bringing a date to the office holiday party, I don’t want to donate to a coworker’s GoFundMe, and more

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

1. Bringing a not-yet-serious date to the office holiday party

I work in an office of six people. My office holiday party is coming up, and we’re encouraged to bring a plus-one. I’ve been seeing one person for a couple weeks, and it will be up to a couple months (if it works out) by the holiday party. But there’s no guarantee this is a serious relationship. Is it frowned on to take a plus-one and then your coworkers may never see that person again? It almost feels like bringing someone home to meet the parents then bringing someone new the next month. It’s a small enough office we’re all intimately familiar with the status of everyone’s dating life, and I am the only person without a long-term, committed partner. I don’t really want to go to the party by myself, but I also don’t want everyone to know I’m actively dating/searching for a partner. No one ever asks awkward questions about my dating life, though, so this is all me being worried about how it will look.

If you were in a larger office, I’d tell you that it depends on office culture. In some offices, people really just bring serious partners, and in others it’s no big deal to bring a casual date. (Although you have to figure it’s incredibly boring for that casual date, and having to attend someone else’s office party seems like an unkind thing to inflict on someone if you don’t have serious, long-term investment in each other.)

But in a six-person office, I wouldn’t do it. That’s a very small group, and there’s going to be a lot of attention on you and your date. It’s likely people will assume things are fairly serious, and you’re likely to get questions about the person for a long time afterwards. I wouldn’t say it will necessarily be frowned upon to bring someone you’re still casual with, but I think it might feel unusual in a way that isn’t ideal.

2. We’re being required to donate a coworker’s bereavement GoFundMe

One of my coworkers experienced a death in the family. A GoFundMe was up to help with the funeral expenses. All of us are expected to donate. I hate the whole concept of what GoFundMe stands for and find asking everyone for money after a death tacky and crass. Personal feelings aside, I have never met this person and am not in a position to donate. We have all been told our jobs depend on a donation. Is there anything I can do or any way I can push back? Our manager agrees with the company and says it is not optional but I don’t want to donate.

It’s BS that your company is telling you this is mandatory; your personal funds are your personal funds.

That said, sometimes in a situation like this, your best option is to donate $5 and consider it part of the cost of the job, like buying business clothes.

If you’re determined not to, or you simply can’t afford it, then you’re better off making it about your budget than your feelings about GoFundMe. If you do the latter, you open it up for debate and risk coming across as callous to people whose opinions of you matter professionally. But it’s much harder to push back against “I think it’s a lovely gesture, but I can’t afford to contribute” or “I wish I could swing it budget-wise but I can’t.” (If you’re bristling at saying you wish you could or you think it’s a lovely gesture when those things aren’t true, consider that an investment in office good will.)

3. How do employers weigh assignments and exercises?

Could you shed some light on how employers factor in assignments or tests as part of the interview process? I work in a creative industry so I’m not surprised when I receive one as part of an interview, but it’s not always clear to me how much they’re weighted or if they “mean” something specific to the actual interview process — i.e. you’re only getting an assignment if you’re one of the top contenders, if they’re given out more broadly to weed out candidates in the beginning, etc. I understand that each company is going to be different, but is there a general way for a candidate to view this part of the process?

For example: after interviewing with Company A, they gave me a really lengthy assignment that I turned around about a week or so later. I never got an answer from the hiring manager or HR; not even to confirm receipt of my work. After a couple of interviews with Company B, they gave me a much more reasonable assignment that I turned around less than a week later. They confirmed receipt that same day and let me know that they would be making their hiring decision shortly thereafter.

(To clarify: I’m not really inquiring about those employers who unfairly use the candidate’s work or ideas without offering them the position, moreso what the act of getting an assignment might symbolize.)

It really does vary, and it depends on where in the process they pop up. If you get an assignment early on, they’re likely using it to determine who to interview (although any exercise pre-interview should be very short, since it’s unreasonable to ask you to invest significant time when you haven’t even been interviewed yet or able to ask your own questions to determine if you’re even interested in the job). If they’re used later in the process, it’s often to decide whether to move you forward to a finalist stage, or at the very end to pick between finalists or confirm that the top candidate is in fact the right hire. At any stage in the process, though, you should assume that they’re putting significant weight on them.

The thing that’s frustrating about hiring exercises is that when done right (the way I describe here), they’re a hugely valuable part of hiring. I would never hire someone without using exercises or other simulations to see people in action, because tons of candidates interview well but turn out to be far off-the-mark when you see them do the actual work. But a lot of companies misuse these sorts of exercises or are inconsiderate about how they employ them (like the company that had you do a lengthy assignment and never even acknowledged it).

4. Prayer at a work event

I’m a new intern at a county organization in California. I attended a work luncheon today with my boss and another coworker honoring veterans and hosted by a county office. At the beginning of the event, they introduced a deacon who asked us all to pray together for the veterans. It was also very explicitly Christian with references to Jesus and “our father.”

This seems bizarre to me, especially considering that this was a government-funded event. I mentioned to my coworker afterwards that I was surprised at it, but she didn’t seem to think much of it. I’m hoping you and/or the commenters can give me an outside perspective. Is this normal?

Nope, not normal, at least in most parts of the country, and especially problematic because it’s government-funded.

5. What should the file name of your resume be?

I have been told you should never submit a resume or cover letter that includes the name of the employer in the file name, or the year, or anything else that sugges you are applying to other places. That you should tailor your resume/letter, but then always save it as “NameResume,” and never “NameResumeCompany.” But surely managers have more pressing concerns to worry about in hiring than this, right? How much do hiring managers actually care about what an applicant’s document names are?

Of course assuming they are all work appropriate, but why would anyone care if there is an indicator in the document name that this version of a cover letter is intended for their company? I’m talking like, “Lannister Cover TeapotsInc.”

You can always find some unusual hiring manager outlier who will hold it against you that your tie was red instead of blue or that your file name wasn’t perfectly calibrated to their personal preferences — but you can’t play to all the potential weird rules an out-there hiring manager might have. In general, no one is going to get huffy about what you name your resume file, assuming it’s reasonably professional.

That said, some people prefer that you name it with your name so that they can easily identify it if it’s saved somewhere — but that’s just a preference. Even people who prefer that aren’t going to hold it against you if you don’t. Yes, it’s true that “JaneSmithResume” seems more polished, but half the resumes I receive are named “Resume” or “Resume2017.” It’s extremely normal and it’s not going to impact your chances in any way.

And that thing about not including the year or the company’s name because it will indicate you may have actually — gasp — applied for other jobs? They assume you’re applying for other jobs; that’s not a shocking offense.

{ 698 comments… read them below or add one }

  1. Artemesia

    ON the resume. I want the name of the applicant. Same with publication submissions. I don’t want to have to open a file to know whose file it is or to rename it in my own system. All the rest of it doesn’t matter, but name of applicant is critical.

    Reply
    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      That’s your preference, fine, but are you actually rejecting candidates who don’t do it? I don’t know any hiring manager who would (it would instantly cut out half your candidates if you did).

      Reply
      1. Ramona Flowers

        One exception I’m aware of (at least in the UK) is freelance journalism. It looks… unimpressive to get a freelancer resume without your name in the filename.

        On the flipside, my employer (a charity/non-profit) has a blind shortlisting process, so names are actively removed from everywhere including the filename.

        Reply
      2. Artemesia

        Probably not. But people who do annoying things that make life more difficult for the person reviewing their materials start with a slight disadvantage when there are lots of competent people. It it is like the person who doesn’t follow directions; if they are good, they may still make it through to the interview, but it creates a negative vibe.

        Reply
        1. Ask a Manager Post author

          I just wouldn’t put this in that category. Loads of excellent candidates have vague file names. I have never known a decision maker who would factor that in (and I would be really skeptical of anyone who did!).

          Reply
          1. JamieS

            This really surprises me. I’d expect some variation in filenames such as some having the year and some not, some having the company name and some don’t, etc. but I’ve always just assumed it’s a given you put your name in.

            Reply
            1. tink

              I use my initials, but I’m not surprised people have things like “Resume415” or something as the text, since they know their own name and just don’t think about someone ELSE needing to know who it is without opening.

              Reply
              1. Mephyle

                I think this is a key point – the ability to see things (ranging from trivial to important) from points of view other than one’s own is crucial to doing a better job in many spheres of life, including the workplace.
                If a person thinks of their own convenience in naming a file that is for someone else’s use, it signals that they are not the best at looking outside themselves and seeing what will smooth the path for others that they are (potentially) working with.

                Reply
                1. Anna

                  It’s a huge leap from “doesn’t include name in resume file name” to “they are unable to see other people’s perspectives and would probably be difficult to work with”.

              2. Indoor Cat

                In my experience (when I did this a few years ago) I genuinely didn’t know file names could be changed from whatever the file was automatically saved as. Fortunately, my job doesn’t involve working with computers at all (thank goodness!) and I hope the person who did the hiring might think a person applying for a non-tech-savvy position would just figure applicants didn’t know how to change file names, not that they are lazy or selfish in some way.

                I think many computer related things that are thought of as “common sense” or easy to figure out assume a degree of technological literacy that isn’t true of a lot of people.

                Reply
            2. Jenny

              Same, it would never have occurred to me that people would submit resumes that don’t have their name in the file name.

              Reply
          2. AcademiaNut

            I wouldn’t penalize a job applicant, but generically named files do increase the chances of something accidentally going wrong (like Wakeen’s resume.pdf accidentally overwriting Fergus’s resume.pdf).

            For student assignments and people submitting presentation files for talks, I tell them outright what to name their files, however.

            Reply
            1. Falling Diphthong

              Yeah, I would think overwriting an earlier file named ‘resume’ a real problem. And having to remember on my end to rename everything you sent me would be small but irritating. If I were rolling the dice on which file format would be easy or difficult for an employer to parse, I’d always err toward naming the file “DiphthongResume.”

              Not thinking about the employer receiving multiple resumes for the job just strikes me as a basic failure to look at things in context, which is not a plus.

              Reply
            2. Optimistic Prime

              That’s why I do it. Sure I don’t have to, but anything that makes it easier that the employer will find my resume in the sea of others and less likely that they will lose it works in my favor. So I always name mine “OptimisticPrime_Resume” or something like that.

              Reply
          3. Not In US

            I’m actually used to seeing it as a requirement. As in, in the job ad it will specify to only send one file including all information and to specify not only the file type but sometimes even how it’s labelled. So this doesn’t seem all that strange to me.

            Reply
          4. EmilyG

            I’m late to the discussion here, but I work in IT and I would look askance at a candidate who named their file something as common as resume.doc. Avoiding filename conflicts seems like such a basic part of managing any kind of computer system that I’d wonder whether someone who could overlook that would have the right instincts (in terms of being detail-oriented and cautious). I mean, I wouldn’t automatically reject them, but I would see it as a small sign of carelessness.

            Reply
          5. Joan Callamezzo

            Refuse to consider, no, but I do look extra-squinty-eyed at applicants who submit a doc named “MomsResume” and will take extra steps to determine their level of computer literacy.

            Reply
          6. Product person

            “I would be really skeptical of anyone who did!” (Re: factoring in a vague file name used by an excellent candidate.)

            I hire business analysts and product managers from time to time, and an important part of their job is to have empathy for business stakeholders and end users.

            On a daily basis I deal with BAs and PMs who write emails and send attachments that are easy for THEM to tell apart (e.g., Project_Vision.doc), because they are only working on one project. For the person on the receiving end and dealing with multiple projects is hard to refer to these documents later on if all have the same name. A candidate who puts their name on the file with their resume is telling me they try to make things easier for their audience rather than themselves, so I definitely factor that in (and will favor this person vs. someone else if all other relevant factors are equal).

            Reply
              1. Product person

                Again, giant leap from “doesn’t have their name in their resume file name” and “not empathetic”.

                See, I’m never making that leap. Only making decisions based on the information I have. Clearly, if the “Resume.doc” person had an excellent work history and I didn’t have 15 others with the same skills level to interview, I wouldn’t remove the person from the running. But all other factors being equal? You bet I will use this as a sign of how thoughtful of the recipient the person is.

                Reply
        2. Lauren R

          If it’s important to you, maybe you could put your preference in the job listing (assuming you’re in charge of that) so they have a better chance of getting off on the right foot.

          Reply
          1. Someone else

            Yeah to me this is one of those “if the application instructions specify how to name the file, you darn well better name it that way” but if they don’t, then there are a handful of reasonably acceptable file naming conventions that should not be held against the applicant. If the hirers want a specific naming convention, they should specify in the job posting, and having done so, it is at that point reasonable to choose not to move forward with candidates who do otherwise, on the basis of not following instructions. But if you don’t specify you want it a specific way, shouldn’t hold it against someone they didn’t read your mind, unless what they do is super nonsensical.

            Reply
            1. Karen D

              The thing is, it’s not “should” or “shouldn’t.” It’s “do” or “don’t.”

              You can’t control what the person receiving your resume is going to think. You can’t call them up and fuss at them over how they perceive you. All you can do is put your best possible foot forward. And that includes thinking about the needs of the person who is going to be interviewing you.

              There are plenty of people here, in positions to hire someone, explaining exactly why you should make it easy for someone to locate your resume among a bunch of others.

              It may be a little thing, but having just gone through the considerable angst of hiring someone for the first, second and third times in my life (yikes!) I can say that when I had literally dozens of candidates, many of whom appeared fully qualified, I was de-selecting people on the basis of things that probably would have seemed pretty dang minor to some. But I had to decide who to interview very quickly, knowing that I would have time for a maximum of 3-4 interviews per position. People who were obviously trying to see things from my point of view were far more likely to be interviewed.

              Reply
              1. Someone else

                You seem to have completely misunderstood my point. What I was getting at is that there are a handful of ways which are all equally logical, and do consider the person who receives the resume, and that there is no point in agonizing or worrying over which one (fnamelname_resume.pdf, lnamefname_positionname.pdf, lnamefinitiatil_resume.pdf, lname_fname.pdf, etc) is what the hiring people are secretly wishing for. A reasonable hiring manager would be OK with any of the above, and probably a few more variations.

                If the person doing the hiring explicitly wants one and only one file naming convention for resumes submitted with applications, they need to specify that in the job posting. If you will judge someone for sending you fnamelname_res.pdf because you actually wanted lnamefname_positionIDnumber.doc, that’s on whoever wrote the posting, not the applicant. If the applicant sends in a resume file named Document1.pdf, that’s on the applicant (and what I meant when I said “nonsensical”).

                Reply
                1. Ego Chamber

                  “If the person doing the hiring explicitly wants one and only one file naming convention for resumes submitted with applications, they need to specify that in the job posting.”

                  You’d think so, but a lot of times the people who go on and on about applicants considering the POV of the person they send their resume/cover letter to seem to be fundamentally incapable of doing it themselves—or worse, they consider it unfair to make things easier on applicants for some reason.

                  Example: I interviewed with a hiring manager once who told me I was lucky to have gotten an interview because the owner usually threw out any resumes/etc that used Arial font (he preferred Times), but my resume was such a good fit the hiring manager argued with the owner that I should be interviewed despite my “mistake.” I suggested they put that in their job ad if the font was so important to them, but the hiring manager said it would be “an unfair advantage” to tell applicants anything about their preferences (wtf), and he refused to answer any questions at the end of the interview. Shockingly, I didn’t get a call back.

              2. Safetykats

                The people who call their resume file resume.pdf are presumably the same ones who send comment files back to the document author saved as comments.docx (no name, no initials, no document number). Unless they are very early career professionals, or are in a job where lot much computer work is required or expected, they should know better.

                Reply
        3. New Bee

          I always put my name in the filename, but my name reads as somewhat racially ambiguous–I especially wouldn’t blame people with names that are targets for discrimination for leaving it off.

          Reply
          1. Jesca

            Thats a good point. What is your name last is Best? JescaBestResume.docx. Haha too funny.

            You do have a point about the name discrimination thing though. A lot of people have a pretty blind prejudice to that. I think that is why a lot of bigger employers remove the name from resumes for the initial rounds of resume reviews.

            Reply
          2. A Non E. Mouse

            racially ambiguous

            Coming to say the same thing – my first name is ambiguous as well. My name is on the resume itself, of course, but I usually only put my last name (which is weird but not racially ambiguous) on file names.

            Reply
            1. Angelinha

              But how would someone come across your document without first learning your name from your email/signature? By the time they’re opening the document they know what your name is.

              Reply
              1. Susanne

                Seriously? If I’m compiling a list of candidates and sending them around, I am going to attach their resumes. So it will be JaneSmithResume.doc, WakeenJonesResume.doc, etc. Obviously I don’t care if it’s ResumeWJones.doc or PDF instead, but of course I’ll be sending them around without their original email to me.

                Reply
                1. One of the Sarahs

                  But when I’ve done this, I’ve renamed the files when I’ve saved them, so they all have standard file names to make them easier to find (and to fit the naming procedure, which in offices I’ve worked in are usually some date + why + name)

                2. fposte

                  @One of the Sarahs–yes, some places will do that, but a lot of places won’t. I don’t. I just save and resend the pile at speed.

            2. Anonymousaurus Rex

              I’m a white lady but my first name is racially coded. Most people with my first name in the US are black, and I’ve surprised (and disappointed!) a few people with my whiteness when they meet me in person. I feel like if I’m getting screened out because someone is assuming I’m black that’s not a place I want to work. Then again, I’ve got enough white privilege to be able to make that decision, and I definitely understand those who would choose to go the first initial or last-name-only route.

              Reply
              1. Optimistic Prime

                Yeah. I’m a black woman with a name that is stereotypically white, but I have to say that I disagree with the notion that I’d rather not work at a place that would screen me out because they know I’m black at the outset. People often do this unconsciously, so it doesn’t mean that the place is necessarily a toxic place to work. There are lots of cool places where one person may be doing this consciously or unconsciously but most of the other people there are great. And/or I can never break down people’s barriers and assumptions about what it’s like to work with black folks if I’m not even allowed in the door.

                Reply
                1. jb

                  I am a woman with
                  a name that is typically a man’s name….oh the surprise this has caused and the doors it has opened.

                2. Anonymousaurus Rex

                  Very good point. And one I really should have thought of, given that I actually teach unconscious bias training as part of my job!

          3. DumbQuestion

            I use an alternative name on my resume to stay racially ambiguous until I walk in the door. Sucks and sometimes I feel like a giant fake because I do love my heritage, but you gotta do what you gotta do until all racists fall into a volcano.

            That said, I put my name as the file name because I came of job applying age when internets applying was new and employers requested it that way. They always wanted some variation of FirstnameLastname_Position or FLastnamePosition.

            It’s easier (also less frustrating) for me to keep a bunch of word files of my resumes for various positions I know I’d be applying for:

            DumbQuestionHR
            DumbQuestionRec
            DumbQuestionOps

            Then I just go in to make minor edits to tailor each one to the job I’m applying for before saving it as a PDF (DumbQuestionGoogle) and uploading.

            Reply
          4. many bells down

            I have an email address that’s my first-middle-maiden initial + my current last name. So, “mbdsmith@…”. That’s also the email I use for professional stuff like job-hunting, so I name my resume the same “mbdsmithresume.”

            Reply
      3. hbc

        As a simple practical matter, it should be highly recommended. Maybe places that hire tons of people have great processes surrounding the handling of the files, but smaller companies or those that don’t do a lot of hiring will often have the folder for “purchaser job search” with 100+ resumes saved there. Something can get overwritten, it’s not searchable, it gets clicked into the wrong folder and the searcher doesn’t have the savvy to find it by date….

        Just a simple “Hey, can you check over [10 candidates] and tell me your top 3?” might have a lazy or rushed person checking the nine, not finding the tenth, and sending back his top three from the people who were easily findable.

        None of these speak to great hiring practices, but a lot of good places to work don’t have all of these things nailed down.

        Reply
      4. Susanne

        Yes. I’ve told candidates that they would be better served by naming their resumes JaneSmithResume.doc or similar. I’ve pointed out to them that receiving a file called simply Resume.doc means that now I have a dozen files called Resume.doc and I have to open each up to find out whose resume this is. These were lower-level, not highly educated people applying for their “first step up” jobs after completing a certification program. I pointed this out kindly, not harshly, and also pointed it out to the coordinator of the program.

        It speaks to thoughtfulness and anticipatory problem-solving. If you can’t think ahead two steps to the consequences of sending MyResume.doc or FinalResume.doc, it’s not a good sign as to how you’ll fit in or how well you, yourself, will anticipate or solve issues.

        Reply
      5. Just Another Techie

        When I’m screening resumes, I automatically re-name them when I save them to the network drive, so they’re all in the same format and easy to find again. Does everyone not do this?

        Reply
    2. CJ Record

      I have to say it: and student papers. There is nothing like selecting “Download All Submissions” and getting 20+ “Project 1(x).doc”. In fact, just assume that if you’re sending a file to someone else, there needs to be a name in the filename!

      Reply
      1. Artemesia

        I am sort of stunned this is considered odd or unusual or expecting it is odd or quirky. It strikes me as remembering to tie your shoes level of common sense.

        Reply
        1. Working Hypothesis

          Not really, to people who don’t routinely deal in computer documents as their primary form of work. Maybe the only positions you hire for are those which do, but in my industry almost nobody thinks about what they filename anything. You call your files whatever crosses your mind when your computer first asks you to save it, and it is mostly decided on a basis of “what will I remember that I called this thing, someday when I need to call it up?” The idea that it will someday be sent to someone else, with the same filename, and that they will then have it under that filename, and that they might care what the filename is… that is way, way more thinking about the whole matter than most people I know ever do when saving their documents.

          I believe it matters to you, because you say so, but I’ve seldom heard of anybody whom it would matter to; nor have I *ever* heard of anyone who even thought, while naming a file in the first place, about whether somebody else someday in the distant future would care or not.

          Reply
          1. TL -

            If you’re sending it to somebody else, though, especially for grading!
            Though I’m going through a whole bunch of my professor’s old projects right now and half of the students don’t even put their name on the papers, much less the file name.

            Reply
            1. Professor Moriarty

              In my university there was blind marking so i wouldn’t say it was a given to put your name in the file name.

              Reply
          2. Akcipitrokulo

            I think it may be an indication on whether they’ve had experience in maintaining records in an IT-based system. Someone who has had to trawl through multiple badly-named files will know not to do it.

            Reply
            1. Mallory Janis Ian

              Oh, so that’s why I passionately know to do it. I’m the one on the receiving end of other applicants’ badly named files. I always change them to my own filing convention, anyway, but it seems like they should at least have the person’s name on there and not just be called “resume.doc”. I have to go through and put their damn names on there and save as PDF. But it’s just mildly irritating en masse, not something that I hold against a particular candidate for more than two or three seconds. And I’m not the one they have to impress, anyway.

              Reply
              1. Working Hypothesis

                Yes, that’s why you know how to do it. But I do think it’s not wise for a company to hold it against an applicant if they don’t, *unless* they’re applying for a position working with IT records. Because most people who don’t do that won’t know, and it’s going to lose the company some applicants who are very good at what they’re actually hiring for, even if not at keeping IT records, which isn’t part of the job anyway.

                If that *is* the job, then totally reasonable to judge them on it, exactly the same way that, if the job is graphic design, it’s reasonable to judge them on how attractively the resume is presented… but not unless.

                Reply
              2. fposte

                I’m also surprised nobody’s mentioned the overwrite risk–if you name it something generic, your resume may get accidentally overwritten by somebody else’s resume.doc.

                Reply
                1. hayling

                  I don’t understand how this could happen. If I already have resume.doc, another resume.doc is going to get turned into resume(1).doc

            2. Cassie

              In addition to IT, I’ve found that engineering-adjacent people are sensitive to this, because they are used to strict guidelines regarding revision lettering/numbering.

              Most companies I’ve worked at have had a file name style guide, and anything saved to the central system that didn’t comply was flagged.

              Reply
        2. Miss Pantalones en Fuego (formerly Floundering Mander)

          People just don’t think about this stuff, especially if they are assuming that their documents will magically remain attached to their email or application. It’s like the apparently widespread use of cutesy email addresses.

          I usually name my files as Lastname_Job_CV (or Letter), sometimes with a year if it’s a company I have worked for before so that it’s obvious which one is the most recent. If there’s a reference number or it’s an application I’ll use that, and of course if there are specific instructions I’ll follow those.

          Reply
          1. HR Jeanne

            Yes, please! I don’t penalize people for not putting their name in the document title, but I just spent a half an hour saving resumes under their names so I could organize them. Please just use your name in the title. I had 40 resumes titled “Resume” to re-name.

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        3. Falling Diphthong

          Yeah, I do a lot of emailing of documents, and it seems a given that you don’t rename “ABC17.frog.U3Ch7” to be “Chapter 7” because, hey, it’s the only time you’re touching Chapter 7 so that’s what it is to you. The folder containing the document on my computer might be named “Chapter 7,” but on anything going out there’s more identifiers–my initials, ver1–something to distinguish the version I made while leaving the pile of other searchable identifiers in the file name in place.

          Reply
        4. taco_emoji

          I’m sort of stunned that you would need to use my resume file outside of the application management system or pass it around *without* the email message it’s attached to. It strikes me as common sense that you wouldn’t separate it from that context.

          I mean, if *your process* (which I am not privy to) requires the file named a certain way, why don’t you ask for it that way, or just rename it *yourself*?

          Reply
          1. Jadelyn

            To be fair, not all companies have/use an ATS. My org collects resumes via email and then I or the other HR Assistant creates compiled PDFs of resumes for each position. Unless you used your email as your cover letter (in which case, we PDF the email and include it with the resume), including the emails just doubles the length of the final PDF, so we don’t do that. In our case, it’s common sense NOT to include unnecessary pages when we’re sending submissions to the hiring manager.

            I agree that if one’s process requires highly specific filenames, they should say that upfront, but I really don’t see why so many people think it’s being overly picky to suggest that your resume should perhaps include some sort of identifier in the filename. Because yes, I can go through and rename all four dozen “Resume.pdf” files in the folder to include the applicant’s names, but I have to open each one and do it individually, which is frankly a waste of my time. I’ve got better things to do than cleaning up something that simple and basic, and I really don’t get why expecting candidates to take a common-sense step like including at least their initials or some permutation of their initials/name in the filename is somehow overly demanding.

            To me, it speaks to a candidate’s tendency to think beyond themselves or not. If you name your resume My Resume.pdf, you’re only thinking of it as your document named for your own convenience. Which, okay, that’s your right, but if you take the extra half second to name it Firstname Lastname Resume.pdf, that tells me you’re considering who your target audience for the document is and how to make things simpler for your audience. Which, imo, reflects better on you as a candidate.

            Reply
            1. Susanne

              I think the same principle applies to titles of emails. “My Resume ” or “(Company name) Job Application” is useless. I know my company’s name. “Jane Smith Application for Senior Teapot Designer Position” or some version thereof helps me when scanning multiple emails.

              I need people who can think, not just perform rote duties.

              Reply
          2. fposte

            It’s pretty common, though, and there’s no particular advantage to forwarding the email text. I don’t require the files to be named any particular way or ding applicants for what they use, but it’s cool if people realize that I’ll be getting lots of applications and it’s useful to have individualized filenames.

            Reply
            1. Bleeborp

              It’s less about upping your chances of getting the job and more about just being considerate to another human being!

              Reply
              1. Mabel

                Or both! I mainly want to ensure the best chance of my resume not getting lost. And, I prefer the applicant’s name in the filename, so I assume that others would appreciate it too.

                Reply
      2. Jenny

        Yes! Companies get lots of resumes in a short time span if they have positions open, how annoying to end up with 30 files called “resume.”

        Reply
      3. Future Homesteader

        Oooh that’s giving me flashbacks to when I assisted 15 faculty and they all made me print their assignments. Between that and a quirky printer server, it took an absurd amount of time to print and confirm that I’d printed all of the assignments handed it.

        Reply
    3. Reya

      I save my CV as a word doc with the month and year every time I update it – if I’m doing much specific tailoring for a position it might get the company name/job title added as well.

      That’s not what gets sent out though; what gets sent out is a pdf of that word doc, so I know the formatting won’t get messed up, and that pdf just has my name as the file name. It’s no problem to me to overwrite that each time I’m sending something out, but at least I always have the original file to fall back on.

      Reply
    4. Hush42

      When I was hiring this summer I noticed as I was going through the resumes when people put their names in the file name but it was more of a “Hey this person added their name- that’s nice” kind of noticing and it’s not something that I really paid a lot of attention to or actually cared about. But I also didn’t get a ton of resumes either. The position I was hiring for is oddly difficult to find qualified candidates who are interested.

      Reply
    5. Prince of Snarkness

      I was always taught that you name your file: (yourname)_Resume.

      It is simple and eliminates confusion. Never simply name a file “Resume” because they’ll likely have a huge pile of those.

      Reply
    6. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)

      I always rename resumes I receive so they’re in a standard format and easy to organize. I’m sortof surprised that not everyone does this.

      Reply
      1. One of the Sarahs

        Same here – especially to fit protocols, but also because people may apply for different jobs/people with common names apply etc etc

        Reply
      2. Snark

        My employer has super-specific SOPs for all file names that I’ve just started using throughout my life – it’s like Snark_resume_20171113. Keeps it searchable, easy to find, and sortable by date even just by filename.

        Reply
        1. Jadelyn

          I’ve just recently started appending that kind of date onto my filenames, because I got tired of having to either rely on the “last edited” date (which is not always accurate, especially for Word documents for some reason) or open the document to check the date contained in it. So now everything I do is [Report Name] 11132017.xls or whatever. I’ve found it SO helpful. 10/10 do recommend.

          Reply
    7. Elizabeth West

      Mine are Name Resume Year, and the year is coded, like W2017 for a resume that’s heavily skewed toward writing, for example. I may tweak it for a particular job, and in that case, I save it in a sub-folder so I can print that particular one to take with me if I get an interview. I always have an extra copy in case the interviewer doesn’t have it or they bring an extra person in.

      So if I were applying for positions in Muggle Relations, my resume name would be Elizabeth West Resume MR2017.

      Reply
      1. Job Huntress

        I use a code as well, because I apply for different kinds of jobs and adjust my resume accordingly.

        The way I do it is FirstInitial-Lastname_Resume_Year_Code. Example:
        J-Doe_Resume_2017_EA-O6-ss.pdf
        The code EA = Exec. Asst.
        O6 = the sixth version I came up with in October
        ss = sans serif
        I started adding a code at the end to tell me what font I used, just to help me find the ones I like.

        Reply
    8. Student

      I always just re-name the file if it’s someone I’m interested in and their name isn’t in the file name already. Wouldn’t do that with 100 resumes, but easy enough with ~5 or even 10 finalists.

      If you’re so busy and important you can’t possibly do that, have an admin do it for you and distribute the re-named resumes to your hiring committee along with the other hiring-related tasks the admin is assisting with.

      Reply
  2. Kate the Teapots Project Manager

    #1 – Can you bring a friend rather than a romantic partner?

    I think Alison is spot on here, having worked in a tiny office. Mine was a sexuality education office and I was the only single person and so sharing got awkward in lots of ways.

    Reply
    1. Elizabeth the Ginger

      I’m some settings it would be fine to bring a friend – I brought a friend to my employer’s fancy dinner auction fundraiser one year because my boyfriend has zero interest in getting dressed up to make chitchat with people he doesn’t know.

      In such a small setting I’d probably just go alone, though, and make a point of making conversation with the significant others of my coworkers. I’d only bring a friend if the party involved some really cool activity I think the friend would genuinely enjoy on its own merits.

      Reply
    2. Agent Diane

      I’m in the “you said +1 so I’ve brought my BFF” camp too. One year me and a BFF we’re both partnerless during party season so were each other’s +1. We had a great time and because at the time we both had unusual jobs for women, there was no awkward social moments as we both brought ice-breaking topics to the parties.

      Also, your BFF will have heard of your work colleagues and vice versa so it’s less “here is this person you know next to nowt about”.

      Reply
    3. Chris

      A friend once invited me to a holiday party and then, once there, advised that the plus-one spots were for significant others, so I was supposed to pretend we were dating. Don’t do that.

      Reply
    4. Temperance

      This is a great idea. I have a friend who is my plus one for all work events, and he’s made some connections through it.

      Reply
    5. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)

      There was a big debate on here a few years ago about who is an acceptable plus one. I’m on my phone so can’t easily look it up, but it’s worth reading.

      I’ve always found the idea of a non-partner plus one very strange. I would be far more comfortable going to a work event alone than bringing a friend (and to be honest I’d think it was weird if a colleague brought a friend, unless maybe they were super direct about wanting to help the friend make connections at our organization/field/etc.)

      Reply
      1. Antilles

        It’s really situation specific – both in terms of your company culture and what they’re doing.
        My last company had our annual holiday party on Saturday night, at an off-site venue, with a big catered meal and about 150-200 people total. Basically everybody brought a +1; I brought a friend as my ‘date’ for years and nobody blinked twice. I don’t think it came off in the slightest bit weird.
        That company also had off-site ‘picnics’ at Six Flags or the like where families were invited. I brought my roommate a few times and that also wasn’t the slightest bit weird – frankly, given that people basically break up into family units and only meet up for a few minutes for lunch, it probably would have been miserable to stand in all those lines alone.
        But on the flip side, my current job company party is on a Friday afternoon in early December, at our office. +1’s are invited, but only a handful of spouses come (because Friday afternoon on a work day), so it would absolutely come off as super strange to invite a friend.

        Reply
        1. Koko

          Depending on culture I can definitely see events where a close friend as a plus-one would be OK.

          But someone you just started dating? That’s a harder sell for me in any context. It reminds me of The Office where Michael is always bringing a woman he JUST started dating to office events to show her off, or in HIMYM the bit about how all of their holiday/party photos are ruined by Ted bringing some random girl who they never see again except in photos of that night. It’s a lot weirder to substitute a romantic partner who you aren’t all that close to than a non-romantic partner who you are very close to.

          Reply
          1. Specialk9

            I think the key awkwardness is in subjecting a casual dating partner to an arduous and unpleasant boyfriend/girlfriend job. Going to a random holiday party is not fun, especially one in which a partner has to mind Ps and Qs. Not fun – it’s a sacrifice we make for partners. (I’d be worried that casual date would go for the free booze, and thus mind neither Ps, nor Qs.)

            Reply
          2. tigerStripes

            I’d be concerned about bringing someone I don’t know well. What if the person does/says some weird stuff that I didn’t expect that somehow reflects on me?

            Reply
      2. bookish

        My office doesn’t do stuff like this but having recently been in wedding-planning-land for a while I know that in that context, people have a lot of feelings about guests bringing a “plus one” who isn’t their romantic partner. I guess the theory behind someone bringing a date in this case (talking about office functions now) being that it’s to accommodate people bringing their spouses or serious significant others because they operate as a social unit – and then that’s why people will look askance when someone uses the +1 offer to bring a friend (or, depending, a very casual date).

        Not passing any judgment one way or the other myself, here, to be clear! This is just what I’ve gleaned about the general practice of plus ones/dates/etc for events that may be useful in this context.

        Reply
    6. Elizabeth West

      Coworkers at OldExjob, a company of around 50 people, did that with the Christmas party. A few of them brought friends rather than show up unaccompanied. Nobody really cared–the only requirement for plus ones was that they be adults.

      Reply
    7. Humble Schoolmarm

      Bringing a friend can lead to problems too, though.
      I was once friends with a guy and we were each other’s standing +1s for about a year (both single). While it worked most of the time, once he took me to a work event (we were both in the same industry) and he was so solicitous to me during the first half that even I started wondering if he was trying to move out of “the friend zone” and certainly all of the other attendees assumed we were a couple. Cue him getting rip roaring drunk and then bailing, leaving me with his colleagues in the hospitality suite and trying to explain to said colleagues that I was fine and my “boyfriend” hadn’t just ditched me.

      Reply
      1. Antilles

        Part of the deal with bringing a friend is that people will absolutely assume you’re dating. No matter how clear you are that “this is just my friend Blank”, there will be people who either miss you saying that or don’t really listen or whatever.
        And this doesn’t just apply to the event itself – if the topic ever comes up later (e.g., “what are you up to this weekend”/”oh, I’ve got a date actually” casual chit-chat), people will ask what happened to Blank.

        Reply
        1. SamSam

          Or even more hilariously, assume you’re married. I get that all the time accompanying my BF to work events.
          Basically no matter who you bring as a +1, be prepared for “do you two have any kids?” People love that as an icebreaker, awkwardness when people *don’t* be damned.

          Reply
        2. Anna

          I’m not sure why this would be a difficult thing, though. Whatever happened to Blank? Oh, we weren’t dating. We’re good friends and I invited him/her/them to be my +1.

          Reply
    8. AnotherAlison

      People have brought their mothers to our work events. I’m not sure about a Christmas party, where it is a “you +1”, but definitely to things like baseball games where you can bring your “+1” or your entire family including your spouse and five children. Even though in that setting, it’s certainly acceptable, it can make the small talk weird, esp. if you are young and your mother is the age of your coworkers. The other “+1” folks also have the common bond of being a partner of an employee in X industry and can commiserate about their quirks, while your friends or parents don’t have as much freedom to do that.

      Reply
    9. Elemeno P.

      I brought my BFF to a couple of work events with +1 options, but I work at a theme park and “ride the new ride” isn’t exactly a formal event. I’m sure some people assumed we were dating, but people who knew my partner just thought, “Oh, that’s her friend.” For more formal things like dinners, especially on small teams, it’ll probably come off as a date.

      Reply
    10. Student

      I think it’s worthwhile to step back and ask yourself what you actually want out of bringing any sort of +1 to a company party. What’s the objective, will the person I’m bringing help me further that objective, and what does the +1 actually get out of this deal?

      Reply
    11. AreYouStillThere

      OP #1 here – for all the reasons people point out here, I’m not really comfortable bringing a friend, either. It sounds like my best bet will be to not invite anyone to the party with me. Even with 11th wheel feelings (and some bitterness about couple-centricity but that’s neither here nor there)

      Reply
    12. Haley

      This is a terrible idea. Maybe it’s just me, and my knowledge is from law firm events, but the whole idea of a +1 is so your serious bf/gf/spouse can attend, not so a buddy can get free food. I feel like it would be extremely awkward to bring a friend. It’s much less awkward to just go yourself and mingle.

      Reply
  3. I totally don't know anything about this

    Re #4: It is probably more common than you think. For example, the US Senate begins each session with a prayer, often given by a guest chaplain.

    And, given that the luncheon was to honor veterans I’m not surprised there was a prayer offered.

    Reply
    1. MonkeyPants

      In my town, most big meetings and events are opened by a religious leader. I don’t know the exact science of it, but they go through a rotation of leaders from the different places of worship in town. They’re usually fairly vague, but sometimes get a little Jesus-y. It’s possible that this year, at this event, the chaplain was particularly religious. And next year it will be the UU minister’s turn, and their sermon won’t even touch on religion.

      Reply
      1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

        This gets confusing because the Supreme Court has carved out starting big legislative meetings with prayer so long as: (1) the person offering the prayer rotates among religious groups, and (2) the agenda suggests that the prayer part is optional and precedes public comment and official business.

        But it’s not supposed to extend to government-hosted events/programs like pancake breakfasts, food distribution, and parades.

        Reply
        1. Working Mom

          I imagine this event was probably treated a little differently, considering it was an event honoring Veterans. I assume that normal meetings/conferences are not opened by prayer, OP?
          I used to work for a smaller private company that started meetings with prayer. I didn’t mind, even if wasn’t exactly my religion of choice – a good opportunity to say your own mental prayer, or even take a few minutes to focus on what the meeting is about, and prepare your own thoughts. (Like in yoga, when you set an intention at the beginning of class!)

          I would think it was a odd for a government employer to do that on a regular basis, for regular meetings, etc. But, I think this is different because of the nature of the event.

          Reply
          1. One of the Sarahs

            But surely veterans will be from any religion, or none? It’s more weird to me to link veterans to a specific religion, because it feels specifically dis-honouring to non-Christians/Christians from different denominations.

            Reply
            1. Specialk9

              Exactly. “We are here to honor veterans. But not heathen veterans, or Jews or Muslims. Definitely not them Buddhists! Look, obviously we’re only honoring the right sort of veterans. You know, veterans who love Jesus. But not the Catholics.”

              Reply
          2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

            I suspect the opposite. In my experience, counties that open a veterans’ lunch with prayer also open public meetings/conferences with prayer. There’s a fine line about how the courts view the timing and outside appearance of the prayer, but it’s oftentimes not really appropriate.

            Reply
            1. JM60

              It’s not just “oftentimes” inappropriate, it’s always inappropriate. It’s categorically wrong for a government function to include any religious ceremony or invocation of a diety. The government is supposed to be a secular government for all, not an entity that promotes religiosity or irreligiosity. It should remain as neutral as possible when it comes to religion.

              Opening up a government event, such as a legislative session, trial, celebratory event, with a religious invocation usually only seems appropriate to people who happen to share those religious beliefs. If an atheist used that time instead to guide people in mediating on the non existence of god, most people would rightly object to that. But Christians praying to their god during that time seems appropriate to most Christians.

              Reply
              1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

                As a religious minority, I hear you! I’m personally of the belief that it’s not appropriate to impose religious practice at government functions/ events/ meetings.

                My comment was speaking to the case law, which has been more willing to blur the lines, particularly for what I would describe as Christian religious practice.

                Reply
    2. Jess

      Most of the veterans luncheons (and similar military-related events) that I’ve attended have had opening prayers. I realize this is anecdotal evidence, but I had always assumed it was more common than not.

      Whether it’s ok or not is more iffy; the case law is really not straightforward in this area, but there’s a number of precedents that have said opening prayers in government meetings are fine so long as there is no “psychological coercion.” If my memory serves, tradition has played a big role in this area of law—i.e., courts are more reluctant to find a long-standing practice to be unconstitutional. While you can certainly make a strong case it violates the “no establishment” clause of the First Amendment, I don’t think you can definitively say that it does. (My impression is that most people think of the religion-state separation question as being far more black & white and drawing hard lines in the sand than it actually is or does in practice.)

      Reply
      1. Ramona Flowers

        Sorry if this is a stupid question but why is there case law? Like, why would there be a court case about this and who would initiate it?

        Reply
        1. Working Hypothesis

          Usually, people of different religions who asked that their preferred clergyperson be given an opportunity to offer the opening prayer, and were turned down. Occasionally, people of no religion, who asked that their preferred philosopher be given an opportunity to speak in lieu of the opening prayer, and were turned down.

          Reply
            1. Perse's Mom

              It seems like relatively clear religious discrimination to me if only clergy of one religion are allowed to speak. It’s one thing if no one else ever asks, I suppose, but IF you ask and are still denied in favor of the presumably dominant religion…

              Reply
            2. Bagpuss

              There have been several cases in the UK, too, relating to council meetings being opened with a prayer. It raises concerns of both direct and indirect discrimination

              Reply
              1. but I digress

                Freedom of religion/belief is enshrined as one of the basic human rights in European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) law, which is enforced by the European Court of Human Rights, so it’s not just the Uk, but all the European countries that signed up to that agreement.

                It’s also there in the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which is a bit more… optional, legally (countries who’ve signed up to the UDHR have to pass laws to make it effective, and not all of them have).

                Reply
            3. Artemesia

              Imagine being a parent of a Jewish or Muslim or Budhist child and having that child forced to pray in Jesus name at school every dang day. Perhaps having his head forced down in prayer if he just sits there as happened to one person who sued’s child. There are lots of people who don’t appreciate compelled religious participation and who avail themselves in the US of the Constitutional argument.

              Reply
            4. MakesThings

              I mean… of course?
              If you feel like a specific religion (which you don’t believe in), is being shoved down your throat without your having a say about it, at a mandatory government meeting, all paid for by taxpayers money? Yeah, you can take that to court.
              Also, the lawyers on this thread will correct me, but you can take pretty much anything to court. I don’t think there’s a list of things you aren’t allowed to take to court.

              Reply
                1. Ramona Flowers

                  Yup I’m not American. It’s not that I haven’t heard of this. I just didn’t know you could take it to court.

              1. JB (not in Houston)

                It depends on what you mean by “pretty much anything.” You have to have an actual claim based on a violation of a contract or some right given to you by law. You can’t just sue over, say, “my neighbor looked at me weird this morning and it made me vaguely uncomfortable,” or “I didn’t appreciate the way my coworker in the cubicle next to mine was breathing this morning.”

                Reply
                1. NotAnotherManager!

                  Yeah, part of a court pleading is stating the specific law that you feel has been violated by the other party. There’s leeway on interpretation, but you have to actually cite a statute under which you’re staking your claim (and usually why the jurisdiction in which you’re filing has standing to hear the case).

                1. Turtle Candle

                  Well, that’s slightly unfair, I think—this isn’t “just because you want to,” it’s in service of a constitutionally protected right. Some cases rose to the level of religious discrimination and some don’t, per the mention of case law being unclear, but a lawsuit in service of your right to freedom of religion is not the same as a lawsuit because your fries were overcooked. It has a serious legal basis with precedent here.

            5. Working Hypothesis

              If you ask the government to do something that it allows members of a different religion to do, and it says no to you because of your religion, you can take it to court. The government is not allowed to do that — period.

              Reply
            1. Working Hypothesis

              I’m not sure whether or not you could take it to court for that alone. Usually, you have to have “standing” to bring a lawsuit, meaning you need to prove that you, personally, have suffered some concrete damage because of the thing you’re claiming was done. If you just don’t like it being done, that’s not generally enough. But if you tried to exercise a right and were blocked from doing so, or were treated differently from others in a way that’s not legal for the government to do to anyone, then you can sue on that basis.

              Reply
              1. Working Mom

                I think if I’m reading your summary correctly, (I have NO legal knowledge), that basically you couldn’t successfully bring a suit against an organization just because they participated in a prayer that didn’t align with your beliefs. Rather, you would need to ask the organization if they could honor your religion or belief system, and were turned down and advised that only XYZ religion would be recognized. Then you’d for sure have a discrimination case on your hands, right?

                Reply
                1. Natalie

                  It’s not quite that – “standing” means you have been directly affected, rather than just disagreeing with the government action. I believe some students (or rather their parents, since I don’t think minors can sue) have sued schools because they’ve had religious prayers at football games or whatever. But I couldn’t sue that school district from 8 states away, because it doesn’t directly affect me.

                2. TychaBrahe

                  Not organizations. Specifically the government. A company can be religious as they please (for example Chik-Fil-A being closed on Sundays, In-N-Out printing Bible verses on their cups). But the government is supposed to be secular so that they show no preference for any particular religion.

                3. Working Hypothesis

                  What Natalie and TychaBrahe said. It only applies to government, or occasionally to government-funded entities (some universities have limits on what they can do because they take government grant money to do it with, for example). Private businesses or organizations can do religious stuff as they please, and that includes only doing them by/for one religion. (They can’t discriminate against people of a different religion in hiring, generally — there are exceptions for certain organizations whose whole function is religious, but otherwise they can’t — but that’s not because of the First Amendment; it’s because of federal antidiscrimination laws.)

                  And in *any* lawsuit, for any reason (constitutional or otherwise), you have to show that you were personally affected by the thing they did which you’re saying is wrong. This is how the people who opposed marriage equality in California ended up losing their case, in the long run… they couldn’t show a single reason the court thought was true, for why the state’s decision to allow gay people to marry each other affected *them*, the folks suing, in any direct personal way. They just didn’t like the fact that it was happening… but that wasn’t enough to give them the right to bring the case. And nobody whom it *was* directly affecting (the government itself, or the people getting married) wanted to sue to make marriage equality go away. So the case was dismissed.

                  In the case of religious discrimination or establishment of religion by the state, you have to show that their religious action did *something* to you… not just that you didn’t like it. If you had to sit through an event and weren’t allowed to leave, you were affected. If you were a veteran present at an event to honor veterans (so it was supposedly about you) and it made you feel excluded and disrespected because your religion was not referenced and the other veterans’ were, then you were probably affected enough to get away with suing (though you might not get much more satisfaction from the suit than getting them told not to do it again). If you were expected or required to participate in a religious service of a religion that isn’t yours, in order to enjoy something other people whose religion was represented got to enjoy — for example, a football game your school played in — then you were affected enough to sue.

                  But if I, reading about that incident here in AAM, decided I didn’t like what the veterans’ event did over there in California and sued them because they’re violating the Constitutional establishment clause, my suit would get thrown out because just reading about something and deciding that I dislike it and don’t think it should be going on isn’t being affected, by legal standards.

              2. JM60

                If your constitutional rights have been violated, you have standing to sue. If you are asked by the government to participate in prayer, perhaps being asked to stand up or hold hands for prayer, that’s a very clear violation of your first amendment right to fredom of religion (which SCOTUS has ruled includes freedom from religion).

                Reply
      2. an infinite number of monkeys

        I work for a state government agency and several years ago, I attended a safety meeting that was opened with a Christian prayer. The agency’s safety officer, who led the meeting, belonged to an evangelical Christian denomination and I think was a pastor on the side. It was a join-hands-and-bow-your-heads kind of thing where there wasn’t even an option to sit it out silently. I really, really wanted to walk out and send an email (with a cc to HR) expressing my disappointment that safety practices were only for Christian employees, but a couple of coworkers talked me out of making a stink. I still get mad looking back on it.

        On the positive side, I did end up marrying one of those coworkers, so there’s that.

        Reply
    3. Jeanne

      I’m not very surprised either. There is very little information given here. But events like this are often cosponsored by the town, the American Legion or VFW, and a local church. I’m sure many attendees were not government employees. The prayer was not delivered by a government employee. You don’t have to pray, just sit quietly. I suspect they were doing the type of program that the veterans asked for.

      Reply
      1. Jenny

        The sentiment of ” You don’t have to pray, just sit quietly” always comes up during prayer in school debates, and I just don’t get it. People who don’t share the faith shouldn’t be in a position where they have to “just sit quietly” (and be made to feel uncomfortable, because it *is* uncomfortable for them) during a religious ritual at a publicly-funded/government-sponsored event.

        Reply
        1. Kismet

          This. It can be really awkward to be reminded, yet again, that your religion or lack thereof is not the mainstream – and while this isn’t necessarily an issue in every locale, there can often be an undercurrent of “real citizens are This Religion” to these kinds of public prayers.

          I’m fine with this kind of opening prayer if they really do rotate between all religions/atheists on a regular schedule, but in my mind fairness requires not rules-lawyering in 5000 variants of Christianity or somehow still excluding “unsavory” groups like pagans, Satanists, or atheists.

          Reply
          1. Anna Held

            When I worked in a banquet facility, the military and similar events were the most Jesus-y. LOTS of events opened with a prayer, even though they had nothing to do with religion. It was the church groups who had their basic prayer down pat, and would get on with the event.

            Reply
            1. SimonTheGreyWarden

              Thank you. Not only that but it often involves altar calls and language about salvation that I do not agree with or find theologically lacking.

              Reply
          2. Kate 2

            Yep! Especially when the prayer discusses things you vehemently object to, that you want to argue against, to stand up and say “that’s not okay!”

            Reply
        2. Kay

          Furthermore—and I say this as a non-Christian living in the Deep South—not participating in a prayer can out your non-religious or differing religious status in a setting that one would rather not have that advertised. This could result in anything from confused or slightly disapproving looks to being ostracized by the community. (Yes, in a work setting, you have legal backing if you are discriminated against religiously, but this only makes matters worse if you live in a small community with few prospects of other jobs; and, depending on how things progress, taking the matter to court is both time consuming and costly to pursue such avenues.) Even those who might not care about anyone’s religious associations look at a non-participant as cold and uncaring for not “swallowing their pride” for a few moments for sentiment’s sake. It’s an awful position to force another individual into simply because they are not part of the local faith.

          I can tell you personally that “just sit quietly” during such services, especially in a professional setting, is nerve wracking and really kicks my anxiety into gear. I have had horrid experiences with members of the Christian faith outside of work, and while I know those instances were not the norm and that most people of faith do not behave in such a manner, I still fear the possibility of similar confrontations taking place at my job. It makes me physically sick, and I shouldn’t have to worry about being “outed” simply because I did not participate in prayer or prayed in my own but different way.

          Reply
          1. Jersey's mom

            Bingo!

            My Christian-raised, non-religious cousin and her family moved south a couple decades ago and learned quickly that they had to pick a church (and the “right” church) to start attending, otherwise they and their kids would be ostracized in the community. Sometimes overtly, and sometimes very subtle. But still.

            When she comes to visit, she both laughs and is pissed about the whole thing.

            Reply
            1. nonegiven

              Surely doesn’t have to be local. When I was in high school, a friend’s family drove an hour and 20 minutes to a church that they liked better.

              Reply
            2. Working Hypothesis

              A friend of mine who moved to rural Tennessee because her husband got a tenure-track job at a Christian university there found out that not only he, but SHE, as his immediate family, was required to become a member of a church and attend regularly… his job depended on it. This was quite official and part of the employee contract he had with the school. They could get away with it because a Christian university is considered a religious institution, and they are exempt from the normal antidiscrimination laws about religion (otherwise a church might have to hire clergy members without regard to whether the person shared their faith, etc).

              She’s an absolutely staunch atheist. But she went along with it because tenure-track positions in the humanities are not easy to come by. Fortunately, they didn’t actually *specify* a Christian church (though they did specify “church” and synagogue, mosque, etc wouldn’t count). She found a Unitarian church nearby and went for that. They welcome atheists there, at least, even if the school does not.

              Reply
              1. SimonTheGreyWarden

                I don’t know that in this instance I would call it “getting away with” since he would have applied knowing it is a Christian university. I say this as someone who ultimately decided not to teach at a Catholic school because of their “morality clause” – I was unmarried and not dating at the time, but knew that if I did start dating that I could not live with or give the ‘appearance of impropriety.’ I realize that jobs in the humanities are not easy; I’m a professional adjunct and tutor for that reason, but the language of the college getting away with something just rubs me wrong. They aren’t lying about what they are.

                Reply
          2. mrs__peel

            I used to work for the ACLU as a law clerk. The part of the country I lived in was not so bad, but our attorneys in other states (especially in the South) reported that it was VERY common for their clients to get death threats if they challenged (e.g.) prayers in public schools. Taking a stand can be very dangerous, depending on what kind of community you live in.

            Reply
        3. JM60

          +1

          The government should remain as neutral as possible when it comes to religion. Making people sit through prayers of they need to attend a government function is far from neutral.

          Reply
      2. NW Mossy

        As someone of basically non-faith, sitting quietly while others are praying feels like I’m intruding on their religious observance. I don’t say anything because pushing back is even more of an intrusion, but it’s a weird spot to be in where there’s an expectation that I’m going to behave or participate along with them in a certain way but I literally don’t have the social vocabulary to know what to do.

        I haven’t repeated centuries-old prayers thousands of times over. I don’t know the hymns that are sung. I don’t know when one stands, sits, kneels, or bows one’s head. I muddle along, but it’s painfully obvious that I didn’t grow up in a faith and it marks me out that isn’t always easy.

        Reply
        1. Not a Morning Person

          The not knowing all the particulars is common even within faiths. Different places often use different versions or agendas or verbiage. I guess I’m just saying that it is uncomfortable for others even of the same faith who don’t use the particular verbiage or version of what another one is doing. I’m sure it’s worse for someone who doesn’t participate in a particular faith, or any faith, but it happens even within faiths. You have my sympathies and I wanted you to know you are not alone in feeling out of place.

          Reply
      1. Working Hypothesis

        There exists a majority atheist state? I thought the best there were was majority “not a member of any specific church.”

        Reply
    4. Falling Diphthong

      I wouldn’t blink at a prayer at a luncheon to honor veterans, firefighters, etc. At a meeting to address the third quarter budget funding activities for that group, it’s odd, but not at the honorary luncheon.

      Depending on how specific vs broadly ecumenical the prayer was, I might mention something to the person in charge afterward if I thought it would be well-received–chanting “Jesus Jesus Jesus” to honor Jewish veterans is a bit weird.

      Reply
      1. Jadelyn

        “chanting “Jesus Jesus Jesus” to honor Jewish veterans is a bit weird.” This is the part that bugs me about it. There are veterans from all faiths and no faith, and they’ve had to fight like hell in many cases for the ability to have their religious symbol on their headstones and things like that. Are the risks and sacrifices taken by Muslim veterans, Jewish veterans, pagan veterans, etc. less worthy of being honored because of their faith? If an event to “honor” you includes making you sit uncomfortably through someone else’s prayers, that’s not honoring, that’s paying lip service.

        Reply
        1. Specialk9

          “If an event to “honor” you includes making you sit uncomfortably through someone else’s prayers, that’s not honoring, that’s paying lip service.”

          I’d say it’s not honoring, it’s excluding.

          Reply
        2. Working Hypothesis

          “Are the risks and sacrifices taken by Muslim veterans, Jewish veterans, pagan veterans, etc. less worthy of being honored because of their faith?”

          To the kind of people who insist on opening everything with a Christian prayer, no matter what it’s supposed to honor or represent? Of course they are. Muslims, Jews, pagans, etc are of lesser value inherently to them, so if they’re risking their lives, they’re risking something that’s worth less than a Christian life would be.

          I find such views totally reprehensible, but they’re unfortunately very much there.

          Reply
    5. Cucumberzucchini

      Yeah I don’t think it’s unusual at all. Especially when it’s a Government event for Veterans. I would be surprised if they didn’t.

      Reply
    6. Temperance

      That’s horrifying to me. Prayer belongs nowhere near the government, and it turns my stomach to think that our tax dollars are supporting it.

      Reply
      1. Elizabeth West

        I live in the Midwestern Bible Belt, and if you DIDN’T start with a prayer, it would be considered weird. Personally, it makes me uncomfortable not because I’m an atheist, but because I’m not particularly religious.

        Reply
      2. zapateria la bailarina

        every service branch of the military ha an entire branch just for religious leaders (chaplain corps). your tax dollars are paying for their training (seminary or otherwise, and then their military-specific training), their salaries, their benefits, etc. right or wrong, this has been upheld in the courts.

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        1. the gold digger

          I think that’s different. Members of the military live on military bases. Religious soldiers want to practice their religion on the base. Just as there is a library on base and youth soccer on base and a barber shop on base, there are churches/synagogues/mosques (when I was a kid, they were all in the same building – they just switched the crosses in and out) on base.

          Reply
          1. zapateria la bailarina

            some do, yes, but not all and probably not even the majority. on-post housing is increasingly scarce these days on a lot of posts. i grew up in the military and the only time we lived on post was when we were overseas (and even that was only once – we lived off-post during other overseas assignments).

            my point is that your tax dollars pay for religious services in a lot of ways

            Reply
            1. Jadelyn

              Our tax dollars pay for religious services *for individuals who have requested those services*. That’s different from our tax dollars paying for religious services to be inflicted on non-consenting bystanders.

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            2. Optimistic Prime

              I don’t think it matters whether they live on post – I think the point is that all military members work and use services on post and chaplains are just another service that they are afforded in return for the work that they do for the country. Also, the services are optional and diverse – no one is forced to do this, and people can see a chaplain of their own religious group.

              Reply
        2. Specialk9

          But chaplains can be any faith. And as strongly as I push back on prayer at government events? I’m just as strongly in favor of soldiers being able to have trained religious professionals help them through dying, killing, trauma, and all the high intensity spiritual situations… So long as it’s not just Christian chaplains.

          Reply
          1. Mockingjay

            Most military chaplains are trained and allowed to minister in multiple faiths. My neighbor is a retired Army chaplain. He’s Methodist by profession, but can administer Catholic rites, Jewish rituals (apologies if that is not the correct wording), and knows some Muslim prayers. Wiccan services are being added to most chapels or other spaces on military bases and posts. Chaplains care for all service men and women, regardless of faith or none.

            Reply
            1. Anna

              Like the actual physical churches. Bases don’t have the space to have a Catholic church, Jewish or Muslim temple, Methodist, Presbyterian, Baptist, and so on church. They have one chapel that covers most if not all religions.

              Reply
    7. zapateria la bailarina

      yeah most military events open with a prayer led by the chaplain, so i’m not surprised by this at all.

      Reply
    8. Ophelia Bumblesmoop

      You would be surprised how typical it is for government-funded organizations to start proceedings with prayer. The influence of religion is very common. My husband works for a local agency and we attended the Christmas party last year. Apparently it was a big deal – the previous director of the agency was devoutly Mormon and wouldn’t allow the Christmas party to be held in a facility where alcohol was available, didn’t allow music or dancing, and even required a Mormon caterer who would honor some food preparation issues. The party was stopped because no one would attend. That director left but the new director is also Mormon, though he isn’t quite as strict. He brought back the party at a facility that had a separate bar so people could go get drinks there. Rather than music, the IT dept brought in multiple TVs and rigged up Christmas movies to play (“It’s A Wonderful Life”, iirc). After the social hour was complete and everyone had their seats, they opened with prayer. It was really weird, deeply religious (Christian), and honestly blew my mind. I work at a university that does NOT encourage any sort of prayer before meetings.

      However, I also volunteer with a lot of veterans groups and nearly every meeting is started with a prayer. And yes, a Christian prayer is offered 99% of the time. Even the local school board meetings start with prayer. You can often spot the chaplain/ministers/pastors/etc who are very inclusive and open because they reference God and not Jesus. Those individuals tend to be invited back over those who name-drop Jesus every sentence.

      Reply
  4. Troutwaxer

    Re: Number 4, I think this is more “Anthropology 101” than “Ugly Fundamentalist Politics.” I see it as a matter of “we’re talking about dead people who died horribly in war, plus those who were spiritually damaged fighting for our country, so we need a holy person to navigate this spiritually fraught situation.” Also, a practicing priest/rabbi/shaman is probably a good person to have around if someone starts thinking of their own dead and gets upset.

    Long story short, I wouldn’t read too much into it unless the behavior continues on other occasions, or your management gets upset because you don’t go to church/go to the wrong church/etc.

    Reply
    1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

      I disagree. It’s very different to have spiritual advisors present than to have a deacon offer prayer in the name of Christ at a government-hosted event. If I were OP, I’d proceed with my eyes open—sometimes the normalization of religious practice at state events shows up in other parts of a person’s work life in problematic ways.

      Reply
      1. Troutwaxer

        The OP should definitely proceed with their eyes open – I completely agree with you there. And I do agree that the deacon was over the top. Sometimes you tell the minister that its an ecumenical event and they load up the Jesus cannon even though that’s the last thing you want them to do. Then you don’t invite them back.

        It’s also very important to keep in mind that urban and rural California are two wildly different places! But if the Jesus-ing continues, the OP should probably go elsewhere (if in rural California) or file some kind of complaint (if in urban California.)

        Reply
        1. Jeanne

          I don’t know what a Jesus cannon is but that phrase is at least as offensive as anything else discussed here if not more. When veterans choose the program they want (which is very possible here as these event heavily involve the local VFW or POSofA or American Legion usually), and you are an invited guest, you sit quietly and behave. If you are unable to respect their choices for 2 minutes, decline the invitation in the future. Sometimes things happen that have nothing at all to do with you.

          Reply
          1. Working Hypothesis

            I’m sorry, but there are things the government is not entitled to offer, even if the honorees wish it. Constitutional law takes priority over the feelings of anybody involved. You can argue whether or not this is unconstitutional, but arguing that it should be allowed even if it *is* unconstitutional, because the veterans want it, does not fly in a nation supposedly of laws and not men.

            Reply
            1. Jeanne

              The supreme court ruled only a few years ago that it is not unconstitutional and it is not illegal. Why do the people here know it is illegal when it is not? You can disagree but OP is in no position to make an issue out of this at work when it is allowed.

              Reply
          2. Working Hypothesis

            I will also add that some of the veterans quite likely *don’t* want it — they’re not Christian, they’re not comfortable with having their ceremony taken over by a faith that they don’t share, and they feel excluded and erased by statements claiming that “the veterans” want this, as though all veterans were the same.

            My grandfather refused to attend most veterans’ events for a lot of his later life, despite fighting in WWII, because of the way they treated Jews at such events. At best, people pretended there were no Jewish soldiers or sailors. At worst, they blamed us for the war.

            Reply
              1. MashaKasha

                I’m feeling so proud of my OldJob when I read through the comments on this. We had exactly one memorial event (which was held on 9/11/2002) that took a sudden turn for the Christian. The executive admin assistant was leading the event, no one saw it coming, we were almost all the way through the event, when all of a sudden she tells a large group of people – some of them Jewish, Hindu, or Atheist, to my knowledge, and other religions/worldviews were probably represented too – to “hold hands and repeat after me: Our Father, who art in Heaven…” and then she went through the entire prayer as we stood there holding hands.

                She was reprimanded for excluding the majority of those present, and (sadly) we never had a memorial event like that again. If a large corporation located out in the far suburbs in the Midwest got this in 2002, surely we can all get behind this idea in 2017?

                Reply
                1. Working Hypothesis

                  Judges who are so Christian themselves that they don’t even realize how much this excludes everybody else. Unfortunately. This is why it’s so important to examine what sort of judges our candidates for president and governors are likely to appoint.

            1. Specialk9

              “My grandfather refused to attend most veterans’ events for a lot of his later life, despite fighting in WWII, because of the way they treated Jews at such events. At best, people pretended there were no Jewish soldiers or sailors. At worst, they blamed us for the war.”

              Uh… What?! My jaw is on the floor. They blame Jews for World War II, not Nazis and Hitler and punitive foreign policy post WWI?!?!

              Reply
              1. Working Hypothesis

                Yeah. Remember, the concept that the Nazis were wholly evil and that their treatment of the Jews (and other minorities) was one of the worst things they did only came up solidly AFTER the war was over and everyone was shocked by the photos from the liberated concentration camps. In the 1930s and even the early 1940s, many Americans were pro-Nazi (including celebrities like Charles Lindbergh), and even the folks who thought the Nazis were going a bit overboard in gobbling up small European countries often believed that “at any rate, they’ve got the right idea about the Jews.”

                Even well after the war, into the 1970s and 1980s, it wasn’t uncommon to meet people from the WWII generation who believed that the whole war happened because the Nazis were just trying to deal with the fact that those terrible Jews ran everything, and the rest of the world didn’t understand and pressured them to stop, and it never would have reached the stage of death camps and all that if we hadn’t gone and inflicted a war on them.

                Reply
          3. Troutwaxer

            Sorry, I didn’t mean to be offensive. I merely meant that the minister in question may have brought a lot more Christianity and a lot less ecumenicalism than was appropriate for the situation.

            Reply
          4. Had Matter's Pea Tarty

            >If you are unable to respect their choices for 2 minutes,
            If they agree to respect mine.
            Frankly, I’ve had it up to here with having to ‘respect the choices’ of the religious when many of them don’t respect mine. For my entire childhood I was forced to sing hymns, pray, and attend the services of a deity I didn’t believe in – or I’d be punished by the teachers for ‘disobedience’. They weren’t respecting my choices much.

            Reply
            1. Artemesia

              I am always struck by the total lack of empathy shown by people who expect others to ‘respect’ their religious practices when they force them on others in public, government, school etc settings. They can apparently not imagine being in a Muslim group for example and having to participate in those prayers, but think their own practices are not coercive.

              Reply
              1. Else

                It’s because in their minds, they’re the good moral/normal people, and anyone else should defer to them because they are being graciously allowed to participate despite their weird/aberrant/immoral/bad choices or identities. Of COURSE nobody could be threatened or offended or put off by their “normal” activities!

                Reply
              2. Kelly

                I’ve ran into that mindset with my own very Catholic family. I identify as somewhere between agnostic and atheist depending on how bad my depression is. I lost my faith in high school but was forced by my parents to get confirmed because me not going through confirmation would be a stain on the family. Of course that would be worse that getting knocked up out of wedlock barely out of high school like a couple of my cousins did or staying in an abusive marriage because divorce is wrong like my late aunt did.

                My dad’s gotten more pious since my mother passed and it’s irritating. I’m not sure that’s what my mother, who was a convert who felt that that US Catholic church was going to far to the right, would have wanted. Him and I have butted heads over my non observance, but he knows enough not to push me on it. My sister’s also nonobservant, but not as far gone as I am.

                Reply
          5. Natalie

            Sorry, no. It’s a government event. They’re supposed to be respecting the faiths (plural) or not of their citizens. It doesn’t go the other way.

            Reply
          6. RabbitRabbit

            “Load up the Jesus cannon” is a little quirky, but it’s used in context as a metaphor for unloading Jesus-based doctrine onto people at an event where they were instructed it was to be reaching out to multiple religions. (I personally would have phrased it as “and they proceed to cram nothing but Jesus talk down everyone’s throats.” Probably not delicate but neither is the speaker who intentionally disregards instructions.)

            Reply
            1. RabbitRabbit

              And I am Christian, but I also know when something is really freaking rude. This speech was just a step down in tackiness from those preachers who use funerals as an opportunity to do an altar call, to save all the hell-bound non-believers among the mourners.

              Reply
              1. MashaKasha

                I’ve been to two of those (same priest – how he keeps getting invited to perform funerals I will never know). I hear you. It was infuriating both times. In one case, the deceased was very young and a large number of her college friends came to pay their respects, and the priest proceeded to scare a large group of 20-year-olds with hell and eternal damnation.

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                1. Artemesia

                  My personal favorite in this vein was the baptism of a friend’s baby at a fundamentalist church. The pastor took the opportunity to rant about homosexuality and its evils at this event with many friends of the family there to celebrate.

              2. Jadelyn

                …I’d never heard of altar calls before, but after some quick googling I’m now appalled both at the practice itself (which is more a reflection on my personal distaste for performative faith displays than anything else, I suppose) but especially at the idea of doing something like that at a freaking funeral! How awful.

                Reply
          7. NaoNao

            The “Jesus canon” means the background story and surrounding stories about Jesus (at least that’s the way I read it! I didn’t read it as being flip or offensive.

            Reply
          1. Working Hypothesis

            Frankly, it shouldn’t matter. If it’s in the United States, it’s either equally legal or equally illegal, whether it’s in San Francisco or Little Rock.

            Reply
          2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

            i grew Up in a (relatively) conservative Bay county, OP, and it’s sadly not abnormal. But the fact that it happens doesn’t make it ok, and it’s generally not normal for that part of the State.

            Reply
      2. M-C

        Totally agree with Princess BCH – an overtly Christian prayer, at a government – run event, work-imposed for the OP? In CALIFORNIA?!? Sounds not just inappropriate but downright illegal. Lay low, OP, this smells like trouble, unfortunately

        Reply
    2. Lars the Real Girl

      I also disagree. I know this is SUPER common but it’s also SUPER inappropriate. It’s not anthropological if you’re one of the ones being honored (or a family member) and you’re being asked to participate in a prayer that’s not your own and a faith that’s not your own.

      Having religious leaders there? Sure, of course. Having a moment of silence and reflection? Great. Full on Jesus prayer? Hard no.

      But again, this is super common. And it’s often not noticed by majority religions HOW common it is and HOW discriminatory it can be for minority religions.

      Reply
      1. Working Hypothesis

        Exactly, and thank you for speaking up about that aspect of it.

        It is staggering how many people take utterly for granted the concept that military = politically conservative and religiously Christian, despite the fact that neither is remotely universal. The erasure can’t possibly feel good to people who are ostensibly being honored for putting their lives on the line for their country… and who are then told by implication that nobody notices or remembers that they were really there.

        Reply
      2. Kismet

        What vexes me the most is how offended people of majority religions often get at the idea of compromising on this. I’ve seen people get pissed off at the idea of sitting through a pagan prayer, but then turn around and say that I should be okay with sitting through a Christian one out of some vague notion of respect. I’ve seen people get pissed at the idea that maybe these prayers should just not be offered, or that it should at least be made very clear that attendance is optional.

        I find it very, very annoying that respect apparently only goes one way. I need to get over it and respect the majority religion, while they get to pretend I don’t exist, and this is somehow supposed to be fair.

        And sure, the majority religions are worth respecting, but not to the exclusion of all the rest of us. (I might be a bit bitter about this.)

        Reply
        1. Lars the Real Girl

          I think everyone who’s experienced being the religious minority in those situation (and oh are they common….) is a bit bitter about this.

          Reply
        2. Anon anon anon

          Exactly. In the U.S., we’re supposed to have freedom of religion. That means that if you include religion in a government-related event, it should be done in a way that doesn’t infringe on anyone’s religious freedom. Is that possible? That’s up for debate. But, basically, either you don’t include it at all or you try to include everyone. And people are free to take issue with that, but since it’s a basic disagreement with the principles upon which the U.S. was founded, they might do better to consider moving to a different country or finding a way to live with it.

          Reply
        3. Else

          Yes! It’s really isolating and irritating, when I think that they at least tell themselves that it’s meant to be unifying. I think that asking for a minute of silence for contemplation before such events is so, so much better. Let people meditate, pray, center themselves, think about parcheesi, whatever, without enforced listening to someone who professes to be an intermediary with the divine but only for SOME people there. Ugh!

          Reply
        4. Cathy

          I am Pagan, very open about that when appropriate, and I work for the government. I finally got fed up with ‘being respectful’ during the prayers before meetings, potlucks, etc. I went to my grandboss and requested at the next gathering if I could participate by saying the prayer. I was allowed to do so (and deliberately picked as nondenominational a language as possible)
          The next time? Lo and behold! We now have a ‘moment of silence’ instead of a prayer. I have to agree with Kismet; apparently respect only goes one way.

          Reply
          1. Jadelyn

            I commend your restraint. I think if I’d been allowed to unleash my pagan soul on the captive masses I wouldn’t have been able to resist going as full-bore The Craft as possible with it, just to make people squirm. Like, casting a circle and calling the quarters, neither of which is even part of my own practice as a non-Wiccan pagan, but if you’re gonna go, go all in.

            But then, I am not a nice person, so it’s probably better that I don’t get opportunities like that.

            Either way, it’s depressing how quickly prayers turn to moments of silence only after religious minorities get our dirty little hands on them.

            Reply
            1. Working Hypothesis

              This is why I dearly love the Satanist Church. Its entire purpose for existence is to test religious-inclusivity practices to see if the government REALLY means it is inclusive of all belief systems, or just THINKS it is inclusive (because it welcomes several different varieties of evangelical Protestants, tolerates Catholics, and ignores-without-outright-rejecting Jews).

              Reply
      3. Falling Diphthong

        I think Troutwaxer has an important point about how it’s common to alternate around who does the opening prayer. By the time it’s clear that Reverend Smith is going to make this a lot more “obviously all veterans are Christian, and if not this is my chance to introduce them to Jesus” than the organizers want, we’re well through the prayer and interrupting it would be disruptive. And the organizers note to themselves not to ask Reverend Smith again.

        If every event you attend has Reverend Smith taking this opportunity to witness for his specific religion to a captive audience, that’s weird, but it’s entirely possible this was a one-off.

        Reply
        1. Working Hypothesis

          Maybe so. It’s still worth inquiring about what the organizers of the event choose to do about it. They may not bother to put his name on the “do not call back” list if nobody objects.

          Rights go away if nobody stands up for them.

          Reply
    3. Bagpuss

      I disagree (with Troutwaxer’s comment) I don’t think it is necessarily ugly fundamentalism, but I also don’t think that the idea that having a Chaplin/holy person there is appropriate except in a situation where everyone participating shares the same religion and religious or spiritual beliefs. And having ‘comfort’ from a priest isn’t necessarily remotely comforting if you don’t share their beliefs.

      Add in that people may well have very mixed feelings about religious organisations and their role in encouraging people to take up arms, and I think that there is a good chance that for a least some of the people there, it is actively negative.

      I think it is a common error that people make to assume that religious involvement is either positive or neutral, if the person involved means well. It isn’t.

      Reply
      1. Falling Diphthong

        Okay, but that gets into to what extent it makes sense for OP to weigh in, and to whom. I can see some situations where whoever books the speakers would nod thoughtfully at a perspective on how the prayer came across to people who don’t attend the speaker’s house of worship, and incorporate that. And situations where they would be gobsmacked that the assistant to the crosswalk coordinator was weighing in to Veterans’ Services on how to run an event, based on their one exposure. There are places where a private citizen can speak up with no repercussions beyond a possible weird look, but for people there professionally, they need to weigh whether this is going to be seen as wildly invasive, trying to micromanage other departments. (See various letters re “But I am RIGHT about this, so of course I didn’t drop it.”)

        Reply
      2. Liane

        “And having ‘comforchat’ from a priest isn’t necessarily remotely comforting if you don’t share their beliefs.”
        In the US military, from what I understand, it is quite common to be comforted by a chaplain whhat really is ecumenicalo is not of your faith, much less your particular branch/denomination of your faith. I imagine that in a large base or military hospital, there is more likelihood of there being a chaplain who does share those, but out in the field or on a vessel? No. There may be more than one.

        Note I am just responding to this 1 line. This Christian happens to support ecumenical public prayer that is actually ecumenical and respectful.

        Reply
          1. Natalie

            I like “comforchat” as a portmanteau for something like a very shallow, insincere, and totally not comforting conversation that the chaplain thinks is a “comforting chat”.

            Reply
        1. Working Hypothesis

          The thing about chaplains is that it’s always possible to refuse them. Yes, some people are comfortable accepting spiritual comfort from a clergy member of a different faith from their own… and some are not, and some don’t want “spiritual comfort” from anybody because spiritual isn’t their thing, and *all* those people can have their choice. They can ask to see the chaplain, but they’re not obligated to.

          There are plenty of ways in which choosing to serve in the military involves temporarily having ones normal rights suspended for the duration of active duty. But this isn’t one of them.

          Reply
        2. LBK

          Ecumenical prayer still doesn’t cover the needs of people who aren’t religious. Asserting your beliefs in a non-denominational manner doesn’t matter when I don’t have a denomination.

          Reply
          1. Lily Rowan

            I was recently at non-government secular event where a Christian minister did the best version of a non-religious prayer I can imagine, and I still thought it was basically inappropriate! She didn’t even have God in there — I can’t remember the phrasing, but it was something about “that which is larger than ourselves,” maybe — but the style was definitely Christian.

            Reply
            1. Becca

              Reminds me of the ____ Anonymous line of a “higher power.” It’s great that it helps some. It’s great that some atheists find a non-religious “higher power” to turn to for strength. But for those who can’t, insisting that they do, that it’s the only way they can recover, is super not helpful.

              And that’s for a usually optional thing. It’s really not appropriate at an event that claims to be secular (or is legally obligated to be).

              (Not that modified programs for atheists don’t exist. They can be hard to find, and I’m talking more about people who insist that finding a higher power is the only way when the topic is brought up. I can imagine for someone who doesn’t have one and can’t think of one, or at least not one that they can “surrender to and find strength in,” it’s detrimental to their sobriety to make them feel like a weirdo that way.)

              Reply
      3. Bette

        I think having a Chaplin in any situation is appropriate! Of course, I’d like it to be Charlie, but if he’s not available Geraldine will do in a pinch.

        Reply
      4. LBK

        And having ‘comfort’ from a priest isn’t necessarily remotely comforting if you don’t share their beliefs.

        Right – a priest would make me way more uncomfortable in a situation like that. I’m not remotely religious so the last thing I want at an emotionally fraught event is someone offering prayers or other spirituality that doesn’t mean anything to me.

        Reply
        1. Oryx

          I was in the hospital for a week last year and there was a priest who visited my room once (and only once). I was in ICU, I couldn’t get out bed, and I was trying to be as polite as possible by saying “Yeah, so I’m an atheist please leave now kthx.” He clearly wanted to try and have some theological conversation / conversion what I’m in the hospital.

          Reply
    4. zapateria la bailarina

      this probably sounds nitpicky, but veteran’s day isn’t about “dead people who died horribly in war,” it’s about people who served in the armed forces. you’re thinking about memorial day, which honors those who died while serving in the armed forces. they are separate holidays with separate meanings.

      Reply
      1. Humble Schoolmarm

        True, but in Canada, the UK, Australia and NZ (and possibly more) we don’t make that distinction. The person who started the thread may not be US-based.

        Reply
        1. zapateria la bailarina

          but the original question is US-based, so that wasn’t the reason for having a prayer/religious figure at the ceremony.

          Reply
          1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

            You’re right. Memorial Day is when we recognize those who’ve passed, and Veterans Day is for the living. But I understood the comment to refer to the trauma that survivors may deal with having seen really awful things, including their colleagues’ deaths.

            Reply
    5. Lefty

      About “those who were spiritually damaged fighting for our country, so we need a holy person to navigate this spiritually fraught situation”…

      Stereotyping all/most Veterans as “spiritually damaged” is unfair and minimizing. Certainly it’s beneficial that PTSD/similar mental conditions are being de-stigmatized, but it’s unfair if it’s at the cost of all veterans being viewed as “damaged”, uncontrollable, broken, or anything similar. The image of a “damaged” veteran who cannot readjust or cannot cope has become a familiar trope, but it is not the destiny of ALL veterans. Some serve- even in combat- then return home and successfully resume a normal routine. Others cannot do that, whether it’s a physical injury or a mental one, so they need support.

      Also, not everyone is “spiritual” and many of us don’t need or want a “holy person” for navigating such situations. Some would rather see the offer of real resources, a trained medical team, responsive therapists, and compassion over someone “holy” any day. It can be insulting to ask for help, knowing you’ll be directed to religion when you need a medical professional.

      Reply
      1. Anna

        Every movie in the late 70s through the 80s about Viet Nam vets was about how damaged they were. It is a trope and makes it hard to view vets as People Who Do Things and not People Who Could Go Off At Any Minute. It’s one of suggested reasons why vets have a hard time finding jobs; because the trope is so thoroughly embedded, people fear hiring a vet could lead to danger at the workplace.

        Reply
    6. kayakwriter

      I urge those who think it’s “no big deal” to have the prayers of the local majority faith imposed on everyone at government/public events to read this thoughtful essay: http://www.wnd.com/2005/10/32839/ It’s by a Christian who experienced a turning of the tables, and then “got religion” about the separation of church and state.

      Reply
  5. MonkeyPants

    I disagree with the advice for #1. I would just make clear to everyone (and since there are only 5 other people, this shouldn’t be hard to tell everyone), “I felt kind of weird being the 11th wheel when the rest of you have significant others who will be coming, so I asked my friend Mike to come as my date. I hope that’s okay with everyone.”

    I think it sounds really lame to go to a party where you’re the only single one, and everyone else is with a long term partner. And I can’t imagine anyone who heard this explanation would think anything other than “of course, that makes perfect sense” without thinking any further about the letter writer’s love life.

    Reply
    1. Ramona Flowers

      I think they should rethink having partners along at all. With a group that small it seems a bit much – and who enjoys anyone else’s work party?

      Reply
      1. Lars the Real Girl

        I think the small group adds to the importance of having SOs there because otherwise you’re just the same 6 people who work together everyday having a party(? does 6 even count as a party?) and it becomes more of a meeting.

        With the SOs, people relax, talk about personal lives, etc.

        I also don’t think 11th wheel is an issue because in a group that small, conversation is probably going to be between people, not couples secluding themselves.

        Reply
        1. Ramona Flowers

          “With the SOs, people relax, talk about personal lives, etc“

          Really? I can see this going the other way. We have a team lunch as well as our all staff party and it’s nice as we all know each other well – and the difference between that and working together every day is that we aren’t working!

          Reply
          1. Lars the Real Girl

            I think it depends on the team size. With one this small, I think it’s really tough to change the atmosphere from “work” to “now we’re at a party”. But obviously that’s not universal.

            Reply
            1. Mallory Janis Ian

              Ha. I’m thinking of the guys at the design firm I briefly worked at; they could go to “party” mode in two seconds flat.

              Reply
            2. Else

              Yes – I think with a group that small, I’d rather just do a fancy celebratory holiday lunch, or have afternoon tea & cake in the office. That pretty much eliminates the issue. My previous employer used to pay for all of us to go to a really nice restaurant that was fairly close to our office annually – we were lucky in that we could even walk there, but even if driving was necessary, it’s once a year. Most workplaces could spare the paid time to travel somewhere reasonably close and take a couple of hours for lunch for one day.

              Reply
          2. AnotherAlison

            Yeah, I agree with Ramona on this, but it’s more specific to my personal situation than in general. My department is about 40 people, and I’m the only female in a professional role. I normally talk to the men I work with in “work/social” type settings, but when their wives are there, they don’t talk to me. My husband doesn’t have anyone to talk to, either, because all my coworkers talk to each other while their wives talk to each other.

            I had a female manager for a couple years, and my husband knew her husband from outside of my work, so that was nice, but she’s moved out of my department now.

            Reply
        2. Anon for

          As someone who has frequently been the 11th wheel, I can assure you that is definitely NOT the case. The couples do seclude themselves, and the 11th wheel does feel like a big lame-o. I’d bring a friend in this situation too.

          Reply
          1. Snargulfuss

            Yes, when Lars the Real Girl says being the 11th wheel won’t be an issue, I’m willing to bet that Lars the Real Girl is coupled. Pretty much all of my co-workers are married and their spouses are all lovely, but as the continually single one, I dread holiday parties instead of getting excited about them. I’ve totally given myself permission to just skip the fancy office dinner instead of throwing off numbers at the table. I know I don’t need to feel like the nth wheel – sometimes I do, sometimes I don’t, and when I’m not feeling particularly exciting about having my single status made all too apparent, I just skip the event.

            Reply
      2. Ellen

        The food was realky, really good. Like, make polite small talk with Godzilla in a place I could never, ever afford on my own good. Would want to go again, even if my partner had ghosted me, leaving me pregnant with triplets in a foreign country where I don’t speak the language good food. There may be a reason why I’m overweight. :)

        Reply
      3. Allison

        I dunno, my boyfriend works on a small team with some pretty awesome people, I often enjoy tagging along to work parties, both official ones and unofficial ones.

        I think it’s fine to allow people with spouses and serious SO’s to bring them, but I hate when single people feel like the odd ones out at these parties because everyone just talks to their date the whole time. These parties should be fun for everyone!

        Reply
      4. Elizabeth West

        People at OldExjob did, because of the huge buffet. I always went alone and ended up at the boss’s table. Suuuuuper awkward. It made me have flashbacks of school trips where nobody would sit with me so I sat with the teachers. After about three years of this, I quit going.

        Reply
        1. Brendioux

          Aww that sucks, I would honestly end up at the boss’s table too haha. But I’ve learned to like being the odd one out that gets more face time with the boss effortlessly. Then people wonder why he trusts me and delegates things to me!

          Reply
    2. CoffeeLover

      I don’t know… I would find it kind of immature that the person felt the need to bring someone along with them. It’s not really a party after all… it’s a work function. It’s almost like bringing Joe from IT along to your HR conference because you felt it would be awkward to walk around and network on your own. Adults do things alone all the time even when others have someone with them. Besides, I don’t think being a single person at a company event with spouses is awkward at all. It’s not like they’re going to start making out around the dinner table. It’s probably just going to be boring and somewhat painful like most work events.

      This could be region specific, but in my region these kind of work events are really only for spouses or long-term partners. I had a colleague bring a date to the last xmas party and it felt really weird. No one said anything to him, but you could tell people thought it was a little inappropriate. (Plus, I think the poor woman had to suffer through it for some guy she barely knows.)

      Reply
    3. Falling Diphthong

      This seems more an argument for using the Plus 1 on a friend. Someone who has a long history hearing about Bert in Accounting and Wakeen in Reception, and who might appear in their lives at random future points, like meeting you for lunch. And your friend can share tales of hijinks from Knitting Club, giving your coworkers a more nuanced view of who you are when not analyzing spout drip.

      Reply
    4. Anon anon anon

      I would go by myself and not talk about my personal life. In most cases, I don’t like mixing business and personal. It can lead to some complicated, messy stuff that I’d rather avoid.

      Reply
    5. Jana

      I agree. I don’t see what the big deal is about bringing a date with whom you aren’t involved in a serious relationship. I mean, I suppose if OP’s coworkers tend to be nosy about personal lives, it might be awkward, but it doesn’t sound like they are. Also, people date, people break up…I think people would understand if they met someone at a holiday party who later ended up no longer being a significant other of their coworker.

      Reply
  6. Ramona Flowers

    #3 My team uses exercises only with people who are invited to interview, and we specify that people should only spend a short amount of time (usually one or two hours) as we want to see what their work is like, not be disrespectful of their time.

    Reply
    1. Wendy Darling

      I love employers who do that. My current employer gave me an exercise that “should take about an hour” and actually did take about an hour, and only after I was selected for the final round of interviews. My responses to the exercise were discussed extensively during the interview so I could walk them through my thought process.

      I do not love the multitude of other employers I interviewed with who give me an exercise after a 15-minute phone screen with a recruiter, as a precursor to a real phone interview with someone on the actual team. I’m also not a fan of the exercises they say “should take an hour or two” but would actually take 4-6 hours to produce something I’d be willing to be evaluated on.

      And an extra special shoutout to Zillow, who make you do a screening task that includes writing code *before you even talk to anyone*. To even get to the “explain your resume to a recruiter” phase, you must first do this weird screener that takes 45 minutes.

      I also encountered one company where before they scheduled your phone interview they required you to fill out a 3-page questionnaire rating your skills on a 1-10 scale for 50+ different skills and technologies. They also required that you note how long you had been using that skill/technology and describe your specific experience with it. It took me over an hour to fill out and it turned out the interviewer didn’t even look at it because I’d put down “none” for all of his most wanted skills.

      Reply
    2. Teapot PR consultant

      We do this also for communication candidates: we bring them in for 2 hours; they write a media release from a policy paper; we discuss their work and portfolio immediately afterwards.

      Reply
    3. Annie Moose

      At my current job, they used to have candidates do an coding exercise before determining whether or not to interview them in person, but they didn’t find it was as useful as they’d hoped (a lot of reviewing exercises of people they didn’t end up wanting to interview, I think), so they switched to only having those who actually come in for an interview do an exercise. They do it on-site (they’ve got an hour or so to make changes and enhancements to a partial sample project) and then the exercise gets discussed by the interviewers/interviewee.

      They find this way to be a LOT more useful in judging candidates! Either way, the discussion of the exercise is one of the most important parts of the interview, and we would never dream of hiring a web developer without something to indicate their skill level.

      Reply
  7. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

    #4 is actually really common in California, depending on the County, and sometimes in other state’s local governments. But that doesn’t make it lawful, ok, or appropriate (it is very much not ok).

    What you’re describing, OP#4, sounds like a classic violation of the First Amendment. The County (and its agencies) should not be hosting events that promote or prioritize
    religion (or even a denomination within a larger religion). It would be different if this were an event held by a recipient of County funding, but based on your description, it sounds like attendees believed it was hosted by the County. The fact that other people don’t seem to recognize how inappropriate it is is troubling.

    Reply
    1. Jeanne

      You don’t know what the attending veterans believed about who was in charge. Even if the county pays for lunch, veterans organizations are usually involved in the planning. And it is not unlawful to invite a clergy person to pray. Especially if it is what the veterans wanted, it is even completely appropriate. OP was not at a work lunch as she said. She was invited to a lunch along with members of her company which means her only job is to behave politely. But it has never been automatically illegal to have a prayer at a lunch the town paid for.

      Reply
      1. Ramona Flowers

        You’ve posted several comments about the need to sit quietly and behave. But when you are being asked to sit quietly through a prayer that is completely not your faith and not even relatable to people of other faiths, that’s not necessarily comfortable. And the LW said it seemed bizarre, not that they didn’t sit quietly.

        I’m a Christian and I would still find this really uncomfortable and strange so I can only imagine how much worse that would be for people of other faiths and none.

        Reply
        1. Anon anon anon

          Exactly. And there are plenty of ways to do something similar but make it inclusive (or at least an attempt to be inclusive). A moment of silent reflection, including prayer and meditation for those who chose those things. Going around the room and having everyone share their thoughts, with mention of religion being optional, having introductions by people of a number of different faiths and other worldviews. There are so many widespread examples, having a Christian prayer seems really odd.

          Reply
        2. Jeanne

          The reason to sit and behave was the OP had NOTHING to do with planning the event or participating or deciding if she was invited. Her job was to not shame her workplace. That is it when you are a new employee and invited by your boss to a local event. Her only job was to be polite and well-mannered in representing her company. We don’t even know that she lives in the town. If she complains about this, she is being unprofessional.

          Reply
        1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

          You’re wrong on this—both on the law, and on whether this was unlawful. I agree that we’d need more information to say something decisively, but First Amendment case law regarding programs hosted and funded by the government are viewed more strictly than cases regarding opening prayer for legislative sessions and other public meetings.

          Reply
          1. Jeanne

            Fine. Where is your link showing the restrictions are tighter for a lunch than for an official business meeting? Educate me since you know all about the law.

            Reply
            1. Lawyer here

              Hi Jeanne. Civil rights attorney here. The thing about the law is that it isn’t easy to describe an entire legal doctrine in a link to an article. Things aren’t black and white; there is a lot of nuance involved in interpreting whether a particular action is constitutional. But here is a link to a basic summary of the First Amendment that might help you. You’ll want to look at the section about the Establishment Clause and what comes after that. https://www.aclu.org/other/your-right-religious-freedom

              Reply
      2. Bartlet for President

        No, but it’s not automatically legal either. There are specific conditions to be met under which having a prayer at an government-sponsored event becomes legal – and, we have no idea if those conditions are being met here. So, it is probably best for us to not claim with certainty that it’s legal or not.

        There is also nothing in the letter that indicates she wasn’t being polite or respectful. She didn’t make a scene or scold anyone for it – she simply mentioned to a coworker afterwards she was surprised by it. As far as reactions go, that is pretty dang polite. You’ve left multiple comments on this post about this, and seem extremely offended by the very notion that she’s questioning the inclusion of a prayer at the event. Finding the prayer inappropriate or bizarre isn’t rude or dismissive of the veterans (or anyone else), which is how your comments read.

        Reply
        1. Jeanne

          The only offense I took was at “Jesus cannon.” You are the ones all riled up. It is very normal in many places in the US yet somehow you want her to be upset. None of you know anything about this event: who really planned it, was it really only a government event, why was the man asked to give a prayer. Yet it is automatically inappropriate. You can’t know that. If you hate religion, fine. But we have nowhere near the right info for this. In your average small town, nothing is just government. It is in combination with other organizations, including possibly a church, because there aren’t many employees. Was this a small town or a big city? Did any veterans organizations help plan it?

          Reply
          1. mrs__peel

            The constitution applies to *all* parts of the US, not just larger cities. It applies in small towns as well.

            It’s certainly true that a lot of unconstitutional things (e.g., mandatory prayers in public schools) are considered “normal” in certain parts of the country. That doesn’t mean they’re okay– it just means that people can sometimes get away with violating the law. (Especially if it’s a religious issue, and the prominent people in town– like the prosecutor and judge– belong to the same majority religion).

            As others have pointed out, the law is nuanced regarding when these types of prayers are constitutional (at legislative meetings vs. other types of government-sponsored events). The LW presented enough facts to raise constitutional issues.

            Reply
      3. Kismet

        I find it interesting that you seem so outraged by this.

        To flip all your politeness talk on its head – isn’t part of being a good host not alienating a chunk of your guests? I’m leaving legality out of this because others have noted the issues there better, but I know I’d be pretty pissed if I were invited to something that, by all indications, was a secular event and it turned out to be religious, even low-key religious. I’d be pissed even if it were my own religion pulling that nonsense.

        You also keep acting like you’re somehow standing up for veterans, but veterans aren’t a monolith. Many would be outraged to be forced to sit through a prayer – my atheist WWII veteran grandfather among them. Is it polite to honor atheist vets like my grandpa with a public Christian prayer?

        Reply
      4. LW #4

        I’m the OP. I’m an agnostic atheist and it does make me uncomfortable to be assumed Christian, but I didn’t make a fuss. I sat quietly and didn’t mention that I was surprised by it to anyone but my coworker. I wrote in because I wanted to get an outside perspective.

        Reply
        1. Falling Diphthong

          I think it’s unusual, and moreso for urban California than for rural Texas. However, I think you would really need a lot more data points to decide whether it was a pattern worth bringing to anyone’s attention, and so far it’s happened once. Is it something that happens at everything planned by Wakeen, and the minister is Wakeen’s pastor? Or do the honorary luncheons for various groups usually have a brief very ecumenical prayer by Pastor Dave, and he retired this year, and this is Pastor Bob’s first stab at it?

          Reply
        2. Guacamole Bob

          It strikes me as particularly odd for the Bay Area, which is incredibly diverse. I lived in the south bay and it varies a lot by exact geography, but there were very large south and southeast Asian communities and Buddhism and Hinduism were well-represented, plus there were plenty of atheists, agnostics, and Jews. If the event is specifically for older veterans then they may be likelier to be Christian than the population in general, but it’s still weird for anything in the Bay Area to default to Christianity.

          Hint: if you work for a government who by default translates all public materials into Spanish, Vietnamese, and Tagalog, you should probably be more used to thinking about diversity than whoever planned this event apparently was. (Though I was surprised by how much of the Asian population is Christian when I lived in the Bay Area – I don’t mean to imply that ethnicity and religion are totally correlated.)

          The small nonprofit I worked at always had an opening prayer/blessing/spiritual message of some sort at our big annual fundraiser and I always thought it was odd (unfortunately I wasn’t in a position to change it). But it rotated among a pretty wide array of people, both clergy and not. The clergy included a Buddhist monk, a rabbi, a Catholic bishop, a Baptist minister, etc., all of whom were pretty careful to be ecumenical. The non-clergy tended to be more vaguely spiritual without defined religious content.

          Reply
          1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

            Not odd in the Bay! The County I grew up in did this sort of thing (and got yes, and lost), and I can think of 2 other Bay counties where I’ve seen this. People underestimate the diversity of the State and its regions.

            Reply
            1. Bay Native

              The Bay Area is extremely diverse, but it has a strong under-current of conservatism. Espousing progressive beliefs but acting conservative in practice is a common thing there, at least in some circles. So I’m not that surprised. But I bet other people at the meeting shared LW’s reaction.

              Reply
      5. copy run start

        You’re right, we don’t know what the attending veterans believed. It’s very possible that some of the veterans weren’t Christian, or were uncomfortable with the level of religion brought into the event, and we simply haven’t heard their voices on this matter.

        Reply
      6. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

        I think you’re assuming a lot of facts not in evidence. OP didn’t say that this was solely government-funded (which, by the way, is sufficient to trigger First Amendment scrutiny)—OP said it was hosted by a county agency. You also don’t know if veterans organizations participated in the planning. If they did, and if the program took place in non-governmental space, then go ahead and pray. But it doesn’t become legal to have prayer at a government-run/sponsored/funded event, ostensibly on government property and during the formal program, simply because private third parties want it.

        But to be honest, none of that is really germane to OP’s question, which was, “is this normal?” And the overwhelming answer has been, “It’s not legally normal, but it’s common as a practice.”

        I’m also not sure why you keep implying that OP was impolite or made a fuss. But I will note that it is not impolite to raise concerns about constitutional violations.

        Reply
      7. Anna

        You have a lot of opinions about things you don’t seem to actually understand fully. I suggest reading through all of Princess Consuela Banana Hammock’s comments to see what an actual lawyer person knows and says about the situation as it’s been presented.

        Also, you also don’t know what the attending veterans believe, but I noticed you’re making a huge assumption they’re all Christians, so it’s fine. Except it’s not fine. Even if they were all Christians by some random happenstance, it would still not be fine. It’s like saying stealing is okay if nobody notices. No, still illegal!

        Reply
        1. Working Hypothesis

          But don’t you understand that all veterans who *matter* (to the type of Christian who runs events of this nature) are Christian? The others… well, we just try not to think about them. :P

          Reply
        2. Jeanne

          Is she a lawyer? Because she doesn’t appear to know the law. She just says it’s illegal. That doesn’t make it illegal because she says so.

          Reply
    2. Mookie

      Re-iterating that this isn’t unusual for California. Not by a long chalk. I would slightly push back on the notion, however, that because no one is actively grimacing or loudly objecting that means you, LW, are the only person to recognize that this is inappropriate, or that by their mere attendance every veteran is tacitly endorsing it. Your co-worker may be used to it, but it’s unlikely that you’re the only one this grates on. For me, it’s particularly galling when used in recognition of service and work performed by a diverse cross-section of Americans, many of whom have actively demonstrated that they believe in and support the sister values of religious freedom and freedom from the imposition of religion itself or a dominant religious denomination in particular, not to mention that they’re not all Christians and incorporating Christianity into a event ostensibly about recognizing and celebrating living veterans is not value-neutral or innocuous, not inevitable but a decision that has consequences and this is one of them.

      Reply
      1. mrs__peel

        “For me, it’s particularly galling when used in recognition of service and work performed by a diverse cross-section of Americans”

        I 100% agree. And, to me, it would also feel like something of a personal insult when I think about my grandfather (who was a Jewish atheist and veteran).

        Reply
  8. Thinking out loud

    I interviewed a guy recently whose resume was titled “dad_resume” (along with the date). I found that strange.

    Reply
      1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

        There’s a judge with those initials in our district! When counsel talks about appearing in his court, folks refer to him as “dad” without a second thought (we refer to all the judges by their initials, but if someone’s initials spell a word, we’ll say the word). But it would sound disturbing for anyone listening who doesn’t know those are his initials.

        Which is all to say—I hope those were his initials.

        Reply
    1. Observer

      Unless those are his initials, that’s a big nope. Although I prefer that people send their resumes or proposals, etc. with their / company name in the file name, it’s not that big of a deal. And, I really don’t care what else is / is not in the name as longs as it’s not NSFW. Just about the only thing I care about it something like this – in my experience this is always attached to someone seriously out of touch with office norms.

      Reply
    2. Bryce

      My first assumption would be a shared family computer. Name stuff with the general users in mind, don’t think to change it.

      Reply
      1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego (formerly Floundering Mander)

        Yes, I can see my Dad using a name like this (to distinguish it from Mom and Daughter 1 and Daughter 2) even though none of us have ever even looked at it.

        Reply
        1. Emi.

          But your dad has a name, right? So he could name his resume John_Pantalones_en_Fuego_resume.doc if he’s worried about mixups.

          Reply
          1. AnotherAlison

            Could be a jr. / sr. situation.(but, yeah, figure out something other than dad to distinguish.)

            I opened a generic resume.docx file on my home desktop the other day, and it was my son’s. I would be really embarrassed to send that by accident.

            Reply
          2. Miss Pantalones en Fuego (formerly Floundering Mander)

            Of course. But he’d call it that anyway, if it was in his own documents folder under his own login. He just thinks of himself as “Dad” instead of “Bob” sometimes.

            Reply
  9. Lauren R

    “I hate the whole concept of what GoFundMe stands for and find asking everyone for money after a death tacky and crass.”

    I don’t necessarily think the person themselves is asking. It sounds like this was set up by someone else to help them out. Regardless of who set it up, it’s not a cash grab. This person is going to have to pay funeral expenses (no small thing), not to mention they may have just lost their spouse’s income at the same time they need to take some time off from work. People collecting donations and encouraging you to chip in are being kind and trying to help this person through an awful time. And GoFundMe is just the medium they’re doing that through so that people can pay using credit/debit/PayPal rather than needing to collect cash from everyone who wants to donate.

    I agree it’s ridiculous to say it’s required and it’s awful they would tell you your job is on the line. Those people are out of line, and if the company really wanted to help they could probably do way more for this employee than force a $5 donation from you. And I would imagine the person receiving these donations would be pretty upset themselves to hear that their coworkers are being forced into giving them money. But saying it’s “tacky and crass” for someone who just lost a loved one to be given financial help is more than a little strange to me, especially when you yourself aren’t well-off financially and therefore can probably understand what this person might be going through at the same time they’re grieving an awful loss. It’s okay if you don’t want to donate, but please don’t hold your boss’s pressure against the grieving coworker when they are likely just doing what they can to make it through the day at this point.

    Reply
          1. Sarah

            Well, it’s not necessarily so easy to get life insurance if you have a health condition, for one thing…not everyone is lucky enough to be perfectly healthy until one day they drop dead.

            Reply
            1. Betty (the other betty)

              Not to mention that the funeral needs to be now, and life insurance may take some time to pay out. Losing a loved one is hard. Paying for unexpected expenses can just add to the stress.

              Reply
              1. Katriona

                Yep. When my dad passed we didn’t even know for sure whether he *had* life insurance until after the funeral. The funeral home was willing to wait until we got everything sorted out, but the cemetery had to be paid upfront. Fortunately we were able to cover it, but not everyone has thousands of dollars for a burial plot just lying around on short notice.

                Reply
          2. Optimistic Prime

            Life insurance costs money, and depending on how old and/or healthy the person in question is, it might be prohibitively expensive for the person in question. If you get life insurance on someone else sometimes there’s a required physical involved, and they have to agree to it (my MIL got life insurance on my husband and I and we had to have a nurse come to the house and do some stuff).

            Not that I think GoFundMes are the answer, but it’s not simple for a lot of people.

            Reply
    1. Ramona Flowers

      “People collecting donations and encouraging you to chip in are being kind and trying to help this person through an awful time“

      Not the ‘encouraging you to chip in’ part. And let’s be clear – this isn’t encouragement, it’s blackmail.

      I wondered if the grieving person knows their colleagues’ jobs have been threatened and what level of seniority they have.

      Reply
      1. Lauren R

        The people threatening her job aren’t the ones I was describing as “encouraging”; those people are absolutely being awful. I just meant the people who are making arrangements to help this coworker by setting up the donation site and letting people know they can donate – that’s hardly “tacky” in my opinion.

        And yes, as I said, I really doubt the grieving coworker is on board with this. I know I’d appreciate my coworkers wanting to help me through a tough time, but if I found out my bosses were forcing people and threatening their jobs, I’d be furious and wouldn’t want the money at all. It’s a bad position to put the coworker in, especially since they’re causing bad feelings among the people they work with at a time they probably need compassion and understanding more than anything else.

        Reply
      1. Lauren R

        Yes, I mentioned that. I absolutely agree it’s ridiculous to be putting employees in this position and threatening their jobs, and expect the grieving coworker wouldn’t be happy about that either. I just don’t get the part where the letter writer calls it “tacky and crass” simply to take donations to help someone after a death.

        Reply
      2. finderskeepers

        Perhaps even making it matching contribution. The company contributing a larger sum of money would also be deductible unlike individuals who are probably taking the standard deduction and thus won’t be able to deduct the donation.

        Reply
        1. Natalie

          Assuming US, you can’t deduct donations to random individuals on your taxes even if you itemize, unless they are somehow organized as a non-profit. Nor could the company treat this as a charitable donation. They would actually have to report it as income paid to the employee, withhold income tax, and pay FICA.

          Reply
          1. finderskeepers

            wow, i’ve never donated on gofundme but I assumed since it was thru a third party rather than direct to individual, it was deductible. Definitely never touching gofundme now !

            Reply
            1. rldk

              If the person on the other end of the specific GoFundMe is a nonprofit, it *may* be deductible, but only if you receive acknowledgement directly from the nonprofit once your donation has been sent in. The reason it tends not to be is that GFM doesn’t have 501(c)(3) status itself, and their business tends to aggregate all donations and send one large chunk to the beneficiary – meaning for most intents & purposes, your actual donation went to GFM, not the charity. GFM then wrote a lump sum to the charity on yours & others’ behalf.

              (Source: I work in nonprofit fundraising :] )

              Reply
    2. Troutwaxer

      Agreed. I’d definitely suggest that the OP contribute a few bucks and consider the situation of the person who would receive the money. They are doubtless stressed and unhappy, and giving a little so they know their coworkers have their back would be a wonderful thing. (Though the “required” angle is definitely sketchy.)

      Reply
      1. Ramona Flowers

        Woah no. I think it’s fine to suggest they donate to make the best of a bad situation. I do not think it is fine to tell the LW to consider the person receiving the money when we know nothing about their own situation or why they aren’t in a position to donate.

        Reply
        1. SignalLost

          Well, the situation is that someone in that person’s life just died and unless you are really proactive about planning for your death, there will be financial expenses occurred. It seems pretty straightforward, as situations to consider go.

          Reply
          1. Ramona Flowers

            That is completely beside the point. The LW said they aren’t in a position to donate. They may also have financial issues. Please take them at their word.

            Reply
            1. Sylvan

              I don’t think that comment was beside the point at all, when we’re talking about the LW’s judgment of their coworker. Suggesting that someone might want to consider why their coworker might need assistance after a death in the family isn’t the same thing as a demand for the LW to donate.

              Reply
            2. SignalLost

              I never said the LW had to donate or magically make their finances such that they could. You seemed to be saying that the coworker’s situation was too difficult to understand and/or empathize with, given the context of Troutwaver’s comment.

              Reply
            3. Doe-Eyed

              Yeah I think that was in response to them saying it was tacky to ask for money. Maybe it is, but when you suddenly have 10k in debt from a funeral it’s probably better to be tacky by asking for money than by being tacky and losing your house.

              Reply
          2. Working Hypothesis

            What we don’t know is the LW’s situation. But if they say that they are not in a position to be able to donate at the moment, I believe them.

            There are several different pieces to the ethics of this. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with accepting money after a death has put one in a difficult financial position, nor do I think there’s anything wrong with well-meaning people choosing to set up a fundraiser to invite others to join them in helping that person. But there is definitely something wrong with anyone — especially an employer, who has the leverage of threatening one’s job if one disobeys their wishes (and in this case appears to have openly done so!), but also anyone else… like, say, us — pressuring any individual to contribute to such a thing if they don’t wish to.

            Reply
            1. Falling Diphthong

              We also don’t know whether the deceased is, say, the coworker’s spouse (so all expenses falling to coworker) or cousin (so they might be spread out across the family).

              It’s not very appealing when you express it as “Joe’s uncle died–Joe, he works second shift over in receiving? balding, average height?–yeah, if you want to keep your job you need to contribute to the fund Mike set up.” And the GoFundMe could be used for end of life medical bills (if in the US) or funeral expenses or “get out and really have some fun to remember our departed grandmother” expenses.

              Reply
            2. Tuxedo Cat

              I agree with your thoughts. I had someone, W, who wasn’t my supervisor but was in a more powerful position than I was (and could influence my supervisor) email all of us in our office to raise money for funeral expenses for W’s distant relative. We didn’t know the relative at all, but we all figured W would hold it against us if we didn’t give anything. Most of us who were ranked below W did, and those who didn’t? W behaved differently to them. All of us earned significantly less than W. No one who were in the same salary grade or higher gave from what I understand, and none of those people were treated differently.

              I understand and sympathize with people who crowdsource for those who are grieving but putting pressure on someone to donate is not good.

              Reply
          3. Colette

            There is literally always someone you don’t know who has important expenses they could pay with your money, though. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t help – of course you should – but if you give money every time you’re aware that someone else could use it, you won’t be able to pay your own expenses.

            Reply
            1. Indoor Cat

              This is what I was thinking.

              It’s honorable to donate money to charities. But just because it’s good to do something doesn’t mean it’s then always bad to *not* do that thing. And I think setting up personal mental rules (“I don’t donate to GoFundMe because it’s tacky” / “I only donate to two charities on a recurring monthly basis and that’s it” / “I only give money to people I love and know personally; everyone else can rely on their own friends and family”) can sound heartless, but to me it’s kind of like emotional self-defense. You can’t help everyone who needs help, and if you let yourself empathize with every single struggling person, you’ll drive yourself crazy. So people set up internal rules by their own arbitrary ideas (myself included), to only feel empathy and responsibility to help towards certain people. It’s easier to not donate to a good cause without guilt if you’ve already got personal rules in place.

              The people I know who empathize with everyone strike me as always on the verge of burn-out and panic attacks. They know that “if you really cared about [this person] you’d do something to help them” (which is true–actions are louder than words, after all) but instead of then just deciding not to care about certain people or situations, like a normal person, they think, “a good person cares about everyone!” so they try to help everyone and are struck by guilt when they inevitably can’t.

              Reply
        2. Troutwaxer

          I’m not sure what you’re getting at. I was suggesting that the OP might want to use a little empathy regarding the unhappy situation of their coworker. Nothing else.

          Reply
          1. Ramona Flowers

            I think it’s really not okay to say things like that when the LW has said they can’t donate. Lecturing them about empathy won’t change that. They can have empathy and still not be able to donate. I don’t know what part of that isn’t clear so I think I’ll have to leave this here.

            Reply
            1. Mookie

              You can’t “cure” an empathy-deficient person, no, but there’s no good reason to leave some of the LW’s remarks unchallenged. When I read things like that, I think of lurkers’s hearts breaking, particularly those that have needed or could have used such charity, feeling that this attitude is being condoned. I am glad, however, that everyone seems to agree that imposing mandatory donations onto the LW and her colleagues is deeply misguided and deserves pushback, preferably organized so that this never happens again. I feel sorry for the LW that she’s been put in this situation. But that’s separate and distinct from saying that voluntary contributions are not classy enough for her liking.

              Reply
                1. Anna

                  No, it was a pretty balanced look at it. The LW implies the person who will benefit from the GoFundMe is tacky and lacks class. That’s a pretty harsh position to take, especially if the fundraiser was set up by someone else in their name. What’s also tacky and lacks class is threatening people’s jobs if they don’t donate.

              1. Gen

                Thank you. I’ve been trying to find away to say the same thing. I’ve been devestated by some of the comments here about this from commenters who previously seemed like kind or empathetic people and I hope to gods I don’t work with any of them. Facing your own or another family members impending death is hard and isolating enough without being judged so harshly when you need help. Please OP don’t let anyone hear how you think of anyone who asks for help, you have no idea how many people that could be hurting around you

                Reply
                1. Anna Held

                  THE LW DOESN’T KNOW THIS PERSON. She’s being forced to donate — despite her own difficult financial situation — to someone she doesn’t know. And who may not have requested help — we really don’t know any of the particulars, in part because the LW doesn’t know this person! The LW may well have deeper financial obligations than the bereaved. And you’re getting sniffy because she’s upset?

                2. Natalie

                  I believe the issue here is the LW calling the existence of such hat-passing “tacky and crass”, that’s a judgment that’s apparently not dependent on her knowing the bereaved. She could have left it at not knowing the person and not being in a position to donate.

                3. Jesca

                  Yes, Natalie is correct. That the person made a generalized statement about helping others at a time of death is pretty telling of where this person’s mindset is in regards to helping others.

                  Now they have a valid point about not knowing the person or being forced into it(that is so inappropriate omg), but their general views on personal donations does show a huge lack of empathy.

                4. JB (not in Houston)

                  I agree with Natalie–I think most people’s negative reactions are aimed at that, not at the LW not wanting or being able to contribute to the expenses of someone they don’t know.

                5. Snark

                  “I believe the issue here is the LW calling the existence of such hat-passing “tacky and crass”, that’s a judgment that’s apparently not dependent on her knowing the bereaved. ”

                  And? Blackmailing your employees/reports donating money to someone they don’t necessarily know, under the threat of losing their jobs, IS pretty goddamn tacky and crass. The existence of the fund isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it’s the situation in which it exists – from which it can’t be extricated – that’s ethically icky.

                6. Buffy Summers

                  For Anna Held, I hardly think shouting in all caps is productive here. The OP’s attitude toward those who need financial help after a death is what’s being “called out”, if you will. I think every single person has agreed that the company is wrong for making this mandatory and most have expressed sympathy for the OP with regard to that. And, I don’t think anyone is suggesting that OP, of course, has plenty of money to donate – she says she doesn’t, so I think most everyone believes that. It’s the way she expressed her feelings about those who ask for financial help. So maybe take it down a notch or two.

                7. Marcy Marketers

                  Blasting your wedding registry and asking for honeymoon contributions is tacky. A relative or someone in the wedding party quietly circulating the registry is not tacky. The LW is not saying that needing help with funeral expenses is tacky. The LW is saying that the constant demands for funds from people who are trying to save for their own life events is tacky. When you give because you want to, it’s generously of spirit. When you feel beleaguered and forced to give, it does feel crass and like too much. Like people are interested in you only when they need money and ignore you the rest of the time.

                  On a personal note, I find it in extreme poor taste that employees are asked by employers to subsidize poor benefits and wages provided by employers.

                8. Natalie

                  @ Snark, that would be all well and good if the LW had directed her comment at the person attempting to coerce her, but they didn’t, they directed it at the very existence of a post-death fundraiser. And thus at the character of their bereaved coworker, who has the temerity to accept this money (presumably).

                  I don’t think anyone would have commented on it if the ire was directed at Pressure Person, except probably to agree that they were being extremely crass.

                9. The OG Anonsie

                  Agreed. The issue with the company’s compulsion, the LW’s ability to donate, and the LW’s comments that having donations is tacky are three separate areas of comment here.

            2. MCMonkeyBean

              You absolutely can have empathy and still not be able to donate, but that is now how the letter comes across. “I don’t even know this person” and “asking for money after a death is tacky and crass” are not empathetic things to say.

              Reply
              1. Trout 'Waver

                ~400,000 people that you don’t know die every day. How many of their funerals have you contributed to? It’s hardly unempathetic to not donate to pay for the funerals of people you don’t even know.

                Reply
                1. Mookie

                  Once again, the issue is judging people who need assistance, not that the LW is unable to assist. There is literally no reason to be confusing one real objection from one that no one made.

                2. Anna

                  Literally, the criticism is not about the fact that the LW doesn’t know the person and is not in a position to donate. It is 100% about the phrase “asking for money after a death is tacky and crass [implying that someone who has had a death in the family and needs financial help is tacky and crass to ask for that help]”. The end. There’s really nothing else to say on that particular point.

              2. agmat

                The quote actually is “asking everyone for money after a death tacky and crass”. That is how GoFundMe feels to some – it’s solicting money from anyone, even those completely removed from the situation.

                Reply
            3. Yorick

              I think it’s ok to remind them to be compassionate when they say things like using a gofundme is tacky and crass. It doesn’t mean they have to donate if they don’t want to or aren’t able, but they can think about the coworker more generously.

              Reply
                1. Anna

                  So is being weirdly unsympathetic to someone who is in a tight spot and grieving. That doesn’t mean people aren’t going to call you out on your shitty opinion.

          2. Snark

            How does guilt-tripping them about a decision they’re very clear on help them? It doesn’t really matter if they’re empathetic or not; they’re not in a position to donate. Do you just want them to feel worse about that, or what?

            Reply
        3. Mookie

          I don’t think anyone, including the LW, need necessarily express performative compassion towards a colleague she has never met — doing so is dishonest and affords their surviving family and friends no help or comfort — but there’s nothing really wrong with asking that someone reconsider judging the family or efforts to assist them “tacky.” It’s a shame that people have to resort to crowd-funding terrible life milestones but there are institutional problems in this country that make that inevitable right now. So, yeah, don’t donate; please keep those remarks to yourself, though, if you are not willing to consider why charity, for all its gauche crassness, is all some people will ever have to fall back on. Private charity is never going to solve systematic inequality, no, but that doesn’t mean we consign people in the here and now to nothingness and oblivion before we solve that problem, permanently, for some future generation.

          Reply
          1. Natalie

            I’m not even sure it’s a “right now” thing – passing the hate after a death has been a longstanding tradition in a lot of American cultures.

            Reply
              1. Natalie

                No, not necessarily. In the industries where this is common (that I’m familiar with) it’s enough to be part of the same community of electricians or firefighter or whatever. Actually knowing the person isn’t a pre-requisite to passing the hat.

                Reply
                1. Anna

                  You’re not going to know every firefighter in the city, and to expand on that example, donations to families who have lost loved ones while they were on duty frequently come from far and wide, including outside the city where they served, the state where they lived, and sometimes the country. So no, you may be part of a community of professionals that includes a lot of people you don’t know.

      2. Elizabeth the Ginger

        I don’t think the OP should feel obligated to donate (at least not out of empathy; they unfortunately might due to the employer’s pressure). They said they aren’t in a position to donate and have never met the recipient. They can feel empathy for the situation without giving money. After all, any of us could right now find maybe several hundred GoFundMe campaigns for funeral expenses for strangers with a couple seconds’ searching – should we contribute to each? I personally choose to use my charitable giving money differently, and that’s my prerogative.

        Reply
      3. I'm Not Phyllis

        Sorry but I disagree. I understand why Alison suggests this, but I don’t think people should be pressured into giving money to their coworkers for any reason. If LW can afford to donate and perhaps just as importantly – wants to – then fine. But not giving money to a coworker should not mean that LW’s job is on the line.

        Reply
          1. Perse's Mom

            The donation = job, no. But there are a few commenters encouraging the OP to just donate anyway, which is ignoring the OP’s statement that she’s not in a position to do so, which is I think what Not Phyllis was disagreeing with in TW’s comment.

            Reply
    3. Wakeen Teapots, LTD

      Mandatory contributions are terrible.

      Community help after a death, especially an unexpected one, is a blessing. Not considering loss of income, or medical bills, a death costs thousands of dollars. People helping people isn’t a cash grab.

      Reply
      1. Perse's Mom

        It certainly shouldn’t be a cash grab, but there are definitely stories out there about this exact sort of thing. It also doesn’t help in this situation that the OP doesn’t even know the grieving person, which makes it harder to figure out if it IS legitimate (which is all besides the point in this case as the OP isn’t in a position to donate anyway).

        Reply
        1. Wakeen Teapots, LTD

          No worries, the part where somebody is dead is stipulated, as is the heartbroken family to go with it. You don’t have to worry about that.

          Reply
    4. The Person from the Resume

      Nope. I agree with the letter writer. Go Fund Me has made the donation process so much less personal and more money grabby than passing an envelope. It’s made it easier but it has proliferated the donation requests and allowed them to be shared on social media so you get sob stories and request for donations from people you don’t even know.

      Also I don’t want to be a b1tch about it, but I question the legitimacy of a lot of these requests. Does the family even know someone is asking on their behalf? Do they need the money? Because life insurance is designed to cover those costs. I know funerals have become crazy expensive, but money won’t replace what loved ones really losts with the death and money as the solution does seems crass.

      Reply
      1. Observer

        Sorry, just because some people abuse what GoFundMe does, does not make donation requests inappropriate or a “cash grab” in every situation. And there is nothing about a death that makes asking for donations “crass and tacky”.

        As for insurance, you have no idea what the insurance situation is. Plenty of people don’t have insurance, and it’s not necessarily because they are irresponsible leeches, either.

        Don’t get me wrong – the company is totally in the wrong for requiring this. Nor does the OP even have a moral obligation to give, even if they had the money. But the kind of judgement that’s coming out is just ugly. The OP would do well to keep their attitude to themselves. Stick to “I’m sorry, but my budget is stretched to the breaking point.”

        Reply
        1. Bartlet for President

          Personally, I think GoFundMe is not a great thing – but, that’s because the vast majority of my exposure to it has been for people fundraising for vacations or questionable fundraisers for tragedies that the impacted individuals don’t even seem involved with. Does that mean that EVERY use of GoFundMe is tacky and/or crass? Of course not. But, I would argue that sites like GoFundMe has made those kinds of cash grabs more common simply due to the organization ease and through normalization.

          I’m well within my right to cringe whenever GoFundMe comes up. I’m guessing (slash hoping) that The Person from the Resume is likely in a similar camp: we know they are ALL bad, but the bad ones have ruined the whole thing for us.

          Reply
          1. Czhorat

            I find all the attacks on crowdfunding sad and strange. Full disclosure – I had to do one of these a few years ago. My wife needed back surgery and we couldn’t afford for her to be out of work for the months or would take to recover. Literally the only other option would be for her to go on suffering.

            Don’t like crowdfunding? Then work for a world with robust enough safety nets that we don’t need it. Until then, accept that people will need what to they need.

            In this case, I agree that mandatory donations are crass, hurt also believe that most people can and should spare a few dollars to help a coworker in need.

            Reply
            1. Katniss

              Agreed 100%. Yes, I will be annoyed by GoFundMes for stuff people just want, not need. But I’m not ever going to fault someone for needing help and finding a way to ask for it.

              I did a GoFundMe the other year because my friends insisted I do so. I had gotten sober in a sobriety home and it was time to move out, but I wasn’t making enough to cover first months rent and a deposit anywhere, and had no one to borrow that chunk of money from. Real friends and online friends donated enough for me to get a studio that I adore, and I’ve thanked everyone profusely and paid it forward since. I’m sure people did find it tacky. I find it tacky that those people react to someone asking for help with derision.

              Reply
              1. Perse's Mom

                I think (hope?) less derision than skepticism. In your case, you were asking people who knew you – either in person or online – and making it easier to condense the funds through GFM. I suspect you weren’t putting it out there as a general plea all over social media and asking people to share it with their friends and family who wouldn’t know you from Wednesday Adams. And it certainly wasn’t a higher-up in your company threatening the livelihoods of your coworkers for it.

                Reply
                1. Katniss

                  No, definitely not, in my case since it wasn’t life-threatening I really only hoped for donations from people I knew IRL or online, and wasn’t in the least offended by people who didn’t donate. I know people do misuse GFM, but most of the time when I see people have them they’re for needed things and no one is trying to be shady with it.

        2. TL -

          I find the concept of GoFundMe tacky, honestly, for the reasons listed above. And I read the LW as saying it was the means of asking, a GoFundMe rather than a donation envelope or jar or HR person coordinating.

          That being said, I’ve donated to a GoFundMe after a tragedy before and been grateful that it was so easy to help out from a distance – but had I been in town, I would have gone and donated at the local bank fund, because it would have felt much more meaningful to me.

          Reply
          1. blackcat

            Yeah, particularly for things like this, I *do* find GoFundMe unsavory. I’d be totally comfortable with an envelope or someone in HR collecting with an email going out with instructions.

            To me, the difference is that GoFundMe is literally going to profit off a death here. They take a % of the top. I get that it (and things like it) are the only reasonable options for asking for help from a broad range of places, but I’d really prefer something workplace-specific in this case. That way, 100% of the money would go right to the family.

            Reply
          2. bohtie

            Here are the gofundmes that I’ve seen in the last few days from people I know in real life:
            -SRS for a trans person whose insurance refuses to cover anything having to do with trans medical expenses
            -a widow who lost her husband unexpectedly to cancer at the ripe old age of 27 trying to fill in the gaps and support her two kids until she can rearrange her entire life to accommodate the loss of income
            -a friend with a severe chronic illness that makes her unable to walk more than a few feet trying to get a new wheelchair because her insurance told her, “eh, you can walk down the hallway, you don’t need your old and broken chair fixed or replaced.”

            but yeah, definitely tacky, how dare they. I don’t know why everyone has it in their head that fundraisers are only for funerals – i have friends who wouldn’t be alive if it wasn’t for community donations in programs like this. welcome to being marginalized under capitalism – we have to keep each other alive, because the system ain’t doing it.

            Reply
            1. LBK

              There’s certainly people that do need the money but there’s plenty of people that abuse it as well. I was pretty miffed at someone on Facebook who raised over $1000 on a GFM to repair some equipment he needed for work but then shortly after went on a lengthy vacation to Europe. Not that I begrudge people having fun and unexpected things happen, but it did feel like a bit of a middle finger to the people who had just helped him out.

              I’ve also seen a few from people asking for help paying off expensive car repairs because they can’t be bothered to pay for insurance. Those kind of ground my gears as well.

              Reply
            2. TL -

              … I donated to the gofundme of an old classmate whose family was caught in a house fire and the two surviving members had tens of thousands dollars worth of bills. I certainly hope that meets your suffering Olympics standards.
              Still not a fan of gofundme, even though I am a huge fan of community-driven support and charity.

              Reply
              1. tigerlily

                But what is the difference? What makes gofundme different than passing around an envelope for cash? Personally, I think they’re the same thing – gofundme IS the envelope of cash for our current digital age. Especially considering I know very few people who ever actually have cash on them. Having a way to contribute using my credit card is going to make me far more likely to pitch in.

                Reply
                1. Optimistic Prime

                  Uh, one big difference is that GoFundMe charges a fee on each donation you receive.

                  Another big difference is that it potentially widens the audience for the envelope beyond your personal network, which can strike some people as unsavory.

        3. Wakeen Teapots, LTD

          Community helping people in need predates barn raisings and Ben Franklin’s fire brigade by a few thousand years. It’s civilization.

          Helping people out after a tragedy is a normal human thing to do, not weird or cash grabby.

          Reply
          1. Mookie

            +1

            If you’ve only ever encountered crowd-funding for tech toys and expensive holidays, you are a pretty fortunate person. Amongst my circle of friends and in my corner of the interwebs, they’re used for funerals, to supplement paltry or non-existent healthcare subsidies for people in serious and immediate need, and for legal funds (often against malicious lawsuits or when trying to prove another person’s legal negligence).

            Reply
          2. Mookie

            Plus, as you say, it’s intensely ethnocentric to assume that giving money to or paying for members of another family’s funeral is a novel invention as opposed to standard operating procedure and basic etiquette throughout the world. No, it’s not tacky.

            Reply
        4. Gen

          Yep I can’t have life insurance until I’m in my 50s (which I’m unlikely to live to see) because of my health conditions. I’m giving my body to medical science because it’s the only way I can think of to avoid my loved ones paying four times my annual income to dispose of me. I hope that if that doesn’t come through my husband won’t be judged for asking for help if he needs it

          Reply
        5. Snark

          But GoFundMe has become so synonymous with cash grabs, inappropriate requests broadcast to an entire social network, and ickiness that, at least for me, any such request carries a slightly sleazy subtext.

          Reply
          1. Allison

            I totally understand people cringing at the use of GoFundMe because of how it’s often used, but once that knee-jerk reaction is over, it’s important to evaluate the specifics of this situation before making a judgment that sticks.

            Reply
            1. Someone else

              For me, the specifics of this situation are still a bit…off. We don’t know whether the company set up the GoFundMe or the grieving family did and the company just spread the word and is not making it mandatory to contribute, but if someone from the company started it and the company is now treating it as a mandatory thing, that would significantly tarnish the company in my opinion. The last three places I’ve worked all had a benefit of some amount of life insurance, for every full time employee, and with it came the opportunity to buy a policy for other family members at a group rate. I know not every company does this or could do this, but for the company to not provide such a benefit and then turn around and suggest all employees make a mandatory contribution when one of them experiences a tragedy is disingenuous on the part of the company. They start the fundraiser to “take care of their own” but they do it by forcing the other employees to float their colleague. The tackiness of this situation had nothing to do with the bereaved, and everything to do with the company. You just don’t say to someone “oh, your last five dollars, that you were going to use to feed your kids until your next paycheck comes in because you have literally zero other money and you’re worried about bouncing your utility bill check? Yeah, give that to Jane because she was just widowed, or your fired.” Just no. And if Jane knew that were happening on her behalf she’d probably be mortified too. When these things go through work they absolutely must be optional.

              Reply
              1. Observer

                This has nothing to do with either GoFundMe or people asking for help in the wake of a difficult situation.

                No ifs, ands or buts, this company is definitely tarnished. You do NOT *require* people to make contributions! And it makes no difference if it’s done via GofundMe or not, nor how “deserving” the (supposed) recipient is.

                Reply
          2. Grad student

            Has it? This must be social circle-dependent (or Internet sphere-dependent) because the GoFundMes I see are along the lines of what bohtie listed above–people seeking financial help to attain a mere baseline quality of life, having not been able to get it from other sources such as health insurance.

            Reply
      2. lurker bee

        Yes, insurance is helpful. But it also takes time to request a claim form, fill it out, and submit it (along with a death certificate noting cause of death, which can take weeks if it is an autopsy case) — this is all assuming you have legal standing to complete a claim form. Once you’ve waited for the form to be verified, the amount to be calculated, and the check to be cut, there’s still mailing time.

        Funeral homes and cemeteries tend to expect payment promptly. I handled arrangements for one of my parents this year, and the account had to be settled before I had the urn for the service.

        I bring all this up for two reasons. First, life insurance proceeds are helpful in taking care of expenses when someone passes BUT think of them as a reimbursement two to five months down the road for funds that the family advances. Second, if your deceased loved one was a veteran, the spouse of a vet, or the minor child of a vet, that person qualifies for burial or the urn to be placed in a columbarium. No sales pitches, no pressure, and an abundance of kindness and respect.

        Reply
        1. Bostonian

          Came here to say just this. You need a death certificate before any life insurance money comes your way. That takes weeks. Meanwhile, within hours of a family member dying, the hospital is all like, “so… about where you’re moving this body to?”

          So, no, even if someone has life insurance, it’s not directly covering the cost of burial, etc. That comes as reimbursement. Even beyond that, though, there’s more costs to cover when a loved one dies in addition to the funeral, etc. If that person was contributing significantly to the family income, now the rest of the family has to find a way to pay the bills. And, again, you need a death certificate if any of that income was government-provided in order for the spouse or next of kin to get those funds.

          Reply
      3. Phoenix Programmer

        I hope you never find yourself in a situation where a loved one has died without life insurance and the expenses fall too you.

        Reply
      4. NaoNao

        Well, money *will* pay for funeral expenses, and it’s illegal to bury a corpse in your backyard so…

        I don’t understand how GoFundMe is more cash-grabby than an envelope. Because it has a wider reach? Because people can upload videos explaining the situation?

        I totally get that being “voluntold” at the risk of your job (!!) to fund someone’s funeral who you don’t personally know is less than ideal, to put it mildly.

        But there’s a lot of people questioning motives of the original asker (the person who set up the GoFundMe) in a way I find sad.

        My next door neighbor told me that she “evaluates” homeless/panhandlers and if they don’t look “dirty enough” she doesn’t give them money. She went on a long rant about exactly what “clues” she looks for. It was repellent to me on every level and I’m sure it showed on my face.

        Asking for money is embarrassing for most. Terribly shameful especially in the “bootstraps!” American culture. To question and look for signs that this person “really needs it” reflects pretty poorly on the asker.

        Reply
      5. LoiraSafada

        “I don’t want to be a bitch, but” Too late. The number of households with life insurance in the US is at an all-time low. It’s less than half. It’s a privilege to have life insurance, full stop.

        Reply
    5. Newt

      Agreed.

      The company leveraging job security to force people to donate is grotesque.

      But maybe it’s a cultural thing but… as I’ve grown up, it’s completely normal for coworkers, friends and loved ones to chip in to a collection for someone dealing with a specific event. You pass around an envelope for cash for someone who lost a loved one, or when someone is having to leave work longterm due to illness, or for the family of a coworker who has died. It’s a community thing. Family and close friends are in a position to provide support by bringing food around, helping with housework, helping cover childcare needs, helping organise and arrange the funerals and doc’s appointments and so on. Coworkers are a part of the community, but aren’t in a position to do those things, so the donations are given instead.

      Gofundme in this case just seems like a sensible way to organise that in a world where not everyone carries cash, and where some coworkers may work from home or other locations. As well as being easier to maintain honesty about donations – the helpful volunteer collecting them doesn’t have to directly handle any of the money. Like doing a sponsored walk for charity and having people donate through JustGiving rather than keeping an envelope of loose change in their drawer for several weeks.

      Reply
      1. DG

        OP mentions that she’s never met the coworker at all, though. That makes them not part of “the community” to me. (In fact, I wouldn’t even use “coworker” to describe somebody I don’t know who just happens to work in the same building as I do.) If I don’t know somebody, then there’s no good reason for me to donate to them instead of to funding insecticide-coated mosquito nets for sub-Saharan Africa.

        Reply
        1. Natalie

          In cultures and communities where this is common, it wouldn’t really matter whether or not you know the person. It’s part of belong to Local 375 or Precinct 12 or the third shift or whatever.

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          1. Falling Diphthong

            There are cultures where it’s common to kidnap the bride at the wedding, and make all the guests hand over cash which goes to the couple; other cultures where that would be shocking and tacky. We don’t know enough about this situation to say whether it’s been true of everyone who works at Precinct 12, or whether plenty of coworkers have handled family funeral expenses on their own in the past, before Jane decided that everyone should pitch in for Eleanor because Eleanor is a special case.

            Maybe Eleanor is a special case. Or maybe Eleanor is routine and Jane just hasn’t been exposed to many families covering funeral expenses, so think’s of it as rare and unique.

            Reply
            1. Natalie

              I’m not commenting on the LW’s specific office but just the large tradition of passing a hat after a death. Yes, we don’t know anything about LW’s office, but that hasn’t prevented her or others her from casting judgment on something completely normal just because they’re unfamiliar with it.

              Reply
      2. Falling Diphthong

        One of the great things about passing the envelope was that people could put in nothing, or $5, or $50, and no one was standing there checking off “Okay, Arya has donated $40 for Cersei’s baby shower, time to shake down Dani for her $40.”

        Social media has made the requests more frequent and remote, and adding in the element where you can check who has donated and hound any slackers is the opposite of “take the envelope, add, as you can, cross off your name and give it to the next person.”

        Reply
        1. Tuxedo Cat

          In the situation I wrote about above, I don’t think anyone was hounded but it was clear that the person doing the fundraising was watching the emails very closely. Within 5 minutes or so of sending the donation, I received a personal thank you. It wasn’t an automated message- a friend received a different one too. It felt uncomfortable because this was happening during the work day when the person doing the fundraising was at work too. I appreciated being thanked, but I also felt like we were being watched to make sure we gave.

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        2. Natalie

          You know, now that you mention that it occurs to me that GoFundMe and similar do allow for anonymous donations. I wonder if there have been enough anonymous ones that the OP could just “claim” one to get whomever is trying to force this of their backs.

          Reply
    6. Bagpuss

      LW #2 – who has said that your jobs depend on donating? Is this official and coming from someone senior, or is it you immediate manager?
      If you can, it might be worth raising that (and if you are worried about reprisals, it could possibly done as ‘a lot of people have interpreted [name’s] encouragement to donate as a threat that our jobs at at risk if we don’t – would it be possible for [hear of HR / Boss /whoever] to send round a message making clear that donations are voluntary?’)

      If that is not possible, or if it is the most senior people who are making those comments then to avoid losing their ojb I think LW should donate whatever the minimum possible (does GoFundMe let you donate $!?) You can set donations so it shows your name but not the amount donated, which should protect you.

      I think it is 100% wrong that anyone is putting pressure on their employees (or even colleagues) to donate but I think if I were in LW’s shoes, I would probably donate a minimal amount if I thought that realistically I was going to be unemployed if I didn’t.

      I also think it may be a ‘strength in numbers’ thing – if several people query it / push back, it’s much harder for the employer( or manager) to retaliate.

      I do agree that in any response or comments LW makes they should avoid nay suggestion of judgemental comments about people setting up a fundraiser or using GoFundMe. I agree that it can be used in a tacky way, but I don’t think it is *inherently* tacky for people to try to organise help for someone in need (even if the someone is also the one making a request)

      Reply
      1. RVA Cat

        Being forced to donate is the issue here. If they are paying the OP so little that a small donation really would break the OP’s budget, that just makes it worse.

        OP, if I were you I would donate the minimum, but also start job-searching because this place is a mess that isn’t yours to fix.

        Reply
        1. Working Hypothesis

          This. You donate the bare minimum even though you shouldn’t have to, in order to have a job while you look for a better one; but then you get out of any company that would *force* people to use their paycheck in any particular way. It’s not theirs to dictate.

          And for the inevitable responses of “what about jobs that force you to buy a laptop or a car or other tools of the job,” I’ll note that they aren’t actually telling you what to do with your money. They’re telling you what you need to have available for use. If you can get a car by winning it in a lottery, or a laptop given to you as a hand-me-down from Uncle Steve, that satisfies those requirements just as well as spending money on them does. This is different in explicitly requiring money. I’d argue from a legal standpoint that it might come under the heading of illegally docking someone’s pay after the fact, because it’s effectively taking it away to use for their own purposes.

          Reply
    7. Wintermute

      I find it crass as well because of the level of emotive involvement and the fact that it’s becoming a huge thing in some communities. Those expenses are why life insurance exists, the onus is on you to plan for life events not come with your hand out and a request that people can’t really refuse without looking miserly or cruel. The circumstances around an unexpected death are so emotive that any request comes off as emotional blackmail. If people CHOOSE to give that’s one thing, and a mention of expenses or hardship may prompt some help but coming forward with your hand unashamedly out is extremely crass. If it’s set up by someone else, well that’s slightly better but GoFundMe is still ethically, morally and business-ethics-wise problematic when they could use paypal (themselves problematic but less so) or another service to do so just as easily.

      Reply
      1. Phoenix Programmer

        Whoa!

        1. You don’t always have the right to insure someone you may be responsible for funeral expenses for. I had to pay my mother’s funeral but since she was not my dependent I couldn’t insure her.

        2. Life insurance is a privilege that many in the US cannot afford. While I and (I hazard to guess) you are lucky to be employees in an office setting that typically covers insurance many employers don’t (fast food, retail, grocery stores, etc.)

        3. It’s tacky and crass to sneer at those in dire need who have the added misfortune of grieving.

        Reply
      2. Observer

        Helping people with funeral expenses is hardly a new thing that’s “becoming” a huge thing. It’s always been a part of life in communities that are not wealthy.

        As others have pointed out, there are many circumstances in which life insurance just isn’t an option, and there are circumstances in which life insurance may exist, but the family can’t access it time to deal with immediate expenses. On top of which, by and large, the people who are asking for money had no choice if the deceased actually decided to not have insurance.

        Reply
      3. Tuxedo Cat

        I have life insurance and have had it since I was a child. I’m in my 30s, and I find that most people my age don’t have it, even those in white collar jobs. It might be foolish but I think some of my friends and colleagues don’t believe they’ll need it until they’re older. I’m sure there are others who do not have the means to afford it.

        The people who are “coming forward with [their] hand unashamedly out” are not at fault for their loved ones not having life insurance.

        Reply
      4. Parenthetically

        I remember not too long ago seeing a video from Pat Robertson belittling a woman who was struggling to afford funeral expenses and asked him if it would be OK to go for the less-expensive cremation option — “If you can’t come up with $5000, there’s something wrong with you” was the gist of his response. It’s frankly elitist to assume everyone can afford life insurance, funeral insurance, or paying a few thousand bucks out of pocket. Which is more crass — setting up a fundraiser to help offset the expense of a funeral on behalf of a bereaved coworker, or judging someone for being too poor to have the money to plan for a bereavement?

        Reply
        1. I'm Not Phyllis

          Yes it’s completely elitist to assume that everyone can pay for funeral expenses out of pocket. However, it’s also completely crass for the LW’s company to essentially blackmail them into forking over personal money to pay for something that they can neither afford to give to nor want to give to. People get to choose how they spend their personal income and I’m sorry but not wanting to make a donation to someone LW doesn’t know does not make them a terrible person.

          Reply
          1. Parenthetically

            To be clear: it is awful, stupid, and wildly inappropriate to coerce people into donating for ANYTHING. I don’t think anyone in this thread would disagree with that.

            It is also mean-spirited to give someone a hard time about needing help for a funeral. The OP’s (and several commenters’) frustration there is misdirected — ALL the ire needs to be directed against the company, IMO (or 95% of it, with 5% reserved for dodgy fundraising sites), not against the concept of asking for help.

            I think lots of folks are talking past each other. Basically I would hope that decent people could agree that 1) this company is WAY out of line, 2) people have the right to spend their money as they choose, and 3) people shouldn’t crap on those who ask for help.

            Reply
          2. Buffy Summers

            I haven’t seen a single comment saying the company is right to demand a mandatory donation. Nor have I seen a single comment suggesting OP is a terrible person because she doesn’t want to make a donation.
            People are responding to the comment that asking for money after a death is tacky and crass.

            Reply
      5. Wakeen Teapots, LTD

        “I’ll roll the dice on this life insurance thing. My family can always just do a Go Fund Me.” << said by nobody ever.

        Many people can't get their prescriptions filled because of cost , let alone consider life insurance needed after lack of affordable healthcare in this country kills them.

        Reply
        1. I'm Not Phyllis

          Yes, but this doesn’t mean the company gets to blackmail its employees into donating personal money. I feel for the person who is going through this (I’ve been there myself in the not-so-distant past) but LW’s company can’t expect that they can download this cost onto their employees. That’s not how this works.

          Reply
          1. JB (not in Houston)

            Nobody on this thread is suggesting it’s ok for the OP’s employer to do this, so I’m not sure why you’ve made multiple comments about that. The one thing everyone here agrees on is that the OP’s employer is out of line.

            Reply
            1. I'm Not Phyllis

              True, nobody has said that. What I’m responding to are the commenters that are saying it sucks but you have to pay anyway. And I understand why people are saying that, but I also think that by not pushing back and keeping quiet and paying up, it will send the message to the employer that this is ok, and it leaves the door open for them to continue in this behaviour.

              Reply
              1. Observer

                What you are missing is that the OP may not be in a position to push back. If they can, the Alison’s scripts are good. But, given how ridiculous the demand is, it may not be enough. And that’s what most people are responding to.

                Reply
      6. Buffy Summers

        Wow.
        I’m typing and backspacing and typing and backspacing because I just can’t seem to find the words to express how I feel about your comment. But I’m damn sure gonna try.
        So, maybe learn a little about how people who are poverty-stricken live. These people can’t see beyond their next paycheck and do very little planning for the future because they’re unable to find value in putting money in a 401(k), for example, when they can’t afford to keep their electricity on. Luxuries such as life insurance are things they don’t believe they can afford and, often, with good reason.
        Calling it emotional blackmail to ask for help after a death is absolutely unbelievable to me. Fortunately, I and my husband are able to afford life insurance, but I am gobsmacked at the idea that if I couldn’t and needed help, there are those who would believe I was blackmailing them emotionally by asking. You use the word “unashamedly”, but you have no idea how ashamed the asker might be.
        I’m just sitting here with my jaw dropped open just reading some of these comments.

        Reply
    8. Stellaaaaa

      The point is that people get to decide how to spend their own money, even if their reasoning is selfish and stupid. What if OP recently lost a loved one and had to pay expenses on her own, without coworkers’ help? What if she lives alone and is barely getting by on one income? What if she’s caring for an ill family member? What if she’s making significantly less money than the person who set up the donation page? And the point is, none of those questions actually matter. Charity should be optional, end of story.

      Personally, I don’t donate to any causes that are in any way affiliated with religion. Expenses for a church funeral? Nope. That’s just how I roll, and I am allowed to roll that way, as it is my money.

      Reply
      1. Natalie

        I think Lauren R covered that: “I agree it’s ridiculous to say it’s required and it’s awful they would tell you your job is on the line.”

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      2. Temperance

        This! I have the same moral code. It doesn’t work for me to ever donate to a cause that will fund religion. I also only give to tax-deductible causes, because I don’t trust GFM.

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      3. Not a Morning Person

        Forgive me if I’m misinterpreting what you are saying, but I think that equating a death and the resulting funeral expenses with donating to a religious cause is getting off the topic. Sure, if anyone chooses not to offer charity to someone who will be having a religious service as part of the funeral service, that’s their prerogative, but it’s typically not a money-grab by the religious institution. Funerals are expensive and not because the religious leader (minister/priest/rabbi/etc.) may require a payment for their services and the religious building might have to pay someone to be one-site to manage attendance and clean up after people leave. Funeral homes charge for their services whether cremation or burial, cemeteries charge for the plot, monument companies charge for the markers, hospitals/ambulances/doctors/etc. charge for their services, and on and on. Contribute or don’t based on personal budget and personal preference. Please don’t confuse funeral expenses with contributing to a religion.

        Reply
        1. Tina

          I think a lot of people in this thread have a misunderstanding of just how expensive funerals are. My family is lucky enough to be affiliated with a religious nursing home so a lot of the costs of my dad’s funeral were offset by help from that community but it was still thousands of dollars just to get a burial plot (for an urn! not even a full casket). And as Not A Morning Person mentioned there are a lot of other expenses that go along with a death that have nothing to do with the funeral service. I am about as anti-organized religion as you can get but I think those sentiments are misplaced if you’re refusing to help a bereaved person (obligatory note that nobody needs to give money to anybody and it’s absurd that an employer would make it mandatory BUT basic human compassion is sorely lacking in a lot of this conversation).

          Person story time: at least half of my mother’s income (working a full time accounting job) went to covering my dad’s health insurance in the last 10 years of his life because of his many long-standing illnesses, and due to many hospitalizations and surgeries she was in debt at the time of his death (and still is years later). Luckily I and my siblings were able to cover most of the expenses but if she had been alone I don’t know what she would have done. And to think that people like the LW and some of the commenters here would sneer at her and say she should have planned better or called her tacky for asking for necessary help honestly makes me sick to my stomach.

          Reply
    9. Todd Wilson

      Snarky thoughts: Email your manager and/or HR to try to get the “donation required, your job is on the line” confirmed in writing. Sometimes when they have to write out something stupid like this it makes them think twice.

      Also…it makes ME wonder if there is a way to ask the question: “If the employee doesn’t have the funds to cover this BECAUSE THEY’RE NOT PAID ENOUGH, then how do they expect the other employees to have the funds??”

      Reply
    10. bohtie

      thank you for this comment. I hate to break it to OP, but welcome to capitalism, where the system prides itself on not supporting people in their time of need.

      Reply
    11. Elizabeth West

      I agree with this. Funerals are costly even if you go for the basic option, especially since they’re typically an unexpected expense, and more so for folks who don’t make much money or have any savings to begin with. It’s not tacky to do a GoFundMe to help out. The problem here is not the fundraiser but the company’s attempt to strong-arm employees into donating.

      Reply
    12. Detective Amy Santiago

      Excellent comment. Thank you.

      My friends group recently raised $1,000 for a friend who unexpectedly lost her mother and had to move out of state because of her abusive father. She didn’t ask for money – we did it because we couldn’t imagine the pain and grief she was dealing with and wanted to do something tangible to help.

      Reply
    13. NaoNao

      Yeah, I’d be interested to know what the OP’s objection to GoFundMe is in more detail, since they said they “hated the concept of it” (or something very similar). I’m not crazy about seeing tons of GoFundMe and the like all over FB but if it’s for something that health insurance or life insurance doesn’t cover, to me that’s fine.
      It’s just another charity, to me.

      Reply
      1. Julia the Survivor

        I’m not the OP, but I’ve seen enough abuse of GoFundMe to be put off as soon as I see it. Irresponsible people don’t make an effort in their lives and finances and then ask their friends to bail them out. Two examples:
        1. A woman I’ve known for many years. I thought was a decent person but flaky, never has a real job or money, etc… She asked for money for a legal problem. A year later I learned the problem was caused by her own bad behavior – cheating on her husband and putting her daughter in the middle. All those years I never thought she would do such a thing. I’m sure her husband didn’t either!
        2. Another woman I know who doesn’t work real jobs…smokes weed all the time… has twice asked for money to keep her car running…
        A few months ago another friend posted about the times she’s seen people use GoFundMe for a “crisis” and then they come along with new hair color, manicures, clothes… (for those who don’t know, professional hair color costs hundreds of dollars)
        The whole concept of people asking their friends (or strangers) for money for personal needs puts me off. Almost always in my experience, people are asking because they didn’t make an effort to manage their money and lives and are not taking responsibility. If I ever donate to such a campaign again, I’ll have to be 100% sure the person is responsible and made their best effort and it really was an unexpected crisis that caused the need. :p
        I’m sorry the OP has to work in such a place and hope she finds something better soon!

        Reply
        1. Wakeen Teapots, LTD

          You are blessed then, to not have had one of your friend’s son’s brain injured and wheel chair confined after a major car crash last holiday season. At 22 years old.

          Her friends were DELIGHTED when she launched a Go Fund Me. She gave us an opportunity to help with the converted van she needs to transport him for the rest of his life. She lives two states away and I’m not available to help with the diaper changes but it was the least, the very least I could do.

          I hope you continue to be as lucky as you are and you don’t have your heart split in two by tragedy in your friend circle.

          Reply
          1. a1

            Would have not helped, sent a check, or something without the GoFundMe? I’m not trying to be snarky, I’m genuinely curious. When a good friend is in dire straights or has some horrible thing happen, I help if I can. Whether that’s bringing them food because we live nearby or sending money (regardless of where they live), I do it if I can.

            Reply
            1. Wakeen Teapots, LTD

              I’m not shilling for Go Fund Me. There may be other charity platforms that are set up for ease of use also, and there may be some that are a better choice.

              In this case it was a not time intensive way for my friend to set it up and update donors on the progress with the van, including the final stories and pictures with the van and the friend’s son going on his first outing with it. The only other choice I can think of that would have matched the experience would have been setting up a website or blog (with email alerts) or relying on FB solely for updates (not everybody goes on facebook daily).

              Part of the reason people set up stupid Go Fund Me’s is that Go Fund Me makes it easy but easy is good when you’re dealing with what my friend is dealing with.

              (Complete side note – I had a bad experience with Pay Pal many years ago and I swore I would never use them again. I was happy to be able to use Go Fund Me.)

              Reply
          2. Julia the Survivor

            Of course in such a case I’d be happy to contribute! I’m sorry about your friend’s tragedy!
            If they don’t already know of it, they might enjoy the TV show Speechless, which shows a family coping well with a severely disabled son.

            Reply
        2. Observer

          You are very, very blessed to never have seen a case of genuine need. The last GofundMe I donated to was a young woman who had just lost her father. Her mother had passed away several years prior, and she was the oldest child – with one sibling who has significant issues that impair his ability to function at any reasonable level of self sufficiency. The financial situation was a mess, and even if her father had made bad decisions (which I’m fairly sure was not the case), it certainly wasn’t her fault or the fault of her siblings.

          There have been enough other examples posted here – many of them posted before your comment – of people who were hit by situations that they didn’t have control over. The insistence that these cases simply don’t exist and that EVERYONE who starts a GoFundMe is just money hungry or irresponsible is just hard to stomach. It just so willfully blinkered and unkind.

          Reply
          1. Julia the Survivor

            I’m not saying ALL cases are abuse. I’m saying GoFundMe is often abused. Of course cases like the ones you mention aren’t abuse!
            I was answering the question by NaoNao of what the objections to GoFundMe are. This is the objection – that it is easily abused by irresponsible people who try to take advantage of their friends. :/
            Using it for a genuine crisis is completely different!

            Reply
        3. a1

          For every legit GFM I see, I probably see 10 that are “Help go to the Caribbean” or “Help buy a new car (even though my current one runs fine and I’m just bored with it)”. Sometimes it’s “Help our friend Fergus go on vacation”. And they are common in my social media. I don’t donate to those.

          That said, I have seen a few others for real emergencies or issues, and depending on how well I know them and if I can afford it, I will donate. But these are few and far between. I can see how others just see it as scams. I’m not going to fault them and lecture them about it. That’s pointless.

          Reply
        4. LoiraSafada

          The whole concept of thinking people should engage performative poverty is even more disgusting than any of what you just posted. I bet you buy into the whole ‘welfare queen’ mythology as well. I’d love to know how you know that an acquaintance of a friend got her hair professionally colored, for example. No way your friend would embellish that, right? It’s other people that are liars, right?

          PS People dye their hair at home and do a really good job. There are also plenty of places in this country where you can get your hair colored professionally for well under $100. I live in one of the highest cost of living areas in the country and professional hair color is not “hundreds of dollars” at even the top-rated salons in my area. Tone down the hyperbole.

          Reply
    14. The OG Anonsie

      This is what I was going to say. It’s tacky and crass… To ask for support in a crisis? Or to organize it for someone else? Goodness.

      Reply
    15. Genny

      I think the point of disagreement here is what people consider their community. Communities have always come alongside members in need (whether that was meals for mom and new baby, donations after a death, barn-raising, etc.). However, when someone outside the community comes in asking for money, it can feel tacky and crass because, in theory, they should be directing that request to their own community. I suspect LW doesn’t consider her co-workers as part of her community (I don’t consider most of mine part of my community either), and so the request feels tacky and crass.

      There’s nothing wrong with the way she’s drawing her lines, but it would be inappropriate to assume everyone else is drawing the same lines. Assume positive intent sounds like the best option here.

      Reply
      1. a1

        This is a good point, I think. I work at a large company. I would maybe consider my immediate “team” my community, but others that I don’t know and don’t even know what they look like? No, not at all.

        Reply
    16. Kat

      The thing that really bothers me is that this is not the first time Alison has said if you can’t donate, then don’t. But if you’re feeling pressured or forced then consider it the cost of business or cost of office goodwill. Where is the specific advice about how to communicate to higher ups that they aren’t able to participate in a way that is professional, yet highlights how unethical this is (forcing donations) without having to divulge your financial position?
      There are so many of these letters that come up and I always feel the response is lacking about how you avoid making a donation when you cannot and simultaneously trying to avoid backlash. Alison is usually so great with scripts so where is the script for this LW?

      Reply
      1. Ask a Manager Post author

        The easiest way to do it without avoiding backlash is by explaining a reason that goes beyond “it’s my money and I don’t want to.” Hence, the scripts that reference a budget, etc. Usually, that’s what people are asking for — how to get out if it with the minimum of drama.

        You *could* try addressing it from a more big-picture “this is the wrong” type level, but with a boss who’s already telling people their jobs depend on this, it’s likely to stir up more drama. You could do it anyway, but these are short-answer posts where I don’t have the space to go into every possible approach with all the caveats that would require.

        That said, off the cuff: “I feel strongly that we shouldn’t require people to spend their personal funds in any specific way, even for a good cause. I appreciate that the company is helping draw attention to this drive, but it’s important to me to be allowed to make my own decisions about my money and my charitable giving, and I worry that we’re creating a difficult environment for others who feel the same but are afraid to speak up.”

        Reply
        1. Observer

          I like the script, but I might suggest changing the last line to ” and I worry that we’re creating a difficult environment for others who have a significant difficulty with this, but are afraid to speak up.” It’s something that even a boss with an inflated sense of what they can instruct people on might find valid. And the fact that they are actually demanding this says that they definitely have this inflated sense of what they can demand.

          Reply
        2. Kat

          Thanks Alison. I like that script. I agree it can be difficult to speak up when the boss has already demanded this but I always like to know IF I were to speak up, what would be the best way to do it.

          Reply
  10. I Coulda Been a Lawyer ;)

    I took my mom to a few work holiday parties, but she knew some of my coworkers-if I was out of town on business either she & the baby would travel with me, or they would stay at home, but mom didn’t have a car so they would bring her groceries or take her to doctors or wherever. It was an unusual workplace.

    Reply
  11. Ramona Flowers

    #5 “why would anyone care if there is an indicator in the document name that this version of a cover letter is intended for their company?”

    They won’t. It’s fine to send a resume to No Problama with No Problama in the filename. The problem comes when you forget to change it before sending out your next resume to Llama Llama Ding Dong. Which is all too easily done.

    Reply
    1. Artemesia

      This. I have had cover letters which clearly were written for other positions or companies; it pretty much assures they go in the discard pile.

      Reply
      1. Seal

        Same here. I even had one that insisted their attention to detail was “superior”, yet somehow they missed the tiny detail of getting our institution’s name right.

        Reply
        1. Artemesia

          LOL I was on a search committee for the CFO or a large organization; it was a prestigious and high paying position and one candidate with good credentials misspelled the name of the institution throughout his materials. I argued that this did not bode well for his interest and the kind of carefulness called for by this position. I was overruled and he was one of three finalists. He was a disaster on interview; he clearly was a bit of a flake and had not done any homework on the organization. And it wasn’t clear that he was deeply interested in the role. I think the average typo is not a big deal, but failure to get the correct cover letter or to spell the name of the organization is a bad sign.

          Reply
          1. CM

            And he got hired, right? Just extrapolating from all the similar stories that people post here!

            I title my resume “[Name] Resume – [Job Title/Number]” and do the same with the cover letter. And then I store both on my computer in a folder with the name of the company and a copy of the job description. But I’m excessively organized like that.

            Reply
            1. Artemesia

              No actually this was a gratifying, ‘I told you so moment.’ I didn’t gloat but the rest of the committee said ‘We should have listened to Artemesia.’ I have been on the losing end of decisions, as have we all, many times in my life where I had to live with predictable terrible outcomes, but this one was not one of them. (The person they did hire impressed them with her argument that she could save them 600K a year on travel expenses by contracting through only one agency; she misplaced a decimal point in her calculations and no one questioned it — she was hired and saved them a giant 60K a year while pissing off everyone in the organization who traveled and had long term relationships with travel agents they trusted to deliver for them. This was back when people used travel agents.)

              Reply
        2. Just employed here

          Yup, I’ve seen many applicants like this.

          Then again, I’ve had *colleagues* who apparently couldn’t spell their employer’s name right.

          Reply
      2. Ramona Flowers

        I once failed to get an interview for a job as editor of the No Problama website. It would have been a great fit for me and the pay was really really good. Except at the time I had a freelance client called, let’s say, No Problemur and accidentally wrote that in my cover letter. Still wonder what if about that one.

        Reply
      3. Wendy Darling

        I did this once, to my shame. I have a pretty specific skillset so a lot of the jobs I apply for are REALLY samey. In one case I applied to two basically identical jobs at two basically identical companies that were in very slightly different sectors of the same field, so I used the same cover letter for both… except when I edited it for Company 2 I guess I was tired or distracted because I missed one mention of Company 1 when I was editing it. I realized it after I sent it and basically died of shame right in my chair.

        Surprisingly, Company 2 ended up calling me up for an interview, so I guess they were paying about as much attention as I was…

        Reply
        1. Elizabeth West

          This happened to me too–not the company names, but similar cover letters for similar positions, and I have macros I use for them, which I then tweak if necessary. One of them had a typo. >_<

          Reply
    2. gladfe

      Just to show that people’s weird preferences really are unpredictable: At my most recent interview, the HR director mentioned that he’d noticed the company name in my resume file name. He thanked me for taking the time to tailor my resume for this company, and he said it showed that I was really interested in them.

      Reply
  12. TDW

    I’m a little appalled that 2 calls GoFundMe tacky. Frankly, I find it incredibly sad that in the USA people frequently have to resort to GoFundMe and similar sites for medical and funeral costs. I have known people that have used such sites for similar purposes, as well as to afford legal fees to flee abusive partners in foreign countries, and I am so glad I am able to contribute. Even just a few dollars adds up and helps.

    Perhaps 2 can check out the deceased’s obituary and make sure the GoFundMe will be given to the correct person, if it’s a matter of now wanting it to fraudulently collect money. He or she could also see where they are related to the goal. If they are near or exceeding the dollar goal, I wouldn’t worry about not contributing. Otherwise, I think a small amount (which can be given anonymously and with no dollar figure attached) would be appropriate.

    It’s somewhat similar in concept as going to a coworker’s relative’s visitation and making a small mass offering or donation to one of their preferred chairities, IMO.

    Reply
    1. Ramona Flowers

      Well, one problem with GoFundMe is that it charges fees. Not to donors on top of what they donate, but they take a cut of donations. I just looked up the fees and for the UK it says “8.5% + £0.20 per donation”. So you aren’t just donating – some of the money goes to the platform. Personally I would not want to donate that way as a result.

      However, I don’t think that was the LW’s issue.

      Reply
      1. Amy Farrah Fowler

        Yes! This is a big reason I don’t participate in gofundme asks as a rule. If it’s a person or cause I support, I’d much rather write that person a direct check and not give a portion of my $ to gofundme.

        Of course, that doesn’t really answer your question, OP. In your scenario, I’d probably roll my eyes at the gofundme and reach out to the coworker directly to try to find a way to help.

        Reply
      2. blackcat

        +1

        I have asked friends doing worthy stuff on GoFundMe if I can send them $$ through alternate means. GoFundMe profits off others’ misery. I do not like it.

        Envelope around the office/church/school/ect? Totally fine by me.

        Reply
      3. Elizabeth West

        They all do–PayPal took a cut from my ebook sales for Puerto Rico. I had no choice in the matter. I didn’t make a ton, so I threw in some bucks from a software extension refund to make up the difference.

        If you’re taking up a collection locally, such as at a small workplace, you can do it in person–a good way could have been to send around an email like, “We are collecting voluntary donations to help Jane’s family with funeral expenses. You can bring your contribution to Padma in HR.”

        With a large company like Exjob, you could do what they did for large-scale disaster giving and set up the option to have employees donate an amount out of their next paycheck and collect it that way. But again, it should be strictly voluntary.

        Reply
        1. burner

          PayPal takes a cut of goods and services because they’re a payment processing company and they take an industry standard fee from the person or business selling the item. Like Visa takes a cut of any payment you make with your Visa card in a grocery store or a department store or from a small business who accepts credit card payments at their craft booth or whatever.

          If you’re using PayPal to collect donations using a consumer account (not a business account), they don’t take a cut. You just say “send me $5 to my PayPal account at [email address]” and it’s considered a peer to peer transaction and not subject to fees on either end.

          A lot of people don’t understand this, I see misunderstandings about PayPal constantly and because I work for them, just wanted to point that out. Consumer accounts and peer-to-peer payments don’t have fees for either the sender or receiver. There are just fees for goods and services payment processing like any credit card company takes. There are also tons of options for using PayPal for donations but you have to actually look into the charitable channels because donations in the finance world are highly regulated and subject to a lot of state and federal laws. PayPal isn’t going to know if you’re giving your book sales to charity, they just know you’re selling a book so they take the standard merchant fee. If you go through the correct donation channels I think you might be able to get low or no fee rates – not totally clear on the details since that’s not my area. I do know if you’re donating to a charity who is part of the PayPal Giving Fund, there’s no fee for the donor or the charity.

          May not be useful to you anymore but someone may see this and be able to use it in the future! :)

          Reply
    2. namelesscommentator

      Yeah – the only thing here is that the OP doesn’t want to donate (which should be fine, given they don’t know the person and aren’t in a position to donate). Gofundme charges administrative fees because it costs money to run a site/process credit cards – and if I️ recall correctly they don’t use ads, or don’t use obnoxious ads, which makes it a much nicer experience. There’s really nothing sketch about that.

      But the company has told them it’s part of their job. Because In can lack social grace and fail at keeping my mouth shut, I’d be tempted to ask “what’s the reimbursement process given that this is a required work expense”

      But ultimately this person just lost a loved one and I’d make a five dollar donation and find somewhere in my budget for it.

      Reply
      1. Lars the Real Girl

        This was kind of my question re: work expense (if this is in the US). Alison/lawyers, is there something illegal about forcing donations as a condition of employment; especially non-501(c)3 donations?

        People’s personal preferences and abilities to donate are their own (I think GoFundMe can be a wonderful and terrible tool). It just seems disturbing and icky to me that it’s being framed as “do this or we fire you”.

        Reply
        1. Wintermute

          as best I could find, there is nothing illegal with this per se, though you could probably find a lawyer to make an argument that this is really a form of payroll deduction (giving someone money and then making them pay some back is just a form of deduction really) and reminiscent of the kinds of “company town/company store” abuses that lead to laws restricting the ability to take payroll deductions from employees (IE we pay you a great wage! but then you have to pay us back a dollar a day for use of a locker and pay for the shuttle that takes you to the mine site and you have to buy your safety gear, so they can nickle-and-dime most of your paycheck away back to the company and keep you basically an indentured servant).

          I think there’s a strong moral case that this is no different than an impermissible payroll deduction but a legal case would be a tough sell.

          In general though US workers have practically no rights.

          Reply
      2. Chocolate Teapot

        At a previous job, a co-worker had a bereavement and there was a card going round with an envelope, the intention being to buy some flowers (for the co-worker rather than a funeral arrangement). I treated the envelope as I do for other work situations and made a small contribution. Certainly I would feel uncomfortable about being forced to donate, and whilst Go Fund Me is a business and needs to be profitable, I would be concerned the recipient would not be receiving the full sum of money.

        Slightly off-topic, but sort of related, was there ever an update about the work collection that was made for a co-worker’s premature baby, but the employee in charge of the collection was killed in a car crash before it could be paid?

        Reply
      3. Observer

        and I’d make a five dollar donation and find somewhere in my budget for it.

        As much as the OP’s attitude grates, this is not really fair. Just as the OP doesn’t know the situation of the employee, we don’t know their financial situation. And, I do think we really need to take them at their word that they are not in a position to donate. Which could mean that the only place to take from is the day’s food or something equally serious.

        Reply
        1. namelesscommentator

          My deciding factor in including that was that if five dollars is of that level of significance, that they aren’t in a position to lose their job over it.

          Reply
          1. Colette

            Agreed. I don’t think she should have to donate, but since she does, she should make a small donation no matter what else she has to cut to do it, since losing her entire income will be worse.

            Reply
          2. Observer

            I agree that the OP is going to have to make the donation but I’m responding to the idea that there must be a reasonable place to take it from, it the OP just looks hard enough.

            Reply
        2. I'm Not Phyllis

          I agree. Not everybody is in a position to make what many people would consider a small or nominal donation. Questioning the LW’s financial state isn’t really the point. To be honest, if this happened at my work, and someone told me they were collecting donations to help a coworker (even if I didn’t know them) I’d probably be happy to donate because I’m fortunate enough to be in the position to give a little. However if they tried to tell me it was mandatory? I’d push back as hard as I could on principle alone.

          Reply
      4. Temperance

        If I felt obligated/bullied into paying into this fund, I would do something petty like take $5 worth of office supplies, or tampons, or toilet paper, to make the room in my budget. (Yes, I realize that it’s stealing, but I’ve been poor enough that I couldn’t afford tampons, food, and laundry detergent, so I stole tampons or food from my jobs.)

        Reply
        1. Sas

          I’m not sure I’d push back on 5 dollars one time for a good cause with such force. But, on more than one occasion at a previous job where we were asked to donate to so and so’s wedding/ child birth, etc. And, I made 8.50 an hour, I almost threw up on the card. That’ll prepare you for children. Also, five dollars to our bosses one time for Boss’ Day at a job I was making seven dollars an hour at. Oh H—- No. Anyways, well said .

          Reply
    3. Jeanne

      I have seen GoFundMe used well and used really tackily. (Is that a word?) We don’t really know what happened here but it appears think all gofundme is tacky. It’s ok to think that. OP is not saying that to the bereaved, just to us. The bigger issue here is the donation is required, not that a donation is possible. It does appear that OP isn’t even sure if they need the money or someone assumes they need the money. Gofundme is terribly tacky if you don’t actually need any financial help.

      Reply
    4. Wary

      My very best friend of 25 years’ child was killed two years ago. Someone from his high school set up a GoFundMe page “for the family”. I asked my friend if she wanted me to donate to it and if she needed anything from me (money, etc.) She said she didn’t ask or want the GoFundMe page at all and was trying to get it taken down. They never got the money (they would’ve donated it), it went to the kid who started it. Please be careful with these.

      Reply
      1. Haley

        I hope they contacted the GoFundMe website, you can tell them it’s unauthorized and reject it. There’s also legal issues with what that person did, if they kept the money from themselves. They could be sued.

        Reply
    5. I'm Not Phyllis

      To me, that’s not the issue. The issue is that the LW’s company is forcing them to donate by telling them/implying that their jobs are at risk if they don’t. That’s not ok. People should be allowed to donate to causes as they wish, or choose not to donate at all.

      Reply
  13. Frustrated Optimist

    I have noticed in applying to non-teaching higher education jobs, as well as some non-profits, that the application process often involves answering a series of mini-essay questions. Some applications might have, say, 3 or 4 of these types of questions, but some have had up to six!

    To respond to the questions thoroughly and thoughtfully, also bearing in mind that the responses probably also serve as a writing sample to some extent, can take several hours. And that’s just to go through the initial application submission process. No guarantee that you’re even going to get so much as a phone interview.

    Long story short: Yes, it would be nice if employers didn’t require this level of exercise until you’d at least passed through one or more screening phases.

    Reply
    1. JeanB in NC

      I won’t even apply to some of those jobs that want a mini-essay for more than one or two questions. They’re just asking questions that my resume can answer most of the time.

      Reply
    2. Rebeck

      See, that’s standard in most jobs I’ve ever applied to. (Public sector, Australia.) They’re called ‘selection criteria’, go far beyond what could possibly be found on a resume – especially the one page version people talk about here – and one of my recent applications had eleven selection criteria to be addressed. (Okay, the eleven bugged me, but I did it.) For the jobs I apply today a half to 3/4 of a page is usually sufficient – for my wife’s industry it’s more like a page, minimum.

      Reply
    3. Close Bracket

      > Yes, it would be nice if employers didn’t require this level of exercise until you’d at least passed through one or more screening phases.

      And if the screening process was scaled to the pay rate (looking at YOU, $10/hr position that wanted 6 essay questions answered in the application).

      Reply
    1. JessaB

      There are times that due to medical expenses my chequebook at the end of a payperiod has less than five dollars in it. And that’s with us having really good insurance. I get that people want to help the survivors of this death, but showing good will and shutting my manager up if it was me? No. There are weeks when 20 bucks is half my food money. Also I hate to say this but insurance exists for a reason. If the company wants to help this person then they A: say the company is sending x amount of money, and they’d be glad to forward any money anyone wants to give on top of that. But not mandatory, certainly not threatening people’s employment over it.

      Truth to tell even if I had a metric tonne of money at that point, I’m the kind of contrary person that the minute I was told it was required, I’d nope the heck out of there. NOBODY tells me where to spend my personal money. You want to ask me, and if I have it, sure. But the minute someone voluntells me, I’m out. The answer is no. And I have a feeling that unemployment when told I was dismissed for refusing to give my personal money to someone would pay me. It’s kind of one of my hills to die on.

      Employers don’t get to tell me what to do with my personal time or my money, unless there’s some valid business reason, like don’t run a profanity laden screed on Facebook using the company’s name. Or please don’t go shopping at competitor when wearing our uniform. (I can see it now, those commercials where the Coke or Pepsi delivery person leaves their truck and goes crazy drinking the competition’s drinks.) But those limitations should be set out when you hire someone which gives people the opportunity to self select out of the hiring process if they think they’re too onerous.

      Reply
      1. Colette

        Have you looked into what unemployment would pay? I don’t know what it looks like in the US, but in Canada it’s a percentage of your income, and the first 2 weeks are unpaid. So if you can’t spare $5 on your current salary, unemployment will make things much worse.

        I’d give the money and also give serious thought to job hunting.

        Reply
        1. Amber Rose

          There’s a contradiction there. How would you give the money if you don’t have it? I’ve had months where at the end of payday when all the bills have been covered, I have negative dollars left. Where is the money to give coming from?

          The point here isn’t that people are stubborn about giving money, it’s that sometimes there’s just nothing to give, and it’s unreasonable of an employer to leave an employee stuck between the impossible and the horrors of unemployment.

          Reply
          1. Colette

            Sure, it’s unreasonable for them to do that, but they’ve done it. If she can’t come up with $5 now, hows she going to live without any income?

            I don’t know whether there’s an expense she can postpone or something she can sell or someone who will lend her money, but I do know that if money is that tight, unemployment will make her finances worse, not better, and her employer has told her she has to contribute or she will be unemployed.

            Reply
            1. Colette

              But also, we don’t know that she actually can’t afford it. I say I can’t afford things that I don’t want to spend money on – but if my job depended on it, I could actually afford to spend the money with the biggest impact to my life being that I would have to cut back on something non-essential.

              Reply
              1. JessaB

                If the “your job depends on it,” is not hyperbole and is an actual threat, then I’m going to get fired or the boss can dig into their pocket and put in a fiver in my name, or maybe I can negotiate to stay til I find something else. If it’s not and I doubt it really is literal, then people need to push back about language.

                The point is that even people who make good money especially in the US who are on expensive medications and have health problems, it’s possible to make okay money and still not have any extra. On a week when I’m eating buck bologna, I don’t have five dollars. I’ve gotten the budget to where everything is paid, but that’s IT. Everything is paid. the only place I have any slight amount of give is food, and I don’t think I should be asked to give money to someone else at that point.

                And yes if I really, really, really am going to get fired for it I can probably go to St. Vincent de Paul and hold my hand out to the Priest for a five dollar bill. I should not have to waste my capital like that. I can only go to them once a month for food as it is. But believe me I’d be job searching from the second the boss said you’re going to get fired. Because their stupidity just cost me that month’s charity groceries.

                And it doesn’t matter if I make minimum wage or 50k a year, the bosses do not have eyes on my finances and shouldn’t. Even if I was the type to decide to blow all my money on books or movies or holidays in Cancun, it’s not on them to tell me to give to someone else. I should’t have to explain our medical expenses to management to get out of doing something. In other words my spending should not have to meet some moral bar to make me worthy to not give and to keep my job.

                Reply
                1. Colette

                  Will you be better off unemployed?

                  I mean, sure, find something else. I agree the request is unreasonable. I just wouldn’t be willing to sacrifice my job on principle unless I had a plan to survive while unemployed.

            2. Brittasaurus Rex

              “Something she can sell”? I’d rather take the OP at her word than assume she can just sell off her possessions to donate to someone she doesn’t know.

              Reply
      1. Lars the Real Girl

        Right?? I think giving $5 may look worse than not doing it at all…because then the management is going to be all “why didn’t you give MORE, we actually require a min donation of $100”.

        Reply
        1. Working Hypothesis

          If their formal requirement is simply that one donate, however, donating the minimum possible might be tolerated even if criticized. And frankly, tolerated for long enough to seek another job is all the LW really needs — anyplace which tries to make demands about what you have to do with the money they pay you is not a place to stay any longer than one can avoid.

          Reply
          1. JessaB

            Yes. Sometimes you dig down and find the fiver and it costs you, you’ve less food that week (I talk about buck bologna from Save a Lot, but seriously some weeks, it’s tin of 50 cent soup on rice from St. Vinnies, cause you just gave the buck bologna money to the work cause) or you skip some medication but it’s your job and it’s better than nothing. Then they are after you for why five dollars and you stall them whilst you look for other work.

            And again I reiterate – someone shouldn’t have to explain why they can’t afford and it’s not on the bosses to morally judge what someone spends money on. It doesn’t matter if someone says no because they believe all people should help themselves, because they hate employee x, because they believe the reason the person died was reckless and their own fault (ugh, ick, but people have a right to their thoughts,) or because they believe everyone should have life insurance. It doesn’t matter if giving five bucks kills their food budget or kills their holiday budget. Nobody should be telling someone else how to spend.

            Reply
        2. CM

          I’m pretty sure GoFundMe has an option where the amount of your donation isn’t visible to others. A s long as the OP donates the minimum of $5, it will meet the requirement.

          Reply
          1. RabbitRabbit

            Hopefully whoever set up the GoFundMe isn’t the manager requiring the donation, because I assume they can see how much those people are donating.

            Reply
            1. JessaB

              If they can’t how do they know who did or did not? I know nothing about Go Fund Me, so I’m clueless about what you can or can’t see.

              Reply
              1. Natalie

                I was curious so I looked it up – apparently you can mark your donation as anonymous (I’ve never seen it obscure the dollar amount but maybe that’s just a coincidence). However, the official organizer of the fundraiser can always see who donated. So if the person who organized the fundraiser is the one pressuring LW, or is providing information to the person pressuring LW, than unfortunately pretending to be an anonymous donor might not work. :/

                Reply
      2. KHB

        I’d be willing to die on that hill. You (my employer) want to burn a bridge with an excellent employee, saddle yourself with a costly job search, and deal with being short-staffed for several months, all so you can punish me for not donating $20 to someone I never met? OK, knock yourself out.

        But I’m in a good enough place, both career-wise and finance-wise, that I can afford to play this game of chicken.

        Reply
        1. JessaB

          Honestly it’s people like you who CAN afford it who can help by stepping up and explaining to management that not everyone can, and this is a bad thing.

          Reply
          1. KHB

            It’s a bit of a hypothetical situation for me, though, since my real-life employer is far too sensible to do anything like this. Once, a couple of years ago, there was a gofundme set up for a fellow employee (whom I didn’t know) who’d suffered a personal tragedy. HR made a company-wide announcement about it to let people who were interested in helping know that they could, but they also stressed that donating was 100% optional, and they meant it.

            Reply
    2. anony-mouse

      20$ might be a paltry sum to you but it certainly isn’t to a lot of people.

      Remember the news at the beginning of the year that more that half of US households can’t handle a 500$ emergency? https://www.cbsnews.com/news/most-americans-cant-handle-a-500-surprise-bill/

      If you’ve never been in that situation, good for you. Maybe your coworkers haven’t either, because you’re in a well paid job and they haven’t had any misfortune with their significant other unexpectedly unemployed or ill. At least that goes for me and my coworkers, we’re fortunate. But sometimes during our lunchtime discussions someone will say something like “I don’t know why people don’t just buy llama brushes, it makes llama grooming so much easier and it’s just 20$” and then someone will remind us that we do live in a privileged bubble and that there are people who groom their llama with their bare hands or just let their llama run around unkempt, because they just can’t afford to spend 20$ on a brush.

      I live in a lot of bubbles – the not having to worry too much about money bubble, the job security bubble, the computer literacy bubble (that’s the hardest one for me to remind myself of before I talk totally over people’s heads) and a few others.

      I’m sure you live in a lot of bubbles too. It’s sometimes helpful to remind yourself about your bubbles before you give advice to people outside your bubbles.

      Reply
    1. tink

      I’ve had the misfortune of being roped into two of my partner’s holiday parties, and am glad that the only office I’ve worked at did a company wide catered lunch instead of a party.

      Reply
    2. Wintermute

      your mileage may vary here, I’ve been places where the office party was excellent and a great time for all, I’ve been to others where they were excruciating for even the employees, and I’ve been to one that got so wild that one of my co-workers was beaten up in a company-only bar fight and ended up in the hospital, while the boss flirted with a woman who wasn’t his wife and the salesmen did straight shots of tequilla at the bar…

      Reply
      1. Allison

        Truth! My last company threw excellent holiday parties at amazing venues with great food, and booze aplenty! My favorite was one with a casino theme, where were given chips for blackjack tables, I staked out a spot at one table and played all night, chatting with people as they came and went. Really appreciated the structured activity at that one.

        I generally hate office-wide get-togethers, but I have yet to attend a work-related holiday party I didn’t enjoy.

        Reply
        1. Wintermute

          My favorite was a casino theme as well! it was a lovely time for everyone, our general manager came out and spent some time with the low-level staff throwing craps, it was great.

          Reply
      2. Artemesia

        I loved our annual holiday party; retirees were also invited and it was fun to catch up with old colleagues. It was a beautiful catered affair; there was no requirement to be there; it was big and diverse enough that being there alone was also no issue. In an earlier job, the thing was excruciating. Since chatting with old friends and people you don’t see often at work was the feature, being the spouse or worse yet date would not be fun in any case.

        Reply
      3. Amber Rose

        I like our office party. There’s an open bar, the food is great, and they hire DJ’s to play music and host a “name that tune” game with excellent prizes. Husband seems to have fun too. I’ve been to his office parties a few times and generally enjoyed myself as well.

        The last few years ours was held at a history theme park in the middle of nowhere, and husband’s last one was at the zoo. So if we got bored, we could wander off.

        Reply
      4. NotAnotherManager!

        The holiday party is one of the few events I can get my spouse to go to willingly. The food is nearly always amazing, and it’s at a nice venue. Not all company holiday parties suck.

        Reply
      1. The Cosmic Avenger

        My partner’s had company parties at two Smithsonian museums (Air & Space and Natural History), and the food is always amazing!

        Reply
          1. Annie Moose

            That building is awesome. I’d never even heard of it until I took a tour a couple years ago, but it’s the coolest place inside.

            Reply
    3. JessaB

      The only time a date liked our Christmas party was when they held it at the Orlando Aquarium with a buffet and you could walk around the whole place (they rented it out after hours.) Oh and we had an awards dinner at Busch Gardens and you could do the rides for free for that too. That was only spouses though.

      But the difference in those events is they weren’t closed things where everyone is only talking about work stuff they were venues where you could have fun independently of knowing people or the job particulars.

      Reply
    4. Close Bracket

      Other people’s Christmas parties are *much* funner than your own, just because you don’t already hate everyone there.

      Reply
  14. I can do it!

    #5 It drives me up the wall when seasoned professionals name files things like “resume.pdf” or don’t title their emails in a descriptive way (or at all). If I’m overseeing design and production of 7 teapots and you send me a file called “teapot_file.jpg” you’re making more work for me trying to sleuth out what the file is for. I wouldn’t not read a “resume.pdf” but it would be a definite ding against them in the considerateness, thoroughness and forethought categories. It just conveys sloppiness to me.

    Reply
    1. Lars the Real Girl

      Yes! Like Alison usually says, during the hiring process, I only have a certain number of data points about you. The resume name isn’t a “do not hire”, but it is a data point in the “may not think things through” column.

      That being said, I allow way more leeway on this for those new to the workforce vs seasoned professionals.

      Reply
      1. Elizabeth the Ginger

        You should also take into account what kind of work the person in this role will be doing. Is it an office-y type role where they’ll be creating spreadsheets or PDFs and sharing them with others? Or are you hiring someone to bake wedding cakes, or run group activities, or drive a forklift? In other words, is this a relevant data point?

        Reply
        1. Lars the Real Girl

          Completely agree. I work in the office-y industry so for me it would be relevant at all levels, but in many industries/job functions, it’s not a relevant point.

          Reply
    2. JessaB

      I wouldn’t automatically throw it on the reject pile, but I always thought that some form of name.doc was the way you sent resumes. It just kind of makes sense that if you’re submitting something you do something like jessaresume, or jessa response to test questions or something belike. Why would you want someone to have to open every document to see whether it’s yours or not? I’d want it to be easy to find my stuff in their files. They can always change it if they don’t like it but now that we’re no longer stuck to 8 dot 3 (does that date me?) for file names, it makes little sense not to.

      Reply
        1. JessaB

          True, larger companies have systems now, and I didn’t realise that the system just kept everything together automatically. That’s pretty cool, but still I dunno it just seems logical.

          On the other hand I have a friend in the comics industry, he’s a talent broker and I swear you read his stuff and every other day he’s putting up a request for people to please label the samples “Name of person, name of project, page number,” and he still gets tonnes of “sample 1, sample 2,” so I guess it’s not as common sense as I think it should be.

          Reply
        2. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)

          Wait, am I misunderstanding? Are you saying that most folks don’t save resumes onto their servers (if they don’t use an ATS)? Like, the resumes just stay in email folders? ‘Cause that would blow my mind.

          Reply
            1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)

              Yes, of course. I’m not worried that folks aren’t storing their applications properly — I’m just surprised to hear that folks use their email boxes as their filing systems. I’m the total opposite; I get everything out of there and saved onto our shared drive/cloud systems.

              Reply
    3. Kiwi

      I don’t think I’ve ever noticed what people called their resumes or cover letters. When they come in, I just automatically save them with my own naming scheme. And I employ marketing and tech communication people. I care what they name work files, but we have guidelines and checklists to enforce that.

      Reply
      1. Falling Diphthong

        Still, it’s a good idea to call your attachment to the person who will get 80 medical forms for rugby players “FDQMedForm” rather than “MedForm.” They might then rename that to “Med_QuiFD” or whatever, but at least I’ve made the form for my kid easier to find, if 8 people just sent their kid’s medical form in an attachment called “MedForm.pdf.”

        Reply
    4. Einstein

      If only files could be renamed and stored in some sort of logical “folder” system. Im off to the parent office now.

      Reply
  15. The Bimmer Guy

    I agree with Alison. As a hiring manager, someone giving their resume or emailed document a generic name is *so* not a deal-breaker. Who cares? There are enough legitimate practices for candidates / guidelines to remember about applying for jobs; we don’t need to make it harder for them by adding arbitrary ones. It takes three seconds to open the resume, see the name, and re-name it on your computer accordingly.

    I’m also of the opinion that anyone who would be more than lightly inconvenienced by a generic resume name is probably not someone I’d want to work for.

    Reply
  16. Danielle

    Re: resume I usually put “advertisedpositiontitle.firstname.lastname” on the assumption it might go into an unorganised folder on their desktop and I want it to be easily found if that’s the case.

    Reply
    1. Apollo Warbucks

      I do the same, if someone has a large number of applicants or a large number of roles they are recruiting for I want to make it easy for my CV to be found.

      Reply
    2. J.

      I do the same. I save my original file in my records as Date Company Position Cover/Resume.docx, and then I save a copy of it as PositionName.Lastname.Firstname.Cover/Resume.pdf on the desktop or downloads or somewhere else temporary until I upload it to the e-mail or application system. Once I’ve sent it, I can delete the duplicate file, but I know I’ve 1) labeled in a way that’s not weird, and 2) a pdf saves my formatting.

      Reply
  17. Kathlynn

    I wouldn’t put the year, if you are like me, because then you have to change the file name everytime you update your resume. Which is fine if you are saving it as a new file. But if you’re saving over your old one, you might end up sending out resumes with the name “resume 2007”. (but then again, I accidentally deleted my name off my last resume. Luckily applying was a formality, and I only applied at one place.)
    Depending on your name, I’d also avoid it, due to racial biases, or pronunciation issues (like is Gauthier go-shay or goth-E-er.)
    I guess Resume is probably the most neutral way to do it, at least for the base resume, or saving over. Or even, Newest/Final/Current. (for your own file managing)

    Reply
    1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego (formerly Floundering Mander)

      I save all of my resumes and application materials in a separate folder for each job. That way I can see exactly what I sent to each one, and it makes it easy to keep different versions separate.

      Reply
      1. Kathlynn

        I am a retail employee, I don’t need that much information about the jobs I’m applying to, or document needed to apply for jobs. I’m just talking about people like me, who aren’t creating a completely new resume when applying for jobs. Or they usually make multiple resumes but are only applying to one or two places. Or just updating your standard resume.

        Reply
        1. Colette

          Wouldn’t you want to know which of your multiple resumes you sent to the job you’re interviewing for?

          I usually have a standard resume, but it sometimes change, so like Miss Pantalones, I store the version I sent in a folder for the company (with the job posting and the cover letter).

          Reply
      2. CoffeeLover

        I keep word versions with the name of the company in the title for the resume and cover letter for the same reason – so I can go back and review what I sent to the employer if they contact me. I only keep one pdf resume and cover letter at a time, which I send during the application. For the pdf, I only include my name and the type of doc (either resume or cover letter). I think being able to name your files well is a requirement of modern times because there are unspoken file naming conventions. I wouldn’t throw someones resume out over it, but I would look for other signs of tech illiteracy or disorganization.

        As a side note, I never understood putting dates on files when you’re only doing it to manage your own files (and not sending them out). The file already tells you when it’s been updated last.

        Reply
        1. Eliza

          The filesystem’s last modified dates aren’t always accurate, or at least not accurate for many purposes people are likely to use them for. For example, if you put a file in a zip archive and later extract it, that can change the last modified date to the time you extracted it from the archive, even though the content of the file hasn’t changed at all.

          Reply
        2. Miss Pantalones en Fuego (formerly Floundering Mander)

          Yes, and if you change between operating systems that can mess things up, too. I have a whole directory of files with incorrect modification and creation dates because I had an error in the rsync command I used to transfer them from a Windows computer to a Linux one.

          Reply
  18. DG

    On #5, I always assumed that recruiters would rename all resumes to suit their own filing system as soon as they received them, or create a new subfolder for each candidate. I wouldn’t want a bunch of files with random names sitting in a single folder on my computer, even (especially) if everyone had tried to “be helpful” and name them “appropriately”.
    Besides, most job applications I’ve submitted have been through online forms, where I would assume file names go through some processing anyway.

    Reply
  19. Anon attorney

    Re #1, another thing to bear in mind is that if you haven’t been dating very long, do you know for sure that your date won’t do something embarrassing (possibly in combination with alcohol)? Not questioning your judgment, just to say that people can surprise us, and the work holiday party is perhaps not the place you want to discover his/her shadow side. In your shoes I’d opt for a friend who I could trust not to have five martinis in a row and start dry humping the Christmas tree.

    Reply
    1. SoCalHR

      That would be my concern as well.

      As a fellow single person who has worked for small & medium sized companies/officies these are the factors that weigh into my decision:
      – How “11th wheel” I’d feel for attending the party alone (i.e. how cool/inclusive are my coworkers if I attend alone)?
      – How much of the party I will be working (as HR, I don’t always get to just enjoy the party)?
      – How I anticipate this particular date to be received/behave/his desire to go? (side question, if I’m that concerned about this, maybe I need to re-think the relationship anyway)
      – What message it may send to my date about our relationship status and am I ok with that?
      – Are there any underlying corporate expectations either to have a date or not have a date (think “Mad Men” expectations of a spouse at sales meetings)?
      – I don’t always give full weight to what the general masses will or will not think or say, it will drive you mad if you worry too much about that.
      (all these thoughts go into deciding on a wedding date as well)

      Also, OP#1, you are fortunate that they haven’t already asked you awkward question about your dating life, and given that I feel like you can bring whomever you want and just give a nondescript answer if asked, like “we’re getting to know each other and seeing where it goes”. It sounds like your coworkers aren’t too nosy.

      Overall though, I think it should be entirely up to the single person as to whom they want to bring – it can be rough out there in a world full of couples sometimes. And the fact that sometimes singles get excluded from having a +1 because they are not married kind of just sucks.

      Also, I disagree with Allison that its unkind to subject someone to that. I’d attend a Christmas party where I only knew my date (friend/boyfriend/etc) if they wanted a +1… just for the fun of it!

      Reply
    1. Wintermute

      +1000

      “my work is requiring me to give to a gofundme for a co-worker’s funeral and I can’t afford the expense, I’m looking for 50 dollars to save my job, please help!”

      a meta-go-fund-me if you will.

      Oh this is just priceless, you cracked me up

      Reply
  20. Oscar Madisoy

    In response to 2. We’re being required to donate a coworker’s bereavement GoFundMe:

    “We have all been told our jobs depend on a donation.”

    Is this legal?

    Regardless of whether or not it is – if the OP does not contribute, and is indeed fired because of it, how would it look in the person’s job search? “I lost my job because I did not want to contribute to a GoFundMe project for someone I did not know.”

    I hope there’s something in writing from the company indicating that continued employment is dependent on a donation. If the worst happens, the OP will have evidence of the company’s policy, and perhaps someone who just happens to get a hold of the memo – not necessarily the OP – might want to share it.

    “I hate the whole concept of what GoFundMe stands for . . . . . “

    I agree with Alison’s recommendation that the OP keep mum about it. I would supplement Alison’s advice, “If you’re bristling at saying you wish you could or you think it’s a lovely gesture when those things aren’t true, consider that an investment in office good will,” by adding that the OP just look at it as saying words. This appears to be a situation where expressing your true feelings is not going to change anything, so in that context there’s no point in sharing them.

    Reply
    1. Florida

      If the person is laid minimum wage and making the required donation would put them below minimum wage, there could be legal issues. Otherwise, no legal issues.

      Reply
      1. Wintermute

        Even if they are not I think you could make a cogent argument that this is really an impermissible payroll deduction, the fact that your job lets you hold onto the money a while before making you give it to someone else on penalty of risking your job if you don’t sure looks a lot like a payroll deduction from some angles. Forced charitable contributions are not a permissible payroll deduction and some state laws specifically call this out (or state labor board websites about said laws) because businesses often try to abuse the idea of “charitable contributions”.

        The problem is people in a position where a few dollars to a funeral fund is onerous probably aren’t in a position to hire a lawyer and everyone knows this.

        Reply
        1. Working Hypothesis

          Could it also fall under the heading off changing somebody’s effective wage after the fact? Alison has said that’s illegal before — you can reduce it going forward, but you can’t retroactively reduce it for time already worked, after the work has been done. Even if the wage is higher than minimum.

          Reply
          1. Natalie

            I don’t think this would count – it’s not a business expense, and it’s not being deducted from the employee’s paycheck. As frustrating as it is, I’m not sure there’s any law that prevents an employer from forcing you to make a donation to a third party. Consider that some offices require 100% participation in United Way drives, or charities and educational institutions that require a donation from their employees.

            Reply
            1. fposte

              Though at least those are usually donated pre-tax. I don’t know if the difference is enough to rise to a legal issue, but it makes it suck just that much more.

              Reply
    2. Close Bracket

      If you live in an at will state, yes. You can be fired for any reason at all, including not contributing to your co-worker’s gofundme.

      Reply
  21. The Cosmic Avenger

    Can we please stop debating our opinions on GoFundMe, in this instance or overall, and focus on the real issue, which is that the employer is asking for something very unreasonable? We have no sign that the employee asked the employer to request donations, much less threaten peoples’ jobs over them. I’ve lost both my parents in the last 10 years, and I can tell you that I had no idea that my coworkers were sending a card around, or my employer was sending flowers or making an announcement about it, until weeks or months later. I didn’t even have the wherewithal to think about it for weeks after I went back to work other than to send a thank-you email to those who attended the funeral or signed the card.

    The real problem here is an employer that doesn’t respect their employees, and sees them as resources to be squeezed as they see fit. The fact that it’s for a coworker’s expenses is almost incidental.

    OP #2, whatever you decide, please start job-searching in earnest. You deserve an employer who respects you, and your money and your time (pretty much the same thing when it comes to work), and who doesn’t make unreasonable demands on you unrelated to work.

    Reply
      1. The Cosmic Avenger

        How is it helpful to the OP, or relevant to their work issue of having their job threatened if they don’t donate to something that they wouldn’t donate to voluntarily? (I mean that with all sincerity and openness, not at all snarky, since tone doesn’t convey easily online.) If we somehow convinced the OP that this was a worthy cause, it’s still bad management practice, and it’s not our business to define what the OP should consider financial hardship, nor is it her duty to tell us exactly how it would impact her or her family financially.

        Reply
        1. Observer

          Because the OP will be less likely to make a case that will harm them. Saying “It’s a lovely thought but I just can’t manage it” is going to get a very different response from most sane coworkers and colleagues than “Ew. How dare this person ask for help when they have a crisis on their hands! And how dare they use GoFundMe. Have they no shame?” Which is pretty much how they come off.

          I’m not talking about the person (or people) who made the policy – these are NOT reasonable people! But coworkers may very well be another story. Also, there may be coworkers who don’t want to donate as well, but they are less likely to join someone who comes off as a jerk. On the other hand a sympathetic “I’d love but I really CAN’T” is much safer to join

          Reply
          1. a1

            “Ew. How dare this person ask for help when they have a crisis on their hands! And how dare they use GoFundMe. Have they no shame?” Which is pretty much how they come off.
            In their letter to AAM. There’s no indication she would say or has said this to her coworkers. She’s allowed to vent here.

            Reply
            1. Observer

              Sure, she’s allowed to vent. But it would be to her benefit to understand that she really, really needs to keep her opinion on the matter to herself at work. It’s not clear from the letter that she realizes that.

              Reply
              1. a1

                And I’m saying there’s nothing in the letter to indicate she would say this at work, to anyone. So telling her not to seems to be based on assumptions.

                Reply
          2. The Cosmic Avenger

            It’s a good point for the OP to be aware of how to phrase her objection if she decides to object, but most of the comments, in which there was an excess of piling-on, seemed to be trying to make the OP feel ashamed about their opinion and the inferences people were drawing from her word choice rather than consider the way it might come across.

            Now, I agree that it sounded somewhat callous, but I didn’t say anything because 1) there are probably over a hundred comments making that point, and 2) it doesn’t help the OP, nor does it make people more likely to write in for advice.

            (I’m not at all saying you took that approach, I’m just stating what led me to make my original point.)

            Reply
            1. Observer

              Well, the other piece of it, and it’s not the OP’s fault, is that a number of people took the OP’s point and expanded on it in ways that really are disturbing. It seems to me that a lot of the reaction is based on those comments, not on what the OP said.

              Reply
    1. Observer

      I agree with what you say about the employer and the bereaved employee.

      But Case of The Mondays is correct about the reason why the other discussion is happening. The issue you are addressing isn’t getting as much traction, because I don’t think that anyone thinks that the employer is right, regardless of how they feel about GoFundMe or asking for help after a funeral.

      Reply
  22. Narise

    For the required GOFund me donation will the company track how much each individual gave and is there a minimum amount that you have to give? If that’s the case that could cause real problems for people who can only afford a certain amount of money. Are there going to be long-term consequences if someone gave $10 and someone else gave $50? I don’t see how it could be anonymous since it’s mandatory to give so you want proof that you gave or it’s going to be held against you which means the amount will probably be known as well. I think OP needs to seek outside legal council and have everything in writing related to threat to job.

    Reply
  23. Bookworm

    Regarding the resume naming: Most of the time I’ve used my initials and “Resume” or will rename it to conform to the job ad’s requirements if there are any (I’ve found this to be rare and usually more about specifying what position I’m applying for).

    Only once in my years of job searching and getting my resume critiqued was I told specifically to put my full name in the file. I’ve talked to various people from HR managers to college/grad school career advisers, etc. and this particular critique came from someone whose field I was somewhat interested in at the time (but was not in a position that deals with new hires). I’ve applied to other jobs in the field with other people and have worked in a few positions in that particular area and have never heard of anything similar. So it’s probably down to individual preference or something practical like being able to sort out and separate an associate application vs. manager or something along those lines on the organization’s end. YMMV though.

    Reply
  24. FD

    #3- As a data point, in a couple of recent rounds of hiring, we did a phone screen first, which was a brief ‘Do you understand the job? / Are you noticeably crazy?’ check. Then we did a skills test, which was a maximum of 90 minutes and was meant to be as close to humanly possible to some real job tasks (e.g. doing a roleplayed phone call, solving a novel problem through Excel, formatting a Word document). The skills test determined who would move to the final interview.

    Reply
  25. Blue Eagle

    Re resume: My main resume file is titled resume_year.doc (which allows me the option to keep older versions). Before sending a job application email I copy the most recent version into lastname_firstname_resume.doc and attach that file to the resume. Problem solved.

    Reply
  26. Jam Today

    I only want to address the “tacky and crass” comment regarding passing the hat for someone after a death in the family. Dealing with death and funerals is *expensive* and it often a very unexpected cost. Insurance policies, etc. will pay out long after the bills become due, so while people are dealing with funerals, burial costs, and oh yes adjusting a household to one less income while still paying the electric bill and the mortgage and being able to put gas in the car, having access to a ready amount of cash without having to think too hard about it is essential. There’s nothing tacky or crass about asking for help to keep a family afloat, in their home, with the lights on and heat coming the vents, while they adjust the worst event they will ever live through.

    Reply
    1. Katniss

      THANK YOU! I find all the comments about how “tacky” it is to have a genuine need and ask for help really depressing.

      Reply
    2. Humble Schoolmarm

      I’m with you too! I think the company is being absolutely horrible tying a donation to their jobs and the OP shouldn’t feel bad about not being able to or wanting to donate. I also don’t think it’s a bad thing to pass the literal or virtual hat to help neighbours in a time of grief. I guess it’s a cultural thing in part? Before GOFundme it was common in my community to have ads soliciting donations for families who needed help after a fire, death, or sudden health crisis. People could go into the local bank and make donations to a specific fundraising account. Then again, it’s also fairly common in my community to have a big party or wake after the funeral to celebrate Uncle Joe and I’ve found it an important part of switching from grief mode to life mode, so I wouldn’t bat too many eyes if my donation was used for a party.

      Reply
      1. Jam Today

        Yeah I’m not down with it being “required”, that’s just crappy on several levels, but the disdain directed at the grieving party for needing money really leaves a sour taste in my mouth. As you say, this is pretty much standard operating procedure, only its happening via the internet instead of via the church, or bank, or literally passing an envelope around the office to contribute to living expenses for a family in transition.

        Reply
        1. JessaB

          Honestly I was so hacked at the “must donate or lose job” part, I didn’t really take in the “why are they asking us at all, they shouldn’t ask” part. Honestly, when people have expensive life events especially unexpected ones (fires, deaths,) people have always passed the hat.

          I may not have money, but I know if a neighbour lost everything in a flood, I’d dig into my closet and give them stuff in decent condition to wear. I’d help them contact charities that give furniture and stuff, I might not have money to give, but I’d do something, even if it’s only driving them somewhere to put in a claim or putting my admin skills to use being their free secretary to get forms and claims filled out. And one of the things I do have is a cheap mobile phone with an unlimited plan (the nice thing about the phone is Mr B is retired from a certain phone company and we get it at an incredible discount because of that.) So I can loan them my phone to make calls out of.

          I also know that while funerals can be very expensive, funeral homes, at least honest ones, are really really good at dealing with life insurance claims and most of them will help the bereaved file for a direct payment and will wait for it. Now that might have changed the last funeral I had anything to do with was 30 years ago, but when my father in law died five years ago none of the complaints of the executor was about paying for the funeral being a problem and I know there wasn’t that much ready cash in the estate.

          Reply