One of my coworkers has designated herself the office hat-passer. Anytime someone has a birthday, she emails the rest of us and coordinates buying the birthday person a gift. That is fine and participation there is voluntary.
This year is my first Christmas with this company. I am told by Hat-Passer that everyone is to contribute $10 to the boss's gift. it should be noted here that boss is also in the secret santa pool but as she'll be reciprocating there, I didn't think too much of it. however for the Boss's gift, Hat-Passer decided what we were giving and then told everyone how much they should contribute. Anyone who couldn't contribute the full $10 was asked to give "what they could".
One of my new coworkers (transferred from a different department, not by choice. The company moved her) had worked for boss for less then an hour when Hat-Passer informs her of the $10 gift. New Woman has a spine of titanium, informs Hat-Passer that she did not have cash at the moment and would probably not contribute much if anything to a gift for her boss. I was admiring her spine but caved myself and gave over the $10 as Hat-Passer is good friends with the boss and anyone who crosses HP can count on not being in good graces, so to speak. Later, New Woman concedes as well and gives $5.
Boss is very thankful for her gift (pedicure and mini-massage or something to that effect). The next day she has a thank-you card, addressed only to those who gave the full $10. New Woman is not thanked in person, nor is her name on the card. We are supposed to pass the card around to everyone whose name is on it. So she never saw the card nor did she know of its existence.
Boss also gives us small gifts (mine was a very cheap dragonfly charm that I have no use for, although of course I thanked Boss appropriately) I was mad. My gift was not the same value that I had given to the boss. That sounds petty but this woman is making s lot more money than me, is the person who signs my paychecks, and she can't be bothered to give me a gift I might enjoy (we just did Secret Santa and she had 36 hours with everyone's wishlist, although the timing is weird as SS was done before Boss was given her gift).
New Woman is of course angry about the whole stupid mess and vows to never again give to any extortions from Hat-Passer. I am really uncomfortable having seen the whole thing played out and wishing my boss knew enough to not accept gifts from those under her, especially those who have barely met her! Is this something I should bring up with HR? Hat-Passer is sort of the office money police but she has no actual position over the rest of us.