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Questionable expenses and the summer picnic

Dear J.T. & Dale: My boss is on his third marriage and just told me his current wife filed for divorce. He has me doing his expense reports and submitting them. Some things don’t seem to be business-related. The company has a strict policy about this. I’m worried he is padding his expenses and if they find out, I’m fearful I’ll be fired for not turning him in. But, if I do turn him in, he’ll know it was me. Advice? – Ty

J.T.: I would send your boss an email explaining that you need to justify each expense and ask if he would he please list out what each receipt is for. That way, he is the one confirming that each expense is in fact business-related. More importantly, by doing this via email, you are creating a paper trail of proof that you questioned the expenses and that your boss went on record that they were business-related.

DALE: It’s a shame that you have to worry about paper trails, but J.T.’s advice is right on. In fact, your boss may be using you as a scapegoat – if the expenses ever get questioned, he can claim that you were supposed to screen them. So, send that email and let’s hope that when you do, your boss will take back the task and submit the expense reports himself.

Dear J.T. & Dale: My company is planning an annual summer picnic. It’s my first year and I didn’t realize it’s outside in the sun all day. I tend to overheat easily and am essentially allergic to the sun. Is it OK to tell them I can’t make it? – Gisele

DALE: As someone who has spent most of his life in Phoenix and Southern California, I share your suspicions about Mr. Sun. (This brings back a memory: When Phoenix was first awarded an MLB franchise, they had a contest to name the new team. I submitted the Phoenix Melanomas. Strangely, I never heard back.) Even so, you need to figure out a way to attend this event. These things matter — you can’t be regarded as a team player if you don’t show up for team events.

J.T.: Yes, it’s always a good idea to participate in company-sponsored events whenever you can. They give you a unique opportunity to bond with teammates and make valuable new connections. That said, you shouldn’t have to put your health in jeopardy. I would meet with your boss privately and explain the sun poisoning concern and ask if there will be a shaded option. Explain that you don’t want to miss out but have to be careful.

DALE: Do that as a last resort. To go whining to management is just the opposite of what you need. Instead of going to management, go to the location. I’ll bet there are plenty of shade options. Take precautions – Mr. Sun is not your friend — and then volunteer to distribute food or something that’s under cover. Have fun and hope that the next event is bowling.

Dear J.T. & Dale: I work in an office that requires business attire. I can’t stand wearing dresses or skirts, so I wear pantsuits. I just heard from my colleague that my boss actually made a comment that my dress isn’t formal enough. I’m furious. I can’t quit, but I want to. Should I address this with him? He doesn’t know I know. – Brittany

DALE: Your question surprised me. This debate ended a decade or two ago; I guess your boss didn’t get the news. I don’t see any easy way to disabuse of his belief, and you shouldn’t have to. Maybe just put a photo of Angela Merkel on your desk and mention that she’s a hero of yours.

J.T.: Yes, if your boss feels you aren’t dressing to standard, then it’s on him to say something to you. I wouldn’t approach him. Let it go. Instead, focus on doing the best work possible. The more indispensable you are, the less your boss will care what you wear.

Jeanine “J.T.” Tanner O’Donnelland Dale Dauten can be reached at jtanddale.com, where you can send questions via email, or write to them in care of King Features Syndicate, 300 W. 57th St., 15th Floor, New York, NY 10019.

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