my coworkers’ wives don’t want them to work with a woman, my manager won’t let me say goodbye to my clients, and more

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

1. I’m resigning, and my manager won’t let me say goodbye to my clients

My last day at my job was yesterday, but in the days before I left, something kind of bothered me. I figured it would be common courtesy to email my clients letting them know that it has been a pleasure working with them. My manager, however, forbade me from doing this. My manager herself is the one letting my clients know that I am leaving (which I understand, as it’s more appropriate coming from a manager), but she is not allowing me to email them on my last day—only if they reach out to me first am I allowed to acknowledge my departure with them.

As upset as I was by this (as I work closely with my clients and felt that my manager was dictating my correspondences), I agreed not to email my clients. My managers state that the reason for this is so that the client does not freak out and think that our company is understaffed (but they already know I’m leaving, so why is a courtesy goodbye email harmful?) and because it’s just not the way things are done. In addittion, I cannot reach out to one of my two clients because apparently they were not aware that I was dually aligned to them and another client. This client only wanted people who were solely aligned to them—in other words, my company was not transparent/honest about my dual alignment and this made me feel that my work was being undermined. Is this normal for a manager to forbid correspondence between an employee and the client? And now that I’m gone, would it be unwise to email the client from my personal email, letting them know that it was a pleasure working with them? Even though my clients knew I was leaving (they did not email me a goodbye, by the way), I felt that I should have reached out to them.

This isn’t that uncommon. Employers often want to control the messaging to clients when an employee leaves, partly because they want to simultaneously assure them that their work remains in good hands. Sometimes it’s also because they don’t want the exiting employee taking clients with them, although if that’s the case, they should have already had you sign an agreement to that effect.

Once you’re gone, your employer can’t control what you do (assuming there’s no agreement to the contrary), as long as you didn’t take client lists with you or otherwise violate a trade secrets agreement. That said, unless you had a close relationship with these clients and may have reason to care about that relationship with them in the future, it might not be worth stirring the pot on this.

2. What happened in this salary negotiation?

I applied for a job in my current field, was contacted by the hiring manager, stated my salary requirement, and the hiring manager said, “Okay.” One week and two interviews later, the hiring manager called to make an offer but first asked if we ever talked about compensation. She remembered that I said I wanted a 10% increase but didn’t know my current salary. I told her it was on the application. She said she didn’t see it, and then she found it while we were talking. She then explained the salary is almost 30% less than what I stated I was looking for…no range, just a number. She said they were prepared to make an offer but would understand if I can’t take such a large pay cut. She asked if I wanted to think about it over the weekend and let her know Monday; I said I would.

Umm, what the hell just happened? Is this just the result of the hiring manager not knowing where to look for current salary on their application and not asking “10% of what?” during our first conversation? Am I supposed to counter? It sucks because the team/the job seem like they would be a great fit for me…at the salary I quoted, maybe a bit less, but nowhere near 30% less.

Well, I think there were mistakes on both sides here. You said you were looking for 10% more than your current salary, but didn’t mention what your current salary was. Yes, it was on your application, but many hiring managers don’t look at all the crap that their HR-imposed application systems might ask for; they just look at your resume and other basics. Now, when you initially said you were looking for an increase of 10%, she should have clarified 10% of what. But she may have assumed that you were basically in the range she sees as normal for that work, and not bothered to check. (That’s more her mistake than yours, but by using that framing, you introduced room for it.) For what it’s worth, you were also a little coy in the second conversation — with the telling her look at the application rather than just telling her outright what number you’re looking for. So you’re both being a little weird, although her more so.

In any case, you can certainly counter with something closer to what you’re looking for, but the odds are making up a 30% difference are usually pretty low.

3. Explaining gaps on my resume from moving for my spouse’s job

I have a problem that’s come up a few times in the course of job hunting. I have a few gaps in my employment due to moving for my spouse’s career. When interviewers ask me, “Why did you leave this job?” it puts me in an awkward position. I struggle with how to answer this.

I know it’s common enough, as many people move for a spouse or significant other, but I worry that I will be judged for putting my personal life before my professional life (i.e., they will think I should have stayed at my last position until I found something in the new location). I feel like its unprofessional to bring my personal life and decisions into the interview. On the other hand, it’s the truth. Is there a preferred way to answer this in the hiring process? Is there a stigma attached?

It’s true that you don’t normally want to bring your personal life into an interview, but in this case it’s directly relevant: You moved because of your spouse’s career, and you should just explain that. They’re not going to be concerned that you didn’t stay in your old job in your old location until you found something new (that’s not an expectation when you’re moving). Employers don’t judge gaps as if having a gap is inherently bad. They simply want to know the cause for the gap. You have a perfectly understandable explanation.

4. My coworkers’ wives don’t want them to work with a woman

I work for a gas company. I work shift work, and there are two guys who will not work with me because their wives said they’re not allowed. They even looked up my picture on the company laptop to show their wives. I think this is totally wrong and I’m not sure how to handle it. I am the only woman in this job and feel very uncomfortable. What do you suggest I do?

Hell, yes, that’s wrong, and your company needs to deal with it. Your company needs to explain to these guys that they don’t make staffing assignments on the basis of sex, and that they’re expected to work with employees of any sex, just like they’re also expected to work with employees of any race, religion, etc. They also need to ensure that your work environment isn’t made unpleasant as a result of these guys or their wives, and they possibly need to send these guys in a time machine back to whatever year they came from.

A gas company is big enough to have an HR department. Go there and report this.

5. My manager lets some people have more sick days than others

At my job, there is a policy of only allowing 1.2 sick days in a rolling 12-month period. My manager is flexible on this policy with some employees but not others. Is this legal? I have missed 2 days, both with doctor’s excuses, and I am being written up, even though there are other employees with up to 5 missed days with no action taken. I feel that this is discrimination, and I don’t know how to handle this situation and what to say to my boss concerning the unfairness of her actions. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

First, the legality: It’s legal as long as the decisions aren’t being based on race, sex, religion, or other protected categories. That said, even when the decisions aren’t being made based on those categories, it’s usually wise to avoid that kind of thing because it can inadvertently appear to be based on those factors, which can lead to a legal problem for the company if they can’t disprove that. (However, there are also lots of legitimate reasons for this kind of disparate treatment, beyond whim or favoritism — like favoring higher performers, or people who are more reliable, or people at a more senior level.)

As for what to do: Why not ask your manager directly? Not in an accusatory way, but in a seeking-to-understand way. For instance: “Jane, I realize the written policy says 1.2 days, but my understanding is that it hasn’t been regularly enforced and that people have been able to take several additional days beyond that, so I thought there was some flexibility. Can you help me understand how this is handled?”

Also, 1.2 sick days in a year is really stingy.

{ 313 comments… read them below }

  1. CanadianWriter*

    1.2 sick days?! The 0.2 is the worst part; are these people allergic to nice, round numbers? Ack!

    1. Ann Furthermore*

      I know! Could they at least make it 1.25 sick days so someone could miss exactly 10 hours of work a year for being sick?

      I hear about companies with terrible, stingy sick policies, and I feel so fortunate. We get a bank of PTO to use each year, any way we like, plus 5 floating holidays.

      1. Mariette*

        I’m in Israel, and get something like 18 days of sick day a year! I had 2 really bad flu’s this winter and missed a week each time- my boss told me to rest up and not come back til I was all better. I had to get a Dr’ s note, no big deal. 1 day a year? That just encourages sick people to come to work and infect everyone else.

        1. Shannon*

          Yes it does make you want to go to sick work and these are 12 hour shifts at a hospital for nurses. Go figure.

          1. NK*

            Yikes…I was just watching an episode of Grey’s Anatomy where the doctors are working sick because they want to be tough and was REALLY hoping that didn’t happen in real life! In a hospital environment, that’s flat-out dangerous.

            1. Rose*

              It absolutely does. I’m dating a medical student, and she told me that because the hospital she works at (it’s a nationally ranked hospital with tons of funding) would be so short staffed if any nurse or doctor took a day off, they are all discouraged from calling out sick unless they are half way to dead. I have no idea why they don’t have a swing staff member or two for each floor so people can call out.

              So if a nurse or doctor wakes up feeling shitty, she is pushed to come into work. Comforting, right?

    2. KarenT*

      I wonder how you get to take the 0.2?

      “Hey boss, I’m going to be sick from 2:30 to 4:30.”

      1. Stephanie*

        One day is for the illness and the the 0.2 day is for the doctor’s appointment. And then after that, you’re SOL.

        And here I thought OldJob’s 2 days/year was stingy.

        1. Audiophile*

          How about no days a year? My current coworkers were all excited when they heard about a recent sick day bill, that was mandating paid sick leave. Then I broke the bad news that it was only for NYC.

    3. FD*

      At the place I work, you get sick time based on how much you’ve worked on a running average, which means you can get some strange numbers sometimes.

    4. Koko*

      0.2 doesn’t even multiply nicely by an 8-hour day or a 60-minute hour! That’s 1.6 hours, which is an hour and 36 minutes. WTF?

    5. ExceptionToTheRule*

      The OP indicates it’s 1.2 days in a rolling 12 month period. That’s 1.2 days per month or up to 14.4 days per 12 months if you take your allotted 1.2 days each month.

      1. ExceptionToTheRule*

        Which isn’t to say the policy isn’t totally hinky and the OP shouldn’t also ask for clarification.

        1. Judy*

          I don’t think that’s right. I read 1.2 days in a rolling 12 month period to mean if you take 1 day in January, and .2 days in March, you wouldn’t be able to have another day until the next January without writeup. If another employee takes 1.2 days in December, then they would be written up if they take more days before the next December.

          1. fposte*

            Exactly. So you’re not even off the hook if you take one day in December and one in January.

        1. Rose*

          Allison, can you comment on this? What does this phrasing actually mean?

          1.2 days a month is pretty standard.

          1. Sunsan*

            The last 2 jobs I’ve had if we need a sick day we take PTO. 10 days of PTO total is what I had so I moved on to a different job with more PTO

    6. Marie*

      1.2 days a year is absolutely nuts. And to make matters worse, they are not just docking pay for extra days, they are WRITING PEOPLE UP, despite doctor’s notes. Do they WANT their employees to make one another sick? What if someone is hospitalised – imagine them getting written up for that! Best case scenario, that is a recipe for a whole office full of germs and demotivated workers. Worst case, they could have an employee die at their desk because they’re too afraid of being written up to go to the doctor. That actually happened at my aunt’s workplace – someone had a heart attack at her desk and died mid-phone call. That was due to extreme work pressure, but I can easily see it happening due to this nutso policy.

      Sorry, the rage of having been made ill by coworkers four separate times in four months, as a pregnant woman not allowed to take any meds, and the six, entirely avoidable, missed days, is clearly getting to me. Thank goodness for understanding bosses who now let me work from home at the first hint of a sniffle.

    7. Vicki*

      And you get “written up” as if it was somehow your choice.

      Well, it was your choice not to Come Into Work and Infect Everyone Else.

  2. kas*

    1.2 sick days?! That’s beyond ridiculous and unreasonable. I’m shocked someone thought that was a good idea, especially the 0.2!

  3. PEBCAK*

    #2 — This is a mistake all around, because you should never give your salary requirement in terms of your current salary. Your current salary should have nothing to do with it.

    1. PEBCAK*

      (to be clear, it sounds like it wouldn’t have mattered in this case; you were too far off, but in general, you should just give a number)

    2. Neeta*

      She remembered that I said I wanted a 10% increase but didn’t know my current salary. I told her it was on the application.

      I assumed from that, that the OP’s application was sent through an online form, which could not be submitted without a valid number for current salary.

      Granted, I agree that the second time the OP was asked, he/she should have just named the desired range.

  4. Ann Furthermore*

    #4 Co-worker’s wives

    WTF? It’s not even Wednesday yet! Obviously, these 2 guys had their man parts removed and handed them over to the harpies they married. If I ever told my husband that I didn’t want him to work with a woman, he would laugh in my face.

    1. Another Emily*

      The guys here are 50% responsible for this fiasco since they actually followed through on their wives’ crazy demands. It’s true that the wives should have not asked for something so insane (if they actually did and the guys aren’t just using their wives as scapegoats for their jerkiness). However, there’s no way the guys should have brought their marital problems into the workplace. These guys are asses.

      1. Ann Furthermore*

        Ah, that’s something I didn’t think of — maybe they’re just sexist jerks that don’t think a woman has any place working beside them, so used this ridiculous excuse. I was thinking that even one guy saying this was odd, but for 2 to have the same excuse is just bizarre. That might explain it.

      2. A Dispatcher*

        I’m wondering the same thing, if maybe there is a bit of and old boys club thing going on here and the men are the ones who don’t want to work with a woman, but won’t just come out and say so.

        If not and it really is the wives, clearly they both need to take a close look into their marriages. If you can’t trust your spouse to simply work with a member of the opposite sex, you need to do some serious thinking about your relationship.

        1. Hunny*

          AS far as I know, abusers don’t typically coordinate the ways they try to control their SO’s behavior.

          Since there are two identical excuses of “my wife said so,” I’m inclined to believe its more sexism than abuse.

      3. Not So NewReader*

        Makes me wonder if these men said something to their wives that provoked that response. Not saying anything here is correct, because it isn’t. But I have to wonder if someone threw gas on the fire.

        I do believe though that these two men have discussed this at length with each other and they are supporting each other on this point.

        1. Chinook*

          I agree that marital issues do not belong in the workplace, but I do worry about men who let their wives control them like this as it can signify an abusive relationship (my test is, if the genders were reversed, how would I feel). Then again, they also could be jerks using their wives as an excuse.

      4. Jamie*

        These guys are 100% responsible, since they are the one that are brining the craziness to work.

        And what century is this?

        1. KarenT*

          This, and while I realized gas companies are probably male dominated, have they really never encountered a woman in their working lives before?

      5. FD*

        I think that them using their wives as an excuse is more likely, given that it’s two people doing it.

        I know a couple of people who have run into this–mostly in more industrial, physically demanding sort of work (mining, that kind of thing). Not the using wives as an excuse specifically, but not wanting to work with a woman.

        The thing is…my concern would be that it might not be as simple as reporting this. In a perfect world, this wouldn’t come up to begin with; in a fair world, the OP could report it and have it handled. However, if this attitude goes far enough up, reporting it might get the OP labeled as ‘high maintenance’ and ‘a troublemaker’.

        The OP unfortunately may need to consider whether the culture is such that she can report it without making her own situation worse. That’s utterly unfair, but it is a potential concern.

        1. Sunflower*

          My guess is if this attitude goes high up enough to get OP labeled a trouble maker, I’m not sure she would have gotten hired in the first place.

        2. Elizabeth West*

          Well, no matter what their reason, employees refusing to work with another employee are disruptive to the workplace. Even without the sexist, jealous bullcrap, HR still probably should know about it. They need to deal with it or let these guys go.

        3. Hunny*

          I’m not sure if this is a problem for OP, or a problem for OP’s manager. Just because they are basing their behavior on her presence doesn’t mean she needs to fix it.

          But if they are showing up to work and not doing their job and they are making her job harder, then.. Well… It’s just wrong!

          1. Jill*

            This was going to be my comment. I can see OP getting irked at this fantastic trip back to 1952, but why is it her problem to deal with. I assume the “I don’t want to work with” convo is being had between the male employees and the shift manager.

            If it were me (and I’m female) I’d let this one go. I’ll do my job to the best of my ability with whomever you partner me with. I don’t care if they want to work with me or not. And I dont’ care what my co-worker’s spouses think of me – I dont’ need them to do my work.

            I’d advise OP to just have the attitude of “let’s get our tasks done and go home” and be done with it.

            1. Beti*

              Agreed. These two throwbacks are the ones who are going to come off as babies by demanding special treatment. Their logic doesn’t even really make sense in terms of boys club sexism – what good old boy would respect another man who let his wife boss him around?

              I’m not sure the OP needs to worry too much about these two guys unless mgmt starts scheduling her differently because if them or unless those guys start harrassing her.

      6. Artemesia*

        This. I always told my kids they could tell their friends their parents wouldn’t allow them to do something if they were in a spot where they felt uncomfortable saying no and they could exaggerate how much trouble they would be in if necessary.

        This is all on the guys not the wives. Probably THEY don’t want to work with a woman because they are sexist jerks. If it is the wives, what kind of twit has a ‘Mommy won’t let me’ excuse as a grown man in his professional life?

        1. Zillah*

          Agreed. Maybe this is an abusive situation, but I doubt it, especially since there are two people saying this. If their wives are truly telling them what to do at work and they are listening, they’ve likely either introduced or actively participated in that kind of control in the past. I doubt it came out of nowhere, so these are likely parameters that they’ve established as being acceptable in the relationship. That’s on them as much as their wives.

    2. Stephanie*

      So then the other guys just don’t do their work?

      Oh, that’s comforting knowing this is happening at a gas company. /sarcasm

    3. Stephanie*

      Also, in college, my study partner’s girlfriend was insanely jealous of all the time we spent together (doing problem sets). She didn’t forbid him from doing homework, but she would sit there while we did homework, glare, and ask how much longer until he was done. Once she figured out that “checking heat transfer homework with Stephanie” wasn’t a euphemism, she left.

      Either she was a harpie and he was spineless or he acted in some way that made her that nutty and paranoid.

      1. Audiophile*

        Haha. I’m just envisioning ‘heat transfer homework’ as euphemism.

        ‘Uh yeah, babe,I’m doing homework.’

        1. bearing*

          Laughing, because my college sweetheart whom I married was, like me, a chemical engineering student. This brings back memories.

      2. class factotum*

        Didn’t she have her own homework? My college boyfriend was a physics major. He was busy. I was an English major. I was busy. The last thing I wanted to do with my free time was watch him do homework. I wanted to get him alone so we could – not do homework.

        1. Stephanie*

          She was a music major and didn’t have as much book homework, so she’d spend all day/early evening practicing at the music school.

      3. Mallory*

        One of the guys who used to work with a previous boyfriend of mine had a wife who was insanely jealous (and competitive with other women about looks) all the time. As in, when we went out as a group, she would become angry and accusatory with her spouse if a good-looking woman walked into the restaurant, or into the ballpark, or entered the vicinity of wherever we happened to be. She always thought that he was looking at them, even if he wasn’t.

        When he got a promotion at work, his new job came with an assistant who happened to be a very good-looking young woman. Even though nothing at all was going on between them, he made all the guys at work swear to never mention to his wife that he had an assistant, because he just wanted to avoid her overblown jealous reaction and weeks of emotional punishment.

    4. EngineerGirl*

      ARGGGGHHHH! I had to deal with this 30 years ago and it’s still happening???? (sound of head banging on keyboard) I’m so sorry.
      I hate to say this, but the women that pull this sort of stunt are the truly insecure mean girls from jr. high. As if you were going to work to entice these men instead of, oh, I don’t know – work.
      You should – in no uncertain terms – let your coworkers know that their wives get zero vote in who works for the gas company. They get zero vote in work assignments. You should also let them know that you expect to be treated the with the same professionalism as your coworkers. And go to HR because this is pure sex based discrimination.

      1. EngineerGirl*

        BTW, I am recommending the strong approach for this because it is so off base that a subtle hint won’t work. If you want to be nice to these guys then look them straight in the eye and state “Refusing to work with me because I’m female is sex based discrimination and is illegal under both state and federal law. It can get you fired and the company sued. No one’s going to like those consequences.”

        1. Apollo Warbucks*

          I don’t think that is overly strong, it is direct and to the point and outlines the consequences of their stupidity very well.

          It’s just a shame they think this type of behaviour is reasonable or acceptable. I don’t buy in to the fact that two women separately made the demand that the OP not be allowed near their husbands, and even if they did I can not imagine a situation where the husbands would take that in to the office thinking it would not reflect badly on them. Either it’s the coworkers that have the problem or we’re missing some background information, my guess is the coworkers are jerks.

          1. Chinook*

            I disagree – I don’t think kt unusual that two women made the same b.s. demand – they are probably friends who convinced each other that female employees are just looking for a man. Mean girls work best when someone can tell them they are right.

            1. Apollo Warbucks*

              I didn’t think of the fact that the women might know each other, that makes it more plausible they might both have made the demand together.

            2. Tina*

              I’m curious to whether there might be cultural issues involved with the male coworkers/their wives? I’m guessing not since the OP didn’t mention it, and I’m not defending it, it’s just a thought.

              I’m not sure which idea I found more appalling in this day and age- the idea of the sexist men saying that, or the controlling/insecure wives saying that.

              1. De Minimis*

                Found out that there was a similar situation at my workplace when it was announced that I was coming aboard. Originally I was supposed to share an office with one of the women here [I’m a guy] and she said she couldn’t do that because her husband would freak out if she was sharing an office with a man. So she switched offices with someone else before I started. The new configuration made more sense anyway, I ended up sharing an office with the person I’m supposed to eventually replace.

                1. Jamie*

                  What is going through people’s heads where they think the next logical step after sharing an office, or giving someone a ride, or working on a project with someone is wild abandon and hedonistic sex?

                  Honestly, I’ve shared many and office and worked on many a project and haven’t had my virtue compromised even once.

                  It must be terrifying and exhausting to live inside the heads of one someone who thinks like that.

                2. Windchime*

                  I knew someone like this. He and his wife both worked at the same place I did (I am also a woman). He would freak out if he saw her walking to a meeting in a different building with a male co-worker. The time she gave a man (also a coworker) a ride in her car to a meeting across town, he was apoplectic.

                  Turns out he was a cheater. Cheaters see the world through the eyes of a cheater. Because they do it, they think that everyone is thinking about doing it so they are suspicious of every little thing. (Disclaimer: This is only my opinion and I’m not trying to start a thing with this comment).

                3. EvilQueenRegina*

                  To Windchime, who I can’t reply to: My ex from uni didn’t like me sitting next to two particular guys in class – one of whom he knew full well was in a relationship with my roommate, the other was gay, and we usually sat together as part of a big group of friends.

                  Turned out in the end he was cheating himself.

                1. De Minimis*

                  Apparently the husband is very jealous and I don’t know if he found out about the situation and raised a fuss or if she just assumed he would react that way and cause problems at home.

                  In the end it didn’t make sense for us to share an office anyway so it did not really interfere with work, but if she’d been in my workgroup that would have caused real difficulty as far as my training and getting things done at work.

                2. Elizabeth West*

                  I never heard of the orthodox Jews saying that the men can’t work with women. It seems I heard that very traditional Orthodox Jews forbid TOUCHING someone of the opposite sex if they are not spouses or family, even to shake hands. But you can totally work with other people without touching them!

                3. EngineerGirl*

                  I can’t reply to Chinook so am stating it here. It isn’t an issue of gender equality trumping religious equality. The true issue is that your rights can’t trump the rights of someone else. Or as I’ve said to my sister – “Your rights end where mine begin.”

                4. jewishnon*

                  I’m a religious Jewish woman and I really doubt this is the case. Touching, yes. Being in a room alone with the door closed with a non-related woman, yes. (It’s mostly to avoid the illusion of impropriety.) But while you will find some religious Jewish men who will not look at the uncovered hair of a woman, those men are unlikely to be working at a gas company…

                  Also, if this was the problem, they wouldn’t blame their wives for telling them not to do it. It would be their religion. I’m totally okay with saying to someone “hey, I understand you don’t mean anything by touching my back, but it’s actually a religious thing for me that I don’t have that kind of physical contact. Shaking hands is fine because it’s a business practice, but please don’t touch my back.” and smile and make it all nice and maybe a little bit of a pause to make them take a moment to think about the fact that they were touching me without my permission in a non-standard-business-practice way. ;)

                5. CA Anon*


                  I worked with a conservative Muslim girl in college who wouldn’t shake hands with others–even other women. She explained it was because of her religion nobody cared. She got an “ok, nice to meet you” and everyone went back to work. Like you, she was able to adhere to the practices of her religion without making it weird or inconveniencing others. It’s all in the execution and attitude–if it’s matter of fact for you, it’ll be matter of fact for everyone else.

                  Refusing to look at or work with the opposite sex? That’s something totally different.

            3. Darcy*

              Many oil & gas jobs are in small towns where everyone either knows or is related to everyone else. It can make hiring pretty difficult and it’s very realistic that the wives know each other.

            4. Mallory*

              This. The jealous wife I mentioned upthread was exactly like a jr.-high mean girl. She was probably so insecure about what other women were up to because she was, herself, so devious and mean. Anyway, she absolutely had a group of friends (her “army of skanks”, as it were) who would back her up and pull the same stunt just because mean girl solidarity works like that, I guess?

              1. Not So NewReader*

                People do seek validation from their friends. I guess it the tricky part is who we call a friend.

    5. H. Vane*

      Also, does it weird anyone else out that the coworkers supposedly looked up OP’s picture to show to their wives to prove she wasn’t a threat? How is she supposed to take that?

          1. Ann Furthermore*

            This is what I thought too, which is a whole other level of weird and creepy. I think it’s safe to assume that the OP’s picture on the website isn’t a Glamour Shots boudoir photo, so what was their problem? That she’s too attractive to work with their husbands?

          2. Mallory*

            This is what I thought, too. The wives demanded to see what she looked like, and then forbade their husbands from working with her because she was too attractive.

      1. themmases*

        This happened to me! It’s very creepy.

        When I was starting a grad program in a new city, I responded to a classmate’s roommate request on the department listserv. After a few messages back and forth, he told me there was a problem because his girlfriend didn’t want him living with a woman. He let her use his Facebook login to look through my pictures and other parts of my profile that aren’t public. Even the fact that I was with my partner (who lived in another city and was fine with the roommate arrangement) in most pictures didn’t calm her down because according to her my partner resembled her boyfriend and he might be my type!

        Later this guy told me lots of stuff about their relationship– that I didn’t ask about– that provided a pretty good basis for her over the top jealousy (including the very fact that he would talk about his relationship to someone his girlfriend felt threatened by). But in my experience of this situation, both partners had serious issues.

        1. sunny-dee*

          I would say that living with someone of the opposite sex is different than working with someone of the opposite sex. My husband works with a lot of women and I don’t even think of it — but I would start getting uncomfortable if he wanted to split a hotel suite during a conference or something. ;)

          1. themmases*

            I disagree with you. Many people I know do this, and it doesn’t imply that you’ll be sharing a room or even spending much time together– just splitting rent. As I already said in my post, my partner was fine with this. This person was trying to search for an apartment from out of state and had no other options at the time.

            Also, it doesn’t justify someone I’ve never met violating my privacy and going through my photos to make assumptions about me and justify her own jealousy, which is what the thread was about.

            1. Pennalynn Lott*

              Yeah, I’ve shared hotel rooms with guys I worked with, and there was nothing hedonistic about it. For me, it was no more awkward than sharing a hotel room with a female co-worker. Either way, I’m changing my clothes in the bathroom and sleeping in shorts and a t-shirt. So not a big deal.

              (But then, I grew up with a brother only a year older than me, and have always had more guy friends than gal friends. And of the seven people I’ve ever shared a house/apartment with, only one was a woman. So platonic co-ed sleepovers are pretty normal for me).

                1. Pennalynn Lott*

                  I get how it might be weird for you, but it wasn’t weird for me or the guys I’d shared a room with. It’s obviously not universally weird if we were all okay with it. (And it spanned three different companies).

      2. Dang*

        I was wondering if it was before or after the “you can’t work with women” conversation. Either way, totally creepy and out of line.

      3. RMc*

        I would be incredibly insulted, for a number of reasons. The most petty of which is: WTF – are you trying to say I’m unattractive and therefore not a threat?

    6. Can't Think of a Good Name*

      So I’ve actually experienced the opposite of this. Some people got moved around at my husband’s workplace, and he ended up sharing an office with a female co-worker. We’d met, gone on double dates with her and her boyfriend, and overall I think she’s great. Before she would agree to share the office though, she insisted that my husband get an okay from me. I laughed and told him he could ask for my permission if they started sharing a chair, but otherwise the whole thing was silly. I guess it was nice that she was trying to be considerate of my feelings, but now I’m paranoid that I gave off the impression that I’m “that wife.”

      1. Mephyle*

        Probably it wasn’t you, it was her. If you were entirely cool with it, I’m sure you didn’t give the impression otherwise, but her past history/culture might make her think that 100% of women in your position would need to be asked for an OK because that’s just what one does.

      2. Pennalynn Lott*

        I’ve had something similar happen! My boyfriend of 11 years likes to go fly-fishing and tie flies (neither of which interests me in the least), and after he joined a local fly-tying club he became friends with one of the women in the group. She insisted on meeting me before they went on some day-long fishing trip. I was like, “What? Why?” and he said it was because she wanted to prove she wasn’t a threat to me. I thought it was incredibly funny (though also endearing), because either my boyfriend is trustworthy or he isn’t, and because I have no intention of cutting him off from 50% of the population. They’ve since gone on several camping and fishing trips that have included 2-3 nights in a cabin together, and I’m positively thrilled that he has a friend to share that stuff with instead of dragging me along.

        I don’t even have the brain space to process being upset because my boyfriend is simply working with a woman, even if they share the same office or cube. That’s just. . . well, that’s a situation that calls for either ending the relationship (because he’s a chronic cheater) or for counseling (because you have jealousy, boundary and control issues).

  5. carlotta*

    #2 – and when a recruiter says ‘OK’ in response to your salary requirements, it doesn’t mean ‘yes, that’s within our range’ (although I know it’s really tempting to think that, as I’ve done this myself in the past!)

    1. Vicki*

      It wasn’t a recruiter, it was the hiring manager who said “Okay”.

      And what else could “Okay” mean but “That’s in our ballpark”?? (other than, of course, “I’m not paying attention to the answer you give me.)

  6. Purple Dragon*

    #1. I’m resigning, and my manager won’t let me say goodbye to my clients

    I wouldn’t send them an email now – I’d just leave it. Most people understand that companies prefer employees not contact clients. I’d think it was very strange receiving an email from someone in your position saying it was nice working with me, unless you were looking for a job.

    1. op#1*

      Thanks, I’m glad I asked this question. My family/friends that I asked for advice all told me to email the clients anyway so I’m glad I got a neutral opinion before I did. Then again, my family and friends are aware that my manager is not a very nice person sometimes, so that played a role.

      1. Sarahnova*

        I’d say to go ahead and email anyone you had a particularly strong relationship with from your personal account, but I work in a business/industry where there are many long-lasting relationships that outlive jobs and that’s accepted. Ultimately, it’s up to you – if you really value those people and/or they could be important future contacts, I’d risk your ex-manager’s displeasure, but if not, I might leave it.

        1. AdAgencyChick*

          Agreed. I think it depends on industry, because in mine I wouldn’t consider it at all odd to maintain contact with a particularly good client after you’ve left the company. OP may want to connect with them on LinkedIn and send a note when s/he does it.

          It is also not uncommon, unfortunately, for companies to hide the fact that your “loyalties are divided,” as OP mentioned (ie, working for two clients when each client individually thinks it owns all of your time). I hate that we can’t all be honest with each other, but I get why it happens — clients don’t pay for all of your time, but they want to feel like they can call on you whenever they want, and for the most part I can balance my workload to make them feel that way, so it saves a bunch of squawking for my account teams to just pretend like each client owns me.

        1. Mints*

          That’s what I thought too. If you got along enough, LinkedIn would be good for keeping in touch. And it’s personal enough that it wouldn’t look like stealing clients

    2. Sarahnova*

      Just as an alternate view, I wouldn’t find that strange at all. I have many relationships with clients/contacts/vendors that I value for themselves, and I’d say so because I meant it, not because I wanted something.

  7. Puffle*

    #4 wow. Srsly, do what you like in your personal time, but don’t bring your marital issues to work. OP, you have my sympathies.

    Is there any sort of connection between these two male colleagues, other than that they work at the same place? It just seems really weird that there would be TWO guys both saying, “Oh, my wife won’t let me work with women”.

    1. Elysian*

      I know some people are suggesting that maybe the men are using their wives as excuses, but it also wouldn’t surprise me if they were neighbors and/or their wives were friends and came up with this idea cooperatively, or something like that. Either way, its a stupid and outdated idea.

      1. Koko*

        Or the guys were hanging out with their wives on the weekends making vulgar/sexualized comments about the new woman they work with, the women voiced objection and said they didn’t like it (the sexualized remarks/attitude) and the men went to work and translated that as, “Our wives don’t like us working with a woman.”

        1. S*

          This seems like the most likely scenario by far to me. Not “letting” your partner work with people of the opposite gender is blatantly controlling and abusive – it just seems really unlikely that these two men’s wives both did that, at least without any other indications that they are abusive or controlling. (And taking the word of two seemingly very sexist dudes about a gender issue at face value seems… not necessarily sexist in and of itself, since of course women can be abusive, controlling, and/or just mean people and it’s possible that’s exactly what’s going on – but I’m surprised people are so quick to believe the mean girl trope, esp. given who the information is coming from.)

          1. some1*

            I have known both men & women who were this jealous & controlling, so I can believe either scenario. Either way the guys are responsible for trying to go along with it.

          2. Pennalynn Lott*

            The husband of a friend of mine was bragging at a big gathering a few years back about how he helped get a woman fired from the company he worked for. He’s in the commercial A/C and ducting industry, and he can only be described as a racist, sexist, bass-akward redneck [and I’m being charitable here]. The woman was the only female in the company who wasn’t an admin, and she was also the only female on any of the work sites. The guys didn’t like working with a woman [why the hell not??] and the husband started making a bunch of noise about how his wife didn’t like him working with another woman. I know for a fact that the wife (my friend) honestly couldn’t have cared less. But he thought it was his “in” for saying that the new female employee created a stressful and difficult work environment for him. Several of the other guys thought this was a great way to get around being called sexist and joined in. The company didn’t want to bother with untangling the sicko dynamics and just let her go. He guffawed about it for months afterward.

            So, yeah, I’m having trouble buying into the Mean Girls meme, too, having witnessed sexist ass-hattery in a similar situation.

  8. Agile developer*

    Regarding #2 – what reason is there to talk in percentages and not just state “my desired salary is between $x and $y”?

    1. Cautionary tail*

      I would never give a range of between x (low) and y (high). You the applicant really sees y, while the company really sees x. If you really want y then just state it or enter it as both

      1. Leave yourself room to negotiate!*

        I usually give a range of $x to $y where $x is truly the minimum I’ll accept, not where my minimum is in between X and Y. For one, at the stage where they ask about salary I don’t usually have a complete picture of the job yet, things like – how many hours a week would I work in a typical week, 45 or 60? How often am I expected to travel out of town overnight, how often am I expected to work weekends or evenings?

        Then, if they offer me at least $X but not $Y and if it’s 60-hours a week with frequent travel and 2 Saturdays a month, I can try to negotiate upwards citing the demanding work requirements, or if they can’t budge on salary I can cite the demanding requirements and point out this is near the bottom of my desired salary range and negotiate for additional non-salary perks like extra vacation days, flexible start/end hours, telecommuting, a private office, childcare arrangements (if I had kids), professional development assurances, tuition reimbursement, transit benefit, etc. If they offer me at least $X but not $Y and it’s a 35-hour workweek with travel once or twice a year and no weekends or evenings ordinarily, I’d probably just be happy with $X, because that truly was all I needed and I’ll be happy to have all the free time and lower stress of the job.

        At my current job, I asked for $55-60k and they told me the position had originally been budgeted with a max of $50k but I was a very attractive candidate and already making $50k, so they moved some things around and the highest they could go was $53k. So I asked for a 1-day-per-week telecommuting arrangement that would save me a few hundred $ and about 50 hours per year in transit costs and time, allow me to have a regular day each week I could schedule for package deliveries and repairmen, etc. as well as have a day of solitude to focus on projects. They agreed and I accepted the revised offer.

        In under 2 years the salary increases I received ended up taking me well above my initial desired range as I proved myself to the company in actual performance. In a way I couldn’t have been luckier that they came in at the bottom of my range in the initial offer, because I still get to work from home one day a week, a perk no one else in my department (possibly no one else in my company) gets. Only in that negotiation where they really wanted me and couldn’t offer me the salary I desired were they willing to give such an unusual benefit out.

      2. Artemesia*

        I like the ‘The range for this job seems to usually run from X to Z and with my experience and my certification in teapot tempering, I would expect to start near the top of that range.’ or ‘The listing indicates a range of X to Z and with my experience and (etc) I would expect to qualify near the top of that range.’

        1. Cautionary tail*

          I appreciate the thought and thorough explanations offered by both commenters. In my experience, and that of others close to me, companies have offered less than the bottom and at the bottom, but never appeared to consider the top. I believe I am consistent with the two commenters in that you need to know that the bottom number is the one you will be negotiating based on. This bottom number should be a strong number based on your skill/experience/education/everything and one you are willing and able to live with. If you want to put a higher number in for the top and qualify it then fine, but realize that it is a number essentially for you and not for the company. This is Negotiation 101 and you’ve already told the company you’ll accept the low number so why would they bother offering more. Knowing that companies may underbid the low number, prepare by making that low number a thoroughly researched one. Alison even did a short piece on this as item #5 at

          1. Joey*

            For me I think applicants really have two numbers:
            1. Minimum=doesn’t come with a whole lot of commitment. It’s the number that gets you to accept the job and do it to the best of your ability. It may be a stepping stone to another company.
            2. The preferred amount is the amount it will take to keep you there for the forseeable future. This means if everything goes well you will be hoping to stay and grow within the company.

            1. class factotum*

              Yes! I recently accepted a promotion at work. I was initially told (I wrote about this in an open thread months ago) that the job would pay $X, but when they made the formal offer, it was $X-10k.

              $X-10K was still more than I was making at Oldposition, but not enough to keep me. I have been looking since day one at Newposition. If I were being paid $X, I might not be looking.

            2. Jamie*

              This makes sense, but I do think the numbers one has going in always have an implied asterisk – because the candidate doesn’t have all the data to put a number on that job.

              Iow, I have a minimum number that I need to meet based on my financial obligations. This is my personal bottom line. If I’m happy in my current job their minimum needs to be this personal number + whatever percentage at which I’d consider leaving (the happier I am the higher that percentage. Unhappy and it may be 0%)

              But that doesn’t mean it would be the same minimum for every job. Maybe for job A I’d enter talks for my minimum + 10% because it seems like a great opportunity and I’m really excited about the work. Or it’s closer to home, has flex time, vacation, whatever is important to hypothetical me.

              For a job that sounds like more stress or may not be as interesting as the one I have now maybe I need my minimum + 50% – because I’d just as soon not leave but my personal comfort and happiness is totally for sale (to a point) and if I fear a decrease in professional satisfaction it needs to me more than made up for increased financial satisfaction.

              I don’t agree there is an amount that really factors into staying longer, because they can always increase compensation once you’re on board. Because for any job I would always focus on what they need to get me in the door, because I’m reserving judgement on them until I have worked there long enough to get the lay of the land.

              If you hire me you need to hit my number – if you want me to stay and not look elsewhere you can hit that number with raises.

            3. NylaW*

              This is a great way of looking at it. Employers always hear the lower number, so it is unfortunately on the candidate to ask for something you would take and can live with, even if it’s not what you ultimately want.

            4. Koko*

              For me, I hate job-searching so much that my minimum amount IS the amount it would take to get me to stay. I’m not going to jump ship from a job I already have and know, to a big unknown quantity where I’m going to be immediately embarking on a new job search while dealing with training and getting up to speed on a completely new job.

              But the difference between my minimum and any higher preferred amount is how hard I expect to be asked to work. A generous salary entitles you to a great deal more of my evening and weekend time, and to me taking more initiative to take on dull/laborious projects voluntarily if I think they’ll benefit the company. A stingy salary entitles you to my best effort at the required functions of the job for 8 hours a day. (Which is why, if I go through the interview process and learn they’re firmly expecting the former commitment while offering the latter salary, I will negotiate upward or decline, even though they hit my “minimum.”)

          2. Graciosa*

            This is very often true, but I did want to point out that there are exceptions. Our offers are targeted pretty precisely based on the range for the position (market-adjusted each year), the candidate’s comparative level of experience, and the salaries of current incumbents.

            I admit that early on as a manager at Current Employer, I once suggested reducing an initial offer a little (about $2K on a salary in the mid 70s) because I thought the candidate would negotiate and wanted to leave myself some room to come up a bit. I was gently informed by our (wonderful!) HR representative that We Don’t Do That Here, and that my job as a manager was to make sure that the initial salary offer was a good, fair one.

            There are moments when I am really proud to work where I do, and this was one of them.

            1. anon-2*

              That’s the way companies should do it — just as job screening shouldn’t be compared to dating, salary negotiations should not be done the way one buys or sells a car.

        2. Joey*

          It would be more compelling if you get more specific than “my experience and credentials”. I want to hear exactly where you think you’ll excel in the job based on that exp/creds to justify a higher salary. If I can picture how you’ll excel I’m much more likely to see your value and will therefore be much more apt to look at higher salaries.

  9. Jen RO*

    #4 – I am really hoping there is some sort of huge misunderstanding here… otherwise, WTF! Both these guys and their wives have issues.

    1. anonintheuk*

      Seriously. Maybe the wives are jealous monsters, and/or maybe the husbands have given their wives reasons not to trust them. But they need to work that out between themselves and not assume that the OP is some floozy desperate to fling herself at the men.

      1. Zillah*

        Well, and even if she was – if you don’t trust your husband to remain faithful to you even if a woman is throwing herself at him, that doesn’t speak highly of your marriage.

        OP, I’m so sorry you have to deal with this nonsense.

        1. class factotum*

          My husband likes to go out and I don’t. He has his bar/karaoke friends (he is a singing engineer) and I like to stay at home and read my book.

          His friends ask him how I can “let” him go out alone. My reply is either you trust the person you are married to or you do not.

          And indeed, he would have far more opportunities to fool around during the 55 hours a week I am gone from the house while he works from his home office. If he had someone over to mess around, I might not even mind much as long as she did the laundry and had supper on the table when I got home.

          1. Jamie*

            OMG – your last sentence – I say something similar to my husband all the time, joking around.

            If he ever decides to cheat on me do it at the house, when no one is home, and make sure it’s someone who cleans.

          2. Sigrid*

            I’m in a poly relationship, and let me tell you, housework is *SO* much easier when there are three of you to split the chores.

            1. CA Anon*

              Dude, that rocks. My husband and I are poly, but don’t tend to have stable outside relationships. I’d kill for an extra set of hands to help with the chores. My husband definitely does his fair share, but I hate housework with a fiery passion of 1000 suns. Anything to lessen the load would be a huge blessing.

  10. De (Germany)*

    So much WTF for #4.

    What do these guys even expect the OP to do now? Do they want her to quit or take care that she only works shifts where they don’t work? I mean, I don’t even understand the logistics of telling a coworker you can’t work with them anymore. Even if that request were reasonable (and it’s far outside the realm of that), it’s not really like the OP could do anything about that, is it? I suppose they are not making their demand to a manager because they know just how ridiculous it is and that they wouldn’t get far with it if they brought it up the “proper” way (whatever “proper” means in this scenario… but it certainly wouldn’t be telling only your coworker).

    1. anonintheuk*

      I had a colleague who ‘left by mutual agreement’ after informing his boss that he could not go out on audits with women. The entry-level intake was about 40-45% female and that would have left a lot of them undertrained.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Jawdropping. When reality hits, it’s going to be a huge shocker for this guy. Good luck finding a place that does not employ women at all.

      2. the_scientist*

        There was actually a case similar to this at York University this year. A male student completing his degree online was enrolled in a class with a group project, that required meeting in person. The student emailed the professor and requested an accommodation because his strict religious adherence prohibits “intermingling of the sexes” and since the group was mostly female, he would not be able to meet with him. The professor of the course refused, on the grounds of discrimination. He also pointed out that this was not a reality-based “ask” since there are in fact women who go out in the world and work (what if the guy goes grocery shopping and the cashier is a woman, for example?).

        Of course, the university, afraid of lawsuits, told the professor that he should have accommodated the student, the same as he would have if the student lived too far away for in-person group work. When the professor asked if the request would need to be accommodated if the person refused to work with gay people or a certain race, they wouldn’t comment. This has actually opened up quite a schism at York, especially since they have an extremely diverse student body, issues like this will continue to arise.

        1. Katie the Fed*

          Was this also the one where it was a womens studies class? I mean, come on guy – you have to expect to work with women in a women’s studies class.

          1. the_scientist*

            It was an upper-level sociology class, but I’m not sure of the specifics beyond that.

            And not only do you need to expect to work with women in a women’s studies class, you need to work with women in life, unless I guess you plan to work at home by yourself or at a family-run business that only hires men and only works with other companies that do the same?

            Anyway, the student ended up completing the assignment as required and passing the class, and didn’t take the complaint higher up the chain of command.

          2. Josie*

            No, believe it or not there were two such incidents in Toronto around the same time. The other guy was in a women’s studies class at the University of Toronto, and just stopped coming to class because all the women made him nervous, then complained when he failed. *eyeroll*

            I’m sure that one wouldn’t have made the news if not for the York U story. “Student fails class for dumbass reason” isn’t usually a news item.

        2. Jamie*

          This is absolutely ridiculous. I am not up on academia, but in the private sector US you have to accommodate religious issues if it doesn’t cause “undue hardship.” And I can’t imagine something like this not passing that test, because what it would be causing would be a discriminatory work environment.

          I find all this so infuriating and baffling.

          1. Koko*

            The student was enrolled in a class that had a distance learning option for students abroad. Because the distance learning students didn’t have to do the in-person group project, the dean argued that it wasn’t an undue hardship to exempt this student from a project that wasn’t required of every student.

      3. Piper*

        I used to know someone like this – a wife who doesn’t think it’s appropriate for her husband to be in any one-on-one situation with a woman at work. Business meetings, training sessions, business lunches, etc. I’m not sure how she expected him to get any work done.

        1. LBK*

          Did she really think her husband was such a feral beast that he couldn’t be around any woman alone without trying to have sex with her? I mean, really…this is the kind of attitude that promotes rape culture, that men can’t be trusted and have an uncontrollable urge to just have sex with anything human, female and breathing. Pretty gross idea all around.

          1. Mallory*

            And if this is what she thinks he’s like, why does she even want him? That’s what I’ve always wondered.

        2. Not my 'Nym*

          Well, I for one always mess around with my opposite gender coworkers under the tablecloth when we go out to lunch. If the table’s big enough, sometimes I can even accomodate two or three.

        3. Cassie*

          Doug Christie, former NBA player, was in a similar situation – news articles reported that either his wife would not let female reporters interview him unless she was present. And she would accompany him everywhere (including to away games).

    2. some1*

      This is what I’m came to say; Wtf aside, how do the logistics of refusing to work with the LW even work? I’ve never worked somewhere where you got a say who worked beside you.

      Even playing Devil’s Advocate and saying this is a reasonable position the onus would be on these guys to get on a different shift.

      1. Jamie*

        I wouldn’t even find that reasonable, although I understand your point. If they were moved to another shift and their need to not work with women was factored at all into who was hired for that shift it’s still discrimination. Because it’s not just about the women there now, it’s about future employees as well.

        I wonder how these guys and their wives would feel if they ever had to report to a woman? Accommodating this even an inch leaves speculation that the company would humor this nonsense in promotions as well.

        1. EngineerGirl*

          This exactly. Which is why a line gets drawn in the sand immediately. If you give these guys any tolerance on their position now it will continue to create problems later.

          1. some1*

            I see what you guys are saying, I just mean what exactly do they expect the LW to do? Quit or switch shifts?

    3. The IT Manager*

      Anyone remember this? Of note, although this excerpt claim the guy who refused to serve with women won, he won after leaving the military so it could have been settled just to make it go away.

      Religious accommodation
      Former Air Force Capt. Ryan Berry has won a long struggle with the Defense Department on his right to reject intimate postings with the opposite sex.

      The case began in 1998 at Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota, where the West Point graduate served as a missileer in an underground Minuteman III silo.

      A devout Catholic, Mr. Berry had won permission from commanders not to serve 24- to 48-hour shifts with women officers. He believed he should avoid “situations in which he might develop inappropriate intimacy — even platonic — with a female who is not his wife,” said the Becket Fund for religious liberty, which represented Mr. Berry in his court appeals.

      “Berry regularly worked with women in all other aspects of his job and received a favorable evaluation from his female superior officer.”

      A new commander terminated the religious accommodations and entered critical comments on Mr. Berry’s fitness reports. The Air Force refused to remove them, and he filed a lawsuit in 2002.

      Last month, the Bush administration’s Defense Department agreed to settle and the Air Force agreed to remove all derogatory material in his record and on military Web sites.

      Mr. Berry left active duty and is in his final year of law school at Washington & Lee University in Lexington, Va.

      1. The IT Manager*

        This started over 14 years ago and I so wish people had gotten less stupid since then. Apparently not.

        1. class factotum*

          I am a Catholic and I have never heard of this. My dad was really devout yet managed an entire career in the air force. Admittedly, he retired in 1981 before there were many women in the service, but still – he never said he couldn’t be around women.

          Either you honor your vows or you don’t.

          1. Jamie*

            Ditto – I was surprised that the religion is Catholic. I know there are some sects that prohibit men and women being alone together at all, but this is the first I’ve heard of it in Catholicism.

            As long as you leave room for the Holy Ghost – but not sure they applies except at high school dances. :)

            Seriously though, maybe some parishes teach that, but I’d be more inclined to believe he didn’t want to work with women and used the religious protection as a means to an end. Not unheard of.

            1. Chinook*

              I agree – as a Catholic I can attest that there is nothing in our religion about men and women not being able to work together. Heck, even religious orders, which are gender specific, allow for those of the opposite gender to work there when necessary and sometimes this situations are quite intimate and personal (i.e. priests as confessors at convents or laywomen as the only support staff for the retired Pope Benedict).

          2. The IT Manager*

            I agree. What bugs me about this and similar rational to explain Muslim head coverings is that adults (adult males) should be able to experience temptation and not act on it.

            It’s not quite slut shaming but is still blaming the woman for being too potentially attractive and tempting to the male.

            Sadly I believe that the reason the co-worker’s in LW#4’s letter showed their wives her picture was to allow them to judge how attractive LW#4 is. Apparently the good news is the jealous wives deemed her attractive enough to tempt their husbands. Ironically I’d bet that these guys are such browbeaten, sexist pigs that LW is in no way tempted by them.

            1. Jamie*

              On that show 19 Kids and Counting the Duggar girls are responsible for saying “Nike” whenever there is a woman in shorts, tank top, not modestly dressed in public around their brothers and that’s the boys signal to look at their shoes until temptation passes.

              They also rarely watch tv but when they do and a woman in immodest clothing (showing a knee or shoulder counts) the girls have a towel they throw over the screen to protect their brothers from seeing it.

              Way to teach boys that any sexual feelings you have are not only the fault of girls, but it’s the responsibility of other girls to protect you from yourself.

              Call me crazy but I have all the faith in the world my sons can see a girl in a pair of shorts and not become a rapist or burst into flames.

              1. Stephanie*

                That’s some heteronormative thinking. What’s to say one of the girls yelling “Nike” wouldn’t find a knee enticing?

                I’m waiting for the inevitable tell-all memoir from one of those kids.

              2. The IT Manager*


                The double standard is really an insult to the men and boys that this must be done for them and women must hide themselves from them. Whereas the same does not go for women. Do the boys say Nike whenever n immodestly dressed boy appears?

                1. Mints*

                  Heh some feminist guys should totally get together in skimpy clothes and be in the background of their show a few times to see what the brothers do

          3. Stephanie*

            Yeah, one of my closest friends is a devout Catholic. She and her sister are both mechanical engineers. They would both be out of jobs using this logic. I agree that he was probably using the Catholicism as an excuse to cover up sexism (and that he was also using the suit to clean up his record).

            1. Jamie*

              Is it wrong that I want to use this to explain to my husband that because we’re Catholic he should insist I quit my job because there are too many men here?

              I could stay home and keep myself apart from temptation…and spend my days organizing the house, making soup, I’ll even learn to crochet.

              j/k – but it’s been a crappy morning so not sure how kidding I am just.

              (Didn’t get to sleep until after 4:00 with a migraine. Overslept > rushed in late and missed an 8:30 meeting. No big deal to reschedule, but not how you want to kick off a Monday with < 3 hours sleep and missing your own meeting.)

              1. class factotum*

                Rats. My husband is agnostic and super liberal. I could never use this argument with him – although he does try to pull the “But you’re Catholic and should be traditional so you should iron my shirts” stunt on me.

                1. Chinook*

                  ““But you’re Catholic and should be traditional so you should iron my shirts” ”

                  Not only does the Bible not cover doing other people’s laundry and ironing, there is a point where Jesus gives Martha heck for spending too much tuime in the kitchen and not being like her sister Mary who was hanging out with him in the front room!

              2. Stephanie*

                Ugh, I’m with you. Hope you feel better soon! Didn’t get much sleep last night and I’m drinking extra strong coffee to get through the drudgery of job applications.

                1. Jamie*

                  Thanks – we’re in the same boat. My migraine is gone, thankfully, so just the tired remains. Need more coffee.

          4. TychaBrahe*

            There’s also something called “the appearance of propriety.” I understand that Billy Graham never met with a woman alone behind a closed door. He might leave his door open so that his secretary (a man) would hear anything untoward. He might bring someone else in solely as a witness.

            He wasn’t concerned that he wouldn’t honor his vows. But long ago, when scandals among religious leaders was not the everyday thing it is today, he wanted to be absolutely certain that no one could allege he had behaved improperly.

      2. EB*

        Is this winning the right to a religious accommodation or winning the right to have negative evaluations removed from your file? From the description posted here, it looks like what the guy got was the removal of a negative evaluation.

        1. EngineerGirl*

          I was thinking that this was the case. He had the religious accommodation for years and then suddenly they took it away. That’s the point of the lawsuit.

        2. The IT Manager*

          Excellent point. I had to google hard to find the outcome of the case. I am fairly certain that the AF and US military in general won’t accept such excuses for men not to work in close quarters with women.

      3. Not So NewReader*

        I grew up Catholic myself. The part I am looking at is this: He believed he should avoid “situations in which he might develop inappropriate intimacy — even platonic — with a female who is not his wife.”

        So I guess he did not spend much time with his sister and mother,right? Heaven forbid he have a daughter because hmm–she’d be female.

        However, there is nothing here that says anything about Catholic beliefs. It is about his belief that he can’t control himself around a woman, that is the underlying problem here. It’s a big problem because he might accidentally be a friend to her (0r whatever).

        It’s not up to one’e employer to control one’s impulses.

        The responsibility is his and his alone. Perhaps counseling? I wonder if his next employer was willing to take over the role of protecting him from his own temptations?

        In the end, though getting rid of this guy was the right choice. What if next week he decides candy bars are too much temptation, does everyone have to get rid of their candy bars?

        He is too much work.

        Gosh, if I were married to that, I would be sooo very embarrassed.

      4. Omne*

        Um, in his defense this isn’t really just working with women it’s the equivalent of being locked in a motel room with them for 24-48 hours with no way to leave. It said he worked with them fine outside of this situation.

    4. Duo ones*

      I am curious how the manager responded in 4 s situation. I mean isn’t it ultimately up to management who gets scheduled which shifts ? If mgmnt goes along with guys’ stupid request that’s the real problem in my opinion.

      1. Jill*

        I am too – I’d love an update on this one.

        I don’t care if you’re Jewish, or Muslim or Catholic or WHAT religion you are. It’s not your employer’s job to keep you from falling into temptation. It’s YOURS.

        Otherwise, what? Anyone that’s ever had an affair with a co-worker can blame their infidelity on the fact that they were made to work with the opposite sex??? Ppffft!

  11. HR “Gumption”*

    #5- Could be FMLA involved with other employees as well.

    And I really, really hope there is a PTO or vacation package to supplement that feeble sick leave.

  12. vdubs*

    #1- It might help if you change your framing a bit. The clients aren’t yours- they’re your employer’s clients, whom you dealt with. Again, not “your clients” but rather your job and the employer’s clients.

    1. op#1*

      Thanks, that’s a good perspective. I wanted to add more to my email but I didn’t want to make it too long. A point that I wanted to add is that in those last days at work, my managers let me know that they had deemed me a “helper” to the client, even though I was a team member solely owning one of that client’s major tasks (didn’t feel too good to hear that. I let my manager know that I felt I did not deserve that). Also, part of the reason I left is because of unprofessional, personal comments that my manager made towards me. So if it had been a kind, professional manager asking me not to email the clients this would not have bothered me. But the two points above considered made me feel like not emailing my clients was a continuation of my manager’s less-than-nice request. Thank you.

      1. LBK*

        I’m not sure I understand what’s offensive about the “helper” comment, unless it was delivered in a demeaning way? I’m not clear on your positionr/ole, but if you were only one of a team of people working with each client, it does sound like you were a helper.

        1. Lisa*

          It is offensive, basically undervaluing years of work by giving credit to a phantom “team” when the reality is that OP was the ENTIRE team. Sorry, had this happen to me too and I had to spout the ‘team’ line as if I had all this backup and was just the person that the clients talked to everyday and everyone else was silent.

          1. Team Player*

            The OP didn’t say they were the entire team though. They said they were a team member with sole responsibility for one specific task. That’s a VERY different thing.

            I think your own negative experience may be colouring your perception a little unhelpfully here.

          2. Jamie*

            Helper would bother me, too. It’s doesn’t sound professional – it sounds like when my kids were small and we’d be baking they were my little helpers.

            Maybe it’s used professionally in some fields – but I would find it insulting.

            And diminishing the role someone plays is a lousy thing to do, most people would be offended if professional contacts were led to believe they were working in capacity of less authority than was the case.

            I had a boss once (for a few weeks) who introduced me to everyone as his assistant. Sure, every one assists their boss but that wasn’t my role, it wasn’t my title, and he managed to refer to his other 3 employees correctly.

            You can tell when someone is doing it deliberately to diminish you.

            1. Not So NewReader*

              I agree. And given other points such as this boss is generally not nice then I, too, would have a hard time overlooking the helper remark. If I had a thinking boss, it would be much easier to tell myself that he slipped up and will figure that out in a bit.

  13. Not So NewReader*

    1.2 days of sick time. Hmm. They actually have one or more employees that have the available time to sit and work that out mathematically (or on the computer) for each eligible employee?

    “Jane took 1.75 hours of sick time last week so that means she has exactly this much available time left.” What if poor Jane runs 15 minutes over on her remaining available time?

    This company is wasting a lot of time chasing nickels and dimes. Unfortunately, there is no way to numerically account for the resulting losses from the ill-will that has been generated by this nit-picking.

    1. Jamie*

      I read this first time in the wee hours without my glasses – so it’s not 12 days of sick time but 1.2?

      Who does that?

      Alison, are you sure that’s not a typo and the OP meant 12 days in a rolling 12 month period and she’d gone over the 12 days by 2 and others had gone over by 5?

      I just can’t wrap my head around 1.2 days of anything benefit wise. How do you explain that to a new hire with a straight face?

  14. Nutcase*

    #4 – I can only imagine how icky and uncomfortable that situation would make me feel! How do you know that they looked up your photo and showed it to their wives? If it was a sexist thing alone then surely the photo would be unnecessary. Assuming that the photo thing is true and not some weird excuse the co-workers made up to make them seem powerless to the whims of their harpy wives, its clear that they are all judging you by your appearance, and even perhaps deciding that you’re too attractive or distracting to work with (wtf) and perhaps the asshats themselves or their wives don’t even trust them not to make a move on you at work (WTF). If you heard about the photo thing through other co-workers then that implies that your appearance or sexual appeal is actually a topic of conversation at work in addition to all of this, which is the icing on the uncomfortable, shuddersome cake.

      1. Maple Teacup*

        I’m thinking of a King of the Hill episode where Hank and Peggy had conflict over the hiring of an attractive female propane salesman. (Face palm). This type of situation irritates me so much.

        Not working with you because you are female is crazy and can’t continue. That’s a giant bag of inappropriate discrimination right there.

    1. hildi*

      I love your gravatar. He reminds me of that penguin on Madagascar – the one with the googly eyes and kind of a doofus.

      1. Nutcase*

        Thanks! Its a potoo – I love how they always look like they have absolutely no idea what is going on.

    2. Jamie*

      I love things I do potoo! Seriously, this just made me smile and go all melty!

      Are we sure the looking up the picture thing is to judge attractiveness or not? Because I assumed on first read that it was to determine gender. I.e. thinking co-worker Chris was a man until one of the guys referred to her as she or something. Because if it’s about looks, that’s more offensive than I thought and I didn’t think that was possible.

      1. EvilQueenRegina*

        I’m thinking that How I Met Your Mother episode where Marshall keeps referring to his coworker as Jenkins and Lily doesn’t realise the coworker is a woman!

      2. Elizabeth West*

        I would think so, if you follow their logic about avoiding her. I can picture the wife/wives demanding, “You have a woman working there? What does she look like?” and Thing 1 and Thing 2 being stupid enough to log on or go to the Staff page of the website to show her/them. “You better not be talking to her or even in the same room with her!”

      3. Nutcase*

        I read it as an intentional judge of her appearance rather than clarification of gender but you’re right it could easily be less horrible than the way I read it.

  15. Sunflower*

    #1- Every place handles this stuff so differently. I’d say at least once every 2 months, one of my contacts leaves their job(I have about 20 of them) and each place handles it completely differently. Some places invite me to lunch and some don’t even tell me- I only find out after failing to get in contact with them or an email bounces back. I think what your work had set up makes sense and I don’t see any of your clients taking it personally.

    I’m not sure what your industry is or how things work (or if it’s legal) but are you hoping to continue working with these clients in the future? At my company, we try to find out where the contact is going and get in touch with them ourselves to see what they have to offer at Newplace. Are you connected with any of them on LinkedIn? That can open the doors for further communication.

  16. OP #2 writer*

    Thanks for the advice…I agree that I should have been clear on the # I was looking for in that first conversation and that I left room for misunderstanding, that was my fault. I did state at that time that it could be negotiable based on the job, benefits, and so on. In the second conversation re: compensation, I did provide the figure I wanted and that’s when the hiring manager told me their number.
    For me, a 10% increase in my current salary would be great but I would accept the job at my current salary, or even at a 3-4% reduction in what I currently make. At this point, I plan to present a counter offer and see if they are able to increase their number at all and/or if they can provide more days of paid time off.

  17. Katie the Fed*

    Good lord, 1.2 sick days is terrible!

    I don’t know if I’m just a human petri dish, but I get sick way more than that every year. I can usually count on:

    – 2 bouts of sickness that have me out for 2-3 days each. The worst was an entire week for Swine Flu
    – an injury of some kind, usually my back
    – a nice little bout of something gastro-intestinal, especially after I’ve been traveling (this is so common for me I now just factor it into my vacation leave)
    – myriad doctors appointments.

    Now, our leave is pretty generous – I earn 13 paid sick days a year and they roll over. But it’s also REALLY nice to not have to make the choice between infecting the rest of my office (many of whom have small children) and staying home to recover.

    1. Not my 'Nym*

      No kidding. I get sick pretty much every time I eat (no idea why, and doctors haven’t been able to find out either). I can usually tough it out, but on occasion I’ve got to leave work early. This is in addition to regular colds and such. I’m probably out at least five days a year due to illness. 1.2 days of sick leave is not realistic unless you’re employing Superman clones.

      1. Ellie H.*

        Sorry to jump on an offhand remark and I realize you said you’ve consulted medical professionals already but I have had similar digestive problems over the past year and eventually have found out about potential causes and treatments which have helped me a lot. I attribute my problems to bacterial imbalance (I’ve had to take multiple courses of antibiotics in the past few years) and there is some new, interesting research on this topic which is affecting a lot of people these days. I have IBS and I did FODMAPs elimination, now low FODMAPs and also take heavy duty probiotics.
        Again, sorry to jump in with unsolicited advice but I too got sick from pretty much anything I ate and now I’m a lot better!

        1. CT*

          +1 to the low FODMAPS suggestion! I used to be like Not my ‘Nym and now I feel fine 90% of the time.

        2. Evan (in the USA)*

          +1 to FODMAPs elimination and heavy-duty probiotics. I had bad bowel problems a couple years ago, and a month or two of that cleared it up to the point where I could go back to eating a normal diet. I still take probiotics occasionally, but nothing more.

    2. De (Germany)*

      I just looked it up and in 2012 in Germany, the average was 12 days a year, with office workers usually needing about 6 – 8 days, with people who do manual labor having a much higher average.

      (This includes long term absences for up to 6 weeks. After 6 weeks of being sick with the same cause in a year, health insurance takes over a certain percentage of your wages)

    3. JoAnna*

      I rarely take a sick day because I’m sick — it’s almost always because my kids are sick and can’t go to school/daycare. My husband’s work has a stingy sick day policy, so more often than not I’m the one who has to take the time. With five kids, it really adds up.

  18. Poohbear McGriddles*

    If these guys’ wives have neutered them to the point where they are making decisions on who they can work with, it doesn’t seem logical that they would cheat. And what was the point of showing the OP’s picture to them? The message would either be “I can’t control myself around someone so hot” or “I wouldn’t waste my time”.
    Does management know of the true reason for the coworkers’ objection? If they are making assignments with this in mind, then they are actively discriminating.

    1. some1*

      I have known people with extremely jealous and insecure partners who went along with it for awhile but did eventually cheat because they figured if their spouse is going to punish them as though they were cheating when they aren’t, they may as well do it.

      That being said, whatever is going on in these guys’s marriages it’s their problem and not the business’s or the LW’s. If they don’t want to work with a woman they need to quit.

    2. Chuchundra*

      One former co-worker of mine was a notorious hound dog. His wife was so jealous that she’d insist on driving him to work for his OT shifts so she’d know where he was for sure.

      Of course, the guy just had his girlfriend drive by and pick him up at work after his wife left.

      This place was a lot more exciting twenty years ago, I can tell you that.

    3. Maple Teacup*

      I was thinking the point of showing the pictures was to prove their wives were real. As in this unusual demand didn’t come from them but an actual other person.

      1. Poohbear McGriddles*

        It sounded like they were showing their wives pictures of the OP, not the other way around.

        1. Maple Teacup*

          Silly me. Other people have said it better how strange that is. Are they trying to prove the OP is unattractive? Eh?

  19. LPBB*

    Re #4:

    About 14 years ago I was dating my ex-boyfriend. We worked for the same company until he got fired. Shortly after being fired, he got a new job fixing exercise equipment in gyms. You have NO IDEA how many co-workers came up to me and asked if I was worried or concerned that he would be going to all these different gyms and seeing all these hot girls. I think one or two people even asked me if I had given my permission to him to do this.

    I looked at them as if they had two heads, because it had never occurred to me that there was anything to be concerned about. But clearly this is something that some people still carry around in the back of their minds. I certainly don’t think this excuses the behavior of either the wives or the husbands, but it’s not the first time I’ve run across this way of thinking.

    1. some1*

      Years ago I dated a guy who did a lot of traveling for work and I got the similar reactions, and I felt the same way as you. I had no reason not to trust my then-BF, and if he was hell bent on cheating on me it could happen anywhere, my refusing to “let” him go on business trips (even if I could have) wasn’t going to make it impossible for him to cheat if he wanted to.

      1. GoodGirl*

        My boyfriend is in sales and I’ve had people say this to me too. In fact, a coworker just recently went on and on how she would never date/marry someone who works in sales because “they can’t be trusted.”

        Look dudes, you either trust your partner or you don’t – simple as that. If they give you a reason not to trust them, show them the door.

        1. AnotherAlison*

          “you either trust your partner or you don’t – simple as that. ”

          ROTFL. Simple as that. Thousands of therapists and marriage counselors would be out of business if it was that simple.

          You don’t trust your partner, but you want to work on rebuilding trust. You don’t trust your partner, but you have a bunch of kids together, so you want to work on it. You do trust your partner, but you grew up with cheating parents or a had cheating ex so, it’s a challenge to be fully open. You have anxiety issues and insecurities that have nothing to do with your current relationship, but that doesn’t make the fear go away.

          If only it were as simple as you say. : )

          1. GoodGirl*

            I shouldn’t have made that generalization. For myself, however, this is how it is. I’ve lived enough to know that if I can’t trust the man I’m seeing, I need to end the relationship.

            (This is coming from someone whose father cheated on their mother for years, who has been cheated on my boyfriends, etc.)

            1. hildi*

              I know what you’re saying GG because I have always had a pretty clear sense of my own boundaries enough to pull the plug when warranted – so I do believe that for some people it is as simple as that. And I do totally understand what AnotherAlison is saying, too. It’s not as simple as that for many people because there are a lot of life patterns and mental clutter that get in the way. It reminds me of the weight loss issue. There are people who don’t struggle with it that say, “just eat less. Simple as that.” Well, of course it is. But there is a LOT more going on in people’s heads that clutter up the bottom line. It might all be simple, but it’s not always easy.

            2. Jamie*

              I am with you on this.

              I understand people may have other issues or not be in the position to leave, but I’ve never understood the focus on the other person. It’s never about the other person.

              If my husband cheats on me he knows full well my problem will be with him and him alone. He would be the one who broke the vows and lied to me. The other women is nothing to me, she didn’t betray me and her life is her problem.

              (Obviously barring circumstances where the other woman is a friend or a sister – but a stranger? I would not divert the force of my wrath away from my husband to a lesser irrelevant target. My hyperfocus on this issue would be all his. )

            3. Adam*

              Everyone’s got their lines. I know a guy who’s pretty easygoing but when it comes to cheating for him it’s a “one-and-done” policy. Trust is big for him and when you lose his you don’t usually get it back. He also is the type of guy that has no trouble finding a partner when he decides he’s ready for one so he doesn’t really hold on to relationships the way others might.

          2. some1*

            Even if someone has been betrayed by their partner and “can’t” leave because of kids or finances, they get to be suspicious but they don’t get to dictate the spouse can’t work with *any * woman.

          3. Katriona*

            But whether you trust your partner or not has nothing to do with an outside party, and you don’t get to deal with your feelings by making them someone else’s problem.

    2. bearing*

      Never had this interaction in person, but a number of women I correspond with via various blogs and the like — almost exclusively SAHMs, like me — have expressed similar reservations about the idea of husbands traveling with female co-workers on business trips. (Particularly in the situation where there was exactly one other co-worker and that co-worker was of the opposite sex.)

      It completely blew my mind how strongly these ordinarily reasonable people felt that their spouses should not, for example, travel on the same plane with (or at least not sit next to) a female co-worker, should not have meals (including, say, a working lunch) alone with a female co-worker, and should not stay in the same hotel with a female co-worker.

      I will say this: for most of the women expressing this, it was a hypothetical, imaginary situation because their spouses weren’t actually in a job that required traveling much at all, and most had never held a job themselves that required much traveling. Maybe they all had a very Hollywood/sitcom/French farce idea of what is supposed to happen when men and women are sent on business trips together.

      As someone whose spouse has to travel frequently with a diverse group of co-workers, and also as someone who once worked in a formerly male-dominated field and can easily imagine being in the “female co-worker’s” shoes, I was utterly nonplussed. It was one of those blog arguments where you start to doubt your own sanity.

      1. Jamie*

        Hotel or hotel room? Because if it’s the hotel itself that’s really extreme – but neither my husband or I would be okay with either of us sharing a hotel room with someone of the opposite sex. That’s a pretty standard boundary.

          1. bearing*

            And let me add — in the particular discussion I was totally in the minority, and all my “this is ridiculous” was as a drop in the ocean of “you’re blind to how inappropriate it is for a man and a woman to have a so-called ‘work lunch’ alone together.”

          2. Jamie*


            What’s next? Maybe women are making this too complicated and we should just get out of the workplace entirely so the men can conduct their important business without us getting in the way.

            / sarcasm. Sometimes I think people right here in the same society live in an entirely different world.

            1. Stephanie*

              Ever since the men let us out the kitchen and gave us shoes, the business world’s been going to hell.

              1. Chinook*

                Is it wrong that I wish the men would take back the shoes but still let us out of the kitchen? I hate wearing socks and shoes but have learned to accept that it is socially unacceptable to go around the office without them.

      2. Pennalynn Lott*

        This type of thinking has always blown me away.

        So does this mean that the SAHMs have ZERO male friends? They never actually speak to a man who isn’t their husband? Because if they did, then they’d have to jump his bones right then and there? Imagine how much our society would come to a dead stand-still if every time people of opposite gender (or whatever gender combination they have a normal desire for) came into contact, they had to quit what they were doing so they could have sex. WTH?

        Interesting sub-context on what those SAHMs think of their husbands. (A woman sitting across a table from him at a very public restaurant means he has to rip her clothes off at some point). That’s just. . . sad. Why on earth did they marry those guys in the first place, if that’s what they think of them???

        1. bearing*

          I completely agree with you, with the caveat that some of them were apparently concerned about the danger of the men being falsely accused of improprieties.

    3. Hous*

      I’m bi and have had multiple people (including coworkers) ask me how my partners can trust me not to cheat on them with someone of another gender. Sadly, all of these questions were before I’d heard about the power of the simple “Wow” response, because, seriously, what else can you say?

      1. anonintheuk*

        And if you are in the position of the female OP, there is no polite way to say to the wives that you find their husbands thoroughly unalluring.

        1. Jennifer*

          Heh. I am so rarely attracted to anyone that I always want to say, “I wouldn’t have been interested in your husband even if he was single.”

      2. Jamie*

        Sure – that makes sense. Because you’re bi you’re attracted to everyone.

        I know because I’m a straight woman I hopelessly desire every single man once they hit legal age. There is not a one of them I wouldn’t hook up with given the chance.

        That’s totally how that works, right?

        1. Hous*

          It’s true, I am an uncontrollable lust monster, which is always so awkward to explain at work.

      3. Kelly L.*

        Yup. I’ve heard the same thing. The simple truth is that it works exactly like resisting temptation from people of the other gender. I look, I think “Hey, s/he’s cute,” and then I think “I’m monogamous and my boyfriend is awesome and I don’t want to mess it up,” and that’s that.

  20. GoodGirl*

    #4 – I have a friend who works for a religious organization that forbids a man and a woman to go to lunch alone together or out in public together because it looks bad (i.e. John and Susie can’t go out to lunch together because it will look like there’s funny business going on, but if John, Susie, Tad, Taffy, and Sam want to go to lunch together, that’s fine). Apparently this rule came into effect after two staffers started an affair.

    When my friend told me this, all I could say was “Good grief.” I have a lot of male friends who won’t hang out with a woman (who is not their wife/girlfriend/relative) because it’s been drilled into their heads that “something could happen.” I totally get that, but that’s different that #4’s situation – these guys would never say they can’t work with a woman.

    1. Kay*

      “something could happen”

      Like what? You accidentally fall and and your “junk” ends up connected with someone else’s? Like because you’re in a *public* restaurant, coffee shop, or park that you won’t be able to refrain from shacking up with someone who’s not your significant other?

      That’s kind of absurd. If a person has that little control or will-power to not be able to manage normal social situations, that’s pretty sad.

      All that to say that if these women believe their husbands will cheat on them at work, then they have a lot more problems than their husbands having a female co-worker.

      1. Poohbear McGriddles*

        Gotta watch your step. Ever seen that show about people who end up in the ER from sex stuff? They always claim it was an accident. I guess the OP’s coworkers are concerned there may be such an accident on the job site, and where’s OSHA when you need them!

        1. Kay*

          LOL! Now I’m picturing what OSHA stick people signs showing you how to not have accidental sex would look like…

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      That probably violates the NLRA, since you can’t prohibit employees from discussing wages and working conditions together, and perhaps that’s what they’d like to discuss over lunch. Someone could also probably put together an argument that it violates discrimination laws if, for instance, it prevents women from networking with more senior male employees.

      1. GoodGirl*

        I’ve always wondered if this “rule” is legal, but I figured since it’s a non-profit religious organization and they seem to be exempt from other things (for example, if a person is laid off/fired, they are not eligible for unemployment, because they (the org) doesn’t pay into it).

        Sorry if this is a dumb question – I’ve never worked for a non-profit or a company that handled things in this way.

          1. GoodGirl*

            I didn’t think that was the case, so when my friend mentioned that to me, I figured something else was going on. They made it pretty clear to him that when he was hired, he would not be able to receive unemployment, even if he were laid off or let go without cause.

            1. LeighTX*

              Voice of (sad) experience here: non-profits do not pay into the unemployment fund, but if you are let go you can still file for unemployment and if the state finds you eligible (based on the same conditions that any for-profit employer would have to meet), the unemployment commission will bill the non-profit for your payments.

              1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                Varies by state, I think. In DC, for instance, they do pay in. Either way, though, you can absolutely get unemployment if let go from a nonprofit.

                1. Gwen Soul*

                  I know my mother could not get unemployment when she was let go, but I assumed it was because the church she worked for didn’t pay in due to religion and not being a non profit. This was Kentucky for tracking purposes.

      2. Omne*

        Depends on the nature of the religious organization. If it’s directly connected to a church they can be exempt from state and federal labor laws, discrimination laws and in many states unemployment.

    3. EngineerGirl*

      Actually it was **not** “something could happen”. It was something DID happen.

      The issue here is that as a religious organization they are being held to different (and far higher) standards than a secular organization. An affair between coworkers has the potential to harm the companies reputation far more than a secular one.

      It’s a bit of a funny line on NLRB. All employees can network as long as there are 3 or more people in the group. And it’s only lunch? There’s no rules for after work?

      1. GoodGirl*

        FWIW, it’s highly discouraged that they hang out “alone” after work as well. The same org has had a rule that employees couldn’t drink or smoke in public. If they wanted to have a glass of wine or a cigar in the privacy of their own home, that was okay though. They got rid of that rule a few years ago though because so many people protested.

    4. Purple Jello*

      I can understand a religious entity making this decision because of wanting to avoid the appearance if impropriety, and not because they think anything would happen. Look at all the people, like these two guys’ wives who assume “something would happen”. If your organization is promoting morality, I can see wanting to avoid the gossipmongers who will start rumors because they see “Jane and Bob go out to lunch together”. “Every week” “alone” (gasp!)

  21. Anonymous*

    I had lunch with two directors and a VP before I left. The VP asked if I told my clients yet that I was leaving, I said no. My director piped up ‘do we even have to?’. The VP gave me a look and was like, ‘she’s been here for 6 years, they’re going to notice.’

    Others were never allowed to say goodbye to their clients cause eventually my boss would tell everyone ‘his version of why we left’.

    1. Jamie*

      Wasn’t there an old letter to AAM where someone wrote in that they had left their old company ages ago, but the company never told clients and they were still using her old email as if she still worked there?

      I’ll look in the archives when I have a second – but that happened, right?

  22. Mike C.*

    Wait, wait, wait a second. You mean to tell me that my wife could be working with other men?!?!

      1. Nutcase*

        Hide them without any access to the outside world! One of my exes got genuinely jealous every time I commented on the appearance of a male actor or singer on the TV. I mean, you never know what could have happened between me and Tom Hiddleston without his objections!

  23. some1*

    Either the wives in #4 are jealous & insecure or they know they are married to guys they can’t trust to not chase other women. Either way who gets scheduled to work together isn’t up to them.

  24. Lora*

    #4 – Your boss, and your boss’ boss, and as far up the food chain as possible, need to go all Tiger Mike on these shenanigans. “You will work for whatever shift I schedule you for, at MY convenience, and if you don’t like it, you can pick up your check!” End of story.

    Energy industry is a weird place for women. It’s very sexist, there’s a lot of shouting, but you have to stay on top of the shenanigans with an iron fist. I did OK because I had hiring/firing power and control of the purse strings, and the guys knew it, so my name was “Miss” or “Ma’am” as far as they were concerned. And I was willing to do all the tough physical jobs and advocated for their jobs to be made easier on the engineering side, which got respect. One of the sites I worked at, the site manager was very soft-spoken and relaxed and polite, and the guys ran roughshod over him.

    #5 – I will never understand why anybody bothers to count sick days. Give everyone a laptop and let them work from home if they can, and quit worrying about counting up sick days. I’ve worked at multiple places that had infinite sick days–the way they handled it was by getting a series of insurance policies to cover the cost of people’s salaries when they were out sick. There was one that the company paid for which would kick in when you were out for 3 or more consecutive days. There was another that kicked in at two weeks, but would only pay 60% of your salary. You could purchase additional coverage at a cost of like, $2/month, that would bring you up to 100% of your salary if you wanted. More than 2 weeks was considered short term disability, which was another policy that the company would guarantee some level of coverage but you had to pay a couple bucks more if you wanted 100% coverage. At so many months (I forget how many, I want to say 6 months) you had to go on long term disability and were expected to file for SSI. Sick days were entered into a computer system so they knew which account to pay you from. Either you got your work done or you didn’t. There were plenty of unproductive people who didn’t do a thing other than muck about on Facebook, and they came in every day. Not worth worrying about. It’s like counting up how many sticky notes or pens people use, just a waste of time you should be spending thinking about how to make more product, get new clients, sell more stuff.

    1. Beti*

      “I will never understand why anybody bothers to count sick days. Give everyone a laptop and let them work from home if they can, and quit worrying about counting up sick days. ”

      Not every workplace is like yours. I work in allied health and my job duties include admitting patients. I can’t take a day off and get caught up the next day nor can I work from home. If I call out, there has to be a body in my place doing my job. We have had a very weak manager for a long time and many of my co-workers abuse the system (like calling out for a concert, because they got offered a shift at their other job that pays better, and on occasion because they are actually sick) and they cost a huge amount of extra pay and overtime. It’s not just about my hours which are covered by my sick time but they also have to pay for the other person who works my shift – that person is often in overtime status.

      Your system would depend upon _everyone_ being responsible adults with strong work ethics. You only have to read this site for a day or two to see that is not the case in most workplaces.

    1. Nutcase*

      It works both ways though, wives can get jealous but so can husbands, boyfriends, girlfriends, best friends… Its part of human nature but it can get really ugly if it goes unchecked.

    2. Joey*

      I’ve seen this insecurity before and I understand it, although I don’t agree of course. I think it happens more when the work is “men’s work” and in comes a woman. It sort of creates a spectacle and some uncomfortableness.

      Its sad that people can’t act like adults about it though.

  25. JM*

    #1 is fairly common. Our company doesnt allow farewell mails be it roll off and move on to another client OR leaving the company

    #4 – We dont even have sick days. Use your vacation if you are sick is our company policy!

  26. Overkill*

    #4. Let’s be frank, women are universally suspicious of other women in general when it comes to their men, and worse if their men work with women, particularly young attractive women. Men are guilty of this too, particularly if the men with whom their wives/gf’s associate/work with are of a different race. Lots of women ‘visit’ their husbands at their places of work to check out the women, particularly if he mentions one or two at home. As a result, it’s common for men and women to alter their professional and social interactions to keep the green-eyed monster at bay.

    I used to work with a woman whose husband I’d see at the gym and with whom I’d been friendly. One day when they were both there, he started making general reference to men ‘coming on’ to his wife at work without specifying whom. I could not imagine who he was referring to because besides myself, there were two married men whose wives actually worked alongside them. Plus, it was ironic because I knew the girl with whom he was cheating on his wife then and that he had cheated on her with a colleague of mine while his wife was back in South Africa.

    In any event, she just threw her head back, beaming with delight and satisfaction. Months that follow made it clear I was unwittingly playing some role in her game with her husband. It was a nightmare.

    1. EmmBee*

      “Let’s be frank, lots of insecure people are universally suspicious of other people in general when it comes to their partners.”

      There, fixed it for you.

    2. Elysian*

      Eek! I should get my lady-parts checked, I guess, since I recently suggested my husband’s workplace (in a field that skews heavily male) do more to recruit and hire female candidates. Unless I secretly WANT him to cheat on me… otherwise my lack of suspicion could indicate that I am growing dude-parts. If that’s the case, maybe my husband is gay? AND IF HE IS…. should I be suspicious of all the cute GUYS he works with?!?! I’m so confused!!

      1. Andrea*

        Yeah, I guess I should be more suspicious of mine, since he just suggested to his boss that she try recruiting more women to be network engineers and consultants at his firm. He said it was because some diversity would be better for the firm, and also because he knows some really smart IT engineers who have had difficulty getting hired. But now I guess I should be worried that he just wants to have an affair? Whatever.

        1. Zillah*

          I’m starting to feel like I need to make my boyfriend find a new career – he’s a teacher, and we all know how many female teachers there are out there looking to be homewreckers! We’ll have that talk tonight, because it’s okay for me to feel this way – it’s universal, after all.

          1. Tina*

            My husband works in a restaurant. Forget about the co-workers, what about all the female customers that come in?! I am SO locking him in the house from now on!

            1. Tina*

              Sigh. My husband said if I could get a job that paid enough to sustain our current lifestyle, he would be perfectly happy to be a house husband and see no other female besides me. Alas, none of my skills are that marketable, so I guess I’ll just have to deal with him working around other women (and peek through the windows with binoculars, of course!)

    3. some1*

      “Men are guilty of this too, particularly if the men with whom their wives/gf’s associate/work with are of a different race”

      Are you kidding me? So all men are racist?

    4. ThursdaysGeek*

      “women are universally suspicious of other women in general when it comes to their men”

      Huh, that’s weird. I must not be female after all.

    5. Nutcase*

      This whole notion is just so ridiculous. The gender stereotypes here are awful and offensive to both genders, and bringing race into it too? Really!? Posting this sort of garbage as if it were a fact and not even acknowledging that perhaps your bizarre, skewed view on the world may be just that, even after being called out on it? I could go on, but I feel that it would be futile.

    6. Omne*

      My wife travels 5 or 6 times a year for 1-2 weeks at a time often with coworkers that are male. I’ve never given a second thought as to whether to trust her or not.

  27. Artemesia*

    It is letters like these that make me wish we had mandated sick time. The US really allows workers to be treated like dirt. I very very rarely took a day off when I worked, but when I needed one, a day a year was not going to get it. Who can even take only a day if they get something as a common as a norovirus? Or if they get flu?

  28. Case of the Mondays*

    There was recently a case where the court ruled a dentist could fire his hygienist because his wife thought she was too attractive and was concerned something improper would happen. The Court ruled it was not sex discrimination.

    I have a friend who is an uber conservative southern baptist. To understand his religion better, I started reading some blogs on the subject. There are many white collar professionals of that religion that will not be alone with a member of the opposite sex if either they or the other person is married. They ride in separate cars, call in a secretary if they have to meet in an office, etc. It really makes me sad for women in male dominated fields and men in female dominated fields where this religion is prevalent.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      And this is how we get a “good ol’ boy network”.

      If a man and a woman in a restaurant looks improper for one reason then men who only hang out with certain like-minded men for another reason also looks improper. (Men that think men should stick together to appear above reproach.)

      It doesn’t all boil down to sex. Any time people feel excluded there is a potential for problems.
      I would say the same thing of a group of women that were not inclusive of their male coworkers. Start excluding people and feathers are going to get ruffled.

      All this “cliqueness” does is people get to avoid looking at their own problems with self-control.

    2. Pennalynn Lott*

      Wait just one moment.

      They will ride in separate cars if either one of them is married. . . so that means it’s OK to be in close proximity if both parties are single?? Cuz then it’s perfectly fine [and expected?] for them to get in on in the back seat on the way to or from a business meeting?? I thought conservative Southern Baptists were all about waiting until marriage to have sex? You’d think there’d be *more* policing of the genders if both people were single.

  29. EvilQueenRegina*

    How can they actually be “not allowed” to work with you, especially since the wives don’t work there and shouldn’t be able to have a say in who does what shift at a place they don’t even work? Surely the managers can just say “Look, you’re working the same shift, and if you don’t like it, go”?

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