My Co-Worker Gave me a $1000 Present

by Evil HR Lady on January 26, 2018

I need some advice on the topics of work appropriate gifts. I work in a large international company, and recently became friends with a male coworker. I am married, and so is he. What is considered an appropriate gift for a coworker? He recently gave me something designer that was over $1000 and it doesn’t make me comfortable at all, and I expressed to him that it doesn’t and I find it inappropriate. I am happily married, and he knows I am. He said it wasn’t meant to be inappropriate, but it makes me so uncomfortable. He won’t take it back and I have already tried to express my concerns and discomfort to him twice. How do I give it back to him without causing drama? I don’t really want to go to HR yet without making it clear first.

First, to be clear, you’re not causing the drama. He’s causing the drama. A gift of this sort is 100 percent inappropriate between co-workers, especially ones that are married to other people. Even if you were both single this type of gift is inappropriate. Why? Because you are co-workers, not boyfriend and girlfriend.

So, here’s what you do. You say he won’t take it back, but he doesn’t have all the power. You don’t have to take it. Get a friend to go with you, hand him the item and say, “I cannot accept this gift.” Then walk away. If he refuses to take it out of your hands, set it on his desk and walk away. It is his. You are under no obligation to accept it.

Then, you need to report it to HR. I know, I  know, drama. But, here’s why. His gift may have been genuinely sweet and he may be a multi-millionaire who just works for fun and spending $1000 is like buying someone a candy bar, and I’d still want to know about it.

Here’s why:

Because it’s not an appropriate gift* between co-workers, this guy needs some training. Now, if he is wealthy or if he’s from a culture where those types of gifts are appropriate he’s not being sleazy or forward or what have you, he’s just made a mistake. In this case, there should be a short discussion that gifts like this are inappropriate because they change the relationship from a professional one to a personal one. Because of the huge amount of money involved it puts you in his debt. That’s not a peer relationship.

If his culture is okay with this, that’s great. But while we respect his home country culture, he needs to respect his local culture as well, and that means not giving expensive gifts to other people unless you have a serious established romantic or familial relationship.

Now, if he was trying to win your favor or begin a romantic relationship, this is a failed way to do it. You’re both married to other people so that’s inappropriate in and of itself, but if you were both single it would still be inappropriate. Again, because the present is so extravagant it can create feelings of obligation. That’s a big nope in the workplace.

So, the guy may not be in need of discipline, but he is in need of some instruction that this is not proper workplace behavior. Period.

*What is an appropriate co-worker gift? The following:

  • I just got back from Hawaii and I brought everyone in the department a lei!
  • I brought in donuts from Krispy Kreme! They are in the kitchen, help yourself!
  • Thanks for handling that crazy client for me yesterday. I picked you up your favorite Starbucks drink!
  • I got your name in the Secret Santa. Here is a gift that cost less than $20, is not rude, crude, or socially unacceptable, and there’s a good chance you will like it.
  • Congratulations on the new baby! Here’s a package of onesies and a stuffed toy!
  • Congratulations on the wedding! Here’s a gift I selected from your registry!

Feel free to refer to this list should you ever feel the urge to buy an expensive gift for a co-worker.



Like Google, Facebook, and Cisco, Amazon has announced that they will throw out the “tell us your salary history” question in the hopes of eliminating the effects of past discrimination. Several states and cities have adopted legislation that does the same thing.

If a job is worth $75,000, and the person can do the job, that person should earn $75,000 regardless of whether the person earned $50,000 before–male or female.

It makes sense, but Quartz is reporting that it could backfire: They report:

But there’s reason to believe the law could backfire, and end up punishing women. That’s because taking information away from employers doesn’t make them stop caring about the information, said Jennifer Doleac, an economist at the University of Virginia.

When employers can’t ask about salary history, they’ll make assumptions based on what they think they know, Doleac said. “When we make them guess, it hurts the best applicants in the groups we’re caring about, because we have no way to distinguish them, and they get grouped together with the rest.”

Ms. Doleac doesn’t hire many people, is my guess. “We have no way to distinguish them,” she says. Hogwash. If you have an exceptional resume you’ll stand out. If you come into the interview and do a bang-up job, you’ll stand out. Not knowing the salary history reduces the bias, not increases it.

To keep reading, click here: Amazon to Hire 100,000 without Asking for Salary History. Women Still Hit Hardest.


Author Maz Evans was typing rapidly in an airport when a man sidled up next to her and said what he undoubtedly thought was a compliment—that he’d love to hire her as his secretary.

“If he ever wanted to be mine, he’d already failed the interview,” Maz recounted.

Talk about an antiquated stereotype. If you really want to attract and retain more female employees, you have to start by rejecting this kind of Stone-Age thinking. But get this—at the same time, you also have to understand the data some stereotypes may be based on. This may sound crazy, but I’ll explain.

To keep reading, click here: The HR Policies You Need to Hire and Retain More Female Talent


I am not a fan of swear words, so I was going to skip my friend Amy Alkon’s latest book, Unf*ckology: A Field Guide to Living with Guts and Confidence. Alkon and I agree on a lot, even though we are polar opposites in many things. (She swears. I don’t. I’m a church-going Mormon.She’s a cultural Jew who’s an atheist. I’m married with kids, and she’s single with a boyfriend.) But we both strongly believe that we are responsible for our own choices.

As I said, I planned to skip the book, but I listened to an interview Alkon gave where she shared a story of her life. Living in New York City in her early twenties, Alkon was always the first one there to help out a friend. She helped countless people move from one apartment to the next. When she needed to move she assumed everyone would help her, but not a single person did.

She came to the realization that the people she had helped weren’t really her friends and had simply taken advantage of her. She felt stuck as a loser–someone who couldn’t even get a bunch of people to help her pack. She decided to change, and she did. Her new book, she explained, tells the story of how she got unstuck and became a strong, confident woman that people would happily help move if she needed it.

To keep reading, click here: Unf*ckology: A Field Guide to Living with Guts and Confidence

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Job descriptions can often blur into one. Companies are constantly looking for a “motivated and self-directed individual” who can “hit the ground running” in an “exciting and fast-paced environment.”

Reading that, you have no idea if they’re talking about a senior-level finance position or a preschool teacher. It’s not like there’s ever a job description that says a business is seeking a “lazy individual” who “will require extensive training” in a “boring and tedious environment.”

You may think that being creative is the only way to hook people and get them to read your description. But for job hunters, the opposite is true. All that filler language doesn’t mean a lot to the typical job seeker. Candidates are looking for a job, not a good story.

To keep reading, click here: This Is How You Write a Job Description That Candidates Will Actually Read


If you have someone you want to get rid of, but you are too wimpy to fire him, there are some things you can do to make him miserable enough to start looking for a new job, just to get the heck out of Dodge.

Here are 10 of them:

1. Lower pay.

It’s perfectly legal (as long as there’s no contract involved) to lower pay if you announce it in advance (and in writing, in some jurisdictions). So, you can say, “Starting next month, you’ll be making $10,000 less per year!” but not, “Oh, by the way, your paycheck is smaller today because I cut your pay.”

2. Dock an exempt employee’s PTO for everything.

Your employee has a sick kid and wants to work from home? Charge it to his PTO bank. What about a one-hour dentist appointment? PTO dock. Coming in 15 minutes late? You betcha. Now, if an employee is exempt, you can’t dock actual pay, but as long as his pay remains the same, you can dock PTO.

To keep reading, this older post, click here: 10 Simple Ways to Get an Employee to Quit


The terrible date between Aziz Ansari and “Grace” made the internet go crazy and opened up all kinds of debate over the #metoo movement. The story’s author, Katie Way, though, has made herself a topic of news over her completely inappropriate email to HLN anchor Ashleigh Banfield after someone from Banfield’s staff contacted Way and invited her to come on the show.

It’s an unequivocal no from me. The way your colleague Ashleigh (?), someone I’m certain no one under the age of 45 has ever heard of, by the way, ripped into my source directly was one of the lowest, most despicable things I’ve ever seen in my entire life. Shame on her. Shame on HLN. Ashleigh could have “talked” to me. She could have “talked” to my editor or my publication. But instead, she targeted a 23-year-old woman in one of the most vulnerable moments of her life, someone she’s never f—ing met before, for a little attention. I hope the ratings were worth it! I hope the ~500 RTs on the single news write-up made that burgundy lipstick bad highlights second-wave feminist has-been feel really relevant for a little while. She DISGUSTS me, and I hope when she has more distance from the moment she has enough of a conscience left to feel remotely ashamed — doubt it, but still. Must be nice to piggyback off of the fact that another woman was brave enough to speak up and add another dimension to the societal conversation about sexual assault. Grace wouldn’t know how that feels, because she struck out into this alone, because she’s the bravest person I’ve ever met. I would NEVER go on your network. I would never even watch your network. No woman my age would ever watch your network. I will remember this for the rest of my career — I’m 22 and so far, not too shabby! And I will laugh the day you fold. If you could let Ashleigh know I said this, and that she is no-holds-barred the reason, it’d be a real treat for me.


So, what would I say to other 22-year-olds?

To  keep reading, click here: Dear 22-Year-Olds, There Are a Few Things You Need to Know About Business Emails


The last viral video I saw about wages, was Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda touting their own ignorance about how waitstaff are paid. Two days ago, another comedian, Trae Crowder, posted a video claiming that very few people receive overtime pay in the US because evil companies can simply change your title.

Crowder, obviously, doesn’t have the same name recognition as Tomlin and Fonda, but he has been able to get almost 15,000 shares of his video in 36 hours. So, I thought I better set the record straight before it lands on your feed

Crowder says,

“Now the way US overtime laws are written, all your boss has to do is check off a few simple boxes and now you’re exempt from getting paid fairly. For example, do you make more than $23,660 a year? If so the Federal government says you don’t need overtime.”

To keep reading, click here: That Facebook Viral Video about How It’s Impossible to Get Overtime Pay? False.  Also, you can click this link to see the video. I got it to embed at Inc, but not here.


4 Tips for Navigating Workers’ Comp in Your Business

by Evil HR Lady on January 17, 2018

If an employee is injured — even if it’s a small injury — your company will be responsible and you will want insurance to cover it. Otherwise, your company may be responsible for writing the check. Here are some tips on the workers comp process from filing to the claim process:

To keep reading, click here: 4 Tips for Navigating Workers’ Comp in Your Business


An HR Viewpoint of Trump’s Bad Language

by Evil HR Lady on January 16, 2018

By now the whole world has blown up over President Trump’s “sh!thole” remark. It even caused a stir as foreign newspapers tried to figure out how to translate the word properly.

Chinese media outlets are tightly controlled and have relatively little latitude when it comes to creative interpretations. The official Xinhua News Agency and other outlets translated the expletive as “fenkeng” — literally “cesspit.”

In Africa, the continent that was the object of Trump’s insult, Tanzania’s Mwananchi newspaper translated his comment as “mataifa chafu” — simply, “dirty countries.”

Taifa Leo, a sister Swahili publication to Kenya’s leading Daily Nation, chose “nchi za kinyesi,” a more or less direct translation that has a gentler word for excrement.

I don’t want to address the content or of his remarks or what they mean in a global content. I want to address his word choice.

To keep reading, click here: An HR Viewpoint of Trump’s Bad Language