stop. So a rant that three months ago would take 15-20 minutes can now easily take 45.

            Another gentle way to redirect this energy, would be to take the language provided by ferrina and combine it with a change of scenery. So combine that with asking someone to walk with you to get a coffee, go to the copier or microwave, etc. If they’re used to having those rants in your office/cube – it moves them away from that space while you’re asking them about their pets, upcoming vacation, etc. Both the physical movement and change of topic can kindly redirect the vent buddy (who you may still want to vent to twice a week at happy hour, but not five days a week in the office), as well as lower your own physical and emotion responses.

            1. I am Emily's failing memory*

              Yes, I had a venting coworker buddy at my first full time job, which was a very toxic environment where most employees were unhappy. Because it was my first full time office job I didn’t know any better than to give in to the impulse/contagion of complaining with everyone else.

              It was only in hindsight after I left that place that I realized that the complaining and venting was like a form of righteous procrastination. Contrary to the warning above about how a raging person might have loose lips, these were not people who lacked discretion. They (we) were lacking motivation to perform their (our) jobs and I think on an unconscious level, criticizing leadership’s every decision was a way to avoid doing the work that we couldn’t motivate ourselves to do, but unlike just slacking off or doing other things like shopping or job-hunting on work time, the complaining felt like we were having work-related conversations (albeit extremely negative ones!). So I think it had the impact that nobody felt like any of us were slacking off when we spent 2 hours a day on these kvetch-fests and putting lackluster effort into the tasks we despised, because we were still spending a full 8-hour day on “work.”

      2. Am I LW 2?*

        I’m still not sure if I’m the OP for this, but in my situation I wrote in about, it’s less that passionate coworker was ranting, and more that my department’s been barely treading water for months with the promise that we WOULD be given automation technology to help our tiny skeleton crew handle the workload that has ballooned on us. And then we were told the promised help would not materialize because the board didn’t see the point, our department’s entire leadership quit, and those of us who were not made aware of this fact in time to leave with the leadership were collectively told on a call together by departing leadership. No one reacted well.

        1. Gray Lady*

          If your issue was somewhat different and you don’t recognize the question as being your own writing, I would guess that it’s not you. I don’t believe Alison edits the letters so heavily that someone wouldn’t recognize their own writing.

        2. Observer*

          The advice still remains the same.

          Everyone has a reasonable complaint, but you should still shut the ranting down to the extent you can, and walk away when you can’t. Do not engage, not because the coworker is wrong, but because it’s bad for you.

          And start job hunting NOW. If it burns a bridge that’s a sign that sticking around would not give you a good reference anyway. Because these are not reasonable people and sticking around is not going to make unreasonable people suddenly reasonable.

    4. Mockingjay*

      I came to advise exactly this. This is not a coworker with whom you should share a lot of details, especially your job search. While unlikely, there’s a chance of a revealing outburst when coworker is beyond BEC. This is your livelihood; better to be overcautious.

    5. PivotTime*

      Over the years at my current job, I have been both passionate complainer and sounding board for those complaining. I was the complainer in my earlier years because I thought it was obvious that “of course (employer action) isn’t ok!” and its super easy to find others to complain to. It’s like a vicious circle- say a negative thing and you never run out of people to complain with.
      Over time I went to therapy and learned to stop taking things so personally because it was obvious nothing was going to change, I need this job and I needed to work on my reactions to do said job. If someone had said to me in the earlier years “hey it’s disturbing to me how much you’re complaining, can you tone it down?”, I would have immediately apologized and shut up once I realized it wasn’t a camaraderie-building thing (complaining as team-building effort) but was having a negative effect on my colleague. Impassioned colleague really may not get how much of a downer they are and your saying something could help stop that spiral. If they don’t listen, that’s another thing but give them a chance to shut up.

  2. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

    OP3 (should you negotiate severance) – is it a ‘thing’ to negotiate severance at the start of employment, so that “in the event of being laid off I’d be paid x / calculated with this formula based on salary and length of service” etc?

    I’m curious now whether that is something that can be discussed at the offer stage, or is that a show of distrust in the company and starts the relationship on a bad note?

    It might explain what’s happened here.

    Do you know for a fact that the inflated severance amount is true… what if someone said that to generate bad feelings? If they talked openly about how much they got, I think it is fair game to ask if they negotiated it.

    1. Roland*

      Most workers in the US don’t even have a contract guaranteeing regular job conditions won’t change; I think asking for a contractual requirement for future layoffs is a non-starter. And if it’s not in a contract, what’s their incentive to honor it at the point where it’s time for layoffs? You aren’t going to quit over it at that point. Maybe if you’re in an industry with regular layoffs (eg gaming) it’s different, but in general I think it’s best to just negotiate more money in your salary.

    2. MK*

      I doubt the average job seeker could negotiate something like this, and it would be weird to even ask in the US, because it’s so out of the norm. And in countries where labour protections are stronger, you don’t need to, because severance is legally mandated; but even there, it’s unheard of to negotiate for “more” severance that the legal amount. It’s just not a common part of the hiring negotiation.

      I can think of some exceptional cases where it might be possible. Highly sought after candidates that are offered contracts do have such clauses in them, I assume. And maybe if you are completely uprooting your life at the request of an employer, maybe it would be natural to raise the issue. Or if the company that has had recent layoffs is actively trying to recruit you.

      1. FromCanada*

        This is very country specific then. In Canada (outside of Quebec – which I cannot speak too) you absolutely can and sometimes should negotiate severance. The reason is in Ontario there is common law – similar to the UK and it’s not written down. This means that if you get offered what is legally required (I believe its like 2 weeks a year) but you’ve been with your company for 20 years – you sure as heck negotiate that because unless there is financial distress you should see up to one month per year (YMMV). I am not a lawyer but I’ve been through layoffs twice and people in my family have directly dealt with similar situations.

        1. FromCanada*

          Sorry to clarify – if there is financial distress by the company as in it’s going into bankruptcy protection, or something close then all bets are off but that’s what I’m referring too. Not personal financial distress, corporate financial distress.

          One last point since I’m typing again, in Canada (ON at least), employment contracts/ agreements that limit severance to less than the common law expectation are probably illegal and you should get a lawyer to look at it, if you are faced with this situation.

      2. RussianInTexas*

        The only times I’ve seen it being negotiated is in the situations Alison mentioned – they really want you to stay for some time, there are extra circumstances, etc.
        I’ve been laid off twice from large companies, and partner’s giant company done some rounds of mass layoffs, and the conditions are the same: 2 weeks pay per every year worked, capped at 26 weeks. Medical insurance/COBRA – depends. Non-negotiable.

        1. MigraineMonth*

          If the company offered health insurance, I believe the chance to continue that insurance via COBRA is a legal requirement in most cases (but you generally have to pay the entire premium yourself, which can be very expensive).

          1. Aitch Arr*

            Not to speak for RussianInTexas, but some severance packages include health coverage continuation during the severance period at the employee rate, with COBRA only kicking in after the severance period ends.

    3. Michelle*

      The only time I’ve seen something like this is when my husband’s fully remote job was bought out by a new company. They laid off everyone in our state except my husband, asking him to move to another state to head up the opening of a new office. At that point he negotiated an agreement where the company not only paid for us to move out there, they agreed to pay for us to move home if it didn’t work out for any reason. We ended up hating the new state, and moved home after only four months.

    4. kalli*

      It is not, usually; there are some areas where minimum severance is statutory or agreed at an industry or enterprise level as part of the wider system, but negotiating severance is something that is usually done when one is notified that they’re being made redundant, or a termination is happening under certain circumstances (like when someone is leaving because of a workplace injury, or after making a discrimination claim – where the severance is negotiated as part of resolving that claim, such as paying out workers comp insurance entitlements as a lump sum along with acknowledging the worker can’t return to that particular job due to their injury, so the severance covers the liability and is meant to mean the worker can support themselves until they can look for work again, or when harassment has caused the employment relationship to irretrievably break down, so the severance covers notice and entitlements and an ex gratia payment either with no admission of liability or in recognition of emotional distress, or sometimes explicitly in exchange for an NDA although that’s not necessarily ethical). Where severance is statutory or set by an enterprise agreement, award etc. it is often based on service – one week per year up to 10 years, for example – and may or may not take into account age (in recognition that people who are older may end up retiring or have difficulty being rehired at the same level) by requiring an extra 2-4 weeks if someone is over 40.

      As Alison said, if this person had a longer period of continuous service they may have been naturally entitled to more severance. However, severance is also frequently based on a formula of X weeks x Rate of Pay, so if someone was being paid at a different rate, even if they were entitled to the same number of weeks of pay, their total package would be higher. Sometimes severance is also calculated based on total pay and may include benefits or the monetary equivalent (if someone has a car or phone, receives a supervisor allowance etc.). It can also be structured to acknowledge the loss of health insurance beyond whatever transitional provisions one’s policy entitles them to, which is often an inclusion as the result of negotiation because it is highly individual and may impact someone differently based on their circumstance.

      The real thing is, while openness with regards to wages and entitlements is generally better for an equitable workplace, it’s not actually anyone’s business to know the details of how someone’s severance is broken down – if that person earned more for the same work, that’s only LW’s business to the point that it indicates unequal pay and they may have been in a strong position to ask for a raise based on that inequality and its implication about the market rate; if it’s more because of that person’s service, insurance plan, age, or position, then it’s not really helpful to LW anyway, but it is also predicated on something that isn’t their business to know.

      Ideally what would have happened here is that everyone was told *how* the severance was calculated, and everyone had transparency on that level, rather than ‘well all six of us have the same title but that person gets more!! What do we do??!’ That way, everyone is functionally treated the same, is aware that they’re being treated the same, but if someone ends up with a different amount based on the same calculation then that’s just how it works, because there was a different variable somewhere. See again: weeks per year of continuous service + insurance coverage or equivalent.

      Another factor is simply that various accrued entitlements may be paid out on departure, and if someone has taken all of their leave, their total package will be less than someone who has 15 days rolled over from each of the previous 4 years or whatever, because that person is getting another 12 weeks pay that the first person already received when they took their leave. That is also not really anyone else’s business, especially at that point it means that they’re not required to cover that person’s work while on leave.

      Some of the redundancies I’ve been privy to have had wildly dissimilar payouts for people in the same job, because some had extra training and certifications that increased their pay, in areas where it is legally required that the calculation be based on total gross pay not base rate of pay (to avoid people losing money because they’re not working during the time that payment covers, also applies to leave where leave loading isn’t paid), some had earned Long Service Leave and hadn’t taken it, so received that on top (yay Australia), some were on different awards (maintenance vs operations), some took an option of redeployment and then exited at the end of the trial period (meaning their service and leave were calculated differently based on that extra time worked) and some hadn’t had their annual leave break at the closing date while some had, meaning up to 5 weeks difference in some cases. It is just how it is.

      In cases where severance was negotiated, it was done on an enterprise basis – instead of people negotiating separately for a higher amount based on merit or just because or ‘but I have kids’ or ‘this field is small, I might not find an opening for a year’ or ‘you’re using my IP in the rest of the business so we should negotiate a lump sum for that’ or whatever else someone may come up with (I’ve seen ‘but I’m a man!’ even), the union or a group of employees have argued for the entire calculation to be increased based on similar redundancy arrangements in the industry or the general likelihood of anyone being able to find a new job without moving away from the area. One company gave 4 weeks per year of service, so the relevant union pulls that out when a similar company winds down and uses that as an indicator of the market rate – but it’s manufacturing, which is a disappearing industry here thanks to globalisation and transport costs, so a lot of the workers will need to retrain because similar work no longer exists, or not enough exists to absorb the entire workforce from a site. The extra 3 weeks on the statutory minimum recognises that. Some pay a lump sum amount aimed at retraining. Some acknowledge that a lot of workers may have noise-induced hearing loss or are likely to later present with mesothelioma or asbestosis, and simply accepted all claims made for future medicals at the same time as they were winding down, so that those workers could receive the entitlements while the employer was still around to work with the insurer on providing evidence and was up to date with their premiums – those people who made claims would have looked like they received more severance, but in reality they got the same severance + a lump sum redemption for future medical expenses. However, then if they needed hearing aids or oxygen treatment, they had to pay for it themselves until that money was used up, and then they’d be able to claim on their health insurance or use the public system (NHS, Medicare etc.) for anything else. And, since medical information is also not anyone else’s business (and may well be protected), that’s not really something that a random coworker may know either.

    5. doreen*

      You wouldn’t negotiate at the beginning of employment , you would negotiate at the point where you are being laid off. There’s no legal requirement to be paid severance in the US so negotiations are going to be about how much they are willing to give you to get what they want – usually a release of legal claims but sometimes to stay for a specific amount of time ( such as until the company shuts down ).

      1. RussianInTexas*

        Right, I can see negotiation at the point of layoff in some very limited circumstances.
        If your company laying off 5,000 people at once, there will be no negotiation.

    6. Antilles*

      In terms of asking at the very start, I think even asking would be starting off on a bad foot, because it’d give off “wait, are you already planning for this to fail” vibes.

      It might explain what’s happened here.
      I think the far more likely explanation is boringly simple: The company actually was planning on offering all six team members the same package, but only one person thought to negotiate/cajole into more severance so he got a better deal.
      In my experience on the other side of the table, there’s a very sizable number of people who don’t attempt to negotiate severance. We know for sure OP didn’t (since she’s asking if it’s even possible) and I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that four others in the group didn’t either.

    7. Graciosa*

      One thing to keep in mind is that differences in severance may be a policy or contractual matter.
      I know of a examples of this in the very large companies I have worked for. In one, people who were hired at a specific time continued to be subject to the severance policy from the time they were hired (later hires got whatever was in place when they were hired). In another, you reached a point in your career where you earned a different severance formula after X years at the company.
      On the contractual side, I’m not referring to individual ones but contracts associated with M&A activity. In acquiring one company, part of the negotiations had to do with retention of benefits for employees of the company being acquired. I also had a situation where our CEO did this in a divestiture, ensuring that employees going to another company were guaranteed certain benefits they had in our company.
      An employee seeing a “disparity” may simply not realize the reason for it. If that reason is something like what I’ve described above, it would not have been considered a cause to adjust the severance for anyone else.

    8. RussianInTexas*

      My reply got eaten the first time.
      I’ve been laid off twice, from a large company. Partner’s company, also very large, went through few rounds of layoffs.
      In such situations, you have no negotiating power. The company has rules. In both of my layoffs it was 2 weeks of pay per year worked, capped at 26 weeks. And you have to sign the “no talking about our trade secrets etc” to get the pay.
      Negotiating beforehand about severance is not a thing that is done.

    9. I'm the severance OP3*

      Very helpful to read your questions and the discussion being had here, thank you and all the commenters! Your questions are in line with the sort of thoughts I was having about how to approach the severance package. Reading everyone’s thoughts in this thread has been helpful. I feel like this is an area that is still open for further improvements, and a lot of labor-related questions start out as “Of course we don’t do that” and will eventually become normalized in support of the worker. Maybe it will become the norm to ask about it during the hiring process. At this point in time, it does seem like a show of distrust and bad note, but so did asking for equal pay not too long ago. Not saying these are the exact same scenarios, just the general sentiment about how change comes about.

      Fortunately, my colleague is a trustworthy person and I have no reason to doubt they were telling the truth. They didn’t have to tell us, but they did to be transparent. They did mention the reason and it is legitimate (I didn’t qualify) and I’m happy they received it. I just wasn’t sure if there was space for me to negotiate in other ways. I’m sorry, I don’t want to share the details of their package to preserve anonymity, but as a regular reader on this site, I understand the urge to want to know!

      1. Aitch Arr*

        Allowing negotiation for severance packages / deviating from a set formula opens up the possibility of disparate impact, so I really don’t see the trend of pay transparency extending to severance agreements.

  3. Clare*

    LW#2, you might find “Don’t get me started!” walks the line between offering the commiseration that your co-worker is looking for and shutting the conversation down. If they persist: “Oh, I know, right? Don’t get me started. Seriously. I don’t even want to think about it!”.

    Especially if you can say it in a tone that approaches your co-worker’s current level of drama, you’ll fulfil their need to feel seen and understood, and that will help incentivise them to be sympathetic back and change subject.

    1. Zelda*

      Interesting… a case where “We don’t talk about Bruno” may actually be a healthy way of dealing with the situation!

      1. Allonge*


        But yes, while in general I have nothing agains a good session of complaining about managers TM, the sustained complaining in a very bad situation is not helpful, at least not to everyone. I had periods when our team was unhappy with management, and it takes a lot of energy to keep having these conversations if there is no chance they are helping.

      2. Gigi*

        And now I’m going to start singing “We don’t talk about Bruno” every time something annoys me at work. Brilliant.

    2. cleo*

      I think this approach can work well, especially with a subject change added.

      “Oh yeah, don’t get me started. Hey, how’s your kid / garden / sports team doing?”

  4. Office Drone*

    LW1, I’m in much the same boat health-wise. Walking is difficult and standing for any length of time is not possible. I work for a company that not only does have to accommodate me, but values inclusiveness, so leaning hard on “invisible disability” and “inclusiveness” really helped when I had to approach HR about the company picnic this past summer and the upcoming holiday party. They’ve been incredibly kind about everything.

    Which leads me to my suggestion for you. If your boss is unresponsive to Alison’s script, try approaching whoever is in charge of planning this party. They may not be “required” to accommodate you, but decent people usually respond reasonably well to reasonable requests for assistance.

    “I am really looking forward to the holiday party,” you might say cheerily (lying through your teeth if you must to show you’re a team player). “I’m worried though. I can’t walk easily, and I know from last year that parking and seating will be a problem. Is there any way we can figure out workarounds so I can park close by and sit at the party? Or, if that’s not possible, is it possible for me to take the time off without losing PTO? I don’t expect every event to be accessible to me, but I don’t want to lose PTO I need for health reasons because I physically can’t attend events that are inaccessible.”

    1. Seashell*

      I’m not sure, but I got the impression that LW was planning to use PTO for the day of the party in order to pretend s/he couldn’t attend an event that evening, rather than the event occurring during work hours.

      1. Emily*

        Yes, this was my take away as well. It sounded like the party was going to be after work one evening, but I may just be assuming that because that is when my work holiday parties have been. While I don’t think LW should have to use their PTO on this, and I think LW should try Alison’s script first, if that does not work I would completely understand LW conveniently waking up sick the day of the party. The boss might be suspicious if LW has raised the party issue with them and then calls in sick the day of the party, but if the boss can’t understand why LW can’t attend this highly unaccesible party, then their boss is not a reasonable person.

    2. Sloanicota*

      I did think, what is OP’s response if the boss tries to problem-solve their objections. This might be okay, or it might be really not cool. If OP’s boss says “we can be sure to get you a chair!” how realistic and reliable is that statement? Would OP be uncomfortable being so visibly “othered’ at a party if everyone else is crammed in standing and they’re seated? It might vary by individual and circumstance, but I’d probably at least have a response planned.

      1. ferrina*

        Is that a bad outcome? I guess that’s a question for LW. If the Boss made parking easier and provided seating, would that make the party worth going to for LW? If so, definitely say something.

        This is something where if the LW is comfortable talking about their condition, they might get a lot of support. But then again, they might get the “it’s not so bad!” or “tell me all of your personal health details” reactions as well. I can’t tell from the letter what kind of people they work with, and this is something that can vary wildly. Disclose at your own risk, but disclosure can also open up a lot of doors in a supportive work environment.

        1. Sloanicota*

          My understand from friends dealing with disabilities is that they rarely appreciate other people trying to problem-solve for them, although it’s very common, because they probably already know what will or won’t work best. It’s tiresome to be always trying to explain why something doesn’t address the problems. The best thing the boss could do – but may not – is ask, “is there a way we could make this work for you where you would be willing to come?”

      2. Michelle Smith*

        I am someone with physical disabilities that make standing for 2 hours impossible. This means that at work parties, I have to be seated. The work Christmas parties I went to (before I swore them off entirely) were at event spaces where all the chairs were removed except for booths at the far ends of the room. People used them to dump their coats on. So I got to spend hours sitting on top of/next to everyone’s coats and purses, only getting to speak to someone if they felt sorry enough for me to wander over and spend a couple of minutes chit chatting. It really depends on the work culture and coworkers, but if it’s set up for people to walk around and mingle, LW should consider that they will potentially be isolated in a corner somewhere with few people to talk to for most of the party.

        1. I Have RBF*

          I can only stand for maybe half an hour, then I have to sit down or I might fall down. Worse, the steep stairs that probably don’t have a handrail would be very risky for me to try to climb. Yes, I’ve done it on occasion, but I pay for it in stress and pain. Plus, if I stand around, I can’t eat – I only have the use of one hand, and I can either hold a plate, or pick up food to eat, not both.

          I have had to stop going to various religious events because they are either not accessible (stairs without handrails), or they have no seating. I get tired of having to shoo someone out of a chair so I can sit down.

          Yes, there are some funky canes that have a small stool attached, but that isn’t always a great option, especially if you are larger and/or have balance issues.

          I would not want to go to that party. It sounds like hell, and a potential superspreader event.

    3. Ginger Cat Lady*

      Do NOT say “I don’t expect every event to be accessible to me”
      Every work event should be accessible to every employee. Full stop.

      1. Office Drone*

        I said that as someone dealing with disability myself, who doesn’t want my own limitations to be catered to at the expense of others’ ability to have a good time at a nice venue. All I ask for is that I not be penalized due to events taking place at inaccessible facilities. If my needs can be accommodated and I can attend, that’s wonderful. If not, I’m fine with taking the time off with pay.

        If someone else doesn’t want to say that, that’s fine. But I will still choose to express my willingness to forego an inaccessible event so long as I don’t have to use up PTO to get out of it.

  5. bamcheeks*

    LW1, apologies if this is helpy, but if there are any organisations that can give you advice on what exactly your employer’s responsibilities are, I would speak to them. I just can’t help thinking there’s a really big difference between “we are exempt from providing accommodations [because of business size / business need / cost of adapting buildings /whatever” and “it’s OK for us to exacerbate your condition for reasons that have nothing to do with the core business needs”. One of these things is not like the other! It might not make any difference but it might just mean you feel you have a stronger position to say, “hey, I don’t think I should come to this because I don’t want to expose the company to liability” or something.

    1. RVA Cat*

      Also, the fact they have to remove *all* the seating (even dining-type chairs along the walls) to cram that many people into the event is unsafe for everyone. A festive fire in the fireplace, an underwatered live tree, lots of alcohol, maybe two exits….what could go wrong?

      1. Slow Gin Lizz*

        I was thinking that it sounds like an absolutely dreadful party if everyone is so crammed in that there’s no room for any seating. Wall-to-wall people? No thank you. And hey, even people who don’t have mobility issues like to sit down at parties, standing for hours on end is tiring for anyone! So yeah, the boss has comically missed the point on what a party is for. (Boss seems to think it’s so they can seem generous and show off their house to their employees, which not only is a stupid reason for a party but also maybe tacky if their house is considerably larger than the employees’ residences.)

        And yes, I totally agree with you, RVA, that it also really sounds unsafe. Why not move it to a location that has a much larger capacity, with room for chairs?

        OP, I also want to point out that just because technically you *can* attend the party, the fact that you can’t attend without seriously compromising your health and/or comfort is reason enough to not attend or to ask for accommodations.

        And also I’m sorry that your team is one that is being treated so badly by your boss; if you have the spoons to look for a new job, I’d recommend that, if you’re not already searching. Sounds like your company doesn’t deserve you.

            1. Delta Delta*

              The hot stale air is what gets me. I hate going to these parties where it’s so hot but it’s winter so I have to wear winter clothes, and by the time it’s time to leave I want to vomit. Ugh.

          1. Slow Gin Lizz*

            Yeah, I was thinking that even before COVID I wouldn’t have wanted to attend such an event. It’ll be a germ fest even without COVID in the mix. Blech.

        1. ferrina*

          I’m having flashbacks to being on crutches after a sports injury and having a horrible time going anywhere. But then again, any time I said “I need to sit down” or “I need to go rest”, I got absolutely no push-back.

          If LW is comfortable, they could borrow crutches for a day or two. Or something similar that makes their condition more visible. Sometimes the same people that dismiss invisible conditions will go out of their way to accommodate visible conditions (though LW doesn’t really say what kind of accommodations they’ve gotten so far, or even if they’ve asked for accommodations). Plus you will usually get bonus points for being the “team player who came even though they were injured!” And trust me, no one complains about the person on crutches being late (and if they do, you’ve got way bigger problems with that person)

          1. Eldritch Office Worker*

            Big plus one to this. I have a cane that I need to use about 60% of the time, but I carry it 100% of the time. Part of that is because that 60% can be unpredictable and I don’t want to be caught off guard, part of it is because that 60% is more manageable if I don’t push myself too hard, but a big chunk of it is visible signaling. I’m young, people don’t want to give me a seat on the bus, they don’t think twice about asking me to carry things or stand for long periods of time. But if I have my cane the assumptions around me change and I can do what I have to do to take care of myself without constantly arguing or explaining.

              1. I Have RBF*

                Same here. Plus, if the path is uneven, I actually need it for balance. Yes, I can walk without it, but I’m slower and less stable.

        2. Sloanicota*

          For this reason I could also imagine that any assurances that OP will have a seat will quickly fall flat; if there’s a seat available, other people will probably want it too, and OP may quickly find themselves in an Olympics-situation with someone else who also has reasonable need for the chair, or having to fight to get it back any time they get up. The solution is more chairs / more space, but that may not be within OP’s power to address.

        3. Daisy-dog*

          Yeah, OP – compromising your health in that way (and possibly leading to soreness/other issues that could impact you for days) does not mean that you *can* attend the party. That’s unacceptable.

      2. SpaceySteph*

        Completely agree. Is this a private home? If its a public venue (historic home or the like) then it is almost certainly violating its occupancy limit.

  6. nyny*

    LW1 – Maybe AAM or Miss Manners could run a column on how bosses should run parties at their house. My former boss did a great job! All on one floor, plenty of seating. People polled for dietary needs. Buffets separate for vegan, kosher, etc. While buffet, he had a few servers to help carry plates for anyone who needed help.

  7. ticktick*

    LW #1 – if there’s no way out of attending, could you get one of those canes that has a folding seat attached? That way, you would have a personal seat, and it’s very clear that it’s to assist with your condition.

      1. run mad; don't faint*

        The LW says they have to walk up steep stairs to get to the venue. Based on my experience with helping elderly relatives, the rollator would be a pain to haul up the staircase.

        1. ferrina*

          Recruit a friendly coworker to help you carry things. Bonus points if you carpool and can tell boss “I’m feeling really tired and my doctor said I need to rest. It was great, to see you, but Coworker and I need to leave now!” That way Coworker has an excuse to leave early, too.

          1. Sloanicota*

            I think we should try to resist problem-solving for OP, lest we quickly become “halpful,” and before someone suggests Yoga or going Gluten Free.

            1. Teapot Librarian*

              I absolutely agree that we should try to resist problem-solving for OP, but I appreciate that Ferrina’s comment was problem-solving for OP’s coworker :-)

    1. rollyex*

      Please, no. Just stop with ideas on how to make it work.

      Don’t try to solution for the OP. The issue not the chair or the whatever. It’s that the organization needs to do better on inclusiveness and disability, and the OP needs to know how to make that happen as an ongoing organizational matter.

      1. Jackalope*

        That’s kind of the point of the comments section, though, is suggesting solutions to problems a LW wrote in about. Obviously the best option here is for the LW not to attend, for multiple reasons. On the other hand, she wrote in because her boss has provided significant blowback to not attending the event in the past (including repeatedly commenting on a coworker that was merely late). Part of a realistic answer is that if the LW decides she can’t get out of attending for whatever reason, it’s good to know what options she might have to make attending the party less miserable.

        (For that matter, the LW doesn’t necessarily want to make the organization better on inclusivity/disability as an ongoing organizational matter. I mean, maybe she does, but all she asked for this time was how to deal with the situation of this specific holiday party, not how to make a culture shift at her job.)

        1. Dahlia*

          That was not what OP asked for. Disabled people know how to deal with their disabilities. We know what works for us.

          OP asked for advice with how to talk to their boss about this.

        2. rollyex*

          She did not ask for technical or physical solutions. Maybe I overstated with “ongoing matter” but it’s about what the job and boss will do for her, and how to communicate that. Not asking to get helped up stairs or get a new device.

  8. Bog Witch*

    “You know I agree with you, but I’m convinced nothing is going to change and meanwhile I need this job until I find a new one. When you complain, it gets me worked up too and I’m worried I’ll end up walking off the job in a rage, which would be disastrous for my finances. Can you help me by not focusing on it so much when we talk?”

    I’m pushing back on the bolded part because I feel like there’s no way someone could say that to another person and not come off as completely unhinged. “Hey, I’m honestly at my limit with venting about this; let’s focus on keeping our heads above water and formulating our respective escape plans.” No need to bring in rage (?!) or your finances into it at all.

    1. Katie A*

      Yeah, re-reading that, it would be pretty weird to say that to someone. If someone said that to me, I’d think they were really reactive and a bit immature. Just focusing on how you don’t want to talk about it anymore because it’s getting to be a lot is plenty, especially for the first time you ask.

      1. Eldritch Office Worker*

        I don’t think it’s a weird thing to say to someone that you’re used to venting to/with. But I don’t think it’s necessary either. Dealer’s choice.

        1. Gemstones*

          I think it’s even weirder to say it to someone you’re used to venting to…because it’s such an odd combination of stiff/distancing (“Can you help me by not focusing on it so much”) and oddly personal (“I’ll end up walking off the job in a rage”). The tone is all over the place.

    2. Gemstones*

      Oof. Yeah, that’s…a lot. Plus I feel like I wouldn’t want to necessarily tell a colleague (much less a volatile one) I’m looking to leave the company…you just never know what might happen. Especially given LW doesn’t seem all that comfortable with this person.

      1. Gemstones*

        But do you really want to be talking in an unhinged manner to someone…unhinged? It feels like more of a gray rock situation; better not to escalate it.

        1. fhqwhgads*

          Maybe. Depends on if you think the personal was at some point reasonable and has now been pushed over the edge and hearing something like that might make them realize they’ve got too far vs if they’re unhinged and have always been. The latter, grey rock, for sure.

  9. VP of Monitoring Employees' LinkedIn Profiles**


    For reasons I don’t want to go into here, my organization is not legally obligated to make accommodations for me.

    Even if the company isn’t obligated to move the party to an accessible venue or modify the department head’s house, they still CAN accommodate you just by not punishing you for missing it.

    If attendance is truly mandatory, then the party counts as WORK for pay and liability purposes. If you’re then punished for missing a WORK event that the boss knows you physically cannot attend, then you’re actually being punished for the disability, which definitely becomes an ADA issue.

    1. Emily*

      There may be reasons that the ADA does not apply to LW’s employer. LW is saying their employer is not legally required to make accomodations for them and does not want to get into the reasons why, so we need to trust that LW is an expert on their own situation (commenting rule # 6: People are experts on their own situations and know more about their own circumstances than you do.)

      1. Eldritch Office Worker*

        Thank you.

        I agree that just because they’re not legally obligated doesn’t mean a decent person wouldn’t care and try to help. But let’s not do the legal advice thing. There’s not nearly enough information to go on.

  10. Jaybeetee*

    Honestly, I’m an able-bodied person (albeit with a bum knee that might not love the stairs), and I still think a party with zero seating where you have to stand for hours sounds like a miserable experience. There are also a ton of people who wouldn’t necessarily consider themselves “disabled”, but could have back issues or knee issues or whatever where that sort of party could be a problem. If the holiday party is so important, the director needs to stop being a cheapskate and rent a venue for it.

    1. Lime green Pacer*

      Excellent point! A lot more people than you’d expect might have been hurting after the last party.

    2. anononon*

      Yep – came to say exactly the same thing. For a variety of reasons, none of which make me ‘disabled’, there is no way I would be able to stand for hours at a party (or indeed anything else, which is why I book a seat in First Class when I travel by train, and attend seated concerts, and take a folding chair to festivals, and refuse to queue for hipster restaurants, and so on.)

      A party with NO chairs available at all sounds like a deeply stupid idea anyway. What if someone feels faint or is pregnant or needs to tie their shoelace or wants to rest their aching feet. Are they supposed to go and sit on the toilet?

      1. Richard Hershberger*

        Seated concerts: I have skipped a lot of shows I would have otherwise enjoyed due to their being at standings only venues.

    3. Jackalope*

      Yes, I was thinking that too. Most people aren’t going to enjoy a party where they can’t sit down at all ever for the whole thing, at least not if it goes over 20 or 30 minutes, even if they have no disabilities at all.

    4. Yup!*

      Yes, this. Everything from pregnancy (even early, unannounced pregnancy) to arthritis, a sports injury, feeling under the weather, and just the end of a long day means people want to sit to feel better. I don’t get standing around for hours like that. Teens at that kind of party would just end up sitting around on the floor, so it feels like providing places to sit–and prioritizing your employees’ comfort–should be way up on the to-do list.

      1. Arts Akimbo*

        I am an unabashed floor-sitter. When my feet give out, that’s it! It’s for my own self-care, but also, if someone should take it as a sign that seating should have been provided, so much the better.

        1. Aeryn Sun*

          Same here – I’ll sit on the floor, ground, wherever I need to if it’s at that point. I queued for a couple concerts for 6-8 hours each time, both going through midtown Manhattan, you know I was like “Well, this ground is probably disgusting, but I need to sit.”

    5. Antilles*

      I just can’t get past the “removing all seating for space reasons”. I totally understand moving some objects out of the way. A bulky coffee table, your exercise bike, things like that. But removing your couch and chairs? Really?
      This is literally “college kegger house party” level of packed out…except actually, even those fire-hazard level of parties usually managed to keep chairs and couches. You might have trouble actually getting a seat, you might occasionally have someone randomly decide to just sit down directly on you, but seating at least existed.

      1. Eh, Steve!*

        Same. I might have to remove all the furniture to fit 100 people in my 600 sq ft apartment, but that’s why I’d never invite 100 people to my apartment.

        1. Aeryn Sun*

          Likewise – yes you CAN fit a lot of people in a space if you remove all seating/furniture but that doesn’t mean you SHOULD. I could probably fit a lot of people in my apartment if I tried this kind of nonsense, but what’s the point in making people miserable?

    6. kalli*

      Oh yes. Every time someone finds a seat for me at an event I get people asking me where I got it, if I could give them a go on it, or standing there loudly talking about how sore they are as if I’ll magically be able to stand.

      When I do not get a seat I just sit on the floor, and then magically I’m in a group of people sitting on the floor. Also magically, groups of people sitting on the floor don’t get trodden on or bullied if they don’t stand up to dance/talk (people just sit with them instead of standing over them going WHY ARE YOU ON THE FLOOR I MIGHT HAVE FALLEN ON YOU like they were genuinely, idk, going to stand facing the corner like a schoolkid on time out? I don’t sit in the middle of anything, usually against 2 walls or at least one if it’s there. They ain’t falling over me if they’re any way engaged in the event. Oh, and one time it was because it took me three minutes to push myself up and apparently the event only allowed one minute for people to leave so I was trespassing and security were involved. People are very weird about all this, so anything that makes someone visible for not being able to stand for the entirety of the event is, IMO, rather undesirable).

    7. MCMonkeyBean*

      Yeah, it’s very normal to move all the tables to allow for more people, but usually you’d like leave a line of chairs along a wall or something.

      It says “the house” but I was actually assuming it was a rented venue, rather than the house of someone at the org. If it’s not then I agree that should change–though it sounds like OP’s boss is the only one who cares this much and the people actually planning the party don’t think it’s necessary everyone attend.

      1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        It does say that the venue is “our department head’s home”.

        As someone who has in the past hosted large get-togethers, including for work, and has been to managers’ homes for work parties, I’ve never hosted or been to one where all seating was removed for space reasons. If I have to get every last chair and couch out of my home to accommodate a party, that to me is a dead giveaway that my home is not big enough to host this party and I need to find another venue. What is this department head even thinking? and what is OP’s boss thinking making the attendance to this painful standing-room-only party mandatory?

    8. Observer*

      There are also a ton of people who wouldn’t necessarily consider themselves “disabled”, but could have back issues or knee issues or whatever where that sort of party could be a problem. If the holiday party is so important, the director needs to stop being a cheapskate and rent a venue for it.


      This does not sound like a party too many people would enjoy. In fact, I think that it sounds like a party that majority of people attend because they *have* to (officially or not) and that very, very few people enjoy. There seems to be absolutely not thought to basic comfort of people – and that’s the most fundamental duty of a host.

    9. bamcheeks*

      There are also a ton of people who wouldn’t necessarily consider themselves “disabled”, but could have back issues or knee issues or whatever where that sort of party could be a problem

      It me! I get the kind of lower back pain that absolutely doesn’t have a substantial impact on my ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities (or whatever definition of disability you are using), but anything that involves standing around or walking slowly for 45 minutes or so –choir practice, museums and art galleries, standing-only gigs and yes, parties with no seating– really, really hurts.

    10. cindylouwho*

      Yeah 100 people crammed into a person’s house also sounds like COVID/flu/RSV/whatever winter illness people have-central

  11. EA*

    For OP1 – honestly I’d just call in sick that day and then have a productive “life admin” day at home. It seems like the path of least resistance, and you really don’t want them to try to make an attempt at accommodations (which I suspect would happen if you talk to your boss), you just don’t want to go.

    1. Butterfly Counter*

      If this is what OP1 was already planning to do, like you, I think this is probably a better idea than talking it through with the boss like Allison suggested. I would worry about repercussions if OP mentioned not going to the party from the boss, the boss having a bad reaction to even asking, then OP taking PTO for the day.

      OP, you know your boss the best. If you think that even asking would put a target on you and/or your team, just not saying something and taking the PTO is probably your best shot. Start complaining about feeling achy and run down the day before in front of people so when you call in the next day, it will seem like a good idea vs. something you could be punished for.

  12. Emily*

    There may be reasons that the ADA does not apply to LW’s employer. LW is saying their employer is not legally required to make accomodations for them and does not want to get into the reasons why, so we need to trust that LW is an expert on their own situation (commenting rule # 6: People are experts on their own situations and know more about their own circumstances than you do.)

  13. LifeBeforeCorona*

    LW1 If you must attend: Can someone drop you off at the door and/or use a cab or Uber? Do you have a cane or mobility aid that can help you stand for extended periods of time? My sympathies to you, but this is a bad look for the director not you. I have flat feet and standing for hours can be painful unless I have my special shoes which look very out of place with dress up clothes.

    1. kalli*

      Won’t necessarily help, as well as visually signalling ‘I am different!’ which may not be wanted if the aid isn’t used all the time. Canes and walkers require more room for someone to move around, and even the small amount of extra room someone with a cane needs isn’t always easily available at a packed event, plus while it helps with balance and weight distribution, it doesn’t take away the effect gravity has on a standing body and does not always help with pain from standing. They also reduce flexibility, and houses aren’t generally built to accommodate aids (and retrofitting isn’t as easy as banging in a ramp over the front stair and putting a rail in the shower) – even if the doors are wide enough for a pharmacy-brand low-end walker, there may be steep stairs, uneven ground, odd corners, and a bunch of people standing in inconvenient spots as if just to make navigation hard, and when you’re not used to an aid because you don’t actually use one, that also adds to the difficulty level.

      While sometimes it genuinely doesn’t occur to someone that an aid may help them or that they don’t need a prescription or assessment to buy one, they also aren’t always cheap or accessible (I dragged myself along walls for years and not even my doctors suggested a cane while they watched me fall, but a decent cane costs half my fortnightly pension and they weren’t in pharmacies until recently, when they were allowed to sell mobility aids and could stock shitty aluminium telescopic canes that only support people up to 80kg), so I think we can assume that if an aid would magically fix LW’s problem they’d be using one.

      I also find it preferable to place the burden on event organisers to be inclusive here, instead of expecting everyone to bring themselves up to a particular standard to be able to attend a work function – picking a venue that doesn’t belong to someone with power in the workplace would also help people feel relaxed about attending, I think!!

      1. Roland*

        > I also find it preferable to place the burden on event organisers to be inclusive here, instead of expecting everyone to bring themselves up to a particular standard to be able to attend a work function

        Well sure, but LifeBeforeCorona is giving advice to the LW, not their company, because LW is the one reading this letter. Saying the party should be inclusive is true but also, the reality is that the party currently is not.

        1. kalli*

          Which is why instead of telling the LW to get themselves the kind of disability which will enable them to stand with a cane pain-free for two hours (which, if that would be possible, they’d be able to do without random internet people telling them how to manage their body like LW isn’t the one living in it and intimately acquainted with its ability to the point where they know attending this event will be painful and difficult), advice should be targeted towards how to navigate their preference to not attend while their boss will likely disapprove of them for that, and/or how to advocate for future iterations of the event to be more inclusive.

  14. MicroManagered*

    OP1 I know you wrote in specifically for help with NOT attending the party, which I fully support.

    But when I read Alison’s suggestion, my first thought was “oh they could do X and Y to accommodate.” I know you said your job doesn’t have to accommodate you under ADA, but this is an individual human’s home, so it is different.

    1. ARE there any accommodations that would make the party more accessible? Could your boss allow just-you to park closer to the house, use a different entrance, leave a comfortable chair with a “reserved” sign on it and ask others not to use it, etc. Would you be more willing to attend with those accommodations?

    2. IF the answer is still no, you don’t want any accommodations at the party, you just can’t attend… How will you respond if your boss suggests those things?

  15. Dulcinea47*

    LW#1, I’m taking your word that they don’t have to make accomodations as far as buildings etc. go, but what if they give you a chair for during the party so you don’t have to stand the entire time? (I have mild circulation problems in my legs and that would make me miserable too.) It sounds like there’s room for you to be present but not compromise so much of your physical wellbeing.

    1. kalli*

      As someone who has been given a chair at social events like these, it’s not actually much better – you’re stuck in the one place while everyone mills around you, and you don’t get equally included, which depending on the people, may well include ‘aw poor LW, they’re disabled’ due to the starkly visual difference in ‘the one person sitting down’ and ‘everyone else wandering and chatting’.

      Plus, if you can get up for a small period of time to go to the toilet, to get a drink, to watch a speech etc… good luck getting the seat back, because where there is a seat, there are many people wishing to sit on it!! Surprisingly, a lot of people find standing for a few hours less preferable to standing for a bit with seated breaks.

      Ideally there would be seats for at least 1/3rd of the attendees, so people could have seated breaks and those who are regularly able-bodied can cycle through (often happens naturally) but those people who benefit from sitting longer/most of the time are still naturally included in the rotating talk-to-everyone-for-a-few-minutes cycle, and can generally return to a seat if they get a drink.

      It may be a private event in a private home, but it’s also generally better for people to get and monitor their own drinks rather than having to rely on someone bringing them one or being in pain…

    2. Justme, The OG*

      Being the only one sitting in a crowd full of standing people would make me feel super weird.

        1. Lenora Rose*

          And yet, it’s still a problem. There should be seating enough for anyone to take a rest. As noted, a lot of able bodied people still like to sit down periodically. And what happens when the disabled person gets up and walks to the bathroom (or does want to stand and mingle for ten minutes, or wants to get a plate of food)? Guard the seat and build resentment? Let other people sit but oust them when the disabled person returns? Then there’s accommodating emergencies. Imagine someone feels faint but would be fine if they sat for 5 minutes. If you have enough seating for even a few able-bodied people to also sit, ousting a random party member from a chair to accommodate the short term issue is no problem. But do you oust the one person with an accommodation? Or does the person feeling faint actually have to collapse?

          Most of the complication is spared if you just have a Bunch of seats in the first place.

        2. kalli*

          Doesn’t mean it’s preferable to the party being held somewhere else where there can be enough seating that it’s not only the people with disabilities sitting in the disability seating zone, but anyone who wants to have a seat or everyone sitting down. When you’re the only one sitting, you don’t get organically included the same way as when the general event allows people to sit.

      1. Observer*

        True, it would. But miles better than standing for hours. And I’m probably not technically disabled….

        The part sounds terrible, and the OP’s manager sounds like a bit of an oblivious idiot. Which means that it’s possible that they just won’t get it *at all* – or that this would be their big suggestion. And given how insistent the boss is being, it might be the OP’s best bet.

        The bottom line is that it’s possible that the OP is going to be faced with “feel very weird for good reason” for a couple of hours vs “Being in the Boss’ bad books.” In which case, the OP needs to decide which is a bigger problem for them.

  16. Ms. Crabby Pants*

    Angry coworker reminded me of a coworker I had years ago. We worked in an open office, and she was the nicest person–until something made her angry. Then she would slam doors, stomp, pout, speak curtly to people, and complain at length about whatever bee was in her bonnet. Management wanted to approach everything with what they felt was compassion (since we worked with non-profits), which meant they tiptoed around her and tried to fix what she was upset about. Meanwhile, we had to try and work–often on the phone with clients–with that in the background.

    I’ve always wondered what advice/approach would work with management that dealt with difficult things as if they were a psychologist as opposed to, you know, management.

      1. Dulcinea47*

        I don’t understand how conflict adverse people become managers. Or, I do, but they don’t make good ones. You have to be able to address things like “you can’t throw a temper tantrum every day at work” with relative ease.

        1. Eldritch Office Worker*

          A lot of people get pushed into management positions and management training isn’t terribly common, unfortunately. They tend to kick problems down the road until they’re big enough to be someone else’s problem.

          As the person whose problem it often becomes, I do not appreciate this reality.

  17. Pastor Petty Labelle*

    OP1 there have been some good suggestions on how to handle this. I just want to say if your boss or the party organizer won’t accomodate you, don’t go. You know how much energy it will expend. You don’t want to go to a party for a few hours just to get the checkmark you attended, then spend days recovering. People don’t see the recovery time when someone does put out the energy to do something. They just see the person is able to do it so what’s the problem?

    How much you want to fight is up to you. But care for yourself so you can go to work next week and be functional is important too.

  18. Gigi*

    LW 2: We have an ongoing situation that is borderline unhinged and frustrating as all get out too. I bought the team one of those inflatable punching bags for kids, and Ninja has received many frustrated kicks and punches. It’s possible that y’all aren’t in a position to have something as obvious as a punching back shaped like a ninja in the office, but if there’s something physical y’all can do when it gets to be too much, it could help get the complaining ya-yas out without getting spun up. Also, it might make you start laughing at yourselves, which always helps. Good luck on the job hunt!

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      This is definitely a know-your-workplace thing. A lot of places any kind of violent displays of frustration, even at inanimate objects, would be extremely not okay.

      1. Gigi*

        Excellent point. The ninja was an inside joke for us, but some sort of outlet for the frustration – a standard response meme, funny shaped stress ball, whatever – could do the trick. At at previous job, I used a chicken chucker (tiny catapult that launches tiny rubber chickens short distances) to hit wall targets while I was on the phone. The important thing is to jolt yourself out of the cycle of frustration.

      2. Cat Tree*

        Yeah, I would hate to work in a place like that.

        Also, the old advice is to vent frustrations to “get it out” and get over it, but emerging research indicates that it actually feeds into the frustration and often makes people feel angrier in the long term. Calming techniques are more effective.

        1. I Have RBF*

          Also, the old advice is to vent frustrations to “get it out” and get over it, but emerging research indicates that it actually feeds into the frustration and often makes people feel angrier in the long term. Calming techniques are more effective.

          It depends on the person. “Calming techniques” don’t do me a bit of good when I’m mad, and suggesting them to me just makes me angrier, because it’s patronizing, infantilizing, and just plain obnoxious.

          But, quite frankly, because of that, I say “citation needed”, because it sure doesn’t work that way in reality for anyone I know.

          1. Clare*

            The important overlap between these two approaches is actually distraction. Fundamentally, once your brain moves onto something else, the emotions will go away. The trick is how to get there.

            For some people, they need to vent or their brain will keep circling back to them problem until they do. For others, venting keeps the mind on the problem and calming techniques are the best way to move the brain on. Some people find eating switches them from ‘fight/flight/freeze’ to ‘rest and digest’, hence stress eating is a thing.

            None of these approaches is better or worse, they’re just the result of different biology, the same way some people are born highly social or with red hair. Everyone should do whatever works best for them, but you can’t expect it to work the same for anyone else – you’ll be wrong!

  19. Observer*

    #1- Inaccessible party site

    Don’t act as your manager’s lawyer who is looking for him to score. Be your own advocate. The fact that it is physically possible for you to show up and not collapse does not mean that it’s *actually* possible for you to do this. Because outside of something extreme like saving someone’s life “I can’t do that without being in an immense amount of pain” is not materially different from “I can’t do that.”

    Don’t get into the details with your boss. Alison’s verbiage is very good.

    Lots of luck with this.

  20. Delta Delta*

    #1 – I would bet a nickel this party also has a big catered spread, including a carving station. This has big “100 people standing around trying to eat prime rib with plastic forks” energy.

    I do think it’s worth it for OP to talk to the boss – preferably with another person present as a witness – to explain they really can’t go due to their physical limitations. Then if the boss pretends they don’t understand, at least there’s a witness there for the conversation for when OP doesn’t show up at the party. And honestly, I don’t think OP should have to take the day off ahead of time. And if OP feels comfortable, she can tell some trusted colleagues that of course she can’t go, because of the stairs. Then when people ask later, there are people enlisted to give the truthful answer.

  21. Hiring Mgr*

    Couldn’t tell from the letter, but does OP#1 work in the office? I also couldn’t tell if your boss knows about your condition.

    If you’re in the office I’m sure they’ve seen you limping already so I think you have pretty good standing to say something.

    1. Nightengale*

      Sadly, people don’t tend to equate visible limping or even visible use of a mobility device as a need for accessibility at an event.

  22. Rage*

    OP#2 – keeping your calm while people around you are actively freaking out / ranting is difficult, but such a useful skill! Here are some tips to help keep your cool when others are heating up:

    -Deep breaths. It sounds cliche, but it totally works. Inhale with your eyes open, hold for a couple of seconds, then slowly exhale and close your eyes. This will steady your blood pressure and calm your mind.

    -Progressive relaxation. This is something you do when you are calm and alone. Sit comfortably and starting at your feet, tense those muscles, hold, then fully relax them. Move up your body from your feet, to your legs, to your torso, arms, shoulder, neck, and jaw. Pay close attention to how each muscle group feels, both fully tense and fully relaxed. This will help you identify where you “carry your stress” – so when things do start to get stressful, you will notice faster and can take steps to deliberately relax those muscles. This will reduce your overall stress in a situation.

    -Pick a mantra, and silently repeat it. Keep reminding yourself that you will be gone soon and your coworkers ranting can’t actually hurt you.

    Good luck!

    1. I Have RBF*

      This has serious “have you tried yoga” energy about it.

      LW #2 didn’t ask for a primer on relaxation techniques, IMO. They asked “What’s the best way to not break down and quit before I have an offer letter in hand for literally anywhere else?” Basic relaxation techniques are not the solution to this.

      My advice is to find a need to be elsewhere when the coworker starts up, even if it’s just off to the bathroom for a bio break. That and Alison’s scripts for getting the coworker to stop the repetitive venting, which is the biggest part of the immediate problem.

  23. BellyButton*

    I was able to negotiate a larger severance, but it was similar to a scenario Alison gave. I had been remote for years and years before the pandemic, and when a new CEO came on board he wanted everyone at a certain level in the office. I had documentation that I had been TOLD to work remote 6 yrs prior and been given permission to move out of state. So I was able to negotiate an additional 2 weeks + they would agree not to dispute an unemployment claim.

    *still bitter*

    1. I'm the severance OP3*

      I’m sorry this happened to you and thank you for sharing your story here. This is helpful to read that you were able to negotiate those items, and way to go for standing up. Thank you!

  24. Observer*

    #1 – Don’t want to go to a party.

    If you do decide to go to HR, there are a couple of things you might want to think about.

    It’s possible that accommodation issue is not as black and white as you are presenting it. You obviously know your workplace and I don’t but I can see situations where, for instance, they don’t have to change the building, but would have to “accommodate” your need to not show up to the party.

    Beyond that, something else that you might want to bring up with HR is the fact that *your boss* is making attendance explicitly mandatory. So, firstly, if you are non-exempt, your company needs to pay you for showing up. Secondly, liability goes through the roof once an event is mandatory – and it really does sound like there are some real safety concerns with the way the event is set up.

    There is always some level of liability, of course, but when it’s a totally voluntary party, it’s lot lower. Once it’s *mandatory, it becomes a workplace safety issue, and as others have noted, it looks like this place is asking for an accident of some sort.

    Again, you know your workplace and I don’t but workplace safety and pay for hours worked are totally separate from ADA, which means that even if your organization does not have to officially accommodate you at all, these issues don’t just disappear. ButI’m also assuming that your HR is competent. If they aren’t everything I said probably goes out the window.

    1. sparkle emoji*

      Yeah, I think at a minimum this boss needs to remove the bee in his bonnet that makes him so preoccupied with work party attendance. LW1 doesn’t have to be the one to fix that but this sounds awful and needs to stop.

  25. Observer*

    LW 1 – Holiday party

    My original comment seems to have gotten swallowed up. So a re-post.

    Don’t make your boss’ (non-valid) argument for him. Yes, it’s technically physically possible for you to show up to this thing. But as a practical matter, it’s not possible for you to do this without being in pain and, from what you say, needing a fair bit of recovery time. Outside of extreme circumstances that’s the functional equivalent of “I can’t do this thing.”

    So if your boss pushes you on this, act as though OF COURSE he’s not expecting you to put yourself into significant pain, because he’s a REASONABLE person. Even if he is not a reasonable person (which sounds highly likely), often giving people credit for being smart, reasonable, etc. improves their behavior.

  26. Ama*

    I’m going to throw one in here for LW#4 (resume verb tenses) — I’ve been at my current employer for 10 years but there’s a clear division between the duties I had in my first 6 years here and the ones I have had in the last 4 (I’ve been promoted a few times and there was also one big restructuring that changed a lot of my duties). When I update my resume (I’ve been job searching for a while now), anything I’m still currently doing goes at the top of the list written in present tense, and anything that is a past achievement or past duties goes after that in past tense. Sometimes I will also list the years I was doing that task to make it clear it wasn’t something I did one time, i.e. “oversaw production of quarterly newsletter (2013-2019).”

    Hope that is helpful!

  27. noname4*

    I’m wondering what AAM’s advice to the person mandated to attend an inaccessible party would be if the lw’s physical problem could be addressed by surgery/physical therapy?

    Asking because the only ‘disability’ I can think of that doesn’t require accommodations are those that can be addressed by medical intervention.

    1. I should really pick a name*

      I don’t see how the advice would change.

      Whether someone chooses to engage in surgery/physical therapy or not, the accommodations address their needs at the current time.
      If their needs change, the accommodations can change.

      The decision to pursue medical intervention is not part of the discussion.

    2. CorgiDoc*

      I think it is more likely that the employer isn’t required to accommodate because it is too small, etc. I am no expert so I don’t necessarily know the specifics but I know there are situations where an employer would not be required to provide accommodations because of something to do with the employer and not the employee or the accommodations that would be needed.

    3. Bananapants Circus With Dysfunctional Monkeys*

      Company size plays into when the ADA is in affect doesn’t it?

      And even then, “it can be fixed withs surgery / pt” is not a guaranteed outcome, and even if it were its ZERO buisness of an employer because bodily autonomy is a thing.

      Also, nice scare quotes around disability there.

      1. I Have RBF*

        Also, PT is not a magic cure-all. I ought to know, I’ve had years of it. My disability didn’t go away because I had PT to learn how to live with it.

        Also, lots and lots of people, including medical professionals, don’t recognize chronic pain as a disability. If you “can” walk, no matter how much it hurts, they demand that you must walk, and just “cope with” the pain, for the sake of the sacred exercise.

        So people who look fine but find it painful to walk and stand are routinely abused into doing so, since “It’s just a little pain, don’t be such a wimp. Walking is good for you“, blah, blah, blah.

    4. Eldritch Office Worker*

      The ability to get medical intervention doesn’t change an employer’s obligation to accommodate an employee. Getting surgery cannot be a condition of your employment.

      There are a number of other circumstances that exempt an employer from providing disability accommodation. None of that would change the advice and OP knows their situation better than we do so speculating isn’t helpful.

    5. Roland*

      How is that relevant at all? If someone is disabled then they’re disabled. Whether thay can one day change has no bearing on how they should be accomodated. Pregnant women should be accomodated even though that condition is pretty much guaranteed to be over within a year, for example. They should still be accomodated when they’re in the 3rd trimester and the day before giving birth and an hour before a C-section. Not accomodating someone because you suspect their condition is temporary is something else.

    6. kalli*

      It would not.

      An employer not being required to provide accommodations does not hinge on the nature of the disability, but the nature of the employer, or in some cases, the nature of their office. My employer is not required to provide me with a lift to get to the office because it’s a pre-1980 building and it is not required to have a lift because it was not built with one, but also because it is cheaper for them to buy me a laptop and let me work from home instead of spending $40k to retrofit the building (especially since it’s only leased and they may not recoup the expense before moving), and until recently because they had under 15 employees and were covered by small business exemptions.

      Additionally, there are many ‘invisible’ disabilities which by their nature are not visible and do not require accommodations, but only because of careful management on the part of the person with them once they become noticeable. There are others which do not require physical accommodations at all. There are others which are visible, but that careful management negates or minimises the need for external accommodations, like how LW#1 has a limp but they are able to perform their work without the organisation needing to accommodate them – LW#1 does that by making choices like not attending functions that would increase their pain level. I do that by working from home and there is no medical intervention left to me that would make me able to work in an office without accommodations, and not just ‘ground floor’ ‘no stairs’ ‘ability to sit when needed’ and other things that don’t really look like accommodations to someone who isn’t aware. I have had multiple surgeries and will be on multiple medications for the rest of my life and I will never work a manual 40 hour week again; my body would flame out and end me back in hospital on day 2.

      The other thing: people who may do better with accommodations can work without them, it’s just harder. I can technically make it 1-2 days in a sedentary office admin position, just setting the computer to dark mode, having an ergonomic chair and a break every 2 hours instead of 4 will mean I may not pass out as soon as I get home but manage to eat a meal first.

      Even with workers’ comp, where a worker does have some obligation to improve their condition as a requirement of receiving their compensation, surgery isn’t mandated – if a condition is at maximum improvement without surgery, they are not required to have surgery because it might improve things, because surgery carries recovery time, risk, and may not actually help. Thus, it cannot be required; it may be recommended, but that’s still a medical, private decision that systems are generally built with room to accommodate either way because ‘well you might go back to packing a forklift if you have spinal fusion surgery, but you also may never walk again but you have to go back to work so surgery is mandatory’ is patently unreasonable that even insurers get it.

    7. Observer*

      Asking because the only ‘disability’ I can think of that doesn’t require accommodations are those that can be addressed by medical intervention.

      It’s not clear that the company is in the clear because of the nature of the disability. But in any case, at least in the US under the ADA, it doesn’t matter if a disability can be “cured” by surgery or long term medical intervention. If it falls under the definition of a disability laid out by the law, it needs to be accommodated. The exceptions to this rule have nothing to do with the nature of the disability per se.

      And in a case like this, it still would make no difference. The idea that *attending a party* is so important that someone is going to give you a hard time because they legally can is absurd. Now, it could be that the OP’s boss *is* that unreasonable. But then that’s the problem.

  28. Janeric*

    LW 1 — if your boss isn’t a reasonable, caring person, and the reason you know that your company doesn’t have to comply with the ADA is because they’ve made it abundantly clear to you that they won’t do any accommodation, I might suggest the Bartleby the Scrivener route and just auto-reply “I would prefer not to.”

    Or I suppose a firm Miss Manners “That won’t be possible.” would be more polite. Maybe “I hope you have a wonderful time!” as a follow-up, if the person is Not The Problem.

    They can’t make you go. There might be social consequences for not going, but are those any worse than the consequences you get for existing while disabled around them?

    If this conjecture is correct, these people are not kind people. I hope you can land at a better place to work than this one soon.

  29. Another Academic Librarian*

    Letter Writer Number one.
    I so feel your pain.
    Before Covid me would have shown up early. said hello to a few people. had facetime with the boss and left in ten to fifteen minutes.
    I CANNOT do
    steep stairs, stand for hours, want to sit in a corner etc etc.
    For me the problem is the boss’ comments after the party.
    Noting repeatedly that someone came late? WTF?
    I am Bartleby the Scrivener for all extra curricular events.

    So I get the political reasons for showing up.
    And the stress this causing you.
    Perhaps keep it simple.
    “heads up, I don’twant to discuss this but I have a not visible disability that will make it impossible for me to attend the party this year. I use up all my available upright time during the day. Have fun. I look forward to hearing all about it.”
    If it is brought up after the fact- cheerfully note how much you are sorry you missed it and move on to the next topic.

  30. The Rural Juror*

    For LW#4 – I deal with tenses a lot with my colleagues as we write assessments of existing buildings/structures. As long as we all stick to writing in active voice, it’s usually clear to the reader why we’re writing about things in both the past, present, and future. For example:

    “The storage facility, constructed in 1956, has structural damage that will require complete demolition of the building.”

    I’d recommend doing a quick internet search for active vs passive voice. It goes a long way towards helping your writing to be consistent and precise.

  31. Cathy G.*

    RE: Negotiating Severance
    I was once laid off from a job after 6 years. I had numerous compliments on performance, high rated reviews, etc., had the President tell me if it wasn’t for my efforts (I was in Receivables) that company would have gone under at a very stressful time in the company’s history.

    Unfortunately, the company entered into a ‘strategic partnership’ with a much larger company in our sector. The new controller once looked me in the eye and told me that I was being paid too much for what I did. I knew my days there were numbered. It was sad because I loved this job and the people I worked with.

    When it finally happened and I was laid off, I received my severance package it was broken down as 2 weeks severance and 4 weeks for signing a document that I would not come back in the future and sue them (there had been a false sexual harassment lawsuit after they let go the former Controller).

    I took the document to a lawyer and paid for a consult mainly because of the language used (it seemed quite harsh). The lawyer agreed that it was a bit blunt but not concerning, but what was concerning was I was technically only being offered 2 weeks salary for 6 years of service (the benchmark being 1 week per year of service). Based on this I went back and asked them to consider an extra 4 weeks severance – I made sure to use the phrase “my lawyer said…” several times.

    As I was about to leave the office, I was informed that there was a lunch being provided for the staff and would I like to attend. I accepted, as I had not had a chance to say good-bye to a lot of the staff (we were a very close knit group and we all worked well together).

    An hour after I left I was informed that my request for the extra severance was approved. I also felt that it was my attending the lunch and (apparently) showing I wasn’t disgruntled that played into it as well.

    1. I'm the severance OP3*

      Heartbreaking to lose a job you love, it’s so hard to find one of those. Thank you for sharing! Two weeks severance for six years is harsh, great job on negotiating and I’m glad they gave it to you.

  32. MailOrderAnnie*

    For LW #1 – I have had similar mobility issues that made standing and walking for almost any period of time extremely painful. I had to do a lot of adapting and figuring out ways to commute to NYC in this condition. I found something that helped me a lot: a chair cane. I didn’t really need a cane for walking, but when I needed to sit, I HAD to sit down (or cry). This was immeasurably helpful for me – I could open it up and sit when and where I needed to and then move on. I wish you the best.

    1. Dahlia*

      Those are neat, but 250lbs is not a very high weight limit. And, personally, that would be somewhat useless for me, because having no back support wouldn’t make my pain better.

      I think we can safely assume OP knows the options for their own bodies.

  33. ExpatLifer*

    For #3 re negotiating severance, in most European countries this is definitely a thing, so any future readers who are not US employed should know that. American employees don’t have much leverage but employment laws in places like the Netherlands are very favorable towards employees. NEVER sign what your company hands you for a severance package without having it legally reviewed first if you are outside the US.

  34. Misty_Meaner*

    I don’t get how an employer can make a party at THEIR HOME, mandatory. If it’s in the office, during office hours, *shrug* sure. They can force a command appearance. But, on a weekend or night? After standard hours? At someone’s HOME? That doesn’t feel right to me. Honestly, I’d ask, “since this is mandatory, it’s considered an alternate work location and we’re being paid for this time, right?” And if they say, “No, it’s a PARTY! Of course not,” then well… “Oh well I have a conflict that I scheduled months before the party was announced. Sorry. I can’t make it since it’s outside of my working hours.” Nobody should be able to demand you attend a work event at their home during non-working hours. It is baffling to me that people are commanded to be there, and/or feel so much pressure to be.

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