It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…
1. Saying the Pledge of Allegiance at work
I have a long-standing issue at work and am at a loss over whether I should raise this, and if so, how. I am a full-time permanent federal employee. At my agency we honor monthly presidential declarations (think Hispanic Heritage month, Black History month, etc.) by holding a one- or two-hour event, which I fully support and attend. However, as part of our performance evaluations, to receive Fully Successful, we MUST attend at a minimum of two of these events per year. If you want to receive Outstanding or Superior, you attend more.
My issue is that at the beginning of each of these events, an employee performs the national anthem (totally fine!), and then we recite the Pledge of Allegiance, which I feel is not only unnecessary because we are the federal government, but also alienating to certain groups. If these weren’t required as part of my performance evaluations, I would seriously consider not attending because of this.
I don’t know how to address this. There is a feedback submission system, but it is not anonymous. I am willing to raise my voice, but am worried about retaliation and being marked for the rest of my career, and I have a significant amount of time left before retirement.
I think expecting people to ritually pledge allegiance to their country during the course of their normal workday is bizarre, even for the government, but because this is government I doubt very much that you’re going to get it changed. I suspect, though, that you’re not actually required to recite the pledge — you can probably stand and say nothing while it’s occurring. (If you don’t want to stand at all — and the Supreme Court has supported your right to remain silently seated during the pledge — you’d need to decide if you’re willing to spend the capital that would probably be involved.)
2. My company won’t order meals I can eat at upcoming meetings
I have a week’s worth of company meetings coming up where we will be staying in a hotel. Lunch will be pre-planned by the meeting organizer. I asked her to accommodate my dietary restrictions (health issues). She forwarded my request to upper management and I received an email response back that he suggests that I pre-buy lunches for myself and bring them with me or call the hotel to see if I can order special lunches while there. Is this acceptable for meetings that I am required to attend? I felt like my company should try to accommodate my needs. I can’t very well bring lunches as the hotel doesn’t offer rooms with refrigerators.
Yeah, this is BS. They should absolutely be attempting to accommodate your dietary needs. I’d respond this way: “I can’t bring my own lunches since we won’t have fridges in our rooms. Typically in the past, meeting organizers have ordered me a dairy-free (or whatever) meal because it’s easier for it to be part of the overall catering so it shows up at the same time as everything else. It’s usually easy for caterers to adjust what they’re serving; they get these requests all the time. Is there a reason we can’t just wrap this into the meals you’re already ordering?”
But if she pushes back, ask them to reimburse you for delivered meals that you’ll order yourself (and know that this is crap).
3. Asking a coworker to chew with their mouth closed
Is it ever okay to ask someone to chew with their mouth closed at work?
It depends so much on the relationships involved. If it’s someone who you have good rapport with or who you know wouldn’t take offense, or if they’re junior to you, in many cases you could indeed say, “Bob, would you mind chewing with your mouth shut?” And definitely if you’re their manager, there’s more room for it. But in a lot of other cases, it’s going to come across as not your business (you’re not their parent, and in general you shouldn’t scold other adults about their manners), in which case you’re better off just trying to position yourself so you’re not getting a full frontal view while they’re doing it.
4. Which address should I use on job applications in a new city?
My boyfriend moved upstate for a job and I’m going to join him up there because there are better opportunities for me as well. He’s settled into the apartment we’ll be living in together (so I could get mail there).
Which address should I use on my applications for jobs in the new city, my current address or my future one?
I’d prefer to have a job before moving just to keep my health insurance coverage. My fear is being eliminated from consideration for not being local.
Some people in this situation will use the future address. That can be helpful since some employers favor local candidates (often with good reason), but it can also be tricky if they assume it means you can appear for an interview very quickly. If you actually can appear for an interview as soon as someone local could, it’s fine to go ahead and do that. That will, after all, be your address soon — and since it’s the apartment you’ll both be sharing, it’s not too far of a stretch.
But the other option if that weren’t the case is to do this:
(Relocating in March to Buffalo)
5. My call with a recruiter disconnected and I couldn’t call back right away
I applied for a job that was a reach for my skill set. A few days later I received an email from a recruiter saying I might be a good match for the position, but to please fill out the skills section of their website so that they can be sure. I filled it out and less than an hour later the recruiter called to let me know that one year of experience was a hard minimum, so that position wasn’t a good fit for me.
Unfortunately, I made the mistake of taking the call in the car and it disconnected. I was unable to call back because Driving, and I was also unable to call back when I reached my destination because I was driving to work. Instead I emailed the recruiter this when I got to work: “I apologize about the disconnection earlier, I was using Bluetooth in my car to answer the call and couldn’t call back because I was driving. Can I schedule a time with you to finish the conversation?”
It’s been a day and the recruiter, who previously responded to emails within an hour of receiving them, has yet to respond. I’m wondering if he thought I hung up out of anger and blocked my email and blacklisted me before I had a chance to explain what happened. But I also wonder if maybe he was only responding so quickly before because I was a potential candidate, and now that I’m not I should expect slower responses.
I thought about calling him if I don’t receive a reply back in a week, but that also seems to be overkill? What is the proper thing to do if I get disconnected from a potential employer or recruiter in the future and can’t call back?
You did exactly the right thing — emailed him to explain what had happened. It’s pretty likely that he hasn’t responded to you because he’d already relayed the crux of his message: that the position wasn’t a match for you. There isn’t a conversation to finish, because to him that closed it out.
It’s super common for people involved in hiring to communicate only when they have a new message to deliver to you (which already happened here) or when they have a question for you. If you’re already out of the running, it’s not surprising that he’s not getting back to you. In a more social setting, it would be a nicety for him to respond to the email you sent, but in a hiring setting there’s nothing more he needs to say.
So it’s not that he thinks you hung up in anger. It’s just that he already told you the position isn’t a match and now he’s moved on (and assumes you will too).
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saying the Pledge of Allegiance at work, asking a coworker to chew with their mouth closed, and more was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.