laying off employee who’s having chemo, quitting your job when you win the lottery, and more

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

1. My company plans to lay off my employee who’s having chemo

I have recently learned my company will be doing layoffs, and one of my direct reports is on the list. This dedicated employee, beloved by our team, has been undergoing chemotherapy for many months and losing his job will of course result in losing his health insurance. He prides himself in never having missed a day of work throughout his ordeal, sometimes even spending the night in the hospital and still coming to work the next day. He says the routine and distraction of work has been an anchor.

I’m appalled by the decision to lay him off and am considering warning him and suggesting he apply for FMLA or long-term disability so that his job is protected. Of course if anyone found out about the warning I would lose my job, and if he’s removed from the list someone else may get laid off instead.

What is the appropriate way to navigate this moral dilemma? I fear I will lose the respect of the rest of the team (and quite a bit of self-respect) if I don’t take steps to prevent this from happening.

First and foremost, do you have any ability to influence the layoff list? Obviously sometimes budgets make layoffs necessary, but good companies want feedback from managers about who end up on that list, for a whole host of reasons (for example, to make sure they’re not laying off your best performer or a role whose absence would cripple your workflow, but also when there are serious ethical, PR, or morale considerations in play). So think about whose ear you have and could talk to about this.

Beyond that, though, I think you can warn him without explicitly divulging the layoffs. For example, you could say that some things are happening behind the scenes that make it important for him to apply for FMLA and/or long-term disability right away, and that while you can’t share more than that and need his discretion, it’s something he should move on immediately. That’s still crossing a line that your employer undoubtedly wouldn’t appreciate, but it gives you some plausible deniability (since it’s actually good advice for him even if this weren’t going on) and conveys the essential info he needs right now. Ideal? No. Right thing to do? Yes.

2. What to say when you’re quitting your job because you won the lottery

I often daydream about winning big on the lottery and quitting my job, but one of the things I think about is how I would explain my leaving. My partner is quite private and we wouldn’t want anyone to know we had loads of money, but I wouldn’t know how to field the inevitable questions from colleagues and friends about what new position or company I was moving to. Not a problem I have at the moment, but a problem I wish I had! What would you suggest in that situation?

There are lots of ways to leave a job without saying, “I won a huge windfall — see ya!” You could say you were leaving to deal with a family situation (true! your family yacht situation). You could say you were taking some time off to figure out what you wanted to do next (also true! Italy or the south of France?). You could say you were going into business for yourself. Or you could even say, “I’m not ready to talk about it publicly yet,” which is sometimes a thing people say if they’re starting their own venture or going to a firm that they have a reason not to announce yet.

Just make sure you are dreaming big enough for this lottery win and truly have enough for a lavish lifestyle for the remaining of your years. Here’s an interesting piece on how much you’d really need and another on how to manage the money.

do I have to tell my boss where I’m going when I quit?

3. Dealing with a boundary-stomping parent when interviewing from home

This is something I used to do many moons ago, and now wonder how good an idea it was. I was staying with my parents, searching for work, and my father constantly “forgot” to stay out of the room and not make noise when I was on a call. He would poke his head into the room and interrupt the conversation or bang around so loudly the interviewer could hear it. He was impossible to ignore.

Sign on the door didn’t work; reminding him beforehand wasn’t always possible and didn’t work when it was. The house was big: he could easily have avoided this one upstairs hallway and put off the lawn mowing, at least if my voice was audible. He was apologetic when called out, but not sorry enough to stop doing it.

Anyway, the solution I found was to tell the interviewer, “Sorry about that; my dad lives here and he sometimes gets a little confused.” Not technically a lie, but it framed me as a tolerant adult who knew business norms rather than a surly teenager. Admittedly I was applying for jobs that would have me moving away from him, and thus I clearly had no caregiving responsibilities. I might not have used that excuse for a local job. But what do you think? How should such a situation be handled?

I think you landed on a perfect solution. It allowed you to acknowledge the interruption and give a sympathetic explanation for it. “Tolerant adult who knew business norms rather than a surly teenager” is a perfect way to put it.

4. Another manager wants my employee to stop helping her team

I have a direct report with a lot of experience in another division, Jeff. Often, people will reach out to him with questions about that division. (He is answering questions about test setups as a project engineer.) This has irritated the manager of that other division so much that she directly emailed Jeff telling him to stop overstepping. I find this other manager to be extremely unprofessional. How can I resolve this management chain dispute?

The questions Jeff is getting asked are absolutely something the other division should be able to answer on their own, but they have had a high attrition rate the last few years and their average experience level is under five years. He assists only when asked by that division. But even though it’s her reports reaching out for assistance and input, the other manager she considers that an overstep. Jeff’s assistance has prevented quite a few schedule slips over the last year and helps PMs during around proposals very quickly.

There are two different questions here. First, should you respect it if another manager wants your employee to stop assisting her team? The answer to that is yes — that’s her call to make.

Second, is she right to make that request? I don’t know the answer to that. She could be wrong and letting her ego get in the way of guidance her team needs. Or she could be right; for all I know, she wants to train her team herself and Jeff is making that harder, or his help is preventing her from spotting where the training gaps are in her staff, or he’s not guiding them well because he doesn’t have all the context. It doesn’t really matter though; unless there’s more to the situation, it’s her call to make, and if she’s clearly said she thinks Jeff is overstepping, then he needs to stop. If you disagree with that and want to spend capital on it, you could escalate it to someone who might see it more like you do — but otherwise, yeah, you and Jeff should both respect the request.

5. Who owns materials I create as a volunteer?

I know that materials created while at work belong to the company, but what of materials created while working as a volunteer? I volunteer for my church, and have created lots of materials to help me do this job, all on my own time and on my own computer. So who owns those materials?

Interestingly, you do — unless you have an agreement to the contrary with the organization you’re volunteering for. When you’re an employee, copyright law says you’re engaging in “work for hire” and your employer owns the rights to your work product. But when you’re a volunteer, you own those rights. You can license your work to the organization you’re volunteering for indefinitely or for a specific period of time, but you retain the rights unless you agree otherwise.

{ 364 comments… read them below }

  1. Daria Grace*

    #3, in that situation another thing that may be worth doing is to see if there’s a better microphone option or even better setup of your existing one that would pick up less random background noise.

    1. MassMatt*

      I know this issue is in the past but really I would encourage people in this situation to do whatever they could to interview elsewhere. Most libraries have meeting rooms, or community/career centers, or even at the house of a friend whose family doesn’t stomp on boundaries?

      Honestly this sounds less like it was a boundary issue, it sounds like sabotage.

      1. Dina*

        From what we know in the letter, he could also just be a forgetful old man. It happens.

        1. GythaOgden*

          Yeah. Weird that people are leaping to conclusions like that. My mum has done this on occasion to me (not work related necessarily, but a few minutes before a virtual therapy session I was having to take at their house for some reason) and it’s because she was preoccupied with her own stuff rather than trying to earwig or sabotage (!!) me.

          There’s that saying ‘when you hear hoofbeats, think zebras’ and some commenters here are hearing the four horsemen of the apocalypse riding pegasus unicorn zebras. There’s a very slim chance the dad is being obnoxious or abusive, but it’s not what my mind would leap to with my aging parents at all.

          1. Random Dice*

            I see sabotage too, mixed with control.

            I am very forgetful. I recently sang loudly to my husband during an interview, as a joke, even though he had reminded me that very morning. I did something else and my brain forgot when I returned.

            But if there had been a sign on the door, I wouldn’t have forgotten. I apologized and then strategized a solution for me not to forget (reminders!) and haven’t entered my house making noise since.

            Parents with Issues are exactly as common as forgetful parents. They’re both horses, not zebras.

            1. Laser99*

              Agreed. There are always commentators who tie themselves into knots excusing bad behavior.

          2. WellRed*

            Let’s believe the OP that her father is doing this somewhat intentionally. And speaking of assumptions, why assume dad is old?

            1. morethantired*

              Yeah — my husband has ADHD so even though I’ve been working from home for 4 years, he still forgets sometimes to check if I’m on a call before trying to talk to me or start doing something noisy BUT he’s always horrified when he realizes he interrupted me and tries really hard not to. I believe LW that this feels intentional on some level, even if the father, on a subconscious level, just gets the compulsion to be noisy simply because he knows he’s been asked not to at that time.

              1. Momma Bear*

                This is what I was thinking, since the sign on the door was ignored. It wasn’t just a case of idle forgetfulness. I think LW handled it as best anyone could aside from leaving to take the interview elsewhere (I know coworkers have taken the call in a car if necessary).

                1. Name_Required*

                  I’m curious if the door had a lock the OP could’ve engaged? I get that a lot of parents have a “no locked doors in my house” rule, but the OP is an adult and after a couple of meeting bombs by Dad, I’d have started using the sign AND a lock, if possible. I wonder what Dad is getting out of this behaviour, too. Like “Hah if OP doesn’t get a job, she’ll be here forever!” or just being a glassbowl.

              2. selena81*

                My mom had decided my sibling had to stay home and keep her company in old age.
                And she never outright sabotaged him, but she always found ways to undermine his confidence such that he didn’t put himself on the waiting list for social housing and didn’t apply to better jobs.
                She then framed his lack of succes as ‘awww, no problem, it is okay that you will never be capable of leaving the family home’: acting like the problem was that he was incompetent.

              3. Dahlia*

                OP could be 20 and their father could be in his late 30s. We don’t know how old anyone is, but we do know OP has told us this was deliberate.

          3. YetAnotherAnalyst*

            “When you hear hoofbeats, think horses, not zebras” is ultimately a question of choosing the thing you’ve seen many times before rather than the thing you’ve heard of but never seen in real life – ie, if you’re living in a wildlife refuge in Africa, you should be thinking zebras first, not horses.

            For folks whose parents are loving/supportive/helpful, but aging or have memory issues, this story will read as memory issues.
            For folks whose parents are flaky/out-of-touch/pushy, this will read more like
            disregard for the current work norms and the stated preferences of their child(ren) – not badly meant, but it didn’t even register as an overstep.
            For folks whose parents are more problematic, this will read very much as provocation (“I can go wherever I want in My House!”) or intentional sabotage, especially as this job would take LW away from home.

            All three interpretations are perfectly reasonable, but only LW can tell which one is actually in play here.

            1. Smithy*

              This is a perfect division of some rough divisions of possibilities, with the divide being more on the spectrum than clear cut divisions.

              Particularly during COVID, I worked at my mom’s house for some periods of time out of desiring to help her out/be around/etc. So it was a choice not made out of financial necessity. My mom is 100% a #2 who can flirt with #3, but again – it was a choice I made aware of what I was getting into. And with that I knew she just did not have the capacity to be mindful of me being on a call, needing to stop a conversation with her to start a call, etc.

              But I have a relationship dynamic with her where I could do things like abruptly stop a conversation with my mom to start a meeting that would moderately upset her but was not at risk of me losing housing. I also was in a place where my mom wandering into view on camera mid-talking to me wasn’t going to hurt my employment status. For people in a more precarious living or employment situation, these actions are clearly more high stress and high stakes.

              1. Elizabeth West*

                I was super lucky my mom wasn’t like this when I was job hunting from her house. She let me use her office so I could plug in directly, as I sometimes dealt with connectivity issues using the wi-fi downstairs for Zoom (I also needed a new computer at the time). I would tell her in advance and then remind her the day of that I needed her office. She works from home and I always tried not to bother her during her appointments as well.

                This really does sound to me like OP’s dad was deliberately sabotaging for whatever reason. Ignoring the sign could be merely forgetful, but the way OP described it set off my jerk detector.

                1. Wendy Darling*

                  I have the delightful flavor of ADHD where things that are not sufficiently interesting simply disappear after I see them enough times, and “enough times” is “like 4 or 5”, so sometimes it is A Problem.

                  Fortunately for me the solution to this is to make the sign obnoxious so I keep noticing it long enough to develop the habit of obeying it. That said, I think the person’s response to realizing they’ve accidentally interrupted someone doing something important tells the whole story — my tendency is to mouth “OH NOOOOOO” and immediately flee.

              2. Wendy Darling*

                I stayed with my parents for a month during COVID and as far as I can tell it had just literally never occurred to them that someone working from home might actually need to not be disturbed unless it was an actual emergency. Like, wanting to know if I want to order takeout for lunch is an emergency, right???

                My dad is… not great with empathy, and it just does not enter his mind that if he wants to tell me something RIGHT NOW I might not also want to hear it RIGHT NOW. He has poor (but improving, late in life) emotional intelligence and a constellation of privileged characteristics that has kept that from having almost any negative impact on him (it turns out that upper middle class white professional men who carry themselves with confidence get cut a lot of slack, who knew???).

                When I was doing job interviews at their house I went very extra and drew a big skull on a sheet of paper in sharpie, wrote “DO NOT DISTURB ON PAIN OF DEATH” under it, and taped it to the door. This was SO very ridiculous and out of character that my parents actually had to stop and think about it, and so chose not to open the damn door. I was lucky that worked because I feel like for most people it would not have. But if your parents are well-meaning #2s sometimes shock-and-awe works.

            2. Sailor Susie*

              OP here. My dad was definitely a “tsetse-infested wildlife refuge” kind of situation: zebras were common and horses scarce. It’s not impossible that he did occasionally forget, but it was far more common that he’d seek out a boundary to stomp.

              1. YetAnotherAnalyst*

                Solidarity – I also grew up amongst the zebra herds. I’m glad this was some time ago for you, and I hope you’ve ended up somewhere where the equines are a little less bitey!

        2. Irish Teacher.*

          Yeah, I had a dad who would do stuff onto that line and in his case it definitely wasn’t sabotage, but more…anxiety, I think. He’d do things like coming in and asking when I was starting or if he was making too much noise, interrupting me to do that. Or he’d need something and would want to ask for it just before I started, but would forget the time and ask ten minutes after I started.

          I think it was a combination of anxiety and simply being from another era (he was born in the 1930s) and not really understanding what I was doing, like assuming I was e-mailing the other person or something and therefore short interruptions wouldn’t be such a big deal.

          That said, it could also be sabotage or a control thing, but I wouldn’t necessarily assume it to be.

        3. Myrin*

          I’m surprised several people are reading it that way – it seems entirely clear to me that his behaviour was intentional, not least of all because of the behaviour described in the second paragraph and, most importantly, the quotation marks around “forgot”.

          OP sounds like she has a good head on her shoulders and handled the situation extremely well, and that reasonableness shines through in the letter itself which makes it sound more harmless than if others (myself included) described it, but I’d be very surprised if there weren’t some dominance issues going on here.

          1. MigraineMonth*

            I would be very confused if Alison/LW used the term “boundary-stomping” to describe someone who was genuinely absent-minded or forgetful. We can speculate about what he wanted to get out of it, but LW’s father was intentionally disrupting those interviews.

        4. I'm just here for the cats!*

          I don’t think thats what at play here since the OP says that they put up signs and he ignored them. They just used that as an excuse to employers

        5. doreen*

          It could be any number of things. It can be somewhat intentional without actually being about sabotage or control. I can completely see my mother doing this , not because she wanted to sabotage the interview and long before she was a forgetful old woman. It’s because the world revolved around her and if she wanted to vacuum the hallway the fact that I had a sign on the door saying I was on an interview would not even register.

        6. I Need Coffee*

          Speaking from experience and with the assumption that the father is on the elderly side, that generation is not used to the virtual working world. They forget that although they only see one person, they are interrupting a conversation.

          It most likely doesn’t come from a malicious place. It comes from a person fully absorbed in his thought process: I must do the thing before I forget. It’s only Jane in the room, I’ll go in quietly and not bother her, not fully grasping that someone else is in the room via camera/mic.

          1. JustaTech*

            There were times, especially in the early days of the pandemic, where it was very clear that my in-laws Did Not understand work-from-home.
            “Aren’t you bored?” they would ask (MIL is retired but FIL was still running his business).
            “No? We just told you about our grueling 8 straight hours of meetings. We’re exhausted.”

            And before that when I was doing distance graduate school while on vacation with them one time, my husband had to explain to his mother 5 or 6 times that I had lectures to listen to, *and* readings to do, *and* homework assignments, and no, I wasn’t going to be done in 10 minutes. (This had all been clearly explained before we left.)
            Some people never experienced working from anywhere other than an office, and can’t adjust their mindset.

        7. Petty Betty*

          A lot of people in older age groups bank on people thinking that they are becoming forgetful so they can continue to get away with bad behavior.

          I worked with an older man who specifically enjoyed playing up the “dirty old man” persona to the point that he was banned from more than one bank branch and finally had his account cancelled because he kept hitting on bank tellers. He was banned from more than one restaurant for his unrepentant harassment of waitresses. We had to ban him from a few of his more adult-themed jokes at our all-ages performances (and he still tried to slip them in during his walk-around performances). He’d been spoken to multiple times by multiple people (including his peers of his own age!). He openly said that he was *enjoying* his “dirty old man stage” and would continue to do so.

          My grandmother was much the same way in a different regard. Phone calls? Not on her watch. If you took a phone call in her house, she considered it disrespectful and would slam cupboard doors, walk in on you, talk loudly, interrupt you, and yell that your kids were doing something dangerous (even if kid was napping). Anything to get you off the phone. Because being on the phone was rude. Eventually, she convinced herself that you being on your cell phone was actually charging HER landline long distance rates (yeah, we didn’t really understand that one either). She was mentally competent at the time. She was just grasping at straws to justify why she didn’t want people answering phone calls while in her home without saying that she wanted attention focused on her 100% of the time.

        8. Laura*

          I don’t think so. The dad never self corrected when he saw OP on a call, so it seems purposeful. Plus he probably isn’t so old that he had dementia

      2. Jessen*

        As someone who’s had a parent who could do things like this, sometimes “boundary issue” means “I’m going to throw a tantrum because you dared set a perfectly reasonable boundary with me.”

        1. Super*

          Yup. My abusive ex never saw a boundary he could allow to go unstomped. It didn’t matter how little the boundary, or how reasonable, or how carefully communicated.

          There was a countdown from when I laid the boundary to when he would stomp on it – often it would be SUCH a coincidence and accident that he just so happened to violate the boundary, other times (more rarely, in service of plausible deniability to others) was done aggressively.

          This dad reminds me of him.

        2. CommanderBanana*

          Yes, my dad used to pull bullshit like this with me. I was in grad school full-time AND working full-time and he’d do stuff like wait until 11pm at night to suddenly “have” to steam clean the tile floor outside my room, which didn’t have a door, just a curtain because it was a repurposed family room (of course, he had a door installed to that room after I moved out). He would ABSOLUTELY have done something like the LW’s dad if virtual interviews had been a thing at the time.

          And yes, we’re no contact now. :D

          1. anon for this*

            My friend group did a weekly video chat during the lockdown. We’re all middle-aged women, mostly empty nesters, so you’d think the distractions would have been minimal.

            One friend who’s caring for her parents would take the calls at the kitchen table because that’s where she could be within earshot if someone needed help. She’d tell her parents every time that she was going to be on a call. And every single week, her father would find a reason to walk sloooowly across the background, with his shirt off, sometimes more than once.

            My friend’s in her sixties and her dad is 90-something, so I don’t think this was quite the flex he thought it was, but…

            1. Petty Betty*

              This reminds me of two ex-husbands, my dog and at least 3 cats I’ve owned over the years…
              I dunno, a video chat isn’t complete right now without me saying “no Pablo, nobody wants to see your pooploop, you potato”. I don’t know about anybody else, though.

            2. Cicely*

              These situations make me even more grateful to my parents, who would leave the house whenever I had phone interviews so I could feel free to speak as I needed to without wondering if I was interfering with their TV watching, reading, etc., and just have the peace of having the house to myself, since interviews are daunting enough.

              Thanks again, Mom and Dad.

      3. Beth*

        I really wouldn’t jump to sabotage. I stayed with my parents for several months during the pandemic (I’d just moved to a new city before lockdown started and it was too lonely) and my dad had the HARDEST time understanding that when I said I couldn’t be disturbed, that meant he really couldn’t pop in, not even for one quick question or to quietly offer a snack or because the dog wanted to come say hi or because my aunt was on the phone. To be fair to him, the last time I holed up in my childhood bedroom and told him to leave me alone was when I was a surly teenager! But he clearly struggled to understand that what I was doing was real work and I needed to be professional–he’d always worked in office and also retired before video meetings were common at work, and what I was doing was just outside his realm of experience. It took me getting snappy at him a couple times for it to sink in.

        1. Jessen*

          LW says that this is a constant when they’re interviewing and frames it as not just interrupting but making an abnormal amount of noise. Plus ignoring the sign on the door. It feels to me more like jumping to conclusions to try to find reasons why this isn’t sabotage based on what they said in the letter, honestly.

    2. Luva*

      I had a meeting today in the same room as my husband, who was loudly running on a treadmill while watching a loud YouTube video. I didn’t think I’d have to talk, but I did, and I apologized for the background noise but my colleagues said they couldn’t really hear anything. My expensive noise cancelling headset has paid for itself many times over.

      1. learnedthehardway*

        Can confirm – my noise-cancelling headset has been vital to working in a house where demolition of my floors were happening. Very worthwhile purchase.

        Having a digital background also works well to remove wanderers-in from appearing in meetings.

        Not that this happens often, but it has happened a non-zero number of times during client meetings. Weirdly, my kids are better trained than my spouse.

        1. Transatlantic*

          Which headphones do you use? I’m looking to upgrade my old plug in iPhone earbuds, but I’ve had such trouble in the past with official phone headsets from Plantronics and Jabra that I don’t know what to get any more. Thanks.

    3. GammaGirl1908*

      Coming to say this! The right headphone / microphone situation can work wonders. People really underestimate this. I live alone in a decently insulated apartment, and I wear headphones for interviews and meetings. They don’t have to be super expensive. There was a letter here about a similar situation where the commentariat recommended a headset that cost less than $50.

      I also would do my best to go anywhere else. Book a room at a library. Go to a friend’s house (bonus if the friend is at work herself).

      1. GammaGirl1908*

        One specific headset recommended in the AAM thread upstream as extremely effective at picking up *only* the intended voice and canceling out surrounding noise, as well as being reasonably priced, was the Logitech H390, which right now is about $20-$25 at Amazon and Target.

        Seems worth putting $25 into this as a start.

        1. Artemis*

          +1 My company provides us with headsets, so I don’t think they’re expensive, but they work really well at completely eliminating background noise while allowing my voice to be heard clearly. My dog was barking right next to me, and no one heard it (I apologized for the noise, and no one knew what I was taking about).

      2. DannyG*

        I’m going to agree on the headset: l had a cheap one which was ok, got one of the Logitech models, full over-the-ears and it’s terrific. My wife is retired and frequently has one or more of the grandkids and nobody would know unless I mentioned it. The microphone really cuts out other sounds, even the grumpy old Yorkie and the dachshund sisters fussing with each other by my feet while I work.

    4. Sparkle Motion*

      You’re thinking of headphones with a unidirectional mic. That would be my recommendation as well.

    5. Sailor Susie*

      OP here. I should indeed have gotten a better microphone sooner than I did. (Headset mike should really be considered a standard peripheral, like a mouse!) Wouldn’t have solved the physical interruptions and photobombs, but it would have solved the BACKGROUND noise.

  2. Middle Name Danger*

    LW1, your employee could apply for intermittent FMLA as a precaution in case he needs to miss days here and there. IANAL but I believe that would offer protection but not require him to take a huge chunk of time off.

    1. MassMatt*

      I think whether or not this employee is disabled is being overlooked here. I think it’s lousy that the company plans to lay off an employee undergoing chemo, especially one as dedicated as this, but the fact that he is coming in to work each day is saying some form of disability is probably not warranted. Not sure about what the requirements are for FMLA.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        FMLA is for medical care—yours or an immediate family member’s.
        It has no statement of disability —it says you need time in the day for medical care, appointmens, etc.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          By the way additional reasons are covered but child care is not the issue here.

          The trouble with FMLA is that in most states it’s unpaid. Some families cannot afford the time off. I’d still recommend filing even if it’s not used.

          1. Hastily Blessed Fritos*

            Unpaid FMLA while getting health insurance sure beats being laid off and having neither income nor health insurance!

        2. Cmdrshprd*

          I think what @MassMatt was getting at was that OP mentioned recommending the employee apply for FMLA and/or long term disability.

          In terms of disability if the employee is still coming in and working (and is in fact insisting on it) it would seem to go against any claim of short/long term disability. I don’t know about short/long term disability but it would seem strange that the employee could just decide from one day to the next that they are disabled and choose to go on disability when they were able/choosing to go into work before.

          Now that is not to say that cancer/chemo can’t be progressive and get to a point that the person does end up needing to go on short/long term disability.

          1. Jill of all Trades*

            Hi, am disabled and have dealt with short term disability. Disclaimer that I’m in the US.

            Whether or not you can keep short term disability in your back pocket really depends on your doctors. Unlike federal disability and Medicare benefits, there’s no requirement to justify why you could work one day and can’t work for the next 6 weeks. It’s all up to whether your doctors are willing to put their name on paper to say that you need it.

            Whether or not you can go on intermittent ST disability is a different story. I am not sure what’s normally offered on that front.

      2. Engineer*

        FMLA has nothing to do with disability. It’s supposed to allow you to take up to 12 weeks off in order to deal with family and/or medical events – birth or adoption of a child, broken ankle, chemo, something currently undiagnosed that’s requiring a lot of appointments as doctors try to figure it out…. FMLA can run concurrent with short- or long-term disability, or it can be granted independent of those.

        FMLA can even be granted to those acting in the role of caretakers – that’s my current situation. My leave is considered intermittent, and I am required to use my PTO for pay while I still have a PTO balance so that part sucks, but having FMLA leave on my record is a bit of protection if for some reason my bosses start questioning my need to leave early or come in late some days.

        1. Artemesia*

          Companies also are reluctant to lay off people on FMLA or at least are slowed down a bit for rear of lawsuit on discrimination. This person needs to have that paperwork in TODAY.

      3. NMitford*

        Also, long-term disability is not in and of itself a form of leave. It’s a form of insurance. It’s how you get paid while you’re on leave. FMLA is, by definition, unpaid leave. Short- or long-term disability insurance is how someone can get paid when they’ve exhausted any paid leave that they may have.

      4. Alright Alright Alright*

        FMLA is job-protected unpaid leave. Under FMLA, the employee is entitled to take time off for chemo and the employer can’t fire him for it. Disability doesn’t enter into it.

      5. Mim*

        In addition to what others have said re disability, I need to point out that whether or not the employee feels ill enough to not work right now, it’s quite possible that the cumulative effects of chemo will cause them to need some time off after future treatments. I think it would be wise for anyone undergoing a prolonged medical treatment plan to have some sort of FMLA paperwork initiated with their employer so if/when they do need to take some time off, that part is already done. It also helps set up the expectation with their employer that this is a possibility or even a likelihood. Even if they don’t end up needing it, they won’t know they didn’t need it until after the fact.

        I say this as someone who took intermittent FMLA during chemo, and whose needs for time off after treatments varied and increased as time went on. My treatments were once every other week – at first I only needed a couple of days off, and by the end I was taking off the entire week after treatment.

        The frustrating thing is that while my chemo was disabling (IDK what else you’d call it when the medical care you require to continue living renders you sick enough to not be able to do anything for days at a time), I didn’t actually qualify for short term disability because I was never disabled for a long enough stretch for it to kick in. Our system is so broken, as is the red tape surrounding what does and doesn’t count as disability. So glad I didn’t get to take any vacation time that year, since I had to use up all my PTO to maintain a salary while undergoing treatment, instead of qualifying for STD to help supplement some of that. Ugh.

    2. Cmdrshprd*

      IANAL but from what I understand FMLA is not a get out of jail free card. People can and have been laid off while on FMLA or other protected leave.

      FMLA protects your job as long as the job exists, if the job is terminated it no longer exists and FMLA means nothing.

      You can’t be fired while on FMLA and they hire new person to do the job. You can’t be laid off because your on FMLA, but if another business reason exists, like they decide to cut the last hired teapot maker or the most junior, or the lowest performing 10% teapot makers. so long as they have a reason that was not based on the FMLA leave itself they can still be fired.

      if the employee has been coming in everyday I don’t think they would qualify for long of even short term disability.

      1. raincoaster*

        They can. When I was a barista and diagnosed with cancer, I got leave with minimal pushback. Although I could have poured coffee easily enough, there’s no way I could have lifted a case of milk (40 lbs) as mandated in the job description. Once I pointed that out, it was no issue.

        People can and do show up at work so sick they should be at jome. For many, it’s a self-image. They don’t want to be “weak” or let the disease rob them of the life they’ve known.

        1. T.*

          While it is generous to think about this one person, you could listen to every person and hear a story from them to make you think they should stay. If the role is being cut and you had 2 people doing chemo, 1 had to go, how would you decide? You need to put on your analytical hat and find some other criteria why it makes more business was sense to save him/his role. The key to equity is the criteria you are measuring and not letting other subjective factors influence decision.

          1. StarTrek Nutcase*

            Definitely agree and yet something that is frequently overlooked out of sympathy for a worker with personal issues. I consider this in same vein as the accommodations made for parents but not non-parents – either accommodations are possible or not.

            It’s wrong to lay off someone simply because of cancer, but if layoffs are needed avoiding laying off the one with cancer out of sympathy is also wrong.

            1. Ashley*

              The catch to this though is how insurance is typically done in the US. If this employee is reliant on company provided health insurance it literally could be a death sentence depending on their ability to self finance. It takes time to get on public assistance and find a doctor who will take it.

              1. rebelwithmouseyhair*

                Yeah. OP doesn’t want this guy to die, and I’d say that’s a pretty good reason to not lay him off.
                The problem lies in the system whereby you need a job to have health insurance.
                Then businesses find themselves in the position of not being able to lay off a sick person because it would be signing their death sentence, so they end up with a sick workforce, when those sick people would be better off getting some rest, and there are plenty of healthy people who could take the job over.
                But until such times as a better system is in place, I would do all I could to help this stellar employee.

                1. Cicely*

                  I hope in my lifetime we get a full, bona-fide public option by decoupling health insurance from employment.

              2. DisgruntledPelican*

                It’s quite likely that many employees are reliant on that company provided health insurance, though. This employee has made OP privy to their medical needs, but that doesn’t mean no one else has any.

          2. Prof*

            I also don’t like playing the “who deserves/needs this job/insurance more game”. I’m disabled, but you can’t tell from lookin at me and I don’t need accommodations (just lots of expensive medications), so I don’t tell work. You don’t know what’s happening in other people’s lives.

      2. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Yes they can.

        It can be as simple as the doctor can say you’re hindering your own recovery by not resting X hours/day.

      3. Also-ADHD*

        The fact that the list existed and was circulated before he applied may be their “safety proof” but many businesses would at least try to put folks who had recently applied for disability or FMLA on the list unless they had clearly defensible reasons, because the issue is being sued for the appearance (or reality) of discrimination.

        Though frankly having a disability or long term illness that’s known is likely to get people thinking of you as more of a potential layoff sometimes (even if they don’t consciously think of it “because” of your illness, there is some unconscious bias). So you should generally apply for intermittent FMLA and disability as soon as one of the factors is imminent for this reason, in my opinion (so a company doesn’t beat you to the punch and discriminate with impunity). Formal disclosure or complete secrecy are the two safest modes. Everything in between is a bad idea. (Though formal disclosure doesn’t have to be FMLA or disability accommodation specifically. There are other means too.)

        If LW has no influence over the list, and the list was already made, I think the employer filing now wouldn’t help that much. Still should—would help some places—but their liability is very possibly well covered.

      4. SpaceySteph*

        Yeah, I’m skeptical that requesting FMLA would help the employee in the post, unless the reason they’re on the chopping block is for attendance/performance issues that are attributable to the chemo. If the company is laying off people based on other reasonable criteria, they can include this employee even if they were on FMLA or disability.

        That said, I would always recommend people do request FMLA if they are eligible (and receiving/recovering from regular chemo treatments would definitely qualify, even if they are mostly able to work) because it does provide some protections.

      5. Aitch Arr*

        You are correct.
        If they are eliminating the job, FMLA won’t matter.

        It may, however, mean they offer a better severance package.

    3. Workaholic*

      LW4: I often feel like I’m the go-to person at my work. coworkers on my team, other teams, clients (my own, and sometime not my own) come to me with questions. I love knowing the answers, but it does muddy up the waters on what specific roles are within the company. It also takes time away from doing my actual job. And as noted – LW’s boss won’t know who needs more training if they’re always going outside the team to ask.

      1. Emdee*

        I wanted to add something similar- does Jeff enjoy being the go to person for this team? Because as someone who’s transitioned internally 2 times, I found it really time consuming and distracting to be pulled back into my old role via 6 million teams chats and requests for “quick calls” throughout the day, continuing well after the official handover was complete. People should be able to focus on their own job without doing someone else’s as well. Managers should protect their employees time and energy so they can do their actual jobs (and Jeff should start saying “sorry, don’t know” to those questions).

        1. solid yellow line*

          Or, contrariwise, does Jeff actually enjoy being the go-to person for the other team because it allows him to avoid parts of his current responsibilities? That’s a dynamic I’m seeing in real time with a colleague who loved being the go-to person and does *not* love their current duties, which means their assigned work is taking far, far longer than it should.

          1. Emdee*

            Good point! There’s a guy at my work who tries to take on work he wants to be doing, rather than do his actual job. We’ve recently hired several new people in the role he wants (but was rejected from) and he is targeting them, offering help “for real, even though most people are just saying that.” He leaves his team out to dry most days and slows down the new people who rely on him rather than learn for themselves.
            Not sure why his manager just stands by but we have a lot of weirdness at work. Thank god for home office and a good paycheck.

    4. rebelwithmouseyhair*

      Yes, and then he could maybe finally take a few days off here and there instead of coming from the hospital bed into work. Call me a bleeding heart but that .. made my heart bleed.

    1. East Coast Lifer*

      To clarify, employers who can show a non-discriminatory reason for laying off an employee may do so even if the employee is on FMLA leav. Where there is documentation that the employee was on the termination list prior to requesting FMLA leave (as is the case here given OP’s knowledge), the employer can proceed with the layoff.

    2. Caroline*

      FMLA doesn’t provide you with legal protection from being laid off if you otherwise would have been laid off anyway, but in cases where companies are picking and choosing a few individuals to cut (rather than cutting whole teams/branches/divisions), sometimes they skip over the FMLA folks because the potential legal issues and bad press aren’t worth the headache.

      1. East Coast Life*

        Honestly, I don’t love giving the “edge” to people on FMLA. This scenario is one of many reasons healthcare should be decoupled from employment, but employers should avoid making value judgments about which employee “deserves” a job more (e.g., employee with known illness, other employee who’s the sole support of a struggling family, etc.). Companies should endeavor to be humane and generous from a general, high-level perspective, but laying off an employee who is performing better for another employee because the latter is ill doesn’t feel right either. It’s a tough situation for sure.

        1. Ariaflame*

          True, but the one who is performing better has a much much better chance of obtaining another job, possibly a better paid one.

        2. Tau*

          Fun fact: in my country you’re actually legally required to go about layoffs this way. The reasoning, I am guessing, is that the expectation is that you should managing and eventually using other tools to fire unacceptably low performers, while if you’re laying off you’re explicitly saying it’s not driven by anyone’s performance but by business needs. It is therefore illegal to consider performance when deciding whom to lay off – the company needs to decide based on the “social criteria” of age, disability, dependents and length with the company, so that it retains those who are deemed by the law to be the ones most likely to have difficulty finding a new job. Laid off employees can sue over this and the company must be able to prove it based the selection on an appropriate points system based on those factors.

          1. Emmy Noether*

            I think from a purely business perspective, you can have a lowest performer that isn’t necessarily unacceptably low if you have the budget. So if you have, say, 10 easter egg painter positions, it makes sense to keep the bunny that paints only 20 per day, because you’re not sure to find better if you fire and rehire. You almost always have a lowest, even if you don’t have a “low” at all. But if you reduce to 8 painters, you still want to let go that one, and not the one that can do 25. It is objectively better for your business to let go the lowest performer (or the highest paid one… it should be a cost per egg calculus from a business standpoint).

            Now, in real life, it’s rarely that simple anyway – people can bring value that isn’t measurable, etc.

            I do think the logic behind the social criteria is pure worker protection (negotiated and pushed by unions). It’s not because there aren’t supposed to be lowest performers, it’s because it’s in the interest of society and workers as a group. Funnily enough, the places with those rules tend to have you keep your health insurance regardless, so the impact wouldn’t even be as potentially devastating.

          2. Phryne*

            I don’t know the specifics in my country, but I believe it is similar. If a company wants to do layoffs, they have to make a so called ‘social plan’ in which they outline what they will do for the people being layed off to get new jobs, and they are legally committed to that plan. So from a business perspective, it makes sense to fire people from the plant in the area where there is plenty of work, and not the area where this plant is a major employer. And it makes sense to lay off the people that can get another job easily within a couple of months rather than the ones that won’s as they will bear some financial responsibility for those for some time.

            1. Cmdrshprd*

              Eh I actually don’t think so.

              My initial (based on my capitalist/business first mindset) was along similar line, that does not make sense for the business, it is in their best interest to keep the best performers, even if everyone else is hitting their metrics/benchmarks it is likely that some people will be better than others. You can have 10 employees who are all performing at 85% and above but 4 are at 85%, 4 at 90%, 1 at 92%, 1 at 95% from the companies perspective if they need to layoff 4 people yes it makes sense to lay off the 4 at 85%.

              But from a people first over profits/company perspective if everyone is performing adequately it makes sense to keep people that would be less marketable and might have a harder time getting a new job. If they can’t get a new job it is less people in the employment/job market. Letting go of the higher performing people means they are likely to find a new job and overall keep the same number of people employed.

        3. Project Maniac-ger*

          I agree, we got to the gender pay gap in part from “but he needs to support his family.” However, it’s not black and white – people tend to perform worse when they’re getting chemo, or taking care of a sick family member, or whatever. That’s where FMLA comes in – this person might only have 3/4 of the sales quota for the quarter (thus underperforming), but since they were approved for FMLA and was out sick 3/4 of the quarter, that’s not counted against them. But yeah, if someone is mean to coworkers and accomplishes 10% of what they should but claims it’s because the squirrel that lives in their backyard tree needs emotional support… that’s not covered by FMLA so they are not protected.

    3. Artemesia*

      It sometimes slows it down. I know someone with severe mental illness that developed in middle age who probably got a year more insurance coverage and months more income because of concerns about laying him off with FMLA protection.

  3. Artemesia*

    Oh please get this guy on FMLA like asap. Totally framed in the context of his illness and protecting himself. No nod to layoffs.

    1. Attractive Nuisance*

      Absolutely agreed. I have a couple of employees who have used either FMLA or my organization’s short term disability program and the paperwork was confusing for me as a clear headed manager. I wouldn’t want to try it with the stress of illness and/or chemo brain.

    2. I'm just here for the cats!*

      I’m surprised that the employee didnt already have it set up. Just because you have FMLA doesn’t mean that they have to use it. I think there are still so many misconceptions about FMLA, like it has to be taken all at once, it looks like you are lazy or taking advantage of the system (yes I’ve gotten this before, from my boss no less).

      If I were a manager, or even just a coworker, and I found out that my employee was dealing with cancer, I would immediately show my support and give them all the info they need for FMLA and explain that it can be used as a backup, just in case something happens like a hospital stay, etc.

    3. lilsheba*

      It literally says above this comment that FMLA doesn’t protect from layoffs. But that being said I think the head people at this company SUCK for laying off an employee with cancer! Not only debilitating but expensive! How could they? They are a horrible employer.

  4. MPerera*

    Now and then I imagine what it might be like to win the lottery, but these are always brief dreams because I’ve never bought a lottery ticket (and even if I won something somehow, I’d rather go part-time than quit my job entirely). There’s a lottery at my workplace where you can have five dollars automatically deducted from each paycheck and be entered into the draw, but since the total payout is something like $26,000, no one’s retiring on this, and I don’t participate in this one either. But I do cheer on one of my coworkers who does, because if she wins, she’ll buy us donuts.

      1. Ally McBeal*

        I think about this post every time I fantasize about winning the lottery. Most lottery winners do not see net improvements to their lives, to the point where some people get hit with the unlucky stick so badly that it’s fatal. It’s a good reminder that the grass is always greener on the other side.

      2. Statler von Waldorf*

        After I read that letter I came here just to share that exact Reddit post. Seconding that it’s worth the read.

    1. Cmdrshprd*

      is this an employer/company lottery only? or is it a employee lottery pool?

      imo lottery pool for $26k does not seem worth it, like if 10 people are in it and they win they get a $2.6k split before taxes.

      Also was it just me or was the first lottery article just completely miss factoring the first house at all after paying the mortgage.

      They deducted $75k to payoff the current mortgage but then deducted $250k to buy a new house, but left the value of the first house in a sale or if it was kept rent/income generation off the balance sheet if it was kept.

      I know they were trying to make. broader point, but it seems like missing such a significant detail makes everything else they said seem less credible.

      1. MPerera*

        The employee lottery is hosted by the organization which employs us, and any employee can enter for $5 per paycheck. Each month there’s a draw, and one person wins (it makes the front page of our website). We’re in Canada, so from what I understand, there are no taxes on winnings.

        I’ve occasionally thought about entering, but budget-wise, I couldn’t justify spending $120 a year when there’s a high probability that nothing will come of it.

        1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

          I wondered “what’s the benefit for the company in running this” and then realised that this gives them an interest-free loan/float of $26k (or whatever the pool is) – something to think about.

        2. Cmdrshprd*

          I’m really curious about the mechanics of this, because in the US the lottery systems are state run and bring in more money than they give out, as I understand it but I could be wrong.
          $26k payout you would need 5,200 employees (or tickets bought if they allow people to buy more than one) to enter just to break even. That seems like a higher number needed to break even even for a large company. At 5,200 entries/tickets even if each employee bought 4 you would still need 1,300 employees to participate.

          Is there a guaranteed pay out as in one of the tickets/employees entered will win (sort of like a raffle) or is it based on a random number generated, so if no one picks it no one wins the money.

          If the lottery actually makes money does the business/organization just keep it? where does the money go?

          1. MPerera*

            It’s called the fifty-fifty lottery, so I had the impression the company contributed towards the payout as well as this coming out of tickets the employees bought, and you’re allowed to buy up to four. There is a guaranteed payout (one person wins with each draw), and looking at the description of the lottery on the website, it says the lottery has also raised funds to support our work and to promote research. So it must be making some money for the business as well.

      2. Support Project Nettie*

        I’d guess anyone talking about this subject would be talking about an amount large enough to never, ever have to think about working again – not a few (hundred) thousand dollars. Consensus in my team is that the boss would be getting a resignation notice via text whilst at the airport.

        I suppose the answer to the OPs question depends on how much you respect your employer (and vice versa). One answer could be “This is the last time you tell me I’m a terrible employee when [insert reason accusation is untrue]. I quit.” and never look back.

        1. Annie*

          If it’s significant enough to let you quit your job, I think you need to spend some time making sure everything is in place financially before texting your boss “take this job and shove it!”

          I think giving two weeks would be fine, but you’re not really going to be focused on work much even if you do. As one of the articles said, your new job is managing your fortune.

      3. Emmy Noether*

        That article did mention the first house sort of as an afterthought at the end, like oh, you might have more capital, or an income stream if renting it out. It was strange, since they put numbers on everything else, and this is sort of a big chunk that they just handwaved. Maybe they forgot at first and didn’t want to redo the math.

    2. Random Dice*

      I wouldn’t spend my imagination hours on the conversation with work. I’d focus it on how to claim the ticket anonymously and how to give money to my loved ones anonymously.

    3. Amber T*

      I remember having this conversation with two coworkers years ago. One coworker said he would probably finish up the year and make sure he had a replacement in place before leaving, the other said she was just peace out and not show up the next day. After however many years, I lean towards agreeing with the second coworker now.

      1. BlondeSpiders*

        It’s funny, I often have this conversation with my boss, when discussing documentation of my specialized role.

        Me: No one here would know how to handle my duties if I got hit by a bus tomorrow
        Boss, interrupting: No no, if you won the lottery tomorrow!

        She’s always trying to keep it positive. :)

        1. Annie*

          That’s what I always say. If they say “someone gets hit by a bus” I always change it to “someone wins the lottery.” Much less dark!

    4. lilsheba*

      Frankly I’d be the one that if I did win the lottery I would say “BYE I’m never coming back!” Cause I don’t care.

    5. Student*

      I once had a job where the scenario of someone leaving because they “won the lottery” was, for some reason, the go-to euphemism for death. We had a lot of employees who were older and a somewhat hazardous line of work, so the concern about people dying was not unwarranted and indeed came up during my work there.

      As in, they’d say things like: “We need some better succession planning for this position/role and some repository for critical documentation in case Joe [who is in his 70s] wins the lottery.”

      It’s stuck with me. Now death is the first thing I think of when someone brings up “winning the lottery”.

  5. BuildMeUp*

    #4 – Yes, OP, you need to respect the other manager’s request. Maybe ask her the best way for Jeff to respond to future requests for help – redirecting them to her, the training manual, etc.

    Jeff’s assistance has prevented quite a few schedule slips over the last year and helps PMs during around proposals very quickly

    This jumped out at me. In addition to the things Alison mentioned, it’s possible the other manager is trying to make a case for hiring someone at a higher experience level than her current direct reports, and Jeff’s ‘help’ is making things look better than they are.

    1. MassMatt*

      #4 It might be a case of “not your circus, not your monkeys” but I was once in a position much like that employee, only it was my own manager telling me to cut down on helping the people on the other team. At the time I was experienced but still at the bottom of the totem pole. I said “OK, I’ll stop, but people are coming to me because they need answers, and they can’t get them from their manager or senior team leads. Is anyone besides me noticing this, or addressing it?”

      If there are issues in the organization, whether on your team or not, it makes sense to address them. Properly handled (I.e. you are offering a solution, not making someone feel attacked) this could be an excellent opportunity to be a problem solver.

      1. EvilQueenRegina*

        That is what this other manager should ideally be considering – why do the team still feel the need to go to Jeff with these queries? Is it because this manager’s not very available to her team? Not very approachable? Has she asked them not to go to Jeff and they’re disregarding it?

        1. Observer*

          It’s quite probable that is considering all of those things. We have absolutely no way to know because the LW doesn’t tell us. And the LW may also not know. It doesn’t sound like that have asked about it, either.

      2. Lurker*

        I know managers don’t need to explain the reasoning behind their decisions, but I think there’s no reason why this manager couldn’t have given some plausible, mild explanation instead of chastising this guy. “Stop helping my team so I can better evaluate their ability to ____.” Idk it just seems better to give a little more info when there wouldn’t be a consequence to it.

      3. Observer*

        “OK, I’ll stop, but people are coming to me because they need answers, and they can’t get them from their manager or senior team leads. Is anyone besides me noticing this, or addressing it?”

        It’s a good question. But it’s one that’s above your pay grade (at the time.) So it was good you asked, but after that you did need to pull back.

        Properly handled (I.e. you are offering a solution, not making someone feel attacked) this could be an excellent opportunity to be a problem solver.

        My tendency is to agree with this. But that works *only* if the LW gets over their attitude. They consider the other manager “unprofessional”. And it seems that they consider that they have standing to decide what resources this other team uses. That’s not a good starting point for offering helpful and respectful suggestions.

    2. ccsquared*

      Agreed – it seems plausible to me that the other manager is taking a capacity-building view, whether that’s because she needs more experienced people, training budget, or just for her people to get better at flexing their problem-solving muscles by getting further on their own before they ask for help. Well-meaning, helpful people sometimes have to be coached on the right amount of help to give so that they aren’t papering over root causes that need to be addressed. This often requires multiple conversations and is easier to do when it’s someone on your own team, so she may have felt the more respectful and straightforward thing for you and Jeff was just to ask that he not help at all.

      I also second talking with the other manager if you haven’t. Capacity-building and meeting current goals are often in tension within an organization, and it might be fruitful for both of you to talk through this if you can approach it from a spirit of collegiality and curiosity.

    3. Dorothy Zpornak*

      Except that if she were a competent manager, she wouldn’t be reaching out to OP and telling her to stop her employee from helping people when they ask, she would be talking to *her team* and telling them they should be bringing those questions to her (or giving them some other solution). She’s trying to make OP/Jeff out to be the AH, refusing help, because she doesn’t want to be the one to tell them they can’t ask for the support they need, or she just doesn’t talk to/manage her team at all, or she has told them this but her team goes around her because she doesn’t give them the support she needs…

      Yes, OP does ultimately have to respect her request, but I can’t imagine any non-dysfunctional reason why this manager would be trying to control someone else’s employee rather than talking to her own employees about what procedure they should follow.

      1. GythaOgden*

        She could already be doing that AND asking Jeff to stay clear in order to help facilitate that.

        1. Anonys*

          But if she has – and she has her direct reports under control – there would actually be no need to contact Jeff at all, because the requests to him would just stop.

          If other manager thinks her reports might still ask Jeff despite being instructed otherwise, the better message to Jeff would have been: “Hi Jeff, I know you have been responding to some requests from my reports since you left old division and I appreciate your continued willingness to help. However, i really need the team to become comfortable handling our processes without relying on your assistance. If you receive any further requests for help with something regarding my division, I would ask you to please re-direct those to me. I have also communicated this expectation to my team.”

          I am sure if she had worded it something like that rather than be adversarial and accuse Jeff of overstepping for the very normal act of answering requests from colleagues, there would be no drama.

          1. Ama*

            Yeah I don’t love the way the manager worded the request at all, but as someone who has had to tell my reports that they should say no to certain requests from colleagues because we weren’t supposed to be handling that work, sometimes the manager of the person helping does need to step in and tell their employee “you should be saying no to this, that department/colleague needs to be handling that on their own.”

            What OP can do if Jeff finds it awkward to say no is tell him that if people push back when he declines he can forward them to her and she’ll take care of it.

        2. Anonys*

          Also, while I agree Jeff and OP should comply with other manager’s directive not to help her team, I do just think that “Hi Jane, unfortunately I can’t help with this as your manager asked me not to assist with these requests. Sorry!” is a very awkward message to send! Especially for a simple question I can easily answer.

          But I guess Jeff will have to embrace that awkwardness – does anyone have a better script for him?

          1. Emmy Noether*

            Yeah, I think it will have to be awkward, but in Jeff’s place, I’d definitely make clear that it’s not me, it’s their manager. If he wanted to soften it a bit, he could go with saying he isn’t sure to have the newest info/context since he’s not in the department anymore, so [manager] asked for everything to go through her.

            In my work experience, a straight up refusal to help would definitely not be well received, but a redirect to someone “who is better placed to help” is fine.

          2. Attractive Nuisance*

            He could also approach it as if he is concerned about his workload or availability. “John, you know I don’t mind helping you or my old team when I can. But this has been happening so frequently that I’m worried as my workload in this job increases, I’ll end up leaving you in the lurch when I’m too busy to help. We’ve been lucky so far but I don’t know how much longer that’ll be the case.” Still framed as being concerned and wanting to help but noticing that by continuing as he has been, Jeff could be setting them up for a future failure when they can’t call on him.

            1. Michelle Smith*

              I don’t think this is honest. There is no indication that Jeff has had any problems with his workload or that he has any reason to be worried about an increase. It also doesn’t make sense for him to say that message and then not answer the question because of some hypothetical future in which he might be too busy to answer.

              Just be direct. “Susan asked me to redirect any requests for assistance/questions to her. I won’t be able to assist with these kinds of questions going forward. It’s great to hear from you though!”

            2. Observer*

              He could also approach it as if he is concerned about his workload or availability.

              Why? It’s not true and there is no reason why Jeff needs to cover for the other manager. Either she is right, in which case staff need to know what she’s doing. Or she’s wrong, and Jeff doesn’t need to take the fall and it’s also helpful for her staff to know what’s going on.

          3. General von Klinkerhoffen*

            I think that’s a simple “You need to ask Susanne about that”.

            I’ve been in a similar position, and wanted to focus on my new role. Regardless of how good I might have been at my old job, it was my old job, and outside the initial period of getting my direct replacement up to speed it was very much not my circus.

            Jeff may also be able to start saying that his information is getting out of date. “It used to be xyz but stuff changes all the time. You’re better off asking Susanne.”

            1. Turquoisecow*

              Yeah I was gonna say, if this is an email, I’d reply something like you need to ask (boss) about that because I’m not sure how she wants you to do that/I haven’t done it in awhile/my boss wants me to focus on my own stuff/etc and maybe even copy boss on the reply.

              I agree that refusing a request for help is awkward, and the boss should tell her reports to come to her and not to Jeff rather than expecting Jeff to be the bad guy here. If she wants her reports to do something or not do something, she should be able to communicate that. If they’re going behind her back and asking Jeff because she’s busy or he explains it better then that’s another issue entirely and definitely something OP and Jeff should stay out of.

              Sometimes things don’t get fixed until they break. If Jeff keeps stepping in to fix things then maybe upper management won’t realize that the manager needs more training/people/etc for their department to do their job better.

            2. Ellex*

              In my case, it was actually completely inappropriate for people to be asking me, because I honestly didn’t know the answers to their questions. Sometimes I wasn’t even part of their team, and certainly not in a position above them – I’d just been working there slightly longer. But for far too long, with far too many people, they’d come to me with their questions, I’d tell them “You need to ask [our manager] or [team leader] about that”, and the next time they had a question, back to me they’d come. Even after I told them “You’re interrupting my work, you need to ask the people I’ve already told you – numerous times – to ask”.

              More than once I was told “I thought I’d check with you before I bother them”, or “It’s easier to check with you first,” again, despite me telling them repeatedly that asking me was inappropriate. I also got this regarding things we already had detailed instructions for.

              This is one of the many, many things I love about working from home. I can do my work without anyone bothering me (except the cat).

              1. GythaOgden*

                My colleagues got into very serious trouble for this while I was off. I don’t know what happened (naturally because I was on leave), but it was about a year after a transfer of workers between organisations and yet they were still relying on someone else’s purchasing account to get stuff they needed rather than go to our own networks.

                There weren’t any long-lasting consequences but I picked up some real frustration from my ultimate boss for whom I now act as gofer. I think it was worse because it involved actual money, but it underscored the need to prevent that sort of cross-pollination between organisations going forward.

          4. Cat Tree*

            Honestly if I was in Jeff’s place I’d be really passive aggressive about it. Every time someone asked me a question through email, I’d reply and cc their manager with something like, “adding Jane to the email chain as she requested to handle these questions moving forward.” Other methods of communication are harder, but I’d find a way to make it Jane’s problem every time.

            1. Cmdrshprd*

              “Honestly if I was in Jeff’s place I’d be really passive aggressive about it.”

              If Jane specifically asked to be looped in I don’t see adding her to the email as passive aggressive.

              But I do want to push back on the idea to try and be passive aggressive, Jane isn’t making an outlandish/unreasonable request. As other have mentioned, it might seem silly to Jeff to be told to not be so helpful, but if Jane wants her team to learn how to find the answers themselves with out going to Jeff (like using google, or intranet documents) or to go to Jane (other designated person first) it seems weird to get bent out of shape and to try and purposely be passive aggressive over it.

              Asking Jane how to handle it is reasonable, Jane should I just direct the person to you, FW their email question to you, etc…. Is the way to respond.

          5. I Have RBF*

            That’s the correct script. Yes, it’s awkward, but for the manager in question.

            “Hi Jane. I’m sorry, your manager told my manager that I shouldn’t help you folks any more. If you have questions, you need to ask your manager now. It’s not my choice.”

            1. DisgruntledPelican*

              Or you could leave out the weirdness and just say “your manager has requested that she take care of these requests from now on.” No need for all the your mom talked to my mom and now I’m in trouble.

        3. Also-ADHD*

          No but it sounds like it was framed as Jeff overstepping, and that’s a faux pas (though they should respect the manager’s wishes) if he’s only answering when asked by her team. That’s not overstepping. It’s one thing to say, “I’ve spoken with my team they shouldn’t be coming to you with these issues, but if they do, please tell them you can’t help them any longer.” It’s another thing to act like someone just helping when asked directly by your team is the problem.

          1. Michelle Smith*

            I completely agree that Jeff was not overstepping, but I also agree that the request (however poorly framed and possibly ill-advised) should be honored.

            1. Charlotte Lucas*

              This! We only have one side of the story, but I do agree the request could have been put better.

              It would be nice if the managers gave Jeff a script for when he has to turn down requests for help.

              1. Observer*

                We only have one side of the story, but I do agree the request could have been put better.

                Given the way the LW is reporting this, I don’t know if the request really was put that poorly. The fact is that this is not, and should not have been framed as, a “management chain dispute”. And the fact that the they did frame it that way makes me wonder about the LW’s perceptions.

                I do believe the facts the LW mentions, ie the Jeff is not offering his help, but just answering when asked. But *how* it was presented? Hard to tell.

      2. Anonys*

        100% this. The other manager’s judgment that Jeff should no longer assist is fine, but she has gone about communicating is the issue very badly.

        I particularly have an issue with her telling Jeff to stop “overstepping”. How exactly can what he has been doing considered overstepping? In any well functioning organization I have worked at, the generally expected response when a colleague from another department asks for your help with something is – to help – provided you have the technical ability and workload capacity.

        I think if anything, the other manager’s team members might have been overstepping in continually asking Jeff to assist with work that is no longer part of his job. If other unrelated internal divisions or clients had addressed questions to Jeff and he had answered those requests himself, rather than re-directing them to the other manager’s division, that would be overstepping. But OP has clearly stated all request for help came from directly from Jeff’s old division.

        I am actually in a similar situation to Jeff – I was on a team for a long time, know all the processes and everyone now on the team is very new. I am also still being asked questions occasionally (incl. by the ne manager) and sometimes directly assist with work. I would be happy to stop if either my current manager or my old division’s new one asked me to, btu if I was told that answering requests from my former colleagues was “overstepping”, I would frankly be pissed and I would appreciate my current manager standing up for me in that situation.

        I think OP should speak to the other manager and say: “If you no longer want your team to take their questions to Jeff, of course Jeff will respect that and re-direct any requests to you. I assume you have also communicated this new expectation to your team. But Jeff has so far graciously continued assisting your team when asked to and helped them successfully navigate some tricky situations. Until now, he had no way of knowing that you don’t want him to give this assistance. I don’t agree with your assessment that Jeff has been overstepping in responding to direct questions from your team so far and it seems like you have scolded him for being a responsive and helpful colleague which I don’t think is a message we want to send in this organization.”

        1. hbc*

          The “overstepping” might depend on why they’re coming to Jeff for questions, what he’s been told about helping them, and all kinds of details. I can definitely imagine a scenario where the manager is trying a new approach that Jeff disagrees with, and is helping people get things done faster by doing things the old way.

          …I may or may not have had a Jeff who was happy to “help” speed things along by using short cuts that could come back to bite us later.

          1. Anonys*

            Sure, if Jeff is deliberately trying to undermine new processes/standards the division manager wants to implement with his advice, he is overstepping. However, there is not indication of that in the latter and in any case the key issue would still not be with Jeff but with the division employees following the advice of a former colleague rather than their manager.

            In any case, OP should speak to the division manager. They could approach it more as: “We understood and will follow your request for Jeff not to answer any more questions. But I was confused by the tone of your initial request and the assertion that Jeff is overstepping. From what I understand, Jeff has only been responding to and assisting with direct requests from your team, using his knowledge from his previous role. If there is additional context I am missing, I would appreciate you filling me in as Jeff’s manager, so that I can address any issues. If not, framing being responsive and helpful as overstepping is not a message I want to send to any of my employees”

      3. Dancing Otter*

        That’s why I would tell Jeff to say, “Sorry, I can’t help you because your manager has asked/told me not to.”
        Otherwise, yes, they will think Jeff is being the AH.
        Note: I have been in Jeff’s position before.

    4. Caroline*

      Another case I was thinking of…a few years back I had an underperforming newer employee on a small team. She had transferred from a larger division and was having a hard time adjusting to wearing more hats on our small team. I’d train her on how to do a task and then leave her to do it, only to come back later to find she had done absolutely none of the task at all because she’d asked an experienced employee in the next aisle over a question about the process and heard something that wasn’t perfectly consistent with what I said, and she found that confusing so she just stopped until someone could clarify for her. I would train her on doing a TPS report…there was one basic method with a written process in a binder I wanted her to learn to start, but of course more senior employees knew shortcuts and tips and tricks. I needed her to learn and understand the basic process before we got into the variations. But she’d ask someone for help and suddenly she’d be more confused than ever and she’d just stop working and wait for me to check in. I was building documentation because she wasn’t a good fit, but I also wound up telling her she wasn’t allowed to ask for help from anyone besides me or her trainer, and if she had a question she needed to IM us and wait. And I needed to tell the managers nearby not to allow their folks to help out because it was doing more harm than good. Eventually she transferred back to her old division, which was much larger and arranged workloads so that individuals only had a couple of core tasks they had to do repeatedly all day instead of the multitude of things my team needed to switch between because of our size.

      1. Cabbagepants*

        I just want to empathize with trying to train someone on a complex process when everyone has their own way of doing it! and also with being that person.

    5. Cat Lady in the Mountains*

      Yeah, sometimes it’s really really important as a manager to let my team fail on their own, and someone bailing them out causes problems. I might not be able to share the details with another manager esp if there are sensitive performance issues involved.

      I once had someone on my team who was consistently telling me she’d done the work herself, when she’d actually been asking another team for help. I had a sense that was going on, and it was part of a pattern of her struggling in her role. I felt she was coachable, but in order to coach her, I needed her to tell me when she needed help so I could diagnose where she wasn’t getting it. I had to go to the other team and say “the only answer you can give her when she comes to you is “talk to [me], we can’t help you with that anymore.”

      After a few weeks of people doing that, she started communicating with me enough for me to identify the knowledge gap and fix it. That laid the foundation for a much more trust-oriented relationship with her. She ended up transforming from one-step-away-from-a-PIP to a superstar employee for the next 2 years she was with us.

    6. learnedthehardway*

      It seems to me that the other manager should be approaching Jeff’s manager about this issue. Maybe not before telling Jeff to stop (although depending on the company culture, chain of command could come into play), but to put it in context as to why she doesn’t want him helping her team.

      Since the other manager has not done this, it makes sense for Jeff’s manager to reach out to understand what her concern is and to get her to commit to the fact that Jeff will refer people who ask him questions back to her. I would get that in an email, myself. Last thing you want is for projects to take a nosedive and then for people to complain that Jeff refused to help them.

    7. rebelwithmouseyhair*

      I’m wondering why the employees are turning to him instead of to the manager. Is she some kind of dragon?

      1. MassMatt*

        In my own story, the manager whose people were coming to me was both nasty and remarkably unknowledgeable about all but the most basic info. She was a kiss-up and kick-down kind of person and upper management loved her. This was in a call center and so every minute off the phone affected stats. She had two seniors that were supposed to be the first step of support for her team but she forbade them from doing so and ordered them to stay on the phones at all times.

        Her team’s stats were good at first but started to slide as her experienced people left and turnover of the newer people was through the roof (even considering it was a call center). Her team had to use a cumbersome research request function which took a lot of time to answer fairly basic questions, things that should have taken minutes were taking hours. Eventually her patron in upper management was fired (for manipulating the call stats!), the replacement discovered the festering rot under this rock and she was moved out.

      2. JustaTech*

        Could be.
        Or the manager could be new and the last time [thing they need help with] happened was 5 years ago and the only one who worked on it who is still here is Jeff. (I am that person and some days it is exhausting.)
        Or it could be that these are very technical questions and the manager isn’t a technical person (which is fine!).
        Or it could be that the employees (or a subset of the employees) have a thing about hierarchy and don’t want to “bother” the boss.

      3. Drama Free Since '93*

        LW4 here- oh yeah they’re definitely uncomfortable asking her for help. She also is a MBA so can’t actually help with the technical stuff.

      4. EvilQueenRegina*

        That was my first thought, but then I thought about my coworker who persistently went to her old manager instead of her new one for ages. In that situation, there had been a restructure, with half of us now reporting to a new guy while the other half of the team stayed with old manager. This coworker was not happy about having been moved, and avoided engaging with the new team as much as she could at first – e.g. at the Old Team Christmas party (booked quite a while before the moves and took place right after) she was there cheerfully telling Old Manager “my act of rebellion is not going to any of his team meetings”.

        One of the things she would do was email queries to Old Manager, who would either forward them on to New Manager direct or reply to her saying “I think you need to be asking New Manager about X.” At one point, Grandboss did get it into his head that there was an issue about New Manager being difficult to approach with queries, and the rest of the team were baffled because that really isn’t the case at all, it was just Coworker making the choice to go to Old Manager. Since then she does go to New Manager more with queries.

        Hard to say in this case though why they’re going to Jeff – could be any of the reasons suggested below.

    8. Observer*

      Maybe ask her the best way for Jeff to respond to future requests for help – redirecting them to her, the training manual, etc.

      No doubt about it. Ask her this, and also to let her staff know that they are not supposed to be reaching out to Jeff.

      But otherwise? Yeah, you need to respect her request.

      1. Drama Free Since '93*

        LW4 here- this is what I’ve been trying to determine here, what the desired state is, but she has now twice redirected me to a RACI matrix she wrote and said that should answer all my questions.

    9. Qwerty*

      My experience is that people like Jeff become a crutch. Putting someone between the team and Jeff helps expose where people need to be trained and also forces them to figure stuff out on their own. The manager may decide that it is worth missing the next couple deadlines if it results in hitting the next year’s worth without Jeff’s help. The average experience level is around 5 years, so this isn’t a bunch of new hires.

      Another scenario is that sometimes extra helpful people like Jeff can make it impossible to manage low performers because Jeff helps them meet all of their metrics so there is nothing concrete to point to and no business impact. Or that Bob looks like a higher performer than Amy, but that’s only because Jeff is helping him.

  6. Aardvark*

    #3. I fear for you that it isn’t accidental. Does your Dad have a history of overstepping or deliberately interfering to show he has control?

    If he doesn’t and you genuinely think it is because he is forgetting, perhaps you need to recommend he gets a medical assessment. (And if he is doing it for kicks, that might make him back off for a while)

    I hope you have been able to move out since then. But if not, could you install some sort of lock or even sliding bolt on the door of the room you use?

    1. ecnaseener*

      I think LW knows it isn’t accidental, hence the scare quotes around “forgot.” But this was “many moons ago,” so they don’t need advice about locks or anything now.

  7. Certaintroublemaker*

    I would love if LW3 had waited until dad had barged right into the room to say as maturely and calmly as possible, “I apologize, my father gets very confused.” Let him hear how his behavior looks to the outside world.

    1. Dogmomma*

      somehow I don’t think he’ll care. I hope LW gets a job, and moves out asap. my father never pulled this particular stunt, but in other ways made it very difficult for me to move out. it’s incredibly hard

      1. Seashell*

        The letter says this was “many moons ago”, so sounds like it’s not an issue now.

    2. Sailor Susie*

      OP #3 here. I’m torn between wishing I could Show Him by doing that, and not wanting him to throw a bigger tantrum on camera.

  8. HBJ*

    How does being on FMLA protect him from being laid off? This company can clearly show that he was on the layoff list before that happened, and thus it was not retaliatory or discriminatory for the FMLA.

    1. Cmdrshprd*

      Someone made a good point that it does not guarantee he won’t be laid off, but it might offer a slight buffer. because the company might want to avoid dealing with the optics/bad press, or potential litigation, even a case the company would eventually win would cost a decent amount in lawyers fees.

      So if they are going based on performance and sick/FMLA employee has a 88% success rate and another person has 89% success rate they might have originally let sick employee go, but since they are on FMLA they might decide to let the 89% employee go instead just to avoid any hassles in the future.

      But you are right FMLA is not an automatic shield against a layoff.

  9. NotSoFast*

    LW1, while well meaning, most people I know would look really askance at a boss telling someone to apply for disability, and furthermore if the employee is capable of working they don’t qualify for it and could be seen as trying to defraud the system if they try. Long term/permanent disability is only applicable if the employee has a permanent, fully debilitating condition and will never be able to work again for the rest of their life. Unless terminal, cancer is extremely unlikely to qualify.

    Further, your employee clearly wants to work. They are bending over backwards to work. They are not going to take actions that take that possibility away based on a subtle hint that they should. As someone who finds work a welcome distraction from my own illness and disabilities, I would not read between the lines here, would say no thanks I prefer to work, not take any actions, and probably resent you for butting your head in and making me devote energy to deal with what likely would seem like a weird conversation.

    Your employee might qualify for short term disability if that’s offered as a benefit at your org, but again it requires someone at the disability insurance company to determine they’re unable to work for X number of weeks.

    So what can you do? If you can’t get them taken off the layoff list, see if you can expedite the COBRA process so the coverage is continuous rather than discontinued then retroactively reinstated. This may or may not be possible depending on how your org processes COBRA, but would likely be a huge boon if you can manage it.

    1. Dorothy Zpornak*

      COBRA is prohibitively expensive for most folks — might not be an option for this person.
      If the employee lives in a state with reasonable public policies, they should become eligible for Medicaid if their income drops to zero due to lost employment (assuming they’re not independently wealthy). In CA, they can apply up to 60 days before their existing coverage ends, so there’s no gap; not sure about other sates.

      1. Ava*

        While COBRA is prohibitively expensive for many, it can make sense for someone who is in the midst of expensive treatment. It’s possible that paying for 2-3 months of COBRA could cover the treatment period. My worry is that this person is on the layoff list because he is on chemotherapy and it is driving up the company’s insurance costs. Maybe he can contact an employment lawyer and try to build the case that he was on the layoff list because of his cancer, not in spite of it.

        1. Ally McBeal*

          But is someone currently undergoing chemo really going to have the energy over those 2-3 months to find a job? It seems possible that the guy in LW1’s letter could exhaust his savings paying for COBRA and then be medically bankrupt and jobless in the end.

      2. Double A*

        Wouldn’t this person qualify for a good subsidy from the ACA likely? And I believe getting laid off is a qualifying event.

        I’m not really sure the point of COBRA these days now that we have the ACA.

        1. Old and Don’t Care*

          I can’t buy insurance via the ACA that is good as a typical employer plan. The cost isn’t that much different, but the plan is much worse.

          1. Kyrielle*

            Also, your deductible and max OOP under your employer plan would apply under the COBRA coverage, but not on a new plan (ACA or new employer), so you get a whole extra deductible. Which someone getting chemo is almost certainly going to blow through the deductible, and possibly the max OOP, where staying on the same plan for the plan year would mean one and not two rounds of cost. If their plan year started in January, though, COBRA won’t help them avoid needing to switch to a new plan (employer-provided or via the exchange).

      3. rudster*

        Is COBRA still relevant now that we have the ACA? No-one can be turned down for preexisting conditions and there is no wait for enrolment if you lose coverage due to a job loss. Through I suppose it might be beneficial if you’re in the middle of treatments and don’t want to risk changing networks.

      4. NotSoFast*

        COBRA is often less than or around the same amount as an ACA plan, often for better coverage and without the need to start from scratch on deductibles/out of pocket maximums. It is often the best optio available, and for someone in the middle of cancer treatments it also means they won’t have to get new prior auths/approvals to continue current treatments.

        1. INTPLibrarian*

          Exactly. I’m in a somewhat similar situation. My position was eliminated and I’m undergoing post-cancer treatment. COBRA means I don’t have to restart my deductible and I KNOW my treatments and medications and doctors are covered. I didn’t do as much research as I probably should have, but quick calculations made it an obvious choice for me.

    2. Dogmomma*

      idk how anyone can work through chemo. I only had 6 sessions and was absolutely exhausted.
      maybe bc I’m in my late 60s. and these folks are younger. my gf hav longer cycles than I & worked through most of it. There are other ways to feel productive besides working through a potentially life threatening illness

    3. BV survivor*

      That’s actually not true about cancer and disability! I was treated for aggressive breast cancer, and worked through chemo, too (remotely). But having had cancer I now am supposed to check “yes” on the “do you have these medical conditions” forms. It counts as a disability, regardless of a person’s ability to work through it.

      Giving you the benefit of the doubt here, but chemo is incredibly difficult to get through, even if (like me) you do ok on it. Saying that cancer shouldn’t qualify because it’s not terminal really comes off poorly here, and misunderstands the idea of conditions that can cause someone to qualify for disability protections even if they look ok from the outside.

      1. Cmdrshprd*

        “It counts as a disability, regardless of a person’s ability to work through it.”

        I think there a few types of legal disabilities, there are mental/physical disabilities like breast cancer, someone being in a wheel chair etc in terms of reporting… but those may not necessarily prevent someone from working, people with various disabilities work full time jobs that do not require income replacement.

        Then there are disabilities that prevent people from working and earning an income, and those generally require that the disability be severe enough that it prevents someone from working, the provider will give partial/full income replacement based on the plan policies.

      2. NotSoFast*

        It is a disability, but not from a benefits/financialperspective. I have multiple disabilities but I do not qualify for disability payments/extra time on COBRA, etc. I do qualify for accommodations if needed.

    4. Snow Globe*

      Applying for FMLA isn’t applying for disability. As a manager, I took a training class that told managers we were required to inform our employees about their rights under FMLA if we became aware that an employee might need it.

    5. I'm just here for the cats!*

      I think you are confusing a few things here. When Alison is talking about Long term disability she is not talking about state provided disability. She is talking about the type that you can purchase. Some employers offer it as part of their benefits, but there are insurance providers like Northwestern Mutual or Aflac. Typically you pay in every month and then if you need to use it, it will pay you a portion of you pay check. So it’s more of an insurance type of thing. It has nothing to do with “defrauding the system. ” The only thing OP’s employee should be careful with is to make sure their current diagnosis would be covered, since it could be considered a pre-existing condition and to look into what happens if they lose their job.

      1. MassMatt*

        It’s still disability, regardless of whether it’s a public or private program. It’s intended for the disabled, and the employee has to meet certain requirements to qualify, which the employee may not meet. That the employee is showing up for work every day is a testament to his determination and stamina but also showing he is probably not disabled.

    6. Recovering Chef*

      I believe the long term disability being referenced is additional insurance that you purchase through your employer. You use it after your short term disability coverage ends, if you are unable to return to your job. You do not have to have a permanent condition that prevents ever working again in any capacity. I believe you are confusing government disability assistance programs with private insurance disability coverage.

      I used both short and long term disability insurance (which I had paid into as part of my benefits package) when I had a broken bone that made working in a kitchen impossible. This insurance covered a percent of my pay while I was using FMLA. I have since changed careers, but, after recovery, would have been able to work in a kitchen again. I did not use any government disability assistance.

    7. L*

      NotSoFast, I think you have some confusion about the wording of “long term disability.” This is a form of insurance, not a declaration of a permanent disability. Short-term disability insurance is, like it sounds, time limited, often 3-6 months. In many (American) instances, the employee must opt in to short-term disability during their benefit selection. Long-term disability insurance is generally carried by the employer. I used long-term disability insurance when my short-term coverage ran out before I was recovered enough to return to work.

      1. NotSoFast*

        there are two types of long term disability, one is insurance and one is a government benefit. Both require typically an adjudication of a permanent disability that prevents you from ever working again. Both provide a financial benefit for the rest of your life. Short term disability covers a set period of time based on your tenure at your current company provided they judge you medically need it for that length of time. It is common to use short term disability after a surgery or a major accident or sometimes after giving birth.

        Perhaps there are some short term disability plans that run longer than others and support folks who are temporarily disabled, but I’ve never encountered one in any of hundreds of benefits packages I’ve reviewed.

    8. Jackalope*

      This is an odd take. First of all, many people would appreciate having a boss tell them they might be eligible for various benefits related to their disability; many people (most, even, in my experience) aren’t familiar with the options until they need them.

      Second, I find it highly unlikely that someone would be accused of fraud for applying for benefits when they don’t qualify. Fraud requires a level of deception to try to obtain something you aren’t eligible for. Sure, if they’re still able to work they may be denied the benefit, but if they’re honestly claiming a medical condition that’s not fraud.

      And lastly, long-term disability benefits can have all sorts of meanings. They might require you to be disabled for a certain period of time, say 6 months or a year. They might require that you not be able to work at all, or they might say that you can’t work over a certain amount, like 10 hrs/wk. and honestly, many such programs have confusing rules that a layperson might not know. If you have a medical condition that you think might qualify it’s worth looking into because it’s possible that you meet the requirements (and if not the only thing you lost was 20 or 30 min of your time doing some research). For every person who is determined not to miss any work because it’s their point of sanity, there are several more hanging on by a thread and pushing themselves to work and making their health worse because they don’t think they can afford to take time off. It’s better to pay out the options for all employees who might need them and then have someone who doesn’t want to stop working have the freedom to choose not using those benefits than it is to have people miss out on them because they don’t know they exist.

      1. Irish Teacher.*

        Yeah, it’s only fraud if they lie in their application, not if they make an application for something and it turns out they don’t meet the criteria.

    9. Observer*

      If you can’t get them taken off the layoff list, see if you can expedite the COBRA process so the coverage is continuous rather than discontinued then retroactively reinstated. This may or may not be possible depending on how your org processes COBRA, but would likely be a huge boon if you can manage it.

      Also, losing a job makes one eligible for getting insurance on the healthcare exchange.

    10. Samwise*

      It’s useful to have someone say, here are your options (or, HR can explain your options). Because not everyone knows all the options.

  10. Elsa*

    LW3, the problem you are having is quite common when the roles are reversed – parents who are interviewing often have problems with small children who barge in and cannot be ignored. The solution to that problem is a lock on the door, and I think that would have been your best solution here too. In any case any adult who is living with people with bad boundaries should have a lock on their door, since you need privacy and not just for interviews.

    1. MassMatt*

      But no one expects professional behavior or respect for boundaries from children, while with an adult the interviewer might think “WTH is wrong with this interviewee, they can’t even tell their parents they are doing an interview?

      And he’s not just barging in, he’s pounding on the door while ignoring the “do not disturb” sign, making noise in the hall, mowing the lawn, etc. The more I think about it the more it sounds like he was trying to sabotage the LW’s career.

      1. online millenial*

        Oh, yeah, that’s exactly what was happening. This is, at the most generous read, a controlling, boundary-stomping parent; most likely this is a sign of an abusive parent. Sabotaging interviews and/or current employment to make a person dependent on the abuser is a very common tactic. LW3 handled it great–it sounds like they were able to get a job and move out, from the framing of the letter, and I hope they’re in a safe, comfortable home now.

      2. EchoGirl*

        The “making noise in the hall, mowing the lawn, etc.” part I could actually see being someone who’s just very self-centered and oblivious. I’ve dealt with people like that (one in particular I’m thinking of) and while someone who looks at a single snapshot might see an attempt at sabotage or manipulation, the reality — from my own firsthand experience, also confirmed by other people — is that they actually just have a very narrow worldview where everything is about them and their priorities and they have a hard time recognizing anything that might counter that. (The reason I mention this, by the way, is that I remember there being times when I wanted advice about the actual thing I was actually dealing with only for everyone to go down the “this person is totally trying to manipulate you” path — not only is it frustrating to not be taken at your word, but because any advice/suggestions came from an incorrect assumption, they tended to be totally misguided.)

        That being said, the thing that tips it over the edge for me is it happening EVERY time. The kind of person I’m describing would be more prone to just go about the things as if you never told them anything, but unless OP’s dad goes through life making a racket on the regular, it sounds more like he was going out of his way to be disruptive when OP most needed a lack of disruption.

    2. Jessen*

      Unfortunately, if the parent owns the house, it’s quite likely that you may not have any practical way to install said lock. Or that it’ll just result in them banging on the door until they get your attention instead. Sometimes your best bet really is to ignore the antics as best you can and work on finding a way out. Adding a lock might just tell them that the disruptions are working.

      1. kalli*

        There are portable door jammers that sit in the door jamb and block a door from opening without anything being installed. They’re available for $2 (mass produced dropshippers) – $15 (slightly better designed and maybe a local dropshipper) from Amazon and eBay and are designed for renters, motels etc where a door may not be security enough but you’re not allowed to make permanent modifications. There are ones for sliding doors, ones for inward opening doors, and ones for outward opening doors so you do have to pick the right kind and size, but they do work a little more efficiently than barricades.

        1. Jessen*

          In my experience the bigger issue is that if it is intentional behavior, sometimes dealing with the interruptions is better than doing something that’s letting them know it’s working and is likely to provoke different and more creative interruptions.

    3. rebelwithmouseyhair*

      With small children, you can only put a lock on the door if there’s somebody else in the house to take care of them. And even then, it’s probably better to impress on that somebody else that the kids/s really mustn’t come in to your office.
      Locked doors can be really scary to small children, especially if a parent is on the other side (as anyone who’s tried to go to the loo while looking after their kids will know). I know my children would have immediately started crying very loudly. You can talk about noise cancelling headphones, but I would be out there comforting the kid straightaway because I didn’t want my kids to be stressed out needlessly.

    4. Sailor Susie*

      OP #3 here. Amusingly enough a few years after this incident I did have two small children, and at ages 1 and 3 they knew to stay out when I was working. One wouldn’t think of “as mature as a toddler” as a compliment, but here we are.

      1. Curious*

        This reminds me of the “BBC Dad” whose small kids interrupted his (live!) interview on camera :)

    5. Observer*

      The solution to that problem is a lock on the door, and I think that would have been your best solution here too

      Except for one problem, which is that Dad was doing things that made noise outside of the room.

  11. Persephone Mulberry*

    For #4, How can I resolve this management chain dispute? reads to me like LW feels Other Manager should have come to *her* about Jeff rather than communicating with Jeff directly. Which, yes, would probably have been a more politic way of approaching it. But I also think LW is making a mountain out of a molehill by viewing OM’s actions as “extremely unprofessional.”

  12. Min*

    #4 If a manager doesn’t want someone else answering her team’s questions, surely the answer is to manage her own team’s actions and not those of the 3rd party. Why is she going to Jeff’s manager to complain instead of instructing her team to come to her with questions rather than asking Jeff?

      1. NotAnotherManager!*

        Then her communication is not great – I would think it would make sense to let both LW#4 and Jeff know that she’s provided the same direction to her team so that it’s clear the message has been communicated in both directions and that everyone should be on the same page (and that she’s not expecting LW#4/Jeff to be the primary enforcers of her decision).

        It’s her prerogative, of course, but, without additional context, it seems misguided and possibly insecure. If her team needs Jeff to bail them out and they have high turnover, then she’s not doing something right. If Jeff’s answers/advice were wrong or otherwise hampering her team’s performance, why not just say so rather than saying he’s “overstepping” by answering their questions in an attempt to get work done right an on schedule?

      2. Drama Free Since '93*

        LW4 here- We have since learned that other manager did request her team copy her on all emails to Jeff. About 6 hours before she sent the email to Jeff. Not stop sending them, just copy her. So I plan on working with him to develop a script similar to the ones other commenters have very helpfully suggested.

    1. Ann Jansi*

      I was wondering the same. If she has told her team not to contact Jeff but they continue – then she have another management problem than when Jeff is helping out.

    2. Blue Pen*

      Yeah, I was wondering the same thing. Maybe they have, and no one is really listening—or projects might come about urgently, and the team needs answers right away? I agree with Alison’s response in that the manager’s call needs to ultimately be respected here, but part of that should also be reining in her team’s questions to Jeff. In the workplace, I know I’m someone who will always help or answer a colleague in need, so unless Jeff is kicking down the brick wall like the Kool-Aid man forcing his help on this team, I don’t really see how he’s in the wrong.

    3. rebelwithmouseyhair*

      I had the impression that maybe the team were uncomfortable or afraid of asking her for help…

    4. Qwerty*

      Telling the team to stop going to someone for questions rarely works unless that person also cooperates. At best, each individual thinks it is “just one question”. Ask any IT team about trying to teach people to use the new ticketing system instead of chatting folks directly.

      I have managed multiple Jeffs. What I see happen is first the manager goes to their team with no success. Then the manager goes to Jeff with no success. Finally they come to me as Jeff’s manager, because I now have an employee who is participating in her team not following their policy.

      When I dig into it on my end, it is usually a combination of
      1. Jeff is actively encouraging the other team to come to him (he may not see it that way)
      2. Jeff is teaching them to depend on him by giving only enough info or help to fix it fast (unintentionally)
      3. Jeff really likes being needed / being helpful

  13. Marvel*

    Really wish I lived in a country where laying someone off wasn’t a potential death sentence.

    1. Ally McBeal*

      People who’ve been valorizing Joe Lieberman since his passing conveniently forget that he was a (the?) linchpin in denying us Obama’s true vision for universal healthcare decoupled from employment.

      1. CommanderBanana*

        ^^^ DING DING DING THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!

        I mean, talk about having blood on your hands.

        1. Deborah*

          (I totally understand that adding ‘like’ functionality would add a whole layer of work to the design and moderation of this website, but for that comment and the ones above, I wish we had it for emphatic agreement)

  14. musical chairs*

    I am team player, don’t get me wrong, but no one would ever have to call my boss to get me to stop answering junior-level questions for staff in another department.

    As his manager, you may want to ask probing questions about his workload. Is answering their questions adding enough to his workload that it’s burning him out? Conversely, is his work load too light or unchallenging where he is eager to fill his time with supporting the other division?

    Also I wonder if his switch out of that division, if it was recent, may be clarifying something for him about his relationship to that kind of work? Does he kind of want to go back to working in that capacity? Has this experience solidified for him that he doesn’t want to go back and could he be worried that supporting them may be a de facto role for him? Why does he feel this much obligation to help a team that has a manager? Is he looking for ways (in the wrong places) to be helpful because he doesn’t know what he should be doing? These are questions I have reading the letter that you may not have, since you actually know his situation.

    Also, she literally use the word “overstep”? Cause that sounds me to like an issue with working outside defined roles/responsibilities/scopes rather than about quality of the actual help. Is Jeff perhaps acting like an IC when he shouldn’t be? Is he undermining her direction? I understand that you may have just been summarizing so I don’t want to read too much into that.

    Any way you slice it, my money’s on a personal hunch that he had been asked to stop assisting that team at least once already and that you’re getting looped in now as reinforcement. You need to dig into why that went on for however long it did. The answer may be that she’s just territorial. But the answer may be that Jeff is making something harder than it would be without his interference and needs to refocus priorities.

    You either have more info then you’ve shared (which is understandable) and are hearing from the advice now that Jeff needs reining in OR you need more info than you have and Jeff needs reining in with the perspective that comes from that additional context.

    1. NotAnotherManager!*

      There is also the possibility that he answers their questions so he doesn’t end up having to fix a bunch of things or so that a last-minute emergency doesn’t wind up on his desk or because he doesn’t want the company to lose business because of their inexperience. This happens to my team all the time – it takes a minute or two to clarify something that, left unchecked, will cost an hour or two down the road or have other negative consequences that extend beyond the other team. Or maybe he’s just a nice guy and doesn’t want people to struggle when they clearly need some help and he’s got the knowledge/time to help.

      I also think that not letting another manager know what direction you’ve provided to their direct report is bad form – if the other manager already asked Jeff to stop answering questions, LW#4 should have been told that, if for no other reason than she could back the other manager up and manage Jeff effectively (or give the other manager a view of downstream impacts of her team not receiving guidance/support). If someone told me one of my folks needed to stop answering question for their team, I’d want to know, ensure that they’d conveyed this direction to their team’s question-askers, and also agree on how Jeff should handle these inquiries going forward (forward them back to the manager?).

  15. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

    OP4 (another manager is asking Jeff to stop helping her team) – the part OP didn’t mention, and would have been helpful to know, is how critical these deadlines are? Presumably they are client projects (Jeff helps with turning around “proposals”) so are linked to potential revenue – and then of course the deadlines themselves. I presume the part he helps with (testing) happens when the project is already reasonably well advanced, and parties are perhaps committed to those deadlines.

    All of which to say — it may be that the decision on this should go higher up than OP and the other manager. If it’s necessary for business reasons that Jeff help out, and Jeff is able to, that’s the conclusion senior management will reach. Yes, the other manager probably has politics in play about team size, recruiting inexperienced people to save money and now it is coming back to bite them and they are defensive about it, etc. I understand that there may be arguments about team size etc. But team size is only important if long-term there continues to be a team, which if the impact from missed deadlines and late RFPs is significant, there might not be. OP (and the answer) is missing the bigger picture imo.

  16. Ashley Armbruster*

    #1, I sincerely hope you can influence the list to keep him off it. I’m reminded of when I was laid off about 7 years ago, one of my fellow laid-offers had just finished/or gone through chemo. The rest of us got 2 weeks – 1 month of health coverage as severance, and he was give 5 months of health coverage as part of his severance.

    He found a job quickly afterwards and as far as I know is still there.

    1. Juli G.*

      I was going to say… I don’t know what’s resulting in the need for layoffs but LW1, I personally think you should advocate for this for your employee. FMLA may offer 0 protection here, depending on the circumstances and pushing for more health care might be better than the employee taking leave.

    2. Kyrielle*

      YES. This is more likely to be helpful than advocating that he file for FMLA and/or short-term disability after the list has already been created. In the process of pointing out that it would be hard for him and a bad look to let him go with minimal health care, can his severance package extend that, etc., it’s also possible they’ll consider changing the layoff list to exclude him, but even if they don’t, hopefully they’ll give him a better than standard severance deal.

  17. Maggie*

    Your dad got confused about how to be a polite person in a shared space. Perfectly explains the situation! Haha!

  18. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

    OP3 (parent making noise etc during interviews) – I wonder if OP had “left home” previously and then moved back due to losing a job (or looking for one after graduation) – and the parent didn’t really want OP to leave again as it was convenient in some way (emotionally, practically, or whatever) having OP at home, so tried to sabotage the interviews. I’m afraid I can’t see any way that he was doing this accidentally.

    As for what to do – call out the parent on their behaviour, and find somewhere else (library, hotel business area, etc) to do the interviews from.

    1. Bast*

      This is quite possible. I thought of the following quote Alice Roosevelt used to describe her father — “My father always wanted to be the corpse at every funeral, the bride at every wedding and the baby at every christening.” I have definitely known some people who constantly need to have attention, even when something’s got nothing to do with them.

      1. Decima Dewey*

        OTOH there’s Theodore Roosevelt’s comment on his daughter: “I can do one of two things. I can be President of the United States or I can control Alice Roosevelt. I cannot possibly do both.”

        1. JustaTech*

          After watching the *excellent* Ken Burns documentary on the Roosevelts – I’d say both were true!

  19. mordreder*

    Oh, I think I fundamentally disagree with Alison on #4 here – the other manager is (i) dealing with her management failures (her direct reports keep asking the wrong person for advice) by trying to create policy for LW’s employee instead of for the direct reports she actually *can* create policy for and (ii) apparently went around LW to do it.

    If I were LW, I’d send the other manager a quick note requesting that those kinds of demands go through me, not directly to my staff.

    1. HonorBox*

      It feels like we’re missing some important context. Are the questions Jeff is getting because the other manager isn’t training people correctly? Are the questions Jeff is getting related to people trying to get around a new process by doing things the old way? I think a 1:1 with the other manager would be helpful to ensure there’s understanding. And bottom line: I agree that other manager shouldn’t be going to Jeff directly, but discussing the situation with LW.

      1. JustaTech*

        It’s interesting to see folks take on should Other Manager have spoken to OP first or Jeff first.
        I’ve had my boss be very frustrated when his grand-boss wouldn’t say something to him directly but insisted on going through his boss, but my boss has also been super frustrated when his grand-boss spoke to one of us directly rather than talking to my boss. (Though a lot of that is him wanting to protect us from the ire of his grand-boss, since the power dynamic is much more stark.)

        1. mordreder*

          My $0.02: I’d view a grandboss as different – my reports are their reports. It’s having a (presumably) horizontal-to-me manager start trying to put restrictions on folks who report to me without my knowledge that would get my hackles up. I’d be less of an issue if Jeff was initiating the email contact (I’d still want to be the one to correct that, and that’d 100% be a place where I should correct it, but I’d be much less bothered by the direct order there), but “don’t reply to questions that my team asks you”? Nope, nope, nope, if you can’t manage your own team, I have very little interest in having you try to “manage” mine.

      2. Drama Free Since '93*

        LW4 here- I’ve been trying to get a 1:1 with other manager (great minds think alike HonorBox!) but she has not been making herself tremendously available. Another symptom of why I think this whole situation is less that totally professional

      3. Drama Free Since '93*

        I’m realizing I didn’t provide a ton of info- was trying to err on the side of caution since it’s a small industry. Jeff is a SME on a specific widget which we frequently use. He trained a few people on their use, but what something “weird” happens they tend to ask him about it. These are not things the other manager would know.

  20. pennyforum*

    OP2, when ever someone talks about redundancies of expertise or documenting processes they seem to always use the example “if someone was hit by a bus”, I prefer “If you won the lotto”

    Same effect on the job, nicer for you

    1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      I think “hit by a bus” is used because it’s unexpected and immediate. In most lottery cases you don’t get the cash same day, so unless there’s real bad blood between employer and employee there’s time for handover.

      People who are superstitious could always substitute “alien abduction” or similar hypothetical, where “No handover possible” matters.

    2. Lexi Vipond*

      I know what you mean, but it’s not really – someone who has won the lottery presumably has goodwill to spare, while someone hit by a bus won’t want to think about work even if they’re only slightly squashed.

      Run away with a sailor?

      1. Green great dragon*

        You and the General are correct, but for the purposes of conveying ‘what if someone suddenly vanished’ it’s fine and more cheerful. I also do this and no-one’s ever started arguing that the particular example might not lead to an immediate absence and therefore we don’t have to document.

      2. inksmith*

        Mine was “been buried under a pile of kittens” – because you could escape, but it would take a while. though (unless you’re allergic) it would be a fairly pleasant experience that you might want to drag out.

        we may have over-thought it.

    3. metadata minion*

      For a while my department conflated “hit by a bus” and “won the lottery and moved to Tahiti” into a shorthand of “in case X gets hit by a bus in Tahiti” ;-)

    4. Beth*

      I currently use “eaten by a velociraptor”. In my industry, we often ARE talking about preparing in the event of death or disaster, so winning the lottery wouldn’t work as a fantasy scenario.

    5. theletter*

      I used to say ‘What would you do if I feel down a well?” until one very kind engineer looked me in the eye and said ‘Letter, I’d go get a ladder.’

      He went on to start his own very successful company.

    6. Camelid coordinator*

      I always say “hit by the lottery bus” just to cover all eventualities.

  21. Emmy Noether*

    So, that first article about whether lotto winnings are enough is interesting to me because the example could not be more different from my life, but the conclusion is the same. For a start, I’m not 60, and I have minor children at home, so I’m not really in a position to retire.

    For another, 250k would NOT get me a house here. I put that into a search engine for my city, and it would get me… literally nothing (which did surprise me a bit). For 300k I may get a small studio (and because of the aforementioned children, that wouldn’t do).

    So, 2M would definitely not be enough for me to quit, even less than in that article! It’s kind of crazy how the real value of those winnings changes with cost of living (and, of course, one could move – but a lot of people who live in high cost of living areas wouldn’t want to).

    1. Coverage Associate*

      Another type of windfall, but same idea: My sisters, cousins and I each inherited the same amount from our grandfather. It was down payment money for my cousin in Utah. For those of us on the coast, it was a bit of a cushion, maybe a year of graduate school, but not life changing.

    2. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      On the other hand, 250k might be enough for someone to give up their current job and go to grad school / take an entry level job elsewhere to kick-start a career change which would completely redirect their entire life.

      1. kiki*

        Yeah, I would use it as an opportunity to attend grad school in a field I wish I would have pursued. I would be quitting my job, but with the intention of setting myself up with a new one that’s more enjoyable .

      2. Emmy Noether*

        Oh yeah, it’s absolutely “take a risk” or “make a change” money, just not “middle age retirement” money! Learn something, move, change careers, start a business,… there does have to be a future income stream in the plan, though.

    3. March lamb*

      And the author chose $250k because the median price was $155k! Anything under $200k would get me at best a lot, nothing on it. The article is from 2018, though. I wonder if even East TX has seen housing prices go through the roof lately.

      1. Emmy Noether*

        Due to a quirk of geography, there are practically no empty lots in my city. You wanna build something new, you gotta tear something down (if the city lets you). Or go outside city limits. Which does explain the prices in part.

    4. el l*

      Yeah, that’s the point.

      Millions aren’t enough to do, “Quit my job and never work a day again.”

      Unless there exist either (a) Great financial circumstances or (b) Very cheap living and tastes, it’s going to take TENS of millions to do that. An order of magnitude.

      1. Emmy Noether*

        “Millionaire” sounds like so much, it’s kind of sobering when you do the math on what it would mean.

      2. doreen*

        That really depends on individual circumstances – I would have needed tens of millions to stop working forever at 35 , but $2 million would have been enough at 50 and probably at 45. But that’s partly because even though I live in an expensive area, I bought my house long enough ago that paying off my mortgage at 45 would have been less than $75K and partly because I have a pension I could have started collecting at 55. I don’t have particularly cheap tastes, but I don’t know that upgrading the house would have been worth working an extra five or ten years.

      3. Aerin*

        Spouse once told me about a guy who said if he won a million dollars, he’d retire to a beach house in California. And we were both laughing about it because, um, a million dollars is barely a down payment on those babies.

        I forget the exact math because I tend to do it in the car after driving past the Mega Millions billboard, but I think for us (own a house, in our late 30s) the “set for life, never need to work” threshold is about $180 million (which does account for losing half of it to taxes). But it would take a lot less for us to, say, take fun jobs that pay less, or let one of us quit our jobs, or relocate to a new city/country with nothing lined up.

        Frankly, I consider my $3 ticket for the Mega Millions an entertainment/mental health expense. Those daydreams about what we could do if we won and how we’d divvy it up are a much-needed distraction sometimes.

      4. General von Klinkerhoffen*

        It takes relatively little money to reach “quit this job I hate, spend time with my toddler, and never have to set eyes on my horrible manager ever again” territory though – a year’s salary? six months?

        Winning the balance of your mortgage could also permit you to pursue your long-held rice grain microcarving aspirations, since for most people that would remove their greatest outgoing.

    5. Cat Tree*

      I have definitely thought through this scenario and my conclusion is always that my life would remain pretty much the same, but with more stability/security. I could move up the timing of some long-term goals and feel relaxed about money month-to-month. And honestly that would be fantastic! But I definitely wouldn’t quit my job.

    6. Sailor Susie*

      Also it assumes that the first move of a retired or near-retired person is to buy a new house and two new cars, and to furnish that house. That might make sense for a grad student or someone new to the workforce, but most elderly Americans have their housing and transportation lined up already.

      1. Emmy Noether*

        Agreed, especially since they already have a “house”, and this is presumably supposed to be in the same area. If they were renting a one-bedroom, sure, or wanted to move somewhere glamorous (good luck with that 250k!), or near family, yeah, but to retire fairly modestly… if the current house is nice enough, just stay! Maybe get that kitchen renovation you daydream about.

        It does speak to a pretty consumerist mindset that the first idea is “buy new big stuff!!! no matter the state of your current stuff.”

    7. JustaTech*

      We actually had a conversation about this at work the other week: if money was no longer an object (like serious eff-you money, not Bezos, but more than a couple of million) – what would you do with your life?

      I said I would go back to graduate school and collect masters degrees like they were Pokemon archeology, history, whatever sounded fun.
      My boss said he’d find a lab somewhere and off the professor a fat stack of cash to let him have a project and a corner of the lab to just do experiments and write papers.

      Our facilities guy thought we were insane. Our other coworker (full time gardening/farming and touring with her musician SO) was like, yeah, sounds like you all.

      1. Emmy Noether*

        Ooooh, I also love studying. Last year I got a professional qualification (lectures two days a month for a year) and loved every second. My current plan is when I retire, to enrol at university as one of those senior students. Maybe in Italy. Eat pasta for every meal. That would be the perfect life.

        I’m not writing another thesis, however. nopety nope.

        1. JustaTech*

          The reason I thought of it was there was another student in my master’s program who was like the only woman in the computer science program back in the ’60’s, then she got a degree in Peruvian archeology, and then she was getting a public health degree and several of us were “we want to be you when we grow up!”

          She was very kind about it.

  22. Coverage Associate*

    Re #3, someone could share a home with someone who needs assistance without being the person to provide that assistance, so OP’s wording would be fine even for local jobs.

    Also, people in that situation can consider what options they would have if the noise was a neighbor instead of a family member. It seems that the landlord always chooses the day I have the most video calls to run the leaf blower! And if I move to the other side of the apartment to limit the noise, he seems to always switch to that side! (In reality, I know he is just fitting in the yard work between rain storms, etc.)

    So sometimes I have background noise where I am not in a position to ask that it stop, and the person on the other end doesn’t see the whole house and yard and can’t tell if it’s a family member or stranger interfering with the applicant’s call. (For that matter, I imagine OP could use “landlord” or “housemate” themselves.)

    My point is that some people will have fewer choices than even OP, and can still come across as professional.

    (For job interviews, I have headphones, etc. to limit the interference. For work meetings, I can only use their equipment, which can be lower quality than my own. I don’t have transportation to a library, etc. Also, back when I did have transportation to the library, the day I went to escape the leaf blower, there was a fire next door, and it got noisy with the fire trucks and evacuees outside. No solution is perfect.)

  23. Kristinemk*

    For LW#1 – isn’t the company already in non-compliance for not giving the employee FMLA forms? My understanding is that the employee isn’t supposed to have to ask for them, if the company knows that the employee is experiencing a serious health condition, they are required to issue the FMLA forms with a certain number of days.

    1. Garblesnark*

      As a cancer survivor, I’d like to say that forcing a disabled person who doesn’t need or want to take time off to fill out FMLA forms is not kind when there isn’t a need. Certainly HR or the manager could say to the employee, “hey, if you ever need or want it, we can get you job protected leave in the form of FMLA, and here is the packet.” But forcing an employee who is meeting their job standards and performing their work to the level required to go on leave is not appropriate.

    2. Cmdrshprd*

      “they are required to issue the FMLA forms with a certain number of days.”

      I am not sure what you mean by issue, do you mean the employer automatically grants the employee FMLA, I don’t think that is true.

      If you mean just give them the blank forms, I also don’t think that is true, but a lot of employers give them to you when you start of have them in an HR portal on the intranet.

      But I think even just giving them to the employee when they ask is okay.

      1. Kristinemk*

        If the employee isn’t taking any leave at all (sick time, etc) then no, the employer isn’t responsible for providing notice. But if they are taking any kind of leave, the employer is responsible for giving them an eligibility notice, I think within 5 days of being made aware of the reasons for the leave, regardless of whether or not the employee requests FMLA leave.

  24. Enn Pee*

    LW#2 – I had a coworker who (like so many women of our time) kept a bunch of “office shoes” in the bottom drawer of her desk. She told her boss that when she won the lottery, she’d just give him a call and say “throw my shoes away!” — that meant she was never coming back!

  25. Panda (she/her)*

    I’m currently a manager in a similar situation to #4, but from the other manager’s perspective.

    6 months ago, I took on managing a team with performance issues. Several members of the team were way below acceptable performance, AND 50% of the work the team was doing wasn’t actually their responsibility. No wonder they couldn’t deliver on what they needed to!

    Well one of the challenges I’ve had in addressing the performance issues is…people covering for and helping out the underperformers. I’m talking about multiple employees saying they were spending at least a full day a week helping out one person. I need to see where the gaps are to address them, and if people are going around to other people then A) they might be getting information and instructions that are not actually in line with how I’d like to do things, and B) I have no idea that they actually might need training or coaching to address gaps. Also, it takes other people away from doing their own work.

    Second, over the years my team has stepped in to help fill process issues and gaps in our workflows that have resulted in >50% of the work they are doing not contributing to what WE need to deliver (and potentially hiding gaps in other teams’ processes). We’re not dropping the ball completely, but we need to let things fail a bit so that it’s obvious that task X needs to be done so that I can make the case for the correct team to start doing it (as an example, think of a sales team that ends up project managing a lot of small initiatives across the R&D group – it needs to happen and it helps the customer, but project management is NOT something sales should be doing!).

    Hopefully that helps provide some examples of where you might not see the whole picture for why someone doesn’t want help.

    1. Ashley*

      It is always a difficult balance of knowing how fall to let something fail. I am sure Jeff and the LW are trying to prevent failure, but unfortunately sometimes in business it has to happen for things to change. You always just want to try and minimize it as much as possible.
      And as someone who has been made to fill gaps it is painful to watch failure that you know you could have prevented, but at some point it is not my circus not my monkeys.

    2. Drama Free Since '93*

      LW4 here- it definitely does and I appreciate the perspective. This is how I was seeing it as well which is why I was so confused why her team shouldn’t ask questions. I plan on sharing the list of topics I’ve identified that they contact him on with her to help assist.

  26. Jenga*

    #2 I don’t know where you live, but where I live, lotto wins are released to the media along with a photo of the winner posing with the cheque. It’s a condition of getting the prize.

    1. Angstrom*

      Where I am it’s legal to have a representative collect the prize so one can remain anonymous. Announcing one’s sudden wealth would attract a horde of con artists and grifters.

    2. WellRed*

      I think it’s pretty common to have your name published (nit necessarily with a photo op). Otherwise, people will suspect it isn’t real.

    3. Antilles*

      This is very much YMMV, because there are a bunch of states (17/50, per Google) where the law explicitly gives lottery winners the right to claim the prize anonymously – and others where the winner’s name is required to be released but you can arrange a representative to actually pick up the check.

    4. Aerin*

      I know that even in states that publish the winners, it’s usually acceptable for a trust/organization to claim the winnings. And for the one I play you’ve got 180 days to claim, so that should be plenty of time to put something together.

  27. Hiring Mgr*

    What if it turns out to be the Shirley Jackson lottery? Do you take the rocks in one lump sum, or do you spread it out over time?

    1. Gumby*

      Why, oh why is that story required reading for every American student ever? (Is that still the case? It felt like it when I was a student in the late 80s/early 90s.)

      See also: An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge and The Most Dangerous Game

  28. NerdyKris*

    LW4, you didn’t provide much context for the information, but imagine a scenario where the process has changed, but people are still going to Jeff and getting the old process. It makes sense to say “Stop asking Jeff, ask me so I know that process needs to be documented more clearly.”

    What happens if Jeff gives out information that no longer works, or worse, causes damages to the company? It’s not your department.

    1. HonorBox*

      I noted below that it would be worth checking in with the other manager especially if the questions Jeff is getting are the same all the time. Not that you want to advocate for the team to come to Jeff, but to clarify with the other manager that there seems to be a common point of confusion. That will help them clarify with their team.

  29. a clockwork lemon*

    At my current workplace we’ve substituted “won the lottery” for “got hit by a bus” as our hypothetical scenario for situation for figuring out coverage based on the general consensus in my workplace that NONE of us would be coming back to put in notice if anyone actually did win.

    1. Jan*

      Yeah, if I won the lottery on Thursday my manager and coworkers will be going “where’s Jan??” on Friday.

  30. Tisserande d'Encre*

    Unfortunately, FMLA does not protect you from being laid off. I was laid off last year while on FMLA (which in NY guarantees your job for 12 weeks) and when I called the state labor dept they said that it was legal if I would have been laid off anyway (i.e., if the layoff wasn’t *because* of the FMLA).

  31. Constance Lloyd*

    #3: I worked from home before Covid. When my grandma had a stroke and moved in with my parents, I started working from their house. She could handle her own daily activities, we just wanted someone with her in case she fell or had a medical emergency, which meant I also couldn’t work in a room with a closed door. The woman did not understand computer work. She loudly interrupted every meeting I had to tel me to stop chatting with my friends and help my mother with housework. The only workaround I found was to warn my team ahead of time she might make an appearance and invest in some decent headphones that canceled background noise. LW, I think you’re handling this perfectly and hope you’re able to find a job soon!

    1. Turquoisecow*

      This reminds me of the story, maybe I heard here, where someone’s parents told them to get off the computer and go look for a job, not understanding that they were using the computer to look for a job.

  32. ijustworkhere*

    #1 an employer is required to make an eligible employee aware of their FMLA entitlement as soon as the employer becomes aware of a qualifying condition. If this employee has been missing work due to chemo treatments for some period of time–and the employer was aware of the medical condition—then the employer has been remiss in not notifying the employee of their FMLA rights. The FMLA should be backdated to the date of the first known absence. The employee still needs to provide the documentation, but job protected leave already began.

    This still does not necessarily prevent the organization from laying off the employee, but it does require the organization to show that the reason is not related to the employee’s FMLA status.

    1. Manic Pixie HR Girl*

      It sounds like he HASN’T been missing work, though.

      “He prides himself in never having missed a day of work throughout his ordeal, sometimes even spending the night in the hospital and still coming to work the next day.”

    2. Observer*

      If this employee has been missing work due to chemo treatments for some period of time–and the employer was aware of the medical condition—then the employer has been remiss in not notifying the employee of their FMLA rights.

      According to the LW, this person has not missed a single day because of this. So it’s possible that they really don’t know.

      it does require the organization to show that the reason is not related to the employee’s FMLA status.

      And they will be able to do so very easily. In general, when there is a general layoff, unless there is something odd about the pattern, a company is going to be in a strong position to claim simple fiscal issues. In this case, it’s especially strong since they put him on the list even though he never asked for FMLA. And it’s actually possible that the people who made the decision don’t even know about the issue.

  33. Oscar the Grouchy Nurse*

    LW #3, your dad is bot confused, he is a narcissist. No respect for you or your space, but expecting to be okay when he interrupts your interviews by making noise loud enough that someone miles away can hear it over crappy speakers. You made a good call professionally, but that would be grounds for going no contact. I’m willing to bet my hat that this isn’t the only bullshit thing he’s done for attention. My parents were exactly like this.

    1. kiki*

      I get that this could be a sign of narcissism and a parent who lacks respect for their child, but I also think it can also be a normal-ish annoying thing parents do. My parents are generally quite respectful of me and I love them very much, but when I moved back home during the pandemic they also struggled with keeping quiet for calls/ remembering not to just barge into my room. It’s important to remember, though, that they had been living in the house without any kids for 15 years at that point and habits die hard. The closet of crochet yarn and puzzles was through my room, and they were used to having 24/7 access to that– the shift was hard. They were also both losing their hearing and struggled to recognize how loud they were.

      My point here is that telling this LW to go no contact with their parents based on this alone is really extreme!

      1. Irish Teacher.*

        Yeah, I can think of a whole load of possibilities here, from the father deliberately sabotaging her job offers in the hopes of controlling her to the father just not understanding online interviews and not realising he can be heard, through the father having some form of dementia or other cognative problems that cause him to forget or just being selfish or thoughtless and not realising how his actions could affect her. And yeah, if the father was hard of hearing, that could have an impact too or he could even just be a generally loud person. I’ve known some people, who for various reasons (being hard of hearing, being neuroatypical, growing up in a large family where you had to raise your voice to make yourself heard, having a family member who is hard of hearing, etc) just do everything that bit louder than most.

        I don’t think there’s really enough information in the letter to make an assumption one way or the other. And it doesn’t really matter anyway, because the LW is asking about how to handle it with the interviewers, not with her dad.

        The LW herself probably has a pretty fair idea which of the explanations is the accurate one, because as Oscar the Grouchy Nurse said, if he is a narcissist or controlling or abusive, there were almost certainly other indications. Equally, if he had dementia or was hard of hearing, she’d probably know. But without context, it’s hard for us to know.

        1. kiki*

          100% agree that there are a lot of root causes, I think we don’t have enough information to know and it falls outside the scope of the LW’s actual question. I just want to caution commenters from saying something so concrete like, “your dad is a narcissist” or recommending going no contact when there’s not enough information to go off of in this letter to make that sort of call. I know for the commenters saying this it seems really clear based on their own experiences, but we don’t have all that information here.

          As someone who has written letters to advice columns about annoying but not world-ending issues and had commenters jump in saying, “Divorce him!” Or “Go no contact with your sister!” It’s not helpful, can make the LW wonder if maybe they portrayed the issue too harshly, may make the LW feel defensive, and may make them less receptive to other advice.

    2. Metadata Janktress*

      Hard agree. While my dad would never interrupt job interviews because he wasn’t trying to sabotage my job prospects, when I’ve had to work or do online classes from my parents home, he would find opportunities to show up in the background or even interact. He likes inserting himself into things and it’s not exactly charming.

    3. Panhandlerann*

      Saying the dad was “confused” was simply how the OP handled the meeting issue with co-workers, not necessarily what OP really thought the dad issue was.

    4. fhqwhgads*

      LW3 doesn’t think they’re dad is confused. That was just a sympathetic way of phrasing it so the interviewer didn’t think LW3 was oblivious.

      1. Observer*


        And it was the perfect response, regardless of the actual reason Dad was doing it.

  34. Just Me*

    LW2, assuming you live in a state that allows you to claim a winning ticket anonymously, the best advice is to do that. If you can’t claim anonymously everyone would know anyway, so you might as well just quit the day you claim your winnings.

    My state allows anonymous claims through a blind trust, so if I ever won I would lock that ticket up in a safe deposit box, then hire a good lawyer to set up the trust, and a good tax CPA and financial advisor to help me plan. All of this would take time, which would be your friend in not letting people know. But the flip-side is that you would need to continue working for a while, acting as if nothing was changing. Once the trust is in place and the funds deposited, give your notice. It would be hard to keep working knowing you don’t need to, but quitting close to the jackpot being won would be a huge red flag if you don’t want people to know.

    I am close enough to retirement age, that I would just say I had decided to retire early. If you couldn’t do that, you could just say family issues, or “I am getting burned out, and have decided to take a break and consider my options.” You don’t have to give any specifics.

    1. WellRed*

      Eh, I’m not sure the general public really pays that much attention to the timing of lottery wins. But I do think your advice is on the money. It’s my fantasy plan.

      1. Debtfordays*

        I would never in a million years assume that someone who quit abruptly just won the lottery.

      2. Just Me*

        Locally, people do. Our news stations report that a winning ticket for (example) $1 million was sold at “ABC convenience store” on 4/2. An amount big enough to allow someone to retire would DEFINITELY be all over our news when it was won, and when it was claimed. And people would speculate. I know if I suddenly quit within days of that announcement, my co-workers would be all over it guessing I had won – whether I had or not. I personally would definitely err on the side of caution if I won. Too many unknown “relatives” waiting to appear and try to hit me up, lol.

      3. fhqwhgads*

        The general public doesn’t, but when a winner isn’t anonymous and/or the ticket was purchased locally, the local news will be all over publishing the person’s name. And if it were purchased in a different place than the person lives, then both locations local news will plaster it. Anyone who has a news feed for their area will see the local ABC, NBC, CBS, FOX affiliates’ blurbs naming the name. Which is part of why it’s good to get allll the ducks in a row.
        No one is going to come to the conclusion abrupt quit = lottery. But if you don’t claim anonymously, or live somewhere you can’t, people will find out you won whether you told them or not.

    2. pally*

      I’d be doing all that planning/prep as well.
      Then one day, I’d simply disappear. No trace. Cuz you never know how far someone might go to get at your winnings. That includes family and friends.

    3. Aerin*

      Spouse and I are both writers, so our fallback is “Sold a screenplay but the specifics are still under NDA”

      And since scripts get bought and not made all the time, the answer to any “where’s the movie” questions would just be a shrug and “oh, you know how these things go”

  35. HonorBox*

    LW4 – I think it would be worth checking with Jeff to see how often these requests are being made and what the context of the requests are. It would be interesting to note how often these requests are coming in and if there’s a through line in all of them. Then talk to the other manager. You don’t want Jeff on someone else’s list for sure, and perhaps stepping in to clarify with the other manager would help take some potential heat off of him. And if there’s a common refrain, maybe pointing that out to the other manager would be helpful. While they may be trying to do things a specific way, if there is something that is constantly coming up, it would be helpful for them to know. Yes, you and Jeff should respect the request, but it might help the business overall if there’s a problem that he’s having to jump in and help fix repeatedly.

    1. Drama Free Since '93*

      LW4 here- this is the approach I’ve taken since finding out about the situation, and I have identified several topics that are common threads for which formal training exists. I plan to share the list with the other manager tomorrow.

  36. Marshmallows*

    #4. It seems like a couple other reinforcement steps are missing. Sounds like other manager talked to Jeff but he’s continuing to help because her people are continuing to ask. So two more things need to happen: 1) she needs to tell her team to stop contacting Jeff with questions – you, as Jeff’s manager could do this too if she won’t. Something like “effective immediately Jeff is no longer available to field inquiries from the llama comb design team, please direct your inquiries to your manager for assistance”. 2) Jeff needs to be given instructions on what to do if they ask – and I don’t believe that just ignoring them is a good option as it likely won’t stop the questions in a timely fashion or alert their boss that they are still asking. The better option would be to respond with their manager copied, that he is “unable to field questions from their dept at this and can their manager please direct them to a more appropriate resource?”

    I’ve been on both sides of this before, and this is the most effective solution I’ve run across for similar situations.

    1. Drama Free Since '93*

      LW4 here- appreciate the script immensely especially knowing it worked for you. my company is pretty small so I don’t have a mentor I can take things like this too

  37. Safely Retired*

    #4, the question is whether those calling are trying to learn how to do something, or using Jeff to avoid learning how to do it.

  38. Christmas Carol*

    Before she retired, my mother always said that if she won a truly life changing lottery, like the current $1B PowerBall, she would’t even bother to quit. She’d just quit showing up for work, her logic being that sooner or later they’d figure it out.

  39. Millie*

    Re #4 – Honestly, just let it slide. Let the other manager handle it. I was “Jeff” at my old position before I recently moved to another department in my organization. Imagine I used to work on the Llama Grooming team and had moved to the Accounts team for llama grooming services. My work only centered around billing and collecting payments.

    The llama grooming team would always come to me for help, because their managers were busy/unavailable. I would give them the information I had, with the caveat it was likely outdated, as we were undergoing some major process changes along with a new system transition. If Jeff keeps answering their questions, the manager won’t know where the knowledge gaps are. It’s possible the other manager has already asked her team to stop asking Jeff, but they keep doing it. Let Jeff tell them to ask Other Manager and then she can see what consequences arise if she isn’t available. It isn’t your problem how she manages that team.

    All it takes is a “hey Jeff, I know you want to be helpful, but we really need you to redirect the grooming team back to their manager. We want to make sure they’re getting the most up to date information and this helps the other manager address gaps in knowledge/training.”

    1. Drama Free Since '93*

      LW 4 here- thanks, and appreciate the script. this is what I think is going on but the way the other manager addressed it seemed backwards to me. like Jeff is still being asked to do her work- she should be the one telling her team to ask her first

  40. MechE31*

    I saw #2 happen first hand. A coworker won a very large jackpot (9 figures in his pocket after lump sum and taxes). His was of telling us was that took a week off and all he told us was watch the news at 9am and there he was holding a comically large check.

    He worked for a month after winning before claiming the winnings. He did not tell anyone what happened, but he was definitely “off”. He tried his best to act like nothing happened but he took a lot more time off as the time before claiming was primarily arranging the legal and financial side of what to do once claimed. When it was time to claim, he took a week of vacation and told us to tune into the news.

    After the week of vacation, (where the only purpose was to lay low somewhere people wouldn’t look for him) he came back and put in his month notice (so he worked for 2 months total after the drawing where he won). During this time, he did his absolute best to transition all of his work to the team, although it was hard because all anyone wanted to talk about was the lottery and how he would spend it.

    For the record, he was still incredibly frugal. He only had 1 large purchase that would raise any eyebrows in the years that I knew him after. I have since lost contact with him.

    1. Jzilbeck*

      We had a group of local school teachers win the lottery. Some took early retirement, some are actually still teaching (used a portion of winnings to upgrade their house, stashed the rest away for kids college funds). Since we worked closely with them, there were people who thought we might’ve been among that group of lucky winners. Unfortunately, this led to a lot of random calls over the next few months, including people who hadn’t been in touch in literally decades. Most calls went like, “Heyyyyyy long time no see! Were you guys in tha…no? oh okay bye! ::phoneclick::”

    2. Transatlantic*

      Thanks for the wholesome story. It seems like every lottery winner descends into narcissistic drug use, so it’s good to hear of a normal person acting decently. It makes it more fun to fantasise about winning it myself without the unhappy ending!

  41. Blue Pen*

    Oof, I think I need to take a shower after reading the first question. I hope everything works out for your employee, LW—both personally and professionally.

  42. Garlic Microwaver*

    For LW 1- Correct me if I’m wrong, but aren’t there loopholes in FMLA? Your position is secured, but if there is a true business need to eliminate it, they can. Budget cuts/layoffs are one of them. Companies can swing it so it doesn’t tie back to anything “discriminatory.” Of course, they’d be morally wrong and forever branded as “that” company that “laid off the person with cancer.” But- I remember from reading my maternity leave paperwork that there was this loophole. So, is OP truly protected?

    Also, would advocate for OP to the best of your ability to the “higher ups” who might not know they are going through chemo. Get OP’s permission, of course. Don’t get in the business of “choosing” who should be laid off instead, but simply present that information to HR and make the case as to why this person needs to remain employed.

    1. Manic Pixie HR Girl*

      This is correct. FMLA protects the job assuming there is a job to protect. If the layoff (or termination, for that matter) is unrelated to FMLA, then it can move forward.

  43. Catabouda*

    I just want to share …. we recently had someone providing highly complex/technical training for a large group. I have no idea what he did that pissed his wife off so much, but she was doing dishes behind him and slamming pots (we could see her purposely picking them up and slamming them LOL), continually running the disposal, yelling at their dogs.

    I 100% believe people do this sort of stuff on purpose.

  44. Jam Today*

    LW2 is a better person than me, I would absolutely flip a table on my way out the door and then do cartwheels in the parking lot.

  45. Jennifer Strange*

    #3 reminds me of when I was living with my parents while in grad school. I had an online course with a timed online test. We didn’t have wifi, so I had to use the family computer in the den, right next to the kitchen. While I started the test, my dad decided to start making dinner. This wouldn’t have been too big of an issue, except he also decided he needed to sing at the same time. When I asked if he could stop he got very indignant and said, “Well, I need to make dinner!” Thankfully, I had two opportunities to take the test, with the better grade being the on accepted.

    Some folks just can’t fathom that others may have needs that conflict with their own.

  46. Purple Cat*

    LW 2 – Most important thing to do (besides tell noone) is to WAIT before quitting. I always say I’ll work another 6 months. Otherwise suspicious people can put 2 and 2 together. 6 months later though, people have forgotten there was a big winner.

  47. Green great dragon*

    Clearly the other manager could have approached things better, but it is possible Jeff is overstepping. LW says ‘assistance and input’ so is Jeff giving input that’s close to making a decision that isn’t his to make? Like, is someone asking how to short-cut the 6-week paint ordering process that will cause them to miss the deadline and Jeff is saying ‘just use the paint left over from last time – the client will never notice the difference’? Even if he turns out to be right, I can see OM wanting herself/her team to be making that call.

    1. Daughter of Ada and Grace*

      My other thought on how Jeff could be overstepping is that when he gets asked “What are the settings to configure the widget thrombobulator?”, rather than providing the settings and letting the asker do the configuration, Jeff is just configuring the thrombobulator himself.

      1. Drama Free Since '93*

        OP4 here- I can clearly see I didn’t provide enough info lol. it’s a bit of a niche industry so I wanted to see on the side of general. in the situations he’s encountering it’s like they’re asking ” hey this widget didn’t come with a giggle calibration, what do we do?” and he walks them through finding the giggle cal.

  48. Ex-prof*

    #1 is so infuriating. And in all the industrialized world, it could only have been written in the United States.

    He would still have the right to purchase COBRA, right? On his no-longer-extant income.

    And depending on the state, he might be eligible for out-of-season enrollment in Obamacare. In New York he would be.

    Still, the argh argh argh of it. I hope he’s able to get leave quickly before he’s laid off.

        1. Evan Þ*

          “Obamacare” is the popular name for it. When I’m volunteering with the VITA tax prep program, I’ve lost count of how many clients have no idea what the “Affordable Care Act” is, but instantly recognize “Obamacare.”

    1. Parakeet*

      He could pay the exorbitant costs of COBRA to keep current coverage, or enroll in an ACA plan that will probably also cost a lot and may, mid-chemo, lead to sudden changes in which providers he can use and how much his treatments will cost.

      There are commenters above treating this as similar to a situation of a parent getting preference. Having used both COBRA and an ACA plan before…I’m glad that they exist because they’re better than literal nothing, but it would be far better to avoid the guy getting laid off. It’s not the same as privileging a parent, even if there are parallels. Not every situation can reasonably be dealt with from first principles. There will always be edge cases.

  49. Catabouda*

    For LW1 – I agree with you, please try to get the information to that person to protect himself, but make sure you do it in a way like Alison suggests, where you yourself aren’t then in jeopardy.

  50. Sneaky Squirrel*

    #4 – I don’t like that manager’s first thought was to accuse Jeff of overstepping instead of trying to work out a solution but I guess you need to be the bigger person here. Work with that manager to remove Jeff from the process, such as coming up with a canned response or a training for Jeff to provide when staff reach out. The manager is right to want her staff to stop asking for Jeff’s help. They need to take full ownership of their work and the possible mistakes that come; sometimes that’s how people grow in the role or identify where there are gaps. And you should want Jeff not to be spending his valuable time on another division’s work.

    1. Observer*

      I don’t like that manager’s first thought was to accuse Jeff of overstepping instead of trying to work out a solution

      You don’t actually know that that’s what happened. The way the LW describes things, it could have been that way, but it could just as easily not have been that way.

      I guess you need to be the bigger person here

      No, there is no “bigger person” issue here. It is basic professionalism for the LW and their managee to respect the request of the other manager. That would be true even if the other manager really approached it unprofessionally.

      Work with that manager to remove Jeff from the process, such as coming up with a canned response or a training for Jeff to provide when staff reach out.

      Other than the canned response, which I think is really important, I don’t see any reason for the rest of it.

      And I *totally* agree with the rest of your comment.

  51. Pretty as a Princess*

    I have had to be the manager that asks a peer to have her staff stop helping my team members. In those cases, it has been an issue of the team member having been trained in what needed to be done (and having access to step by step instructions) and not following those instructions. Let’s say each team member has to produce a TPS report monthly. There is a button in the TPS system that lets them automagically produce the report based on their login data. But several of them have, without my knowledge, been going directly to the TPS department and asking them for the report because “that’s how we used to do it” over a decade ago. This was increasing the workload of the TPS team, but they have just been quietly accommodating the requests. Since no one made me aware, this went on for over a year – because when you send our customers their monthly TPS report, it doesn’t say who ran it. Since the TPS team didn’t tell me people were coming directly to them, I wasn’t aware that we needed to do some retraining/resetting of expectations. I needed the TPS team to tell my staff to go back to their instructions, and ask the TPS folks to let me know if they were getting inquiries.

    However, I never accused them of “overstepping.” I apologized for the extra work that came their way, acknowledged that I appreciated their efforts to be helpful – and said that the organization’s expectation (and mine) is that my team learns to run their own reports. So rather than solve the problem for people, redirect them to the resources and help me understand how many/often the requests were coming. And, I went to my peer to make the request, rather than to the “Jeff” of this situation.

  52. Beth*

    I am VERY happy to learn that I retain ownership of all the work I’ve done for various volunteer gigs. It’s never come up, but it might. Especially since I’ve had to leave some volunteer stints because I got fed up with doing mountains of work for little or no appreciation, so the separation wasn’t on good terms.

    1. Amaryllis*

      I had a similar issue where a non-profit was threatening to sue me for ownership of writing I did for them as a volunteer. I knew that I owned the piece and even sent them information on the law, but they just would/could not believe that they didn’t own my writing. Had they been cool I would have given them ownership, but they were a nightmare to work with and the experience was capped off with threats. Ugh. Never Again!

  53. Oh, just me again*

    In letter #4, what about this other manager’s own “overstep” in emailing directly to Jeff instead of going through HIS manager? She stepped right OVER the letter writer. This person wants hard lines of reporting for her people, and yet is ignoring hierarchy in OP’s department. Jeff’s responding to questions isn’t an overstep anyway – if anyone is “overstepping,” it’s her people – bypassing both managers. Jeff’s just helpfully responding- normal in a shop that values business outcomes above the egos of its management. If she truly thinks a rigidly hierchical structure is best, let her start with her own shop – she should tell her own people ask her not Jeff, rather than telling him. not to answer.

  54. DenimChicken*

    I honestly feel like the advice in number 4 puts Jeff in an awkward position. His manager needs to confirm that the other manager has spoken to her team about not emailing him, and give him guidance for how to respond if he still gets questions. Ignoring them could damage his reputation, but saying “your boss said I can’t answer” seems like tattling, and we don’t know how reasonable that manager is given how she framed him responding to simple questions. I’d be worried about drawing more of her ire if I were him. I wish there were more advice for how to support him.

    1. Manic Pixie HR Girl*

      The best way to handle this, if I was Jeff, is this:

      “I am sorry, but I am not able to help with this inquiry at this time due to competing priorities. You’ll need to ask [Your Manager] for assistance with this inquiry.” Lather, rinse, repeat. It’s not tattling and it is also not untrue.

      I don’t disagree it puts him in an awkward position, but this at least gets him out of the line of fire.

      1. NotAnotherManager!*

        If I were Jeff, I wouldn’t be taking a bullet for the manager or concerned about having been perceived as “tattling”. He’s following the direction of a superior, and there should not be an issue with giving requesting person the information they may need if they require more/alternative direction. There is nothing wrong with, “I’d love to help you out, but Jane has asked that I refer any questions from OldTeam back to her.” If Jane has a problem explaining to her team why she asked Jeff not to help them, she needs to deal with that herself.

        I’m guessing we’re missing some details here on the underperforming team’s manager’s perspective, but I generally work in a place where helping people where it does not impact your own work is encouraged and managers communicate with their peers before giving direction to the other’s direct reports. I would also give some context for an ask like this (like I need to see where the knowledge gaps are or we’ve changed processes substantially since you left and people need current info) and what the the alternative should be (like please feel free to forward to me). Not strictly required but avoids confusion like LW#4 has about what they perceive as a positive attribute of Jeff’s.

    2. fhqwhgads*

      “Tattling” isn’t a thing in the working world. If anyone at the job would perceive it as “tattling” that’s them treating work situation in a juvenile framing.

    3. Observer*

      His manager needs to confirm that the other manager has spoken to her team about not emailing him

      No they do not “have” to do this. Of course, if the other manager is competent, they will have done so. And it would be a good idea if the LW can bring that up in a non-confrontational manner. But regardless, there is no reason why Jeff cannot stop providing the help, whether or not this has been done. It’s not his job and he’s been told not to do it. End of story.

      saying “your boss said I can’t answer” seems like tattling,

      The whole concept of “tattling” in the workplace needs to die. In a case like this, it’s even more absurd.

    4. DisgruntledPelican*

      “Hi DenimChicken,

      Jane has asked that all requests like this go to her directly from now on, so I’ve cc’d her here.

      Let me know if there’s anything else I can help you with.


      I don’t know what’s awkward about this or how this could damage Jeff’s reputation.

  55. Sweet Polly Purebread*

    True story that happened in the mid’90s. Coworker calls her boss to say she’s won the lottery and she’s quitting her job immediately. Very polite about it but not willing to discuss two week notice or wrapping up any of their projects, just yesterday was their last day. Boss asks her is she’s absolutely sure they’ve won and if she doesn’t want to maybe wait to talk with a lawyer first. Nope, she’s quitting and they are leaving to drive up to the lottery office in Sacramento to claim their prize.
    Later that day, boss gets a call. Coworker was already 5 hours into their trip to Sacramento before they realized that they were looking at a ticket for last week’s drawing. To say the least it was an awkward call and yes, they did take her back.

    1. Shandra*

      This kind of thing is why someone I knew said they’d wait till they got the first check, before even thinking about quitting.

  56. fhqwhgads*

    #4’s colleague is still approaching this weirdly tho. Her team keeps asking Jeff. You’d think the answer would be to tell them to stop asking Jeff? It’s odd to frame it as “Jeff is overstepping” when what Jeff is doing is responding when someone says “help me”.
    Like, yes it’s the manager’s purview to decide she doesn’t want Jeff helping anymore, but the angle of approach here is just bizarre.
    Tell Jeff that moving forward anytime that team asks him for something he should respond “sorry OtherManager’sName asked me not to do that”. So it’s clear he’s not being a jerk to people asking for help; he’s following an explicit instruction.

    1. The Terrible Tom*

      Yes, I also don’t understand the approach at all. It should be easy enough to tell them, “Come to me instead of Jeff so I can whatever.” Whatever she’s trying to do, that’s surely what she’s trying to accomplish: get them to come to her so she can work whatever angle she’s thinking of.

  57. tabloidtained*

    #4: The other manager’s concern is “overstepping.” But overstepping would be actively involving yourself in another department’s work, rather than answering questions when asked by the other department. The other manager is not making a reasonable complaint and LW should address this on behalf of her employee–professionally.

  58. Survivor2*

    A few misconceptions in the comments for LW#1. For starters, cancer treatment can absolutely be a qualifying condition for disability and FMLA, just like pregnancy is. Could I have dragged my carcass into the office during chemo? Sure, and I did for quite a while before it got really bad, because I wanted the distraction of work. But by the time it got so that I could not sit up straight for more than 15 minutes because of the overwhelming vertigo, brain fog, and steroid-induced insomnia, it was clear that no real work was going to get done.

    Secondly, ACA coverage is not a panacea. For starters, worse coverage on the marketplace can ultimately cost just as much as a COBRA policy, depending on your annual household income. But more relevant to this situation is that cancer treatment usually involves a whole team of doctors. Changing insurance midstream would mean not only checking that all of the providers were in-network, but also that all the same treatment protocols and chemo drugs were covered under the new plan.

    I hate that this is our system. LW1, if you have any capital to expend, please do what you can to advocate at least for this person to get extended health coverage as part of their severance if it comes to that. And yes, please take the small risk to yourself to give this poor person some advance warning.

  59. Nonanon*

    “Admittedly I was applying for jobs that would have me moving away from him, and thus I clearly had no caregiving responsibilities. I might not have used that excuse for a local job.”
    Honestly, aside from the “excuse this person I live with who has no boundaries” (and I am assuming this is purely a boundary issue, not something larger going on with your father), it’s a good metric for companies that will go bananapants if say, something happened and you did need to, gasp, not focus on work (see all the stories of companies that LOOSE IT when a woman of childbearing age applies). “This person WILL NOT be able to focus on their job AND have CARETAKING responsibilities” is typically not a company you want to work for, and it winds up being a way to screen.

    1. Manic Pixie HR Girl*

      I feel like I should now start saying, “Excuse this person I live with who has no boundaries” when my Vizsla brings over a squeaky toy, starts barking at nothing, or gets in the chair with me while I am on a Zoom.

  60. Who are you talking about?*

    OP4, Shouldn’t the other manager tell his people to stop asking you?

    I feel HE is overstepping and asking you and your Team member to stop helping whereas he should ask his people to stop asking for help, get them trained, get their knowledge repository built to manage the loss of knowledge happening via attrition. Looks like he has done nothing of that sort.

    1. Observer*

      How do you know that the manager has not instructed her team to not ask?

      Depending on what’s going on, it’s quite possible that she did that, and her next step is to make it harder / impossible for staff to try to ignore her instructions.

    2. Drama Free Since '93*

      OP4 here- the other manager has previously asked her team to copy her on all emails to Jeff. I assume it’s so she can identify the knowledge gaps and work a knowledge transfer plan. However, some hot tea that happened today- she set up a meeting with her team to discuss one of the items he is a SME in (a specific type of piezoelectric load cell) and one of her team forwarded the resulting action item list- she’s not on copy. Jeff instantly let me know and we decided not to engage further. I don’t plan on mentioning it to her at all.

  61. Good luck!*

    OP2, if you won the lottery do not share that with anyone.

    I like Alison’s idea of dealing with a family situation.

  62. Skytext*

    I have a slightly different take on Letter 4. Why is it OP’s responsibility to stop this behavior by managing her report, and not Other Manager’s job to manage HER reports? There is a behavior (reports asking Jeff questions) and the only person who has a problem with it is OM! Jeff doesn’t, OP doesn’t, and OM’s reports don’t. OM doesn’t have power over OP (sounds like they’re equal) so has no business ordering OP to do anything. She also has no power over Jeff. She can only control her own reports, and that is where she needs to concentrate.

  63. One HR Opinion*

    For LW#1 (or others in a similar situation) – Forgive me but I’m going to geek out on benefits stuff for a minute.

    This may not apply as your staff hasn’t needed time off yet, but it’s important for people to know. Short term disability varies greatly and there may be an option to continue the coverage after employment separation. For long-term disablity which typically requires being unable to work for 6 months, your coverage is based on being employed at the time the disablity began. For instance, employee had a stroke, they continued to have complications and lost their job. They would still be able to file a claim for LTD even though they were no longer employed.

    As for health insurance, one of the tricky things is that the ACA healthcare exchange and COBRA interactions are tricky. You must enroll in the exchange by the 15th of the month to get coverage for the next month. There is not a retroactive enrollment like COBRA. Also, if you enroll in COBRA, you CANNOT enroll in the exchange except during open enrollment or when your COBRA expires. So, for instance, if you didn’t enroll in the exchange by April 15 to get coverage in May, you cannot enroll in COBRA for one month (May) and then move to the exchange in June. You will either have to go without coverage for May or enroll in COBRA and stay on it through the end of the year.

    It’s never easy navigating major illness from either side. Best of luck to both of you.

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