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

1. My coworker signed me up for a racist organization as a joke

I have a colleague — a very nice, very young man with a quirky sense of humour and a less-than-fully-formed sense of boundaries around what’s appropriate to say at work. I believe this is his first professional job after graduating. Recently, he joined a racist alt-right political organization (I’m almost certain he did this as a joke, but not completely sure), and told me about this. I thought that was a very strange thing to do, and a strange thing to tell me about at work, but I let it go. We’re both new hires, and I don’t want to make waves.

Today, he went online, impersonating me, and signed me up as a member of the organization. I’m almost completely certain it was a prank (as was his own joining), but I’m now officially a “member” of this organization, which couldn’t be further from my views. I’m sickened to think that my name will now appear on their membership rolls and count toward the official tally of how many members they have. On the one hand, if it’s something anyone can just sign someone else up for, I like to hope my new “membership” in it won’t do me any reputational harm … but on the other hand, if word got around that I’m a member, I would not be pleased.

Would I look like a stick-in-the-mud if I told him that this wasn’t cool, and the kind of thing that might have real professional consequences for him if he did it to the wrong person? Would that be sufficient enough to get him a message without creating problems for him that I don’t want to create?

You say “he’s very nice” and I say “what an a-hole.” Signing you up as a member of a racist organization (!) is far from okay, whether he intended it as a joke or not.

You absolutely would not look like a stick-in-the-mud for taking a very hard line with him. Ideally you’d say, “This is really not okay. That’s a racist organization that I find deeply offensive and I don’t want my name in any way associated with. I need you to find out how to get my name removed and take care of it, immediately.”

It sounds like you want to take something of a softer approach, which is your prerogative, but please know that you would be 100% on solid group for taking the approach above, even as a new hire. Like, you couldn’t possibly be on more solid ground. Please don’t feel like you need to soften this or tip toe your way up to it. Frankly, you’d be doing him a favor by letting him see how out of line and gross this was because if he doesn’t learn a lesson here, sooner or later he’s going to do it to someone who doesn’t have the same qualms about causing problems for him.

2. Should I give feedback about my rude interviewer for an internship I want?

I recently did a phone interview for an internship at a place that I was really excited to apply to. I managed to get said interview thanks to my close friend’s professional contact in the organization bumping my application forward in the process (this is key for later). The interview was supposed to be at 10, I emailed the person I was supposed to interview with (not my friend’s contact) at 10:15 to make sure we were still scheduled, and they eventually called at 10:26.

When I finally spoke with them, they said something about “missing my reminder about the call” but did not offer an actual apology or recognize how unprofessional their behavior was. I certainly understand that things can come up, but there was no attempt to acknowledge how inconvenient and rude this was, and they simply brushed it aside. The interview itself was trash because they didn’t try to establish a rapport to get it back on track and asked what felt like the same question a few different ways. I’m typically great at interviewing and I did my best to answer the questions fully, but I don’t feel great about the whole thing.

I am still hoping to get this internship because (1) I need it to graduate and (2) the role itself is exactly what I want to do in my career. I’m conflicted because I also want to leave feedback for this person because of how unprofessional they were. Considering my friend’s professional connection there, is it possible to do address this without it making him look bad? Should I just not bother and take that as a sign to move on?

Yeah, I’d just move on. Fairly or not, as an intern candidate, your feedback about someone starting an interview late isn’t going to be taken especially seriously and risks making you look like you don’t understand professional hierarchy and would be a pain to work with. And yes, that could reflect badly on your friend who recommended you. (And if they were interviewing you as a favor to your friend, it’ll really look bad.)

It’s not that it’s not rude for an interviewer to call 26 minutes late with an apology or acknowledgement. It is. But when you’re at the internship level of your career (i.e., at the very start of it), you don’t really have any capital, and any attempt to tell someone experienced (when you have little to no experience) how unprofessional they were — especially for something relatively minor — is going to make you look like you don’t know that. I’m not saying that’s right; it’s reasonable for you to want to be treated courteously. But that’s likely how it would play out.

3. I can’t afford to put my new job’s travel expenses on my own credit card

I’ve just accepted a great new job in an industry that I’m really excited about after six months out of work. It’s a remote position with training in the first month at their headquarters. I’m based in the northwest and have to travel to the south for the training. I don’t start for a month, but I have an issue with the training.

I stupidly didn’t clarify the mechanics of paying for the airfare/hotel costs for the training period before I accepted the offer. Today I asked them what the mechanics are and they asked me to book in advance and submit for reimbursement. The thing is, my six months out of work were due to mental health issues and I have burned through my savings on hospital bills and doctor costs while not covered by insurance.

Would it be out of place to respond and ask that the company put the airfare and hotel on a company card because of my situation? If so, how should I ask? When I interviewed and they flew me to their headquarters, they did just that and the company has a huge staff that travels constantly so it doesn’t seem like it would be that out of the ordinary, but I also don’t want them to pull the offer or otherwise start off on a bad note.

You can definitely ask! Talk to either your boss or the person coordinating this process and say this: “I’m not in a financial position where I can can charge these expenses on my own credit card. Would it be possible to put them on a company credit card instead?”

You are not the only person who has needed to make this request, believe me, and it’s very likely that they’ll work something out once you let them know it’s needed.

4. My company is asking what would prompt me to leave

I work at a small-ish firm of about 50 people. It’s a great place. I feel really cared for, love my job and enjoy my colleagues. I’ve been here about three years and the company has invested in me and provided advancement opportunities. I’ve looked around, and I feel I am getting paid market rate, but I have a better work environment than most with good benefits. I have no plans to leave, but like most people, I wouldn’t mind a higher salary, better commute, etc.

The annual appraisal system was recently changed, and a new question has appeared on the self-appraisal: “What would prompt you to leave the company?”

My honest answer is: If I got a really amazing offer or if someone offered me more money. I wouldn’t make a lateral move — it would have to be something really great. But there is a number which would get me to leave.

I’m not sure how I feel about being that honest! Do you or your readers have any advice?

Your company is not going to be surprised that there’s a number that would get you to leave. That’s the case for nearly everyone. But you’re also not obligated to be explicit about that. It would be fine to just say something like, “I’m really happy here, love my job, and appreciate the company. As long as I continue getting to do interesting work with great colleagues with good benefits, I have no plans to leave!”

5. Is it legal for my company not to pay me for the days we close around Christmas?

I am a salaried food service general manager. My restaurant is located on a college campus. The school is closed for about four days for the Christmas holidays. Since this isn’t something my company decided to do (our other locations are open) but the decision of the school, my company says either I don’t get paid or work at another location as a crew member. Is this legal?

It depends on whether you’re exempt or non-exempt, which is a government classification based on the type of work you do. (More here.) You can be salaried and still non-exempt.

If you’re exempt and you do any work that week (possibly one day since it sounds like they’re closing for four days?), you’d need to be paid for the whole week. But if you don’t do any work at all that week, they can legally not pay you for the whole thing.

If you’re non-exempt, they don’t have to pay you for any time you don’t work, even if you’re salaried. (You might be thinking “but the whole point of being salaried is that they don’t dock your pay when your hours vary,” but they’re legally allowed to do that for non-exempt employees.)

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