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Ask Sue
A Weekly Q&A Column About Professionalism, Etiquette and Problems in the Workplace
by Sue Morem


Dear Sue: I've am good friends with another manager at my office and have been for over 20 years. I've just been informed that he will be terminated. Although he has a lot of experience, he is a big worrier and a complainer and hasn't made a very good impression on the new management.

I was told of his termination in advance because I am going to take over his position. I don't have the experience he has, but this is the decision management has made, and I don't have a choice in the matter.

How should I handle this situation with him once he gets this news?

--Nervous about promotion

Sue Says: Handle the situation as delicately as you can. There isn't going to be an easy way for you to tell him that you will be taking over his position, but let him hear it from you rather than someone else. Let him know how you feel, and that you will do anything to help him, but that this was out of your control. Other than declining the position or leaving the company, neither of which is in your best interest, you really weren't left with any other options.

Be as supportive as you can, but be prepared for a strain on your friendship, at least for awhile.

Dear Sue: A few weeks ago I was laid off because my position was eliminated. Now that I am going to be interviewing, I am wondering what is considered appropriate attire for a woman in her forties.

I am under the impression that I can't go wrong by wearing a suit with a skirt. However, I am noticing that younger applicants applying for the same positions (sales or middle management), are wearing pantsuits. I don't want to appear outdated, and am wondering if I need to be a little more on the cutting edge.

I've heard a number of opinions including wearing a skirt if the meeting is with your potential boss, but a pantsuit if the meeting is with someone in human resources.
What are your views?


Sue Says: I agree with you, you can't go wrong wearing a suit to an interview. Whether it's pants or a skirt is another issue. Although a suit with a skirt does rank a cut above a pantsuit in dressiness, I don't see how or why showing your legs should make a difference. But that is another issue and possibly another column!

If you will feel better, and as though you are on the cutting edge by wearing a pantsuit, wear one. There are other important factors when deciding what to wear. The color, fabric, style and fit of a garment impact your image and make a big difference.

However, the most important consideration is how you feel in what you choose to wear, and selecting an outfit that best communicates your desired image, your strengths and your personality.

Dear Sue: I was fired today for poor performance. Actually, I feel that I was a let go to make a point. In my district there are 35 employees and I was ranked number 15 out of 35. Number 17, who works out of my office is still there.

I feel that I was discriminated against because of my interracial relationship. No one in management liked the idea that I am married to a white female. I am seriously thinking about suing for wrongful termination. What is your opinion?

--Wrongfully terminated

Sue Says: I can understand how upset you must be to feel that your termination was unjust. However, I am not sure you can ever prove your theory. You may choose to talk with an attorney, but even if you were to file a lawsuit, it could drag on for years. I suspect that you'll be better off investing your time, energy and money looking for another job.

Sue Morem is a professional speaker, trainer and syndicated columnist. She is author of the newly released 101 Tips for Graduates and How to Gain the Professional Edge, Second Edition. You can contact her by email at or visit her web site at

Send Sue your questions by clicking here: Ask Sue
For more Ask Sue articles, click here.

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