coworker is obviously pregnant but hasn’t told us, negotiating for more vacation time, and more

It’s four answers to four questions. Here we go…

1. Our coworker is obviously pregnant but hasn’t told us and we want to be cool

My question is about a coworker who we’re sure is pregnant. There are only three of us in our building and we are pretty close (both as work friends and literally, we see each other all day and share a bathroom). My coworker has given up caffeine and has been nauseated for the last two weeks, so we’re betting she’s not far along, but we obviously don’t want to put her on the spot about her private life.

My question is how to be cool about her rushing to the bathroom to be sick every day — how can we be tactful without revealing that we know what’s up? It seems so rude to just ignore that she’s not feeling well!

She’s not saying anything explicit, but the bathroom is right next to my desk so I hear her turn the sink on to mask the sound. She mentioned that she gave up the coffee because it’s bothering her stomach, but that’s as much explanation as she’s given. She’s just quietly sipping on ginger ale and eating saltines all day. I guess we just follow her lead and say, gosh, sorry you’re feeling queasy? We’re also planning a work trip in a few weeks for which she and I have booked a shared hotel room (since we are friendly we have voluntarily done so in the past) but now I kinda wish I could give her an out so she can have her own space.

Yep, follow her lead, even if it’s really obvious to you what’s going on. In fact, I’d think about how you’d act if you were somehow sure she wasn’t pregnant (and if you weren’t hearing her throwing up) and do that. When she’s ready to talk about it, she’ll tell you — but you shouldn’t force her hand.

For the work trip though, I do think you could say something like, “I know you haven’t been feeling well lately, and it can be hard to share space when you don’t feel well. I always like sharing a room with you, but you rather have your own room when we go to Boston? I’d totally understand if so.” (There’s a risk here that it’ll sound like you’re really saying that you don’t want to share a room with a frequent barfer, but I think if you include the “I always like sharing with you” bit, it should be okay.)

2. Do I need to ask for a wording change in my offer letter?

With a lot of helpful advice from AAM, I have just been offered a new position in a nonprofit organization. Hooray! The starting salary is a bit low for both the field and my level of experience and skills. I was able to negotiate the following salary deal to get an increase on the initial offer when they begin their new fiscal year: my starting salary is $60K, which increases to $66K on July 1. The bumped-up salary is still on the low side, but it helps and — along with other factors — makes the job worth it. I do want the job.

The manager and I discussed this deal verbally and in email. I just received the official offer letter and realized that the wording for this salary arrangement is problematic. The offer letter states the agreed upon starting salary ($60K), then “we are committed to increasing your salary to $66K on July 1.” At the risk of being paranoid or cynical, I worry that this “committed to increasing” phrase is not an absolute guarantee that I will get the bump come July 1. I do not believe they’re acting in bad faith, but the current wording offers them wiggle room if the financial picture changes, “well, we really were committed to giving you this increase, but we can’t actually do it.” (In our negotiations, they did notmake this salary increase contingent upon performance or any other factors.)

I’d like to ask them to change the wording to “we will increase your salary” to make this absolutely clear and incontrovertible. I would also like do this respectfully (of course), without antagonizing them or getting off on the wrong foot (by implying that I don’t trust them).

Are my concerns about this “committed to” wording valid? In other words, should I demand a change? And, if so, would you please suggest some language for addressing this issue — both for the offer letter itself, and for raising my concerns with the institution?

That wording would worry me too. They didn’t necessarily intend for it to leave room for them to wiggle out of the agreement, but that could end up being the effect.

I would say this: “I’m really excited about this job, and I appreciate you working with me on the salary. I have a wording request about the offer letter. I want to make sure that it reflects our agreement that my salary will increase to $66,000 on July 1, and I think the current wording might make it less certain than that. Would you be able to change it from “committed to increasing” to “will increase”? If so, I’d be glad to accept.”

3. Can I negotiate for more vacation time?

I am working at a nonprofit agency that provides generous vacation benefits but poor salary and no raise for ten years. I am looking to change jobs/careers but am not sure how to reap a similar benefit with a new job. Is it appropriate to ask for more than two weeks vacation time when I am leaving a job that currently allows more than six weeks annually?

You can indeed try to negotiate for more vacation time. They may or may not agree, but it’s very much a thing that people try to do and sometimes it works. You’d just say something like, “I currently have six weeks of vacation time annually. I realize you offer X weeks. Could we agree on Y weeks so that I’m not taking such a hit there?” (The amount you ask for should depend on what X is. If they currently offer two weeks, they’re not likely to triple that to six for you. But you might be able to get a smaller concession from them.)

But keep in mind that it’s not uncommon for (some) nonprofits to offer generous vacation time as part of an overall package that includes lower salaries, so you’ll also want to factor in what the norms are in your new industry.

4. Employees in my office have to send out their own leaving announcements

I work in an office with about 80 people in various departments. I’ll be up-front and say that generally morale isn’t great. No one who was working in my department when I was hired is still here. That’s not to say people are quitting every month. It’s just that they don’t often stay longer than a year or two.

One of the odd things my director has implemented is a policy about people leaving. Unlike everywhere else I’ve ever worked, supervisors don’t send out an email announcing that someone is leaving, while they do when someone’s coming aboard. The outgoing employee is required to tell everyone themselves that they’re moving on and is sometimes even ordered to tell certain managers that they’re on their way out.

It seems like a strange choice to me because by sending an email, you cut down on gossip by declaring that so-and-so is leaving on this day to go here. Also, it can be good for morale in that it gives the managers the chance to publicly thank said employee for his or her service. That way, we’d know we’re not just faceless drones to the management. Is this an odd policy? What benefit is there to doing things this way?

Yeah, in general a manager shouldn’t pass up the chance to send her own email about an employee’s departure (either as the main announcement or as a supplement to the employee’s own email) for all the reasons you mentioned — and especially in an environment with high turnover, where messaging is really important.

But it’s also not unusual for people to announce their own departures or for a manager to say, “Hey, make sure you talk to Jane this week about your ending date so she can plan accordingly.”

It would be weirder if departures weren’t getting announced at all (although that’s more common than one would think).

{ 385 comments… read them below or add one }

  1. Ask a Manager Post author

    As of 11:10 a.m. EDT, all comments on this post are being moderated (which means there may be a delay before they show up).

    To be clear: Letter writer #1 is not asking whether to mention pregnancy to the coworker. She’s asking how to be kind of about the obvious frequent vomiting without mentioning pregnancy, and how to handle the hotel room. Please comment with that in mind. (And the point has been made repeatedly that the coworker may not actually be pregnant.)

    Reply
  2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

    OP#2, could you ask them to change the language to “We commit to increasing your salary…”? “We will increase” is of course fine, as well. I’m trying to figure out if someone accidentally made the increase voluntary by using a squishy verb tense.

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    1. Ramona Flowers

      Seems like a squishy verb, regardless of tense. IANAL but this still looks problematic. I believe contracts need to make it clear both parties intend to be bound by them, and someone could argue that they didn’t or they would have just said “we will increase”.

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      1. Scion

        The way I understand it, offer letters generally don’t count as contracts anyway, so there’s no way to guarantee the raise.

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          1. Chris V

            I’m OP#2. Thanks to Alison and the commentariat for your helpful suggestions and confirming my sense that the “committed to” language wasn’t quite right. Now I just have to think about how to handle this if they don’t agree to change the language … it would be a flag, but maybe not fire-engine red. I’m not sure if it would be a deal-breaker. I’m in a field where job openings are very few and very far between, so it would be hard to walk away from an offer that I’m otherwise very keen on. I’ll send an update when I can.

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            1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

              OP, I would ask yourself if you’re willing to work there if they don’t give you the raise. It sounds like that may not be supportable, but I think that’s really what you’re dealing with. As Scion notes, an offer letter isn’t a contract, but failure to even correct the offer letter looks a little bit like not actually wanting to have to raise your salary… which sounds like an essential part of the bargain you negotiated when you agreed to be underpaid in this position. (But note that as a lawyer, I tend to see the worst in a situation and want to protect against it when people may not be doing anything sinister or bad-faith-y at all).

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              1. Mabel

                Thank you, Princess, for your last sentence! Now I understand better why my attorney father is always trying to prevent ANYTHING negative from happening. I don’t know if he was attracted to law because this is how he is, or if being a lawyer made him (more) this way, but either way, it stuck a chord for me.

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            2. HR is fun

              I’m not sure if the OP is still coming back to read this thread, but just in case: I’ve been in HR for years. I wouldn’t write “We will increase your salary to XX in 6 months.” because it’s almost impossible to know what the situation will be in 6 months. I’d write something like “Assuming continued employment and your supervisor’s agreement about your good work performance, we will increase your salary to XX in 6 months.”

              I was taught to write offer letters like this with some caution. What if you have submitted your resignation after 5 1/2 months? What if you are on a PIP? Obviously those things are very unlikely to happen, but that’s why we wouldn’t promise something in an offer letter.

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      1. Close Bracket

        She could be sick from something else. Perhaps the comment should read “spend more time focusing on how to be respectful and less time wondering about the contents of her uterus”.

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        1. krysb

          Right. I just started on Methotrexate for an autoimmune condition. I’m nauseous and can’t have caffeine or booze. If coworker is indeed pregnant, let her tell you in her own time.

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        2. Annabelle

          Yeah, I think this is pretty fair. I have some chronic health issues that result in nausea and ocassionally force me to give up caffeine, alcohol, and a ton of other stuff. OP should be kind no matter what’s making her feel badly.

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      2. Meliza

        I agree with Alison! The OP is clearly taking care to be respectful and appropriate, and in fact clearly said that she doesn’t want to come out and say “I know you’re pregnant”. There’s really nothing here to suggest that she’s being a busybody.

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    1. Kaitastic

      Agree! A while ago, I had an ovarian cyst and needed surgery to have it removed. I looked like I was 3 months pregnant. It was so embarrassing when a coworker pointed at my belly and said “what’s that?!”. I was like “none of your business”. I’m very private and really unless someone volunteers personal info, don’t ask.

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      1. Junior Dev

        Yeah, I can see this going very wrong if it turns out the co-worker isn’t pregnant but has some sort of health problem that’s causing her to be sick all the time. I like Alison’s suggestion because it deals with the information you do have–your co-worker doesn’t feel well and is vomiting a lot–and at this point the actions you’d take in response are the same regardless of the reason for that.

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        1. Wintermute

          as a man I follow the general axiom that unless you see a baby emerging from them at that very instant, you never say anything that implies a woman may remotely be pregnant. It’s safer for everyone’s dignity.

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          1. babblemouth

            That’s the best attitude to have – and not just as a man, but for people of all genders. It is humiliating to be asked when the new addition is coming, and having to answer that the new addition is just the results of a pizza binge.

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                1. Specialk9

                  My strategy is to just say, in a clear, *carrying*, cheerful tone “Oh no, I’m not pregnant, I’m just fat.” And walk away.

                  I figure if I have to deal with a suddenly ruined day+ by a stranger saying something obviously ill-advised, they can marinate in mortification, preferably as strangers turn to cast disproving looks.

          2. Annabelle

            I follow this too and I think it’s a really good rule of thumb. Until they tell you or labor starts, you probably shouldn’t just assume that someone’s pregnant.

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        2. Julia

          I agree. I once had to quit grad school because of health problems, one of them being constant nausea. Someone asked me if I was pregnant and I could have cried. (I have endometriosis, too, so maybe I will never be pregnant.) Take women’s health problems seriously without thinking that every bout of vomiting has to mean pregnancy.

          Coffee does actually upset many people’s stomaches, it certainly upsets mine. Imagine if your co-worker finds out that you thought she was pregnant – women have a hard enough time advancing at work when they actually do end up having children, rumors of pregnancy aren’t really necessary and just make things worse for women.

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      2. JamieS

        To be fair I think there’s a clear difference between a coworker saying “what’s that?!” while pointing at your belly and the co-worker asking a workplace advice columnist “my coworker is barfing all the time but hasn’t said anything. How do I remain respectful of her private medical business without seeming like a jerk by ignoring her obviously not feeling well?”.

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        1. Kaitastic

          Of course! I didn’t mean to compare my situation with this because it’s obviously not the same. I just shared my experience to say that the letter writer does not Know for sure that her coworker is pregnant (even she insists that she does know). There could be many other reasons for her symptoms and the whole “she’s obviously pregnant” threw me off.

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          1. a Gen X manager

            Agree! The “obviously pregnant” made me think (before I started reading the post) that the co-worker was about 7 months pregnant. She may well be pregnant, but as others have pointed out, it could very well be a different health change.

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            1. Rusty Shackelford

              Ha! I expected the same thing – that she had a pregnant-looking belly but hadn’t made an announcement. And as an apple-shaped person, I’d have pointed out that things are not always as they seem. :-/

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            2. JD

              This is exactly what I thought when I saw the title. I figured she was near popping but hasn’t said anything. Coworker knows that you can tell something is up. She will say something when she wants to. For all you know she has had fertility issues or miscarriages and wants to reach the common 12 week point when the chances of the pregnancy sticking are higher. Having had a miscarriage myself it is the LAST thing I want to have to discuss with anyone at work.

              My old boss and I had a joke because it was known (not that she bragged or anything but over many years became known) she was trying to have a second child. People constantly asked her if she was pregnant at the slightest change in her daily habit. If I was sick or late or anything she and I would joke “oh i must be pregnant” with an eye roll. The best was the day she was guaranteed an adoption and she came to work with a shirt that said something along the line of “Yes we are adopting, no when don’t know when the baby will come.” It was worded far more clever but stopped all the invasive questions.

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          2. Sarah

            I agree — this could easily be any number of GI things…avoiding coffee and similar acidic drinks is actually a really common recommendation in those cases, and nausea could easily also be a symptom. And, as folks have mentioned above, there are also various not-so-happy gynecological conditions that could lead to similar symptoms. It’s just better not to assume and then be happily surprised if it does turn out to be for a happy reason versus an illness. I would treat it as you would if a male colleague were ill — that is, (hopefully!) you would not be bugging him about his Crohn’s disease or acid reflux, but would just politely ignore unless there was a clear work need to do so.

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          3. Flossie Bobbsey

            Just pointing out it’s only the title of the post (which may have come from LW or AAM) – LW1 doesn’t use “obviously” that way in her letter, although she does say the other colleagues are “sure.” It’s kind of gross to be theorizing about this behind the sick colleague’s back. I’ve had my suspicions in the past about whether someone was pregnant and never dreamed of voicing it to someone else, much less keeping tabs on it together.

            Also, side note, as someone 5+ months pregnant, I am annoyed when coworkers gush over my bump or make a show of inspecting it. I’m here to work and am not friends outside of work with these people. Keep your thoughts on my body to yourself. I realize other women may feel different.

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      3. Close Bracket

        > a coworker pointed at my belly and said “what’s that?!”.

        Holy Tactless, Batman. Perhaps we should all spend more of our time focusing on our own work and less on other peoples bodies.

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      4. Meliza

        With all due respect, I think that’s a very different situation. The OP very clearly said she didn’t want to reveal the coworker’s personal information, and seems focused on how to help her through her physical symptoms. Pointing at someone’s belly and exclaiming “what’s that?!” is neither helpful nor sympathetic, and I think most people would agree with that.

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      5. MommyMD

        I agree that one should not become preoccupied with someone else’s bathroom or coffee habits. The entire letter strikes me as intrusive. I guess I disagree on the acting out of concern explanation.

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        1. LW of #1 here

          What’s your explanation for how I’m acting, if not out of concern for the privacy and comfort of my colleague & friend?

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          1. Amazed

            I’m going to play devil’s advocate here.

            It’s not out of the realm of possibility for a busybody to cite concerns for the subject’s health, whether the concern is legitimate or just an excuse for being a busybody. And it’s not out of the realm of possibility for an observer (or the subject) to pick up on this, rightly or not, especially if they’ve gotten burned by it themselves in the past.

            Again, I don’t think that’s what’s actually going on here, just trying to offer possible explanations as to why people might behave this way.

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            1. bridget (better screen name TBD)

              But the blog guidelines here are that we do not gratuitously play devil’s advocate, and we generally take letter writers at their word. They are real people who have written in for guidance; let’s not explore the possibilities that they could technically be lying. Assuming the LW really is concerned (makes total sense to me, i would feel similarly torn about how to be supportive yet not intrusive here), let’s give her good advice.

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          2. Triplestep

            I think what you’re seeing here is a reaction to your certainty that your friend is pregnant when she may not be – you mention it throughout your letter. I actually think it is likely that she is NOT pregnant, honestly. She knows you can hear her in the bathroom and see her with saltines and ginger-ale. A colleague you describe as a friend would likely disclose an early pregnancy and ask you not to spread the news, but she would be less likely to disclose a serious health issue or medication that might be causing the stomach upset.

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            1. Me Duck

              I don’t agree that someone would disclose an early pregnancy to a friend. In my experience, people don’t disclose to *anyone* except their partner and possibly people very, *very* close to them (like family members or something) until they’ve had their 12 week scan. If this co-worker is indeed pregnant, her not disclosing in the early stages don’t reflect at all on her relationship with the LW. In fact, the fact that the co-worker has told LW that she’s trying to get pregnant suggests that they are pretty close, to me.

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              1. K.

                My best friend told me she was pregnant at 7 weeks. She says she was only telling people she’d tell if things went wrong and asked me to keep it to myself, which I did until she made a bigger announcement. I think they told parents, siblings, and a few close friends. I’d do the same with her, but I wouldn’t include any coworkers in that group – too potentially messy.

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              2. TootsNYC

                I agree–I think, actually that a colleague might say, “I have an ovarian cyst, I’m sorry I’m barfing all the time.” There’s just no motive to keep it a secret from someone you’re reasonbly decent friends with.

                But even the closest of colleagues will very likely keep a pregnancy secret from EVERYone, even -family.- It’s so very common to keep it secret for the first trimester at least.

                I think that secrecy is actually one of the pieces of evidence that is leading our OP #1 to think it’s very likely to be a pregnancy.

                It wouldn’t surprise me to learn that this barfing colleague has been somewhat forthcoming with other health stuff, and that the secrecy is a bit of an anomaly.

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                1. Specialk9

                  Nobody knew I had a uterine condition that impacted my health, except my husband and 1 friend. Like, nobody. I just wouldn’t discuss my lady parts at work. I can’t even imagine how to have that conversation.

            2. Triplestep

              Interesting responses here about the tendency to keep pregnancy a secret, even from one’s own family circle sometimes. I do know this to be true, but I also think that it’s easier to share good news than bad. From the way the letter is written, it’s clear the OP is more than hopeful about this being a pregnancy. In my mind, the situation is ripe for the the colleague/friend to share that happy news, but the news of a health issue or meds? Not so much.

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            3. Blue Anne

              I wouldn’t. I have a 50% chance of passing on an incredibly serious condition and can’t test for it until 10-12 weeks. I won’t tell anyone but my husband in the first trimester because before then we won’t know whether I’ll carry the baby to term.

              You just don’t know what’s going on with other people. There are tons of reasons someone might not tell a friend they’re pregnant, much less a work friend.

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              1. NorthernSoutherner

                I didn’t tell anyone at work until month 4. And I’m sure they knew because I had the same thing going – saltines and ginger ale. I held off because right before me, two women in the office had had miscarriages.

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          3. Annabelle

            While I don’t think anyone can speak to your intentions but you, I’m curious as to why you’re completely sure your coworker is pregnant. There are a ton of health problems that produce the same symptoms as early pregnancy, so I think people are just wary about that assumption being made.

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            1. LW of #1 here

              Since this is an anonymous advice column, I’ve left out most of the details about my office, my coworkers, and our conversations.
              Yes, there could be other stuff going on. Whatever it is, my coworker has avoided explanation for 2+ weeks, and that in itself is conspicuous. So yeah, honestly it doesn’t matter what the reason is for her illness, whether it’s pregnancy, or not. I’m just trying to be respectful of her implicit need for privacy within the context of our pre-planned trip and close-knit office environment.

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              1. Annabelle

                That makes sense. FWIW, I didn’t read any ill intent from your letter at all. Pregnancy/potential pregnancy is just such an incredibly fraught subject for lots of people.

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                1. LW of #1 here

                  I hear that – I’ve had my own issues! I guess I forgot that people don’t know me, my history, or my intentions.

              2. Parenthetically

                I think this is really kind of you and I’m sorry you’re copping flak for asking how to manage this situation in a respectful way. :)

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        2. Sam

          I imagine sharing an office with only two other people means that you’re going to notice bathroom and coffee habits whether you’re trying to or not. In fact, you’d probably have to go out of your way to avoid noticing. A person she shares space with is suddenly changing her behavior, and LW has understandably noticed that. LW may be drawing some conclusions, but her stated goal is figuring out how to be supportive without forcing her friend to share personal information, and there’s nothing in this letter that suggests that she’s being disingenuous about that.

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    2. Kheldarson

      Ehhh… when somebody is constantly sick in whatever capacity, people are going to ask questions.

      Sneezing half the morning? Is it a cold or allergies/maybe you need to go home.

      Can’t stop running to the bathroom? Oh, geez, sorry! My grandkid had the bug earlier.

      Throwing up and eating saltines to keep your stomach calm but not going home sick? Trickier area, but people do notice! And want to be respectful because, yeah, not everybody wants to announce right away.

      Me, I had to tell my managers pretty soon after I found out because I worked retail and needed permission to have food and water in my work area. Which can be another concern for co-workers if you’re in the bathroom more often than not: do they have to pick up your slack?

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      1. LW of #1 here

        Exactly — and I’m so glad I thought about it for a few days before saying “hey why are you puking so much?!” Even if I’m wrong, or something happens, I would have hated to put her on the spot at this stage.

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        1. Sylvan

          At this stage of what? You know she’s sick, but not whether she’s pregnant. I’ve had the same symptoms – and I’ll likely never be pregnant, because of the exact same condition that caused those symptoms. I am glad you are respecting your coworker’s privacy and writing in to ask about how to handle the upcoming trip.

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          1. Turkletina

            I took LW to mean at this stage in her interaction with her obviously ill coworker. Like, the stage where she knows the coworker isn’t well but where the coworker hasn’t brought it up herself.

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        2. Sara

          Whether or not she’s actually pregnant, I think your instinct to leave it alone is a good one. You just never know what else might be going on. My first and second pregnancies ended in miscarriages, and with the first one I was far enough along (16 weeks) that I’d told my coworkers. So everyone knew when we lost the baby. I’m pregnant again (thankfully going much better this time) and at first I was running to the bathroom to vomit much like your coworker is. I’m sure my own coworkers noticed something too, but I was so, so thankful that no one actually said anything until I was ready to tell them on my own time. I was so worried and scared that something was going to happen again that any questions, however well-meaning, would have been really hard for me to take.

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          1. TootsNYC

            She may even be aware that you’ve guessed/assumed she’s pregnant.

            And whether she is or she isn’t, she will also be noticing that you’re respectfully just not addressing it.

            You can be lightly sympathetic about the puking, when if happens; treat it as a minor unpleasantness, “poor you–feel better.” and then just move on. Or, just flat out ignore it.

            But she’ll really appreciate that you didn’t put her on the spot by being too invested in it.

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            1. CityMouse

              A coworker I am relatively close to literally dropped an ultrasound picture of a baby in front of a bunch of us, and we said nothing about it until she announced her pregnancy. It’s just a good idea to leave it alone.

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    3. TL -

      It’s a reasonable guess to make, given the symptoms and her proximity to the coworker. It’s just the kind of thought you keep to yourself.

      Also, I do think this question is probably more about how to deal with the coworker’s symptoms than the cause of the symptoms; that just got a little masked by the pregnancy angle.

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      1. Turquoisecow

        Yeah. There could be a few other reasons for continuous nausea (I’ve experienced some myself!) aside from pregnancy. The OP isn’t asking specifically about pregnancy in so much as how to deal with what *might* be a long term issue.

        Obviously it’s not a simple bug or the flu of coworker has been nauseous for an extended period. Regardless of cause, the odds seem high that she’ll still be experiencing nausea at the time of the conference. Even without pregnancy speculation (which is going to happen outside Coworker’s hearing anyway, because it’s what people do), the question of “how do we make this less embarrassing for her and the OP” still stands and is not intrusive at all.

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    4. Ramona Flowers

      I think everyone is being a bit harsh about 1. I’ve had the experience of guessing, correctly, that a coworker is pregnant on two separate occasions. It can happen. Do we really need to run through all the other things it could be or could we perhaps take the letter on good faith and consider that maybe there are extra details we weren’t given?

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      1. old Biddy

        Even if your baby-guessing track record, please don’t say anything until they tell you. I carry my weight around my stomach and people always assume I’m pregnant. It’s really mortifying. No one will be mad if you don’t say anything until they announce it

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        1. Ramona Flowers

          I didn’t say anyone should tell someone they’ve guessed! Dear goodness, I am just saying that maybe LW1 doesn’t need lots and lots and lots of comments about how they might be wrong and why. A lot of people seem to have seriously misread this letter and the comments. Nobody ever said LW should say anything, including the LW.

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          1. Lissa

            Yeah, as soon as I saw the comment I knew a lot of people were going to be like “but maybe she’s not pregnant!” which…ok, yes, a possibility, but not really the focus here. If she’s wrong she’ll find out soon enough anyway….or if she’s right.

            I think people are just really quick to jump on the LW because of how many letters here come from the “other side”.

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            1. fposte

              I also think people have had a lot of unpleasant personal experience with perceptions of pregnancy, so it’s easy to miss the parts where the letter isn’t doing the same thing.

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        2. Myrin

          As far as I can see, Ramona didn’t actually say anything to the coworkers in question. She’s just saying that it’s indeed possible to guess such things correctly. And, I mean, having been in the weird situation of having strange symptoms without actually being pregnant a few years ago, I can totally understand that it’s important to keep in mind that there are all kinds of reasons someone could seem pregnant, but I also find that whenver there’s question like this people tend to comment like it’s completely and utterly impossible and ridiculous to even entertain the notion that someone could indeed guess (to themselves, not out loud!) correctly that another person is pregnant, which isn’t really helpful either IMO. Which is why I really like Alison’s advice because it’s focused on the practicality of the situation.

          Reply
          1. Lars the Real Girl

            But she didn’t guess to herself. She’s already discussed it with their other coworker, which isn’t keeping anything to herself. And with *how sure* she is in her rhetoric, she could make decisions based on misguided information and that’s not fair to the employee.

            Reply
            1. TootsNYC

              yeah, but discussing those suspicions with a third party is NOT the same thing as discussing it with HER. If our OP and her “discussing with” coworker are both discreet, it really doesn’t matter.

              And maybe they’re strategizing together about how to make the poor puking coworker feel less self-conscious, and how to act so as not to be too intrusive.

              Reply
      2. Gen

        People can be harsh because it’s a fraught upsetting topic for a lot of people. Stats suggest 1 in 4 suffer will a loss. They don’t want people to guess and speculating about them until they’re ready to say something. As someone who’s had nine losses people often guess I’m pregnant, but the symptoms linger for a long time after a miscarriage. A lot of people start off with “I didn’t want to say anything but…” when they go on to make unintentionally hurtful comments later like “I thought you might be pregnant for a while there! Phew! Dodged a bullet!” I don’t want people to guess and I don’t want it to colour our interactions like they’re on eggshells/excited when I’m already dealing with enough by being sick.

        If the OP doesnt want to share a room with someone who is puking- which is reasonable- just address that with a “hey you’ve been sick a while now do you think you’ll need your own room?” Otherwise please leave her alone.

        Reply
        1. Julia

          Not just losses. Imagine struggling with infertility, catching a stomach bug and barfing all day, only to field questions about your ‘pregnancy’. How devastating!

          Reply
          1. Lynn Whitehat

            I caught giardia (I think) when I wanted to be pregnant. For six weeks, I was nauseated, tired, and nibbling crackers. I also didn’t know what was wrong or when it would abate. While I wouldn’t call all the winking and nudging and knowing looks “devastating”, they certainly were salt in the wound.

            Reply
            1. Sylvan

              Not giardia, but yeah, been there. I know people weren’t trying to be rude. I still could have done without the pointed looks at my stomach.

              Reply
          2. Pomona Sprout

            I had a very unpleasant experience when I was dealing with infertility, and had put on a few pounds due to the stress involved. (Some people lose their appetite when they’re stressed/depressed; mine just gets bigger!)

            I ran into a guy I knew slightly, and noticing the weight gain, he was a big enough idiot to ask me if I was pregnant. When I said no, he revealed that he and his wife and just learned they were expecting. He was obviously over the moon about it and evidently seeing pregnant women everywhere he looked. (Kind of like when you learn a new word, and all of a sudden it’s all over the place, lol.)

            I was like a deer in the proverbial headlights. My mind literally went blank and I couldn’t think of a word to say. I ended up turning on my heel and hightailing it out of there to go off and cry, leaving my huband to explain. I can’t recall ever wanting to strangle someone so badly in my life.

            So yeah, pregnancy can be a VERY fraught topic. Guessing/assuming someone is pregnant can be a MAJOR hot button issue for some people, and none of us knows how someone else might feel about being the target of such guesses/assumptions unless they have directly told us. That’s why this letter has struck such a nerve with some of us.

            Reply
            1. Julia

              I’m very sorry this happened to you.

              Someone once asked me if I was pregnant when I was going through the worst time of my life, and while it doesn’t compare to your story, it really hurt because I needed to be seen as a human with feelings and not just a walking uterus.

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              1. Pomona Sprout

                I’m really sorry for what happened to you, too! And I think both of our stories are good examples of the possible pitfalls of thinking one hasthe right to ask about the contents of another person’s uterus.

                I truly hope your life is much better now. My infertlity saga eventually did have a happy ending, I’m happy to say. The little girl I eventually got pregnant with is now 32 years old. :-D (And I never aaw that dumb guy again, lol.)

                Reply
                1. Julia

                  Thank you so much for your kind reply! And awesome user name!

                  I am much better now, thank you. While I have been diagnosed with endometriosis between then and now, no one can say whether I won’t be able to have a baby, and even if I’m not, my best friend is an adoption specialist, so who knows?

        2. Fertility Challenges

          So much this. After years of struggling with infertility, IVF (which makes me bloated and look pregnant), and multiple losses, it is so hard in the workplace. I’m sure basically everyone has thought I was pregnant at some point – but there is still no baby.

          You say your trip isn’t for a few weeks. So much can happen in that time. Your coworker might not want to make plans because she isn’t sure she will still be pregnant them. Give her some time and some space if you can, and try not to speculate.

          Reply
          1. VerySleepyPregnantLady

            Or she may be doing a lot better and still pregnant. Nausea in pregnancy can both come on and leave quickly. There are also drugs, if it’s bad enough. When I had to take a work trip at 12 weeks pregnant (at which point I had lost 10% of my body mass because of puking/not eating), I was reasonably functional and only puked once.

            But at 9 weeks? I *could not get out of bed without spewing vomit everywhere.* I was subsisting on a diet entirely consisting of fresh fruit. If I hadn’t been working from home (with my boss’s blessing/encouragement–I told him at 5-6 weeks because I was miserable), there would have been no way of hiding my condition.

            Those three weeks were pretty dramatic in how much better I started to feel. So if it’s more than a week out, the coworker might be okay on the trip (or she might ask her doc for strong anti-nausea meds just for the trip).

            Reply
            1. Evan Þ

              On a tangent, but how do anti-nausea meds work with pregnancy? No first- or even second-hand experience, but I got the impression somewhere that there’s nothing that really works that’s also safe for the baby?

              Reply
              1. Chicken

                There are actually two anti-nausea drugst that are commonly prescribed during pregnancy. The one I hear about most is Zofran, which I believe is also used in chemo patients. It works really well for some people and doesn’t work as well for others (like most drugs, I suppose). The other one is Diclegis – it’s the same thing as vitamin B6 + the drug in Unisom, so some people just take OTC B6 and OTC Unison. I believe it’s been more widely studied on pregnant women than Zofran and considered to be safer, but is less effective for severe persistent nausea.

                Most doctors don’t prescribe anything for first trimester nausea with daily-ish vomiting unless it’s super severe, causes dehydration, etc. People seem more likely to end up with a prescription if they continue to have severe nausea and vomiting into the second trimester (or get hospitalized for dehydration).

                Reply
        3. J

          My goodness, yes! The hormones that make a pregnant woman sick don’t dissolve the moment a loss occurs. Morning sickness can linger for weeks afterward.

          I’m so sorry for your history of loss. That’s a hard thing to handle.

          Reply
      3. Mookie

        My problem with it is that well-meaning offers like “wanting to give her space,” when viewed in aggregate, run the risk of pathologizing pregnancy. It’s awesome that the LW and her colleagues aren’t pestering this woman into disclosing whatever it is that’s going on, but tip-toeing on eggshells in an overt and slightly performative manner could make someone feel very uncomfortable very quickly. I’d let her set the tone and pace of how this will work best for her, and not second-guess her or treat her more delicately than is warranted. She’s probably got this. She can manage. If the pre-existing relationships and friendships between you all are, as you say, otherwise working well, trust that she’ll ask your help when she needs it. Don’t isolate her during your trip, even if you think it’s for her own good; treat her as you would normally. Plenty of people you’ve worked with have been experiencing minor and major life events in their personal lives without you ever suspecting or needing to know.

        Reply
        1. Katniss

          Agreed with this entirely.

          There’s also always the possibility that it’s a pregnancy she doesn’t plan to keep, if she is in fact pregnant. The one time I was pregnant I’m sure my very kind coworkers noticed and worried that I was sick a lot. But I’m sure glad they didn’t ask or hedge at it because I was simply waiting the needed period to have an abortion and having the “I am, but soon I won’t be anymore” conversation would have been incredibly awkward at work.

          Reply
          1. Detective Amy Santiago

            This is actually what I was thinking too. Pregnancy is not always wanted or something to be celebrated, so LW1 and her coworker need to be sensitive to that in addition to the point Gen made about 1 in 4 suffering loss.

            And I disagree with Alison’s suggestion about how to phrase it if you want to have separate rooms. If you’re really committed to doing so, make it about you. “Sorry, I’ve been having some trouble sleeping lately and I don’t want to disturb you, so I’m going to get my own room this time.”

            Reply
              1. MommyMD

                Yes. I would not bring up her physical symptoms at all. Her distress took place in a bathroom where one has an expectation of privacy, even if overheard. There are also a myriad of medical conditions where coffee is not suggested. It’s a very common stomach irritant. If she doesn’t want to share a room, come up with a reason that focuses on her, not coworker. Give coworker her privacy.

                Reply
        2. Colette

          I don’t see how suggesting that someone who is frequently vomiting should have her own room is pathologizing pregnancy or isolating the coworker. Most people don’t want to be around coworkers while vomiting. Most people also don’t want to be around coworkers who are vomiting. It’s not that the OP doesn’t like the coworker – it’s that the coworker’s current health status lends itself to her having her own room, for everyone’s sake.

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          1. Kathleen Adams

            I had a migraine one time at a conference and spent the better part of a day throwing up. I *so* did not want to have to cope with a room mate at the same time! Miserable as I was, at least I was miserable in private. That was a great consolation.

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          2. Mookie

            Most people don’t want to be around coworkers while vomiting.

            Sure, which is why this has nothing to do with pregnancy and why connecting the two (when unconfirmed) is a bad idea. You treat the things you see, not the reasons you suspect they exist.

            Reply
        3. LW of #1 here

          Thanks Mookie, tip-toeing/being weird around my coworker is exactly what I’m trying to avoid. We know my coworker was trying to get pregnant, but of course I’m not going to ask how that’s going. I’ve been pregnant myself and know how awkward it can be to be around coworkers for half your waking hours when you’re feeling excited/nervous/nauseated/trying to keep it private for months. And yes, I know anything could happen. I’ll treat her normally and give her a casual option for having her own room.

          Reply
      4. memyselfandi

        I agree that people seem harsh. I notice that Alison assumed the best of intentions on the part of the letter writer.

        Reply
      5. Cercis

        Yeah, I’ve been right a couple of times, including identifying a news anchor’s pregnancy long before she announced it (that time I was pregnant too and recognized my symptoms in her).

        Once I walked in on a coworker googling second trimester. I knew how old her first baby was and that she wanted a second so it was no great leap to know she was probably pregnant. I absolutely didn’t say anything to anyone – that place was a hot bed of gossip so there wasn’t even a “hey, does Amelia seem ‘off’ or ‘different’ to you” and refusing to get drawn into speculating when she had to rearrange a few appointments or looked a little green. It did help that Amelia was known to have diabetes so I could just fall back on vague “well there’s a lot of bugs going around and I think her diabetes requires special care when she’s not feeling well” (which is something she’d mentioned to us once – the difficulty of maintaining proper blood sugar when she’s too nauseated to eat, or when she actually eats and then throws up). Where I messed up with Amelia was saying “oh, I’m so happy, I thought you were but didn’t want to say anything” once she announced. I was just so pleased with myself for having put the clues together right that I didn’t censor what came out of my mouth.

        So the thing to do if you think someone is pregnant is 1) help shut down speculation, 2) provide whatever support you would provide to anyone else who’s under the weather, and 3) when they announce it don’t do or say anything that gives away that you’d already “figured it out”.

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    5. Stardust

      It occurs to me that over the last week or two, you posted many such comments which were “true” content-wise but just came off as really sharp and harsh towards letter writers. I don’t usually pay a huge amount of attention to who says what but this really stood out to me. I don’t know if that’s just your style of communicating and you come off much more strongly than intended, but I think a gentler tone would be more suited if an OP hasn’t done something extremely egregious.

      Reply
    6. Stellaaaaa

      OP is about to spend a few days sharing a sleeping space and bathroom with someone who is throwing up several times a day. She is allowed to say something along the lines of, “Will you still be sick on the business trip? I’m going to need occasional access to the bathroom too. Is there anything you can tell me about what’s going on?” In turn, the coworker is within her rights to answer however she wants. The shared hotel room complicates things.

      Reply
      1. Close Bracket

        Why would OP need to know what’s going on? They don’t. They can work out a shared room and bathroom space wo knowing why their coworker is puking all the time.

        Reply
        1. Stellaaaaa

          If I’m about to share a bathroom and bedroom with someone who’s puking constantly, I’d absolutely ask if she had something contagious and to be honest, I might not accept a vague non-answer the first time. If she’s not pregnant, I need solid assurances that she’s not contagious. The mere suspicion of one person’s pregnancy doesn’t mean that other people have to sacrifice comfort and convenience, or risk getting sick because they were afraid to ask if someone was carrying a flu virus. If I’m in the middle of showering or brushing my teeth and my coworker is rushing in to puke next to me, it’s not outrageous to ask questions about it.

          Reply
          1. FiveWheels

            Yeah, pregnant or not, I wouldn’t be happy sharing a bathroom with someone who was vomiting frequently. The vommiter probably wouldn’t either, given that she couldn’t come in when I was showering or brushing my teeth *because the door would be locked *

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          2. paul

            Yes. Stuff gets different if you have to share rooms (also: this is part of why it’s a crappy practice to make people share rooms).

            Reply
        2. TL -

          Also, we’ll all been caught by the person who is sure something won’t be a problem by the timeframe you’re concerned about…and then it still is a problem.

          It’s fair enough to ask – you’re not probing for a diagnosis, only if there’s something she feels comfortable sharing.

          Reply
        3. Bye Academia

          I don’t think the OP needs to know what’s going on, but it’s very reasonable to bring up the issue in the context of the work trip. No matter the reason, I would not want to share a hotel room with someone who is puking all day. It’s gross. Maybe I’m overly sensitive, but I’d end up with sympathy nausea. I want to be clear that I don’t think the coworker is gross – I would feel for how miserable she is. But that wouldn’t change my desire for a separate room.

          I like Alison’s script that emphasizes compassion for the coworker (if I were that sick I’d want my own space!), but I don’t see what’s wrong with not wanting to share a room with a frequent barfer.

          Reply
          1. TBoT

            Yeah, not wanting to share a hotel with someone who is vomiting a lot seems completely reasonable to me and shouldn’t be read as unkind or insensitive. There is only one bathroom and virtually no privacy. It seems incredibly likely that at some point during the trip it would lead to a problem.

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            1. Amy

              I puked on a colleague once while pregnant. It was horrible! I think when your morning sickness gets to a point where it is deeply inconveniencing / grossing out your colleagues, it’s a kindness to let them know. There is something slightly less disgusting about pregnancy vomit than stomach flu vomit, due to the lack of contagion. For me, that once meant telling colleagues at 7 weeks pregnant and then having to tell them I’d had a miscarriage a week later. But I still think it was worth telling them that the puking zombie in their midst was just pregnant and not anything more serious.

              Reply
        4. Rusty Shackelford

          They can work out a shared room and bathroom space wo knowing why their coworker is puking all the time.

          “I need to shower by 6:30. Would you prefer to puke at 6:00 or 6:45?” :-|

          Reply
          1. Kathleen Adams

            I had a migraine at a conference once and spent pretty much an entire day and well into the evening throwing up. It was awful. But at least I was miserable in private!

            So yes, I think offering to let the coworker have a private room would be a fine, fine idea.

            Reply
    7. SunshineOH

      I think a lot of commenters are assigning ill intent to the LW that just isn’t there. The question was literally about how to be sensitive to the coworker without violating her privacy. Even if LW is wrong about the cause of illness, it doesn’t change the advice. Cut people some slack occasionally.

      Reply
      1. paul

        I’m baffled too. It’d be one thing if she was grilling the coworker or something but there’s no indication here that such is happening.

        I also think the ‘oh no how dare you guess’ stuff is weird anyway. If you know someone’s throwing up regularly and has been, yeah most people are going to wonder what’s causing it.

        Reply
      2. HannahS

        Yeah. She very obviously and explicitly says that she wants to be respectful. This isn’t an opportunity for the commentariat to fire back at all the people who’ve been awful to them during pregnancy. The OP is not those people. We’re supposed to assume good intent on this site.

        Reply
    8. Jesmlet

      Agree and disagree here. Odds are this coworker is pregnant, but is it 100%? Not really… But what LW1 asks is “My question is how to be cool about her rushing to the bathroom to be sick every day — how can we be tactful without revealing that we know what’s up? It seems so rude to just ignore that she’s not feeling well!”<

      Stick with treating her like you would any other sick coworker… “are you okay? is there anything we can get for you?” I don’t think the pregnancy and whether or not she’s told you is relevant. Just react to what you’re seeing, not what you’re assuming.

      Reply
      1. Triplestep

        I agree. I think people are reacting to the LW’s focus on the pregnancy and the assertion that “we know what’s up.” OP#1 does explicitly say she wants to be respectful, but there’s an awful lot in the letter that’s about her, and her certainty over the happy news. Alison’s advice about behaving the way she would if the colleague was NOT pregnant – and your advice above – are spot on.

        (For some reason this letter reminds me of several I’ve seen over the years to other advice columns asking “What can I say to let someone know I am cool with their sexual orientation and/or gender identity when they have not said anything to me about it?” And of course the answer is always “don’t say anything; that just makes it about you. You prove you are cool with it by just being cool with it.”)

        Reply
      2. Future Analyst

        But I think part of the problem is that if you ask someone “are you okay” for 6-12 weeks in a row (I was legit sick through month 5 of my first pregnancy), it comes off as badgering. I suspect that’s why the letter writer wrote in for advice.

        LW, thanks for being conscientious. I think offering to have separate rooms is a great idea.

        Reply
      3. Future Analyst

        But I think that’s the problem… asking someone “are you okay?” for 6-12-20 weeks can come across as badgering, which is why the LW wrote in (I suspect).

        OP 1, thanks for being conscientious: offering to get separate rooms is a great idea. And I agree with a commentator’s suggestion to make it something that YOU need, so that she doesn’t feel the need to out herself.

        Reply
        1. Jesmlet

          Yeesh, no need to be snippy. I’m clearly agreeing with Alison and trying to respond to Mes by pointing out exactly what you’ve been pointing out in other spots, which is this is not about the coworker’s uterus.

          Reply
    9. bookish

      Yeah, when I read the title that the coworker was “obviously pregnant” I was imagining a gigantic baby bump. This has more of a nosy gossipy feel.

      I’ve had issues with chronic nausea for no apparent reason (I mean I guess the reason is anxiety/hormones but it FEELS – and looks – like it’s for no reason). I’ve had times where I’ve vomited at work, snacked on saltines and ginger chews, given up caffeine because it was irritating my stomach. It would have weirded me out if someone assumed I was pregnant. I actually even have a running prescription for Zofran because of my nausea and the pharmacist will be like “are you pregnant?” And I just have to be like, “nope, just delightful nausea for no reason!” I’ve had to miss multiple days of work in a row because of it when it was bad. (Having been on anxiety medicine it’s cleared up a lot, thank goodness.)

      There are also a lot of other reasons someone could have persistent nausea and vomiting. The only reason I can think the OP is so sure it’s pregnancy is if the coworker had talked about trying for a baby. But still, many people don’t even tell family and friends that they’re expecting until they’re further along, because of the risk of early miscarriage. Add the office setting to that….

      Reply
      1. Chicken

        The OP did mention in a comment that the coworker has said she wants to get pregnant. There are situations where someone could be nauseous and give up caffeine and I wouldn’t assume pregnancy, but it’s easy to imagine a situation where I have a coworker I see all day every day, am close to, and I am confident that she is pregnant given how well I know her!

        The OP obviously knows her coworker better than we do and is trying to do the right thing, it doesn’t seem gossipy at all to me – in fact, the opposite – the OP is being caring and thoughtful.

        Reply
    10. Beancounter Eric

      Very well said.

      Unless coworker is in immediate life-threatening distress, OP1 needs to mind their own business and leave their coworker alone.

      OP1 believes they and coworker are friends – they may be, or it may be a case of coworker merely being civil to maintain the work relationship, and not really being invested in a friendship.

      Reply
      1. Myrin

        What an unkind thing to say that has no basis in anything in the letter. We are asked again and again to take letter writers at their word here, and if OP says the three of them are close, we should believe her that they are, indeed, close, and that it isn’t just wishful thinking on the OP’s part.

        I must say, I’m a complete random outsider to the situation and I’m finding the allegations against OP quite frustrating – I don’t want to imagine how OP and Alison (who continuously asks us to be kind to letter writers) must feel reading some of this.

        Reply
        1. Ask a Manager Post author

          I feel the same, and I’m going to turn on moderation for all future comments on this post (which means there may be significant delays in them showing up, and I may just turn them off entirely depending on how it goes).

          Reply
  3. Jenny

    Re #4, that’s really interesting. At the only “traditional” office job I’ve had, it was also up to people who were leaving to inform others. But the tradition was for people leaving to send out an email on their last day of work, so it wasn’t uncommon to not know someone was leaving until their last day (unless you worked closely with them or were both in a smaller department). Seems odd in retrospect.

    Reply
    1. ss

      Agreed. I’ve worked at many professional jobs in the tech industry and I’ve never seen a supervisor send out an announcement. It’s always been the employee sending out a message about their sadness to leave and the opportunities that they had and how much they’ll miss people and give whatever contact info they want to share (ie – Linked in, or facebook, or email, or whatever they deem as the way they want people to keep in touch). Normally I see this on their last day, but occasionally I’ll see it a little earlier in the week that they are leaving so that people can get any last minute questions asked before the person goes.

      Reply
    2. Ramona Flowers

      UK here, media and then non-profits. People have always announced it themselves in all the places I’ve worked and for me it would feel strange if they didn’t – I’d wonder why the manager or whoever was controlling the message.

      Reply
      1. TootsNYC

        “I’d wonder why the manager or whoever was controlling the message.”

        This is my reaction as well.

        The times someone on my own team has resigned, I waited a couple of days before mentioning it in any way so that they had a window in which to notify people themselves, using their own wording/framing/etc.

        Reply
    3. Cambridge Comma

      It’s been the same in the five places I’ve worked (in theee different countries). A mail from the supervisor would lead to the assumption that the person leaving couldn’t be trusted to tell the truth or had been fired for misconduct.

      Reply
      1. Close Bracket

        OK, I actually find that to be hysterical in light of my own situation which I asked about below. I left the job and didn’t make any announcement. I just let the news spread organically to the people I worked with during my final two weeks. It didn’t even occur to me to send out a mass email on my last day. My former manager included a note in her weekly update the following week. I wonder what impression that left.

        Reply
        1. Cambridge Comma

          I would guess it’s a ‘know your office’ thing so I wouldn’t worry about it, and if you told the people you worked closely with there would have been enough people to contradict any rumours. It’s the sudden disappearances and the mails from the supervisor to the whole organization that say ‘Fergus has left for personal reasons’ that are more of a bad sign where I’ve worked.

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      2. BetterInGreen

        That’s fascinating to me! Where I am now (major international company) the departing employee’s manager sends an announcement that the person is leaving and on what date, with a comment thanking them for their work. Usually then someone else in their team will arrange a card to be available for people to sign, and maybe a collection for a small farewell gift. Both the card signing and any contributions are purely voluntary.

        If someone is sacked, the manager still sends an email out, but it’s more like an acknowledgement of their last day being today, and a thank you for their work. No mention of why they are going or a card etc.

        Reply
        1. a1

          This is the same for me, in all the office jobs I’ve had the past 20 years. Management announcement 1-2 weeks in advance, and then sometimes the person leaving sends their own email the day they leave (or maybe the day before).

          Reply
        2. Triplestep

          It’s the same where I work, too, but it’s gone a bit awry for me; I’m in my notice period now. I had asked my manager to allow me to tell a few people before it was announced, which he did. Then at some point last week, he sent out an e-mail to some of the people I work with, but not all, and as near as I can figure it simply said I’d resigned with no other details. I had e-mails and calls from people asking me if I was OK, and surprised to learn I was leaving for another job.

          I’m sure he was just rushed and didn’t mean to make things awkward – he’s a good guy and I’m leaving on good terms with him. I will still do my last day “thank you, here’s my Linkedin” e-mail. I’m leaving so it doesn’t really matter in the end, but it could have been smoother.

          Reply
    4. A Person

      Leaving can be such a fraught thing, with guilt about leaving and other feelings but being all secretive and last day about it just makes the whole situation more difficult.

      This stuff reminds me of a toxic place I used to work for. There was a co-worker whom we knew was leaving, but didn’t have a date so, I figured we’d be told a date when everything was settled. Nope. I came in one Monday, he didn’t show up, figured he was sick. Checked in with the senior co-worker who hadn’t heard anything- we had an informal agreement to text each other if we weren’t going to be in, asked the manager when he arrived, get told this guy’s last day was the previous Friday. I was slackjawed for several hours. Cause, you know, who does that? Both the guy and the manager.

      Reply
    5. Em Too

      I’ve tended to see more senior people announce it themselves, but a younger/more junior person is more likely to have a manager announce it in a team meeting or something. Makes a bit of sense – my manager wouldn’t know everyone I work with, but someone more junior does most of their work for their immediate team? Everyone gets a line in the weekly all-staff updates, but that’s likely their last day.

      Reply
      1. LW-4

        LW here. The thing about this, which I should’ve mentioned, is that we’re the only department that doesn’t send out e-mail announcements when someone leaves. People who have worked there for some time, including one that did for more than a decade, just disappeared because our leadership didn’t bother to tell us they were leaving.

        Reply
        1. Detective Amy Santiago

          Okay, that definitely makes the whole thing come across weird. Do you have a working relationship with the person who would send those announcements out for your department? I feel like the most natural time to bring it up would be when you get an announcement from another department and you can say “hey, Fergus, how come we didn’t do this when Jane left?”

          Reply
    6. Merci Dee

      Just had a conversation about this on Friday with my boss. We suddenly realized we hadn’t seen a particular coworker for a while and wondered what was up. I ran across coworker’s boss a few minutes later and asked after the coworker. Found out coworker had taken a personal leave if absence at the end of June, and had resigned during the leave period. No notice sent out or anything, so it took us 3 months to notice coworker wasn’t around anymore. Believe me when I say this happens all … the … time at my work place.

      Reply
      1. Triplestep

        My last manager would announce that random people would be added to our team, and then several months later they would be gone – no mention. These were always individual contributors whose work had only the most tenuous relationship to what the rest of us did. So it would take a while before we caught on that they were gone (and not of their own choice.)

        I became convinced that our exec just moved people onto our team as a holding place until their position could be eliminated. After the fourth one, I mentioned to my manager that his silence over the departures had a negative impact on the rest of us. But clearly, any random person who got moved onto his team had something to worry about!

        Reply
    7. Beatrice

      People send out their own notices where I work, usually on or near their last day, and they often include a personal email address for further social contact, and/or an invitation to add them on LinkedIn. But it’s also normal for someone on their team to organize some kind of potluck in their honor, so word gets around that way before they go.

      Reply
    8. LQ

      My workplace (office job) doesn’t send out anything. People just…disappear. It was SUPER weird at first. Now it’s just really weird. It always feels a little like someone …disappeared…
      This even happens with most retirements! We are a unit of about 300 within a giant government, so I am very glad we don’t hear about everyone in the government, within the unit it would make sense. On my tiny 12 person team it usually just gets announced at team meetings after about 3 weeks of rumors.
      I think we’ve had 2 people send out emails to all our staff on their own and leadership was NOT happy about that. Other people have sent bcced messages to select few and those seem to have been received fine.

      It’s very odd.

      Reply
      1. Doreen

        I don’t actually think it’s odd. Maybe it’s a government thing- there are a few different ways I find out someone is leaving/has left , but none of them involve a manager making an announcement. The closest we come to that is the email HR sends out about three times a year with the subject ” Employee Transitions” which lists all the deaths, promotions and retirements since the last issue, but not anyone who has left the agency without retiring. The overwhelming majority of people who leave are retiring, so if someone is organizing a party I might find out by getting a flyer. People often tell coworkers at their work locations and those at other locations they are friendly with and the word spreads from there. I have once or twice sent an email and received an out-of-office reply that starts “I have retired. Please contact _____ for assistance”. The only time I remember someone sending an email on their own was when someone sent an email that was less an announcement of his retirement and more of an opportunity to publicize his complaints about the administration.

        Reply
        1. LQ

          It’s good to hear it’s not odd, or at least we aren’t the only ones who do it like that. It’s one of those is my workplace strange questions. So I’m really glad to read the range of things on this that people are posting here.

          Reply
    9. paul

      This isn’t written down anywhere at work, but it usually seems like if you send it out, you’re leaving on your own terms. Most of the time when a supervisor sends it out it’s something like “Person X is no longer with [Agency name] and we wish them well.” leaving without notice, fired for cause, that type of thing. If it’s a “hey, in two weeks I’ll be gone” it’s 99.9% of the time the employee that does it.

      I guess it’s one of those without a real set standard?

      Reply
    10. Turquoisecow

      I worked at a company that was in slow decline (eventually declared bankruptcy and shut down), so this might not be the best indicator, but people left often and there usually was not an official announcement. People leaving happened one of several ways:

      1. Person was fired/let go and immediately escorted out. No emails were sent; it was discovered through the grapevine.

      2. Person gave their notice (and revealed their new job was to a competitor) and were immediately walked out. Again, no announcement given.

      3. Person gave their notice (going to an unrelated company/non competitor), worked their two weeks, and left. Sometimes that person would send an email on their last day to select individuals. “Been great working with you all, keep in touch, etc.” Obviously people who worked closely with this person would know in advance as duties were transferred and contact points changed, but no “I’m leaving and my last day is X,” email was sent out, either by the individual or manager.

      Once or twice when a higher executive moves on, we did get an email: “Executive X has decided to move on, we wish him well,” but not usually. More often we heard officially about his departure until the replacement was hired. I even remember getting the second email and not having known the predecessor had departed. Lots of “what happened to Y?” or “Who had that job before?” questions at that point.

      Again, this company was failing almost from the moment I joined, so not sure this is at all normal.

      Reply
    11. DecorativeCacti

      At my company, the only people who get an announcement are the directors. I think people have even been specifically told not to tell others they’re leaving. If they have been here for more than two years, I find out they’re leaving when a notice there will be cake for them on their last day goes up (usually a day or two before). If they’ve been here less than two years, they just… Vanish. The only reason I find out is because I have some work that requires an accurate staff list. Even then I just get an email that says “Jane’s last day was today.”

      Reply
    12. TootsNYC

      I have worked at many perfectly functional and pleasant places, and at none of them was there an official “Jane is leaving us” email for most people. We sent them out ourselves on our last day, and we personally told anyone we wanted to tell (we didn’t send out an “I gave notice today” email–just the “today’s my last day”).

      We also were given all the responsibility of notifying all the appropriate managers, and sometimes even allocating work. Or, the work was allocated as the needs arose.

      Reply
    13. Anon for this

      Where I work we have multiple offices throughout the state. Usually the person leaving will tell people in their own office pretty early in their notice period (law firm – the lawyers give 30-60 days’ notice). Then there will be a firm-wide “personnel update” at some point letting people in all the offices know about changes – sometimes after the person already left.

      Reply
    14. Lemon Zinger

      I work in higher ed. Managers are the ones who send emails about hiring/departing staff, but I’ve noticed lately that a few staff members are sending out their own emails to announce their departures, which I like! I would never want my boss to send out an email about my departure, at least not without letting me approve the wording first.

      Typically those emails are very vague, i.e. “Juan is leaving XXX office. His last day will be October 14th. He has been an asset in XXX office and he will be missed.” To me, that sounds like Juan is being fired!

      Reply
  4. LadyL

    OP #1, unless something got left out it seems like fairly flimsy evidence that she’s pregnant, so it’s definitely safer not to assume. It could be really awkward for you if something else is going on, especially if it’s something a lot less fun than pregnancy (like a severe illness). Plus the pregnant people I’ve known have seemed to get a lot of joy out of telling people themselves; even when I’ve figured it out already I try to act at least a little surprised when they announce it officially because it seems more fun that way. Let her tell you in her own time, if there’s anything to tell.

    Reply
    1. SystemsLady

      I got sick to the point where I had anti-nausea syrup at my desk for several weeks as the result of starting a medication.

      So yes definitely don’t assume pregnancy.

      Reply
      1. KHB

        This. Medication start-up effects can include both nausea and increased heart rate, which makes caffeine unappealing (this from someone who’s now four weeks and four new medications into an ordeal of getting my body off the first medication that I didn’t even need to begin with).

        I like the idea of asking something like “Since you haven’t been feeling well, would you prefer to have your own space?” (And in a case like mine, the answer might be “Actually, I’d prefer to have someone there with me in case I suddenly need to go to the hospital.”)

        Reply
      2. CMF

        I was once put on a medication for three months that left me unable to keep any food down for almost the entire time (save for a very specific meal at only one fast food restaurant, which I then ate for lunch every day for 2 straight months). I wasn’t pregnant, and threw up more than I did when I was pregnant – and I had pretty terrible morning sickness when I was pregnant, too, but not as bad as my reaction to that medicine.

        Reply
    2. ss

      Plus many women don’t want people to know until they are past the first several months, especially if they’ve had miscarriages or other complications previously so forcing her to ‘fess up’ before she is feeling ready to share is unkind.

      Reply
    3. Jen RO

      But OP doesn’t want to confront the coworker about the possible pregnancy, so I don’t know why we are discussing this angle…

      Reply
      1. LadyL

        Huh, when she said “give her an out” I assumed that meant say something to her? So I thought I was agreeing with Allison that if you say something to her don’t say anything about causes, like pregnancy. Guess I misunderstood.

        Reply
        1. LadyL

          Also, just realized I may have misread the “how can we be tactful without revealing that we know what’s up?” as “HOW can we be tactful without revealing that we know what’s up” as in, “I cannot imagine not bringing this up and still being capable of being tactful,” and I’m guessing it’s meant to be “how can we be tactful WITHOUT revealing that we know what’s up” as in, “I would like to be tactful but obviously I wouldn’t bring this up.”

          Reply
        2. Myrin

          I read that as “say something to her but not pregnancy-related”, like “I realise you haven’t been feeling well lately – would you be more comfortable having your own room during Work Trip?” (i. e. Alison’s second paragraph).

          Reply
        3. Em Too

          Pretty sure it’s to give her an out from sharing a room without mentioning pregnancy, which is pretty thoughtful.

          Reply
        4. LW of #1 here

          Yeah my intent is to offer her a private room without getting into a conversation about her illness that would make her feel like I’m prying (or surveilling, as someone suggested below).

          Reply
          1. Detective Amy Santiago

            I said above, but I think your best course of action would be to make it about you instead of about her. If she hasn’t mentioned her illness at all, it doesn’t matter if she is or isn’t pregnant, I think it could make things awkward for you to acknowledge it and it might make her feel forced to share something she’s not ready to share.

            The best way to her an out would be to say “I know we planned on sharing a room, but I’ve been having some difficulties with my sleep lately and I think it would be better if I had my own room.” That puts zero pressure on her.

            Reply
            1. Starbuck

              What? That’s absurd. Suggesting OP make something up is completely unnecessary. All they need to do is stick to the facts. Talk about the specific symptoms and why it would be uncomfortable to share a room with a sick person. Not even acknowledging the obvious symptoms when they would have an immediate impact on OP is just so silly. Nor is it OP’s responsibility to absorb any and all potential pressure. Is that really how pregnant people want to be treated? Is it how sick people want to be treated?

              Reply
      2. Myrin

        Yeah, I actually think OP is being very thoughtful here; she clearly likes and cares for her coworker and doesn’t want to make things awkward or uncomfortable.

        I’ve also found that with certain topics, commenters here seem to want to enforce some kind of, hm, how do I say that? “Purity of though”, maybe? Like we should never even think certain things because even if it’s just in our own heads, it’s rude? Thereby ignoring the reality that most people in most situations will just automatically infer stuff from their surroundings and also ignoring that usually, the letter and its core question aren’t actually about the presumed reason but rather about how to deal with the situation’s effect on others.

        Reply
        1. LadyL

          When I originally replied I didn’t think she was being thoughtless or cruel, I thought she genuinely wasn’t sure if she should say something or not and I thought I would offer a few reasons why it might not be a good idea. As I replied above I misunderstood the question.

          Reply
        2. Lars the Real Girl

          What you’re thinking in your head is fine, but this LW is SO sure of herself that she’s discussed it among her other coworkers and is looking to treat the employee differently because she’s “obviously” pregnant. The sing-songy “we know you’re pregnant na na na na na na” is practically oozing out of her. That’s where the issue lies.

          I think if her letter had been “we think a coworker might be pregnant because she’s been getting sick a lot, but we don’t really know, so how do we help accommodate her while she’s clearly not feeling well”, there wouldn’t be as many people jumping on this.

          Reply
          1. Ask a Manager Post author

            Wow, I think that’s a really uncharitable interpretation of the letter.

            The coworker is obviously throwing up every day but not saying anything about it and they’re wondering if they should acknowledge it in some way. I think that’s pretty understandable.

            Reply
            1. Lars the Real Girl

              Respectfully disagree… in the LW’s own words:

              “who we’re *sure* is pregnant”
              “revealing that we *know* what’s up”
              “so we’re betting she’s not far along” (which means they’ve had a long enough/often enough discussion to be guessing at a gestational age)

              I think the LW’s confidence about the pregnancy assessment is coloring her view on how you would presumably deal with any other obvious medical issue at the office, and causing her to tip-toe around a normal conversation showing concern (and be unfair to the coworker in the process, by acting like it doesn’t exist) – “hey, it seems like you’ve been feeling sick recently – let me know if you need anything”, and about the travel – “hey, it seems like you haven’t been feeling well so let’s get you your own room for the trip so you feel more comfortable”.

              Reply
              1. Not Pregnant Just Fat

                Yup. Frankly, the fact that the post headline says she is “obviously pregnant” is a gross over-reach, and is probably priming people to respond negatively.

                Reply
                1. VerySleepyPregnantLady

                  Yeah, it’s a bit much.

                  That said, when I saw my mom when I was 7 weeks, she did note that I was “obviously pregnant.” It was less the constant vomiting and more the running away from strong smells and extreme sleepiness. But… she’s my mom. She’s allowed to say I’m obviously pregnant, particularly after I told her.

                  But like 90% of early pregnancy symptoms (nausea, vomiting, food aversions, exhaustion, weight loss, drinking a lot of water/peeing a lot) are also common with common cancer treatments. And so I’d never assume someone experiencing those symptoms was pregnant. Guessing pregnant when someone actually has cancer (or vice versa) is REALLY REALLY BAD.

                  That said, I think it’s fine to say “I’ve noticed you seem to have some health stuff going on. That combined with my recent trouble sleeping means I think it would be best to get separate hotel rooms. Is that alright with you?”

                2. tigerlily

                  I’m pretty sure the post headlines are written by Alison, not the letter writers. So those shouldn’t be causing people to negatively and harshly react to the LW.

              2. JB (not in Houston)

                “The sing-songy “we know you’re pregnant na na na na na na” is practically oozing out of her.”

                That’s a pretty harsh characterization of the LW, who is trying to accommodate her coworker *without* forcing the coworker to reveal anything. You can take issue with the LW’s confidence in her assessment of the situation, but you are assuming that she’s reveling in what she believes is knowledge of her coworker’s pregnancy, that she doesn’t just believe her coworker is pregnant, but that she’s enjoying knowing of the pregnancy before she’s told. The motive/mindset you are assigning her isn’t coming from the letter, and it’s an uncharitable leap.

                Reply
            2. Sylvan

              It reads to me like their discussion includes speculating on whether she may be pregnant, not just discussing the obvious issue that she’s sick.

              Reply
          2. Myrin

            The point is well taken – I understand what you mean in that OP seems a bit too sure, although I do think you wording is somewhat uncharitable towards her (there is only one other coworker, for example, which is different from talking about something like this with the twenty other people in your department).

            However, my problem is a bit more “meta” than that, if you will – I think it’s completely fine and not unimportant to point out that OP shouldn’t be so sure she’s correct, but now we have a good portion of the comments coming up with various possibilities of what other things could cause the coworker’s symptoms and berating OP. One or two comments about the possibility of error is enough, if you ask me, and there’s no need to hammer it home by essentially repeating the same thing over and over again.

            Reply
            1. Lars the Real Girl

              Agree on the pile-on about other possibilities – for me it was such a striking confidence that it seems like the LW didn’t even consider a different option.

              And I think if you consider the other possibilities, it’s much easier to have a conversation that doesn’t seem as loaded as when you think you’re keeping someone’s pregnancy secret. Think about if someone was constantly sneezing and blowing their nose, etc. I think most would naturally address is simply and say something to the effect of, wow, it sucks you’re feeling crummy, let me know if you need anything. By being so sure and making it a THING, they’re avoiding the basic show of concern for someone they see every day.

              Reply
          3. SunshineOH

            Everything in your 2nd paragraph is exactly what I got out of the letter. They are asking for advice on how to be sensitive while protecting coworkers privacy. I really don’t get why so many commenters are being so hard on LW.

            Reply
          4. LW of #1 here

            My conversation with my 1 other coworker didn’t start out about pregnancy – it started in concern for our other coworker’s recent unexplained illness.
            Your phrasing actually IS the intent of my letter and I guess I didn’t need to sound so sure that she’s pregnant, since it doesn’t matter, since I don’t plan to ask her about pregnancy.

            Reply
            1. Marillenbaum

              That’s entirely reasonable. I think you are doing a good job of trying to be respectful of both your coworker’s privacy and her comfort on this upcoming trip, which is always a solid starting point, IMO. I’d stick with Alison’s wording. Good luck!

              Reply
        3. Stellaaaaa

          I find that a lot of time and webspace are consumed by obligatory faux-outrage at the notion that neither the world nor the people in it are perfect, before we even get to the meat of the issue. There’s also a lot of time spent hemming and hawing over the collective outrage at the fact that when you work with other people, sometimes it’s helpful to just tell them what’s up. I don’t quite understand the default position that everyone’s job occurs in a vacuum and that no one can ever feel burdened by a coworker’s personal life stuff. OP’s coworker has been throwing up within earshot for two weeks straight. Why are we aghast at her mere thought of why her coworker is so sick? Why is she wrong to think about how constant puking might be an issue when they share a hotel room?

          Reply
          1. Mookie

            What you call “faux-outrage” other people may call an attempt to be thoughtful and create less harm in a world that is slowly awakening to the existence of microaggressions and unconscious biases. The LW was seeking feedback and advice; it’s okay to remind people in that situation the consequences of making false presumptions. It’s really not hurting anyone, and I don’t see this as a can’t-eat-sandwiches situation.

            the notion that neither the world nor the people in it are perfect

            There’s nothing wrong with acknowledging that and no one here appears outraged. Advice columns exist because people want to do better and want the world to be safer and happier. I applaud the LW for feeling the same.

            Reply
          2. hbc

            Nothing wrong with the OP being concerned that the frequent bathroom trips might be a problem in a shared room. There *is* something wrong with claiming to know that a woman is pregnant, and talking behind her back with your coworker about how far along she is in the pregnancy that you’re oh-so-sure she has.

            I don’t think OP has bad intentions, but there’s nothing good to be gained from the continued side chat and speculation. And there’s badness to be found if she miscarries or is having an abortion or has a different health issue.

            Reply
          3. Sylvan

            I’d completely agree with your comment if OP and coworkers managed to discuss those issues without speculating on whether their coworker is pregnant. I’m not “aghast” at someone wondering why a coworker is sick; concern is a totally normal reaction. I don’t think she’s “wrong” to think constant puking might make sharing a room problematic. (I couldn’t share a room with that, tbh.)

            Reply
          4. Rusty Shackelford

            OP’s coworker has been throwing up within earshot for two weeks straight. Why are we aghast at her mere thought of why her coworker is so sick?

            I thought there was a universal agreement to pretend we don’t overhear what others are doing in the bathroom. I guess not. If someone came up to me and said “I’ve heard you in the bathroom and you’ve obviously got diarrhea…” I’d be horrified, even if they were trying to make things easier on me.

            Reply
            1. fposte

              Well, nobody’s talking about going up to anybody and saying anything like that–that’s what the OP’s trying to circumvent.

              But with friends, I don’t observe that agreement anyway. I’ve asked friends at work if they need a ride home, for instance, based on bathroom vomiting. I agree that you don’t generally want to inquire into what people are doing behind closed bathroom doors, but I don’t think that rule supersedes the benefit of being helpful to your friends and colleagues in distress. If it means that somebody expresses concern over a bathroom episode I’d rather forget, that’s no fun but I’ll get over it, and I think that’s a reasonable price to pay for people getting assistance when they need it.

              Reply
              1. Rusty Shackelford

                Well, nobody’s talking about going up to anybody and saying anything like that–that’s what the OP’s trying to circumvent.

                It seems like some of the suggestions involve some level of “I noticed you’ve been throwing up.”

                But with friends, I don’t observe that agreement anyway. I’ve asked friends at work if they need a ride home, for instance, based on bathroom vomiting.

                I thought we were talking about a coworker, not a friend. If we’re at work, unless I stagger out of the bathroom groaning “I think I just puked up my pancreas,” I’d prefer that you pretend not to notice anything wrong with me. Maybe I’m the only one who feels that way.

                Reply
                1. fposte

                  They’re not two different categories to everybody, though. This is somebody close enough to the OP to share a room and to tell her that they’re trying to conceive. That’s friend territory to me.

                2. CMart

                  I’ve worked in several places (service industry and an office environment) where friendly (but not actual friend) coworkers have heard me throwing up in the bathroom and been the ones to suggest I go home out of concern for me.

                  In all those instances I really appreciated it. In two instances I was genuinely sick and having someone else validate “oh sweetie, don’t be a hero, go home” was the kick in the pants I needed to give myself permission to not be at work. The other instances were pregnancy related and I was just flattered they were concerned enough about me to say something.

                  But I might also be alone in that! We are all very different, after all.

            2. Starbuck

              That works at work- but if they’re going to share a hotel room, it’s not really possible to pretend you don’t notice what’s going on in the bathroom, or how frequently it’s being used…. That seems to be the main reason OP wrote in, because they want help discussing this in a tactful manner in a way that will avoid having to mention potential pregnancy on either side. Jeez, people aren’t being very helpful to OP here.

              Reply
        4. PersephoneUnderground

          Myrin- thank you, this is a very helpful comment, exactly what I was thinking as I was reading some of the more harsh replies here. Yes, we have ideals on what is the best way to react to everything, but they’re in a vacuum and real life situations can be significantly messier and case-by-case. So someone writes in with a messy real-life situation and gets lots of general pronouncements from the vacuum of ideal responses that they likely already know and agree with.

          It seems especially unfair (as in this case) when the person writing in has made it clear they are trying to apply those ideals and wrote asking for advice on how, then gets a bunch of angry parroting of the ideals back as if they questioned them – which they never did! Like Q:”I know never to ask a woman if she’s pregnant, but it seems relevant because X, how do I handle this situation without violating that rule?” Commentary: “how dare you ask or wonder if she’s pregnant!” Erm….

          I’ve written to an advice column myself once with a completely different topic that led to similar sweeping pronouncements and commentary, and it’s really hard to read. I was able to find some useful replies by remembering that 99% of the unhelpful commentary was because people project and don’t know me, so it’s easy to make assumptions about a situation with a charged topic. In my case it was less thought-policey and more “holy slut-shaming batman!” and “holy deducing waaay too much from limited info batman!” but similar in the pattern of reaction.

          So commentators, try to re-read what you write and imagine you’re the LW and actually were honestly looking for help before you hit “post”, ok? It’s a process that can make one feel pretty shredded if you’re not really detached and if people are unnecessarily harsh, anonymity notwithstanding.

          Reply
      3. Namelesscommentator

        I’m glad people are pointing out it’s not necessarily pregnancy because the letter (and editorialized tagline) make it “obvious” that the coworker is pregnant.

        When it’s not obvious at all. And assuming the only reason a woman might be vomiting or giving up caffeine is … insulting isn’t the right word – but it definitely borders on it.

        The question itself is fine – coworker illness is tough to navigate, and this lw seems very considerate and well intentioned – but the assumption of pregnancy with no consideration of other options definitely rubbed me the wrong way. So I’m glad people are mentioning that pregnancy is not the only thing that changes a women’s habits in the workplace.

        Reply
        1. Myrin

          I mean, I agree in general – like I said above, I actually had a weird situation some years ago where from the outside it might have looked a lot like I was pregnant when in fact I had caught some mysterious illness that just made me nauseous, unwell and unable to eat for almost two weeks (never figured out wth that was about).

          However, as long as OP doesn’t come in guns blazing and yells “HA, I know about teh behbeh!!”, I don’t think it’s the end of the world if she mistakenly believes for three months that the coworker is pregnant. Like another commenter said above, she’ll find out whether that’s true or not soon enough anyway.

          Reply
          1. Vegas Baby

            I think there are definitely some possible negatives to her making that assumption – it could color how she treats the co-worker, decisions that get made about work tasks etc. People have a lot of ideas about pregnancy, and thinking someone is pregnant can absolutely change how they treat that person. And if the co-worker is not in fact pregnant, those changes may be detrimental to them.

            This is why I think it’s really important to push back on the OP’s insistence that the co-worker is “obviously pregnant”. Maybe she is. But there are plenty of other plausible explanations, and not acknowledging that is unhelpful.

            Reply
        2. LW of #1 here

          The nausea isn’t the only reason I think she’s pregnant, as I said above, I haven’t relayed our whole office history. I focused on the nausea as it seems the most relevant to her possible wish for privacy in the office and on our work trip.

          Reply
      4. bloop

        OP seems very thoughtful and respectful and I’m glad to hear she has no intention of saying something directly about pregnancy to her coworker. That said, people constantly assuming women with gastrointestinal issues are pregnant is a very real problem and there is nothing wrong with gently reminding OP that she may be wrong in some of her assumptions.

        Reply
        1. TBoT

          This. It’s uncomfortable, embarrassing and annoying when someone is assumed to be pregnant and isn’t, especially if it is something that happens on a regular basis. And it can be hugely hurtful to someone who has been trying to get pregnant and can’t.

          Aside from that, the constant assumption that a vomiting woman must be pregnant is so pervasive that it creates real problems with trying to get medical care. I know multiple women who have been in the ER with severe vomiting and other symptoms and have been delayed in getting care because the doctors assumed they were pregnant. It would be cool if society quit making that assumption.

          Reply
    4. Fake old Converse shoes

      The “Lady Flora must be pregnant because she traveled alone with Conroy” subplot in Victoria comes to mind.

      Reply
  5. Lisa

    I would probably say something like “It’s none of my business why but I can’t help but notice you have been not been felling. Please let me know if there is anything I can do to help.” and leave it at that.

    Reply
  6. ENFP in Texas

    I work for Fortune 50 company, on a team of about 250 employees across the country. Sometimes the only time we find out someone has left is when we try to send them an email and it comes back as undeliverable.

    Usually people will send a last-day email to their co-workers, and sometimes some folks out of their direct work group. But unless it is a senior-level manager, I usually don’t see any sort of “Hey, Clyde is leaving” emails from anybody.

    Reply
    1. Gadfly

      I once had one of the sales reps I assisted leave and no one told me for weeks. Her team lead had asked to be copied on emails, but that was normal when a rep was in the field a lot and I hadn’t seen the rep around the office…. I was getting really irritated too, trying to pull together time sensitive information for various projects and not getting a response.

      Reply
  7. Zoe

    Many women who have had miscarriages don’t want say anything early simply because they don’t want to have to explain why they’re *not* pregnant later, if that should happen again (or, this could even be an unwanted pregnancy.) Better to not put a label on her illness, but deal simply with its effects as they affect her work – which they might never do – and let her disclose it once she’s comfortable doing so.

    Reply
    1. New Bee

      Agreed, and I think that’s common even for people who haven’t miscarried previously, especially since individual folks have varying beliefs about whether miscarriage = death of a person–not something you want to discuss with coworkers if the worst should happen.

      Reply
    2. Geoffrey B

      #2: If it feels awkward to ask for more definite language on your own behalf, could it be helpful to invoke a fictitious third party?

      “I’m applying for a loan and my bank wants me to provide documentation of my income – can we please tweak the wording on this letter so I can reassure them that it *will* increase as discussed?”

      Reply
      1. Lady Ariel Ponyweather

        Or “I’m committed to applying for a bank loan” ;)

        I do get what you mean, though, and it can help to use a third party to back you up. The only problem is that if it’s not true, it might escalate into a big deal. I’ve found in the past it’s best to keep these things simple and truthful. Perhaps if they push back, then OP can say something like she’s *considering* taking out a loan and the letter will be needed for that. That’s still a slight fudging of the truth, but it’s not a lie she has to keep track of.

        Reply
          1. Lady Ariel Ponyweather

            I don’t know enough about bank loans to answer that, to be honest. My comment was more about using a third party to back you without outright lying. But I see where my comment was confusing.

            In conclusion, I’m way out of my depth!

            Reply
          2. Sualah

            You definitely couldn’t use that to completely qualify using the new income, but if a person is right on the edge of qualifying with the current income and there are other compensating factors, there can be exceptions made. Like sometimes banks will discount installment loans (auto, student, etc) with less than 10 payments left. So I could see adding a note that “income will increase per offer letter.”

            Reply
              1. Sualah

                Yep, or if the offer letter says it directly, that could possibly be used, too. Obviously different banks and credit unions and loan types (example: I would never, never try that with an FHA or VA loan; much better chance with an in-house conventional loan staying on the books) will have different policies and exceptions, but it’s not completely out of the realm of possibility.

                Reply
    3. Starbuck

      “deal simply with its effects as they affect her work ”

      Right, that’s exactly the point that OP asked about and what they were looking for advice on. How to bring up the symptoms in a tactful way that doesn’t involve bringing up pregnancy suspicions. Telling OP “you know, she may not be pregnant” isn’t helpful because that’s not what they asked about and it doesn’t help them solve the problem of potentially sharing a room & bathroom with a vomiting coworker.

      Reply
  8. Chi

    #4 – people at my job say they are leaving all the time. Moving to a new state, retiring…I never thought that was wrong. I love this site. I always learn something new.

    Reply
  9. Chelle

    #4–at my company (~10k people), it’s pretty standard for folks to send out their own goodbye emails to those they have worked closely with…but they don’t always. Hell, just last week I found out one of my co-workers was gone from our client! (I looped him into an email to answer a question and they replied, “unfortunately I heard the news that yesterday was his last day…is there a replacement who could answer?” Awkward.)

    Reply
    1. DDJ

      I actually found out about a recent employee’s departure through a third party. When they called, I said, “Oh, this really sounds like a question for Martin.”

      “Except that Martin has been gone for two months?”

      I had no idea. This was someone who I only really worked with sporadically and our paths didn’t really cross very often (obviously). But I do work pretty closely with his boss so it was just…bizarre. And that his boss didn’t mention anything was just…weird. All around weird.

      Reply
  10. Close Bracket

    When I have left jobs, I didn’t send out an email or anything. In one case, the number of people I worked with was fairly small, and news spread during my two week notice period. My former manager included the news in her weekly update the following week. The other one, I don’t think I even told people. It was a really short term job that might have had potential to turn into a long-term job, but didn’t. I was pretty much ignored during those last two weeks. In neither case did it occur to me to send a final email on my last day. Should I have?

    Reply
    1. MommyMD

      I would not send out an I’m leaving email unless I was very highly placed in the company, such as a C level exec. Retiring, quitting, moving on require a reasonable notice, not a broadcast.

      Reply
    2. Beatrice

      I have always hated writing them, but they’re the norm where I am. I’d talk myself out of it on a really small team where word spreads easily, and on a short term assignment, so I think you’re okay.

      Reply
    3. Jesmlet

      I work for a small company so the 2 people who’ve left who were here a while sent out emails thanking everyone and encouraging us to stay in touch. Obviously at that point, everyone knew. It wasn’t so much an FYI I’m leaving email as it was a Goodbye, thanks guys email. For the second one, there’s no reason for you to send out an email. For the first, it really would depend on how long you’d been there IMO.

      Reply
    4. NotAnotherManager!

      I don’t think it’s necessary to send a farewell email. Some people do; some don’t. Our organization does not send departure emails unless someone is very highly-placed and visible in the organization or there will be some sort of news coverage about the departure that we need to get in front of. Part of the reason for this is that most departure notices would be met with, “Who?” by at least 75% of the organization, and the other is that it would be obviously who resigned versus was fired based on the announcement timing (and we don’t announce we fired people). There is an internal list of departure sent to management, who can review and notify anyone who needs to know on their teams.

      We do have a departure policy that we expect people to follow, which includes notifying the people with whom you work directly and making arrangements with your supervisor to hand off your projects and working with your replacement to get them up to speed.

      Reply
  11. AlligatorTrainer

    Say you do currently have 6 weeks annual vacation, and the new offer is just 2. What’s reasonable to ask for? And what kind of financial trade off might make sense to ask for?

    And, not to derail, but what do you all think another week of vacation is worth to you in terms of less salary?

    Reply
    1. Stellaaaaa

      I don’t think the context you’re presenting is quite correct. This OP is talking about organizations that typically cannot afford to give substantial raises. It’s not about the tradeoff of vacation time vs salary. OP is talking about negotiating extra vacation time to make up for the fact that the pay is low.

      Reply
      1. MK

        Actually, I don’t think that’s accurate. The OP is currently working for a non-profit that gives a low salary and six weeks of vacation, and she is looking to change “jobs/careers”, but she wants to “reap a similar benefit with a new job”. She doesn’t say she expects to stay with non-profits, in fact she implies the opposite; for all we know, she might be applying for jobs that pay significantly better than her current one. If a new job offers the same salary, or only a slight increase, it’s reasonable to say “You know, I wouldn’t want to make a change that means one third of vacation time at roughly the same salary. Can you offer more?”. If the new job comes with a significant pay increase, that is where AlligatorTrainer’s calculations come into play: how much is vacation time worth. Say the OP believes one week of vacation is worth 5K to the OP. If she currently earns 30K, and the new job offers double that, then she is compensated for the loss of 4 weeks vacation, plus she gets 10K extra (the perspestive employer certainly might feel that they don’t have to offer more vacation, unless they really want the OP). If the new job offers 50K, the pay bump doesn’t really compensate for the loss of vacation time.

        AlligatorTrainer, I think how much vacation time is worth is probably very subjective. And how much vacation time you can negatiate depends on other factors too: How much does the employer want you? Does changing careers means you won’t have direct expierience and must start at a lower level? How much vacation do the other employees have and at what point is it capped? An employer won’t feel obligated to match your previous position’s vacation unless they really want to recruit you and is unlikely to want to create a huge PTO inequity among their staff anyway. If two weeks is the standard they offer to new hires and with tenure at the job they max out at four, they are unlikely to offer more than three, I think. If they begin at two weeks and max out at eight, they might agree to, say, four, but put the new hire through a more slow schedule (like accruing three days of cavation with every year of service instead of a week). It can vary wildly.

        Reply
        1. Sarah

          I agree, I think it matters a LOT what other employees are getting. If most people in the office get 3 weeks of PTO, offering 6 to just one person is going to create a ton of resentment…probably more than any employee could be worth (unless we’re talking someone at the executive level, but I am guessing that’s not at issue here with a career change). It could also depend if the workplace is unionized — then things are likely to be much more standardized/less wiggle room.

          Reply
        2. Anonymoose

          And don’t forget her current job won’t give her a raise for TEN years. My jaw dropped, I gotta admit.

          Reply
    2. AdAgencyChick

      I think it depends on your level of seniority. I would certainly go in, in this situation, by saying “I currently have six weeks of vacation time, so two weeks would be a pretty big step backward for me. Is that number negotiable?”

      In my case, how much that extra week matters in terms of pay depended very much on how happy I was in my job at the time. When I was desperate to get out two jobs ago, I accepted a lateral salary move and lost a week of vacation. But I was happy at that job, so when my current job came calling, I made them give me the week back AND a raise.

      Reply
    3. OtterB

      I think approaching it in terms of seniority makes sense. If, say, you have 5 years at a job that gives you 6 weeks of vacation and the new offer is for 2 but adds a day with each year of experience, then you might propose 3. It might or might not fly, but it doesn’t seem unreasonable to ask nor unreasonably unfair to the people who are already working at NewWorkplace.

      Reply
    4. J

      That’s a hard question. I went from one non-profit that afforded me 30 PTO days a year (sick and vacation all in one) to my current where I only get 15 vacation days a year (plus 9 sick days in a separate pot). It *feels* like a lot less vacation, though, really, between the two and a freebie week between Christmas and New Year’s, it really isn’t.

      Push comes to shove, I’d rather have more vacation than more salary. Salary is taxable, vacation is not. But I don’t know what the conversion rate would be.

      Reply
      1. AdAgencyChick

        “Salary is taxable, vacation is not.”

        Yup. Maybe earlier in my career I’d have been willing to take a cut in vacation in return for a good bump in salary, but now that I’m at the point where the government takes the majority of my money, I’d rather have more time off.

        Reply
        1. Doreen

          I don’t think that’s what J was talking about. If a job pays $52K a year, I get taxed on $52K a year, whether I get 1,2 or 12 weeks of paid vacation. So if my current job pays $52K with two weeks vacation , I might prefer a new job that is offering $52 K with four weeks vacation to another one paying $54K with two weeks vacation.

          Reply
    5. Jesmlet

      I’d take the salary over extra vacation days. I don’t really need more than my current 16 days off (10 vacation, 6 personal days), which isn’t all that high as it is. I think it just really depends on if you’d need/want those days. If I felt strongly about it, I’d probably split the difference and request that as an additional bump in salary.

      Reply
  12. Lars the Real Girl

    #1 Noooooooo. The only “obvious” thing here is that your coworker is getting sick – that is literally the only thing you know. Whatever else you have rummaging in your head, dispel it quickly before you say or do something that could be seen as a **wink*wink** we know what’s going on :) *wink*, because you have no idea what’s going on. I appreciate you’re trying to do the right thing, but the right thing is not assuming something based on flimsy information. (Also, the old advice of: you should never, ever, assume a woman is pregnant unless a) she tells you or b) you physically see a baby coming out of her.)

    She could be dealing with a million things other than a pregnancy, or even be dealing with an unwanted pregnancy, or an unviable one. Short list of possible reasons other than her “obvious” pregnancy: a lingering stomach bug, a new medication with side effects, removing a medication that has withdrawal effects, GI issues (which legitimately explain stopping coffee too!), cancer treatment, serious caffeine withdrawal….and on and on.

    As for your trip, Alison’s script or “hey, I’ve noticed you haven’t been feeling well. I’ll request that you get your own room for some privacy.”

    As for day to day interaction: “I’m sorry you haven’t been feeling well, let me know if you need anything.”

    Reply
    1. Julia

      This. Would people speculate their vomiting co-worker was pregnant if they were male? Obviously not. Women get stomach bugs, too.

      Adding to your advice about assuming a woman is pregnant, I want to say that the only time it is acceptable to ASK a woman if she’s pregnant is if a) you’re her doctor or b) you could be the father. (Or maybe c) you work with radiation or similar that could harm a fetus, but I’m sure a pregnant woman would get out of that before you had to ask her – I certainly hope most of those situations offer easy outs for everyone so pregnant women don’t have to come clear if they don’t want to.)

      Reply
      1. PainScientist

        For radiation work (at least at my university) you do have to disclose to be put on a lower threshold and different monitoring level, but you don’t disclose to your boss (instead, to the department that manages radioactive materials, waste, training, and monitoring) and the department you disclose to does not pass it along at all. There are separate forms for registering as a radiation worker and declaring your pregnancy to the department.

        Reply
        1. Sled Dog Mama

          Yep, (at least in the US) as a radiation worker you aren’t pregnant until you fill out that disclosure form which obligates the employer to monitor fetal dose (in addition to the radiation worker’s dose) and adjust duties accordingly if cumulative dose rises about a certain point. This is why with both my pregnancies my employer was the second person to know (after my husband), long before we told any family or friends.

          Although I would never comment on the status of another person’s uterus if is nice to be able to look for that second monitoring device that says “I haven’t told you but I have declared myself pregnant” in my industry

          Reply
      2. blackcat

        When I got my wilderness first responder cert, I was told that it was entirely appropriate to ask in the event of an apparent medical emergency, even if you are not a doctor.

        (And, in the case of abdominal pain, the recommendation I got was to ask anyone *regardless of gender presentation* “Do you have a uterus?” and, if they said yes, “Are you pregnant?” Because plenty of female-appearing people do not have uteri–lots of cis women end up having them removed for one reason or another–and because a male-appearing person may have one.)

        Reply
        1. Rusty Shackelford

          Seems like you could skip the “do you have a uterus” part and just ask “Is there any possibility you are pregnant?”

          Reply
          1. blackcat

            No, because there are some significant non-pregnancy related problems that can manifest as severe abdominal pain (eg ovarian torsion).

            Reply
            1. fposte

              Then the protocol shouldn’t ask just about a uterus, though; it seems like they’re using a technical term for one organ to operate as a question about other things, and that’s risking people answering the question on the technical level and not giving you the information you need.

              Reply
              1. Rusty Shackelford

                Exactly. Ask what you need to ask, rather than making assumptions. If someone’s had a hysterectomy but didn’t have her ovaries removed, she’d answer “no” to your uterus question and you’d incorrectly assume she had no ovaries.

                Reply
    2. long time lurker

      Now this is a comment that brings up the issue with the pregnancy assumption without attacking an LW who is at least trying to be sensitive to her coworker.
      +1

      Reply
  13. Gadfly

    Op1, I’ve a brain tumor and the meds can cause syptoms for many that match what you describe. And the tumor itself is often found after causing fertility problems.

    Can you imagine how much telling her you know she is pregnant would hurt if it were circumstances like I just described?

    I can. Not, thank gods, from experience. But women in some of the support groups have shared similar stories.

    Until she tells you, you don’t really know anything.

    Reply
    1. Star

      But the OP hasn’t said that she wants to tell the coworker she thinks she’s pregnant. She wants to know how to respectfully deal with the fact that the coworker is throwing up constantly, especially in light of a work trip.

      There are a few comments saying something similar re: OP wanting to tell coworker what she thinks she knows, but that’s not at all the case from the letter.

      Reply
      1. Sam

        This was my reading, too, Star. Since it sounds like OP wants advice on how to be supportive/helpful *without* forcing an acknowledgement of the condition causing these symptoms, I think the pile-on from commenters is a bit unfair.

        Reply
  14. Lady Ariel Ponyweather

    #2 – Good catch! It’s easy to miss something like that. I’m especially glad you wrote in with this question because many people (including me) would not want to be seen as difficult, and might not even raise the question. Or they might think because the salary increase is agreed to in the email, that will be proof enough if there’s a problem when the time comes. But I’m guessing the letter trumps the email. So it’s good that you’re saying something about it now. Not to mention that it’ll give you peace of mind, otherwise you’d be worrying about it until July.

    If you’re comfortable sharing an update, I’d love to hear how it turned out. No problem if not.

    Reply
    1. MoinMoin

      Agreed, #2 I’d love to hear an update to see how a negotiation like this all shakes out (vs just knowing how it “should” per the advice).

      Reply
  15. NewHerePleaseBeNice

    No, OP1’s coworker is not ‘obviously’ pregnant. A woman with sickness *might* be pregnant, after all, sickness is a common issue in the early stages of pregnancy. However, you cannot assume that pregnancy is the reason, so please continue to be supportive but do not, whatever you do, start planning the baby shower…

    Reply
    1. Stardust

      Where are people getting this? Planning a baby shower? There is nothing at all in the letter to suggest that the LW wants to approach the possibly-pregnant coworker about any of this. In fact, it’s quite the opposite: the letter is about reacting in a tactful way to her feeling unwell without bringing up pregnancy. Yes, LW might have jumped the gun a bit in how sure she feels about the coworker’s circumstances but I gotta say, if I were the LW I’d feel quite taken aback by the accusing tone of many of these comments.

      Reply
        1. NewHerePleaseBeNice

          I think the ‘comprehension problem’ is the immediate assumption that ‘barfing woman = pregnant woman’.

          Reply
          1. Julia Gulia

            Don’t be part of the problem. The letter directly states that the LW wants to talk about sharing a hotel room with someone who is frequently vomiting. The possibility of pregnancy is being actively avoided verbally.

            Reply
      1. NewHerePleaseBeNice

        Pardon me for a light-hearted comment. Apparently the joke about the baby shower was taken seriously.

        Reply
        1. Stardust

          I assumed that it was light-hearted hyperbole but honestly with some comments’ tone today I wasn’t too sure.

          Reply
      2. Annabelle

        I think the headline about her being “obviously” pregnant is affecting the way people are reading the first letter. Also, lots of women and femmes have really bad experiences with well-meaning coworkers assuming they’re pregnant.

        Reply
        1. fposte

          But there’s confirmation bias there–a lot of people have had co-workers assume they’re pregnant and had no problem with it, because those co-workers kept that thought to themselves.

          Reply
          1. Annabelle

            That’s definitely true. I think it’s just difficult for people to respond objectively when they’ve had unpleasant experiences with something like this, especially because health and pregnancy are so personal.

            Reply
      1. Ask a Manager Post author

        In this case it was the OP’s, but I thought it captured the question she’s asking well. To her, it’s obvious (whether she’s right or wrong), and so thus the headline.

        Reply
        1. Lucky

          The headline lead me to expect that OP1’s coworker was six months gone, holding large handbags or flower pots in front of her to disguise her rising stomach like a sitcom actress.

          Reply
  16. Claris

    Geniune question as the mention of it in the script for #1 caught me off guard. i
    Is it wrong to not want to share a room with someone throwing up a lot? I have a chronic medical issue that causes frequent and sometime unexpected need for immediate bathroom access and while I’m sure no one has noticed at work I wouldn’t want to share a room because I’d want to ensure I had bathroom accesss the entire time. If people at work did notice my frequent breaks I would be grateful if they requested we don’t share when traveling. But is this one of those things you’re just supposed to suck up?

    Reply
    1. MicroManagered

      That stuck out to me too. What’s wrong with OP1 not wanting to share a room (and a bathroom) with someone who has been vomiting frequently? If we play along with the fact she hasn’t told anyone she’s pregnant, and she’s vomiting all the time, then I wouldn’t want to share a room/bathroom with her from a contagion standpoint.

      Reply
      1. Bookworm

        I don’t think anything is wrong with it, it’s just that my reading of the letter is that OP is making the offer to make her coworker more comfortable. It sounds like OP wouldn’t necessarily mind sharing if the coworker is still up for it.

        Obviously, it would be fine if OP wanted her own room as well, I just don’t think that’s her question in this case.

        Reply
        1. wirving

          Much appreciated context, thank you! I was struggling with the same question as Claris and MicroManagered, but now it makes much more sense to me.

          Reply
    2. Murphy

      I think if you’re (the general “you”, not you specifically) the one needing special access to the bathroom, it would be up to you to say you felt you needed your own room. A co-worker might not want to share in that situation, but might feel awkward being the one to speak up about it.

      Reply
    3. HannahS

      No, I don’t think so. The trouble is that OP1 doesn’t want to make her coworker feel like she has to share why she’s ill, and she’s not sure how to word the request tactfully, plus the awkwardness of commenting on someone else’s bodily functions that you know they’d prefer to keep private. I’d feel the same about asking not to share with a coworker who has, say, sudden violent bowel movements. I’d feel unsure of how to tell her I don’t want to share a hotel room, because there isn’t a well-known graceful social script to say, “Hey, so, you seem to have diarrhea a lot and I don’t want to share a bathroom.” It sounds so rude and intrusive, and I would hate to make my imaginary-coworker feel humiliated, or that she has to tell me that she has colitis. So that’s where Alison’s script comes in.

      Reply
  17. Anonymous Poster

    To follow up on the leaving subject in OP#4’s letter, I’ve worked in several places where people would just disappear and the only way we’d find out is getting a message of undeliverable email. They were large organizations, so I understand not wanting to spam everyone’s mailbox, but I was always surprised that even people in my immediate workgroup wouldn’t say anything, nor would management, and then they would just stop showing up. In general, these people were also fine performers and were not on a PIP or anything. It also wasn’t company policy that people couldn’t say anything about leaving, because when I left I made sure to make an announcement via email to the people I interacted with 2 weeks before my last day so they could think about what they needed from me and get it before I left.

    So my question is, why do companies sometimes not want to announce people leaving? Is there a strategy behind it, or is it something much more banal like being too busy with the day-to-day?

    Reply
  18. Katniss

    I brought this up above, but the coworker in #1 might also be pregnant and not planning on keeping it. When I was pregnant I am glad my coworkers didn’t hedge about it in any way because explaining that I wouldn’t be soon could have been awkward.

    This is an extra reason to go ahead and put aside the idea that she might be pregnant unless she actually tells you. AAMs is a great script because it allows you to be compassionate about her feeling ill without adding any hint of anything about pregnancy.

    Reply
  19. MicroManagered

    OP3: They may be willing to give a one-time boost of vacation to match what you have banked up at your current employer, even if they won’t make an exception to allow you to get more vacation on an ongoing basis. For example, say you currently get 6 weeks a year and the new employer only gives 2 weeks. They might agree to give you a 4 weeks of vacation one time, but you’d still get 2 weeks per year going forward. If you are able to negotiate on vacation, I’d make sure it’s really clear which one you’re talking about.

    Reply
  20. August

    I don’t understand some of the uncharitable comments towards LW #1. It’s not completely out of line to assume that a woman who’s given up caffeine and started vomiting is pregnant, but, regardless, the LW has made it pretty clear that she has no intention of bringing up the possibility of a pregnancy unless her coworker announces it. The entire point of the letter is that the LW is trying to be considerate of her coworker’s evasiveness surrounding her nausea, not that she’s gathering with her coworkers and secretly giggling over a possible pregnancy.

    I completely get that some people want to press that the coworker’s illness might not be a result of pregnancy, but I think there’s been some unnecessary harshness towards what I read as a very kind, thoughtful letter.

    Reply
    1. blackcat

      I think some of the responses are coming from a position that it IS completely out of line to assume a woman is pregnant. Full stop.

      And, yeah, LW1 seems like they will handle this appropriately. But it’s also good for them to be on guard for things they might do as a result of assuming their coworker is pregnant–for, example, not putting the coworker on a major project that comes to ahead in 7 months.

      So there’s some advice about managing the hotel room situation, and other advice that’s basically “Woah, slow your roll. Do not assume pregnancy. Full stop.” Well-meaning people can do kinda shitty stuff when they assume someone is pregnant.

      Reply
      1. fposte

        No, it’s not out of line to assume. What’s out of line is to talk to her about it or speculate openly. Your private thoughts on the subject are perfectly allowable.

        Reply
        1. Myrin

          Yeah, that’s exactly what I meant above with my “purity of thought” line (which I misspelled, as I just realised. Oh my). Mostly because such thoughts are immediate and not something we can control, they just pop into our brains and exist there, often without any real-world effects whatsoever.

          Reply
        2. MicroManagered

          Right? Like if she were coughing and sneezing and going through a box of Kleenex a day… It would be perfectly reasonable to assume she has a cold. It’s not out of line to draw a conclusion based on observable symptoms…

          Reply
          1. Allison

            I once sneezed and sniffled all day because I have allergies and forgot to take my medicine, if someone had assumed I had a cold they would be wrong, but I wouldn’t be angry about it unless they yelled at me to go home.

            But having a cold and being pregnant are different things. Pregnancy is so, so personal and political these days.

            Reply
            1. fposte

              I also think it matters here that this coworker has told the OP that she’s trying to get pregnant. Not that it makes it a sure thing that this is pregnancy or that it’ll all go well, but that this very personal information is already coming from the coworker, suggesting a relationship of a fair amount of intimacy (because holy crap on telling your coworkers that otherwise). This isn’t just a group of giggling people on the other side of the building; this is a good work friend with whom this person is sharing her personal life.

              Reply
            2. MicroManagered

              A cold would still be a reasonable conclusion to draw, as opposed to, say, assuming you had ebola virus. My point is that I don’t think OP1 has done anything egregious by drawing the conclusion that her coworker is likely pregnant. She has not done anything to violate the woman’s privacy or political autonomy–the whole point of the letter was asking how to avoid doing that.

              Reply
        3. Annabelle

          It’s not out of line to assume, but the letter sort of reads as if the LW has consulted with her other coworker about it. Private assumptions are a fact of life, but I think speculating with another coworker is a bit out of line.

          Reply
      2. August

        Oh, yeah, that’s all perfectly reasonable! I think pointing out that there can be other reasons for the coworker’s nausea and warning the LW against acting as though her coworker is pregnant is valuable; what I’ve found a bit off-putting is the harsh tone of some of those comments. I can understand there being some censure if the LW wrote in like “everyone knows she’s pregnant, so how do we accommodate her pregnancy/plan the baby shower/name our future godchild without ruining what she thinks is a big surprise?” but my read of the letter was that the LW is wondering how to acknowledge the vomiting without acknowledging a possible pregnancy.

        So I get that people just want to urge the LW not to do the kind of well-meaning (and shitty!) stuff that you’ve mentioned and might not realize that it comes off as a bit harsh, but it seems like the LW really didn’t have any intention of doing that in the first place, and just wanted to be considerate of her coworker.

        Reply
    2. LavaLamp

      The OP to #1 did comment up above that she knew her coworker was actively trying to get pregnant. So at this point it’s a reasonable assumption. Maybe Alison should sticky that at the top or something so the “It might not be!!” crowd can calm down.

      Reply
      1. hbc

        “It might not be” is still 100% true even if she’s trying. She can still catch a stomach bug, she could be cutting caffeine because she doesn’t want to stop cold turkey when pregnant, she could be on nausea-inducing fertility meds.

        I’m not saying it’s ridiculous for the thought of pregnancy to cross the OP’s mind, and I’ll even say it’s the most likely possibility. But as someone who got asked about my plans for kids while I was actively miscarrying and who had someone guess at my successful pregnancy before I disclosed, I can say that neither situation is appealing on the receiving end.

        Deal with facts, not assumptions.

        Reply
        1. a1

          But she doesn’t want to ask about the possible pregnancy, that’s not the point of the letter. She wants to ask about changing rooming accommodations on an upcoming trip WITHOUT indicating her thought that coworker might be pregnant.

          Reply
            1. Lars the Real Girl

              I don’t think people are missing it – I think it’s that the OP has acted in a way that she wouldn’t have except for the fact that she thinks “knows” her coworker is pregnant.

              If you take the entire pregnancy narrative out of the letter, the question becomes “what do I say to my coworker who seems to be sick?” and “how do I ask if my sick coworker would like her own room on a trip” And those are pretty easy to answer (“hope you feel better, let me know if you need anything” and “seems like you’re not feeling great, how about we get you your own room for the trip”, respectively.)

              The OP has made these fairly simple and benign reactions more difficult and awkward by assuming the pregnancy.

              Reply
              1. LBK

                But I think it’s relevant that there’s a distinct possibility of pregnancy here because the OP is trying to make sure she doesn’t approach the situation in a way that might make the coworker feel pressured to admit she’s pregnant (assuming that she is). There’s a potential sensitivity to the cause of the illness that wouldn’t apply if her coworker were exhibiting symptoms of, say, a cold.

                Imagine the reverse letter from someone who’s been having morning sickness and her coworkers keep asking if she’s okay, and the LW in that case not being sure how to address her coworkers being concerned about her health without giving away that she’s pregnant. The OP here is trying to not be the person in that letter, which I think is smart and admirable. Can we not rake someone over the coals for trying to figure out how to delicately navigate a situation that many people would just bluntly trample over without a second thought?

                Reply
                1. Lars the Real Girl

                  I don’t think there was any coal-raking there. My point was that if you treat this as any other illness, it stops being as awkward to approach. And both of my scripts specifically do not ask the sick coworker a question but acknowledge what’s happening without requiring a response. (Other than, “thanks”, maybe.)

                2. LBK

                  I was speaking generally about the comments on this post, not necessarily yours specifically. There is an insane amount of projection and overcorrection going on.

    3. Allison

      I think the assumption is rubbing people the wrong way. If OP made it seem like an educated guess, people might be less angry. And I kinda get if, if people assumed I was pregnant because I was throwing up, I’d be mad. I don’t really like any attention when I’m puking, unless it’s “here’s some ginger ale and some crackers, feel free to lie down for a bit.” The second you start speculating on why I’m sick, I wanna smack you.

      But, ultimately, OP is trying to be respectful, and while intent is not always a magic excuse for being rude, in this case I’m going to overlook the assumption. I hate when I post a question and people get so caught up in a detail leading to the question that everyone aggressively piles on me for being WRONG and I never get a helpful answer, I just get yelled at. Happens more on Corporette than her though, people are (usually) nicer here.

      Reply
    4. Damn it, Hardison!

      Agreed. I read the letter as the writer wanting to avoid putting her coworker in a position where she felt pressured to reveal that she is pregnant, so LW was asking Alison for the best way to offer support in the office/not share a room without putting the coworker on the spot.

      Reply
  21. MommyMD

    I’m off put by OP 1. I would not want my bathroom habits so closely monitored by a coworker no matter how close the proximity. The pregnancy is speculation at this point. She obviously wants her privacy. As Miss Manners says, courteous people do not comment or otherwise acknowledge what goes on in a bathroom, medical emergency excepted. This feels like surveillance. And I would not bring up a business trip that is weeks away.

    Reply
    1. Stardust

      “surveillance”? OP says that her desk is literally right next to the bathroom- there doesn’t need to be much surveillance going on when you’re literally on the other side of the wall of a being-puke-into toilet.

      Reply
      1. Kyrielle

        This. And, honestly, I would _want_ to not notice it – both for my coworker’s sake and for mine – but yeah, if I were right next to it and the sound weren’t completely covered, I also would not be able to help it. (I actually might, in this circumstance, take to constantly listening to music on headphones. But I’d first become aware of the issue, because otherwise, I’d have no reason to do that.)

        Reply
      2. Rusty Shackelford

        Sorry to repeat myself from upthread, but in polite society, don’t we generally pretend we can’t hear what’s going on on the bathroom?

        Reply
        1. paul

          That means you don’t harp on someone as soon as they jump out of the can and ask what’s wrong.

          That doesn’t mean you aren’t concerned when someone’s throwing up frequently for 2 or 3 weeks, particularly if you’re going to be sharing a room with them soon.

          Reply
    2. paul

      Puking’s loud, or at least can be. And it typically (at least IME) leaves a pretty lingering odor. Not hard to notice without wanting too.

      And if the trip is weeks away, it’s entirely likely they’re reserving rooms now–I wouldn’t want to share a room with someone puking, regardless of reason.

      Reply
    3. Arjay

      Trying to find a good spot for this comment…
      If the coworker hasn’t acknowledged the nausea (as it appears form the letter) or admitted to not feeling well, I don’t see any way for the OP to address it at all.
      Leaving bathroom activity out entirely, maybe one could get away with mentioning the crackers/ginger ale, since those are semi-acceptable public signs that she may not be feeling well/ Of course, then you run afoul of commenting on other people’s food.

      Reply
    4. Starbuck

      Why not bring up the business trip? Last minute hotel room changes can be expensive, better to do it ahead of time if it’s necessary. I would want to do everything I could to avoid sharing a room with a barfing person.

      Reply
  22. ByLetters

    PLEASE do not say anything about her “pregnancy.” Whatever “signs” you see, the rule of “NEVER assume a pregnancy unless the woman says something first” still applies. I have frequent morning nausea and have given up coffee before more than once. Nausea is NOT an absolute sign of pregnancy, no matter what movies might make you think.

    I’ve had people ask me when the baby was due three times in my life, and it was horrible. Not only did it lead to a host of body image issues, but at the moment it’s not possible for me to have kids on my own and the question was devastating in its own right.

    Reply
    1. Myrin

      The OP doesn’t want to say anything about the assumed pregnancy. That’s exactly the letter’s point.
      (I hope this doesn’t come across as harsh – it’s certainly not intended that way. But I feel like many commenters aren’t reading what’s really in the letter, which, while assuming things that aren’t certain by any means, never once talks about actually approaching the coworker about the assumption, and yet people are commenting as if that were the case.)

      Reply
      1. Soon to be former fed

        It does seem like many didn’t read the OP’s post before responding, or at best scanned it. And some folks respond to other posts without reading the IP at all! This is not an uncommon problem in the online forum world, but it really stands out in this post today.

        Reply
  23. Kgulo

    OP #1, Allison’s advice about the hotel room is great. I also want to add a note as someone who’s currently pregnant. It sounds like your coworker is very early in the pregnancy. I’m sure she’d appreciate it if you and the rest of your colleagues said nothing about the pregnancy until she confirms it. Early pregnancy is so stressful and tiring, and the rates of miscarriage are high. Even if people guess, it’s not news a woman wants to share with everyone in the first few weeks. There’s a good chance she hasn’t even had her first prenatal appointment yet. Just wait and be supportive and your coworker will share her good news as soon as she can!

    Reply
  24. Overeducated

    Re: #3, I have heard that nonprofits often pay less but offer more vacation – that hasn’t been my experience so far but I would definitely trade some money for time if I could! Any idea how to find and target non-profit or for-profit organizations with generous vacation packages?

    Reply
    1. KC without the sunshine band

      I made the same move myself a few years ago. I went from 6 weeks vacation time at a nonprofit to 2 weeks at my current position. Then, when my performance review came up, and my boss told me how much my raise was (8.5%), I asked him if I could trade some of the $$ for another week’s vacation. We came to an agreement for another week, but he said that 3 weeks was the most anyone in the company had. I told him we would talk about about that next year. :-)

      Reply
  25. librarian in waiting

    For LW #1- Your coworker may be pregnant, and she may have to wait to terminate her pregnancy. I was pregnant and knew I was going to terminate, but had to wait a month before my appointment. I had terrible nausea, was always tired, had terrible headaches and felt like crying all the time. It was a struggle to get through work, but there wasn’t much I could do other than take it one day at a time, and if any coworkers brought up my illness/possible pregnancy I’m not sure I would have handled it professionally.

    I understand you want to be respectful toward your coworker and I think that’s great. But let her say something about how she is feeling instead of bringing it up yourself.

    Reply
    1. Hanna

      She specifically says that she does not want to bring it up herself:

      how can we be tactful without revealing that we know what’s up?

      Her concern is the shared hotel room and condolences for her co-worker feeling unwell, not getting her to reveal that she’s pregnant.

      Reply
      1. librarian in waiting

        I understand, but someone brought my symptoms up to me it would have mortified me no matter how well intentioned they were. The sharing a hotel room makes the situation a little more difficult, but I think the kinder way to approach it is if LW gives some mundane excuse about how coworker might not want to share a room with her this time (say, recent unexplained insomnia and she doesn’t want to keep coworker up all night.) That way it gives coworker an out, but doesn’t put the spotlight on her symptoms and make coworker feel like she has to explain them. In my experience, when people want you to know they’re sick, they tell you.

        Reply
        1. Future Analyst

          I agree, if OP 1 makes it about her and how she needs extra sleep/whatever, it gives the poor vomiting woman an out without having to have an awkward/vague conversation about whatever if going on.

          Reply
  26. a girl has no name

    The comments on the first post are baffling to me. The letter writer didn’t say she was planning to ask the coworker if she is pregnant. LW was trying to be nice and show concern since coworker is vomiting all day, without making her have to announce if she didn’t want to. All she needed was wording. I don’t know why everyone is jumping on her. I share a private office with a coworker who I am close to, and it would feel callous of me to not show some sort of concern if she’s vomiting all day.

    Reply
    1. Kyrielle

      I think it’s a combination of personal experience – many of us have been the person or known the person who was hurt by an assumption of pregnancy when it didn’t apply – and seeing the title of the post / headline of the question first. That puts the emphasis on “she’s pregnant but hasn’t said!” rather than, as the letter did, on, “she’s being ill all the time, and I want to know how to address it, without putting her in an awkward spot if she doesn’t want to say why”.

      (Which is, yes, tied to the assumption of pregnancy, but still about the right response even if she actually isn’t pregnant. Plus OP #1 has since said they knew she was trying to become pregnant, so there’s that. Doesn’t mean she is, and avoiding mention of it as OP #1 intended is still the right thing, but it does make the assumption more reasonable than just the vomiting alone.)

      I saw the post title and was pretty irate at the person who had said that before I even read more. Reading more actually calmed me down, since it wasn’t the focus of the letter…but it kinda was the focus of the title, and I think that set the tone a bit.

      Reply
  27. HeatherK

    OP#1.. vomiting and diet change can mean a LOT of things, not just pregnancy- including certain cancer treatments and other serious diseases. Don’t create too much of a narrative in your head- it will subconsciously change your behavior toward her.. and when/if the reason is revealed, you might be shocked.

    Reply
  28. Wannabe Disney Princess

    Good God, the level of snark on some comments for LW 1 are out of control today.

    LW1 – hopefully you can make it down here. Taking the lightning bolt of pregnancy out of the equation, you have a coworker who isn’t feeling well. And you’re team is small and close. OF COURSE you’re concerned. As long as you approach her with compassion and concern, that’s what matters. She might be worried about sharing a room and not sure how to bring it up with you, too. I know I would be! Just mention that you know she hasn’t been feeling well (she mentioned caffeine makes her queasy, you’re in the clear there) and that if it would be easier on her to get separate rooms you’d understand.

    Or even depending on the hotel set up, you could look into getting adjoining rooms? That way you each have your own bathroom.

    Reply
  29. Turquoisecow

    I said this in a comment in a thread, but I think it may have gotten lost.

    There are many reasons for long term nausea aside from pregnancy. I’ve experienced some myself! I’m not going to list them, but I’m sure most of you can think of a few. I think it’s best to ignore the pregnancy speculation when planning for the upcoming trip, and focus on the symptoms. We have a policy here of not armchair diagnosing mental illness and this can also apply to physical illness.

    OP’s coworker is having nausea and has been for an extended period. Regardless of the cause, it’s therefore reasonable to assume that the nausea might still be affecting her when the trip comes around. It is still reasonable for OP to say something similar to what’s suggested here – *without* bringing up the possibility of pregnancy or any other illness. Regardless of the cause of the nausea, it’s still considerate of OP to offer the coworker the option of not sharing rooms if coworker would like that additional privacy.

    Reply
  30. cheluzal

    1: I think LW is fine. I’m currently 8 weeks pregnant and had to take an indefinite leave due to crippling morning sickness (and hospital IV’s). I also had a kidney stone at week 6, and made it to work 1 day that week.
    Had people asking, “Are you pregnant?” which really p!ssed me off. It put me in such a bind! No, I didn’t want to tell them early but I have a NO LIES life policy. Luckily, the kidney stone gave an example, but it’s going on 3 weeks now.

    I had to tell people earlier than I’d like to stave off nasty rumors (teacher..ugh, the gossips) and because I hate my students missing instruction and needed my principal and department head’s support (I have it). But I cannot get that lady’s huge grin as she’s hovering over me as I’m hunched in the library’s bean bag chair, asking such a deeply personal question.

    Reply
  31. Katie the Fed

    #1 – if you want to do something really nice, keep strong smells away from her. Things that made me violently and suddenly ill in my first trimester included:

    – air freshener
    – the smell of coffee
    – hand sanitizer
    – any cleaning products

    I had to tell people about my pregnancy earlier than intended because the guy in the next cubicle over had a Keurig that people used about 10 times a day and I was SO sick every time it started.

    Reply
    1. VerySleepyPregnantLady

      One of the saddest parts of my early pregnancy was that *drinking* coffee (including decaf) would make me puke, but I still LOVED the smell.

      But, for a while, 90% of food smells -> vomit. Cleaning products -> vomit. Perfume -> vomit. So much vomit. And so much smelling! Even though I am well past the vomit-full stage, my nose is still WAY more powerful than before. It’s kinda like a super power.

      Another nice thing to do, without comment, is move a microwave behind a closed door (if there’s one in the open and a place to move it to). Again, that may help regardless of the source of nausea. Even now that I am not sick, I am bothered by the microwave smells in my office. I can live with it, but it’s distracting and bothersome.

      Reply
      1. Marillenbaum

        That bit about smells is so interesting! When my sister was pregnant with her first child, I remember her telling me that she could smell the furniture polish at her in-laws’ house, even though they’d polished the furniture over a week before. It was amazing.

        Reply
      2. Lindsay J

        Yeah, even outside of pregnancy, this is the way I feel when I have a migraine. Anything strong – and especially anything synthetic – makes me need to run right to the bathroom.

        One time I was holding it together at work decently, until someone put on some orange scented hand lotion. And that was it. I couldn’t cope anymore and just needed to leave.

        I normally don’t even have that good of a sense of smell and probably would not have even noticed the lotion under other circumstances. I also notice that certain smells just smell different to me than they usually do.

        Reply
    2. DaBlonde

      Yes to all of this Katie.
      Also, offer to bring her drinks/refills when you get up. Frequently when a person is naseous, they know they should drink more but standing up makes them feel worse.

      Reply
  32. Camellia

    Has anyone on here ever been able to negotiate more vacation time? I’m talking about large-ish companies, not mom-and-pop businesses. I’ve tried it twice, only to be met with blank and/or incredulous stares and the comment that they don’t do that, their vacation policies are [basically written in stone].

    Reply
    1. LBK

      Yeah, I was wondering about this too – my large company has a pretty set-in-stone policy and all our PTO is maintained by an online system that automatically calculates everything based on your job grade and tenure. No one is going in and manually setting how much annual PTO you get (although I guess there could be an option to do so that I’m just not privy to).

      Reply
    2. Sadsack

      I know someone who was given an extra week to match what she was getting at her former employer, but it was done informally between her and her manager. The new hire’s manager was also my manager and I did support work for the new hire, which is how I know. He kept his word about it, but I think I would want it in writing that HR agreed.

      Reply
    3. Not Yet Looking

      My wife once successfully negotiated, in a salaried position, an extra two weeks of “under the table” additional vacation with the manager. However, she was not able to get it in writing, it was just an agreement that the manager would allow it, so of course when her manager was promoted, she lost that “negotiated” perk.

      Reply
    4. Emac

      I was wondering this, too. And how someone would negotiate discussing/not discussing it with coworkers if they were able to get more vacation time. Where I’ve worked, people would definitely have noticed if I took more vacation time than standard.

      Reply
    5. Footiepjs

      We’re fairly small, greater than 500, but fewer than 1000 employees. We have a dev who negotiated for more vacation in lieu of a raise and got it. He’s also someone we wish to retain so it was in the company’s interest to grant his request.

      As for people noticing, he works fully remotely now so it wouldn’t be easy to spot.

      Reply
    6. DDJ

      Our policy is set in stone. 3 weeks to start, and there are two increases of one week based on years of service. Maximum vacation time is 5 weeks.

      Reply
  33. Cercis

    How important are offer letters? I was always under the impression that they were just the opening of the negotiation and like all contracts, weren’t the final contract. Then I had a job where I was offered a job with the title “Specialist” but in the negotiation stage we changed it to “Coordinator” (a step higher in nonprofits). All my business cards, my name plate, the announcement of my hiring, and the website said “coordinator”. So I assumed that it was accepted that my title was “Coordinator” and didn’t even think to ask to have the offer letter rewritten.

    Then we got a new boss and she misunderstood my role (she thought my entire role was one small part of what I did) and assumed I was too highly paid AND was trying to overstep my bounds. She finally pulled out my offer letter and said “oh, see, you’re just a specialist, quit claiming to be coordinator” (with no apologies for not understanding the full scope of my job, even after I’d explained it to her). There were lots of issues that now I realize I could have handled better – like having drawn up my own job description, but it was very vague when I was hired “we need you to do x and we’d like to start incorporating y & z, as long as x is done well you have free reign to figure out how to implement y & z.”

    Now I’m in the fun position of applying for new jobs and being fairly sure that she’s not going to verify my “coordinator” title, but using “specialist” puts me at a distinct disadvantage because when I list my job accomplishments they sound inflated for a specialist. So is this my fault too for not saying “I accept the job at this title but please rewrite the offer letter to reflect that?”

    Reply
    1. Rusty Shackelford

      No, it’s not your fault – who would think someone would backtrack on your title like that?

      Anyway, you’ve been listed as “coordinator” everywhere. I’d tell interviewers that you were hired as a coordinator, but your new manager saw some old paperwork and decided to call you a specialist. They’ll see by your job duties that you are clearly a coordinator, and you’ve got the website/announcement/everything that’s been in writing since then to prove it. (And it might help explain why you’re leaving that job.)

      Reply
      1. Cercis

        Unfortunately, I left a couple of years ago and my last coworker (who had been my reference) has also left. It’s a totally different organization now. I do still have business cards and my name tag, but any reference to me on the website has long been since removed.

        It was sooo toxic. She responded to me in email with a copy of my offer letter and when I responded that that’s not what I’d agreed to and cited the various documents she didn’t say anything else. Then several months later she has an all staff meeting and gave us all a new org chart which had my title as specialist. And she was watching me very carefully for my reaction (because any sign of discontent would be held against me – it was very typical of her to do things like that). Of course, one of my coworkers had it even worse – the org chart had her demoted from director to specialist and she was given a copy of the org chart in a meeting of the board of directors.

        The main problem for me is that nonprofits tend to make up for lack of pay with titles, so titles are seen as very important. Specialists implement programs, Coordinators create (and implement) programs. Specialists are only marginally responsible for budgets, coordinators create their budget and make sure they stay within budget. So if I use the specialist title but talk about creating programs and budgeting, it’s going to raise a red flag with future employers.

        Reply
        1. serenity

          That sounds truly awful, and I don’t think you should use “Specialist” in your resume if that wasn’t your position (despite your former manager’s bullheadedness). You have your business cards (hopefully) with Coordinator, and hopefully you have other evidence (website screenshot, email announcement) that you can use to hopefully counter if there is a problem at the reference-checking stage.

          Reply
    2. Future Analyst

      Good grief. She sounds delightful to work with. :( Sorry you have to deal with that! I would also not have assumed that getting an updated offer letter is absolutely necessary, but I guess in this particular case it would have been helpful.

      Reply
  34. Elle Kay

    OP#3: There aren’t any personal details in your letter so this might not be relevant for you but you may be able to look at your negotiations at a full package: giving some benefits up in favor of others.

    For example, my mother works in nonprofits (with notoriously bad health insurance anyway) but my dad was a teacher and, while he made less in salary, his employer-provided health insurance was much better than anything my mom’s employers offered. My mother had negotiated for 4-5 weeks of vacation time in every job she’s had in the 40-odd years my parents have been married, in large part, because she would not be taking the health insurance option they offered.
    In effect, she traded the amount the employer would contribute towards health coverage for more vacation time; in most cases the employer saves money and she gets more vacation!

    Reply
  35. Amey

    LW1, I just wanted to comment to say that I’ve been pregnant twice and suffered from fairly severe pregnancy anxiety and I’m glad you’ve asked this in such a respectful way. We told family and a couple of friends that weren’t nearby but I could not cope with anyone I saw on a daily basis knowing and then either referring to it or making obvious allowances. One of my closest friends is someone I work closely with, and I’m good friends with the rest of my team and didn’t tell any of them until 12 weeks. I only really told people then because I DID need them to cut me a little bit of slack – e.g. I did actually need to have regular breaks during very busy periods, something I wouldn’t necessarily usually do.

    I do think my co-workers probably suspected but they gave me plausible deniability and I really appreciated that. If I was vomiting every day at work I think I probably would need some extra consideration, regardless of the cause.

    I’d see about getting adjoining rooms or come up with your own reason as mentioned above.

    Reply
  36. swingbattabatta

    The thing I find astounding (beyond how hard people are coming down on this OP) is the assumption that the OP’s knowledge of her coworker is limited to her daily bathroom trips. C’mon, people. She said they are friendly enough to share a hotel room voluntarily, and she can’t be asked to list every single reason why she might think her coworker is pregnant. People hammer letter writers because they haven’t managed to list every single detail that may or may not be relevant to the situation (including interpersonal histories) in a 3 paragraph letter, and attribute every kind of bad intention possible to them. It is disheartening and distracting.

    OP, as someone who is secretly pregnant and a little nervous about trying to hide it from coworkers, I think your intentions are great and I understand the desire to acknowledge someone’s illness without putting them on the spot. It may feel like asking her if she’s okay would force her to come up with an excuse or lie, and if I was constantly sick at work, I’d probably be trying to come up with some sort of plausible excuse. I think you are being thoughtful, and hope you can find some helpful advice here.

    Reply
    1. Nope

      She said the co-worker hasn’t announced a pregnancy, and yet she is sure the co-worker is pregnant. That’s all that people are reacting to, that assumption. If the co-worker hasn’t announced it, then she does not know she is pregnant. And if she hadn’t declared it as a certainty, the reaction would have been very different I am sure.

      Reply
  37. Elizabeth West

    I think Alison’s wording for the ill coworker is very good. It doesn’t put her on the spot to disclose anything, and it’s very thoughtful to consider that she might want her own room if she’s not feeling well (for whatever reason).

    Reply
    1. Newlywed

      I agree. I don’t think it’s ever a coworkers right to “out” a pregnancy (can’t think of a better term) and this language gives her options without having to do so.

      Reply
  38. Noah

    OP #4 — I would just note that in some field (law firms, for one), announcing your own departure and personally having to tell key people is the norm.

    Reply
  39. Newlywed

    #1 – This isn’t a commentary on the first OP, it’s just a story related to an office pregnancy. A coworker of mine was pregnant (quite obviously so) but never actually told anyone at the company. Everyone still just tiptoed around it like it wasn’t a thing, despite the fact that we had found her baby registry w/ due date and she was clearly showing. She never volunteered that she was pregnant, so no one ever asked her directly about it. Fast forward a few months, the employee left on a Thursday because she “wasn’t feeling well” and just never came back. She didn’t quit, didn’t leave a note, and didn’t respond to any messages her manager or coworkers left for her (including me). Friends of the family reported later that yes, she had indeed had the baby. Weeks went by, and a former coworker called the former employee to nudge her in the direction of apologizing to the manager. She did so, and her old job was offered back to her. Unfortunately, although she returned to the company, she had too many issues with being reliable (lots of issues with difficulty finding childcare, deadbeat boyfriend), and it came out later that she had also lied about completing work that wasn’t actually done (which may be too strong of a word, but at the very least, she was so disorganized that we couldn’t sort out what had been completed and what had not, and I think there was some deception involved). The company really bent over backwards to try to help her out (gave her flexible hours, let her leave at the drop of a pin to pick up the baby, etc.), but at the end of the day she was eventually let go. She had a manager that was really willing to go to bat for her, which feels like such a shame because she definitely burned that bridge and squandered an opportunity for a good reference.

    Reply
    1. Newlywed

      didn’t save the end of my original post. I was just going to say I still stand by our decision as coworkers NOT to confront her about the pregnancy because it’s the pregnant woman’s right to decide when that information is shared. The unfortunate part of my story is that she never shared it at all, which inconvenienced a lot of people and caused a lot of unnecessary worry and panic.

      Reply
  40. Newlywed

    #1 – This isn’t a commentary on the first OP, it’s just a story related to an office pregnancy. A coworker of mine was pregnant (quite obviously so) but never actually told anyone at the company. Everyone still just tiptoed around it like it wasn’t a thing, despite the fact that we had found her baby registry w/ due date and she was clearly showing. She never volunteered that she was pregnant, so no one ever asked her directly about it. Fast forward a few months, the employee left on a Thursday because she “wasn’t feeling well” and just never came back. She didn’t quit, didn’t leave a note, and didn’t respond to any messages her manager or coworkers left for her (including me). Friends of the family reported later that yes, she had indeed had the baby. Weeks went by, and a former coworker called the former employee to nudge her in the direction of apologizing to the manager. She did so, and her old job was offered back to her. Unfortunately, although she returned to the company, she had too many issues with being reliable (lots of issues with difficulty finding childcare, deadbeat boyfriend), and it came out later that she had also lied about completing work that wasn’t actually done (which may be too strong of a word, but at the very least, she was so disorganized that we couldn’t sort out what had been completed and what had not, and I think there was some deception involved). The company really bent over backwards to try to help her out (gave her flexible hours, let her leave at the drop of a pin to pick up the baby, etc.), but at the end of the day she was eventually let go. She had a manager that was really willing to go to bat for her, which feels like such a shame because she definitely burned that bridge and squandered an opportunity for a good reference.

    Just to note: I still stand by the decision that we made to NOT confront her about her pregnancy, because as coworkers it wasn’t our right to “out” her pregnancy, and I know that she had her reasons in the end for concealing it for so long. I just wish she had been more forthcoming when it came closer to the due date. She really inconvenienced-and worried-a lot of people.

    Reply
    1. Detective Amy Santiago

      That’s just bizarre.

      I do remember at OldJob there was a woman who served as a surrogate a few times. I don’t remember hearing any situations where people asked inappropriate questions. It was a known thing, but no one gossiped about it that I can recall.

      I bring it up because I could see not really talking about it in that context, but to not even arrange for time off with your supervisor is mind boggling.

      Reply
  41. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain

    I wish my university had a consistent policy about announcing when someone leaves…or even my department had a policy. I’ve had coworkers that go out on leave (medical, family, maternity) and they’re name will be on the shared calendar as out, until one day it’s just gone. Are they back? Did someone forget to update the calender? No announcement that Jane decided to stay home with her baby…no notice that Fergus decided to move closer to his aging parents after it became obvious it was going to be long-term…nothing.

    But then… sometimes we have going away lunches and cards to sign when someone quits or retires. Sometimes their supervisor will send an email; sometimes the person will; or it will just be said in passing in the breakroom. It’s so frustrating.

    Reply
  42. basschick

    Poster #1 – my daughter has every symptom you described, including frequent vomiting, and her doctor had her give up caffeine, but she’s not pregnant, she has some kind of intestinal blockage. It’s been going on for over two months. I think she’d feel pretty awful if someone asked her if she was pregnant.

    Reply

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