News & Features

Gift of wine discriminatory?
Published: Wednesday, January 4, 2017 10:23:20 AM

Published by: Jamaica Observer | January 1, 2017

Dear Career Advisor:

I know that sometimes at work I seem to come off a bit quirky as often my views are so very different from everyone else. For example, I no longer drink because of health and religious reasons. I try to keep my reasons private, but based on the fact that I no longer hang out with the crew at work, I felt it was generally known. What then is the probability that I was the only one my boss gave a bottle of liquor (good quality I might add) as the office gift? Do you think my boss was being spiteful, as I am viewing this as discrimination? I feel like sending it back to him through the mail or throwing it down the sink. Should I tell him I am dissatisfied?

Yours truly,


Dear Aldo:

The giving of gifts by a manager to his/her staff is usually the company’s way of showing appreciation and in some instances to affirm workers for positive or outstanding contribution to the success of the entity. I would exercise caution in drawing the conclusion that your gift of fine wine is an act of discrimination. Could it be that your boss does not fully understand that you have completely given up alcohol because you may not have communicated this as clearly as you thought?

Returning the gift would be perceived as being in poor taste and would likely create a wedge in an otherwise professional and uncontentious work relationship. Thank your boss for his thoughtfulness in giving you a gift to ring in the festive season. You could try to insert a bit of humour by referring to your gift as having the potential of putting much spirit in the season.

It is evident that you are very committed to the new path you have chosen. However, instead of emptying the contents down the sink, you could consider re-gifting and making someone else happy. Another option would be to add a bow or wreath and keep it as a decorative piece in your workspace during the season, adding decorative tape over the seal to reduce your temptation, if any, to consume the contents. Your appreciation for the kind gesture will be evident. And who knows, perhaps over time, as your boss notices the fine wine has not been consumed, this may create an opportunity to engage him in a conversation about your health choices and new way of life.

In the absence of clear evidence of there being any malicious intent, give the benefit of the doubt. Enjoy the holidays with a heart full of gratitude and much anticipation for what is to come in 2017.


Career Advisor

Carolyn Marie Smith is associate vice-president of student affairs at Northern Caribbean University in Mandeville, Manchester. Submit your questions to her at


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