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As the title of the thread indicates, I'm about to gripe about work. So, if that sort of thing bores/annoys/offends you, you should probably bail at this point.

 

Anyway, my gripe is this: I made a new friend at my work who happens to be Muslim. Besides her name, you really wouldn't know she's Muslim though, because in her own words she's very "modern," meaning she is very Western in her appearance and her speech.

 

The reason I mention it is we had a recent department meeting, where about 10 of us had to meet with an HR manager for mandatory training. The meeting was held in a hotel board room and there was a bunch of food laid out. However, for the meats, there was only one set of tongs.

 

So, when we had to do a round the table "how are you, what's going in your life" break the ice chit chat, someone asked my friend why she only had a bag of chips. She matter-of-factly replied that she's Muslim, and doesn't eat pork (it's one thing she's strict about). And even though there were non-pork options on the table, they all were "contaminated" in the sense that the same pair of tongs was used as with the ham.

 

The whole table was quiet when she said this, and the HR manager, who happens to be Jewish, said nothing. Just picked up her own sandwich and took a bite. One of the other folks next to my friend offered to order something from the kitchen, but the HR manager overheard, and shook her head to override him, and went on as if my friend never spoke.

 

I'm offended and irritated because it's not like my friend ever asks for any special allowances for her religion. And as religious laws go, the no-pork one actually makes sense, in that my friend at least won't ever be getting brain worms.

 

But mostly what I don't understand the HR manager--whose job is to actually be sensitive about these things, and who I figured as being Jewish herself, would be particularly sympathetic to my friend's dietary restrictions--saying no to my friend being allowed another option.

 

To end this rant, I thought it was a jerky thing to do, and just plain rude. I almost spoke up but I didn't want to embarrass my friend, who took it in stride and didn't protest. But, now I'm having to control myself from giving this HR manager the evil eye every time I see her.

 

So please help me :chillpill: and figure out a way to deal with this woman without showing how much I dislike her.

Edited by Aelwydd
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Maybe she said "no", because there would be a cost involved and they weren't authorized for any costs except what was already spent.

 

I always try to give people the benefit of the doubt.

 

Maybe her whole family were killed by Muslin extremist. You just don't know why people react the way they do.

 

ETA: I've seen and heard of people doing a lot worse for people with life threatening food allergies.

Edited by OrganicAnn
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Before I said anything, even said nothing, I would ask her why another pair of tongs couldn't be requested. There may have been nothing she could have done. It could have been that even had there been another pair, someone would have cross contaminated. Another option going forward might be for be for friend to serve herself first. And, technically, it was cross contaminated way back in the kitchen when it was all sliced together.

Edited by justamouse
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Maybe she said "no", because there would be a cost involved and they weren't authorized for any costs except what was already spent.

 

I always try to give people the benefit of the doubt.

 

Maybe her whole family were killed by Muslin extremist. You just don't know why people react the way they do.

 

ETA: I've seen and heard of people doing a lot worse for people with life threatening food allergies.

 

So what if her family were killed by Muslim extremists? Does that mean that the families of the Oklahoma City bomber's victims have carte blanch permission to act rudely to all Army veterans?

 

As for the cost, I know for a fact that that's not the reason. We have meetings in this hotel all the time, and know the chef and most of the kitchen staff. If we ask for it, they are very happy to give it. Which is the way all quality full service hotels work btw, since I worked for several while finishing my degree. When a business is contracting to use your meting space, and to have catered food, the hotel staff is not going to get petty about a $10 charge with one of the meeting planners or managers. Actually, that's a good way to get your head bitten off by your front desk manager. Drinks, food, room upgrades--these are things that are frequently handed out to corporate customers without additional charge, especially when they are making big purchases like meeting space, room blocks, and so forth.

Edited by Aelwydd
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I'm disappointed in the responses. What the HR manager did was rude. She didn't even apologize or attempt to explain why.

 

That's what I can't wrap my mind around. I've had Jewish friends, and I would never, never sit there and take a big bite out of a pork chop in front of them, while flatly refusing to give them something else to eat.

 

Maybe it's a Southern thing. My mama always taught me it's rude to eat in front of someone, and not offer them something as well.

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Is there any possibility that woman #2 was well acquainted with woman #1 and knew that woman #1 would be far more comfortable with her 'safe' bag of chips than to have something else ordered?

 

Woman #1 probably did what everybody on a special diet does: Give the least amount of information possible in order to change the subject as soon as possible. I find it hard to believe that the tongs were the only problem. More likely she seized on the tongs issue as a simple explanation rather than explain why the food was already contaminated in preparation, or why she didn't trust a hotel kitchen and would rather just eat chips and go find her own lunch after the meeting.

 

I don't have religious dietary restrictions, but I have food allergies. I have accidentally made acquaintances look inhospitable by preferring to be ignored instead of accommodated.

 

(Of course, if the HR manager didn't know her, then she was very rude. If this was a stranger, the person hosting the meeting should have done everything possible to provide something she could eat! At least to offer to call the kitchen.)

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I'm disappointed in the responses. What the HR manager did was rude. She didn't even apologize or attempt to explain why.

 

That's what I can't wrap my mind around. I've had Jewish friends, and I would never, never sit there and take a big bite out of a pork chop in front of them, while flatly refusing to give them something else to eat.

 

Maybe it's a Southern thing. My mama always taught me it's rude to eat in front of someone, and not offer them something as well.

 

You're disappointed because we're saying to ask the HR manager first before you voice your displeasure?

 

I'm just saying, don't assume. You very well may be right, but just don't assume. Ask first for some clarification, then ask if your friend can be accommodated in any other way next time.

 

And, in all honestly, it was all cross contaminated int he kitchen, way before hand. They could have asked for a separate plate to be made, but ask first, then next time make sure it's ordered.

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Maybe the manager was being more PR than you realize... I was just reading up on the "contamination" of having the tongs touching the ham and learned some interesting stuff!

 

It appears that many observant Muslims don't count trivial or inadvertent / unwitting contamination as an actual sinning offense. If they ARE concerned about that offense, then it is probable they are unlikely to eat foods that are not known to be halal. I guess meats have to be slaughtered and prepared with Islamic rites and Muslims are very careful where they get it from.

 

As a Jewish person, the HR manager is probably fully aware of how difficult and embarrassing it might have been to your friend to try and come up with something acceptable on the spur of the moment. Not as easy as "run up a fresh plate of meat sans ham"!

 

I would give the manager the benefit of the doubt & assume that next time a more appropriate, pre-planned meal option would be available for your friend now that everyone is aware of the dietary restrictions. It was certainly rude, however, to not even make the attempt unless it was known that your friend might be happier just being left alone.

Edited by black_midori
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Maybe she said "no", because there would be a cost involved and they weren't authorized for any costs except what was already spent.

 

 

 

 

 

This was my initial thought. Also, it is incumbent upon the person with special dietary needs to express them BEFORE an event. This was not a spur of the moment event. Surely you had notice. Those with special dietary needs should have inquired as to the meal arrangements and made their requests for accomodations. If no request was made, then they simply have to make do for themselves.

 

Now, if she had made such a request and it was ignored, then we have a different story entirely.

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Is there any possibility that woman #2 was well acquainted with woman #1 and knew that woman #1 would be far more comfortable with her 'safe' bag of chips than to have something else ordered?

 

Woman #1 probably did what everybody on a special diet does: Give the least amount of information possible in order to change the subject as soon as possible. I find it hard to believe that the tongs were the only problem. More likely she seized on the tongs issue as a simple explanation rather than explain why the food was already contaminated in preparation, or why she didn't trust a hotel kitchen and would rather just eat chips and go find her own lunch after the meeting.

 

I don't have religious dietary restrictions, but I have food allergies. I have accidentally made acquaintances look inhospitable by preferring to be ignored instead of accommodated.

 

(Of course, if the HR manager didn't know her, then she was very rude. If this was a stranger, the person hosting the meeting should have done everything possible to provide something she could eat! At least to offer to call the kitchen.)

 

No, my friend (who happens to be Muslim and observe dietary restrictions) and I have frequently eaten at this same hotel, as I stated before. Our company has meetings there all the time, because it's convenient.

 

My friend had accepted the offer the gentleman next to her made to order her a place. The HR manager, as I stated before, overrode that offer and said no.

 

Do you see why I was surprised and dismayed now? It made no sense! Not money wise (there wouldn't have been an additional charge), not in terms of the kitchen environment, nada.

 

To put it in perspective? None of the other managers have ever balked at accommodating my or other employee special requests for food or drink at meetings like this. This was the first time I've ever seen that happen, and I'm embarrassed and offended for my friend.

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I would expect someone with a food requirement to make thier needs known ahead of time. If she did not, then it was her choice as to what she would eat or not eat (or bring food from home). At times when I have had dietary restrictions, I made a choice on whether or not I would address it ahead of time, or just deal with missing a meal if something wasn't available. I do not feel it would have been appropriate for her to expect special accomodations to be made AFTER the meal was prepared and served.

 

It doesn't sound like it was an issue for her. Someone else brought it up, not her.

 

I do not compare religious/moral choices on the same grounds as life-threatening allergy. I believe that anyone who is making this choice is absolutely within thier rights for making it, but it is not the same as a medical issue.

 

If the person had known ahead of time, and requested that an appropriate meal be provided, and that request was denied, then I would be angry. But from the information provided it doesn't seem to be the case.

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I'm disappointed in the responses. What the HR manager did was rude. She didn't even apologize or attempt to explain why.

 

Do you want us to agree with you? Sure it sounds weird. Talk to the HR person about it and make sure they have a second pair of tongs next time. It's kind of like a gluten intolerance. Bring your own food if you aren't sure if it's been contaminated. If it was the one thing I couldn't eat, I wouldn't rely on other people's cooking.

 

But as far as rudeness? Who really knows what she was thinking. If it seemed rude to you, then I'm sure it was. Don't let it eat at you. Haha... "eat".

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As a vegetarian of over 30 years who is regularly offered something I could "just pick the meat out of", I always say "no thank you" and never say it is contaminated or whatever. Telling people their food is tainted gets some people's hackles up, and unless one is trying to make a point, just eat your chips and smile.

 

I certainly wasn't there, but having learned at 16 that non-veggies can have their feelings hurt, I think it a bit rude to bring up the tainted business.

 

And, as far as ordering something else, what if the knife in the kitchen had touched something wrong? Maybe she just wanted chips. I know I go "fed" or bring my own unless I am certain the cook/provisions have offered to do veg. Just a thought.

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I think it was rude.

 

Since observant Jews don't eat pork either, I wonder if the HR manager was thinking "Hey, if it doesn't bother me to share the tongs, why should it bother you?" But degrees of religious observance are personal. It was inappropriate. If you and your friend share a supervisor, I'd mention it to her.

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No, my friend (who happens to be Muslim and observe dietary restrictions) and I have frequently eaten at this same hotel, as I stated before. Our company has meetings there all the time, because it's convenient.

 

My friend had accepted the offer the gentleman next to her made to order her a place. The HR manager, as I stated before, overrode that offer and said no.

 

Do you see why I was surprised and dismayed now? It made no sense! Not money wise (there wouldn't have been an additional charge), not in terms of the kitchen environment, nada.

 

To put it in perspective? None of the other managers have ever balked at accommodating my or other employee special requests for food or drink at meetings like this. This was the first time I've ever seen that happen, and I'm embarrassed and offended for my friend.

 

 

Well, I think that's why we're questioning. This is an HR person, this is her job, it is something she should be sensitive to-SOMETHING is up. No? For her to deny the special order, isn't that strange? Find out what's up first.

 

Worse case scenario, that it's some passive aggressive religious intolerance-which, it could be! Shouldn't you ask first before accusing HR woman of something so serious?

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No, my friend (who happens to be Muslim and observe dietary restrictions) and I have frequently eaten at this same hotel, as I stated before. Our company has meetings there all the time, because it's convenient.

 

My friend had accepted the offer the gentleman next to her made to order her a place. The HR manager, as I stated before, overrode that offer and said no.

 

Do you see why I was surprised and dismayed now? It made no sense! Not money wise (there wouldn't have been an additional charge), not in terms of the kitchen environment, nada.

 

To put it in perspective? None of the other managers have ever balked at accommodating my or other employee special requests for food or drink at meetings like this. This was the first time I've ever seen that happen, and I'm embarrassed and offended for my friend.

 

Yeah, that sounds rude to me. :(

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But as far as rudeness? Who really knows what she was thinking. If it seemed rude to you, then I'm sure it was. Don't let it eat at you. Haha... "eat".

 

I'm trying not to! The reason I shared this was ways to help deal with this HR manager's rude behavior, not have her behavior explained away.

 

As I said, this request was hardly unusual or strange. I've made requests before, such as when I wasn't feeling well, and requested soup and bread. Others have made different requests, due to diets, allergies, etc.

 

It didn't get weird at all until the HR manager intervened. That's when it got awkward, because everyone got the same look on their face: "WTH?!"

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Well, I think that's why we're questioning. This is an HR person, this is her job, it is something she should be sensitive to-SOMETHING is up. No? For her to deny the special order, isn't that strange? Find out what's up first.

 

Worse case scenario, that it's some passive aggressive religious intolerance-which, it could be! Shouldn't you ask first before accusing HR woman of something so serious?

 

I don't think it's religious intolerance, at least I don't assume it to be. I just think this woman is acting like a jerk. Ergo, why I don't like her very much. I'm starting a new position soon at another company, and I was planning on continuing with this company part time, just for some extra income, and b/c my other managers don't want me to leave completely.

 

Now, I'm thinking how am I going to deal with this woman, and maybe I should just quit. Only, then I'd miss my friend and my other coworkers!

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So the picture emerging is more like this:

 

Muslim lady is accustomed to meetings at this particular hotel. In her extensive experience with this hotel kitchen, it is not a problem to order on the spur of the moment and they always come up with something acceptable. In other words, this is one of her 'safe' locations where she doesn't have to make a big deal about her diet beforehand because the kitchen can always handle it.

 

Only this time, the person hosting the meeting stopped that process dead in its tracks, basically using her position of authority to make Muslim lady feel quite aware that the casualness of breezily ordering up a plate is not going to happen, and if she wants Special Treatment it is going to be A Big Deal. Muslim lady then did what lots of people on special diets would do: Play it off with an attitude of "Nevermind me, I have this bag of chips and you all can just assume it is all I need." (Stomach grumbling, headache, fake smile.)

 

I see how you are seeing this now.

 

I agree with justamouse that HR Manager deserves the opportunity to explain why she didn't allow that phone call, because it sure looks awful on the face of it.

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I think it was rude.

 

Since observant Jews don't eat pork either, I wonder if the HR manager was thinking "Hey, if it doesn't bother me to share the tongs, why should it bother you?" But degrees of religious observance are personal. It was inappropriate. If you and your friend share a supervisor, I'd mention it to her.

 

lol, my friend was wondering why the HR manager was ok with the food. But she figured that the other woman was less strict about it and that it was her personal choice, and that was the end of it. My friend is non-judgmental and not the type to try to hold others to her own standards.

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I don't think it's religious intolerance, at least I don't assume it to be. I just think this woman is acting like a jerk. Ergo, why I don't like her very much. I'm starting a new position soon at another company, and I was planning on continuing with this company part time, just for some extra income, and b/c my other managers don't want me to leave completely.

 

Now, I'm thinking how am I going to deal with this woman, and maybe I should just quit. Only, then I'd miss my friend and my other coworkers!

 

I see your point, but even if you quit and don't have to deal with her-shouldn't something be said if the case is that she's not the person for her job? Then HR can't be pissed at you, because you're leaving, anyway. *g*

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So the picture emerging is more like this:

 

Muslim lady is accustomed to meetings at this particular hotel. In her extensive experience with this hotel kitchen, it is not a problem to order on the spur of the moment and they always come up with something acceptable. In other words, this is one of her 'safe' locations where she doesn't have to make a big deal about her diet beforehand because the kitchen can always handle it.

 

Only this time, the person hosting the meeting stopped that process dead in its tracks, basically using her position of authority to make Muslim lady feel quite aware that the casualness of breezily ordering up a plate is not going to happen, and if she wants Special Treatment it is going to be A Big Deal. Muslim lady then did what lots of people on special diets would do: Play it off with an attitude of "Nevermind me, I have this bag of chips and you all can just assume it is all I need." (Stomach grumbling, headache, fake smile.)

 

I see how you are seeing this now.

 

I agree with justamouse that HR Manager deserves the opportunity to explain why she didn't allow that phone call, because it sure looks awful on the face of it.

 

Yes!!! That's how it went down. So, I really expected this lady to pull my friend aside after the meeting and say, "I just want to explain..." and you know, smooth any ruffled feathers. What happened was she said very little to my friend the rest of the meeting, and left immediately after.

 

So, my friend, who I'll call "Z," took it with good grace, and pretended like it was no big deal. I offered to treat her to lunch afterward, and during the meal, I told her I didn't understand why the HR manager made such a big deal about ordering something else, and it was really weird. She shrugged and laughed it off, but it was obvious she was bothered by it, because it happened in front of her other coworkers.

 

Z is going on about her business and not making a fuss because I'm sure she's afraid of being accused of seeking special treatment, even though she's never asked for anything of the sort. And I'm mad because the HR manager just introduced a whole level of awkwardness at work, because she apparently was in a bad mood that day. Or something.

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I see your point, but even if you quit and don't have to deal with her-shouldn't something be said if the case is that she's not the person for her job? Then HR can't be pissed at you, because you're leaving, anyway. *g*

 

Yeah, but I'm trying to do the mature thing, and not start something at work. :tongue_smilie: I'm also afraid of causing Z trouble if I voice my anger at what happened to the HR manager.

 

Therein lies my quandary. How should I act towards the HR manager? Cool and reserved? Pretend nothing happened and see if something similar occurs again?

 

I don't want to think it's religious in nature. My friend Z is American born, and her family is from a non-Middle Eastern country, so it's not like she's Palestinian, KWIM?

 

I just think this person is being difficult, for whatever reason, and if it hadn't been Z, it would have been the person with nut allergies, or the breast feeding mom, or whatever, that she'd have picked on.

 

And how bizarre is it that the HR manager is the one being insensitive???

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Yeah, but I'm trying to do the mature thing, and not start something at work. :tongue_smilie: I'm also afraid of causing Z trouble if I voice my anger at what happened to the HR manager.

 

Therein lies my quandary. How should I act towards the HR manager? Cool and reserved? Pretend nothing happened and see if something similar occurs again?

 

I don't want to think it's religious in nature. My friend Z is American born, and her family is from a non-Middle Eastern country, so it's not like she's Palestinian, KWIM?

 

I just think this person is being difficult, for whatever reason, and if it hadn't been Z, it would have been the person with nut allergies, or the breast feeding mom, or whatever, that she'd have picked on.

 

And how bizarre is it that the HR manager is the one being insensitive???

 

Why don't you do something really refreshing and just flat out ask her why? If it bothers you this much, you need to talk to her.

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I wasn't there, so I should trust you on the tone. And in real life, I'm the first to run and get someone something special so they can eat. But just reading it, I was struck that I could imagine a host in that situation being offended because someone said the food was "contaminated". I think it would have been politer -- at least if it was in someone's house -- to say she wasn't that hungry or something. Or just say she has a special diet for religious reasons and then change the subject.

 

I know you are going to say this isn't the same thing, but when we were vegetarian we never made a deal of it. If we could discreetly avoid meat, we did, but we always ate what was served to us to avoid being rude.

 

sorry -- I just now read the Tibbie dunbar summary and now I see that it is a different situation from what I was inferring, where maybe the "host" felt offended.

Edited by EmilyK
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So the picture emerging is more like this:

 

Muslim lady is accustomed to meetings at this particular hotel. In her extensive experience with this hotel kitchen, it is not a problem to order on the spur of the moment and they always come up with something acceptable. In other words, this is one of her 'safe' locations where she doesn't have to make a big deal about her diet beforehand because the kitchen can always handle it.

 

Only this time, the person hosting the meeting stopped that process dead in its tracks, basically using her position of authority to make Muslim lady feel quite aware that the casualness of breezily ordering up a plate is not going to happen, and if she wants Special Treatment it is going to be A Big Deal. Muslim lady then did what lots of people on special diets would do: Play it off with an attitude of "Nevermind me, I have this bag of chips and you all can just assume it is all I need." (Stomach grumbling, headache, fake smile.)

 

I see how you are seeing this now.

 

I agree with justamouse that HR Manager deserves the opportunity to explain why she didn't allow that phone call, because it sure looks awful on the face of it.

 

Yeah - that sounds weird. I might try to ask the HR person since you're leaving soon anyway.

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Y

 

And how bizarre is it that the HR manager is the one being insensitive???

 

Well, that's what I mean.

 

If you're not going to say anything or question it, I would just go about my business. Not be rude, but not be overly friendly, either. Just get my work done. Z can deal with it later, if she has to.

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I wasn't there, so I should trust you on the tone. And in real life, I'm the first to run and get someone something special so they can eat. But just reading it, I was struck that I could imagine a host in that situation being offended because someone said the food was "contaminated".

 

No, no, no. She did not say any such thing. I used the word to explain to the board here the logic of why she couldn't consume the other meats--they were potentially "contaminated" because of the single tongs in use .

 

But, all she simply said was, "I'm Muslim, so that's why I can't eat the meat, because I don't eat pork."

 

Sorry for the confusion on that! I should have been clearer. I agree that it would have been off-putting if she'd said that, but she would never do so.

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No, no, no. She did not say any such thing. I used the word to explain to the board here the logic of why she couldn't consume the other meats--they were potentially "contaminated" because of the single tongs in use .

 

But, all she simply said was, "I'm Muslim, so that's why I can't eat the meat, because I don't eat pork."

 

Sorry for the confusion on that! I should have been clearer. I agree that it would have been off-putting if she'd said that, but she would never do so.

 

But this is exactly what you said in your op:

 

She matter-of-factly replied that she's Muslim, and doesn't eat pork (it's one thing she's strict about). And even though there were non-pork options on the table, they all were "contaminated" in the sense that the same pair of tongs was used as with the ham.

 

 

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Well, that's what I mean.

 

If you're not going to say anything or question it, I would just go about my business. Not be rude, but not be overly friendly, either. Just get my work done. Z can deal with it later, if she has to.

 

I think you're right.

 

I really would like to demand why she acted like that, but because it didn't happen between me and her, but between a coworker and her, it's not my place (at least I don't think it is).

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I think you're right.

 

I really would like to demand why she acted like that, but because it didn't happen between me and her, but between a coworker and her, it's not my place (at least I don't think it is).

 

I've been thinking it over, and this is my conclusion as well.

 

I think you did the right thing in taking Z out to lunch. You solved the material need of a meal for Z! and you demonstrated your own feelings through actions. There's probably not much else you can do with your outrage without bringing about an awkward situation yourself.

 

Hopefully, the lunch with you will be Z's prevailing memory of the day instead of the awkwardness of the meeting.

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While I understand why she wouldn't use the tongs on other non ham meat, I don't understand why she was unable to eat anything else. Were there no veggies on the table? No fruit? Nothing but meat? I mean, meat tongs wouldn't be used to pick up veggies or other things. It seems strange that all she could eat is chips that she brought herself.

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I would think it was rude. And I'd make a stink about it. But being 38 weeks pregnant gives me less of a filter than I normally have, so take that with a grain of salt.

 

Honestly though, I'd feel so bad for my friend and it would nag at me so much that I'd have to bring it up with the HR person. :(

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This was my initial thought. Also, it is incumbent upon the person with special dietary needs to express them BEFORE an event. This was not a spur of the moment event. Surely you had notice. Those with special dietary needs should have inquired as to the meal arrangements and made their requests for accomodations. If no request was made, then they simply have to make do for themselves.

 

Now, if she had made such a request and it was ignored, then we have a different story entirely.

 

:iagree:

 

It is possible the HR has gotten flak for last minute custom orders. I would think that costs more. Idk. Could be any number of reasons she did that.

 

Not my business. Or yours either. The HR person does not owe you an apology or an explanation. This is between her and your coworker and that's where I would leave it. If she had been obviously racist or had a pattern of acting that way, I could see saying something. But from your posts, it doesn't seem that is the case.

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No, my friend (who happens to be Muslim and observe dietary restrictions) and I have frequently eaten at this same hotel, as I stated before. Our company has meetings there all the time, because it's convenient.

 

My friend had accepted the offer the gentleman next to her made to order her a place. The HR manager, as I stated before, overrode that offer and said no.

 

Do you see why I was surprised and dismayed now? It made no sense! Not money wise (there wouldn't have been an additional charge), not in terms of the kitchen environment, nada.

 

To put it in perspective? None of the other managers have ever balked at accommodating my or other employee special requests for food or drink at meetings like this. This was the first time I've ever seen that happen, and I'm embarrassed and offended for my friend.

Big thumbs down to the HR lady, she was definitely being a jerk.:glare:

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I don't think it was rude at all. I have no idea why the HR manager didn't want a special meal ordered half way into the meal, but there could have been ten different reasons why. I also know that often people with special dietary needs (a) take responsibility for their own needs ahead of time, (b) don't complain or call foods "contaminated" while others are eating the same foods, and/or © really dislike having a fuss made over them. And the tongs aren't the main issue, as there is a strong possibility of cross contamination in the kitchen before the food is anywhere near the tongs.

 

My son has food allergies. He would dig a hole and crawl into the ground before having a table full of people point at him and ask questions and then have someone else order him a special meal when he could have quietly dealt with it himself before hand if he really cared about it.

 

I guess I'm not clear on why this friend isn't taking charge of her own dietary issues -- instead you and others at the table are all fired up about it... kind of unusual IMO.

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While I understand why she wouldn't use the tongs on other non ham meat, I don't understand why she was unable to eat anything else. Were there no veggies on the table? No fruit? Nothing but meat? I mean, meat tongs wouldn't be used to pick up veggies or other things. It seems strange that all she could eat is chips that she brought herself.

 

She ate a bag of chips. The rest of the spread had 4 or 5 meats, a plate of cheese next to the meats, veggies, fruit, bags of chips, cookies and some drinks. There were two pairs of tongs (one for meats, and one for cheeses). I understand that she could take some veggies and assume they're safe, but not eating pork is the one area she's really careful about observing. So, she erred on the side of caution, and assumed anything in close proximity to the ham probably had the same tongs used to grab other items. I understood her reasoning because it's very similar to how a Jewish friend of mine treated social food events (if you suspect a food has been touched by something else that touches pork, don't eat it).

 

It's really not a big deal most of the time. We've shared snacks and food before. She didn't make a big deal about it. She told me later she'd grabbed the chips and was planning on ordering a small salad from Louis (a chef in the kitchen). It was all very mundane until the HR manager got all twisted up about it for reasons I still don't know.

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I don't think it was rude at all. I have no idea why the HR manager didn't want a special meal ordered half way into the meal, but there could have been ten different reasons why. I also know that often people with special dietary needs (a) take responsibility for their own needs ahead of time, (b) don't complain or call foods "contaminated" while others are eating the same foods, and/or © really dislike having a fuss made over them. And the tongs aren't the main issue, as there is a strong possibility of cross contamination in the kitchen before the food is anywhere near the tongs.

 

I guess I'm not clear on why this friend isn't taking charge of her own dietary issues -- instead you and others at the table are all fired up about it... kind of unusual IMO.

 

Well, you need to read the thread again, because I addressed your points a, b, and c. The kitchen staff are familiar with Z's dietary restrictions, because we've all taken meals in the restaurant there before.

 

No one at the table was "fired up." We were all surprised, because her ordering something on the side from the kitchen, is something we've all done on previous occasions. With the express approval of other management.

If you got suddenly denied something at work that was regularly enjoyed by your coworkers, and it was done in a meeting in front of other people, with no explanation, well...maybe you wouldn't see that as rude, or weird. But I do. I think it's bad manners to eat in front of somebody and deny them anything else, without so much as a kind word of explanation.

 

I think it's worse manners to do it in front of other people.

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Well, you need to read the thread again, because I addressed your points a, b, and c. The kitchen staff are familiar with Z's dietary restrictions, because we've all taken meals in the restaurant there before.

 

No one at the table was "fired up." We were all surprised, because her ordering something on the side from the kitchen, is something we've all done on previous occasions. With the express approval of other management.

 

If you got suddenly denied something at work that was regularly enjoyed by your coworkers, and it was done in a meeting in front of other people, with no explanation, well...maybe you wouldn't see that as rude, or weird. But I do. I think it's bad manners to eat in front of somebody and deny them anything else, without so much as a kind word of explanation.

 

I think it's worse manners to do it in front of other people.

 

If that is the case than were they rude too?

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Well I think it's really hard to judge if the HR person was rude or mean or practical or what; I think you'd have to wait and see whether there is a pattern of behavior with this individual (that either she has something against this particular employee, or she's tighter with money), or maybe there was a complaint from the hotel or a command from higher up the chain not to order anything additional anymore. There just isn't any way to know, I don't think.

 

FWIW I have been in similar situations and it is awkward; I may be stricter than your friend in that we avoid all meat products that are not halaal dhabiha, so any of the meat or cheese on those trays would have been off limits to me. If someone asked why I was only eating chips I would probably have said I wasn't very hungry or wanted to eat later.

 

At one of my prior jobs our department closed a major deal and my boss wanted everyone to go out for a drink at a local bar afterwards to celebrate. I tried to back out (I'm busy, I have to leave, etc.) but she *insisted*. I felt so so awkward, but didn't want to "play the Muslim card" either and alienate myself from the group. It's just a terribly awkward position to be in, I feel badly for your friend on that point.

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If that is the case than were they rude too?

 

Uh, no? They make the food. Banquet staff are the ones who lay it out.

 

In any case, the food layout is for a group, not an individual. This is why it is (or has been) acceptable for individuals in a meeting to place special orders if they need it. There's a lady in accounting who breastfeeds, and she eats a gluten-free diet. Nobody messed with her last month when she asked the server for a dish completely different from the rest of us at the table. Nobody even cared (why would we?!).

 

Is there some reason why people here don't want to believe me when I say that the only thing "special" about Z's request is that it got denied??

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Is there some reason why people here don't want to believe me when I say that the only thing "special" about Z's request is that it got denied??
I get that, I would want to know why. And the hr person's manner when she said no. Is there anyone in your group who is casual enough with this person to ask why without making it into a formal thing (if you get what I mean)?
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