Miss Manners

DEAR MISS MANNERS: For nine years, my husband has worked for a company, part of a large nationwide corporation, where everyone is an “at will” employee. His former boss was compassionate and protective of those he supervised.

Upon that person’s retirement, a younger woman was brought in with almost no experience, and apparently given free reign/total power. This new general manager rules by fear and intimidation (and I surmise that this may stem from a lack of confidence).

Over the past year and a half, she has told most everyone, at every level, that they are “terrible” at their work, even though many have awards from the company that would easily counter that impression. She has fired some, and is in the process of demoting the rest -- placing herself basically in charge of everything. Many have chosen to quit in the midst of this chaos, and ultimately, the clients of the business will stand to suffer the most.

This woman has made it clear that no negative comments about her will be tolerated, even though they may indeed be true. Job loss will be the result, it seems, and she sends spies out to enforce this rule. The similarities to Hitler are uncanny.

I am a highly trained professional in another field, out of this person’s reach. I want to somehow intervene on behalf of those who have been suffering at the hands of this injustice, without putting my own spouse’s job on the line.

GENTLE READER: Even if your contemplated advice related to an area in which you are a publicly recognized expert, even if it did not compare the new management to mass murderers, and even if it is accurate, Miss Manners can say with confidence that it will not be welcome.

The bigger problem is that management will be correct in saying that you have no right to be heard on this particular subject. You lack what the courts call “standing,” by which they mean a direct stake in the situation.

Your husband, by contrast, is free to speak up. This may indeed have consequences for his employment, but at least it will spare him the embarrassment of having to hear what management thinks about any intervention by you.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: My 83-year-old father has advanced Alzheimer’s, and we are planning his final arrangements. I am charged with his finances and handling all of his affairs.

My ex-stepmother (they were married 25 years) divorced my dad right after his Alzheimer’s diagnosis as she just “couldn’t deal with it” -- leaving his care to me and my siblings. The family does not maintain contact with her. She also took all of their possessions when they split up, and left us to find an assisted-living care facility for Dad.

I do NOT want her at his funeral, nor do any of my family; however, my mother -- they were divorced 46 years ago, but are on good terms -- says I should invite her.

GENTLE READER: Etiquette respects the final resting place of the deceased -- and of relationships that were terminated by vile behavior. As no one is on speaking terms with the ex-wife now, Miss Manners sees no obvious (or etiquette) reason to modify that at your father’s death.

(Please send your questions to Miss Manners at her website, www.missmanners.com; to her email, dearmissmanners@gmail.com; or through postal mail to Miss Manners, Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)

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