Dear Amy: I am a hair stylist in my 50s.
My problem is that my manager (who is 32) tends to book most new appointments with the young stylists she is friendly with; she also closes early when she wants to, and tells customers that there are no available appointments, when there are.
There are three of us older women who work at the salon, and we all feel the same way about this treatment, but we are all afraid to call the corporate office and go over her head for fear it will make the situation worse (if it gets back to her).
She has everyone, even the young stylists, afraid to speak up, because she is in charge and can fire people. Corporate very rarely comes in, so they have no idea what she does. I have thought about speaking confidentiality to her manager, but do you think it will really stay confidential?
My husband says not to do it unless I’m willing to pay the consequences, but I am really unhappy with the situation as is, and I feel at my age I should be enjoying work. I really don’t want to leave, plus there aren’t too many salons in the area. I just want to work in peace till I retire.
Too Old for This!
Dear Too Old: Your manager is discriminating against older people, intimidating her workforce and costing the business money. The way business is done at the salon affects the corporate brand and bottom line.
Rather than reach out to this person’s direct boss, try contacting human resources first. Most companies have a general email or phone number that you can contact. You will need to provide specific examples of recent wrongdoing, so take note of dates and times of incidents you report, and be sure to mention that this is not the first time these things have happened.
There is a risk that your boss will figure out it was you that reported the problems in your business, but there is also a real risk here to the business itself; a branch with intimidated employees that isn’t maximizing its profit doesn’t look good to the corporate bosses. Breaking the culture of silence means there is a real chance things can get better.
You and other stylists should also be very proactive about courting clients and engaging with “walk-ins”; your manager is obviously not going to hand them over to you.
Dear Amy: Our daughter fell in love while in high school. She attended university and took up residence with her boyfriend. She found out that he had cheated on her several times. She was at a near breaking point with this news. He begged her forgiveness and promised that this would never happen again. She forgave him.
Several years later, she married him. They have three children who are now preteens. Her husband is very busy and is away from home several evenings a week.
My husband recently received an anonymous email. The email said that we need to watch our son-in-law, as he has been cheating on our daughter. We are devastated and don’t know how to handle this.
Our daughter is not in good health and this kind of stressful news would break her – not to mention the effect that it would have on her children.
What should we do? Should we show her the email? Show him the email? Or just keep this to ourselves?
Dear Hurting: You’re assuming the worst right now, that’s understandable, but remember: An anonymous email is not proof. It may not be true. You should proceed as discretely as possible, and resist the temptation to jump to conclusions.
The thing to do is to forward or otherwise send this to your son-in-law, without comment. You can assume that whatever might be going on, the drama seems to have ramped up, and whoever contacted you would presumably also contact your daughter. It is not your responsibility to be his keeper, or to get involved. Continue to be a warm and supportive presence in your daughter’s life.
Dear Amy: “Worried Worker” described a toxic work environment. You immediately leapt to the conclusion that this treatment amounted to gender discrimination. To me, it sounded like her boss was a total jerk, but I didn’t see gender discrimination.
Dear Survivor: You are right. I jumped to a conclusion, with no specific evidence. “Worried” described the environment as “a good ol’ boys club,” but this doesn’t mean that the ill treatment was gender-based.
Email Amy at email@example.com.