my coworker attributes my boss’s success to her looks, changing the salary range I gave an employer, and more

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

1. My new coworker told me that my boss gets her way because she’s hot

I just started a new job and am meeting with the different department heads to get an overview of their responsibilities and how my department helps them. During my one-on-one with my coworker Carla, she said how my department has made incredible progress over the past year due to the department’s new VP Beth (my boss). Carla said Beth has made dramatic changes that no one else could get done. I smiled and said Beth was a rockstar. Carla just nodded and said, “Our CEO turned down the same ideas from everyone else. But Beth is smoking hot and she has him eating out of her hand. A gorgeous body gets results.”

I thought she was kidding around (in poor taste, but whatever) and kind of smiled nervously, and Carla continued, “No really. All Beth has to do is swish her hair around, while the rest of us have to grovel.”

It was incredibly awkward. Normally I would say something like “I don’t think that’s appropriate” but it was literally my second day and I just froze. Beth IS a rockstar–professional, polished, incredibly smart with a wealth of experience–and yes, she is very beautiful. The CEO too is incredibly professional and very well-respected. How one earth should I proceed with this? Friends said I should say something to Beth, but I feel like that’s just useless gossip that will hurt her feelings and possibly injure working relationships. Any suggestions to how to handle it if Carla says something like this again?

Ick, that’s gross and offensive.

If she says something like this again, you should be prepared in the moment to say, “I’m really surprised to hear you say that. I’ve been incredibly impressed with Beth, and comments like that are so harmful.”

I can see why you’d feel awkward mentioning this to your boss when you’re so new and you’re not really responsible for taking on this battle as a new employee … but at whatever point you do feel like you have rapport with your boss, I hope you’ll mention it to her.

And mentally mark Carla as someone to keep your distance from.

2. Should I change the salary range I sent an employer since I haven’t heard back from them?

I’m an unemployed university graduate, desperately looking for a full-time career. Recently, I applied for a job that my network suggested to me. Knowing someone internal, combined with my skills and experience for the job, I was confident that I had a fairly good shot.

The manager got back to me within 24 hours of submitting my application, asking for a salary expectation. I have never been asked to provide a salary expectation before so I did an extensive research on the average salary for similar jobs. I gave a very flexible range, willing to take the lowest end of what I offered. I also emphasized I am open to negotiate based on the budget.

It has been a week since I replied and have not heard back from the manager. I really want this job and I don’t want to be rejected because of the salary expectation I offered. Do you think it’s okay to send a follow-up email on the status of the application with a revised lower salary expectation?

No, don’t do that. For all you know, the delay has nothing to do with your answer and everything to do with the fact that hiring processes take a long time, usually much longer than candidates expect. If you send a follow-up email now saying “No, wait, I’ll go lower” just because you haven’t heard anything, it’s likely to just make you look like a weaker candidate.

3. My boss told my coworkers about my depression

I manage a small office, and I really like my boss. He is compassionate and helpful. However, I recently disclosed to him that I am struggling with a mental health issue, and proposed that I come in late one day every other week so that I could seek treatment. My boss was very understanding and approved the time off.

However, last week I found out that he told two of the people that I manage why I’m coming in late. This happened at a happy hour, and I believe his exact words were, “I don’t know if you’ve guessed where Jane is going in the mornings, but we really need to support her because depression is hard.” In his defense, my employees had sort of guessed what my “doctors appointments” were, but I still feel uncomfortable that it was a topic of discussion.

I’m really upset and don’t feel comfortable addressing this with him directly, but I also worry that going over his head will ruin our relationship. Do you have any advice?

Yeah, that wasn’t his to share. And it’s not because it’s depression, specifically, but because it’s inappropriate for him to share anyone’s medical details without their permission.

It would be reasonable for you to say to him, “Hey Bob, I recently heard from some of my staff that you shared with them that I’m dealing with depression. I want to be frank with you — I wish you hadn’t shared personal medical details of mine without my permission. Going forward, I’d like to think that you’ll keep things that I share with you of that nature confidential.”

4. Employer is demanding proof of my schedule outside of work

I got my first job back in January, at 18 and as a high school senior. However, recently the franchise owner has asked us to bring paper work to prove our requested days off and availability. There are no paid days off and I’m not even a full-time worker, so I’m a afraid that this is an invasion of privacy for me. Are they allowed to do so? Because if I can’t be available to work before 6 pm because I have a school project to complete, how am I to provide paper work for that?

They’re allowed to do it, but it’s ridiculous and not at all typical. I’d just say, “My availability is based on school and family commitments. I don’t have paperwork documenting that. If my schedule doesn’t line up with the needs of the job, I of course understand, but I’m not able to ‘prove’ my schedule to you.”

5. Interviews for jobs that turn out to pay much less than I said I was looking for

I have a good job but I am job hunting because I want to relocate. I’ve noticed a recurring phenomenon. On more than one occasion, I’ve completed automated applications, which require me to state my current salary in addition to stating my desired salary. Then a recruiter calls and does the phone screening, during which he asks again for my salary requirement. Then a face-to-face is scheduled. During that meeting, it is revealed that they can’t come within shouting distance of what I make now and want to know if I’ll work for substantially less. Last time, I made a 400-mile round trip for the interview only to discover the job paid $15,000 less than I currently make.

I’d like to know why they do this. Negotiation tactic? General jerkitude? Any ideas?

Inconsideration, mainly. When they ask you about salary at earlier stages, it’s reasonable for you to add “Is that in line with the range for this position?” after you state what you’re seeking. Also, before agreeing to travel for an interview, it’s reasonable to say, “Since I’ll be be traveling from out of state, can we first touch base on the salary range for the position to make sure that we’re in the same ballpark? I’m looking for $X — is that in line with what you’re planning to pay?”

{ 407 comments… read them below }

  1. Uyulala*

    #1 – Wow. While it is true that attractive people do tend to have more influence over others, it’s so very much Not Done to point to a specific person and say that is why he or she is successful. Even more so if it someone’s boss.

    1. Mother Hitton's Littul Kittons*

      #1: first off, I agree with AAM’s advice in general, but I’m not really sure what good it would do for OP1 to eventually mention it to her boss. It seems like it could be a challenging topic to bring up. And to what point!

      I’ve thought about this kind of thing for many, many years. I think it’s been proven that good-looking people enjoy “privileges” that the rest of us do not. But – I think that smart people enjoy privileges, too. Professional athletes and musicians, too. I’m not convinced that it is inherently bad for people to use their “talents” to get what they want.

      Consider what it must be like to be born attractive, and to grow up like that. I’ll guess it’s possible to grow and not even realize that you have an advantage over most people. Or – if you become aware of it, it’s almost like having a super-power. Which would require super will-power to avoid using.

      I can certainly understand how people who aren’t pretty, or smart, or athletic, etc, could come to resent someone who is privileged in this manner. But – what are you gonna do about it? There’s a Kurt Vonnegut short story where the government handicaps people who are too smart or too pretty etc, and the results are less than wonderful.

        1. rphillips*

          We read that during our Holocaust unit in Social Studies in, oh, 1981 or so, and I’ve never forgotten it.

      1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

        I think it’s appropriate for highly intelligent people to acknowledge being “born on third base” also.

        Highly intelligent people can become master criminals, wall street zillionaires, cure cancer, be a doctor without border, or waste their life working at Blockbuster because the world doesn’t get them.

        Looks, intelligence, musical talent, athletic skill – it’s a gift but just a tool. A person gifted with intelligence did no more to receive that gift than the inheritance kid did to get his money or Claduia Schiffer did to get her looks.

        What people have to answer for is their end result, not the tools they use to get there.

        * acknowledged that the Blockbuster reference is old but it’s my go to and I haven’t come up with one to replace it

        1. SystemsLady*


          This is completely on the other side of the coin:

          I was naturally talented at a couple of things growing up and the only attempt at bullying that really affected me was the “it’s not fair that you can do [X] without working as hard at it as I do, so you shouldn’t be able to do [X] for [random event] instead of me” comments – because the latter part, at least, was true.

          It took me years to realize that the good results were what mattered – not how I got them.

          And it’s not fair that I have a chronic illness that occurs at about the same rate as technically-defined giftedness, either. Life isn’t fair, and you just have to do the best you can and don’t let what other people have or don’t have affect you. It’s harder than it sounds!

        2. Kelly O*

          It’s funny this came up today; Sunday night’s episode of “Mad Men” had Don basically telling his daughter that she was a beautiful girl, but what she did with that was up to her – basically the point that it can be a tool.

          1. Windchime*

            Yep, and the flip side of the coin– he had an employee tell him (Don) that he was morally corrupt but because Don is handsome, he gets away with things that other people can’t.

            It’s got nothing to do with this post, though: I just like Mad Men. :)

            1. Kelly O*


              And even his looks can’t make up for his disappointment and general discontentment with his life. The “average” people around him – Peggy, Ted, Betty – they’re finding happiness and contentment in their lives and not constantly chasing some huge thing.

              Don, for all his looks and talent, is never satisfied. Dick Whitman wasn’t satisfied, and Don Draper certainly isn’t. (I loved the first episode of the back half, when he sees Henry in the kitchen with Betty and the kids, and you can almost feel him thinking about how that could have been him.)

              I just love that show.

            2. Lisa*

              Reminds me of the SNL skit with Tom Brady in his underwear sexually harassing women left and right, but the perfectly normal looking guy gets tasered for saying hello to them. I think, I forget exactly what happened.

              Anyway, people are trying to rationalize why Beth got results and why the 10 people before her didn’t. It could be as simple as the boss finally listened, and needed 10 people to tell him the same thing before anything got done. Beth could have sold it a diff way, or was more about solutions than complaining, or she catered to an ego-driven boss and made it sound like his idea which tends to work more often. For all we know, the boss was threatened by others, but Beth was more about the ‘team’. But Carla sees the difference being that Beth is pretty without seeing what was discussed to get the stuff done. She prob has no idea what finally pushed the changes through, but is bitter that it took so long and others were ignored. I’m guilty of this. Being a woman, I’ve tested ideas of my own that got knocked down by a boss. Then I’ve had male co-workers say the exact same thing months later, and have that same boss call it brilliant. So yeah, I’ve said my ideas are worthless to that boss unless I get a man to state the idea and then give me credit after its excepted. This boss actually has backtracked after being told they were my ideas after just saying it was a good idea. Some bosses are jerks that respond to a certain gender / profile of employees and listen to them more. Unless the boss has been known to comment on how hot Beth is and it being the only reason he listens to her – its prob not true.

              1. Stranger than fiction*

                My thoughts exactly Lisa. And I’m sure Beth had to have the degree skills and experience to get the job, not just her looks. Carla is blatantly jealous and jaded, not to mention unprofessional for bringing that up to a new hire.

              2. Leah*

                yes, I love that skit! The announcer says “Be good looking. Be extremely good looking.”
                And the normal looking guy kind of waves to a woman, and she picks up the phone to call HR. Then Tom Brady sits on her desk in his underwear and tell her he’d like to have sex with her, and she says yes.

        3. Chartreuse*

          I disagree with the comparison of “good looks” with intelligence or physical strength/coordination or talent for a particular subject. The latter three contribute to getting a particular task accomplished. The first is just what you look like. Not relevant except possibly in one or two very specific fields (such as being a fashion model).

          We we should not be complacent about attractive people being given an “edge” any more than we should be complacent about people having an edge because of race or ethnicity. Isn’t favoring attractive people over the less-attractive (even if done unconsciously) just as much of a discrimination problem as favoring thin people over fat or white people over black? What does the loveliness of one’s face (or other body parts…!) have to do with ability to get a given job done? Any more than things like race, gender, or (in most white collar jobs anyway, and even a lot of non-white collar work as well) weight?

          Shouldn’t it be just as offensive to speak of “good looks” as a tool to be used as it would be to speak of “whiteness” or “maleness” or “not being overweight” as a tool to be used?

          1. CdnAcct*

            Being attractive does help get some jobs done though – especially sales, in-person customer service, and a bit in any job where someone can see you. Also, being naturally ‘good-looking’ (which is very subjective anyway) contributes to attractiveness and makes it easier to achieve, but it’s not an absolute value determined at birth (or puberty or whatever). The effect might range from miniscule – coworkers see you but are much more affected by your work output – to very large – sales or customer service dependent on first impressions. The same way that good social skills helps with working with people, attractiveness is one factor making interactions easier. And some people are naturally ‘better’ at this than others, and some have trained this ‘skill’, just like social skills, reading people, communication and technical skills.
            Also, haven’t you found that people who are good-looking in photos can still end up being either attractive or not depending on how you view them? When I look back at photos from school, I’m surprised that I didn’t realize how outwardly attractive some of my classmates were because their personalities had much more of an impact – for better or for worse.
            All this to say, I DO think it’s just a tool for people – what they do with it and whether they capitalize on it is up to them.

          2. The Strand*

            The trick is that the way you look can’t be helped, but can be worked around to some degree (e.g. you work on your personality, develop a sense of humor). We also respond better to people who are like ourselves, or mirror us in some ways (that doesn’t have to mean specific demographics: it might mean someone hires someone with a similar philosophy about their career fields rather than someone different). I wouldn’t be surprised if the majority of people respond better to confidence and optimistic personality types. And we can be aware of our biases and how to best work past them.

            I agree we shouldn’t be complacent about these things, but maybe, as our lifespans inch out (people will spend more working time being older and in imperfect bodies) and genetic/body modification becomes more readily available, the culture may change.

          3. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

            I don’t think there’s a way around the reality of physical attractiveness being an advantage.

            I have a physical advantage because I am tall. It’s a minor advantage but it was more than minor once-upon-a-time when I was woman breaking into a male dominated industry. I threw on my 3 inch heels which put me at 6′ 1″ and met them all eye to eye. Could I have had the same success at 5″ 1′? Sure. But it would be dishonest of me to not acknowledge being advantaged in being literally impossible to overlook when the men folks were trying to talk around me.

            Don’t get me started on age. Youth or the appearance of youth is an advantage. That’s the cousin to physical attractiveness. Saying things shouldn’t matter doesn’t change that they do. I’m happily fully grey but if I ever had to job hunt again, the colorist would be friend.

            1. Sue Wilson*

              I’m not suggesting everyone or anyone change the world, but the reason certain things are an advantage is because people encouraged them to be so. Tallness being an advantage is socialization for the most part. Attractiveness is pure socialization. They aren’t necessarily an innate advantage except in circumstances which the structure of society has not contributed in making. And in those situations there will probably be disadvantages to balance those advantages.

        4. Irulan*

          Delurking to reply to this. I agree with your perspective that looks, intelligence, etc. are tools that can be used for good or ill, but I really take issue with the idea that an intelligent person is “wasting their life” by working at Blockbuster. An unearned gift is not automatically also a debt to society or an obligation to achieve lofty goals and unlock maximum potential. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with an intelligent person working at a respectable, if menial job.

          I may be a little sensitive about that idea because the logical extension of that train of thought is frequently heaped on women (and occasionally men) who take time out of the workforce to care for small children. There’s a lot of back chatter about how they’re wasting their intelligence, education, training and so on to do something as unimportant and poorly valued as caring for the next generation of adults, with the added idea that they’ve taken valuable space away from more worthy candidates, who would dedicate their lives to higher pursuits.

      2. Nashira*

        Cordwainer Smith reference! So sad my book of his stories was really my dad’s, and is thus a thousand miles away.

    2. Lily in NYC*

      This happened to me – I overheard someone saying I only got promoted because I was cute and had big boobs. And that the only reason I was invited to the White House Correspondents Dinner was because I agreed to wear a low-cut dress (my dress barely showed any cleavage). I was so incredibly hurt because I was very friendly with the woman who said it. I was cold to her and she must have figure out that I knew what she said, because she tried to apologize. I never forgave her and was icily civil to her until I left. It was 15 years ago and it still stings.

      1. GOG11*

        I’m sorry that she said that to you! I think some people prefer to chalk up success to looks because if it’s simply looks and not hard work then their lack of success is due to something they can’t control and that isn’t their fault. Instead of working hard and doing an exception job (which can lead to exceptional results, like an invitation to the Correspondence Dinner), they just assume you have some unfair and unattainable advantage.

        1. sittingduck*

          +1000 This!

          I agree with GOG11, people look for excuses as to why they didn’t get something they wanted/something someone else got, and its easier for them to chock it up to something that they can’t control, rather than take a good look at themselves and their own work and find out how they could do better.

        2. Lily in NYC*

          I don’t want to overstate anything about getting invited to the WH Dinner – each company that has a table (or tables) gets to decide who they want to bring. I think I was invited mainly because I’m a good schmoozer.

      2. Ann without an e*

        I’m sorry that was done to you that was incredibly cruel.
        Tell me more about the White House, the dinner…..did you meet anyone incredibly cool?

        1. Lily in NYC*

          I’ve been to a few – the best person I got to meet was Bill Clinton! I chatted with Donald Rumsfeld and his wife at the pre-party we hosted. I’m not a fan of his politics but he was quite charming. And I couldn’t believe Joe Biden remembered me from my being friends with his son -he didn’t know my name but he was like – Hey, you look familiar (this was way before he was VP). Made my day. Oh, and Brian Williams! Swoon. So handsome in person. I didn’t even try to meet the hollywood types – I wasn’t very interested in them and there was always a huge crush of people surrounding them. The real fun was at the pre-parties and the after-party.

            1. Lily in NYC*

              Thanks, but I’ll never get invited again! I left the DC journalism world a long time ago.

      3. neverjaunty*

        Good for you. What a horrible, stupid thing for her to say, and she should have expected you to be pissed.

      4. SystemsLady*

        I’m sorry that happened to you. From a bully who can’t mind their own business and has to win every competition they mentally create, it’s one thing, but it’s another thing entirely coming from somebody you thought was your friend.

    3. Beezus*

      Attributing success to good looks, rather than hard work, effort, or skill, takes the pressure off the critic to strive for success. If I can say Beth’s is able to accomplish more than I have because she’s prettier, I shift any responsibility for my own performance away from myself and chalk it all up to what’s in the mirror instead. I would have taken away a lot more information about Carla from that conversation than I would have about Beth.

    4. MK*

      I am a bit sceptical about the supposed “advantage” of attractive people, especially in professional settings. The fact of the matter is, while many people may treat pretty people a little bit better in insignificant matters, where it counts few of them will risk their proefessional reputations, the career advancement and their (or their company’s) interests just for the pleasure of gazing at beauty. It’s a very marginal factor of influence.

      1. Windchime*

        There have been studies about it, though. It’s an unconscious bias, a bit like racial bias. Even for people who are trying not to be biased, it can be an insidious thing that is really, really tough to beat.

        1. Chartreuse*

          Right. It doesn’t make it okay for Carla to speak that way about Beth, though.

          If the rest of what Carla says is true (that the very same ideas have been proposed for years, but the CEO wouldn’t listen until Beth proposed them), there’s could very well be some kind of problem somewhere, but the problem isn’t necessarily “beauty discrimination”. Could be he’s really, really stubborn and has to hear things a certain number of times before they sink in. Beth’s arrival was simply good timing. Could be he’s somewhat thick and has to hear things phrased just a certain way before he understands (and Beth was able to find the right phrasing).

          Or there could also be no problem at all. He *did* listen to all of those people and that’s why he decided to bring Beth on board to do those things everyone’s been saying are needed.

          1. Stranger than fiction*

            Or it was just timing. I had mgmt tell me the other day an idea I had was great and I knee jerk response back with ‘yeah I’ve been saying that for three years!’

          2. catsAreCool*

            Or it could be that Beth knows how to present ideas in a way that works well for the CEO. Sometimes 2 people can present the same idea, and one gets no traction because something about the way it was presented – maybe the person sounded angry or was vague or has a bad reputation.

      2. Judy*

        I can certainly say in my experience the upper management of many companies include an overabundance of tall and fit men with hair compared with the general population of 45-60 year olds.

        1. MK*

          That hasn’t been my experience, though. Usually it comes down to who gets results; and I haven’t seen much correlation between looks and results. The closest I can think of that has a comparable effect is charisma; it matters less what you look like and more if you can charm people.

      3. HM in Atlanta*

        There was just a report about this on NPR. The more attractive you are, the more competent you are assumed to be. Completely unconscious bias.

        1. Stranger than fiction*

          Hmm this is interesting because I was just thinking sometimes good looking women have opposite problem – they’re not taken seriously

          1. Hlyssande*

            Don’t we all remember that case whenever it was, where the judge ruled that it was fine for a dentist to fire his assistant for being too pretty? His wife felt threatened and told him to fire her, and he did.

            I know I remember another woman having the same issue, maybe she was a banker? My brain is fluff for details though.

            1. Loose Seal*

              I remember those events. I believe the banker was let go for repeatedly violating the dress code, though, with super short skirts and “TV office”-type blouses. She told the media she was let go because she was too beautiful and causing jealousy. (I think that’s the way that story went.)

            2. SystemsLady*

              Yup, it happened in Iowa and the woman lost her discrimination case at the state Supreme Court. I’ve heard the Iowa Supreme Court is usually one of the better state ones, too…

          2. The Strand*

            Yes, the type of “good looks” you have count. People will favor you, but in different ways. They may like you more, may give you advantages, but that doesn’t mean they think you’re competent. Your character and the way you project it counts, also.

            1. catsAreCool*

              I’ve wondered about that. I read once in Reader’s Digest that people who are good looking are thought of as smarter. I’m still not sure I believe that.

          3. Amy*

            I think it depends on your type of beauty, and the aura you give off. It’s that hideous ‘classy’/’trashy’ divide. Or the ‘sexy’/’beautiful’ one, maybe. I don’t think women who are tall, slender and have a calm personality struggle in the workplace (although I’d imagine they could socially). Whereas a woman who looks like a Barbie doll and has a bubbly personality will do.

            I have two friends it applies perfectly to. Both gorgeous, but one is a tall, very slim and flat chested brunette, while the other is a blonde with a Kate Upton figure. Blondie dresses fairly casually and almost never wears make up, whereas Brunette loves tank tops, short shorts/skirts, red lipstick and heavy eyeliner. Yet I’ve heard people gossip about how Blondie ‘looks like a bimbo or a slut’, while people rave about how classy or elegant Brunette is.

        2. bridget*

          Sure, there is solid sociological evidence that beauty makes a difference in a lot of places (unconsciously and consciously).

          But it is really unfair to use macro data about society at large in an explicit attempt to undermine the competency and abilities of a specific person, *especially* when that specific person is your BOSS. Carla is singling out one trait out of many and attributing 100% of Beth’s success to that trait. That has the instant effect of diminishing and dismissing every other trait she has, most of which have a stronger correlation with Beth’s success at her job. Carla is signaling that she doesn’t see Beth as the human being she is, but instead as a barbie doll.

      4. Koko*

        But the margins are often what tips the scales when competition is very steep between many highly qualified people.

        1. Koko*

          Or in other words, you won’t get a sitcom-type situation where some smokin’ hot goober gets everything handed to them, but when choosing between two people with excellent neck-and-neck qualifications, most of us will choose the more attractive one – and most of us won’t consciously realize that’s what we used as a tie-breaker.

          1. Loose Seal*

            Sometimes it’s totally conscious. Remember when Rachel passed over a perfectly competent middle-aged woman to hire Tag because he was gorgeous.


      5. MashaKasha*

        Depends on the field. In my field (IT), I’d say it’s a disadvantage. People take one look at you and automatically assume you’re not very bright, just based on your looks. Back when I was younger, at each new job, I had to work harder than the average person to overcome this bias. Thankfully, this is no longer a problem, lol

        1. The Strand*

          Yeah, in that culture, being attractive in a standard way suggests you aren’t enough of a misfit, to fit in – if that makes sense. Especially if you are female. The flip side is that you can succeed in the field without needing to be charming or conventional; you need to know your stuff.

          That said, the two CIOs I have met at different organizations didn’t convey that “outsider” knowledge or look – one former coworker told me the CIO was a “jock” who bullied people openly in meetings.

    5. TeapotCounsel*

      #1 – Is there any way you can post a picture of Beth? It’s hard to weigh in on the appropriateness of Carla’s comment without knowing what Beth actually looks like.

      1. amaranth16*

        I’m sure you didn’t mean any harm by this but I find it very inappropriate and unfunny.

      2. Book Person*

        A post where we discuss the inappropriateness of judging a woman by her looks, and you want a picture to judge her by her looks.

        I know (/hope) you were kidding, but… it’s really not funny. I don’t see how it can be taken in any other “spirit.”

    6. Sally Forth*

      I have a nasty coworker who is obviously insecure about her position in the office. For the first weeks of my new job I would say “Comments like that make me really uncomfortable” and walk away. The next few times, I said that her gossip really made me worry about how she was talking about me behind my back and walked away. Finally I got fed up and told her that the next time she said something nasty about someone in our office I would bring the person over and ask her to repeat it. She claimed she wouldn’t have a problem with that, but it stopped.

  2. Hiring Mgr*

    I can relate to #1. I’m devastatingly handsome, and so it’s often assumed my striking looks are responsible for the position I’ve attained. It’s really unfair to me, but I’ve been good looking like this for a long time so I’m used to it..

    1. Chuchundra*

      Oh Lord, it’s hard to be humble, when you’re perfect in every way. I can’t wait to look in the mirror, ’cause I get better looking each day.

      1. M*

        My mom listened to country music station growing up and I hated it. This was one of the few songs that would make everyone stop and have an impromptu karaoke session! Thank you for inciting the memory and the smile!

    2. Steve G*

      I see a connection between beauty/handsomeness and success, but not the way Carla sees it.

      For Carla, looks are a gift requiring no work and ease the way to getting whatever you want in life.

      IMO, Looks are often the result of a lot of work (exercise and a strict diet and skin care routine and proper sleep) and the result of the exact personality (detail oriented, a bit OCD about getting stuff done, like losing those pesky 5 pounds after the winter), etc.) that is both successful at work, but also in personal endeavors, including socializing and achieving a nice body.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Do you really mean to imply a correlation between actual work performance and putting work into maintaining personal appearance? I don’t think that’s really true (plenty of people excel at work and don’t care much about their personal appearance beyond the basics, and plenty of people take great care with their appearance and don’t excel at work). Moreover, it really doesn’t matter; it’s a wildly inappropriate comment for the coworker to have made.

        1. The RO-Cat*

          I read that as a parallel – the same type effort, care and “can-do” attitude are present both in the “looks” and “success” departments. If one puts all the care they put in “looks” also in “work”, then yeah, there might be a correlation. Otherwise, no.

        2. Kelly L.*


          Look, Steve, a lot of looks are genetic luck, and beyond that, beauty and fitness are hobbies like any other. There are hundreds of hobbies a person could have that they could be detail-oriented in, or go-getter/can-do in, and so on. And there are only so many hours in the day, and everybody can’t be that devoted to everything. I think almost everyone can be devoted to something, but nobody can be devoted to everything. So people make choices.

          But beauty and fitness seem to be among the only ones* that get placed on this pedestal where people think it says so much about their character. You don’t hear “Wakeen is so attentive to detail–you should see how organized his stamp collection is.” Or “Persephone is such a great team player–you should have seen her on our last WoW raid!”

          I think the truth is that, subconsciously, some people react to beautiful looks on a visceral level, and then they reach for justifications to rationalize treating pretty folks better. “It shows what a hard worker they are” is only the latest in the line of justifications. In the Middle Ages, for example, it was that pretty people were obviously of good character because otherwise God would make their inner ugliness show on their faces. You can find bits of this in the fairy tales. Yeah. This is old, old crap.

          And all of this said (tl;dr), there’s no evidence that looks have anything to do with the particular situation of Beth, who’s being unfairly maligned here by Carla.

          *One of the others that does get the pedestal treatment sometimes is volunteer work, and that’s a whole other discussion that isn’t really germane here.

          1. Hlyssande*

            I wish I could get credit for my MMORPG accomplishments. I ran a small raiding guild for awhile and then joined a hardcore one. That’s gotta count for something, right?

            1. Ann without an e*

              If your an engineer its something you put on your resume in the hobbies section. One of the departments where I used to work (before moving towns and working at this place) have a WoW guild and LAN party to meet their team building quota…….I loved that place.

              1. Prismatic Professional*

                Awesome! I wish my workplace had this! Then again, our systems are nowhere near good enough to handle a proper gaming session.

                Back in High School, my group of friends had a 24 hour LAN party instead of going to prom. Best Decision Ever. We played, died, laughed, drank incredible amounts of BAWLS, and I’m not sure the pizza industry as yet recovered. And everyone was still friends at the end of the night.

                Also- any drama that occurred was settled by a 1-on-1 play off. It actually worked. Which I now find really strange.

                1. Jenna*

                  Yeah, no one to talk about video game stuff with.

                  Recently a remote co-worker emailed me asking if another co-worker was in the office because she was trying to get a hold him and he was not responding to emails, and my response was, “He’s here but AFK”…… I was immediately embarrassed after I hit send because I did it without even thinking about it and I knew she would be confused. LOL she responded with, “What is AFK?”

            2. Tinker*

              I am like thisclose to putting my LARP stuff as an item on my resume. I think my friends who run plot actually have.

              1. Cath in Canada*

                I’m undefeated at Boggle, despite many, many challenges from my BIL and others. Writing and editing are part of my job. I can put the Boggle thing on my CV, right?

          2. neverjaunty*

            I think the truth is that, subconsciously, some people react to beautiful looks on a visceral level, and then they reach for justifications to rationalize treating pretty folks better


            It is certainly true that good looks are often the result of or greatly improved by effort – especially in a culture that correlates beauty with, for example, wearing makeup. But it’s silly to say that skill at contouring blush is a good sign that the person will also be detail-oriented in financial reports.

            1. Kelly L.*

              Yup. It would be like concluding I’m a terrible worker at work because I’m a mediocre housekeeper at home. (In fact, I feel like I’ve even seen this view stated, once in a blue moon.) How much effort (or lack thereof) one puts into an activity doesn’t automatically translate to every activity in the world. People have different priorities.

              1. Stranger than fiction*

                Yelp this is akin to the thinking that people with bad credit scores will be unreliable employees

              2. ThursdaysGeek*

                On the other hand, if a programmer’s documents are filled with misspellings and bad grammar, it does make me question how good they are at programming. I think there is a correlation, since you can’t be a good programmer without a great attention to detail and a good feel for the big picture. A poorly written document has neither attention to detail or understanding of the big picture.

                It probably isn’t as tightly correlated as I think.

                1. LJL*

                  I’ve had exactly this argument. One person on the search committee didn’t think spelling and grammar should be a big deal on a programmer’s cover letter. I see it as a lack of attention to detail which indicates a rotten programmer. I’d like to hear Jamie’s thoughts on this.

              3. Lindsay J*

                Yeah, I’ve seen crazy advice about how interviewers should tell the interviewee they need a ride somewhere so they can check out how well the interviewee keeps their car clean. :/

          3. Jenna*

            I wish my boss thought I was a team player because I play support classes. Honestly, I never mention that my hobby is playing video games to employers because I feel like it’s frowned upon and viewed as something lazy people do. I am an administrative assistant in my late 20’s and I know that part of my job is to look polished and professional to set an example for the rest of the office.

            1. neverjaunty*

              I know, right? “My healer kept an entire team of scrappers alive during a boss fight.”

                1. Hlyssande*

                  And also hella good at multitasking! Managing stress!

                  I played a shadow priest in WoW, both because I loved melting faces and because I seriously could not split my attention that much to keep people alive. I tried it as backup and failed hardcore every time. NOPE.

          4. Evan Þ*

            “In the Middle Ages, for example, it was that pretty people were obviously of good character because otherwise God would make their inner ugliness show on their faces.”

            That would be really convenient if true. A handy way to tell someone’s character at a glance? Great!

        3. Steve G*

          I guess not to performance/results, but to effort (which I guess doesn’t always lead to results), and only in some cases. But my main “issue” is that people like Carla don’t understand the effort involved in things that look easy – either work or looks or whatever else. Carla’s comment assumes Beth is just gorgeous no matter, even though her looks could be the result of years of a hard exercise/diet routine……

      2. PSA*

        Also… as an OCD sufferer, the frequency with which I see OCD used to basically mean “super organized in a way that benefits her life!” or “efficient” drives me crazy in general (and I see it VERY often on this site), but the statement that attractive people also suffer because to remain thin they must be “a bit OCD” (???) is a bit much for me to handle in the morning.

        OCD isn’t about “getting stuff done” that helps you, it’s literally about compulsively doing things that are NOT productive. I don’t mean to derail the thread but please consider this a PSA.

        1. nona*

          That’s true, and I’ve seen it around this site, too.

          Comments online aren’t something that keeps me up at night, but I’d like to be clear that having an anxiety disorder actually sucks and doesn’t help you at work.

        2. Helen of What*

          I’ve been seeing it come up in job ads recently and it makes me kind of angry. No, you don’t actually want someone who takes organization “to the point of OCD”. I live with my boyfriend, who has mild OCD and though I’ve gotten used to it, I wouldn’t wish his disorder on anyone.

        3. Juli G.*

          Yes, thank you. OCD does not equal organization. In fact, that’s why I rarely tell anyone about my OCD because it manifests itself in hand washing and checking (luckily, I have overcome most of my issues with overzealots morality)but I’m pretty disorganized.

          OCD is not fun or an advantage.

          1. PSA*

            I’m messy/disorganized too. I really don’t know how organization became emblematic of OCD. If I had to think of the types of OCD that are most talked about (basically, the things that were in the video shown in my health class), they’d probably be checking and stuff having to do with numbers (like repetitive behaviors or needing things to be in threes, etc.). Neither of those things make you a high performer.

            1. simonthegrey*

              My father has a few OCD behaviors that are organized around cleanliness, but they are specific (double checking to make sure all the books on the shelf line up perfectly, sliding them back and forth to get it just right; vacuuming perfectly straight lines and doing it over and over until they are right) but they’re…self soothing? in a way. The house is always a mess but one or two things are absolutely perfect. It gets in the way of doing other things.

              1. nona*

                OCD behaviors are self-soothing – they ease anxiety that comes from invasive thoughts. People are usually aware that it doesn’t make sense and won’t prevent whatever they’re worried about, but they need to do the thing anyway.

            2. nona*

              I think organization’s such a common image because OCD can come with some perfectionism, and some people’s compulsions include arranging things symmetrically or according to a certain order (that might or might not make sense to anyone else). It’s also more visible than most other OCD symptoms. Like someone with pure obsessional OCD might never talk about their invasive thoughts, but you’ll notice a coworker who has to keep the supplies on their desk aligned perfectly.

        4. Jenna*

          PSA is absolutely correct on the OCD comment. My husband has OCD and he often spends a lot of time trying to get past compulsive behaviors, which is often very counter productive. He knows what he is doing is a waste of time but he can’t get past the anxiety of not doing it. So yeah, the term OCD is really overused on people who are not OCD and are probably just really organized, which is not the same thing.

        5. Leah*

          Agreed. I actually thought Michael J. Fox’s portrayal of a doctor/surgeon with OCD on Scrubs was really well done. There was especially one emotional scene where he got really upset because he wanted to just go home after work but couldn’t stop washing his hands.

        6. Steve G*

          I’m sorry, but you’re acting like this is the first time you’ve seen OCD used this way with your comment “is a bit much to handle this morning.” Using OCD in this way has been mainstream slang/shorthand for detail-oriented at least since the early 2000s, as far as a I remember (maybe earlier) when OCD was a popular talk-show/magazine item. I understand it being ridiculous to use in formal writing (as Helen of What points out), but using it in slang? That is all over the place………

            1. Steve G*

              I think it does actually. Words/phrases change meaning over time, and one person can’t change the meaning back to its original meaning. The (mis)use of “OCD” as an adjective un-related to the disease is definitely rooted in English by now. I don’t understand why this thread even started under my comments. Yes, I used “OCD” but so have millions of people since “OCD” became popularized in the 90s, so it is coming across to me as a bit nitpicky to jump on me because of it when it’s been misused all over the place for years. By now it’s almost like how a writer can describe something figuratively as “cancerous” to mean it is leaching away at something, without referring to actual cancer.

      3. Kay*

        Is the implication that people who don’t exercise/diet aren’t attractive? Or good at work? This seems like a huuuuuuge jump that is slightly insulting.

        1. Michele*

          There is definitely a stigma that obese people, especially women, are inherently slovenly and apathetic.

      4. MashaKasha*

        Nope, it’s the genes. Contrary to the American Protestant ethics, not everything can be achieved by hard work and dedication. No amount of hard work will give me a 20/20 vision and so forth.

      5. The Strand*

        For some people, it really is a matter of hard work that makes a difference in their attractiveness. They then comment on others’ attractiveness approvingly, “Oh, Lisa really takes good care of herself,” because they believe that likewise, Lisa has a lot of control over how she looks and presumably worked as hard as they did. But maybe Lisa can, genetically speaking, cut a lot of corners and not worry about it – she can eat whatever she likes, skimp on exercise, and so on.

        And, maybe Janet over there also takes good care of herself. But she has lupus or Epstein-Barr, and some days just getting out of bed is an achievement. Janet can’t be detail oriented about everything. It’s not a matter of her lacking the Protestant work ethic regarding her looks. She doesn’t have an extensive “skin care routine”, she only has enough spoons to get her through the workday, making dinner and getting bed at a decent hour. Janet can be successful, but she doesn’t have an unlimited supply of spoons so she’ll have to trade something off. For Lisa, it really may be effortless.

    3. Mother Hitton's Littul Kittons*

      I know you’re joking, but the truth is that people who are extremely good-looking have their own unique problems.

      One is being taken seriously for your abilities. I worked with someone like this last year. And OP1’s boss Beth is perhaps a case in point: she’s good-looking, and (let’s say) she’s a talented project manager. But other people will look at her and think she’s getting by on looks alone. Furthermore, if you tell someone “Beth is very good at her job”, there’s a fair chance that they will inwardly sigh and think “ah, another one who drank the Kool-aid.”

      And – I’ll stick with Beth as an example – she’s going to spend a lot of time and effort attempting to separate truth from fiction in her life. She’s going to be surrounded by yes-men and yes-women who will agree with her every thought and who applaud everything she does. We all find ourselves in need of honest criticism sometimes, and it’s often difficult to get it. But it’s even *harder* for Beth.

      And there is the ever-present hazard of falling prey to the flattery of the sycophants who will laud your every syllable as “genius!” (I think this is what happened to Michael Jackson).

      There are more issues I could go into, but I’ll finish with The Rude Awakening, which I’ve seen played out on _Sharktank_ at least twice, and that is where a good-looking person

      1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

        I agree with some of your points but I don’t think a good argument can be made that a physically attractive person is actually disadvantaged by what they are born with. Anyone who is advantaged in some way (looks, intelligence, athletic ability, born to money) has to deal with a double edge sword. I think the advantaged people who cry, oh but it is really a curse, need to walk in the shoes of the non-advantaged for awhile to get their heads on straight and be grateful.

        1. Mother Hitton's Littul Kittons*

          Do you mean that you won’t donate to my new non-profit, The Good-Looking Human Fund? For the cost of a coconut water and a cronut every day, you can help some highly attractive person cope with the pain of living amongst ordinary people such as yourself …

          But seriously: no, I wasn’t trying to say that attractive or talented people are ‘disadvantaged’. Just that: being attractive has it’s own set of problems.

          1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

            The Human Fund. I see what you did there.

            We agree. I just don’t think that the looks advantage double sword is significantly different from the double sword on other advantages, eg. smart kid who skated by school never having to work and now can’t hold a job because he never learned to work.

            Looks might get extra bonus points for being an issue skewed way more toward women, with women culturally conditioned to depend on their looks. I’ll hear that argument. :) ( I bite my tongue every time I catch it telling a tiny girl how pretty she is. I STILL do it. Pops out of my mouth when there’s nothing else to say until 5 or 6 and we can have a real conversation.)

            1. Colette*

              My hairdresser works our of her home, and she worries about her daughter, because that’s the go to conversation for many adults when interacting with young girls. (Try asking whether they like dinosaurs, or how high they can jump if you’re struggling for ideas.)

            2. Sospeso*

              I do think that the looks advantage double sword (sticking with that for brevity’s sake!) is different, in that it is something you can *see*. From a scientific perspective, we make quick judgments about people, and these judgments tend to be based on the information that’s available to us in the moment – often, things that are visible to us. (Not saying this is a stellar mental short-cut to use, just acknowledging that most humans do it implicitly. ) Can you judge whether another human is attractive in 10 seconds by looking at them? Yes, and there is evidence that the way you treat them moving forward is, at least in part, based on how attractive you think someone is. Can you judge whether someone is – to continue your example – intelligent in 10 seconds, just by looking at them? My guess is the accuracy of that judgment would be questionable. So one’s evaluation – and, to some degree, treatment – of a person based on their attractiveness is much more immediate than a similar judgment based on intelligence. I’d argue the results are potentially different, but I’d love to hear other thoughts.

              And yes, isn’t it something how ingrained these ideas about how you should approach different genders are? I recently adopted a puppy, and I was recently joking with a friend about how pretty his long eyelashes are. My friend reaction seemed to be offended! “He can’t be pretty! *He’s* handsome!” Sigh. Even puppies aren’t immune.

            3. Windchime*

              You can say the same thing to little girls that you say to little boys — ask them to run so you can see their shoes light up. Ask them about their toy or what they are going to do today or tell them how smart they are.

              1. Sospeso*

                Oh, that’s wonderful. I love that the author of the piece owns up to how easy it is for us to slip into that mode, and those statistics were compelling. I’ll keep this in mind in the future!

      2. Mother Hitton's Littul Kittons*

        [Crud! I accidentally hit Submit] … and that is where a good-looking person has succumbed to flattery and truly believes that they are amazing at what they do, and they can do no wrong. And now this person walks into a new environment / context where neither their looks nor their minimal abilities count for anything at all. It can be a humiliating encounter.

        And, of course, looks will fade over time. If you’ve been getting by on looks alone, there will come a time when they fade, and if you don’t have anything of substance inside of yourself – well, hopefully you’ve at least got some savings.

          1. brightstar*

            As soon as I read question # 1 I thought about Jon Hamm on 30 Rock. He was in the bubble! He wanted to stay in the bubble!

            1. LBK*

              I dunno, his part on Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt definitely gave his 30 Rock role a run for its money.

        1. MnGreeneyes*

          I have a former friend who repeatedly told me, “You can’t understand my life because I’m pretty.” She had been told for so long that she had value for her face she believed it. She really wasn’t THAT pretty, and hearing it once I might have been able to chalk it up to her childhood. However, she frequently reminded me while not caring or realizing how demeaning that was to me or anyone else she said it too. She was toxic in other ways so she is now a former friend.

      3. Ann without an e*

        Beth’s perspective:
        Some men are cool and easy to work with and recognize talent when they see it.
        Other men will fall at these women’s feet just to be near her to hit on her. He’s not taking her seriously, hes just try to get some. Then there are the real creeps. The ones that helped your project and your career and were cool and easy to work with and mentored you but as soon as you turned down his ‘dinner invitation’ he quit cooperating and stonewalled until the death of the project and then it is up-hill from there. And its your word against his, when you confront him about it he will look at you and tell you that you are paranoid and crazy and he never asked you out, he’s baffled as to why you would make up such a thing…….and there are no witnesses, its your word against his and that never goes well because there is no proof.

        The nasty Carla’s of the world will run around and attribute your every success to your looks, and if that doesn’t hurt your progress enough she will pull out the big daggers and start insinuating that you not only didn’t earn things because your pretty but got there immorally. Just wait OP you stay there long enough and Carla will start insinuating accusations of impropriety and might eventually come out and say it. At that point, please tell Beth immediately, it doesn’t just hurt Beth, it makes for a toxic work environment.

      4. neverjaunty*

        I don’t know why we’re tiptoeing around the gender thing here. Yes, looks are very much a double-edged sword for women. The ‘people will be yes-men to you’ is a very, very distant problem compared to 1) it being assumed that Beth slept her way to the top, or at least batted her eyelashes to the top, and 2) not being taken seriously or listened to. “Oh, I’m sorry, I had trouble paying attention to your presentation because you’re so pretty.”

        1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

          I think the double edge is there for both genders. I’ve seen it action for men enough to be confident.

          More for women? Absolutely. Much more.

      5. Calla*

        I think in the case of sycophants that’s only if you’re very charismatic, which doesn’t necessarily come with good looks.

        I DO think there is some negative to being an attractive WOMAN in the workforce. Remember that case of a dentist’s assistant who was fired because he wanted to have an affair with her, and the court protected his decision? Or how about the multiple cases where a woman was reprimanded or fired for being “too hot” in *the uniform the company provided*? I am pretty sure you never have and never will see a female boss say to her male employee, “You’re just too handsome, I need to fire you,” and the court respond with “Rock on, lady, very reasonable.”

        (On the flipside, of course there are also disadvantages to being an average, unattractive, and/or overweight woman, a woman who doesn’t wear makeup, etc. in the workforce. It’s almost like this is all just part of/a cover for misogyny…)

        1. Sigrid*

          I remember reading a newspaper article back in the 90s on a study that looked at the extent to which attractiveness helped people advance in their careers. I never read the actual study, so I don’t know anything about its methods, but it was reported that the study found that attractiveness essentially had no upper limit for men — the more attractive a man was, the better he’d do in his career. For women, however, there was a ‘sweet spot’ of attractiveness where it was helpful — less attractive women didn’t do as well because people didn’t think as highly of them, but more attractive women also didn’t do as well because people assumed they were sleeping their way to the top/otherwise relying on their looks. I was fourteen or fifteen when I read that article, and I’ve never forgotten it.

          1. Kelly L.*

            Yes! I definitely remember this from some articles I’ve read about sexual harassment suits too. Too pretty, in the judge’s eyes, and the judge might say “Well, of course he harassed you, look at you all walking around being pretty.” Not pretty enough in the judge’s eyes, and the judge would just disbelieve it ever happened because “who would harass you?” So gross.

          2. Calla*

            This has definitely been replicated! When Sarah Palin was on the ballot, I remember reading that they did some kind of study (it may have just been a content analysis) that showed her perceived attractiveness definitely impacted her perceived competency. Now I disliked her as much as the far-left feminist, but her looks and love for shoes had nothing to do with it :)

            There have also been studies that shown there’s a “sweet spot” for make-up in the workplace, which is related. If you wear none, you’re at a disadvantage because people assume you’re not putting in effort. But wear “too much” (which in the study was basically a night-out look… probably a little too much for a day office job, but not garish) and people assume you are more focused on your looks than on work.

            1. Dan*

              As an engineer who works with few females, the only makeup I notice is “too much.” Seriously, if they were none, it just doesn’t matter.

              That said, a couple of weeks ago, I spent three days on a dive boat on the Great Barrier Reef in OZ. There was an American girl onboard who wore makeup the whole time, it was seriously very funny, and made absolutely no sense.

              1. Calla*

                Often “none” and “too much” for men is way offbase from reality though. Ask any woman (who wears makeup at least some of the time), and she’s likely had a guy tell her she looks great with no make-up when in fact she’s wearing concealer, foundation, and mascara–and had one ask if she was sick/tired when she was truly wearing no makeup.

                Of course whether that’s true for you specifically is irrelevant here, because it apparently is true for a lot of male bosses, and impacts the lives of women.

      6. MashaKasha*

        We don’t even know whether Beth is really that stunning good-looking, or that Carla just refuses to give her any credit and claims that all Beth’s accomplishments are just due to her sex appeal. Which, frankly, infuriates me.

    4. azvlr*

      While you may be devastatingly handsome, Ferris, I think you are successful more because of your charm, quick wit, and the ability to fool those in authority! lol

    5. Xanthippe Lannister Voorhees*

      Some people just don’t realize there’s more to life than being really, really ridiculously good looking.

  3. Lurker*

    OP #5 :
    Yes, you can definitely ask but be prepared that they might not be truthful. This happened to me once when I applied for a job. During the interview, I clearly told the HR person how much I was currently making and looking to get. She did not say anything about the amount, she just wrote it down. Then they made me go through the whole process, only to offer me lower than my current salary. I even politely asked if I wasn’t clear what my current pay was during the interview, and she said yes, I was clear about it. She was sorry but that was all they could pay. The sad part was, the position I applied was a notch up my current role. I declined to take the job.

    1. brufrawe*

      Same thing happened to me. I was clear about my salary requirements, went through the interview process including spending two days working on a project to demonstrate my abilities and a half-day in-person interview with the entire team only to be offered $15K less than I’d mentioned.

      Had I known up front we weren’t in the same ball park, I definitely wouldn’t have wasted so much of my time. But why would a company waste their own employees time interviewing someone who ultimately won’t accept because of salary? I wonder if the logic is, you’ll be so dazzled by the company and the people, you’ll budge on salary.

      1. Lanya*

        Maybe that’s the logic. I had the same thing happen to me. They asked me up-front what my salary requirements were, and when they offered me a salary $10,000 less, I couldn’t understand why we had bothered to go through the whole interview process. Maybe they thought I would be so impressed with their company, I wouldn’t care about a pay cut?

        I just don’t think employers value interviewees’ time. If I am interested enough in your open position to use PTO to sneak around behind my employer’s back, then the interview process had better be worthwhile!

        1. Stranger than fiction*

          Same here, I’ve had it happen a few times. I think sometimes they’re just hoping you’re desperate enough to take it?

    2. teclatwig*

      Hm, just speculation, but perhaps they are treating “salary range requirements” like a negotiation, where you have placed an opening bid and now they are throwing out their bid, and expect you to end up somewhere in the middle?

      How awful to waste everybody’s time like that after asking you to put all tor cards on the table and keeping tiers close to…oh, man, the metaphor soup in this comment is killing me. Sorry!

    3. The Strand*

      The cynic in me thinks that this ploy might be tried more often on women. And if you’re moving into a role that’s more prestigious they think you should be happy to take a pay cut.

      (If I recall correctly, on “Star Trek: The Next Generation” the producers told actor Wil Wheaton (Wesley) during salary negotiations that while they didn’t want to pay him more, they would “promote” his character.)

    4. blbattleaxe*

      I’ve had a company ask my desired salary and my current salary, then accuse me of LYING when I told them my current salary. I offered to show them a paystub as I withdrew my candidacy.

  4. Mike C.*

    AaM has good advice to follow here, but I just wanted to this in support.

    One of the lessons you have to learn when you’re in the working world is when to stand up to your boss. It’s never easy, and it carries risk but there are times when they are acting in an illegal or grossly unreasonable manner and you shouldn’t have to put up with it. It’s one thing to document availability, but it’s quite another to have to defend having free time and a line between your personal and professional life. If you want to keep Sundays free, it doesn’t matter if you do it because you want to go to church, you want to get high as a kite (valid only in WA, CO and DC), you’re busy watching F1, or all/none of the above. You don’t have to prove that to anyone. Give your boss the availability you’re comfortable with, given your personal/school/hobby/etc aspects of your life and take it from there.

    So how has this policy been taken at work? Have your coworkers brought in “documentation” to show that they really can’t make certain days/hours? Has anyone brought up questions similar to your own? Has your boss rejected any reasons/documentation as “not worthy of having time off”? Please report back if you can, these comment threads really like to hear crazy stories.

    /I’d further speculate that this is the sort of owner that likes to rub it in everyone’s face that “they’re the boss” and “they make the decisions around here” and are little more than penny-pinching tyrants. Also, I can’t wait to see what sorts of things this owner believes are and are not “good enough reasons” to have free time – many of which could likely violate real labor laws.

    1. UKAnon*

      I can’t help wondering if he’s got a suspicion somewhere that one of his employees has gained a second job. It could be a very clumsy way of trying to make sure that somebody’s not breaking a non-compete or similar.

      Or he could be a control freak or like the power play.

      It might be useful to ask why he needs this – if he does have genuine concerns about an employee and is just handling it badly, that might help OP with how to address this.

      1. Lamb*

        What kind of part time job that hires an 18 year old student would also have a non-compete?

          1. Kelly L.*

            I had to sign a non-compete for a sandwich shop back in, oh, 20o0 or so. In practice, it was never enforced–the food places in that town were a revolving door of people, like everybody played musical restaurants every year or so. :D But it did exist, and it struck me as pretty awful even at the time.

        1. blackcat*

          NPR in Boston did a story a while back on *summer camps* that have non-competes. And 18-20 year old were the ones they hired.

          1. LBK*

            A summer camp actually doesn’t sound *that* weird to me since camp counseling generally requires being there for weeks at a time, but the schedules don’t tend to be consistent. You’d want to lock down your good counselors so that next year if you and Camp Wannachocoteapot run for the same 3 weeks, you don’t have to deal with your counselors applying to work at both and having to choose one.

            1. Mike C.*

              That’s great that a business wants to “lock down” employees and prevent them from seeking work elsewhere, but given the market based environment we have for labor, it really screws over the employee and other businesses.

              It’s one thing if you were talking about specific rare knowledge that mattered in a highly competitive environment – say an aerodynamicist working for an active Formula 1 team. Yeah, a non-compete makes perfect sense in that case*. But an inexperienced worker with a handful of common skills and a handful of years of experience? No, that’s just crazy to me.

              *Even in those cases the employee is paid for their gardening leave, since teams are located primarily in the UK.

              1. Connie-Lynne*

                Yes, please. And a logo with a pair of crossed logs underneath, and a teapot with steam coming out the top in the spot where a fire might be in a different well-known logo.

          2. SevenSixOne*

            I hate how jobs that hire mostly young and inexperienced people often play fast and loose with labor laws and good sense simply because they know their employees don’t know any better!

            Literally everyone I know has stories to share about jobs they had early in their working life with bizarre and often illegal labor practices. Many of them (including me) had NO IDEA these things were unsual, much less illegal. Most didn’t know how to report them IF they even knew reporting violations was an option.

            1. Connie-Lynne*

              That’d be a great open forum post on AAM: “What were your most exploitative early jobs? What kinds of illegal job practices did you put up with because you didn’t know any better?”

              It’d be so excellent to just point folks new to the workforce at and be all “these are the signs your boss is maybe kinda breaking the law!”

              (Hat tip to stuff that is just terrible behavior but isn’t illegal)

        2. esra*

          Many grocery stores. I tried to get a second job as a cashier and they told me they would *never* hire people who’d worked at the other chains because they might steal “trade secrets.”

          They got the look of utter disdain that only teens can truly master. There was some shade thrown.

      2. doreen*

        I suspect that it’s not concerns about a particular employee so much as concerns about a particular shift/day that has few people available. Although asking for documentation seems odd to me- lots of reasons don’t have documentation and it seems that most places handle the issue by hiring people specifically for those unpopular shifts.

      3. Michele*

        I think he is a control freak who gets off on the power. I remember my bosses from the crappy jobs just being obsessed with demonstrating they were superior and bullying employees.
        Mike C is right, this is a good time for OP#4 to learn to stand up for themselves. It is not like they are working in a salaried, on-call position where they have to go out of town during their normal shift.

  5. Mike C.*


    I understand if you were just surprised or didn’t feel it appropriate, but did you ever ask them why they wasted so much time when they were $15k under, or why they thought you would be willing to take such a huge pay cut to work for them? I’d love to hear what they’d have to say.

    1. Marzipan*

      Depending on where the OP currently lives/works and where they travelled for the interview, is it possible that cost of living and/or geographic expectations of salary might just be very different? If they’re currently based in Metropolis but interviewing for positions in Smallville, where salaries are just lower across the board, it wouldn’t be surprising that this was happening (and that it was happening repeatedly, as the OP has described). Their stated intention is to relocate, so if this is part of the problem it’s probably going to keep happening…

      Irritatingly, I live in an area with a high cost of living but notoriously low wages!

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        I think the issue, though, is that they talked about salary, heard what the OP was looking for, and didn’t say, “Oh, that’s above our range, which is X. Does it make sense to continue?” Instead they wasted the OP’s time when they had every reason not to.

        I second Mike’s suggestion to say something when this kind of thing happens. It doesn’t have to be adversarial. It can be a puzzled-sounding, “Huh. We had talked about salary earlier and I’d mentioned I was looking for $X. Was that out of your range this whole time?”

        1. Marzipan*

          Oh, yeah, totally – if it’s never going to happen, ideally someone should say so. I’m just pondering the underlying ‘why’ part.

        2. John*

          “Puzzled” can be a really effective way of addressing potentially contentious situations. It takes the accusation out of it.

        3. Serin*

          I had a milder version of that when applying for my current job, and I’m convinced it was a part of the negotiation “game.”

          1. I apply online, then get a form email that says, “To be considered, you must reply to this email with a desired salary.”
          2. A friend who already works there tells me that everyone she knows who does this job was hired in at X, so I reply that my desired salary is X.
          3. I get an email from HR to set up an interview. “We aren’t able to offer more than X minus $2,000. Are you still interested?”
          4. I do the interview and get a job offer of X minus $2,000. Remembering what my friend told me about what they actually pay, I counter with a request for X plus $3,000.
          5. They say yes without counter-offering.

          So possibly places that interview you and offer less than your stated range are just opening negotiations in an odd way? And they’re expecting you to counter with, “My stated range was A to B, and you’re offering A minus $15,000,” at which point you’ve essentially established A as the amount you’re negotiating down from.

          1. teclatwig*

            +1 I am thinking along the same lines, that they are treating your stated salary range/amount as an opening bid. Given the low amounts, I imagine they are assuming a back-and-forth wherein you overbid, they underbid, then you both compromise with something you are happy with.

    2. OP #5*

      Mike, I did not. It had been a very productive interview (from my perspective) and the salary thing was a parting shot. BTW, aside from the phone screening, I had already been through a Skype interview with six people from the organization (as a group). So this was the second interview. Same six people. When the hiring mgr. made the comment that the top of their range was $15k below my current salary, I hope I didn’t register too much shock but felt like a deer in headlights. I said something noncommittal about everything being negotiable. What I was thinking was, I’ll just reject the offer if they make it. They did not, btw.

      What I’m most curious about is why they would waste their own time.

      1. Gwen Soul*

        I know my boss will sometimes bring people in who want more than we pay because he believes we can convince them that this job is that darn special and they would love to work here for less (and they just don’t understand how much cheaper the cost of living is here). And anyways how dare we want to make more money, the work and challenge is all we need! My boss and I disagree but since he signs the paycheck I go along with it.

        Very rarely it works, but generally for people were money is not the real concern as much as wanting to do something different or get the next title on their resume.

        1. Ama*

          I think that has to be it — I worked for awhile at a university that considered itself a big deal and was located in a very desirable city and they were constantly lowballing people because they really thought the prestige of working at that school in that area would lure people in. To a certain extent it worked, but as the cost of living here has skyrocketed, the turnover in all but the tenured faculty became pretty bad, as everyone left for places that actually paid market rate.

              1. Connie-Lynne*

                Oh, as someone who moved from LA to the Bay Area three years ago for work, lemme tell ya. You cannot even conceive of how ridiculous the COL is up here. I tell everyone from LA to up their salaries by $50-$75K. Which, yes, is some people’s entire salaries.

                But that’s what it’s like up here. A crummy 1-BR, with no storage and no parking, two hours away from the city rents for $3000/month at the low end. Not on average, that’s minimum. Food and other day-to-day living expenses are commensurate.

                New Yorkers faint and fan themselves when they hear how much our square footage costs. It is cray.

      2. Joey*

        Because they think they’re worthy of an exception. In other words they think they’re so desireable you’ll come down from your max.

        Or they believe the myth that everyone interviewing has to be treated the same.

      3. The Cosmic Avenger*

        I think registering shock and letting your jaw hang open for a second or two are perfectly appropriate responses, OP. They are asking you to take a voluntary pay cut, and for what? They should have to sell you on it, not just casually mention it at the end of the second interview. Incredible fringe benefits (at least $10K worth) and 100% teleworking are the only ones that I can think of that would make me even consider it.

  6. ZenCat*

    #3 I just wanted to say I feel for you. I had an employee talk to my boss about some health issues (mental) that I had going on, I didn’t find out until she quit and we took up coffee later that she knew – that everyone in management knew actually. That sucked. For some reason that sort of thing is okay to talk about it – meanwhile if you had some raging STD or some random fungus or high blood pressure or whatever that you had to get treated for I find it’s less likely information is spread around. In my experience any way. I hope you can take AAM’s advice. Health information is never okay to give out. Mental health carries with it a lot of unwarranted stigma.

    1. Michele*

      Health information should never be shared. People where I work love to gossip about everyone’s health. If I have a direct report who is out for more than a couple days, people will start asking me what is going on. Most have learned that I just say that I will not discuss my employees, but some just keep coming back. I am very much a MYOB person when it comes to someone’s health. If someone wants to tell me what is going on, that is fine, but unless we are very close, I don’t ask.

      1. Graciosa*

        I agree that I don’t share with just anybody, and being the boss means I can – and do – tell Jane that she needs to cover John’s 4:00 meeting without explanation.

        I do have a caveat to your first blanket statement (Health information should never be shared). I share it all the time with HR and with our on site medical team. They both need to be aware of what’s going on (and yes, I tell the employee that I’m doing this – but I do tell rather than ask).

        For HR, the focus is on the accommodations I’m making – are they correct (should I be coaching about FMLA or STD, for example), and making sure a replacement manager understands what I put in place if anything happens to me.

        For the on site medical, I have had situations where emergency response would need to know the information to properly manage a medical emergency if it occurred at work. The actual medical information goes to the supervisory level of the medical team, and is not shared with regular responders unless they are actually called to treat that individual.

        This doesn’t mean that I am not respectful of an employee’s privacy – I am – and you’ll note that my boss doesn’t make the cut to receive this type of information without the employee’s consent. My boss doesn’t actually need to know. However, a blanket “never share” instruction is rather oversimplified.

        Good managers can and do share confidential medical information – just not with other subordinates at a bar!

        1. Michele*

          There is some oversharing going on at your company. If I have an employee with chronic health problems, I give them the contact information for HR and the medical unit, then those departments handle any FMLA or STD. All I need to know is if an employee is healthy enough to work. If employees want to share their medical information with me, that is up to them, but if they just say, “I have to have surgery and will be out for two weeks,” that is all I am entitled to know. We also fill out medical information cards, but they go straight to the medical unit and do not go through our supervisors.

          1. Graciosa*

            Why do you think there is oversharing?

            I didn’t say that I demanded information from anyone involved – not the employee, not HR, and not the on site medical team.

            The employee is free to work directly with HR or the medical team – and I have always made that clear – without my involvement. When they choose to share more specific medical information with me, I make it clear with whom I will share it and why. I also make it clear that I won’t share it with anyone else without permission.

            The universal response from employees has always been very positive (although I admit it’s a fairly small sample size) and employees have continued to share unsolicited medical information with me after experiencing how I handled it. I have also gained useful information from HR about our policies (if X trigger occurs, then have the employee do Y) which is important for me to know as a manager, and both the employee and I have taken comfort in the fact that in an emergency, our on site medical will be able to provide appropriate care.

            I’m wondering if some of the reaction here is due to some misconceptions about medical privacy rules – the only person governed by those in this scenario is our medical professional. Managers and HR keep this information confidential because it is an appropriate and respectful practice, not because of HIPAA. The employee is free to share anything they want.

            1. Michele*

              Of course employees are free to share whatever they want about themselves. However, whether an employee comes to me and says “I have this specific health problem” or they say “I have a health problem that will require some time off,” my role is to direct them to HR so they can get the proper benefits and everything is documented. Of course, my role is also to make sure that the work is covered. I do not even act as a liason with HR–I have them talk to them directly.

              I have no idea what is in their medical files. Even though I work in a field where sometimes people get hurt, I have no reason to know what information they have given to the medical team, nor would I want to be responsible for keeping track of that. If they have a life-threatening allergy to a medication, for example, they should wear a medical alert bracelet and that should be on file with the medical staff. I have no fantasies about charging in and saying, “No! Don’t give Sansa doxycycline! She could die!” which seems to be what you are talking about.

              Our company policy is that people who report to me don’t have to tell me anything medical. That all gets routed through the appropriate departments. They can tell me things if they want to, but they don’t have to. Personally, there are things that I wouldn’t want to tell my boss, and I am sure he wouldn’t want to hear it. Heck, when I simply tore my Achilles tendon, he didn’t ask why I needed time off for physical therapy appointments, and that wasn’t even anything potentially embarassing.
              HIPPA has nothing to do with it. It is simply about realizing that some aspects of your employees’ lives are none of your business unless they want it to be.

  7. j-nonymous*

    OP#1. Oh my god, that’s so incredibly inappropriate of Carla. I would actually recommend telling her as soon as possible that what she said was entirely inappropriate and that future conversations need to be contained to constructive and appropriate work-based topics.

    People who behave like this show very questionable judgment. I’ve known managers and employees who’ve done stuff like this. Not only do they say awful things like Carla, they will invariably retell things as if you agreed with them. Make it clear to Carla immediately that her behavior is intolerable.

    Then I’d also talk to your manager about it to keep her in the loop.

    Good luck. Carla is probably going to be a nightmare to work with.

    1. SherryD*

      Word. Who knows, maybe Carla’s assessment of Beth and the CEO has some validity. But you keep that opinion to yourself — don’t share it with a junior employee on their second day! (Or ever.)

      1. Kelly L.*

        If the story does have any truth to it, also, it reflects more on the CEO than on Beth. It sounds like Beth really is doing great work. There might be truth to the CEO ignoring good work by other people. If so, that’s his fault, not hers.

        1. OP#1*

          What I’ve seen in just a few days is my very general impression: When people have an idea, they say “Mr. CEO, we should do X”. And he says he’ll think about it.

          What Beth does is say “We need to do X because of this research I did, these stats I found, customer demand, and because our competitors have had success with X and we’re being left behind. If we do X, we’ll cut our budget”.

          Meaning, she doesn’t just throw out a suggestion; if she thinks it’s worth doing, she backs it with really solid proof.

          1. Kelly L.*

            If that’s borne out over time, then, it sounds like she’s doing more homework before presenting an idea, and it sounds like they’re both doing fine and the only knucklehead is Carla!

          2. Purr purr purr*

            That was my first thought upon reading your submission to AAM: that she’s probably just a better salesperson for her ideas. If you want a company to make a change, you have to also show them how and why it benefits them. Carla is a jerk and if she opened her eyes to reality, instead of assuming it’s just down to looks, then she could learn a lot about how to pitch ideas successfully.

          3. straws*

            This was my first thought. I see this ALL the time. Employee A has an idea and shares it, Employee B has the same idea 6 months later but has a plan and a reason and is willing to take the lead. Employee A gets bent out of shape because “I already had that idea and no one listened to me!” Add in some insecurities, and I can absolutely see it turning into Carla’s (inappropriate) opinion.

          4. MashaKasha*

            Thanks for the explanation, it’s just as I thought. Carla finds it easier to sit around and complain about Beth getting everything she wants “just cuz she’s hot”, then to actually do something better/differently herself. Ridiculous. If she didn’t believe that Beth was “hot”, she’d come up with some other excuse.

        2. Poohbear McGriddles*

          Yeah, I read it more as Carla thinking that the CEO has a thing for her boss and listens to her because of that, not because she has great ideas. If other people are putting forth the same ideas but aren’t getting any traction, then there is something about the way this woman is presenting those ideas that is winning him over. Maybe she’s better with Powerpoint, or a better public speaker. Or maybe he just likes to hear from pretty women. It’s hard to say, since we don’t really know anything else about them.

      2. neverjaunty*

        Exactly – and if you do, you frame the problem as “our CEO plays favorites”, not “Beth is a femme fatale.”

        But I’m guessing that’s not it.

  8. Ben Around*

    OP #1: If Carla says anything like that again, I’d suggest telling her you don’t want to hear it, and sticking with that approach … but I don’t think you should tattle to the boss. Or mention it to anyone, for that matter. There’s just too much loaded material there. And considering that people can be very vulnerable regarding their physical appearance, tattling could come across — at some subconscious level — as saying that Carla’s claim was obviously crazy because the boss isn’t good-looking.

    I know it sounds nuts, but why tread on the topic at all? Shut down Carla if she brings it up again, don’t tell anyone about it, and you’re in the clear.

    And, for that matter … you’ve been on the job a few days. There could be things you don’t know. As offensive as Carla’s remark was, it’s possible that there’s some nugget of truth buried in it. People have surprised me in weirder ways than that.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I want to push back on the idea that telling the boss could come across as implying “and you’re not even that attractive.” What Carla is saying is disgusting. The boss should know. The OP is new, but at whatever point she does have rapport and trust with the boss, any sane boss would appreciate knowing this ugliness (ha!) is out there.

      1. Ben Around*

        I’d feel uncomfortable bringing it up … appearance isn’t always a rational topic. You just don’t know what triggers lie there.

        And there’s the possibility — even if it’s a very slim possibility — that there’s some truth in what Carla said. There are just too many unknowns here.

          1. Sans*

            I wouldn’t mention it either. I would shut Carla down if she said it again in the future, but that’s it. And if Carla is that free with her thoughts – saying something like that to someone who had been there two days – I doubt OP is the first person she’s said this to.

        1. LBK*

          The whole point is that this shouldn’t be a conversation about appearance at all. That’s why Beth needs to know, so she can shut down Carla’s line of thinking.

          I have to say I’m a bit miffed by treating Beth’s thoughts about her appearance so delicately and I can’t help but wonder if you’d tiptoe around it so much if it were a man in question.

          1. nona*


            Also, even if Beth does have some particular sensitivity about this, Carla’s comments still need to stop.

          2. Ben Around*

            Hi LBK — I’d be even less likely to bring it up to a guy. That would just be supremely weird in the world of men.

              1. Ben Around*

                Uh … it just would. Believe me. A lot of guys — most, in my experience — get kinda wiggy if another guy even says that a fresh haircut looks sharp.

                1. LBK*

                  Well that sounds like a whole separate issue, but gay panic aside…

                  Basically, what I’m getting at is that treating a woman’s thoughts about her appearance so delicately is really problematic because it suggests a woman can’t separate professional from personal. It’s rare that such a level of worry about emotional impact is assigned to bringing up an issue with a man. I don’t like the idea that you wouldn’t raise a work problem to a woman because she might have a sensitive response – she’s a professional, she needs to know what’s going on in her workplace, and her reaction is her own business as part of dealing with being an employee of a company.

                2. Ben Around*

                  For some reason, I can’t find a “reply” link after your comment, LBK.

                  I just wouldn’t feel comfortable bringing it up with men or women. I wouldn’t want to introduce that element in my relationship with anyone in a workplace. It *is* a trigger-rich environment and even if it turned out not to be a minefield for the recipient, it would feel creepy to have that as a topic.

                  And backing away from that to a larger view, the whole idea of going to the boss with this feels, to me, like needless snitching. Carla’s probably not doing a great job of hiding her disdain for the boss — I think things will resolve themselves without the OP’s intervention.

                3. LBK*

                  I think we disagree on too many aspects of this situation to continue to discuss it. It seems like you’re missing the point that the fact that it’s appearance-related is the problem, not the reason to avoid discussing it, and I also strongly disagree that this is “snitching” in any sense. Managers have an absolute need to understand what’s going on in their workplaces; the concept of “snitching” at work is more or less nonexistent. Refer to Alison’s post on tattling a few weeks ago.

          3. Graciosa*

            Thank you.

            Carla’s comments have nasty undertones of “There’s no way Beth [any woman?] could be contributing any type of skill or talent to the company that would justify the esteem in which she is held, so therefore the only explanation must be her attractiveness to the opposite sex.”

            Shades of “9 to 5”! I thought we moved past the idea of thinking that the only thing Dolly Parton’s character could contribute was a view of her cleavage.

            I’m fairly stunned that there is someone left in the work place in 2015 that a) thinks this, and b) says it. It’s possible that Beth would be similarly stunned, but she certainly would want to know.

      2. Paulina*

        Disgusting? Not sure if I’d go that far. These things happen. Not necessarily looks-based, but bosses have favourites* – have you never made a pitch or proposal that got ignored until someone the boss liked better suggested it? (And then asked you to “help out” with?)

        It’s too early for OP to know the situation here – take everything with a grain of salt and try to suss out the situation for yourself. (But if you aren’t comfortable with gossip, just say that – I don’t like this judging if Carla for trying to help you out with her feelings on the matter.)

        PS “That’s an excellent suggestion, Miss Jones. Now perhaps one of the men would like to make it?” Same BS, different reason. It’s not OK but it isn’t untrue either.

        1. LBK*

          I’m completely confused by this comment. It seems like you entirely disregarded the situation that actually happened. This isn’t a case of playing favorites or misreading the situation or anything like that, Carla flat out said she believes that Beth gets things done because she’s attractive. I see no room for a grain of salt there.

          I don’t understand what your PS means, either. Are you saying that the women should let the men present ideas because they’ll be listened to? Not sure how to interpret that.

          1. Kelly L.*

            No, I’m pretty sure that’s sarcasm. Sometimes a boss will ignore good ideas until a man says them.

            1. LBK*

              It’s not OK but it isn’t untrue either.

              That was the part that confused me about the PS. I’m reading that as saying it’s a fact that men get listened to more so you should just lean into that, but maybe I’m misunderstanding.

          2. neverjaunty*

            The P.S. is quoting a New Yorker cartoon showing a bunch of people at a boardroom meeting, only one of whom is a woman. The chair of the meeting says the quoted line to the woman present. It’s about how women are often ignored and not taken seriously in the workplace.

            But that’s not really what’s going on here. Carla told the brand-new OP not only that the boss favors Beth because Beth is pretty, but that Beth knows this and deliberately plays on it.

      3. Advances, None Miraculous*

        What would the manager realistically do with her knowledge, though?

        I’m thinking that it’s not something that can be raised directly with Carla in a reasonable way. “So I heard you think I’m too pretty for the normal rules to apply” would be an interesting conversation!

        If it’s awareness of the sentiment behind any ‘off’ comments then fair enough – if somene’s that brazen to a new colleague then there’s probably a lot more to be found if you’re actively looking. In that case, you’d hope that the manager has paid attention already to anything obvious.

        However, if nothing else bubbles to the surface, then the manager is left with the knowledge that she’s being undermined without the means to address it at all, which has to be a bit demoralising.

        1. OP#1*

          That’s my concern. What can my boss-Beth-do with the information? Besides get her feelings hurt that people think the CEO only likes her because she’s pretty.

          Carla has been at this organization for 10 years. Beth just 1. I just think it puts Beth in an uncomfortable situation too.

          Now that I won’t be caught off guard, I will absolutely shut Carla down if she says something similar again, but I hesitate to do any more than that.

          (And for those who say there may be some truth-our industry is very small and tight knit, where everybody knows everyone else. Beth’s reputation is impeccable, and people across the business have only the greatest things to say about her. Her work is exemplary–one of the reasons I took this job was to learn from her!)

          1. fposte*

            I don’t think you’re required to tell Beth, but I don’t think it’s that much of a poser if you do, either. Especially if she’s as competent as you say, she can deal with a staffer making inappropriate and undermining comments. (And I don’t think it matters if there’s any truth to it or not–Carla’s yapping on as if this were official workplace policy rather than gossip, and it’s demoralizing gossip.)

          2. Zahra*

            Well, considering that such statements perpetuate sexism in the workplace, I would absolutely mention it to Beth. And if I was Beth, I’d think about how to bring this topic up with Carla, but I’d definitely shut this kind of thing down. Especially in a small, tight-knit industry, if those comments get out, it could harm Beth’s career.

            1. Sospeso*

              Part of me wonders if it’s too simple to classify this is sexism… I don’t know. Anecdotally, I know have seen this kind of thing play out with very charismatic and attractive men before as well, including the suggestion that some measure of their success was based on their looks. Now, does appearance tend to be weighed more heavily for women than men? I’d say yes. So perhaps it is worth considering gender here, but I’m not sure this smacks of sexism.

              I guess I think it’d be challenging to be super attractive in a business environment regardless of gender, and I’d be curious to see if there are differences for men and women.

              1. LBK*

                I think where it gets into sexism is that typically, a man can be considered to be successful and attractive (two separate albeit potentially overlapping traits), whereas a woman would be considered to be successful because she’s attractive (two traits that must be intrinsically entwined). I think it also tends to be read with more disdain if a woman’s appearance contributes to her success vs. admiration if a man does it.

                I also think an attractive man’s appearance often gets parlayed into him being “charming” or “charismatic”, so it’s less directly about appearance even if being attractive may feed into someone’s perception of the man having those traits.

          3. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

            I don’t think you have to tell her, at any point, but consider this:

            Carla is undermining Beth.

            The words Carla has chosen, the angle that she’s going about, is a classic, sexist way to undermine, demean, diminish successful women.

            If Carla is undermining Beth to you, she is likely doing the same elsewhere.

            Now, at what point does someone who works for me owe me the heads up that someone on my staff is undermining me? There’s a point where they don’t but there’s a point, when a relationship and trust has been built between us, I feel I’m owed a heads up if destructive shenanigans are going on.

          4. LBK*

            What can Beth do? She can speak to Carla directly about it. I sure as hell would if I were Beth. Wildly inappropriate and backwards.

          5. j-nonymous*

            I think the key here to telling your boss, should you choose to do it, is in how you frame it. Don’t make it about relaying the story “Carla thinks you get your way with the CEO because you’re hot.”

            Make it about the underhanded way Carla attempts to influence your opinion about your boss and the CEO. “Carla had incredibly unprofessional things to say about leadership. They were so unprofessional I was–frankly–stunned into silence. I regret not telling her it was inappropriate immediately, but I’m new and she’s a veteran. But you need to know that she is showing very poor judgment and appears to be trying to ‘poison the well’ here.”

            1. amaranth16*

              I like this wording a lot. I’m undecided about whether I think it also makes sense to characterize the nature of the comments further, but this framing is great.

          6. Andrea*

            People in leadership roles can fight sexism in a lot of different ways. Trust that if you give Beth this info, she can use it going forward – sexism is a problem whether it’s women or men who are acting.

          7. Chinook*

            “Carla has been at this organization for 10 years. Beth just 1. I just think it puts Beth in an uncomfortable situation too.”

            What can Beth do with this information? Since she has been there a short time, she may not be aware that Carla is someone out to undercut her and cover her back for any knives that come her way. I have worked in toxic environments where those in some positions didn’t realize how toxic it was or how easy it was for those who have been around a while to damage the new person’s reputation. Carla’s whisperings can start creating doubt in Beth’s abilities in the minds of others.

            Also, this maybe something worth reporting to HR because chances are good that this isn’t the first time Carla has undemrined someone like this and there probably is a folder somewhere of all these little things being collected so they can justify firing her to those who don’t see what she is doing. From experience, I can say it took 3 years of collecting such data for an Office Manager and HR to fire an experienced AA who was under the clueless protection of a partner (she never pulled these stunts around him). In that time, a number of careers were ruined.

          8. Anonymous Educator*

            There’s really no point in telling Beth. Beth already knows. Beth may not already know that Carla is saying that about her, but if Beth is that successful and that physically attractive, she’s had Carlas all through her life (high school, college, grad school, first job, second job, etc.). Not saying Carla is right or that you shouldn’t say anything to Carla, but there’s really nothing to be gained from telling Beth.

        2. j-nonymous*

          Beth gets to learn, or gets confirmation that Carla spreads malicious stories to employees, including ones who have just joined the organization and may be much more impressionable about office politics. If Beth also manages Carla, this is vital information to have as a manager. If Beth doesn’t directly manage Carla, it’s still vital information.

          The fact is, Carla’s behavior is out of line and has its sole purpose to try and poison people’s opinion of Beth and the CEO. This needs to be stopped; management needs to know.

      4. Tomato Frog*

        What do you see Beth as being able to do with this information? If someone told me this (that people were saying these things about me) I’d really resent the messenger.

        1. Colette*

          Would you make any attempt to adjust your thinking on that? Resenting or otherwise punishing the messenger won’t stop what people say about you. It will just make sure you don’t hear about it.

          1. Tomato Frog*

            Exactly. In my personal life, I don’t want to hear about it. I’ve had this happen. Though I’m not punishing anyone — there’s no passive aggressiveness here. I just ask them not to relay information like that. There’s a Twain quote: “It takes your enemy and your friend, working together, to hurt you to the heart: the one to slander you and the other to get the news to you.”

            Obviously this is personal, and I’m not a manger. So I would like to hear specific examples of why this information, which I would not want to know in my private life, would be something I would want to know if I were a manager. What are you giving to your manager here that is helpful to her, rather than just hurtful?

            1. Colette*

              Resenting someone – particularly someone who reports to you – is not a neutral act. It changes how you perceive and interact with them.

              Similarly, what people believe about you (especially in the workplace) affects how you’re perceived. So if the prevailing opinion is that you get privileges because of how you look, your coworkers/employees won’t have much respect for you. This could make it harder for you to do your job, cost you promotions, or even affect your ability to find a new job outside the company. People often believe what they hear, if they hear it often enough.

              (I’d also question whether it’s helpful to hide from this information in your personal life – if your closest friend speaks badly of you when you’re not around, wouldn’t it be good to know that? I can understand shutting down gossip about other people or anyone trying to “tattle”, but I think there is a happy medium.)

              1. Tomato Frog*

                I’d also question whether it’s helpful to hide from this information in your personal life – if your closest friend speaks badly of you when you’re not around, wouldn’t it be good to know that?

                No. I know from experience that it makes me happier and kinder not to know. Of course there are exceptions but the comments from the original letter, if given in a personal context, would not be one of them for me.

                Basically: I hear what you’re saying, but I really am only interested in knowing what people are saying about me if it’s something that I can usefully act on. There have been some examples in this thread about how a manager might act on this information, and so I agree that might be something a manager would want to know.

            2. teclatwig*

              Ah, but the effect of her actions is not personal but professional. The context of this seems really important to me. This was information presented to a brand-new employee as part of her general orientation to the office, actively seeking to undermine Beth’s professional reputation. Add in “by a long-term staffer about someone relatively new,” and the potential for damage throughout the company/industry is magnified. This is not personal gossip.

        2. fposte*

          I think you’re thinking of it as more gossipy than it is, though. If a staffer came to me (okay, this isn’t going to happen, but let’s consider for a moment) concerned about how another staffer was representing me to her colleagues, I would be appreciative, since this may well be cause a problem if it hasn’t already. I would quite possibly speak to Carla just on that info, if it was presented plausibly; I wouldn’t assume the rightness of the reporter and leap to admonishing Carla, but I’d want to make it clear that it’s inappropriate and demoralizing to talk about supervisors or co-workers that way, and that if indeed she is doing it, I’d like her to stop.

          1. Tomato Frog*

            For me, it’s only not gossipy if people give you info you can’t act on or do anything about. I see what you’re saying — that it can be addressed, and I think your script is good. But I also think this is one of those situations where it’s going to work better if you’re not advocating for yourself.

    2. The Cosmic Avenger*

      I just wanted to, yet again, state my viewpoint that informing a manager of something going on at the workplace that could and probably will affect the work environment and the work product should not be referred to as “tattling”. I agree that this particular topic could be fraught, and so it’s a tough call as to whether the OP might want to talk to Beth about it, but helping your manager make an informed decision about a workplace issue is quite different from intentionally trying to get a coworker into trouble for something petty and irrelevant that is none of your business.

  9. Snoskred*

    #3 – apologies in advance if anyone feels what I have typed here to be too strongly worded but I consider this situation a very serious breach of confidence and trust.

    Your boss has shown massive disrespect for your privacy by telling people you MANAGE that you have a health issue. No matter what the health issue might be, this was entirely inappropriate behaviour.

    Had it been said to co-workers that you were on the same level of, this would still be completely inappropriate, but for your boss to tell people you manage? I’ve seen a boss instantly dismissed from a workplace for accidentally letting slip that a staff member had cancer.

    I’m sorry LW#3 – this must feel like a huge betrayal of your confidence. I think you’ve got every right to be angry that this happened.

    Depression is something that still has a lot of stigma in our society – I say that as someone who suffers from it myself – then again I would consider any boss passing on details of my private life including health – mental or otherwise – to the people I am managing as a major red flag.

    If the people you manage were wondering why you were coming in late, boss should have come to you and said that there had been questions asked and boss did not feel comfortable answering them, and boss would like you to address it with the staff in whatever way you felt was appropriate.

    That includes not having to disclose the issue specifically if you do not wish to, because boss understands not everyone is comfortable talking about their health issues – mental or otherwise – to the people they *manage* – and that last word makes a massive difference in my mind.

    I do have some very specific wording that I would personally use in this situation to try and address the gravity of the situation. LW3 if you would like the wording let me know and I will post it for you, it might be a little while as I am about to travel and due to weather – we are having huge storms in Sydney right now – not sure if and when we’ll actually be going anywhere, or how long we will have power for.

    1. OP #3*

      OP #3 here.
      Thanks for your response. When you get a chance, I would love to hear the way you would approach it.

      1. Snoskred*

        If this were me, I would use this moment as an opportunity to explain to my boss the concept of my “vault”, but this is because I am a firm believer in the vault and I absolutely adhere to the principles surrounding it. There would never be a chance for someone to say “Oh, you say you have a vault, but that time I told you about X you told A,B and C about X” because that would never have happened.

        If there is just two of us in the room and we have a discussion, even if it is work related, I never tell anyone about that discussion unless I am specifically asked to mention it to others. You might have to change the conversation if you do not personally have a vault and use it, and I have put a substitution in brackets if that is the case.

        Here is exactly what I would say – I’m keeping part of what Alison said too –

        “Boss, I recently heard from some of my staff that you shared with them information that I had given to you privately – you told them I’m dealing with depression. I thought that was a private conversation between the two of us.

        I would never have told you about my depression if I thought you would share that information with other people. You may not be aware of it but unfortunately there can be a stigma around mental health issues.

        (if you want to expand on that, you could say – A lot of people do not understand depression and people can be afraid of what they do not understand. There can be a lot of negative attitudes about depression, for example, people should be able to just cheer up, people should cope with this illness without any need for medication, that depression is a sign of weakness of character, and many more.)

        I’m quite (upset, angry, disturbed, surprised, words that you feel appropriate, you can use two words together eg upset and surprised) that you shared personal medical details of mine without my permission and without having a discussion with me first. This makes it difficult for me to trust any private information I give you in the future will remain between us.

        Boss, I want you to know that any conversations we have together – work related, not work related, those go into my “vault”. I do not share our private conversations with anyone else unless you *specifically* request that I do so. That is simply how I roll.

        I understand that not everyone rolls the same way as I do, but going forward, I would expect any conversations that I have with you in regards to my private life or my health go into *your* vault and stay there.

        (If you do not have a vault yourself, you can substitute – Going forward, I would expect any conversations that I have with you in regards to my private life or my health are confidential and to be kept strictly between the two of us.)

        If you feel other people need to be informed, we can discuss that and make a decision on that together, but I would always want to be the person informing people of any situation involving myself. It is my health and my life, it is my discussion to have with those people if we agree they should be told.”

        (I might add something here about how inappropriate it was that this discussion took place during a work “happy hour”, depending on how my previous sentences had been taken, and I might add that my vault stays closed even under the influence of alcohol if I felt it appropriate to say so)

      2. Snoskred*

        I would also want to pull aside those staff members who were informed, and say something that went like –

        “I know that recently you were told that I am experiencing depression. I would have preferred to talk to you about this myself. Whats done is done, and I can’t change that, but I did want to give you an opportunity to have a discussion with me about it and also to ask me any questions you might have”.

        I would probably want to work on the wording of that a little more, but I do tend to over-tweak these things. :)

    2. Jamie*

      Had it been said to co-workers that you were on the same level of, this would still be completely inappropriate, but for your boss to tell people you manage?

      I actually don’t see the difference – I’d be just as furious no matter who it was. If I ran the world this would be a fire able offense any time it was done intentionally.

      Wow, I’m draconian today…wanting to fire everyone. Fortunately just here and not irl.

      1. Snoskred*

        I completely agree with you – I too would have been furious no matter who was told, including if Boss had decided his bosses needed to be aware of it.

        Even so, I still believe that telling people who are managed by a person private things about that person is a special kind of terribleness and inappropriateness. :)

  10. Jader*

    OP #1
    In wildly inappropriate or otherwise awkward situations at work and with in-laws (haha) I’m a huge fan of the statement, “I hope you aren’t telling me this because you think I agree with you.” 99 percent of the time people take the hint and move right along. It says everything I need it to say, 1) I don’t agree with you and 2) it isn’t up for debate.

    1. Michele*

      That is good. Usually I give them “the stare” and they understand that I don’t want to hear it, but when that doesn’t work, I will have to try your suggestion.

    2. teclatwig*

      I am going to memorize this. I am trying to move past + deer in headlights* + “hunh” + [change subject], and this really approach appeals to me.

  11. Merry and Bright*

    I always find discussing ‘salary expectations’ awkward to say the least. It is much simpler when the hirer just publishes their budget range with the job details. Sometimes you get the distinct impression they are looking to hire the lowest bidder. Any good hirer won’t do that, of course, but not all hirers are that professional. But it comes across like that in some hiring processes from the way they word questions and so on.

  12. K.J.*

    OP#1 – I’m pretty sure there’s a lot more to life than being really, really, ridiculously good looking.

    1. Xanthippe Lannister Voorhees*

      To ingratiate herself with Beth, OP1 should bring in some orange mocha frappucinos!

  13. Jean*

    #3 – “we really need to support her because depression is hard.”
    The language used by the boss–as quoted to OP3 by her subordinates–does not sound to me like the words of an insensitive clod. My first impression was that the boss was trying to be helpful. Yes, his comment about OP3’s biweekly late arrivals was clumsy, indiscreet, and justifiably distressing to OP#3. It feels lousy when someone with whom we shared sensitive information does NOT keep that information contained in the original conversation. OP3 rightly commented to AAM that “I still feel uncomfortable that it was a topic of discussion.”

    But–OP3 also said that “He is compassionate and helpful” and when she suggested adjusting her schedule to accommodate her treatment “[he] was very understanding and approved the time off.” This is what makes me think that the boss was trying to muddle through and persuade others that OP3’s challenges deserved respect rather than scorn or dismissal or horror. Maybe, the boss didn’t realize that he OP3 expected him to keep quiet about her situation.

    I’m not trying to deny OP3’s discomfort about having her privacy violated and I’m not trying to entirely excuse the boss. Should he have realized that she self-disclosed in confidence? Probably, as a supervisor. Maybe he was thinking less with his “supervisory best practices” hat and more with his “mental health issues don’t need to be stigmatized” hat. Or maybe he’s either experienced his own observed mental health challenges or watched the struggles of someone he cared about.

    I’m trying to find a middle way here. It’s my belief that social change (e.g. removing the stigma from the question of needing, seeking, or receiving mental health care) comes slowly and part of the problem is that often people who are adapting to the change rather than advocating for it get reactions of scorn rather than encouragement. It’s easy to feel righteous anger when someone else isn’t getting with the program fast enough … but not everybody grabs a new idea immediately. To express hesitation at an unfamiliar idea is not necessarily to express eternal hostility. For example, there’s a difference between saying, “I don’t know about white and African-Amercan students going to college together, because in my experience it’s never been done that way before,” and shouting “Segregation now! Segregation tomorrow! Segregation forever!” (George Wallace, in his 1963 gubernatorial inaugural speech; source: “The Rehabilitation of George Wallace” by Carl T. Rowan, The Washington Post, Thursday, September 5, 1991; Page A21. Retrieved from )

    Race relations and race-based inequality was a hot topic then and is still now (since, unfortunately, U.S. society has not solved the problems!), but you could substitute other issues of the last half-century such as Should Women Become Ordained Clergy or Same-Sex Marriage or Legalization of Marijuana … just to grab a few issues from the top of the hat. I look forward to the responses of others here.

    Personal disclosures:
    1. I’m a longtime consumer of mental health care, which I have sought at various times in my life either to prevent anticipated problems or to help myself find better ways to respond to real-world, here-and-now situations.
    2. For the past ten-plus years I have taken medication daily to keep myself on an even keel. I also return, time and again, to lessons and skills learned through “talk therapy.” Sometimes I wish I was constructed differently, but mostly I’m grateful to live in an era and place where these solutions are available.
    3. I struggle, internally, about sharing the first two items. When is it appropriate, because disclosure it helps other people become more comfortable with the idea that mental health care is just another part of life? And when is it inappropriate, because it just dumps two tons of Too Much Information into a casual conversation?

    1. Sadsack*

      The manager could have just said, “I approved OP3’s time out once a week. Why are you asking about it?” without telling anyone why she needed the time off. He shouldn’t be justifying his approval of anyone’s time off to coworkers.

    2. neverjaunty*

      I’m trying to find a middle way here.

      The middle way here is
      1) making it clear OP’s time off is approved
      2) letting OP disclose, or not disclose, as OP feels is appropriate.

      I don’t think we’d be having this conversation if OP took time off to deal with uterine fibroids and the boss announced “OP is having trouble with extremely heavy periods, so please be supportive.” Yes, the boss probably had the best intentions. Intent is not magic.

      1. Michele*

        Yes, if OP wants to tell their coworkers or subordinates the nature of the illness, that is fine, but it is not anyone else’s position to disclose it. The fact is that the brain is just as vulnerable to illness as any other part of the body and there shouldn’t be a stigma. It might even be moreso because it is complicated and poorly understood. There shouldn’t be a stigma about a lot of things that society stigmatizes. However, people are entitled to their privacy and deciding what they want to share.

        I don’t think the boss was trying to be malicious, but he did cross confidentiality lines.

    3. Jamie*

      Should he have realized that she self-disclosed in confidence? Probably, as a supervisor.

      To me knowing that medical information is private and restricted to a need to know basis only is as basic as knowing that people expect to me paid for their work.

      The privacy laws are different for different states, but for FMLA records and forms even have to be stored separately – apart from personnel files. And people have won lawsuits where their employer told people details of their medical issues who didn’t need to know the specifics beyond schedule notification – which is the case here.

      Not saying one should sue for this or would win if they did – IANAL – but there is case law where the courts have ruled that privacy is to be as restricted as possible.

    4. themmases*

      I don’t really think it would excuse anything if the boss was thinking “depression doesn’t need to be stigmatized.” I also don’t find it very likely.

      I have both personal experience as a person with lifelong major depression and from talking to other people who are interested in social justice, bioethics, or have mental health or cognitive challenges. Sure, we sometimes struggle with whether to share this information more freely because we don’t think it should be stigmatized. But people in this position overwhelmingly struggle with whether to share *their own* diagnosis, or sometimes about what advice to give a friend. Never about whether to out someone else. I think it’s particularly important to emphasize that people with depression, who often struggle with inappropriate guilt, aren’t obligated to sacrifice our personal privacy to any cause, even one we may believe in, even when there is little risk to our reputations.

      There is really no middle way with that. There are tons of reasons people choose not to share even non-stigmatized health conditions, and they have an absolute right to do that that other people’s feelings don’t really come into.

    1. Coccinelle_rouge13*

      Because the boss did not learn this information in the course of his/her job as a medical professional or treating the LW as a patient.

  14. the gold digger*

    “No, wait, I’ll go lower”

    Sam Stone: A bad salesman will automatically drop his price. Bad salesmen make me sick.
    [Later, Ken calls Sam, who says he doesn’t have enough money for the ransom]
    Ken Kessler: Well, what about… less?
    Sam Stone: [covers the phone] You make me sick.

  15. BRR*

    #2 “I gave a very flexible range, willing to take the lowest end of what I offered.”

    You should always be willing to except the lowest end you offer. It wouldn’t go well to name $35k-$40k as your salary and when they offer $35k you get upset.

    1. Helka*

      With this caveat: depending on benefits & other intangibles — basically, if you learn at a later stage that the work conditions or benefits are significantly different than what you based your range on (which should itself be based on industry norms).

      1. BRR*

        I agree completely. I always say depending on benefits and there’s the line for negotiating about learning more of the positions responsibilities.

  16. Sunshine Brite*

    1. Ugh. Carla sounds jealous. Try to keep your distance and say something non-committal if you don’t want to politely confront her.

    2. Eee, hold on! You can be desperate and not act desperate. You gave them a lower end because that’s your lower end.

    3. I work in mental health and do what I can to address stigma. Disclosing another person’s mental health issue without their permission does nothing to help the person because defenses rightfully go up and helps continue the “otherness” that mental health problems still have. Telling your direct reports that they “really need to support” you makes me angry. It’s not his business to be gossiping about during happy hour. I guess I wouldn’t feel uncomfortable going to someone higher than him whether you give him a heads up or not and say that your health issue as an after hours topic crossed boundaries.

    4. I guess I’ve been asked for a school schedule before and haven’t had to provide them but had syllabus/topic pages ready to provide if I need extra time due to an upcoming due date. Most events/commitments have some sort of flyer/FB invite, etc. that you could print out and provide even redacting the name if you don’t want your employer to know where you’re going.

    5. So annoying, I always hate in a job search how often you put in a lot of work and none of it is read. Allison had some good suggestions of how to proceed in the future.

  17. ExceptionToTheRule*

    OP4 – I supervise & schedule a handful of college students and I do ask for the details of their class schedules and other scheduled commitments & by details I mean days & times – not the specifics of the reasons. I don’t particularly care how they provide that information, but most of them just print off a copy of their schedule and give it to me. I want that information so that I’m not scheduling them to be at work while they’re in class or when they’ve got a mandatory sorority meeting or intramural soccer.

    I have no idea why your franchise manager wants the info that she does, but there are sometimes legitimate reasons for it.

    1. Bekx*

      What I used to do when I managed student workers was use the website Doodle (google it so I’m not in moderation). You basically set up the shifts that people have, send it out to everyone, and have them fill out their Yes, Maybe and Nos. It’s a really, really simple way to see at a glance what shifts people can take and which shifts you need to hire for.

      Weekends were on a rotating basis. I had people in group A and people in Group B. So everyone would usually have 2 weekends off a month. It worked out each semester that everyone had an even number of shifts and no one was screwed unless they switched shifts or something.

    2. Mike C.*

      Yeah, but you’re just asking for availability. The boss in the letter is asking for justifications for availability.

  18. Cruella DaBoss*

    On #1 It is attitudes like “Carla’s” that cause women to be thought of as less then men. “Carla” is obviously jealous of “Beth” and her success. She is using what ever means necessary to tarnish an otherwise sterling reputation and performance history. Petty and childish. I agree with AAM; steer clear of “Carla”

    1. NickelandDime*

      I agree. Aside from the ugliness of “Carla’s” comments, OP1 JUST STARTED. Gee, can you give someone a minute to get their bearings before throwing them into the putrid office politics/gossip pool? I too hope OP1 avoids “Carla.” Nothing good can come of associating with her at all. She’s a nasty and vicious person.

      1. Kelly L.*

        So much this! I once had, on my first day, someone come and brief me that Anne had really wanted my job, and was bitter that she didn’t get it, and was going to treat me badly. Anne never, ever, treated me badly for a moment, and we became actual friends. It really just made me think less of the “briefer” in the end.

        1. NickelandDime*

          I just feel when people do that to very new staff that they have burned bridges everywhere else in the organization, and are desperate to spread their poison SOMEWHERE. Let’s pretend that all of this stuff is true – that Anne was really mad, or “Beth” really did get to where she is because she’s hot – the person repeating this stuff is dead wrong. It’s mean, it’s gossipy and it’s unprofessional. I see comments debating whether or not “Carla” in OP1’s letter is “right.” Who cares if she’s right? She’s wrong for gossiping at work!!!

          1. fposte*

            Oh, good point. I was thinking that the early attack was a big part of the problem too, and I think that’s a great explanation of why people do dive in on the newbies with this stuff.

      2. Becky B*

        Yes! I had a woman try to attach herself to me during my first week at a job, spreading vitriol about a lot of people. I therefore saw her as a person to politely distance myself from, but also, why would she take the risk of being so overtly negative so soon? She didn’t know where my loyalties were, and couldn’t trust that I wouldn’t report her to her own boss (and all the etcs). Seemed like a ridiculous risk for her to take, but her negativity must have blinded her to consequences, or something.

        1. NickelandDime*

          I think Allison should do a post on how to get your bearings during the first few weeks of a new job. I know I have struggled with this in the past. Included should be how to handle crap like this.

        2. Revanche*

          I had a similar situation with a coworker who clearly resented the fact that her boss wasn’t taking her suggestions for implementation. She tried to attach herself to me in order to build a false sense of allyship and therefore use me and my influence to get what she wanted. She even stooped to trying to whisper in my ear during meetings so we’d look buddy buddy!

      3. J-nonymous*

        On my first day as a manager in my previous company, my then director told me that one of my direct reports was just a closeted queen and a mama’s boy.

        Unfortunately for me, I was so stunned that I (like the OP in the first letter) just sat silent and gobsmacked. I learned that this director badmouthed everyone, and she basically took no comment as a license to keep on going (and sometimes implicate you in her next load of malicious gossip she spread). She was terrible, and maybe I’ve over-reacted to “Carla” as a result of this.

      4. anonymous daisy*

        At the first week of one of my jobs, one co-worker told me not to friend another co-worker and avoid any appearance of being friends with him. I ignored the advice because he was from my home town and later found out that she had valid reasons for saying that. I would take side gossip with a grain of salt the first few weeks of a job. This gossip from Carla paints Carla in a bad light. Be careful.

        1. anonymous daisy*

          Yikes – that wasn’t explained well at all. Be VERY careful about negative comments and shade from co-workers but realize that occasionally, they do turn out to be true.

  19. Mockingjay*

    #4: My daughter provided copies of her college schedule to various employers. One in particular was very good about taking care of “his” college kids; he reminded all of them: “it’s the beginning of the semester! Get me your schedules!” They loved working for him – his scheduling was very fair and consistent, resulting in very few callouts.

    Your employer may have forgotten that you are still in high school, especially if other staff are college students. Just write down the hours you are available. List your regular school hours, and block in additional time for projects/studying. He’s probably just gathering info so everyone can get workable hours.

    1. Sadsack*

      This seems different than what the OP is describing. “Get me your schedules,” is different than “provide proof of your schedule.”

      1. Michele*

        Agreed. I get the impression that he wants wedding invitations and other documentation so he can decide if they deserve the day off or not. Asking for a day to go to a concert with your friends? No, that isn’t serious enough.

  20. Student*

    #5 There are huge regional differences across the US in living expenses. I obviously have no idea whether that’s what’s at work here or not, but it might be something to factor in. There are some online calculators that can give you estimates. Housing is usually the big factor, but sometimes groceries, water/electricity costs, can also play a role.

    I know in my industry, some jobs are located in cheap areas (rural states, outside major cities), and others in expensive areas (like Californian cities). Our entry-level jobs have salaries that vary by $15k depending on location – and that doesn’t even actually cover the gap in location-based costs. If I were to relocate from where I am to a Californian location, I am sure that the “extra” salary I’d make would not even permit me to rent an apartment half the size of the one I live in now. My salary on paper would go up, but in many ways my living standard would go down.

    1. Michele*

      There are huge regional differences, and there are significant differences in benefits and bonuses. If you are making $60k with no bonus but paying $500/mo for health insurance, and a company offers you $50k with a 15% bonus and $20/mo health insurance, you come out ahead with the offer. The company that I work for does that. That is why I always have HR talk to people at the start of an interview. I want them to understand that we have excellent benefits. I want them to be excited about insuring their entire family for $20/month and getting stock options and profit sharing and matching 401k’s so that if I offer them a few thousand less than someone else, they understand that they are still being well compensated.

  21. Ken*

    You are new. You don’t know anything yet except your boss is attractive and seems polished. You don’t yet have a clue about the workplace dynamic, how your boss responds under stress, or how influential Carla is in the workplace and whether it’s a good idea to alienate her. You don’t know if there is some ulterior motive for Carla to denigrate someone to her direct report. If her relationship with Carla is that bitter, and your boss is the superstar she seems to be, it’s likely she knows about it already. Hell, the accusations may even be true and may get confirmed as you meet with others. Point is, you don’t know anything, and until you do, better to keep your eyes and ears open and your mouth shut. Nothing is sometimes the best thing to do and almost always the best thing to say.

    1. LBK*

      I’m so glad I’ve never worked somewhere that this level of political BS was necessary. Life is not an episode of Mad Men.

    2. Zahra*

      Whether they’re true or not, they have no place in the workplace. The litmus test is: would you say that, in the same way, if the genders were reversed? Most probably, you would say something to the effect of “this woman is so weak she gets influenced by her emotions”. Whereas in the current situation it’s “this woman is taking advantage of the CEO’s weakness for a head of fabulous hair”. See what’s happening here? The woman’s always to blame and the man’s either a victim of his hormones (seriously, can we consider men for more than the sum of their hormonal responses? It’s demeaning to them and another reason why sexism should not exist) or a shrewd employee who uses every advantage to his own profit.

      Also, it may be that Beth just knows how to present an idea so the CEO says yes. Sometimes, it’s about how the message is conveyed, not about the message itself.

      1. AnnieNonymous*

        I would most certainly say, “Jane, our boss, always favors John because she thinks he’s handsome.”

        1. Zahra*

          Yeah, but that’s not what Carla’s saying here. She’s saying that “Our CEO turned down the same ideas from everyone else. But Beth is smoking hot and she has him eating out of her hand. A gorgeous body gets results.” The focus is all on Beth and her actions, not at all on the CEO. Beth is being blamed for being beautiful and her looks are used as the sole justification as to why she has success.

          The truth is, I don’t think anyone would rise to that level on looks alone. She may need less effort to get there (there are studies that show this), but she still has to work at it. Saying her looks are the sole reason of her success demean her and we are definitely heading into (very, very subtle) slut-shaming.

  22. AnnieNonymous*


    I wonder if Carla’s comments aren’t more about the higher-ups than Beth. “They always let Beth have her way because they think she’s prettier than us. They even give her credit for ideas that the rest of us had a year ago, and she’s just handed perks that the rest of us couldn’t get if we begged for them.”

    I would have interpreted Carla’s comments as “This is the culture you have to deal with here” more than “Let’s gang up on Beth.” When men favor attractive women over their equally talented peers, I think it’s wrong to criticize the other women who point that out. They’re doing the right thing, and it’s not cool to write them off as merely being jealous.

    1. LBK*

      Carla doesn’t get a pass on perpetuating sexism just because she’s a woman. I don’t see any other way to interpret what Carla said aside from it being her own take on the situation.

      1. Myrin*

        Morever, if Carla actually meant to convey what AnnieNonymous suggests (which I don’t think is likely at all), surely she would have explained that in more detail/just generally worded that differently.

        1. LBK*

          Agreed, I don’t think the phrasing of the conversation at all lends itself to such a generous interpretation. All the negativity seemed directed at Beth, not at the CEO.

    2. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*


      I disagree strongly.

      I can’t see how that POV isn’t agreeing with Carla. Aren’t you saying that it IS true that Beth’s looks are responsible for her success, and Carla is just calling out truth?

      Am I missing your point?

      1. Kelly L.*

        It’s possible–though it doesn’t sound like it from the OP–that the CEO is a pig who favors pretty employees. I don’t think that’s the case in this specific situation. It does happen out there in the world, though, and it’s the favorer’s fault and not the favoree.

        That said, I’ll repeat that I don’t think that’s the case this time, nor is Carla calling out the CEO. She’s calling out Beth instead (“swishing her hair”), and so she’s wrong either way.

        1. AnnieNonymous*

          It’s only wrong if Beth isn’t “swishing her hair” on purpose. Feminism doesn’t preclude us from calling out women who play those games.

          1. LBK*

            But with evidence to the contrary – that Beth is a star employee of her own right by the OP’s description – it’s really damaging to suggest that Beth’s success still might be the result of her willingly playing into sexism. I’m sure that women do exist that do what you’re describing, but that doesn’t mean we need to question whether every successful woman is one of them, and doing so only perpetuates the idea that a woman can’t stand on the value of her own accomplishments.

          2. neverjaunty*

            Feminism does preclude us from ignoring when men are behaving badly and then blaming women.

          3. Book Person*

            Even if she were “swishing her hair” on purpose, the CEO would still be accountable if he played into it to the detriment of his other employees — it is, in fact, possible to evaluate ideas on their merits, even if some ideas come with a side of hair-swishing.

    3. Anonicorn*

      When men favor attractive women over their equally talented peers, I think it’s wrong to criticize the other women who point that out.

      I agree. Except in this case Carla undermined a woman who actually is talented. She’s the one attributing Beth’s success to her looks.

      1. AnnieNonymous*

        I think what’s being lost here is whether or not Beth really is getting unearned perks (due to her looks) that no one else is getting. Carla specifically states that the CEO approves ideas from Beth that originally came from (and are maybe knowingly copied from) other people.

        Regardless of whether Carla’s ire is icky, I don’t like how we’re calling her jealous when the CEO might really be responding to Beth’s hair-swishing, especially if Beth plays up those mannerisms on purpose. it’s not necessarily wrong of Beth to use those tools to her advantage, but it’s also not wrong of Carla to point out that Beth has those tools and that the CEO responds to them.

        1. Career Counselorette*

          I think this line of thinking, that Beth is purposely using “feminine wiles” to influence the CEO, falls dangerously into slut-shaming territory. It’s attributing sexual motives to someone who by all accounts from the OP is a person who knows how to read her superiors and present her ideas in a way that they’re more actionable. God forbid she present these ideas in a pleasant and friendly manner- I bet if she didn’t do these things Carla would be gossiping about what a bitch and and an ice queen she is.

          1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

            Thank you so much.

            That’s going to be it for me in the conversation and I like ending with what you said.

        2. neverjaunty*

          “Hair-swishing” is such a petty, ridiculous comment that, especially in the context of Carla’s other comments, it’s really impossible to take seriously.

          “The CEO favors women who are attractive and ignores women who aren’t, and Beth plays up to that” is a very different warning than this high-school level crap about how Beth is an evil femme fatale who clearly gets what she wants only because of her looks, which she wields like a tool against the helpless males.

        3. J-nonymous*

          I understand where you’re coming from, but we take the letter writers at their word here and OP1’s letter makes it pretty clear that Carla is not complaining about a bias in the CEO so much as she’s asserting that Beth isn’t truly capable and competent in any aspect of her job except using her “smoking hot” body as a tool to get what she wants. That’s borne out in additional comments where OP1 states that Beth is highly regarded in her field and the reason she gets results with the CEO is that she backs up her suggestions with data.

          I do agree that saying Carla is jealous isn’t the right way to approach the issue. Carla’s motives are immaterial; it’s her behavior that is inappropriate.

    4. Career Counselorette*

      Even if it is more a critique of the men and a warning about the culture, to factor in Beth’s appearance at all is still a back-handed critique of Beth. She can’t help what she looks like, and even if someone brought that to her attention, what’s she supposed to do- be less attractive somehow?

      And if you actually look at the comments, they are MOST DEFINITELY about Beth. “She has him eating out of her hand.” “All Beth has to do is swish her hair around.” I see nothing about the larger company culture and everything about ragging on Beth.

      1. neverjaunty*

        Yep. I actually did work at company where there were managers who hit on subordinates or who could be swayed by a pretty face – and there was at least one co-worker who played up to that quite deliberately. (Sometimes unsuccessfully, with hilarious results.) I did, as appropriate, caution new co-workers about the culture. But it would never have occurred to me to pull a new person aside on her second day and say “watch out for Wakeen-Anne, you’ll get work dumped on you because she goes to her mentor and bats her eyes at him, you know a nice body gets results.” I mean WTF.

        1. Career Counselorette*

          All I can think of when someone unsuccessfully tries to play that up is Jenna from 30 Rock and her sexuality.

  23. Lia*

    On #5, what is WITH the trend to not even post salary ranges in ads? In my field, I would wager about 75% of the ads have no salary range posted, yet most of them want a salary history from applicants. My cynical side says this is to say “hmm, we COULD go up to 85K but this person is making 50K — we can offer 60K instead and they will think they hit the lottery”. I don’t want to waste time applying for a job only to find out how little it pays.

    1. Mike C.*

      It’s really just to lowball people. They’ll defend it by saying, “but everyone cries when they don’t get top of the range” but that’s only because they won’t offer a specific justification for the wage being offered or they’re hiring children.

    2. IT Kat*

      Omg I am running into this problem now too. And sometimes it’s so hard to tell from the ad and job title if it’s an entry level or senior position… I haven’t found a single job ad I was interested in with an actual range posted.

      Really, employers, all you’re doing is wasting your time and the job hunter’s. Post a d*** range.

      1. IT Kat*

        Although I do have to say, I have a position that after the first round interview when I thought it over and decided that my range for the job responsibilities would be higher than the employer’s verbally-stated range, I called back to withdraw from the process, and they came back and said they were flexible and asked what my range was. I told them (a little over $10k more than the top of their range) and stated my reasoning, and they said that they were willing to work with me on that salary. I have a final round interview tomorrow… we’ll see what the offer is, but sometimes things do work out from a job posting without a stated range.

        1. IT Kat*

          *what the offer is if I get it. They’re recruiting me heavily, but it’s not a done thing until I get that offer email!

  24. John R*

    #5: Take geographic area into consideration, too. For example, when I was offered a job in San Francisco for a LOT more money than I was making in a smaller city I jumped on it but found out that things are WAY more expensive there. The reverse is also true. You can live better on an $80K salary in San Antonio or Indianapolis than you can on a $100K job in New York City or San Francisco, though I’d still rather live in the latter two cities but that’s my personal preference.

  25. illini02*

    #1 in my opinion comes more down to things you don’t say socially than things that are disgusting, sexist, or anything else. We don’t know what goes on in the office. For that matter, OP barely knows what goes on in that office since they have only been there 2 days. Who is to say that what Carla says isn’t true? Again, thats more something that should be said to non-coworkers (or at least not while in the office), and I get that its very inappropriate to say to someone who is so new. But there are plenty of statements that are true, just that you shouldn’t say in certain situations. Having said that, I don’t think OP should go along with it since if it comes out, she could get in trouble too. But I’m not going to jump on the train that Carla is a horrible person either. I’ve seen bosses take suggestions or give preference to people based on many other things. Can people really not fathom that CEO is possibly attracted to Beth, and Beth senses that and uses it to her advantage? It may be completely false, but its not something that never happens either.

    I also HATE when people attribute everything to jealousy. From kids growing up to adults, everyone likes to say “this person must be jealous to say something like this”. Maybe they are just observant. Trust me, I’m not jealous of any of my co-workers, but I can observe when there is unfair treatment based on certain factors. I know its a way to make people feel better, but it should stop.

    1. LBK*

      Can people really not fathom that CEO is possibly attracted to Beth, and Beth senses that and uses it to her advantage? It may be completely false, but its not something that never happens either.

      Be that as it may, we have plenty of evidence to suggest that Beth is successful in her own right, and it’s unnecessary to inject alternate explanations where they don’t need to exist. By the OP’s account, Beth is smart and decisive and capable – why do we need to fish for alternate explanations for why she gets things done? All it does is damage Beth’s ability to stand on the value of her own achievements. I’d also point out that this is rarely done to men – it’s more often accepted at face value that a man is successful because he’s just a good worker, and there’s no more to it than that.

      1. illini02*

        We don’t have plenty of evidence though. We have the opinion of someone who has been on the job 2 days. So OP probably has been around the manager a total of 20 hours at this point. I don’t know about you, but I’m more likely to take the opinion of someone who has worked with someone over a year than someone who has worked with someone 2 days. My opinion of managers after 2 days is often very different than after a year. I’m sure OP does believe her opinion of Beth, I just don’t know that I trust that over someone who has been there more than 2 days.

        Also, it does happen with men. Maybe not as much, but I wouldn’t say it never happens.

        1. LBK*

          I understand it happens with men, hence my qualifying my statement with “rarely” and “more often” instead of “never” and “always”. It’s still disproportionately applied to women.

          I suppose you’re right that the OP could have a false read on the situation after so little time, but I still don’t accept that there’s any reasonable interpretation of Carla’s statements that don’t make her the one in the wrong in this situation. I can’t buy that she’s even remotely correct in her assessment of Beth’s actions based on how she describes them – as neverjaunty points out above, the way it’s phrased is not about the CEO being sexist and Beth taking advantage, it’s all about Beth being so beautiful that everyone kowtows to her. It puts all the blame on Beth for the CEO’s susceptibility to her appearance.

          Even if Beth is doing it intentionally, Carla’s explanation of the situation belies her sexist attitude, pinning the problem on Beth’s looks rather than the CEO’s sexism.

        2. VintageLydia USA*

          But OP#1 says above she took this job specifically because of Beth’s outstanding reputation in their industry. She seems very familiar with Beth’s work and others seem to share her opinion, even if she has little direct experience with it. Furthermore, she says her CEO has a good reputation, too. Carla’s opinion appears to be in the minority.

    2. neverjaunty*

      Well good grief, ANY workplace gossip could be true, then, because it is not “something that never happens either”.

      1. illini02*

        I guess my only thing is I see nothing to tell me that Carla is lying, jealous, or wrong. I said I think she shouldn’t have said that to someone new. But, if we got a new employee in my office, and they thought some great things about my manager, and I know those things aren’t true after being there a year, I don’t think you should assume I’m lying or jealous either.

        1. Zahra*

          But then, would you say those negative things to a new hire or would you let them see the truth for themselves?

          1. illini02*

            I already said I wouldn’t SAY those things to a new hire. I think she was wrong to do that. My point though is that whether or not those things should have been said at this time, doesn’t mean she isn’t correct in her assessment. She may be way off, but I don’t know that we can just infer that.

        2. fposte*

          It’s something Beth needs to manage regardless, though, and it’s a problem that Carla’s dumping on new employees with stuff that’s personal bitchery whether it’s true or not.

        3. neverjaunty*

          I see plenty to suggest that Carla is unreliable: both her inappropriate timing and her extremely juvenile and unprofessional phrasing.

  26. TCO*

    #5: Last year I was looking for a new job. I applied for some jobs that didn’t have salary ranges listed, but I had a hunch they weren’t able to pay what I was looking for. I got a few interview offers from those organizations. When they called to schedule an interview, I would simply say, “I’m definitely interested in this job, but I’m not sure that my salary requirements are in line with what you’re able to pay. I don’t want to waste your time if we’re on completely different pages, so would you mind telling me what the salary range is for this position?” If they declined to name a number, I named one. We were out of sync on some occasions but I was just able to politely say, “It sounds like this won’t be a good fit. I’m not surprised or upset by that; I knew my range might not fit yours. Thank you so much for considering me.”

    1. Retail Lifer*

      I always assumed if I gave my salary range and I still got a call back, it must be within their range. I’ve seen this not be the case so many times, though, that I’ve started doing something similar. I can’t seem to land an interview now, but at least I know that *before* everyone wastes their time.

      1. Just another software dev...*

        That’d scare me. I am applying for new jobs and it’s likely that my dream job (probably ~$75k) won’t be near my current salary ($108k + bonus). I hope they still call!

    2. Anonymous Educator*

      I tried to do that with one organization in my last job search that simply would not budge on telling me any kind of ballpark range. Honestly, I wanted something within a 20K range of some sort. They wouldn’t tell me anything. Thing is—I was willing to take a pay cut to work there; I just wanted to know how much of a pay cut we were talking about, but they wouldn’t say. I ended up taking a job somewhere else, but I’m still baffled as to why they wouldn’t even give me a ballpark of some kind…

  27. Retail Lifer*

    #4 I’ve been managing part-time employees for almost two decades and I can tell you that this is not the norm. Many things you need time off for won’t be able to be documented. I’m wondering if the manager is seeing a spike in requests off and is having trouble getting enough employees to cover all of the shifts. I can’t think of any other sane explanation. A *good* manager would limit the number of requests off per day to a certain amount and given them first come first served or based on how critical the need was.

  28. KTM*

    #4: I wonder if this is a misguided attempt by the boss to see who’s unavailability is more ‘legitimate’ in their mind. If they can’t schedule anyone for Wednesday and one person has some studying to do and the other has a scheduled softball tournament, then they’d make scheduling decisions based on it. Dumb, but may be an explanation?

    #5: General jerkitude just entered my vocab and I’m better for it :)

  29. (NotSmokinHot)BethRA*

    Just to play Devil’s Advocate on #1, it’s possible that Carla’s right – that “Our CEO turned down the same ideas from everyone else. …All Beth has to do is swish her hair around, while the rest of us have to grovel.” That’s not saying Beth isn’t talented, that’s saying the CEO is a pig.

    Doesn’t get Carla off the hook for resenting Beth rather than focusing her ire on the CEO, or for complaining about it to the OP, but this would hardly be the first case of someone getting preferential treatment or having their input given more credence due to factors unrelated to their skill or the value of that input.

    1. fposte*

      But it’s irrelevant to the problem of Carla’s running to a new hire with dirt about her boss.

    2. neverjaunty*

      Yeah, it is saying Beth isn’t talented. It’s saying that Beth is no better than anyone else at the company, but she gets treated as if she is because of her deliberate manipulation of her looks. It’s not saying that the CEO is a pig; it’s portraying him as a victim of Beth’s manipulation.

      Also, of course:

      1. (NotSmokinHot)BethRA*

        Which makes him a pig – or a really bad manager, if you prefer. If he’s giving someone preferential treatment based on their looks (or willingness to flirt, or gender, or race, or insertirrelevantattributehere), he’s not someone I’d want to work for long-term. Carla’s way out of line, but creating an environment where staff don’t feel like their being treated fairly does tend to create a lot of bad morale and resentment.

        1. Kelly L.*

          Sure, but if Carla was criticizing the CEO, she’d have said “The CEO’s a pig, he only listens to people he wants to date” or something like that. Instead she’s focusing her vitriol on Beth’s existence and actions.

  30. mel*

    4: I get that shiftwork requires some level of flexibility to get the most hours, if that’s something a person is concerned about (many people are ok with fewer hours).

    But it seems like some people forget that their workers are selling large chunks of their life away for minimum wage, and that maybe… JUST MAYBE… if one wants to have sundays off, they shouldn’t NEED to have sundays off, and they shouldn’t have to prove that they have that need.

    Just saying. If someone wants to reduce their own hours, at the expense of a chunk of money (especially if tip-based) or at the risk of being seen as “uncooperative”, or even at the risk of getting knocked off the schedule entirely, shouldn’t that be his/her own prerogative?

    I thought us “unskilled” workers were easily replaceable? If that’s true, why go through all of this trouble to drive everybody nuts?

    1. Retail Lifer*

      Seriously. You find out what people’s general availability is before they start and ensure it meets your scheduling needs. You also put a policy in place where only so many people can request off the same day. If people change their availability or request so much time off that it regularly impacts shift coverage, then you talk to your employees. Let them know that if they can’t generally be available for the same times they were hired for then, unfortunately, you might have to replace them or hire more people, thus reducing their hours. If they want the hours, they’ll usually find a way to be more available. If not, that’s their choice.

  31. The Strand*

    Above the Law is not the genteel place Ask A Manager is, but this is worth reading, per #1 –

    “We learned that:

    * lawyers in the private sector are more attractive than those in the public sector;
    * looks-challenged people clerk;
    * litigators are the most attractive attorneys, and that regulatory lawyers are the least attractive.
    * being really, really, super good-looking makes men more likely to become partners, but makes women less likely to become partners; and
    * attractive lawyers bill at higher rates and make more money.”

    Not that I necessarily believe it in its entirety, but I think it’s interesting to muse on.

  32. costume teapot*

    OP3….I may be off base here but I’m fairly certain your manager divulging that particular medical information is a violation of HIPAA, if you’re US based. If it is, you also have a whole ‘nother can of worms hanging around.

    1. Sadsack*

      Juli G.
      April 22, 2015 at 6:42 am

      Public Service Announcement: Letter 3 does not involve a violation of HIPAA. :)

      ▼ Collapse 1 reply

      April 22, 2015 at 10:24 am

      Because the boss did not learn this information in the course of his/her job as a medical professional or treating the LW as a patient.

      1. Loose Seal*

        How did you copy those two answers while keeping the site formatting? Surely that’s not just cut and paste. (Off topic, I know, but I’m just so amazed!)

        1. nona*

          Copying the first comment in the thread here:

          costume teapot
          April 22, 2015 at 3:04 pm
          OP3….I may be off base here but I’m fairly certain your manager divulging that particular medical information is a violation of HIPAA, if you’re US based. If it is, you also have a whole ‘nother can of worms hanging around.

          ▼ Collapse 4 replies

          It works! :O

  33. brownblack*

    I am really shocked by #5. I hope you haven’t had to pay any out-of-pocket expenses for these job interviews.

  34. Fish Microwaver*

    In a similar vein to OP#1, my manager came back from acting on an interview panel for a position in another part of our organisation. When asked if a suitable candidate had been found, she replied, “Oh I think so, she’s young” and nothing about her expereince or personal attributes. It was pretty irksome.

  35. Lisa*

    It is a known fact that beautiful women get noticed and have a special spot in meetings, getting updated quickly, getting a quick turn around from men for information/questions. Men like to please gorgeous women. Denying this fact is strange. What makes us think the workplace is any different? Men may try to be professional but fact of the matter is, if you are gorgeous, you will get attention and interest sooner than others. I have seen it in so many large organizations I have worked at. And there are well known events that happen in Las Vegas which are booked for these orgs and yes, that is where most of the favors get curried. I believe if you still think that looks don’t matter and don’t turn into favors, then you have worn the Pollyana glasses.

  36. Tangerina Warbleworth*

    OP#1: I agree with Allison’s advice to eventually tell Beth, once you are more comfortable, and will add this: it will not be a new thing for Beth. If Beth is that attractive, she’s been dealing with this crap her whole adult life. There have likely been people in high school, college, training and other jobs who have been just as nasty in attributing all of her success to her looks — and I would bet serious money that that’s exactly WHY Beth is so good with providing evidence and research to support her ideas. She learned that people might not take her seriously because of her looks, and found ways to overcome that. Smart woman. I would not worry that Beth’s feelings would be hugely hurt. She has plenty of tools to deal with the Carlas of life.

Comments are closed.