I'm freezing! There is a lady in our office that apparently is going through "the change of life" (I assume) because she repeatedly changes the thermostat to 59 degrees (the lowest our thermostat goes). So a lot of us sit here with sweaters and coats on. I feel like it's really rough typing because my fingers feel so darn cold. I understand that hot flashes are really bad because my mother had them and I'd like to be sympathetic. But I don't understand why the rest of us have to suffer! It's a battle all day, someone turns it up, and she turns it down. Yesterday, my cubemate got sick of it and taped it up so nobody could mess with it. The same coworker is insisting that we have to break the little handle off so nobody can move it because we're pretty sure she's going to remove the tape. We came across this site and I said I would ask you and see what you said. So how about it, Ms. Alotta? Can we just break it off and end this nonsense?
- Freezy Pop
While Alotta's not going to give you moral permission to break off the lever, she did smile when she pictured it. But put it this way: If you break off the lever, you will be just as bad as she is. Think about how angry you and your coworkers would be if she
broke off the lever and triggered the next ice age.
Alotta's suspects that if you approached Ms. Caliente and asked her to stop, you'd get the cold shoulder. As such, you and your cubemate need to just chill out and handle it properly. Taping the thermostat sends the right message, but it won't stop her. You need to pay a visit to the building manager and explain the situation. Ask that they install one of those clear plastic lock boxes over the thermostat unit so that the temperature can be regulated. If they give you the cold shoulder, casually mention that frostbite is a legitimate worker's compensation claim.
To help her cool her jets, buy her a small desk fan and an ice pack.
- Alotta, warmly
What's your take on smoke breaks? At my work, we're allowed two fifteen-minute breaks. But half the people at my job take like 5 or 6 breaks during the day to smoke. And a lot of times, they take them together. The smoking area is about a five-minute walk, so the minimum amount of time they are gone is 15 minutes. This adds up to between an hour and an hour and a half! Plus they take lunch! I brought this up once and someone told me that smoking is considered a disability (which I think is ridiculous at best) and that companies have to allow the smoking breaks. I couldn't find anything about it though. Is this true?
While this has been a topic of discussion among legislators, smoking, by itself, is not considered a "disability" under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Federal law does not protect smokers, so an employer can legally deny
extra breaks for smoking. Smoke breaks are not required by any Federal law or by the law of any state in the U.S. In fact, an employer has the legal right to prevent an employee from taking any
breaks at all because Federal law does not require lunch or coffee breaks. (gulp!) Additionally, when employers do offer short breaks (usually lasting about 5 to 20 minutes), federal law considers the breaks work-time that must be paid. As such, any extra breaks (think smoking) taken by an employee that are not officially sanctioned by the employer do not have to be paid.
It is understandable, and quite common, that you are upset by the amount of break time spent on smoking. It is Alotta's firm opinion that an employer should either prohibit any breaks in addition to lunch and the two small 15-minute breaks or make sure that non-smoking staff members have an equivalent number of breaks.
For more information, read the U.S. Department of Labor's stance on work breaks: http://www.dol.gov/dol/topic/workhours/breaks.htm
- Alotta, gaggingly