my new company wants me to change my name

A reader writes:

I am starting a new job next week. Somehow another employee, who is a favorite of the regional manager, objects to my name, so I have been told I cannot use it.

My middle name is King and it is a name that has been in our family for years. I have been called King since the day I was born – 54 years ago – and have never had anyone even mention it, much less object to it.

This entry-level employee says it offends her religious beliefs. She has been at the company for several years but is still at entry-level, so how can she carry so much weight? What are my options? Is this even legal?

That’s ridiculous. It’s your name.

Legally, they can probably insist you use another name (at least I can’t think of a law it would violate), but it would be 100% crazy for them to do that. It’s your name. No reasonable person or employer would ask you to change your name, especially on grounds like these.

I would say this to your new employer: “I certainly don’t want to offend anyone, but this is my name, it’s what I’ve gone by my entire life, it’s how all my professional contacts know me, and it’s what’s on my birth certificate. It’s not possible for me to change it.”

If they push back, I’d continue to say, “It’s really not possible for me to change my name.”

I’m hoping that they just haven’t thought this through and realized how ridiculous this is (and maybe they somehow think it’s more optional because it’s your middle name rather than your first?). Hopefully, politely but firmly saying that it’s not something you can do will make them realize it’s not a reasonable request.

But if they insist on it, well, you’re learning that you’re about to start working for an employer that’s incredibly unreasonable and willing to insist on something outrageous just because someone cried “religion” inappropriately.* It might be better to know that now than before you actually start work.

* And it is inappropriate. Religious accommodations don’t extend to changing other employees’ names. That has nothing to do with what level of seniority someone has, so it doesn’t matter that she’s entry-level; if she requesting a reasonable religious accommodation, they’d need to grant it whether she was the COO or the receptionist. But this one is unreasonable, and it would be just as unreasonable coming from the head of the company as it is coming from this person.

{ 947 comments… read them below or add one }

    1. Muriel Heslop

      I am curious, too! I am a Christian who has a steady stream of students named Jesus and I don’t think anything of it. Strange that someone claims the name is offensive; beyond strange that the company is giving it credence!

      Reply
      1. JMegan

        To me, that’s a bigger problem than the employee suggesting it. Because who knows, individuals are entitled to individual beliefs, no matter how…unusual…they might be.

        But for *anyone else in the office* to respond with anything other than “What? No, we’re not asking anyone to change their names” is wildly inappropriate. Like, WILDLY inappropriate. The fact that you have even heard about this request, let alone that somebody actually asked you to comply with it, speaks volumes about this company. I’d be getting the heck out of Dodge if I had any other options at this point.

        Reply
      2. Ad Astra

        My suspicion is that this coworker is some kind of Christian and objects to a person being named King because Jesus is the one true king. But that is insane. Jesus is supposed to be the king of kings. That doesn’t mean nobody else is a king. I don’t like to tell people what should and shouldn’t offend them, but give me a break.

        And, to your point, plenty of cultures find it appropriate to name their children Jesus. Even words like God and Lord have their own secular meanings. I can see how you might be offended by someone whose name is IAmGreaterThanGod, but even then I’m not sure you’d have good reason to ask an adult to change his name (the adult might decide to do that on his own, cause that’s a problematic name, but I digress).

        If I’m wrong about this, I would be extremely interested in knowing the real story here.

        Reply
        1. MashaKasha

          As a former Christian (20 years, 2-3 of them Evangelical, still have a few friends in the trade – and when I say “trade”, I mean the person is a pastor), I’d agree with your suspicion – that was my first thought too. Talk about taking things too far, though! First of all, a lot of people are named King. What about MLK? What about MLK day as a day off?

          But yeah, all that aside, having your management order your new colleague to change their name is, uh… I’ve only seen this in movies. How does one come up with this idea? more importantly, how does the management think it’d be cool to go with it?

          Reply
          1. NotherName

            Maybe they’ve read some Maya Angelou and didn’t get the point of her story about being “called out of your name.”

            It seems like someone’s a reincarnated Victorian employer who wants to rename their household staff…

            Reply
          2. Willow

            I was raised concerns Lutheran, and Conservative. No Lutherans I know would object to a name of King.

            Is the person a minority? There could be racism involved.

            Reply
        2. Ani

          But I’m guessing this is just the surface argument the coworker is using. Seriously. I’m thinking she just personally doesn’t like someone using the name King (I personally love it) and made a request “on religious grounds” just because she thought she could (and was right). I mean, the name Butterfly McQueen would probably upset this person too, but she couldn’t try to make a case out of it quite as easily.

          Reply
          1. AMT

            Exactly. I can see myself feeling slightly weirded out if a coworker’s name sounded silly or had an unintended meaning in English, but I would never in a million years bring it up to the coworker!

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            1. Phobia Field

              Yup, exactly. I’d never bring it up. Somehow the name King seems less odd to me than, say, Princess. But if I had a coworker named Princess, I’d call them by their name!

              Reply
              1. Melissa

                I knew several people in middle and high school named Princess and I also knew someone named Empress. I’ve also met a little boy named King before, as well as a small child name Messiah.

                …so the name King didn’t really faze me much…

                Reply
                1. Michelle

                  In Texas, King is a well known last name. And I don’t know about elsewhere, but here it’s not unusual for last names to become middle names. (For example, my brother’s middle name is Carr.) So, honestly, King doesn’t seem all that strange to me. It’s just a name.

              2. Soharaz

                I knew a girl once who was named Princess and her younger sisters were Queen and Treasure. We joked about her brother being named Prince or King, but I think that was just a joke…not sure if she had any brothers.

                Reply
          2. Aaron Gullison

            I know of a now deceased cousin of mine whose name was “Queen Victoria”. She was named when Victoria was queen.

            Reply
        3. JJ

          That’s exactly what I thought, too. “Why are YOU such a special king when Jesus is king?”

          This is probably the same type of person like the one who wrote “I give God 10%, why should I give you 15%?” on a waitress’s transaction receipt.

          Reply
          1. Koko

            Somewhat o/t but the thing that got me most about that person was that you don’t tithe to god. You tithe to the church. God doesn’t need money.

            Reply
            1. Ted Mosbey

              Now I’m just imaginging god in a long white robe with a long white beard standing in line at a bank located on top of a fluffy pile of clouds. “John smith’s 137 dollars for this month, check” as he checks the name off on his santa style list.

              God, buying a nice watch for Mrs God/Mrs Clause (anyone else think they were the same as kids? no? just me? cool.) at Nordstrom, paying in cash from tithings.

              Reply
        4. Wren

          If I had to guess, I’d say Jehova’s Witness, for exactly the King of kings reasons you state. I’m not super knowledgeable of them, but it sounds like the kind of thing they’d care about, and when they care about stuff, they really care about it.

          I would tell this employee, “you can call him Mr. —, but you don’t get a say in what his name is.”

          Reply
            1. Ad Astra

              I agree that this doesn’t match up with how any Jehovah’s Witnesses I know practice their faith. But I think there’s a very good chance that this coworker is a whackadoodle who’s affiliated with some church that we’ve all heard of, but is interpreting their teachings in a weird way. Jehovah’s Witnesses and Seventh-Day Adventists are two groups whose interpretations about false idols are stricter than average, but I’ve never heard of any group that would have a problem with someone named King.

              (And, in my experience, both of these groups are conscious of the parts of their religion that aren’t mainstream. A JW won’t attend your birthday party, but he’s not likely to tell you that having a birthday party is offensive.)

              Reply
              1. Phobia Field

                Yes, this OP probably belongs to a very uncommon/rarely practiced faith (which I understand, because I belong to one such faith) OR they belong to a common faith but practice it in an unusual/whackadoodle way.

                Incidentally, in my faith, we don’t celebrate birthdays either (not JW) — but I still play along with friends’ or coworker/office parties and such so long as mine isn’t celebrated.

                Reply
              1. Anna

                Yeah. They may not name their own child King for that reason (if that is even one of their tenets, which I don’t think it would be), but the JWs I’ve known have all been pretty relaxed about what’s happening around them. I worked with a woman who is JW and we had a lot of great discussions and her perspective was always an interesting counterpoint to mine.

                Reply
            2. Melissa

              Agreed…I grew up a Jehovah’s Witness and my family members are still in the religion. This is not something a normal mainstream Witness would care about. (Of course, there are whackadoodles in every religion.)

              Reply
        5. Mephyle

          My next (somewhat fanciful) guess was that their religion is so strongly anti-monarchist (as in “down with the divine right of kings!”) that even the word “king” as a name offends their religious sensibilities.

          Reply
      3. Kyrielle

        Very much beyond strange that the company is giving it credence. Unfortunately, since it’s a middle name, they may stand firm on ‘use your first name’, which bites. (Wonder what they’d do if it was a first name!)

        My attempt to Google religions that might object to the name King led to discussions of Stephen King. I am amused, but not enlightened. ;)

        Reply
        1. Kelly L.

          An old friend of mine was trying to write historical fiction about King Stephen of England, and was trying to google something about him…you can imagine the noise-to-signal ratio there. :D

          Reply
            1. fposte

              And it doesn’t seem to recognize the force search anymore! That was the best thing–“No, I mean exactly what I typed, please search for that.”

              Reply
                1. JB (not in Houston)

                  Is there a special way to type those magic quotation marks? Because when I search for something in quotation marks, I sometimes word subs and results finding stuff that’s not exactly what I searched for. I would really like that to not happen.

              1. Elysian

                Yes!! This bothers me pretty much every day. Even when I put it in quotes and stuff I end up with variations of on a term. Usually the variation is something exceedingly common and has a ton of hits, which is why I want to exclude it. Just give me the words I type, Google!!

                Reply
        2. Ann O'Nemity

          Eh, I don’t think the first vs. middle name thing matters if this employee has a history of going by their middle name professionally.

          Reply
          1. Charityb

            True, but if it’s a middle name the company can use the whole, “well, we just want you to use your legal first name” as a dodge to avoid having to deal with this issue head on. Whereas if they were asking someone not to use their *first* name, they’d pretty much have to admit that they were letting one coworker forcibly change other coworker’s names for work purposes. Either way it would be dumb, but at least with the middle name there’s some kind of deniability.

            Reply
            1. NotherName

              If they tried that, I’d be inclined to make sure that everyone is being “forced” to use their first name, too. Why should King be the only one whose life gets more confusing?

              No nicknames, either!

              Reply
              1. pony tailed wonder

                I was asked to use my full legal name when I first started working at my current job by the guy who assigned e-mail accounts. No one ever calls me that and I verbally corrected people who do and that guy still insisted that it would be more professional to do it. Eventually the person who insisted on that left the library and I got my preferred name back on my e-mail account. His name in the office I worked at was rather colorful and it wasn’t his given name either. He pulled stuff like that all the time.

                Reply
              2. afiendishthingy

                I have a long and extremely unusual first name that most people cannot pronounce correctly; pretty much everyone calls me by the shortened version. But if I worked with OP I would demand to be called by the legal name, CORRECTLY PRONOUNCED, as long as OP wasn’t allowed to go by their middle name. Solidarity!

                Reply
            2. any mouse

              But then they would look even worse, I’m pretty sure they aren’t going to ask every Tom, Mike, Liz, or Don to suddenly start going by Thomas, Michael, Elizabeth, or Donald.

              Depending on the size of the company there are probably other people going by their middle name OR going by some nickname that people don’t realize isn’t a “legal first name”.

              I know someone who goes by Chip – perosnally and professionally – everyone knows him as Chip. It’s not his first name or his middle name but everyone knows him as Chip.

              Reply
              1. Ariadne Oliver

                Back when I was a little girl in Catholic grade school, everyone was called by their Christian (baptismal) names. Bob was Robert, Joe was Joseph, Ginny was Virginia. My aunt was legally named Betty, and they called her Elizabeth all through school.

                It’s a power thing.

                Reply
                1. sam

                  I wonder what they would do with someone whose actual name was more normally a nickname.

                  One of my friends growing up was named Wendy. It’s normally a nickname, but that was her actual full, legal name. Her parents were fans of the beach boys song.

              2. Callie

                My dad’s name is Don. Not Donald, but Don. That’s his legal name. It irritates the crap out of him when people call him Donald.

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        3. One of the Sarahs

          The only thing I can think of is the name is eg Sarah King James, and the person objects to “King James” as they’re one of the sects that believes the King James Bible is the divinely inspired word of god, and wants to call them Sarah King???

          It’s completely inappropriate, of course, and definitely not anything that the actual Bible says or prohibits, but it’s the only way I can make sense of it….

          Dear OP please post an update

          Reply
          1. ScarletInTheLibrary

            Didn’t think of this, but it may be a case where the problem is more along the lines of the middle name paired with the last name. I feel for OP. Especially if OP never really interacts with the person who is offended.

            Reply
          1. Mallory Janis Ian

            I never even thought of it before, but we had a family named Herod in my small, Christian town, and I don’t think anyone even made the connection to be offended. It was their name; that’s all.

            Reply
        1. BRR

          Yes. It is a reasonable accommodation for me to have you legally change your last name.

          If the company continues to be butt hurt about this, I’d be half-tempted to say that the name is part of their national origin and they feel they’re discriminated against by being asked to not use it.

          Also I highly want an update on this one. Also I had to check what day it was, I have a flight Wednesday evening and thought it was today.

          Reply
      4. NoCalHR

        This! We currently have 7 different employees named Jesus; one goes by “Jess”, one by “Jesse”, and the other 5 are “Jesus”. And my DH’s parish has a priest named Jesus…

        Reply
        1. NotherName

          Do all Rajahs, Connors, and Rexes also have to change their names? How about Cesar Millan? Because those names also mean “king.”

          Where does co-worker stand on the name “Mary” and its many variants?

          Reply
              1. doreen

                Usually, when I’ve seen this it’s been more like Mary Ann , Mary Lou(ise), Mary Ellen, Mary (Eliza)Beth and none are referred to as just plain “Mary”

                Reply
                1. Ariadne Oliver

                  My sister Mary worked with another girl named Mari. They called her “Mari-with-an-i”. I told my sister she should insist on being called “Mary-with-two-eyes”. (Or possibly “Mary-with-four-eyes” since she wore glasses.)

          1. Hornswoggler

            I have a friend whose middle name is Sultan – which means King. He’s Indian by birth but a British citizen.

            Reply
          1. Anna

            This I did not know. Nacho is short for Ignacio and you can see how they might get from Ignacio to Nacho, but how Chucho from Jesus?

            Reply
                1. NutellaNutterson

                  That’s why JFK Jr was called Jack-Jack!

                  I’m still befuddled by Jim for James, but the farthest afield I can think of is Peggy for Margaret.

                2. Just The Secretary

                  >NutellaNutterson
                  September 30, 2015 at 1:09 pm
                  That’s why JFK Jr was called Jack-Jack!<

                  He was actually called "John-John" and JFK went by Jack :)

    2. TCO

      I’m guessing it’s someone who doesn’t acknowledge earthly powers and believes that only God is the true king or something like that.

      Reply
      1. Elizabeth the Ginger

        Which is still confused; OP isn’t asking for other employees to acknowledge him as a ruler, just to call him by his name. Most people named Mr. Smith are not blacksmiths, most people named Harper do not play the harp, and King here is not a king.

        Reply
        1. A Minion

          Maybe we don’t know the whole story. Maybe his first name is My and he’s insisting everyone use both his first and middle name together like Mary Ann or Jo Lynn .
          “Can you please remember to refill the paper in the copier after you’re done using it, My King?” Bahahahaa!! I crack myself up. I would totally insist on being called that if I were him. I already have Siri calling me “My Queen”.
          All joking aside, though, I can’t imagine how management could ever think it’s appropriate to ask an employee to change his or her name because someone else objects to it! I also can’t imagine what religious beliefs might be offended by that name.

          Reply
            1. A Dispatcher

              There was (perhaps still is, I haven’t been in a while) a chinese restaurant in Cooperstown NY that went by the name “Foo Kin”. When my father would take me to visit the baseball hall of fame as a kid/teen I always got a kick out of it.

              Reply
        2. Anonymous today

          True. I worked with a woman named Princess once. I thought it was a little odd, but as long as I wasn’t required to curtsy to her, I had no problems with it.

          Reply
          1. DMented Kitty

            Knew someone who’s named QueenDiosa, which translates to “QueenGoddess”. They call her “QD” for the most part, but I kind of thought her parents apparently thought so highly of her when she was born. :)

            Reply
    3. Apostrophina

      I’ve heard of some strict Protestant denominations in the US that frown on playing cards specifically because of the royalty cards (the only real king is supposed to be the one in heaven, perhaps?), but I’m not sure which ones they are. This sounds like it could be spurred by a similar idea.

      Reply
      1. TotesMaGoats

        I’d say those strict protestant denoms frown on card playing because of the gambling aspect not the cards themselves.

        Reply
        1. Apostrophina

          The person who was telling me about it specifically mentioned the kings, but the no-gambling interpretation makes a lot more sense to me.

          Reply
          1. Miss Betty

            It’s the gambling aspect, plus for some people it’s the fact that playing cards descended from tarot cards and can still be used for fortune telling. My great-grandmother never used playing cards in her life, except for Rook cards. (And other card games like Uno.)

            Reply
      2. A Minion

        Yeah, I grew up in one of those strict Protestant denomination and it’s the gambling that’s the problem, not the faces on the cards. Maybe there’s another denomination that objects to the royalty cards that I’m not aware of, but in my experience, it was the gambling not the cards themselves.

        Reply
      3. The Cosmic Avenger

        I would have guessed Seventh Day Adventist, because IME their interpretation and observance on the prohibition against worshiping false idols (which is a part of all Judeo-Christian religions, and really any monotheistic religion) are stronger than most other sects.

        Reply
      4. Anna

        Back in another lifetime, my aunt was very strictly religious. At one point she went through the instructions on a pack of dominoes and crossed out any reference to “spellcasting” which I guess is a thing in dominoes. It was…baffling, to say the least.

        Reply
    4. Jelly Bee

      The only reference I can think of is the expression “No king but Jesus.” But the notion that another person’s name is a violation of this coworker’s religious beliefs is absurd. She can call him Mr. Lastname if she can’t bring herself to use his name.

      Reply
    5. A

      I think it’s safe to say this person was pulling weight as the manager’s favourite so that another employee would not get called the regal sounding “King”. Total ego trip. Sounds like a toxic place to work for.

      Reply
  1. AMG

    The gall and ignorance of some people truly knows no bounds. I am really curious to see how this turns out. Hopefully with you getting another job right away.

    Reply
  2. Casidy Yatest

    This request reminds me a lot of how employers used to change their servant’s names, especially when the servants were Black – like how all cooks got called ‘Sally’ and Pullman porters were all called ‘George.’ I wonder if there is also a racial element to this, and it’s not okay.

    Reply
    1. Gandalf the Nude

      All the Kings I’ve met have been of Chinese ancestry, so I wondered the same thing. In trying to skirt a dubious religious harassment claim, the employer might be strolling into a very real racial bias discrimination claim.

      Reply
      1. Maria the Librarian

        My husband’s grandfather, who was African-American, had the first name King. I wondered about racial bias, too.

        Reply
        1. Ani

          I mentioned Butterfly McQueen above. I was just saying I think the coworker probably is just using religion as a surface excuse because, for whatever personal reason, the coworker is bristling at the OP going by the name King and probably would object too to someone in the office going by the name Butterfly McQueen. It was only after I typed it and posted it that I thought OMG, is it possible ….

          Reply
        1. Gandalf the Nude

          Oh, I’m not assuming (and I don’t think anyone else is either). I do think that it’s enough of a possibility that it’s worth speculating on it, especially since it would add that extra layer of grossness.

          Reply
        2. Casidy Yatest

          Racial bias is a possibility; there’s a long history of that kind of attitude specifically aimed at people of color. It’s not ‘assuming’ anything to bring up the possibility.

          Reply
    2. RVA Cat

      This. When an employer’s practices remind you of slavery at worst and old studio-system Hollywood at best, run away with a quickness!

      Reply
    3. Tina

      My first thought was racism too, and if that’s the case it’s extra gross that the leaders of the company thought it was ok to suggest to the new employee.

      Reply
      1. manybellsdown

        I’m remembering a post about a year back about a woman who thought her co-worker’s name “looked embarrassing” in English, and wanted to ask her to change the nameplate on her desk. This feels like the same thing, only with a common, non-vulgar English word being objected to!

        Reply
      1. Lala Land

        “Oh, your name is Molly? Well, that won’t do. We already have a Molly. Your name is now…..Prudence. We haven’t had a Prudence in years!”

        Not that this is King’s issue (probably).

        Reply
        1. Jules

          Ironically, I did actually work on a team for a couple of years where everyone apart from me was called Andy…there was Andy (Andrew) the big boss, Andy (Andrew) designer number one, Andy (actually Andy) designer number two, Andy (Andreas) designer number three, and Andy (Andrea) their PA. And me.

          We (and our client) endured for about a week, and then designer number one started introducing himself as Morris (not related to his name at all), the PA started signing all her emails as ‘PA Andi’, and designer number three became known universally as Other Andy. Which caused no end of confusion a few years later when Other Andy was the only remaining Andy in the company, but was, by force of habit, still known almost universally as Other Andy.

          Reply
          1. ReadingRachael

            We have 25 people in our company (30, counting the board of directors). 6 of them share the same name, let’s say it’s John. One is Johnny, one is John Last Name, one is John on the Board, one is John in Department B, one is Jonathan, and the last lucky one gets to go by John.

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            1. simonthegrey

              My sister, call her Vicky, shares her first name with a person in our circle of acquaintance who works as an exotic dancer. To differentiate the two, it’s “sister Vicky” and “dancer Vicky.” They don’t know each other other than in passing, and it’s mostly used among those of us who have more contact with one than the other (i.e. I was at the mall with sister Vicky… I saw dancer Vicky at the mall yesterday). It’s just how we tell them apart. Neither one minds as far as I know.

              Reply
              1. Feline

                Oh, I know this one. My Dad actually married a very nice lady who already had a daughter who also had my name. As soon as it started causing confusion, Dad and his new wife started calling my new stepsister “Little Jane” and me “Big Jane” since I was eldest.

                Pro tip: Don’t nickname your female offspring something with “big” in it. Just don’t.

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                1. Bailey Quarters

                  A friend married a man who has the same first name as her eldest son. They are now called “John the Elder” and “John the Younger.”

                2. Gandalf the Nude

                  Hah! My step-sister has the same first name as me, and her middle name matches my sister’s first name. (Both “Gandalf” and “Radagast” were very popular baby names at the time.) Stepdad joked that he could summon three daughters with the breath of two!

                3. Cath in Canada

                  I have the same first and last name as my sister-in-law except for one letter – we go by Cee-Cath and Kay-Kath.

                  So, I have the same name as one of my husband’s sisters. His other sister shares a name with my sister. My sister’s boyfriend shares a name with one of my husband’s brothers. Said brother called his son after their other brother. My husband has the same name as my uncle, and my Dad has the same name as Kay-Kath’s husband.

                  The wedding was a bit confusing.

                4. alyrae

                  My nephew is a Ben, and has two other Bens in his class. Two have last names that start with F. One has a peanut allergy. They are now: Ben C., Ben F. and “No Nuts” Ben.

                5. KayBee

                  Same in my extended family. I lucked out as the “little” one. But my poor nephew, son of Richard. Yup – big Dick and little Dick. Seriously. Not surprising little Dick ended up a bit of a juvenile delinquent!

                6. reaching for the sky

                  Ha, I knew someone who is in a similar situation, where his son and his stepdaughter have the same name (it’s one of those names commonly used for either gender).

                7. Paquita

                  When I was born my mother’s cousin became Big Paquita.
                  I also know a family with kids named John and Jane Smith. Jane married a guy named JOHN SMITH! (Not their real names).

                8. Carpe Librarium

                  I am now thinking of the Nac Mac Feegles of Terry Pratchett’s Discworld, including “No’-As-Big-As-Medium-Sized-Jock-But-Bigger-than-Wee-Jock Jock”

                9. Cambridge Comma

                  My aunt teaches 5 year olds. One year, there were two boys named Carlos in the class, one blond and blue-eyed and the other black. She was trying to work out before the school year started how to handle the issue if the kids called them ‘black Carlos ‘ and ‘white Carlos’.
                  From the first day on, the kids called them ‘Carlos with the brown shoes’ and ‘Carlos with the grey shoes’.

            2. Not Myself

              This is my family. We have 3 Johns – my brother Jon, my brother in law, John, and my husband, John. It’s… exciting.

              Reply
              1. wanderlust

                So in the interest of not offending anyone religious… do they go by 1st John, 2nd John, and 3rd Jon?

                Sorry, couldn’t resist the Bible humor.

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              2. Dynamic Beige

                I knew someone who married into a family where the first born son *had* to be named… let’s say Robert. So at family reunions, you could yell “Hey Bob!” and seven guys turned around. She swore that if she ever had a boy, she would be the first to break that tradition… don’t know how that turned out.

                Reply
            3. Emily H.

              I work at a public service position where the manager is Anthony and our technology specialist is also Anthony. We started calling them “Anthony Junior” and “Anthony Senior” to differentiate them. This started to cause problems when we got customers asking for “Anthony’s son”!

              Reply
          2. Judy

            Or as Sir Terry Pratchett designed, the Nac Mac Feegles had lots of common names, so there was even a

            No’-As-Big-As-Medium-Jock-But-Bigger-Than-Wee-Jock-Jock

            Reply
          3. Anlyn

            I used to coordinate with several different departments, and all of them had at least one Michael, usually two. We all (including them), just started to referring to them by their last names, since they were mostly distinctive enough people would recognize them. The ones who weren’t were Michael A., Michael C., etc.

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          4. AnonEMoose

            When you joined the team, did they ask if they could call you Bruce, just to keep it clear? (Sorry, couldn’t resist!)

            Reply
          5. JL

            I once had to work with a team of three men called Ben and two called James. I ended up starting my emails to them by “Hello Bens and Jameses,” (they had a good sense of humour).

            Reply
        2. Marzipan

          I used to know someone who was renamed by their workplace in exactly this way and for this reason. He liked the new name to the point that everyone knew him by it, even people from outside work.

          Ironically for this conversation, the name they gave him was ‘Christian’!

          Reply
        3. 2horseygirls

          In our group of high school friends, I was the only girl. When one of the guys started dating (and subsequently married) another Jennifer, we identified by last initials, then by the number of letters in the shortened form (she was 3 letters, I was 5).

          In response to OP: “No” is a complete (and HIGHLY appropriate) response.

          Moving along . . . :)

          Seriously? Just because she’s offended doesn’t automatically make her right. Bless her heart.

          Reply
  3. fposte

    Now I have this vision that she’s been doing this to a sequence of new hires, and that none of them are named what they were introduced to the OP as. Jerry, Jeff, and Jack are all really Jesús.

    Reply
      1. Stranger than fiction

        Ha I’ve joked with my boss about this whenever she gets resumes from someone with my name I’ve told her well you can’t hire another ____. But I’m joking.

        Reply
        1. TheLazyB (UK)

          I very rarely come across another [my name] in work. The one time I did she turned out to be weird as hell. I felt like she was polluting my name!

          Totally on board with refusing to employ any further iterations of your name :)

          Reply
          1. fposte

            There’s somebody with my name who works at the supermarket where I shop, and she is so bad at her job, and I’m personally offended by this.

            Reply
            1. LBK

              There’s an extremely horrible manager in another department who shares a first name with someone in my department. We’ve taken to calling her by a nickname so our coworker Jane’s ears aren’t burning every time we’re talking about what a stupid jackass Jane is.

              Reply
              1. Not So NewReader

                A boss had the same name as a coworker. We were discussing the coworker. Boss read our lips from across the room long enough to figure out the name being used and it rained in our lives.

                Reply
          2. Koko

            It’s so interesting to me how names can take on this association with traits of people you’ve known who had them. Just the other week I had a friend who reacted to some name or other being a potential baby name for a mutual friend, asking how you could possibly want to name your baby that. I had never personally known anyone with that name so I had no associations with it, but my friend had known 2 or 3 people with the name and not liked any of them, so she had a very negative take on the name!

            Reply
            1. Dr. Johnny Fever

              When my husband and I were expecting our son, we ran through dozens of names before we could agree, and it was due to this reason. So many kneejerk reactions. The odd thing was realizing just how many boys had teased me as I was growing up and how many associations I had made for those names.

              I work with many people from another culture (more from that culture than my own). All the favorable names that came to me were beautiful, but were going to raise quite a eyebrows since our son would not be from that culture, or really a part of their cultural practices. I was afraid that what would be meant as honor would get interpreted as appropriation.

              Reply
              1. reaching for the sky

                Yes, I think that unless you are really immersed in that culture, and really know it inside and out, naming your child a name from that culture would be viewed as appropriation for sure. I don’t really believe in cultural appropriation as a concept, but I speak multiple languages and I will laugh at you if you want to name your child “monkey” and you think it means something else. That’s the risk you take.

                Reply
                1. Tau

                  There’s also a lot of cultural issues regarding a name’s connotations which an outsider might not be aware of. Most commonly what generation a name is associated with and whether it rings as old-fashioned or completely archaic or what, but there can also be other things. E.g. in German there are a whole host of names that were very popular during Hitler’s regime, where meeting a younger person with that name nowadays would almost invariably make me wonder whether their parents are Neo-Nazis. Or particular names being associated with particular geographic regions or classes or subcultures – I guess an example for Americans would be typically African-American names?

                  So leaving cultural appropriation aside, I’d be quite careful picking a name from another culture unless I was really sure I understood all the connotations.

                2. Dr. Johnny Fever

                  Absolutely. I’m talking about Hindi culture – I’m aware enough of the translations in mother tongues and the practices behind selecting names to be aware that I would be in dangerous territory.

            2. LawBee

              I have the hardest time liking people named, let’s say LoulouBelle and Elinzabelle, as those were the names of the two girls who went from being my best friends in 6th grade to tormenting me in 7th. I just cannot get past it with those names. Ugh. I have turned down dates with LoulouBelles because – no. No lips of LoulouBelle will ever touch mine.

              Reply
        2. Kyrielle

          Several years ago, I *badly* wanted to hire someone because of their name. They were a decent candidate, but there were at least two better, so of course we weren’t going to – but I was sad they didn’t stand out more.

          We already had two women with nearly-identical names (I was one of them) and a man with a very similar name (our supervisor), and this gentleman used as the shortened form of his name, the same name the supervisor had. On a team that would’ve been 10-11 people at the time, it would’ve been hilarious and awesome. (I’d long since given up on worrying about the aggravation factor; the other woman and I in particular just got very used to transferring people when needed.)

          Reply
        3. Merry and Bright

          My first name isn’t rare but it’s always felt a bit old-fashioned because I’ve only met a few people in my generation with it. But I’ve never worked with another one at all but I quite like the idea of it. It has a few nicknames from it but I’m not so keen on having it shortened mainly because of a bad association with one of them.

          Reply
          1. AT

            I feel you on that. I’m a young lady with a very old-fashioned English name. The only other I’ve met was a Chinese exchange student at my secondary school whose teachers told her she needed to pick an English name, and who was big into steampunk. I’m into steampunk too, though, so there were no hard feelings.

            Reply
        4. Quru

          I encountered something like that as well when I worked remotely for a tiny startup. We met on a SILC chat and we had the rule to go by first name there. Someone asked how to handle the fact that someone else might be hired with the same name as an existing employee. The big boss joked that this would be prevented in hiring stage.

          Reply
    1. Lionness

      I work in a small department and we have Sarah, Sara and Sarai. We also have John, Jon and Jonathan. I keep telling people to screen for names…no one listens…..

      Reply
      1. Jules

        I also went to school with a Jenny Chan, Jeanie Chan, Junie Chan, and Jennie Chen….who were all very good friends.

        Come to think of it, this ‘multiples of names in the workplace’ seems to be quite common – three of the partners at a law firm I know of are called Mike (which usually leads someone at the office Christmas party into the Marx Brothers routine about the law firm called Windshieldwiper, Windshieldwiper, Windshieldwiper, and McCormick), and there are actually three Chris’s in my immediate family….my Mom, my Dad, and my brother in law….guess we need to widen the baby name pool!

        Reply
  4. Poohbear McGriddles

    I wonder if she feels the same way about Rex or Regina.
    For all she knows, the OP was named in honor of Dr. King.

    Reply
      1. Three Thousand

        I wouldn’t be surprised. A lot of unconscionable bigots seem to be getting bolder lately now that they know how much social support they have.

        Reply
    1. CMT

      I got excited for a second when I was reading this letter because I thought it must be Wednesday and we were all one day closer to the weekend.

      Reply
  5. AdAgencyChick

    I’m curious, what’s the advice for OP in the very likely event that he (I’m guessing OP is a he this time) shows up for work his first day to find that his email address is Firstname.Lastname at company dot com, despite the fact that he has explained that King is his name; he’s listed in the directory by his first name instead of his middle name, etc.

    Reply
    1. anonanonanon

      I was wondering this, too, since a lot of companies give email/directory/badge/etc names based on the legal first & last name instead of an employee’s preferred name. I’ve had a few coworkers over the years who go by their middle name like OP does, but all references in official work directories were by FirstName LastName.

      Reply
      1. JMegan

        Really? I go by my middle name, and it has never once been an issue. I don’t think any of my employers, up to and including my current one, have even been aware of my first name. My birth certificate, passport, drivers licence and health card all have my full name, but I’ve never used my first name on a resume or any other work-related document. It has just never come up, outside of the above situations.

        I’m not arguing with you, by the way! I believe you that it happens, just that it has never happened to me.

        Reply
        1. anonanonanon

          Oh, I believe it hasn’t happened to everyone. I think I’ve just worked at companies where they ask for your legal name on the job offer for background checks or whatnot. Maybe it’s an industry thing.

          My grandmother went by her middle name and I never even knew she did it until I was about 16.

          Reply
          1. JC

            My grandmother also goes by her middle name, and I completely forgot about it until I read your post! Even her checks have her middle name and not her legal first name on them.

            Reply
            1. Mabel

              Both my dad’s parents did this (went by their middle names). I assume the first names were family names, and the middle name was just for that particular child. Oh! I just realized my mom’s mom did this, too.

              Reply
            2. Aella

              My grandmother did, and her cheques and formal documents all said R. Huberta*. Meanwhile, my other grandmother changed her name to ‘Betty’ for a decade or so (informally) and my father was known by his middle name for some time after his birth.

              Family letters get really fun.

              *Neither of these are her actual names.

              Reply
          2. Jessica (tc)

            My paternal grandmother did as well. I have known as long as I can remember, because she would loudly tell everyone how much she hated her first name. ;-) I think they are both lovely names, but I wasn’t the one stuck with them, so I’ll respect her opinion.

            Reply
        2. JC

          I worked at a federal government agency where the email addresses were firstname.lastname, and they insisted that your email address and the name that shows up with your email are your full legal first and last names. I didn’t know anyone who went by their middle name there, and maybe they would have made an exception for them. But I did know someone who went by Randy but had to have Randolph in his email, for example, even though he argued about it.

          Reply
          1. ITChick

            It’s this way in a lot of places that have medical licenses too. Names in systems have to match your license for compliance and auditing purposes. People whine and I’m like if you really really dislike your name, you can change it pretty easily.

            Reply
            1. periwinkle

              I went by a nickname both personally and professionally since age 12 (I hated my old-lady legal first name and my middle name didn’t work as a first name). No problems, until I was hired by a hospital system that required legal first names only for email and ID badges. So I finally made the nickname legal and got a new badge. But they wouldn’t change my email address!

              Reply
          2. Mabel

            My company does this, too, and it’s really annoying. I argued with them, but I lost. I go by a variation of my legal first name, but my company insisted on using my legal first name in my email address. Fortunately I can use my first initial and last name as an email alias (i.e., mschnagel@company.com). Thank goodness the name I go by starts with the same letter as my legal first name!

            Otherwise my email signature would be really confusing:

            Mabel Schnagel
            mary.schnagel@company.com
            212-55 5-1212

            Reply
            1. reaching for the sky

              lol, my email signature looks something like that. Apparently, we also have a built in email alias which is a series of numbers. I’m on the verge of putting that in my signature, since 2342343@company is better than totally.wrong.name@company

              Reply
          3. Marcela

            Oh, that would be amusing to see with my very long name, something similar to Marcela Margarita Sepulveda Echeverría…

            Reply
        3. They do!

          I go by my middle name, and so does my husband. I have always been very aggressive about going by my middle name – my first name is an embarrassing ‘old lady’ name (think, Muriel, Ethel, etc.) that every time people find it out it becomes a funny joke. The first day of school every year in grade school with the roll call re-ignited the constant teasing, so as an adult I’ve always been very aggressive about pre-empting the situation during the onboarding process. Employers, Schools, etc. have all gotten the middle.last@teapots.com correct for me, but it has caused a few issues on background checks, etc. so I have to list several different ‘aliases’ to get all the various combos of my first, maiden; middle, maiden; first, married; middle, married correct.
          However, my husband at every school, and every employer except this most recent one, has always been first.last@teapots.com despite going by his middle. He always has had to have his signature be F. Middle so that people understand that he does not go by the first name. He’s also a shy/introvert type and doesn’t like to rock the boat, but his first name ISN’T an embarrassing one either.
          Then, I got married, and now have four names… I’ve made all friends/acquaintances/colleagues well aware of how ANNOYING it is and swear to not have a child go by their middle name.

          Reply
          1. simonthegrey

            This. C’mon, parents. Bury the family name in the middle and give the kid a name that is workable (or easy to shorten).

            Reply
              1. Anna

                One of my sisters goes by her middle name because my mom gave her an unusual spelling a very common name for her first name and then had doubts. My husband goes by his middle name because he was named for a great grandparent and “by God, that’s what he went by” even though he doesn’t like his middle name. I’ve asked him why he doesn’t go by his first name instead, but he just won’t.

                Reply
            1. Clevelander

              We did precisely that with our daughter, for this exact reason. My brother in law goes by a variant of his middle name (sometimes) and it’s confusing.

              We loved the combination of his grandmother/my mother, but it read…. as an ethnicity we are definitely not, and also she would have been spelling/explaining for all her days. We chose a different first, used the unusual family name in the middle.

              Reply
          2. Sof

            Just another perspective – there can be good reasons for parents to use a child’s middle name instead of first name. My younger brother was named after my dad’s little brother, who died very suddenly in his 20s either just before my brother was born or just after. It was too painful for my dad to call my brother by his dead brother’s name, so they swapped out for his middle name. Sometimes you can’t anticipate the effect a name will have on you.

            You never know!

            Reply
            1. reaching for the sky

              I knew someone who went by his middle name as an adult because his first name was the same as his dad’s (Jr/Sr situation). His dad was an abusive POS. This person also took his wife’s last name when they married, because he wanted nothing to do with his dad.

              Reply
          3. Michelle

            I have an uncle who did this to all of his children. I’m not even sure what my cousins’ first names are.

            And then my other aunt and uncle are vigilant about no nicknames. Alexander, not Alex!

            Reply
        4. Bailey Quarters

          It (the email address of firstname.lastname instead of preferredname.lastname) has been an issue for my husband and father, both of whom go by their middle names. I think it’s more common than not.

          Reply
        5. Koko

          I think one of the key things is initially applying with your middle name. Even if you then later provide your legal documents for background checks or taxes, they are already thinking of you as Middlename Lastname. Especially if there’s no background check, most employers don’t want your tax ID documents until the first day of work, and they’ve usually already got your email account set up by then. If up to that point you’ve never mentioned that you have a different first name they’ll have already created your logons and credentials with the name you actually go by.

          I think where a lot of people get tripped up is putting the first name that they don’t go by on their application or resume because they think they have to. Then they try to explain later they don’t really go by it, but the gears of bureaucracy are already in motion and now they’re having to go back and get things changed which is always harder.

          Reply
          1. They do!

            Yes. A colleague also goes by his middle name, but didn’t tell us at all through the interviewing, hiring process (I interviewed him and he let us call him ‘first’ the whole time).
            On his first day of work, he says oh I go by middle, can we change my email? No… do you know how much of a pain in the butt it was to get IT to make you an email in the first place? (of course we actually did request IT change it and they said no)
            Most of the time though you can change the name that shows up when you email someone. So even though your email might be first.last@teapots.com in our system it shows as “Last, First ” – but you can change whatever “First” is in your ‘profile’ pretty easily. So he just changed it to show as “Last, Middle ”
            Sometimes it’s confusing for people who only know him via email, but eh.

            Reply
            1. Vicki

              If it’s a pain to get IT to change an email address (assuming the new address is not already in existence), then Someone in Power needs to Speak Very Sternly to IT.

              Changing an email address is a Very Simple Process. Anyone who tells you otherwise is lying to you. It gets more complicated as time goes by, but then all they need to do is create an alias and both work.

              Do not let your IT department dictate terms just because they hold the keys to the server.

              Reply
              1. They do!

                Haha Someone In Power speaks very sternly to IT at our company on a regular basis… nothing changes. It’s not outsourced or anything so we do ‘speak’ the same language but it FEELS like we don’t… they don’t speak the language of ‘business.’
                I swear once I was on the phone with our helpdesk and I said, “ok how do I tell my manager to access the portal to approve the workflow” (he was traveling, wanted to give it to him quickly step by step for dummies). The IT guy said “via the intranet.” I said, “Yes, I understand that, but where exactly should I direct him?” The IT guy says, “To. The. INNNNTRAAANETTT.” Like I’m some kind of idiot! So I say, “Sir, I totally understand that. I am asking, specifically, WHERE ON THE INTRANET HE ACCESSES THAT. In fact, If you have a URL that I can just send him directly to. He is quite busy and doesn’t have the time to go poking around the intranet!”
                I get that a lot of times the issue is user error. I used to WORK for a software development company and we had to help desk for our clients (I was in sales, didn’t actually do the helpdesk stuff, but I heard stories from colleagues). But, don’t go into it assuming that the user is an idiot before that’s even confirmed.

                Reply
          2. reaching for the sky

            Yup, this. All this. Gears of bureaucracy is exactly it. Once you have the wrong name in the system, it is a pain in the ass to correct it. My coworker went by Jane Marriedname when she first started here, but got divorced within about 6 months of starting. Since then, she’s been Jane Maidenname legally. She has been working here about 4 years now and her email address is, to this day, jane.marriedname@company, and her last name was never corrected in the company directory (even though it is republished weekly). Her badge and computer logins all have the wrong name too. Jane finds it more humorous than anything, at least.

            Reply
        6. Traveler

          Yep. Has happened at most places I have been. Once place almost everyone went by their middle name but they all had firstname.lastname@teapots.inc. It was confusing when we had to send emails, or when we got a phone call for someone that they’d only been communicating with via email. As they’d ask for John Smith, when I only knew a (John) David Smith.

          Reply
      2. BethRA

        I think it’s different if that convention is applied to everyone, and not just in cases where someone else in the company pitches a fit.

        Reply
      3. Melissa

        I’m job hunting, and I’ve noticed that a lot of application systems ask for legal first and last, but also have a field for “preferred name.” I assume when filling out new employee forms, they are also given an opportunity to state a preferred name. It’s somewhat common for people to go by middle names or alternative names (e.g. having a Chinese name and an English name).

        Reply
      4. Blushingflower

        My company does “firstinitiallastname”, but if you professionally use a nickname (especially a non-obvious one) or your middle name, that will show up in your display name and be searchable in Outlook. So, in this case, let’s assume the person’s name is John King Smith.

        His email would be jsmith@company.email, but it would display as “Smith, John (King)”

        Reply
    2. KT

      I think it’s the same…my one employer refused to accept that I kept my maiden name after I was married, despite my application, license, background check, etc was all with my maiden name. I came in on my first day to find my computer log-in and email set to my husband’s last name.

      I politely but firmly said immediately–“there’s been a mistake. My name is KT Maiden name, not KT Husband Name. How quickly can that be fixed?”

      They were surprised, but I didn’t budge, and they changed it.

      Reply
        1. Gandalf the Nude

          Thank you, I thought the same thing. Did they go out of their way to find a name you don’t even use? That’s a new kind of ignorant.

          Reply
        2. KT

          On my emergency contact info they had me fill out I put my husband and listed him as “spouse”…so they just took his last name. It was really bizarre

          Reply
            1. yasmara

              Ha – my manager when I got married was relieved I wasn’t changing my name because it meant she didn’t have to bug the IT team for ages trying to get my ID’s fixed!

              Reply
          1. The Expendable Redshirt

            ……… 0_O The hell?
            (As a female who’s experienced backlash for keeping my maiden name, this makes me very irritated!)

            Reply
          2. Artemesia

            When I applied for a passport in the early 70s because my new husband and I wanted to travel, I was denied a passport in my own name. I had to use my husband’s name (I could list my name as AKA i.e. alias like a bank robber or something) I didn’t have the money to contest it, so we just didn’t get passports and travel until several years later when that policy changed. I had never used my husband’s name — but because I was married the US government was requiring me to do so.

            Reply
            1. Ellen

              I recently renewed my passport and was told that I _had_ to list “Ellen Husbandlastname” as an alias/”other name [I’d] used” on the application form, “just in case”. It doesn’t appear on the passport itself, which lists only my actual legal name (the one I’ve had since birth), but I found the policy totally mystifying.

              Reply
              1. Margaret

                What!! Were you renewing at an office in person? I need to renew my passport, for the first time since getting married, but am eligible to just mail in the form. I’m curious if there will be any issues because of that. I certainly am not putting my husband’s last name as an alias anywhere on it!

                Reply
                1. AnonLibrarian

                  There shouldn’t be. I am a passport agent, and we have never required that. With mailing in the form, you should be just fine, too.

                2. Ellen

                  I do see that AnonLibrarian’s already answered from an official (and reassuring!) perspective, but I just wanted to let you know that I did renew in person (needed a rush renewal) and the agent made me add the name when I was submitting the paperwork.

                1. Ellen

                  Interesting and good to know. The woman’s stated (maybe implied? It’s what I took away, at any rate) was that I might someday try to execute a nefarious identity change using my husband’s last name. That’s not totally off the wall to me, from a preventing-nefarious-things perspective (it would be the obvious choice if someone wanted a clean break in identity, I guess), but I’d think that concern would apply similarly to a man, and I just 100% do not believe that that agent would have made a man do the same thing.

            2. Kappa

              When I went to change my name to Kappa Lastname-Husband’sLastName, the guy at the social security office told me he didn’t think his computer could put the “little dash thingy” in there. I told him I was pretty sure it could. He chuckled one of those “you crazy broads” chuckles. I got my damn hyphen.

              Reply
          3. Vicki

            Deep South USA? Or maybe Utah?

            (In 1988 or so, I read about a woman in Utah who got divorced. The court required her ex-husband to give permission for her to change her name back to Premarried Name.)

            Reply
        3. BTW

          If she had to fill out any sort of paperwork for the job, her husband’s name probably would have come up somewhere. (Emergency contacts, benefits etc.) And if not, well then that’s just creepy. (And yes, ignorant that they would just *do* that in the first place)

          Reply
      1. Ad Astra

        My office gave me some trouble when I tried to go by Firstname Maidenname Lastname because Maidenname was now technically my middle name and nobody else got to go by Firstname Middlename, so how could they allow me? Dumb, but not as dumb as changing your name without running it past you.

        Reply
        1. Bostonian

          I managed a directory for an organization of a few hundred people, and I never knew how to alphabetize people who turned their maiden names into their middle names in our system that only had fields for first and last. For some people it really did seem to serve as a middle name, but for others it was more like a double last name but with no hyphen. I’m totally fine with people calling themselves what they like, but I wish we had better ways to handle these things in automated systems.

          Reply
          1. class factotum

            My husband’s first name is “Christopher.” He has preferred status with Hertz. Every time we pick up a rental car, the sign has the car for “LASTNAME Christ.”

            He is not Christ. (Although his mother sure thinks so.)

            Reply
            1. Career Counselorette

              Hahahaha, my friend Christa accidentally signed her name as “Christ” on a mass e-mail to like 40 people, and immediately had to be like, “Sorry, guys, I am not Christ, I apologize,” and I was like, “It’s fine, I love laughing so hard I pee my pants.”

              Reply
              1. Elizabeth West

                The character in my ghost book is named Chris, and I must have typed “Christ” a hundred times by accident. I had to do a search to make sure I didn’t leave any, because spellcheck wouldn’t mark it!

                Reply
                1. Emily, admin extraordinaire

                  I do that all. the. time. And what’s so weird, is that I don’t really type the word Christ all that often– at least not since I got out of college and stopped taking religion classes– but still. I start typing “Chris” and always, always, want to stick on that T. So annoying. . .

                2. reaching for the sky

                  Back in college, I once wrote a lab report on ultraviolent spectroscopy. I kept typing “ultraviolent” instead. The spellcheck preferred “ultra-violent” which didn’t help. I ultimately gave up and had Word autocorrect ultraviolent to ultraviolet. Suprisingly, I was far from the only person who had this problem, some of my lab-mates had the same problem.

                3. reaching for the sky

                  Oh hell no. I just made the exact typo I was referring to in my first line. Apparently it’s still happening.

          2. Ad Astra

            Yeah, that makes sense. My office was cool with it when they thought my last name was Maidenname Lastname, like a hyphenated name but… without the hyphen. When I tried to explain that legally, Maidenname is one of my two middle names, they were having none of it.

            Most of my life I’ve been called Firstname Maidenname, to the point that many people actually thought it was a double name like Mary Kate. So I was a little miffed that they insisted on calling me Firstname Lastname.

            Reply
            1. AW

              Having two middle names is common enough that I’m surprised at how many systems aren’t set up to handle it. It’s a pet peeve of mine that almost everything only allows for the one middle initial.

              Reply
              1. KSM

                My brother-in-law has 4-6 middle names (I forget how many; I used to be able to recite it).

                He must be forever in bureaucracy hell.

                Reply
              2. NotherName

                In the US it really isn’t as common as you’d think. (People do have multiple middle names, but most I’ve known have only one.)

                However, I remember some of my friends in school getting a hard time for not having a middle name when their parents were immigrants from a culture that only gave one middle name.

                Reply
                1. Anonsie

                  I think this is generational. I’m in my 20s and almost everyone I grew up with in predominantly middle/upper class yuppie white people-land has a minimum of four names. Usually it’s two given names, mother’s last name, and father’s last name (I had a minor identity crisis when I realized that automatically making your “last” name your father’s name is patriarchal, but also deeply disliking my mom’s last name). I actually think it’s weird when I meet people with only three names. I use my first middle initial on forms, to keep from confusing myself.

                2. MegEB

                  Definitely not universal. I grew up in a pretty similar white middle/upper class environment and I can’t think of a single person who has more than three names.

                3. Smilingswan

                  My mom doesn’t have a middle name, but it has nothing to do with cultural reasons. She was 4th out of 8 kids and her mom just couldn’t think of one at the time. Her siblings all have middles though.

                4. Al Lo

                  My sister and I each have one middle name, but my brother, the only boy, has two middle names, to get through all the boy family names. In my family, two middle names isn’t super common, but there’s more than one. Going by a middle name is much more common in my extended family, though, and it’s on all different sides of the family.

                1. reaching for the sky

                  I agree, it should never be required! I do have a middle name, but if I didn’t, I’d have to go all Harry S Truman on the system.

          3. bclplyr

            For me, my maiden name is now my legal middle name, and my original middle name has vanished (I was ambivalent toward it, so I didn’t mind just getting rid of it). But I specifically did not hyphenate because I didn’t want to be tied into writing out both last names on everything (which, including the hyphen, would be 17 characters long).

            So while I do often use my full name in my creative pursuits as my “official” name, in everyday life I’m completely fine with leaving out my middle name.

            Reply
            1. reaching for the sky

              Me too. I’ve changed all 3 names as an adult (not because of marriage) and even though I really like all 3 names, and my middle name was chosen for very personal reasons, I usually leave my middle name and initial off where I can. My company email address doesn’t need to be first.l.lastname@ when it could just be first.lastname@. And for that reason I try to leave it blank where it’s optional.

              Reply
          4. Jessica (tc)

            My last name actually isn’t a middle name, so I do have two last names without a hyphen: Jessica Middle Mine His. He is Husband Middle Mine His as well, so we both have the double last name with no hyphen. The number of people who can’t understand that is frightening, and it’s frustrating to both of us when we have to tell businesses or workplaces many times that no, really, we have two last names. It’s legal and everything. *sigh*

            And for some reason, people take my husband’s bachelor-portion of our last name and completely change it (like Gilman to Garamond or similar), and I can’t really figure out why it’s so hard to look at what I write down on employment papers and forms to figure out my name. If a line just asks me to list my name without distinguishing where first, middle, and last go, I always write it as Last1 Last2, First MI. Always. It does help for the places that care enough to pay attention.

            Reply
            1. Kappa

              People are dumb sometimes. My last name is now hyphenated and no one can figure out how it should be filed. It should go under the first letter of my last name! Jones-Smith still begins with a damn J.

              Reply
              1. Jessica (tc)

                Oh my goodness, yes! I feel your pain on that one, too. Why would it ever be filed under the second one? Just go with the one that’s first.

                The number of times we go to pick something up (or try to vote) and end up saying, “My last name is Mine His. My first name is Jessica.” And they go to look up our last name under His. I’m not under H, I’m under M! I’m glad that the original person filed it correctly, but I get frustrated when the person in front of me doesn’t listen to what I’m saying. (Or vice versa, when the original person filed it incorrectly and the person getting it for me paid attention.)

                Reply
                1. potato battery

                  Yes yes yes. I also have this problem, having an unhyphenated, double-barreled last name. People don’t get it, things get filed incorrectly, and so many systems/algorithms can’t handle it. And people ask me “well why didn’t you just put a hyphen in?” We didn’t want a hyphen! This is our name; we can do what we like!

                2. Jessica (tc)

                  We feel the exact same way, potato battery! My husband keeps saying the same thing, and it’s not like we are the first or only people in the world who have two last names without a hyphen between them. We don’t want the hyphen either! We’ve even had people ask us, “You’re allowed to do that?” (meaning, are we really allowed to have two last names without a hyphen between them?), and I just don’t know how to respond to that beyond, “What law do you think covers that?!”

              2. YaH

                I have to say, it’s not that clear-cut sometimes. I have a coworker with a hyphenated last name, but everyone refers to her as Mrs. Secondhalfoflastname, and she encourages it.

                Reply
                1. Kappa

                  A hyphenated name should be filed under the first letter of the last name. If you call yourself something different, that’s your preference, but if you hyphenated it legally, then your legal last name begins with the first letter of the first last name. I don’t mind if people refer to my husband and I as “The Hislastnames”, but when I go to the doctor’s office, I expect my name to be filed in a way that makes sense.

            1. literateliz

              “People whose names break my system are weird outliers. They should have had solid, acceptable names, like 田中太郎.”

              This makes me laugh every single time.

              Reply
          5. Melissa

            I had this problem – I’m Eliza Doolittle Smith. So at work I just go by Eliza Doolittle because it’s easier for alphabetizing and finding me in the director.

            Reply
        2. TCO

          My name is this way, and I’ve been surprised that it’s never caused a problem anywhere I’ve worked, big or small. My e-mail address is usually set to just include my legal (married) last name, but I can easily adapt the directory, the sender name on my e-mails, etc. to include my full name. No one’s ever questioned why I don’t go by only my first and last legal name.

          Reply
        1. KT

          I wish I could say this was anomaly. I’ve had several friends who have returned from their honeymoon to find their email changed automatically to their husband’s names (different companies!) without their consent/go-ahead.

          Reply
          1. KathyGeiss

            This is absolutely crazy to me and fills me with such rage! I’m so sorry this happened to you. I’m also impressed you didn’t flip your desk hulk-style when it happened. You have more control than I.

            Reply
          2. CMT

            Wooooooooooooow. Name changing is a sensitive issue for me, for reasons I don’t need to go into here, and I would FLIP OUT if this happened to me.

            Reply
          3. MashaKasha

            Wow that was pretty quick of them. When I changed my last name back to my maiden name, I was told that it was not possible to change… I forget which one – my Windows login, my email address, or both. But the gist of it is that it was not possible to change that thing, like, ever.

            Reply
          4. Jessica (tc)

            Whaaaaa….? Seriously? That ticks me off! I kept track of a database where I had to change people’s names and/or email addresses if they changed their names. If I knew a coworker was getting married, I would ask if he/she was changing his/her name. Yes, both men and women. If they were, I would get the new name and ask them when I should make the change in the system, so I wasn’t changing it randomly and freaking them out.

            (I think it was partially because my husband and I had both changed our names, so I’m a little sensitive to the fact that others may do something non-traditional. Luckily, my last boss understood it, too, because she and her husband had also both changed their names to both.)

            Reply
            1. Ad Astra

              I wish the idea of both spouses changing their names would catch on more. I like being Mrs. Astra and being able to call my family “The Astras,” but I don’t like that I had (well, “had”) to give up my name and my husband got to keep his.

              Reply
              1. reaching for the sky

                I wish alternatives to “wife must take husband’s name” would catch on more, too. It seems to be so much of a default in society (culture dependent) that people don’t usually consider alternatives, such as an entirely new last name (amalgam of the two names, or completely unrelated), hyphenation, two last names, etc. In some cases, it may be more desired or practical for a husband to take his wife’s name, too. I feel like there is also some shame for a woman to keep her maiden name, one of my coworkers says she “forgot” to change her last name to her husband’s but has privately told me she didn’t want to (my coworkers are very pushy about the marriage/family stuff).

                Reply
              2. Melissa

                I wish my husband and I had chosen a cool new last name together and both changed. My original last name is pretty blah and his/ours is even blah-er.

                Reply
              3. Jessica (tc)

                I was shocked that there were several people at my last job who had done this, because I had never met another person who did what we did (and still haven’t outside that job). We went through the whole amalgam of ideas for what to do with our last name (we wanted the same one, but neither wanted to just take the other person’s name), including creating a new one out of the two, but the only one that made the most sense for what we really wanted was to have both of us just take both last names.

                Reply
          5. Margaret

            I was seriously worried about coming back from my honeymoon to a new computer log-in (my husband and I both kept our names) – because I think I’m literally the only woman (or spouse of a male employee) in an 85-person firm to keep my birth last name upon getting married, and no one in IT or the firm partners or HR asked me about my “new name” ahead of time. So it seemed very feasible they were just assuming the usual, and had gotten my husband’s last name from somewhere. Fortunately, they didn’t, and although several people asked me what to call me now when they saw me in person in the office, I didn’t have to deal with anything on the computer side.

            Reply
      2. JC

        That is totally crazy! I’ve been married for years now (and do not share a last name with my husband) and I would be so genuinely confused if I showed up to the first day of a new job with my husband’s last name entered as my last name. Like, I’d have to stare at it for a while to figure out what even happened, because I am so not used to seeing my first name with his last name. Well-meaning people made the mistake soon after we got married but no one has in a long time.

        Reply
  6. TCO

    I have a relative whose first and middle names essentially translate to “King King,” from languages that are common in his country. It’s so… weird to object to that. Lots of people around the world are named for powerful and/or religious figures. In addition to Jesus mentioned above, a lot of Arabic men’s names roughly translate to “son of God,” and while I understand that it’s more deferential than something like King, it’s not like a coworker can complain that they don’t want to use words for God or acknowledge God’s existence when they call their coworker by name or something like that.

    Reply
  7. Snarkus Aurelius

    She carries so much weight because she’s the squeakiest wheel, and she used a term that will make any company leadership nervous: violation of religious beliefs.  Obviously they haven’t thought through this, and they’re being totally reactionary.  That’s unprofessional and unacceptable to you though.  They’re asking you to make a major accommodation to someone else’s egregiously inappropriate request.

    No matter what happens, I hope you keep this incident and request in mind when moving forward.  Your employer’s request here speaks volumes.  (And not good ones.)  It also wouldn’t hurt to have an employment attorney’s contact information on hand, not to confront anyone, but to use as a valuable source of information to guide you.

    AAM is totally right.  You need to push back and push back big time because if you don’t, I hate to see what else offends this employee.  Hopefully there will be an update from you soon!

    Reply
    1. Engineer Girl

      I see several things wrong:
      * The company is confusing offense with violation. Religious accommodation deals with what violates our religious beliefs, not offends them. Employee should be able to vocalizes how it violates her belief system (not offend it).
      * This is about reasonable accommodation. Demanding that another individual change their name is not reasonable.
      * Even with reasonable accommodation there is usually give by both parties to make it work (I’ll work during your kids soccer games if you work on my Sabbath.

      The employee is doing none of these things except making demands on others. Push back.

      Reply
      1. Snarkus Aurelius

        This is a fantastic point. I’d love to see how this employee would answer the question: how does the name King prevent you from practicing your faith?

        Seriously there is no answer to that.

        Reply
    2. Poohbear McGriddles

      That’s got to make it hard hiring good people.

      Had to get rid of Michael and Gabriel (Angels), Mary and Joseph, and Damien.

      And don’t get her started on Gaylord the Temp!

      Reply
    3. neverjaunty

      ALL of this. Especially the part about having an employment lawyer’s number in your contacts.

      This smacks of a company that is run by spineless idiots.

      Reply
  8. KT

    …I just…what?

    OP, run, run away (common theme so far this week!). This employer has already shown themselves to be completely crazy, unreasonable, and that they cater to petty weirdness. Save yourself while you can!!!

    Reply
    1. Cautionary tail

      Exactly my thoughts. This company is already showing you their true colors so the best time to run is now before you get sucked into the dysfunctional toxic company vortex.

      I speak from experience.

      Reply
  9. Brett

    Makes me wonder if they have ever refused to hire someone named Jesús because of the impact it would have on this employee….
    While King does not seem connected to a particular ethnicity, making employment decisions on the basis of someone’s name seems like a really easy way to end up on the wrong side of a discrimination lawsuit.

    Reply
    1. RVA Cat

      Oh yeah. I can definitely see this person causing Jesús to not even get to the interview stage – and I’m guessing Mohammed need not apply….

      Reply
      1. Stranger than fiction

        I’m sure she also protests the artists Prince and Lorde. God forbid anyone ever listened to their music at this place.

        Reply
    2. AnotherAlison

      I have a coworker whose legal name is Saint. He doesn’t go by that, though. Perhaps he previously worked with the OP’s troublemaking coworker. . .

      Reply
      1. Dynamic Beige

        That was one of the things about Jane Eyre that I didn’t get. His name was Saint-John, but it was pronounced Sinjin? What?

        Reply
  10. NickelandDime

    I have questions…Is this is a small company? I don’t see this flying at a larger organization. Did they describe themselves as “close-knit,” or a “family” during the interview process? Did you see other signs of boundary problems while talking with them? Is the employee making this request a family member, fellow church member or family friend?

    Reply
    1. BethRA

      I don’t know – I’ve seen crazy ish like this happen in large companies, usually within specific departments or offices.

      Reply
      1. anon for this

        was just going to say…I work for a very large company and this describes my department to a tee… they didn’t describe themselves as “family” or “work together, play together” until after I was hired….but my coworkers are all boundary violators, I’m very uncomfortale

        Reply
    1. The Cosmic Avenger

      I think they need to run anyway. The company already dropped the ball by 1) not telling the crazy coworker to go suck a rock, and 2) then legitimizing the craziness by telling the OP to change their name!

      Although I do wonder if the crazy coworker is simply insisting that everyone simply call the OP something else at work. Still crazy, but of a slightly lesser degree. I just can’t get my mind around it if they are actually suggesting that the OP legally change their name.

      Reply
              1. Florida

                His W2 would have his legal name. If your name was Christopher Jones, but you went by Chris, your W2 would most likely say Christopher.

                Reply
          1. Nina

            I also thought they wanted the OP to legally change it, but I think that’s from reading the headline.

            And I’m borrowing “suck a rock.” LOL.

            Reply
          2. Owl

            I think it’s pretty clear. The OP says that she’s been told she “cannot use it.” She doesn’t say anything about being told to “change” it.

            Reply
  11. Biff

    I also wonder if there is a racial element here. Probably.

    But…. I know that we are assuming that the fellow’s middle name is Jesus, so I wonder if it’s something else such as Odin or Zeus or the name of another pagan god. I can see people being potentially uncomfortable with those. And honestly, for good reason. Those aren’t really appropriate names to give a child, they belong to deities that people still worship. I’ll step up to the plate here and say I’d be uncomfortable with that. I wouldn’t necessarily say anything, but it would be uncomfortable until I got used to it.

    Reply
    1. Ad Astra

      Do people still worship Odin or Zeus? I guess it’s possible. It’s actually pretty common to be named for Greek, Roman, or Norse gods. I know more than one person named Thor (really). King is such a common last name that the idea of objecting to it as a first name is pretty out there. King is not the proper name of any particular deity; it’s a title, just like Prince or Sultan or Emperor.

      I wouldn’t recommend naming your get God or Yahweh or Allah, but I also don’t see how doing so would be a violation of anyone’s rights.

      Reply
              1. ZSD

                Catholics don’t really pray to Mary as a deity. We ask her to intercede on our behalf to God. It’s the same with other saints; they aren’t supposed to grant your prayers directly, but rather ask God to grant your prayers. (But I’ll admit this gets kind of muddled in practice.)

                Reply
                1. Chinook

                  “Catholics don’t really pray to Mary as a deity. We ask her to intercede on our behalf to God.”
                  “Ah, so they’re lobbyists!”
                  Essentially and Mary has the biggest pull because who won’t do something if their mother asks?

                  (commenting just to hear the update on this)

      1. Biff

        Yes, people still worship those gods. And yes, it’s not entirely uncommon to find people named after those gods. That doesn’t mean it’s not uncomfortable to call your coworker the same name you pray to at night. I realize that some of the names, especially the names of goddesses, have entered the ‘name pool’ so to speak — Diana, Artemis, and I think Freyja…. but I think it is one of those “when you know better, you do better” things.

        Like I said, I’d get used to it, but it would be uncomfortable and I can see asking someone to go by their perfectly valid first name.

        Reply
        1. Ask a Manager Post author

          Wait, you can really seeing asking someone to go by their first name even though they’ve gone by their middle name their entire life, that’s what they answer to, and that’s how everyone knows them? Why, specifically?

          Reply
          1. Biff

            Yep. If you came to my place of business with the first name of “Hades” and was otherwise qualified, I’d ask if you had a nickname or a middle name by which you could go while at work.”Hades” wouldn’t fly with me.

            Reply
              1. Biff

                Allison, people were asking how anyone could have an issue with an employee name, and I provided a little bit of insight into that. Right or wrong, it’s how I feel about christian culture and the recent craze for appropriating pagan gods’ names as first name.As my reward, I’m getting jumped on. I really don’t care to continue in this thread. You can email me if you’d like to get those whole kit and kaboodle as a several paragraph essay.

                Reply
                1. Ask a Manager Post author

                  I don’t think you’re getting jumped on as much as a large number of people are genuinely confused about the stance you’re taking and are trying to get a better understanding of why you’re saying what you’re saying (and still not really getting it — I know I’m not!). But of course you don’t need to continue engaging if you’d rather not.

                2. neverjaunty

                  You’re being disagreed with because you’re taking a perfectly reasonable argument – “I am uncomfortable that people from the dominant faith trivialize minority faiths by treating their gods as cute sources of nicknames” – and turning it into a completely ridiculous premise, i.e. “Therefore, it is appropriate for me to insist that somebody use a different name to accommodate my discomfort”.

                3. Emma

                  What if it was switched? What if their first name was Odin, Freya, Jesus, Hera, Ares, or Allah? Would you demand they then go by their “perfectly legitimate” middle name?

            1. Brandy in TN

              And Id say “nope my name is my name” And don’t try to give a nickname for this purpose. In the words of Popeye “I yam who I yam”

              Reply
            2. Not me

              I could understand being bothered by it, silently, to yourself, if it’s your own religion, but no, you don’t get to re-name people.

              Reply
            3. Snarkus Aurelius

              But that’s not your choice to make. Ever. You don’t ever get to decide what someone else is called unless it’s your own child.

              Reply
            4. Kvaren

              You’re saying that if you were a Christian named Christian, and your new boss was some sort of dude with hangups similar to yours but with a twist – he’s not a Christian, you’d be totally fine with it if the boss demanded that you use a different name?

              Reply
        2. dancer

          I think you’re totally off-base here and it’s just your hang up. My mother and my grandmother both have the names of actively worshipped gods. It would be nuts to ask them to go by different names. And no, it is definitely not a “they should know better” situation.

          Reply
        3. PontoonPirate

          I can’t see asking anyone to go by a different name because of my inability to reconcile that the world (and its gods) doesn’t revolve around my sensibilities. I don’t see how “knowing better, doing better” comes into play here at all.

          I wouldn’t ask “Oscar” to go by “Jim” just because I once may have had a different sort of nightly activity with someone named Oscar, but that’s sort of a parallel to what you’re suggesting.

          Reply
          1. JessaB

            I think they meant at the parents naming babies stage, not at the kid is an adult now and going to get a job. Honestly as a worshipper of Gods people consider dead in large amounts, I would absolutely not be all “omg you have to change your name there,” with anybody. Christians name their kids Jesus. I cannot see why a pagan who names their kid Hera is any darned different to that. If the Gods minded, they’d’ve let us know eons ago. That, BTW includes the Judeo/Christian/Muslim God too. If the Gods/gods don’t care, then the people should not either.

            Reply
            1. neverjaunty

              Biff is not talking about a pagan who names their kid Hera as a mark of respect. He is talking about a Christian naming their kid Hera because they think it’s cool and Hera’s a fake god anyway. He feels, understandably, that this practice is disrespectful.

              That’s not the problem. The problem is that he’s then saying people ought to go by a different name than, you know, the actual name they freaking use, out of respect for his sensibilities. That’s BS.

              Reply
              1. LBK

                I don’t even know if I agree that that’s an understandable position, either. I’m 50/50 on whether I agree that names are so culturally enshrined that using them rises to the level of appropriation (unless part of the culture itself is around the importance of those specific names as opposed to those just being the names that happen to be used).

                Reply
                1. neverjaunty

                  It doesn’t matter whether you or I agree with someone else’s subjective feelings on the topic. What matters is that it isn’t appropriate to tell William Odin Smith, who has gone by Odin his entire life, that he needs to start calling himself William or Bill.

                2. LBK

                  I mean, it kinda matters – if you subjectively believe the person’s reasoning isn’t sound and you’re in the position of authority to grant the request, you can deny it based on that even if the request itself were reasonable. In this case the request isn’t reasonable either, but that’s not the only thing that matters in every situation.

                3. LBK

                  Right, and I acknowledged that. I was just saying that in general, it’s not only the request being made that matters – the reasoning is also a factor.

              2. SJ McMahon

                I’m a practicing polytheist pagan, and I’m afraid I disagree with Biff on this. I’d internally raise my eyebrows at such at thing – mainly because naming a child after a deity is one hell of a burden to give them, even if you think that deity only exists in myth. Names, mythical or otherwise, have the power to shape how people are seen, and how they act.

                But I’d keep that to myself, and I’d *never ever ever* ask that someone not use their given name around me. I mean, I think Hades (to go with one of the examples given) is real, but the person sitting in front of me, whose given name is Hades, is also real. Asking this person to not use his given name would be disrespectful. Any potential disrespect entailed in this person having and using that name is for them to work out. Not me.

                Reply
                1. NotherName

                  Also, there are many, many people in this world with the names of the ancient Greek and Roman gods, so I think Biff is fighting a losing battle. (Like Sisyphus…)

                  It’s not uncommon for people of Scandinavian heritage to have names based on the Norse gods. Thor is more common than Odin, and I’ve known of at least one Hella.

                2. Dr. Johnny Fever

                  I work with many people of Hindu faith. I can’t imagine asking any of them to go by a different name due to religious significance. Naming children after gods, goddesses, and avatars is a sign of honor and respect. Asking someone to go by a different name because I think someone might get offended at working with someone named Krishna just doesn’t compute in my brain.

                  I’m having the same difficulty with King especially since King is an honorary and not an actual name.

                3. Not So NewReader

                  “Names, mythical or otherwise, have the power to shape how people are seen, and how they act.”

                  There are many schools of thought that believe this. One person pointed out to me that the same rule goes with animals, too. I had to check this out. My dog’s name translates to “friend”. He is six years old, now. And yep, he tries to be a friend to everyone. Not a big scientific study here and I have a group of ONE dog. But I found the concept interesting and I wanted to see what happens on a casual level. The wrinkle here is that growing up he was the kind of pup NO one would want. I am not sure how we got through the first year or so. I do believe his name served as a reminder of where he was going to land once he reached adulthood. Now he has a mix of behaviors, crafty, wise-guy stuff, then there are the huge energy bursts but there are random times through out the day where he is incredibly sweet and respectful of others. I like the idea of a name that sets a tone or has a vision/goal behind it.

            2. PontoonPirate

              Above, the commenter says he (assumption based on username) would ask an employee named “Hades” to go by something else, so we’re not talking about naming babies, unfortunately.

              Reply
              1. Dr. Johnny Fever

                I work with many people of Hindu faith. I can’t imagine asking any of them to go by a different name due to religious significance. Naming children after gods, goddesses, and avatars is a sign of honor and respect. Asking someone to go by a different name because I think someone might get offended at working with someone named Krishna just doesn’t compute in my brain.

                I’m having the same difficulty with King especially since King is an honorary and not an actual name.

                Reply
        4. LBK

          I’m really confused here – what in scripture would indicate that you can’t even use the same term for someone else that you might use for Jesus? Even if the person’s name were literally Jesus, it’s not like that violates the commandment of false idolatry because you’re obviously not worshiping your coworker. How did you even deal with learning world history?

          Reply
        5. JMegan

          As I said above, I go by my middle name as well. And I would push back pretty hard on the idea that my first name is “perfectly valid.” It is indeed a perfectly valid name, and in fact a very common one, but it’s not MY name. No one in my entire life has ever called me by that name, I have never used it, and would not know to respond to it.

          I do need to use it occasionally for things that need to match my legal documents (international travel, which requires that the name on the ticket matches the name on my passport.) But using it at work because someone else was uncomfortable with it? Nope.

          Reply
          1. They do!

            Same. My ‘old lady name’ is known to TSA Agents, Doctors’ Offices, and the IRS/HR department of companies I’ve worked for. Beyond that, no one knows or should ever know that I have a perfectly reasonable first name. People just assume my middle name IS my first name…
            Which it is, for all intents and purposes (not all intensive purposes, for people who get phrases wrong). I even use my Middle Maiden Last as my initials (technically I have two middle names with my maiden being one of them) and my monogram. The First name is literally not on ANYTHING else.

            Reply
        6. LQ

          Why is your slight amount of discomfort more important than the likely large amount of discomfort that it would be to suddenly expect a person to respond to a different name. How would you feel if someone came in and said Biff, I hate that name because the guy from Back to the Future was a horrible jerk, I need you to change your name. Just use your perfectly valid middle name. It’s fine. My little bit of discomfort outweighs your actual name.

          Reply
        7. crankycube

          If you are uncomfortable calling someone by their first name, you could simply address them as Ms./Mr. Lastname. They keep their name as they should, and you keep your “religious freedom.”

          Reply
          1. Stranger than fiction

            That’s actually a great workaround, even though this company and coworker have left a very bad taste in my mouth.

            Reply
          2. They do!

            Hmm actually now that I think about it, there is someone at work who refers to me as Ms. Lastname. My first name is vaguely associated with religion/dieties and this person is fairly religious. I’ve always thought it was a somewhat nice/affectionate almost nickname aspect of our very good working relationship – it’s usually pronounced with a drawn out mizzzz Last name. He has no issues referring to me by my preferred name in writing or anything, and I’m not even sure he says Ms. Lastname EVERY time we talk, I just am remembering it now that you mention it.

            Reply
          3. Dynamic Beige

            They keep their name as they should, and you keep your “religious freedom.”

            That’s the thing I just don’t get. No one is asking The Name Objector to change *her* name to Hera or Kali or whatever. No one is asking her to worship or obey the dictates of King. No one is saying she’s not free to worship whatever and however she wants. So how is it that what someone she never met chose to name their kid is infringing on her freedom? It’s not like they consulted her when the baby was born what would be a “proper” non-offensive name to people like herself.

            OP, if you decide to keep this job, next time you see her, tell her that she can call you He Who Must Not Be Named. That’ll solve it! ;)

            Reply
        8. HRish Dude

          Biff, as a Back to the Future fan, I’m going to naturally consider you a person with dubious morals unless you go by something else.

          Reply
            1. Ani

              My dad had a Husky named King. The newspaper did an article when he was a young boy and the dog followed him to school and waited patiently for him outside.

              Reply
      2. anonanonanon

        I actually did have a slightly eccentric classical archaeology professor in college who claimed to worship the Norse gods. But I went a school in an incredibly hippie, liberal area and our classics and archaeology departments were kind of insane, so it wasn’t all that surprising.

        Reply
        1. The Cosmic Avenger

          Asatru may have only experienced a revival relatively recently, but is not that uncommon or unusual. At least, not for the last few decades. And not if you hang out with pagans a lot.

          Reply
          1. AnonEMoose

            Agreed. And those of us who are pagan (although not, in my case, specifically Asatru), generally don’t appreciate having our religions described as “insane.”

            Reply
            1. Batshua

              I believe anonanonanon described the classics and archaeology departments as insane, not the professor nor their religion. I’m not sure anonanonanon meant for the readers to apply the transitive property of insanity to the statements.

              Reply
      3. AnonEMoose

        Absolutely they do. Simplistically speaking, Asatru worship the old Norse pantheon, and Hellenic practitioners worship the Greek pantheon. Some Neo-pagans who aren’t technically either of those may, as well. There are also people who worship the Egyptian pantheon, various deities from Celtic traditions, and loads of others.

        Reply
    2. Kelly L.

      No, his name is literally “King.” “Jesus” is an analogy people are drawing, since it’s another name that relates to religion but that regular people sometimes have.

      Reply
      1. sam

        Also, this isn’t *that* unusual. Besides the numerous references people have made to folks who are named Jesus in the real world, celebrities such as Madonna and Prince are not using stage names. Those are their ACTUAL names.

        Shortened to leave off their last names since they’re so famous, but those are the given names on their birth certificates.

        Reply
    3. jhhj

      I didn’t realise a lot of people worship Zeus still, but Freya and Athena are quite commonly used names.

      Not to mention Roman goddesses — Venus, Diana, Maia, Juno.

      Reply
    4. Xanthippe Lannister Voorhees

      His middle name is King.

      But even if you’re uncomfortable with someone naming their child after a religious figure/deity you don’t get to demand that person doesn’t use their name (which you acknowledge). Are we sure that there were no people in ancient Greece being named after the gods on Olympus*? It seems to be an old tradition.

      *Asking honestly. I tried to do some quick research but just found myself a pile of baby name meaning sites.

      Reply
      1. Biff

        To the best of my knowledge, they had names like “Honor of Zeus” and that sort of thing, but I don’t know that any of them ran around with “Zeus” or “Hera” as names. However, heroes were fair game, and I think it’s fine to name your kid after ancient heroes.

        Reply
        1. neverjaunty

          But we’re not really talking about whether it is or isn’t appropriate for parents to select particular names. You’re dealing with a person who already has – and goes by – that name, and you’re demanding they use a different name because you don’t like what their parents did.

          Reply
        2. SJ McMahon

          I think the issue here is that what you or I think is appropriate isn’t really relevant. If I met someone named Loki, or Eris or Hades or any number of other deity’s names, I’d think “WTF were your parents thinking” but I would not ask that they use their middle name. Even if it made me uncomfortable – which, to be honest, it probably would. But that’s not their problem. It’s mine.

          We’re entitled to have whatever beliefs we have, but our rights really do stop where another person’s start – and any person has the right to keep using their given name, no matter what we think of it.

          Reply
      2. anonanonanon

        The Greeks & Romans did, but they were usually theophoric names, such as Demetria for Demeter, Hermione for Hermes, or Martin for Mars. They were also named after epic/cult heroes such as Jason, Hector, Atalanta, etc. Unless I’m mistaken, they never took the name of a god directly, just a derived form, but popularity of a name in a certain year or area showed the popularity of that god or hero.

        Though, a derivation of theos (Greek for god) was common and that practice was Anglicized into names like Theodore or Theodora. Same with names like Dennis, which is an Anglicized form of Dionysus.

        Reply
      3. Stella Maris

        Since we’re talking about names, can I just say that everytime I see “Xanthippe Lannister Voorhees” I giggle – so, thanks!

        Reply
    5. Jess

      What on earth? You’d be uncomfortable with a coworker named after an ancient deity because they’re inappropriate names for children? Names like Diana and Iris and Jason and Thea and Phoebe? That’s a pretty unusual stance.

      Reply
      1. Biff

        Diana has entered the lexicon so that’s what it is… as for Iris, Jason, Thea and Phoebe, those aren’t deities who were worshiped (Iris is like Hercules — half-deity) it is not the same.

        Again, I would get past it, but I do think that when people know better, they don’t give their children names of gods that had or still have temples dedicated to them.

        Reply
        1. Kelly L.

          When people know better than what?

          People can name their kids anything they want. And people have the right to be called by their real names if they so desire.

          Reply
          1. Ad Astra

            Yeah, that was the point I wanted to make and didn’t. It’s not universally unacceptable to name children after deities. And King isn’t even a deity. Many Jews consider it morbid to name a child after a relative who’s still alive, but they don’t go around telling Rory Gilmore to change her name. These are cultural differences and, to a point, individual hangups. You don’t get a say in how other people, especially strangers, name their kids.

            Reply
          2. Biff

            I’ve already clarified that when there is a long-standing cultural standard of naming children after gods I don’t take issue with that. And I don’t have an issue with derivatives either.

            Reply
            1. Amy UK

              There IS a long-standing cultural standard of naming children after gods in the very culture you’re saying “know better, do better” about. If people are naming their kids after Gods in American culture, then that is a long-standing cultural tradition just as valid as that of the Hindus/Muslims.

              Why do you consider it a ‘long-standing cultural standard’ when other people do it, but something Americans should ‘know better, do better’ about? That’s distinctly distasteful. Surely either the concept of ‘this child is being compared to a god’ is offensive, or it isn’t.

              Reply
        2. fposte

          I’m still not getting why you think that. Are you thinking of this as an Orientalism/exoticism thing, like European Americans who get Chinese character tattoos? Or should even Greeks not name people Athena?

          Reply
        3. The Cosmic Avenger

          And how do you think things “enter the lexicon”? Some switch is flipped somewhere and everybody thinks it’s suddenly acceptable? No, it starts with one person. There are often clusters, but someone always has to be first. At some point, as names or other things become more and more common, they’re common enough that resistance fades, and whatever it is gradually becomes acceptable.

          If no one is actually, literally being hurt, I really don’t think it should matter whether the majority of people approve of something or not. And I’m sorry to be blunt, but I find it hard to respect an opinion that is based solely on the number of people who hold that opinion.

          Reply
        4. Brandy in TN

          Ok so hold up. Expecting familes need to google a list of all Dieties that still have temples, and make sure to not name their child that. Come on. You know you cannot be serios. The when you know better stuff applies to general life, not to obscure stuff.

          Reply
        5. Anonathon

          Um … wouldn’t that rule out a HUGE number of traditional European names, seeing as most Catholic churches are named after saints? So no one can go by Thomas, John, Matthew, Mark, Luke, Michael, Elizabeth, Agnes, Joan etc.? (I’m not even Christian and that’s just off the top of my head.)

          Reply
          1. Manders

            Yes, my mind is boggled here. Pretty much every available European name has been a god or saint’s name at some point, or has had some sort of religious connotation to somebody.

            Reply
          2. One of the Sarahs

            Well, and telling Spanish Catholics they can’t call their sons Jesus anymore because there are tons of churches dedicated to Jesus…

            Reply
        6. Smilingswan

          Regardless “King” is not the true name of any known deity, is it? It’s more like a title/honorific or nickname.

          Reply
    6. dancer

      Why would you consider it inappropriate? It’s very, very common to name children after gods in some cultures, like in India for example.

      Reply
        1. Kelly L.

          OK, so putting your comments together, you believe that “when people know better,” they don’t name their kids after deities. Then you say that it’s OK in some cultures but not all. It sounds like you believe some cultures “know better” than others, and that’s pretty icky.

          What is bothering you so much here?

          Reply
          1. Biff

            No…. there are cultures in which it is normal to name children after deities and has been for a long time. Their deities, their rules. Then there are cultures in which you didn’t name your children after the deities, or if you did, it was derivatives. However, in recent times it has become popular to name your children after those deities anyway. That I find tacky in the extreme.

            Reply
            1. Manders

              My mom is a classicist, and named both me and my sister after deities. It’s very common in Greek culture (she studies ancient Greece, and also comes from Greece). It’s not considered tacky at all in our culture, and I’ve never heard that before from anyone–and I grew up in a famously Christian town in the American south.

              Reply
              1. spargle

                This whole thing reads to me as someone who has appropriated a religion him/herself. Maybe I’m wrong, and Biff is actually a time traveller from ancient Greece or Rome, but I’m getting a strong “white person from Portland with a liberal arts degree” vibe. If so, then I discount everything. Not to mention that “Diana” – just to choose one name – wasn’t one particular god, but an amalgamation of varying religious beliefs back in ancient times.

                If not – well, I still discount everything, because Biff’s beliefs do not dictate or control my life. Sorry, Biff and Woman From Original Post, but I’m going by the name I’ve gone by my whole life, and you’ll just have to deal with it.

                Reply
              2. fposte

                Yeah, I brought up the Greeks specifically because my family is Greek, and there have definitely been modern Greeks named for Aphrodite, Athena, Demeter, etc.

                I also think it may be more typical of a monotheistic religion to consider god’s name unusable for a kid.

                Reply
                1. Smilingswan

                  “it may be more typical of a monotheistic religion to consider god’s name unusable for a kid”

                  You have a good point there.

            2. Kelly L.

              It’s not recent. I think the trend of Greek god names goes back to the 18th and 19th centuries and the Romantic movement, if not earlier than that.

              Reply
            3. Marzipan

              So what, though? There are plenty of names I personally find tacky, but that doesn’t mean I consider it appropriate to literally tell people they can’t be called by that name in my presence.

              Reply
              1. Jen S. 2.0

                Agreed. There are a LOAD of common names I really hate, but I… call people that name if it’s the name they have. I wonder what their mother was thinking, and I get on with my life.

                Reply
            4. dancer

              So not to beat a dead horse, but I grew up with kids who’s families imigrated from Greece. They had names like Athena or Hera, but from looking at them and listening to them you’d have no idea about their heritage. You’d be judging those poor kids just based on their names.

              Reply
            5. Traveler

              I think its pretty rare that someone blatantly and maliciously gives their child a taboo name. That’s a lot of baggage to hand over to a child you presumably want good things for.

              Reply
            6. Amy UK

              Why is it ‘tacky’? Things become normal in cultures from people doing it. There wasn’t some Grand Hindu Council that sat down and made a decree that naming kids after gods was OK- people went ahead and did it, and thus it became normal. So when Americans (or Europeans, or whatever) go ahead and start doing it and it becomes normal, why is it an issue that they should ‘know better, do better’?

              It sounds to me like you’re the typical ‘not racist’ type who proclaims their tolerance while literally just not caring. Tolerance isn’t “I’m going to let those people do what they want”, it’s “I respect and try to understand their opinion even if I disagree”. It’s the difference between real tolerance (“other cultures have other ideas that I might agree or disagree with, but I respect their right to hold those opinions”) and faux-tolerance (“I think about and interact with other cultures so rarely that their practices mean nothing to me”).

              I literally don’t understand how you can describe the same practice as ‘cultural’ when one culture does it, and ‘tacky’ when another does. That is not tolerance, it’s what I described above.

              Reply
        2. Ad Astra

          It’s… it’s the same situation. In both cases, you’re asking parents to consider the norms in a culture outside their own when naming a child. It’s not an insane request, but it’s also not insane to name your kid whatever you want.

          Reply
    7. Manders

      My first name is the name of a pagan god, and it also happens to be the name of several saints. It’s very common in Greek culture–I’ve met plenty of Athenas and Artemises and Demeters and it would be very odd for anyone to object to their names on religious grounds.

      Reply
    8. Engineer Girl

      I went to school with and worked with two different guys named Thor. They were both tall and one was very fast (state champ cross country). Both were very humble aw-shucks kind of guys.

      Reply
    9. hbc

      So you’re here speaking for all those Greeks who are offended by the two year old named Zeus I once met? Have you actually met one who has been offended, or is this all in theory?

      I dislike the fact that people give their girls names that reflect the kinds of traditional, passive, non-challenging roles we expect them to play (Hope, Chastity, Joy, Charity, etc.), but my preference results in, at most, giving their parents some side eye. The recipient of the name gets called whatever she wants, and eventually the name separates itself from the dictionary definition. I’m not going to ask them to go by something else just because their parents didn’t predict they’d run into someone with my particular hangup.

      Reply
        1. Creag an Tuire

          Uff. I mean, my 3-year old probably -thinks- “Not So Loud!” is her name by now, but that’s not the same thing.

          Reply
        2. LucyVP

          I have a friend from high school whose daughter’s middle name is Silence. They were debating between Silence and Prudence. I gagged privately then ooh’d and aah’d publicly.

          Reply
      1. manybellsdown

        I have an irrational distaste for female names ending in -a, especially when it’s used to feminize a male name. Like, say, Roberta. That just means I don’t name my OWN kids that. Everyone else gets to be called what they ask to be called.

        Reply
        1. reaching for the sky

          i don’t like this either, fwiw, because i feel like it emphasizes male as default- the male name is the default and the female name is the anomaly.

          but i also really like names such as Louise and would call any Louise I met by her name.

          Reply
      2. reaching for the sky

        Right. I might feel like “your parents should not have done that” but, we are not talking about naming a baby “King” in this situation. We are talking about an adult King who has already lived with that name for a few decades. That’s his name, now.

        I think what you are describing is more than a hang up; it’s an argument against naming daughters with those names.

        I speak multiple languages, so I often encounter names drawn from a language the parents clearly do not speak… so I’m definitely thinking negatively of the person’s parents but I don’t fault the person.

        Reply
    10. pinky

      Ummm, seriously? My parents actually named me after a god…..I’m not going to say what it is b/c I am literally the only person in the US with this name, but it is way out there and unusual. Nobody has ever been offended, and I’ve never been asked to use my middle name. People have laughed out loud and my name, and have said “what is that?” when seeing it in print…..I can’t believe people would ask a person to change their name or be offended or even be uncomfortable with my name.

      Reply
  12. Not me

    Religious accommodations don’t extend to changing other employees’ names.

    What is wrong with people?!

    OP, if you have to defend keeping your own name (what??), it might be a good idea to spell it out like this. Repeatedly. “You’re asking me to change my name because _____ doesn’t like it?”

    Reply
    1. Charityb

      Maybe he should complete a business case for being allowed to keep his name, and the manager can assess whether or not keeping his name will help the department reach its target ROI.

      Or, better yet, the coworker should have to come up with a business case for why OP should be forced to change their name in the workplace.

      Reply
  13. Argh!

    In the black community, a tradition of giving children names denoting honor extends back to slavery. Children were given names like “Major” and slave holders used those names. If plantation owners could deal with it, I think a coworker can.

    Reply
    1. Kelly L.

      Yep, it was to get around racists’ refusal to use honorifics for black people at all. So people would name their kids “Miss” or “Judge” or the like.

      Reply
      1. Blurgle

        I remember when people belittled Michael Jackson for naming his elder son Prince. He resented it so much he reused the name for his second son, mainly to show them who was the father.

        Prince was his grandfather’s name.

        Reply
          1. Blurgle

            Then again, the same thing happens in the Jewish community. “Inspektor” is an old Czech Jewish honorific name, but when a Hollywood star uses it it’s suddenly considered fit to ridicule.

            Reply
        1. Ad Astra

          Prince (the singer) seems to have influenced a lot of moms in the ’90s, because it’s quite a common name for boys/men in high school in college now.

          I’ve known some Majors and Judges, so it’s cool to learn about the origins of those names.

          Reply
    2. Cautionary tail

      I know someone with a first name of Major. His last name is very militaristic and said together sound pretty darned awesome.

      Reply
      1. Lily in NYC

        I used to work with Major Garrett (the journalist) and during my first week of work I thought he was a military consultant (this was before he was well-known).

        Reply
        1. Lily in NYC

          I hit send too soon -the embarrassing part was that I called him by his first and last name because I thought he was really a Major. My boss overheard me and was like “why are you saying his name that way, weirdo?”

          Reply
      2. NoCalHR

        My mother served in the Navy, held an administrative post for a while. The local protocol when she signed something by direction was “Commander Jones RAF”, with ‘RAF’ her initials. Many folks thought they had a Brit officer on loan. No, just ‘Renee Ann Faulkenberg’ signing for the Commander!

        Reply
      3. Mephyle

        This can’t go farther without a mention of Major Major Major Major, a character in Joseph Heller’s Catch 22. The first Major is his rank, and the 2nd, 3rd and 4th are his first name, middle name and surname (respectively).

        Reply
    3. Melissa

      My thought was this is a racial thing, because I’m black and King is so common as to not even make me blink an eye at it. As I mentioned above I’ve also know lots of girls named Princess, a girl named Empress, and a little boy named Messiah.

      Reply
  14. Dr. Johnny Fever

    It’s hard enough to believe that someone would be that offended by a name; it’s another thing entirely to have the manager not only accept the offense, but then place the onus on the OP to solve the situation – before even starting on his first day!

    Honestly, I’d advise the OP to walk away from this job now while the chance is still fresh. If management is going to ask OP to suppress his own *name* to avoid religious offense, what other aspects of his personality will he need to suppress to succeed professionally in that atmosphere? This is a serious red flag.

    Reply
    1. Stranger than fiction

      Seriously I’d be so tempted to have crowns all over my cubicle and maybe even a scepter I could hold onto every time that coworker came to speak to me.

      Reply
    2. Not So NewReader

      Yep. I am seeing a red flag here, too. Since you have not started the job, OP, you have time to mull this one over first.

      Reply
  15. Jane, the world's worst employee

    I see Wednesday came early this week. ;)

    I would consider myself pretty religious (Christian) and FWIW, I think this is a pretty nutty request. Hold your ground, OP.

    Reply
  16. Jerzy

    I would just like to add that people need to seriously get a better grasp of what “freedom of religion” actually means. It allows for protection against discrimination or persecution of a person’s personal religious beliefs. It DOES NOT allow for someone to use their personal religious beliefs to make a life choice for someone else (i.e. your frickin’ name!).

    If I’m a member of a religion that doesn’t drink alcohol, that doesn’t give me the right to shut down happy hour at the local pub for my coworkers.

    This is akin to the the whole: “I’m on a diet, so you can’t eat a doughnut” thing.

    Reply
    1. kristinyc

      Exactly! It protects people from the GOVERNMENT dictating things about religion – not your coworkers. It doesn’t say anything about your coworkers not being allowed to do things you find offensive.

      First Amendment
      Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

      Reply
    2. Naomi

      I like the alcohol analogy–I was going to say something similar, like that Jews don’t get to insist that all their coworkers keep a kosher diet, and Muslims don’t get to demand that all women in the office wear a hijab. Freedom of religion doesn’t extend to making other people conform to your own religious beliefs.

      Reply
      1. They do!

        The hijab analogy is very good in this case. Muslim men may still find it strange to work with women who are not wearing hijabs, who knows, but a company would never require all women to begin wearing a hijab because they have a muslim employee.
        This would be a scenario where, the existing employee is a muslim man, and there are no women at the company. The new hire (King) is a non-hijab wearing woman, but is told that since one of their employees is uncomfortable in the presence of women without hijabs she must wear one to work. It would completely violate the woman’s intrinsic ‘self,’ since she does not wear a hijab (her religion is irrelevant).
        This would violate King’s ‘self’ since his name is KING!

        Reply
        1. They do!

          I must clarify so this doesn’t sound dismissive – her religion is irrelevant because the theoretical woman COULD be a non-hijab wearing muslim, OR she could be a non-mulsim – that is irrelevant. What’s relevant is that the theoretical existing employee’s religious beliefs would mean she’d need to wear a hijab, which would violate her ‘self’ – and no company would ever require that (at least in the United States, middle eastern countries may be a different story).

          Reply
    3. steve g

      +1000 I agree very strongly. I never want to live in a country when religion gets used to dictate my personal choices and behavior. Even though I’m catholic. One of the main points of America was to keep church and state separate, which was very wise….

      Reply
      1. reaching for the sky

        Good for you. Very surprised to see this from a Catholic- you’re the only one I know who doesn’t want cameras installed in other people’s bedrooms.

        Reply
        1. ancolie

          Really? I’m a recovering Catholic whose family on both sides are Catholic and went to 13 years of Catholic school* (Kindergarten through high school) and I only know a handful of Catholics that have that kind of mindset.

          IME, it’s really impossible to generalize what Catholics think about politics et al. After all, just compare Pope Francis to Pope Benedict.

          * where we had sex ed (including accurate information about condoms and birth control options), studied other religions with respect (including that no, you did/do NOT have to be Catholic to go to heaven), were taught about evolution and the scientific method beginning in grade school, and were actually encouraged to have doubts in our faith and to seriously question our beliefs (because unexamined belief is not based on a solid foundation and questioning builds that foundation. And yes, they said that if you DO end up leaving/losing your faith, that’s fine. God created humans with free will and he would rather you use it than not).

          Reply
          1. reaching for the sky

            That’s cool. Yeah, I was just going off the ones I knew. I went to Catholic school too and they taught me that semen gives you cancer. I thought my parents both had cancer until I was in my 20s. So it was traumatic, to say the least.

            Reply
            1. doreen

              Those were wackadoos calling themselves Catholic. Or maybe you misunderstood something. The Catholic church has a whole lot of teachings regarding sexual matters that many people ( including Catholics) do not agree with- but semen causing cancer has never been one of them. And there have always been Catholics who made crap up- every religion has those. When my husband was going through RCIA, one of the instructors told the class they had to go to Mass every day during Lent. I told him to go back and tell her she taught me better than that in grade school. It then changed from being an obligation to “a good thing to do”

              Reply
              1. reaching for the sky

                Not interested in playing “One True Catholic” with you, sorry. They call themselves Catholics, so that’s what they are to me. I dont’ really care where they got their traumatic teachings from.

                Reply
            2. ancolie

              Oh jeez! My trauma is mostly confined to severely internalizing Catholic Guilt to the point that (with other factors, I’m sure) I’ve had severe General Anxiety Disorder for as long as I can remember (it’s getting better as I do CBT, though!).

              There are so many sub-schools of Catholicism that I’m not surprised at the variation in education. A friend of mine went to a super ultra conservative Catholic church and school (sedevacantists) and was expelled for listening to “rock music”. AT HOME. In the late 1990s!!

              My school/church was apparently all dirty hippie in comparison, heh. I know they really dug liberation theology (we watched Romero more than once) and whatnot.

              Reply
    4. LBK

      Well, there are elements of the EEOC that extend beyond what’s outlined in the Bill of Rights in terms of protection from religious discrimination. Businesses are required to provide reasonable accommodations based on religious beliefs (eg someone who requests Sundays off to go to church would have to be granted that request unless doing so would cause undue hardship to the company).

      Reviewing the Title VII info about religious protection, I’m not actually completely sure that the coworker doesn’t have a religious claim here to force the employer to do something about the OP’s name as long as they can show they have a strongly held belief that prohibits them from being around someone who’s referred to as King. I really don’t think they could do that because I can’t imagine what part of scripture would prevent it, but I do wonder.

      Reply
      1. Jerzy

        A reasonable accommodation would have to be reasonable, which this request is not.

        It’s not as if the name “King” is unusual. It’s normally a last name, but a fairly common one. I’m curious as well as to what kind of case the employee making this request could pull together, but I would be absolutely horrified if she prevailed.

        Reply
        1. LBK

          On what standard is it considered not reasonable, though? I believe that phrase has more specific legal meaning; similar to “hostile work environment,” it means something other than just the literal breakdown of the words.

          (By the way, I’m not saying I’m right here – I’m hoping someone can disprove this by pointing me to the part of the law that would clarify, because I can’t find it.)

          Reply
          1. fposte

            The law doesn’t articulate what is and isn’t reasonable accommodation in huge detail, but in general one person’s religious accommodation shouldn’t require restrictions on other people. If you have religious objections to bare arms on women, you get to wear sleeves, but you don’t get to insist your co-workers wear sleeves; if you keep kosher, you can bring in your own fridge, but you can’t make your office go kosher. If the objection is even hearing anybody refer to King as King, I don’t think that’s something an office could reasonably accommodate, any more than they’re required to accommodate a swearing-free workplace. If the objection is merely the employee herself referring to King as King, the accommodation is to allow her to refer to him as “Mr. Tut,” not for him to change his name.

            Reply
            1. LBK

              That makes sense. The EEOC does say something about infringement of coworkers’ rights, but only specifies “job rights”, and I don’t know that you have a right to bare arms (Second Amendment puns notwithstanding):

              For example, courts have found undue hardship where the accommodation diminishes efficiency in other jobs, infringes on other employees’ job rights or benefits, impairs workplace safety, or causes co-workers to carry the accommodated employee’s share of potentially hazardous or burdensome work.

              I assume there must be court cases that detail this further because the question must have been raised before.

              On an interesting side-note, the EEOC actually specifies that coworkers being annoyed by an accommodation does *not* contribute to an undue hardship:

              Although religious accommodations that infringe on co-workers’ ability to perform their duties or subject co-workers to a hostile work environment will generally constitute undue hardship, general disgruntlement, resentment, or jealousy of co-workers will not. Undue hardship requires more than proof that some co-workers complained; a showing of undue hardship based on co-worker interests generally requires evidence that the accommodation would actually infringe on the rights of co-workers or cause disruption of work.

              Reply
              1. fposte

                I think it’s fine for Religious’ behavior to *annoy* co-workers; where it starts becoming unreasonable is when it requires co-workers to change their behavior or dress. I don’t think it has to be only a behavior that’s been explicitly protected by the law, like breast-feeding; there’s a basic principle of “reasonable” that you can’t make everybody else change just for you.

                Reply
        1. LBK

          I think it would depend on the severity of the belief in the religion. As far as I know there’s no sect in Christianity that’s so strict as to not allow using an honorific to describe a person, so in this case probably not. But if by some weird turn of events an employee had one of the names of God from Judaism, I think a strict Jewish coworker would have to be allowed to refer to them by another name in writing. Although I’m by no means an expert.

          Reply
          1. fposte

            I was thinking about Yahweh and God in the baby names conversation, and I think you might be right about the co-worker being allowed to circumvent something like those. But, as I said, it’s pretty easy for the co-worker to circumvent without the unreasonable requirement that the employee go by a different name.

            Reply
          2. Grand Canyon Jen

            In Judaism, the name of God is in Hebrew. And there are no vowels in Biblical Hebrew, so no one knows how the name of God would be pronounced. So (apologies to “Life of Brian”), calling someone “Yahweh” or “Jehovah” or writing those names out in English letters shouldn’t be a problem for even a strictly religious Jew.

            Reply
            1. LBK

              Huh – I did a little bit of googling before I made my comment to validate my understanding and did find some resources that indicate that saying it is fine since, as you note, we don’t know the proper pronunciation. However, writing out the name of God isn’t allowed, and that it’s usually written G-d as a result (which is something I’ve seen being practiced out in the wild).

              Again, I am by no means an expert so if my understanding is flawed I’m happy to be told so.

              Reply
              1. Anonsie

                English isn’t Hebrew. Everything other than Hebrew/Aramaic (which use the same alphabet) is basically not real for the purposes of God’s name (there may be some exception for Greek, because there Greek takes a special status in some early rabbinic texts, but I’ve never seen that discussed directly WRT God’s name). Dashing out a letter in English should be unnecessary, and IMO stems from a very dangerous rush to be as right-wing as possible.

                (Credentials: MA in early Jewish law, with a focus on textual legitimacy.)

                Reply
                1. Observer

                  The problem with your MA is that it doesn’t actually deal with Judaism in the real world.

                  The use of a dash in when writing “G-d” is far from new, and far from a “rush to be as right wing as possible.”

                  That said, I think most Orthodox Jews I know would find that someone choosing to go by the name “god” to be bizarre and a bit uncomfortable, because it’s a truly bizarre name to choose, and adults can choose to change their names. But, I don’t think they would object on religious grounds. That’s not “G-d”, but someone’s name, which is another things.

                2. Anonsie

                  @Observer–I would trace the rush to the right-wing to 18th/19th century Ashkenaz. That is new by Jewish standards. The fear of modernity and change that echoes throughout Ashkenazi halachic writings starting with the birth of neo-Orthodoxy (neo- because there is no such thing as Orthodoxy until it the backlash against the early Reform Movement) drives me up the wall. I actually am Jewish, I come from an observant background, and I’ve got pretty extensive experience working with non-academic books about Judaism in other languages, and people don’t do this in other languages when using that language’s word for “god”. English doesn’t deserve this level of elevation.

                3. Observer

                  @Anonsie, you are actually not really entirely correct about how this is handled – it’s definitely not specific to English. It’s not as obvious in Hebrew, because typical usage is to not use the direct term, but an indirect reference, such as HaKadosh Baruch Hu (The Holy One, Blessed be He) or Hashem (literally “The name”). My parents were not native English speakers – they were immigrants who came to the US as adults, and they spoke primarily Yiddish in the home (my mother started using English more when she started working out of the house.) So, I know that their usage was not a matter of how English is used. I don’t think I ever hear them use anything but such indirect terms.

                  Of course, there is a difference in the lower case word, which generally is not hyphenated, as it is understood to be talking about a concept or non-specific reference, and the capitalized form which is seen as a direct reference to THE deity.

                  As for calling a practice stemming from the 18th century (even if you were correct about that) recent, that might be true on an academic basis. But, that does not speak to the fact that it’s firmly entrenched practice in much of the observant community.

                4. Treena

                  It might be officially unnecessary, but I’ve seen both really observant Jews and really, really not observant Jews write out “G-d.” It’s not really all that right-wing anymore. Very similar to my being taught never to write Xmas because you’re X’ing out Christ. Of course I realize it’s very, very conservative, but I still do it out of habit.

      2. LawBee

        This would never hold up. Forcing someone to change the name they’ve gone by their entire life because one person doesn’t like it is not a reasonable accommodation. There’s nothing to accommodate, the coworker isn’t being harmed or discriminated against in anyw way.

        Reply
  17. Lefty

    This is just bizarre to me… I immediately wonder if the other employee would object to other names as well- Christian/Christina, Mohammed, Jesus, Regina/Reginald, Ryan?

    I wonder if the other employee would be more comfortable calling OP by Mr. Lastname instead? It may be overly formal for their office culture, but it could avoid the use of a name she sees as “offensive” without putting a ridiculous requirement on OP. Or maybe initials would also suit both of them, IF you’d be open to that, OP? Let’s say you’re legal name is Wakeen King, would you be comfortable with this employee (and eventually others, inevitably) calling you WK maybe?

    Reply
    1. AW

      I wonder if the other employee would be more comfortable calling OP by Mr. Lastname instead?

      I don’t understand why the employer didn’t just tell the co-worker to ask the OP if she could call them by their first or last name instead. That’s still a bit odd but one person asking permission to use a different legal name is way more polite than demanding that the OP themselves not use their own name.

      Reply
      1. AW

        Clarification: The OP would still be able to tell the co-worker “No” in this version of the scenario. My point was that there’s a more polite way to go about this, even though the correct thing to do is to not make it an issue at all.

        Reply
      2. Chalupa Batman

        This was my thought as well. We might think it’s silly, but their beliefs are their beliefs. As a presumably reasonable person, King could get used to one person calling him Mr Lastname or some other mutually agreeable thing to accommodate a religious objection, but asking someone to change their name is completely unreasonable. The one who has to give up the least should be the one to budge in compromises of this sort, and that’s the coworker here. It’s ridiculous that changing his name was even brought up.

        Reply
      3. Stranger than fiction

        Because the Op also said the coworker is a favorite, further evidence she should run for the hills if at all possible

        Reply
      4. Traveler

        Right. If I was OP I’d still find that a little silly, but then I’d just be like whatever Jane needs to sleep at night.

        Reply
    2. JMegan

      I wouldn’t. I can see where you’re going with this, but IMO this is not a situation where a compromise is the right thing to do. The employee’s request was so completely inappropriate that it doesn’t even merit consideration – same as if she had asked her boss to ask OP not to wear green socks because it offends her, or if she tried to create a rule that everyone was required to stand up and do the Macarena before every meeting. Some things, you just say “no” without any further discussion. And like I said above, the fact that OP’s boss did *not* say no is a really big red flag.

      Reply
      1. Lefty

        I agree that it’s a completely preposterous request from OP’s coworker but it appears that the regional manager either doesn’t see it that way or at least has refused to treat it as such. Since the regional manager did not say “no” outright (which I’m sure we’d all have preferred here) , she has opened it to discussion. Since OP is new to this office environment, offering a compromise might be an acceptable option. It might reflect well on him if he can offer some balanced feedbakc in the face of such a ludicrous situation.

        Reply
      2. Stranger than fiction

        Seems to me the manager just heard the word religion and knowing it’s a legal buzzword panicked and asked the Op to play along without really knowing or understanding the implications. Makes one really question her judgment.

        Reply
    3. AnonEMoose

      I’d be hesitant to allow the coworker to call me something other than my preferred name, in the OP’s shoes. Mainly because, I’m just one of those people who loathes nicknames (when applied to me, but I’m happy to call other people what they prefer). And my actual first name is one of those that has what feels like a million associated nicknames…most of which people have tried to use at one point or another, and been firmly corrected.

      The only people permitted to call me something other than “First Name” are my husband, my best friend since college, and my immediate family. Husband mostly uses endearments, Best Friend has her own nickname for me, and family mostly actually just calls me by my preferred name.

      But my concern would be other people picking up on whatever the compromise name was, and then OP is stuck either putting up with it, or having to explain the compromise umpteen times. And some people likely still forgetting. Or deciding to be “cute” or “funny” (read “obnoxious”) by using the compromise name anyway, because some people are just stupid/jerky like that.

      Reply
  18. Paul

    Has the company actually asked OP to change his name? The letter only says “I cannot use it.”

    Maybe management want him to take a nickname? It’s still unreasonable and unwarranted, but I don’t see any indication the OP is being asked to legally or permanently change his name.

    Reply
    1. NK

      I don’t think anyone assumes that he’s being asked to legally change it. But even asking him to use a nickname is unreasonable. I know people named Joseph who are just Joseph – not Joe, not Joey – and that is their call. Not to mention that I can’t think of a nickname for King that would both retain any integrity of the name and satisfy the complainer.

      Reply
      1. Gandalf the Nude

        Actually, the post title made me think that’s what was happening, and it took me a hot minute to figure out otherwise. But that is partly because I actually have experienced someone ridiculous enough to insist someone else legally change their name.

        Reply
    2. TCO

      Yes, I think management wants him to use a nickname or his current legal first name, not legally change his name, but that doesn’t make it any less ridiculous.

      Reply
    1. Erin

      Also: I think you should tell them that you’re offended that this person wants you to change your name.

      I was joking as I typed that, but really, that actually is what is offending in this situation.

      Reply
    2. Cautionary tail

      Yes I agrre this could be shared with the employer, however this is pre-furst day on a new job. My overriding thoughts are that if the employer is showing dysfunctionalism at this stage then if OP can swing it it’s probably better to walk away from the job before having to deal with this nutcase on a daily basis and getting stuck in a soul-sucking job where s/he winds up dealing with PTSD issues.

      Reply
  19. AndersonDarling

    I’d fight fire with fire and say that King has religious significance to you and your family. Let the war begin.
    I mean really, if King was the last name would the busy body command that it also be changed?
    It burns my biscuits.

    Reply
      1. Hlyssande

        Noooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo my biscuits!

        Fyi, they make sandwich rolls and sliced bread in the delicious sweet Hawaiian flavor now. My wallet.

        Reply
  20. YouHaveBeenWarned

    I only regret that I have but one nope to give for this post.

    OP, I think this might be a pretext for something else going on. Are they trying to get you to quit? Did your boss do this as a sort of “test” of how much a new hire will take? Does the entry level employee occasionally do this to assert some sort of authority or wind the regional manager tighter around her finger?

    FWIW, I would also point out that in 1961, the four most popular boys names were Michael, David, John, and James, all of which are biblical (that year’s most popular names also included Jesus (#250), Abraham (#480), and Moses (#501)). There are hundreds of names to which one might object based on a religious connotation. It’s no less ridiculous of the employee to object to your name (which is also just a noun describing a title…does she also object to Clark and Marshall?)

    Reply
  21. Addiez

    I actually worked at a place that changed someone’s name. The CEO was named Katherine and we had another Kathryn on staff. They hired an admin for the COO whose name was Katherine, so they decided to just call her Katie. At one point, I asked her if anyone else ever called her Katie – she said her family did sometimes when she was little… Not the reason I left, but pretty darn weird.

    Reply
    1. Xanthippe Lannister Voorhees

      Was your boss Tyra Banks? This just makes me think of all the ANTM cycles where two girls were named “Jessica” and rather than use last initials or trust people’s intelligence someone had to pick a totally random name to go by

      Reply
      1. moss

        trust people’s intelligence who are watching a modelling reality show? Nah. They’re not people anymore, they are characters. The audience needs all the help it can get to distinguish among the characters.

        Reply
      2. AvonLady Barksdale

        There were two Brittanys and we ended up with “McKey”. I thought she was the worst winner ever. I no longer watch ANTM, and there is something missing in my life.

        Reply
        1. Stranger than fiction

          There was once three of us with my name at a restaurant I worked at and the snarky manager decided to call us 1, 2, and 3.

          Reply
          1. NotherName

            I went to school with a lot of Amys, Brians, and Jennifers. We just used their last initial or last name as appropriate when we wanted to clarify who we were talking about. Occasionally, we would use middle names with the first names, but since Lynn, Ann, and Marie were the main choices for girls’ middle names, that wasn’t always an option.

            Reply
    2. AnotherAlison

      I hope they weren’t planning for too much growth in the company. You’ve got Kathy, Kate, maybe Kit left. Then what? ; )

      Reply
                1. NotherName

                  You’re right! It’s possible that I’ve heard of it used for Sarah, but for some reason I listed that instead of Sadie. (Which is terrible on my part, as that was the name of one of my great-grandmothers…)

                  Sukie is still an awesome character, though. And Paris is still a boy’s name.

        1. techandwine

          This is the story of my life. Sarah was one of the most popular girl names of the 80s, so there is ALWAYS another Sarah in the class/office/friend group/etc. I’ve had a few nicknames I’ve gone by, but they weren’t general use names they were incredibly specific to individuals. Usually my last initial just gets tacked on.

          Oh, and to add to another thread, I’m also one of those weirdos with four names :-) First Name, Middle Name, Mom’s last name, Dad’s last name.

          Reply
      1. Judy

        About 20 years ago, back when a group of engineers would have an admin to share, our admin was named also Judy. My manager was very much not clear when he said things in meetings or sent an email, “send X to Judy”. I was deciding if I wanted to start going by a nickname that I’m known as in other circles when she retired. Of course, many of the guys were able to discern that sending the software review feedback to me and sending the travel requests to her was what he wanted. But not all of them were.

        Sometimes it’s good to be able to differentiate people, and if other people are sloppy about it, it can be annoying.

        Reply
        1. Elizabeth West

          At Exjob, we had four Davids, two Marks, two Carls, two Dales, and at one point, three Stephens. We just called them Carl A, Carl B, Dale X, or Dale Z, etc. Or people were known by their last names–Smith, Jones, whatever. There was even a guy with a long Polish last name and we all learned how to pronounce it.

          It’s not rocket surgery.

          Reply
          1. Melissa

            At my job we have a Carl and a Karl, so out loud we say Karl with a K and Carl with a C. It helps that Karl is remote though, so usually we’re referring to Carl.

            Reply
        2. Oranges

          We have two IT guys. Both Joe. I call them IT Joe (there used to be a third Joe but he’s no longer here) and Joe 2.0 since how could I not?

          Reply
          1. Oranges

            Also we used to have two Kyles. First one got to keep Kyle second one went by his last name: Wilson. And a coworker drew a lovely volleyball for him on his whiteboard.

            Reply
      2. Stella Maris

        We had four “Roberts” once in a 20-person group. They were known as:
        -Rob C.,
        -Rob G.,
        -Robert, and
        -Jackson (Fourth Robert’s Last Name).

        Reply
    3. LaraW

      Wow. We have 2 people named Jennifer at my office (both go by Jen) and we have solved it by denoting Jen K and Jen V in places where we need to. Nobody needed to be Jenny or anything like that.

      Reply
      1. Jennifer

        I am lucky to be the only one, though there is a Jenny.

        I did work at a place where we had Christopher, Chris, and “C”. Guess why.

        Reply
    4. AvonLady Barksdale

      Let us please not forget that Erin on The Office (US Version) showed up on her first day and introduced herself as Kelly. That had to change right quick!

      Reply
    5. krar

      A VERY similar thing happened to me – right down to the names!. My full first name is Katie. I accepted a position at a small privately owned software company. The first name of the controller/co-owner/wife of the CEO was named Katherine and always went by Katie. I know this because she was also my fourth grade teacher, small world and whatnot.

      The CEO flat out asked me in my final interview if I’d be ok going by Kate because his wife was named Katie and he didn’t want there to be confusion in a small office. I agreed, even though only family calls me Kate. I just wanted to land that first programming job, so I was a total pushover. Nowadays, I’d refuse to accommodate request like that, but I didn’t have an ounce of assertiveness until my mid-late 20s.

      Of course, on my first day I learned that a manager shared the same first name as the CEO and no one cared. Harumph.

      And now, only two kinds of people in my life call me Kate – family and the small group of people I had worked with at that job.

      Reply
    6. Bonnie

      We currently have two Katies. We also have two Bobs and at one time had three Brians. We only have twenty people. At one point, I jokingly suggested that we only only hire Bobs and Brians in the future which would make learning new co-workers names much easier.

      Reply
      1. Jules

        Does anyone else have a ‘work name’ and a ‘personal life name’?

        Professionally, I use one name (my given, legal name), but in my personal life, the only people who call me by that name are the ones who are in the process of transitioning from work-friend to friend-friend.

        Reply
  22. Laura

    I’d one up this objection with the following comebacks:

    Does this mean if a Hispanic employee with the name “Reyes” will be forced to use another surname? (Means “Kings” in Spanish) What about surnames such as Royal, Royle, etc?
    What if his name is Jesus? (A very common Hispanic name).
    What if his name is Joshua? (A form of the Hebrew name Yeshua or Jesus)
    What if the person’s last name was Wong? (Translates to “King” in English).
    What if is Israel (means “one who has contended with God”)

    Really, you have to sometimes walk people through the ridiculousness of their reasoning so they can either see the light or be singled out as the totally unreasonable person they are. But that is the manager’s job to do that with their employee.

    But I have a story to one up this one: I overhead one of my colleagues (we are a research institution) had a vendor, a white, twenty-something vendor rep, tell gleefully that she would always ask her Asian colleagues to pick a Western name she could call them because she found it too hard to call them by their Asian name (because you know, Chow Yung Fat is just SO HARD to remember…. sigh). She openly said this as if nothing was wrong with asking coworkers to accommodate her basic cultural ignorance. So, moral of the story: there are very weird people out there…

    Reply
    1. Bostonian

      I feel like there was a thread on this recently, actually. There are plenty of Asians who *choose* a Western nickname for studying abroad in the US, working for an Asian office of an American company, etc. But that has to be their choice. It often seems to depend on how badly the typical American accent butchers the pronunciation – people would rather take a nickname than be called by a variant of their real name that makes them cringe every time they hear it, or that’s actually a totally different word.

      So the person you heard was basing her requests on a real thing, but got it totally backwards in a way that’s pretty offensive.

      Reply
      1. Ad Astra

        I have one friend who came to America from China as a small child. He chose his American name, Jerry, after watching Tom and Jerry cartoons. Always makes me smile.

        Reply
        1. Lily in NYC

          I used to work in an English-language cram school in Taiwan and the English names the kids chose were so entertaining. One kid named himself Baby Apple (?) and another one chose David Hume. Not just David; it had to be David Hume. He was only 7 so I guess he was either a budding philosopher or a parent picked it.

          Reply
      2. louise

        Are you a Dear Prudence reader? There was a similar discussion there last week.

        No, I don’t have an advice column addiction. I can stop any time…

        Reply
    2. AW

      Almost no one in school would call me by my first name until I got to high school because it was “too hard to pronounce”. And by “too hard” they meant “I’m not even going to try”.

      Nowadays, only my family calls me by my nickname, which is how I like it.

      Reply
    3. MashaKasha

      Hah, good point. I’d all but forgotten it, but one of my son’s first name derives from the Greek word Kyrios, which means Lord. Guess he needn’t apply for a job at this company.

      My other son’s name though, means “Yahweh is my God” in Hebrew, so he’s golden. (Yup, I was super religious in the 90s, and gave my kids Biblical names.)

      When I had their dad’s last name, everyone at OldJob introduced me to visitors and new hires as “Masha I’m-Not-Even-Gonna-Try-Her-Last-Name”. It does get on one’s nerves after a few years.

      Reply
    4. Michelle

      Whenever someone says their name is difficult to pronounce, I take it as a personal challenge to get it right.

      Reply
  23. De Minimis

    I was around some pretty kooky religious sects growing up, but I’ve never heard of anything like this.

    The only thing I can think is maybe Jehovah’s Witness? I think they have some beliefs that are a little “out there” for many people—I know when I was a kid I would hear about some of their children not being allowed to do the Pledge of Allegiance and that of course raised a big stink in the small town where I grew up.

    Reply
    1. Dr. Johnny Fever

      Not JW, at least, not the Kingdom Hall I went to as a kid. The Pledge is out (flag = idolatry), but I don’t recall any restrictions on kids’ names. Most of the names fell along Jewish and Christian lines from their Holy Scriptures translation. Larger communities include secular names, too.

      Reply
      1. De Minimis

        Yeah, I figured it was probably a stretch, though it sounded like it could be based in something similar to the JW’s beliefs about idolatry.

        Might be some kind of independent church, I’ve known some of those to have some odd teachings since there isn’t a bigger organization reining them in.

        Reply
      2. Elsajeni

        And of course, perhaps America’s most famous Jehovah’s Witness is… Prince. (I can imagine an argument that naming a child “King” is an affront to the King of Kings, but “Prince” is okay, and anyway I believe Prince converted as an adult. But still.)

        Reply
        1. Melissa

          I remember learning that Prince was a JW growing up (I was a JW too) and thinking about how delightfully bizarre it would be to wake up one Saturday morning to a knock on my door, open it, and see Prince standing on my doorstep. Holy crap. Apparently he does actually go out in field service, which is the name of the door-to-door evangelizing JWs do!

          Reply
        2. Dr. Johnny Fever

          Don’t forget Michael Jackson! He was known as a JW for a time in his earlier solo days, before Prince blew up. He was held up as an example of Jehovah’s blessings from hard work and dedication in my Kingdom Hall.

          Once MJ started going deeper into strangeness, the focus went toward his actions and away from his JW experiences.

          When you think about how children how treated as small adults with material studies beginning in toddler years, denied any special attention that would put them above others, and prevented from participating in so many play and social activities, no wonder MJ had such arrested development and went a little buts after breaking from his family.

          Reply
  24. Karon

    This is such a strange request, I can hardly believe that there isn’t some mistake somewhere. I’d love to hear how exactly this order was given. Did the OP receive a letter? Was he called into a meeting? I’d love to see a follow-up to this. As others have speculated, I can’t imagine this being a concern for anyone of any religion I know. Does the complainant even have to interact with the OP I wonder? If it offends her to call the OP by the name, perhaps she could call him by his surname, though that would be silly and awkward if everyone else was using his middle name, but it wouldn’t affect the OP very much. I agree with Allison’s advice. Don’t give in on this one.

    Reply
  25. Bekx

    I think there are definitely names that can cause offense, but King…I genuinely don’t understand how??

    My friend begged her sister to change her newborn daughter’s name. She refused, so her baby is Aryan. Even the nurse told her that many people would take offense to that name, but she didn’t care. She said she liked that it had a “history” and none of her friends are Jewish so it doesn’t matter.

    Reply
    1. TCO

      Now that I find a little offensive, but even then I wouldn’t ask someone to go by a different name or refuse to use it. Someone’s name would have to be a serious curse word or slur before I’d refuse to say it… and even then I would consider it my problem to figure out a workaround, not demand that the other person change their name.

      Reply
    2. Xanthippe Lannister Voorhees

      I’ve been reading this thread thinking “I can think of a lot of names that are stupid but nothing I would call outright offensive” until I got to this comment. That’s a bad choice right there (and assuming friend’s sister just has poor reasoning skills and isn’t a neo-nazi… what is she even trying to accomplish with that name??)

      Reply
      1. Bekx

        Well……she’s an interesting character in general. She posted a giant rant on facebook about how anyone who thinks her daughter’s name is a bad choice is ignorant and obviously racist (????).

        Honestly, she’s just the type to feed off of drama, and this is a new source. She also posted how “male ob/gyns are all rapists and molesters” when someone asked her about her labor plans (if she went into the labor the week her ob was on vacation she’d have to have a man, and no way would some “pervert” touch her). Just a great person in general, frankly.

        Reply
        1. AnotherAlison

          She sounds gross, but at least she didn’t accidentally name her kid without knowing what it meant, just because she liked how it sounded.

          Not offensive, but every season, I had to wonder if KU basketball player Perry Ellis’s parents knew about the BRAND Perry Ellis. Having a very common last name, I had to really watch what I named my kids to make sure I didn’t unknowingly give them a serial killer’s name or something.

          Reply
          1. Ad Astra

            Given Perry Ellis’s age, I feel like it would be hard for them to not know about the brand Perry Ellis. But maybe I’m wrong.

            I went to high school with a Michael Jordan. He was born in 1987, I think, so plenty of people knew about MJ but his parents weren’t into sports, I guess. Kind of like naming your kid Derrick Rose today.

            Reply
            1. Kelly L.

              I went to high school with a Tom Cruise. He’s younger than the famous one, but too old to have been named after him on purpose.

              Reply
              1. Collarbone High

                I always wonder if people with the same name as a celebrity struggle to accomplish everyday tasks because no one believes that’s their name. Like, if I worked at a pizza place and someone called in a delivery order for Tom Cruise, I’d assume it was a prank and hang up.

                Reply
              2. Cath in Canada

                I know a James Brown born in the 1970s whose parents claim not to have heard of the singer until the 1990s… we used to greet him with “YEOW! it’s the King of Soul!” when he walked into the room.

                Reply
              1. Ad Astra

                Oh good, then my analogy works! Derrick Rose is a very good NBA player who may in 15 years be as famous as Michael Jordan — but he’s not yet. If you follow sports, you know Derrick Rose. If you don’t, he would not be on your radar one bit. And, unlike Kobe Bryant, Derrick Rose has both a common first name and a common last name. Same thing for Kevin Durant.

                Reply
            2. Traveler

              Have a family member who named their kid after a famous wrestler. I tried to warn them, they didn’t care. Now every time I hear the name I picture wrestler and spandex and the like. But their prerogative.

              Reply
            3. Talvi

              I have a family member (of the “second-cousin-thrice-removed” variety) named Michael Jackson. I can’t recall how old he is, but I think he’s old enough that it is most likely a coincidence.

              Reply
          2. Kappa

            My name is a very common name for girls in the African-American community. Not so much for white people, which is what I am. Couple that with a last name that’s very common in African-American circles, I confuse a hell of a lot of people when they hear my name before meeting me. My mom did zero research on my name– she just read it somewhere and thought it sounded pretty.

            My dad once said to me, “Barack Obama– doesn’t that sound like a Muslim name?” I asked him if my name sounded like it belonged to a blonde white girl. He shut up fairly quickly after that.

            Reply
            1. aliascelli

              I had a coworker who shared my (Irish) first and (common in America) middle name with. She’s African-American, I’m Caucasian, and she regularly surprised people who knew her name before they met her.

              Reply
              1. Honeybee

                I’m African American. My mother loves Irish names and culture (and may be Irish-descended – her maiden name is Griffin, and corned beef and cabbage was a standby dish in my home growing up) and she wanted to name me Siobhan. I think my dad might have vetoed it. (I was greatly disappointed, because I was the smug kind of kid who would’ve really enjoyed correcting everyone’s spelling and pronunciation of my name.)

                Reply
            2. ThursdaysGeek

              Barak is a biblical name, and since spelling names isn’t consistent in translations, I’ve considered it a name from the Bible.

              A former boss has a name that is common for African-American guys. She’s white.

              Reply
            3. AvonLady Barksdale

              I know someone in that exact situation. Blonde with a popular African-American name, that is, not with a dad who thinks Barack Obama sounds like a Muslim name. :) (Chris Rock said it best when he said “Barack Obama” sounded like the guitar player for The Commodores.)

              I have a very good friend who had a White colleague/friend with the last name of Lee. My friend is Chinese, with a surname that’s usually Chinese but sometimes isn’t. They used to make people guess which one was which.

              Reply
          3. Honeybee

            My last name is Brown and my husband and I always joke that we’re going to name our kids James, Chris, Bobby, Charlie, and Amber.

            Reply
        2. Lily Rowan

          I was going to make a slight defense along the lines of how people will spell anything any number of ways, and Ariane is a perfectly nice unconnected name, but… yeah, no.

          Reply
          1. VintageLydia USA

            I have a friend named Ariane and I didn’t make the connection with Aryan until you mentioned it. I imagine they may be pronounced differently, though.

            Reply
        3. MashaKasha

          That poor child. No worries, I give it 14 years before the kid rebels and changes her name. With a mother like this, 14 is a pretty liberal estimate.

          Reply
      1. AW

        IIRC, there was a case where someone tried to name their kid Adolf Hitler and the courts refused to do it. Like they either wouldn’t put it on the birth certificate in the first place or required the parents to change it.

        Reply
        1. fposte

          The one I know of is the New Jersey case where one kid was named Adolf Hitler and the other Aryan Nation, and a bakery wouldn’t decorate a birthday cake congratulating Adolf Hitler. That was about the same time (not sure if it was the reason) that the fact he was an abusive asshole came to the attention of authorities, so the kids were removed from the home.

          I don’t think you could name your kid Adolf Hitler in Germany, though. The U.S. is really non-interfering with names.

          Reply
          1. Ad Astra

            IIRC, babies born in Germany have to have German names. There’s a list of approved names (admittedly, it’s a pretty long list), and Hitler is definitely not on it. Can’t remember if Adolf is banned.

            Reply
            1. Myrin

              Nope on the kids in Germany having to have German names (the list you speak of does exist, though). In fact, names that have a German origin pretty much aren’t given to children anymore – maybe with one or two rare exceptions that I can’t think of right now they’re seen as universally old-fashioned (and have been for quite some time, actually; I’m 24 and names of Hebrew or Greek origin are the norm among my peers – I do know one Wolfgang and one Friedrich who are my age but that’s always been highly weird. I recently talked with my sister about how even a teacher at the school we both went to who is now in his late forties or early fifties is actually too young to have the first name “Wolfgang”).

              I believe “Adolf” isn’t banned per se but the connotations are just too strong and besides that, what I said above about German names counts here as well. And “Hitler” simply isn’t a first name, so even if it didn’t have the historic associations it has it wouldn’t fly as a given name. (But yeah, our rules about pretty much anything Nazi are super strict so I’m always floored when I hear stories like the Aryan person talked about above.)

              Reply
              1. Ad Astra

                Everyone I know from Germany is named Anne or David or something that sounds pretty Anglo to me, but I had assumed there was some shared heritage to those names. I guess it makes more sense that the list includes names that aren’t German in origin.

                And, for whatever reason, Americans just love using last names as first names these days. I know tons of kids named Brooks, Delaney, Beckett, Finley, Nash… obviously, no Hitlers.

                Reply
                1. Myrin

                  Well, both of your examples are actually of Hebrew origin. ;)

                  They, along with so many others, would absolutely be considered “German names” but actually, genuinely German names are things like Hildebrand, Dietrich, Adelheid, Rudolf, Gertrud etc. The latter are those that aren’t used much anymore, the former are generally germanised (which is probably what you were referring to, but I’m a German major and get super picky about that stuff because it’s just so interesting and I want everyone to know about it!) but if you’re super strict, they aren’t “actually” German.

                  I did not now that thing about the last names! We do have names here that function as both first and last names (like Ludwig or Gottfried, for example) but that’s only because they were first names to begin with and then sometime in the Middle Ages used as a last name – it’s pretty easy to distinguish between actual first and last names in German which is why I find this different trend in the US very curious and interesting!

              2. Tau

                It always amuses me when I see, in fiction, German characters written by someone who went for the most stereotypical names and clearly had no idea about modern German naming conventions. So you get, like, a Hans and a Fritz in their early twenties. Just a few decades off there…

                I’m a few years older than you and was about to disagree with the Hebrew/Greek name thing, but apparently almost all the names we had multiples of in my class are Biblical in origin – apart from the obvious Christian (three), we also had two Florians and two Tobias…s. And two Fabians, which is apparently Roman in origin.

                Agreed that naming your kid Adolf in Germany would be… bad. Like, the names with Nazi connotations would be bad enough already (e.g. Siegfried or Brunhilde), but Adolf itself? I shudder to think about it.

                Reply
              1. NotherName

                I thought it was surnames that were part of a list in Iceland. (Since many people have patronyms but no surname, I think it’s a non-issue for a lot of its citizens.)

                I’ve always wanted to go to Iceland…

                Reply
                1. fposte

                  It’s not just “many people”–it’s just not a last-name culture. Phone book listings were ordered by first name, and there’s no shared family name tradition.

                2. Talvi

                  I believe there is a very, very small number of inherited surnames in Iceland, but on the whole it is patronymic (or matronymic). There is a list of acceptable given names in Iceland – you aren’t allowed to use a name that cannot be declined according to Icelandic grammar.

                3. NotherName

                  I thought it was most people who didn’t have surnames, but I didn’t want to make any assumptions. :) I know some exist in Iceland, but I thought it was pretty rare.

            2. Tau

              Also nope on the German names – however, you have to be able to prove that the name you’re giving your child is an actual name in use, or something that can be reasonably considered to be a name (e.g., name of a fictional character). I know someone who’s from Kenya and gave her children traditional Kenyan names – IIRC, she had to dig up published versions of Kenyan folk tales using the names before the courts would accept them.

              There’s also a thing where if you want to give your child a first name that’s gender-neutral, you have to give them a gender-specific middle name. I guess it would just be too *confusing* otherwise or something. :/ No idea how that works for cultural groups that don’t really do gender-specific names.

              Reply
              1. Myrin

                Ah, I forgot about the gender thing! I do wonder, though, if with the new law regarding an official third gender this has been changed as well.

                Reply
        2. Mpls

          I knew a gentleman from my old job who’s name was Adolf. Born in the 1930s in the US, to a German family (I’m guessing) before the rise of the more famous Adolf. Sweet old man who drove a school bus until he passed away in his 80s.

          Reply
            1. Ad Astra

              Was it in Australia that some little girl with a really bad name (I forget what it was) went to court and won the right to change her name against her parents’ wishes? Maybe I’m making that up.

              Reply
                1. ancolie

                  I love Sydney Morning Herald links, because I always always ALWAYS see the URL as “shake(ing) my head”.com.au Hee.

      2. Nina

        I remember some 80s movie with a woman who wanted to name her child Treblinka because she thought it was one of the fairies from Sleeping Beauty. Until she learned it was actually the name of a concentration camp.

        Reply
      3. Rena

        I always wondered what happened to the rest of the Hitler family. Do they just deal with their last name, or did they change it as fast as possible?

        Reply
        1. Myrin

          Hitler’s last name was actually “Schicklgruber” for the first forty or so years of his life as he was an illegitimate child – his father’s name was Hitler, though, so he didn’t choose that out of nowhere. As far as I know, there isn’t a rest to the family – I’m very sure he only had one sister who lived to be an adult and she didn’t have any kids. There might be some cousins or so but I’m reasonably sure if so, they changed their names (having the same name as a widely-known criminal is, much to my chargrin as I’d love to take my mother’s name, one of the like five only reasons you’re allowed to change your name in Germany; that being said, I both think “Hitler” would be a big exception here in any case and that any relatives of his would actually be in Austria which might have different laws regarding names anyway).

          Reply
          1. fposte

            That’s his father who was an illegitimate child originally named Schicklgrubr, not Adolf; Adolf was born a Hitler and a legitimate child of the marriage. Alois Hitler changed his name prior to Adolf’s birth.

            There’s the sister, but more famously there’s Hitler’s English nephew, who joined the U.S. Navy in WWII but didn’t change his name from Hitler until after the war.

            Reply
          2. Traveler

            Whoa. You have to have reasons to change your name? I’d never heard that before. I see Germany as this super progressive country these days. Seems weird.

            Reply
            1. Myrin

              Yeah, that’s basically the only thing where I’d say the US law is much “better” than the German law. You’re allowed to change your name if you’re trans, if your name is the same as that of a known criminal (and the criminal has to be someone whose name was on TV or something so that it could be reasonably expected most people would make a connection), if your name is super horrible, like an obscenity or something, and one or two other reasons I forgot. And, we’re super bureaucratic and I can kinda understand not letting people change their names to something completely out there but man, my divorced parents have different last names and I just want to take that of my mum and basically my whole family (I’m not really in contact with my father or his family). I feel like that’s not too much to ask. :/

              Reply
          3. Dynamic Beige

            I saw a documentary once about the children of top SS officers — what happened to them, how they were treated. Perhaps there are some who think that their parents were “right”, but there weren’t in that bunch. It was kind of sad. They had nothing to do with it and were treated horribly by association. I could see why they would want to change their names and live a normal life.

            Reply
      1. Kelly L.

        Or even just changes the spelling to the normal name Arianne, which is said the same way but has the happy bonus of coming from the Greek myth of Ariadne rather than from racism.

        Reply
        1. Bekx

          My friend told her sister to name her that…or if she wanted to have it unique spelling wise, she could make it Aariane or Arrianne or anything! Anything but Aryan.

          But I think she just liked the idea of making people talk about her — positively or negatively. So her daughter will have to live with her mother’s decision.

          Reply
          1. ancolie

            Oh god, one of THOSE. Her daughter isn’t an actual, separate human being; she’s *clearly* just an add-on accessory to her mother’s life and world. Gross.

            Reply
        2. jhhj

          Aryan wasn’t always racist, though, it was co-opted by Nazis but had been used perfectly normally in philology before that (or at least, it was not especially racist for the time). Of course it’s been completely ruined for that use and has been dumped since.

          Reply
          1. Observer

            Besides, if Mom actually said that “none of my friends are Jewish”, she has clearly outed herself as knowing how racist that name is. She just doesn’t care.

            Reply
    3. Chalupa Batman

      I met a male Aryan once. I’m a POC and had an immediate “run!” reaction, but I was at work, so had to both not run and treat him like anyone else. I’m glad I did-I couldn’t resist trying to feel him out with, “I’ve never heard that name before,” and he replied with a good natured eye roll and said, “My parents were sci fi nuts, it’s from some show.” I don’t know if it’s true or not, but it put me more at ease. So it’s not an exclusively racist name, but people do notice. It was pretty unkind to stick her baby with a lifetime of that conversation.

      Reply
      1. AnotherAlison

        *If* the guy’s parents were racists, and he grew up to not have the same ideology, it would be fun to go by “Ari” for short. Given the Hebrew and Greek origins (and probably others) of the name, that would really cheese off the parents.

        Reply
      1. Ann O'Nemity

        Yes, I’ve worked with an A. Ryan. Luckily we foresaw the email issue and added the middle initial to their email address right before they started.

        Reply
    4. Michelle

      My husband wanted to name my stepdaughter Ariene! (I think that’s how it’s spelled.) It’s a lovely Welsh name that means “silvery.” Fortunately he DID care about whether people associated it with Hitler, and named her Aryanna instead. He still says her name is Welsh though, when actually it’s Greek.

      Reply
  26. Guera

    Please, please give us an update OP. I can’t wait to hear how this goes. There are so many ways we could have fun with this if it weren’t so pathetically serious. I stand with everyone that says “stand your ground” but if you do choose to comply I agree with AAM- you have an idea now of what you are getting into.

    Reply
  27. Toto in KS

    I used to work with a man named Jihad. I had joked to him once that I hope his parents had never lost him in an airport as a child. They couldn’t go around yelling ‘Jihad! Jihad!’ while trying to find him.

    Reply
      1. Toto in KS

        This was a friend and believe me.. I wouldn’t have made this joke to someone I didn’t know well. He thought it was funny. He’s an American white guy living in Kansas…. He got the joke.

        Reply
  28. Oryx

    At ExJob, my manager’s son was nicknamed TK which stands for “The King.”

    True story. I don’t think he ever anticipates his child going by The, I think it’s either TK or King.

    Reply
    1. AnotherAlison

      But isn’t that a nickname? I think that would be different, although, as I debate this in my head, I am not sure what side I would come down on with a nickname. We’ve got some “Butch”es here who have no part of their legal name as “Butch.” If someone’s been going by that for a lifetime, it would be kind of weird to insist that they go by Steve here. OTOH, you could get into a gray area where someone’s nickname is not really appropriate for the office, but who is to set that standard. Do we insist that “Li’l Wayne” is just Wayne here?

      Reply
        1. AnotherAlison

          Oh, well that’s a whole different issue! That just goes to my personal pet peeve that you should name your kids what you call them (who’s going to yell at ‘The King’ to clean his room?), and perhaps to the point that the government occasionally needs to intervene in naming of kids. “The” isn’t really a valid first name.

          Reply
  29. AW

    What really kills me about this is that by saying the OP can’t use their own name, they’re also forbidding anyone in the office from using it.

    If this co-worker is objecting to the name then that means the manager sent out an email or told them in a meeting about the OP joining the team. Which means everyone knows their name is King. Which means the manager is going to or has already sent a follow-up email telling everyone NOT to call the OP King because co-worker objects to it for religious reasons.

    Frankly, if I was one of the other co-workers, I’d call the OP “Your Lordship” if they insisted on not letting me call the OP King.

    Reply
    1. HR Recruiter

      I’m wondering if management sent out an announcement saying, “Please welcome John Smith to the team. He goes by King or King Smith.” And left off the part about it being his middle name and not a nickname.

      Reply
      1. afiendishthingy

        Ooh, good point – although you’d still hope that when the coworker raised a fuss the manager would have said “It’s not a fraternity nickname, it is the name he always goes by, and we can’t change his name to accommodate you”.

        Reply
  30. Dr. Pepper Addict

    Whenever someone cries that they’re offended, there’s usually someone on the other side that will get offended if the reverse situation happened. In this case, they’re offending OP and trying to cater to the other person in the office. Why doesn’t it matter if OP is offended that they asked him to change his name? And that IS offensive.

    Reply
  31. Fuzzyfuzz

    I wouldn’t recommend lobbing this stone immediately, but something to chew on (someone may have said it upthread):

    Could this employee insisting that you use a different name–and your employer allowing it–amount legally to HER making it a hostile work environment for the OP? I would think so if the name is representative of race, religion, or any other protected class. To me, her ‘rights’ and protections are not the only ones that matter here.

    Reply
    1. LBK

      I don’t believe one incident would rise to the level of being a hostile work environment, even if the OP were somehow able to prove the name were tied to membership in a protected class (which I don’t think it is).

      Reply
      1. Fuzzyfuzz

        True, but I was thinking more along the lines of if the employer insisted that the OP comply with this. I don’t know if being consistently called a name you don’t approve of could really be considered an isolated incident.

        Reply
        1. LBK

          In the situation outlined, I don’t think the OP would be able to link it to a protected category. If, for example, he had a stereotypically black name and they asked him to go by something that sounded “more white,” then he’d probably have a case.

          Reply
  32. Workfromhome

    Simply respond:

    “Sorry my religious beliefs require me to use my middle name in daily use. I would find it offensive to use my first name. ”

    Then say nothing. I think 99.9% of people do not want to go anywhere near a “Employee X’s religion trumps employee Y religion” argument.

    Plus they can’t ask you to “prove it” unless they are willing to have crazy entry level employee prove their ridiculous assertion that the name King is prohibited by their religion.

    On a more serious note I agree with most above. Start looking for another job ASAP. As long as this lunatic has undue influence over the regional manager that could cause this your workplace is likely to become toxic very quickly especially when his/her request is deined. You are going to be their target at some point.

    Reply
    1. Katie the Fed

      In reasonable accommodation for religion, you actually don’t have to “prove” anything. The request hinges on the reasonableness of the accommodation, not the validity of the religion.

      Reply
      1. NotherName

        This almost (almost!) makes me want to go around renaming all my co-workers and claiming it’s for religious accommodation….

        Reply
        1. DaBlonde

          Right, I would just re-name her in return.
          I will go by Wakeen instead of King, and we will call you Gladys (pronounced as nasally as possible).
          As a funny side note, I was nicknamed Lucy by one of my coworkers because whenever he would come back to the office after teaching a class he would announce, “Lucy, I’m home.”
          So whenever I had paperwork of his that wasn’t correct I’d go to his desk and tell him, “Ricky, you got some explaining to do.”

          Reply
          1. NotherName

            Not Gladys – my mother worked for a Gladys who was a wonderful lady! You want “Agnes” – and said nasally like in “Auntie Mame.”

            I’m ya sponge!

            Reply
  33. Katie the Fed

    All things considered, I would turn down this job if I had any other options. This doesn’t bode well for the kind of people I’d be working with.

    I mean, I got over calling a colleague her legal name, “Honey.” The coworker could certainly get over this.

    Reply
    1. Ad Astra

      I once frequented a nail tech whose legal name was Cinnamon. She was smart, professional, and not the least bit tacky, but I admit her name had me expecting the opposite.

      Reply
    2. Hiding on the Internet Today

      I’ve had a similar stumbling block with “Birdie.” In theory, I find that a very odd and kind of insulting name, and not one I’d attach to a child. In reality, when faced with a real, life, breathing human? I call her Birdie. By about morning 15, “Morning, Birdie, did you see the email on the new spout design?” feels totally normal.

      Unless you’ve really decided to take this to the mattresses. (And if you’re dead set on controlling what someone else is addressed/identified as, I think we are going to have many larger problems.)

      Reply
    3. Kappa

      Yep, I went to school with a Bambi. We all just dealt with it.

      I have a relative who goes by “Honey” because she hates her real name. It’s pretty hilarious to hear everyone refer to her as Honey, especially when exasperated with her.

      “Honey, I told you 15 times not to do that!”

      Reply
      1. RLG

        Where do you get racism from this? OP states they start next week, the employee may have never even seen them and just noticed their name in a company email or meeting.

        Reply
      2. Kira

        Yeah, I’m gonna go with Not Subtle, and if it’s somehow an accident of ignorance, hopefully pointing out the racism inherent in this whole shebang would go a long way toward shutting it down.

        Reply
  34. KT

    This reminds me of the one letter who wanted to hide her coworker’s name because in English, it sounded like a bad word. That was just as ridiculous and off the wall.

    Reply
    1. OriginalEmma

      I don’t remember that one. Can you link it?

      Reminds me of when I was in elementary school, there was a child named Rashit whose parents changed his name because of all the name calling the poor kid received. :(

      Reply
  35. TheExchequer

    Where am I and where did this Looney Tunes music come from?

    Actually, though, my coworker has a similar issue. The president of the company is named “Chris” and her name is “Christina”. She’d prefer to go by Chris but she chooses not to because it’s too much trouble. Bit different than being ordered to go by something else though.

    Reply
  36. Bostonian

    This has gotten me thinking: this case is obviously ridiculous, but what about a case where a person’s name is from a different language but is the same as something offensive in English, like a curse word? I both think it’s offensive to ask someone to change a name, and that some employers would have understandable reservations about putting someone with an offensive (in English) name in a customer-facing position. Not hiring someone for that reason is probably grounds for a racial discrimination claim, so does the employer just have to suck it up, even if it hurts business? Or are there some circumstances where asking someone to choose a nickname would be appropriate?

    Reply
    1. KT

      No. Asking someone to choose a nickname because you find their name offensive is never okay.

      We live in a global economy…time to get over our ego-centric approach and accept different cultures

      Reply
      1. JessaB

        I think there might be a teensy moment where asking them for a different romanization of their name might possibly occasionally be okay – when it always gets caught in spam/editing filters on every use because well “bad word.” And note how many maybes are in there. I’d have IT reset the filters myself. BUT romanization of names is not set in stone – Peking/Beijing etc. I wouldn’t stop them from USING the name. I might ask them if there’s an easier to use alt spelling though. Maybe. I’m not the sort, however, that really cares personally so the above I is really meant to be I-the-corporation’s-mouthpiece, not I the individual me, who’d probably as I said make em change the filters. However, I can’t change everyone’s filters out there so I’d leave it up to the employee in the end.

        Reply
        1. Observer

          Yes, you can ask YOUR IT folks to reset the filters, but you can’t do that for other systems. So, that’s the ONE place where it can be appropriate to ask about different spelling or something. But, even there, you really need to be sensitive and open to finding a work around if necessary.

          Reply
    2. Kelly L.

      They should suck it up, IMO.

      That said, sometimes people will move to a country, realize their name means something vulgar there, and choose a nickname of their own volition, and that’s just fine! It’s imposing it on someone against their will that we shouldn’t be doing.

      Reply
      1. Manders

        I knew an admin whose name was pronounced like a childishly rude English phrase. She chose to go by her full name instead of choosing a nickname, and as far as I’m aware everyone was respectful of that.

        It would be very weird and unusual for an office full of adults to make fun of a coworker’s name.

        Reply
    3. Fuzzyfuzz

      There was an entry on Dear Prudence recently about something like this (though it dealt with kids and teasing). One example given was a Turkish exchange student whose name was Ofuc, pronounced just as you’d assume.

      I do think that in a diverse society, employers do kind of have to suck it up. People’s names have different origins, and it’s better to model maturity about this sort of thing than not.

      Reply