my coworker blew up over a photo, employee keeps bugging me to interview someone, and more

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

1. Employee keeps bugging me to interview someone

I am the first point of contact for hiring at my company, so I get a lot of employee referrals. Although I am not the final decision maker, I have a pretty good idea what the hiring manager is looking for in each position. Recently, an employee referred a friend for a sales position, but I know the hiring manager would not consider this candidate for a number of reasons. I’ve been doing my best to see if the candidate could fit into another position, but there doesn’t seem to be a fit at this time.

The employee has asked me three times when I plan to call his referral, and I’ve told the employee each time that the referral is not qualified for the position and I am not planning to call, but the employee keeps insisting that I call “just to talk.” I don’t have time just to talk if I know I am not bringing in a candidate for an interview. Do I call just to satisfy the employee and let them know I called, we talked, and there was not a fit? Or do I need to word my rejection more clearly?

You need to be more clear. And don’t call the candidate just to satisfy the employee referring her; that’s a waste of your time and theirs, and it would be inconsiderate to mislead her like that. Say this to the employee who keeps pressing you: “I appreciated the referral, but Jane isn’t the right match with any of our current openings. I’ve sent her a rejection email to let her know.” And do send that rejection email, which will give all this some finality.

2. Did I irritate this hiring manager?

I am a full-time college student graduating next month. I recently went through a phone interview with a recruiter, and she pressured me into a phone interview immediately because they liked my resume. During the phone interview, she told me I was the number one candidate, then scheduled an interview with the hiring manager. The hiring manager was giving me really good vibes and was being very nice. At the end of the interview, he told me he wanted to move forward and have a face-to-face in one week before he interviewed anyone else. Then he said that someone from his staff would contact me.

After a few days, no one had contacted me, so I contacted the hiring manager and told him that no one had contacted me. He said I should hear something this week. So, I replied with, “When should I expect to hear, and are we still planning to meet this week?” He said, “Maybe next week.” So I said, “I am looking forward to meeting with you, and I was hoping we could do it this week.” Then the manager replied, “Really – are you questioning me??” At that point, I took a step back and said, “No, I am really looking forward to the opportunity. I sincerely apologize for the misunderstanding.”

I feel like I was just trying to be assertive and show interest. Are they just giving me the run-around? What do I do now?

“Are you questioning me?” is utterly obnoxious, but his point wasn’t surprising — he told you when he was able to meet, and you kind of violated interview norms when you pushed back. The employer controls the hiring timeline. You can certainly share any constraints on your side (such as having another offer), but aside from that, you’re really at the mercy of the interviewer’s timeline.

Hiring often takes longer than people think it will. Employers often state one timeline and end up taking three times that long, or even longer. It’s frustrating, but it’s the nature of how it works. It’s good to show interest, but not to pressure them, which is what ended up happening here. At this point, I’d just be patient and wait for them to get back in touch with you. If you haven’t heard anything in two weeks, contact the recruiter (probably not the hiring manager in this case) to ask if she has an updated timeline.

3. Asking veterinary job candidates about dog and cat allergies

It has been my understanding that you can’t ask any medical questions during an interview without violating the Americans with Disabilities Act. However, I am a practice manager at at veterinary clinic and recently hired an interviewee who later disclosed to a coworker that she is allergic to cats. HELLO! We see both cats and dogs. This is the second time someone has been hired who I later learn is allergic to cats. I can imagine how bad they feel having a severe allergy attack, needing an inhaler or going home mid-shift.

I’d like to ask, if they have any issues working with cats or dogs, maybe leading it in the way of “Are you frightened of cats or dogs?” but then again why would they apply if they did. Please help.

Well, it’s true that you can’t ask about medical conditions, but you can ask about their ability to perform the essential functions of the job. So in this case, you could ask, “This job requires close contact with dogs and cats, for eight or more hours at a time. Is there any reason you wouldn’t be able to do that?”

By the way, it’s possible that her allergy is minor and she’s willing to deal with symptoms (especially if it’s just a runny nose or other mild symptoms). If that’s the case and it’s not impacting her ability to do her work, that’s her call.

4. My coworker blew up when told we wanted a group photo for the company website

I work for a company that is currently redesigning its website. As part of the redesign, we have a staff page and would like to include a staff group photo on the page. One staff member is refusing to have his picture taken and has threatened legal action if he is forced to take a photo and then we use it on the website. I’m not sure what his objections are. All I know is that he stormed out of the staff meeting. I’m not his supervisor, but my boss also seemed at a loss on how to proceed on this one. There was some yelling and steamy confrontation going on, which is a larger issue altogether. He specifically said he would bring a cease and desist suit against the company.

In doing a Google search, I found some information about this from the U.K., but not specific to the U.S. So my question is one of the myriad of is it legal questions. Can we require participation in a staff photo for a website?

You sure can. He has no legal basis for refusal, let alone a cease and desist against your company (unless he has a genuine religious objection, but that sounds unlikely to be the case here). That said, is there some reason why he must be included? This is a request that’s pretty easy to accommodate, and I’m not fan of forcing people into group photos (or any photos) if they don’t want to be there.

His crazy explosion is a different issue, though, and one that points to some pretty serious problems, I’m guessing.

5. Should I mention that my graphic design knowledge is self-taught?

I am applying for a job that includes a small amount of basic graphic design. In my current job, I have taught myself how to use Adobe Creative Suite and am definitely capable of basic graphic design. Is it bad to mention that I’m self taught? Does it show that I like to learn new things or does it read that I’m not qualified?

I don’t think it’s bad to mention that you’re self-taught (many skilled people are when it comes to software programs), but there’s no need to mention that on your application (not because it’s bad, but just because it’s not really relevant). The trick, regardless of how you learned, will be demonstrating what your level of proficiency is — so you want to describe what you’ve used it successfully for.

{ 266 comments… read them below }

  1. Biff*

    Re: The Photo — some people are pretty disturbed by cameras. I suspect that having no ‘opt out’ introduced during the meeting turned this poor guy’s anxiety up to 11. People with Anxiety blasting at volume 11 aren’t terribly rational. Cut the guy a break if he isn’t otherwise a total weirdo and let him (and anyone else that feels weird about it) opt out.

    1. CanadianWriter*

      +1 Photos are awful.

      In forced group photos I always stand at the back and try to hide. I’m in so many photos where all you can see is half of my forehead and some hair. A picture of my forehead was in the paper and the rest of the group felt sorry for me, even though I totally planned that.

      1. LAI*

        Agreed. Many people do not like having their picture publicized (the same way some people don’t like being “rewarded” for good work with a public speech). Is there any reason why you need a group photo, or why everyone has to be in it? This seems like a situation where it is easy enough to let the guy opt out if he really doesn’t want to do it. When I joined my current group, they made me do a news article highlighting my background to be published in the newsletter – I did it because I didn’t want to cause trouble, and also because I work in a field where personal relationships really matter. I was super uncomfortable with the spotlight though, and I definitely would have put up more of a fight if there wasn’t a good reason for it, business-wise.

        However, as Alison mentioned, storming out and yelling is really not an appropriate reaction to anything so that’s a different issue…

      2. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Yeah, I’m no fan of them either, believe me. But in a professional situation? You roll with it if you have to.

        I don’t think they should force him into the photo if he doesn’t want to participate, but I wonder what else is going on with this guy.

        1. Chinook*

          I agree that blowing up at a staff meeting is totally inappropriate and unexpected, but there are reasons why someone wouldn’t want their picture posted on the Internet – they could be hiding from someone (abusive ex, witness protection) or not want their photo attached to their name (probably so they can’t be identified with Internet voodoo. DH wiped his presence as best he could after getting a job in military intelligence and learned what a person with ill will can do).

          1. Camellia*

            This was my first thought also, that they are hiding for a reason they can’t or don’t want to disclose.

            1. anon123*

              I think that it is unrealistic to think you can keep all your info off the internet, but I can understand the impulse–when presented with the option–to try to limit the amount of info you have online.

              I think people think that one piece of info–like a picture, where you work, etc–isn’t a big deal. But aggregated together someone can build a pretty complete profile of you and your life. And yes, I know you could always get lots of info about people and their lives before the internets too, such as about their house, its value, etc from the City/tax assessment records, but I think the difference now is that too a lot of work to go get and had to be physically collected. Now it is all in one place.
              Also, I think you may need to take into account the person’s age. For people of a certain generation, they may not actively be putting stuff online, like FB, linkedIn, so the thought of putting stuff online would be weird. I know aside from my parent’s address on the yellowpages’s website, there is literally nothing online about them.

              1. Mike C.*

                That’s it right there, the aggregation. Little pieces here and there add up to a whole lot.

                I read somewhere that you could uniquely ID the vast majority of people with just their first name, their zip code and their birthday (mm/dd).

                1. Penny*

                  Terrifyingly true. Doing Xmas cards last year I didn’t have some relative’s addresses sofigured I’d try googling them. Well I found their names, spouses and close relative’s names, current address with map and street view, age, and past cities they lived in- I was shocked at how much info was out there (though it did help me confirm the address was correct)- and they don’t even have social media accounts.

          2. Mike C.*

            Doxxing is a really ugly thing. My wife used to work in fraud protection, what a mess.

            1. Sydney Bristow*

              I recently read the books We Are Anonymous by Parmy Olson (non-fiction) and The Circle by Dave Eggers (fiction) and have been much more freaked out by what is possible with personal information online. Really scary, horrible stuff!

              1. Contessa*

                I don’t know if you meant that to be a book rec, but thanks! I’m putting The Circle on my library request list.

              1. JessB*

                I just read that article, and now I want to delete everything on the Internet. What is wrong with people that they would hurt others like that? It’s horrifying.

          3. Sydney Bristow*

            This is what I was thinking too. The better reaction would have been to take in the info at the meeting calmly then afterward approach his manager to explain (in general terms if he wants) his personal concern with being in the photo and to request not being included. Only if the request is denied would I try to push back harder, although it’s possible at some point you wouldn’t rely have a choice if the employer requires participation.

          4. Stacie*

            But a group photo with no name attached (which is how I originally pictured it, though of course I could be wrong) would be difficult to find/identify someone. You know what IS public though? Lawsuits – and he apparently threatened multiple. That’s why I’m not buying the “maybe they are hiding from something terrible and that’s why they don’t want their photo up” argument.

          5. Jubilance*

            My first thought was the guy was on the run & didn’t want his photo online cause he was afraid of being caught. I think I watch too many crime shows.

            1. AMG*

              This was my first thought, too. I would love it if we could get an update to find out what’s really going on. OP, I hope you talk to him (although he isn’t likely to confess to be on the FBI’s top 10 most wanted or to being in the witness protection program).

            1. Purple Dragon*

              If my company came up with the same idea I’d probably have a panic attack. I’ve successfully dodged my stalker of over 5 years by moving and being invisible online. I regularly google myself and do google searches of my photo to make sure I can’t be found. I even took myself off the electoral roll (illegal in Australia) for many years to hide.

              I wouldn’t blow up in a meeting but I can understand it if it was triggered by panic. I haven’t heard from or seen my stalker in about 3 years but still suffer from agoraphobia and panic attacks as a result. Maybe something to consider OP ?

          6. Katie the Fed*

            I wouldn’t want to do it just because I’ve gained a bit of weight in the last couple years and don’t want to see unflattering pictures of myself. Boo.

          7. Vox De Causa*

            Witness protection was my first thought as well. The ferocity of his reaction really seems like there is a Very Important Reason he doesn’t want his picture on the internet.

          8. KrisL*

            Chinook, I also thought there might be an important reason for this. The reaction was over the top though.

            I don’t understand why the company wants to force everyone to have their pictures taken.

        2. Morag*

          We’re just gonna have to take this on and change the culture. So many people have genuine objections to being photographed in this way. Another thing to ask about at interviews: if hired will I be allowed to simply do my job to the very best of my ability, or will I be also required to give away any right to my own image for your corporate advertising?

        3. BethRA*

          No idea what this guy’s deal is, but I know two people who are actively hiding from abusive ex-family members – one of whom also prefers to keep the details of that situation private.

          A group photo doesn’t seem like a big deal to me, but then I don’t have anyone out there trying to find me and hurt me.

        4. JenTheNiceHRGirl*

          We take photos of new hires for our company intranet. Occasionally we have someone who doesn’t want their photo taken (usually because they feel embarrassed and/or don’t like the way they look in photos) and so we just don’t take their photo. I don’t think companies should force employees to have their photos taken, but his freak out is really concerning. I am really curious if this guy has a track record of freaking out on other occasions? I mean if he gets loud and inappropriate over being asked to participate in a team photo, how does he react to constructive feedback, or a new and very challenging work assignment etc…. I am hoping that we get an update on this one.

    2. Jamie*

      I don’t agree with the way the employee handled it, but I have a lot of sympathy for the no-photo guy.

      I don’t react that strongly outwardly because of how it comes off, but if I could I would. I really have a thing about cameras and not wanting my picture taken.

      It makes me terribly anxious and distressed…and I know no one cares it’s an internal thing.

      So I go along with it and consoled myself with the fact that it’s a distance shot with 100 + people and I’m way in the back no one will notice…then last year 3 separate people came up to tell me how happy they were I smiled this time and how much prettier I am when I smile.

      And I wasn’t smiling – I was squinting and making a weird face because the sun was in my eyes and I didn’t know they were going to snap it just then…but weirdly enough it does look like I was smiling.

      If I could have gotten away with no photos at my weddings I would have. Some of it is that I just don’t photograph well and I know that – I don’t look that good in person but I’ve been told my whole life how much better I look in person than in pictures…and my mom, who was truly beautiful, didn’t look great in pictures either.

      I think for me some of it is nerves – I see a camera and I can’t keep the eyerolling “f’ing great” heavy sarcasm expression off my face.

      But yeah – I am strongly opposed to forcing people into pictures, personally, but in the real world I suck it up and stand there trying not to look pissed because I need to deal with how things are rather than my utopia of people getting consent before capturing you forever in a way you have no control over.

      This is one of those things that’s very real and a bfd to me, but I know that’s not typical so I adapt as well as I can.

      (Although I still haven’t gone online to see my friends wedding pics because I need someone let me know which ones I’m in so I can avoid them – nope, not weird about this at all.)

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        I had a fascinating (to me) exchange with a reader a couple of weeks ago about our mutual dislike of having our photo taken, and how I handled it at my wedding (which is what she was seeking advice about). So I absolutely get hating it — I hate it too, and I was so excited to talk to someone else who felt like that about photos at her wedding too, since up until that point I felt like the odd one out on that issue.

        But I also feel like unless you have some specific reason for not wanting to be in photos at work (like the ones mentioned above), disliking it SHOULD be enough of a reason but in reality is not. And so, as you said, you just roll with it because not rolling with it just looks too odd.

        1. fposte*

          I hate having my picture taken and I hate seeing myself in photographs, but I don’t actually have any need to look at work photographs after they’re taken, so I don’t bother much about those. Wedding photographs, which I presumably would want to look at again, are another matter.

          1. Jamie*

            Somewhat related – I was taken aback this morning when I heard my own voice by accidentally playing my email greeting. It actually took me a second to realize it was me, even though it’s my phone.

            I honestly sound so different recorded than I do in my own head I have a hard time recognizing myself and I can’t kill the recording fast enough. I don’t know if it’s that I hate how I sound to others as much as maybe I’m just used to the better version from inside my own head?

            Either way – if you all could get to know the me that lives in my head you’d totally love me…I’m way prettier, with a sweeter voice, not to mention much smarter and funnier than I am in reality. The inside of my head is a scary place in many respects – but the fun house mirror through which I see myself is much better than the watered down version everyone else sees. :)

            1. Elizabeth West*

              I think I sound like an idiot (inside my head, and when I listen to my recorded voice). But I put a video of my kitty playing with a toy on YouTube and I was talking about her, and my chat buddy watched it and said I had an “excellent voice.” So we don’t always perceive ourselves as we appear/sound to others.

            2. lifes a beach*

              you do sound different in your own head because you are hearing the sound as it travels through your Jaw into your inner ear along with the sound waves. I also find hearing my own voice very disconcerting, especially because I find I sound exactly like my sisters!

        2. Joey*

          I don’t understand the dislike of photos. What’s behind it? Is this why you seem to be hiding behind a teacup or is that just coincidence?

          Some of my co workers are the same way and it always seems it might be because they’re just not comfortable in their skin. Which is weird because for most of them there are no other signs that that’s the case.

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            Ha, no, the teacup one is coincidence. There are other photos of me in various places on the site :)

            I don’t like them because I don’t have that photogenic gene, whatever it is. I look better in person than in pictures, and it annoys me that pictures are that way. (Also, my hair tends to look like my head is in fire in photos if they’re not lit properly.) Also I’ve put on weight in the past few years and like not to be confronted with photographic evidence of it.

        3. Liz (since 1982)*

          I would love to hear more about this exchange, or just how you handled this issue at your wedding! I know it’s not exactly germane to the main topic of the blog but maybe in the next open thread – if you don’t mind sharing, that is?

            1. LAI*

              Great! I was going to ask too :). I like having pictures afterward and being able to look at them, but I don’t like the act of actually posing for them (or noticing when people snap them candidly out of the corner of my eye). The idea of having my picture taken hundreds of times in one evening is terrifying.

        4. Gilby*

          I was just with my family Dad who is 87, Mom 78 my brother, his wife, myself and hubby. I also am not a picture person as well as my sis-in-law.

          But, I wanted a picture of all of us and she understood why.
          We were all together and get one while you can.

        5. JessB*

          This is so odd that this has come up here; I’ve just been to a Comic Con here in Australia, and for the first time I got photos with guests. I wasn’t really happy with the way I looked in the photos, which is how I’ve felt about photos of me my whole life – stemming from hideous childhood bullying where I was told I looked ugly.

          Anyway, this time I decided to do something about it. I’m going to practise taking photos of myself, and posing in a way that makes me feel comfortable. It may not work for everyone, but I want to feel good about photos of myself, dammit!

          Also, Alison, I’d love to see the advice you gave the reader about photos at your wedding – I’ve always thought that I wouldn’t like photos at my wedding, too.

            1. JessB*

              Brilliant, thanks so much Alison. I need to keep up more with those open threads, I think, there seem to be some great discussions happening there.

  2. Zee*

    My employer requested that I create a LinkedIn page so that I could help with recruiting. They were not happy when I didn’t include my picture.

    If I wanted a LinkedIn page, I’d have one.

    1. Kelly*

      that’s one of the primary reasons why i HATE LinkedIn. I’m surprised there hasn’t been an age discrimination lawsuit involving them with the damn photos!

      1. Jen RO*

        But… why? LinkedIn isn’t forcing you to add a picture. And if an employer wanted to discriminate you based on age, they could do it after they actually see you at the interview (or find your photo on Facebook, or find out you’re their friend’s mother, or whatever).

      2. James M*

        With Linkedin, you get to choose which photo to use. You can even photoshop it (as I did).

        For discrimination, if someone were to discriminate against me, I’d rather it happen before I ever encounter that person. And honestly, I wouldn’t want to work for/with that person anyways.

        1. The Other Dawn*

          I agree. I have no qualms about posting my picture. If people don’t like the way I look and don’t want to hire me because of that, that’s not my problem; it’s theirs. I wouldn’t want to work for a person or company like that. Bullet dodged.

        2. JenTheNiceHRGirl*

          Exactly! That’s my take on it too. My LinkedIn pic has me working at a job fair, sitting at our booth and it is far enough away that you can’t really make out how old I might be. So there are ways around the whole photo thing… and of course you could simply not include one. Still, if someone dislikes me for my age, race, sex, etc… I would rather that they not waste my time because I don’t want to work for anyone like that anyway. I want to work for an organization that considers a diverse workforce a positive thing.

      3. Smiley Face*

        Its for this reason that my LinkedIn photo is a professional one that was taken about 10 years ago, circa age 40.

      4. Josie*

        I’m just amazed that generally in North America we’re horrified at the idea of attaching a headshot to a resume, but then upload it ourselves to our LinkedIn profile.

        1. Audiophile*

          When I think of headshot, I connect it with an acting CV. Other than that I can’t see putting it on an actual resume.

          1. Josie*

            Apparently that’s normal in continental Europe. (Europeans, please correct me – I’m basing this off my university “business German” textbook and you know how up-to-date and nuanced textbooks are on cultural matters ).

            I think North Americans see this as a road straight to discrimination, but now we’ve created a new system to provide the pictures unsolicited.

            1. Marcy*

              It was very common when I was living in Sweden. Many employers require a photo when you turn in your application.

        2. JenTheNiceHRGirl*

          Ha ha, this is very true! When I get resumes from candidates who include photos, honestly, it feels a little strange… but yet most professionals include a photo on LinkedIn.

    2. Anonicorn*

      I’ve seen LinkedIn profile photos with personal logos (like people’s initials designed all pretty and what not). I like them better than photos, I just never have the creativity or skill to create one myself.

  3. Jessie*

    #4 – The Photo – I went through a similar ordeal a few years ago. I worked for a small company of under 40 employees. Let’s re-design the website! AND THEN!!! They wanted a photo along with a blurb about each of us – where we went to college, what our industry experience is blah blah blah. This went to hell in a bucket when the old timers (like over 60) made it very clear that showing clients that more than 50% of the company is close to retirement. They had a good point – who wants to know that your ENTIRE COMPANY is close to retirement except for like 50% staff?!?! So yeah, they squashed the photo idea.

    So anyways – I’d think twice about the photo thing. Some people are not in client facing positions for a reason – whether it be physical or whatever. And you have understand the positive or negative reactions of your audience with a photo and the judgements they will pass on your company.

    1. Kelly*

      My mother works for a small doctors office and the head DR wanted photos of all staff on the website. My mom is the receptionist. She’s in her 60’s, kinda didn’t feel that she takes “good photos.” The rest of the staff really wasn’t too keen on the photo idea either. Anyways, the DR won. Individual head shot photos of all staff on the interwebs!

      1. Majigail*

        As a patient, I appreciate this especially if the staff doesn’t wear name tags. This way I can call and ask for the nurse by name and not spill my embarrassing medical detail to the office staff because I think he’s a tech. But doctor better be there too!

        1. Judy*

          I don’t think I’ve seen individual head shots of the staff from my doctors offices, dentist, vet, etc, but there generally is a group shot of the staff. The doctors have head shots, the staff have a group shot, I think one has a medical staff / office staff separate group photo, with maybe the first names of the staff under them.

          1. Marilla*

            My doctor’s office has celebrity lookalike pictures posted for each doctor instead, which I find kind of hilarious/awesome.

    2. Camellia*

      Oh, this reminded me of something similar, some years ago. The department head wanted to do this, photos and personal info, and the VP squashed it because he felt it would be like giving recruiters an open invitation to start contacting staff.

      1. bad at online naming*

        That strikes me as something that may or may not be true but I will totally use in the future if ever presented with this problem again.

      2. HM in Atlanta*

        This is how last company lost over half the operations team. Competition knew who worked on different project by their face, but not necessarily their name. After all the headshots, they knew who to contact to poach.

    3. Sunflower*

      I think it depends on the company. My mom works in a small insurance agency and I’ve told her they should put staff photos on the site. A lot of them know their clients entire personal life from the phone but have never met them in person. And for them, I think being in late 40’s/early 50’s is an advantage- because are you really going to trust a 25 year old with your life insurance?

      In the right setting, having photos of your staff on the website is fantastic. So much stuff in done through email and over the phone that it’s crazy to think how you can know someone but pass them on the street with no idea what they look like. I see this done in a lot of hotels and conference centers and I think it’s cool. But if someone objects, esp to a large company photo, just let them and don’t force it

      1. JustKatie*

        I know it’s true, but I hate hearing the “are you really going to trust a 25 year old?” thing. I’m starting a new job on Monday that I’ll need to have a headshot for (which will be appended to every e-mail, ugh). I’m 30, but look very baby-faced, no matter what I do with my makeup and hair. I don’t want my future clients thinking I’m fresh out of college when I really have nine years of experience.

        1. Sunflower*

          I didn’t mean that to come off that a 25 year old can’t do that- her office has a lot of older clientele and I know some of them are skeptical about buying from the one young guy in her office. It seems like it doesn’t matter if you’re old or young- there is always some people who have bias towards one or the other. If you can add 9 years experience at the bottom of your email, maybe it will help your clients feel more confident?

        2. Sunflower*

          Also, it if helps, my email usually doesn’t let me load images from emails so your clients might not even see the picture

          1. JustKatie*

            Fingers crossed it won’t load :) Unfortunately I can’t append my years of experience at the end since we have a signature formula. I totally get that there’s discrimination at both ends, it just gets tiring hearing people say things like “you look the same age as my 16 year old daughter!” and “you can’t POSSIBLY be married”. Ugh, people!

        3. KrisL*

          If you are in a business where you deal with the same people a lot, they’ll learn that you know what you’re doing. If you don’t, well, try seeming confident.

  4. Sandrine (France)*

    Re: the photo

    People might not like pictures and might be anxious and all, but that does not excuse blowing up at work. Unprofessional, yikes!

    I’d enquire about the reasons but I sure as heck would also keep the employee on watch. I get that the person might also have privacy concerns and all, but what happened to talking about things like adults do?

    1. Algae (formerly LauraG)*

      I don’t think anyone would have had a problem if he’d quietly gone up afterwards and said he wasn’t comfortable with getting a photo (there’s lots of reasons why people don’t want pictures up, especially on the Internet), but storming around and threatening cease and desist letters is really strange.

      1. Lizzie*

        +1. Blowing up at a meeting is not a reasonable response when someone says “We’ll be taking a group photo for the website.”

      2. AB*

        I can’t help but wonder if there wasn’t more to the photo business than is being let on. The OP says there was “yelling and steamy confrontation” which leads me to believe this wasn’t a sudden one-sided blow up. Certainly, it is never ok to blow up at work, but it sounds like this was pushed to escalation.
        There have been occasions where, after explaining something in confidence to my boss, I’ve had co-workers needle me for reasons. For example, I once told my boss in confidence that I need to take some time off for surgery. I was really nervous about the surgery and didn’t want to talk about it around the office. When the boss then told people I was going to be out of the office and unavailable for two weeks, people started to ask questions. One person in particular was very pushy about knowing what was going on. I was already an emotional wreck (the doctors told me it was either cancer or an incurable lifelong disease, and the surgery was to determine which it was. Not easy news at 22). I ended up running out of the office in tears. Not the most professional moment in my career.
        If the guy has personal reasons for not wanting to be in the photo, he may have talked to his direct supervisor about them already and asked that they not be shared. If that were the case, I can definitely see how someone could be pushed into blowing up if they had reasons not to want to be in the photo, but didn’t want to share those reasons with coworkers because they are personal.

  5. EngineerGirl*

    Photo – Maybe the guy has been stalked – that would explain an extreme reaction. But the best solution is to talk and find out.
    As far as legal goes – some places have requirements about signing a model release. That doesn’t mean that the employer can’t require the photo – but the individual still needs to sign a release.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      They could make it a condition of his job to permit the photo if they wanted to, although I don’t know why they would do that … but they’d be very justified in making it a condition of his job to not be someone who has massive blow-ups.

      1. EngineerGirl*

        The blow up was inappropriate. But they also need to realize they sprung this requirement retroactively. Telling someone they’ll be needing a picture of the team after the works been done leaves the employee with little options. Pretty disrespectful on the company’s part.

        1. straws*

          If they made this a requirement of the job, I agree, but I don’t know why they would. The OP just said they “would like” to include a photo of the staff. My company did something similar, and we did have someone come by later to talk in private about why they didn’t want to participate. She seemed a little anxious, but overall was calm and rational. We readily agreed that she could sit it out. If she’d blown up in the meeting the private talk probably would have been called by her boss instead of her…

        2. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Honestly, I just can’t call that disrespectful. There are lots of things that you’ll be expected to do as an employee that it would be ridiculous to warn people about up-front. You’d have to present people a massive list of expectations before they accept the job, and to most people it would come off as bizarre and even concerning.

          Some things are common expectations at work. If you object to one, have a reasonable conversation about why — but it’s not reasonable to expect to be warned “hey, we like to take an annual group photo” before accepting a job.

      2. Brett*

        Wouldn’t the model release be a contract? So to have it signed and be valid, they would need some sort of valuable compensation other than “you get to keep your job”?

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Nope, I looked this up. Some states require photos releases for employees if the photos will be used in commercial activity (such as on the company website), but employers can require participating if they want to, without offering compensation beyond their continuing employment.

          1. Majigail*

            I think we have language in our employee manual that allows use of photos. I’d assume many employers do.

          2. Kerr*

            California may be one of these states. Recently, a friend of mine got a new job, and had to sign a release for both photo and sound recording. To work in retail. And no, it wasn’t anything like A&F or American Apparel, which have strange and discriminatory hiring practices anyway. They just wanted a blanket release for anything and everything. What the heck?!

            I hope this isn’t going to become commonplace. :( I cannot see myself signing a blanket release just to work in an ordinary run-of-the-mill job.

    2. Zillah*

      Yeah, that possibility occurred to me, too. That’s the primary reason I wouldn’t want my name and/or photo on a company website. If that is the case, I can understand the reaction. Which doesn’t make it okay, of course – but I do get it.

    3. Anon for this comment for obvs reasons*

      Yes, this is my experience. I was being stalked for many years by an ex who would disappear for months/years, then pop back up again. It was terrifying and it made me VERY careful about what info/pictures were out there. I still do not have a Facebook page.

      When people give other people grief for not wanting info out there, they really need to realize that they could have very good reasons for it.

      Now, that being said, the blow up was unprofessional so I’m not defending that.

      1. Grace*

        @Anon: Spot on. I am in California, work in law, and
        there are many people who have been victims of crime,
        including stalking, domestic violence and sexual assault who have bona fide reasons for not wanting their pictures posted. There are a whole plethora of laws protecting them in CA, a special program to suppress their information (and its illegal to post their information on the internet). As of January 1, 2014, Senate Bill 400 made it: 1) unlawful for employers to discriminate against employees because of their status as a crime victim (stalking, dv, sexual assault); 2) it is now a form of illegal retaliation as well; and 3) employers are required to provide reasonable accommodation to those employees (and
        that could include not posting their picture).

  6. Katie*

    Because The Photo seems like the topic of conversation, I have another objection, although I suspect it’s not the issue with this particular person. My college roommate’s sister had been in an abusive relationship that turned into a stalker-ish situation later. While things seem to have calmed down now, she still is (understandably) uncomfortable with publishing her whereabouts online and is absolutely militant about keeping her picture off of the Internet, at least to the extent she can control it. She’s also very uncomfortable bringing this history up in the workplace as she doesn’t want to scare an employer and make them think that she is a “risky” employee who may have violent people showing up at the office who should be terminated (sadly, this has happened).

    While I agree 100% with Sandrine’s comment that the real issue here is the employee’s blow-up and that it’s completely unacceptable in the workplace, there may be extenuating circumstances that may make the employee act irrationally. It’s not an excuse at all, but may be an explanation.

    1. FiveNine*

      The photo thing upsets me — my employer last year posted a photo of me at an event we held. It’s now on the Internet forever for anyone on the planet to find. Honestly, it seems way too much. Yes, I work for them. No, that should not mean I sign over every aspect of my life and image to them to be put online on the Internet by them. I imagine that eventually this will be challenged and addressed by lawmakers somewhere.

      1. Annie O*

        I take issue with the internet photos as well. Over the years, my employers have posted many photos of me on the internet, and I was only pre-warned about two of them (both were the headshots for the about us page). Frankly, I’m sick of it but I haven’t had any luck pushing back. It’s weird, but I get the reaction that I should somehow be grateful that photos of me are plastered on the website. And it’s not like I’m super photogenic. I’m just a young woman in a field dominated by old men, and so I feel like I’m some kind of token.

      2. OhNo*

        I very much agree. Once photos are on the internet, they are available forever. The least employer can do is warn people that they are going to be using images of them for the website.

        I’ve been lucky so far in that only one of my employers has wanted to put a picture of me online, but now that picture (and it’s related links) are more than half the results when you Google my name. It’s fine, because I okayed it at the time, it’s just weird.

        1. Jennifer*

          I’m grateful that when this topic came up at my work, the objections to “I don’t want angry clients to be able to identify me on sight” meant that the idea was practically shot down.

          1. ArtsNerd*

            At our office all we had to say was “some people are creepy” before that idea was quashed. Phew!

            That said, I have to appear as a spokesperson so my name and face are pretty easily connected to my place of employment, and it’s not hard to find my direct contact info. I’ll also occasionally post photos of our staff to our business’ social media accounts, but I ALWAYS ask them directly if they’re comfortable with it before I do so.

  7. AcademicAnon*

    #3 A lot of people who work regularly with fur-bearing animals eventually become allergic to them (as in they test positive on an allergy test), so at least some of your stuff will become allergic to the animals they are working with eventually, so I don’t see why this should even be discussed at the hiring phase. I work in research, and have cats I take to the vet on a regular basis, and of the people I know well enough to ask, about 50% are allergic to something they are working with. I do see asking the question AAM suggested, as I could easily see other problems discovered by it, like being afraid of blood, or unwillingness to clean up after sick animals.

    1. Jen RO*

      My boyfriend used to be allergic to cats (not severely, but red eyes, runny nose, difficulties breathing). After we got our cats, his symptoms subsided and disappeared completely. This could also be the case for OP’s employees.

      1. Kelly L.*

        And sometimes they can be managed pretty easily. I’m allergic to cats, but if I remember to take Zyrtec or something before I go somewhere with cats, I’m virtually symptom-free.

        1. Liz in a Library*

          Yep, this was my thought. My husband and I both have low-grade cat allergies that are mostly managed with a daily allergy pill. We have three cats living with us without much issue and at one time had eight (which was a bigger issue but still manageable).

          1. Kelly L.*

            Yup. I think the increasing public knowledge of really severe allergies to things like peanuts–while a good thing, because it helps those people protect themselves–has got a lot of people thinking that all allergies = insta-death. For a lot of us, allergies are more a nuisance than a threat. My cat allergy is really only a Huge Big Deal if the person has numerous cats and doesn’t clean (I’ve encountered this, but rarely, and then I know not to go to that person’s house anymore! LOL).

      2. Leah*

        I had the opposite problem. I grew up around lots of cats and other animals without any problems. I went home for winter break my first year of college and allergies apleanty. I could generally get away with washing my hands a lot but it was a shock.

      3. Anonicorn*

        Exactly. I’m allergic to cats in general, yet I have 3 of my own and don’t have allergy issues. Two important factors seem to be how clean both the home and the animals are.

    2. Eden*

      #3: I’m allergic to cats and worked in veterinary medicine for 13 years. Many of us had mild allergies. Personally, I think that if the allergies are to the point you need an inhaler, you might not be in the right field. I can’t imagine why someone with moderate to severe cat allergies would apply, but I think Alison’s question is a great one. You certainly also don’t want to find out that someone won’t touch a cat that looks at them funny.

      The folks who call off for every headache, cramp, and mysterious illness that allows for beach visits posted on FB* are going to do that with or without the allergy excuse, though.
      *True story

    3. some1*

      My mom is one of those people who are allergic to lots of things. When we had a dog (inside dog) she tested positive for being allergic to dogs but our dog had never bothered her. She’s always been allergic to cats but some cats don’t bother her either.

    4. MaryMary*

      My friend has fairly severe allergies, but loves animals and is a vet tech. Her allergist thinks she’s crazy, but with medication she controls it enough that it does not impact her job.

    5. Celeste*

      My daughter is allergic to dogs, but can be around them for a while if she takes antihistamines. The allergist told us if we wanted to own a dog, she should probably take shots. I’m not suggesting an allergic person has to get shots just for the job; it would probably make their lives easier in general to have the allergy treated (if it’s that bad) so they can go where they please and not have to worry about it.

      But obviously, you would not be in a position to insist on medication or treatment, and the person will have to decide what is the best course for their own self. I guess what you want to know is, would the person be willing to find a solution to the problem rather than just quit over it. I like AAM’s phrasing of it.

    6. AllergicVet*

      I’m a veterinarian and actually have mild-moderate allergies to several of the species I see, as well as, to hay. I’ve only had to recuse myself from one case because of my allergies and, for the most part, they are not even something I think about. Occasionally, I need allergy meds but that’s about it.

      In severe cases, some of my classmates actually did allergy shots and got relief that way. So there’s options.

      If this sort of screening process had been used on me when I was an assistant or for vet school, I would never have made it to where I am and it would have been for very silly reasons.

  8. Jeff G.*

    Re #4. Alison, I think you might want to rethink your answer. While the employee’s reaction might have sounded severe, there are any number of legal challenges to the photo that COULD create a win for the employee:

    1. Most likely: Mere employment doesn’t automatically create a right to use someone’s likeness in advertising.

    2. Least likely (but plausible): Employee has been relocated as a result of abuse or being a witness… publication of their photo could put them in actual danger.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      1. But the employer could make it a condition of employment if they wanted to, absent religious objections. (As I said above, I don’t know why they’d want to.)

      2. Highly unlikely, but sure, if that’s the case, then the employee needs to have a calm conversation explaining that they have personal reasons for not being photographed, with as little or as much info as they’re comfortable sharing, but without blowing up. Because they’re an adult.

      1. Clerica D. McClerkykins*

        Why is it highly unlikely that someone had to relocate to protect themselves? Or a child? Is it because men aren’t usually the ones in that situation? My grandmother had to run away with my mother and aunts to protect them from my grandfather, and it was terrifying enough for them to live that way even though this was way before you could track someone down via the internet. Maybe statistically it’s more likely to be a female hiding from a violent ex, but not impossible for a male to be (or hiding from her family, for those who think a man shouldn’t be afraid of a woman or something).

        I sincerely wish fewer people understood the terror of that situation from personal experience, but it also seems like no one touched by it is capable of the appropriate empathy. It’s so easy to sit in a safe place and assume someone in panic mode should operate from that same vantage point. Assuming for the sake of argument that the guy just found out it’s now a condition of his employment that he jeopardize his safety, but then dismissing his panicked reaction with “But adults!” is beyond not cool.

        1. straws*

          I agree with your overall point, but I think the response here is not “wow this is a horrible person for overreacting” but “this person obviously has something else going on that needs addressing (personally or professionally)”. It still warrants a calm, rational conversation, even if the initial reaction was explosive. What if a client or a trade show employee wanted to take a photo and the same reaction happened in a public, professional setting? Empathy is definitely needed, but that only makes it more important to recognize and address an issue to help the employee function in his/her job.

        2. TL*

          Almost everyone has something that is tragic or awful or terrifying. I don’t mean to belittle what the employee may be going through; however, most people have had something awful happen to them and most people have something that triggers extreme emotional responses and we still expect them not to blow up at the workplace. This isn’t an unforgiveable offense, but if you gave everyone a pass on their behavior because of one awful thing in their life, people would be blowing up all the time.

          1. JustKatie*

            Perhaps something happened recently to make him react so explosively? Of course he could have handled it differently, but sometime people aren’t very rational when things are still raw.

        3. Camellia*

          This!!

          Also, let’s not forget that he could be protecting his spouse or child, not necessarily himself.

        4. Colette*

          Throwing around the threat of legal action doesn’t sound like someone who doesn’t want to be tracked, since I believe the existence of a lawsuit is public knowledge.

          Regardless of his reasons for not wanting to be photographed, storming out is not appropriate or acceptable. (In fact, that kind of over the top, angry reaction makes me wonder whether he doesn’t want to be found because he’s a perpetrator, instead of a victim. It’s entirely possible that he’s just really private, but that’s way out of line.)

          1. fposte*

            Ah, well noted on the legal action thing–I didn’t even think of that.

            And Clarissa, I’m afraid I think “but adults!” is still legitimate. It’s not just that adults never have a panic reaction–it’s that they’re obligated to deal with the aftermath in a way this guy hasn’t. And if their anxiety is truly disabling on an ADA level, it’s still–and legally, must be–up to them to raise the issue of needed accommodation.

            1. Anonna Miss*

              Me too, some1. Blowing up, storming out of meetings, threatening legal action isn’t the action of someone trying to hide and cover their tracks. It’s much more like someone running from responsibility, such as child support or some other legal issue (such as outstanding warrant).

        5. LBK*

          I think she literally meant that statistically speaking, the percentage of people who have relocated in order to protect themselves is low. Therefore, it is highly unlikely, ie there is a low probability that this is the case. No need to read so much into it.

          1. De (Germany)*

            I suppose it’s the language barrier at play here, but I don’t even get how else it can be read? Especially how it can be read as AAM referring to his gender making it unlikely?

            1. LBK*

              Sometimes “highly unlikely” implies “has never happened, but could happen” instead of “has happened at an extremely low rate”. It’s more often used in a hypothetical context instead of describing actual statistics/probabilities.

    2. FiveNine*

      I think this will eventually be addressed by lawmakers somewhere. There are issues involving still nascent Internet law, the worldwide and permanent loss of an employee’s control over her image and privacy issues (even Facebook has an opt-in function on photo tagging requiring permission PER PHOTO, for crying out loud, its clearly already an issue). There are intertwined employment questions but when you start talking about actions that will exist in cyberspace forever what is going to come to the fore is the mandatory nature of employment and how employees do not really have the ability to opt out.

  9. LAI*

    OP#1 It sounds like you’ve been pretty direct already: “I’ve told the employee each time that the referral is not qualified for the position and I am not planning to call”. If you’ve literally told them this 3 times, in these words, then it sounds like this employee is being inappropriately pushy. Maybe it’s time to tell them something like “Your inability to understand what I’m saying to you doesn’t speak well of anyone that you would recommend”.

      1. Eden*

        Yeah, or the employee ‘promised’ the referral an interview, or gave the impression he or she was in the position to pull strings for that person. This is exactly why you don’t do that.

    1. AdAgencyChick*

      Agree, I can’t understand what message this person isn’t getting.

      OP, the only thing I might add the next time they ask is, “Please do not ask again.”

    2. KrisL*

      That’s a good point. It might be good to ask the employee what about what you said is encouraging the employee to ask about it again.

  10. Callie30*

    #2 – I agree with Alison 100%. While the OP meant no harm, the push back was inappropriate. I often schedule for my superiors and have encountered similar behavior from a few volunteers/interns/others when my superiors are really busy in a given period of time.

    That pushback also interrupts the day of the person you’re contacting, which is why he/she may have lost his/her patience. If someone is interested, they will definitely be contacting you.

    Good luck, OP! Definitely a learning experience.

  11. Forrest*

    OP#2, I wouldn’t worry to much about it but I would work with the recruiter from now on rather than the hiring manager. That said, I think most people understand there’s a learning curve and as long as the offense isn’t too outrageous, you should be fine.

    1. My 2 Cents*

      I am a hiring manager and I would seriously consider moving on to another candidate after this situation. He clearly told you his timeline and you pushed back, which is a HUGE no-no. You do not control the process and don’t get to dictate it, so this would be a big red flag that if I hire you, you aren’t going to understand boundaries and aren’t going to take feedback and directions well.

      That said, we’ve all made the same mistake in our careers, myself included, and lost potential jobs because we were too eager, so don’t fret too much about it.

      1. Braden*

        Well said, thanks for your advice. Praying that I didn’t do to much damage and get a call from them. Lesson learned!

        1. Lily in NYC*

          Hi Braden, I do hiring as well and while I would have thought you were a bit pushy, I would have chalked it up to your being eager about the position – especially after you apologized so graciously. The hiring manager was a jerk to you. I come across a lot of pushy behavior during the hiring process, and what you said was very minor in comparison. And to be honest, some of those pushy candidates have ended up as our best employees.

          1. KrisL*

            I also thought the hiring manager was a jerk. And that you were too pushy, but the manager could have dealt with it differently.

            You won’t have to work for this person, right?

      2. Braden*

        Okay, so I escaped tragedy and just got a phone call asking to come in for the face-to-face. How do I address the situation with the manager so that there will be less humility and we will be able to move on from it?

        1. Majigail*

          I’d thank them and mive on. Be gracious with the interviewer and respectful of their time. Good luck!

        2. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

          You don’t need to say anything. It truly wasn’t a huge deal, and given that they’re still bringing you in it seems like they aren’t hung up on it. Bringing it up again would only highlight the problem (and would also seem a little odd, in the same way that your original pushback seemed a little odd).

          What I would be sure to do, though, is make sure you get a chance to know what the manager is like. You got a little bit of a clue with the weird “Are you questioning me?” response; you’ll want to make sure you’re comfortable working for this person. Ask them questions about their management style, ask other employees what kind of work the manager values or how to be successful under her, etc.

        3. Anonicorn*

          Adding to the “do not mention it” vote. Just be pleasant and confident in the interview, and take it as a lesson learned like you said before. Best of luck!

      3. Forrest*

        Well, I did leave room for some exceptions. I’m a hiring manager too and this wouldn’t be a deal breaker for me. Though I would be more concern if it was someone with a lot of experience vs someone new to the work world simply because it may be a bad habit vs a simple mistake.

    2. Braden*

      There is definitely a learning curve to the process. I have dealt with smaller business’s and they immediately gave me information in regards of how long it will take to get me in there. This time it is with corporate and they don’t seem to give a whole lot of direction. Do you think the manager understands that I’m not aware and will call me back? During the interview he told a couple time that I have a lot of passion and it says a lot about me.

      1. some1*

        There’s just so many things that can come up in small businesses, large businesses, and every kind of employer that can stretch out the hiring process that have absolutely nothing to do with you but will have to take priority, and it’s not something a hiring manager can always foresee.

  12. A Not So Creative Name*

    I’m in a somewhat situation as #2. I applied for a position and sent someone I knew within the department a copy of my application. That someone forwarded it to the hiring manager, who said he’ll be in the process now reviewing applications soon. This was three weeks ago, and I’ve been going back and forth wondering if I should email him and asking him where he is in the process.

    Any input is appreciated! :)

    1. Ann Furthermore*

      If you were communicating directly with the hiring manager, it would probably be OK to send one email asking where things stand, and then don’t reach out again unless you’re specifically asked to.

      If your contact is acting as the go-between, then you should probably just wait to see what happens, so you’re not putting your friend/acquaintance into a potentially awkward position.

    2. Persephone Mulberry*

      I’d follow up (once) with your friend – “Hey, do you know if they’ve started interviewing for the XYZ job?” Don’t press for details and don’t imply your friend should follow up with the hiring manager on your behalf, but IMO, being able to make a general “do you know where things are at” inquiry is one of the benefits of networking. The friend may then – or may not, depending on the culture around hiring in his office – ask for a status update from the hiring manager – and if I were in the manager’s shoes, I’d be much more willing to give an update to a coworker who made a referral than to the referral themselves.

  13. Mochafrap512*

    I’ve been stalked off and on for six years now by a “curious” ex. That could be the case. He could also be hiding from bad people, etc. the company should never make this mandatory and all that for why? He could also have a psychiatry issue. Regardless of what it is, the boss should be concerned for his health and safety, offer a hand but drop the photo.

    1. Ann Furthermore*

      Oh, that is awful and I’m sorry you have to deal with that. I also thought that this guy was hypersensitive about his privacy because of something like this.

      Blowing up is obviously not the best way to deal with it, and if he explained why he was so opposed to having his photo taken, that might have been the end of it. But on the other hand, in his position I would want to keep the details of something like that private, first because I’m a private person in general, and second, people talk. And the more people that know about a given situation, the greater the risk of someone’s privacy being violated. What a hard situation to be in.

      1. Colette*

        The thing that I struggle with is this: photos aren’t nearly as searchable as names, and especially not group photos. Is his name going to be on the page as well?

        (Having said that, I think it’s a ridiculous thing to put on a page like this – one person leaves or joins and your picture is out of date.)

        1. Mochafrap512*

          I tried refraining from stating this and if the
          Op reads this, please do not
          Repeat it around your work in case it is true, but if he is in witness protection hiding from a large group, there is a good chance someone will see it and his life would be in danger. Those mobs and Gangs look everywhere, and sometimes things are just stumbled upon. Regardless, in protection, you can’t have your photo on the web.

      2. Mochafrap512*

        Thank you! :)
        He may have handled it wrong, not because he meant to, but he may just be so out of his rope, that he lashed out. You get to that point. I have.

    2. Jen RO*

      Then you would explain to your manager, calmly, that due to personal reasons (I would go into detail, but you might not), you do not want your photo to be taken. Blowing up is not the solution.

      1. TychaBrahe*

        It’s really, really difficult to maintain calm in the face of sudden abject terror.

        1. Mike C*

          This is what I keep thinking. The folks that keep asking for a calm discussion in a meeting full of other people are forgetting what a fight or flight response is.

          I can’t imagine the terror of having my privacy invaded or violated by a stalker or worse, and I can’t imagine I would act much better if my boss were to be “surprise, we’re blowing your cover and linking your workplace to you in public and this is announcement is happening in front of your coworkers so it’s going to be really awkward if you object!”

          1. AnonAnalyst*

            Yes, this is what I was thinking. I was stalked several years ago by a former neighbor and as a result I’m still really careful about what gets posted about me online. I’m obviously seeing this situation through my own biased lens, but I wondered if the outburst was a panic-driven response, and the employee didn’t want to tell the manager the real concern in front of all of his coworkers, hence the legal action threat. I’m not condoning the employee’s response and it obviously would have been much better to speak with the manager in private after the meeting, but I can certainly understand it in some situations. I think the manager needs to speak with the employee privately to try to find out more about why the employee is so opposed to the group photo.

          2. fposte*

            Then you follow up afterwards explaining, though. By email if you can’t deal with face to face.

            (And while I know panic attacks can vary, they’re not automatically a blind stamping out of all logic and agency–people here have reported driving during them, and I’ve negotiated transportation situations. As I said, maybe his is different, but flight-or-fight doesn’t mean “anything but yelling is impossible.”)

            1. Natalie*

              The only panic attack I’ve had to date happened on a bus. It was certainly a weird and scary experience, but to an outsider I would have appeared to just be a regular person riding the bus, exiting the bus, and walking into a store.

            2. LBK*

              +1

              Panic might excuse the employee openly objecting in front of everyone, even in a blunt/aggressive manner. Panic does not excuse storming out of the room while threatening legal action.

            3. Mike C.*

              I think I was unclear, but I didn’t mean a panic attack per se, just a general “holy crap holy crap holy crap holy crap” feeling, hence the strong reaction.

          3. Sunflower*

            They asked him to have the photo taken. They didn’t bombard him with a camera. If he’s going to freak out that badly, then he should consider seeking some sort of professional help and I mean that in the most sincere way possible. It would be terrible to live a life where every time someone asks to take a picture with you, it brings on a bout of extreme terror

            I do think the company should back off though. If the guy doesn’t want to be in the picture then don’t make him.

        2. Jen RO*

          I am sure, but life goes on and you still have to act professional at your workplace. Traumatic experience does not equal a free pass to blow up at people.

    3. Blue Anne*

      Yech. That’s horrid. Really sorry to hear you have to deal with that situation. :(

  14. Ann Furthermore*

    #4: Photo

    I so feel for this guy, because I also really hate having my picture taken. Any time I need to be in a group photo at work, I always stand in the back. It usually works out, because I’m pretty tall and so it makes sense for me to stand in the back anyway.

    Just recently I was asked to be featured on some internal promotional materials related to my company’s ethics/code of conduct program. It is kind of a big deal to be selected, and a friend in the department putting it together recommended me (she does not know about my aversion to photos). So I didn’t really feel like I could say no. So this included an actual photo session (eek) complete with some dude taking pictures of me and telling me how to pose, not to look at the camera but off into the distance and think about the weekend. OMG. I felt so dorky and self-conscious! Then I had to talk with someone and answer some general questions about ethics, integrity, and so on.

    So…either my face will be on a freaking poster that’s hanging in locations all over the world for who knows how long, and I’ll have to walk by my face on the wall every day (again…EEK), or the write-up will be posted on the company’s internal website. I would actually be OK with that second option, so I’m hoping that’s what they decide to do with my stuff.

    1. Ann Furthermore*

      Also meant to add that I said something to the photographer about not liking getting my picture taken, and he said that he’s met very few people who really love it.

      Then he said he thinks it’s because when we see a picture of ourselves, we’re not seeing exactly what we see when we look in the mirror, but actually a mirror image of that, which does look a bit different. So it’s kind of jarring to see pictures of ourselves because it’s not what we’re used to seeing when we look in the mirror.

      I had never thought about that, but it does make sense.

      1. Blue Anne*

        >Then he said he thinks it’s because when we see a picture of ourselves, we’re not seeing exactly what we see when we look in the mirror, but actually a mirror image of that, which does look a bit different.

        I read a really good discussion lately of the difference between what we see in photographs and what we see in mirrors. The take home message was that “photogenic” is a real, definable quality which comes down to facial angles. Some people have faces which are easier to render in 2D and keep attractive. *Most* people can have this quality improved with skillful lighting and professional photography. But overall, a 2D image is never going to be quite the same as what you see in 3D, real lighting, with perspective and all the small movements a human naturally makes -so what you see in the mirror is much more accurate to how you look to other people.

        Very encouraging. :)

        1. Persephone Mulberry*

          I think I remember seeing this article as well – I meant to go back and read it. Now I definitely will!

        2. Elizabeth West*

          what you see in the mirror is much more accurate to how you look to other people.

          Oh thank God. Because when I look in the mirror, I usually think, “Hmm, I look pretty good.” But when I try to take a selfie or look at a photo of myself, it’s more like, “AUUUUGGHH!! RUN FOR YOUR LIFE!”

      2. Pip*

        This makes so much sense! Ages ago in drawing class I learned a trick to check if your drawing is warped – look at it in a mirror. If it looks as good in the mirror as you think it looks on the paper, it’s all good. Because when you look at something that’s a bit wonky for a long time (like when you are drawing or looking at your face in the mirror) you become used to and blind to the wonk. Flipping the image is a quick and easy way to get a fresh eye on it.

    2. KJR*

      I also really hate having my picture taken, so was none too thrilled when I was asked to have a part in the company’s promotional VIDEO, with LINES…that’s now on the company website. It turned out alright, but it was a very stressful and nerve-wracking experience. I will say it gave me a whole new respect for anyone on TV -actors, news broadcasters, etc. It’s a lot harder than it looks. Plus the lights are hot.

      1. AVP*

        Augh! I went to this event the other night and, very unexpectedly, there was a fake red-carpet type thing and a guy with an iPhone camera set to video asking questions and interviewing people as we entered. I made a joke about my shoes, but my boyfriend just stood there very quietly and stared at the camera and could not think of a single thing to say except “umm…umm….” Cameras can be scary, and especially video!

      2. JustKatie*

        I don’t know what’s worse, seeing myself in a picture/ on camera, or having to hear my voice! That sounds awful.

  15. Chocolate Teapot*

    A lot of larger companies will use generic pictures of happy, photogenic employees on their websites. For some reason they never look like any workforce I’ve encountered!

    1. MaryMary*

      My former employer used a picture of one of my coworkers in the annual report. She consented to the picture (and was pretty excited about it), but the final picture in the report was clearly photoshopped. My coworker has thinning hair, and the woman in the picture had abundant, thick hair. Awkward.

    2. Judy*

      Happy, photogenic, ethnically and gender diverse. In a way I’ve certainly never seen in any company meeting room.

      1. Anonna Miss*

        This made me spit my tea on the keyboard, Judy.

        It’s too true that the photos in the annual report never seem to resemble the actual workforce. Not even the pics of the executive team.

      2. HM in Atlanta*

        After I saw an advance copy of a 75-slide town hall deck, I noticed that every slide had a picture of generic employee on it. They were all late-20 caucasians (90% men). I asked if we couldn’t use fake pictures that were more reflective of our workforce (we have employees in over 150 countries).

        They didn’t even have any non-caucasian pics in the their stock photo pile. They had to buy some. It was so bizarre to me. Still – no one I’ve ever seen in any company meeting room.

  16. Blue Anne*

    #4 – I was actually wondering for the first few sentences whether this was from one of my co-workers. But it’s not. Phew.

    We’re in the middle of the same process – website redesign leading to a “Meet the Staff” page. When they said we could submit our own pictures and they could be quite casual, I was fine with it, because I do have one I use for profile pictures everywhere that I’m happy with.

    But now Bossman has said he wants one of our colleagues who does photography to take new headshots of us all, and then he’ll decide which to use afterwards. Normally a very casual office, but we’ve been instructed to show up bright and shiny for these photos. Haircuts, suits. Worth mentioning that I’m one of only two females, and the other is a director. Suddenly I’m WAY less happy about this, because…

    1. Seriously? I’m expected to spend £50 or so for a hair cut, fresh dye, maybe an eyebrow wax on top of that, on Bossman’s schedule, so I can pose for one of my colleagues taking photos of me (yuck) and Bossman can decide whether he wants to use that photo or not? No.

    2. I have a facial disfigurement. I’ve had a ton of surgery and it’s not very noticeable, but photographs tend to make it very obvious. Ask me to submit a photo I’m comfortable with, fine – ask me to sit still for a photo that will probably highlight it and will become one of the top Google results for my name, less so.

    Ugggghh.

    Photos are just such a fraught thing.

    1. Chocolate Teapot*

      I heard of one law firm where they were taking new photos and all the female partners got a trip to the beautician at the company’s expense.

      1. Blue Anne*

        That would make me *so* much more enthusiastic about it!

        (Although my company paying to make me look pretty is a different level of squick, to be honest…)

        1. Majigail*

          I think your boss issued the instructions to look your best so you would feel more comfortable with the end result. I think it’s more considerate that he’s letting you know when the photos are happening instead of just showing up with a camera.

          1. Blue Anne*

            The boss who issued these instructions was a she. :)

            And no, in this case, they had us submit photographs we were happy with in the first place. The ones they’re taking are apparently in case they decide to go with a more uniform, corporate look (which really isn’t how we look in real life!)

            I can see how warning us might be though of as more considerate, but in this case, the same instructions were given to my 8 male colleagues and myself, a woman. The email said “shiny shoes, haircuts, smart business dress” are the order of the day (and further, that if everyone “dressed up to the nines” she’d get us all cupcakes from a frou frou bakery nearby, but not if anyone turned up looking scruffy.)

            For a man, “dressed up to the nines” doesn’t imply nearly as much in terms of grooming as it does for a woman. Even just the “haircut” bit… I’d be paying £50 for a haircut, my colleagues would be spending about £10.

            But! I’ve talked it out with her and it’s fine, I won’t be doing it. I think that in this case it was just a matter of my boss not really thinking through how I would read the email, just my male colleagues.

    2. Jen RO*

      I would not make any extra effort, honestly. (Well, maybe I would dress up a bit, but I usually wear nerdy t-shirts.) I would definitely not go get a haircut or do anything beauty-related that I wouldn’t normally do. My cut-6-months-ago hair would have to be enough, if they can’t settle for a picture I already have.

    3. Persephone Mulberry*

      Oh, I feel bad for you. Primping expenses aside (and I totally get that), just because the guy “does photography” doesn’t mean he knows the first thing about portraiture and what it takes to get a flattering head shot – there’s so much more to it than “stand against that wall and smile.” They did this with one of my business classes – the professor wanted to make sure everyone had a “professional looking” head shot for their LinkedIn profile. The photographer was a friend of the professor, and her landscape photography is amaaaazing. I’d like to hang it in my house. But oh, my word – I looked like a gremlin in my head shot.

      1. Natalie*

        It’s just like anything – if people don’t know anything about photography they don’t realize there’s a huge difference in skill set between portraiture, action photography, landscapes, and so forth. Not to mention, particularly with portraiture you want someone who’s fairly skilled at photo editing.

      2. Blue Anne*

        That is exactly my concern. With my facial issue, anything but really skilled portrait photography or *very* lucky snaps make my eyes look like they’re massively different sizes. (Which they are, but not as badly as photos show. It’s like anti-photogenic.) And this guy mostly photographs friends trekking up snowy mountains, from one mountain over. Nope. Nope nope nope.

        That said – after this thread, I’ve had a sit down with Bosslady and said I wasn’t comfortable with it, citing the facial disfigurement issue and how rare it is that photographs don’t make it look worse than it is. She understands and they’re going to either use the photo I submitted, or leave me photo-less on the website. Fine with me.

        1. fposte*

          Oh, I have an anti-photogenic eye thing too–that’s why I’ve given up on work photos. (They really want to do artsy angled shots that exacerbate it, too.)

  17. Eric*

    #1:
    If an employee refers someone the least you can do is send a rejection letter.

    I’ve referred people in the past and they never so much as got a rejection letter from my company after I encouraged them to apply. I don’t refer people to my company anymore because of this.

  18. Anonymous1973*

    I guess I’m the lone voice of dissent: I don’t see what the big deal is about the photo. I agree with Allison that he shouldn’t be forced, but causing a scene and threatening a lawsuit is over the top. And (IMO) so what if it’s on the Internet forever? Lots of stuff is up there and (again my opinion) I doubt anyone really cares other than the person on the pic. Besides, it’s not like he can stop some random newspaper photographer from taking his picture if he’s at a baseball game or whatever. I just don’t see the need to yell and carry on. And if he is being stalked, which is very serious, I think a private conversation would yield better results and be more professional.

    1. Zillah*

      The difference between the company photo and your analogy is that if a random newspaper photographer took his picture at a public event, that might give away his location, but no more than that – and, since people travel sometimes and he wouldn’t even be identified by name, the risk is much more minimal.

      A photo on the company website identifies where you work now, not just where you went to a baseball game a month ago. That kind of information is infinitely more frightening to potentially have in the hands of a stalker, especially if your name is attached to the picture. That opens you up to them showing up at your job and even potentially finding out where you live.

      That’s a very, very different dynamic than a random newspaper photographer taking his picture if he’s at a baseball game…

      Now, it’s not clear that that’s the issue he has with this – it’s all speculation on our parts. But, if it is, his reaction is pretty understandable, even if it’s not measured and professional.

      1. anon123*

        His reaction was uncool and I said it above too, but:

        I think that it is unrealistic to think you can keep all your info off the internet, but I can understand the impulse–when presented with the option–to try to limit the amount of info you have online.

        I think people think that one piece of info–like a picture, where you work, etc–isn’t a big deal. But aggregated together someone can build a pretty complete profile of you and your life, and we have seen tons of examples about how that can be used. And yes, I know you could always get lots of info about people and their lives before the internets too, such as about their house, its value, etc from the City/tax assessment records, but I think the difference now is that too a lot of work to go get and had to be physically collected. Now it is all in one place, that can be easily collected.

        Also, I think you may need to take into account the person’s age. For people of a certain generation, they may not actively be putting stuff online, like FB, linkedIn, so the thought of putting stuff online would be weird/just feels icky for some reason. I know aside from my parent’s address on the yellowpages’s website, there is literally nothing online about them.

        1. Sunflower*

          Yes this. Also it’s totally different to include someone in a large company photo and to make them have their photo, name and all this other jargon on a website.

          My friend was recently in a company photo for her company’s website. I went on the site and I couldn’t even find her! She had to locate herself.

          I don’t think the guy should have to be in the photo but people need to understand there are way more pictures and information of them online than they probably realize.

          1. Judy*

            Yes, I would say it does depend on the group size. When my old company had a significant anniversary, they made us go out on the front lawn and stand in some shape, and took the photo from the top of the 4 story building. I’m pretty sure even I couldn’t find myself among the hundreds of other people. I certainly wouldn’t fuss about a group photo like that.

        2. Anonymous1973*

          Perhaps my “eh” attitude is because I used to work as a development researcher. For five years I created profiles of people based on what I found in the public record (mostly the Internet). So I completely understand the concept of the aggregate. I used that information to estimate a person’s net worth. There’s just so much out there, that really, there’s nothing you can do about it. If I saw a picture of someone on a corporate website, I doubt I’d even include that in an asset profile.

    2. Tinker*

      Thing I note though — the guy who had the reaction isn’t the one who wrote in for advice, so there’s a limit to how useful it is to advise him on what the per-fersh-ional way to handle whatever problem it is he’s got. Which we don’t know, ’cause he didn’t write in.

      It sounds to me — actually, it’s essentially stated in the letter — that there’s some sort of larger issue going on there that we don’t know anything about. For all we know, the guy could be peeing on the bathroom floor — that wouldn’t be professional either, but “professional” might not be a thing that’s on the table at this point.

  19. Fun-&-Games*

    About the photo:

    The fact that the employee lashed out in anger and not a nervous panic suggests to me that he does have something to hide. While he may be a witness or some type of victim (or perhaps just afraid of his soul being stolen), my thoughts quickly jumped to “well, there’s someone that doesn’t want to pay his child support or go back to jail.”

    Objecting to the photo? Fine. Blowing up about it? Not.

    If you are worried about your safety talk it out. People tend to not really want to harm others. Pitch a fit, well, all bets are off and NOBODY may feel like backing you anymore.

  20. Artemesia*

    Re the photo guy — I’d be inclined to run a background check to see if there is some scary reason this guy doesn’t want his picture out in public. It is a long way between ‘I hate to be photographed’ to ‘cease and desist order.’

    1. HistoryChick*

      OP #4 here. Yes, this did occur to us. After his reaction – we all then thought…I wonder what he has to hide. Fair of us to think – probably not (especially with some of the comments above.) However, to run a background check…don’t you need permission for that from the employee? Signed forms, etc? If a photo caused so much drama I can’t imagine what a background check would bring….especially if we’re not requiring everyone to get a background check and just him. In a way…would that/could that be perceived as bullying?

      1. fposte*

        Well, since you’re in the U.S., it doesn’t matter if it sounds like bullying or not, because that’s not a concept with any legal meaning here. However, since it sounds like he’s blown up inappropriately before, I’d be less concerned about the background and more about the now. You can fire him for just blowing up, after all; you don’t need a background to give you a reason. That just seems like a way to avoid dealing with a behavioral issue.

      2. Ask a Manager* Post author

        The first step needs to be his manager asking him, kindly, what’s going on. Let his response there inform anything that follows …. and yes to what fposte said about not needing a background check to address the blow-up and any other behavioral issues.

    2. Tinker*

      Eh, I’m kind of wondering here if people are being a bit quick to come to the conclusion that the guy’s got nothing to fear because he doesn’t present himself the way they think a “proper victim” should react. Which, I mean, the judgment of his behavior itself isn’t based on a great surplus of information in any case, but also there are enough cultural oddities around who gets the role of “victim” (or survivor, or whatever) and how they ought to play that part that I’m skeert of saying anything terribly definitive on that basis.

      I’m particularly dubious, also, of coming to the conclusion that the guy needs to be investigated to see what he did wrong. That seems like rather a leap, and possibly an unfortunate one.

      1. fposte*

        Right, narrative often doesn’t allow for the fact that people can both be victims and have victims.

        And whether he’s a victim or not, he needs to be able to work without angry outbursts. Even if he is a victim, he’s not going to be the only one in the room, and other people deserve not to be subjected to that.

  21. ExceptionToTheRule*

    Photo guy… I’m sympathetic to the guy, but yeah – the blow up isn’t cool. I was recently the “Employee of the Week” and had my picture emailed to the entire company (and whoever in corporate is on the company “all” email list) and instead of taking a new photo like they’ve done for everyone else, one of my superiors pulled an photo off the interwebs from an awards ceremony last fall. In which I was blitzed. I had a calm and polite conversation after the fact and that was the end of it. Any photos circulating of ExceptionToTheRule will be new – not recycled.

  22. Sadsack*

    #3. Just thought I’d mention that my cat’s vet is allergic to cats. I had been taking my cat to him for years before it came up in conversation. I don’t know how he deals with it, but he does.

  23. HistoryChick*

    Hi all, OP #4 here. As always, some great insight here in AAM, especially from other perspectives. I work for a small non-profit museum and part of our mission is engagement with the community, creating a welcoming atmosphere, etc. The thought behind the photo was to help “people” the site so visitors know who we are when they see us out on the grounds, come in to talk with us, etc. (We’ve been fighting an uphill battle with this.) That said, this reasoning wasn’t discussed. There was just an announcement at a staff meeting saying, you all have to get your picture taken for the website. So, of course, that should have been handled more diplomatically. The blowing up and arguing is another issue entirely and should be handled, but isn’t. It’s been a reoccurring issue so reading everyone’s posts…I think that is the issue not the photo per say.

    As a side note: we do work in a very public field and our pictures are being taken and posted ALL the time. (Doing a search for my museum online brings up awful pictures of me all over the internet giving tours and working at our festivals.) However, this particular worker isn’t in as public a position. I hear that people hate having their photos taken, and that there are valid reasons for not being in a photo (none of which I think are the case in this situation), but of course couldn’t be 100% sure.

    We ended up taking the photo without him so that is done. But I know my boss is struggling on how to move forward with this. I think I’ll send him a link to the blog! :-)

    1. fposte*

      Yes, if he’s prone to blowing up anyway, I think he’s no longer excused for possible protective reasons.

      That being said, we’re very public too (technically we are public, since we’re a state university), and I know at least one person who’s kept much of her information and image suppressed. In some ways it’s easier in an organization with lots of images because one absent face doesn’t make much difference.

    2. Sunflower*

      Yeah, like you admitted, announcing it that way probably wasn’t the best thing but it’s also impossible to take every employee’s input into this sort of thing. I think the idea of the photo is great, especially in your business, and was a good choice for your organization. Regardless, his reaction is ridiculous and I hope you guys are considering pulling him aside and gently asking if everything is okay and getting to the root of the problem.

      Very curious to hear an update in the future though!

      1. Majigail*

        I’m not sure of a better way to announce this. To me, individually speaking to each staff member would be inefficient. I’m assuming that management didn’t expect this to be a big deal.

      2. fposte*

        I don’t know, I’m with Majigail: as long as it wasn’t “You all are going to get your picture taken for the website RIGHT NOW” I think it’s perfectly fine to say that it’s going to happen.

  24. TRT*

    #3 – I am technically allergic to cats that causes me to have a runny nose, coughing. It didn’t stop me from adopting my cat, though. I really like the way that Alison phrased a suggested question!

    1. Persephone Mulberry*

      Yup, husband’s sister’s husband and kids are all allergic to cats and they still have two. They love cats and would rather all be on prescription allergy meds than not have the cats.

      1. Kelly L.*

        I’m seriously considering getting a cat (and a big stock of Zyrtec). I can’t have a dog in my current place but am really feeling in need of a furry friend.

        1. Diet Coke Addict*

          Depending on your allergy, they can be very controllable! My husband and I are both allergic to cats (me moderately, him mildly) and we have two insane kittens and very few problems! We vacuum two or three times a week, Furminate the cats to cut down on shedding (they’re short-hair anyway), don’t allow the cats in the bedroom or on any laundry or clothing, and we really only need to take allergy pills once a week or less. I think it’s partially desensitization, and partially making a real valiant effort to cut down on the cat hair. And it’s worked! Cats and allergic people can definitely coexist happily.

          1. Kelly L.*

            I also think there’s a specific set of genetic markers that I’m less allergic to. I’ve met a handful of cats that I didn’t react to–and all were female tan tabbies. It’s weird enough that I think there’s something scientific to it.

  25. Persephone Mulberry*

    #5/self taught

    Personally, I wouldn’t bring it up unless specifically asked where you learned your skills. As Alison said, practical application is what matters, and I would focus on what type of design work you’ve done rather than how you learned to do it.

  26. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

    We recently had headshots taken. We all work remotely and were together for a conference; we were told on day two of the three day conference that we’d have pictures taken the next morning. Yikes! No chance to get a haircut, couldn’t select clothes or makeup since we were all living out of suitcases. The results were predictably not great (for me).

    1. Elizabeth West*

      I have to get my passport photo taken today. So of course, I forgot to touch up my hair color and couldn’t find a decent shirt I didn’t have to iron. Yeah, I’m gonna be a schlub for the next ten years. >_<

      For some reason, though, my hair STYLE is behaving today. And I just had one of those moments in the mirror where I think I look good. :)

  27. Mike B.*

    The response to the photo letter is fascinating. People can really be loons about the matter–I remember how in high school, one of our teachers was surprised to have a candid snapped of her for the yearbook…and responded by demanding the camera, then ripping the film out of it to ensure that it would never be seen. (She may have had a point; some teachers had pictures in that yearbook so unflattering as to suggest it was revenge for something.)

    In any event, it is truly not worth arguing with someone who isn’t even willing to show up in the background of a group picture. The reason may be completely valid, slightly paranoid, or idiotic; if he’s a good employee there’s nothing to be gained by antagonizing him.

  28. Gilby*

    #3
    Is there any liability issue for the vet is a person gets a bad reaction lets say has to go the doctor? Just asking because I do not know.

    I am allergic to cats and can tolerate them for a couple of hours but can not ” live” with one like a person who works for a vet would be doing essentionally. I would love a cat but my reactions become too severe.

    So if someone underestimates their tolerance or ability to control the allergy ( even with meds) and has a reaction, who is at fault?
    I mean like can the person claim they need ” accomodations” like a disability type thing. I do not believe it is a covered disability.

    I can ask for reasonable accomodations being short, like can my desk be lowered, foot stools so my legs don’t dangle (which actually can hurt my legs) but can and does a vet have to accomodate allergy stuff? Better venhilation? Better cleaning to avoid as much dander as possbible?

    I mean I know the person should be responsibly but in this crazy world someone would find fault with the vet/clinic.

    I think the vet should ask the type of question Alison is suggesting and then on employment papers after hire, have some sort of statement saying that if you are allergic to dander you are responsible for meds and your own reaction and do not hold this office responsible. However legally per employment laws and stuff it needs to be.

  29. Hello Vino*

    #5: I agree with Alison that there’s no need to mention that you’re self taught on your application. I would just mention it briefly during the interview, then focus on demonstrating your skill level and the design work you’ve done. That said, self taught versus formally trained can be issue depending on where and what kind of design position you’re applying for.

  30. karen*

    Thank you so much for your insight on the vet job interview question. Very helpful and will make it a part of my interview process from now on.

  31. Liz*

    #3 – my vet is allergic to cats. Her clinic only deals with cats. She just deals with it: gets the shots, takes top-ups when necessary, and accepts the occasional runny nose/sneeze as part of the cost of being around the animals she loves.

    1. Poohbear McGriddles*

      I can imagine some people just love cats (or dogs, etc.) in spite of their allergies and want to find a way to work around them. If they can do so with some accommodation, great. However, if they are constantly missing half a day of work because of Lord Tubbington, then maybe that’s not the best environment for them.

  32. LuvzAlaugh*

    Unless the employee not wanting to take part in a group photo is in the witness protection program, he overreacted. Some people do not want their photos public, however, and you should have a good business cause if you are going to force them to be in a group shot.

  33. JenTheNiceHRGirl*

    1) I love this one because it happens to me ALL of the time. Also, to make matters worse, when I tell an employee that their referral is not a good fit, they will often times go over my head and directly to the hiring manager… and sometimes the hiring manager will agree to a “courtesy interview” out of respect to the employee. I totally disagree with doing this, because like AAM pointed out, it is a waste of time. I don’t want to waste the candidate’s time and I don’t want to waste my time and the hiring manager’s time. Also, I find it to be pretty mean to give someone false hope, especially in this challenging job market.

    1. Gilby*

      How disrepectful to you. And why is the employee running the show? You and the hiring managers need to be on the same page and that a no is a no.

      I want lots of things as an employee, better hours, more pay, I can’t just go to the prez and over your heads and demand it.

      I as the possible employee does not want a courtesy interview. Don’t waste my time when I can be looking for a real interview.

      1. JenTheNiceHRGirl*

        That’s how I feel to. I would be mortified if I found out that I was given a courtesy interview because my friend begged someone to do it. I think that some of our managers dislike confrontation and feel that if they push back on the employee, that the employee will be upset with them. Not all of the managers do this, really I have two main offenders. By not pushing back, they are setting a precedence for these silly courtesy interviews.

  34. Jill*

    #2: “Really- are you questioning me??” Really? Was it really two question marks? I mean, I get Alison’s (and other commenters’) point about pushback, but…
    Do you really want to work for someone that would use the phrase “Are you questioning me??” without a trace of irony? I wonder if this person’s employees can never voice a differing opinion. I’d be wary at least and look for other warning flags. Remember, a company only shows you their best side when they’re recruiting you, so you have to latch onto any signal, no matter how small.

    1. Bob C.*

      This. I agree that to press the hiring manager wasn’t a good move, and I’m not surprised that he expressed annoyance. But “Really -are you questioning me??” would be a red flag for me.

      It would also remind me of Beavis pulling his shirt over his head and saying “Are you threatening me??” Which, while hilarious, might make it difficult to stay appropriately serious.

  35. Algae (formerly LauraG)*

    Completely off topic; does anyone else remember the book Sweet Liar by Jude Deveraux? A newspaper photograph of a grandmother trying to stay anonymous to escape the mob ended up being a major plot point.

    It’s a fantastically crazy book.

  36. Joey*

    I’m interested in feedback. So even if it wasn’t required would you hold it against the employee if she didn’t want her picture taken? I’d be inclined to consider that she didn’t want to participate in something the company wanted her to. It wouldn’t be framed that way- Id frame it that doing all of these non essential company favors is a little extra credit come review time.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I wouldn’t hold it against someone, assuming they handled it in a professional way. If they’re a great employee, they’re a great employee, regardless of this. If they’re not, then they’re not and that should be dealt with. But I can’t see a photo factoring into either.

      1. Joey*

        I’m thinking though maybe id give extra credit to the employee who volunteered to participate in say a recruitment campaign video or a company training video vs. the person who always said no to those types of things. Definitely not for one particular picture, but a series of no’s to that kind of thing even when its not directly job related.

  37. Scott M*

    Sometimes people ‘blow up’ when they perceive something as the last straw, even though the one single issue isn’t a big deal.

    Perhaps he had previously discussed with management that he absolutely did not want his photo taken. To him it’s a “Big Deal”. But to management, it’s just something that weird Ed doesn’t like, so they never communicate it to anyone.

    Meanwhile this guy is silently steaming every time he has to avoid having his picture taken: At the office holiday party, the project kickoff meeting, the company picnic. Each one of these is a imagined slight directed specifically at him.

    So when it’s announced that everyone needs to have their picture taken for the company web site, it’s the one final straw and he blows up.

    That doesn’t excuse his actions, of course, but it’s a possible explanation.

  38. Case of the Mondays*

    If someone is in witness protection, they can’t tell their boss that they are in witness protection. They are just operating under a new identity. Part of that is an obligation to keep their pictures off the net. In my studies, I was presented with a real case where researchers were observing and photographing school children. All the parents signed the release except for one. The researchers forgot to cut that kid out of the pictures before publishing whatever they were publishing. It turned out the kid’s family was in witness protection and had to be moved, get new identities again because of the picture.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I know very little about witness protection, but I would think that if you were in such a serious program, you’d think about how to handle it when people want to talk your picture and would have some cover story prepared for why you can’t.

  39. Prickly Pear*

    #2- I am horribly annoyed by people that take jobs despite their obvious inevitability to a specific area. I know someone that works for a chocolate factory despite a chocolate allergy and complains that her job involves touching chocolate. It drives me batty!

  40. Tracy*

    For letter number four; maybe the guy’s in the Witness Protection Program or something? I’m kidding – sort of. But I do think there are valid reasons for someone not wanting their picture on a website.

  41. Cassie*

    We have photos of our faculty up on our website (each prof has his/her portrait along with bio info) and there was a mention by faculty about putting staff photos on the website too. While there has been no further mention of the idea (it was never discussed with staff either), I bet most staff would not like that plan.

    For me, I don’t mind the idea of photos but I usually am not too happy about the way I look in them. So I’m a little hesitant about being in photos even though I kind of want to be. Back in my ballet days, I usually looked awkward in posed photos but look fine in action shots. I’m too self-conscious, I think.

  42. Maria*

    #4 you are absolutely wrong. Unless he signed something, he cannot be forced into that photo!! I am completely on his side. Not to mention there are a myriad of serious reasons to not want to participate: domestic abuse victim, stalking victim, witness protection.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      The question isn’t what’s ethically right; the question is what’s legal. It’s absolutely legal for the company to require this.

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