It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…
1. Teen daughter wants to quit her new job because of bad history with a coworker
My teen daughter, Artemis, is about to start her first job at a new location of a national chain. She’s been training at another location while waiting for hers to open, and so far, she loves the job, her manager (Demeter), and her coworkers. Today, she found out that a very toxic former friend, Apollo, with whom she has some really bad and somewhat traumatic history, has also gotten a job there. She’s miserable about it, to the point that she’s considering quitting before the store even opens. I understand – the history is far worse than the typical falling out, and she has very good reasons to be concerned about bending the boundaries she has established around this person. I would love to help her understand that working with difficult people is sometimes necessary and give her some ideas and skills on how to cope with the situation. (Please rest assured that I have no impulse or desire to be That Parent and try to intervene on her behalf; my goal is to help her successfully advocate for herself.)
Clearly, the best outcome would be for them not to be scheduled at the same time, but there’s really no way of knowing or controlling that. I also strongly suspect that if Artemis were to say, “Hey, Demeter, it’d be best if my schedule doesn’t overlap with Apollo’s,” she’s going to be the one to get the less desirable shifts. This is further complicated by the fact that Apollo is very charismatic and good at winning people over, which adds additional concerns about their ability to come out ahead in the eyes of their coworkers if the conflict ever becomes apparent. It also causes me more than a little concern that it may give Apollo the opportunity to talk their way back into Artemis’ life, which would be bad for her in a number of ways.
Do you have any advice for how to navigate this, either (a) as the self-advocating teen and (b) as her supportive parent?
Support her in quitting if that’s what she wants to do! Yes, it’s important to know that you can’t control your coworkers and sometimes you’ll have to work with difficult people … but this is a high school job where the stakes aren’t that high if she’d just prefer not to, and high school social dynamics can be really messy in a way that probably/hopefully won’t be replicated in her adult career, and expecting her to work with someone she has an upsetting history is like 301-level difficulty when she’s presumably still at 101 levels in figuring out work (and if the history is full-on traumatic, that’s even worse). And frankly, most adults wouldn’t want to stick around in this situation either; they’re just more likely to be trapped in it because they have bills to pay.
It makes sense to talk through an array of options with her … but if she still wants to quit at the end of that, she’s got my support.
2. Can we encourage our unhappy coworker to leave?
I work in a small department of 15 employees. Our boss has left a year ago for another position in the same company. Two of us applied for his position, and both were rejected.
One of the rejected is very angry about it. I understand it was a big disappointment. However, it’s been almost a year, and she is getting angrier by the day. She will rant, snap at people over small things, shout in meetings and slam doors. Any meeting that doesn’t please her is treated to an avalanche of “I don’t give a shit, do what you want, I stopped caring.”
Honestly, it is exhausting to work with her. And it’s not like she can’t leave — she has a highly sought skillset, and many regional companies are hiring for that position. I’m tempted to tell her “if you hate it here, FFS leave already.” She’d most likely get a raise and the desired promotion in a new job. But nobody dares to tell her that she needs to either leave or stop talking about leaving.
We don’t hate her. We’d be happy to see her grow into new tasks, but it’s not happening here and that makes everyone miserable. Is there any way we could gently tell her “we think you would be happier in a new job”?
Honestly, “if you hate it here, FFS leave already” would be warranted at this point. Is there a reason no one is willing to say that or a softer version? Or at least, “It’s exhausting hearing this all the time. Please stop complaining and snapping at people”?
Also, this isn’t just about endless complaining (although that’s exhausting enough). Snapping at people, shouting in meetings, and slamming doors is a whole different thing, it’s completely unacceptable, and none of you should be tolerating it. All of you have standing to say “you need to lower your voice,” “you cannot talk to people that way,” “stop snapping at me,” etc. And you all have standing to ask her manager to intervene too, because that’s a horrible, hostile environment to work in. (Not “hostile environment” in the legal sense, just in the sense of “this is an angry and volatile person who has been spewing hostility into your space for a year and needs to be told to stop.”) A lot of people like this stop if someone calls them on it clearly and bluntly. (And the fact that no one has is probably warping her own sense of how she can behave.)
3. Whose responsibility is it to convert time zones when setting up a meeting?
Whose ultimate responsibility is it to convert proposed interview times to different time zones, the applicant’s or the hiring manager’s?
I’m on a tiny team based on one coast, but our team is largely remote and we’re hiring for another remote employee. I’m assisting my supervisor with interviews, and when I emailed a candidate about interview times, I sent times in my time zone without checking his location, which is on the other coast of the U.S. I’m embarrassed that I didn’t think of this ahead of time, but I also know that my personal expectations to catch all details before they become a problem are unrealistic. While I would have liked to catch this before it caused a problem today, I think the final responsibility to notice the time difference rests on the applicant who chose to apply to a company on the other side of the country. Am I right or did I have the responsibility to check each applicant’s location and convert the times before emailing them to schedule an interview?
Your responsibility isn’t to convert the times; it’s just to note what time zone you’re using when you list the time. For example, I’m on the east coast and if I’m setting up a meeting for 2:00 with someone, I’m going to to write “2 pm ET.” Indicate the time zone you’re using, and they can convert that however they need.
All that said, ideally someone applying for a job across the country would think about time zones on their end and ask to clarify if one isn’t specified.
4. Can you be fired for dressing inappropriately?
Is it possible to get fired for inappropriate dress in the office? It could be sexy, too young-ish (stupidly so, like a sixth grader), too informal, etc.
I’m thinking of Caitlin Bernier who was supposedly fired from an Alberta Honda car dealership for wearing an inappropriate white top that showed her bra underneath it. She was only there for two weeks and was on probation. Even without probation, can you be fired for dressing like that?
In general, yes, you can be fired for dressing inappropriately at work.
It’s also legal to have different dress codes for men and women, as long as neither is more of a burden on one sex than the other. In practice, though, they’re almost always more burdensome on women even though they’re not supposed to be, and it’s only really extreme differences in burden that end up getting prohibited. And of course, this completely ignores the existence of non-binary people.
That said, in the case you’re referencing, there’s some dispute over what she was actually fired for. I don’t know enough about the case to comment on that (and am skeptical that anyone outside the people involved does).
5. The job I interviewed for a month ago has been reposted
I had a second-round interview for a job I wanted with the VP but got ghosted afterwards. That was over a month ago but I just saw the same job posted on their LinkedIn page. Should I reach out to the VP again reiterating my interest in the role or will that seem desperate and I should just move on?
Move on. It’s not that it will look desperate, but they already know you’re interested because you interviewed for the job. Contacting them now isn’t going to make them remember you exist; they already know, but for whatever reason they’ve chosen not to move you forward.
If you haven’t done any follow-up since your interview a month ago, you could send one email now just asking for an update on their timeline for next steps (because you might get some useful info by doing that). But if you’ve already checked back in since that interview (and I’m guessing you have since you mentioned they’ve ghosted you), then you’ve got to just assume you didn’t get the job and move on.
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