my manager wants me to marry a stranger, exit interviews in toxic workplaces, and more

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

1. My manager wants me to marry a stranger for immigration purposes

My manager from another country has asked me to marry some guy from their country. It would be sexless and just to get their green card to work here. Is this illegal?

Yes, that’s illegal. It’s immigration fraud and it’s punishable by large fines and prison time. (It’s also not a matter of just signing a form; there’s pretty extensive questioning from immigration officials in the process.)

2. My boss wants me to provide proof I was in a car accident

I had to call out of work because of a car accident. It was a pretty bad car accident but everybody was okay. I had to have the car towed to the body shop and couldn’t make it to work. I rely on my car to get me places as my commute is about an hour away. My boss is now requesting a police report or some proof I was in an accident because it sounds like they don’t believe me. Is it okay for them to do this?

They can certainly require it (and you probably have the towing receipt, if nothing else), but the bigger issue is why they feel they need to. Have you missed a lot of work or called out a lot at the last minute? If so, what you’re hearing is that they’re pretty skeptical of you at this point. (If so, they should sit down and have a direct conversation with you about it, but that’s the message you should be hearing.)

If you haven’t had any attendance or reliability issues, then I’d say something like, “Have I done something to make you doubt I’d be anything other than honest with you and responsible with my job?” (Do also provide the documentation they want, which will give you extra firm ground to stand on in saying this.)

3. Exit interviews in a toxic workplace

The good news is that I’m going to be giving notice at the beginning of next month, leaving a toxic, paranoia-inducing corporate culture. The bad news is that my exit interview will be with one of the people who have been key in making this formerly pleasant environment a miserable place to work in. This person is nasty and vindictive, and I’m worried that if I’m even the slightest bit honest about my reasons for leaving, I’ll get bad referrals. Worse still, this person fancies herself an amateur therapist, so I doubt she’ll have much regard for boundaries when she asks questions.

How do I give as little information as possible as to why I’m leaving? Honest answers wouldn’t improve the corporate culture or process anyway (management has repeatedly demonstrated a “if you don’t like it, get out” mindset). Are there any particular phrases I can use to exit gracefully and without incurring managerial wrath?

Since your goal here is to escape unscathed and without endangering a good reference, I’d stick to saying that you’ve enjoyed your time there and are leaving because you got an offer you couldn’t turn down. None of it is about them, blah blah blah.

And for employers out there, if you want honest answers in exit interviews, you need to be thoughtful about who’s conducting them and what assurances you can give that there won’t be negative repercussions for the feedback you hear — as well as create an environment where people will believe you that it’s safe to be candid. None of that sounds like the case here.

Read an update to this letter here.

4. Job searching when I might need 4-6 weeks off to donate an organ

I recently started job searching and already have a phone interview set up for next week thanks to your great advice! If all goes well, I’m hoping to be in a new role sometime around the new year. My concern is that I am also currently pursuing testing to evaluate my candidacy as a live organ donor for a good friend of mine. If all of that goes well, I will need to be out of work for about 4-6 weeks sometime in the first half of next year.

I’m unsure when or how to bring it up with a new company when it’s not a for-sure thing. I want to give them a heads up that I’m looking into it and I’d like to discuss the possibility of compensation for that time frame without putting my job at risk for possibly being gone for a month and a half within my first 6 months at a new company.

Do I bring this up at the offer stage or after I start? And how do you ask for possible time off for elective surgery?

(For reference, I used up my FMLA leave last spring on maternity leave. Some compensation may be a possibility if the organ donation is treated as bone marrow donation which is required to be compensated up to 40 hours in my state.)

Wait for an offer, and then negotiate the time off as part of your offer negotiations (explaining the situation and that you might not end up needing to take it; it’s fine to just be candid about what it’s for). You’re most likely to get them to agree to letting you take the time unpaid; they’re less likely to pay you for the time you’re out, unless you’re especially in-demand — so what you’re really looking for here is getting the time itself okayed.

If they agree, get the agreement in writing. (An email is fine — just something that documents that this was agreed to.)

Also, keep in mind that FMLA won’t come into play here, unless you’ve been at the new company for a year when you take the time off. FMLA coverage doesn’t kick in until after a year of employment.  (The fact that you used  up your FMLA time with your current employer won’t be relevant since the clock resets when you move to a new employer.)

And you’re awesome for being willing to do this.

5. Using my work computer for personal use

If I am in my office during my off hours (evenings and weekends), can I get into trouble for using my work computer for personal use?

It depends on your particular company’s policies and culture, and also on what you’re using it for. Some companies are totally fine with people using their work computers for personal use, and some aren’t. Even among those that are fine with it, they’re not usually fine with it if the personal use is job-hunting, viewing porn, or other hopefully obvious don’ts.

If you do use your work computer for personal use, you shouldn’t assume privacy. Your employer generally has the ability to view what websites you go to, what documents you create, and so forth. (Whether they exercise that ability depends on the employer, but it’s something to keep in mind.)

{ 399 comments… read them below }

  1. Stephanie*

    #1 -?!?!??! If this is the US you’re talking about, even if you did go through with this (don’t!), I believe you have to go through a whole series of interviews where immigration investigates your marriage. My old coworker was applying for citizenship, so the process may vary, but I remember him going to periodic interviews (that weren’t a huge deal if the relationship was legitimate) that I’d imagine would be tough with this arrangement.

    Also, I might start job hunting. If your employer’s willing to do illegal things like this (instead of just getting the proper visa for this employee), that can’t bode well.

    #4-Agreed. Your friend is very lucky to have you. I hope you’re a match and can find a good role.

    #5-Keep in mind, if you were to get laid off or fired, you might lose access to your computer (and all your personal files) immediately or have very little time to recover anything. If you’re going to use your work computer for personal reasons, be sure to back up personal files regularly.

    1. Sara M*

      Yes, they do things like interview you separately and ask, “Where do you keep the laundry basket?” as evidence of whether you actually live together or not, for example. Or so my friend in immigration services told me.

      1. Cat H*

        Funnily enough, when my husband and I were getting our marriage licence (in the UK – both born here), we were also interview separately. Albeit only about 5 minutes each. Just asked things like how long we had been together and stuff. I guess they get a feel for illegitimate marriages but it did make me feel like a bit of a criminal for wanting to marry the man I loved.

        1. Apollo Warbucks*

          I hope you don’t mind me asking but if you were both born in the UK then why did the immigration authorities have any reason to interview you?

          1. Soharaz*

            It’s not for immigration, it’s just something you have to do when you apply for your marriage license (at least that was the impression I got when we did it, though I wasn’t a UK citizen and he was). It’s just to make sure it’s a legitimate and not forced marriage I believe.

                1. BeenThere*

                  I was married in Texas, USA and they asked jack all questions when we picked up the certificate/license. No witnesses required just the person marrying you signs it then files it.

                2. Diet Coke Addict*

                  I think it depends totally on jurisdiction and who happens to be filing licenses that particular day. I’m in Canada and my husband and I got a real strong case of side-eye and a whole battery of (separate) questions when applying for our marriage license. (“Are you living together? You’re not being coerced? You’re sure all your documents are in order? Did you need to talk to anyone? You’re sure nobody is threatening you?”) But after discussing with friends who got their licenses in the same area, nobody got anywhere near the scrutiny we did, and we eventually chalked it up to the interracial-marriage thing.

                3. Melissa*

                  Yeah, varies state to state. I got married in GA and there were no questions; we just showed up with the signed marriage license, filled out some paperwork, and voila – legally married.

                4. Red Stapler*

                  I wouldn’t say it was an “interview” but when my husband & I applied for our marriage licence a few years ago in WA state, we were asked two or three questions. The one that surprised me was have you both been tested for stds and either came up clean or notified your partner of your status if not.

                5. Stephanie*

                  I bet the STD thing has to do with HIV/AIDS or other treatable but incurable STDs. I know it’s a crime in some places to transmit HIV without disclosure (when one partner knows he has HIV).

                6. Turanga Leela*

                  Also married in the US and I had no interview at all. I think I had to show ID and wait a day or two after getting my license.

            1. Brenda*

              Yeah, I think it’s mostly to make sure that neither party is being forced into the marriage and to give them a chance to say something alone if they feel afraid of their partner, as well as to check for sham marriages if one partner is non-EU. I’m non-EU and my husband is a UK citizen, but when we got married we just got this standard type of questioning, nothing that implied they thought it was a sham.

            2. cuppa*

              I think there’s still a few places in the US that require a blood test in order to get a marriage license.

              1. Snork Maiden*

                Parts of Canada used to require one until quite recently. Mostly to prove you weren’t marrying your sibling, I think.

                1. Celeste*

                  It’s incredibly rare now, but it was never a genetic test. It was a public health measure to look for STDs or to see if a woman had immunity to German measles since it causes birth defects.

                2. Judy*

                  17 years ago I had to show my immunization records to show that I had had the MMR. Except we found when I was pregnant by blood test that the immunity wasn’t there.

                3. Snork Maiden*

                  Wow that’s interesting – thanks for the correction! I wonder if they ever prevented people from marrying due to failing the test.

                  Judy – that must have been incredibly stressful. Of all the things to worry about during pregnancy I don’t think I’ve heard of that one.

                4. Artemesia*

                  Blood tests were for syphillis. In an era where sex doesn’t follow marriage, it makes no sense at all. They never ran DNA — blood tests until very recently could not disclose relationship. During the heyday of blood tests for marriage licenses, DNA hadn’t even been discovered.

                5. Judy*

                  Yes, I was too old for that resurgence of measles on campuses that caused universities to request re-vaccination (1992 or so?). And I had an aunt who had rubella when pregnant with my cousin, who is deaf and required 2 open heart surgeries before the age of 4.

                  Everything turned out well, though. And I will forever remember my MMR re-vaccination date.

                6. Mephyle*

                  I thought the blood tests were for blood type, to see whether the Rh factor might be problematic if the couple had offspring.

                7. Stephanie*

                  I took a class at the local university earlier this year and had to prove I had my MMR, which I haven’t had to do since I entered college a decade ago. I think the anti-vaccine hysteria resulted in fewer immunizations. I didn’t have my shot records anymore, so I had to do a blood test to prove immunity. I had a hold on my account until I did that.

          2. BritCred*

            They do it usually if the is any difference in the ages of the couple or they are living apart etc. Some friends have had this before their wedding and yet I didn’t have it.

          3. UKJo*

            Also UK, as is my husband, and same thing happened to us – it’s not immigration that interview you, it is the Registrar at the local authority when you apply for a marriage license. If they had any concerns, I expect they would refer the situation on to immigration. It is very brief and asks how you met, partner’s middle name, profession etc, very easy stuff. However it does feel odd when you are both nationals with nothing to gain from marrying a fellow national :) (Bureaucracy eh!) I suppose it might be longer and more detailed if one was not from UK…

            1. Soharaz*

              I was so nervous and my marriage was totally legitimate! I sat there like a deer in headlights when they asked my partner’s birthday. I was like ‘I know this! I’ve known him for years!…March 23rd? 24th? It’s the same as my grandfather’s, but when is that?!’
              Totally nervewracking.

              1. UK Nerd*

                I completely blanked on my other half’s birthday. And neither of us could remember each other’s middle names. Terribly embarrassing, but apparently we were convincingly incompetent, as we were allowed to get married.

                I think they’re looking out for forced marriages as well as immigration scams.

                1. manybellsdown*

                  I’ve been married for 10 years, and up until 2 or 3 years ago my husband didn’t even know I HAD a middle name. We would have bombed that interview so badly.

        2. Cath in Canada*

          This kind of thing is why my husband and I abandoned our original plan of getting married in my home town in England – the process is ridiculous, and pretty much impossible if you live somewhere else and want to fly in for a week, get married, and leave. I think they wanted us to attend the in-person interviews only after we had proof that we’d been in the country for two weeks, then there’d be another two week waiting period before we could actually get married. And we’re both citizens.

          We ended up getting married in Vancouver (we got our marriage license by filling in a form in a drugstore), then having a second wedding reception back in my home town. Ridiculous, I tells ya!

      2. tesyaa*

        There was an entire movie, “Green Card” with Gerard Depardieu and Andie McDowell, based on this premise.

          1. HarperC*

            If tomorrow we get a question about a devilish boss who wears expensive shoes, I’m going to get suspicious. ;)

      3. Dani x*

        I did marry someone from Canada and we weren’t separated for the interview and it was so boring I don’t even remember any of the questions asked. I think it was maybe 5 to 15 minutes. But they reserve the right to separate and grill you if they are suspicious of the marriage. I am sure they get a feel for who is giving off red flags and who is legit.

        Don’t do it OP #1! Besides the fact that it is illegal who knows what expectations he will have when he gets here. They could say anything to get you to say yes. Just run and get another job. Consider reporting your boss to INS when you are safely away

        1. Cautionary tail*

          Very similar. We are both US citizens, although my spouse’s family including parents, some siblings and all relatives are from Canada. We got married in Canada and got the questions there but we were not separated.

          To echo everyone else, DON’T DO IT. Why would you potentially screw up the rest of your life?

        2. Christy04*

          My husband is Chilean and moved to the US on a fiance visa. Acquiring the visa was an incredibly lengthy process and we had to provide proof of a relatioship – i.e. email exchanges, photos, copies of plane tickets, copies of passport stamps, etc. I think I spent over $100 on copying alone. Faking something like that would have taken years of effort and/or excellent forgery skills. Getting a spousal visa is slightly different, but proof of a relationship still has to be provided. My fiance’s actual interview was very short, but that was due to the lucky fact that he had happened to meet the interviewer previously (long story involving the 2012 earthquake) and that is not the norm (or rather, it varies). PLUS you, as the immigrant’s sponsor, are legally responsible for financially supporting him or her for 5 years+, so if s/he apply for any government assistance you can be sued for the money. Plus, as another poster noted, there is no way of knowing if this guy is on the up and up so legally tying yourself to him is risky at best. Plus it’s a federal offense. There is nothing good about this situation.

          1. Rae*

            Married in Alberta – when we got our marriage license, we had to swear an affidavit that we weren’t related, were over 18…and something else, I don’t remember what.

    2. jasmine*

      Another drawback to using a work computer for personal stuff is that if you create any kind of intellectual property (a computer program, a novel, etc.) using your employer’s equipment or on your employer’s premises, your employer might be able to claim ownership of it, even if it has no connection to your job.

      1. Stephanie*


        In college, I remember Tech Transfer drilled it into us during senior design that if we did as much as use the school’s computers for a Google search connected to potential IP, the school owned it. Also, I bet OP#5 signed some sort of agreement during onboarding saying that anything created using the company’s property is the company’s (this might not be the case at super small place, but it’s pretty standard boilerplate).

      2. Sourire*

        This reminds me of a question we had a while back where the asker wanted to know if she should turn into her coworker for writing a (successful) novel while at work/if the company had any rights to the earnings.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          I remember that one; I need to go back and re-read it. (FWIW, I use a flash drive and try to only write at lunchtime!) I think the consensus was that the company would be a huge dick to do that even if it were technically allowable.

          1. Middle Name Jane*

            I’m a writer, but I don’t write at work during breaks (can’t concentrate). I do use my work computer for personal stuff, but I keep everything saved on a flash drive that I personally bought.

            1. Elizabeth West*

              I can only do it if I have a whole hour. If my lunch is any less, I can’t write but I can edit. I don’t get interrupted here, so I can sit at my desk at lunch instead of going into the break room or a conference room like I used to do at Exjob.

      3. Judy*

        As an engineer, I’ve always had to sign IP agreements that say anything I’ve done while employed, even on my own time, belongs to the employer. A contract engineer at my last job got an offer to move to a full time employee status, but because he was a naval reserve officer, and used his computer skills in that capacity, he was unwilling to sign that, even though everyone knows that the company wouldn’t own US Navy computer programs. The company was unwilling to write into the agreement “except for what Bob does as a US Navy Reservist.”

        1. Kyle*

          I’m also a software engineer and I had to sign an IP agreement but we are allowed to add “except for my work on open-source project X, my sci-fi novel, and the opera that I’m writing,” or whatever. Basically we can exclude anything we want (aside from directly job-related code), but we have to do it actively.

        2. Naomi*

          My job involves writing, and I had to sign a contract that says the company owns any work I do on company time, and anything else I write that’s related to the field the company’s in. But the contract specifically excludes writing that’s done on my own time and isn’t in the same field as the company. (Using company resources isn’t an issue because I do all my work on my personal computer)

    3. Maggie*

      Unfortunately, in a multicultural country you get the good, but you also get the bad. It might be de rigueur in the manager’s country so perhaps educate him that it’s illegal in the country his now calls home.

    4. Dmented Kitty*

      If it’s immigration to US — if you’re married less than 1 year when filing a green card application, you get a conditional green card only good for 3 years. Yes, you have to go through all the interviews and application forms/fees as well as prepare bona fide proof (pictures, plane tickets if you’ve traveled together, etc.) as part of the interview with the immigration officer. They didn’t interview us separately, though. And I am not sure about OP#1’s manager’s timeline — it took us a good amount of a year to finally get my green card (you can, however, apply for an EAD card that you can use for employment while the green card process is still in process).

      Once the conditional green card is almost expired, you’ll have to apply for “Adjustment of Status” which, if approved, will grant you the standard 10-year green card. Before that, you’ll have to have done little homework by collecting MORE bona fide documentation that your marriage is “valid” — we had to collect plane tickets of trips together, more pictures, but the cincher(s) would be joint tax returns, utility bills under BOTH your names, joint bank accounts, and/or the deed to properties that are under both your names. The more of these type of documents you can provide, the better. Needless to say I was really stressed out as I sent out a half-inch thick folder carefully put into a packet together with the application forms and check for the fee, wondering if I compiled this correctly, will some DHS person just happen to be bored and flag my application and I’ll go through a series of interviews with an immigration officer, and checking my application status every day to see if the check has been cashed, etc. etc…

      I guess I did it right since we didn’t need an interview, and imagine my relief and joy when I finally recieved a notification that my green card is being printed and will be sent to me soon. :)

  2. Wasted Donuts*

    #1 don’t do it! Not only do you get nothing out of it but you’re taking nearly all the risk here. You don’t want to go to prison for this. This is an absurd thing for your boss to ask you to do.

    1. fposte*

      Additionally, you may be agreeing to be financially responsible for this person for some time, even if you get divorced.

      1. Wasted Donuts*

        Yes and that if you don’t get caught. If you do its up to 5 years in prison and up to a $250,000 fine! That is a huge huge risk.

        1. Wasted Donuts*

          And meanwhile your potential spouse will simply be deported and nothing will happen to him other than never being allowed to return to the U.S. again. And your manager, who asked you to do this, is untouchable since it was just a suggestion. Unless he makes a habit of this and the company you work for is doing this kind of thing all the time. In which case, you could all be in serious, serious trouble.

          You definitely do not want to get involved in this and I agree you should report him. Have it on record that you refused in case the shit hits the fan.

    2. GrumpyBoss*

      I’m shocked at how brazen this boss is to ask this!

      This is one of those times where the “is this legal?” question is the right position to be taking. OP, get out of this company ASAP! This is not someone you want to work for.

      1. Celeste*

        Yes indeed! It’s pretty sick to be treated like someone who should do such a personal thing for the boss’s sake. Just because the boss doesn’t think it would turn sexual doesn’t mean the groom (a stranger!) would feel that way! There is NOTHING but risk here.

    3. Jazzy Red*

      When my grandmother was a young woman (100+ years ago) her father wanted her to marry a German, so that he could come to the US. Back then, there were very strict rules immigration rules, but if someone’s spouse or finance was American, they could get into the US, as long as there was a legal wedding. This was very common in those days. I don’t know who great-grandfather thought he was talking to, because my granny said no way (I guess he didn’t know his own daughter very well). It would have been a real marriage, and she would have been stuck with this guy for life. She eventually met and married a great guy.

      This is a very bad idea from your boss. I agree with all the people who told you to think about looking for a new job. If your boss is willing to commit fraud, what other laws would he be willing to break?

  3. fposte*

    So here’s an interesting thing on 4– when I looked up some of the state laws allowing leave for bone marrow transplant and organ donation (I’m seeing them listed at, they largely seem to be separate from state FMLA–and at least the two I looked at more closely don’t seem to require FMLA-type duration of employment before eligibility. I still think you don’t want to spring it on new employers, but maybe you’re in a state where you’d be covered for this immediately. (It sounds like you may be in a state that covers only bone marrow transplant, but it doesn’t hurt to check.)

    I had no idea there are some separate protections for donation, and I’m very pleased to find there are.

    1. Ann O'Nemity*

      Depends on the state. I’ve also heard of cases where companies refused to allow an employee to take FMLA when donating to a non-family member.

      1. fposte*

        What I’m saying is that it’s almost never FMLA that’s relevant–federal FMLA doesn’t cover organ donation, and most of the states that have legal protections for donation have separate legislation that isn’t FMLA-based.
        (In other words, what companies must allow is likely to be driven by the law in any case, but it probably wasn’t FMLA that was denied.)

    2. Celeste*

      My employer does not make you use your regular leave to cover an organ or tissue donation. You just get paid leave at full scale, period, because they want to promote it.

    3. Jeanne*

      It’s terrible I don’t know more about this. I used my FMLA to receive a kidney. My mom didn’t need work leave.

      Thank you from all of us for being willing to donate. Hopefully your new employer has a heart.

  4. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

    #1 – oh, do it for the company! Gee whiz! (sarcasm intended). Seriously – report your employer to the cops and get the hell out of there. He’s asking you to commit a felony. What else will he ask you to do?

    #2 – if the damage is extensive you obviously have to file a police report. Just give him a copy of it. Mundane reading at its finest.

    1. Stephanie*

      Ha, I would love to be on fly on the wall during OP1’s interview for another job just to see an interviewer’s reaction:

      “So why are you looking to leave your current role at Teapots, Inc?”
      “My employer requested I enter a green card marriage with a foreign employee in order to skirt the expense of obtaining a work permit for this employee. Committing immigration fraud isn’t in line with my career goals, so I’m looking for new opportunities. French Press, Inc’s commitment to legal work permits and no forced marriages policy really appeal to me.”

      1. Anonymerous*

        Hiring Manager: Where do you see yourself in five years?
        OP#1: Well, in five years, I see myself being anywhere other than in federal prison for immigration fraud, so here I am interviewing with you.

    2. Katie the Fed*

      I commented more below, but he probably doesn’t know it’s a felony or even a big deal. There’s a lot of bad information put there. And he might be getting tons of pressure from his family to work his American connection help out cousin Ahmed or something.

      1. Katie the Fed*

        To add: none of that makes it right, but I wouldn’t assume malice when it may just be ignorance. Now, if he keeps pressing the issue that’s another matter

        1. GrumpyBoss*

          Ignorance or malice doesn’t change the fact that it is deeply inappropriate. Lack of knowledge of laws doesn’t excuse him asking a subordinate to do something this outside of the work responsibilities.

          He gets no benefit of the doubt from me.

          1. Natalie*

            So are we saying if it was legal it would be OK for your boss to ask you to marry anyone? this is the main issue – the boss not understanding this is outside of your job and not respecting your privacy.

            1. GrumpyBoss*

              No that’s the exact opposite of what I was saying. Legal or illegal, this is way out of bounds. He doesn’t get a free pass because he may not understand the law.

        2. Anna*

          Considering the amount of conversation happening in the US (and UK, for that matter) around immigration, I can’t imagine the employer doesn’t have some inkling that this is illegal.

        3. Mister Pickle*

          I know it’s highly unlikely that anyone would write to AAM about such a thing, but the first thing I thought of when I read the question was Justin Chatwin’s situation in the US version of the cable series Shameless.

          (A South American drug lord insists that Chatwin marry his daughter so she can become a US citizen. S03E01 is especially compelling. So yeah: malice, and quite a bit of it, too).

      2. Observer*

        I’m with Grumpy here. This is totally and utterly inappropriate, even if this were completely legal. And, it’s hard to believe that anyone from a different country, who has therefore had to deal with immigration himself, really has no clue.

        1. NoPantsFridays*

          Exactly, this is profoundly inappropriate, regardless of its legality. If boss had suggested OP marry a citizen or permanent resident of her own nationality, that would also be inappropriate, even though it’s fully legal (or at least not immigration fraud).

      3. MK*

        I find it hard to believe that anyone thinks marriage, a.k.a. the second most legaly binding relationship there is and an institution with millenia worth of tradition, is not a big deal.

  5. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

    #1 – just curious, what line of business would ask you to do that? Just wondering what field you work in.

    1. Armchair Analyst*

      I’m really trying to think of a good joke answer for this one, but the only thing I can think of is “human trafficking” or “smuggling” and neither of those are really 100% appropriate and barely funny at all. Let me try harder…

    2. Ted Mosby*

      In high school I had a few friends who worked for Dunkin Donuts and were asked to marry coworker’s family members.

      My friend also worked in a doctor’s office where a coworker was pressured to get married to an American citizen so they could keep her on. They offered to help set it up for her. She was bilingual and they had a huge patient population that spoke her native language. They didn’t pay very well, so they had a hard time keeping someone with all the skills they needed and dual fluency. Needless to say, the office was incredibly dysfunctional.

  6. nep*

    #1 – Unbelievable. Your boss asking you to commit a crime — wow.
    As others have said, don’t even think about it.

  7. Mister Pickle*

    #5: AAM’s advice on this topic is 100% correct. Although from a pragmatic standpoint, you can only get in trouble if you get caught.

    To be clear, I’m not saying “go for it!” I just want to point out something I’ve noticed over the years: the less a person knows about computers, the more likely they are to get into hot water with them. Frankly, if you don’t know your company’s policy on personal use – my guess is that you aren’t knowledgeable enough to want to risk your job over it. I promise you I’m not trying to be mean to you; I’m just concerned that you’ll get busted.

    Believe it or not, some companies do allow a certain amount of personal use of work machines – especially notebook computers – typically with the caveat that it can’t be anything illegal (no selling drugs, no editing videos for ISIS), unseemly (no porn), and it can’t interfere with your job. Even so (and especially with a desktop computer at the office) remember that your IT staff can access every bit of data on your machine, either via the network or, if necessary, by taking your machine apart and duping the disk drive.

    If I were you: I’d find out what the company policy is. If all you’re looking to do is maybe some online shopping, checking a personal email account, logging in to your online banking, or whatever it is that people do on Facebook, they might be okay with it. If you’ve absolutely got to scratch an itch for porn, or movie torrents, or gambling, etc, do yourself a favor and buy your own computer (and my God they’re cheap nowadays) and do this stuff at home or at a local coffee shop.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      OP, until you do get to look at company policy, just assume they can see every single key stroke you do. And do you want to have to explain what you are doing? This approach will put you in a good, transparent place. Where I work, no one says too much. I think I have used Google for non-work reasons maybe 3-4 times in two years. I would never look at my bank accounts or credit card account while at work. And I do not open up my personal email unless there is something work related in it. It’s just not worth the hassle, if someone decides to start asking me questions.

    2. cuppa*

      Actually, don’t do your dirty business at a coffee shop or other public place. If they get a cease and dessist letter, they might just shut down their wifi.

  8. Lizzy*

    1.) I imagine this is going to get lots of reactions, so I’ll be back mid-morning to see how this goes. Haha.

    2.) I have seen this type of policy before, and while Alison brings up a good point, it might be a reactive policy stemming from an overall problem with employee trust. It is quite possible employees in the past have used a major incident, like a car accident, as an excuse not to come in, but it was later discovered to be false. I once did a temp job where an employee faked a back injury from a bathtub fall to go on a trip with friends. The company offered paid sick leave and he had already exhausted his vacation days for that year. Wouldn’t hurt to clear the air though. And as someone said up thread, the paperwork is mundane and not going to be heavily scrutinized.

    1. PEBCAK*

      On #2, though, I do feel like this could be one of those industries (retail, call center, etc.) where the manager asks for proof of everything for everyone, and it’s not specific to the OP. We’ve talked here before about how those fields often play by their own rules.

      1. cuppa*

        I had the same thought. It may just be company policy. I’m not agreeing with it, but sometimes it’s just easier to play by the rules.

        1. Leah*

          I don’t think it’s a big deal to provide proof – it really depends on how it’s done. Generally it doesn’t have to mean they don’t believe you, it could just put you above reproach for now and in case something comes up in the future, and that’s easier for everyone.

          I had a professor in college who (very apologetically) let us know that if we needed to miss classes due to a death in the family, we needed to provide proof at some point after, because he’d had at least one student every semester pretending that a grandparent died in order to postpone an exam. So it could also be that they’ve had too many fake car accidents.

    2. Jazzy Red*

      I used to work with a girl who would get a severe headache every payday, and “go home sick” after the paychecks were handed out. Eventually, someone saw her downtown shopping on one of these afternoons, and she was fired.

      Just one more reason that many companies never believe anyone. It’s not necessarily about you, just something that has become policy. Get a copy of the police report and give it to them.

  9. Ludo*

    #1 your boss is straight crazy pants. I can’t even begin. This is Not. Done. on so many levels and a Ver. Big. Deal. He is asking you to commit a felony that, if discovered, will be prosecuted and could land you in prison for 5 years with a $250,000 fine.

    My advice? Start the job search. Like yesterday.

  10. Glor*

    … somebody asked an “is this legal?!” question where the answer is unequivocally “that’s TOTALLY illegal”? WOW.

    re: #3 — Is this the person who would be giving references to potential employers? Or are they someone higher up and in an off-set chain of command? Because if they weren’t my boss, I’d personally likely wind up sending an email to my former boss [assuming good relations, etc] and giving the “this place is terrible, here’s how” schpiel.

    But that’s just me.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      It would feel good in the moment, I’m sure, but given that the OP says “Honest answers wouldn’t improve the corporate culture or process anyway (management has repeatedly demonstrated a “if you don’t like it, get out” mindset),” I think it’s likely to hurt the OP more than it’s likely to help either the OP or the company.

        1. puddin*

          I have very in depth discussions with the Directors, VP, misc co-workers every day during my commute home. Some discussions have even been exit interviews. Some have been the 2 weeks notice after winning the lottery as well. :0) Very cathartic indeed.

          Note: those people are not actually in the car with me, I talk to myself, having imaginary discussions with them like any sane crazy person.

          1. Elizabeth West*

            LOL me too—just bob your head like you’re singing along with the radio. Or Bluetooth. I got a headset the other day, and my mum and I were joking about how it used to be you’d see someone walking along talking to no one and think they were a bit odd. Now the first thing you think is that they’re on a headset. You don’t even look for the headset anymore.

            1. puddin*

              The sad thing is, if I ever got a chance to *truly* voice my opinion, I would probably seize up and not be half as eloquent and ‘businessy’ as I am in the car by myself.

              1. ThursdaysGeek*

                Oh yeah. I’m much more eloquent in my head than in person. I never miss a point, and I say it so well.

            2. Clever Name*

              Yeah, I once saw a woman walking down the street talking aloud. I assumed she was on a Bluetooth headset. Nope. Turned out she was mentally ill and started accusing me of being a person she knew and said really nasty and scary things to me. This happened while I was working….

          2. Liane*

            I frequently lecture my, ah, Challenging Customers–I think that’s the correct euphemism–as well as Clueless Coworkers/Powers-That-Be on my commute & some days 15 minutes isn’t nearly enough. Whew!

          3. NaCSaCJack*

            Glad to hear I’m not the only one that does this. Sadly I have to avoid doing it while taking the dogs to the doggy park. They always come up front and check on me and give me kisses to remind me I am loved.

          4. Jamie*

            In a past life I’ve written some scathingly brilliant resignation letters…long and detailed pulling no punches. I wrote them at home in longhand and shoved them in a drawer. Ended up finding them months later and tossing them with a laugh. No way to accidentally hit send and with my handwriting even if someone found them they could be anything – who could read them?

            Very cathartic and helps drain the abscess – as are the “and lemme tell you another thing…” conversations with tptb in your head alone in your car.

    2. Gina*

      I love how it’s only illegal in the sense that’s it’s immigration fraud,not that boss is asking someone to take marriage vows to a stranger as a condition of employment. Meanwhile if he asked her to marry someone from the US I guess that would be legal. Oh but I’m sure you could collect unemployment once fired!

      1. Chinook*

        I am thinking that if she was required to marry someone who is in the country legally as a job conditions, it would be illegal due to it being discriminatory against those already married, of the wrong gender or certain religions who discourage divorce?

        1. Dani x*

          I think that forced marriages are illegal too – it’s on the list of things you can get an annulment for. But I am not sure how it would play out in court – if there is jail time or a fine or what. I think it usually plays into minors being forced to marry. I assume that if your boss says marry bob or be fired you would have a great case if you wanted to sue.

            1. Dani X*

              The state also has an annulment process. I doubt it is used as much as the ones in the church, but it is an option if you fit into one of the categories.

              1. Diet Coke Addict*

                In the US, I believe a forced marriage would indeed qualify for an annulment. If the person could prove they were forced to marry to keep their job, I think they’d have a case for it.

      2. Mephyle*

        I love how it’s only illegal in the sense that’s it’s immigration fraud,not that boss is asking someone to take marriage vows to a stranger as a condition of employment.
        Actually, is it really not illegal?
        Here’s the question, then: Is it illegal for an employer to set the commission of an illegal act by the employee as a condition of employment?

        1. Mephyle*

          I mean, in this case, it’s not clear that it’s a condition of employment, but in a case where it was, would that be illegal?

          1. Helka*

            Well, if the employee reported it at all, the employer then terminating the employee would be considered actionable retaliation under whistleblower laws. But beyond that, I’m not sure.

          2. NK*

            Yes – there’s a term that I learned in my employment law class that is escaping me now, but basically you can’t fire someone for refusing to break the law.

            1. L McD*

              I find I’m still curious if it would be legal to make marrying *anyone* a condition of the job, supposing we’re not talking about a marriage fraud situation. I have to believe there’s some kind of provision for totally unreasonable requests by management, but I dunno.

              (I’m a romance novelist and I sort of specialize in “fake marriage that becomes real” type plots, and this line of discussion is really making those cogs turn! But God, no, in real life RUN THE HELL AWAY.)

              1. AR*

                It would still be illegal, it would just fall under a different set of laws for some of it (the forced marriage part is illegal regardless, but the immigration bits wouldn’t be involved). It would actually end up being a simpler case – but one that’s also less likely to happen.

        2. AdAgencyChick*

          Or even to request that an employee perform an illegal action? I’m very curious to know the answer to that one.

        3. Armchair Analyst*

          For legal employment? Yes, in the USA, it is illegal for an employer to set the commission of an illegal act by the employee as a condition of legal employment.

        4. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Nope, it’s not legal to require an illegal act as a condition of employment. Most states (maybe all?) consider it “wrongful termination” to fire someone for refusing to commit an illegal act. (It’s one of the few things that fall under “wrongful termination,” along with things like firing someone for being a member of protected class.)

  11. Amber*

    #1 This is so inappropriate for your manager to be asking this. If that happened to me, not only would I bring it up with HR but I’d request to have another manager.

  12. Kathlynn*

    I rarely call in sick (as in maybe once a year, twice if I’m unlucky), but once I was almost asked for one (and threatened with needing with the next manager). I had either food poisoning or the stomach flu. When I explained my symptoms my employer decided she didn’t need a note… The other time the manager forgot her threat by the time I called in sick again. The ridiculous part? No one else has ever needed one. Even the ones who call in sick frequently (like every opening shift, or at least once a month), and/or call in sick last minute, where as I always followed company policy.

    Good luck #2. Hope your insurance is good to you

    1. Katie the Fed*

      See, as a manager I feel it’s really unnecessary to need details. In fact, sometimes people try to give them to me and I’m like “omg stahhhp I’m not a doctor!”

      1. Kathlynn*

        Well she asked why I wasn’t going into the walk in clinic, after I told her I was sick (I might have just said I was sick, or might have said I was throwing up leading up to her asking), so I told her what was up. I only told her because she pressed.

        1. Katie the Fed*

          Yeah I just meant I think she’s weird :)
          I also hate the idea you need a doctors note for run of the mill sicknesses. I know what the flu is. I’m not going to waste my/my doctors time and a copay getting documentation

          1. KJR*

            Seriously. And for those of us on High Deductible Health Plans, there are no co-pays, which means we pay the entire cost of the office visit out of pocket, which can be upwards of $150. No small fee to prove you have a bad cold or the flu.

            1. Melissa*

              Which wouldn’t help anyway, because you pay $150 for the doctor to tell you to go home and drink lots of fluids.

          2. Miss Chanandler Bong*

            Plus, for something like a stomach bug/food poisoning, I can barely manage to move out of bed/off the couch/uncurl from the fetal position on the bathroom floor. And you want me to get in a car, drive to the doctors office, sit in the waiting room, all so they can write me a note saying “You have a stomach bug/food poisoning, nothing we can do for you”? PASS. I’ll send you a pic of my toilet bowl if you really need some documentation.

            1. Natalie*

              The doctor doesn’t want you there, for that matter! They probably can’t do anything for you, so all you’re doing is using precious time and potentially exposing other people to your illness.

            2. puddin*

              I have a chronic illness so I see a battery of doctors on a regular basis. Because of that I think, in the past I have been able to call in and get a note without having to actually visit the doc.

              Also, I have been able to get a note after the fact. Once I felt better I’d go in to the doc, explain what my symptoms were and that I need a note for work. Aside from the cost of the appt, this was easy to obtain as the doc usually knows the importance of the note. And again maybe my personal health situation had something to do with it…

              Both of the above note situations were a long time ago (many job moons ago), not sure if medical practices have changed their service levels or laws have changed on being able to do that so YMMV.

            3. Snork Maiden*

              Question next week: “My employer is requiring pictures of the toilet when we call in sick. Is this legal?”

          3. manybellsdown*

            Ergh it drives me nuts when the school demands a doctor’s note for things like that too. My kid had the flu, I kept her home. Why would I go to the doctor for regular, not-severe flu?

      2. Hawkeye*

        Totally agree, as a manager the only thing I want to know is if you are coming in or not. I do not care to hear the details. If its an ongoing attendence problem, then we will have a discussion to resolve that issue.

      3. jjw*

        I had a manager who would press for details if you called in sick and then email the details to the whole office. “Joe still has a hacking cough, but his diarrhoea is settling down and he’ll be back in the office tomorrow”.

    2. HM in Atlanta*

      I’ve found that some managers only enforce the rules with people trying to follow them. They don’t want to have an uncomfortable conversation with the person who calls in sick every opening shift, who will challenge them in the conversation. If you’re a rule follower, and you realized you’ve broken a rule, you are much more likely to apologize and not challenge your manager. For this type of manager, it also gives them an out when questioned by their manager. “I’ve been working with Mary about her attendance.”

      tl;dr – It’s easier for a bad manager to micromanage people who want to do a good job/follow a rule, than people who don’t care.

      1. JustPickANameAlready*


        We have people who get written up because they called out sick two days and then a month later were five minutes late, pushing them over the “three instances” benchmark.

        And then we have two employees who call out at least once, often twice, EVERY. SINGLE. WEEK. They’ve been doing it for over a year, and despite complaints from other staff members, apparently these two have carte blache with management to just do whatever they please.

        Management either does not know, or does not care, how much resent this creates. The answer: A LOT.

    3. Mister Pickle*

      Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for being honest and stuff, but this “getting a note from the doctor to prove you’re sick” thing, aside from being insulting – so what’s to keep me from writing my own “doctor’s note”? Find my doctor’s info on the ‘net, use MSWord to put together a letterhead, maybe add a short “please excuse Mister Pickle while he recovers from Marburg” (or just scrawl something unreadable on the paper) – and you’re done. I mean, is my manager going to call my doctor to verify that the note is legit? Rotsa ruck.

      1. Tia*

        I once represented someone in court who did exactly this. The prosecution case was that she had defrauded her employer of the sick pay. Admittedly she managed about 18 months of full pay for several pregnancies/miscarriages (UK government job).

        1. Mister Pickle*

          Did you get her off? :)

          I hope it’s obvious that I’m not encouraging people to defraud the government! But if I had the flu, and my boss wanted me to drag my sick body out of bed and go to the doctor and pay a co-pay, just to give him a stupid piece of paper? I’m pretty sure (p < 0.05) I'd fake the note. Actually, I'd love to stand right there and hear them call my doctor's office and attempt to verify that it's a genuine note: "Hello, I'm so-and-so, my employee Pickle gave me a note signed by Dr. umm Mxyzptlk when he was out sick, and I wanted to verify that it was a real note … hello? Hello?"

      2. Judy*

        My doctor is a year younger than me, and his parents and mine saw each other socially as we were growing up. He went to med school with my sister. I’m pretty sure I could call up and get a note for anything I need. When the kids were younger, and one was in with strep, he would write a prescription for the other and say to fill it if the other started showing symptoms.

        1. AB Normal*

          “I’m pretty sure I could call up and get a note for anything I need.”

          Wow, doesn’t say much about the professional ethic of your doctor/friend :-/.

          1. Judy*

            Not sure there’s anything in a doctor’s ethics about not writing a “Judy has the flu and needs to stay in bed for up to 2 days” note without seeing me, except for the missing out on me paying for the office visit. He did write a prescription for Sudafed when we saw him in Walgreens the other week, made that transaction much easier.

            I think it really depends on what I meant by “…anything I need.” I’m not going to ask him for anything that isn’t needed, and I’m not going to need anything very much out of the ordinary.

          2. Mister Pickle*

            I think it probably says more about her relationship with her doctor: it sounds like she and her family have been on a friendly basis with him for most of her life. Doctors make judgement calls all the time – this one is probably easier than most. Also: I like that this doc seems more interested in efficiency than $$$s.

        1. Mister Pickle*

          (Not that I’m looking forward to it, but) The next time I need to take off sick, I’m definitely using the word “volcanic”.

  13. Katie the Fed*

    #1 to echo everyone else, this is straight up crazy.
    I’ll give your boss the benefit of the doubt that he’s watched too many movies or something, but it’s really really not that simple at all. At a minimum, you’d have to live with this person for a while, not to mention all the hassle of the process.
    You’d bear 100% of the financial and legal risk, and I doubt this boss is going to help you.
    I would refer the boss to an immigration lawyer to explore legal ways or at least realize how daunting it is. I’d also seriously start looking for a new job because your boss sounds like an idiot with no sense of boundaries.
    All that said, I’ll cut him a little slack for not knowing. I travel all over the world, including to some pretty impoverished places with limited opportunities and a major youth bulge. It’s not uncommon for a guide or someone else to ask me if I can help them get a visa (usually just after they asking I’d like to have a look around their cousin’s carpet shop). They have no idea. Besides. I keep my supply of visas locked up in the hotel safe with my magic beans.

    1. nep*

      I get that some think we have to give the boss the benefit of the doubt here. (I happen to think there’s not a lot of doubt, though.)
      I lived for years in developing countries where many people — especially young men — dream of that US visa. From my experience, people are not quite that ignorant about the unlawfulness of this kind of arrangement.

      1. Katie the Fed*

        I think there’s a good chance he’s an idiot. Just not sure if malicious. Either way, it’s a ridiculous enough question that I’d probably look for another job :)

        1. nep*

          Oh absolutely. Because it’s either idiocy or immeasurable disrespect. Makes me curious what s/he’s like as a boss overall — as in, is this typical behaviour.

        2. Wasted Donuts*

          Agreed. I don’t necessarily think boss is malicious. Even if she does know its illegal I doubt she’s laughing maniacally while she thinks about her employee going to prison and paying a $250K fine, life ruined. More likely she has no real idea of how punishable this is and that her employee is unlikely to get caught, and possible has not thought about all of the other logistics involved.

          At the very least though, it shows that she lacks judgement and is willing to ask her employees to do some pretty questionable things in order to save her company a buck. Not someone I’d want to work for.

          1. Magda*

            I’m not so generous. Even taking the illegality out of the equation, the idea of having a boss put actual pressure on a female employee to get married makes my skin crawl. It’s a major overstep of boundaries at best and vaguely sexist at worst (personally, I’m getting a whiff of the attitude that women “owe” their personal lives to the company/some dude they’ve never met).

            I don’t know if it’s “malicious” but I don’t think it’s benign either. It shows a serious lack of respect for OP and a willingness to abuse the law/the position of authority. If OP’s life circumstances will even remotely allow it, I think she should run for the hills.

            1. OhNo*

              The gender of the OP and the proposed fake-spouse is never mentioned, so it could just as easily be a male employee being pressured to marry someone. Regardless of the gender, I’m with you about how much this tops the boss’ hand. Obviously they don’t respect the OP and are perfectly willing to push into areas of their employee’s lives that are SUPER not their business.

              In the vein of assuming that the boss’ intent wasn’t malicious, though – is there any chance that the boss meant this as a joke that just came across really, really poorly? Especially if the boss is also a foreign national, humor can be difficult to get across a language or cultural barrier.

              Not that it matters much in terms if response, since OP should be looking for a new job ASAP either way. Their boss is clearly out of their mind.

              1. OhNo*

                Caveat, because I re-read and saw that they are being asked to marry a guy: It could actually still be a male employee being asked to marry him, but given the number of states where same-sex marriage is legal, it’s not super likely.

                1. Zillah*

                  But IIRC (and I may not be), federal law governs immigration, not state law. Right now the administration has been treating same sex marriage as equally valid, but it’s on tricky legal grounds, since there hasn’t been a ruling or law that explicitly covers every state.

                2. Natalie*

                  @ Zillah, there was a court case – US v Windsor, in which the court struck down the bulk of DOMA. The federal government cannot treat legal same sex marriages differently than opposite sex ones.

                3. Zillah*

                  @ Natalie – I remember Windsor, but I was under the impression that the current administration was interpreting it as broadly as possible, and a more conservative administration might interpret it more narrowly – which could be possible, because same sex marriages are not recognized in every state. (I’m very happy if I’m wrong, though!)

              2. Magda*

                That would be why I identified the behavior as “inappropriate at best, sexist at worst” — there is a range of possibilities. I think sexism is absolutely valid to consider as one of them; that’s not the same as saying the boss IS sexist, period, no other interpretation.

                If there were no question of immigration — if an American* boss were encouraging an American female employee to marry his American buddy — I don’t think we’d hesitate to call the boss out on some f’ed up attitudes. To be sure, the OP didn’t give many details so there could be some extra information that would alter my read on the situation.

                * Pardon the America-centricness; just picking a country here.

                1. NoPantsFridays*

                  Yes, this is similar to my thinking. Your boss telling you that you should marry, and even worse, that you should marry his buddy, is totally inappropriate regardless of nationality or work authorization. If and who you marry are not up to your boss. It’s not workplace domain. And on top of all that, it’s grossly illegal due to the immigration fraud factor.

                2. OhNo*

                  Oh, I’m not arguing about the possibility of sexism if the employee is female. In fact, if the employee is female, I think that sexism was almost definitely a component of the conversation.

                  I just wanted to point out that you (and many of the other commenters) are assuming the OP is female. While it’s certainly more likely that they are female, given the circumstances, it is still an assumption and may not be true.

                  Aside from that, though, I 100% agree with your points.

            2. Colette*

              I don’t see it as sexist, necessarily. I think it’s just a (misguided and poorly thought out) attempt to help someone they know.

              It’s hugely inappropriate, but there are plenty of manager/small business owners who do inappropriate things all the time. In particular, small business owners may never have worked somewhere else, and may not know what is normal in the business world.

              1. Dani X*

                I don’t think you need to know what is normal in the business world to know that asking someone to marry a friend of yours for a visa is out of line. If he thought that was okay why isn’t he asking his friends and relatives to go an marry him? Maybe he has a sister who is still single? The idea that anyone who is single should be happy to marry someone to do you a favor is grossly out of line. Marriage has consequences – happy ones in a happy marriage, but this one is already being set up for a divorce. That means financial risks to the OP, and also relationship ones as people generally don’t want to date people who are currently married. And saying “I just married him so he can get a greencard” doesn’t make it better. And the divorce could be expensive, he could be entitled to financial support from her, he could end up taking some of her earned savings and possessions depending on how it all shakes down. It doesn’t matter whether he knows it is appropriate in a business sense – it isn’t appropriate in a general people sense.

                1. JMegan*

                  It doesn’t matter whether he knows it is appropriate in a business sense – it isn’t appropriate in a general people sense.


                2. Colette*

                  Generally, I suspect this kind of request comes from recent immigrants, who first of all come from different cultures (possibly ones where marriage laws and customers are very different) and who don’t have a lot of relatives who are citizens.

                3. Cassie*

                  Agreed. My mom and her friend knew each other before they both immigrated to the US (in the 80s). The friend once asked my mom if I was willing to get married to someone so the guy could get citizenship. My mom told her “how about you ask your own daughter the same question?”.

                  Needless to say, they stopped being friends after that…

              2. Magda*

                As I mentioned above — I quite deliberately said “inappropriate at best, sexist at worst” to identify a range of possibilities. It’s possible the OP could come back with more details that would take sexism off the table, but I don’t know why it’s so unfathomable that the boss might have crummy attitudes about female employees. I thought it was sexist when that letter came in a while back about the CEO asking the letter-writer to go on a date with his recently-divorced buddy, and this letter raises similar hackles.

                It’s hugely inappropriate, but there are plenty of manager/small business owners who do inappropriate things all the time. In particular, small business owners may never have worked somewhere else, and may not know what is normal in the business world.

                Yeah… I’ve worked at some seriously dysfunctional small businesses, but a boss legitimately pressuring an employee to marry a particular person would be WILDLY inappropriate even at the worst of them. (And the nature of the boss-employee relationship means that even a casual request would carry pressure with it.)

                And, I think the way some small businesses get away with abusing employees is horrible. It’s one thing to be inexperienced or not know how to write procedures; it’s another to actively be a dick to your employees. OP’s boss skirts closer to the latter category for me, but obviously YMMV.

                1. Magda*

                  Colette: The nature of the boss-employee relationship means there is pressure even in a casual request.

                  It’s possible that this was a joke on the boss’s part, but if the employee is still worried enough to write in to AaM, that tells me he seriously misgauged something.

                2. Ask a Manager* Post author

                  I’m sure Colette knows and agrees it’s hugely inappropriate regardless, but is pointing out (legitimately, I think) that there are a whole bunch of options for the context: it could be rooted in sexism, it might not be, etc.

                3. Magda*

                  I certainly don’t mean to belabor anything, but I’ve tried to acknowledge in most of my posts on this discussion string that there could be a wide range of possibilities of which sexism is merely one.

              3. cuppa*

                I got the impression that the manager watches too many movies and thinks you just go to a judge and spend a couple nights in a hotel in separate rooms and then get the whole thing annulled. It’s not that easy.

                1. Dani X*

                  And since most annulments amount to “this marriage was entered into fraudulently” that isn’t really an option. You would need to divorce. (My marriage was actually eligible for an annulment and it would have been just as much of a hassle to go that route and it doesn’t gain you anything besides the ability to say “I was never married” – alimony, splitting of assents, child support – all are still the same as in a divorce)

                2. Mister Pickle*

                  In fact, annulments are often harder to get than divorces.

                  Word. I’ve had a divorce, and I’ve also had a Catholic annulment, and the annulment was waaaaay more difficult than the divorce.

            3. Allison*

              “(personally, I’m getting a whiff of the attitude that women “owe” their personal lives to the company/some dude they’ve never met)”

              Glad someone else got that vibe too. I know we get a poop storm on this website every time someone brings up the possibility of sexism, but honestly, I wouldn’t be surprised if a) the OP was female, and b) the OP’s gender had something to do with this expectation that they marry someone else for the benefit of that person. The manager is probably not be one to think “my employee is female, and thus exists mostly for the benefit of men,” but that attitude towards women is still out there, and often manifests itself in subtle, subconscious ways – rather than overt, malicious ones. So it is possible to suspect sexism here without assuming the manager is an evil, woman-hating pig.

              1. Magda*

                Yes, this is exactly what I was trying to get at :) The boss may be oblivious to exactly what he’s asking, but even so it reveals a disturbing attitude.

                1. Zillah*

                  I agree with you both. I think people are generally far more comfortable asking something like this of women than men, and it’s based in some very deeply ingrained sexism that most people probably aren’t even conscious of.

                2. peanut butter*

                  Some people just don’t get the concept of people being single and loving it as well. When my grandfather was placed in a nursing home, he thought he had it made when he found out that some of the nurses were single. He honestly thought he could just crook his little finger at any one of them and offer them all the glories that marriage would give them and they would come running. Then he would live in their house and have live in nursing care once the little woman quit her job to take care of him. I dearly loved him but he led a different life than most and a had different attitude towards women. He didn’t think there was anything wrong with his line of thinking and was mystified when it didn’t work out the way he envisioned.

              2. Ask a Manager* Post author

                For what it’s worth, I don’t think there’s a poopstorm here every time someone brings up the possibility of sexism. That rarely happens here, in fact. (And when it has happened in the past, it was typically linked to one commenter in particular, who I eventually asked to stay out of those conversations.)

            4. Wasted Donuts*

              Oh, I don’t think its benign either. I just meant that I doubt the boss is “out to get” said employee. It’s still atrocious for all the reasons you mentioned.

                1. Wasted Donuts*

                  Several people have used the word “malice” which is an intent to do harm (aka “out to get”). I was agreeing with someone who said they didn’t think it was malicious and then clarifying when what I said was taken as an indication that I thought this behavior was benign. I never implied that *people here* were saying that the manager was out to get the OP.

    2. Jennifer M.*

      Not only is this request illegal, it demonstrates a clear lack of understanding of the whole process. I live overseas and in September I helped a colleague fill out a fiancee visa application (her fiance as the US citizen really should have filled it out but she had all the details of all of her addresses ever and stuff like that). At just that initial stage (a 3 page application) there were already questions about how they met and how long they had been a couple. The earliest she could get the visa is June 2015. And there would still be additional interviews, investigations, and applications to convert from the visa to a greencard. So it really isn’t just as simple as having a civil ceremony and boom you are done.

      1. Arbynka*

        It is a pretty long process. It took three years from getting married and filing paperwork for me to get green card. We were together in the interview, I was pretty nervous but it really wasn’t anything like the stuff I have seen in movies. Of course, we had our first child back then so it might have helped. I brought in all these photo albums, our trips, wedding, baby photos. My husband told the immigration officer I would be bit upset if he didn’t look at least at the baby one. So he did. But again, three years.

        1. Hlyssande*

          My husband told the immigration officer I would be bit upset if he didn’t look at least at the baby one. So he did.

          That’s adorable.

        2. Stephanie*

          Ha, my old coworker brought their baby to the interview as “proof” the relationship was legitimate. He said the baby expedited the process.

      2. nep*

        Absolutely — Immigration authorities know well that people from abroad are constantly looking to marry someone for the US just for that visa. It’s not even guaranteed the visa comes through for legit couples; I’ve seen some spend a long time in that process. (In a few developing countries where I lived, marriage proposals were everyday occurrences.)

        1. Lizzie*

          “In a few developing countries where I lived, marriage proposals were everyday occurrences.”

          Oh goodness, that was pretty much the story of my life for three years. About halfway through, I decided that the only two responses I’d explored up to that point – being perpetually annoyed when I left my house because of frequent, utterly random proposals or simply not leaving my house at all – were not working well, so I created a third option: responding with over-the-top enthusiasm. “Oh, guy at the post office I’ve never seen before! I thought you’d never ask! Yes, yes, a thousand times, yes! Let’s go get married RIGHT NOW. You bring your car around to drive us there, and I’ll call all my friends to meet us at church. They’ll expect a really nice meal after.” (Achieving the goal of promoting a better understanding of Americans on the part of host country nationals? Not exactly, I guess. Whoops.)

          I did have a co-worker once suggest that I should get a green card marriage. (I’m a U.S. citizen.) She didn’t have anyone specific in mind, just apparently considered this a way that I could (and should!) help someone get ahead in the citizenship process. All friendliness between us pretty much ceased after I calmly told her that no, I was pretty sure that was inadvisable at minimum, and also as a high school senior I was not really thinking about marriage anyway…

          1. nep*

            I had a friend ask me to marry him to help him with his visa status. He was very straightforward about the purpose and put it all out on the table — just asking whether I’d be willing to do it. He graciously accepted my ‘no’.
            I prefer that, of course, to the ones who are scheming and deceptive about it. As if I was not going to know what was up.

    3. Observer*

      The difference between your tour guides and the like and the manager here is that the guides really have no way to know. But the manager HAS had to deal with immigration. he knows!

      1. KerryOwl*

        How do you know the manager has to deal with immigration? The manager lives in the “other” country. And why is everyone assuming the manager is a dude?

        1. Mephyle*

          Does the manager live in the other country? I didn’t get that impression, since OP said manager is ‘from’ the other country, not ‘in’ the other country.

      2. Colette*

        Why would a typical manager have to deal with immigration, and in particular, why would she know the laws around marrying someone who is not a citizen?

        In most businesses, this would never come up.

        1. Observer*

          So? For one thing, this si wildly inappropriate regardless of the legality, and that should be obvious. In the US, there could also be a whole host of other problems in that one could make the argument that requiring that someone gets married as a condition of employment (or implying that it is) might cross some lines of “trafficking.” OF COURSE, this would not come up in most businesses, but that’s because it take a special kind of crazy to think that this is even remotely acceptable.

          Furthermore, any business today knows that there are a whole host of laws around immigration. Any manager who is not aware of that basic fact should not be in that position, because one wrong hire, and you could be in a world of trouble. And, most businesses have some fairly clear policies about how to say in the clear on this, as well.

          So, the boss has to know that there are all these laws, and that his relative / friend needs to create a paper trail, and it never occurred to him that manufacturing this paper trail might be a problem?

          Add in the fact that he is from another country, and therefore must have dealt with immigration himself, and that’s just totally untenable.

          1. Colette*

            You’ve twice said the boss “has to know” the law. I don’t see why the boss has to know anything about immigration laws. That was the part I was responding to. They may need to know that someone needs the appropriate visa/immigration status for them to be able to hire them, but I highly doubt there are any businesses out there that train every manager on the immigration laws applying to getting the ability to work in the country.

          2. Ask a Manager* Post author

            Loads of managers are pretty uninformed about immigration laws, especially beyond the basics like “people need to be citizens or have visas for us to hire them.” That’s extra true at small businesses.

            1. Observer*

              That’s enough to give anyone with average intelligence a clue. Remember, they have to VERIFY this stuff, and there are some fairly heavy penalties for failure to do so. How could a manager not know this? If you can get into serious trouble for not documenting employment status properly, then obviously there are some fairly serious rules around the matter.

              Also, I take it that you don’t have any close relatives who have had to deal with immigration. Well, I do. And, I can assure you that ANYONE who has ever had to deal with this stuff (for the last 3 decades, about) HAS to know that this is asking for trouble.

    4. Mike C.*

      Why do so many people give managers the benefit of the doubt when they commit or ask subordinates to commit illegal acts? Isn’t there a certain amount of responsibility that folks should take to learn, understand and follow the law?

      1. Kat M*

        To be fair, immigration law is complicated and I think some people really don’t have any idea. Not to excuse poor judgment, but I see it very differently from not paying overtime, asking employees to violate applicable compliance and confidentiality laws (HIPAA, FERPA, etc.), and those sorts of things. We also have no indication that the employee’s job is on the line they don’t comply. Honestly, I could see this as someone making a throwaway suggestion. And in some occupations, the lines between employee and manager aren’t always clear cut. Could it be that the manager and employee know each other on a personal level and maybe the manager thinks, “I trust this person, they can help me”?

        I don’t see an indication of malice. I think we need to take a breath and maybe give them the benefit of the doubt here.

        1. Kat M*

          And I just realized that “take a breath” might sound a bit snide. I apologize……..I shouldn’t write anything before coffee…..

        2. Mike C.*

          I think with something like this, it’s clear that the request is inappropriate and without even checking illegal.

          I also think it’s fair to worry that one’s job being on the line is implied with a request like this. The kind of person who is going to make a request like this isn’t going to call you a team player for dropping a dime to ICE.

        3. Observer*

          ANY manager who is involved in hiring HAS to know that this is not legal. And, any person who has had to deal with immigration HAS to know that this is illegal and fraught with risk of failure.

          This is also clearly not a throw-away suggestion from a boss who is also a friend. If it were, I can’t imagine the LW not mentioning that. Which means that the power differential comes into play in a big way.

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            Honestly, I don’t think that’s true across the board. Plenty of managers aren’t informed about these sorts of things because their jobs don’t typically require it, and plenty of people don’t realize that green card marriages are in fact a big risk.

            Moreover, it’s entirely plausible that the remark was a throwaway and not said in a way that would make the OP feel her job was at risk if she didn’t agree. In fact, I’d think that’s more likely than the opposite.

            1. Colette*

              Yeah, that’s the scenario I’m picturing – a boss who suggests this (without thinking it through) as a way to solve a problem, but who would back off at any sign that the OP is not on board.

            2. Observer*

              I’m skeptical that any hiring manager isn’t aware of this. But, I could be wrong. On the other hand, anyone who has dealt with immigration in the last two decades can’t be ignorant of the issue.

              1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                I can think of a number of hiring managers off the top of my head who almost certainly wouldn’t be aware of this. I think there’s danger in making such sweeping, absolute statements.

                1. Observer*

                  Yes. But this guy is not from the US,. It simply is NOT POSSIBLE that he’s not aware – He’s dealt with immigration and he absolutely HAS TO KNOW what’s involved.

                2. Ask a Manager* Post author

                  No, he doesn’t absolutely have to know. For one thing, people who come on one type of visa often know nothing about other types of visas.

                  Maybe he knows. And maybe he doesn’t. We’re really not well served by these types of absolutist statements.

                3. Colette*

                  Observer, I’m not really sure why you keep insisting that because the manager may have gone through one immigration process, he must know the details of every possible immigration scenario. There may be people who are interested enough to understand most processes at a high level, but the vast majority of people will learn enough to get themselves through the scenario that is relevant to them, and won’t spend a lot of time investigating the rest of them.

                4. Observer*

                  Because anyone who has dealt with our immigration system knows that it’s not an easy system for individuals to game by any stretch of the imagination. You don’t need to know specific details to know that these guys dig very deep and hard.

                  Someone else asked why the boss doesn’t just sponsor the guy. The reason is that unless you are part of a large corporation with a legal department whose costs you need to justify, and which can save significant sums of money by gaming the system through using a large number of H1-B visa holders, the process is not easy at all.

                  So, this guy has himself dealt with the agency, and knows what they are like, and also knows that he doesn’t have the resources to sponsor this person, but he doesn’t realize that this is illegal and couls cause some real issues for the LW? Maybe in a Dilbert strip.

            3. Not So NewReader*

              ” Plenty of managers aren’t informed about these sorts of things…”

              We see this here all. the. time. Most things are legal, but even among those things there are ethic questions.

              Sometimes people tend to think managers/doctors/lawyers/etc know absolutely everything there is to know. And that is reealllly not true. At all.

            4. Mike C.*

              It doesn’t matter to me that many managers may not know this, what matters to me is if the average, reasonable person would think that this sort of request is a legal thing to do. I argue, supported in small part by the fact that no one here has posted “gosh, I had no idea that a sham marriage for a green card was illegal!” that this is something the average, reasonable person in the United States would know.

          2. Jules*

            If ‘Managers should know..” were horses, I would be a rich rich person. Very rich. Even over basic things like FLSA.

        4. nep*

          I reckon if the boss knows enough to know s/he needs to get this person married in order to facilitate the visa, s/he is probably not completely in the dark about the ins and outs, rights and wrongs of all this.

      2. Kai*

        Agreed, but this particular request is so incredibly ludicrous that I want to believe that the boss is just a massive idiot, instead of straight-up malicious.

      3. Colette*

        Do you know every law you’re subject to?

        What benefit is there to you in not giving someone the benefit of the doubt?

        If you assume malice and the request stemmed from ignorance, you will damage that relationship. If you assume ignorance and the request stemmed from malice, you can still escalate your response.

        1. Mike C.*

          No, I don’t know every law. But I’m pretty sure a reasonable person knows that marrying someone for the singular reason of qualifying for a green card is sketchy enough to question.

          1. Arbynka*

            But, but, maybe they fall in love, like in the movies, and all will be awesome and they will lovingly tell their grandkids about how her boss match them together….Sorry, could not help it. Someone in the comments mentioned Green Card and it made me realize just how much I dislike romantic comedies. There is a great story on The Onion today about how “romantic comedy actions got real life man arrested”. It is hillarious and it illustrates how romantic comedies make actions such as stalking seem not only acceptable but desirable and funny and cute. And of course I the end, the man will get the woman because he was persistent… I might be making big deal out of it but romantic comedies seriously irk me. Anyone knows a good romantic comedy ?

              1. Liane*

                I am about the same way, but I do love the Lily Tomlin/Steve Martin “All of Me.” It’s silly but those 2 do silly so well.

                1. Elizabeth West*

                  That one is good too; I think of it more as just a comedy than a romantic one. I can really identify with Edwina, too–“I don’t believe this; I can’t even DIE right!”

            1. Anon for friend's identity*

              I know someone who married a high school friend to keep citizenship over ten years ago. They had their “real” wedding a year ago. Their marriage of convenience did turn into a marriage of love. Cue the awwwwws.

            2. LJL*

              I liked Just Like Heaven, which was absent a lot of the creepy vibe of the guy chasing the girl. But that’s about it.

          2. nep*

            ‘Sketchy enough to question’ and certainly out of bounds to seek participation from a subordinate.

        2. Dani X*

          Some situations don’t deserve the benefit of the doubt. I don’t care what the motivation is – the relationship is already damaged. That request is so far out of line that I would be severing the relationship the first chance I got. Motivation isn’t a get out of jail free card.

        3. Mike C.*

          And to answer your question, the damage being done by always and forever assuming that the small business owner is just ignorant means they get away with all sorts of laws that generally harm folks who don’t have a lot of resources to legally protect themselves. Simple things like wage theft are huge problems all over the country. Last stat I heard, it was $50B per year.

          So yeah, I’m kind of tired of hearing “oh it’s a poor mom and pop who didn’t know what overtime or OSHA was, no biggie”. There are plenty of resources out there to learn these issues, and those regulatory agencies are more than happy to help people comply with the law – that’s really their primary concern.

          1. Kat M*

            To be fair…….the OP did not give specifics other than that the request was made. We also don’t know how high up the manager is or what kind of business it is. OP, could you please clarify?

          2. Colette*

            I’m not saying the OP shouldn’t point out that it’s inappropriate, and I don’t think I’ve ever said “oh it’s a poor mom and pop who didn’t know what overtime or OSHA was, no biggie” – certainly people who are asked to do something illegal or unethical should speak up. However, that conversation will probably go more smoothly if you start with “hey, I’m not sure you realized, but X is illegal so I won’t be able to do it” instead of “you horrible person! I can’t believe you’d even consider asking me to do X”.

        4. Observer*

          The relationship is already damaged beyond repair. The request is so out of line, that you simply can’t put that genie back in the bottle. Beyond that, as I’ve posed elsewhere in the thread, there is no way he could not have known that this is a big deal.

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            See, I really don’t think we can say that at all. It totally depends on context that we don’t have. It’s perfectly plausible to me that the manager said it jokingly or out of ignorance and would have zero problem with the OP’s refusal.

            Sometimes there’s an attitude here that people should run from every job where a manager does something wrong, and at that rate an awful lot of people won’t be able to stay at any job very long. (And I also worry that I’ve contributed to that attitude by encouraging people to run under certain circumstances, but I’d never encourage using as broad of a brush as I sometimes see being used here.)

            1. Dani X*

              But if the letter writer thought it was a joke why would she write in? She said her boss asked her if she would marry this guy. I would think if she thought it was a joke I would think she would have said “we were joking about getting Ahmed in the country by marrying me and I started thinking, what if that was a condition of employment – would it be illegal?” I know I have had joking conversations where I later though “huh, I wonder if we could actually do that” and then researched it. A joke I would brush off. But if it was a serious question – even if he would be okay with a no – would really make me rethink working there. Just because it points to some serious problems with what the management is comfortable asking of their employees. Not quit without another job serious, but serious enough to dust off the resume and start looking.

              1. Colette*

                I can see circumstances where the manager is awesome in a lot of ways, but who doesn’t know that this is an inappropriate suggestion in this culture. If your primary exposure to American culture and law has been sitcoms, for example, this might seem like a perfectly acceptable thing to suggest.

                1. Judy*

                  I’ve found that those who come from cultures where marriage is more arranged seem to be quite curious about the culture surrounding marriage in the US, being very aware it is different.

              2. Kat M*

                I think some people can be exceptionally dry, too. How many of us misinterpret jokes from people within our own culture?

                1. Jamie*

                  Maybe I am incredibly naive but I have to say my money would be on this being a joke or at least a facetious comment.

                  I just can’t imagine anyone suggesting this with a straight face – hey would you commit a crime and while you’re at give up your right to get married should you so desire until some indefinite time when you can divorce your co-worker.

                  I have to think this was a deadpan joke.

            2. Observer*

              I’m not suggesting that she run, necessarily.

              But this IS a great big deal. As I said, we DO have two crucial pieces of context. One is that the LW clearly thinks that this is a serious suggestion. Making “serious suggestions” to a subordinate about who to marry is way over the top.

              And, two (broken record here), the fact that this guy is from another country means that he knows quite well that dealing with immigration is no joke. This was true well before 9/11 and it’s gotten way worse since. There is no way that he doesn’t know this.

            3. aebhel*

              I think if the manager was joking, the OP probably wouldn’t be writing in as though it was a serious concern. And even if he was ignorant of the law itself, that’s just a wildly inappropriate thing to ask.

              I don’t think the relationship is necessarily irrevocably damaged, but I’d be entertaining some serious second thoughts about staying in that job.

      4. Allison*

        Yes, they should learn, but most of us are coming from a place where we’ve been living in our respective, first world countries all our lives, and we don’t have to worry about moving to another country for a better life. A lot of people are living in poorer countries, and desperate to move somewhere like the US (or UK, or Canada) for a better life, and have probably heard that marriage is the easiest way to do it. Maybe they’ve known people who’ve done it that way, so they figure it may technically be dishonest or illegal, but it’s a thing that people do and get away with all the time, so it’s not a big deal, especially if it helps another person.

        1. Mander*

          I can see your point, but if (as the letter seems to imply, at least in my reading) the manager is a relatively recent immigrant themselves, they must surely have an inkling of how much is actually involved in getting a green card, and the consequences of immigration fraud. It’s not a trivial thing to do.

          1. Cassie*

            I have to agree with this (and I’m saying this as an immigrant). If the manager is a recent immigrant (especially if the manager is from a country with many immigrants to the US), I’d be fairly confident in saying they have heard about green card fraud before. Although I guess it’s *possible* that someone thinks of it just as a “sham” marriage and doesn’t realize that the sham marriage and subsequent attempt to trick the government into issuing a visa/citizenship is actually illegal.

            But that seems to be a bit of a stretch.

  14. GrumpyBoss*

    #3: I cannot echo Alison’s advice enough. When I left a toxic environment, it was so tempting to share my true reasons for leaving. But I had seen my boss damage the character of someone who did this before me, so I was afraid. Just smile, lie, and get out unscathed.

    I had a little bit of trouble accepting this, but now that I’m a couple of years removed, I know it was the right choice. I’m not sure what your environment is like, but if it is like mine, it was no secret that it was toxic. Many cases had been made against the source of the toxicity yet HR wasn’t doing anything. A tell all exit interview wouldn’t have changed the situation, and would have been written off as sour grapes. Some things, you just have to let go and leave for someone else to fix.

    1. hayling*

      My exjob didn’t do an in-person exit interview, they mailed it to me later. I tried to fill it out in a constructive manner while still being polite and not marring my relationship with them…I ended up getting frustrated and throwing it out because I just couldn’t be diplomatic. They gave me glowing references and I don’t regret my decision.

  15. SJP*

    OP 3 – I liked Alison answer, although part of me professionally wants to go to someone higher up who isn’t causing the toxic culture and state plainly and professionally “Since I’ve handed in my notice i’ve been asked to take part in an exit interview, while I am happy to do this, i’d also like to be honest but my interview is being conducted by Jane and unfortunately I do not feel like I could give honest answers to her due to *insert reason* so would it be possibly to have the interview with Bob instead?”
    If they pry as to why then say “this is something I would discuss in the exit interview regarding my relationship with Jane” and then reiterate that you’d like Bob to conduct the interview.

    That way you can still be honestly, perhaps tactically honest, without really denting egos or really ruffling feathers… Alison and other commenters do way in if you think you think this could perhaps work..?

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Eh, it might work, in the short run, but when Good Exit Interviewer goes forward with what she has learned on the interview then fit will hit the shan later. All that has happened here is a delayed explosion.

      Since the OP has made it this far without major damage, her best bet is to put everything in a peaceful place and quietly leave. You cannot help people who do not want to be helped. At that point, all you can do is keep yourself from being covered with the stuff coming off the fan and break away. There are some things in life that are needless or avoidable complexity. I feel this is one of them.

      OP, just my opinion, but go with what Alison says. Have two or three go-to-sentences and keep going back to those sentences. I had one boss ask “Are you leaving because of me?” I said, “Well, I started looking around because of the tension here, but that became secondary after a while. I have found something that I feel is a great move for me.” Then I went into my theme song “I have found an offer that I am very excited about.” I thanked her for our time together and wished her the best.

      BTW, she was a toxic boss and one employee had quit because of the way she treated ME. Yeah, I was shocked by that, too. You don’t see that very often.

      1. Alien vs Predator*

        Yes, I agree. It is not in the OP’s best interest to provide any honest feedback in a toxic workplace. To be honest, I’m not sure what a company would have to do to convince me that it is safe to give totally candid answers in an exit interview. People talk. Perhaps I am a bit paranoid, but if you’ve gotten to the exit interview stage, your responsibility to help an employer improve their operations is pretty much over. If an employer is interested in making changes based on your feedback, they will ask for that feedback while you are actively engaged in the job. My company has a third party do an annual engagement survey and I feel pretty comfortable providing candid feedback on that in a way that I believe will help improve the company. But, honestly, I don’t plan to say most of these things in my exit interviews when it is time to move on. If I haven’t talked openly about something, then I don’t have to worry about who it has gotten back to after I leave.

      2. The Cosmic Avenger*

        You cannot help people who do not want to be helped.

        THIS. The only reason I can think of to try to do this is, like banging your head against the wall, it feels so good when you finally stop!

        1. SJP*

          NotSoNewReader yea all very true, i supposed she isn’t obliged to give them feedback and like you say some people you just cannot help so that is very valid points.

          And they’re covering themselves to get a good reference. I stand corrected

  16. Not So NewReader*

    Op#1. Others have already suggested that the question could come from a place of innocence- not really understanding the law and all the implications of what he is asking. I agree this could be the case. And in some ways this brings on new levels of concern for me. I tend to expect bosses to have an idea of how to work with in the confines of the law. Here is a person that is saying, “I don’t really understand the law and I have not thought through the consequences of what I am asking.” I get concerned here because now I am wondering how many other business decisions he is making using this SAME rule of thumb.

  17. Annon FSO*

    #1). I am a consular officer and part of my job is interviewing to determine if claimed relationships are legit or shams for immigration purposes only. Just don’t do it, it’s not fair to the thousands upon thousands of people who go about immigrating the right way and you will get caught. In addition to fines and jail time, if you’re convicted of marriage fraud, you’re then prohibited from filing any other spousal petitions, ever. If you fall in love with a foreign national for real down the road, you’ll be SOL and not able to bring them to the U.S. Please consider informing USCIS ( and emailing the U.S. Embassy that would handle the visa interview (

  18. Dani x*

    I dont think you need to know the law to know that asking someone to marry a complete stranger is not something you do. That is very disrespectful to the OP and implies that marriage is no big deal and there are no lifelong consequences to entering one. For all we know the OP is a lesbian or in a committed relationship! Her lovelife is not the business of her boss and He is majorly overstepping here. I don’t think he deserves the benefit of the doubt.

    1. KerryOwl*

      People continue to marry strangers in many countries to this day. It might not be a big deal in the manager’s home country.

      1. Mike C.*

        Can you name a country where it’s common to just have your boss pair up an employee with a complete stranger for a life long commitment?

        1. KerryOwl*

          Oh, I agree that it’s wildly inappropriate in this circumstance, and that the manager in question should know better, no matter where she is from. I was just pointing out that “asking someone to marry a complete stranger” IS something that people do.

      2. Cat*

        Yeah, but that’s usually set up by family and is not taken lightly; it may be done, but it’s still a big deal.

      3. Dani X*

        Yeah – but in those cases it is set up by family or a marriage broker, and it isn’t to do someone a favor – it is meant to be a lifetime commitment and that you will be having an actual marriage with someone with everything that entails.

        In the US any boss who asks this of their employee is overstepping and doesn’t deserve the benefit of the doubt. They don’t need to know it is illegal to know it is something you don’t ask of your employees.

        1. Kat M*

          To be fair, if you come from a different culture, it might be different-clearly, the manager sees it as a means-to-an-end. I’m not saying it’s not grossly overstepping, but why is everyone so quick to attribute this to malice? We got two sentences from the OP and, from what I’m reading, we haven’t heard back.

          Also, it really depends on the work environment. I worked in a restaurant-I’ve seen my share of strange things and managers can sometimes be more friendly, informal, etc. I could definitely see this coming from a manager who knows an employee on a social basis and trusts them, not from someone malicious.

          1. Dani X*

            I don’t think the manager is coming from a place of malice, but a marriage is a HUGE life changing event for someone and to casually suggest that someone go ahead and do that to get someone else a green card indicates they have no understanding of how that is actually going to impact the other person, or worse they don’t care. Getting married gives the other person rights and responsibilities that aren’t easy to get otherwise. The OP could lose everything if the divorce goes badly (and saying “give me everything or I will report you for INS – I will get deported – you go to jail” could happen). And if there are serious medical issues the new spouse now has control and can make decisions on behalf of the OP if she is unable to make them for herself. And the OP doesn’t know this guy at all – who knows what will happen once he moves in with her. There is just so much that could go wrong – so many repercussions that it isn’t a suggestion that should be thrown out lightly.

            1. Kat M*

              As a married person, I’m well aware that marriage is a life changing event and that breaking a marriage has actual consequences. I just think that, if there’s no malice, going in with guns a blazing is not a smart move and the OP should make sure there is truly no malice beforehand.

              And yes, there are people who are that thoughtless. There are plenty of people who are competent in many areas but completely thoughtless in others. We can go on and on about how inappropriate the request is, but I don’t see how that helps the OP.

  19. Magda*

    #1 is jawdropping. I was reading that letter from earlier in the week about employees pulling a no-call/no-show when they quit, and wondering what circumstances would ever lead me to do such a thing. Well, my boss pulling a twofer of asking me to do something illegal AND inserting himself into my marital/personal life would be one of the situations that would make me seriously consider it.

    In addition to being illegal, I would also find it extremely demeaning as a woman to have a boss who considered my personal life to be something so casually traded away for “the good of the company”. That attitude reveals such a grave level of disrespect that I would find it difficult to continue working for him.

    I don’t know what your circumstances are, but good luck to you, OP#1. That’s a terrible position to be in.

    1. JMegan*

      I agree with all of this. To me, the immigration factor is the least offensive part of the whole thing – the idea of my boss asking me to marry *anybody,* for any reason, gives me the complete heebie jeebies.

      People have mentioned that it’s possible the boss made the suggestion casually, as opposed to seriously, and that there’s no indication the OP’s job is on the line. Neither of those things makes it better. My boss does not get to casually suggest that I change the entire scope of my personal life to accommodate him. And even if he didn’t explicitly say “Do this or you’re fired,” there’s still enough of a power dynamic there that it’s intimidating. Ugh.

      OP, I hope you can get out of there and into a better job, very soon!

      1. aebhel*

        This. If my boss ‘casually suggests’ that I don’t wear jeans to work, or that I take on overtime to finish a project, it’s understood as an implicit order even if she doesn’t specifically say ‘if you wear jeans to work again, I will fire you,’ and I don’t think too many people would be sympathetic if I acted all shocked and appalled that my failure to follow those casual suggestions has real job-related consequences.

        But for some reason in this case we’re not supposed to consider that power dynamic? Very weird.

        1. Zillah*

          But the scale of what you’re talking about is radically different, to the extent that I don’t think it’s an easy comparison.

          If a manager tells you not to wear jeans to work, it’s a fairly common and reasonable request, so it makes sense to take them at their word. But, as the statement gets more extreme, so should willingness to believe the person is serious. My supervisor told me that I wasn’t allowed to get sick this fall bc there’s so much to do. She clearly didn’t literally mean it – when I got sick, she told me to stay home and rest. It was hyperbole.

          Similarly, if my boyfriend gets home and says, “I haven’t eaten all day, I’m really hungry,” I’m inclined to believe him. If he says, “I’m hungry enough to eat a horse,” I’m not going to assume that it’s an accurate statement.

          This manager was absolutely out of line with the marriage request, but I don’t think your comparison holds up well.

          1. aebhel*

            Sure, but the implicit power dynamic is there. If it was a joke, then it wasn’t meant to be taken seriously and the OP and manager just aren’t quite seeing eye to eye on humor-related things.

            If it was an actual suggestion, however casual, then that’s not the same thing as a joke. The examples you have are hyperbolic; this isn’t. There’s really no way to suggest something like this casually; that’s my whole point. Either it was a joke, or it was an actual request. I’m not sure why we should just assume it’s a joke when the OP, who has a lot more of the relevant context, clearly doesn’t think so, and an actual request from an employer–even a bizarre and unreasonable one like this–is not the same thing as a request from someone who doesn’t have power over your continued employment.

            (And honestly, I’ve gotten some pretty bizarre and inappropriate requests from employers that were absolutely meant to be taken seriously. Small businesses are funny like that.)

    2. Ajax*

      ITA. I am frankly shocked at the commenters who want to give the boss some benefit of the doubt. Why? This is the worst sort of paternalism (regardless of whether the boss is male or female), inappropriate, and illegal. It shines a bright light on how the boss respects their employees. Worst of all, the boss is asking the employee to take on all the risk at no benefit to themselves – unless the implied benefit is that they’ll be able to keep their job. This boss knows exactly what they’re doing – they’re trying to take advantage of a person in their power. If I were the OP I would be looking for a new job pronto, and once I’d found one I’d make a report to INS and the labor board.

  20. Nodumbunny*

    #3 – I completely agree with Alison’s advice but I think you’re also worrying about how to get through this interview where this lovely person is browbeating you. Do what we do when we’re training folks to do media interviews – before the exit interview write out and practice out loud some stock messages: “I’ve been very happy here but this great opportunity has come along,” “no, I don’t have any suggestions or concerns about this organization – I’ve been very happy here” etc. Then when she asks you a question, as gracefully as possible revert to repeating one of your key messages. Don’t worry that you’re repeating yourself – your goal is not to have a dialogue but to get through the interview without saying anything you don’t want to say. Good luck and congrats on the new job!

    1. Cath in Canada*

      “I’ve learned so much during my time here!” is another good one; I used it in an exit interview where the subtext was “I’ve mostly learned never to work here again!”

      Good luck, OP! Just keep smiling and you’ll get through it

    2. Audrey*

      Exactly this. Pretend you are a politician avoiding answering the question, and just keep saying your key messages.

  21. anon all the way*

    With regards to the exit interview: I left a very toxic environment after being there for a substantial amount of time (15 years plus). I wrote countless drafts which helped me to exonerate all the anger I felt towards others there. I debated back and forth with myself if I should or shouldn’t send it. In the end, instead of sending it I decided to simply say I decline to answer any questions at this point in time. That simple one word statement was all I needed to say and HR wondered briefly why I didn’t fill it out more. I simply re-stated my point: I decline to answer any questions at this time. This way it saved me not only any potential grief and burning any bridges (not that I would want to go back to that place of employment). By expressing no “tone,” I didn’t need to say anything else. It was very tempting to lay into everyone but I took the higher road.

  22. HR Manager*

    #1 – Yeah, you’re boss is crazy cakes and totally shady. I see many who want to give him the benefit of the doubt, but in all the immigrant cases I’ve worked with, they know exactly what is allowable and what is not. This is someone who is colluding with the immigrant and only interested in circumventing the normal (long and tedious and costly) process (that is not guaranteed either). I would start looking for a next home, because this does not bode well for the company values.

    #4 – We often read about the bad side of managers and companies here, but I’ve found many companies to be reasonable and sympathetic to good causes. We’ve let recent hires take time off unpaid to work with service dogs and with under-privileged youths when vacation time or FMLA was not an option. As you get to the offer stage, I would bring it up to see if there are work arounds (work from home?) or other options.

    #5 – Most companies with personal use policy will technically tell you yes, you can get in trouble. Anything done on their network and their equipment can be monitored. So don’t plan on blasting someone who ripped you off on eBay (this really happened to someone I know) with your work computer. They know (especially when said party calls company and complains about offensive language from said co. computer)!

    1. OP 4*

      Thanks, I’m hoping that’s the case if/when I get to that point. Working from home is a good point, and would probably make the transition easier.

  23. Observer*

    On # 2 – car accident.

    Am I the only one wondering what the big deal is? I get that “is this legal” is often shorthand for “Is this as crazy as I think this is, and do I have any standing to force the issue?” But I can’t see how that could possibly apply here. Even if you want to argue that the company should just believe the person, that’s a huge stretch to “That can’t be legal, is it?”

    To the OP, Alison is right. You need to think about why they might not believe you. Some other potential ideas – lots of drama around prior absences, you missed something important, you had asked for leave and it was denied shortly before this happened, you are just out of time off, etc.

    1. OP #2*

      I don’t understand why they wouldn’t believe me. I have been there for 2 months and haven’t missed a day or been late. But one time and I lose all trust? I was literally standing there with highway patrol trying to call into work to let them know I was in an accident.

      1. Colette*

        “Two months” may be the issue – they may not know if this is normal for you. (You know, of course, but they haven’t known you for long.”

        1. JMegan*

          Exactly. I wouldn’t take it personally – after only two months, and with a clear attendance record, this isn’t about you. Chances are it’s either a micromanaging boss or an overall company policy. Either way, there’s a good chance you have some documentation of the accident. Make a copy for the boss, keep one for yourself, and put it out of your mind.

        2. Not So NewReader*

          Agreed. It the two month thing that is the sore spot. I was in a serious accident after starting a job. Yeah, I stood on my head to show them I was injured and I brought them documentation from the doctors to keep them up to date.

          Yeah, you kind of have to do this. Two months is not long enough to build a history or relationship with your new place.

          Honestly, I did not mind doing it. Not saying this to be snarky- this is how I explained it to myself: “Having a job is a privilege, not a right. They don’t know me from Adam. So it is up to me to show them that I am on the up-and-up.”

          There is a subtle opportunity here, OP, bring them the documentation they are looking for and realize in the back of your mind that this is part of how you build credibility. Your willingness to comply does give you some points in your favor.

          Now, if you had been at the job a while and you had a good attendance history, my answer would be different. I’d feel at that point that they should know you well enough to take your word for it. ANNDDD they should say something like “omg, are you alright?” Just my opinion, though.

      2. Judy*

        They may ask for proof for the first year. They may always ask for proof. One of the companies I worked for always asked for a copy of the obituary when you took bereavement leave. Always, it was in the policy. I’m assuming once someone had a few too many grandparents die in a year. They didn’t require documentation for anything else unless you were going to be absent for illness more than 4 days.

        1. Natalie*

          I feel like I have probably inspired at least one “too many grandparents” story somewhere. Due to a blended family, I had 10 grandparents as a child. Six of them are still living.

      3. AMT*

        It might just be company policy, maybe because others have used bogus excuses in the past. (Or your boss could just be paranoid/insensitive/whatever.)

        1. hayling*

          Also some previous employee may have taken advantage of a previously lax system and ruined it for everyone else.

      4. Observer*

        As the others noted, it’s two months in – it’s not that you “lost” trust – you never had much to start with, because you don’t have a track record yet. There is a reason for probationary periods, you know.

        Beyond that, I still don’t understand why you would have such an issue with it. I could understand why you would be offended (although see above and other comments). But why would you think that asking for documentation is so outlandish?

        Never mind the towing receipt – if you had the highway patrol, you have a police report. (If you don;t GET IT ASAP. You’ll need it for insurance, and you may need it if there was another car involved as well.) Why can’t you just give them a copy and have done?

      5. Zillah*

        I agree that you should just give it to them, but I know where you’re coming from – I’m incredibly offended by things like this. I’m not twelve, I shouldn’t have to give you a damn doctor’s note! I’d feel the same about this.

  24. soitgoes*

    For #1, I’d wonder if there are any other ways in which the employer’s business practices aren’t quite up-and-up with the government. Are all of the IRS ducks in a row?

    I don’t see anyone else mentioning medical issues. If you marry someone, even if it’s “just on paper,” that person is allowed to make medical decisions for you, including taking you off of life support and giving (or denying) consent for serious operations that take place when you’re unconscious. Just no.

    #4 is tricky. The OP is doing something very brave and selfless, but also technically voluntary. The only thing I can suggest is to pursue work in industries that aren’t swamped during the projected time of the surgery. What’s the 4-6 week timeline for? Is that for *complete physical recovery? Would the OP be able to work a desk job after two weeks? Granted, we aren’t told which organ it is or the details of the operation, but 6 weeks seems like a very long time for someone who isn’t the recipient.

    1. soitgoes*

      Another thought on #1 – if the employer is willing to sponsor his/her friend for employment, what’s the actual problem? It’s a long and expensive problem either way, but from what I’ve read, going the work-visa route is easier.

      1. HR Manager*

        A work route isn’t always easier. Getting an H1, L-1, O-1 may be easier as this requires only a few months of paperwork, as long as the employer provides all the necessary information. The drawback is that there is a time limit for how long the employees can work under those permits (and should employer go kaput or the employer pull their sponsorship, employee is out of luck).

        A green card (i.e., resident alien card) is the only way for a foreigner to get permanent employment authorization in the US. It signals an intention to stay in the US. Depending on what country you are from, and how ‘qualified’ you are, you can get a green card in 1-2 years or possibly up to 10+ years. A lot of tech workers from India fall in the 10+ year line. The process to even get a PERM application filed is expensive and time consuming, and could also fail (i.e., haven’t demonstrated that you cannot find a qualified worker already with US work authorization). During that time, you are renewing the employee’s work visa along the way.

        If you get a green card via marriage, you’ll likely get this in a year or two (provided not a sham marriage).

        1. soitgoes*

          I still think a work visa is the best route to go here (or you know, not scamming the immigration process at all), since it came up at work anyway. Who knows? The guy might even meet someone in the States that he genuinely wants to marry.

          The comments on this one are (rightfully) reactions of horror, but if the OP wants to keep her job while looking for a new one, I think she should suggest that her employer sponsor his friend for the time being.

          1. HR Manager*

            I wonder if it’s because the friend may have limited time left on a work visa. H1-B’s max out at 6 years (2 H1-Bs) and cannot be renewed for any employer, regardless of how good an employee or how decent a person. A green card is the only option for those who are hitting the limit on H1-B and do not qualify for L or O.

    2. OP 4*

      It’s a kidney if that helps. The industry I’m looking at is busy quarterly, so other than trying to time it around that, I’m not sure there’s a lot I can do.

      I may be able to go back to work sooner. Different sources site different things, but they all say you can probably go back to a desk job sooner than say a manufacturing job (probably more to do with them telling you not to life more than 10-20 lbs for the first 4-6 weeks), but that’s also going to depend on whether there are any complications post-op. 6 weeks isn’t that far out of line, that’s how long you’re covered for on short term disability for having a C-section. I’m hoping I would be able to be back on my feet sooner, but I also want to cover my butt if I’m not able to go back after 2-3 weeks.

      1. Jeanne*

        It’s very difficult to say. It depends on how your body responds and on which method they use to remove the kidney. For at least the first few days, the recipient will hopefully be doing much better than you. She goes from sick to much better. You go from well to not as well for a little while. If it’s not against the rules, please google the message boards called I Hate Dialysis. Lots of advice there and you can ask questions. You can read everything as a guest or register to ask questions. There are categories with transplant advice. I wish you the best.

    3. Mimmy*

      #4 – I hate to be a curmudgeon because this really is an awesome thing to do, but I too was questioning the timing as I read this letter. That said, this is for a specific individual (a good friend) as opposed to just signing up on a donor registry hoping to be matched. Definitely wait until you are at the offer stage to bring it up. I like the work-from-home idea too…that might be something to consider.

      Good luck, OP4, to you and your friend.

      1. Mimmy*

        *sigh* One of these days I will learn to refresh before posting!! It always seems that an OP posts just as I’m (slowwly) formulating my response -.-

      2. OP 4*

        Yeah, that’s one of the things I’m concerned about, but is there ever really a *good* time to take a month off of work? In my current industry summer is the busy time, so I think I’m covered if I don’t get out of here before then. I’m more concerned about trying to start a new job right as I would need to be donating – “Hey manager, that was a great first day, I’ll see you in 6 weeks, kthxbye!”

        1. soitgoes*

          Would it be possible for you to work it out so that you left your current job before the donation and started a new one after recovery?

          1. OP 4*

            I’m not sure if I could afford the time off without short term disability or something. I’m also not sure exactly when I might need the leave so unless it happens that a job offer just happens to line up well with the transplant date that may not work.

        2. Dani X*

          In my industry… Christmas. Lots of people take the last 3 weeks of the year off. And people from other countries tend to gather all their vacation and then go visit family for a month or more (some people save up all vacation and take all of say the 2014 and 2015 back to back in Dec/Jan)

          1. OP 4*

            If I wind up somewhere that gives all PTO for the year up front that’d be great. So far, I’ve just had to accrue it over time.

            1. Dani X*

              Technically you accrue it, so if you take all your vacation in Jan and then quit in July you have to pay back for the vacation days you haven’t earned yet.

              1. fposte*

                That’s totally organization by organization–some front-load it, so you wouldn’t have to pay it back.

    4. Suzanne Fieldstone*

      Yes this one has me wondering. I know someone who donated a kidney. She was back at work in a week. I know someone else who donated a lobe of his liver to his niece. He was out of the hospital in two days and we saw him a week later, and he sure seemed to be his regular self. I don’t know what organ the OP is donating but I have a hard time imagining why h/she would be out for up to 6 weeks. In my office, this would create a real hardship. We’re a non profit and everyone would have to pick up the slack.

      I appreciate very much the selflessness of the act but seriously question the timeline. Unless the OP has a very physical job, this doesn’t really add up.

      1. Jeanne*

        The up to 6 weeks is because that is what the doctors tell you. They have no way to predict how an individual will react. This is surgery. It always has risks.

      2. soitgoes*

        I don’t view this with cynicism or skepticism. I think the OP is maybe on the younger side and is going by stuff on WebMD/google. What I don’t understand is why the scheduling is so up in the air. She’s a willing donor; provided that she’s a match, she and the recipient of her organ are going to be placed on a very specific schedule for prepare them for their operations. It’s going to be predictable down to the minute, due to the very nature of what live organ donation is. I don’t think she’s far along in the process at all. She hasn’t even been tested to see if she’s a match. Personally I think she’s jumping the gun by working her job search around it at this point, but she’s willing to do something amazing for someone else, so I’m not going to call it fishy.

        1. OP 4*

          I am very early in the process and pouring over all the information I can get my hands on at this point. I really wanted to have a good understanding of the different impacts this could have on my family life before pursuing it. So maybe I am jumping the gun by worrying about how it could affect my job search since I don’t even know if I’m a tissue match or a good donor candidate, but I also didn’t want to volunteer and then have to back down later because I didn’t know about a potential impact.

          As far as scheduling, I have no idea how long the testing process will take and my friend is waiting until after graduating to schedule the transplant. Once the testing is in progress or finished, I’m sure the schedule will fall into place very quickly.

  25. JMW*

    While a caring HR department may conduct an exit interview in order to improve work conditions, the other reason they do this is to protect themselves. You will notice that they ask you to sign the exit interview notes (which may have been recorded by the interviewer with a layer of interpretation). The role of HR is to protect the organization above all else. If your employer gives you an unfair bad reference and your exit interview was all about what a great place to work this was, your words may be used against you in any lawsuit you file.

    There is no benefit to the employee at all in doing these interviews. Perhaps it is time for employees to take a stance against them: “I appreciate my time here, but I prefer not to give an exit interview.” It IS your choice.

    While I have learned things from exiting employees, I think employers need to find more effective ways of getting honest feedback from employees while they are still employed. Regular, meaningful one-on-ones would go a long way toward addressing problems in the moment instead of hearing about them after the fact.

    As an employer, I had a troublesome employee give an exit interview that blamed everyone else for problems. It left me in an awkward position regarding giving references, because I feared accusations of retribution if I gave anything but a positive reference. Fortunately I was never called.

    1. Armchair Analyst*

      I can’t recall being asked to sign exit interview notes – sometimes they happen over the phone with a third-party consultant. If I have to complete a survey or say that I’ve done an exit interview, I have signed that, but I can’t remember signing for someone else’s notes.

      I don’t burn bridges. I’m polite, except for that time when I was “let go” when I was 7 months pregnant. Clearly, I wasn’t going to put that manager for a reference call, anyway.

    1. HR Manager*

      Ha! But there’s the rub…the problem with state laws vs federal law, and what the LGBT community has been fighting for. While the Supreme Court did strike down the same-sex marriage ban, it has yet to mean that a same-sex spouse would enjoy all the federal benefits of being allowed to sponsor a same-sex spouse for a green card. Some benefits have expanded, but I don’t think anyone has tested the immigration waters yet.

      1. Sigrid*

        I believe there’s at least one case making its way through the courts right now, but it’s going to be a while before it works it’s way up to the top of the food chain and therefore becomes relevant.

      2. Dani X*

        And I am pretty sure that you don’t want a sham marriage to be the first one to try it. It is going to get very heavy scrutiny and might even need to go through courts.

      3. Natalie*

        Huh? US v Windsor applied to all federal processes & privileges, including immigration. A number of same sex couples have successfully immigrated/challenged deportation proceedings since it was decided. (One person had their deportation proceeding cancelled the same day the decision came down.)

  26. Jamie*

    If you don’t know your company’s policy on personal use of company computers/network it’s a reasonable question to ask.

    I wrote an acceptable use policy and everyone needs to read and sign it before their first log in to the network…and they keep a copy. And anyone can read the copy I store on the network. (And those that just glance and try to sign right in front of me – I won’t take it. I need them to read it before I’ll accept the signature.)

    I’m always surprised when companies don’t do this – it’s ass covering 101.

    If you are allowed some latitude with personal use a good rule of thumb is to make sure it’s defensible. If you wouldn’t be embarrassed to have the page pulled up in front of IT and your manager (assuming you have normal shame levels) and you can defend your productivity against surf time you’re generally okay.

    And everyone should make sure to stay away from gaming cheat sites, because they are way more riddled with viruses than porn sites are and they aren’t always as intuitively on the naughty list in perception – but if IT doesn’t have them blocked for some weird reason stay away anyway because you will NOT make friends with the people who need to clean up your machine that way.

    1. Joey*

      ” (And those that just glance and try to sign right in front of me – I won’t take it. I need them to read it before I’ll accept the signature.”

      I’m being sort of a stickler here, but reading a policy doesnt mean people understand it, especially when you’re talking about ambiguous terms like incidental use. Id include having them sign that the policy was explained, they have access to a copy of it, and had an opportunity to ask questions.

      And I’m not sure Id agree with your bar of your manager and IT seeing it. If I’m logging onto my healthcare provider to download an EOB or to look up coverage for something sensitive like say testicular cancer Id be pissed beyond belief if my manager or IT saw those webpages.

      1. Jamie*

        If you’d be pissed if they saw it you shouldn’t look them up at work. I make it really clear to everyone that while I don’t spy on people for sport, there is zero expectation of privacy on the company network.

        If I came across stuff like that I certainly wouldn’t say anything to anyone, but it’s still defensible (if within policy) even if personally embarrassing. That’s different than going on a site which will, because of policy and common decency, will have you called in to your managers office.

        I do explain my policies and the sig line indicates that not only receipt but that they understand and will abide by the policy. My point was to the people who sign immediately – there are a lot of people who will sign anything you put in front of them without reading and before it’s explained. It’s alarming how often that happens.

        1. Joey*

          maybe agree to disagree. There should always be a reasonable expectation of privacy when it comes to some things regardless of whether it’s at work. You may because of your role have access, but that doesn’t make it okay to access it without a business related reason. And there’s really no business reason for IT or a supervisor to access a webpage with an employee’s personal health information.

          1. Jamie*

            I don’t disagree with that and I never said anywhere that people should access personal health information. And I find snooping for the sake of it unethical.

            What I mean by no expectation of privacy is that most companies have software which tracks web usage. I don’t ever want to pull a report on anyone – it’s boring and I don’t do it unless there is a good reason. Someone sees something inappropriate on your screen and there is a complaint so I have to look, you get infected and I’m trying to trace the source, your manager has issues with your productivity and requests reports for webusage, etc. So while I’m not snooping for the sake of it, there is no expectation of privacy because if I have a reason to pull your usage – or access your email for a legitimate reason – I can’t not see some things and see others. It’s all tracked, but for the most part it’s not seen.

            That said if I came across health stuff I would no sooner mention that to anyone than I’d go around announcing how much people get paid – and anyone who does should be fired. But if I need to access your computer in the course of my job and you save your divorce documents in a location I can’t help but see them I can’t unsee them. I wouldn’t read them – I wouldn’t exit as quickly as possible – but there are no privacy expectations.

            Ditto web browsing. If your manager has performance issues with you and requests a report and it shows some health websites that’s on you for looking them up at work – because it was pulled for a business reason and it’s not our job to redact certain sites which might be personal.

            Anyway – yeah, agree to disagree if people think there is any expectation of privacy on a work network…but imo that doesn’t mean the access to that information should be abused nor should it be used without a legitimate business issue.

    2. Ajax*

      “And everyone should make sure to stay away from gaming cheat sites, because they are way more riddled with viruses than porn sites are and they aren’t always as intuitively on the naughty list in perception”

      Great tip! Thank you Jamie. Are forums like GameFAQs OK?

  27. Cautionary tail*

    Op #1: Above I gave my don’t do it speech so I won’t repeat it here.

    This situation was nagging at me and I remembered something from a distant relative’s past. I don’t know the initial circumstances but HE was a WWII concentration camp survivor in Europe and a citizen of eastern Europe. SHE was a US citizen who had heritage from the same eastern European country. SHE was asked to temporarily marry HIM so HE could get his green card and later become a U.S. citizen. They never knew each other or even heard of each other. They married each other for just a planned short time but somehow stayed together as husband and wife to the end of their days and died of old age in their 80s as husband and wife.

    As a kid growing up I never understood this and just parked it away in my memory till today.

    1. Armchair Analyst*

      Yes, I’ve heard this story – I know a daughter of such a marriage! Thank gd it happened before the camps, so the wife truly rescued the husband. The wife actually broke off her 1st engagement, to an American, to go and rescue a refugee, thinking they would break up upon arrival in the States. It didn’t work out like that, but I like to think the 1st fiance ended up happy, too.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      What a great story. Different times and dire circumstances. She did not have any or enough misgivings to stop her from going forward with the marriage. OP, look at the difference in the story told here and your setting. Two different situations.

  28. AggrAV8ed Tech*

    #1 really sounds like a creep to me, honestly. I’ll echo everyone else’s sentiments and say report him and then get the hell out of there.

  29. Glorified Plumber*

    #3: Are exit interviews forced on people? I’m looking back to folks who quit and left our company (33,000 people overall, 300+ person office) and most of them just said “Thanks but no thanks!” to the exit interview and that was that.

    We had a string of junior engineer folks, like 1-3 years experience quit to go to our competitor a few years back. I literally had the head honcho office manager himself (a 25 year veteran, and actually a good guy) come to me, and say, “Hey GlorifiedPlumber, Jane declined to do an exit interview… do you know why? I really want to talk to her, I am sad to see her go!” The junior engineer was 100% empowered to tell the whole office HR machine to pound sand. Incidentally, I advised OfficeManagerDude to, “Just go talk to Jane offline without HR, she’s over there talking to Roger. She’s quite nice, I am SURE she would love to shoot the breeze with you. You should ask her about her career goals, and offer to share some of your career stories where YOU swapped jobs a few years in and how it helped you! I am sure she’d be grateful for the advice!”

    Maybe it is just my industry/company, but, I feel like if I quit, and they wanted to exit interview, I would be 100% able to decline without burning bridges. I feel declining in all cases would be the smart move as well.

    Have exit interviews been “forced” on other people? What about presentation of these has not allowed one to say, “I apologize, but, exit interviews aren’t really my thing, I appreciate the sentiment, but I’d like to decline.” I mean, what are they going to do, fire you? I just don’t understand.

  30. OP3*

    Hi everyone! Thank you for the comments and advice. I’ll actually be leaving to do full-time freelance rather than take another permanent position, but I will definitely pick some nonoffensive phrases and stick to them.

    Several people brought up declining the exit interview altogether. I’m tempted to do that, but wouldn’t that be seen as a negative rather than a neutral?

    1. summercamper*

      I think it depends on how insistent your company is on having exit interviews. In certain workplaces, declining would be A Big Deal – in my experience, declining an exit interview at a previous job (government) wasn’t an option.

      However, in a less formal/bureaucratic workplace I think you could try saying something like, “oh, I really don’t have anything I need to get off my chest. Would it be alright if I declined and used my last day to focus on ______ instead?”

    2. Ed*

      I always decline exit interviews. Usually nobody cares but occasionally they are taken aback. If questioned, I simply say (in a matter-of-fact tone): “If I was unhappy and told you about it, it would most likely make it to the manager I was complaining about and that could affect a future reference check. It could also potentially get me marked as ‘do not rehire’ if the company was offended by my comments and I might want/need to come back here someday. What are the potential positive outcomes for me? Absolutely none. The most I can hope for it a neutral outcome.”

      I did have one HR manager that was very insistent and even threatened to end my employment that day if I refused as she considered it an “assigned task” and I was still employed there. I calmly told her my two weeks notice was a courtesy to my current manager and my new company would absolutely love to get me tomorrow so that’s not much of a threat. She quickly lost interest.

      Either way, I would politely decline and if they insist, then give fake “I’m so sad to go but the future opp was just too good!” answers.

    3. kristinyc*

      I’m in the process of doing the same thing! Wooh!

      In that case, you can make your exit interview more about a lifestyle change/wanting to freelance (don’t want your long commute/ prefer to work from home more/whaetever’s appropriate for you). When I gave notice at my job a few weeks ago, I positioned it more as a quality of life thing (I have a long NYC outer boroughs commute) and less about leaving for problems related to the company, even though it’s definitely a mix of both.

  31. Joey*

    #1. Why would you write in with this question? Are you hoping to get out of it by telling the boss it’s illegal?

    Why wouldn’t you just say something like “Funny Dan.” Or “I’m going to pretend like I didnt just hear you say that.” Or “I don’t think that’s what they meant when they wrote “other duties as assigned” in my job description.”

    1. soitgoes*

      A lot of employers can’t be persuaded to knock it off with crummy behaviors until they’re told it’s actually against the law. With people like that, you don’t want to deal with shutting down their “logic.” You don’t want the conversation. You need to be able to say, “This is illegal, and you need to stop.”

    2. Armchair Analyst*

      Clearly the original poster has a boss who oversteps boundaries and the employee feels unsafe being there and needs back-up. The statements you suggested are not usable in the employee’s position because the boss is so out-of-bounds and even abusive.

      1. fposte*

        I agree that Joey’s suggestions might not be sufficient, but I think you’re reading the situation as more fraught than the OP’s letter presents.

      2. Joey*

        I’ve always found it less awkward and more productive to presume good intentions (in this case joking).

  32. Brett*

    #2 Don’t assume it is just because they “don’t believe you”. You were in a serious accident while on your way to a work site. At minimum, you have a ton of vehicle damage. You might still find out you have injuries. And it sounds like other people were involved who are not your employer.
    Having “proof” of when and where the accident occurred helps to cover them in the event they get dragged into a lawsuit, either by you or by someone else involved in the accident. They are going to want to be able to quickly demonstrate that the accident occurred during your normal commute and not as part of any job related duties.
    Since many employees in our organization have take home vehicles, are organization requires a copy of a police report for every accident involving a take home vehicle just to make sure such liability issues are covered.

  33. Mallory*

    #1 – as a person who is married to a Canadian and has been trying for the last year to legally get him to the US so we can be together, PLEASE PLEASE DO NOT DO THIS! This type of fraud is one of the reasons we have to jump through so many hoops. Frankly, I’d see if there was a way to report your boss for even asking you.

  34. Lamington*

    for #1, i have an anecdote. One of my classmates met another student in college, a year later got engaged and married. Turns out the scummy guy just wanted a green card and as soon he could divorce he did, leaving her distraught.

    1. Cath in Canada*

      A friend of mine from high school came back from his first year of university engaged to a woman who was 8 years older than him and was from Hong Kong – this was about a year before the transition from British to Chinese rule. There were all kinds of stories in the papers about people desperately trying to get out before the transition, and we were all really worried for him – but they’re still together now and seem really well matched. You just never know!

    2. Katie the Fed*

      In Egypt, young men troll online dating sites to meet older, lonely American and European women. I’ve seen these women posting on some of the wedding boards: “it’s my first time out if the country and I’m going to Cairo to meet my fiancé and his family. I’ve had to pay for my own trip and he’s 18 years younger than me but I love him!”

    3. Saro*

      This happened to a friend of mine and she turned him in to INS! He dumped her after he got his provisional green card and she wrote a letter to INS stating that she believed he married her for fraudulent purposes. Not sure what happened after that but he was so horrible to her – I’m glad she did it!

  35. Relieved*

    #4 – It’s nice to know you can negotiate something like this. I am currently dealing with a health issue, but really want to leave my toxic job. Actually was in the process of networking and job hunting when I was diagnosed and had to put it aside for the time being. I will likely have surgery in February and am hoping to get out in the spring. While I will be (mostly) recovered by then, I will have a lot of follow up post-surgery. Just a relief to know that these things don’t have to stand in one’s way during job hunting. And to the OP, you sound like a great friend and good luck!!

  36. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

    Not so unusual – there is a young lady close to us who “fell in love” with someone in a Caribbean area – and it turned out, after she made 2-3 trips there – Lothario wanted money and a green card.

    God bless the U.S.A.
    God bless Canada

    I appreciate being in North America — and the rest of the world envies us….

  37. SquirrelInMT*

    #2, I have had employees involved in accidents before. In one case with ongoing attendance issues, the employee submitted photos of the accident scene, and a witness notified us. We told him not to come back to work until he’d seen a doctor for a checkup, and then ended up reassigning a colleague to handle his tasks for several days. It depends on the situation, but most employers will want and need to confirm both that the accident occurred and that you were not seriously injured.

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