Dear Annie: My daughter is a college student with a part-time job. She loves her job and most of the other employees. The problem is with her boss.
Every morning, the boss sits down with his employees before the store opens and talks about hobbies, family, goals and other stuff. She used to enjoy this ritual a great deal. Unfortunately, her boss has recently begun to inject his political beliefs into these discussions. Because my daughter's beliefs are different from his, she tried to keep her opinions to herself. When her boss asked a loaded political question, she responded in earnest, not meaning to start trouble. But from her answer, her boss correctly identified her political affiliation.
From that point on, he has constantly badgered and baited her along with many other employees who don't share his beliefs. He just doesn't get the hint. She's not the type of person to cower when somebody provokes her, but he has authority. She doesn't want to lose her job.
I'm curious to know whether an employee can legally be fired from his or her job because of political beliefs. I'd also like to say that if you're in a position of authority over somebody, please consider keeping your politics to yourself. — Sick of This Election
Dear Sick: Based on my research, the answer in most cases is, unfortunately, yes. Although private employers can't legally fire you for your race, gender, religion or disability, they can fire you for your bumper sticker.
I wish the current climate weren't so polarized that it's come to the point where all the world's a debate stage. But as that's the reality, it's best to play it as neutral as possible. Tell your daughter not to feed the troll. If she doesn't react to her boss's provocations, he'll eventually tire of her as a target and move on.
Dear Annie: For years, my grandma's sister "Laverne" has been asking her to visit her on the West Coast, even offering to pay for her flight. My grandma has had health issues, but this year she was finally well enough to go. She asked me to go with her because she hates to travel alone.
At the last minute, her sister "Tanya" told her she would be coming, too. Grandma didn't seem thrilled. I'd only ever met Tanya for a few minutes my whole life, but she seemed fun.
Well, the trip turned out to be very unpleasant because of Tanya. She was pushy and self-centered. She'd enter a room talking loudly with no regard to others having a conversation. When we ignored this behavior, she'd complain: "No one's listening to me!"
During lunch, she pointed out an attractive woman and asked each of us, "Doesn't that woman look like me?" To those of us who said no, she insisted on it until we agreed.
Those are just a few examples of her behavior throughout the trip. When we got home, I told Grandma that I want to call Tanya and tell her how she ruined Grandma and Laverne's time together and that I hope to never see her again. Grandma says it would be a waste of time, as Tanya is over 70 years old and has always been this way. Should I call, write a letter or let it go and hope I never see her again? — Buckeye Girl
Dear Buckeye: Tanya sounds like an extreme narcissist. In her version of reality, she is the star of the show, and nothing you can say (if you could even get a word in edgewise) would change that. Grandma knows this well, as she's been dealing with Tanya's antics her whole life. Let it go — and take another trip, just you and Grandma, when you have the chance.
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Photo credit: Just Me