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When You’re Stuck in the Middle of a Workplace Battle

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I recently had the opportunity to bring three provisional junior members into my team, with the option to progress them to permanent roles after a year if I can demonstrate their importance to the business. Depending on budget, there might be room for only one or two to progress.

I’m assessing them on their productivity as well as contributions in other areas. All three are hard workers with great attitudes and high productivity, and I’m currently building business cases to keep each on board permanently. I’ve also received unsolicited praise from three senior managers for one of them in particular — who happens to resemble a young Michelle Pfeiffer. These individuals are all older straight men, which is unfortunately the main demographic here at the upper levels.

“Michelle” has in no way behaved unprofessionally — she’s made strong professional connections across demographics — but I’d be remiss in ignoring my suspicions that these men were at least subconsciously motivated by more than professional respect. It feels unfair to the other two junior staffers to offer this praise the weighting it would normally merit but unfair to Michelle to ignore it. Help.

— Anonymous

Be careful. You’re essentially engaging in the same type of behavior you rightly disdain from your older straight male colleagues. Are you really suggesting that you might penalize your employee because you assume she is receiving positive professional feedback because of her appearance?

People have biases, particularly where looks are concerned. My mother loves to remind me that we eat with our eyes first. This is something of a mixed metaphor but I think you get my point. Entire books have been written about the advantages beautiful people enjoy in the workplace. I appreciate your being mindful of this dynamic, but if Michelle is indeed performing well that’s what you should focus on. To compensate based on what you perceive as unfair praise is a slippery slope to head down. You absolutely mean well but you have no way of knowing if the men praising her performance are really only praising her looks.

Is it possible? Of course. But it’s not fair to punish her for their childish misogyny, if that’s truly what’s going on. All three candidates deserve to be treated equitably. Don’t overthink this.


Earlier this year, I went on a few dates with a guy I liked and thought things were good until he ghosted me. I accepted that he wasn’t that into me and moved on, though I was hurt by the lack of communication.

Fast forward six months: he’s introduced as my new co-worker. He had known I worked at this small restaurant and even said, “Hey, I’m glad you still work here!” I honestly don’t mind that he works there. I’m happy to help him when he asks work-related questions. However, he often tries to talk as if we’re friends and has not addressed our past or the fact that he ghosted me. How do I tell him I was hurt when he ghosted me and that I wish to only discuss work matters?

— Anonymous

Being ghosted feels terrible. Without warning someone disappears and you have no answers. In some ways, this is a fortuitous situation. You have been presented with an opportunity for closure. If you really do want to address this with the Ghost, ask him if you can speak before or after work in a neutral location. Share your feelings and the terms you would prefer for your relationship moving forward.

But before you do that, I want you to really think through what you’re hoping to get out of such a conversation. What good will come of it both in the short and long term? You will unburden some of your hurt, but it might complicate what seems like an amicable professional relationship.

Do consider letting this go, not because he deserves to be let off the hook but because you seem to be in a good place and he doesn’t deserve any more of your mental energy. In the meantime, may the next guy you date be the man of your dreams.

Roxane Gay is the author, most recently, of “Hunger” and a contributing opinion writer. Write to her at workfriend@nytimes.com.



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OSHA withdraws its workplace vaccine rule.

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The Biden administration is withdrawing its requirement that large employers mandate workers be vaccinated or regularly tested, the Labor Department said on Tuesday.

In pulling the rule, the Labor Department recognized what most employers and industry experts said after the court’s ruling — that the emergency temporary standard could not be revived after the Supreme Court blocked it earlier this month.

“It’s their admitting what everyone had been saying, which is that the rule is dead,” said Brett Coburn, a lawyer at Alston & Bird.

The Supreme Court’s decision, which was 6 to 3, with the liberal justices in dissent, said the Labor Department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration, or OSHA, did not have the authority to require workers to be vaccinated for coronavirus or tested weekly, describing the agency’s approach as “a blunt instrument.” The mandate would have applied to some 80 million people if it had not been struck down.

The Labor Department’s decision to withdraw the rule means that the outstanding legal proceedings will be dropped. The case was headed back to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit in Cincinnati for further consideration, though that court most likely would have followed the Supreme Court’s lead and struck it down.

OSHA could still try to move a version of the vaccine-or-test standard forward through its official rule-making process, such as one focused on high-hazard industries like meatpacking, but that would likely still face legal challenges, according to David Michaels, a former OSHA administrator and a professor at George Washington University.

Without the Labor Department’s standard in effect, employers are subject to a patchwork of state and local laws on Covid-19 workplace safety, with places like New York City requiring vaccine mandates and other governments banning them.

“OSHA continues to strongly encourage the vaccination of workers against the continuing dangers posed by Covid-19 in the workplace,” the Labor Department wrote in the notice of its withdrawal.



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Recent Commercial Real Estate Transactions

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$8.425 MILLION

91 Bruckner Boulevard and 402-406 East 134th Street (at Willis Avenue)

The Bronx

These two one-story commercial buildings in the Mott Haven neighborhood are on separate but connected lots and have one unit apiece. The 14,500-square-foot building at 91 Bruckner Boulevard was built in 1927, and the 10,000-square-foot building at 402-406 East 134th Street was built in 1990. Both were delivered vacant.

Buyer: Anshel Fridman of 91 Bruckner Blvd L.L.C.

Seller: Jeffrey Fiedler of Jescan Realty

Broker: Michael Saidian of Capital Property Partners

Credit…Brax Realty

$15 MILLION

10 Fifth Avenue (at West Eighth Street)

Manhattan

Built in 1849 by Henry Brevoort as a single-family mansion, this five-story, 12,648-square-foot building in Greenwich Village consists of 14 apartments — one studio, 10 one-bedrooms and three two-bedrooms, all occupied — and three commercial units, occupied by Le Pain Quotidien, a cafe and a Covid-19 testing provider.

Buyer: REDA 10 Fifth

Seller: Benchmark Real Estate Group

Broker: Michael J. Ferrara of Brax Realty

$11 MILLION

29 Brooklyn Avenue (between Herkimer Street and Atlantic Avenue)

126 Herkimer Street (between Nostrand and New York Avenues)

Brooklyn

These two buildings in Bedford-Stuyvesant, built in 1910, are two blocks apart and are being sold together. The five-story, 15,440-square-foot building at 29 Brooklyn Avenue has 20 apartments: 11 two-bedrooms and nine three-bedrooms; six of the apartments are rent-stabilized, two are rent-controlled and two are vacant. The four-story, 10,508-square-foot building at 126 Herkimer Street has 13 apartments: one one-bedroom, 11 two-bedrooms and one three-bedroom. Two apartments are vacant, and two are rent-stabilized.

Sellers: 126 Herkimer Residences and 29 Brooklyn Residences

Brokers: Lev Mavashev and Daniel Aminov of Alpha Realty



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How to Survive When Stocks Behave Badly

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The bull market may have swelled the proportion of stocks in your portfolio inordinately. If that’s the case, rebalance. Sell some high value stocks and put the money into bonds. Later on, if the stock market falls, you can sell some bonds to buy stocks. Better yet, let a balanced fund (or a target-date fund), do it automatically.

Diversified, low-cost, broad-based index funds, which mirror the overall market, are a much safer way to invest in stocks and bonds than buying individual securities.

If you pick the right stock — say, Apple — and hold it for decades, you will outperform any index fund. Since 1989, the numbers show, Apple’s returns are about 20 times greater than those of the S&P 500.

But picking and holding a stock like Apple from the beginning is exceedingly difficult. Apple was a miserable stock through much of the 1980s and 1990s. Would you have known to stick with it when it was near bankruptcy? I did not.

Furthermore, unlike Apple, roughly 96 percent of the securities in the U.S. stock market don’t earn money for investors at all over long periods, according to research by Hendrik Bessembinder, a professor of finance at Arizona State University. Professor Bessembinder has since found that in global markets, too, most stocks won’t earn you money over the long run.

Broad, low-cost index funds takes care of these problems. You’ll own little pieces of a lot of mediocre stocks, but the winners have pulled the indexes higher, regardless.

None of this guarantees that you will make money in stock funds, however.

After bear markets, American stocks have always come back and redeemed their losses. But that might not be true forever.



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