the exploding volunteer organization, the tax fraud boss, and more — Ask a Manager

Here are three updates from past letter-writers.

1. The organization I volunteer with is exploding in drama and rage-quitting

Thank you for publishing your thoughtful answer to my question – I have an update to share.

After a week of hemorrhaging volunteers from the program and generally being taken to task by those who were leaving, the tone of subsequent emails from the president became much less inflamatory and she even apologized for not being able to control her anger and frustration. She sent an email to the volunteer group yesterday that confirmed the program is now undergoing a reset and explained the changes, including that the program will be shut down for the time being, but when it reopens, it will be managed by occupational and hippo-therapists. She listed several opportunities for volunteers to help in the interim and stressed that safety for everyone will be a priority.

It appears there is cause for optimism about the new direction of the program, notwithstanding the general dysfunction that seems to surround anything horse related that several comments mentioned. It was genuinely hard for me to determine whether the prior situation was typical and I was seeing it through a warped lens. However, there is another theraptic riding center about 20 miles from where I live, so I’m investigating that program, and particularly how it’s being managed.

I greatly appreciate Alison and the AAM family, and all of your comments! Thank you especially for your good wishes concerning my injury recovery – all seems well now.

2. I feel horrible about reporting my boss’s tax fraud

I wrote in a few months ago to ask for advice when my former boss misclassified me as an independent contractor. Thank you for assuaging my fears, and thank you to the commenters who told me to get it together! To clarify, when I started working there my boss told me that the company was too small and that’s why I wouldn’t get a W-2. She paid me with paper checks and kept saying “soon” every time I asked for payroll, which was often. She seemed to always be at the end of her rope and very touchy about being perceived as doing anything wrong. When I left, her cat was dying and her husband had recently been diagnosed with cancer, which caused my hesitation. But she made the choice to hurt me and was clearly having cash flow issues way before any of that happened.

I finished law school in 2018 and was struggling to find a new job in my niche practice area (immigration, as one commenter correctly guessed), so when this opportunity fell into my lap in late 2021 I was so happy that I didn’t question much—obviously I’ve never done tax law! The legal field is bad enough, especially at small firms, but immigration seems to be a special level of trauma bonding. This wasn’t even the first shit show firm I worked for. I was embarrassed to be taken advantage of and also devastated to lose a job that I thought defined me. I was really too emotional to be thinking clearly, so I appreciated having all of the outside perspectives.

I told my former boss how she could file to fix it to avoid penalties and in return got a long essay about how difficult it was to run the firm on her own. But I spent a year and a half being sympathetic to her struggles, even when it cost me and the firm a lot. So I filed the appropriate federal and state tax forms, which saved me about $5,000, and blasted Vigilante Shit by Taylor Swift on my way home from my accountant (“someone told [her] white collar crimes to the [IRS]”). I don’t feel guilty about it at all and I’m glad that I stood up for myself.

Luckily, I found a new job immediately. It’s not in immigration, but it came with a 401k, health insurance, and a significant pay raise, which is appropriately taxed! It’s also a chance to set up appropriate boundaries—my job doesn’t define me, and my employer is not my friend. Thank you for giving me that push to stand up for myself and start this transition!

3. Do I need to hide my burlesque work at a new job? (#2 at the link)

I’m the burlesque performer who emailed 5 years ago! In a mini update, I’m still at the same job, and some folks know and some don’t. You find your people and share, or don’t. Everyone who has learned over the years has been very cool about it and thankfully no one has asked to see a show, but there are a few who I would welcome if they were curious. That being said, I live in NYC, so I perhaps wouldn’t suggest that to someone in more conservative places!

The most amusing part was seeing a burly regular friend who was like, I KNOW THIS IS ONE OF YOU.

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