A low-level employee who has worked in my office for several years is leaving soon. This person has explicitly communicated that a very generous gift is expected because a manager who left the company recently received (from that manager's boss) a very generous gift.
Recently, a work friend of the departing employee circulated an email soliciting donations for this person's going-away gift. I am a hard no on contributing to this gift, and I know for a fact that other office members are as well (in terms of "confirmed no", it's a large minority of the office). Reasons for this refusal vary, but the two primary ones are:
1) There is no precedent for this in the office. In the past, gifts are given by the boss of the departing employee (if anyone), not coworkers.
2) This person is a polarizing figure in the office and has been directly involved office conflicts that have left lasting hurt feelings for some. Many of these conflicts have arisen due to serious job performance issues on the part of the person who is departing.
Reason (2) is by far the more relevant issue here for those resisting contribution.
Other possibly relevant context:
- This person is leaving voluntarily to take another job
- This person occupies a lower level position in the office and has worked in support of various other office members at times (e.g. providing administrative support), but only one person is this person's "boss" and has acted as his/her manager.
- Most people in the office do make more money than the person who is departing, but in some cases the amount difference is small. Those that received administrative support from the person departing generally make a fair amount more in salary.
- In order to meet the demand/request for a "very generous gift" (matching the one referenced), the average contribution would need to be around $20 per person.
My question is whether it is acceptable to ignore this request for contribution, and whether there are any etiquette issues I may be overlooking. Would it be easier to succumb to this peer pressure even if one opposes the idea of giving this person a gift in general? Would a reasonable compromise be to give a very small contribution (e.g. $5)?
Edit: I am a "hard no", but I was asking in greater generality about how one may approach a situation like this where they do not want to contribute but feel some external pressure to do so. Another thing I was asking was whether it was "unwise" to refuse contribution in a situation like this or if it would otherwise be a poor navigation of the workplace to just refuse and be open and public about your refusal.