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For most of the year, my organization has been running partial operations with lighter staff. During that time, one of our supervisors learned that her small dog needed surgery and post-operative medical care. The supervisor started bringing her dog to work, where it has been a quiet, generally welcome presence.

I’ve just learned that, before the dog started coming to the office, another staff member started bringing various bugs in small terrariums and keeping them in her mailbox/cubby; she likes them and wants to show off her collection.

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They’re not particularly noticeable, but another employee in the building told me that she shudders every time she walks past the mailbox because of the black widows, giant cockroaches, and other bugs that appear there.

Is it a double standard for us to allow the dog but ask the staff member to take the bugs home? We haven’t had complaints about the dog, but I’ve heard a couple now about the bugs.

The dog is there because he needs care and the bugs don’t, right? That alone makes it not a double standard. But even aside from that, if people were afraid of the dog and complaining about him, you’d presumably respond to that … but that hasn’t been the case. It is with the bugs.

Explain to the staff member with the bugs that the dog is there because he needs care and that you’ve had requests for the bugs to be removed.

Also, black window spiders?! It’s beyond reasonable to say people can’t bring venomous animals into the office, period.

I say all of this as someone who likes bugs! But a ton of people are squicked out by them, and people’s need to move freely through your workplace without being jarred by a visceral “eeeek!” reaction trumps your employee’s interest in showing them off.

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One of the managers in another department, Fred, has started to follow employees to verify whether or not they are going to the restroom when they say they are. He’s not actually entering the bathroom with them, but he’s checking to see if they are actually going there or if they’re doing something else, like going to the break room to get food or coffee or check their cell phones or heading outside.

The problem is that it sounds like he’s only doing this for one employee: Jared. Fred claims to have caught him at least once or twice not actually heading to the bathroom, but I’m unsure if he’s actually called him out for this. Jared seems to have caught on to this scheme though and he’s now asking around to see if anyone has noticed Fred following him to verify restroom usage.

I’m at a bit of a loss here. I don’t like the idea of following my own employees around and I certainly don’t want to be asked to follow someone into the restroom if it comes down to that. Plus, it’s led to Jared questioning anyone who happens to be in the break room or restroom at the same time as he thinks Fred is sending other people to check on his whereabouts. Am I wrong to think this is wrong? Or could this be viewed as a form of harassment (especially from Jared’s perspective)?

Why on earth is Fred so concerned about whether people are using the bathroom versus grabbing food or coffee? That’s a bizarre level of control and oversight to try to exercise over adults. His boss should be shutting this down — and taking it a sign to look much more closely at how Fred manages in general, because someone who’s so concerned with the exact specifics of why people are leaving their desks is someone who is managing badly in other areas too.

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