ask the readers: should an employer know about an employee’s history with hate groups?

I’m throwing this one out to readers to answer. A reader writes:

The ex of a new friend of mine is in prison. It is never spoken about so I got curious. Researching in the local paper, I found out that the ex is indeed in prison: seven felony counts involving drugs, minors, and guns. It was quite a scandal because he was in law enforcement. Also, in the articles I learned that the ex was a state president of an internationally known neo-nazi hate group. It also is well documented, in a book and several newspaper articles, that my new friend held important positions as an organizer and recruiter with several neo-nazi groups, two of which are recognized by the FBI as domestic terrorist organizations.

I don’t think my new friend included this information in the hiring process at the employer where my new friend holds a position as an upper-level health care provider. My friend holds a state-issued caregiver license and two advanced degrees from prominent universities and is from a very wealthy family. Do my new friend’s patients, coworkers, employer, or the citizens of the town whose taxes pay my friend’s salary have the right to know of my friend’s racist hate-filled past?

I was warned by an old Army buddy who has been in prison and is “in the know” to leave this alone. He said I didn’t want to mess with these people.

All I can wonder here is whether this person is still your friend after what you’ve learned, assuming the person hasn’t had a significant change in heart. In any case, readers, what’s your take?

{ 562 comments… read them below }

  1. Danielle*

    Yes, I think deep seeded hate could put another human beings life at risk. Especially if he is a healthcare provider.

    1. Helka*

      Yeah, this. I would be really concerned about a healthcare provider’s ability to provide important medical care ethically and equitably if they were a member of a hate group.

      1. Danielle*

        Exactly! What about from a liability standpoint? Someone dies and their loved one takes to Google and they find that this person was involved in a Neo-Nazi organization. Hell hath no fury like that of a scorned mourning family.

      2. I posted My Question*

        I posted this letter to AAM because of my obvious concern for the truth. This person is no longer my friend. I never once said I suspected her of not treating patients well This person offhandedly explained their involvement in these groups as a “Phase” of life. No remorse, or even thoughts of the damage to the lives and families this persons hate has caused. This person is from a very wealthy/influential family and believes it is fine to walk away from the wreckage and chalk it up to a “phase” they were going thru. This isn’t a “phase”. Having a Mohawk is a phase, Heavy Metal is a “phase”, UFO research is a “phase”. This is something else.

        1. Lily*

          People change, they mature. Often extremist views that certain individuals hold when young they reject as they mature, grow up.

          I know of someone who espoused Trotskyism when young, but has so thoroughly rejected it since.

      1. Laura*

        My only concern with an anonymous tip would be that the people receiving it wouldn’t take it seriously…

    2. Woods-comma-Elle*

      Yup, this – if this person was a caregiver for someone from the object of hate of the hate group, what would happen? That person wouldn’t get the same care as others? Would the ‘hate’ part override the ethical/professional duty part?

    3. Corey*

      I disagree, you have no idea what the relationship was between the new friend and her ex, especially in law enforcement where dirty cops can make life a living nightmare for their victims. The letter doesn’t specify if the friend is open about her hate filled past or if she was scared to leave, say because of a violently abuse ex (again, not a rarity in law enforcement). She could be trying to rebuild her life and by the OP notifying everyone, it could cause many issues and make the friend a pariah of the community.

      I say leave it alone both due to your safety and you truly have no idea what the situation is.

      1. Anna*

        The information the OP found stated the new friend specifically held positions in these organizations. You don’t tend to hold high level positions if you don’t on some level believe in the their mission.

    4. Lily*

      People change, they mature. Often extremist views that certain individuals hold when young they reject as they mature, grow up.

      I know of someone who espoused Trotskyism when young, but has so thoroughly rejected it since.

  2. VintageLydia USA*

    What I’d WANT to do is go to a library in a different town, print of relevant materials, package and mail it from yet another town addressed to the employer. I have no idea whether that would be wise, but I can’t imagine having a neo-nazi dealing with the public in an intimate matter (which would include minorities) would be acceptable.

    1. The Cosmic Avenger*

      THIS. I’d worry about it getting back to me, but I’d worry more about ex-friend’s ability to harm or impair the health of minorities through their job.

    2. Kimothy*

      Yep, I agree with this. The employer deserves to know, but there’s no need for OP to put their own safety at risk in the meantime.

    3. Francie*

      I might also send a similar package to your local news’ investigative unit, if you don’t get much traction from the company you work for.

  3. PEBCAK*

    I can’t even believe this is a question. It is absolutely your moral obligation to notify both the employer and the state licensing board. There are plenty of ways to do this anonymously so it doesn’t come back on you.

    What was it that Edmund Burke said about the triumph of evil…?

    1. VintageLydia USA*

      The only reason I wouldn’t is if doing so would put me in personal danger. It’s all well and good to say you should do so for moral reasons, but neo-nazis don’t mess around, especially domestic terrorist organizations.

      1. NoPantsFridays*

        This is my real concern. If there are ways to do it anonymously like PEBCAK and you suggested (I like your mailing idea upthread), I would try that.

        1. De Minimis*

          I’d also be concerned about possibly being sued, especially since the person comes from a wealthy family.

          1. Elizabeth the Ginger*

            While anyone can sue anyone for anything, I don’t think a suit against the OP would win – it’s not defamation if it’s true. As long as the OP sticks to facts, such as copying the newspaper articles and sending them, that’s perfectly legal.

            1. De Minimis*

              Even if the OP might ultimately prevail [and assuming she were awarded her legal fees later on] who would pay for the cost of the OP’s legal representation in the meantime?

              1. fposte*

                Getting into the geekery here, but could this be categorized as SLAPP suit? There are some resources to aid with those.

                (I also think that there’d be serious risk of the Streisand effect there, but that doesn’t always stop people.)

                1. Buffay the Vampire Layer*

                  Speaking only to California law, but no, it most likely wouldn’t. If the friend sued the newspapers who wrote the articles, that would be a SLAPP, but suing someone who re-distributes the articles probably wouldn’t be. The friend isn’t a public figure, nor is this a matter of widespread public interest, because there’s no ongoing controversy prior to the OP’s actions in re-distributing the articles.

                  That said, re-distributing the articles isn’t defamation so the OP wouldn’t be liable. She just wouldn’t get her attorney’s fees as is provided for by most anti-SLAPP statutes.

              2. PEBCAK*

                If you are simply forwarding along articles published by others, virtually any reasonable judge would issue a summary judgment throwing it out.

            2. Belinda Gomez-Maldonado*

              Newspapers print opinions, and make mistakes as to what are ” facts.” For all the OP knows, this person has regretted time in that organization, and no longer associates with the group. Why play Stasi?

  4. Kelly L.*

    Yikes. I started reading and thought “Well, it’s her ex, maybe that’s part of why she dumped him,” but then I got to the part where the friend also held important positions and did a big NOPE. How long ago was this, and is there any evidence at all of a turnaround?

      1. fposte*

        Me three. Though, on the other hand, what kind of duration are we looking at since these events? Is this Hugo Black and the Ku Klux Klan, where she’s changed in the intervening years and now works against efforts in which she youthfully participated, or is this what she did last summer?

    1. Chinook*

      “I started reading and thought “Well, it’s her ex, maybe that’s part of why she dumped him,” but then I got to the part where the friend also held important positions and did a big NOPE.”

      How do we know that the reason the ex of this new friend is an ex because of something other than his belonging to a hate group? Most everyone here seems to be assuming that the new friend agreed with the ex and that it wasn’t the reason the ex is no longer in her life. Depending on the level of friendship, I would want to bring up a conversation about exes before painting her with the same brush as an ex because she made a bad dating choice. Is it possible that she agrees with said ex? Yes. Is it possible that she had a hand in ensuring he is now in prison? Yes? Is it possible that she once agreed with ex but saw what it actually meant because he was one bad dude (as shown by being put in jail) and has had a “come to Jesus” moment and is now distancing herself from her past and trying to turn herself around. Yes.

      I would hate to start a whisper campaign that could ruin somebody’s life and/or push her back into the arms of the one group that did accept her (by proving, in her mind, that the greater world does persecute those like her) without knowing the full story. This information is definitely something you want to keep in the back of your mind as you keep an eye out for red flags while you have a conversation about crazy exes, but I wouldn’t report her just yet. That being said, if she shows sign of harming others, all bets are off.

      1. fposte*

        The stinger got a little buried, I think: “my new friend held important positions as an organizer and recruiter with several neo-nazi groups, two of which are recognized by the FBI as domestic terrorist organizations.” I think the OP focused on the boyfriend initially because that’s what started her down the investigation road, but the real thing is that the new friend was involved.

        1. Elysian*

          Yeah I was about to support the friend but I’m glad I read the comments first. The OP buried the lead on this one, cause I missed it the first time around.

      2. Chinook*

        Sorry – after reading everyone’s comments I went back and read the letter for a 5th time and realized that it was the friend who held high positions in such groups. Nobody holds high positions accidentally and without realizing what the group stands for (and if they do, ignorance is defense). She made choices and she needs to be held accountable. Absolutely let the licencing board know because she is not upholding professional standards.

        As for how this slipped through, my experience is that licencing boards do not necessarily run a full background checks and run so many people through that they don’t everyone. If she didn’t have a criminal record, then she would have passed. Most employers than trust the licensing board because you meet their standards (and not every employer verifies licenses. There have been stories of a fake nurse and a fake teacher working without credentials for years). But, if the licensing board is notified of a problem, they are requried to investigate and notify the public of their results.

      3. Kelly L.*

        Chinook, in my comment I asked if there was evidence of a turnaround. I didn’t assume there was none.

      4. Sans*

        I agree. I know the new friend held positions in the organization. But what about now? Is it possible she has changed? As repugnant as her former choices are, doesn’t she deserve the right to turn her life around? Unless I saw signs that she was still involved in these groups, or held the same radical and violent views, I’m really not sure what I would do.

        1. irma s*

          She was/is in a terrorist organization that advocates violence. Would you be thinking of letting her off the hook if she was in Al Qaeda?

        2. Melissa*

          I’m sure she deserves a turnaround (assuming that she actually wants one), but that doesn’t mean that any one company or person has to help her do that turnaround. Not only that, but she’s a liability to the company – she’s a healthcare provider, and some of her patients are probably minorities in the groups that neo-Nazis target. I know I would be steaming hot mad if one of my family members died in the care of someone I later found out had a history, however recent, of being a prominent neo-Nazi recruiter/leader (unless there was very, very public evidence that she’d done a turnaround – like Hugo Black). It’s difficult to prove “turnaround” if there’s a lot of public evidence of the membership and none of the leaving and reforming; besides, even if the hypothetical family lost the suit, the healthcare organization now has the reputation of hiring a neo-Nazi to care for people in their local community. I don’t see any healthcare organization worried about their bottom line, if not patient care, wanting to take a chance, especially if this information easily turns up just by Googling when you’re not even looking for it.

      5. AndersonDarling*

        I was considering the same thing. The friend may have been interested in her ex and went along with everything because she was in love.
        The OP had no idea about this before she went snooping. So the friend must be a good person.

        1. Kelly L.*

          Even if she did just go along, does it necessarily follow that she’s a good person? Haven’t we all misjudged someone’s character a few times in our lives? I know I’ve had friends who turned out not to be good people, and some of them took years to show what assholes they were. This is a new friend, so the OP might only know that she’s fun, charming, funny, or other attributes that aren’t incompatible with also being awful.

          1. ThursdaysGeek*

            If the line separating good and evil passes through the center of each of us, then we all have evil in us, as well as good. If you had friends that took years to show their true colors, then you did see the good in them. So, who is truly good? Judging someone’s character is tricky, since we all have both sides: good and awful.

            1. fposte*

              Right, the true self is all those selves, and the evil/good binary is more about the ways we explain the world to ourselves.

              That being said, in economic terms, there are really, really costly awfulnesses that are hard to outspend with other good behavior; the longer you have after the awfulness to spend against it, the better chance you have, but if you’re still spending awfulness or only stopped recently, that’s a bill the world isn’t going to want to help you pay.

            2. Kelly L.*

              OK, but my point was that “So the friend must be a good person” was not necessarily a blanket conclusion we could draw.

            3. aebhel*

              I don’t know, I feel pretty comfortable with judging the recruiter for a neo-nazi domestic terrorist group as a bad person. The idea that someone could be likeable and fun and still do awful things is…like the plot of about a million true-crimes books. Also, if the OP is white, it’s very easy for the topic of racism to simply never come up.

          2. Connie-Lynne*

            Plus, most people with racist attitudes have learned to re-define “abhorrent” as “socially unacceptable” and won’t mention such attitudes unless they’re positive they’re in a place where it _is_ acceptable to talk/behave that way. So, a new friend might deliberately keep it all quiet.

        2. fposte*

          That’s a leap I won’t make. The friend doesn’t have to be a good person just because the OP hasn’t heard about this stuff; a substantial number of criminals, after all, have warm and loving friends who don’t know about the bad stuff going on, and that doesn’t mean the criminals are good people.

          And most people aren’t going to work actively to advance something morally abhorrent just because they’re in love, and even if they do, that doesn’t get them off the hook for culpability any more than it did the Manson girls.

          1. Helka*

            And most people aren’t going to work actively to advance something morally abhorrent just because they’re in love, and even if they do, that doesn’t get them off the hook for culpability

            Thank you. I really don’t care why someone is holding a leadership position in a terrorist org, the fact that they’re doing it at all is the problem.

        3. Zahra*

          “state president of an internationally known neo-nazi hate group”

          You don’t get there by “going along”. You take an active part in the group if you get at that level. Otherwise, you’d stay at the foot soldier level (or maybe one level up, but not much more).

          1. Judy*

            The ex was the state president of the group. The friend was an organizer and recruiter. That’s most likely the next level up.

            Not that that would excuse any part of it.

        4. Xay*

          “So the friend must be a good person.”
          Ummm, no. Even extreme racists can be friendly people and don’t go around shouting hate 24/7.

          1. Ted Mosby*

            Ya, I’m not following this logic at all. Ignoring the fact that NOT being in a terrorist organization doesn’t automatically make you a good person, the ability to hide something doesn’t make it not repulsive. If I killed someone today, but no one found out without some digging, was it not really that bad?

            1. HeyNonnyNonny*

              Thanks for the visual of Ted Mosby trying to dig a shallow grave with his lack of upper body strength.

          2. dahllaz*

            Being charismatic and caring about friends and family does not mean they are not also horrible people who do awful things. Because those same descriptors? Describe Hitler.

        5. Melissa*

          I would say that a person who “goes along” with a neo-Nazi terrorist organization – to the point of leadership and recruitment – just because she’s in love with someone is, at the very least, lacking in judgment. Still wouldn’t want to hire her, or be her friend.

          1. annonymouse*

            Generally you don’t get to those positions (like any other umm “general interest” club) without proving yourself and being appointed or even voted to that position.

            Now maybe the ex had neopotism and got her those positions BUT she still held them! (And probably not as a teen when you do that rebellion and being outrageous on purpose phase)

            And hate crimes aren’t exactly a phase.
            Dyeing your hair blue – phase.
            Being into certain bands (punk, boy etc) phase

            Actively recruiting others for a hate group – you need to have a big turn around or belief shift and be ashamed of it (I’m not proud of it, it’s long in my past and I regret it kinda language)

            Treating it like a phase also concerns me as much as the fact she was part of one.

  5. Katie the Fed*

    Wait, why are you friends with this person?

    I don’t know that I’d be the one to flag it for the employer. I would HOPE they’d do a background check and at least google the name of the person before hiring her. But if someone is this virulently ideological about this stuff, it’s bound to come out at work sooner or later.

    There’s also always the anonymous email option. But since you’ve already discussed it with people there’s a chance it would get back to you. So…I probably wouldn’t.

    1. Celeste*

      I think “new friend” is probably a euphemism, and maybe even a way to disguise the OP’s work relationship to the person.

      1. Turanga Leela*

        I recommended below that the OP not report the friend, but I think that’s different if they work together. OP, if you work with this person, you have some responsibility to your employer. In that limited case, I’d tell your supervisor what you found.

      2. Celeste*

        Actually, I reread it and it doesn’t sound like the friendship began at work. I guess I assumed it was a coworker relationship. So essentially, the OP met this person, got curious why she never talks about her ex, did some digging, and now thinks she needs to get this person out of a job taking care of other people because of a presumption that she won’t care for them equally, maybe fueled by a sense of danger from her consult with an ex-military friend who’d been in prison himself. Never mind that she’s been working in her field for quite some time with all of the education that it takes to become licensed.

        Totally an over reach. Back OFF.

        1. Maggie*

          Although we are unpopular for saying it, SERIOUSLY. Do you dig this much with all of your friends, or just the ones who admit they dated someone sleazy?

          That said, I don’t think the means justify ignoring the end, and I think she should verify that the employment organization does a background check. If they DO, then she should assume HR already knows and decided to ignore it for her substantial (and relevant) medical pedigree. Sucks, but that’s what it is.

          Medical professions are typically given substantial background checks including 360 reference checking. I am sure HR googled (and likely found it, especially if she was a recruiter), but I am also sure that she has some wonderful professional references. If grant money is at all involved, then it’s even more of a gray area of why she was hired.

          So glad for my peon level, vanilla, job and lifestyle now. Thanks for that.

          1. Leah*

            It sounds to me more like her “new friend” said something offhand, OP got mildly curious, and then what she found (big scandel, multiple felonies) led her to realize the wanted to dig deeper, eventually leading to finding out the positions the friend had held.

            1. Ethyl*

              Yeah plus — it’s so easy to get sort of sucked into an internet information hole. Information is so easily available now, and you just go click click clickitty clicking around and next thing you know you’re looking at your ex boyfriend’s cousin’s hairdresser’s photos on Instagram, or reading about the breed standards of the Pembroke Welsh Corgi, or where Mr. Rogers went to high school. Sometimes you find stuff you may rather not know…

            2. Zillah*

              Yeah, this. I can see getting curious and googling, and then having that spiral. It’s not necessarily a super sketchy long involved process to find something on OP’s friend.

          2. Biff*

            As someone who was doing some minor research and accidentally fell into an ocean of horrible information, I can say that sometimes, digging takes NO effort. Or extremely minimal effort.

  6. arkangel*

    I notice the OP mentioned all this in a past tense context. If this is really all in the past, and this person is trying to move on, bringing it up seems like it would cause major problems for them. I’ve heard those groups can be really hard to escape. I would leave it alone.

    1. soitgoes*

      That’s true. It’s possible that it was an abusive relationship scenario where the friend felt pressured to go along with things she didn’t actually believe in. Still, it’s not the kind of thing you can hinge a “best case scenario” on.

      1. Cat*

        Yes, this is possible and it’s even possible that she ended up working with the FBI to bring the ex down. I don’t know . . . I don’t know if I’d trust that something like that happened or not.

          1. De Minimis*

            I would still be cautious, a lot of these people have been informants over the years, without actually changing their viewpoints or ending their involvement.

            1. Mabel*

              And even if she has completely changed and is now anti-neo-nazi, I assume she would have brought it up before the background check was done to explain what information might be found and what has happened since the time she was involved. And if she did this, the employer would already know, and it wouldn’t endanger her employment. But if not, then I agree with the commenters who have said that it’s just not OK for someone who has been active in (possibly violent) hate groups to be working with the public as a health care provider.

              1. Xay*

                If she doesn’t have a criminal record, there would be absolutely no reason to bring it up. I’m not sure why everyone assumes that the employer must know about her past. Most routine background checks do not include a Google search.

        1. Maggie*

          OMG this reminds me of Grey’s Anatomy.


          So Amelia just had something similar happen because someone from NA totally ratted her out IN THE LOBBY. And she almost lost her Chief of Neuro job for it. [yes, I know it’s not the same thing but I do think it’s relevant because she too had something in the past _ possibly in this case _ and it was still coming back to haunt her years after].

          My apologies for comparing apples and TV oranges.

    2. Anonathon*

      On a similar note: not to excuse the inexcusable, but is it possible that this was a cult-like situation? As in, the friend got roped in when she was young and did terrible things, but is now trying to escape or restart? I also couldn’t tell whether the friend’s family was part of the hate group too, or not.

      1. Maggie*

        They do say that when you grow up in these orgs, its REALLY hard to 1) evaluate the world correctly, in this case racial tensions, 2) shrug the group because all of your family and friends are in it. Good point!

        1. Mister Pickle*

          That may be true, and I know that this is anecdotal data, but I once dated a woman who was raised by white supremacist parents, she got the entire “you’re going to be the proud mother of children who belong to the Master Race” spiel from practically the moment she was born – and by the time she was 11yo she knew it was crap. She ran away on numerous occasions, and left home for good when she 16yo. How atypical is she? I don’t know. But I think kids can be smarter than we think, and they don’t necessarily accept everything their parents and friends and neighbors tell them.

    3. INTP*

      I agree with this and the comments below. If the OP hasn’t witnessed signs of racism in her friend, even offhand remarks or subtle aggression, I especially think the benefit of a doubt is in order. It could have been an abusive relationship, a matter of falling into a crowd that accepted her when life wasn’t going well, etc.
      Of course, if the friend still shows signs of holding negative views about minorities, I’d be less inclined to believe this. But I have a hard time believing someone could still be a neonazi at heart and show not even subtle red flags of intolerance.

      1. Melissa*

        If she’s a new friend, they might not have been friends long enough to witness signs of racism. Besides, neo-Nazis aren’t stupid – they know that their beliefs and attitudes aren’t widely socially acceptable, and most of them know how to hide them in places where their membership in the org might get them fired or ostracized. How many times have violent criminals’ family, friends, and significant others said that they could never believe that X person would do anything like this?

    4. Megan A.*

      I agree that there are more questions to ask about this friend. Is this person still involved with this group? Or, has he/she had a change of heart. Last year I went to a conference where guest speakers from Serve2Unite spoke- 1 of whom was the founder of the largest racist skinhead organization in the world as well as a former hate-metal band singer. However, he has completely changed his life and now works to teach youth about acceptance and unity. You can read more about the organization and Arno Michaels here: and here Could this friend also had a similar change of heart?

      1. I posted My Question*

        Megan I agree that everyone who has the courage to change, especially to the better, is worthy of praise. What of the person who callously walks away from the wreckage this hate and fear causes and says it was a “phase” in their life? Parents stop weeping for your broken home my racism caused, it was only a phase. Ive moved on why cant you?

  7. NoPantsFridays*

    It doesn’t sound like the OP and the friend work for the same employer, so I’m not sure how the OP would even raise the issue. Anonymously contact the manager? A letter or petition? I’m not sure.

    Other than that, I see it kind of like religion. I wouldn’t want to be fired for my religion, which is not hate-filled, but it’s a set of beliefs. So I wouldn’t want to get a friend fired for her beliefs, either. If the friend is really that racist (it sounds like she was at some point, but maybe not anymore), it’ll come out in how she treats coworkers and patients of other races. And hopefully, if that’s the case, she’ll get canned for not doing her job.

    I would leave well enough alone, because if the friend or her ex figured out it was me, I wouldn’t trust them not to kill me. They’ve demonstrated the capacity for violence, after all. /wimp

    1. VintageLydia USA*

      I’m all for respecting other’s beliefs, but participation in domestic terrorist orgs are a different ball game then “well I’m Protestant and you’re atheist but let’s just get along.”

        1. zecrefru*

          Do all hate groups necessarily advocate domestic terrorism? I seem to be in the minority here, but I say leave this alone. Unless there’s more to this, I think a person should be judged by how they perform on the job. I realize there are legitimate exceptions to this for some jobs (convicted felon, casual drug user, etc.).

          1. Diet Coke Addict*

            These ones are–the letter specifically says that the organizations the friend was a part of are recognized as domestic terror groups by the FBI.

          2. VintageLydia USA*

            But the person in question was involved in domestic terrorist organizations (and possibly still is. The timeline isn’t clear.) Though when your working with patients in public health, I’d imagine even non-terrorist hate groups would be a big fat negative.

      1. Dorothy*

        Yes, that’s the difference. Terrorist orgs on the FBI watchlist = alarm.
        HOWEVER… if this information was so easy to find, wouldn’t it have been caught and dealt with in a background check for “new friend’s” license?

        1. Helka*

          The ex was taken down for events “involving drugs, minors, and guns.” Not necessarily for domestic terrorism. Also it isn’t clear that it was the FBI who took down the ex.

      2. Josh S*

        And Nelson Mandela was part of a “terrorist organization” in South Africa, according to FBI and CIA definitions. Be careful how you let that color your judgments.

        1. Anonaconda*

          It’s a neo-Nazi hate group. I don’t know that we need to compare its work to that of Nelson Mandela.

          1. Helka*

            +1 Can we not, please? The comparisons with Nelson Mandela or the US civil rights movements are a) in really poor taste and b) not all that comparable.

    2. Bee*

      I’d rather somebody get canned for her beliefs, than wait for her to hurt somebody as a healthcare provider.

    3. Mike C.*

      There’s a huge difference between “I believe something odd” and “Genocide is NEATO!”. Beliefs that advocate or cause harm to others should not be tolerated in a modern society.

      There’s no ethical reason to tolerate belief systems that state certain members of humanity are worthy of extinction. If you’re bad enough to piss off the SPLC, you’ve gone way over the line.

    4. I posted My Question*

      Wimp said the guy behind the computer keyboard. I asked because leaving well enough alone is not enough. I wanted an answer from professionals who posses a skillset I do not. Im not talking about having someone fired for their beliefs. Having been on multiple deployments as a member of elite units, I have bled to ensure that is not possible. I am asking, if in fact, someone’s documented past in hate groups should be public information. That’s all NOPANTSFRIDAYS

      1. NoPantsFridays*

        I referred to myself as a wimp, not you. You sound quite courageous. It looks (from your other comments in this thread) that you’ve decided to report this and I wish you the best of luck with that. Please stay safe.

    5. Melissa*

      You can’t really compare being involved in a neo-Nazi terrorist hate group to being of a certain type of religion.

      And there are some beliefs worth getting fired for. “I believe that there is a God who loves me”, not so much. “I believe that all people of this certain group are scum of the earth, deserve to die, and that it is a moral imperative for me to work towards that”? Definitely. Yes.

      We don’t want to wait and see how she treats patients of other races, because she’s a healthcare provider, and that could lead to severe harm to the patient in question.

  8. Confuzzled*

    Wow. I can’t imagine being able to provide equal care to all with those biases and prejudices. They are doing a disservice to the population they serve, and I think it’s in your best interest to bring this forward, but in a way you’re able to protect yourself as well.

  9. soitgoes*

    Well it’s nice to know that public health organizations are running proper background checks :/

    I would definitely send an anonymous email.

    1. Livin' in a Box*

      Yeah, it sounds like a quick google search would’ve turned up what a charming person OP’s “friend” is. That makes me a little concerned that the organization already knows and doesn’t care.

      1. Lyssa*

        To be fair, they could know and not care because they accept her story of reformation. If she has indeed reformed, that could be a good thing.

      2. INTP*

        Not necessarily. The OP mentioned books and local newspapers. Unless this person has a very unique name, those types of things may not come up in the first few pages of a Google search, or may not even be archived online. If the name is common, it may be impossible to know it’s the same person, especially if she has moved. There are people who share my name and age putting sketchy stuff on the internet but they aren’t me.

    2. HR Manager*

      If this is the standard employment background check, they would not check on affiliations or group memberships. It would verify previous employment, education attainment, perhaps the status of a certification or license, a credit check if requested, and a criminal background check if requested.

      I’m not sure if board certifications and board licensing has a more in-depth process but the standard employment does not. If I were a member of Teapotters Unite to Advocate for Teapot Change — there is no way the standard vendor is going to call to verify it’s about teapots and nothing shady, and that I am an active member.

      1. Maggie*

        I am with a really large university health care system and our medical staff have substantial background checks done including 360s. It could just be us, but there is no way that would be missed. It’s all about Spokeo these days!

    3. frequentflyer*

      If OP really feels morally obliged to report this to someone… just to stay safe, make sure you’re using a safe anonymous email service. You should also probably check whether your “friend’s” company has a whistle-blowing hotline or service, which ensures anonymity.

  10. Dan*

    My first instinct was with AAM. If you really are going to our this person, you’re not being much of a friend

    As per the rest, leave it alone until you feel this person isn’t performing their job the way they should. While i don’t support these activities, the freedoms we enjoy in this country mean other people get to enjoy some that we don’t agree with.

    1. VintageLydia USA*

      I thought she meant it more as “why are you still friends with someone with these beliefs” then “you are being a terrible friend.”

      1. Kelly L.*


        And to further address Dan’s comment, yes, we have freedoms in this country to believe all sorts of awful crap. But we don’t have the inalienable right to work anywhere we want, and I think the hospital would be justified in finding her actions* a disqualifier for this type of job.

        *Because they’re also not just beliefs; they’re actions. The OP didn’t read this person’s mind and find out she was secretly prejudiced. This is a person who actually went out there and joined the KKK or the like.

        1. Helka*

          We have freedoms in this country to believe all sorts of awful crap. And other people have the freedom to choose not to associate with us, hire us, or vote for us because of our beliefs. Freedom for all!

          1. Dan*

            Yes, but several times a question comes up that says, “Should I inform about person doing activity ?”

            The answer is almost always “No, it’s not your business, leave it alone.”

            So many of us want to be able to work at a place where we can be ourselves and our personal lives don’t impact our employment. Or in other cases, where we can leave our personal lives at home and not bring them with us to work.

            There was a question not too long ago about whether facial piercings are acceptable at work. So many people chimed in and said, “My body, my choice, leave it alone. Let me do what I want.”

            Let me be clear, if the person’s ideology and political affiliation impact their job performance, they go. And the issue isn’t their affiliation — it’s their performance. That’s what matters. If the OP & friend work at a publicly owned hospital, there’s probably more restrictions on what their employers can act on than there would be if they worked at a privately owned hospital.

            We have long held in this country that we can have all sorts of nasty opinions and beliefs, and that’s not a problem. Hell, we’ve fought several wars over it. But we also have long held that if you act on those beliefs, there’s a price to pay.

            1. Helka*

              If someone believes that members of X group are subhuman, and believes that so strongly that they have served in leadership of multiple terrorist organizations, what is the likelihood that they are going to treat members of X group fairly and equally in their professional work?

              If nothing else, the friend’s employer should be monitoring their interactions with their patients very, very closely.

            2. VintageLydia USA*

              I think joining in recruitment efforts of hate groups IS a ting on beliefs. There is a ton of racist crap in healthcare from people who *don’t* hold conscious biases. I seriously doubt members of violent hate groups would be any better about counteracting those biases in their work. This is not some desk job doing data entry or something. This is someone who works directly with patients. If nothing else the employer needs to know.

            3. NoPantsFridays*

              Yes, this. There’s a huge difference between a belief and an action based on that belief. If the OP’s “friend” can’t do her job because of her prejudices, which would hopefully come ot on its own, she should be fired — and it won’t be because of her beliefs, but her actions.

                1. fposte*

                  Though I think if you took all the racists out of health care–or any crucial industry–it would probably shut down. I think it’s not so much that nobody in health care can ever harbor a racist thought as the fact that this is somebody who, at one point, was committed to actively working toward a racist goal, and I would therefore wonder if they were less able than most to detangle their actions from these beliefs.

                2. NoPantsFridays*

                  And if she does act racist — which includes saying racist things, e.g. using racial slurs against patients or coworkers — I’d hope she would be fired pronto. I do see fposte’s point, though, that someone who has been actively racist enough to join a hate group is less likely to be able to separate their beliefs from their actions.

                3. Helka*

                  @NoPantsFridays There is also much subtler racial discrimination, though. Giving a poorer standard of care to patients of certain races, refusing to prescribe them certain medications, not giving them the same respect as the ultimate adjudicators of what happens to their own bodies…

                4. AnonyMouse*

                  Yep, and also this isn’t a person who made a tasteless joke at a party…we’re talking about someone who had “important positions” in “several neo-nazi groups”….aka someone who’s already acting racist. As a person who’s in a minority that would probably be targeted by these groups, I couldn’t trust a healthcare provider who was involved in a neo-nazi organisation. I would find a new healthcare provider. For that reason I do think it would probably be good for the friend’s employer to know.

                5. NoPantsFridays*

                  @ Helka and AnonyMouse — I can see those points. If I were OP’s friend’s employer, I’d want to know so I can either fire her outright or at least keep an eye out for mistreatment of patients or coworkers. If I were OP’s friend’s patient, I would want to know so I could find another provider. Yet, were I in the OP’s position, I’d be too much of a wimp to raise the issue for fear that it would somehow come back on me and OP or her ex (or the larger organization) would retaliate.

                6. Melissa*

                  Exactly, AnonyMouse. I am also in a racial minority group that is often targeted by these hate groups, and this would be an absolute deal-breaker for me. I’d change providers and, if this person worked at a clinic or group practice, I would be really inclined not to return to that clinic or group practice AT ALL.

            4. Melissa*

              Let’s review what a neo-Nazi is: a group of people who saw fit to revive the legacy of a group who systematically rounded up and murdered people in horrific ways because of their race/ethnicity, religion, and political views. The group this woman was in takes it into domestic terrorism.

              This is NOT anything like facial piercings. And no, it’s not in the realm of “I’m leaving my personal life at home.”

              Also, I think the last paragraph is a pretty rosy but inaccurate picture of American politics. We haven’t really long held that you could have all sorts of nasty opinions and beliefs. People throughout American history have been persecuted and harassed for their opinions and beliefs, even though it’s nominally codified in our law that you can believe whatever you want.

      2. Dan*

        They were two separate thoughts — why are you friends with this person, and if you out them, you’re not being much of a friend.

        Sorry for the confusion.

    2. KerryOwl*

      I read Alison’s response as less “if you out this person, you’re not a friend” and more “why are you friends with a crazy racist?”

    3. Apollo Warbucks*

      the freedoms we enjoy in this country mean other people get to enjoy some that we don’t agree with

      I really disagree with that statement, people can not join domestic terrorist organizations and seek to excuse it by saying it’s a free country. No body has the right to use their belief as a weapon against someone else, a persons right to freedom of expression stops at the point it seeks to harm another person or subject them to fear, violence or oppression.

      1. Dan*

        The belief isn’t a crime, acting on it is. Generally speaking, you actually have to *do* something to get in trouble, thinking about it (and talking about it) aren’t enough. I say generally, because our legal system does recognize certain conspiracies as crimes and will prosecute them. And rightly so.

        1. VintageLydia USA*

          People get fired for things much tamer than being heavily involved in terrorist organizations. If she still holds these beliefs (whoch is likely) she should not be working with the public, particularly in healthcare.

      2. badger_doc*

        Agreed. We all have the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, as long as our actions do not affect the life, liberty and pursuit of happiness of others.

    4. Xay*

      I don’t know what population “new friend” works with, but I will say this. It is already documented how unconscious bias contributes to inequalities in health care. I’ve worked with people in public health who had contempt for some groups of the population they served – not even to the point of joining and having an active role in a hate group against that population, but merely contempt – and the service they provided to that population suffered. This country offers many freedoms and most of those freedoms protect you from being punished by the government. No one is required to listen to your beliefs or tolerate them in the workplace.

    5. Maggie*

      How do you know that she’s providing adequate care? Are you in the exam rooms with her?

      (I am not being hostile, just asking. I am not aware of how you would be able to verify that she’s doing her job correctly without crossing HIPPA regs.)

    6. A Teacher*

      Freedom to do and say what you want doesn’t mean freedom from the consequences of your actions. We’re talking about this in class right now… Losing friends or people losing respect for you because of decisions you’ve made (being a part of a hate group for example) is a consequence for a poor decision.

    7. Laura*

      I don’t agree. Of course we enjoy freedom of expression – but NOT where it threatens, demeans or harms others.

    8. Melissa*

      The freedom of association in the U.S. means that the *government* will not stop you from association with a group. It does not mean that a particular employer has to hire you. A private employer could choose not to hire you because you’re in Girl Scouts and they don’t like Girl Scouts, let alone a neo-Nazi terrorist organization.

  11. A Jane*

    For me, this is why you do a google search when reviewing candidates. This would definitely be a huge red flag for hiring.

    That being said, in this particular case, I would leave it alone. Mostly because if an army buddy who has been in prison says leave it alone, I would run away.

    If this was a case where it was an organization where I worked, I would definitely tell the hiring manager.

    1. soitgoes*

      The “Army buddy” thing is a weird detail to me. I get that the Army is its own universe and that there are a multitude of reasons for why any decent person might do hard time, but I think the OP needs to seriously prune his circle of friends. If you have a lot of friends who’ve been in prison AND you know more than one neo-Nazi, maybe start keeping your distance? This stuff becomes a part of your world after a while, and you don’t want to be the person that’s the subject of an AAM email about “someone I know associates with people like this; is he an employment risk?”

      1. Maggie*

        “I get that the Army is its own universe and that there are a multitude of reasons for why any decent person might do hard time, but I think the OP needs to seriously prune his circle of friends.” I shouldn’t laugh at this, but I did! That’s one of those ‘you in danger, girl’ duh moments. (Thank you Whoopie for the reference)

        That said, people change. And people make mistakes. She doesn’t sound like she lets anything past her, that’s for sure. So if the Army prisoner guy is in her life, she likely is totally cool with his sentence reasoning.

        1. soitgoes*

          I mean, I’m totally not judging, and there have been a million studies done on how the Army doesn’t equip people for existing in the real world, so there’s that. I’m sympathetic, truly. But I think that, generally speaking, it’s very easy to go through your 20s and 30s without fully realizing how many of your friends have gradually fallen into lifestyles or habits that would prevent you from befriending them if you met them now. In my late 20s I had to take stock and come to terms with how many of my friends had taken turns into deep alcoholism, to an extent that it was harming me to be around them.

          This is a tangent, but it needs to be said sometimes: when your friends go their own way, you’re not a bad person if you decide that you can’t follow them.

      2. I posted My Question*

        Having spent most of my adult life in the Army I have many “Army Buddys”. Some have written books, Some died in Iraq and Afghanistan, some went to College and have advanced degrees and some are lost and homeless. Some of my “Army Buddys” are productive members of their communities and others are far from the honor and trust we upheld in Combat. Combat changed us all but that is not what this post is about. Its about truth. I have never been in contact with these groups of hate and the fear they spew. Unfortunately one of my “Army Buddys” has. By the way you don’t “prune” your brothers.

  12. Zahra*

    Depending on how recent the activity within Neo-Nazi group is, I’d definitely report that person, anonymously. People of Color already receive poor care in the USA, there’s no need to pile on with a (health!)care provider who will, according to his beliefs, treat them even more poorly.

    1. Michele*

      Neo-Nazi groups target many different groups of people not just those of color. I have been targeted and been called horrible names. I am white and they for whatever reason think I am Jewish. They really are a horrible group of people.

    2. Bee*

      Yep. I belong to another group that Neo-Nazis are… not really known for liking. Please, for the sake of PoC patients and others (LGBT, Jewish, disabled) that this healthcare provider is responsible for, report it if you feel you can do so safely.

  13. Turanga Leela*

    I kind of hate to say this, but I’d stay out of it. If this info is available, and your friend’s employer didn’t seek it out, that’s on them. The only reason I would inform is if you have a specific reason to believe that your friend might be hurting people through her job—and I wouldn’t assume that she is just because of her past with a hate group.

    If you’re not afraid for your personal safety, you might ask your friend about her past. Maybe she has an interesting story about how she left these organizations, or maybe she was an informant or something. If you are afraid, or if your friend doesn’t seem to have changed her mind about this stuff, I would drop the friendship. You don’t need to hang out with neo-Nazis.

    1. Adam*

      I think I’d have to agree. There are so many ways this story could have gone as others have pointed out this friend could have been entrapped in these organizations by her ex out of fear/abuse. Or she could have been a young foolish person who has since learned better and is trying her best to distance herself from the mistakes she made in the past. Or maybe she just is an awful person. You’re probably never going to know for sure. If the licensing board didn’t find anything during their process that would disqualify her from being certified, unless you have reason to believe she is harming a specific person(s) I would let it be. If the fears are unfounded bringing this to light could really hurt this person’s chance at a new life they might be striving for.

      Right now the most I would do is seriously asses my own relationship with this person and whether I wanted it to continue.

      1. Maggie*

        Or god forbid her ex is actually a crazy stalker and put that (possibly false) info out there himself to ruin her credibility. People suck and go to great lengths when they’re obsessed. Who knows.

    2. Stephanie*

      This was my thought, too, even as a minority. If there’s harm, definitely. But because she had a past? That’s murkier. She could have been an informant or reformed. Or she could just be an evil person.

      1. Julia*

        I agree. The possibility of redemption exists. It’s possible that during all the trials, etc she was exposed to more healthy, normal ideas and has changed. Or even is in the PROCESS of changing.

        1. Kat M*

          Would you still trust them with your relative’s healthcare? Half of my extended family is Jewish-no way on earth.

          I am perfectly fine with people who’ve changed working in a different field and maybe writing/speaking/reaching out to youth, etc. Not with people’s health. No way.

    3. AnonyMouse*

      I might ask her about it first, because if it was truly a mistake in her past and she’s trying to move on then fair enough. But if she hasn’t changed her views I don’t think I could comfortably advocate staying out of it unless the OP was afraid for her safety if she informed the employer. If the “friend” had a different type of job, maybe, but for a healthcare provider the risk created by being openly, seriously bigoted (actually joining neo-nazi organisations) is just too high.

      1. Stars and violets*

        I would certainly ask her about it because there’s every chance that it was youthful folly or coercion and she now seriously regrets it.
        However, I’m in the same field and I know there are many unquantifiable ways to target patients and make their lives much more difficult (that sounds horrible but, trust me, I wouldn’t dream of using any of them) so if the Op has even a sliver of a doubt, she should report her.

        1. Sobriquet*

          I would definitely *not* ask. If the LW asks and then decides to go ahead and inform the employer, the new friend has a very good chance of putting 2 and 2 together. The LW’s safety needs to come first. Besides, I sincerely doubt that any conversation they have would be productive. I imagine it going something like this:
          LW: I found all this info that you were a member of a hate group – are you still a racist?
          FRIEND: No, totally reformed./Yes, and what are you doing snooping in my business?

          It’s all going to come down to whether the LW can trust the friend’s “no,” and I don’t think that will be easy or necessarily wise. (If the answer the friend gives is “yes,” then I would disengage quickly and mention to the police that a member of a domestic terrorist group might be pissed at you.)

  14. Alien vs Predator*

    OP, if you are still friends with these people then you are still “messing with them”. I agree with the others that there are plenty of anonymous ways to transmit this information.

    I live in Dallas, and I know last weekend, there was a an actual neo-nazi rally in a suburb of east Dallas (I think we had a klan rally on the same weekend. Yay Texas!). I was actually hoping there would be more reporting on it by local news stations, mostly so that a lot of these individuals would be exposed to their communities as supporting this sort of thing. I guess the local DFW news didn’t want to touch it either.

    These radical hate groups are not omniscient. Look at it this way. Many people in Mexico are risking life and limb on a daily basis to expose the drug cartels that are destroying their country. Sending an anonymous package about this white supremacist is nowhere near as dangerous and is likely much more likely to have real results.

    Sorry that the burden is on you to “do something”, but it looks like that’s just the way it has shaken out. Please don’t ignore this.

    1. The Cosmic Avenger*

      I think since many of these fringe groups are desperate for attention and exposure, the media is actually doing the right thing by not running something controversial that would be good for their ratings.

      1. Alien vs Predator*

        Well, certainly, these groups do want exposure. But when news organizations do not report on these things, it also prevents local people from realizing what is going on right in their own backyards. Of course, people’s opinions might vary by location, but in Texas we still have pretty significant problems with racism. I think to expose these particular events, especially so close to a major metropolitan area, would have done more to get people to stand up against this sort of thing. Of course, there are always going to be a few nuts that decide they want to join up, but most likely those folks would have anyway, regardless of what was published in the news.

  15. chemgirl*

    I am shocked the employer didn’t see this when hiring the employee, if it was as well-documented as OP says. Is the employer not good at hiring, or did they know and something else was going on (perhaps an abusive relationship scenario, as others have said previously)?

    Honestly, I’m torn. If the person was young and stupid and absolutely DOES NOT believe and participate in that kind of stuff, should they continue to be punished? But if the employer doesn’t know, should they be told…? Even though they should have seen it while doing due diligence in hiring?

    1. LawBee*

      Not being hired for a job isn’t punishment, tbh, and framing it that way implies that there is some kind of right to employment in this country, which there is not. Background checks are conducted for a reason, and if I were a healthcare company, this would be a massive red flag.

      (I know I’m commenting on this letter a lot, but so much about this makes me see red.)

      1. chemgirl*

        You’re absolutely right, though. But why didn’t they see it in the background check? That’s what I’m confused about. That seems like something they should have found?

      2. Maggie*

        I’m commenting a lot too. It’s a very different topic for this site and there are a lot of thoughtful commenters, making this thread really appealing to have ‘discussions’ on it. Keep it up!

      1. Helka*

        In which case, the OP alerting the employer again will have no effect, because the employer is already satisfied. No harm, no foul.

        1. Maggie*

          Not necessarily. If they’re told about it multiple times, it’s clear that the doc is a liability and she loses her license.

  16. The IT Manager*

    No. Here’s why:
    1) It’s her employer’s and the licensing board’s responsibility to do due diligence and check out her background. Presumably they did and hired/licensed her anyway.

    2) You say she’s your friend. Given you’re concerned about this I’d assume you’re not a racist and would not be calling her your new friend if she was slipping hate speech into your conversations. It sounds like she’s changed. Also given the situation you described she could have been coerced by her ex (who sounds bad enough to have been abusive) to be involved in these hate groups.

    You could ask her about it unless you googled the ex after she told you that she doesn’t like to talk about the situation. But unless she’s given you a sign that she’s a racist, I’d give her the benefit of the doubt that she has changed. If she does seem to continue to espouse those feeling, though, then I do think that maybe you should act.

        1. Zillah*

          It isn’t, actually. If you’re narrowing your definition of racism to hate speech, you’re closing your eyes and blocking your ears. It’s like saying someone can’t possibly be sexist because they’re not calling women slut, whore, or bitch.

      1. simonthegrey*

        This is true, but if the friend has changed – I couldn’t tell from the letter how long ago the friend was involved in these things – then perhaps the friend deserves the benefit of the (very cautious) doubt.

    1. Dorothy*

      Agree with #1 completely.
      If I were OP, I would drop the investigation and casually, gradually, drop this “friend.”

    2. Laura*

      I see your point about the ex possibly coercing the OP’s friend into these activities – but if the friend held high level positions, including recruitment? That’s definitely above and beyond what coercion can do.

  17. barchbo*

    I just took an informal poll of coworkers, and everyone agrees that the teachers/professional educators (there are several of us here) are obligated to report it, but the non-ed professionals aren’t. If the friend directly provides care to children and holds a state-issued license, I would probably consult an attorney and end up reporting it.

    How “new” is this friend? If you know her well enough by now, could you safely discuss this with her? If she has been open with you that her ex is in prison, perhaps she isn’t aware of how her past could be perceived because she was under duress? What does your gift of fear tell you?

    1. Dorothy*

      Teachers and educators are obliged to report potential child abuse, not potential terrorists!
      If this person holds a state-issued license from some kind of health-related board, the board already knows about it. Drop it.

      1. Zillah*

        But this person isn’t just a potential terrorist – she’s a health care professional. If she’s treating children, that could become hugely problematic very quickly, and I can see where educators would feel mandated to report it.

  18. Aunt Vixen*

    Whoo. I wouldn’t want to mess with those people–but I wouldn’t want them looking after my people, either.

    On the other hand, exactly the same thing has been said about groups whose membership is not a choice. People of non-majority races, religions, sexual orientations, physical or mental abilities, and so on have all been called “those people” and told to keep away from the (white, able-bodied, etc.) power-wielders’ loved ones. It is absolutely true that being black or Jewish or disabled is not dangerous and being a neo-nazi is. I’m not trying to suggest that there is any actual equivalence here. I would not choose to be friends with someone I knew held political beliefs that are so abhorrent to me. Were I in a hiring position, I would probably lean against hiring someone with those beliefs.

    But I might have to have a good hard think about whether considering someone’s political beliefs when hiring for a non-political position was appropriate. I mean if a person who happened to be active in an organization whose mission turns my stomach (with or without an FBI designation as a domestic terrorist group; the FBI has called PETA domestic terrorists) was the best candidate for a job, would that activity in that organization be sufficient reason not to hire her? (I can make it sufficient reason to choose another equally qualified candidate, but let’s assume the racist is the most qualified by a long way.) If she’s never going to bring that organization to work, is it really my business?

    I don’t like that I’m thinking this way, but I think I might have to.

    1. Kelly L.*

      I’m really uneasy with equating racism with “political beliefs.” Maybe it’s because there was a huge kerfuffle in one of my other online communities earlier this year, where someone made some hideously racist jokes, and when called on it, fell back on “You’re just persecuting me for being (X Party)!” Nope, nobody cared what party he was in, they cared about the jokes–and really, he was putting X Party in a dim light by insinuating that his racism was an intrinsic part of their politics. It’s kind of like the religion debate the other day–Dave Ramsey intimidating employees is not actually part of his religion.

      1. Helka*

        I’m really uneasy with equating racism with “political beliefs.”

        Agreed! Largely because it puts systematized hatred of entire groups of human beings on some kind of “aw shucks well we all have our differences” value-neutral level.

      2. Apollo Warbucks*

        I agree political beliefs are not the same as racism but there is some overlap, a couple of the more right wing parties in the UK are blatantly racist UKIP are bad but the BNP are really appalling one of there election policies was to repatriate non indigenous people never mind that many of them have lived in the UK their entire life the colour of their skin would have made them a target for removal.

    2. LawBee*

      That’s a lot of equivocating. There’s racist/sexist/bigot thinking and then there’s a person who goes out of their way to join a hate group and become a leader of that group. If you think that person will be able to leave that at the office door, you’re deluded.

      Please remember that hate groups often lead to physical violence, beatings, brutality, and death for their targets. That is not an exaggeration.

      1. Aunt Vixen*

        I know they do. Like I said: very uncomfortable. I think I’m also uncomfortable with assuming that we’re as enlightened as it’s possible to get, though. I worry about generations from now looking at us and wondering what on earth we were thinking. Similarly, I want to be better than people who are (often violently) intolerant.

        But you’re right that it’s possible to take moral relativism way too far. In this instance I’m glad not to be in any of the positions I’m speculating about.

      2. Dan*

        They often do. But until they do, they probably haven’t committed a crime. Unless they’ve engaged in some sort of conspiracy that we do recognize as a crime.

        We don’t generally punish people for what they haven’t done (or are even about to do) we punish them for what they *did.* Hell, we even have hate crime enhancers.

        It’s not even a crime to be a member of a domestic terrorist group (AFAIK.) The only time the government seems interested in bringing charges is after they’ve planted an FBI agent undercover and the person has taken real steps towards executing an activity.

        1. NoPantsFridays*

          Yup. Although an employer can choose not to hire you for being a member of a domestic terror group. It’s not illegal, but that’s kind of beside the point. If I said in an interview that I refuse to work with people of other faiths, they could choose not to hire me even though it’s totally legal to refuse to work with people of other faiths. If I went to the interview in my underwear, they could choose not to hire me, even though it’s totally legal to walk around in one’s underwear (I don’t think it’s indecent exposure unless totally naked). So while I agree with your larger point and am grateful that we distinguish beliefs and membership in a group from action, the matter of the law and the matter of what is acceptable to employers are somewhat distinct.

          1. Dan*

            For the sake of this discussion, assume the person in question is keeping their personal life out of their work life. The real question becomes, is it right to fire someone for things that don’t affect their job?

            You are right, we’re much more judicious about who we hire. But once we hire them, the bar for firing is much higher.

            Once their personal beliefs impact their job, then boom. Gone. You refusing to not work with people of other faiths is a deal breaker. You not *wanting* to work with people of other faiths shouldn’t be, if you keep it to yourself and work well with them.

            1. LawBee*

              This is so much more than just “I don’t want to work with [minority]”. This is “I believe [minority] are subhuman, I choose to become an officer of a group which is a recognized terrorist organization, I want to wipe [minority] off the face of the earth.” The difference in scale is a crucial detail that is getting lost as the conversation gets ever more hypothetical.

            2. Melissa*

              Employers can fire employees for any reason at all that’s not protected. There’s no “higher bar” for firing…you can fire someone because it’s Tuesday and you pulled their name out of a hat. There’s nothing illegal about that.

              And no, there’s not necessarily a higher bar for firing someone than hiring…you can fire someone for information that you would’ve declined to hire them with, but didn’t have access to until after you hired them. What if you hired an accountant and later found out that he embezzled money from her last three jobs? Or if you hired a civil engineer and found out her shoddy work directly caused three bridge collapses in the last 5 years? Would you say “oh, well, we’ll wait and see if they’ll make us the fourth!”

    3. Anonsie*

      It doesn’t need to be a political position, though, this person is a health care provider and presumably operates with some sort of autonomy when caring for patients/clients. That’s gotta be the #1 most dangerous place someone with some deep-seated, arbitrary hate could possible work.

    4. Maggie*

      I do think someone who hates teapot makers so much that they actively recruit other anti-teapot makers, would give less medical care to teapot makers. And several recent studies show that ER doctors underprescribe pain medication to minorities (just as an example of race related medical care). I think I would be okay if she was in a more administrative role, like a medical director of a center (ie not making decisions on her own for direct patient care).

    5. Stars and violets*

      I think if someone’s ‘political beliefs’ involve the eradication of whole swathes of people and that person holding such beliefs is in a position to harm people physically, then, yes, their political beliefs are an important factor in deciding whether or not they are fit for the job.

  19. LawBee*

    Note that my response is coming from the mouth of a person whose demographic is often the target of these hate groups, and I mean in the sense that people have died:

    a. Ditch the new friend immediately.
    b. Ditch the new friend immediately.
    c. Seriously. Ditch the new friend. Immediately. Even if New Friend has had a miraculous change of heart (which I would be highly skeptical of), you do not want to be even remotely associated with his/her past activities.

    As far as the ex, I don’t really see what you can do.

    “Do my new friend’s patients, coworkers, employer, or the citizens of the town whose taxes pay my friend’s salary have the right to know of my friend’s racist hate-filled past?”
    That’s such a loaded question. No, they actually don’t have a legal right as far as I know (not an employment attorney). But it’s up to the hiring manager to conduct a background check. You’ve stated that New Friend’s past has been highly documented in books and newspaper articles – it’s not a secret thing that the hiring manager will have to ferret out. Stay away from the whole situation, don’t accept healthcare from Ex, and again – ditch New Friend immediately.

      1. LawBee*

        honestly, I’d personally have a hard time being friends with OP if s/he chose to keep New Friend around. I would decidedly not feel safe.

    1. Dan*

      Hell, my demographic is never the target of those groups, and I fully agree with you. (It’s not an oxymoron to say that people have the right to certain beliefs, and organize on that behalf, but also say I want nothing to do with them.)

  20. Apollo Warbucks*

    Make a complaint to the state licensing board as a matter of urgency. They will be duty bound to act I am the member of a professional body and part of the conditions of membership is I am a fit and proper person and do not act in a manner that will bring the profession in to disrepute.

    It is complete unconscionable to have someone who identified with a hate group working in the capacity of care giver, it is impossible to believe they can maintain the level of professionalism required or abide by the code of conduct they will have signed up to, when they espouse such vial views. The letter indicates involvement in several neo-nazi groups, some which are recognized by the FBI as domestic terrorist organizations! so this is not a matter of a difference in politics but a concerted effort to be involved in pushing a particularly vial ideology, to get mixed up with one organisation demonstrates at best a serious lack of judgement but to get involved with multiple demonstrates something much more sinister.

    1. Anon.*

      Yeah, wow. I’m surprised that the organization didn’t vet the employee, unless there’s some nepotism going on. If this friend is from a wealthy family who knows what connections he/she may have.

      1. Anon.*

        Also, I would feel compelled to anonymously report this person to the organization (such as, what a previous poster suggested, sending something from an out of town library). I would just try and stay away from this person, given who knows who you’re really messing with. It goes without saying the community would be up in arms if they knew someone with these past associations was in this role. This person is from a privileged position and made some really horrible choices, and really didn’t have the moral compass to decide that wasn’t the best thing. Maybe she was being rebellious or something, but, yikes, I would stay away.

      1. De Minimis*

        I think it really depends on the state and how whatever licensing board does things. I hold a license and get the state newsletter each month—they always have a section showing disciplinary activity and it seems like it is a very long involved process as far as suspending someone or revoking their license, even in really blatant cases where laws were violated that directly involved their work [like financial fraud and/or embezzlement!] I would imagine it might be even more difficult in a situation like this.

  21. What if?*

    What’s your basis for saying that the employer doesn’t know about your friend’s past, especially if it would come up in a simple Google search? Isn’t it *possible* that they worked with the FBI to bring the ex down in exchange for an expunged record/some other way to get a fresh start?

    1. kobayashi*

      I don’t know how many employers do a Google search as part of a background check, but we don’t–intentionally. We check references, prior employment, education, criminal background and, in some positions, do a drug test. We don’t do Internet searches of candidates. We really don’t want to know what religion they are, if they have a disability, what political affiliation they hold, or see their party photos from 10 years ago.

  22. Observer*

    Something doesn’t add up here.

    Why are you still friends with this woman? And what makes you think that her employer doesn’t know about this? If it’s as easy to find as you say, and as well documented, I’d say they have to know.

    But, your army buddy is right – stay away. Not just from reporting, but from this friendship. Doesn’t sound like much of a friendship, anyway…

  23. MPL*

    Without reading the other comments, I’ll say this:
    1. People can change. One wonders how this person can work so closely and intimately with fellow human beings holding hatred and racism in their heart. Is it even possible…?
    2. As repugnant as it is to even type this, there is freedom of speech, and people are obviously free in the US to believe and practice whatever belief system they like, even though it may be horrifying to others. IANAL, though, and don’t know how that freedom jibes with being connected to FBI-recognized domestic terrorist orgs (especially in the light of 9-11.
    3. I think the OP SHOULD leave this alone. It’s really none of their business and borders on gossip.

    1. Katie the Fed*

      “Freedom of speech” is not “Freedom from consequences.” It only means the government can’t imprison or silence you for your beliefs and expressions. It does NOT mean you won’t get fired, not hired, shunned, etc because you choose to be a racist d-bag.

      1. Diet Coke Addict*


        Freedom of speech refers only to the government officially silencing you. You can be fired for being a racist idiot without any problems at all.

      2. Zahra*

        +12 billion

        (Pet peeve: it’s the #1 thing that people on the internet don’t understand about the First Amendment: Freedom of Speech does not mean Freedom from the Consequences of Said Speech)

        1. AnonyManager*

          +10 trillion. Drives me nuts! You can say whatever you want and I can choose not to associate with you in any way because of it.

        2. AnonyMouse*

          YES. I think this common misunderstanding truly might be one of my greatest pet peeves. You are free to say and do hateful things, sure, but I am also free to dislike, insult, shun and/or fire you as a result.

      3. Dan*

        That’s true when you work for a private employer. But haven’t the courts held that the standards are different when your employer is some variation of the local, state, or federal governments? In this case, the OP works for a hospital and is licensed by a state board. Things get sticky here.

        1. Xay*

          Not really. If your beliefs interfere with a requirement of your job, the standards are the same. For example, when I worked in HIV/AIDS, a standard question was are you comfortable working with people of diverse backgrounds including race, gender, sexuality, past drug use or people living with HIV/AIDS. If a candidate answered no because they believed that homosexuality was immoral (or whatever other belief they held), they would not be hired. And that was legal because part of the job involved working with people from those backgrounds.

      4. RJ*

        The Constitution guarantees freedom from GOVERNMENTAL persecution for your beliefs. It does not grant immunity from consequences, does not guarantee you a job, does not require others to approve of your beliefs, nor does it exempt people from civil/criminal liability for joining hate groups.

    2. Helka*

      1. It’s really easy. There are a ton of people in high positions who “work closely and intimately with fellow human beings” and hold contempt and hatred for a lot of them. Do you think all doctors are magically free of racism, sexism, etc…?

      2. Freedom of speech means the government can’t arrest you for your speech. It doesn’t mean your employer is obligated to keep you in your job for it. Freedom of speech is balanced by people’s freedom to refuse to associate with people who engage in objectionable speech or behavior.

      1. Stephanie*

        Yeah…my dad’s dentist told him he has “black people teeth.” None of us really knew what that meant.

        1. Turanga Leela*

          That’s truly bizarre. And yeah, a LOT of people are racist, including a lot of highly educated people.

          1. Stephanie*

            I’m guessing it was code for “poor people’s teeth” and the dentist was conflating the two? My dad’s family couldn’t afford a dentist growing up and didn’t go to the dentist until he was in the Army, so he’s had a lot of dental work over the years. Although the dentist apparently said something about crowded molars (which I also have), which sounds like a dental version of phrenology.

            1. V. Meadowsweet*

              Your dad’s dentist loses a lot on tact (wow), but teeth do seem to follow through populations – my uppers are pretty classic for where my Mum’s side of the family is from.

              1. AnotherAlison*

                I was going to say something similar. Years back, an Asian friend explained to me that Asian teeth were shaped differently than Caucasian teeth.

                I thought crooked crowded teeth were pretty much a white people thing. If you get into some of the Paleo diet research, they talk about how our faces narrowed due to our diets and crowded our teeth. I have a very small mouth and crowded teeth, which were crooked, but look great now thanks to five years of braces as a kid and 4 veneers.

            2. Natalie*

              Wasn’t there some sort of popular racist pseudoscience regarding teeth, or was that just something Kurt Vonnegut made up for Mother Night?

      2. AndersonDarling*

        Your first point is what rang true to me. Nurses, dental hygienists, therapists… they all hold state licenses and they are humans who can have negative feelings towards different groups. Some stronger than others. Some could be the most racist people but they don’t belong to a “group.” But they all have jobs because they can set it aside when they work.
        Nurses in ICUs see the scum of the earth: child beaters, murderers, pedophiles. These people still get proper care because nurses and doctors are good at their jobs even if they hold prejudices.

        1. Elysian*

          This is a good point that I hadn’t thought of regarding murderers and child beaters and pedophiles.

        2. Helka*

          That isn’t necessarily true, though, that “they all have jobs because they can set it aside when they work.” There are some major inequalities in healthcare treatment (in the US, where the OP seems to be) which break down heavily along racial lines.

          1. Maggie*

            I think she means in general. That we shouldn’t assume that just because she is a major racist that she can’t set it aside and be…..adequate. But I do agree with you that there are major gaps in healthcare.

            1. Melissa*

              There’s a difference, I think, between people who simply hold racist beliefs and people who actively go join hate groups – and participate in the leadership of them.

          1. why i posted this question*

            Again, I struggle with the fact that families have been broken, destroyed, by the hate. This person cannot be connected to any crimes. But this person’s organization is responsible for many violent crimes to include murder. This person walked away and shrugged it off as a “phase”. This person’s family is incredibly wealthy and protects its own. I do not know what to do.

    3. fposte*

      I don’t know that it’s that simple, but again, when I take this to the concrete, my state is weirdly awash with people with terrorist-related histories who have become significant and productive citizens: Bill Ayers, Bernadine Dohrn, James Kilgore, to name a few.

    4. HeyNonnyNonny*

      For me, gossip is ‘wow, Wakeen hooked up with Jane at the office holiday party.’ Knowing that a coworker/friend/care provider was a high-ranking member of a hate/terrorist group is kinda important information.

    5. Observer*

      There is freedom of speech. But that doesn’t mean you can plant bombs or commit other crimes. And, there are absolutely consequences for being involved in groups engaged in terrorism, even if (general) you aren’t a terrorist.

      This is not about gossip. It’s about what responsibility people have when they are faced with a situation that endangers others. As you note yourself, there is a good chance that someone with this level of hate can’t really work so closely with others – which means that there is a good chance that she will NOT provide the kind of care people deserve. When you are talking about health care, that could mean people’s lives.

    6. Stars and violets*

      Sadly, I have worked with people who found no cognitive dissonance between being a health care provider and their prejudices.

  24. Koko*

    I feel like I’m missing something in the reading. Her ex is a shitty person. What in the hell does that have to do with her and her job and her patients? If she was the neo-Nazi, sure. But it’s someone she used to date. Unless there’s any evidence she shares his beliefs beyond the fact that she dated this guy, let her move on with her life.

    1. Katie the Fed*

      I *think* it was just badly written. How I read it was:

      – The ex is a terrible person who was in prison
      – Upon snooping upon the ex, OP also discovered the friend is a terrible person who formerly held leadership positions in hate groups
      – the friend is the only in the health care organization, and the one the OP wants to report

      I could be wrong.

    2. Naomi*

      I think you did miss something– OP said the “new friend” also held positions in the hate groups, not just the ex. It’s kind of buried at the end of the letter.

      1. Koko*

        Ahhh, thanks all. The comments all make a lot more sense! I think since the first few sentences were “this new friend’s ex was this…this new friend’s ex was that…” my brain just filled in the word “ex” on the last sentence as well.

  25. puddin*

    For those advocating the OP dissolve the friendship, just a thought.

    When we eschew others because we disagree with their choices we give up the opportunity to help those people make better choices in the future. It could be a viable plan to maintain the friendship well enough to demonstrate behavior that might lead to contrition, redemption, and forgiveness.

    The bottom line for me is this…am I approaching this with love or fear?

    1. Katie the Fed*

      As far as I’m concerned, if they want to hug it out, they can do it with someone else. I choose not to be an audience for any kind of hate speech or activities.

      1. Xay*


        I used to do the “my first black friend” role for people who were overcoming their prejudices. It’s emotionally exhausting and I refuse to do it anymore.

        1. Koko*

          Yep. I used have similar friendships with conservatives where I’d try to gradually and non-threateningly expose them to new situations to open their minds. It worked, but sometimes I just wanted to like, be able to bring a friend to an event where two gay guys present might casually kiss each other without my tender conservative friend going all wide-eyed and trying to exchange “knowing looks” with me about how *shocking* this turn of events is! Eventually you just want to yell, “Yes, some people are different from you! Can we please just carry on living our lives?”

        2. Observer*

          And that’s with people who aren’t involved with racial terrorism. If it’s so hard there, I can’t imagine it going well with someone who isn’t open to the notion of the humanity of the other.

          1. ThursdaysGeek*

            This reminds me of a NPR program I heard a few months ago (This American Life?) about a black musician who played somewhere where the entire clientele was white and known to be racist. One guy really liked his music, came back to hear him, and the musician discovered he was some bigwig in the KKK or a similar hate group. The honcho guy wanted the musician to come to his house, and they finally met there, with bodyguards on both sides. They developed a friendship over the years, in spite of the incongruence and side-eyes from the musician’s other friends. And the honcho eventually quit his hate group, publicly saying why he had been wrong.

            I’m not recommending that as a general course, but it’s cool when it works. I’ll try to find the link, but it may be a few days.

      2. Stars and violets*

        Yes. Jesus might have continued to be friends with them but that doesn’t mean I have to be.

    2. VintageLydia USA*

      I think losing friends is an adequate consequence of being horribly bigoted, and that’s before involvement with organized hate groups. I’ve dropped long time friends and even family members when I discovered their racist views and I don’t feel one iota of guilt over it. Its not my responsibility to teach them not to hate and they wouldn’t put up with my attempts either.

      On top of that, I have friends who I actually like that would be targets of these groups. Not only would I be worried about losing their friendship by staying associated with known hate group members, but I’d worry about their safety.

      1. Helka*


        Sometimes people won’t realize just how problematic their views are until they’ve lost friends due to those views.

        My social circle is finishing up the process of freezing out someone who won’t stop making sexist and homophobic jokes, despite being repeatedly told that his behavior is unacceptable and he’s making people in the group upset. We’re keeping a quiet and distant eye on him to see if he changes his behavior — and if he does, he’ll be welcomed back (albeit cautiously). But it’s on him to change, not on us to cajole him to.

      2. puddin*

        That is a good point. There are consequences for behavior.

        And Helka I like your ‘wait and see’ approach as well especially after you have invested in trying to right the wrong behavior.

        I am admittedly playing devil’s advocate a bit because I think we have to be cautious about good vs bad and the judgements we make. I probably sound a little preachy and I apologize for that.

        1. Tinker*

          Trouble with “devil’s advocacy” as it is commonly applied is that it seems to be very easy to accidentally devalue the perspective of the people affected by a given Horrible Thing, particularly when those people are relatively less privileged. I’m going to be a bit more like an actual devil’s advocate and suggest that lightly held contrarian positions are a fair bit less useful than many people seem to think they are.

            1. Natalie*

              I should print that first one out and keep it around for the next time my friend’s terrible boyfriend tries to start a fight with me.

          1. Helka*


            I’ve had people play devil’s advocate at me about issues that don’t touch them personally, but do have a very real and immediate impact on my life. It’s incredibly disrespectful because the message basically becomes “I think your real daily struggles and pain are good fodder for a fun intellectual debate and I’m going to argue against your full human rights because I think it’s interesting.” It’s awful.

    3. Diet Coke Addict*

      What’s more, while it is a nice option to help people to become better human beings, it’s by no means required. The OP isn’t actually required to help improve someone else’s ethics, and shouldn’t feel obligated to do so. I don’t want to be friends with people who have that level of hate in their lives–whether in the past or the present. I don’t want to be their teacher, and I have plenty of non-bigoted people in my life.

      I have a finite amount of time, and who I choose to spend it with is entirely up to me. No one is required to coach someone into becoming a better person.

      1. fposte*

        The other problem is that I don’t think I’d want somebody to be friends with me in order to improve me.

    4. Tinker*

      Yeah, no.

      What is missing here is that if this person is an unreformed neo-nazi, they’re apt to be incredibly incompatible with if not outright dangerous to a wide variety of people — not just folks of particular ethnic backgrounds, as if that wasn’t bad enough, but also queer folks, women/AFAB folks (particularly the visibly nontraditional and/or nondeferential), and… really anyone with more decent philosophical views, ultimately. It’s kind of hard to use one’s friendship to gently guide a person toward reform when the thing you’re reforming is something like “that you should be correctively raped and that several of your friends should be beaten to death”. To be blunt.

      I suppose that is approaching the situation with fear instead of love. Darn.

      1. Livin' in a Box*

        This is the part that I think a lot of commenters here don’t understand. These neo-nazi types are dangerous to almost everyone. If you’re not a white, male, racist douchebag, these people will hate you.

    5. soitgoes*

      I’ve been pressured to maintain friendships with abusers in the past, under the logic that I could help to change them.

      My argument is always that my life is not to be treated as a vehicle for someone else’s learning experience. I don’t owe anyone an education, nor am I obligated to suffer through friendships that I no longer want to participate in. Your comment is an example of how people are encouraged to not step away from harmful situations, and I find it appalling. I’m not going to mince words here: you’ve suggested something absolutely terrible and potentially dangerous.

      As a Jew, I am absolutely allowed to approach a situation involving a neo-Nazi with fear. Are you kidding me? Why on earth would I approach this person with love? The “la-di-da, just be niiiiiiice to each other” attitude doesn’t fly here. The neo-Nazi is already NOT being nice.

      1. why i posted this question*

        Why do you even have to say that? Have I not been clear? I can’t use names because I’ve been warned not to.

    6. Observer*

      Does it make a difference? Because the real question is “Am I approaching this sanely or not?” Fear and love are not mutually exclusive, and it’s incredibly foolish, naive and often dangerous to assume that love can and should over-ride fear. Yes, often fear is irrational. And sometimes even rational fears should be over-come. But, the reality is that fear is a signal to us that something is wrong. Whether you see this as an evolutionary adaptation or a gift from G-d, it’s DEFINITELY a tool we have to keep ourselves somewhat safe. Ignoring these signals because “love conquers all” is stupid, at best. Suggesting that someone else take that route goes from stupid to irresponsible.

      That’s in addition to the other points made here.

    7. Not So NewReader*

      I think that puddin’s point is a valid one. Someone has to teach child abusers to stop abusing their child.
      This is not a job that everyone has the ability to do. Nor will the hateful/abusive person allow just anyone to help them. Heck, they may not even want help.

      We don’t have enough information about where Friend is at right now. Is she still an angry/hating person? Or is she struggling? Or has she totally reformed? We don’t know.

      We do know that OP is asking for help. I think it is safe to say that OP is not going to be one of the people who will show Friend a different way. (OP, I don’t think I would do it, either, FWIW. I would need way, way more information than what we see here. And I would enlist friends to help me with my new friend. I would not take this on by myself.)

      I suggest that there is a third choice, not just love or fear. OP, you could go to professionalism- and make that your foundation: having professional standards/habits; speaking as a professional would speak; being concerned about maintaining professional ethics. In short, be very focused on your work and doing it successfully. Role model this.

      What I like about this, is OP can do this right now, while she mulls over what her next steps are. And no matter what course she chooses, OP can continue to be a strong professional role model. Carry yourself in a matter of fact way, such that it conveys the message, “I am doing a good job and I expect people around me to do a good job.” It’s amazing how people will follow along with a similar attitude, if they see one person doing this.

  26. EmilyG*

    I think the anonymous printout option is a good one and that you’re right to be concerned: that this person’s views could affect their treatment of patients.

    But if you send a letter, make it clearer than this one was! I had to read it three times to figure out what the “friend” did as opposed to her ex. Mentioning the ex just clouds the issue, which isn’t about her choice of boyfriends.

      1. Karowen*

        If she reports it she should definitely leave the ex out of it, but she might have included it in the hopes that maybe the woman was mixed up in it because the ex was, but didn’t ever really believe it.

      2. some1*

        I am guessing she included it in part to give the background of how she found out her friend is a white supremacist. She found out the friend used to be in jail so she googled the boyfriend out of curiosity to find out what the guy was in for.

      3. why i posted this question*

        Relevant fact is that the ex is in prison for many years. Ex is a former law enforcement agent. Ex also was deeply involved in these groups. And again I have been told to “leave this alone”. Pretty relevant I would say.

  27. Kaz*

    Leave it alone. If you want, you can stop being friends with your friend, but that is as far as you can take it. As for the ex of your friend, the system is already dealing with him, let the system do its job. Also, as for all the citizens on this thread who like playing “internet cop” who think that you should report this, don’t listen to them, their rear end is not on the line, yours is.

    1. Elizabeth West*

      I have to agree with this. I don’t know much about the level of background check that the friend was subject to, but if the information is this accessible, I’m pretty sure the employer probably knows about it. And if Friend did cooperate in the investigation of her ex, the FBI or any other related law enforcement knows about it too. Yet she still got this job. So obviously, there is no perceived threat here, for the moment.

      I would rethink the friendship, but that’s as far as I would take it unless I saw concrete evidence of some type of unlawful or unethical activity.

  28. De Minimis*

    I’m wondering if they know and they’re being overly cautious….it sounds like the friend hasn’t broken laws herself, and maybe the employer just doesn’t want get involved with employee’s activities outside of work—especially if it’s something that might be in the past. There may also just be an assumption that as long as their license is in good standing that they are okay to be employed there.

    For most people that have to undergo some kind of formal background check, this type of thing would not show up on it in a lot of cases if the person had no criminal record and/or hadn’t been arrested. I think it would not be something that would come up unless the person was going for a higher level security clearance.

    But I would probably try to stay out of it as far as whether to report them. I would just try to not get involved with them more than was necessary for work. I think it would be best to not dig any deeper or try to find out anything from them about it. If I had evidence it was affecting their work, at that point I might consider informing your employer about it.

  29. Paul*

    I’m curious about the way that this question is worded. Does the ex have any relevance to the story/problem? It seems this is really just about the “new friend” (whose colleagues definitely need to know about this, fwiw).

  30. Karowen*

    The only thing that would make me hesitate before reporting is this: Recently on Reddit there was a thread about people who were involved in cults and how they got out of them. One of the responses was from someone who was brought up in a neo-nazi setting (literally had a portrait of Hitler in their house, each child was given a copy of Mein Kompf for a specific birthday, etc.). The poster went on to speak about how they didn’t really think much about it as a kid but grew out of it.

    Based on the level of positions, I’m assuming that your friend was an adult while participating in this group, but it’s still possible that she was – to some extent – brainwashed, and that she has changed her tune.

    On the one hand, I’m horrified at the thought of a neo-nazi being in a position that is designed to help others – I can’t imagine how they’d “help” certain groups – but on the other hand, I’d feel awful if a person has woken up to reality, moved on with their life, only for this to keep coming up.

    OP, can you tell us when the article or book was published? Was it recent, or was it years ago?

    1. Adam*

      Yes, cults are extremely scary things and the havoc they can wreck on the vulnerable people they draw in can be lifelong devastating. For those who haven’t seen it the movie Martha Marcy May Marlene starring Elizabeth Olsen is a great look at “life after a cult”. It’s rated R and some may find it really disturbing so be advised before you consider watching, but if you’re up for it I think it’s a fascinating watch.

        1. Adam*

          In addition to being a great movie, it’s also what sold me on Elizabeth Olsen actually being a good actress. My younger sister was way into Full House back in the day, so I had a severe aversion to all things Olsen until Elizabeth came on the scene.

    2. LawBee*

      I’d be terrified to have someone who was an officer of a hate group be remotely responsible for my wellbeing as a gay person – and if that person has truly changed, that person would understand. (If not, then I’d question the change.)

      1. AnonyManager*

        Exactly. It doesn’t matter so much why or how someone came to hate me (or other groups) enough to be a ranking member in a hate group. Why should I (or anyone) risk safety and wellbeing for such a person to have “a chance” or a “2nd chance”. Let them prove they have “changed” some other way that doesn’t include gambling my safety.

      2. Zillah*

        and if that person has truly changed, that person would understand.

        Yeah, this. Someone who truly sees the error of their ways is going to understand where you’re coming from, not be angry at you for it.

      3. Karowen*

        That’s a very valid point – I’ve been very lucky in my circumstances in life, and have never had to worry about being hated on sight for nothing more than being who I was born to be – maybe a bit of misogyny here and there but nothing that has made me fear for my safety. It’s hard for me to imagine being in such a place, so sometimes I don’t think about how horrible it would be (and for that, I am sorry).

        I always want to believe the best in people, even though that’s not really possible in this world. I want to believe that she changed and is trying to make right what she did wrong, trying to balance out her karma and all that. But you’re right that her feelings shouldn’t come before the safety of whole groups of people.

        It’s times like this that I wish that Veritaserum or the Truth Spell were real and could be used at will!

    3. Just Visiting*

      The solution for this is simple: The Internet. If you’ve truly reformed, it should be nothing for you to publish a Medium article (or some similar site) under your real name that testifies to that. Your name is already linked with a neo-Nazi group, so it’s not damning yourself to publish an article saying “I was wrong, I’ve changed.” That article would probably rise to the top of the search results and stay there. I can understand someone who is reformed wanting to sweep this under the rug, but you just can’t do that anymore. So own it.

  31. Tiffany In Houston*

    As a black woman, I would absolutely hope that you would report this individual, without compromising your safety, of course. This person should not be in a position to be provide any type of medical care to any minority groups, given their past of being involved in hate groups. And frankly, I don’t really care that they may have “changed”.

    1. Lunch time*

      +1000 I hope they can report it without compromising their safety too! Maybe she can get a reporter to do a follow up story on it

    2. KimmieSue*

      THANK YOU Tiffany in Houston! I wouldn’t want someone like this providing care to my family members or friends. Find a way to do it anonymously and safely but report it.

    3. Bee*

      I agree.

      Maybe this person has reformed or changed, but “Is this person a former Neo-Nazi or a current Neo-Nazi?” is not a risk that anyone should have to take with their health!

  32. Celeste*

    I would just drop it, and not maintain a friendship with the person. The reason is that you were not just told the information, you dug for it. I think it will come back and bite you for trying to start something. You only think this person will deny care to patients for some reason. You don’t have proof that it is how she rolls. I agree with AAM, they should have found this out with a background search, but they didn’t. I don’t think you are obligated to do after-the-fact searches for your employer.

  33. Lunch time*

    A couple of things. The friend is not sure if she included the information in the hiring process–which I doubt– But the friend is from a wealthy family, the case about the ex seemed to have been highly publicized– so I think it’s all moot.
    I’m sure the employer knows something but since this person is connected possibly through wealth and there is her “redeeming qualities” for being employed. Haven’t we seen this a few times over? Maybe she is redeemed. I do think the patients deserve to know though! How you can do that…I really don’t know.

  34. Nerd Girl*

    This letter bothered me…and for many more reasons than the neo-nazi racist aspect.
    The LW, when given the information that her new friend’s ex was in prison but nothing else, decided to go on her own and research the reason. Why? What bearing did having this information have on the LW’s life? My oldest brother was in prison for several years. To this day I don’t know the reason. I know that this is a few keystrokes away, but I respect that my brother doesn’t want to talk about why. It doesn’t change how I live my life to not know this information.
    The LW, finding the information that her new friend was involved in a hate group, immediately contemplates turning this information over to the woman’s employer and community instead of having a conversation with this woman. If this information is all public then why not say “I came across an article recently and your name came up associated with a really shocking group. This can’t be true, can it???” Why not give her an opportunity to defend herself?
    From where I stand it seems like the LW is all too willing to destroy a person’s livelihood without having all of the infomation. The state issued a license. Aren’t there normally background checks that go along with working with patients? I work in a medical facility and I had to go through SEVERAL extensive background checks and I don’t even see, touch, or talk to patients. The nursing staff where I work had to go through the same checks. Is it possible that this could be something that the woman did in the past? Most people have something in their past that they’re not proud of, that they’ve learned valuable lessons from and have changed. I also find it interesting that the LW indicates that her friend holds two degrees from prominent universities and comes from a wealthy family. How is this helpful in making the decision about how to handle this?

    1. Celeste*

      Exactly right. There is too much here that smacks of gossip and vindictiveness. The OP is making it an employment issue, when she was never tasked to do this search. I feel like there is an element of wanting to punish the person. Is there some degree of envy for the wealth family and the prestigious education?

      I think there has been a lot of emphasis placed on considering this person a friend, but the OP is not acting like any kind of a reciprocal friend.

      1. Zahra*

        Personally, I skimmed over that part. It didn’t even factor in my comments. You don’t need to be tasked with a search to want to bring it up to the proper authorities. What would you do if you were at a friend’s house and saw some child pornography (however you found it)? You would denounce friend to the police, even though you were not tasked to find the information and report it. It’s the decent thing to do.

        As for talking with her friend, OP *would* out herself as the person who sent the documentation when the information comes to light. I would not advocate that course of action.

        1. Celeste*

          The child porn is illegal to possess. The hate group is not illegal; individuals can be prosecuted for their own crimes, but just belonging isn’t illegal.

          1. Melissa*

            The illegality is irrelevant. We’re not talking about throwing her in prison for her membership; we’re talking about whether we’d want her taking care of patients.

        2. Nerd Girl*

          There’s a HUGE difference betweeen being a racist and possessing child pornography. The OP has not made any indication that her friend acted on racist beliefs beyond being in the organization. Merely being a racist isn’t a crime. She is entitled to her beliefs however wrong they are to the rest of us. Possessing, viewing, or creating child pornography is a crime. There is no gray area where it isn’t.
          The problem is the OP took it upon herself to find out why the friend had an ex in prison. Obviously his position in the community in law enforcement and within the group had moments when his beliefs influenced his job. This was against the law and he obviously has gone to prison and is serving time for it. The OP decided to look this up (without a reason beyond her own curiousity as she admitted!). And she wants to punish the friend for what she found without having a shred of proof that she’s still particiapting in this group, that she’s done something illegal, etc.

            1. Nerd Girl*

              As stated before: merely belonging to the group is not a crime. And the OP did not say whether the friend still belonged to this group.

              1. VintageLydia USA*

                You don’t have to commit a crime to experience negative consequences to choices you make. Belonging to a hate group is very good reason not to want to associate with someone and not to want them in a position to care for patients.

              2. Melissa*

                We’re not talking about criminal punishmnt. We’re talking about employment.

                Besides, you said there’s “no indication that the friend acted on racist beliefs.” There is. She 1) joined a neo-Nazi hate group, which is an action; 2) ascended to the leadership of this group, which takes action; and 3) actively recruited other people to also join in this group, which is definitely an action.

    2. Ann O'Nemity*

      I had some of the same concerns. Especially these:

      “Why not give her an opportunity to defend herself? From where I stand it seems like the LW is all too willing to destroy a person’s livelihood without having all of the information.”

      The OP sounds like a meddlesome instigator.

      1. Ann O'Nemity*

        I also want to add…

        I would be horrified if I found out that a friend has a history of involvement in hate groups. Horrified. But I would be very careful about taking any action that would blow up this person’s life without having all the information.

    3. LawBee*

      Q1 – why did LW look it up? Probably nothing more than idle curiosity.
      Q2 – why is LW trying to drive New Friend out of a job? that’s not what the LW is contemplating. New Friend already has a job. LW is contemplating the potential hire of New Friend’s ex. LW isn’t trying to drum New Friend out of a job, LW is concerned that Ex – who has a frankly terrifying history of BEING AN OFFICER IN A HATE GROUP – will be hired in a position to be giving intimate care to people who are possibly members of the groups that Ex’s hate group hated.
      Q3 – background checks are comprehensive, right? Not necessarily, see thread. But yes, this is something that should have come up in a background check (and perhaps it did and the potential employer has made its decision with this knowledge firmly in mind)
      Q4 – omg jealous much? I didn’t get that at all. My impression was that this is probably a small town where one or two families/companies have outsized influence. That’s a completely valid concern.

      1. LawBee*

        oops, ignore my Q2 – I re-read the letter and I’ve got that wrong. (regardless, I’d still hate to be under New Friend’s care)

    4. soitgoes*

      There’s nothing wrong or creepy about looking for information that’s available to the public. We all google people before going out on first dates. No one’s a stalker for reading a twitter feed or looking at a public instagram page. The “OMG how dare you read public information, commit it to memory, and then use it in the course of a logical thought process?!!?” accusation is something that’s trotted out a lot among immature bloggers and people who dig sanctimony. If I found out that a friend’s ex was in prison, I would want to know why, so I could make a decision about whether he would remain a part of my friend group. I refuse to associate with anyone who was convicted of rape, abuse, a violent crime, or anything involving children. I (and the OP) have a right to access public information, especially insofar as it’s necessary to put my own safeguards in place.

      Frankly, I think it’s odd that you don’t know why your brother was in prison. That isn’t something you can hold up as a normal expectation of other people, if only because most people’s moms are going to be ranting and raving about the trial as it’s going on. I can’t imagine my brother being arrested and my mom not sending me a bunch of stressed-out texts about it. And if you have kids, it’s unwise to be willfully ignorant of the types of people they’ll be spending a lot of time with. If your brother committed a crime that makes it dangerous for him to be around women or children, you’re on the hook for not keeping your kids away from him, even if you made a point of never learning what crimes he committed. Similarly, the OP is not wrong to see it as a moral duty that she should act to keep other people safe.

      As a side note, I think the line about “she is wealthy and went to prestigious universities” was meant to convey, “How could someone from such a well-to-do background get wrapped up in these activities when she had so many other options?” It also possibly helps to give context to why no one gave her a strict background check. Depending on the specifics of her job, she might be working in an in-demand field that can’t be too picky about who’s hired.

  35. Virginian*

    I don’t think this is any of your business. For all you know, the employee might have had this discussion with his/her employer, especially if the person in question was in prison.

  36. HR Manager*

    If you call her a friend, I wonder if you have a good enough relationship to ask her directly about her past. Admit that you were curious and looked him up, and found this information that was shocking about her and ask her if she is still involved. Give the ‘friend’ a chance to explain. Maybe she did have a change of heart. If the story is believable, and worth a second chance, maybe you hold out to see if this person has turned over a new leaf.

    If the person takes offense and tries to accuse you of snooping, well that may not bode well. If someone is trying to start fresh, and they are not prepared to address or apologize for their past, then this may not be a sincere effort (more of a run, hide or hope no one ever finds out). I’d handle things differently that may or may not include informing the employer. At the very least, I would be honest with the friend that the information makes you feel uncomfortable about maintaining a friendship with her (though I wouldn’t disclose the possibility of informing anyone else about her past).

    On a personal note, I once had a candidate for a specialist in a narrow field (required an MD). One of the candidates had an organization on his resume I wasn’t familiar with (German assoc.). The hiring manager tells me the organization has rumored connections to the Nazi party and that there might still be a neo-nazi faction in its members. It was not clear if this candidate was affiliated in any way and the rumors couldn’t be substantiated since I couldn’t reach out for intel in Germany. They went ahead with the hire because there was no evidence, but it left us all scratching our heads as to how we could substantiate anything. If we could have, we would have nixed him for sure.

    1. Zahra*

      Wait, you don’t need evidence to not hire this person, unless the person is in a protected group and you want to make sure you have a good reason to deny them the job.

      1. LawBee*

        Yeah, I don’t get the headscratching. I certainly was never given reasons for not getting a job beyond simply not being hired for it.

      2. Colette*

        That’s true, but if you don’t want to hire someone because of their beliefs (but they’re otherwise the best choice), you’d want to make sure you understand what their beliefs are before making a decision.

    2. frequentflyer*

      If OP asked the Friend about it, he/she would no longer be able to safely inform the employer. The Friend will probably figure out that OP’s the one who reported it. Safety’s a concern.

  37. AndersonDarling*

    OP, talk to your friend. Ask about it. That is the human thing to do before you run out and get someone fired and take away their livelihood by revoking their state license.
    You have know this person long enough for them to be a friend, but you never saw any kind of prejudice? You didn’t say that they talked about hurting people? Cheating people? They are kind enough to be your friend.
    I really don’t understand. This isn’t a question about employment or safety, at this point it is a question about destroying a person without knowing the truth.

    1. Elsajeni*

      I don’t think the fact that someone doesn’t shout their violent racism from the rooftops necessarily means that they’re reformed and no longer a violent racist, though. I mean, violent racists and members of hate groups live in society with the rest of us; they know that their beliefs are considered repellent by most people, so if they want to hold down a job or make/keep friends outside of the group, they know to keep quiet about those beliefs. And the “domestic terrorist group” label is often spun by the groups it’s applied to as evidence of government persecution of their beliefs, adding even more reason that members might be inclined to keep quiet about their affiliation.

      (I also hate the idea that telling the unflattering truth about someone is “destroying” them. If I say, truthfully, that Bob is a Klansman and he loses friends, his marriage, or his job over it, I didn’t ruin Bob’s life; his decision to join the Klan did. I do understand your point that we don’t know whether the friend is a current member of whatever group it was, though — if the OP does decide to contact their friend’s employer, maybe wording it as “At least at the time this article was written, New Friend was an active member of Group; I don’t know whether she still is” would be equally informative, but less prejudicial if she has in fact reformed.)

  38. Stephen*

    You know, the friend could well have been pushed into involvement in these organizations due to being in a relationship with a controlling, manipulative abuser (I know that we don’t know that about the ex, but call it a hunch).

    1. Helka*

      I sincerely doubt this person held leadership positions on the state level due to being pushed into involvement.

        1. De Minimis*

          From what I’ve read, the bar for leadership in these groups is pretty low, I could see a girlfriend or spouse getting pulled into a lower level leadership position if they were educated and/or well spoken, even if they might not have been 100% committed to the cause–especially if they were pressured by their partner.

  39. RVA Cat*

    The OP may want to check with the Southern Poverty Law Center to see if they maintain files on this person as a current threat. I would imagine they and similar anti-hate organizations have dealt with this situation before. I think notifying a credible organization committed to fighting against these groups would be the way for the OP to satisfy the moral obligation to report without putting him or herself in danger.

    1. Indy*

      Another resource would be One People’s Project. When people defect, they usually in some way, shape or form go through Daryle Jenkins. He would also be knowledgeable about this person if they were currently still active in hate groups or if they are still sympathetic or just in hiding.

      I am active in the anti-racist community, so this hits very close to home for me.

  40. Stephanie*

    This may be buried, but how detailed are background checks, really? There’s a fair chance new friend’s past didn’t come up in a background check by the licensing board or her employer, especially if she didn’t have any major arrests or convictions associated with her past. And I know not every employer bothers to Google.

    For jobs involving security clearances, I know there’s probing into personal life, but every job I’ve agreed to a check for, it just asked for X years of employment and residence history and education. The company just checked against what I provided (I’m sure using my SSN maybe brought up tax records from jobs I didn’t disclose like old retail positions). But I’m not sure how a background check without a security-clearance type interview would have brought up my non-work activities.

    That being said, I’m in the camp of leaving it alone and cutting this friend out your life.

    1. De Minimis*

      The lower level clearances are more about work/residence history, criminal record check, and maybe credit/financial history. I do know people at my work have really been raked over the coals as far as things regarding their finances and one co-worker said her investigator really focused on a recent divorce.

      I think you would have to get to a fairly high level before this type of thing might come up, although I think an ex being a convicted felon would likely be a sticking point in a lot of cases.

    2. NoPantsFridays*

      Yeah, this stuff could easily have been missed by the background check. I think it’s based on your SSN (in the US) and if the friend’s positions with the terrorist orgs were volunteer or under-the-table, they won’t come up as employment history. They don’t sound like education history and aren’t credit-related, so the employer could easily be clueless. FWIW, I’ve had jobs that I listed on my resume and wanted my employer to know about not come up on a background check because I held them while I lived in Canada — so they are under my Canadian SIN, not my US SSN! My US employer had some difficulty verifying my Canadian bachelor’s degree, too (it was worked out within a few months, but they hadn’t verified it yet at the time of hire).

      1. Karowen*

        Background checks (criminal checks in particular) don’t use SSNs in the U.S. Not particularly relevant but it’s a common enough misconception that I wanted to say something about it. Criminal information is pulled from public records and they redact stuff like SSN (if it was even on it to begin with).

        But to Stephanie’s point – media checks are pretty rare, and only really performed on high ranking positions.

        1. NoPantsFridays*

          Oh, that’s interesting! So my current and previous employment isn’t connected to my SSN? That’s remarkable. Good to know — thanks.

          1. Karowen*

            I’m pretty sure that it’s mostly done based on name. If the employer subscribes to a specific database your SSN may be used but I’m not certain. And typically it’s limited to what you provide – If I choose to leave my stint working at a bookstore off my resume/off my application, there’s not really any way to know who to contact (especially if the bookstore didn’t report to the database). Of course, that’s for your run-of-the-mill check, not for government clearance checks.

          2. Student*

            Your jobs are tied to your SSN via tax records in the US.

            You are also generally required to present proof of employment eligibility at hire – usually through an SSN for US citizens.

            Tax information is not available to normal employment background checks unless you provide it yourself. It is probably available to federal or state background checks, but I don’t know that for certain.

            This applies to the vast majority of US jobs. However, illegal “under the table” jobs that don’t pay proper taxes will obviously not be tied to your SSN. At the cost of any legal protection should your employer decide to not pay you properly.

            1. De Minimis*

              From my experience, generally your tax records remain private unless you are going for a job with the IRS. You have to sign paperwork giving them specific permission to check certain tax years. As an applicant I signed that paperwork but I don’t think they actually begin a tax check until the offer phase. This goes for seasonal and temporary employees too.

              I believe if you do end up working for them they do have the right to monitor your returns while you are employed there, and they are very strict about their employees being 100% in compliance.

              1. Karowen*

                Right – taxable income is tied to your SSN, but it’s not something that your standard background screening company can access.

    3. ab*

      The OP states this in his or her letter: ” … citizens of the town whose taxes pay my friend’s salary .” This tells me the employer is a public agency. Public agencies, as a general rule, have higher standards for background checks and can probe into many more details. They often use their own investigators, rather than relying on an outside vendor subject to FCRA. Interviewing neighbors, family members, and other associates is not uncommon. I would be surprised the employer and the licensing boards were not aware of this person’s background.

  41. Case of the Mondays*

    Is your “friend’s” picture on the website or just her name? Is there a chance that someone with the same name held those positions?

  42. LawBee*

    I would really be interested in both OP participation in the thread (assuming it’s not already happening) and a more long-term follow up, fwiw

  43. PM*

    Is it even legal to fire people with extremist backgrounds in the US?

    The city of Copenhagen hired a guy involved in murder and armed robbery as part of a communist terror group and couldn’t even fire him as they risked being sued for a substantial amount.

    1. Helka*

      It’s legal to fire people for just about anything in the US. You could get fired because your boss thinks your sweater is ugly. Membership in an extremist organization? Yeah, no worries.

    2. NoPantsFridays*

      Sure it is. If it’s not explicitly illegal, it’s legal. And it’s not explicitly illegal — extremist background is not a protected class like religion, race, gender, etc.

  44. Omne*

    According to the State Department’s Bureau of Counterterrorism, the secretary of state had designated 49 foreign terrorist organizations as of January 2012. The FBI and Department of Justice do not generate an official list of domestic terrorist organizations. I’m guessing someone is using the Southern Poverty Law Center list, which as much as I respect them, paints with a really broad brush.

    That said you’re in a very complicated area. You are going by newspaper articles and a book that may, or may not even be correct as to the organizations or your friend’s involvement. I spent several years investigating white supremacist groups and was member of a couple under assumed names (quasi LEO job ). The motivations of members vary all across the map. I knew members that actually had no problems with minorities but were involved due to beliefs in other areas, such as abortion. Very few of the groups were single issue and most of those are gone now supplanted by the sovereign movement and the general anti-government groups. Being an organizer or recruiter would not be considered important in the group unless they stayed in a leadership role. Best guess, her ex was heavily involved and she went along for the ride and was called a recruiter/organizer due to her involvement with him.

    Unless she has committed a crime, which would be on the FBI list, or expressed hate speech recently that can be proven she sh0uld probably be left alone. As strange as it sounds, not everyone in those groups believes everything they stand for. I know members of the Nation of Islam that don’t hate all “blue eyed devils” either.

    1. Mister Pickle*


      The LW may have found some ‘evidence’, but I doubt she really knows anything close to the entire truth of the situation. I personally wouldn’t be shitting in this person’s ricebowl over this unless I was extremely confident that I knew for sure what the story was. And it seems unlikely that the full story is going to be available to a casual investigator on the ‘net. She was “involved” with some shady organizations, but how? Was she ignorant and naive? Was she an FBI informer? Did her ex- simply steal her name and use her identity for dummy purposes without her knowledge? I don’t know. And I sure wouldn’t be sneaking around behind her back trying to get her fired or something unless I knew to a high degree of certainty that it was justified.

    2. Melissa*

      I don’t know. Personally, if I were hiring someone – or selecting a healthcare provider – I would not care to spend time figuring out whether a person joined a neo-Nazi hate group because they really truly hated minorities or simply because they thought the social networking opportunities were good. Being coerced into membership by an abuser, and then being called an organizer or recruiter because of his influence, is a valid point that gives me some pause. But in all other cases – that means that a person made a conscious choice to join a group that they know espouses hate for certain minority groups.

      I wouldn’t join Feminists for Life just because they’re feminists, nor would I join the National Organization for Marriage because I’m married. And sure, some people are members of organizations but don’t agree with all of those organizations’ platform tenets. But when the *main tenet* of the organization is minority group hate? That meant that you didn’t mind the hate group stuff enough; it simply didn’t bother you. (And for what it’s worth, I’d also be wary about hiring a Nation of Islam member, too).

      People need to bear the consequences for their actions; sure, people can change or maybe they never held the beliefs. But you chose to join a group that holds those beliefs out as a main banner. Don’t be surprised when people assume that you, too, believe those vile things.

  45. Joey*

    Yes. When you’re a public servant people have a right to have a say in what types of employees are being hired with their tax monies. If it were a private company I would say it’s none of your business.

    1. jag*

      I think exactly the opposite. We have freedom of speech in the US, right there in the Bill of Rights, and just because someone is saying terrible stuff on their own time doesn’t mean the government should, in effect, discourage that speech through employment practices.

      If they can keep it out of the workplace, how can the government decide what is right or wrong for people to say? It cannot and must not.

      Private employers are different – they are not held to the First Amendment and can have more latitude about what their employees do.

      1. Joey*

        Public Employees don’t have a first amendment right to say whatever they want without consequences.

        And, I’m not sure if you’re aware but I don’t know any public agency that would defend the hiring of this person. It’s just indefensible when you think about all of the citizens that believe government workers are slackers. And reality doesn’t matter nearly as much as the publics perception of it.

        1. jag*

          It’s not that cut-and-dry, and certainly government worry about public opinion of “slackers” is not a valid argument, even if it might be made.

          See especially this paragraph in a Washington Post article: “Relatedly, the government generally may not discriminate in employment or contracting based on the employee’s membership in an expressive association.”

  46. Kimberly*

    Silence = acceptance

    When this hate monger harms someone if you did nothing you are morally part of the crime.
    1. Print out proof

    2. Make at least 8 copies

    3. Send 1 copy each to former friend’s employer and licencing agency. Give them a reasonable amount of time to fire former friend and take way all credentials and file charges if appropriate. The persons in charge of hiring and background checking also should be fired, have credentials taken away, and face charges. Inform them you are going to the press if this is not handled publicly.

    4. If they do not handle the dismissal publicly – turn over the information biggest mudraker consumer advocate in your area. Think Marvin Zindler (guy who shut down the Chicken Ranch). Also send a copy to the appropriate fire brand politicians who need a few heads on stakes.

    I’m from a large metropolitan area so I see no point of traveling to do this. If you live in a small area where everyone knows everyone’s business, you should take that precaution.

    We do not need people in public trust who are members of hate groups . Look at the problems caused by the Fruitland, Florida cops who were KKK.

    Remember the words of Martin Niemoller

    First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
    Because I was not a Socialist.

    Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
    Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

    Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
    Because I was not a Jew.

    Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

    1. Elizabeth West*

      1. Possibly

      2. Ruin

      3. Someone’s livelihood

      4. Without all the facts.

      Since when was OP elected morality police? They hired her, they presumably did a background check when she got her license, and there is NO PROOF WHATSOEVER that her outside activities have affected how she does her job in any way. OP dug for dirt and she found it, but it’s not her place to spread it around. The friend has not done anything illegal. If she had, they would have busted her when they busted her ex.

      If OP wants to know more about this, let her ask her friend before she goes off half-cocked and starts a campaign against this person.

      1. Colette*

        And there’s no evidence that the friend still has those beliefs. Trying to get her fired because of something she did in the past and has walked away from is a good way to encourage people to stay with those organizations.

      2. Bee*

        I agree that OP’s friend has not technically done anything illegal (as far as we know) and OP should be sure about this.

        But you know what could happen if a Neo-Nazi is responsible for the healthcare of Jewish people, people of color, LGBT people, or disabled people?

        A lot more than one ruined life.

        1. De Minimis*

          I know I said it would be best to leave it be, but thinking more, if this were my specific workplace I would probably have to let the employer know. Our agency exists solely to care for a minority population, so I think it would need to be investigated. We also would have the same issues as far as tax dollars paying the employee’s salary.

          Of course, some might say if someone were a Nazi why would they work for this agency, but jobs are scarce enough that I could see it happening.

      3. Stephanie*

        Eh, a standard background check wouldn’t pull up hate group involvement unless it was a high-level government clearance where the investigators actually dig into your personal life. When I was background checked for my non-sensitive government job, they just verified employment and residence history and asked some cursory questions about my finances.

      4. Ilf*

        I have no sympathy for the beliefs of the group the “new friend” belongs/belonged to, but without more information this is a thought crime.
        And yes, silence is acceptance, but non silence is not equivalent to going to the employer. The suggestion made by a few here, to ask the friend about it, that is speaking up. If the OP hears NF (new friend) saying something racist, that is OP’s chance to speak up. If OP notices NF treats people differently depending on race, then she has a duty to go to the employer.

        1. Zillah*

          It’s not a ‘thought crime’ – no one is being arrested.

          In the more general sense, which is how you probably meant it – I am totally, 100% okay with certain ‘thought crimes’ when the person is working with a vulnerable population. I see no problem with ‘discrimination’ against someone who has a public track record of hating women if you’re hiring a GYN for your practice, for example.

          And the OP isn’t even talking about that. She’s talking about letting someone know. That’s all. If this is truly not a problem, then the employer – who is in a better position to observe her behavior and judge what constitutes problematic behavior – should just disregard the complaint.

    2. jag*

      “First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
      Because I was not a Socialist.”

      Do you realize that socialists were run out of jobs by people doing the sort of things you suggest? Oh the irony of it.

      If someone is “coming for” (ie harming people or locking up people as part of the powerful in our society) they have to be stopped. If someone is talking about things that you don’t like, well that’s a republican democracy with freedom of speech. That’s a feature of our society, not a bug.

      1. Helka*

        Because socialism is exactly like believing that the people whose healthcare you’re managing are subhuman, yep.

        1. jag*

          At the time, the people who were blackballing socialists thought that the socialist were supporting the violent overthrow of the United States. So yes, there is a good analogy there (not “exactly,” but in terms of suppressing unpopular speech, yes it’s close).

            1. jag*

              “There’s a difference between unpopular speech and racist speech. Can we please stop blurring it?”

              No, racist speech is a form of unpopular speech (among other things). But the right of people to hold it and express it must be protected in a free society. They just can’t act on it or take it the level of directly threatening or scaring specific people.

              There are crazy racists out there saying all sorts of stuff about people with my skin color. I sure wouldn’t want the government or a political party rounding them up (as the “First they came for” piece that Kimberly mentioned) is about. She has it backwards.

              1. Zillah*

                … but we’re not talking about “rounding them up” or making it illegal to express it! We’re talking about whether or not a person with a public history of hate speech should be able to medically treat people they have said they want wiped out! That’s a huge difference. I can believe in freedom of speech (and I do) without thinking that what they say should never affect how they are treated (and I do)!

                The OP’s friend can say whatever she wants. It’s sick, but she can. However, I don’t want a neo-Nazi treating sick people they think shouldn’t exist any more than I want someone who has talked publicly about liking child porn to work with children!

              2. Zahra*

                Actually, no. Hate speech may be a form of unpopular speech, but it’s not treated the same way. In some countries, hate speech is forbidden whereas other forms of “unpopular speech” are unrestricted.

            2. CA Admin*


              Racists have a right to be racist. The government can’t jail them for it. We don’t have to give them jobs, though. Job protections and freedom from shunning are not the same as “free speech”.

              1. Zillah*

                Yeah, this. No one is saying that all neo-nazis should be thrown in prison – we’re simply saying that they shouldn’t be responsible for people’s health care. (I cannot believe that there’s a debate about that.)

                And yes – there is a difference between hate speech and unpopular speech. It’s not really relevant to this question, but philosophically – while hate speech may be a form of unpopular speech, it’s distinct from other unpopular speech. Socialism was unpopular, but it didn’t advocate the genocide of anyone. That’s not just a little difference – that’s a huge difference in philosophical terms, and it should affect how people approach unpopular speech.

  47. Anonsie*

    I’m pretty surprised at all the “if she hasn’t seemed bigoted, it’s not a problem” going on in this thread. These types of organizations know full well that they’re under scrutiny and that people don’t like them– people in them (especially those in positions of authority within them) aren’t stupid, they know they need to act in a way that is acceptable to others when they’re in public or at work. They’re not completely lacking in self control and awareness. I think we’ve really made the idea of A Racist Person into a caricature at this point, where no seemingly normal person could possibly also be bigoted because bigots are blithering monsters, and that’s patently false.

    I have four thoughts here and not really advice on what to do because this is a hell of a question.

    1) This is not a regular office job we’re talking about here, this is a role where this individual is responsible for the health care of people who (from the way the LW is describing it) are probably ill or infirm enough that they cannot care for themselves or seek help if they need it. This is a role of immense responsibility that is already plagued with abuse, and someone whose views are likely to affect the care* they provide is quite literally dangerous to people’s safety in such a role.

    2) Normal people get sucked into these/raised in them all the time. They use weird cult tactics to pull in otherwise normal people who need some kind of support, that’s why they have recruiters in the first place. However that doesn’t make those people suddenly less dangerous to have in such a role. If they’re toeing the party line at the time, it doesn’t really matter how they got in.

    3) I would remain open to the possibility that this person could have been forced or otherwise coerced into all of her participation, however, by the lovely gentleman currently in prison. It could explain why ex, and why she’s not also a felon.

    4) I would also keep this other friend’s warning in mind no matter what. Avoid being obviously involved with these people in any way whatsoever. Especially considering the ex was in law enforcement, I would be very concerned that he was not the only member of this group who holds a position of authority in your area.

    *Yes, realistically this could be all of us, but in this case it’s rather certain.

    1. Elizabeth West*

      I’m going to play devil’s advocate here for a second, so bear with me, because I feel like people are all jumping on the Assumption Bandwagon. Being bigoted IS a problem–look at all the things people who are bigoted perpetrate. But has the friend done so? Does the OP have proof of any misconduct? If she did, I would back going to the employer 100%. But she doesn’t. All she has is publicly available information that presumably the licensing background check would have ferreted out already.

      Before anyone accuses me of sticking up for a neo-Nazi, I want to point out that unless she actively behaves that way at work and/or it’s undermining patient care, she is DOING HER JOB. I worked with plenty of people who weren’t shy about making their nasty, bigoted, ugly viewpoints known at every opportunity they got. But we don’t know that she is doing this—and the OP found out about the involvement by snooping.

      I say if she’s gone this far, she can ask her friend about it. Depending on the answer, she can then decide whether to continue the friendship or let it go. But if she doesn’t work with the friend and has no first-hand knowledge of any wrongdoing, there’s nothing she can do. I know it’s frustrating, but the license board gave her a license. Presumably, they already know. We can’t assume anything because the OP only gave us limited information here–she hasn’t even asked her friend about it.

      This could also serve as a warning about getting all up in people’s business. There’s an old saying–never listen at a knothole lest you be vexed. I know there are situations when it pays to find out what you can about something, but I can’t be sure this is one of them. This is one reason they tell jurors not to read the newspapers.

      1. Joey*

        Sorry it just doesn’t work that way. What you’re saying is that people shouldn’t concern themselves with how their tax dollars are being spent. Isn’t it the duty of citizens to voice their opinions and/or take action if they don’t agree with how tax dollars are being used? I know I wouldn’t want my family members to recieve government services from someone with a neo nazi past. Id question their hiring practices altogether.

        1. jag*

          So, if the issue is how we want our tax dollars being spent, does that mean that in a place that is very anti-abortion/anti-choice, a women’s right activist pushing for reproductive choice can be prevented from a getting a job unrelated to that topic. Tax dollars at work!

            1. jag*

              So that makes it acceptable?

              And BTW, since I pay taxes I particularly don’t want those kinds of abuses (suppression of dissent) done in my name.

          1. Zahra*

            The person in the letter is doing a job related to the topic: she’s providing healthcare. Unless she is doing so to a group of white, middle-to-upper class, heterosexual, anti-choice, christian people, she is coming in contact with people targeted by neo-nazi groups. With such power in her hands, she wouldn’t be allowed to come in contact with me and mine with a mile-long pole.

            1. Chinook*

              Umm, as “anti-choice, christian” I can verify that my religious group also gets targets by neo-nazis/KKK (though we tend to blend in better so usually only get targeted when there are no visible minorities around) For some reason, they think Catholics are the anti-Christ. *shrug*. We think the same of them only we don’t encourage burning down their meeting places and, instead, just choose not to hire those who are vocal about their beliefs (those who aren’t vocal are hard to spot).

              The flip side, though, is we believe in second chances and literal “come to Jesus” moments so I would want to talk to OP’s friend about what I saw on Google before rushing to judgement.

        2. LCL*

          People should be informed about the government, and keep an eye on what they are doing, and vote, and write their congressman and etc. But the attitude that citizens should be involved in every aspect of the government all the time because they are taxpayers is quite frankly paralyzing my city. You know why it takes the government so long to do anything? Because we have endless public hearings because everybody must be listened to. The best way to make government more efficient is, when they are doing a legitimate government task, stand back and let them do it!

          1. Joey*

            I agree in theory, but good luck with that. The reality is that government agencies will go to great lengths to please as many citizens as possible.

        3. Elizabeth West*

          Perhaps you wouldn’t–but the OP has no proof of anything. Neither do you. People here, along with the OP, are just assuming that the involvement means she can’t do her job effectively, and that isn’t necessarily true.

          1. Joey*

            You don’t need conclusive proof to report what you’ve found. You’re just reporting a concern. It’s the agency’s job to make a conclusion based on whatever evidence it deems relevant.

        4. Amy*

          The problem I think is that it’s considered a terrorist organization. It’s one thing if someone is in the “I <3 Hitler club" which is despicable but alas, free speech, I suppose, and someone who is in ISIS, the IRA, or any number of organizations considered to be terrorist organizations. In at-will employment, of course you have the freedom to have whatever views you want, but you also don't have freedom from the consequences of joining a terrorist group.

      2. Anonsie*

        Well, I’m not sure why I was on the receiving end of this one since I didn’t recommend any actions whatsoever. This is a really difficult question and I’m not so bold as to say I know the best course of action. But I do think a few of your points here are a bit of a reach, as someone who works in health care.

        Essentially, regulation is often not as fine a mesh as you’d think. I would not at all assuming the licensing board knows anything about it, for starters. And if they do, then pointing it out again won’t do any harm to anyone.

        Also, it is very difficult to track potential issues with inpatient or home-based care. Extremely effing difficult. Abuse is hard to notice or even pin down when suspected, and other more minor violations are even harder to catch. It’s possible to be making ethical violations in way that aren’t procedural violations as well, so even if someone saw every single one you’d have to put together a pattern to know there was anything amiss. So it would be very, very easy for someone to be behaving badly in such a role without anyone noticing unless they bothered to look closer.

  48. Arno Michaelis*

    My perspective as a former neo-nazi

    (Read more of my story at )

    If someone is an active member of a hate group, it is certainly a concern for an employer, as the racist mindset will have an adverse effect on their work.

    If the person has left hate groups and is genuinely trying to change for the better, it is crucial that they be given the chance to do so.

    1. Joey*

      Genuinely is the key word there. How can you ever be sure someone is genuinly changed and won’t revert. Why should an employer take a chance that they don’t have to take?

      1. Omne*

        Since you can never know someone’s genuine beliefs without reading minds I guess that means nobody in your world ever gets a second chance.

        1. Joey*

          Not when there are plength of people who don’t need a second chance. employers have no business interest in assuming more risk than they have to. It’s just not smart business.

          1. Elizabeth West*

            But you did not hire this person, and the person’s company did. We have far less information about the situation than they do. Even the OP couldn’t be arsed to just ASK her about it!

            1. Joey*

              Right. And it’s hard to blame someone for wanting to raise a concern that a govt agency isn’t wisely hiring employees.

            2. Zillah*

              I think part of why the OP isn’t “just” asking her is concern for her safety. If she brings it up and this friend has not reformed, her safety could be at risk if she then reports it, because it won’t take a rocket scientist to figure out who the “snitch” is.

    2. Chinook*

      Arno Michaelis, first congrats on getting out. I like how you brought up that if someone genuinely trying to change, they need to be given the opportunity. They also wouldn’t be surprised if a friend brought up said google findings and asked WTF (and may even appreciate having a chance to explain how they have changed and why rather than jusst being written off). As I said farther up, someone who is trying to reform who is ostersized for past beliefs that they now regret having may actually be pushed back into that old lifestyle because it was the only place they were accepted. It can become a self-fulfilling prophesy – she was once part of a hate group so she will always be part of that hate group. If she is not given a chance to make friends who support her new choices, then what is stopping her from going back to her old ones?

      1. Omne*

        Well said.

        At the time I remember thinking it was very similar to how drug addicts acted. If they made a clean cut they usually succeeded, if they didn’t they frequently reverted back to the groups.

    3. anonsymoot*

      Yay, you got out. I still wouldn’t want you touching my gay healthcare. I would never trust you, based on CENTURIES of history against gay people.

      Let this person try to change for the better in another field, not healthcare.

        1. VintageLydia USA*

          Only if every man every where has a history of being engaged with formalized hate groups against women.

          1. puddin*

            You are right, it is only recently that laws have been enacted to curtail human rights for gay people by ‘non-formal’ hate groups known as the voting public. Women on the other hand were property for thousands of years by the same non-formal groups of people in power.

            1. anonsymoot*

              Well, I’m both gay and a woman, and I don’t know why you’re framing this as an either/or. I mean, I honestly literally don’t know where you’re trying to go with this. My struggle as a lesbian isn’t as worthy as my struggle as a woman?

              Also, I call bs on the “only recently” bit. It’s more like “only recently” have we finally seen progress towards recognition of the rights we already have as citizens of this country.

  49. ---*

    I think it depends on the job. Someone in law enforcement should be held to a higher standard. Someone in a job where there is historically discrimination against the constituency the person is hating on should be ruled out. And also very high-level staff who are public-facing in some ways should not be associated with stuff like hate.

    But a random computer programmer being in the KKK? Or someone vigorously anti-gay as an accountant? Or bus driver? If they can keep it out of the workplace, I think it should be allowed. We shouldn’t control what people believe in this society.

    There are all sorts of beliefs that people find repugnant but that shouldn’t prevent people from working. There was rampant anti-communist sentiment in this country that forced people out jobs just because of their political/personal beliefs.

    I say this as a straight black guy with many gay friends.

    The gun crime and crime with the minor is problematic to me. But even there, if he served his time and is convincing that he’s not acting out again, I don’t see the problem in him having a job unrelated to what he did.

    1. Chinook*

      “Someone in law enforcement should be held to a higher standard”

      Knowing second hand from DH what it takes to become a cop in Canada, I am shocked someone with this attitude would make it as a police officer. He had to go through a lie dectector test that asked him about everything (and that was after they saw he had NATO super top secret security clearance or whatever it is called, so he already had his background, my background and our parents’ backgrounds completely vetted). He said he was asked questions about his opinions and lifestyle on various occasions and the answers then were verified with the test. Do they not do that in the U.S.?

      1. Dmented Kitty*

        Polygraph tests are not necessarily infallible. People can actually fool lie detectors, and we are all humans — there’s always a possibility someone can slip through the system, while not a significant, but unfortunately possible.

      2. ab*

        Most law enforcement agencies in the US use polygraph tests as part of pre-employment screening, even though most research shows they are not reliable for employment purposes. Polygraphs measure physical reactions and a skilled administrator looks for verbal and nonverbal cues. They don’t actually detect lies. Thus, polygraphs are generally most effective on people who actually believe they detect lies. Those who know how polygraphs work can beat them.

  50. Csarndt*

    1) the OP has seen first-hand no evidence of hatred, prejudice, illegal activities, etc. at work or outside of work.
    2) the ‘dirt’ is regularly available information via google.
    3) the employer either did or should have done some homework including google-able information as well as references, previous employers, criminal, and consumer background checks.
    4) a serious complaint or pattern of complaints would have resulted in loosing her license or at least have a record with the state.

    So…there is noting to be gained by the OP ‘reporting’ her ‘investigation’ to the employer. Now, if the new friend was relaying a story about how she let a suffer because of her bigoted beliefs, I’d call the employer or state agency and give my name because it’s the right thing to do and anonymous information is more likely to be ignored and can’t be followed up on if they need more details.

    1. Zillah*

      Yeah, but unfortunately, in the real world, most bigoted speech and action is not served to you on a golden platter like, “Haha, I totally refused to give this black woman painkillers and told her she’d be fine! Because black people. Screw them. Amirite?” That doesn’t make it benign; it makes it harder to spot.

  51. RandomVoice*

    As thoroughly abhorrent as I find the beliefs and actions of this “friend,” I have to grit my teeth and say that I believe they fall under the umbrella of “things one does outside of work that are nobody’s business.” It is possible to be an awful, awful human being and simultaneously a decent or even great employee.

    As a thought experiment, what if this situation were reversed? What if this was the 1940s/50s/60s and the friend was active in civil rights marches in an area where the power position was very much opposed to such movements? Obviously we would not want this person targeted at work for their views on race. I think we have an obligation–however unpleasant it may be–to allow employees’ personal lives to be personal.

    1. Zahra*

      If it was the reverse and I was working in a civil rights movements in the 60s, I would actually expect it to affect my employment. I would know that it came with the territory and try to gracefully accept the hit to my career.

      1. jag*

        Right. You would expect it. And it would be wrong that it was done. You shouldn’t accept it gracefully. You should understand it, and be disturbed by it, and hope it doesn’t happen to other people.

        Living in a free society doesn’t mean free for things we agree with. Bringing economic pressure on regular people for their beliefs is bad news for freedom.

        Black guy whose parents marched on Washington in the Civil Rights Movement

        1. Zahra*

          I would hope it wouldn’t happen to other people, I know it would be wrong, but, in reality, what are my choices in the here and now? Continue to march for civil rights and better society for everyone or shut up and put up with it so I can get a better job. People have to make these choices everyday, even now.

    2. Xay*

      There are organizations I will never ever work for because my affiliations and beliefs are against their mission, even though I find their work interesting. I am ok with that because I am an adult and willing to accept the consequences of my actions.

      And to be clear, there is significant literature on the impact of unconscious racial bias on healthcare. Would you expect the effect of conscious racial bias to be less?

      1. ...*

        This is actually my line of work. I’m in internal medicine and this is my area of research. Research shows that there is significant bias and discrimination in health care settings resulting in disparities in care outcomes for historically vulnerable populations that cannot be explained by other factors (such as insurance level, social-economic status, cultural differences in adherence, etc.). It’s extremely difficult to measure and even harder to control, since much of it is unconscious bias (although there are practices that can be adopted to help ensure equity in quality of care).

        So I can’t even imagine how bad outcomes might be for patients whose providers are blatantly racist.

    3. anonsymoot*

      Disagree since this is a health care position we’re talking about. Someone who was active and an officer of a neo-nazi group that was recognized by the FBI as domestic terrorists don’t get to then hide under the “this is my personal life” when part of their job will be directly helping vulnerable people of the groups they hate. There is a difference between “I don’t like gays” and “I’m going to join and help run a terrorist organization that hates gays”.

    4. AnonyMouse*

      One of the problems with that kind of thought experiment, though, is that being in a civil rights group and being in a neo-nazi group aren’t just “reversed” or two sides of the same coin – they’re fundamentally different things. The reason being in a neo-nazi group as a healthcare provides is bad isn’t that it’s a political view I disagree with, it’s that it’s a view that could, in that circumstance, seriously hurt people. Opinions that are unpopular with the “power position” and opinions that fundamentally disrespect, demean and endanger whole groups of people aren’t the same thing and we shouldn’t pretend they are.

    5. CA Admin*

      Wow, let’s not compare these things.

      Something bad happening to someone’s job for trying to make the world a better place (the Civil Rights struggle) is absolutely NOT the same as something bad happening to someone’s job for being part of a hate group that actively tries to harm people.

      Let’s stop with the false equivalencies–they’re a classic way of derailing a conversation about minorities’ and women’s rights.

  52. HealthCareAnon*

    I am absolutely fascinated by the direction of this conversation. I work in health care and I’m trying to imagine learning this kind of information about a coworker. I don’t know that I would even take that information to my boss, much less report them to their licensing board. I might need to see if I can figure out a way to pose scenario to my boss as a hypothetical, and find out what *he’d* want done.

  53. Anonforthis*

    I know who you speak of when you mention the ex. In the parts I’m originally from it was a big news story but it didn’t get a lot of national press. I can tell you the investigation isn’t over, more people are still being contacted, and employers will continue to be talked to. I can also tell you that the community isn’t likely to be as outraged as the surrounding communities are/were. I don’t know what to tell you to do except don’t show any animosity to a member of this group but also don’t surround yourself with them either. The press is staying on top of it so if you felt a call to action, reaching out to the author of the publications that featured it would be one good way to approach it. I really hope the reason you haven’t reached out is more out of fear or uncertainty rather than excusing this.

    1. De Minimis*

      This makes me think the employer might not care, if the local community is less likely to be outraged by it.

      I agree, the press might be a good option.

      Very curious to know what and where this is….

  54. HeyNonnyNonny*

    I used to have a coworker who googled Every. Single. Business contact he had. I’d actually find it really hard to believe, in this day and age, that someone at her place of work doesn’t already know.

    That said, could you inquire at her agency to ask about their hiring process? I’m sure they have an official procedure in place, and it might set your mind at ease (or not) to find out if it might have already been addressed.

  55. health care anon*

    Perhaps I’m off my rocker… But what if this person has changed? How long has transpired between this position and the persons history? Have they been charged with anything? Or rehabilitated in anyway? Perhaps they were an informant (and maybe that’s why the Army buddy says to leave it alone)?

    I would straight up ask – if you feel inclined to do so.

      1. Nerd Girl*

        Why? It’s quite possible that this person has changed. Do you feel as passionately about something you were involved in 5, 10, 20 years ago? There’s been so much said about how people are disheartened by the amount of people here who are in support of not jumping to conclusions. I feel the opposite. I’m disheartened by the amount of people who are so sure that people aren’t capable of change no matter what their beliefs were previously, who are so sure that this woman is guilty without knowing all the facts. Let me be clear I do not support the beliefs and actions of the neo-nazi’s and should the woman still be actively involved in the group then I would support the woman’s removal from her position in healthcare but I am going to need more than a google search and news articles to go on before I feel comfortable telling someone to let the workplace and the community know.

        1. Zillah*

          But I don’t think most people are saying the woman is guilty – they’re saying, “Give the information to her workplace and let them make the call.”

    1. De Minimis*

      I think people get the wrong idea about informants—these aren’t like undercover agents, they are more like crooks who agree to inform on other crooks in exchange for better treatment or to have the authorities look the other way. Just about all of these people have turned informant at some point or the other to avoid charges or to be left alone [and many times to try and eliminate a rival group….a lot of them compete for the same group of donors/supporters.] Just saying that just because someone involved in these groups might have become an informant doesn’t mean they’ve reformed…

  56. Human Resources Director*

    in CA, discrimination against a person based on their political affiliations is illegal. One could argue that participation in neo-nazi hate groups is a political affiliation. I’m not a big fan of neo-nazis but, remember that we are talking about the difference between personal and professional life. As a black person, I wouldn’t want to go to the parking lot alone and face this person but, that’s mostly a personal problem. If there is an actual threat of violence, that’s a different thing.

    1. Katie the Fed*

      “One could argue that participation in neo-nazi hate groups is a political affiliation”

      No, it’s not.

      And if this person DID do something on the job to discriminate against or harrass a minority, the company’s liability would probably be worse if they knowingly hired a neo-Nazi.

      1. jag*

        Acting on a belief at the job is not the same as participating in the activity off the job.

        And racism as espoused by Neo-Nazi groups is absolutely political – they hope to recreate society along lines they want. That is clearly political. Belonging to such a group is a political affiliation. If the group actually does crimes, then it’s more than that.

        It boggles my mind that people think racist organizations are not political.

        1. Katie the Fed*

          “Acting on a belief at the job is not the same as participating in the activity off the job. ” Of course. But if a company knowingly hired someone that participated in these organizations and THEN something happened, it would be much harder for them to say that they didn’t have a part in creating the situation that led to the discrimination, harassment, or worse. They knew who they were hiring – if that person does something, the company is at fault.

          The beliefs may be political, but it would be a very big stretch to say it qualifies as political affiliation under that law.

          1. jag*

            Why is it a stretch? It seems straightforward: Guy is state president of an internationally known neo-nazi organization, and they advocate separation of the races and are working to achieve that in the US and elsewere.

            That seems clearly political and clearly an affiliation.

            1. CA Admin*

              I think it stops being merely a political affiliation when their stated goals are to actively harm LGBT folks, minorities, people of certain religious affiliations, etc. In that case, it’s not just a political affiliation, it’s a call to action and a threat towards members of the public.

            2. irma s*

              Your argument loses steam when you consider the reality of how to implement fascist racist plans. And also that IN REAL LIFE the prevailing government is listing the organization as terrorist. “Terrorist” is not a legitimate political affiliation, much less one that needs protection from discrimination.

              For God’s sake.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      “As a black person, I wouldn’t want to go to the parking lot alone and face this person but, that’s mostly a personal problem.”

      I’d like to add to this: Any time, anyone in our society cannot go out to a parking lot alone without concern about another person- then WE, as a society, have a problem that we are all responsible for.

  57. Poohbear McGriddles*

    To me, the difference centers on whether this is a true terrorist organization that uses violence or threats of violence to achieve their goals, or just a group of like-minded individuals with whom the SPLC tends to disagree. If I found out Bob in Accounting was a member of ISIS, you can’t un-ring that bell just because I found out while stalking his Facebook profile when I should’ve been working on my TPS reports. The fact that he was in charge of their Twitter account and never actually beheaded anyone wouldn’t, in my mind, make it a non-issue since his P&L spreadsheets are impeccable.
    I’m not sure there is any legal obligation to report the new friend, especially since the LW apparently does not work for the same employer. Still, I can’t shake the feeling that there is some sort of moral obligation to do so.
    I can cut the LW some slack for using the term “friend”, since some people use this to refer to acquaintances and not necessarile BFFs. However, if the LW’s closest friends comprise mostly ex-cons and neo-nazis, it’s probably time to look for new friends.

    1. AnotherHRPro*

      ” However, if the LW’s closest friends comprise mostly ex-cons and neo-nazis, it’s probably time to look for new friends.”

      YES!!!! OP, you may want to starting thinking about who it is you are spending time with.

  58. Marianne*

    OP, I hope you do report this, and take measures to protect your identity when you do. Another respondent mentioned the quote from Edmund Burke – here it is: “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”

    1. fposte*

      Though let’s be honest–we apply that pretty selectively, most of us, given that most of our daily comforts are steeped in some pretty evil practices of labor and production.

      1. Nerd Girl*

        Truth in that fposte!!! I recently watched a documentary about goods made in China and it was disgusting that jeans manufactured there are sold here for $40 or more a pair, but the workers get upwards of $6 a day and they assemble thousands of jeans in a day. On top of that, companies require they pay their own living expenses while in company housing and sometimes that exceeds their daily wages. It was horrible. I haven’t bought a pair of jeans since.

  59. Shocked into anonymity*

    I don’t think I have ever seen the AAM posters give this much benefit of doubt to anyone. People have gotten torn to shreds over a sample cover letter but today the commenters are overwhelmingly asking for the OP not to rush to judgment about a literally card carrying member of a neo-Nazi organization, even attacking the OP in the process.


    1. Elizabeth West*

      No one is doing that. We are simply saying that the OP is basing this on information she snooped out, and she has not even asked the friend about it. She is not justified in jumping to conclusions with so little information when she doesn’t know all the facts.

      1. Joey*

        What’s the point of asking? It’s irellevant for her to determine whether anything is true. She just wants her employer to know there is concerning info she found on the web. The employer is the one who should be making the conclusions.

      2. Stephanie*

        Yeah, I was in the “leave it alone” camp mostly because she has strong suspicions (and that’s it), not because I’m pro neo-Nazi. If there’s a way she can report her suspicions anonymously as a “Hey, I found this damning evidence online, you probably want to investigate given her position” tip, that’s probably the most she can do.

        1. Anon Accountant*


          An anonymous tip would probably be the most she could do I’d say. And then let the employer handle the job side of things.

    2. Tiffany In Houston*

      I wish I could HUG you. The amount of leeway being given here is disheartening but not surprising at all.

    3. Bee*

      This is just amazing to me. I don’t understand what’s happening.

      Maybe it’s because I grew up in, and now live in, an area where Neo-Nazis and the actual KKK are active. This isn’t a hypothetical brain teaser for me – I’ve known these people and I want them nowhere near the health care profession. I think some commenters might be seeing this as an intellectual or moral exercise instead of a very real safety issue.

      1. Bee*

        By knowing these people, by the way, I mean that I went to the same middle and high schools as their kids. They aren’t people I socialize with.

      2. Anonsie*

        I think this is part of it for me as well. I’ve lived in places where these folks operate, I’ve had the misfortune of knowing a few. It seems like people are trying to treat this as a “different politics” sort of issue and it’s really, really not.

      3. Zillah*

        Yeah, I feel like pragmatism is taking a distinct backseat to philosophy in a lot of the threads in this post.

    4. Cath in Canada*

      Agreed 100%. I mean, it’s always good to point out that there may be other factors in play that we don’t know about, but in this case the chances that the OP’s new friend is a genuinely reformed character seem pretty slim. It’s by no means impossible, but it seems a lot less likely than the reverse.

      Balancing the likelihood of the two options, and the potential consequences of each option for OP’s new friend vs. multiple other people being treated by this person, I think I’d be coming down on the side of letting the licensing authority know what you found. However, I’d also give them the caveat that it’s possible this person is a genuinely reformed character – but IMO it’s best that the authority know so they can apply their own processes and rules to the information.

    5. Livin' in a Box*

      Plus a billion. The responses here are actually blowing my mind. This is the person we give the benefit of the doubt to? NO.

    6. The Strand*

      Thank you, thank you. I stopped reading halfway through just shaking my head. My (health) organization works so hard just to prevent sexual harassment… meanwhile, many of our patients at our flagship location are indigent and especially vulnerable, of multiple races including African-American… I feel certain that they would want to know about a neo-Nazi in their midst!

    7. Buffay the Vampire Layer*


      Plus, even under the most simplistic cost-benefit analysis she should tell. Anonymous letter enclosing the articles has nearly zero negative impact on the OP, and gives this info to the employer to do with what it will. This isn’t some sort of automatic firing that people are implying. Doing nothing worst case scenario lets AN ACTUAL NAZI continue to possess a caregiver license which to me sounds like some pretty intimate patient care.

      This is an issue of public safety. Err on the side of caution and tell the employer what you know.

  60. Sandrine (France)*

    Recently, I was accepted into an FB group for a hobby that Fiancé and I share. One of the members added me on FB. I thought it was cute, hey, new Friend! His wife was going to have a baby very soon, and I was happy when he made the announcement.

    I had no particular interactions with him, but Fiancé once told me “Haha, you really wouldn’t like this guy in real life.” and I asked why.
    “Oh my! Bigoted, racist, homophobe, you name it, he’s acted on it or talked about it in some way”

    I looked at the guy’s pictures with his new baby and couldn’t believe it. I tried to look at his FB page and noticed a few things here and there and decided to delete that person off my FB.

    My point is… unless OP has discussed it WITH THE FRIEND, then DO NOT DO ANYTHING ABOUT IT.
    It’s not like you caught your friend red handed. You looked things up.

    First step : TALK TO YOUR FRIEND.
    Second step : Analyse what she says.
    Third step : Is she still what she was ? Okay, report. Is she not ? Then don’t.

    Just don’t go around reporting people just because you see things online about them, even if it’s newspapers.

    1. Elizabeth West*

      Just don’t go around reporting people just because you see things online about them, even if it’s newspapers.

      Exactly. When I was job hunting, I was doing my due diligence online about a company I had applied to and I found these articles that said they were involved in a federal investigation related to import violations. I decided that if they called me for an interview, I would ask them about it.

      They called, and I asked, and they were very up-front with me about the situation. It turned out to be an overseas problem and not anything specific that they did. I ended up not getting an offer, even though the interview went well. They explained it very clearly and weren’t defensive at all.

      I thanked them for their candor and made up my own mind that if they offered me the job, I would not accept the position because the unresolved situation made me feel uneasy about the company’s future. At that point, even if the case were ruled in their favor, the potential legal costs could have wrecked them, and then I might have been out of a job again. However, I had no way of knowing until I asked them directly.

      So, yes, ASK.

      1. Zillah*

        But I don’t think that those two situations are as comparable as you’re making them.

        First: in your situation, you were the one making that decision. As the person who would have been most affected, that makes sense. But you’re saying that the OP, who is not directly affected, should be making that decision for a bunch of people who are. A better analogy would be if you had an acquaintance ask the company about the violations and had them decide, for you, whether the answer was worthwhile.

        Second: in general, I believe in communication. But if OP’s friend has not entirely, completely, 100% and forever severed ties with neo-nazis, asking the friend about it could put the OP’s safety at risk. She doesn’t want to get herself more entangled with this than she has to, so treading softly and letting the employer make the call might be the smartest thing to do.

  61. AnotherHRPro*

    I am all for “live and let live” as well as “mind your own business”… BUT…

    If you really have concerns, and I assume you do as you wrote into AAM, that this person could or would do harm based on past and/or current believes, I would recommend reporting it. If you are fearful for your own safety, do it anonymously.

    Reporting it does not mean that the person will lose their job. Nothing may come of it. That isn’t for your to take on. You would simply providing information to the people who should look into it and evaluate the person’s qualifications.

    I think the “mind your own business” rule goes out the door if their is a possibility of innocent people being harmed or laws being broken.

  62. Tiffany In Houston*

    This is my last comment on this subject because the comments today in defense of this topic are so disheartening.

    What makes this especially terrifying to me, is because I am aware of the horrible history that black people in this country have had when dealing with medical professionals. If you don’t believe me, then Google “Tuskegee Experiment” OR “forced sterilizations in North Carolina” OR “Henrietta Lacks”. This person is or was in a hate group and is charged with providing MEDICAL CARE to oppressed/disadvantaged/minority groups and as a result would have authority over treatment protocols (or lack thereof) of these folks, who are often poor/uneducated and sometimes both. Perhaps if this were some other type of profession I would feel differently. But know what I know about medical bias, I can’t in good conscience agree with not reporting this.

    And the fact that some folks think that this is defensible is terrifying. But again not surprising. At least not to me.

      1. Case of the Mondays*

        I know it is not your job to educate me but I think I have a different understanding of her case and would like to hear what you know. I recall the story as a cell was harvested from her during surgery that was immortal and was used for all sorts of research including the polio vaccine. I know she didn’t consent to have her cell used and commercialized but the Supreme Court has ruled that a patient has no interest in their “parts (tissues, cells, etc.) once they have left the body and they can be used for research. I have a rare condition and each time I have a minor surgery for that condition my cells are taken and used in research for that condition. They actually also photograph me and discuss me at medical schools. Aren’t I lucky? Anyway, from the info I had it sounded like proper medical treatment but now I’m thinking there is another side of the story I am not aware of.

        1. LawBee*

          We are all are indebted to this woman. I bet you gave consent for your cells to be used in research, and you gave consent to be photographed and discussed in medical schools. That’s not luck, that’s part of the constitutional right to privacy. Henrietta Lacks was denied that right because her cells were harvested without her consent, and then used for research without her consent, then billions of dollars were made off of her body with no recompense. Later, the same thing was done to family members who donated blood thinking they were being tested for cancer – they weren’t. More blood for science, attained without informed consent. And it was all ok because she was African-American.

          Please research and don’t be so glib. The urge to give you a Let Me Google That For You link is huge.

          How HeLa Cells Work | Stuff You Should Know: The Podcast

          Henrietta Lacks: A Donor’s Immortal Legacy

          A Lasting Gift to Medicine that Wasn’t Really a Gift

        2. The Strand*

          Please read “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks” and check out LawBee’s links, as well as the other things shared by Tiffany in Houston. I also rec a book called “The Plutonium Files” to learn about other examples of unethical experimentation.

          You are also incorrect, it was a Supreme Court of CALIFORNIA decision regarding patients’ rights to their cells. You have rights as a patient not to be exploited and to understand what kind of research is being done with your cells and parts prior to it taking place. Ethically, the medical and related research professions are now expected to do a hell of a lot before using your materials in research, namely provide you an opportunity to provide informed consent. They also have to work within their institutions’ review boards to make sure that you’re informed and not exploited, and that they ballpark any potential harm to you from the research.

          You might want to find out if there is a “professional patient” online who has your condition and who is talking frankly about their experiences, good and bad.

    1. Alien vs Predator*

      Agreed. People keep making the argument that it is not illegal to be a member of one of these groups or to exercise their right to free speech. That much is true. But, for me, this isn’t really about legality. It is about ethics. Turning over public information to the employer is not an attempt to get someone fired. It is an attempt to get the organization to do their own research about the ethics of the person in question. For God’s sake, people in high level positions are routinely fired for lying on their resume about a degree they didn’t actually earn. I think lying about a degree and actually being a recruiter for a neo-nazi organization are light years apart in terms of ethics. Let the organization conduct the investigation and make up their own minds.

      1. Zahra*

        And usually, people who get fired over degrees they didn’t earn were reported by people who weren’t asked to check the fact. These people just checked, reported the data and let the organization decide how to handle it.

        The whole “mind your own business” tone of the comments really puts me off. We’re talking about human lives being at the mercy of a potential neo-Nazi person. Are you willing to wait until the person lets someone die or be handicapped for lack of proper care before you decide that maybe that person should have been reported years ago (and heaven knows how many other lives were affected in minor ways in the meantime)? I’m not. I would report that person in a “better safe than sorry” mode. The organization can then do whatever they want with the information, including not act on it.

        1. VintageLydia USA*

          Exactly. If its not a problem, it’s not a problem. If the employer knows, then you’re not giving them any new info. You’re not act as judge and jury by reporting. You’re just providing evidence.

          If this were any other topic I’d agree with those saying to talk to her first, but Neo-Nazis are very dangerous groups. If after talking to her the OP decides to report, she really can’t without it being more easily traced back to her. It would destroy whatever security shed get for reporting anonymously. Hell, even if someone else reports it after OP talked to her, it could still be misattributed to them and being in the cross hairs of a group like that is not a safe place to be. OP’s choices are to anonymously say something, or do absolutely nothing.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            Yeah. It’s not a good plan to talk to Friend and then report her. OP, think this through carefully.

            1. Livin' in a Box*

              Even writing this letter could have put OP at risk. Hopefully OP changed any identifying details.

    2. Kathy-office*

      Exactly, I’m seriously horrified and frightened by some of the comments here.

      This isn’t a thought exercise, this is someone that was an officer in a hate group that’s seen as a terrorist org by the FBI, working in healthcare.

      Should they not be able to get a job? I don’t care, you can argue all about reformation and second chances. But they surely should NOT be able to get a job in healthcare. Make whatever argument you want to make about getting second chances, an ex-hate group member should not be allowed to work in a health profession.

      If you want to read more about how racism and bigotry is a systemic issue in health care, I suggest reading Mwdical Apartheid. Whether it’s outright blatantly stated hatred or unconscious bias, it still affects people of color and hurts and/or kills them. I think that’s something a lot commenting aren’t realizing. This is a worry for people of color even when the healthcare providers involved have never been associated with hate groups.

    3. RishaBree*

      THANK YOU.

      This conversation is terrifying me. What the fuck, I’m somehow supposed to just trust that this person isn’t going to be giving bad healthcare to minorities? Even, say, unconsciously? These are real, actual, living, feeling people, not some moral hypothetical.

      If this person is genuinely repentant and pointing out their past to their current employer somehow actually hurts their career (NOT GUARANTEED, for a thousand reasons, apparently including this very disheartening discussion that I can see replicating itself in the hallways of said employer), then that’s unfortunate. I hope they continue on that path, and perhaps they should look for an administrative job of some sort.

      But that… let’s be generous and say, 15% chance?… is not worth the 85% chance that they’re just some racist asshat passing as a normal person to casual friends and work acquaintances and will likely hurt someone. Real people. Not hypothetical. Not kill – directly, at least. Not cause major injury, like some stereotype villain of the week from a crime drama. No, they probably have enough self-control to know that they won’t get away with that. But carelessly hurt them during exams, neglect them, not follow up on the faint signs of a possible early heart attack? That happens all the time, frequently less due to MWAHAHAH villainy and more because of not giving a damn about the person.

      Meanwhile, people are attempting to die on the ‘high moral ground’ of “well, she might have changed! Or not have meant the hate in the first place – no matter how unlikely that is, even if they were groomed or abused into it!”. (Though I have to say, I prefer that to the people who are effectively advocating ‘nmp’.)

  63. ab*

    I stopped reading about mid-way through. Lots of good arguments for both “yes, report” and “no, don’t report”. Some silly ones, too.

    I tend to lean on the “no” side, simply because the OP does not have enough information. Or maybe the OP does, but did not include in the letter. You don’t know why the “friend” was involved in this group. You don’t know why he or she is no longer involved. You don’t indicate that the friend’s actions or words are in any way consistent with the groups he or she used to be involved with. You don’t know the state licensing boards are not aware of his or her past. You don’t know that the employer is not, either, and government agencies usually do pretty thorough background checks.

    None of this excuses the behavior that is associated with these groups. But beyond doing some internet snooping, in my opinion, you have nothing and need to stay out unless you have some evidence that this person still believes this and – more importantly – acts on those beliefs.

  64. coconut water*

    How much time has passed since your “friend” has been involved with these people and groups? I haven’t read through all the comments yet so maybe this was already covered. Personally, I would not want ANYTHING to do with such a person. It would be difficult for me to not investigate to see if higher ups know about said persons past.

    I once saw deep south racists apologize to Oprah and talk about how they had changed. That leads me to think people like that can change.

    That said, no matter if the person has changed or not, their past involvement is a HUGE liability. If something should happen where the provider is called into court, a past like that would surely be a huge strike against their credibility as well as set a course for a huge lawsuit.

  65. illini02*

    Didn’t read all the comments, so I may be repeating, so sorry. I think unless you have seen evidence of these thoughts and behaviors in this person currently, then you should stay out of it. If you want to distance yourself as a friend, makes sense. But I’m of the opinion someone’s past doesn’t necessarily reflect their current views or how well they would do at a job. I know people who I grew up with who were somewhat homophobic. They got older, met people in college, made friends, and totally changed their tunes. I don’t necessarily think their past opinions should determine their future.

    Furthermore, do you even work with this person? If not, I think its even more ridiculous to report them to their employer when it has literally NOTHING to do with you.

    1. illini02*

      To be clear, I think this is horrible and I’m not excusing this person’s past behavior. But to bring this to a random 3rd party that you have nothing to do (their employer) with when its only a past that you learned about by snooping, it just doesn’t seem right.

      1. AnonyMouse*

        Saying she learned about it by snooping makes it sound like she read it in her friend’s diary or something – this is information she found in the local paper. It’s not inconceivable that her friend’s patients could find this information, too, and then feel like they couldn’t trust their healthcare providers/the health services in their town. And if they/the employer haven’t heard about it (which is very possible), passing along the information anonymously gives the employer the ability to decide what to do about it – if it’s nothing, so be it, but at least they were told.

        1. Zillah*

          And if they/the employer haven’t heard about it (which is very possible), passing along the information anonymously gives the employer the ability to decide what to do about it – if it’s nothing, so be it, but at least they were told.

          Right, exactly! I’m certainly not saying that the OP should go on some crazy vendetta to get the friend fired, arrested, and thrown in jail – I’m just saying that because the friend is in a huge position of power over vulnerable populations, many of whom have historically been mistreated by the medical profession, the employer should know.

          That’s not the same thing as “Call every local news station! Call the F.B.I.! People must know!

  66. Grey*

    Would you like someone to send a complaint to your boss without knowing all of the details? Don’t threaten someone’s livelihood unless you do. If you don’t have cold, hard facts to show this person is a threat, leave it alone.

    1. Zillah*

      But it’s not a complaint. It’s information. The OP doesn’t need to know all of the details, any more than you need to know all of the details before you call the police after hearing a loud disturbance at your neighbor’s. If it’s nothing, it won’t hurt, and if it’s something, it’ll be good that you did.

      This isn’t like sending an employer pictures of someone smoking weed, or something similarly morality-based. This is sending an employer potentially relevant information that could be endangering people’s lives, and letting them decide whether or not it’s relevant.

  67. Tea*

    Adding another voice to the number of people disheartened by the people defending the “friend.” On the scale of “minding my own business” to “oh wow, look at the history of awful, terrible things done to minority groups by bigoted members of the medical establishment” level of seriousness, the fact that this person is in a position of authority and care-giving sets off every alarm bell in my head.

    A lot of people ask OP if her “friend” is exhibiting any behavior reflective of a hateful sentiments. Well… would OP know? I doubt this “friend” is flying the white hoods high from her flagpole, and a lot of terrible, racist, homophobic, sexist behavior is couched in socially “acceptable” terms that people in privileged groups don’t notice or let pass without comment. Is the OP part of a minority group that might have experienced bigotry or outright terror at the hands of the organization her “friend” belonged to? Would OP notice if her “friend” stiffed the waiter because he was black, or that her complaints about certain “parts” of the city are in reference to the neighborhoods populated by Asian and Armenian people? Or her laughing jokes about “oh, that’s so gay” is in direct reference to homosexuality as bad and wrong? I’ve seen plenty of people who don’t notice racism (or other -isms) right under their noses, because they don’t grow up with it and don’t experience it in their day to day lives.

  68. anon for this*

    I used to be involved with a non-profit organization that monitored hate groups. You should contact the one in your area and ask about this person, with the information that you found. They will be able to tell you what it means. Southern Poverty Law Center is well known, they can direct you to the organization in your area.

    If you are really friends with this person, you should ask her. I have a friend who, years before I met him, was a member of a hate group and reformed himself. He founded an organization that speaks to parents and kids about how to prevent recruitment by hate groups and has dedicated his life to making amends. Most people who have left groups like these – which are indeed very cult like and difficult/dangerous to leave – understand the need to make amends, and if she has changed her views, it will be apparent.

  69. JCC*

    Find me a job candidate who has no mental illnesses, no personality flaws, good credit, no convictions, no drunken antics on social media, who can enter a room full of partisans of every stripe and get along well with all of them, and I will show you someone who is perfect for politics but probably still deeply unwell in some way that hasn’t been discovered yet.

    In a perfect world, the answer would be that the employer should definitely know, because it will not result in any sort of firing provided that their habits do not negatively impact their ability to perform their job. In the world of reality, I honestly don’t know what the right answer to this should be.

    1. Zillah*

      Well, then. As someone with a mental illness, I just want to thank you for comparing my medical condition with recruiting for terrorist organizations. It’s super cool to read, and in no way makes me feel disrespected or demonized.

        1. Gina*

          It’s not really a Twilight zone. This goes on all the time, it just feels different when you’re on the other side of it.

          1. Zillah*

            I don’t think it’s Twilight zone-y because people are disagreeing. It’s the content of the discussion.

      1. Bee*

        This post just keeps getting better. (I said I was leaving and came back. Don’t know what I expected.)

        Gotta say, my PTSD has yet to lead me into a Neo-Nazi organization. Or if JCC was trying to say that wanting non-Nazi healthcare providers was an impossibly high standard… what?

      2. Failed Lurker*

        Yeah, normally I find the AAM discussions interesting and engaging, even if I disagree. Equating mental illness to being a neo-nazi? That’s appalling. Somehow it’s fine to demonize medical conditions, but we shouldn’t rush to judge the person who recruited for Nazis?

    2. Tea*

      I’m curious as to why you feel, in a perfect world, that this would not result in a firing. If someone were to bring a school’s attention to an elementary school teacher’s previous membership in a pro-child-pornography ring (even if the teacher themselves had never been arrested or suspected of possessing or creating child pornography), would this teacher remain a teacher, in a perfect world? Teach your children? If a nurse known for being vocally hateful toward latino patients supposedly did not let her hate impact the level of care she provided and was caring for your relatives, your friends. If a man who was known for being a leader in a pro-forced euthanasia group were to become an attendant at an adult’s daycare, caring for the people he once advocated should be put down– would you want him looking after your special needs brother?

  70. Abby*

    I wouldn’t unless you had hardcore proof that the friend is still involved. You have no idea what the circumstances were/are related to the organization and the ex-boyfriend. Additionally, I think it is cowardly to do this anonymously. If you think it should be brought up, do it. Anonymous is shameful.

      1. The Strand*

        Yep. There is a reason my organization reiterates over and over again about anonymous reporting, and how they will help protect against retaliation.

        I don’t think it is at all cowardly to report anonymously when the people involved are on the FBI’s terrorist list.

    1. Zillah*

      Anonymous is shameful when you’re complaining about Jane down the hall who smacks her gum too loudly. Not so much when your concern is your safety.

  71. The Strand*

    I work for a similar type of organization. As someone who, like everyone else, may also be a patient, I would be fearful about this type of person assaulting or mistreating a patient in her care.

    We are not talking about someone having a political, religious or social preference – like being a furry or an Anton Lavey Satanist or a fan of Michele Malkin or One Direction or even someone who fits the bill all 4 ways – but engaged in leadership with a FBI-recognized domestic terrorist group.

    If this was an issue with a person having merely racist views (but not harassing anyone), I would tell the OP to just quit being friends and leave them alone (or, if they were really generous and the person appeared to have a good heart, take a crack at educating them). That this person has been part of an organized group targeting members of the public, which may engage in church burning, harassment, and much worse… that’s something else. *Especially* because she deals with vulnerable people and may have access to medical technology, devices or pharmacological products that could hurt them.

    And hey, if the person has changed, let them prove that to their health organization. Their patients deserve nothing but the best care from people who can honestly say they live up to the Hippocratic oath or Nightingale pledge. People who work for medical organizations are in the life and death business; we are held to higher standards. The Declaration of Geneva took a crack at some of these standards; that oath is incompatible with leadership or membership in a terrorist group of any kind.

    Meanwhile, I’m surprised how many readers believe the organization already knows due to a background check. She may not have ever formally gotten in trouble with the law. Tom Metzger got away with what he did for so long precisely because he was “above ground” and had henchmen do the dirty stuff. Similarly, there’s a reason Sinn Fein was traditionally the political arm (again, “above ground”) wing of the Irish Republican Army. Gerry Adams led that organization for almost thirty years before being arrested for questioning in a murder. (He was released and still leads).

    I’m not willing to risk patients’ lives or health because I *assume* everything already came up in a background check. As someone who could be my coworker, or whose company could be my health provider, I hope you would take the advice of carefully, anonymously, letting your organization know.

    1. Poohbear McGriddles*

      “… a furry or an Anton Lavey Satanist or a fan of Michele Malkin or One Direction or even someone who fits the bill all 4 ways”

      I think we’d have a new candidate for Most Interesting Man/Woman in the World!

  72. Not So NewReader*

    Late to the conversation. But I have learned a lot and I am glad I got to read all these comments.

    OP, I hope you see this.

    I think the question was about what you should do, not about your Friend’s problems. I think the number one thing you should do is keep yourself safe. The second most important thing is keep the patients around you safe. (Bear with me, if OP is fails to keep herself safe, the patients will not have OP helping them. If you protect OP, you are protecting everyone under her care today.) Off in the distance, miles away on the horizon, is number 3 your new friend.

    1) We see a warning up thread that this case is still under investigation. We have no clue if this is actually OPs friend’s case. But this is a possibility to be aware of. OP, for your own safety assume that poster is correct.

    2)I don’t understand why Friend did not have her day in court. Even if she turned to the FBI, she would still have to get her case closed out of court. What is up with that? This is a big red flag to me.

    3) OP you were not hired to help your (possibly) reformed friend assimilate into mainstream society. You were hired to help and protect the patients. Remember that. Maybe in years to come you can help her. Now is not the time. I am a big fan of using my job to help people. I don’t color outside the lines on that one. I recommend you do the same. I do not recommend talking with her about this. You do not know what you are walking into.

    4) We also get the idea that perhaps your company knows about her past and hired her anyway. If that is the case, then reporting her to the company does nothing. And there is the potential that it could hurt you.

    5) You could go to the FBI. But they probably already know where she is and what she is doing. They either think it’s okay or they are watching her.

    What’s that leave you with? Distance yourself from this person. Be polite but be busy and on the fly. Keep your eyes open and your mouth closed. When you know you have something of substance (a wrong doing or intention of wrong doing) go to the FBI.

    I’d love for all this to be overkill. But there are too many things you do not know. Not the least of which is you don’t know who her friends are now. Stay safe. Let us know how it goes.

    1. Kelly L.*

      I don’t think Friend was ever actually arrested for any crime. Her ex was, but Friend just held offices in a racist organization that was being watched. She didn’t break any laws, just was an asshole.

  73. Just Visiting*

    I said this upthread, but I’ll reiterate. If this person has truly reformed, then they need to be open about it. As in, get HuffPuff or Medium to publish an article under their own name saying that they were wrong, were misled, whatever. If the OP can find this info, anyone can find this info, so it’s not like she’d be destroying her reputation by publishing an article called “I Was a Former Neo-Nazi.” You could once bury stuff like this under the rug, but not anymore. (Whether you should want to is a different story, I won’t go there.) Or hell, even just start commenting on relevant articles with your real name alluding to your past and why you were wrong. Indexing usually pushes most recent articles to the top. We live in the age of documentation. Things that you post on the Internet matter. Own up to your mistakes. It’s not enough to be a public racist who’s recanted in secret. I still don’t know if I’d trust a reformed, repentant neo-Nazi with my health, but it’s a damn sight better than trusting someone who used to be one but “hey, she was probably just really confused, let it go.”

  74. amaia*

    ITT: People insisting that it’s unreasonable to assume a neo-Nazi is racist. what.

    I mean, no it’s not impossible that they’re trying to escape the movement, which can be cult-like, in which case it would be sad if they lost their jobs. It would also be sad if the minority people this person is tasked with treating suffered or died because the neo-Nazi was thinking, “Ugh, stupid whining ____s” and didn’t take a reported symptom seriously. Or because a patient picked up on their contempt and was reluctant to interact with them more than necessary.

    I mean, the neo-Nazi doesn’t necessarily even have to WANT to hurt or kill their minority patients for that to be the outcome of their deeply ingrained attitudes (which they could still have a lot of, even if they left the organized group). And if they do want to hurt minorities, even in “minor” or purely psychological ways, that’s even more terrifying.

    I mean, yes, consider the possibility that this is a poor unfortunate soul who got caught up in some bad stuff, but also consider the poor unfortunate souls that would suffer if you’re wrong about that. White people tend to make excuses for racists, seemingly because they want to believe that other white people are good deep down, and that the racist can be reformed with ~love and understanding~ and then we’ll all be friends, Disney logo, scroll credits. As a white person, you’re risking a lot of non-white people’s safety for the sake of those warm fuzzy feelings at the POSSIBLE redemption of a racist.

    That said, I think OP should act with caution regarding their own safety, since this is a terrorist group.

    1. Kathy-office*

      +a million, thank you for saying this.

      I’ve seen this kinda thing is previous comments on other posts, but the discussion here is making me really uncomfortable and scared.

    2. irma s*

      THANK YOU. The idea of “reformed neo-Nazis” is not exactly a Thing. Hating minorities enough to recruit for a terrorist organization is not a fluke. This person is bad. She’s a bad person.

      I can name other terrorist organizations *not* led by white people that commenters in this thread would likely not handle with such care as this nasty white power princess.

  75. SnowFlake*

    My advice is to keep quiet and find a new friend.

    On one hand, no one likes a gossip (even if it’s true). Besides, if your friend has truly changed, why would you want to be the cause any stress or grief? Not to mention that since you were not included in the hiring of your friend, you don’t know that the employer is in the dark about the employee’s past. More often than not, employers are doing background checks these days. How would you handle a situation if you did spread the word about your friend’s past only to find out that the employer already knew about everything? Just because you wouldn’t hire someone with a past, doesn’t mean someone else won’t give your friend a fair shot to put the past behind them.

    On the other hand, people are judged by the company they choose to keep. And especially since you are not related to your friend, it wouldn’t be a far stretch to believe you share similar interests.

    Keep the drama to yourself and move on with new friends!!!

    1. Zillah*

      How would you handle a situation if you did spread the word about your friend’s past only to find out that the employer already knew about everything?

      … I really don’t see how this would be a problem. Like, at all.

      It’s not like the OP is sitting behind a desk cackling that she’s going to try and get this friend fired. She’s wondering whether she should inform someone, because the friend deals with vulnerable people in vulnerable situations, and if the friend has not radically changed, lives could be at risk. If the employer already knows, it’s not like it will be some huge embarrassing thing. It’s just, “Cool, this went into the employer’s decision, glad to hear it.”

      And this should be anonymous anyway, so the OP likely wouldn’t even find out about it.

      1. Diet Coke Addict*

        Yeah, that’s….not a problem, then. “I think you should know about X’s involvement with Y Group.” “You know, thank you, but we already investigated that and it’s been resolved to our satisfaction.” “I’m glad to hear that!” and moving on.

        Really, the OP is not actively trying to ruin anyone’s life because of gossip. The OP is just trying to ensure that an employer working with a sensitive population has all the information they need about an employee whose beliefs might very well be antithetical to their mission.

  76. Jo*

    I have a coincidence I feel I need to mention! Last night’s Rachel Maddow show ran a story about a group in Germany whose mission is to help neo-nazis get away from the movement and reform themselves. (She first covered it in 2011, but it resurfaced on last night’s show, so you could consider it fresh enough to bring up now.)

    Video here, scroll over to “Neo-Nazis undermind by table-turning tactics.”

    OP, if you aren’t sure what your friend’s beliefs are now, try casually mentioning this story and see what your friend says. You might end up with more information about where they stand today (which I do think is important) and whether they are still a danger.

  77. Anon for this*

    Looking at the state of the US these days from outside in, for all we know the friend listed those positions in her CV and got hired because of them not despite them.

    1. Livin' in a Box*

      It’s certainly possible. These beliefs aren’t exactly rare. It’s not just a US thing, though; I’m in Canada and I’ve encountered a ridiculous amount of these people.

    2. Katie the Fed*

      Oh goodie, let’s proceed with the America bashing. Would you like to name YOUR country so we can discuss your hate groups and issues? Because you’re fooling yourself if you think your country doesn’t have them.

  78. My Question*

    I posted this letter to AAM because of my obvious concern for the truth. This person is no longer my friend. This person offhandedly explained their involvement in these groups as a “Phase” of life. No remorse, or even thoughts of the damage to the lives and families this persons hate has caused. This person is from a very wealthy/influential family and believes it is fine to walk away from the wreckage and chalk it up to a “phase” they were going thru. This isn’t a “phase”. Heavy Metal is a “phase”, UFO research is a “phase”. This is something else.

    1. irma s*

      She sounds like a real peach. Involvement with terrorist groups is not a reasonable “phase”, as you’ve pointed out. Like, act out by smoking pot or doing graffiti or shoplifting from Target… don’t hand out hate literature because you think it’s a cool way to spend your Saturday afternoon. That’s bonkers. And entitled. I think she needs to be taught about the consequences of her actions, frankly, because it seems as though her family has protected her from a lot of damage. (I’m familiar with these types.)

      Notify her employer anonymously, with tons of discretion. Because I know you think it’s the right thing to do, and it is. The world really should not abide folks like this woman, especially not the healthcare community. May the Force be with you, LW.

  79. Leah V (Felon employment counselor)*

    I work with Felons on a regular basis & these sorts of charges do not go away.
    Usually employers will google search my client, background check them, & search the sex offender registry as well.

    If they have neglected to do this, then an anonymous tip might be the best route.

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