interviewing when an employer has a horrible website, same-sex sharing of hotels on business trips, and more

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

1. Should job-seekers draw conclusions when a company has a horrible website?

I recently applied to a job based solely on the job description. The company was not listed (it was on a local job search site). They got back to me today, and we’re doing a quick phone chat, which is fine. But I got to see their company website for the first time, and it’s a little sad (looks dated, not tech-savvy, sort of embarrassingly 2001). I tend to judge companies on their websites. Is this a legitimate way to gauge companies, or is it feasible that great companies can have disappointing websites?

It depends on their business. There are a lot of small organizations that don’t rely heavily on the web or don’t do much PR at all and which have crappy websites — but which are great places to work. Of course, there are also companies where the lame state of their website reflects what it’s like to work there. And of course, if their business is web-based or heavily intensively on online outreach, the quality of what they’ve got online is pretty telling. But in most cases, you won’t know until you interview with them and learn more.

2. Same-sex marriage and sharing hotel rooms on business trips

I am a female member of a 10-person sales team, 6 men and 4 women. Our team is attending an out of town convention in October, and to save money and because of a shortage of hotel rooms at the venue, we will be sharing hotel rooms, two men or two women to a room. Each room has two double beds. One of the women on our team, Pam, is a lesbian who is married to her long-time partner. My company and coworkers are very liberal and progressive, and no one has any issue with this. Pam and I are work friends and frequently have coffee or lunch together, but we don’t have a relationship outside of work.

I was slotted in to share a room with Pam at the convention. Pam has spoken to our manager and said that because she is married to a woman, she doesn’t feel it is appropriate to be sharing a room with another woman, and since she of course can’t share with a man, the only solution is for her to have her own room. She says it is no different than asking a married man to share a room with a female colleague. The manager has agreed with this, and has informed the other three women on the team that we will need to share a room so Pam can have her own. This means that either there will be three of us to a room with two beds, so we either have to share a bed, or one of us will have to sleep on the couch or foldout bed while Pam has a room with two double beds to herself.

This seems like a ridiculous accommodation to make for Pam. I am happily married to my husband, and I have no interest in Pam outside of a work friendship. All three of us other women on the team are on the same page with this , and it is starting to affect our relationship with Pam and with our manager. Can you tell me if Pam’s request is out of line, or are we three other women on the team being unreasonable?

If Pam feels uncomfortable, she feels uncomfortable, and your workplace shouldn’t force her into sleeping arrangements that she objects to. However, the solution they’ve come up with (three of you in a room) sucks. They should find some other option — either paying for an additional room or, if the hotel doesn’t have more available, putting someone at at a different hotel nearby. (And really, I’d argue that they should let anyone who wants to opt out of sharing a room if they’re willing to pay the difference to get themselves a single room.)

3. My manager quoted me the wrong number for my new salary

I was recently promoted at work to a new position I’m excited about. When I was first told about the accompanying raise, I was told that I would still be non-exempt and eligible for overtime, and that I’d also get a new yearly bonus (I used to receive occasional small spot bonuses). A few weeks later, I was informed that I’d actually be exempt with the same base salary I was initially quoted. However, since the business hours for my office are 45 hours a week, this means that my salary will be significantly less than what I was first told, since I now won’t be eligible for that automatic overtime.

My manager acted like he had misunderstood how my current pay worked, and said that the bonus was intended to make up for the lost overtime. I had assumed that the bonus would be on top of salary + overtime, since that’s how my pay structure has worked so far.

I’m obviously not happy to learn that the raise is far lower than what I thought it was. It makes about a $5-6k annual difference. I made it clear that based on the information I was originally given, I’d assumed a much higher number, and that, while I’m happy to move to being exempt, I’m disappointed to learn that the raise is less than I was first told. If this is the amount they’d told me originally, I wouldn’t have felt it was fair; it’s a relatively small raise (when factoring in the overtime I was making before) for a significant increase in responsibilities.

I don’t know if there’s anything more that I can do without being annoying, but would appreciate any advice you have! This is the second time comp issues have been miscommunicated to me by this company, and while I’m not ready to start looking yet, it’s definitely making me feel less loyal and happy about working here.

I’d reopen negotiations. They essentially told you one salary and now are saying “oops, it’s a different one.” That makes it reasonable for you to say something like: “In light of this, I’d like to revisit the salary for the position. What I’d agreed to earlier was X. This new information means I would actually be earning Y, which isn’t a number I would have accepted had it been offered initially. This role is a significant increase in responsibilities. Can you do $Z instead?”

4. Managers who make employees talk to complaining customers

I recently had a team member discuss an interesting practice that his former manager did, and I wanted to ask your opinion on its effectiveness. When a customer would call the manager to complain about something his employee did, he would say, “Let’s get him on the phone right now and discuss it.” He would then get both parties on the phone and try to talk through the problem.

I have mixed feelings about this. I can see how it would alleviate any potential confusion and finger pointing, but I also think it could put both the employee and the person with the grievance in a very uncomfortable situation. Please give me your thoughts on if and when this technique would ever be appropriate.

The only time I could see doing this is if there appeared to be a genuine miscommunication and both parties were needed to sort it out so that the problem could be solved. But that’s only if there were no other way to solve it. That doesn’t sound like what you’re describing. Customers aren’t generally interested in “talking through the problem.” They don’t typically care who did what or why or where the miscommunication happened; they just want it fixed.

What this manager is doing seems to miss the point of what the customer cares about, puts both the customer and the employee in an awkward position, and probably adds to the customer’s frustration. If I were the customer in that situation, I’d be thinking — and saying — “This isn’t necessary. I just need the problem solved.” Or if it was truly just a complaint, not a problem that required fixing, I’d be annoyed that they weren’t simply dealing with my feedback on their own, but rather expecting me to spend time participating in their internal operations.

5. Can raises be given retroactively?

My wife and I have both work at the same place, both of us were given raises at different times, and both of us did not receive the raise until months later because the manager “forgot” to submit the paperwork. Can we request retroactive pay raise money?

It’s absolutely reasonable to ask for. Some places will do this and some won’t, but the request is reasonable and you won’t know until you ask. Say this: “Since this raise was supposed to go through in May but didn’t because of a paperwork error, can we arrange for me to receive the difference for those four months retroactively?”

You should be handle this separately though, not as a unit.

{ 401 comments… read them below }

  1. A Teacher*

    #4, it reminds me of when parents bring their high school kids to parent-teacher conferences. I don’t have a problem with it but its kind of awkward in some ways too. I think it would be better for the manager to talk to the customer, talk to the employee, and then decide how to react. In some cases, I’m sure the employee needs to fix actions so something doesn’t reoccur and I’m sure in some cases the customer’s concern really has no validity. It really seems like a case-by-case basis but making the customer and employee chat about the problem seems mostly pointless.

    1. Another Teacher*

      At my school, we encourage pupils to attend Parent Evenings consultations with their parents, and find that the discussion is usually more productive and effective when they do.

      Customer/employee situations are totally different, of course!

      1. StarHopper*

        My school goes a step further and calls them student-led conferences, and all parents and students are required to attend. My kids are prepared with self-reflections and work samples that they use to walk their parent through the class, then I step in to basically confirm/amend their assessment. I love it for an educational setting, but it would be totally inappropriate for a customer situation.

  2. Mike C.*

    Re: #4

    Wow, I would absolutely hate that as a customer. I don’t have time to go through a mediation session when something goes wrong, I need that wrong thing fixed and fixed in a reasonable amount of time. If I ever encountered that, I would honestly believe that the shop owner was trying to pull a fast one and get me to agree to something less than I had paid for.

    1. Raine*

      It’s poor managing. I worked at a call center where virtually all the floor supervisors flat out refused to take calls that the customer was trying to escalate while the company also refused to give the front line employees the ability to resolve certain issues that could only be signed off on by a supervisor.

      1. GrumpyBoss*


        I’m sure there are plenty of call centers just like you describe, but comcast always stands as a bastion of inefficiency.

        1. Melissa*

          Ugh, Comcast! Dealing with them right now. I’ve been told 4 different times that my set-top box would arrive “tomorrow.”

          1. attornaut*

            At least with Comcast if you complain enough, you can get your bill pro-rated to when your set top box actually arrives, and probably throw in a premium channel too.

        2. Anon*

          Worked for Comcast, and I’m getting chills just reading this. Not the worst job I ever had, but it came pretty close.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      I agree with you Mike C. That company would not have to worry about me doing business with them anymore. And I would tell the manager that I was not going to be doing his job for him. It is up to him to manage his employees.

      But, I will say if I have escalated to a manager the situation is pretty bad.

  3. Jessa*

    Not to mention on the complaint thing, you have a lot of customers who will outright lie or misrepresent what happened in order to get money or extras given to them. Also customers love to deliberately misunderstand the rules of things and complain. Rep says, “sorry we can’t do returns after 90 days,” customer doesn’t like that calls back says rep was rude, boss caves and gives customer refund. This stuff happens all the time.

    What do you do then when the employee would really like to say “Um no you didn’t say or do that, and I never once raised my voice to you, how dare you try to get me in trouble.” Unless the boss is A: 100% sure that the employee is the right one and B: 100% sure that the grievance is legit, this is a BAD idea all over.

    1. GrumpyBoss*

      This is exactly why I never bring my employees on customer complaint calls. 90% of them are flat out “not my problem” – i.e. issues on their side stopped my company’s work from being effective, they promised their management something not inline with our SLAs and we were not able to deliver, frustration about something unrelated, little angry men on power trips, and as you say, sometimes just lies (just got off a middle of the night call with Asia where this happened – it is frustrating how common it is). Not only do I not want to expose my team to that, I don’t want them to see my response. When dealing with abusive customers, employees want to see retribution. That doesn’t come from these calls except in extreme cases. Most likely, it is me apologizing, saying I’ll revisit the process with the offending employee, and then focusing on how we can regain trust with the customer. I never revisit a thing with the employee, unless there was a genuine screw up. And when there is a screw up, the employee deserves to hear the feedback in a way where they can improve, not be a sacrificial lamb for an irate customer.

      This policy just pisses me off so much. How much is a manager “managing” if he is exposing his people to this?

      1. EAC*

        I encountered this problem a lot when I was a claims adjuster. I denied quite a few of my claims based on company guidelines. I would have to call the customer and advise them that their claim was denied and I would be met with (sometimes 15 minutes or more) of screaming, yelling and profanity. The customers would then call my supervisor and try to get my denial reversed and they would always complain that I was being rude and unreasonable. When I had my performance evaluation, my supervisor gave me a poor rating in customer service because of those complaints ( apparently she took the customers’ side). Fortunately I had recorded all of the conversations and saved them to wave files and presented my documentation to my supervisor. She had to re- write my eval.

        Funnily enough, I was out on medical leave for two weeks and she handled a lot of my case load while I was out. She learned first hand, what I dealt with on a daily basis. And guess what? Customers would ask for HER supervisor and complained that she was being rude and unreasonable.

    2. Diet Coke Addict*

      It is shocking–and yet not at all shocking–how frequently customers lie. Everything from “But [Sales Rep] promised me [thing that can’t physically happen]! Why can’t I get it?” to “[Sales Rep] was so rude to me! She said my company was stupid and bound to fail!” But there’s really no point in the manager “mediating” something like this because it either comes down to telling the customer they’re wrong (bad for business) or raking your employee over the coals for an error (terrible for morale). The only way it could be useful would be in dealing with an actual problem employee, but why go to all the trouble of doing this for all complaints to deal with one maybe-terrible employee?

      1. Queen Anon*

        At the same time, it’s both shocking and not so shocking how much customer service reps lie. It makes me wonder if calls are ever actually recorded. (Of course when you’re finally allowed to escalate to a supervisor – which might take days to wait for a call back – the answer is, “I’m so sorry, CSR must have misunderstood our policy.” Well if they’re misunderstanding that poorly, maybe they need some remedial training.)

        1. Mabel*

          I have been fortunate to have had several managers who protected their teams from nasty stuff said by clients. And one of them told the client that it wasn’t OK to be abusive to the staff. We all appreciated it.

        2. ExceptionToTheRule*

          Yeah, I’ve had sales reps promise a lot of things that were technically impossible over the years. Since they were the ones coming to me with what they’d already sold to the client, I knew where the problem was.

        3. Aunt Vixen*

          This is a true story.

          me: Someone was supposed to be here to install my cable between noon and 5pm, and it’s 6pm now, what’s up?
          Comcast: The log says they rang the bell and nobody was home.
          me: There is no bell, and I’ve been here the whole time. Did they go to the wrong address?
          Comcast: No, it says they went to [correct address] and nobody was there. I can send someone out again a week from Tuesday but it’ll be a $20 installation fee.
          me: No, wait, I get that it’s too late to get someone here today, but I want you to send someone tomorrow and I certainly don’t want to pay for an install that was supposed to be free.
          Comcast: But you weren’t present for the initial appointment, so I can’t waive the fee for the follow-up.
          me: I absolutely was present for the initial appointment. I have literally been in this apartment all day and there has not been a single knock on the door. So I don’t know where your guys are getting that nobody was home.
          Comcast: Well, ma’am, they’re not allowed to put things in the log that aren’t true.

          My hand to god, the CSR [would have looked me in the eye, if we were in the same room, and] said the techs weren’t allowed to lie. Which means what they were saying must be true. (That right there is why we need to teach kids the difference between can and may, y’all.)

          1. Jamie*

            Our UPS guy never rings the bell – just puts the little “missed you come pick it up thing” in the door and bails – I’ve opened the door as he was walking back to his truck and he didn’t’ even have my package in hand. The only thing he intended to deliver was the little paper saying he missed me.

            I bet they aren’t supposed to lie about that, either.

            1. Aunt Vixen*

              [sputter sputter]

              I mean so okay: I suppose I can get behind the idea that it may be a little discouraging to be a UPS (or FedEx or whatever) delivery person in a world with lots of homes where everybody works days. I can see where maybe an experienced driver can tell you from observation that he gets (let’s say; I’m just making up numbers here) one answer for every four doorbell rings on signature-required deliveries. To me, that would say the smart way to play the odds would be to have your sticky ready and not bring the package up from the truck – because 3:1 says you’re not getting your signature today. … But if you don’t even try, then you’re not playing the game at all and you shouldn’t win!

              My just-made-it-up smart way to be a UPS driver is to bring a prepared sticky and nothing else to the door, ring the bell, stick the sticky, and return to the truck. Iff someone answers the door, obvs go back to the truck and get the package. Mind you those customers will be irritated – why’d the driver come all the way up here to make a delivery if he didn’t have the delivery with him? it’s like someone called me on the phone and then put me on hold – but they’ll be such a small segment of the delivered-to population it shouldn’t matter.

              But you never know when the UPS guy is coming. Cable installers, we had an appointment.

              1. Jamie*

                I agree – and I wouldn’t be telling this story if he’d rung the bell. I’d be fine with them checking to see if someone is home before getting the package.

                You said it exactly right – he wasn’t playing and shouldn’t win! It was the lack of any attempt to see if someone was home which pissed me off…and he didn’t seem happy when I opened the door and yelled after him that I was home.

                I didn’t confront him with his asshattery – I just think he was annoyed I inconvenienced him by being home.

              2. anon-2*

                In the community I live in – the city issues the cable tv contract. There are severe penalties built in for the company if the company misses an appointment.

                I also had DSL at one time – it failed during a rainstorm – and the offshore rep insisted that my DSL line couldn’t be down – because no one has reported it being down!

                I said “there is no sense in going through the re-boot, etc., because the line is down.” I hooked a phone up to my DSL line and did not hear the crackly DSL noise – customer rep would NOT escalate it — because of the above.

          2. Vicki*

            ” they’re not allowed to put things in the log that aren’t true.”


            I really once filing a bug report on a piece of software. The reply I got said, (paraphrased) that there could not possibly be a bug because QA had tested the software.

    3. Jennifer*

      This happens in my industry all the time. You tell someone no, they throw a fit and complain that you were “rude.” And if you throw a fit and go to the higher-ups, you get whatever you want. Adding in making the employee listen to this crap only makes the nightmare worse, especially since you can’t really defend yourself.

      1. Dan*

        People throw a fit with the higher-ups *precisely* because they know they will get what they want. Unfortunately, we’ve established in our culture that it is an appropriate and effective way of getting what you want. I’ve come to the conclusion that this is simply the American way of negotiating.

        The problem from a customer’s standpoint is that they think they’re asking for a very reasonable/very legitimate request, but some dumb policy is preventing the first level CSR from keeping the customer happy. We also know that front level CSRs are rarely empowered to make exceptions, and don’t do more than read from scripts. So we escalate. And embellish ever so slightly.

        The complicating factor is that the USA, we’re generally not a “haggling” society. While that socially may be true, shrewd consumers know that everything is negotiable, but you won’t know if you don’t ask.

        TL;DR: I know that if I ask nicely, I won’t get what I want. I know that if I pitch a fit, I will. What do you think I’m going to do to get what I want? I guarantee your boss would rather keep my business than have me run to a competitor, so that’s certainly not the answer.

      2. Anon*

        It also undermines you as an employee. I hated hearing how “valuable” the product was only for my idiot supervisor to just give it away when the customer got mad enough. Customers forget (or pretend to forget) that you’re not trying to make things harder, you’re just following company policy. But if the customer complains enough, they still get their way, and leave looking smug, while you’re looking like a fool. Why even bother following said rules if the customers are just going to go around you?

        1. Dan*

          We (the customers) know this. So we will get mad enough to get what we want. And you have to follow the rules because you will get fired if you don’t?

          I’m actually not a mean guy on the phone, but will do it if that’s what it takes to get my way. Yes, it’s fair to say that if you have to get mean to get your way, maybe you shouldn’t? Well, how about this: Some day I’d like to call the CSR and say look, “I know you have to follow the rules and can’t give this to me. But I know that if I get mad enough and raise enough stink, then you (or your supervisor) will give me what I want. Can we save ourselves the theatrics and just take care of things now?”

          1. Aunt Vixen*

            I do do that. I actually apologize to the call-catchers when I really am angry, because I know and I want the record to reflect that it’s not their fault I’m angry. And I have indeed said to the first-line rep, who asks what s/he can do for me today, “You can go ahead and put me through to a supervisor right now.” (“Well, before I do that, is there something I can help you with?” “Yes. You can help me by putting me through to a supervisor – right. now.” I know they have to try three times. I just want, for both our sakes, to get those three times out of the way as quickly as possible.)

            And I’m not generally asking for something unreasonable or for special treatment or what have you. The time I remember the clearest was when my dental insurance denied coverage for a restoration based on frequency (had an onlay on a cracked tooth; root in cracked tooth died a year or so later and needed canal work; this destroyed onlay, needed a crown, insurance said Nope, too soon), and after multiple rounds of escalation it turned out that the list of available services (or whatever that document is) that I was able to access by logging in to their member site was not the same document as the one the supervisor’s supervisor had in front of him; mine said “Limitations of service – Placement or replacement of single crowns, inlays, onlays, single and abutment buildups and post and cores, bridges, full and partial dentures – one within five years of their placement”, and theirs said “not within five years of their placement”. When I’m calling and asking for supervisors and their supervisors, I may be difficult, but I’m not capricious. (The insurance ended up covering the procedure because I had acted in good faith but doing so with a big note saying THIS IS NOT A PRECEDENT-SETTING DECISION and making sure they uploaded the more current version of their coverage docs on their website. Maybe having a good yell at their website manager, too, I don’t know.)

          2. Anon*

            Most of the time, the CSR doesn’t have a choice. They want to “save the theatrics” as much as you, but the moment it escalates to a super, the CSR will get questioned about what they have or haven’t done.

            Supervisor calls are looked at as a last resort, meaning the CSR has done everything possible to placate the customer. Even when it’s for a good reason, supervisors hate taking those calls and do it as little as possible. When the call does escalate, the CSR is held responsible for not selling the product, not keeping the customer from removing/canceling their service, or just not keeping them happy.

            Customers can get mad and still get what they want, and the moment they hang up the phone, they don’t have to worry about that situation anymore. The CSR deals with the fallout. They hear about it from their supervisor, (sometimes more than one if the problem was major) and if something is given away, it reflects in the numbers for the CSR, not the super. That’s another reason they don’t like to give things away.

            I’m a consumer, too. I know what it’s like to deal with crappy customer service and the runaround. Screaming at the messenger may be effective, but that doesn’t mean they deserve it. Nine times out of ten, the situation has nothing to do with them and isn’t in their control.

    4. Elizabeth West*

      I got a return once when I attempted to go against a *ridiculous* policy (politely) and the employee literally screamed at me. I asked for the manager, who was in the back of the store so I don’t know if he heard the outburst or not, and my money was refunded right then and there. I also never went back to that store again (and I told the manager I wasn’t coming back and why). But having the employee standing nearby was VERY awkward, and though he didn’t argue, I would have been more comfortable dealing with the manager on my own.

  4. neverjaunty*

    OP #2 – since you’re happily married, wouldn’t it be OK for you to share a room with a male colleague who is also married, since he’d plainly have no interest in you? What if it were a male colleague who was gay – would you be OK with sharing a room with him then? For that matter, why “of course” couldn’t Pam share a room with a man, since she’s married and a lesbian?

    You’re blaming Pam for a perfectly reasonable request when the problem, as AAM said, is that your company apparently didn’t plan ahead enough to make sure that it could book and pay for a room for everyone. Forcing people to make a choice between awkward sleeping arrangements or doubling/tripling up is really uncool.

    1. M-C*

      Agree totally with neverjaunty. The questioner is thinking of it totally from her own point of view, and not that of Pam’s. If nothing else, in business situations it’s not just important that nothing happens, but the appearance of propriety is also essential.

    2. Raine*

      Well, as a lesbian it seems a bit over the top to me. Unless the suggestion is Pam could only room with either a gay man (almost certainly not) or another lesbian (okay, I could see that, except she’s arguing against sharing a room with a straight woman because she’s a married woman, and this would seem even more problematic based on that argument).

      1. Taz*

        Pam’s argument totally sexualizes lesbians in a way that is both objectionable and doesn’t ring true, and following the argument through to its logical ends does lead to the conclusion that really she just doesn’t want to share a room. Which is perfectly fine. But I’m not willing to fight for her or get indignant for her using her argument, either, because she’s basically saying married lesbians should be quarantined from all other people.

        1. Zillah*

          But I’m not willing to fight for her or get indignant for her using her argument, either, because she’s basically saying married lesbians should be quarantined from all other people.

          I think that this is a pretty radical interpretation of the text. From what I read, Pam spoke purely for herself and about her own comfort levels, not for all lesbians everywhere… and more to the point, she was speaking specifically about sleeping arrangements, not basic interactions.

          Tara’s take on this below makes a lot of sense to me. So does wanting to avoid the appearance of impropriety – if Pam has dealt with gossip, rumors, etc before, I can easily see her wanting to avoid any possibility of them now.

          1. Bwmn*

            I get perhaps that she doesn’t want the appearance of impropriety – but she’s setting up a situation where the statement “I’m a straight woman and don’t feel comfortable sharing a room with a lesbian or a heterosexual man” seems viable. It serves to overly sexualize the situation, and even by saying “it wouldn’t be appropriate for me to share a room with any woman” I think just serves to add to gossip and rumor.

            Had she instead insisted on having a room to herself for privacy/being a light sleeper/etc. and agreed to pay for her room or part of it – then it wouldn’t have made the situation so related to issues of sex.

            1. Artemesia*

              What is wrong with a straight woman not wishing to room with a man for proprieties sake? It is outrageous to expect employees to have to do this on simple business trips. I can see that there are situations where it is inevitable — fire watch stations or in outer space — but there are not many where women and men should be forced to share a room and by analogy this woman’s concerns are ‘viable’ whatever that means. The company should provide private rooms for her and for at least one of the other women — triple rooming is destined to create legitimate resentment.

              1. Vicki*

                It’s outrageous for employers to expect adults to share rooms on business trips, period.

                It’s especially outrageous for them to expect their employees to share beds.

            2. Zillah*

              I don’t think she’s setting up that situation at all – though I think that a woman not wanting to share a room with a man, especially a heterosexual man, is entirely reasonable and I would be absolutely appalled by a company that thought that it was totally okay.

              People keep saying that this would be more okay if she’d agreed to pay for part of the room. However, we have no indication that she hasn’t done that, or that she was asked and refused. I don’t think that she’s obligated to pay extra for the room if the company doesn’t ask her to.

              1. Rat Racer*

                Agreed – but I would delete the word “heterosexual” from your argument and more broadly say that it’s inappropriate to ask a woman to share a room with any male colleague, regardless of his sexual orientation.

              2. Bwmn*

                My point wasn’t so much about a woman sharing a room with a man – which in general is not accepted, but rather a straight woman refusing to share a room with a lesbian.

                1. Zillah*

                  But that’s not what’s going on here – the OP doesn’t mind sharing a room with Pam. How is that theoretical even relevant?

        2. Sam*

          I don’t think it sexualizes lesbians any more than the argument that straight women and straight male colleagues shouldn’t be expected to share rooms sexualizes heterosexuals, married or not.

          1. Anon*

            Agreed. As far as I know, sex, the suggestion of sex, and the possibility of sexual aggression or allegations thereof are the reasons that men and women are generally uncomfortable sharing bedrooms with each other. And maybe the fact that men are notoriously messy in the bathroom, but mostly sex.

            Plus, people are entitled to set their own boundaries in their relationships. If Pam and her partner aren’t comfortable with each other sleeping in rooms with other women, that is their own business, even if every single lesbian on the planet does not personally feel a need for that boundary in her relationship. Straight people have varying boundaries when it comes to sharing bedrooms and hotel rooms with the opposite sex as well. It might reinforce some stereotypes, but I think it’s a person’s prerogative whether they want to prioritize their own comfort or the benefit of an entire community, not their obligation to do what is best for the larger community at personal cost.

      2. BRR*

        As a gay man who is getting married soon I have no problem sharing a room with another man or if my fiancé had to share a room with another man. It’s like a locker room, not every thing is sexualized. I can understand her position however, I just don’t think she’s right. I think if she’s uncomfortable she should pay the difference. Not to mention that by having three coworkers splitting a room there’s going to be resentment. Conferences start early and for three people to get ready it’s going to be a hassle.

        1. QualityControlFreak*

          I tend to agree. I’m straight and married. In a previous job, I shared a room with a straight, married person of the opposite gender. One room, two beds. We slept. No one cared.

          1. neverjaunty*

            So have I. But if a straight male married colleague had said “Nothing personal but I’m not comfortable sharing a room with a woman who isn’t my wife”, I wouldn’t have gotten all huffy about it either.

            1. Meg*

              And I think this is the point some people are missing.

              However, I don’t think it’s the company’s obligation to provide another room or force the other attendees to bunk together just because someone has personal issues, whatever they may be. They have nothing to do with the company, nothing to do with the other attendees, and it’s strictly a personal preference (just as it would be for any of the other scenarios – straight man not wanting to bunk with a gay man is a personal preference, straight man not wanting to bunk with a straight woman, and so forth – they all fall under personal preference category).

              And as such, it’s personal preference that should be dealt with like all other personal preferences – it’s simply not the company’s responsibility to accommodate personal preferences, and that should fall on the attendees. If I were the manager, I’d appreciate Pam letting me know her preferences and try to accommodate as best as I can, but without inconveniencing the other attendees either. If it’s in the budget to get another room on company tab, great. If not, looks like employee foots the bill for a personal room.

          2. Sarahnova*

            I’ve worked a support hotline and shared a small room with an opposite-gender co-volunteer. That was no problem, but was less formal than a work situation, and we weren’t really “changing” for bed or bathing either. I would not appreciate sharing a room on a work trip, with anyone.

            1. Waiting Patiently*

              I think this is an important point. Sharing a room can be awkward no matter the sexual orientation of the roommate.

          3. Rose*

            Great. You continue to do what makes you comfortable.
            Just because you feel comfortable doing it, doesn’t mean everyone else does or should.

        2. Zillah*

          See, I don’t necessarily disagree with that – but we don’t have any indication that Pam is unwilling to split the difference, and it’s not her fault that management screwed up by putting three people in a room together… nor is it her responsibility to fix it.

        3. jag*

          “As a gay man who is getting married soon I have no problem sharing a room with another man or if my fiancé had to share a room with another man. It’s like a locker room, not every thing is sexualized. I can understand her position however, I just don’t think she’s right. ”

          Straight man here and I agree completely.

        4. Rose*

          She went to her manager because she doesn’t feel comfortable sleeping in the same room with other women.
          You don’t get to have an opinion on if it’s right or not. It’s how she feels. It’s not up for debate.

          1. Erica*

            It seems a bit like special treatment to me. Nobody likes to share a room with random work colleagues! It makes me uncomfortable to have my colleagues watch me brush my teeth, wake up disheveled in the morning, etc. Yet, I and everyone else has to suck it up. There should be one uniform policy for everyone who doesn’t want to share a room and is willing to pay the difference.

            1. Rose*

              Right, but it’s not Pam’s job to put that policy in place. This is a failure on the part of management. The letter said she wanted her own room, not that she was unwilling to pay.

          2. BRR*

            I do get to have an opinion, that’s the point of having this discussion with all of the commentors on here. Many LGBT people have been trying to convince others for a long time that we’re not checking everybody out. That we can share a room or change in a locker without having wondering eyes and that we feel more comfortable doing these things around people of the same gender (not because of attraction but because of having similar plumbing). Then it sounds a lot like Pam is using that point of view to get her own room. When so many have been pushing for equal rights, it strongly appears (and I can stand corrected but I’m going by the wording in the OP’s letter) that she is pushing for special right.

            1. Rose*

              She said that she feels uncomfortable. That’s how she feels. You said “I just don’t think she’s right.” You do not get to have an opinion on whether her feelings are right or wrong. She’s either comfortable or she’s not; you don’t factor into it. You can say you wouldn’t feel the same, but that doesn’t make her wrong. It makes her different than you.

              I’m also gay, and I wouldn’t want to share a room for that very reason. I don’t like having to constantly assure everyone that I’m not checking them out, especially not with my coworkers.

              It seems dramatic to compare asking for your own hotel room to the fight for equal rights. It’s not like she’s asking for “lesbian hotel independence” to be signed into law. She asked for a completely reasonable concession. If other people have a compelling reason for wanting to sleep alone, they’re free to ask. The fact that management is handling it poorly doesn’t make her request unreasonable.

              1. Gloria*


                I don’t understand how this is “special treatment” and I find the term becoming kind of loaded now.

            2. EE*

              Let’s not forget that Pam’s wife may well have put pressure on her.

              A while ago my husband (I’m a woman) went on a short holiday with a female friend. They shared a twin room because it was considerably cheaper that way.

              Work acquaintances of mine commented that they would never ‘permit’ a boyfriend to do that. I can imagine that if these very same acquaintances of mine had a husband tell them “Work is sending me on a trip and I have to share a twin hotel room with a female colleague”, they’d go through the roof. Not break up, but definitely put a massive amount of pressure on him to go to his manager.

              It may be the same in Pam’s case.

          3. Waiting Patiently*

            So if any other women feel the same should they be allowed a separate room? Or is this rule only for Pam’s situation?

    3. UK Anon*

      I concur. I think that you need to take sexuality out of this altogether – your problem isn’t that Pam’s getting her own room, for whatever reason, it’s that you now aren’t getting enough space. So set aside the reason for that, Pam’s request, etc, they’re all irrelevant now (and I agree with everyone else – it doesn’t matter why she asked for it, she was being perfectly reasonable!)

      My first question would actually be, are the hotel aware of and ok with three people sharing a room and one person sleeping on the couch, whilst one person has a four-man room to themselves? It’s the sort of situation where I could see all sorts of advantages for them in moving things around a bit, and they may not be happy if they find out too late to do anything about it (what if they’ve got a four man family unhappily stuck in a room with one double bed because nothing else was available, who’d happily swap to get the right space, for eg?) So that could be one solution to explore with management to trying to find a way around this. Or other options as noted elsewhere.

      If the company refuse to do anything about it, though, you’re sort of stuck with asking to make your own arrangements and absorbing the cost. Which you shouldn’t have to be, and please don’t think I’m trying to let the company off of poor arrangements and bad solutions, but in practical terms this may be what it comes down to, so be prepared for that.

      (And stop letting it affect your relationship with Pam! She’s done nothing wrong – look at all the old discussions on here where everyone is horrified of thinking of sharing a room with co-workers – and it isn’t her fault that the company has decided on the arrangements it has. If you explained, she may be willing to back you up on this – proactively volunteering to move to a single room etc – and I don’t see what good turning on her does your cause)

      1. Enid*

        This issue’s complicated enough just talking about gay and straight people; let’s not bring “four-man families” into the discussion.

          1. fposte*

            Enid may be joking, or she may just responding to a usage that’s unusual in the US. But in general, hotels give rooms to people who pay for them and doesn’t worry about spreading people out evenly among them. If the hotel suggested we should arrange ourselves in rooms for its convenience I would be seriously pissed off.

            1. Pennalynn Lott*

              Slightly OT: Back in the early 90’s, some college friends and I went on a road trip here in Texas. We stopped at a motel about 10:00pm one night, and the owner/manager refused to rent us (2 gals, 2 guys) a room because we weren’t two married couples. WTF? We had to keep on driving down the road to find another place to stay.

    4. sunny-dee*

      Actually, this isn’t remotely comparable. The other way around would be, if I, as a straight woman, could object to rooming with a lesbian because it is exactly the same as rooming with a man and I could be objectified. Most people here would be saying that was homophobic.

      And, in this case, Pam is actually arguing that she would be the one who would be sexualizing the encounter (since the OP is straight). Essentially, it would be a guy arguing that he couldn’t share space with a woman because he couldn’t help but perceive the situation (and his female coworker) sexually.

      It sounds like Pam is really just trying to come up with an excuse to get her own room (which I sympathize with), but she’s not arguing a good thing here.

      1. sunny-dee*

        And just to say, my husband and I lived through this. He ended up being at a remote location for his company for 5 months. His company arranged an apartment for him … shared with his gay coworker. It was 2 bedroom (good), but it was a full-time living situation, not a one or two day conference. Would it be okay for him to refuse to live with the guy because he was gay? Or, would it have been okay for Ryan to refuse to stay with my husband because he is attracted to me and for no other reason?

        And then, if Ryan objected, would it be okay for the company to require my husband to pay for his own accommodations?

        That’s crazy talk.

          1. Sarahnova*

            Was it someone on here who once admitted to presenting a public health report about “men who sleep with me”? :)

      2. KellyK*

        But wouldn’t it be reasonable for a guy to argue that he didn’t want to room with a woman? Or for a woman to not want to room with a guy? Most companies would NEVER make opposite-sex coworkers share a room. I don’t think Pam is necessarily arguing that she’ll objectify the female coworker—just that sharing a room with someone of the sex you’re attracted to is kind of uncomfortable and she’d rather not.

        I would imagine that it’s probably *less* uncomfortable for gay or bi people in general because people get grouped by sex so much (sharing rooms, bathrooms, locker rooms, etc.) that they’ve had much more experience with those situations than the average straight person has. But that doesn’t mean that Pam is fine with it, or that every gay person should be fine with it, any more than it means that pairing up opposite-sex coworkers for travel arrangements is cool.

        (Personally, I have no problem sharing a hotel room with a guy that I know and trust, but I’d feel pretty awkward sharing a room with a random male coworker.)

        1. LMW*

          One of the scariest things that ever happened to me was accidentally getting assigned to a 4-person room in a hostel separate from my friends when we arrived late one evening and waking to find both the random dudes who’d been assigned to the same room staring at me. Last time I ever stayed in a hostel.
          But I’d have no problem sharing a room with a friend of any gender or orientation, in a non-work setting. In a professional setting, I pretty much always want my own room regardless of a coworker’s gender or orientation. I’ve never worked some place where they would think appropriate to make me share a room at all — the closest I ever came was a suite, where I slept in one room on a really nice pull out and my very-pregnant coworker got the king bed in the other room — and my company fell over itself apologizing for putting us in that situation (last minute booking, best they could do without putting us in completely different locations).

        2. Koko*

          I never thought the rationale was not that we can’t be grouped with people we’re attracted to, but that we don’t want to be grouped with people who have different physical equipment and different socializaiton than us. That’s why I’m just as uncomfortable sharing a hotel room with a married male coworker (who would’t be interested in me) or an ugly male coworker (who I wouldn’t be attracted to), or a male relative on a family trip (where there’s obviously no hanky-panky going down from either end).

          The idea is that men have seen and are unphased by most of the gross things men do, and women have seen and are unphased by most of the gross things women do. But men don’t wanna see our gross things and we don’t want to see their gross things.

          1. Jessica*

            I don’t agree- I think attraction/sex is part of the issue. I would be more comfortable sharing a room with my male relative (cousin, uncle, brother, whatever) than with my male coworker, specifically because our culture socializes us so strongly against being attracted to your relatives so it is pretty inconceivable that my male relatives would hit on me or even think of me sexually. I wouldn’t want either of them to see me naked, but I shared a hotel room with my 2 brothers and 1 sister this summer and was fine with that.

      3. neverjaunty*

        If your company asked you to room with a straight guy, would that be ok? If you objected would it be fair to criticize you for making sexist assumptions about him?

      4. MM*

        You really don’t know enough about the situation to say that she’s just making up excuses to get her own room, or that she’s making the situation overly sexual.

        Growing up and having people know I was gay, I cannot even begin to tell you how many times I changed in locker rooms or at slumber parties with groups of girls whom I felt NO attraction to, who claimed to be “totally ok with it!” and only later hear that I was “checking them out OMG” or they were “SO uncomfortable.”

        Can you imagine being forced to change in a room of men you found physically unappealing and often kind of gross, only to later hear them talk about you like some kind of sexual predator coming after them? Can you imagine how angry you would be at constantly being accused of being some kind of pervert and having men assume that their bodies somehow held a power over you? Of having people constantly trying to kiss you in public as some kind of show, meant for the arousal of people you had no sexual interest in, assuming you would feel lucky and enjoy it, because, hey, you’re a straight woman!

        Honestly, you can’t. And that’s fine. I’m happy that you can’t. It’s a shitty feeling, and I don’t wish it on anyone. Maybe Pam doesn’t feel this way at all. Maybe her wife is deeply uncomfortable with her sharing a room with another woman. Maybe she has reasons none of us have thought of. The fact is we have no idea, but we also have absolutely no reason to assume that Pam is just trying to get a room to herself, or making the situation overly sexual.

        Pam asked for something completely reasonable. Management accommodated her request, at the expense of her coworkers. I would urge OP to consider that this is management’s mistake, not Pam’s, and that Pam might have reservations or concerns that it’s difficult to imagine if you’re not in her shoes. It’s not unreasonable of her to want her own room, OR of you all to not want to share beds. What’s unreasonable is management making it an either or situation, pitting you against one another. My guess is that Pam wouldn’t risk alienating all of you if it the situation wasn’t very important either to her or her wife.

      5. Cheryl*

        Actually Sunny-dee, as a lesbian myself, not saying I am uncomfortable sharing a room with a straight woman creates the possibility of a sexual harrassment charge. Having been there twice now in my life, I will always always opt for the safer route. Folks dont always say to your face that they are uncomfortale, they wait and dwell and stew on it and then report you for things that make no sense. There are those that say they have no issue with you being gay, but if you seem a bit too friendly to them, there is always that notion in the back of their mind that you are making a pass or whatever at them. So you can take the sexual out of it all you want, but in this situation I would feel really uncomfortable as a lesbian knowing what I do and having been through the harrassment twice before.

        1. MM*

          Yup; I feel exactly the same. And it’s always women that I find physically repulsive, but who seem to find themselves irresistible.

    5. Anonathon*

      I’m a gay & married lady, and I personally would be fine sharing a room with a woman, gay or straight. I’ve been sharing rooms with other women since forever (school trips, summer camp), and I’m used to it by now. I also think the objection to an opposite-sex rooming situation is more due to physical differences rather than the potential for attraction. Rooming decisions shouldn’t really be based on who might or might not be interested in one another.

      All that said, it’s Pam’s call. If she’s uncomfortable with her rooming situation for any reason, then she should feel comfortable saying so … and the company should come up with a solution that isn’t ridiculous. (And that fact that they haven’t certainly isn’t her fault.)

    6. Cindi*

      Another option is for the company to give Pam a single (cheaper than a double) and give the other three women a triple (if that’s available at the hotel). And then plan better for the future.

      I don’t see anything wrong with Pam’s request. I’m married and wouldn’t room with a man on a business trip. Not because of thinking I — or he — would do something improper, but because it would be very uncomfortable and weird. I can see why Pam would feel that way, too.

    7. Koko*

      I thought the rationale behind sex-segregating hotel rooms was that people are uncomfortable being in pajamas/towels/etc around someone who has different equipment, not that people might feel tempted to commit adultery with their colleagues?

      I guess as a bisexual this means I should always get my own hotel room?

      1. BRR*

        That’s more or less my thought as well for segregating by gender. I will say I’m more uncomfortable being in pajamas/towels around coworkers in general regardless of sex but sometimes that’s the only way you’re going to be able to travel.

  5. Darcie*

    #2 I’d guess that it’s her wife that objects to her staying in the same room as other woman. Or, she’s using it as an excuse not to share for some other legitimate reason (maybe she snores or something like that — something that would be embarrassing for your coworkers to know). The other 3 of you need to ask your manager for a better solution.

    1. AdAgencyChick*

      Completely agree. Just because OP doesn’t have any interest in Pam, doesn’t mean Pam or her wife are (or should be) comfortable with the standard arrangement. But the company stinks for deciding that the solution is for three people to share a room.

    2. NK*

      I was just going to post this as well – the OP didn’t say her reason for not wanting to share a room was that she’s a lesbian, it was that she is married to a woman. This distinction makes me think either her wife is uncomfortable with it, or that she is making that choice out of respect to her wife. I am a straight woman and while I wouldn’t necessarily be hugely uncomfortable sharing a room with a man I knew well (though I certainly wouldn’t prefer it), I would probably say no because my husband would not be comfortable with it.

    3. Elizabeth West*

      That’s what I thought–that maybe there was another reason for the request.

      We’ve discussed this before. Frankly, I think all the employees should have the option to pay more for their own room, regardless of gender/orientation. If they want to share, fine, but if not, let them all be able to pay the difference for a bit more privacy.

  6. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

    Websites are a significant factor in how we qualify potential customers and assign them to different levels of sales teams. Having evaluated 14 billion trillion quadrillion company websites personally, along with the behavior of the leads later, I can tell you there is some correlation between a company’s website and their behavior next. The important thing about correlations you learn via live trial vs correlations that you assume before you start, is that the correlations you assume before you start are often wrong.

    Short version: you can tell a book by its cover, but only after you have read many, many books with many different covers and define the pattern.

    If you don’t have a big enough data set to say “companies with this kind of website aren’t a good place for ME”, then I’d suggest you don’t pass them by.

    /data geek out

    1. M-C*

      I don’t think you need a huge data set to be able to tell some really important things from a company’s website: that they’re totally disorganized, that their online reputation is an afterthought, that different factions are at odds with each other.. It doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t even interview with them, but it does mean you need to be cautious, and evaluate how much your own position would be affected by what transpires.

      1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

        See, and I disagree with that. How can you tell if a company is really disorganized by their website? Some of my most disorganized customers from hell come from companies with beautiful websites. (I’m talking the customers who make the order process chaotic, make mistakes they won’t own and then end up sobbing on the phone that if we don’t cover their mistakes, they are going to lose their job.)

        The only solid assumption you can make from a sub optimal website is that the company hasn’t prioritized their website.

        Now, if you are interviewing for a job as the social media guru and they have a 2001 website, you are probably best to move along to another opportunity where you don’t have remake literally everything ground up. (Although, curiosity might get the better there just to find out what they are thinking.)

        1. Audiophile*

          So…I guess I should have gone running from my NewJob lol. Website was not great and I was interviewing for a social media position. But by the time I started, their new website was live.

      2. Sarahnova*

        I admit, I’d be very sceptical of accepting a job with a company with a terrible website. I can’t think of any kind of business or nonprofit these days that wouldn’t benefit from having a competent web presence, and a competent web presence really requires a fairly minimal amount of effort and money. I didn’t do anything superfancy with my web presence while self-employed, but with the tools available I could construct a simple, clean, usable and modern-looking presence very easily. However, your definition of “terrible” may vary.

        Yes, all it tells me for sure is that they haven’t prioritised their website, but that suggests to me that they don’t know what they should be prioritising very well.

        1. tt*

          While I agree that many if not most organizations benefit from a good web presence, personally I’d rather see a non profit prioritize the services in their mission than a web site (if budget forced a choice.) Websites are useful, but that doesn’t automatically make them the biggest priority.

          1. Colette*

            And websites are useful if you’re trying to reach the public. They’re less useful, for example, if you work with established business clients.

            1. TK*

              This is another point. There are plenty of industries where you work with established clients and don’t draw in your new ones from the general public. Even some businesses that do attract clients from the general public often do it almost solely by word of mouth– I’m thinking of many small law firms here. (Despite the huge number of ads for lawyers we’re constantly bombarded with in the US, they represent a very small fraction of those in business; I’d imagine most law firms do little to no advertising.)

            2. the gold digger*

              Exactly. My uncle and cousins have a deer-processing business and no web presence. They have more business than they can handle. (I keep telling them to raise their prices.)

              There are still businesses that are strictly word of mouth and repeat customers.

                1. fluffy*

                  Most deer hunters do not butcher their animal or process its hide. They take it to the gold digger’s uncle. You’re a city person, I surmise

                2. the gold digger*

                  They take their deer to my uncle and cousins and they make delicious venison bratwurst and summer sausage with it.

                  I am very lucky to be related to sausage makers.

              1. Sarahnova*

                I don’t think they’d be employing many people in my field, though! (Although the mental picture is making me grin.) :)

          2. Sarahnova*

            This may also depend on your definition of “terrible”. I don’t demand anything elaborate, but I’d be put off by a nonprofit which had a website which was very hard to navigate/had very outdated information/looked extremely oldfashioned or used oldfashioned technology. (Hail to Geocities!)

            My experience with nonprofits also tends to be that many of their users/clients find information on them online (although I’m sure some serve niche populations where this isn’t true), as do donors and members of the public.

        2. TK*

          This really depends on the sort of business and the location. I come from a small town with lots of long-established, well-known local businesses. Many of them don’t have much of an impressive website; there just isn’t really a business need for it given the nature of their work and where their customers or clients are drawn from.

          Also, competent web presence doesn’t have to mean a website. For lots of retail businesses, social media presence and Yelp/TripAdvisor/etc. reviews are going to be a more effective web-based tool than an actual website.

        3. De Minimis*

          Like a lot of things, it really depends on the local market. I used to live in a town where companies just didn’t see a need to put a lot on the web, and some companies didn’t even have websites. The ones that did often weren’t very good–you could tell many of them used a similar template. I gather that it was just something that didn’t provide enough bang for the buck for them to spend a lot to have a great website…the larger companies tended to do a bit more especially if they had full-time IT people, but many did not.

          A lot of business there was more “b-2-b” [does anyone still use that phrase?] so I think there was not a lot of need to reach the general public.

          Non-profits tended to do a better job on websites, possibly for that reason. j

          However, if I’m looking at 10 companies and 9 have good websites and number 10’s is a mess, that definitely tells me something.

      3. Kelly L.*

        There’s a writing style I associate with MLMs and other scams–it’s hard to describe but I know it when I see it–and if I see it on the website I get pretty skeptical. That’s less about the coding though.

        1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

          The old scam markers. Those are real I think people can rely on them.

          It makes sense that the same folks who write job ads full of upbeat scam markers would have websites full of upbeat scam markers also. (Probably on a nicer looking website than normal, btw.)

          1. Artemesia*

            I’d love an article on MLM scam markers — any cites? Or to see AAM write one for one of her columns.

    2. Mints*

      I think there’s a distinct difference between sites that are plain or boring vs sites that have broken links or wonky css (like if tables are misaligned).
      Plain but functional is okay, assuming it’s not a techie business. But if I can’t navigate the site because everything is broken, I don’t think I’d apply, or I might apply but I would hold it as a yellow flag in my head.

  7. GrumpyBoss*

    #4: I hate this idea. As a manager, I field complaints from customers re: my staff. I cannot imagine the hit on morale if my team was exposed to this (customers can often be abusive and petty). I usually fall on the sword for my team but if I need to concede that a staff member made a mistake, I will do so. Having that staff member on the phone with the customer during that concession wouldn’t just be demoralizing for that employee, it takes away my ability to control the messaging to the employee where I could help develop/change the offending behavior.

    I see no value in doing this from a customer standpoint either. If anything, it’ll create a situation where a customer may be less comfortable making a complaint if he/she feels it could result in confrontation.

    1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

      In addition to everything you said, the other factor is that the complaining customer often changes completely when referred upwards. A new voice alone can deescalate the situation.

      Plus everybody knows that conference calls are the main means of communication in the 7th Circle of Hell.

      1. GrumpyBoss*

        Funny, my 7th circle relies on PowerPoint decks. No fewer than 75 slides to communicate something simple, like “make more coffee if the pot is empty”

        But conference calls would be a close second.

        1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

          You are missing the beauty of Powerpoint presentations conducted via conference call. This is why you aren’t Satan.

          1. Kelly O*

            You are evil my friend.

            I’m assuming all presentations are written in Comic Sans, 8 point font, and have bedazzled transitions? With low-contrast writing.

              1. Meg*

                That take 10 years to start playing, so you either wait awkwardly until it starts, or you carry on your presentation and have the background ambiance randomly start in the middle of your speech.

            1. GrumpyBoss*

              Don’t forget that all the images are screen prints that were copied from the clipboard instead of from a gif. So the size of the presentation will be 5GB and eat up my mail quota.

              While we are at it, why don’t you send me the presentation once, and for good measure, also attach it to the calendar invite. That way, you can suck up twice my mail storage.

              1. Stephanie*

                Guys, we’re all forgetting the cherry on top: reading verbatim from the slides while facing the PowerPoint. Bonus points if there’s a final slide at the end that just says “Questions?” with a clip art question mark.

                1. Aunt Vixen*

                  OH MY GOD I don’t care which way the speaker is facing – if all you’re going to do is read the presentation at me, you should have sent a memo.

                  This used to bug the living carp out of me in grad school, as well. Your handout should summarize or illustrate your talk or paper – not duplicate it. [/years of fuming]

                1. Judy*

                  What I see wrong with files attached to meeting invites:

                  – On our email system, if you attach a file, then reschedule a meeting or even add invitees, you end up with another copy of the file AND YOU CAN’T DELETE THE OLD ONE.

                  – We also can’t categorize and see those as email, so to save it, you’d need to just save it on your file system, not leave it in your email archive.

    2. Rat Racer*

      I also think you’re shooting yourself in the foot by forcing customers to “confront” the employee who delivered poor service. As someone who is conflict averse – and not prone to complain about customer service unless it is egregiously bad, I would be deeply intimidated to rehash my bone to pick with the employee and his/her manager. If you’re a customer service oriented company, you don’t want to set up barriers to collect feedback from your clients.

  8. Zillah*

    #2 – I get why you’re frustrated, but this is on your manager, not Pam. I’m glad that you’re liberal and progressive, but calling Pam’s request “ridiculous” strikes me as both insensitive and unfair.

    Here’s the thing: it doesn’t matter whether you have any interest in Pam outside of work. It doesn’t matter if you’re happily married. That’s making this all about you, but it’s about her comfort, not just yours. Look at it this way: if you were told to share a room with a man, would you be comfortable with it just because he wasn’t interested or was happily married? If so, let me tell you: there are many, many people who wouldn’t be, including myself.

    Putting three of you in one room and Pam in the other is a bad solution, no question, but that’s on your manager, not Pam, and treating Pam poorly over this is really unreasonable, IMO. If you’re all truly liberal and progressive, try to understand where she’s coming from rather than tell a gay woman what boundaries surrounding her relationship are reasonable or not.

    OP, what do you want to see happen? What’s your priority? If it’s not being stuck in a room with two other people, that’s reasonable, so why don’t you ask your boss whether she can switch Pam’s room for one with one bed, and then either put you in your own room, draw straws to see who else gets their own room, or ask for a volunteer to pay the difference?

    1. sunny-dee*

      Turn it around. What if Pam were cool with it, but the OP objected? EVERYONE on this board would call her homophobic. That’s very much a double standard. Especially since Pam (presumably) uses the ladies’ room in the office without objection. (That’s the only other sex-related separation I could think of.)

      And, since Pam is the one with the issue, why doesn’t Pam just pay the difference or for her own room?

      1. The Cosmic Avenger*

        EVERYONE on this board would call her homophobic.

        No, they wouldn’t, because I know there is at least one exception: me.

        This is actually a bit of a logic problem. Either person can object to being roomed with someone else, but they have to be able to articulate what others would consider valid reasons. We’ve been conditioned to not accept modesty in front of those of the same gender as valid because we consider heterosexuality the norm, even though there are probably young closeted gay men and women in every school locker room in the country. But Pam is wrong in objecting because she is not objecting to being objectified, which would not be a problem with straight female co-workers (which is a big assumption on her part — as Anna Paquin recently reminded us, not all married people are straight), she is objecting to rooming with someone to whom she is potentially attracted.

        This situation bothers me for two reasons: first, because it perpetuates the horrible stereotype of LGBTQ people as being only about their sexuality, basically that we are unable to control our sexual impulses; and second, because she is asking for different treatment because she is a lesbian. Any straight coworker who felt uncomfortable rooming with a coworker of the same gender would presumably be told to pay for their own room…in fact, I hope the OP states that she is uncomfortable rooming with someone she’s not married to regardless of gender, and asks why she is being treated differently than Pam if she is denied.

        1. AdAgencyChick*

          Heh, your description of this as a logic problem made me laugh (because it’s so apt). Reminds me of making seating arrangements at a wedding.

          OP, I’m curious: How would your manager propose to solve the problem if your team were composed of, say, 7 heterosexual men and 3 heterosexual women?

      2. Zillah*

        I just don’t see how that analogy works. By the same token, you could argue that if a man would be comfortable sharing a room with a woman, she’s sexist for not wanting to share a room with a man (or vice versa).

        Saying that you’re uncomfortable sharing a room with someone attracted to your sex is 1) generally based in broader prejudice and 2) not on topic, because that’s not applicable to the question.

        1. Meg*

          The analogy works because it results in one person being uncomfortable with bunking with another person for no reason other than personal preference. As such, accommodating personal preferences isn’t the responsibility of the company. The company should be like, “Sorry these arrangements don’t work for you. We can try to book you another room in the same hotel, but you’ll have to pay for the room yourself.”

          That’d pretty much be my response to any conflicting personal preferences.

          1. Zillah*

            At the end of the day, are there any reasons that don’t just come down to personal preference?

            I don’t think that it’s wrong for a company to accommodate personal preferences. I can understand asking the employee to pay for the room (or at least for the difference), but saying that they “should” do so? Why? This manager clearly didn’t come up with a good solution, but that doesn’t mean that there’s something deeply wrong with paying an extra few hundred dollars to accommodate your employees.

            1. V.V.*

              Then they sure as hell better drop a few of those “extra few hundred dollars” on me and get me my own room too.

              I am sure that is what you meant anyway, but in this case why should I suffer because someone else doesn’t like the accomodations?

              I could elaborate but most people, (including you) have already made most of my points.

              There just does not seem to be a fair way out of this. Someone is going to feel discriminated against and any possible result is going to smack of retaliation.

    2. LCL*

      This is on Pam. The way it appears to me is that Pam wants her own room, so she chose the reason that people would be least likely to argue with. She is gaming the situation to try to get what she wants. She is a pretty good jailhouse lawyer, at least by this example.

      I do think the sharing of hotel rooms is a bad practice. But as long as both the men and women are expected to double up, you shouldn’t give in to Pam on this. It will only embolden this kind of manipulative tactics. I have made the mistake in the past of giving in to employees because they didn’t like one of their co workers; it only calms things temporarily and long term it poisons the workplace.

      1. Zillah*

        But there’s no indication that Pam is “gaming” the system – there are a lot of reasons to be uncomfortable with this. A few commenters get into this below, and I found reading what they had to say to be really interesting. Is it really so impossible to believe that Pam is truly uncomfortable with the situation? By that logic, should you refuse to “give in to” anyone who asks for single accommodations instead?

        There’s also no indication that Pam is doing this because she dislikes the OP, so I’m not sure where that’s coming from. The OP said that she and Pam are work friends and have coffee/lunch together often, so it seems unlikely to me that she secretly dislikes the OP.

        1. LCL*

          Experience has shown me that giving employees what they want regarding assignments making them ‘uncomfortable’ only leads to more backbiting and arguing and bullying and polarization of different groups. It is worthwhile to ask why something makes them uncomfortable, because the real reason might be a workplace safety issue, or a harassment issue, or some other thing that demands management intervention.

          But stating something makes you uncomfortable at work isn’t good enough. It is a vague non statement about feelings. I’m uncomfortable getting up at 4:45 every morning, having to dress a certain way, and not being able to have a drink with lunch. Who cares except me? Who should care except me? Pam not wanting to share a room because she doesn’t want to is reason enough for her, she doesn’t need a better reason. It is not reason enough to inconvenience every one else in the group because she doesn’t like it.

        2. Koko*

          She might genuinely be uncomfortable, but she’s ALSO gaming the system by using her lesbian marriage to ask for a perk that other employees don’t have access to. There’s no reason it can’t be both and her genuine discomfort would certainly motivate her to look for and exercise any option she could cobble together.

          But what about the other employees who are also genuinely uncomfortable sharing rooms because they’re a private person or they have a weird sleep disorder or they have IBS and are mortified about sharing a bathroom with someone else or anything else? Why is Pam’s lesbian marriage more important than any of these other reasons?

          Sex-segregation is normal and expected. What Pam is asking for is a special request beyond what’s commonly done. And if she is allowed to make a special request, then everyone should be allowed to make one.

          1. Zillah*

            If you’re genuinely uncomfortable, I don’t think it’s “gaming the system” any more than a pregnant woman saying that she’s uncomfortable with a rural camping trip is gaming the system.

            I agree that Pam’s comfort level regarding her marriage shouldn’t override any other considerations, but, and there’s no indication (at least that I can see) that anyone else has made a special request in the first place. The manager is handling this really poorly, no question, but I think that it’s unfair to say that Pam’s request is being prioritized above other requests that, as far as we know, haven’t been made.

            And, again – I still don’t see how this is Pam’s fault. It’s on the manager.

            1. Koko*

              Well, I’m not saying it’s her “fault.” I don’t see anywhere in the letter or the comment that anyone is asking whose fault it is (but I’d agree that the outcome is the manager’s fault, as she is the decision-maker here). The question was about whether Pam’s request is reasonable. In my opinion, a reasonable request is one with precedent, a special request is one without precedent. Pam is taking advantage of a gray area: because the company has a precedent of not requiring opposite-sex straight pairings, she is equating that to a same-sex pairing between her and another woman, and asking for her request to be approved under an existing precedent rather than treated as a special request.

              I wouldn’t fault her for doing it and I’d probably do the same if there was a loophole I could use to get preferential treatment at work. My company officially requires employees to share hotel rooms at our annual conference, but every year there are high-level executives who “happen” to get a private room, and everyone knows it’s because they carry enough clout to get special treatment.

              On the whole there’s a lot about shared sleeping arrangements that make a lot of people uncomfortable. I don’t generally like companies making determinations about whose discomfort is legitimate and who has to suck it up and deal, but if it absolutely has to be done, I prefer the yard stick to be “widely accepted societal norms” rather than “manager’s capricious whims” and in our society, lesbians use the same sex-segregated spaces as straight women.

          2. RobM*

            Well no, if she’s genuinely uncomfortable then she’s surely speaking up because she’s genuinely uncomfortable. And saying why you’re uncomfortable isn’t “gaming the system”, it’s saying why you’re uncomfortable.

            I guess I don’t see what’s “normal” and “expected” about having to share a room with someone else when you don’t want to, _regardless_ of reason. IBS or weird sleep disorders are other good reasons why asking people to share rooms with others when they’d prefer not to is a bad thing, not a reason for Pam to have to suck it up.

            I don’t see what’s “special” about saying so.

            1. fposte*

              Oh, hey, I could have just looked up here and agreed with you rather than saying the same thing downthread.

    3. Koko*

      Lesbians are not the same thing as straight men and I don’t understand why everyone keeps trying to make that analogy happen. Two women, whatever their sexual preferences, sharing a room is not the same as a man and a woman, whatever their sexual preferences, sharing a room. It’s just not and the comparison is not at all helpful to this situation.

      1. Wren*

        Why is it not? I’m not sure I disagree, but you are just stating that without giving any reasoning.

        1. Koko*

          Because men aren’t women. Being a lesbian doesn’t turn a woman into a man. I am not sure how to elaborate on why it doesn’t, much like I can’t elaborate on why hunting mice does not turn me into a cat.

      2. CEMgr*

        I agree.

        As much as I hate involuntary room sharing of any type, I’m also very uncomfortable with 97% of the arguments here focusing closely on who could or would potentially be having sexual activity with or sexual feelings toward a coworker – or not – and all the reasons and scenarios why or why not. How about we just take sex OFF the table (since this is work after all), and act as if we are from a species that never even heard of sex, and instead lives by the logical rule that when involuntary room sharing become unavoidable, then the rule is that an A is only ever put with at most 1 other A, and likewise B with B only. Because that is the time-honored, somewhat arbitrary rule we live by, that protects (or abuses) everyone’s privacy somewhat similarly. PERIOD. No discussion of whether a certain A is the type of A for whom the time-honored rule may not make as much sense because (lengthy details and reasoning involving way more info about the sexual feelings of an A or A’ than anyone wants to hear).

        Bottom line: Arbitrary time-honored rules that are still widely accepted in society, to the point where they are enshrined into law, can help shortcut a lot of decision making and maintain everyone’s dignity.

  9. Zillah*

    #5 – The fact that the manager “forgot” to put in the paperwork on two separate occasions is concerning. Is this the same manager? A different one.

    1. Red*

      I’m a payroll clerk, so I perform adjustments for retroactive pay on a regular basis. Most of our requests are submitted by the same managers over and over. Correcting this issue does not seem to be a priority for our organization.

      LW #5: If you were supposed to receive a raise for prior pay periods and did not receive that pay, then I strongly argue that you are due retroactive pay and there is no legal reason that you should not receive it. It’s the same for unpaid hours or salary.

  10. kas*

    1. I was just searching companies in my field and browsing their websites and I actually don’t even bother looking at websites that look dated/horrible. On the other hand, I was referred to a company with a horrible website and I worked for them and they were great, legit, professional, really nice office, etc so I probably shouldn’t judge a company by their website.

    4. As someone who has worked in customer service, I would hate it if my manager made me speak to a complaining customer. It would be extremely awkward to have to defend yourself and politely tell the customer “you’re lying.” As a customer, I would be annoyed and uncomfortable as I shouldn’t have to work through the situation with the manager and employee, they should be able to take care of it on their own time.

    1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

      Ha, see, so far your data set of actual experience with companies with dated websites confirms that a dated website = great place for you. You should be biased toward them until you get enough negative experience to outweigh the positive.

      (I’m teasing mostly but not completely. Most assumptions made without data are wrong.)

        1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

          And I’ll give you another correlation:

          My amount of personal wrong realized directly correlates to my amount of data collected.

          You’d think I’d be better at guessing!

      1. Sarahnova*

        I can totally see an office with a terrible website being a nice place to work, but unless there was a good reason they could get away with not caring about their web presence, I’d suspect they’re not very competitive/innovative in their field, which would be a turn-off for me.

        I am willing and indeed interested to hear counterexamples, though.

        1. SC in SC*

          I’ll add a data point. I work for a Fortune 500 company with billions of annual sales and a global footprint. I wouldn’t say our website is bad but it’s minimalist at best and that’s only because of a major overhaul in the last couple of years. However, that’s fine for our industry. Sales are b2b so there’s not much effort invested in driving customers through the site. Still a great place to work and growing substantially. Just not relying on web traffic to generate sales.

          1. AnonAnalyst*

            Yup, I have a similar experience with a previous company I worked for. Small company, but B2B in an industry where online traffic isn’t really a factor. The company had been focused on building up other parts of the organization, so the website got the job done but was a little dated. I also have a close friend who oversees a mid-size company with a global presence that has one of the most minimal websites I’ve ever seen (think basic landing page, one page with some info about the history of the company, and a contact page) because it’s not how business is done in that industry: everything relies on referrals and developing long-term relationships with customers, usually with a fair amount of face-to-face interaction.

            On the flip side, I’ve worked for two highly dysfunctional companies that had great looking websites. They were completely soul sucking but had great online presence. Based on my own personal experiences, I don’t put a lot of stock into evaluating the organization website as an indication about whether the company might be a good place for me.

            1. Colette*

              Companies who have significant market share or who sell through resellers also don’t necessarily make their website a priority. Do Kraft or Microsoft’s sales depend on their website? Probably not.

            2. Sarahnova*

              Oh, I definitely don’t consider a slick website a sign that a company is great! I have my own stories there (don’t we all?) I just would consider a terrible website a flag to be weighed against other information about the company.

              In my field, also, a poor website would be a sign of a company with a poor ability to engage its customers and understand its market; I totally accept other fields (especially B2B or highly referral-based) will differ.

  11. Dan*


    Just for sake of conversation, can I, a straight dude, refuse to share a room with my gay male coworker and not be thought of as a homophobe?

    I feel like I’d be tarred and feathered for saying that, which makes Pam’s request no less objectionable.

        1. neverjaunty*

          I’m sure you did, but again, your ‘just making conversation’ really has nothing whatsoever to do with OP #2’s question. OP #2 is not uncomfortable sharing a room with Pam, or worried that saying so will get her “tarred and feathered”. On the contrary, she’s annoyed that Pam is getting a single room and her own shared room situation is more crowded even though OP #2 has no problem sharing a room with Pam – and OP #2 feels this is unfair.

          1. steve g*

            Uh yeah dan’s request does have lots to do with the question – and I do think his situation would play out much more negatively than pam’s. I think men are expected to suck it up when it comes to accommodations more

            1. MJH*

              Have you seen the questions to this website where female coworkers are expected to SHARE A BED while men get their own rooms? Or at least their own beds? Dudes never share beds; it’s often expected that women will.

              1. fposte*

                I haven’t seen questions like that, actually–when I look, all I can find are conversations about how occasionally people are indeed asked to share a bed, but it’s not only one gender. Am I missing a post?

                1. TL*

                  I think there was one recently where the women were expected to share a bed but the men on the trip got their own rooms? But I’m too lazy to search for it.

                2. fposte*

                  If somebody does find it, can you post? I apparently missed that one, and searching isn’t getting it for me.

          2. sunny-dee*

            NJ, it does have to do with the question. What Dan is saying is that if a straight person refused to room with a gay person because the gay person would objectify him/her, that straight person would be reamed as a homophobe.

            If a *gay* person refuses to room with a straight person because the gay person would objectify that straight person, then the straight person is … insulted for not anticipating that the gay person would want their own room and told to pay for their own accommodations.

            1. NoPantsFridays*

              Wow. I’m not exactly what people call “tolerant” or “pro-LGBT” but this is not at all what is going on here. LOL

            2. Zillah*

              But that’s not what’s going on here at all. There’s absolutely no indication that Pam’s worry is that she will objectify the OP – there are other reasons to be uncomfortable with the situation, and breaking it down to that seems really short-sighted to me. I also haven’t seen anyone insulting the OP for not anticipating that Pam would want her own room or told that she needed to pay for her own accommodations now.

          3. NoPantsFridays*

            Yeah, OP actually seemed fine with sharing a room with Pam. Dan’s question is the opposite situation, not an analogous one.

            Plus I think the issue is not actually with Pam, who knows that nothing will happen, and is in control of that. It’s her wife who can’t know that because she won’t be there. Plus, other coworkers who are not in the room might “talk” and spread rumors, and the mere appearance of propriety is a problem in a business situation.

            I am so glad my company is not cheap and we each get our own rooms!

            Also, one of my roommates in college was bisexual and it was never the slightest issue. But she was not in a relationship, so it’s not a comparable situation to this one.

            1. Zillah*

              I’ve actually shared a bed with many female friends who were lesbians or bisexual, including when some of them were in relationships, and there was never any issue. However, I do think that Pam gets to decide her own boundaries and comfort zone, and just because other LGBT people don’t feel weird about it doesn’t mean that she can’t.

              1. fposte*

                Absolutely. The problem is that the manager then turned Pam’s comfort into the other women’s substantial discomfort. It’s management that’s construed this as a zero-sum game when it shouldn’t be.

    1. Student*

      It’s perfectly reasonable to refuse to share sleeping accommodations with any other person.

      This isn’t about the other person and his or her sexual orientation / gender. This is about you and your comfort in sharing sleeping accommodations with others.

      I refuse to share sleeping accommodations with anyone unless I am on very good terms. I don’t like trusting other people to behave appropriately around me when I am asleep. If I do trust the other person to behave, then I don’t care what the other person’s gender or sex orientation is. I’ll admit to having a higher general threshold for trusting a man than a women on such matters, due primarily to fear of rape. I don’t have a higher threshold for a lesbian than a straight woman.

      1. Stephanie*

        I just wouldn’t want to share a hotel room with a coworker because I’d hate having to be “on” when I’m trying to unwind for the evening. Admittedly, I’ve kept things pretty professional with past coworkers, so I’d imagine splitting a hotel room with one would involve an entire evening talking about the weather. I’d also hate my coworker seeing me in my sleeping attire (which usually involves no bra and a headscarf). Plus, I’m an early riser.

        But I’d agree that I’d only want to share sleeping accommodations with someone close.

        1. Lisa*

          Totally agree with Stephanie. Early in my career I shared a hotel room with a coworker at a trade show. The show started each day at 8:00 am but we had to be in the booth at 6:45 am. I’m NOT a morning person so it takes me longer than average to shower and get myself together. My coworker took note of this and teased me in front of several other coworkers, our boss and a client. I was then labeled “high maintenance” and became the subject of ongoing jokes throughout the remainder of the show. Not exactly the professional image I wanted to project at my first high profile event.

          There are some details my coworkers, boss and clients do not need to know about me including how long it takes me to get ready. They only need to know I show up on time, happy and ready to work! Please stop asking coworkers to share rooms.

          1. Dan*

            Holy Jesus. (That’s me talking about the report time to your booth, coming from a fellow “not a morning person.”) My routine would involve two hours of hitting the snooze button, a five minute shower, and five minutes of throwing my trade-show pollo shirt on.

            It *should* be twenty minutes of hitting the snooze button, a thirty minute shower, and twenty minutes of throwing my clothes on.

            But I’d be laughed at too.

        2. KJR*

          I’m with Stephanie. I don’t want to share a room with anyone but my husband, I don’t care what their gender or orientation is. I’m just a private person!

          1. Jamie*

            I’m with Stephanie, too. And besides, how am I supposed to call my family and whine about how stupid everyone I work with is, and how much I hate my co-workers if one of them is in the room?

            I’m a fairly genuine person, within reason…but I’m a huge fan of the professional facade because no one at work needs to know everything about you. And yes, that totally includes, bralessness, bitching, and constant channel surfing that makes anyone in the room with me want to toss me out of windows.

          2. the gold digger*

            I don’t even always want to share a room with my husband. I have suggested to him that we might be happier if we lived next door to each other. There is way too much compromise required when you share a house with someone.

      2. Lora*

        This. I can think of about 246575137040368542 reasons why I don’t want to share a room while traveling with anyone, ever, starting somewhere around “sleepwalking” and ending with “Montezuma’s Revenge and only one toilet”. My colleagues need to never, ever see my fuzzy teddy bear pajamas, put up with my need for a nightlight and white noise, have access to (or even observe) my vast array of prescriptions, deal with 2am nightmares and 5am workouts, catch a glimpse of my bare feet or a whiff of my morning breath. Didn’t we JUST have a thread about what grosses others out in the bathroom (started with flossing I believe)? Multiply by some very large double-digit factor, that’s sharing a hotel room. If you can’t afford more than two hotel rooms, you’re only sending two people. You need to send more, find the money elsewhere.

        1. littlemoose*

          Agreed. My chronic GI conditions alone give me tremendous concern about sharing a hotel room with anyone, much less a coworker. There are plenty of valid reasons not to want to share a room with a coworker!

    2. Zillah*

      I have to say, I’m really uncomfortable with straight people telling LGBT people that their personal comfort levels and boundaries are objectionable, ridiculous, or anything along those lines. Very few people would treat a woman who was uncomfortable sharing a room with a man who wasn’t her husband that way, and I think that telling a lesbian that her issues and concerns around her sexual orientation are invalid is at best condescending, insensitive, and heteronormative.

      1. Jen RO*

        Are you referring to Dan’s post or in general?

        I think his hypothetical situation is the same as a woman not wanting to room with a straight male… but I am not sure if Dan *could* ask without being branded a homophobe.

        1. Zillah*

          His. Particularly this part:

          I feel like I’d be tarred and feathered for saying that, which makes Pam’s request no less objectionable.

          I don’t think that it’s his place to judge Pam’s request “objectionable,” particularly when the analogy he’s drawing isn’t really parallel. I’m not sure I want to go down the rabbit hole of whether Dan could reasonably ask not to share a room with a gay man (which, it’s worth pointing out, he’s said he wouldn’t have a problem with), because it seems irrelevant to the OP’s question.

          1. The Cosmic Avenger*

            I agree that it’s no one’s place to judge what’s objectionable, which is why I suggested that the OP state that they’re uncomfortable sharing a room with anyone to whom they’re not married.

            But just to be pedantic, your analogy a little further upthread is a bit off; Pam’s situation is more like a woman who is uncomfortable sharing a room with a gay man who isn’t her husband, as then there is theoretically no risk of lecherous behavior or ogling from the roommate in both cases, it is the person who is doing the objecting that may be attracted to the other, who presumably does not reciprocate that interest.

            1. Zillah*

              Honestly, there is no analogy that really works. If you want to say that Pam’s situation is more like a woman who is uncomfortable sharing a room with a gay man, fine – but many women would be uncomfortable with that. I certainly would be, unless it was a guy I knew really well. That’s got nothing to do with attraction or lecherous behavior on my part – it’s just something that I’m uncomfortable with.

              1. fposte*

                Agreed. And I think in most cases analogies fail anyway–the “If you would x, then you must y” is often based on a slippery slope fallacy and ignores the weird, nuanced, and illogical patchwork of culture that drives such decisions.

          2. Dan*

            In logic exercises, if you can’t prove an affirmative argument on its face, a different way to do it is to take the opposite and prove it wrong. Then you’ve made the first argument. So I in no way intended to make a parallel argument — I in fact made the opposite argument, intending to get it demonstrated as BS.

            The thing I have an issue with here is that in this country, we’re not supposed to discriminate on the basis of being in a protected class. LGBT is finding its way into said class more and more.

            What ruffles my feathers is when someone wants special accommodations for reasons based on being in a protected class. If you can’t (or aren’t supposed to be) discriminated against because of it, you shouldn’t be able to assert privilege with it either.

            1. Zillah*

              I… just don’t see how that works in the real world. There isn’t always a clear “opposite,” because the situations are always going to involve a lot of messy, real world complications. There are things that I’m okay with coming from another woman that I would not be okay with coming from a man. There are things that I’m okay with coming from someone who shares my disability than someone who does not. That’s just part of the world; like and equal are not the same thing.

              People in protected classes sometimes need special accommodations. A pregnant woman, for example, might need certain considerations that other people might not. I don’t think that being understanding of that is such a terrible thing.

              1. illini02*

                But this isn’t a need, its a desire based on her preferences. I think if it was a true need, there wouldn’t be these questions. We can’t start saying something I would prefer and an accommodation I need are the same thing.

                1. Zillah*

                  Sure, but there are a lot of things that fall between ‘preference’ and ‘absolute need.’ Several women have commented here talking about issues they’ve had with other women accusing them of staring/checking them out, and even accusing them of sexual harassment. That sort of issue gets past a simple preference to me.

            2. Anon for this*

              You must disprove the logical negation, not just what is colloquially “the opposite”. In this case, I can think of several situations that are in different ways opposite to the OP’s/Pam’s, and none of them would be the logical negation. Your situation is a parallel situation, but not the logical negation.

              Secondly, everyone is in a protected class. The protected class is “gender”, not male/female. The protected class is “religion”, not Christianity. The protected class (in some areas) is “sexual orientation”, not gay/straight.

              For you to be tarred and feathered would not be discrimination against you for being straight, but for not wanting to room with a gay man. If it were for religious reasons, it’s an issue of religion, not sexual orientation.

              I’ll readily admit I am really uncomfortable around gay people and with the very idea of homosexuality, and I’m regularly called intolerant and homophobic. I think these names and the hate against me are justified, though. It’s not hate against my religion, as I could choose not to judge them, and it’s not hate against me for being straight, because straightness is not what makes me so uncomfortable. I do think I’m obligated to at least tolerate homosexuality, much more than I could ever expect homosexuals to tolerate my hatred for them. I don’t see why they should have to tolerate someone who hates them. I inflict my hate on them; homosexuality doesn’t inflict anything on me. My intolerance of homosexuality is absolutely not the same as their intolerance of my intolerance. I think they definitely have more of a right to hate me then I do to hate them. But I can’t help how I feel — only how I (don’t) act on it.

              1. Anon for this*

                Whoops, actually, you have to prove the negation to disprove the initial argument. Not disprove the negation. Disproving the logical negation would actually prove the initial argument.

    3. The Wall of Creativity*

      Bad mistake Dan. There are posters here that just don’t get the idea of “just for the sake of conversation” points.

      1. Broke Philosopher*

        I hate devil’s advocate/”just for the sake of conversation” because it’s a cowardly move. If you want to argue a point or suggest an oppositional viewpoint, just do it. Even if you’re not sure that the idea you’re advocating is “correct” or that you agree with it, you still have to stand behind it as a legitimate point of view–doing otherwise puts you in a position where you can put forward a controversial idea and then wave your hands and take no responsibility for it.

        1. Dan*

          I’d do that. But I know at least one of you offline, and don’t want to make statements that would get me branded as something I’m not. If I were a homophobe, I’d own it, but I’m not, so I don’t want to be writing things that suggest I am. It’s way to easy to take things out of context. Any sort of “disclaimer, I don’t really feel this way” is going to turn it into a Devil’s Advocate post, so I figured I’d just call it as it is.

          I suppose I could have posted anonymously, and maybe next time I will.

        2. NoPantsFridays*

          Yeah, I’ve seen people put forward “devil’s advocate” ideas, and when people make counterarguments/counterpoints, they just backtrack and say oh I didn’t mean it. I expect you to argue it to its conclusion if you put it forward as a legitimate view. Not just ignore the counterpoints.

          An argument you put forth “just for the sake of conversation” can still be wrong.

          Maybe next time I should just ignore them “just for the sake of non-conversation”.

      2. alma*

        … Or people understand “devil’s advocate” arguments perfectly well, and are tired of having reasonable issues dismissed or derailed by “but what if it were actually [insert totally different and irrelevant scenario]???”

        The thing about playing “devil’s advocate” with issues of discrimination is that you are basically announcing that you get to treat it as a thought exercise, and then walk away from it afterwards. People who are targets of discrimination do not get the option of walking away or treating it as some fun theoretical. So it’s rude and, as Broke Philosopher points out, kind of cowardly.

        1. Steve G*

          You guys are over-analying this. He did say “for conversation’s sake” but it is wholly relavent to the topic, so not really playing Devil’s Advocate or a side conversation, as some are suggesting.

          1. alma*

            It’s not really relevant because Dan suggested the opposite scenario of what OP’s letter describes.

            1. Dan*

              That’s exactly what I did.

              Pam is asserting some sort of privilege because of membership in a semi-protected class. If discrimination against said class is a no-no, then you can’t ask for privilege based on it either. It *doesn’t* cut both ways, which was the point I made.

              1. fposte*

                I don’t think we know that she asserted any privilege, though; she asked her manager for something, which isn’t an option she uniquely possesses. It’s the manager who decided to grant the request and inconvenience the OP.

                1. Jamie*

                  ITA. She was uncomfortable and chose to share why when she asked if something could be done.

                  If I were one of these employees I’d have asked, too, and if I felt like sharing I could say it’s because the thought of this makes me incredibly anxious and without time to recharge you’ll all hate me by the end of the trip. And besides, if you don’t accommodate me I feel the flu coming on that day.

                  Point being she has every right to ask, it’s not unreasonable, and so does everyone else. How management deals and which requests they grant can make it sticky – depending on their choices – but her right to ask is as valid as asking because you snore, talk in your sleep, take 6 hours baths for a skin condition, or just freaking want to see if there is another option so you don’t have to see your co-workers without makeup on.

                2. Dan*

                  I thought she said, “I’m a married lesbian and don’t want to share a room with another female.” She’s asking for accommodation because of class status, which to me is asserting privilege.

                3. Zillah*

                  I really don’t see that at all, Dan. She’s asking for accommodation because of her life circumstances. By your logic, asking for ffsimilar accommodations because you have a sleep disorder is also asserting “privilege.”

                  As a sidenote, the fact that we’re having a conversation about how a lesbian asserting privilege is a little absurd to me. I hope that you argue equally strenuously against all situations in which straight privilege/heteronormativity exists.

              2. alma*

                But you yourself describe LGBT people as a semi- protected class — that protection is not complete or foolproof. People in protected groups generally know this, and are already taking steps to protect themselves from discrimination. As some gay and lesbian posters below have noted, Pam may be acting out of a need or perceived need to protect herself. Now the way OP’s managers responded to Pam’s request really sucks, but that’s on them and not on Pam for making the request. If they had handled it in a better way (such as giving everyone their own room), we probably would not be having this discussion.

                I really object to calling it “privilege” when it could very well be a response to past experiences with discrimination or an attempt to head off potential discrimination. Trying to navigate a society that still does not fully protect you = / = asserting privilege.

                The problem with your hypothetical, really, is that you haven’t fully flipped the situation. If straight people faced the level of historical discrimination that LGBT people have and continue to do, then you might have a truly opposite scenario. It’s a little bit like when some men dismiss complaints about catcalling by saying “but I’d LOVE it if ladies catcalled me!”… without understanding that you need to reverse the entire gendered social context to understand why catcalling is a problem.

                1. Dan*

                  You object to my word choices, and I’m sorry about that, but as a society we play too many word games. There’s plenty of “what Pam really means” getting thrown around in other posts on this thread. IMHO, that’s the part that sucks. Personally, I hate this beating around the bush we do in this country, and leads to problems like we’re having on this thread. Does Pam mean what she’s saying, or is it a cover for something that she’d rather not talk about?

                  Because if Pam doesn’t mean what she’s saying, and the argument gets knocked down, she’s still left with the self-protection issue. In this society, people don’t take to well when one continues to add previously not publicized parts to an argument. Now she’s left with a very legitimate position, but very agitated “adversaries” because they just wasted a bunch of time when she should have “just told us how you really felt in the first place.”

                  Again I’m sorry you object to my choice of words. Call it what you want, but Pam wants special treatment because of her membership in a semi-protected class, at least that what she *says*. People of many different classes have fought for equal rights (or non-discrimination) for a long time. You can’t ask for equal treatment and then turn around and ask for extra special treatment (a privilege) based on that same class. Some people would call that hypocrisy.

      3. Zahra*

        Also, AAM asked us repeatedly not to derail into side issues, which “just for the sake of conversation” is. You’ll find that we are a disciplined bunch when it comes to directives about keeping threads clean. If Dan wants to address the point, there’s the Friday and/or Sunday Free-for-all threads.

    4. BRR*

      Just from the perspective of if you did refused, I would agree that you’d be tarred and feathered in many office environments.

      I am gay and have shared hotel rooms in high school and college band trips and it was never an issue sharing not only a room but also a bed. I’m not sure if Pam’s request is about being uncomfortable or she just wanted her own room (wouldn’t we all) but a homosexual can share a room without issue.

      1. Anon.*

        Absolutely! This is a situation that doesn’t go both ways (no pun intended). Maybe because I am a cynic, it sounds more to me like Pam is wanting her own room, and she’s working the L-card to her advantage.

        1. Anon.*

          I would hate to share a room with one or more co-workers. Luckily, I’ve never had to. Knock on wood.

      2. sunny-dee*

        BRR, thank you! You articulated it much better than I was.

        Pam is basically arguing that she is incapable of sharing a room with anyone, ever. That’s just unreasonable.

          1. TL*

            In this case, because the company is saying no one gets their own room. (Again, if Pam is paying the difference, which should allow them to pay for more rooms for someone else, I don’t care.)

            In life – eh, I’m not rich enough to only have my own room when I travel, so I would find it ridiculous in my and most of my friends’ lifestyles, but other people may have different situations.

            1. Zillah*

              Sure, but different people have different priorities. I’m okay with sharing a room with a friend while traveling, but I can’t stand having a roommate in a long-term living situation. As such, I was happy to cut corners from many other aspects of my life to maintain that, though I did eventually decide that it was worth it to live with my boyfriend.

              If this is where Pam’s comfort level is, I can’t see how it’s so unreasonable in her personal life. And, when she travels on business, it’s not a horrible accommodation – there are plenty of other people who also have issues with sharing a room. As someone said above, the most surprising thing about this is that Pam was the only one who had a problem.

              If they’re unwilling or unable to pay for another room, yes, I agree that it’s reasonable to ask Pam to pay for the difference, although honestly, I think it would be more reasonable not to room people together in the first place. However, there’s no indication that they’ve even asked Pam to do so.

      3. neverjaunty*

        So why can’t Pam share a room with one of the guys? OP #2 says “of course” she can’t. Why not?

        1. Glor*

          Because while Pam may be gay, the guy she shares with probably isn’t. I wouldn’t blame anyone for not wanting to sleep in a room/bed with someone they’re not attracted to [whether by sexuality or merely just not feeling it] when the opposite may not be true.

    5. My 2 Cents*

      Pam has a sexual attraction to the same sex and you do not, so the situation is not the same. Unless there’s a secret you’re worried about people finding out about you when you get drunk and try to hook up with your gay male roommate….

      1. illini02*

        Yeah, but a straight guy could theoretically be just as uncomfortable (religious reasons, homophobia whatever) sharing a room with a gay guy as Pam is sharing a room with a woman. The reason may be different, but the feeling is the same. Why do Pam’s feelings trump someone else’s?

        1. Cat*

          Because one is based on prejudice and hatred and the other based likely on a history of discrimination. Not everything with similar outcomes is the same.

          1. illini02*

            My point is the same. We can’t (the collective we, not referring to you specifically) on one hand say that we need to take everyone’s feelings into account, and then on the other say this person’s feelings matter more because of where they are coming from. Feelings of discomfort should all be looked at the same. Just because Jim (example person) was raised super religious and isn’t comfortable around a gay person, doesn’t mean his feelings don’t matter. If in his actions he did bad things, that would be one thing, but it may just be how his church raised him.

                1. Dan*

                  So why does Pam’s feelings (or her partner’s) get special consideration here? I think that’s what we’re wondering.

                2. fposte*

                  That’s a question that can be read a lot of different ways–are you talking culturally, managerially, in the opinion of responders? I’d say generally we do prioritize discomfort on sexual issues, hence the whole building of separate bathrooms and locker rooms thing, but I think the manager blew it by prioritizing it at a notable expense to others.

                3. Dan*

                  Honestly, the manager blowing it is actually a small side issue. Even if Pam got her own room without zero-summing it for the rest of them, I’d be a bit jealous.

                  We all have very real things that we may or may not want our coworkers talking about the next day.

                4. fposte*

                  Whereas I think that’s the main issue. I think anybody gets to *ask* for a room on their own in that situation, because they snore, because they have Crohn’s, because whatever. If you don’t ask, you don’t get. I’ve gotten a room on my own with some frequency by paying the difference, but I have no idea of colleagues know that I’m doing that. (Do we know for sure that Pam isn’t, by the way?)

                  So I still think it’s the management and not the request here.

    6. Natalie*

      Pam is making decisions based on her own feelings and/or actions. In your hypothetical, you’re making assumptions about how your co-worker will think or act based solely on their sexuality.

  12. Also A Teacher*

    I disagree, A Teacher…after 15 years in the classroom I can’t think of a time I didn’t want a student at their own conference. It’s about them and they need to hear honest feedback and be able to take it if it’s not all glowing praise. I’m not saying I never had something private to say to a parent–but that’s what the phone or a special additional meeting is for. That said, this is a different situation and the manager is doing something pretty risky. I can see where it’d be reasonable on occasion, but if this is something the manager does as a matter of policy, they’re just asking for the employee to make things worse. Have your employees’ back, train them in customer service, and do your job of detailing with escalated complaints–that’s what a manager is there for.

    1. Lamb*

      It’s one thing if there’s a general policy that students are encouraged to come to parent teacher conferences, but if they’re usually just parents and teachers, it’s easy to imagine a student randomly coming along would throw the teacher off and they may want to adjust their approach on certain issues.
      As for “a special additional meeting”, I’d be really annoyed if I followed the school’s instructions and brought my daughter along to her own parent teacher conference and the teacher then tried to schedule a second, private meeting with me. THIS is your meeting; you’re the ones who said she should come. It’s inconsiderate of the time and trouble I took to come to the parent teacher conference to spring a second meeting on me where we’ll discuss The Most Important Issue. I came to the parent teacher conference to hear about the important issues. It’s very 1001 Arabian Nights; are you going to keep telling me we need more meetings? Maybe a third meeting where we discuss The Most Important Issue with a specialist, and a fourth meeting where we bring my daughter in to the loop on what we’re concerned about and what we want to do about it? And follow-up meetings to discuss her progress? You may not be the Mad Meeting Scheduler of Fleet Street, but if you use our first meeting to schedule a second meeting, my one data point suggests that you could be.

      1. Also A Teacher*

        Well, having worked in special ed for many years, often we DID have meetings just to schedule other meetings. But we didn’t expect normal people to participate in that. Lol :)

  13. Noah*

    Everytime the topic of having employees share hotel rooms comes up I am so thankful that no place I have ever worked has tried this. I cannot imagine not having space to myself at the end of the day.

    In this case I think Pam’s objection is reasonable, and the only way to really make her feel comfortable is to provide her with her own hotel room. Although, there is a small part of me that feels like Pam just selfishly wants her own hotel room and has manipulated the situation to get her way.

    Also, can someone explain to me what marital status has to do with this at all? I understand that Pam is gay, bisexual, or someone on the continuum. However, what does the relationship status have to do with it. If she is uncomfortable sharing a room with another woman wouldn’t it still be uncomfortable either way? If it is her SO that is uncomfortable, then they kinda need to learn to trust and get over it. People have self control. I’m bisexual and I’m pretty sure I could share a room with either a man or a woman and act appropriately.

    I totally understand that it is uncomfortable sharing a hotel room, but I think it would be uncomfortable no matter what. I just don’t see why it is inappropriate because she’s a married person whose attracted to females. Would it be inappropriate for a married man to be alone with me, another man whose attracted to men?

    1. neverjaunty*

      Is the married man also attracted to men? It fascinates me how many people keep flipping this around. The issue isn’t that OP #2 is interested in Pam; the issue is that we have someone who is married, and who does not feel comfortable sharing a room with someone who, if the married person was single, would in theory be a potential partner.

      If the married, solo-room-wanting-colleague were a heterosexual man who refused to share a room with OP #2, I can’t imagine anybody would be tsk-tsking about how uncool he was and how he just wanted an excuse to have a room to himself. But because Pam is female, apparently it doesn’t count somehow?

      P.S.: OP #2’s company must have some truly incompetent HR. I can’t imagine any company that spent half a minute thinking about it would set up rooming arrangements like this. Not every employee is going to be open about their sexual orientation.

      1. Dan*

        How is a straight female a potential partner for a lesbian? I’m certain not a potential partner for a homosexual male, I can tell you that much.

        That whole argument makes it sound like a person can’t control their hormones. We do it on a daily basis, thank you very much.

        1. Sarahnova*

          “How is a straight female a potential partner for a lesbian?”

          A lot of women who pass for straight are actually bi. Many gay women prefer not to sleep with/date bi or straight-identifying women, but God knows it happens all the time.

          1. TL*

            Right, but absent the OP saying otherwise, I think it’s a safe assumption that she’s straight.

            So in this particular scenario, we have a straight woman, who is not a potential partner for a lesbian.

            1. neverjaunty*

              Making assumptions about the sexual orientation of OP #2 – who wrote in for advice – for the sake of “conversation” that has nothing to do with the issue seems extremely rude.

              1. fposte*

                The OP did say that she was happily married to a man, which doesn’t guarantee that she’s straight but in context seems to strongly imply it.

                1. Sarahnova*

                  Everything the OP said about herself applies to me: I’m happily married to a man, and probably wouldn’t be at all sexually interested in Pam (I’m picky), but I am in fact a bisexual woman, not straight. I’m just sayin’.

                  I considered not making my comment above, because it is (probably) not relevant to this specific letter, but 1) I am a pedant who hates letting factually inaccurate assertions stand; 2) I am a bi woman married to a dude who “passes” for straight, but is not straight; there are more of us than you think.

                2. fposte*

                  Right, and as I said, it doesn’t guarantee she’s straight. But I don’t think people are rude for considering her framing as implying it.

              2. TL*

                I based the assumption on such: 1) the OP is married to a man and 2) if the OP was bisexual/on the spectrum, it would have been relevant to enough to the question that (based on her assertion that she is liberal/progressive) there is a high chance that she would have included that information, especially since these letters are published anonymously and this space, if she’s familiar with it, doesn’t exactly tolerate bigoted attitudes or language well.

                Couple that with the fact that the majority of people are straight and I think, in this particular case and because it is relevant to the issue at hand, it is a fair assumption to make.

                1. Sarahnova*

                  I don’t think we need to make any assumptions about her sexuality at all; OP stated that she’s not attracted to Pam. Her sexual identity is irrelevant.

                  I slightly regret my individual comment because I think we’re in danger of derailing here, but just assuming everyone’s straight until you find out otherwise is one way companies find themselves having issues on this front, and the fact it’s not a safe assumption is yet another reason why not creating ways for people to have their own rooms is a bad idea. The comments on heterocentrism downthread in this discussion are generally worth reading, I think.

                2. TL*

                  I don’t actually assume all people are straight – it’s problematic, as you stated, and reinforces cultural norms I don’t agree with. I also understand the concept of heterocentralism and heteronormativity, though I do love this comment sections and will read below because there are probably some awesome comments.

                  But, in this case, we’re given enough information that I don’t think there’s a problem making that assumption in regards to discussing various facets of the question/answer/possibilities. (Without that background information, I can safely assume, based on previous threads, that more of the commenters would be pointing out the fact that the OP could easily not be straight if we were working on the assumption.)

                3. TL*

                  I would like to add that this is a case-dependent assumption; I wouldn’t work off the “majority of people are straight” assumption alone, for sure.

          2. Dan*

            While I have heard such rumors, aren’t there limits to how much we can assume about things that aren’t written in posts?

        2. NoPantsFridays*

          Yes, or rather, that Pam’s wife thinks/fears Pam can’t control herself. As Noah suggests, there could be a trust issue. Also, the appearance that “something” might have happened is itself an issue.

          The sexual orientations of the other female coworkers are really not relevant because Pam’s wife probably doesn’t know them, at least not well enough to know they are not in to Pam. I don’t see how Pam’s wife would know they are all straight, even if that is the case. If Pam were a straight man, his objections to sharing a room with a woman of any sexual orientation would be reasonable, to me.

          Something still rubs me the wrong way about Pam’s request but I think the fact that she is married does matter.

    2. Dan*

      And as a straight guy, can I object to sharing sleeping quarters without being called a homophobe? (That’s just an argument, personally I don’t care.)

      The real reason I want my own room is I go to bed LATE (I don’t care what time we have to be up) and lights out at ten is going to piss at least one of us off. And if you want 2 hours to get ready in the morning, I will scream bloody murder. So yeah, rooming with me ain’t something anybody would like.

      1. Zillah*

        You say that you personally don’t care, but here’s the thing: while you’re just making the argument to make the argument, the issue you’re getting at is something that’s representative of some very real stereotypes and prejudices in this country, which is why I think some people (myself included) are reacting so poorly to it.

        And, again: it’s irrelevant, because that’s not the situation the OP is in at all.

        1. Dan*

          In logic exercises, if you take the opposite and prove the negative, then you’ve proven the affirmative. So it’s quite relevant from a discussion standpoint.

          Yes, I know I’m getting at something that’s a very sensitive issue. In this case, somebody wants to take the opposite and assert privilege, which is no more fair than getting adverse treatment from it in the first place. Hell, I’d even suggest that Pam is helping perpetuate the stereotype.

          I mean, forget the specific example being addressed and look at it from a broader perspective: When someone asks for privilege based on membership in a protected class, what do you do? We’re so danged sensitive to those issues in this country, that we’d likely cave because *we* wouldn’t want to be accused of discrimination. So I guess I find class-based requests for privilege manipulative at the very least.

          1. fposte*

            “In logic exercises, if you take the opposite and prove the negative, then you’ve proven the affirmative. So it’s quite relevant from a discussion standpoint.”

            If you’re arguing logic, sure. But it’s a common mistake to treat “logical” as if it were synonymous with “right” in discussion–so common that it might be a considered a logical fallacy in its own right :-).

          2. CA Anon*

            This isn’t a logic puzzle, this is someone’s life we’re talking about. Treating it like a logic puzzle (exploring every possible angle just for the hell of it) when you don’t have skin in the game is really disrespectful to those who have to navigate these issues in their real lives. It makes a game out of their struggles, like they aren’t important or don’t really matter.

      2. NoPantsFridays*

        I think it would depend heavily on the company culture. I can think of some companies where that would be considered reasonable, and others where you would be tarred and feathered.

        But your female partner would not be justified in objecting to you sharing a room with a gay man, because a man of any sexual orientation is not a potential partner for you, so your partner has nothing to worry about. Pam’s wife, on the other hand, might be worried/paranoid.

    3. Stephanie*

      Heh, I also wondered if Pam was claiming spousal objection to get her own room. Or if it is true, it does sound like a trust issue between Pam and her wife.

      1. neverjaunty*

        You can have the most trusting spouse in the world and still find it inappropriate to be assigned to share a room with somebody who is the same gender as your spouse. If Pam weren’t a woman I think most people would be calling this ‘old fashioned’.

        1. Stephanie*

          See, I read it as a trust issue because (purportedly) the spouse thinks that Pam can’t even share a hotel room with a coworker of the preferred gender without something happening. Now perhaps Pam has given her wife reasons not to trust her completely and the company wants to avoid the appearance of impropriety. It just seems like this now inconvenient arrangement is based on the improbable occurrence that Pam and OP couldn’t control their hormones.

          Simpler answer seems to be that Pam would just want her own room for whatever reason (she snores, she unwinds at night by watching three hours of Real Housewives, she likes to wake up at 5 am every morning to do P90x, etc).

          1. Zillah*

            But there wasn’t any indication, at least not that I could see, that Pam’s spouse was behind the request in the first place. And, even if she was… I’ve said this already elsewhere, but I would be really uncomfortable with my boyfriend sharing a hotel room with another woman, even though I trust him completely.

          2. Rowan*

            Maybe you’re right, and Pam and her wife are working through infidelity or something. I don’t think anyone would find it as unreasonable for a man to say his wife is uncomfortable with him sharing a room with another woman.

            1. Perpetua*

              I sure would. I feel that relationship issues should stay between partners.

              Personally, I’d have (or had, in the one situation it came up) no problem with my boyfriend sharing a room with another woman (be it a coworker or a friend), nor would I be comfortable with him strongly objecting to me in the same situation. I do get that people differ in comfort levels, but still, it is not something I’d bring up in the workplace.

            2. TL*

              I think, however, that if it was gay man that a man’s wife was sharing the room with, the discomfort level would probably drop for most people (not disappear, just drop.) I’m just speculating here.

              1. Elysian*

                It might drop for my husband, but not for me. For me at least sharing a room isn’t about sexual attraction (though that’s part of it). More of it is about shared ‘parts’ and experiences and routines. Although my introverted self screams on the inside about the possibility of sharing a room with someone, all other things being equal I would rather share with a lesbian woman than a gay man because I figure she would “get” my personal crap better (sanitary stuff, shower habits, whatever). Any apprehension I feel about my co-workers attacking me during the night (or whatever) doesn’t really change based on what gender they’re attracted to.

                1. NoPantsFridays*

                  Yes, that is a realization that I have come to while reading this thread, I would rather share with a lesbian or bi woman than a man of any sexual orientation. Like you, though, my own room would be best!

                2. Mints*

                  Same. I’d prefer a woman of any orientation, then a very distant second a gay man, then a straight man.
                  Like you said, it’s more about shared experience and habit than potential attraction.

                3. Tara*

                  However I, a lesbian, would rather share with a gay man than a straight woman who I am not friends with. Yeah, I would probably change in the bathroom, but I wouldn’t have to worry about him claiming that I was “checking him out” if I didn’t keep a book in front of my face all the time.

            3. Traveler*

              I would be a little offended if a married man said he couldn’t share a room with me because he was married (assuming the company culture was co-ed sleeping arrangements at hotels). It would feel like he was implying something about my character, rightly or wrongly. I’m sure I could get past that intellectually speaking, especially when given context (they have infidelity issues or his wife has trust issues etc.) but I think my initial impulse would be to be at least slightly offended at the potential implications.

          3. neverjaunty*

            Yet nobody is scolding OP #2 by saying “of course Pam could room with one of the men; how insulting to say they can’t control their hormones!”. How is this different?

        2. Anonymous for this*

          I agree. But as someone whose spouse has trust issues, it’s really a whole lot easier to just not put yourself in a position where it could become an issue. If I were Pam, I’d spring for the extra for the room so that (1) I’d be assured not to have to worry about the possible spousal sequelae of room-sharing and (2) not put the other travelers in a bad/crowded situation.

      2. Zillah*

        I don’t know – I trust my boyfriend, but I would be deeply uncomfortable with him sharing a room with another woman. It’s not that I think anything would happen – it just feels inappropriate. That’s not such an uncommon sentiment, IME, though I’ve bumped into it much less among LGB folks that I know because many of their friends tend to be women.

        Pam may have been citing discomfort (which is not the same thing as spousal objection) in order to get her own room. Even if that’s the case, the tension from the OP seems disproportionate to me. I’m sure Pam faces unfairness based on her sexual orientation on a regular basis; the idea that on the few occasions the system is weighted in her favor constitutes an egregious offense is pretty absurd to me.

        1. Stephanie*

          I definitely understand the sentiment about it feeling inappropriate. Where it breaks down for me is that now OP and her coworkers are going to be three to a double-bed room. That doesn’t seem any better than Pam sharing a room with OP (not to say one problem is worse or better than the other). Thinking about it, my issue is more with the crappy solution.

          1. Zillah*

            Oh, absolutely – it’s an awful situation. Three to a double-bed room is a serious problem. But I put that on management, not Pam, and I don’t like the idea of telling Pam to deal with her discomfort and take one for the team, you know? Management needs to fix this, not Pam.

            1. Elysian*

              I wonder – would any of this be different if management had said “Everyone has to share a room. Pick the person you want to room with and let us know.” and Pam had said “No one”? I can understand why the OP is upset with Pam, even though this is management’s fault for mishandling.

              1. fposte*

                It reminds me of apartment living, where everybody’s mad at the noise of the person upstairs or next door, when really things are the fault of the crappy architect.

  14. Zelda*

    # 1. Ugh. There are so many variables here: so many ways in which web sites can be bad, and so many factors potentially leading to awfulness. Dated design is one thing; dated information another altogether. Sites can be visually cutting edge, but ignore the most basic principles of usability and accessibility.

    A bad web site almost always says something bad about the company, but what exactly this is varies from organization to organization is generally hard to gauge from the outside.

    I worked for a company with a web site that was terrible at all levels – poor usability, essential information such as contact details hidden away too deeply for the average user to find, and visually very dated. The site was maintained by an outside company, and no one inside our organization could make any changes directly. Requests for even basic updates had to go through at least two internal levels of permission; once approved they were emailed through to the contractor. Although management was itself unhappy with the site, hierarchy and micromanagement were too embedded in the in organizational culture for anything to change – and this obviously affected a lot *more* than the web site.

    I think one is right to regard a bad web site as a concern, but probably not to reject a company out of hand because they use Comic Sans.

  15. Lori*

    Just wanted to say that some of the best companies I’ve ever worked for have embarrassingly terrible websites. So don’t write them off just yet. Also, my current company always applies raises retroactively, so definitely ask! It is a thing!

  16. Tara*

    #2– As a lesbian, sharing a room with women who I’m not very close with freaks me out. Not to a degree that I can’t handle it, but enough that I avoid it when I can. I’m always paranoid that they’re going to get creeped out and accuse me of being inappropriate, and it brings up bad memories of P.E. change rooms right after I came out when I was terrified to take my eyes off the ground in case someone started shouting “pervert” at me. Nobody should be forced to share a room with someone they’re not comfortable with.

    1. Perpetua*

      “Nobody should be forced to share a room with someone they’re not comfortable with.”

      I think this is a sentiment the huge majority will agree with, but the argument shouldn’t depend on the gender, sexual orientation or marital status of the people involved. Well, in an ideal world it shouldn’t, but in real life it usually does.

      Both the OP#3 and Pam are entitled to their discomfort with the situation, but Pam’s discomfort is given higher priority, which might be causing a significant part of the OP#3’s resentment. Having 3 other coworkers room together seems like a recipe for disaster in terms of their future relationship with both Pam and the company in general, and I truly hope that there’s another room/hotel available.

      1. Stephanie*

        Both the OP#3 and Pam are entitled to their discomfort with the situation, but Pam’s discomfort is given higher priority, which might be causing a significant part of the OP#3′s resentment.

        Yes, this is the point I was failing to elucidate upthread. I picked up OP is resentful that Pam’s discomfort about sharing a room with another woman was prioritized over her (or a coworker’s) discomfort about sleeping on a pull-out sofa.

      2. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

        Scratching my head because Pam being a married lesbian seems to be a total red herring. The reason she can’t share a room,when the logistics require room sharing, doesn’t matter. I will take her assertion that she can’t at face value, the same way you’d take someone’s assertion that they literally cannot sleep with another person in the room, but then she can get on the phone and see if she can find an extra room at the booked venue so she doesn’t have to share.

        I’ve done this. I absolutely refuse to share room. I cannot sleep a wink. So I find my own room.

        Management, in this situation, made something their problem that wasn’t their problem. (And for god’s sake, just get people their own rooms whenever you can.)

      3. Sarahnova*

        Again, though, the person at fault here is the manager. Pam had a… card to play, I guess you could say, and she played it – and as often happens, the perception of risk to the company got her manager’s attention. It’s the fact that the OP’s manager is ignoring the other three women’s discomfort that is actually the problem here, and that’s not on Pam.

        I’m reminded of the letter from the third-trimester-pregnant woman whose company wanted her to do a retreat in a remote cabin in the woods. As Alison and many others advised, this was a bad idea for everyone for all sorts of reasons, but being pregnant gave her a major “Sorry NOPE” card to play on everyone’s behalf. That wasn’t “fair” to anyone who merely hated the idea, but it was leverage it would have made no sense not to use.

        1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

          This was SO easy for management to deal with, I can’t believe they dropped it.

          “Oh, I’m sorry, we only have shared accommodations arranged. Is there anyone out of the other 15 attendees that you can share with. I’ll see what I can set up. No? Okay, well we don’t have any single rooms but you go ahead and see what you can arrange for single accommodations for yourself. Let me know the details. In the meantime, I’ll work on finding some budget to cover that.”

          It’s a miracle that only one person out of 16 was asking for single accommodations. Rule 1: get people their own damn rooms Rule 2: failing rule 1, be prepared to deal with people who want their own damn rooms in a way that doesn’t throw one of your employees on a hide a bed.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            So simple and yet for some reason climbing Mount Everest would be easier at this point.

    2. Annoyed*

      I’ve worked for several companies which require roommates at meetings. You can pick who you want to room with, but too bad if you are new and don’t know anyone, or everyone is already paired up – as you are going to get randomly assigned to someone. In some cases, people first meet their roomie when entering their shared hotel room, which means they are spending 4 nights with a total stranger. This is awkward and uncomfortable. Companies should suck it up and pay for individual rooms. It’s really bad for morale to put your employees in this situation – you are already asking them to spend multiple days away from home and usually these are all day meetings with mandatory evening events too, so you should have the ability to feel comfortable and get a good nights sleep. In the case of Pam, she should be the one paying extra for a single room – not the other ladies (nor should they be required to cram 3 in a room). It has nothing to do with Pam’s sexual orientation. She wants her own room and the reason doesn’t matter. She should pay extra. If anyone else wants their own room for any reason, the same rules apply. Make it a company policy so the same rules apply to all with no awkward explanations neceasary.

    3. Helka*

      Another lesbian, and I was going to say the same thing! It’s not about being attracted (or not) to anyone, it’s getting the accusations of improper behavior later that’s such a nightmare. If I don’t studiously avert my eyes every time someone in the room is in a state of less than total dress, I’m creeping on them — but if I stare at the wall or bury my face in a book, then I’m making things weird by doing that and that’s equally improper. It’s a l0se-lose scenario.

    4. Darla*

      Seconded. I am a lesbian who would not want to share a room with a female co-worker unless we were also personal friends. When I came out in high school a lot of people, including “liberal” and “open-minded” people who talked a lot about how LGBTQ-friendly they were, started displaying open disgust around me. Anything I did was subject to getting the same shouts of “pervert.” I know people through a gay-straight alliance from college who would still say horrible things while simultaneously truly believing they were very accepting people. In short, you can swear up and down that you’re accepting and talk big about it in the office but unless I know you personally I have no trust for how co-workers will treat me in other situations. Not that I necessarily believe specific people in the office would treat me that way, but I have no reason to risk it.

      Ultimately the problem here is the manager not dealing appropriately with having three leftover people to room, and I think it’s unfair to assume anything behind Pam’s discomfort. It could be for the same reasons Tara and I have. It could be that her spouse and her want that boundary. It could be something else entirely that she felt too embarrassed to bring up and used the married thing as something she could say in public.

      1. Tara*

        That has been my experience too. People who claim to be liberal and open-minded tend to have just as many homophobic hang-ups as everyone else.

    5. BethRA*

      I’ve never had that concern, but I know of a few couples where the SPOUSE of the married lesbian/gay person was the origin of the concern and objected to the room-sharing (does not say great things about the relationship, but Pam’s concern may have nothing to do with the OP.

      Agreed, though, the problem is how management is handling the situation, not the reason behind it.

    6. Sarahnova*

      Thanks to you and other gay respondents who have chipped in; this is one reason why I think we should be cautious about speaking for LGBT+ people in these kinds of situations rather than listening to them.

    7. annie*

      I can understand this because I used to work out a lot with one of my very close friends, who is a lesbian. I’d be chit chatting with her and changing in the locker room afterwards without thinking anything of it, having been involved in sports, scouts, etc and used to changing in front of other girls my whole life, and she’d always scuttle off to the little partitioned booths with the curtains that no one ever uses to change. After a few times, she told me that she just felt weird about modesty issues because of experiences like yours, so it made sense to me.

      That said, Pam’s objections are striking me as odd because she’s using her marital status as a reason she does not want to share. If she was just dating someone, would sharing be okay? If so, then she should not get her own room – that’s a marriage issue. But really, overall, everyone should just get their own rooms, period.

  17. Stephanie*

    #1 – OldCompany had a pretty cheesy website (generic stock photos, hard-to-find contact information, cluttered design). My friend worked for an ethically shady internet company that would buy domains like nursingschools dot com that would direct prospective students to the company’s for-profit schools clients. Company was sued by the VA for GIBill dot com (that did the same thing with veterans). Anyway, I showed her OldCompany’s website and she was like “Oh. Wow. That looks like one of our marketing scheme websites for the for-profit schools. Just lots of loud colors, stock photos, and distracting design.”

    OldCompany wasn’t run the best, but I think the website was just one data point. I wouldn’t base an opinion of a company off just the website, unless it’s a tech company or something heavily dependent on a put-together web presence. For OldCompany, the website was just not a priority and we were in an industry where a top-notch web design wasn’t crucial (and uh, our competitors’ websites looked just as bad).

  18. RobM*

    #1 – I would say the point is whether or not the website adds anything substantial to the business (or reasonably would be expected to do so if it was better made). It’s not unreasonable for a company that doesn’t get a lot of business via its website and can’t see that changing any time soon to ‘make do’ with a site that’s merely good enough and invest the money and effort they’ve saved into areas that have a bigger affect on their bottom line.

    Of course, the flip-side is that if they’re wrong about the need for a good website then this certainly speaks to it being a badly run business.

    #2 – maybe it’s just me (I’m a very private, introverted person) but I think this whole thing about sharing rooms is just plain wrong anyway. There’s no possible combination of gay/straight/male/female/transgender that would make me comfortable sharing a room with someone I wasn’t very close personal friends with. And even then I’d prefer to have a room to myself.

    I therefore think the answer is to work with Pam/follow on from her lead and say that you’re all also uncomfortable sharing a room, because of crowding or whatever. Your situation is certainly not because Pam has done anything wrong, unless having the courage to speak up about feeling uncomfortable about something that makes you uncomfortable is wrong. Taking the issue up with your manager is fine. Taking it out on Pam is entirely unreasonable.

    1. BRR*

      I think in general we all agree that having a single room at conferences is the way to go. There are circumstances when it may not be in the budget to have single rooms (which we don’t know in this instance) and so it’s partially a social issue and partially an issue in which management dropped the ball by giving one person special treatment.

      1. Broke Philosopher*

        I read your comment initially as having one single room where everyone would sleep! I guess that’s one way of avoiding “special treatment.”

          1. DMented Kitty*

            I shared a room with at least ten of my teammates back when we had this huge project with a short deadline and everyone had to put their heads down and work well into the night.

            I found out I don’t mind sharing a room with people — what I don’t like was the inconvenience of sharing a bathroom and trying to ‘time’ myself around other people’s bathroom schedule (luckily it wasn’t that strict in my case, everybody had flexible time to get to work, etc.)

            What I also find out was that I don’t like sharing a bed with others. During the nights where I ended up having to share a bed with someone (regardless of sex), it stressed me out and I was usually semi-awake the entire night (not to mention sometimes they snore and I have a thing against skin-to-skin contact with strangers sleeping beside me).

            So while everyone else picked sharing in nice comfy beds in bedrooms, I typically just called dibs on the couch. There was one time this apartment hotel had a “maid’s room” and no one picked it because it was way out of the main area. I grabbed it — why not? It had a decent bed, I won’t share it with anyone, and while the bathroom is cramped and the hot water wasn’t that great, I get to use it in private.

        1. Poohbear McGriddles*

          I wonder if Pam would find it acceptable to share a room with two female coworkers, so that there isn’t the potential awkwardness of being alone with one – if the three to a room thing must stand.

    2. Jamie*

      #2 – maybe it’s just me (I’m a very private, introverted person) but I think this whole thing about sharing rooms is just plain wrong anyway. There’s no possible combination of gay/straight/male/female/transgender that would make me comfortable sharing a room with someone I wasn’t very close personal friends with. And even then I’d prefer to have a room to myself.

      Not just you. I’ve never expereinced this in my career, only read about the room sharing here, but I’d be out. I would so ridiculously uncomfortable at the thought of this I’d opt out even if I had to feign illness.

      The analogy that springs to mind is tipping. My parents drilled into us as kids that if you can’t afford to tip properly you cannot afford to eat out. I feel the same away about single rooms on business trips – if you can’t afford to give your employees the courtesy of not infringing on their personal time (and it doesn’t get much more personal than sleep and showering…at least not with co-workers) you can’t afford to send them wherever you want them to go.

      If people want to share because they are okay with it and want the experience of whatever the trip is about, fine, but I think it’s unconscionable to require it.

      I have learned here, though, that it’s so common in some industries that I’d be the outlier – which is important information for me if I ever change fields.

      For me though, I’d think if an employer knew how bitchy I get when I don’t have enough alone time to reboot my brain they’d never suggest I share so much as an elevator with someone – much less a hotel room.

      1. Betsy*

        When a former employer told us they would be requiring shared rooms on business travel, I told them I would refuse to travel under those conditions, and I understood if that meant I needed to find another job.

        The idea of absolutely no alone time for days on end practically gives me panic attacks. Just thinking about it now, I can feel my chest getting tight. I would be so incredibly useless from day 2 onward.

        1. Jamie*

          I’ve never had a panic attack, but I also have a visceral reaction to reading about this – chest tight and immediately clenched. Definitely an anxiety trigger for a lot of people.

        2. Mephyle*

          What happened – did this employer become an ex because of this issue, or did they give you a single room?

        3. Not So NewReader*

          Betsy, Jamie, I’d like to thank you and everyone else who has stood up and said this. I am feeling so validated. I had no idea so many people feel the same way I do.

  19. Allison*

    1. I certainly wouldn’t draw any *conclusions* based on a website, but it would have me concerned that the company might be behind the times in terms of technology, work culture, and policies. Obviously I’d wait until the interview to address these concerns, but I’d have them.

    And consider the flipside, most readers of this site know that if an applicant has a dated resume, or a dated LinkedIn picture, or a dated personal website, is that going to raise concerns with the hiring manager? Yes, absolutely.

    1. Chloe Silverado*

      Agreed. The framework for my former company’s website was last updated in 2001. I had wonderful co-workers and enjoyed the overall experience of working there, but the organization was very much behind the times in terms of procedures and technology. As a marketing associate, this was very frustrating – the website made us look old-fashioned compared to our competitors, the company wouldn’t allow us to do much in the way of blogging/social media (initiatives we hoped would compensate for the website issues), and the outdated accounting software and overly rigid policies made it a challenge to pay our vendors (I spent hours on the phone asking vendors to fill out multiple pages of paperwork so we could get them in our system and apologizing for late checks ).

  20. jesicka309*

    I just got back from a week long development conference where we all shared rooms.

    I didn’t even meet the girl I shared a room with until we got there. Luckily we got along well enough in the end (lamenting how crap it was to share rooms really brought us together), but it was touch and go.

    She got a cold and snored the first two nights. Then I got a throat infection and did the same thing. There is absolutely nothing worse than being sick, away from home, and sharing a room where you can’t snore/choke in your sleep/blow your nose/do all the other disgusting things sick people do without feeling horrible about keeping your coworker up.
    Plus the inevitable bedtime routine clashes (she had to negotiate what time to get up in the morning, her work kept her up late so I was woken up at 1.30 am when she came in etc.).
    We both enjoyed each others’ company, but both decided that we would have enjoyed the conference more (and gotten more sleep!) if we had our own rooms, or at least a suite where we could close the door between our beds.
    I get the cost factor, but yeesh. My productivity was affected.

      1. Annoyed*

        Yep. I once got some sort of food poisoning or flu at a sales meeting, and without being too graphic, it was the kind that upsets both ends of you. Rather than forcing my roommate to listen to that while she was sleeping (hotels no longer install bathroom fans for whatever reason so the room was dead silent and her bed was right next to the bathroom), I opted to go to the lobby restroom. I laid on the floor in the nasty stall from 2am-5am, rotating between sleeping and having episodes. Looking back it might have been better to stay in the room, but I was too embarrassed and then once I realized how sick I was, I couldn’t get myself back upstairs because I was just too dang sick to move. My roomie then assumed I was out all night on a booty call. Nice. Never again will I share a room.

        1. Traveler*

          That sounds nightmarish! I wish employers would take things like this into account. So many people have medical conditions too, that are just every day things that they don’t particularly want to share with coworkers or employers. I know they want to save money, but everyone should really be getting their own hotel room.

  21. Helka*

    #2 – Speaking as a lesbian, and as one who has shared rooms with other women on many uncomfortable occasions, it’s not at all about attraction or anything like it. It’s about having to watch your behavior for fear of accusations. A lot of queer folk have experienced the situation where people will look for ways in which you are acting out your gayness at whatever moment, and hotel rooms tend to be really ripe for this. Especially if it’s just one other woman — that can actually be worse than a group of other women. If Sue and Pam share a room, and then Sue starts telling everyone the next day that Pam was eying her up or something, what’s Pam’s recourse?

    Keep in mind that having work spaces be safe for out LGBT folks is a very new thing pretty much everywhere that is safe, and many spaces aren’t safe yet by a long shot. You might think, “Oh, we’re totally cool with it, no one would do that,” but unless Pam is in her early twenties, chances are she has had to contend with the very real risk of malicious rumormongering and accusations. There’s a wariness that develops that can be really hard to kick. Not to mention, even folks who are “liberal and progressive” can still have some really gross presumptions and attitudes. Being liberal doesn’t automatically equal “safe person.” This isn’t to say that there’s any reality to this — you guys might genuinely be completely cool and not make a big thing out of it at all — but it’s about the risk from Pam’s perspective.

    1. TL*

      That is something I hadn’t even considered (early 20’s and a group of friends of all orientations where minimal clothing is often worn, so partial nudity/commenting on body parts is not a big deal) so thanks to you and the commenters upthread who pointed this out.

  22. The Other Dawn*

    RE: #4

    Either the manager genuinely thinks this is a good idea and a good learning experience for the employee, or he is afraid of confrontation and doesn’t want to deal with the customer by himself. Bad idea either way.

  23. bizzie lizzie*

    #2 I was sexually assaulted in a hotel room by a female colleague. I had no idea of her sexual preferences and wouldn’t have cared either way. I’m a straight female and had not given any indications of an interest in other women.
    She told me she had formed an attachment to me because she and I had been allocated as roommates during a work conference with mandatory room sharing.
    I will try to never be in a hotel room or enclosed space with a colleague of either sex again.
    room sharing stinks and exposes employee and employers to unnecessary risk.

  24. TotesMaGoats*

    #4-Sounds like a manager whose not willing to go to bat for an employee. I would never do this. There are times when I’ll listen in on a call with an employee who is working with a troublesome student. More as a witness than anything else.

    Although part of it may have to do with trusting your staff. I trust mine to give the right answer the first time, that’s why I don’t have any trouble backing them up. If I didn’t feel that way, I’d probably operate differently.

  25. illini02*

    #2 While I do agree that if someone doesn’t want to share a room and is willing to pay more, they should be able to (without forcing someone else to pay for a full room as well) I think Pam’s argument makes some of its own problems. I can pretty much guarantee that if a situation like this were reversed with a straight person saying they didn’t feel comfortable sharing a room with a gay person, people would have all sorts of issues. Basically saying everything isn’t sexualized, which I agree with. As I guy, I’m not going to assume every gay guy wants to sleep with me. Does Pam not trust herself, or does maybe her wife not trust her? Would Pam be ok sharing a room with a straight man? I mean, if not, why? If she assumes that the guy will want to sleep with her, that is no different that OP assuming Pam would want to sleep with OP right? Is her logic that there is no one she can share a room with, when everyone else should have to?

    1. Gloria*

      “Would Pam be ok sharing a room with a straight man? I mean, if not, why?”

      Lesbians are still vulnerable to sexual assault by men. There have been such attacks motivated by homophobia.

      1. illini02*

        Agreed, but then again anyone can assault anyone else (maybe not sexually, but physically) for a multitude of reason. I agree that people shouldn’t have to share rooms, so I’m not knocking Pam for not wanting to. However, using that as the reason, when everyone else has to share a room is a problem.

        1. neverjaunty*

          Did you miss that OP #2 said “of course” Pam couldn’t share a room with a guy? So the issue here is not that OP thinks Pam should share a room with anybody at all, or that Pam is unfairly refusing to room with a man; it’s that she thinks Pam ought to be OK sharing a room with her.

        2. Gloria*

          I think in general, going down a road of asking for a “reason” for something as murky yet visceral as personal discomfort becomes too tangled and difficult. I agree with you that anyone can assault anyone else — both sexually and physically. Sexual attraction is not a prerequisite for sexual assault.

          You say you agree that people shouldn’t have to share rooms, so you’re not knocking Pam, but your post includes a stream of questions trying to poke holes in her reasoning.

          If I were a manager and somebody told me they were simply not comfortable sharing a room, it would be completely beyond me to ask for a rationale. I’d ask why only out of concern that it was a specific individual’s behaviour causing this discomfort. If it was this individual’s general comfort level, I’d simply look for a way to accommodate, asking what they could tolerate.

          It seems like many of us are concerned with the issue of fairness. It does seem a little unfair that Pam might get her own room while the rest of her co-workers have to squeeze into a room (although I don’t see what’s that horrific about a sofa bed, personally … uncomfortable, but there are some tones of horror here). But is it fair to ask one person to bear emotional/physical discomfort because the rest of us find it merely awkward or inconvenient?

          Like others, I think management needs to fix this. Putting three adult women into a room seems silly and cheap.

          1. illini02*

            I’m not poking holes in her logic exactly, although I see how it looks like that. I guess my thought is if the company is forcing everyone else to share rooms, to me she shouldn’t get a pass because she is a married lesbian. If the argument is that no one should share rooms, I agree. I just think that if you are going to make an exception, this logic seems to be weak in my opinion. Not invalidating her feelings of being uncomfortable, but I feel that giving her uncomfortable feelings more weight than others just doesn’t seem right in my opinion.

            1. Gloria*

              I guess we differ. I think somebody’s emotional discomfort can be prioritized over somebody’s physical discomfort (in the sense of convenience, rather than fear of being assaulted/harassed). Emotions can be harder to manage than physical discomfort. I’d certainly be happier sleeping on a sofa bed than sharing a soft bed with somebody (I did that just two weeks ago on a trip).

              The OP isn’t being forced into a situation where she feels psychologically/emotionally/physically uncomfortable or vulnerable around her roommates — she’s been forced into a situation that’s less convenient.

          2. Traveler*

            I think the tone of horror is that Pam gets entire room to herself on company dime, while another employee – OP or another of the females gets company couch in crowded room. It’s not just about the couch, but about the fact that 3 people will have to utilize one restroom to get ready in the morning. If any of them has a complicated routine that’s going to mean everyone getting up exceptionally early, taking longer to go to sleep, etc. Someone having to draw the short straw and sleep on what may not be a very comfortable couch, and all of this while they are offsite at an event which will presumably carry its own measure of stress. Add to this that they will be doing it the whole time knowing Pam has an entire room and bathroom to herself? That’s not a good mix. Inequality is a big deal (not even just to humans if you’ve seen the capuchin monkey video of cucumbers vs. grapes). It can create lots of animosity, and feelings that will remain even subconsciously long after this work event is over. It’s just a really bad idea for the manager and company to be fostering this sort of environment. I don’t think anyone should have to sleep in a situation they are uncomfortable in, but I also don’t think that someone else should have to take a hit for the team because of it.

            1. Gloria*

              I understand the bathroom situation. I just went on a trip with four other friends and we all shared one bathroom. It was awkward, but it worked fine. Some of us showered at night, and the rest of us in the morning. I recognize this was pretty lucky — I was pretty apprehensive about it myself.

              “If any of them has a complicated routine that’s going to mean everyone getting up exceptionally early, taking longer to go to sleep, etc.”

              Similar to asking Pam to be in a situation where she is uncomfortable, perhaps we can entertain the idea that we ask this person with the long routine cut it a bit short.

              “Add to this that they will be doing it the whole time knowing Pam has an entire room and bathroom to herself? That’s not a good mix.”

              I think this is a separate issue of being able to tolerate the idea that others may ask for concessions they genuinely need, instead of solely to enjoy side benefits like a private bathroom. Our transit system is only limited in its accessibility, so elevators can’t be taken by everyone. I’m certainly not angry that I should take the stairs in order to keep the elevator free for the people who find it difficult or impossible otherwise.

              “Inequality is a big deal.”

              It certainly is. I’m kind of stunned how many people think it’s fine for somebody to compromise their emotional/psychological comfort because three adult women may have to share a bathroom. I agree this is absolutely a management issue, but if there was no other way out of it, I think accommodating Pam’s request in good faith is tolerable. If Pam were exceptionally generous, she can recognize the situation her management has forced her into and pay for her own room elsewhere since this hotel is presumably booked up.

              Then, of course, we can start a whole other comment thread arguing who the deserving third person is who gets a whole room to herself.

  26. Poohbear McGriddles*

    Re #2, If Pam were Paul – a married man traveling with three female coworkers – I don’t think anyone would be shocked that he didn’t want to room with any of them. In either case, there is no acceptable potential roommate. In Pam’s case, even if she were willing to room with a male coworker, there are six of them so there would still be an “odd man out”. Unless the OP wants to room with Eric, whose assigned roomie is now with Pam. So her requesting a single room doesn’t seem unreasonable, since she sees no viable alternative.
    I agree that the true problem is management’s handling of the situation. Making the other three women share a room intended for two people is going to breed resentment (hence the letter to AAM), which probably isn’t very good for LGBT relations. I’m sure they all have reasons why they’d like their own room as well.

    1. fposte*

      “If Pam were Paul – a married man traveling with three female coworkers – I don’t think anyone would be shocked that he didn’t want to room with any of them.”

      I don’t think it’s that simple, though; as noted upthread, we’ve got a custom of same-sex intimacy in locker rooms and bathrooms without regard to sexual orientation, and I think we default to that custom for other close situations with unchosen companions. I find the reasons people are offering for Pam’s request plausible, but it means we have to process why it’s different from bathrooms and locker rooms (or consider that it isn’t, I guess).

      1. neverjaunty*

        You generally aren’t living and sleeping with people in locker rooms and bathrooms; they’re temporary and not private in the way hotel rooms are.

        1. fposte*

          I’m not saying there’s no difference; I’m saying that the convention of same-sex sharing doesn’t treat it as different, because it’s based on who it’s okay to share intimate space with. And we’ve reasonably decided that we’re okay sharing intimate locker-room space with people even if they’re sexually attracted to people who look like us–but we’ve still, save for Ally McBeal, decided that it’s not okay for us to share bathrooms and locker rooms with people whose genitals are different, regardless of who they’re attracted to.

          Which isn’t really logical. And the thing about Pam’s request is that it highlights the illogicality of all of this and brings in a new factor that disrupts that simple default. I’m with Wakeen’s Teapots on kicking this one back to management, but I can understand why the request is discombobulating–it’s a bit of a cultural disturbance in the force to say “This isn’t just about genitals or gender identity,” given that oversimplifying it as being so is a cornerstone of public life.

          1. Hous*

            But I don’t think these conventions WERE made taking queer folks into account. That’s why we talk about heteronormativity as a part of our culture. A lot of our cultural norms were made by people who were not thinking about LGBT people at all, and now we’re starting to speak up about a lot of things that have made us uncomfortable. It’s true that we as a society have decided it’s okay to share certain things with people of the same gender, but the reason for that is mostly to avoid the impropriety/implications of having men and women together, and that’s rooted firmly in an assumption of heterosexuality. I don’t think you can divorce this concept from its history, which doesn’t really acknowledge queer people at all.

            1. fposte*

              I totally agree, and I’m not arguing that the conventions are right. I’m just saying that this ends up being more than a question about hotel rooms.

            2. Elysian*

              I agree that it probably is the way it is because of a hetero-normative history, but as it stands I’ve grown up sharing bathrooms and locker rooms with women, and while I such places generally and am a very private person, I can tolerate a woman’s locker room. I don’t care if some of the women are lesbian or bi. But the idea of sharing a locker room with strange men makes makes me sick to my stomach. I don’t think anything bad will necessary happen to me (if it was a common thing and everyone shared, etc), I just wasn’t socialized that way.

          2. Cat*

            But a lot of GLBT people have actually been in really bad situations in locker rooms and restrooms – sometimes up to and including assault by people who think they’re being looked at wrong (perhaps a more constant danger for men, but still). We have a societal convention of it because for a long time, we had a societal assumption of heterosexuality. People who aren’t heterosexual or cisgendered and who are open about it have never been treated well in traditionally sex segregated environments, which is one reason there has been a push for gender-neutral bathrooms.

            1. fposte*

              Again, not disagreeing (though the push for gender-neutral bathrooms, if you mean shared bathrooms, really hasn’t pushed to any place I’ve noticed–where is this?). I’m just noting that the way dominant culture has decided intimacy is acceptable gets challenged by this, which is going to make it complicated.

              It’s interesting to note people upthread saying that they’d rather share based on gender ID than on sexual orientation, too. None of this stuff is simple, especially when we’re discussing it in the abstract.

              1. Cat*

                In my experience, it’s not shared bathrooms – it’s a push towards single stall bathrooms. For instance, D.C. has passed a law requiring all single stall restrooms in public places to not be marked as belonging to a particular sex.

                1. fposte*

                  Right, our state’s universities are creating gender-neutral individual bathrooms too. But that doesn’t go against the “no sharing space with the differently genitaled” rule a la Ally McBeal, so to me it’s not challenging the notion of appropriate division.

                2. Cat*

                  I think it is; it’s not breaking down the idea of a division but it’s challenging the idea that existing categories are appropriate as a general rule.

                3. fposte*

                  @ Cat. See, that seems to me to be an existing tradition anyway–private bathrooms have always been gender neutral, after all, and in my experience it’s not uncommon for disabled accessible bathroom space to be gender neutral (has happened with the office bathroom I’ve been using for a decade). It’s kind of like hotel rooms in that respect–people in a hotel room know that not everybody staying in the bed and using the bathroom has been their gender. I don’t think that’s functionally breaking down walls; I think it’s just expanding an existing concept to work more for public bathrooms.

                4. Cat*

                  I think it is being done with a deliberateness though, and it’s being made clear that it’s being done because traditional gender constructs don’t fit everyone. (Why WERE single-room restrooms so consistently gendered in public places?) And in newer places, you’re seeing more novel design. For instance, one newly-built restaurant near me has a shared sink area and a row of single-seat rooms behind it. I don’t think the end point of deconstruction of gender divisions has to be just like before but everyone shares; privacy can exist as a cultural preference aside from gender.

                5. fposte*

                  That sounds like a really interesting design–I haven’t seen anything like that. I’m certainly all for extensions of privacy–I’m just skeptical of how well that can be integrated into large-attendance venues, where reductivism is really practical as well.

              2. Zed*

                When I studied abroad in the UK, I lived in a hall with a unisex bathroom that had multiple toilet and shower stalls, just like any dorm. Didn’t bother me, but my mother was very surprised when she came to visit!

            2. Zillah*

              Yeah. On the other hand, many women are uncomfortable sharing restrooms with men because they’re also afraid of physical violence, so it really is a no-win situation unless you have single-person bathrooms.

            3. Tara*

              Yes, and queer people have been victimized in rommate situations as well– just look at Tyler Clementi.

  27. A.J.*

    I had #5 happen to me. I talked to our HR director, showed her the paperwork for the raise that I had thankfully saved, and got retro pay (which included the difference for my annual bonus, which had been less than it should have since my pay was less).

  28. Loose Seal*

    Alison, what’s the asterisk supposed to be linking to in the answer for #2:

    …shouldn’t force her into sleeping arrangements that she objects to.*


    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Whoops, fixed, thank you. Originally in my reply I was going to get into a whole bunch of other issues, which I then decided were way beyond the scope of a short answer, but I forgot to take the asterisk out.

  29. Gina*

    I wonder if the manager in #4 was hoping that the customer would be uncomfortable and would be less likely to complain in the future. I really hate having to call anyone about anything, and if I had to actually get on the phone with someone I was complaining about, I’d never complain again. It’s very short-sighted if that’s what he actually was doing, because the customer could just stop using that company but maybe it’s an industry where the customer doesn’t have a lot of options, like a utility company or something.

    I would seriously quit if I had to do that, and I’m not someone who can afford to quit over something stupid.

  30. Elizabeth West*

    Re the terrible website:

    While I’ll give some leeway on a company’s website, it does make me wary. I’ve done business with companies whose websites are pretty primitive but their ordering process and customer service are very good. It all comes down to my experience with them. Same with interviews.

    On the other hand, I’ve had the opposite experience too. A company I applied to once had a very poorly organized website, with a lot of duplication of material, badly written, etc. During the interview, we were talking about my editing skills, and I mentioned that I had noticed a few minor issues with the website and that I was definitely able to help with that. The interviewer rolled her eyes and agreed with me, but then she said the boss wrote all the material on the website, and he didn’t like anyone changing anything he had written. She told me the Marketing department wasn’t allowed to edit it and I probably wouldn’t be either.

    I decided I did not want to work for that boss. I didn’t get the job anyway (mostly because of transportation issues, which we also discussed), but I would have said no in any case. So yeah, a bad website can really indicate a problem within the company.

    1. ExWebDev*

      I had basically the same experience. I used to be a web developer, but have moved into systems administration. I took a job at a place with a horrible website (it was done in the 90s; all the HTML was in uppercase, and there were tags that have been deprecated for 10 years, but beyond that, there were some serious problems with the content and the usability). Because I had lots of web experience, I was told that I’d be put in charge of revamping the website, but every time I tried to move forward on that, my manager had other priorities that frankly, weren’t nearly as important as changing this website that our customers and shareholders complained about every time they had an opportunity. After I got to know some of the other people there, it turned out that the last three people hired–one of whom was still working there–had been told that they’d be revamping the website.

      I’ve been gone for two years and the other person who was told that has been gone for one. The website hasn’t changed. There are three new hires in the department, and I suspect all three of them are looking forward to working on a big redesign that will NEVER happen as long as the current management is in place.

      Here’s my advice to anyone looking at a place where the website is awful: If you’re going to bring it up, bring it up gently, because sometimes they really don’t know that their baby is ugly (however, I’ve found that many people with bad websites will bring it up on their own in the interview, because they *do* know). Once the topic has been broached, you can ask them more specific questions. Try to think of how you might need or want to use the website in the job you’re applying for, and ask some questions about how that will happen. An ugly website might not be a problem, but if your job is affected because customers can’t use the site and they complain about it to you, it could be.

  31. BW*

    Re: #4:

    I have a slightly different take on this. Often, I find a conference call–or at least the threat of one–between the customer, the complained-of employee, and myself to be useful.

    Here’s the thing: a lot of times clients liiiiiiiie, and they have major phone…bravado. So I’d get angry, escalated phone calls complaining that the receptionist or my assistant was rude and didn’t return phone calls and didn’t deliver on XYZ promise. So I would say to the caller in a very serious tone: “Thank you for bringing this to my attention, Mr. Smith. If this is true, you can be sure that [employee] WILL be dealt with. Let me get them on the line so they understand how seriously I take things like this.”

    It’s sad how often this happens that, when faced with the prospect of accusing and lying about someone TO THEIR FACE, the drama queens will all of a sudden back down. And usually stammer something like: “Oh, um, no that’s ok… Never mind… I just wanted you to–never mind.”

    I don’t threaten conference calls until I’ve first had a conversation with the employee involved.

    1. Eudora Wealthy*

      Yes. This. It can vindicate the employee and show them that the manager actually does respect them. So whether or not the manager should do something like this depends on the context.

  32. Jamie*

    I’m finding the deconstruction of our societal conditioning about sharing close quarters based on sexual orientation or like genders fascinating.

    For me, it’s not about sexual attraction at all. I can’t imagine most adults would have sex with a co-worker merely because of proximity in the middle of the night that they wouldn’t have sex with otherwise.

    “Hey, co-worker I’ve never thought twice about, now that I see you in your flannel jammie pants and heard how sexily you spit toothpaste into the sink I don’t think I’ll be able to control myself.”

    When would that happen?

    For me it’s about familiarity and social conditioning. I walk into a ladies room and see someone adjusting her bra, or changing I don’t care…I sure don’t stop to wonder about her orientation. But a man adjusting…whatever men adjust in a state of dishabille? I don’t need to see that – that’s going to completely squick me out. And not because I think he’s a threat or because I’m so blinded by instant arousal I need saving from myself…but just because it feels ridiculously inappropriate to be exposed to intimate activities of men with whom I’m not intimate.

    The right or wrong of this can be debated – but the fact that it’s such an ingrained part of our cultural conditioning I really think it’s unreasonable to expect that to change any time soon.

    Every so often I read about people who want to push for all bathrooms to be gender neutral and all I can say is if that comes to pass (excepting single occupancy) then I’ll have even fewer places I deem acceptable when outside of home or work because I will never use a bathroom which is, or could be occupied by men contemporaneously.

    Although I would love to ban my family members from my bathroom at home, and I love them, so I may be a little more militant on the bathroom thing than most.

    1. Elysian*

      Not militant – totally ok. My family had a 1 bathroom house when I was growing, and occasionally someone would be in the shower when someone else really really had to go, and it was about the worst thing ever. WAY too close, even for family.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        My experience, also. But we were a small family so we would ask before tying up the bathroom for any length of time. Didn’t have too much problem.

    2. monologue*

      I think to get the neutral gender bathrooms thing you need to imagine the situation where you’re not really a man but you’re not really a woman either. Like, imagine you’re a gay woman. Then when you’re in changerooms and things like that, you might have the same reaction that you’re describing about dudes adjusting themselves. Like, you can easily look next to you and check out a hot topless girl, rude right? But you’re in the right changeroom supposedly if you’re anatomically a woman. So the idea of “oh this gender segregation thing affords me some nice privacy” already makes no sense for you.

      Okay, so then imagine you’re like that, but also you like dressing pretty masculine. Maybe to the point you sometimes pass as a man. Then which washroom do you use? What if you go into the women’s and someone says, “hey, get out, you’re in the wrong washroom!!” But you might feel uncomfortable in the men’s too. What if someone tries to kick you out of there? And there aren’t a lot of nice clean stalls like in the women’s.

      Personally I think all companies should have a big any gendered washroom with stalls only and then 2 or 3 private washrooms per floor for people who are uncomfortable/religious/taking a dump/puking/changing clothes etc. If you need to pee quickly, use the big washroom. If you want more privacy, you may need to wait your turn for a private toilet. Problem solved.

      1. Stephanie*

        Loehmann’s (RIP) had group fitting rooms and two or three private fitting rooms. If you just wanted to try on something quickly and had no qualms about changing/trying things on in front of strangers, you could do the group fitting room. If you wanted privacy, you could wait for the private rooms.

        1. Jamie*

          Right, but the Loehmanns (takes me back) group changing room wasn’t unisex. If it were those lines for the private dressing rooms would have been a lot longer.

          Seriously – I remember going there with my mom when I was little and hiding in the racks of dresses. And if I wasn’t completely obnoxious she’s pull some Razzles out of her purse as a bribe for the way home.

      2. Jamie*

        The expense of creating multiple bathrooms both group and individual is fairly prohibitive – and it’s not problem solved because I’m not the only person who wouldn’t ever go into a bathroom just to pee if it’s unisex. It may be regional, but I can’t imagine any workplace where what you suggested wouldn’t be met by mutiny.

        Now if you had large gendered washrooms, and some single use for those not comfortable for whatever reason a lot more people would get behind that. But I can tell you unequivocally in my company that set up would have everyone standing in line for the couple of single use bathrooms while the large ones went (probably completely) unused.

        If this change happens it won’t be soon,at least wide-scale, because this is one of those things where for many of us the conditioning is so strong it might as well be hardwired.

        For me, and a lot of people, it has nothing to do with orientation…it’s not sexual…it’s about a very ingrained sense of comfort amongst people of your own gender. I’ve probably engaged in more chit chat with strangers in bathrooms/locker rooms than any other location – which is weird – but sometimes it’s where we go to talk and help each other out – even strangers.

        What woman hasn’t rummaged through her purse to find a tampon, safety pin, or some Tide-to-Go for a stranger? It’s where we go to freshen up to maintain the illusion we were born with perfect skin and fabulous eyelashes.

        It’s where we drag each other to get impromptu advise or a quick respite from being on while out.

        I just don’t see a cultural shift happening any time soon.

      3. Gene*

        As a former janitor, the statement made me literally laugh out loud, “And there aren’t a lot of nice clean stalls like in the women’s.” I found (and yes, I’m generalizing based on about a year’s personal experience before I started playing in nice, clean (relatively) clean sewers) ladies’ rooms to be MUCH dirtier than mens’ rooms.

        1. Jamie*

          As a former office manager who had to deal with the cleaning staff I co-sign this.

          It’s weirdly universal, from what I hear. I have no idea what would account for that.

        2. Not So NewReader*

          I saw a study that bears this out. I just thought it was because mom said to squat and that does not always work well.

      4. RobM*

        “I think to get the neutral gender bathrooms thing you need to imagine the situation where you’re not really a man but you’re not really a woman either. Like, imagine you’re a gay woman.”

        @monologue – perhaps it’s just me being naive about this as I’m a straight male, but I thought gay women were, like, actual women, not “not really a man but not really a woman either”. I’m sure it’s not your intention but your statement above is suggestive of exactly the sort of prejudice that makes sharing restrooms and hotel rooms uncomfortable for LGBT people.

    3. BRR*

      I’ve seen a couple restaurants recently where the bathrooms are tucked off and there are like 4 or 5 stalls that open to the hallway with a full door and sinks in the hallway. It seems efficient to me and it accomplishes gender neutral bathrooms.

      1. Jamie*

        So the mirrors are over the sinks and the stalls are just toilets?

        I don’t know that I’d want to touch up my makeup or brush my hair outside of a bathroom…and they’d have to have it so remote that no hair brushing is anywhere near people are eating or can see it.

        It totally works for the utilitarian purpose of going to the bathroom, but doesn’t address the grooming purpose of bathrooms at all.

        1. BRR*

          It would leave grooming for anybody to see. I never thought of that. I think I’ve seen it at three places and they all had it very hidden. They were all in super urban areas so I thought it was great how it saved space and were gender neutral.

          1. Jamie*

            I could totally see this working in some venues and it would be great for single parents of kids with different genders. I was not relaxed when my boys were at the age of just going into the mens room alone – my imagination is wild and it hates me.

            I just wonder how it works when it’s a place where people would be more likely to primp.

  33. James M*

    #1: A company’s web site is like their interview suit. It could be dated, messy, eye-wrenching and unkempt but the company could be wonderful to work with. Unless you have the luxury of cherry-picking job opportunities, try to delay forming conclusions until at least one interview, then if you get the impression that the company behind that wretched suit is like a slovenly misanthrope, you’ll feel better about walking away and never looking back.
    Caveat: if the company’s web site straight-up states that they X, and X is a dealbreaker for you, feel free to skip them.

    #2: I’m loving the comments this has generated, very intriguing. Ultimately, OP2 can either have ‘a talk’ with her boss or just let go of the issue.

    #5: This happened to me. I received a raise, but didn’t notice its absence on my paycheck for a while. When I brought it up with my boss (no drama, just an ordinary issue to be addressed), he fixed the paperwork and added the retroactive difference as a bonus on my next paycheck.

  34. OP#1*

    Thanks for the feedback, everyone.

    I definitely wouldn’t write the company off due to a website. In fact, the interview seemed to be one of my best so far, so I’m eager to continue on and hopefully learn more about them.

    For those wondering, the info on the website is still relevant (though a bit threadbare), just the design is lacking. I realize not everyone is a designer, and not every market needs a designer’s aesthetic. Still, in this day and age, when nice looking free website templates abound, it made me wonder if a seeming lack of intentionality in design would be a signal of other issues, or if it could simply be a matter of the market and its focus.

    I do feel shallow judging a company by its website, but at the same time, it is the first face of the company that many will see (especially in a niche market), so it’s important to make a good impression. I don’t know that I would raise the issue because currently I don’t have the tech knowledge to address it. But I would hope it’s something that the company has at least considered.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      I was hoping you’d forge ahead. In rural areas, there is not enough time or manpower to keep up sites as they should be kept. If everyone judged companies by their websites, there would be no applicants.

  35. Buu*

    RE number 2. Many hotels have trolly /camp beds you can rent for a low price so you might want to ask if they can dot that so you don’t have to cram on the sofa? or else ask if Pam can get switched to a single and get the hotel to switch the rest of you to a family suite ( often 3 bedded rooms or rooms with a sofa bed). I think it’s OK as a married woman she wants a single room ( she may have a jealous wife?) but it seems odd that they can’t work out a better room situation.

  36. LadyTL*

    I wonder how I would be received making a similar request as Pam though for different reasons. I am extremely asexual and eschew most female customs (makeup, beauty routines etc..) and receive quite a bit of hostility from women about it in jobs I have had. If I made the request to not room with women based on that, I wonder if I would be told to deal with it despite it potentially coming from the same place as Pam (potential accusations, past harassment, general sense of being uncomfortable around women) instead of being given my own room while my coworkers are pushed into an uncomfortable situation.

  37. Not So NewReader*

    #2. A while ago the Supreme Court ruled that in some cases when a company made a male and female coworker travel together that could be sexual harassment.

    IF I am recalling this correctly, and IF there were no subsequent mind-changes, then it seems to me that male or female gay folks should be granted the same consideration. It’s just a logical extension. (Okay, I really don’t need the Supreme Court to agree with me. All people should be protected, period.)

    I think the boss made a crappy solution here and that has nothing to do with Pam. I reread the letter. Apparently, there are not a lot of rooms available. If that is the case, has the boss looked for a bed and breakfast? Some B and Bs are cheaper than motels. Or is there someone in the group that has a friend/family member nearby that they would volunteer to stay with? Did the boss try to get the group on a cancellation list? [If a room suddenly becomes available could OP have it?] Did the boss try calling the place and tell them that there needs to be a change and can they help out? [Sometimes motels will accommodate businesses quickly. Or sometimes motels have a “buddy” motel where they send people if they get booked up.]

  38. Cassie*

    #2 – I’m glad I don’t have to travel much for work, and the few times I have, I had my own room. Our professors never share rooms, ever. Grad students do sometimes (I don’t think I’ve had any that objected to sharing rooms).

    Back when I was in ballet, we shared rooms when performing out of town – it was usually 4 girls (ages ranging from teenage to 20s) to a room with 2 beds while the guys roomed 2 to a room (with each guy getting his own bed). That never seemed fair to me – that the guys got to have their own beds while the girls were expected to share. There were times where guys were paired with other guy dancers that they didn’t know, and it being ballet, we had a fair share of gay boys/men. The only issue that came up was in consideration of whether a teenage boy could room with a gay guy in his 20s – the company directors & the boy’s parents ultimately decided that was probably not be a good idea. It wasn’t that the directors/parents didn’t trust the guy or anything, but no one felt it was a comfortable arrangement.

  39. anon-2*

    #5 – most definitely, in most places, in spite of the “we don’t do that here!” line you’ll often hear.

    Quite often there are “back pay” litigation issues – and it’s done.

    It’s very frequent in collective bargaining issues – if a union contract expired , say, June 1, and negotiations continue beyond that point, any increases may be retroactive to the day the old contract expired.

    Quite often a manager “accidentally on purpose” “forgets” to submit it on time. The employee gripes – HR relents.

    In my line of work – it’s often done, when something should have happened earlier — and didn’t — and it becomes a bone of contention in counter-offer negotiations.

    Example = Joe is passed over for a promotion/raise. Joe then finds another job and submits his resignation. When pressed – management says, “OK, OK, let’s talk, talk, OK, let’s talk about this.” They both come to the point —

    – Promotion for Joe may or may not have been warranted, but we can’t reverse ourselves on that. We can change his title, grade and pay. And management can say “oh that is in the works. Sure it is. That’s the ticket, it was on its way anyway.”
    – Joe probably should have received an increase.
    – Joe will not stay without that increase.
    – Joe then ups the ante – “Let’s get right down to it, and stop the tap dancing. I should have had that increase last April when you gave the others out. You have to make good on that, or I’m gone. ”

    Management then comes back – and says = “here’s your promotion. You are now Senior Teapot Engineer, along with your peers.” And – as a good faith gesture – they won’t officially give Joe the raise and promotion retroactively – that would involve a major “loss of face” — but they will disguise the retro raise as a “stay bonus.”

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