asking about birth control coverage when interviewing, reporting plagiarism, and more

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

1. Asking about birth control coverage when interviewing with faith-based organizations

I’m a young nonprofit professional with interest in working for a variety of faith-based organizations. Given all the current controversy extending even beyond the nonprofit field, it’s recently hit home for me that in the near future, I may very well in interested in taking a job at an organization whose employee health insurance does not cover contraceptives. I would never want to work for such an organization as it is clear that their mission and entire organizational culture is opposite of my own beliefs.

Normally, I would never bring up the specifics of employee benefits until after an offer has been given, but this issue seems to have a totally different foundation. I wouldn’t want to waste either of our time by going through an entire interview process only to reject the offer for these personal reasons. Is there any way to bring this up tactfully earlier in the process?

Probably not. Asking about details of benefits usually doesn’t go over well until you’re at the offer stage (or close to it). I suppose you could frame it as inquiring how they’re responding to the controversy on the issue, which might get you some information, but which may or may not feel relevant, depending on the specific organization you’re talking to.

But you can certainly ask at the offer stage. And if you discover an organization isn’t covering birth control, you can certainly make it very clear that you consider that unacceptable and that that’s why you’re turning down the offer.

2. How should I point out that my coworker plagiarized?

I realized that a staff writer has plagiarized one of their pieces from an earlier work by a another university staff member. There’s no attribution to the original piece, and the staff writer’s piece is essentially a shortened and partially rephrased version of the original piece. It’s the exact kind of plagiarism I constantly work against at my job (I’m a writing tutor). I have never met this person, and may never meet them, as they work at the main campus in another state. Typically when I email someone at the university campus, I don’t get much of a response. Should I email the staff writer asking her to at least credit the original source? Is it appropriate to bring it up to anyone else?

I’d email the writer and cc her manager, saying something like, “I noticed that this piece appears to have been pulled from ____ but doesn’t have attribution. Wanted to give you a heads-up that it’s missing the original source.” Cc’ing her manager may seem like overkill, but plagiarism is a big enough deal (and in an university environment, your coworker can hardly be oblivious to that) that it’s reasonable to make sure that someone other than her knows that it happened.

3. My job offer was revoked over my availability

I am a college student who just accepted a new part time job nearby campus that I am really excited about. I signed an employment offer form and am days away from orientation. I have given my two weeks notice at my previous job as well. I just was asked today about my availability. I sent them an email containing my availability, which includes a week and a half time I cannot work because of a school extra curricular commitment that I cannot get out of. I had mentioned this week long commitment during my job interview and I was assured it would not be a problem. Following my email I received a phone call saying that they are not going to give my any hours for the rest of the summer because of my unavailability and that I can apply again when my availability opens up.

Are they even allowed to do that? I had already been offered the job and had quit my other job because I really need the job. I have plenty of availability for the week before my commitment to do all the training they need me to do, the only problem seems to be the week I cannot work. After that week school will start and my availability will be even more limited, so I don’t even know if they would take me if I applied after. I am overly qualified for the position and have 2 years of previous experience working at the same company back home. I am not sure how to approach this whole situation.

Yes, they’re allowed to do that, but it’s crappy. I’d try calling the person who hired you and pleading your case — point out that you’ve already quit your job because you thought you had an agreement with them and that you were clear about your availability in your interview. Ask them to reconsider since you’re now in a difficult spot as you’ve already resigned your current job (stress that part, because it should make them feel ridiculous for doing this).

4. Getting a vacation time bump when you negotiated extra vacation time earlier

My husband started at his current company 5 years ago. When he started, he negotiated a starting salary, benefits, and vacation package of a senior employee. The company put him at the 5-year mark with respect to vacation – or 3 weeks of paid time. However he recently realized he may not be bumping up to the next level of paid vacation. While all the 10-year employees will get 4 weeks, he believes he will still get 3. He hasn’t confirmed this with his manager or with HR though.

Because he technically only has 5 years with the company, he is unsure if he should speak with his manager about moving up to the 10-year mark for vacation. At the same time he doesn’t feel that waiting another 5 years at this company for the additional vacation is something he wants to do at this point in his career. The company also allows no unpaid time off, so scheduling longer family vacations has been tricky as our children get older. Should he raise this topic in advance of the yearly review cycle in 2015 in order to give his manager time to review any options with HR? What would be the best way to approach this with his manager or HR?

Yes, he should absolutely raise this — maybe a month or two ahead of the review cycle. This isn’t something that should take major advance notice to implement (it should be a simple adjustment if everyone is agreed, which they should be), but if he wants it to kick in at that point, it’s reasonable to raise it before then.

5. Citing experience moving around because of a parent’s job

I grew up moving from one place to another because of my dad’s job (US, Singapore, England). Is there a way to use this experience(s) in answering interview questions or use to stand out/grab attention during my job searches and interviews?

Probably not. Experience with other cultures and the ability to quickly adapt to new contexts are both useful things, but that’s trumped by the fact that citing experiences from childhood and adolescence generally doesn’t come across well in a hiring process — unless it comes up organically in conversation with your interviewer. It’s not something that’s likely to be a differentiator; it might just be an interesting point in conversation. I’d construct your candidacy around what you’ve achieved, far more than where you’ve lived.

{ 187 comments… read them below }

  1. Former Professional Computer Geek*

    I’ve never quite understood why signing an employment offer letter/form isn’t considered a binding contract. I’m trying to think of another time when a written and signed form of “I agree to do X in return for Y” isn’t considered a contract.

    I know that verbal offers and agreements for empl0yment are never binding [and I learned it the hard way, too, dang it]. But a written agreement has always felt like it should be legally binding. I don’t understand.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Because there’s no duration in the agreement — it doesn’t say “we agree to employ you for X amount of time.” So either one of you can end it any time you want.

      1. EngineerGirl*

        But the OP resigned the former job and is now losing income due to the pulled contract. I’m wondering if this isn’t something that could be leveraged (in a nice way)

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          That’s exactly what I’m suggesting in my response. But legally there’s not much that can be done unless the OP can show that the company acted with deliberate fraudulent intent, which is unlikely.

          There’s also something called “detrimental reliance,” where you’d argue that you relied to your detriment on their offer. But courts haven’t generally sided with those claims, in part because since employment is usually at-will, you could have been fired on your first day without legal recourse.

    2. Graciosa*

      We could pretend it is binding, but then the company could turn around and fire her immediately so I’m not sure that helps. You need a really good employment contract to get significant protection (the kind negotiated by C-suite officers with the help of their employment attorneys) and those are still pretty rare.

    3. GrumpyBoss*

      Because of employment “at will”. It goes both ways too – if you accept an offer, and some unexpected life event happens, wouldn’t you want the right to change your mind?

      Regardless, I feel awful for the OP. This is a scummy thing to do.

      1. fposte*

        Some states do provide for a cause of action in such cases–promissory estoppel or detrimental reliance. But you’d have to be out a pretty big pile of money to make it worth pursuing even if you’re somewhere that allowed it, and of course it doesn’t get you a job with the company or help your future prospects.

        1. neverjaunty*

          Right, that’s usually for situations where the company expects you to pay to move cross-country or whatever and then rescinds the offer. “We’re not hiring you after all” is rarely covered.

    4. Chris*

      I would add though, that even if the document was legally binding, the OP would have needed that week off explicitly written into the offer. And, in this case, if they had insisted that the time off they had already discussed had been written into the offer, this availability issue would have probably been addressed before OP quit their job.

  2. Graciosa*

    Regarding #1, while I appreciate that people feel strongly about this and I understand if the OP is one of them, this can also be treated as a financial element of the offer. If birth control is not covered and the OP needs to pay $X additional per year for it to make the compensation package offered a competitive one, it is possible to say so and negotiate accordingly.

    This only applies if the OP does not consider the refusal to cover birth control as something that would make the company an unacceptable employer for the OP, regardless of the financial impact, but I thought I would mention it.

    1. Wehaf*

      For many specific benefits this would be true, but I imagine that any organization that refuses to cover birth control would similarly balk at paying someone extra so she could buy it herself.

      1. Sarah*

        A lot of those organizations (like universities and hospitals) are pretty much secular on the employment front (don’t hesitate to hire people who don’t share the religion in question, don’t involve themselves in monitoring employees’ adherence to religious tenets), except when it comes to women’s reproductive systems and health insurance. The bosses may vehemently disagree with the birth control exception or not care one way or the other. If the OP is looking at “Faith-based organizations” and not “Mostly secular organizations which receive money from major churches,” though, I don’t know if this would ever be true.

        1. University admin*

          Well also, some of these faith-based orgs are extremely large; the hiring manager who negotiates compensation is not necessarily the exec/board member/whoever who made the decision not to cover BC. It’s possible that an individual manager could make this call and just consider it part of the cost of acquiring a good employee.

          1. Sarah*

            Maybe I didn’t word properly – that’s exactly what I was suggesting, that many of those orgs are secular enough that the general employee population isn’t particularly religious and asking about it wouldn’t be an issue. They may even disagree vehemently enough to love the idea of cheating the system in that way. Hospitals and universities especially don’t tend to be full of moral conservatives.

            It sounds like a moral issue for the OP but if it were just a financial one, she could also try framing it as a medical issue. “I take a specific contraceptive for a health issue and the generic costs $70 per month. Since this is something that would be free at another employer with a more comprehensive healthcare plan, could we possibly negotiate an extra $1000 into the salary to compensate?”

    2. Zillah*

      Well, the OP does say,

      I would never want to work for such an organization as it is clear that their mission and entire organizational culture is opposite of my own beliefs.

      That indicates to me that it’s not just about the money. It’s about the principle.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Pasting this up here so people see it immediately; it’s also down below.

        While I have strong feelings on these topics myself, this post isn’t the place for debates on birth control, the ACA, or the limits of religious freedom and it’s taking us way off-topic from the OP’s original letter, so I’m going to ask that we all move on.

        Here, that is. In the rest of your life, I urge you to speak out about your opinions to your elected representations, because that’s how you get change.

        (I added this here mid-day Saturday after some of the debate below — but I adjusted the time so that it would appear at the start of this thread, in the hopes of heading off further political postings on this topic.)

      2. GrumpyBoss*

        +1. Today it’s birth control. Who knows what they may decide next year to drop coverage on because it doesn’t align with their beliefs? I, for one, would feel held hostage in an organization like that.

        1. EngineerGirl*

          I’m not sure that is a fair assessment. Principles shouldn’t change across time and should have already been demonstrated. Otherwise it is hard to prove deeply held belief. In the case of Hobby Lobby they were always closed on Sundays (lost potential sales) and were unhappy from the beginning with the 4 (out of 20) birth control options. In short, they consistently demonstrated their beliefs. I would seriously doubt that someone had a deeply held belief system if it suddenly and arbitrarily changed.

          1. Ann Furthermore*

            My big issue with all of the uproar over birth control is that it focuses exclusively on methods available to women.

            Why is no one squawking about employer insurance plans commonly covering the cost of a vasectomy, which is birth control? Why did Rush Limbaugh rant about how employers should not be required to subsidize the depraved, libidinous desires of their female employees, but not raise any objections to many of those same plans covering Viagra and Cialis prescriptions?

            1. EngineerGirl*

              Not sure what you mean? Vasectomies and condoms are one of the 20 types of birth control. But most are female birth control. To be fair though, a vasectomy is way easier and cheaper than a hysterectomy. True with people, true with animals. I can so easily see insurance companies covering the cheaper option and balking at the more expensive one.

              1. GrumpyBoss*

                But this isn’t an economic argument. An employer decided that specific types of birth control were against their moral fabric.

                I don’t want an employer deciding that I’m immoral because I wish to use an IUD.

                1. Lisa*

                  They aren’t deciding that you are immoral – their beliefs are that they would be immoral if they were to pay for your IUD. You are welcome to use an IUD at your own expense.

                2. wowie*

                  Plus, IUDs are also used for medical reasons. Its used for menorrhagia. What about the ones of us who need it for medical reasons and are not using it to avoid pregnancy?

                3. Lisa*

                  Menorrhagia can be caused by an IUD. It is also a top symptom of thyroid dysfunction. Doctors treat symptoms instead of looking for the cause.

                4. Bea W*

                  True. The argument being made by these companies is moral not financial. It would take a whole lot of condoms or birth control pills to work up to the cost of any of the surgical options. The cost of birth control is much less than the cost of pregnancy.

              2. Reader*

                Hysterectomy is not how you avoid pregnancy, it’s a tubal ligation. While you certainly cannot carry a baby, not having a uterus is not going to stop you from getting pregnant.

                1. Lizzie*

                  Sure it is. You can’t get pregnant with no uterus because there is nowhere for the embryo to implant. That said, it’s certainly not necessary to remove a uterus to prevent pregnancy.

                2. Traveler*

                  Actually you can get pregnant after a hysterectomy – you just can’t carry the baby to term. Ectopic pregnancies are still entirely possible but rare.

              3. TheSnarkyB*

                Vsectomies and hysterectomies aren’t comparable procedures. They just have similar names. Also, hysterectomies are generally done in pretty extreme circumstances as a last option solution to a threatening health crisis.

              4. fposte*

                If we’re going with the “animals” parallel, I’ll note that veterinary vasectomies are pretty unusual (and, I’m guessing, quite expensive as a result). What male animals get is straight out castration– don’t know where Hobby Lobby stands on that as birth control.

                1. Kimberlee, Esq.*

                  HA! Love it. I think all employers should have a formal, written stance on whether they cover castration.

                2. HappySaturday!*

                  Yes, veterinary tubal ligations and vasectomies are exceedingly rare. When an animal is spayed/neutered (“fixed”), it’s usually orchiectomy/castration for the males, and oophorectomy and possibly also hysterectomy for the females. It’s not done just for sterilization; it’s also to get the pet’s behavior more in line with what people want in a house pet.

                  i.e. “Fixing” your pet is not comparable to human sterilization.

              5. neverjaunty*

                Uh, yes, because a hysterectomy is removal of the entire uterus (major surgery) whereas vasectomy is cutting the vas deferens (outpatient procedure).

                1. HappySaturday!*

                  The financial decision is a comparison not of male birth control options to female birth control options, but of birth control options for both sexes to the cost of even a single hospital birth.

                  The cost of a laparoscopic tubal ligation (relatively minor outpatient/day surgery) is a fraction of the cost of a hospital birth. Insurance companies have long since realized this– they didn’t need Obama and ACA to “educate” them.

                  A vasectomy or Essure (non-surgical female sterilization procedure) can be done in a doctor’s office, so it’s cheaper yet.

                  When insurance companies say “preventative care”, what they really mean is “care that prevents a larger expense for us later”– so from the perspective of an insurance company, yes, birth control is preventative care.

              6. Chinook*

                A hysterectomy, though, is much, much more than birth control – it is a major operation often done for medical reasons and is not the same as getting your tubes tied.

                As for the controversy, I have to agree that it seems, as an outsider, that the organizations not wanting to provide birth control are asking that their existing beliefs and practices not be forced to change against their will and they aren’t randomly choosing them either.

                Also, I haven’t understood why anyone would force the other group, which employees nuns, to provide birth control. Since they, by definition, employee non-sexually active women, it just makes the issue sound ridiculous.

                Lastly, the birth control issue for these groups. Is not about controlling women’s bodies, they would also be equally against it for men there just isn’t the same choices for them, but about being open to new life and sexuality being something to be shared by a committed couple. As well, chemical BC is one of the few medications out there that rarely helps heal or prevent damage to the body (though there are medical reasons for taking these chemicals such are reducing PMS pain or other adverse side effects of menustration) but instead is taken to make the body’s natural cycles and abilities more convinent in the short term while potentially causing long term damage to the individual and the environment (I.e. An increase in hormones in waste water which cannot currently be filtered out).

                I state this not to start a debate but to point out that those “crazy, woman hating, religious fanatics” ddo have well-thought out reasons for their beliefs based on values they weigh differently than those who want access to free BC.

                1. AnonForThisOne*

                  “As well, chemical BC is one of the few medications out there that rarely helps heal or prevent damage to the body”

                  Speak for yourself. If I didn’t have birth control I would be lying in a bed 20/30 days a month in pain and misery. I wouldn’t be able to hold down a job or be a functioning member of society. It has been a lifesaver for me. I understand there are risks associated with it – but for me the benefits outweigh the risks. The vast majority of women I know that are on BC are on it for the health benefits it provides in regulating hormones, cycles, etc. I really wish that everyone would stop trying to be armchair doctors about how female anatomy works and whether or not BC is useful outside of preventing pregnancy.

                2. neverjaunty*

                  I state this not to start a debate

                  In other words, you want to say your piece, but don’t want anyone to disagree with it (‘a debate’). That’s just silly.

                  Nobody is talking about “free” birth control, by the way. Employee health insurance is a benefit that the employee is accepting as a form of compensation.

                  P.S.: cute, but I really doubt any company wanting to carve birth control out of employee benefits is seriously doing so because of concerns that hormones are destroying the environment.

                3. Ouch.*

                  I appreciate reading differing points of view. However, I hate when these politically charged topics come up because the comments here can get disrespectful and snarky.

                4. Ask a Manager* Post author

                  Birth control pills are NOT a major contributor to the presence of estrogenic compounds in waterways. Scientists have thoroughly debunked this. They contribute a negligible amount; the presence of hormones in water is mainly caused by crop fertilizer, livestock waste, and industrial chemicals runoff.

                5. Bea W*

                  Nobody is talking about “free” birth control, by the way. Employee health insurance is a benefit that the employee is accepting as a form of compensation.

                  The employee is also paying part of the health insurance premium. It’s not free. It’s part of a service the employee *pays* for.

                6. Bea W*

                  I forgot to add that often there is still a co-pay for prescriptions, which the employee also pays. In many plans, if the cost of the prescription is less than the co-pay, the employee pays the actual cost of the prescription. No one is getting anything free.

                7. Artemesia*

                  Most of the companies and organizations now making an issue of this have only done so since a black President made coverage of basic health care needs of women part of health care law.

                  I can remember when companies could choose not to cover maternity care; I paid for the delivery of my daughter as the company I worked for was one of those. I did not know that until I became pregnant; it just didn’t occur to me that this was not part of group health policies. (the law changed after that time)

                  This is about companies being used to block a black President’s agenda because they can. The notion that a corporation (which is specifically designed to separate the personal from what is ‘business’) has ‘beliefs’ and has any business meddling in the personal health choices of their employees.

                  It does suggest that it is time for a single payer national plan and to remove health insurance from the for profit and corporate sector.

                8. Chinook*

                  neverjaunty “In other words, you want to say your piece, but don’t want anyone to disagree with it (‘a debate’). That’s just silly.”

                  No, I just wanted to point out that there are other reasons than the ones you stated without debating which ones are valid. You, and everyone else, don’t have to agree with them (and I never said that I did either) but it is worth pointing out that their reasons go beyond “women must be controlled” as that oversimplifies the situation.

                  AnonforThisOne – I said that BC is not often used for medical reasons, not never. I even said there are medical reasons for using it. I would presume that these situations would be covered by insurance as it isn’t being used as BC but as spomething else (and to do otherwise would be asinine and short-sighted, IMO).

                  AAM – I stand corrected about the hormones in the environment. When I took BC, I was warned by the nurse about the high hormones in the urine andd my body causing potential issues with bone mass. But, the fact that this was investigated means it was a concern at one point.

                9. AnonForThisOne*

                  I don’t mean to be snarky here Chinook -but I think you should research your assumptions. There have been studies that have found that more than 50% of women rely on birth control for more than pregnancy prevention, and hundreds of thousands of women that use birth control do not use it for pregnancy prevention at all. To me that is a far cry from “rarely” or “not often” as you stated.

                10. neverjaunty*

                  Chinook, when you state ‘other reasons’, you can’t really expect that other people are not allowed to question those reasons or dispute whether they are true, and trying to head off that discussion by saying you don’t want to start a debate really isn’t fair or reasonable.

                11. Zillah*

                  I said that BC is not often used for medical reasons, not never. I even said there are medical reasons for using it. I would presume that these situations would be covered by insurance as it isn’t being used as BC but as spomething else (and to do otherwise would be asinine and short-sighted, IMO).

                  Nope on all counts.

                  Birth control is certainly used most frequently as a way to prevent pregnancy, but it’s pretty common to use it in other ways, too. Many women whose periods lead to mood swings, are uncomfortable/downright painful, or just unpredictable use it as much because of that as for the birth control aspect. It’s also frequently used to help women get through menopause.

                  Those situations would absolutely not be covered by insurance if they’re not covering a form of birth control in general. It’s not like you sit down and talk to your employer about which birth control you’re using and why – that’s a pretty big violation of your privacy, and the idea of executives going in and okaying birth control in some situations but not others makes me queasy.

                  I have no idea why you’re presuming that they would be – and after all, if the issue is morality and not controlling women’s bodies, why should the reason for the birth control change whether a company covers it? If it’s immoral, surely it’s just immoral.

                  AAM – I stand corrected about the hormones in the environment. When I took BC, I was warned by the nurse about the high hormones in the urine andd my body causing potential issues with bone mass. But, the fact that this was investigated means it was a concern at one point.

                  … but it’s not a concern now, because they’ve debunked it. So how is the fact that at one point, people thought that this might be an issue justify some kind of “morality” clause?

                  I would also like a reputable source for this statement:

                  As well, chemical BC is one of the few medications out there that rarely helps heal or prevent damage to the body… but instead is taken to make the body’s natural cycles and abilities more convinent in the short term while potentially causing long term damage to the individual

                  Where have you found scientific evidence that using birth control causes long term damage to the individual? I’ve never seen any evidence of that being the case for the general population.

                  In fact, there’s a lot of evidence that using hormonal birth control puts you at a lower risk for developing certain kinds of cancer. It’s also clear that by allowing women to control their reproductive systems more, their lives overall tend to be better.

                  There are also fewer abortions, which should be what these people who are so focused on “morality” want.

                12. some1*

                  Pretty much any problem you have with your period will have the Dr recommending BC. I have friends who went on the pill before they had ever kissed a boy. I have friends who have been on the pill who are lesbians.

                13. Ask a Manager* Post author

                  While I have strong feelings on these topics myself, this post isn’t the place for debates on birth control, the ACA, or the limits of religious freedom and it’s taking us way off-topic from the OP’s original letter, so I’m going to ask that we all move on.

                  Here, that is. In the rest of your life, I urge you to speak out about your opinions to your elected representations, because that’s how you get change.

                14. Sarah*

                  I’m not quite sure why we don’t just talk about how birth control is there for many women’s mental and physical health — just by preventing pregnancy!

                  It’s the most important part of my health care. I have two wonderful kids in a very strong marriage. But if I know how much time and energy it takes to be a good parent, especially for babies. If I were to get pregnant again, my marriage would suffer, my parenting would suffer. I would be very, very unhappy. And, I do have changes in my body because of having kids. I don’t want that again.

                  I’m not sure why we can’t say that many/most adults do have sex and many do want to choose when and how they will become pregnant. Why in the world should my employer get involved with that??? And furthermore, I feel very strongly that preventing pregnancy is *essential* to my physical and mental wellbeing. If my employer doesn’t want to provide for that in a health care package, then maybe they should stop being employers. Or work to stope employee-based heath care coverage.

            2. Mints*

              Yep, the supreme court specifically differentiated (female) birth control. The court said that even if employers have objections to vaccinations, blood transfusions, or viagra, they cannot opt out. Which I think either implies
              1) They view women’s health care as less important, which is completely wrong medically, and sexist. Or
              2) They see conservative Christian objections as more valid, which I see as a violation of church and state

              Also important to note: the court announced the ruling is applicable to all 20 forms of birth control. Employers can opt out of all birth control

              1. Eliz87*

                +1000. Your employer’s religion trumps your healthcare as long as they are Christian and you are a woman.

              2. Broke Philosopher*

                I mean, they can SAY they don’t want to include vaccinations, etc in possible exemptions, but that’s not really how law and precedent work. In fact, we can already see that companies are using Hobby Lobby to oppose the executive order that will prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexuality. I think they opened up a far greater can of worms than they were predicting.

                1. neverjaunty*

                  Yep. The Court also didn’t really offer any reason this same logic could not apply to vaccinations or other procedures; they just said the decision wouldn’t automatically extend to everything. Which is dicta, and wrong.

            3. Anx*

              There’s no doubt that women’s birth control is more elective than other health coverage because of sexism, but I don’t think you can compare this issue with Viagra and Cialis.

              Many times the birth control coverage debate arises as a result of the mandate for insurance to cover contraceptives as part of the guaranteed coverage for women’s health needs, but also as part of the push to cover preventive medicine.

              Making birth control available without a copay and on every plan is part of the transition to shift cost burdens away from individuals for preventive measures. ED pills treat a condition, they don’t prevent it. Of course, all medicine is partly preventive (lots of them prevent fatal complication). ED medication can keep men having an active sex life longer, and thus stave off health declines related to relationship stress and the psychological effects. But I don’t think insurance views it that way.

              I could be wrong, I don’t know much about insurance.

          2. Traveler*

            Except Hobby Lobby’s 401K stock choices give them profits from the very birth control companies they claim to not want to support. And its very public knowledge that their are stock brokers that specialize in providing stocks to individuals and companies that are free and clear of that sort of thing. So in that light it seems pretty arbitrary, and makes it much harder to trust what future steps they might take. I wouldn’t even worry that it would be religious necessarily but if you are willing to push the issue of corporate personhood that far – it raises my eyebrows.

            1. Artemesia*

              Well that is different because the one thing they really do believe in is grabbing all the money they can. This is not a moral issue but a political one.

              1. Traveler*

                What is different? If I am claiming that my closely held belief is that I do not believe in supporting the use of “abortifacients” (the ruling claimed the validity of this is irrelevant so I’m accepting that), then it seems at the very least arbitrary to then claim that I don’t support paying for them, but I support profiting off of them. If your defense of refusing to obey a law is your morality, then I’d argue you’re making your morality political.

              2. Zillah*

                If they truly felt strongly so strongly about it on a moral level that they were willing to sacrifice women’s health, surely that would override their desire to make money.

                If they don’t feel that strongly, I don’t want to hear about it.

            2. Bea W*

              The same concept applies to providing health insurance as well. A company may refuse to purchase a plan that covers birth control, but if the insurance provider offers plans that cover birth control, the company’s money is still going towards birth control in some form. Insurance companies don’t put your money aside in a special bucket to use only when covering your employee’s expenses. It becomes part of their revenue stream which is in turn used to provide birth control to people who did elect that coverage.

          3. Pleasefilloutthisfield*

            I don’t believe they’ve been consistent at all – but it is immaterial. The court system is not the place to decide the validity of one’s religious beliefs.

            1. neverjaunty*

              If one is attempting to gain an exemption from laws that apply to everyone else on the basis of one’s religious beliefs, then yes, the court system is going to have to decide whether those are in fact truly held beliefs, or made up justifications for not wanting to follow a law.

              That’s how the laws work.

              1. neverjaunty*

                If you are talking about the Hobby Lobby ruling, no, it did not. It said that nobody was questioning the sincerity of the company’s owners’ beliefs. Since it wasn’t in dispute, the court didn’t have to decide whether those beliefs were sincere or not.


                Imagine a company that refused to issue paychecks on Friday, delaying money owed to the following Monday, claiming that Friday was a holy day and they were forbidden by their religion from handling financial transactions. But it turns out that company keeps its stores open on Fridays and is happy to take in payments from customers and accounts receivable on Fridays. Do you think a court should ignore that and say gee, if you say Friday is sacred then I guess nobody gets paid that day?

                1. Traveler*

                  I meant the scientific validity – not the sincerity of their beliefs. I know the sincerity of their beliefs was not in question. I wish I’d kept the quote of the justice about the irrelevance of the scientific validity but now I can’t find it – perhaps I misread that it was an actual part of the judgement, and that it may have just been commentary from a justice. Though to your point – that’s why Ginsburg wrote such a lengthy dissenting opinion. The Supreme Court by making this ruling has left that up to interpretation now for the lower courts, which as we saw this week go this way or that depending on their political affiliation.

                2. neverjaunty*

                  The comment to which I was replying referred to ‘consistency’, not ‘accuracy’, of their religious beliefs.

                3. Traveler*

                  I’m confused. I was just trying to clarify my response (i meant the scientific validity) to Please when s/he was saying “the court is not the place to determine validity of religious beliefs”. I didn’t read your initial response to him/her when I responded to Please.

          4. Mouse*

            Except Hobby Lobby always covered those four types of BC before, that they now vehemently object to, including in the states that already had contraception coverage requirements that predate the ACA by many years. Those “deeply held beliefs” seem to have been formed right after the ACA….

              1. Aisling*

                That is rediculous and overly simplistic. I assure you they would not have gone to the expense they have if they just wanted to give someone the finger. Wow.

            1. HappySaturday!*

              Ha, I’m not fan of ACA or Obama, but I noticed this too. Virtually every health insurance plan I’ve looked at covered birth control long before ACA, it was just subject to deductible/coinsurance/copay. It wasn’t 100% covered, but 80-90% of the cost was usually covered by the insurance company or employer (if self-insured), with the remainder covered by the customer/subscriber. Now, some companies are suddenly objecting to covering the remaining 10-20% they didn’t complain about for years.

              1. Anx*

                None of the health insurance plans I’ve had available in my current state covered maternity (without a rider that cost as much as the premium), abortion, or birth control.

                In my prior state maternity was covered in the premium (which was higher).

                I was on the individual market.

                1. HappySaturday!*

                  OK, interesting. Thanks for posting that. All the plans I’ve looked at have been offerings for employers, whether self-insured or funded by the insurance companies themselves. Maybe the individual market is different. I’ll look into this, because I want to get clear on it and not misspeak. Thank you.

            2. JoAnna*

              You are wrong. HL never covered the 4 abortifacients because of their moral objection, just the other 16. It was when the HHS amendment was enacted that it became a problem, because they were being forced to pay for abortifacients they had previously declined to pay for.

              1. Student*

                None of the birth control methods that Hobby Lobby takes issue with cause abortion in medical studies. None of them. There is even counter-evidence that they don’t cause abortions.

                Do you know what is covered by their healthcare but does cause abortions in medical studies? Advil. Naproxen. Common pain-killers. But men use those, so no one’s ever going to rip them off a healthcare plan due to moral objections.

                1. HappySaturday!*

                  It doesn’t matter whether or not they actually cause abortions, though. The fact is that Hobby Lobby believe they cause abortions. The laws don’t succumb to “facts” or “science” or whatever the latest fad research is. They’re based on faith, belief, and conscience. At least in America.

                  Also, basically everything can cause an abortion if used for that purpose.

          5. Clerica*

            In the case of Hobby Lobby they were always closed on Sundays (lost potential sales)

            As someone who knows several former Hobby Lobby managers (they burn through them like kindling), being closed on Sunday didn’t mean their employees didn’t have to work on Sunday. In many stores they still have to come in and stock.

          6. anonyone*

            Beliefs may not change, but medical advances/technologies change. And if I have to wait and find out what my employer’s deeply held beliefs on each new medical device or medicine related to my reproductive system is…then I’d feel held hostage.

          7. Student*

            I take it you didn’t follow the news that:

            (1) They used to cover those birth control methods until the ACA passed.

            (2) Their retirement funds invest in companies that make the birth control.

            They aren’t morally consistent. They’re political opportunists.

      3. Catherine*

        Zillah, I noticed that, too. It sounds like the OP is less concerned about specific benefits offered and more about finding bellwethers of whether she’ll mesh well with the company culture. To that end, I’d suggest that she ask some more general questions related to faith-based organizations. For example, “Do you encourage religious diversity among your staff?” “What role does faith play in the day-to-day life of the organization?” I recently had an interviewee ask if he could fit in to our organization’s culture as a non-religious person, and I thought it was a good opportunity to give him more specifics about what our culture is like. Any faith-based organization should be comfortable talking frankly about faith and its expectations of employees–I’d stay away from any that aren’t.

    3. Bea W*

      The OP did state the reason for not wanting to accept an offer from a company that would not have coverage for birth control is on principle rather than a need for the coverage itself.

      I would never want to work for such an organization as it is clear that their mission and entire organizational culture is opposite of my own beliefs.

      1. the gold digger*

        Given that – “their mission and entire organizational culture is opposite of my own beliefs” – it should be pretty easy for OP to avoid those organizations altogether.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          That’s what I was thinking. And after this ruling, it should be pretty easy to find out what the employer’s stance is on it with some judicious googling.

  3. JessA*

    Regarding number 1,
    I’m just curious, if you do get to the offer stage with a prospective employer, how do you go about asking what all they cover? Can you ask to see a copy of their current health plan? (If so, how?)

    1. Stephanie*

      Last job I had, the employer gave me an info sheet of the premium costs along with the offer letter. HR also offered to discuss the plans in-depth if I had questions.

      1. Traveler*

        Yeah. Some companies I’ve found in the final interview round will provide packets with all this information so that you have all the info to decide should they give an offer.

    2. GrumpyBoss*

      I recently hired someone who did this. Requested a good deal of data on the medical plan and HR worked with him to compare and contrast with his existing coverage.

    3. MissDisplaced*

      Before I was hired at my current company (after they told me I was going to receive an offer) the company sent me a copy of all their benefit offerings and insurance plan choices so that you could see what was covered and what was not.

      It’s not always common practice to do so, but at that stage it would also not be an uncommon request from a potential employee. If the company balks at showing this, it would be a serious red flag!

    4. hayling*

      When my fiance got his offer for his current job, the boss emailed him a sheet with the plan details. I don’t think it would be unreasonable to ask for something like that.

  4. SherryD*

    #1 In my experience, the hiring manager conducting the interview isn’t extremely well-versed in the benefits package, not to the extent that they could tell you which drugs are and aren’t covered. Of course the contraceptive drug issue has been in the news extensively in the US, perhaps causing some organizations to reevaluate their policy, but I would guess there’s a good chance that the person conducting the interview would have to ask to find out for sure.

    1. EngineerGirl*

      That’s tricky. For example, Hobby Lobby covered 16 of the 20 birth control options. That kind of detail is usually only in the paperwork generated by the insurance company.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Since that 4 of 20 fact has been mentioned a few times here, it’s worth noting that the Supreme Court decision does allow companies to refuse to cover ALL forms of births control. And in fact, there are dozens cases pending before federal courts with companies that object to all birth control, such as the owners of Freshway Foods. They claim to be sincerely opposed to covering any form of birth control and have already gotten a preliminary injunction from a judge who described the coverage requirement as “the compelled subsidization of a woman’s procreative practices.” And because of the Supreme Court ruling, they only have to show the sincerity of their beliefs to win.

        1. the gold digger*

          Hmm. Trying to figure out what the sincerity of belief was at the Fortune 100 paper company with 100,000 employees where I used to work where bcp were not covered.

          The finally did cover them after I wrote to the head of benefits and asked why viagra, which is strictly recreational as far as I am concerned, was covered and bcp were not. I might have made some comment that it was clear that middle-aged men were making the decisions.

        2. Artemesia*

          If they sincerely belief serving black people or gay people violates their religion this case should cover that as well. The right wing truly believes that sexism, racism and all other forms of discrimination are the ‘rights of property holders.’

          1. some1*

            Seriously, where does this religious freedom of for-profit employers stop? Prescriptions are part of your compensation, like your wage. Can my Catholic employer stop me from using my wages to buy a hamburger on a Friday during Lent? Can my Mormon employer stop me from buying coffee or alcohol? My Jewish employer from paying for a tattoo?

            1. bearing*

              I know that this statement was meant rhetorically for emotional impact, but: Your answers will be found in the text of the RFRA. It allows the government to infringe upon employers’ and employees’ religious freedom if it serves a compelling interest and if there is no less restrictive way to serve that interest. It also allows the government to exempt itself from the requirement. In the case of ensuring birth control access for women who want it, there *are* ways the government can meet that end that is less restrictive to employers. This isn’t some broad principle of woman-crushing that will now spiral out of control. It’s all in the RFRA, passed with bipartisan support and signed by Clinton. It is the same law that prevents the government from using OSHA to arbitrarily ban head coverings for nebulous safety reasons, and from using the ADA to require all taxi drivers who serve an airport to agree to carry service animals even if they have religious reasons to refuse to associate with dogs. I think it’s a great law, and oddly enough I thought so back when the president was a white guy, too.

              1. some1*

                My point was that, to me, it seems this would be about using religious beliefs to discriminate against women, or else the above examples would be more common.

              2. neverjaunty*

                All true (well, except for it being a great law; the problem it’s trying to fix was created by yet ANOTHER boneheaded Supreme Court ruling, but I digress). But it is also true that there is nothing in the ruling that draws a bright line around contraception, as opposed to other medical procedures that might violate a company’s religious beliefs.

            2. kris*

              I guess I’m missing something. I thought Hobby Lobby was refusing to help pay for certain types of birth control, not preventing their employees from buying it.

              Maybe the employees make so little that if Hobby Lobby doesn’t pay for it, the employees can’t afford it?

              1. some1*

                No, they aren’t preventing employees from buying it on their own, my analogy was relating to the fact prescription coverage is part of your compensation and should not be regulated by your employer’s religious beliefs the same way that your wage or vacation time should not.

                But to answer your question, yes, paying full retail price for BC is cost prohibitive to many women.

                1. HappySaturday!*

                  Right. This is the logical conclusion of the ruling. If you use your employer-paid wages to purchase birth control, your employer is paying for it.

                  My friend’s boss demanded to know how much she paid for her house because, in his words, he’s paying for her house. Why? He pays her salary, which she uses to make the payments on her house.

                  The supreme court apparently does not understand how transfer of property works. I think the ACA is really misguided and wrong, but two wrongs don’t make a right (at least in this case).

      2. neverjaunty*

        It would have taken a very brief Google search to determine the “corporate beliefs” of Hobby Lobby though.

        OP, you are probably way better off doing some basic research on whatever company it is. You will want to do that anyway, and it is bit hard to find out if a company is, say, giving money to political causes or churches that would suggest they lean a particular way on birth control coverage.

  5. Ann Furthermore*

    #4 Maybe I’m just feeling particularly grouchy, but I don’t think it’s reasonable to expect to accrue benefits at an accelerated rate in perpetuity. The OP’s husband negotiated an extra week of vacation during the hiring process. He received a benefit 5 years earlier than other employees did. Does that mean he should be 5 years ahead on his vacation accrual forever? I would view it as a one-time occurrence, similar to a signing bonus or negotiating your starting salary.

    1. Raine*

      But presumably his salary wouldn’t freeze for five years after having negotiated the salary of a senior when coming onboard.

      1. Traveler*

        Yep. This is exactly what I was thinking. He should be 5 years ahead on his vacation accrual or his vacation time is devaluing. Which means your total compensation is going down.

    2. RebeccaMN*

      I disagree. If you are starting a new job but at a senior level, it seems perfectly reasonable that part of the negotiations might be “I bring this level of experience, and would like to be compensated in both money and vacation time for it.” So you’d negotiate to start at the five year mark and move up from there, rather than at the regular new employee mark.

      If I was their manager I would appreciate the reminder that we need to make sure that increases, since it seems like something that would need to be done manually (no system is likely to know automatically).

    3. Persephone Mulberry*

      I think both points of view are valid, depending on your point of view. It sounds to me like the OP’s husband may believe he started, as Rebecca puts it, “at the five year mark,” whereas the company may believe he was offered the one-time perk of an extra week of vacation. It’s hard to tell with the information we have which is accurate, without having been present at the negotiating table.

      1. Persephone Mulberry*

        Also, now that the coffee has seeped a little further into my brain: I do realize the entire package was negotiated, not just the vacation. I just restricted my comment to the vacation piece of it since that’s what’s under discussion.

      2. straws*

        This is what I was going to say. The wording is very important, and I’ve hired people who negotiated both ways. Some people are primarily concerned with having at least 3 weeks and don’t care what comes after, whereas others are looking for 1 week on top of the standard plan. Very different situations that can be worded very similarly. He should definitely follow AAM’s advice and clarify this before the review cycle.

    4. en pointe*

      No, because the OP’s husband wouldn’t be accruing benefits at an accelerated rate, he’d be accruing benefits at the same rate as everybody else, just from a different negotiated starting point.

      I think it’s a bit clearer if we forget the specific amounts, and just recognise that, at this organisation, everybody gets an increase in vacation time after working there for five years. It wouldn’t be fair for OP’s husband to have to wait 10 years for an increase, while everybody else only has to wait five, just because he negotiated well at the offer stage.

      1. Graciosa*

        It would be perfectly fair if that was what he negotiated – we really don’t know the specifics, which are usually contained in the offer letter.

        Something like “You will have one extra week of vacation (in addition to that offered under the vacation policy) while you are employed at our company” seems like a commitment of the type you’re talking about.

        Alternatively, “Even though you would not typically be eligible for three weeks of vacation initially, company agrees to increase your vacation to three weeks until you are eligible for at least that amount under our vacation policy” goes the other way.

        Without knowing what was really in the document (not just what the OP or the husband assumed) it’s hard to assess.

    5. Chris*

      I tend to agree. If the company policy says that you get 3 weeks after 5 years and 4 weeks after 10 years, negotiating to start at 3 weeks doesn’t mean he gets a bump at 5 years unless it was specifically negotiated. It really depends how you look at it. We don’t have enough info to know the actual terms discussed when he took the offer.

  6. Kate*

    For the revoked job offer: Is the person who called you afterwards the same one who interviewed you and agreed it wouldn’t be a problem? If it isn’t I would contact that person and explain the situation. What a horrible situation.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      I was wondering why anyone would apply to work at a place where “You’re hired” does not mean you are hired.

      I can’t imagine what it would be like to work there.

      “Your shift starts on Monday at 8 am.” No, not really.

      1. Stephanie*

        Yeah, that’s a nightmare scenario. I had an offer rescinded once and it definitely negatively colored my view of that particular nonprofit.

  7. Kate*

    I have also been wondering about #1. Personally I am covered under my spouse but it would be indicative of the type of company and other issues I could see cropping up and would like to know before accepting. It is such a personal topic I have a hard time imagining even asking.

  8. ProcReg*

    #1 – Why would you consider working for a faith based organization if you disagree with its most basic tenant?

    1. Persephone Mulberry*

      I’m not sure I understand this question, because I believe that’s the OP’s exact point – she *doesn’t* want to work for an organization if it differs so strongly on this point, so her question is how can she find that out early in the interview process.

      (Personally, OP, I would make a point of googling the heck out of the organizations I was considering applying to, to see if they had made any public comments on the issue).

    2. Vanilla*

      That’s what I came here to say. If it’s a faith – based organization, there is a decent chance they won’t cover birth control. I would also recommend Persephone’ ss idea of doing a ton of research on organizations you are interested in. You can save a ton of time and effort by doing this and figuring out what organizations more closely align with your values.

      In my city, there is a mega church that employees a lot of people. I know of a lot of people who aren’t Christians (and some who are Athiests even) who want to work there. Personally, I can’t imagine anyone who isn’t a believer wanting to work there, but hey, that’s just me. There have been several places where I thought I wanted to work and then I did research and found that their beliefs and valued didn’t match up with mine and it wasn’t something I wanted to be a part of.

      1. Jillociraptor*

        There are tons of progressive religious nonprofits that work on a variety of issues including reproductive rights/reproductive justice. Opposition to birth control is a minority position in Christianity. It’s not contradictory to me at all that the op would be interested in working in a faith-based organization that matches her values here.

        1. Bea W*

          ^This – those organizations just aren’t receiving the media attention. Not all faith affiliated organizations will feel the need to impose their values on their employees either.

      2. MissM*

        Not all faiths are opposed to birth control.

        Another suggestion for OP#1 is to try to do some research into the organization’s beliefs. It is possible that they have openly addressed this issue, and you could discover that with a google search.

      3. en pointe*

        Perhaps the OP wants to work for a faith-based organisation because they are of the faith in question, but just disagree about birth control, as many people do.

        Yes, as a faith-based organisation, there’s a decent chance they won’t cover birth control, but there’s also a decent chance they will. The OP is screening for organisations in the latter category.

        1. Artemesia*

          Good point. In the US Catholics use birth control at the same rate as protestants. In Europe the same is true. I’d hazard given the family sizes of the 5 rich old Catholic men who made the Hobby Lobby decision that they do as well. It is about money and politics and power not religious faith.

          1. Dorothy*

            Wow – these are some racist and inflammatory comments made by Artemesia, and I’m not just referring to this particular comment — comments up-thread about how anybody who opposes the President does so because he is black? That’s very offensive. Can we stop this dialog? It’s not useful.

            1. Ouch.*

              THANK YOU. I am conservative and I do NOT appreciate Artemesia’s accusation that my beliefs are sexist and racist.

            2. TheSnarkyB*

              WHAT?? Where is race mentioned here by Artemesia at all? I don’t think you know what racism is. Please explain…

              1. Ouch.*

                “The right wing truly believes that sexism, racism and all other forms of discrimination are the ‘rights of property holders.’”

                Talk about painting with a broad brush. And many of the commenters here have incredibly inflammatory, disrespectful responses to people that express different opinions, especially on the other side of the political spectrum. I appreciate discourse, but keep it respectful. It puts me off this blog.

            3. Red Librarian*

              Are you talking about Artemesia’s comment about how the Hobby Lobby fight was about our president being black?

              If so, Artemesia was referencing the fact that up until “Obamacare,” Hobby Lobby willingly covered this BC as part of their insurance policy. It’s only AFTER the changes to health insurance that they decided they didn’t want to do it anymore. A little suspicious, yes?

              1. kris*

                I get annoyed whenever someone assumes that someone else dislikes one of Obama’s decisions because he’s black. Isn’t it even remotely possible that some people just dislike his decisions?

                How many presidents have we had where everyone liked all of their decisions?

                It should be OK to agree with or disagree with someone’s decisions regardless of the color of that person’s skin.

                1. Ouch.*

                  Exactly. Artemesia has been throwing around accusations of racism on this post, which is very serious. Apparently no one thinks this is a big deal.

            4. Zillah*

              They may be inflammatory, but that doesn’t make them racist.

              And to be perfectly honest, I find the idea of employers pushing women’s health under the bus because they believe something is pretty inflammatory on its own. I’d go so far as to say that it disgusts me.

              Health is health. Medicine is medicine. You shouldn’t actually get to pick and choose. I’m not sure how this is different in any way but scale than an employer refusing to cover cancer treatment because they’re opposed to animal testing, and the treatment was developed using it.

            5. Aisling*

              I am finding Artemisia’s comments extremely racist and inflammatory. I expect better from the comment it’s on this site.

      4. Elizabeth West*

        Mine too, and I would never work there or for any of their known properties. On the career website of one of their organizations, it says that they prefer candidates who are members, and non-members can’t do the following:
        –Have sex outside marriage
        –Be gay
        –Look at porn
        –Go to bars
        –Do drugs
        –Are not a born-again Christian
        –Do not attend church regularly

        I am not making this up; every one of those is on their criteria page (with more general wording, but you get my drift). I suppose they get away with it because it’s a church-based org, but it’s also extremely easy to avoid them.

    3. Traveler*

      You can agree largely with what an organization is doing, and still take issue with elements/choices they make. I think this goes with any company or employer. If I had to find an employer that didn’t do anything I disagreed with, I think that might be difficult.

      Though, the OP said they would not want to work for a faith based organization that believed in denying its workers certain kinds of birth control so I don’t know how this questions applies. There are faith based organizations that don’t do that.

      1. en pointe*

        Right, and the OP said she’s trying to screen for the kind of organisation that doesn’t. Seems pretty clear to me.

        I was also puzzled by the ‘most basic tenet’ of faith comment. I’m an atheist, but while being raised Catholic, I learnt the most basic tenets were that Jesus is the son of God and the path to eternal salvation, love thy neighbour, show compassion and kindness to others, etc.

        I’ve was never opposed to birth control or gay marriage (just to name a couple), and I think that for many religious people, that stuff isn’t what the core of their faith is about. It’s not even in the same ballpark.

    4. ?*

      What are you talking about, specifically?

      I don’t think insurance policies are the most basic tenant of any faith.

  9. T*

    #1 My guess is that if you disagree on principle with an organization’s stance on birth control, you probably disagree in a lot of other areas, as well. It’s a faith-based organization. Do you adhere to the faith they espouse? Somehow I doubt you agree with them on every point except (potentially) birth control. I think that if you disagree with the core of who they are, then you should consider whether they are the right place for you to work. You can figure this out a lot more easily than you can figure out their medical coverage in advance.

      1. Bea W*

        It depends on a lot of one’s individual priorities and what importance they place on a particular issue and whether they can tolerate working for or being a member of a group that he or she doesn’t agree with 100%. Catholics who don’t agree with the church on birth control (or to give other examples, divorce, celibacy requirement for priests) are a perfect example of this. They are focusing on those things which they do agree with and are most meaningful in their faith.

        Many faith associated organizations employ people outside of their own faiths for non-religious positions (i.e. accountants, IT, maintenance) and don’t place any obligations on them to change their affiliation, behavior, or beliefs specifically to be inline with a particular religious view. To those people, it’s just like another job, in the same way not everyone employed by the government or even in the armed forces agrees with even some key government policies or the particular party in power.

        1. Traveler*

          “They are focusing on those things which they do agree with and are most meaningful in their faith.”

          Yes, and many times they are also pressing for changes within the faith as well.

      2. Elizabeth West*

        Yes. I’m pretty sure that as a confirmed Catholic, it still counts me as one too, unless I were to request a formal exit. I still consider myself a Catholic, just not a practicing one.

        That said, I doubt I’d want to work for a Catholic church or organization. I just don’t want religion in my workplace on a formal level.

    1. ?*

      Huh? You’re assuming a lot about companies just based on the “faith-based” description. There are a lot more religions than the more conservative branches of Christianity.

        1. ?*

          Yeah, I grew up in a Christian church like this. And the views on birth control and abortion are diverse throughout all kinds of religions.

          1. Zillah*

            Agreed. There are also plenty of Christians who don’t even support legal restrictions on abortion.

  10. Mimmy*

    #3 – revoked offer d/t availability

    Maybe I’m in a less-than-charitable mood today because I’m sick, but I thought asking about pre-planned obligations during an interview is thought of as unwise for this exact reason? Isn’t that something that would normally be negotiated at the offer stage?

    I will concede that it’s still pretty rotten, especially if the one who revoked the offer is the same person who assured you that it’d be okay.

    1. Kelly*

      I’m also feeling a bit grumpy and annoyed with one of the students working this summer for a couple of reasons, including a couple of vacations. She’s a good worker when she’s in the right mood but most of the time she shows up and does the bare minimum. She has another job and is taking classes, so we’ve worked around her schedule. She took a week and a half off end of June for a vacation, which we were fine with because she gave us a reasonable notice. We find out this week that she wants the last two weeks of August off for a family vacation. Neither my coworker who does the hiring or I were pleased to hear that because of her other vacation and the decline in the quality of her work. I suggested to him that only offer her hours for the fall if there are any left after the other current student workers and new hires give their preferences. I don’t think he’ll take my suggestion because he hates the whole hiring process and if he chose not to rehire her, he’d have to hire at least 4 or 5 more people. I think it’s unreasonable to expect almost a month off for vacations during the summer, especially in a student job. Neither him or I take a lot of time off in the summer because of reduced staffing. He takes a week off for a family vacation before the kids go back to school and I’ll take time off in the spring and fall when hotel rates are cheaper.

  11. Lillie Lane*

    #3: Did the hiring process take a long time, and did you expect to start working at the new job a while ago? It sounds like once the orientation is over, your availability is severely limited, first by your pre-planned activity and then with school. Maybe the employer thinks it’s not worth it to hire you. (Which they should have addressed earlier in the process if this is the case.)

  12. Sparrow*

    For #1: Is it a Catholic organization? If not, I think it’s pretty unlikely that they don’t cover birth control. Indeed, even if it IS a Catholic organization, I think it’s pretty unlikely that they don’t cover birth control.

    Your question sounds like you’re not so concerned with who pays for your BC as about what’s revealed by them covering/not covering BC for their employees. Commenters, can we brainstorm some other, more interview-appropriate, questions that the OP could ask to get the same information?

    1. Nichole*

      How about “what role does faith play in the day to day operations at (job)?” Offers a segue into asking about faith based policies, appropriate at a faith based org (and may even reflect well by highlighting that OP is looking for a culture where that element is present), and can give info both about that particular site and the organization as a whole.

      1. Bea W*

        I really like this question because it will illicit a broader answer that is probably more accurate of the company’s culture and how much the faith affiliation influences the environment and decisions made by management. The company could be providing BC coverage as a matter of being compliant with law, while still maintaining beliefs against its use. Would that make a difference to the OP?

  13. Brett*

    #1 One way to deal with this issue is to seek out employees in the organization when you are applying for the position and ask them about the health coverage. It is better if it is someone unconnected from the interview process or location you would work at, and can be as simple as using a LinkedIn connection saying, “I am applying to a position in your organization and wonder if you could help me with a specific benefits question that I do not want raise directly to your HR while applying.”

    1. Rachel - HR*

      I think if someone did that my employees would answer them the best they could but then come to me and tell me what happened and that they thought it was weird.

    2. Luxe in Canada*

      I’d feel super uncomfortable if some stranger contacted me to ask about my benefits. I’d direct them to HR for their question; this is one of the reasons we have HR in the first place.

    3. Brett*

      I guess I’m just one of the few comfortable with that. I’ve had that happen 5-10 times with my current employer. But this are people I know professionally, not complete strangers, which is why I mentioned going through existing contacts

  14. HM in Atlanta*

    Re vacation: The purpose for receiving additional vacation at 5 years, 10 years is to reward longevity with the company. Companies are generally willing to give an extra week (sometimes 2) at the start as a negotiation point. I posed a similar situation to another business group I’m a part of. In 100 responses, of companies from different companies and industries, variety of sizes, not a single one would offer an extra week at hire and the 10-year week at 5 years. (all were US companies)

    TL; DR If you want this kind of set up, negotiate it at hire. Otherwise you’re just getting the 5th anniversary week at hire.

    1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

      But if the purpose of the extra week at the 5th year is to reward longevity, why wouldn’t the employee who negotiated an extra week when she started also be rewarded for her tenure?

      I understand that you’re saying that your survey revealed that companies wouldn’t do this; I just don’t see how it connects to your first statement.

      1. HM in Atlanta*

        In the US, not a huge number of companies go over 4 weeks of vacation max (this is starting to move to more time, but it’s moving slowly). If 4 weeks is your max, it’s to the employers benefit to offer it to long term employees. It’s also to balance the benefits of current employees against candidate negotiations. Internal equity is important, and if I have to work here 10 years to get the max vacation, why should new guy only have to work here 5 years. I know the reasoning is that people would complain about the new guy getting 3 weeks, but 3 weeks is so commonplace that there are fewer complaints.

        The other reason that businesses may not want to do this is administration. If I had to keep up with not only different vacation accrual amounts for 2,000 employees (and yes, it’s all manual for me) but also different increases schedules, I would lose my mind.

  15. Bea W*

    #3 – I feel like this is one of those things that can be added to the list of red flags. It could be a manifestation of the work environment in general.

    1. neverjaunty*

      Yes, this. It can be a sign of disorganization or conflict in the company – maybe the interviewer promised something that wasn’t true. Or, the person with authority to actually set the schedule either didn’t know what the interviewer said, or chose to overrule/disregard it. It seems very strange to me that a company which employs students wouldn’t be clear up front what is or isn’t OK in terms of availability.

  16. Collarbone High*

    #2 — I’m not sure this would be considered plagiarism in a university communications department — they might consider that a logical repurposing of content. When I worked in university communications, this was common practice. One reason was that the approval process was ridiculous — a five-paragraph article for the newsletter would be rewritten by 10 different people including the president and could take two months to be approved. So once we got any language approved, we would reuse that over and over. “Writing” a story could very well mean writing two new sentences and then copying the approved language that Jane used when she wrote about that topic six months ago, and that was not only OK, it was desirable. Plus an approved story would get carved up into shorter versions for marketing copy, the website, etc., with no bylines.

    1. Seish*

      OP here – I respect the huge amount of work university communications has to do, but if this was a matter of needing a quick turn around it seems like the writer would have just excerpted the article and slapped a note at the top about where the material was originally from. As best I can tell, the original piece was written at least 35 years ago, if not more. While every school has some stock events they like to crow about, the original article seems to be the only other place any of this information was put down.

    2. Emmy*

      University communications professional here. It’s certainly worth pointing out what you noticed, but I agree with Collarbone High. Very, very little of what I write is entirely original. This is partly because repurposing content is often a smart use of resources, partly because of the rigorous approval process that so much verbiage goes through, and partly because we don’t follow the same standards that an academic does, even though we work in an academic environment. Different profession; different standard of practice.

  17. Lindsay*

    #1 – I think if you decide to decline the offer because their insurance won’t cover birth control, that’s important to tell them. It shows they’re losing good employees because of their business practices. If it becomes enough of a problem for the company, they may decide to change their policy.

  18. Cheesecake*

    #5 When i see candidate was living in different countries i ask about this experience as an ice-breaker question. Also, if you are a fresh graduate who used to study in different countries use the experience answering question about your uni projects. So in general you can tie your experience to questions,but i agree with AA: it MUST be genuine and organic. Don’t start mentioning it out of the blue like “i don’t know how to pack tea pots, but i used to live in different countries thus i adapt fast”.

  19. BethRA*

    #1 – Speaking as someone who works at an advocacy-based non-profit, the fact that the OP has an interest in non-profits gives her an easy, and IMO, very appropriate way to get at this information: ask about the organization’s mission and values, and ask if and how those values play out in the organization’s culture and day-to-day operations. If their mission is to provide teapots to the tea-deprived, and this mission is rooted in the fervent belief that sharing tea is a civilizing force in society, do they also allow their employees time for tea? Are there facilities for boiling water?

    If they’re faith-based, how does that faith inform how they treat their staff, how they structure benefits and compensation? That approach would probably provide more information regarding OP’s concern (or my interpretation of it) than just asking about birth control coverage.

  20. laura*

    To #1, I work for a non profit that does not cover birth control. But something that we do offer as part of the benefits of our cafeteria plan is an additional amount each month for employees to purchase uncovered items at a place such as planned parenthood. And, while we do not cover birth control for contraceptive purposes, we have no problem with people getting it for other purposes, such as acne, cramps, etc.

    It is definitely different. We talk about it a lot at orientation and quite frankly with the new pope I think it will be interesting to see how things turn out. It doesn’t mean that I have to like it – but… the experience that I am gaining here far outweighs how I may feel about what they do and don’t cover.

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