my new company wants me to change my name

A reader writes:

I am starting a new job next week. Somehow another employee, who is a favorite of the regional manager, objects to my name, so I have been told I cannot use it.

My middle name is King and it is a name that has been in our family for years. I have been called King since the day I was born – 54 years ago – and have never had anyone even mention it, much less object to it.

This entry-level employee says it offends her religious beliefs. She has been at the company for several years but is still at entry-level, so how can she carry so much weight? What are my options? Is this even legal?

That’s ridiculous. It’s your name.

Legally, they can probably insist you use another name (at least I can’t think of a law it would violate), but it would be 100% crazy for them to do that. It’s your name. No reasonable person or employer would ask you to change your name, especially on grounds like these.

I would say this to your new employer: “I certainly don’t want to offend anyone, but this is my name, it’s what I’ve gone by my entire life, it’s how all my professional contacts know me, and it’s what’s on my birth certificate. It’s not possible for me to change it.”

If they push back, I’d continue to say, “It’s really not possible for me to change my name.”

I’m hoping that they just haven’t thought this through and realized how ridiculous this is (and maybe they somehow think it’s more optional because it’s your middle name rather than your first?). Hopefully, politely but firmly saying that it’s not something you can do will make them realize it’s not a reasonable request.

But if they insist on it, well, you’re learning that you’re about to start working for an employer that’s incredibly unreasonable and willing to insist on something outrageous just because someone cried “religion” inappropriately.* It might be better to know that now than before you actually start work.

* And it is inappropriate. Religious accommodations don’t extend to changing other employees’ names. That has nothing to do with what level of seniority someone has, so it doesn’t matter that she’s entry-level; if she requesting a reasonable religious accommodation, they’d need to grant it whether she was the COO or the receptionist. But this one is unreasonable, and it would be just as unreasonable coming from the head of the company as it is coming from this person.

Read an update to this letter here.

{ 940 comments… read them below }

    1. Muriel Heslop*

      I am curious, too! I am a Christian who has a steady stream of students named Jesus and I don’t think anything of it. Strange that someone claims the name is offensive; beyond strange that the company is giving it credence!

      1. JMegan*

        To me, that’s a bigger problem than the employee suggesting it. Because who knows, individuals are entitled to individual beliefs, no matter how…unusual…they might be.

        But for *anyone else in the office* to respond with anything other than “What? No, we’re not asking anyone to change their names” is wildly inappropriate. Like, WILDLY inappropriate. The fact that you have even heard about this request, let alone that somebody actually asked you to comply with it, speaks volumes about this company. I’d be getting the heck out of Dodge if I had any other options at this point.

      2. Ad Astra*

        My suspicion is that this coworker is some kind of Christian and objects to a person being named King because Jesus is the one true king. But that is insane. Jesus is supposed to be the king of kings. That doesn’t mean nobody else is a king. I don’t like to tell people what should and shouldn’t offend them, but give me a break.

        And, to your point, plenty of cultures find it appropriate to name their children Jesus. Even words like God and Lord have their own secular meanings. I can see how you might be offended by someone whose name is IAmGreaterThanGod, but even then I’m not sure you’d have good reason to ask an adult to change his name (the adult might decide to do that on his own, cause that’s a problematic name, but I digress).

        If I’m wrong about this, I would be extremely interested in knowing the real story here.

        1. MashaKasha*

          As a former Christian (20 years, 2-3 of them Evangelical, still have a few friends in the trade – and when I say “trade”, I mean the person is a pastor), I’d agree with your suspicion – that was my first thought too. Talk about taking things too far, though! First of all, a lot of people are named King. What about MLK? What about MLK day as a day off?

          But yeah, all that aside, having your management order your new colleague to change their name is, uh… I’ve only seen this in movies. How does one come up with this idea? more importantly, how does the management think it’d be cool to go with it?

          1. NotherName*

            Maybe they’ve read some Maya Angelou and didn’t get the point of her story about being “called out of your name.”

            It seems like someone’s a reincarnated Victorian employer who wants to rename their household staff…

          2. Willow*

            I was raised concerns Lutheran, and Conservative. No Lutherans I know would object to a name of King.

            Is the person a minority? There could be racism involved.

        2. Ani*

          But I’m guessing this is just the surface argument the coworker is using. Seriously. I’m thinking she just personally doesn’t like someone using the name King (I personally love it) and made a request “on religious grounds” just because she thought she could (and was right). I mean, the name Butterfly McQueen would probably upset this person too, but she couldn’t try to make a case out of it quite as easily.

          1. AMT*

            Exactly. I can see myself feeling slightly weirded out if a coworker’s name sounded silly or had an unintended meaning in English, but I would never in a million years bring it up to the coworker!

            1. Phobia Field*

              Yup, exactly. I’d never bring it up. Somehow the name King seems less odd to me than, say, Princess. But if I had a coworker named Princess, I’d call them by their name!

              1. Melissa*

                I knew several people in middle and high school named Princess and I also knew someone named Empress. I’ve also met a little boy named King before, as well as a small child name Messiah.

                …so the name King didn’t really faze me much…

                1. Michelle*

                  In Texas, King is a well known last name. And I don’t know about elsewhere, but here it’s not unusual for last names to become middle names. (For example, my brother’s middle name is Carr.) So, honestly, King doesn’t seem all that strange to me. It’s just a name.

              2. Soharaz*

                I knew a girl once who was named Princess and her younger sisters were Queen and Treasure. We joked about her brother being named Prince or King, but I think that was just a joke…not sure if she had any brothers.

          2. Aaron Gullison*

            I know of a now deceased cousin of mine whose name was “Queen Victoria”. She was named when Victoria was queen.

        3. JJ*

          That’s exactly what I thought, too. “Why are YOU such a special king when Jesus is king?”

          This is probably the same type of person like the one who wrote “I give God 10%, why should I give you 15%?” on a waitress’s transaction receipt.

          1. Koko*

            Somewhat o/t but the thing that got me most about that person was that you don’t tithe to god. You tithe to the church. God doesn’t need money.

            1. Ted Mosbey*

              Now I’m just imaginging god in a long white robe with a long white beard standing in line at a bank located on top of a fluffy pile of clouds. “John smith’s 137 dollars for this month, check” as he checks the name off on his santa style list.

              God, buying a nice watch for Mrs God/Mrs Clause (anyone else think they were the same as kids? no? just me? cool.) at Nordstrom, paying in cash from tithings.

        4. Wren*

          If I had to guess, I’d say Jehova’s Witness, for exactly the King of kings reasons you state. I’m not super knowledgeable of them, but it sounds like the kind of thing they’d care about, and when they care about stuff, they really care about it.

          I would tell this employee, “you can call him Mr. —, but you don’t get a say in what his name is.”

            1. Ad Astra*

              I agree that this doesn’t match up with how any Jehovah’s Witnesses I know practice their faith. But I think there’s a very good chance that this coworker is a whackadoodle who’s affiliated with some church that we’ve all heard of, but is interpreting their teachings in a weird way. Jehovah’s Witnesses and Seventh-Day Adventists are two groups whose interpretations about false idols are stricter than average, but I’ve never heard of any group that would have a problem with someone named King.

              (And, in my experience, both of these groups are conscious of the parts of their religion that aren’t mainstream. A JW won’t attend your birthday party, but he’s not likely to tell you that having a birthday party is offensive.)

              1. Phobia Field*

                Yes, this OP probably belongs to a very uncommon/rarely practiced faith (which I understand, because I belong to one such faith) OR they belong to a common faith but practice it in an unusual/whackadoodle way.

                Incidentally, in my faith, we don’t celebrate birthdays either (not JW) — but I still play along with friends’ or coworker/office parties and such so long as mine isn’t celebrated.

            2. Brooke*

              Agreed. I have family members who are JW’s and I think it would be incredibly odd for them to require such a thing.

              1. Anna*

                Yeah. They may not name their own child King for that reason (if that is even one of their tenets, which I don’t think it would be), but the JWs I’ve known have all been pretty relaxed about what’s happening around them. I worked with a woman who is JW and we had a lot of great discussions and her perspective was always an interesting counterpoint to mine.

            3. Melissa*

              Agreed…I grew up a Jehovah’s Witness and my family members are still in the religion. This is not something a normal mainstream Witness would care about. (Of course, there are whackadoodles in every religion.)

        5. Mephyle*

          My next (somewhat fanciful) guess was that their religion is so strongly anti-monarchist (as in “down with the divine right of kings!”) that even the word “king” as a name offends their religious sensibilities.

          1. Creag an Tuire*

            I like this theory. Ladies and Gentlemen, the last surviving member of the Cult of the Supreme Being!

      3. Kyrielle*

        Very much beyond strange that the company is giving it credence. Unfortunately, since it’s a middle name, they may stand firm on ‘use your first name’, which bites. (Wonder what they’d do if it was a first name!)

        My attempt to Google religions that might object to the name King led to discussions of Stephen King. I am amused, but not enlightened. ;)

        1. Kelly L.*

          An old friend of mine was trying to write historical fiction about King Stephen of England, and was trying to google something about him…you can imagine the noise-to-signal ratio there. :D

            1. fposte*

              And it doesn’t seem to recognize the force search anymore! That was the best thing–“No, I mean exactly what I typed, please search for that.”

                1. JB (not in Houston)*

                  Is there a special way to type those magic quotation marks? Because when I search for something in quotation marks, I sometimes word subs and results finding stuff that’s not exactly what I searched for. I would really like that to not happen.

              1. Elysian*

                Yes!! This bothers me pretty much every day. Even when I put it in quotes and stuff I end up with variations of on a term. Usually the variation is something exceedingly common and has a ton of hits, which is why I want to exclude it. Just give me the words I type, Google!!

        2. Ann O'Nemity*

          Eh, I don’t think the first vs. middle name thing matters if this employee has a history of going by their middle name professionally.

          1. Charityb*

            True, but if it’s a middle name the company can use the whole, “well, we just want you to use your legal first name” as a dodge to avoid having to deal with this issue head on. Whereas if they were asking someone not to use their *first* name, they’d pretty much have to admit that they were letting one coworker forcibly change other coworker’s names for work purposes. Either way it would be dumb, but at least with the middle name there’s some kind of deniability.

            1. NotherName*

              If they tried that, I’d be inclined to make sure that everyone is being “forced” to use their first name, too. Why should King be the only one whose life gets more confusing?

              No nicknames, either!

              1. pony tailed wonder*

                I was asked to use my full legal name when I first started working at my current job by the guy who assigned e-mail accounts. No one ever calls me that and I verbally corrected people who do and that guy still insisted that it would be more professional to do it. Eventually the person who insisted on that left the library and I got my preferred name back on my e-mail account. His name in the office I worked at was rather colorful and it wasn’t his given name either. He pulled stuff like that all the time.

              2. afiendishthingy*

                I have a long and extremely unusual first name that most people cannot pronounce correctly; pretty much everyone calls me by the shortened version. But if I worked with OP I would demand to be called by the legal name, CORRECTLY PRONOUNCED, as long as OP wasn’t allowed to go by their middle name. Solidarity!

            2. any mouse*

              But then they would look even worse, I’m pretty sure they aren’t going to ask every Tom, Mike, Liz, or Don to suddenly start going by Thomas, Michael, Elizabeth, or Donald.

              Depending on the size of the company there are probably other people going by their middle name OR going by some nickname that people don’t realize isn’t a “legal first name”.

              I know someone who goes by Chip – perosnally and professionally – everyone knows him as Chip. It’s not his first name or his middle name but everyone knows him as Chip.

              1. Ariadne Oliver*

                Back when I was a little girl in Catholic grade school, everyone was called by their Christian (baptismal) names. Bob was Robert, Joe was Joseph, Ginny was Virginia. My aunt was legally named Betty, and they called her Elizabeth all through school.

                It’s a power thing.

                1. sam*

                  I wonder what they would do with someone whose actual name was more normally a nickname.

                  One of my friends growing up was named Wendy. It’s normally a nickname, but that was her actual full, legal name. Her parents were fans of the beach boys song.

              2. Callie*

                My dad’s name is Don. Not Donald, but Don. That’s his legal name. It irritates the crap out of him when people call him Donald.

        3. One of the Sarahs*

          The only thing I can think of is the name is eg Sarah King James, and the person objects to “King James” as they’re one of the sects that believes the King James Bible is the divinely inspired word of god, and wants to call them Sarah King???

          It’s completely inappropriate, of course, and definitely not anything that the actual Bible says or prohibits, but it’s the only way I can make sense of it….

          Dear OP please post an update

          1. ScarletInTheLibrary*

            Didn’t think of this, but it may be a case where the problem is more along the lines of the middle name paired with the last name. I feel for OP. Especially if OP never really interacts with the person who is offended.

          1. Mallory Janis Ian*

            I never even thought of it before, but we had a family named Herod in my small, Christian town, and I don’t think anyone even made the connection to be offended. It was their name; that’s all.

        1. BRR*

          Yes. It is a reasonable accommodation for me to have you legally change your last name.

          If the company continues to be butt hurt about this, I’d be half-tempted to say that the name is part of their national origin and they feel they’re discriminated against by being asked to not use it.

          Also I highly want an update on this one. Also I had to check what day it was, I have a flight Wednesday evening and thought it was today.

      4. NoCalHR*

        This! We currently have 7 different employees named Jesus; one goes by “Jess”, one by “Jesse”, and the other 5 are “Jesus”. And my DH’s parish has a priest named Jesus…

        1. NotherName*

          Do all Rajahs, Connors, and Rexes also have to change their names? How about Cesar Millan? Because those names also mean “king.”

          Where does co-worker stand on the name “Mary” and its many variants?

              1. doreen*

                Usually, when I’ve seen this it’s been more like Mary Ann , Mary Lou(ise), Mary Ellen, Mary (Eliza)Beth and none are referred to as just plain “Mary”

                1. Ariadne Oliver*

                  My sister Mary worked with another girl named Mari. They called her “Mari-with-an-i”. I told my sister she should insist on being called “Mary-with-two-eyes”. (Or possibly “Mary-with-four-eyes” since she wore glasses.)

          1. Hornswoggler*

            I have a friend whose middle name is Sultan – which means King. He’s Indian by birth but a British citizen.

          1. Anna*

            This I did not know. Nacho is short for Ignacio and you can see how they might get from Ignacio to Nacho, but how Chucho from Jesus?

                1. NutellaNutterson*

                  That’s why JFK Jr was called Jack-Jack!

                  I’m still befuddled by Jim for James, but the farthest afield I can think of is Peggy for Margaret.

                2. Just The Secretary*

                  September 30, 2015 at 1:09 pm
                  That’s why JFK Jr was called Jack-Jack!<

                  He was actually called "John-John" and JFK went by Jack :)

    2. TCO*

      I’m guessing it’s someone who doesn’t acknowledge earthly powers and believes that only God is the true king or something like that.

      1. Elizabeth the Ginger*

        Which is still confused; OP isn’t asking for other employees to acknowledge him as a ruler, just to call him by his name. Most people named Mr. Smith are not blacksmiths, most people named Harper do not play the harp, and King here is not a king.

        1. A Minion*

          Maybe we don’t know the whole story. Maybe his first name is My and he’s insisting everyone use both his first and middle name together like Mary Ann or Jo Lynn .
          “Can you please remember to refill the paper in the copier after you’re done using it, My King?” Bahahahaa!! I crack myself up. I would totally insist on being called that if I were him. I already have Siri calling me “My Queen”.
          All joking aside, though, I can’t imagine how management could ever think it’s appropriate to ask an employee to change his or her name because someone else objects to it! I also can’t imagine what religious beliefs might be offended by that name.

          1. Poohbear McGriddles*

            Maybe his first name is in honor of the delicious Vietnamese soup, Pho.

            I could see an issue there.

            1. A Dispatcher*

              There was (perhaps still is, I haven’t been in a while) a chinese restaurant in Cooperstown NY that went by the name “Foo Kin”. When my father would take me to visit the baseball hall of fame as a kid/teen I always got a kick out of it.

        2. Anonymous today*

          True. I worked with a woman named Princess once. I thought it was a little odd, but as long as I wasn’t required to curtsy to her, I had no problems with it.

          1. DMented Kitty*

            Knew someone who’s named QueenDiosa, which translates to “QueenGoddess”. They call her “QD” for the most part, but I kind of thought her parents apparently thought so highly of her when she was born. :)

    3. Apostrophina*

      I’ve heard of some strict Protestant denominations in the US that frown on playing cards specifically because of the royalty cards (the only real king is supposed to be the one in heaven, perhaps?), but I’m not sure which ones they are. This sounds like it could be spurred by a similar idea.

      1. TotesMaGoats*

        I’d say those strict protestant denoms frown on card playing because of the gambling aspect not the cards themselves.

        1. Apostrophina*

          The person who was telling me about it specifically mentioned the kings, but the no-gambling interpretation makes a lot more sense to me.

          1. Miss Betty*

            It’s the gambling aspect, plus for some people it’s the fact that playing cards descended from tarot cards and can still be used for fortune telling. My great-grandmother never used playing cards in her life, except for Rook cards. (And other card games like Uno.)

      2. A Minion*

        Yeah, I grew up in one of those strict Protestant denomination and it’s the gambling that’s the problem, not the faces on the cards. Maybe there’s another denomination that objects to the royalty cards that I’m not aware of, but in my experience, it was the gambling not the cards themselves.

      3. The Cosmic Avenger*

        I would have guessed Seventh Day Adventist, because IME their interpretation and observance on the prohibition against worshiping false idols (which is a part of all Judeo-Christian religions, and really any monotheistic religion) are stronger than most other sects.

      4. Anna*

        Back in another lifetime, my aunt was very strictly religious. At one point she went through the instructions on a pack of dominoes and crossed out any reference to “spellcasting” which I guess is a thing in dominoes. It was…baffling, to say the least.

    4. Jelly Bee*

      The only reference I can think of is the expression “No king but Jesus.” But the notion that another person’s name is a violation of this coworker’s religious beliefs is absurd. She can call him Mr. Lastname if she can’t bring herself to use his name.

    5. A*

      I think it’s safe to say this person was pulling weight as the manager’s favourite so that another employee would not get called the regal sounding “King”. Total ego trip. Sounds like a toxic place to work for.

  1. AMG*

    The gall and ignorance of some people truly knows no bounds. I am really curious to see how this turns out. Hopefully with you getting another job right away.

  2. Casidy Yatest*

    This request reminds me a lot of how employers used to change their servant’s names, especially when the servants were Black – like how all cooks got called ‘Sally’ and Pullman porters were all called ‘George.’ I wonder if there is also a racial element to this, and it’s not okay.

    1. Gandalf the Nude*

      All the Kings I’ve met have been of Chinese ancestry, so I wondered the same thing. In trying to skirt a dubious religious harassment claim, the employer might be strolling into a very real racial bias discrimination claim.

      1. Maria the Librarian*

        My husband’s grandfather, who was African-American, had the first name King. I wondered about racial bias, too.

        1. Ani*

          I mentioned Butterfly McQueen above. I was just saying I think the coworker probably is just using religion as a surface excuse because, for whatever personal reason, the coworker is bristling at the OP going by the name King and probably would object too to someone in the office going by the name Butterfly McQueen. It was only after I typed it and posted it that I thought OMG, is it possible ….

        1. Gandalf the Nude*

          Oh, I’m not assuming (and I don’t think anyone else is either). I do think that it’s enough of a possibility that it’s worth speculating on it, especially since it would add that extra layer of grossness.

        2. Casidy Yatest*

          Racial bias is a possibility; there’s a long history of that kind of attitude specifically aimed at people of color. It’s not ‘assuming’ anything to bring up the possibility.

    2. RVA Cat*

      This. When an employer’s practices remind you of slavery at worst and old studio-system Hollywood at best, run away with a quickness!

    3. Tina*

      My first thought was racism too, and if that’s the case it’s extra gross that the leaders of the company thought it was ok to suggest to the new employee.

      1. manybellsdown*

        I’m remembering a post about a year back about a woman who thought her co-worker’s name “looked embarrassing” in English, and wanted to ask her to change the nameplate on her desk. This feels like the same thing, only with a common, non-vulgar English word being objected to!

    4. Three Thousand*

      Yeah, Victorians would change all their servants’ names to John or Sarah or something else easy to remember.

      1. Lala Land*

        “Oh, your name is Molly? Well, that won’t do. We already have a Molly. Your name is now…..Prudence. We haven’t had a Prudence in years!”

        Not that this is King’s issue (probably).

        1. Jules*

          Ironically, I did actually work on a team for a couple of years where everyone apart from me was called Andy…there was Andy (Andrew) the big boss, Andy (Andrew) designer number one, Andy (actually Andy) designer number two, Andy (Andreas) designer number three, and Andy (Andrea) their PA. And me.

          We (and our client) endured for about a week, and then designer number one started introducing himself as Morris (not related to his name at all), the PA started signing all her emails as ‘PA Andi’, and designer number three became known universally as Other Andy. Which caused no end of confusion a few years later when Other Andy was the only remaining Andy in the company, but was, by force of habit, still known almost universally as Other Andy.

          1. ReadingRachael*

            We have 25 people in our company (30, counting the board of directors). 6 of them share the same name, let’s say it’s John. One is Johnny, one is John Last Name, one is John on the Board, one is John in Department B, one is Jonathan, and the last lucky one gets to go by John.

            1. simonthegrey*

              My sister, call her Vicky, shares her first name with a person in our circle of acquaintance who works as an exotic dancer. To differentiate the two, it’s “sister Vicky” and “dancer Vicky.” They don’t know each other other than in passing, and it’s mostly used among those of us who have more contact with one than the other (i.e. I was at the mall with sister Vicky… I saw dancer Vicky at the mall yesterday). It’s just how we tell them apart. Neither one minds as far as I know.

              1. Feline*

                Oh, I know this one. My Dad actually married a very nice lady who already had a daughter who also had my name. As soon as it started causing confusion, Dad and his new wife started calling my new stepsister “Little Jane” and me “Big Jane” since I was eldest.

                Pro tip: Don’t nickname your female offspring something with “big” in it. Just don’t.

                1. Bailey Quarters*

                  A friend married a man who has the same first name as her eldest son. They are now called “John the Elder” and “John the Younger.”

                2. Gandalf the Nude*

                  Hah! My step-sister has the same first name as me, and her middle name matches my sister’s first name. (Both “Gandalf” and “Radagast” were very popular baby names at the time.) Stepdad joked that he could summon three daughters with the breath of two!

                3. Cath in Canada*

                  I have the same first and last name as my sister-in-law except for one letter – we go by Cee-Cath and Kay-Kath.

                  So, I have the same name as one of my husband’s sisters. His other sister shares a name with my sister. My sister’s boyfriend shares a name with one of my husband’s brothers. Said brother called his son after their other brother. My husband has the same name as my uncle, and my Dad has the same name as Kay-Kath’s husband.

                  The wedding was a bit confusing.

                4. alyrae*

                  My nephew is a Ben, and has two other Bens in his class. Two have last names that start with F. One has a peanut allergy. They are now: Ben C., Ben F. and “No Nuts” Ben.

                5. KayBee*

                  Same in my extended family. I lucked out as the “little” one. But my poor nephew, son of Richard. Yup – big Dick and little Dick. Seriously. Not surprising little Dick ended up a bit of a juvenile delinquent!

                6. reaching for the sky*

                  Ha, I knew someone who is in a similar situation, where his son and his stepdaughter have the same name (it’s one of those names commonly used for either gender).

                7. Paquita*

                  When I was born my mother’s cousin became Big Paquita.
                  I also know a family with kids named John and Jane Smith. Jane married a guy named JOHN SMITH! (Not their real names).

                8. Carpe Librarium*

                  I am now thinking of the Nac Mac Feegles of Terry Pratchett’s Discworld, including “No’-As-Big-As-Medium-Sized-Jock-But-Bigger-than-Wee-Jock Jock”

                9. Cambridge Comma*

                  My aunt teaches 5 year olds. One year, there were two boys named Carlos in the class, one blond and blue-eyed and the other black. She was trying to work out before the school year started how to handle the issue if the kids called them ‘black Carlos ‘ and ‘white Carlos’.
                  From the first day on, the kids called them ‘Carlos with the brown shoes’ and ‘Carlos with the grey shoes’.

            2. Not Myself*

              This is my family. We have 3 Johns – my brother Jon, my brother in law, John, and my husband, John. It’s… exciting.

              1. wanderlust*

                So in the interest of not offending anyone religious… do they go by 1st John, 2nd John, and 3rd Jon?

                Sorry, couldn’t resist the Bible humor.

              2. Dynamic Beige*

                I knew someone who married into a family where the first born son *had* to be named… let’s say Robert. So at family reunions, you could yell “Hey Bob!” and seven guys turned around. She swore that if she ever had a boy, she would be the first to break that tradition… don’t know how that turned out.

            3. Emily H.*

              I work at a public service position where the manager is Anthony and our technology specialist is also Anthony. We started calling them “Anthony Junior” and “Anthony Senior” to differentiate them. This started to cause problems when we got customers asking for “Anthony’s son”!

          2. Judy*

            Or as Sir Terry Pratchett designed, the Nac Mac Feegles had lots of common names, so there was even a


          3. Anlyn*

            I used to coordinate with several different departments, and all of them had at least one Michael, usually two. We all (including them), just started to referring to them by their last names, since they were mostly distinctive enough people would recognize them. The ones who weren’t were Michael A., Michael C., etc.

          4. AnonEMoose*

            When you joined the team, did they ask if they could call you Bruce, just to keep it clear? (Sorry, couldn’t resist!)

          5. JL*

            I once had to work with a team of three men called Ben and two called James. I ended up starting my emails to them by “Hello Bens and Jameses,” (they had a good sense of humour).

        2. Marzipan*

          I used to know someone who was renamed by their workplace in exactly this way and for this reason. He liked the new name to the point that everyone knew him by it, even people from outside work.

          Ironically for this conversation, the name they gave him was ‘Christian’!

        3. 2horseygirls*

          In our group of high school friends, I was the only girl. When one of the guys started dating (and subsequently married) another Jennifer, we identified by last initials, then by the number of letters in the shortened form (she was 3 letters, I was 5).

          In response to OP: “No” is a complete (and HIGHLY appropriate) response.

          Moving along . . . :)

          Seriously? Just because she’s offended doesn’t automatically make her right. Bless her heart.

  3. fposte*

    Now I have this vision that she’s been doing this to a sequence of new hires, and that none of them are named what they were introduced to the OP as. Jerry, Jeff, and Jack are all really Jesús.

    1. LBK*

      All I can think of is 30 Rock when Jack renames the new actor “Danny” because he doesn’t want there to be another Jack.

      1. Stranger than fiction*

        Ha I’ve joked with my boss about this whenever she gets resumes from someone with my name I’ve told her well you can’t hire another ____. But I’m joking.

        1. TheLazyB (UK)*

          I very rarely come across another [my name] in work. The one time I did she turned out to be weird as hell. I felt like she was polluting my name!

          Totally on board with refusing to employ any further iterations of your name :)

          1. fposte*

            There’s somebody with my name who works at the supermarket where I shop, and she is so bad at her job, and I’m personally offended by this.

            1. LBK*

              There’s an extremely horrible manager in another department who shares a first name with someone in my department. We’ve taken to calling her by a nickname so our coworker Jane’s ears aren’t burning every time we’re talking about what a stupid jackass Jane is.

              1. Not So NewReader*

                A boss had the same name as a coworker. We were discussing the coworker. Boss read our lips from across the room long enough to figure out the name being used and it rained in our lives.

          2. Koko*

            It’s so interesting to me how names can take on this association with traits of people you’ve known who had them. Just the other week I had a friend who reacted to some name or other being a potential baby name for a mutual friend, asking how you could possibly want to name your baby that. I had never personally known anyone with that name so I had no associations with it, but my friend had known 2 or 3 people with the name and not liked any of them, so she had a very negative take on the name!

            1. Dr. Johnny Fever*

              When my husband and I were expecting our son, we ran through dozens of names before we could agree, and it was due to this reason. So many kneejerk reactions. The odd thing was realizing just how many boys had teased me as I was growing up and how many associations I had made for those names.

              I work with many people from another culture (more from that culture than my own). All the favorable names that came to me were beautiful, but were going to raise quite a eyebrows since our son would not be from that culture, or really a part of their cultural practices. I was afraid that what would be meant as honor would get interpreted as appropriation.

              1. reaching for the sky*

                Yes, I think that unless you are really immersed in that culture, and really know it inside and out, naming your child a name from that culture would be viewed as appropriation for sure. I don’t really believe in cultural appropriation as a concept, but I speak multiple languages and I will laugh at you if you want to name your child “monkey” and you think it means something else. That’s the risk you take.

                1. Tau*

                  There’s also a lot of cultural issues regarding a name’s connotations which an outsider might not be aware of. Most commonly what generation a name is associated with and whether it rings as old-fashioned or completely archaic or what, but there can also be other things. E.g. in German there are a whole host of names that were very popular during Hitler’s regime, where meeting a younger person with that name nowadays would almost invariably make me wonder whether their parents are Neo-Nazis. Or particular names being associated with particular geographic regions or classes or subcultures – I guess an example for Americans would be typically African-American names?

                  So leaving cultural appropriation aside, I’d be quite careful picking a name from another culture unless I was really sure I understood all the connotations.

                2. Dr. Johnny Fever*

                  Absolutely. I’m talking about Hindi culture – I’m aware enough of the translations in mother tongues and the practices behind selecting names to be aware that I would be in dangerous territory.

              1. azvlr*


                I ended up naming my son the same name as a rather witty co-worker. No kid with that name had annoyed me thus far.

            2. LawBee*

              I have the hardest time liking people named, let’s say LoulouBelle and Elinzabelle, as those were the names of the two girls who went from being my best friends in 6th grade to tormenting me in 7th. I just cannot get past it with those names. Ugh. I have turned down dates with LoulouBelles because – no. No lips of LoulouBelle will ever touch mine.

        2. Kyrielle*

          Several years ago, I *badly* wanted to hire someone because of their name. They were a decent candidate, but there were at least two better, so of course we weren’t going to – but I was sad they didn’t stand out more.

          We already had two women with nearly-identical names (I was one of them) and a man with a very similar name (our supervisor), and this gentleman used as the shortened form of his name, the same name the supervisor had. On a team that would’ve been 10-11 people at the time, it would’ve been hilarious and awesome. (I’d long since given up on worrying about the aggravation factor; the other woman and I in particular just got very used to transferring people when needed.)

        3. Merry and Bright*

          My first name isn’t rare but it’s always felt a bit old-fashioned because I’ve only met a few people in my generation with it. But I’ve never worked with another one at all but I quite like the idea of it. It has a few nicknames from it but I’m not so keen on having it shortened mainly because of a bad association with one of them.

          1. AT*

            I feel you on that. I’m a young lady with a very old-fashioned English name. The only other I’ve met was a Chinese exchange student at my secondary school whose teachers told her she needed to pick an English name, and who was big into steampunk. I’m into steampunk too, though, so there were no hard feelings.

        4. Quru*

          I encountered something like that as well when I worked remotely for a tiny startup. We met on a SILC chat and we had the rule to go by first name there. Someone asked how to handle the fact that someone else might be hired with the same name as an existing employee. The big boss joked that this would be prevented in hiring stage.

    2. Lionness*

      I work in a small department and we have Sarah, Sara and Sarai. We also have John, Jon and Jonathan. I keep telling people to screen for names…no one listens…..

      1. Jules*

        I also went to school with a Jenny Chan, Jeanie Chan, Junie Chan, and Jennie Chen….who were all very good friends.

        Come to think of it, this ‘multiples of names in the workplace’ seems to be quite common – three of the partners at a law firm I know of are called Mike (which usually leads someone at the office Christmas party into the Marx Brothers routine about the law firm called Windshieldwiper, Windshieldwiper, Windshieldwiper, and McCormick), and there are actually three Chris’s in my immediate family….my Mom, my Dad, and my brother in law….guess we need to widen the baby name pool!

  4. Poohbear McGriddles*

    I wonder if she feels the same way about Rex or Regina.
    For all she knows, the OP was named in honor of Dr. King.

      1. Three Thousand*

        I wouldn’t be surprised. A lot of unconscionable bigots seem to be getting bolder lately now that they know how much social support they have.

    1. CMT*

      I got excited for a second when I was reading this letter because I thought it must be Wednesday and we were all one day closer to the weekend.

  5. AdAgencyChick*

    I’m curious, what’s the advice for OP in the very likely event that he (I’m guessing OP is a he this time) shows up for work his first day to find that his email address is Firstname.Lastname at company dot com, despite the fact that he has explained that King is his name; he’s listed in the directory by his first name instead of his middle name, etc.

    1. anonanonanon*

      I was wondering this, too, since a lot of companies give email/directory/badge/etc names based on the legal first & last name instead of an employee’s preferred name. I’ve had a few coworkers over the years who go by their middle name like OP does, but all references in official work directories were by FirstName LastName.

      1. JMegan*

        Really? I go by my middle name, and it has never once been an issue. I don’t think any of my employers, up to and including my current one, have even been aware of my first name. My birth certificate, passport, drivers licence and health card all have my full name, but I’ve never used my first name on a resume or any other work-related document. It has just never come up, outside of the above situations.

        I’m not arguing with you, by the way! I believe you that it happens, just that it has never happened to me.

        1. anonanonanon*

          Oh, I believe it hasn’t happened to everyone. I think I’ve just worked at companies where they ask for your legal name on the job offer for background checks or whatnot. Maybe it’s an industry thing.

          My grandmother went by her middle name and I never even knew she did it until I was about 16.

          1. JC*

            My grandmother also goes by her middle name, and I completely forgot about it until I read your post! Even her checks have her middle name and not her legal first name on them.

            1. Mabel*

              Both my dad’s parents did this (went by their middle names). I assume the first names were family names, and the middle name was just for that particular child. Oh! I just realized my mom’s mom did this, too.

            2. Aella*

              My grandmother did, and her cheques and formal documents all said R. Huberta*. Meanwhile, my other grandmother changed her name to ‘Betty’ for a decade or so (informally) and my father was known by his middle name for some time after his birth.

              Family letters get really fun.

              *Neither of these are her actual names.

          2. Jessica (tc)*

            My paternal grandmother did as well. I have known as long as I can remember, because she would loudly tell everyone how much she hated her first name. ;-) I think they are both lovely names, but I wasn’t the one stuck with them, so I’ll respect her opinion.

        2. JC*

          I worked at a federal government agency where the email addresses were firstname.lastname, and they insisted that your email address and the name that shows up with your email are your full legal first and last names. I didn’t know anyone who went by their middle name there, and maybe they would have made an exception for them. But I did know someone who went by Randy but had to have Randolph in his email, for example, even though he argued about it.

          1. ITChick*

            It’s this way in a lot of places that have medical licenses too. Names in systems have to match your license for compliance and auditing purposes. People whine and I’m like if you really really dislike your name, you can change it pretty easily.

            1. periwinkle*

              I went by a nickname both personally and professionally since age 12 (I hated my old-lady legal first name and my middle name didn’t work as a first name). No problems, until I was hired by a hospital system that required legal first names only for email and ID badges. So I finally made the nickname legal and got a new badge. But they wouldn’t change my email address!

          2. Mabel*

            My company does this, too, and it’s really annoying. I argued with them, but I lost. I go by a variation of my legal first name, but my company insisted on using my legal first name in my email address. Fortunately I can use my first initial and last name as an email alias (i.e., Thank goodness the name I go by starts with the same letter as my legal first name!

            Otherwise my email signature would be really confusing:

            Mabel Schnagel
            212-55 5-1212

            1. reaching for the sky*

              lol, my email signature looks something like that. Apparently, we also have a built in email alias which is a series of numbers. I’m on the verge of putting that in my signature, since 2342343@company is better than

          3. Marcela*

            Oh, that would be amusing to see with my very long name, something similar to Marcela Margarita Sepulveda Echeverría…

        3. They do!*

          I go by my middle name, and so does my husband. I have always been very aggressive about going by my middle name – my first name is an embarrassing ‘old lady’ name (think, Muriel, Ethel, etc.) that every time people find it out it becomes a funny joke. The first day of school every year in grade school with the roll call re-ignited the constant teasing, so as an adult I’ve always been very aggressive about pre-empting the situation during the onboarding process. Employers, Schools, etc. have all gotten the correct for me, but it has caused a few issues on background checks, etc. so I have to list several different ‘aliases’ to get all the various combos of my first, maiden; middle, maiden; first, married; middle, married correct.
          However, my husband at every school, and every employer except this most recent one, has always been despite going by his middle. He always has had to have his signature be F. Middle so that people understand that he does not go by the first name. He’s also a shy/introvert type and doesn’t like to rock the boat, but his first name ISN’T an embarrassing one either.
          Then, I got married, and now have four names… I’ve made all friends/acquaintances/colleagues well aware of how ANNOYING it is and swear to not have a child go by their middle name.

          1. simonthegrey*

            This. C’mon, parents. Bury the family name in the middle and give the kid a name that is workable (or easy to shorten).

              1. Anna*

                One of my sisters goes by her middle name because my mom gave her an unusual spelling a very common name for her first name and then had doubts. My husband goes by his middle name because he was named for a great grandparent and “by God, that’s what he went by” even though he doesn’t like his middle name. I’ve asked him why he doesn’t go by his first name instead, but he just won’t.

            1. Clevelander*

              We did precisely that with our daughter, for this exact reason. My brother in law goes by a variant of his middle name (sometimes) and it’s confusing.

              We loved the combination of his grandmother/my mother, but it read…. as an ethnicity we are definitely not, and also she would have been spelling/explaining for all her days. We chose a different first, used the unusual family name in the middle.

          2. Sof*

            Just another perspective – there can be good reasons for parents to use a child’s middle name instead of first name. My younger brother was named after my dad’s little brother, who died very suddenly in his 20s either just before my brother was born or just after. It was too painful for my dad to call my brother by his dead brother’s name, so they swapped out for his middle name. Sometimes you can’t anticipate the effect a name will have on you.

            You never know!

            1. reaching for the sky*

              I knew someone who went by his middle name as an adult because his first name was the same as his dad’s (Jr/Sr situation). His dad was an abusive POS. This person also took his wife’s last name when they married, because he wanted nothing to do with his dad.

          3. Michelle*

            I have an uncle who did this to all of his children. I’m not even sure what my cousins’ first names are.

            And then my other aunt and uncle are vigilant about no nicknames. Alexander, not Alex!

        4. Bailey Quarters*

          It (the email address of firstname.lastname instead of preferredname.lastname) has been an issue for my husband and father, both of whom go by their middle names. I think it’s more common than not.

        5. Koko*

          I think one of the key things is initially applying with your middle name. Even if you then later provide your legal documents for background checks or taxes, they are already thinking of you as Middlename Lastname. Especially if there’s no background check, most employers don’t want your tax ID documents until the first day of work, and they’ve usually already got your email account set up by then. If up to that point you’ve never mentioned that you have a different first name they’ll have already created your logons and credentials with the name you actually go by.

          I think where a lot of people get tripped up is putting the first name that they don’t go by on their application or resume because they think they have to. Then they try to explain later they don’t really go by it, but the gears of bureaucracy are already in motion and now they’re having to go back and get things changed which is always harder.

          1. They do!*

            Yes. A colleague also goes by his middle name, but didn’t tell us at all through the interviewing, hiring process (I interviewed him and he let us call him ‘first’ the whole time).
            On his first day of work, he says oh I go by middle, can we change my email? No… do you know how much of a pain in the butt it was to get IT to make you an email in the first place? (of course we actually did request IT change it and they said no)
            Most of the time though you can change the name that shows up when you email someone. So even though your email might be in our system it shows as “Last, First ” – but you can change whatever “First” is in your ‘profile’ pretty easily. So he just changed it to show as “Last, Middle ”
            Sometimes it’s confusing for people who only know him via email, but eh.

            1. Vicki*

              If it’s a pain to get IT to change an email address (assuming the new address is not already in existence), then Someone in Power needs to Speak Very Sternly to IT.

              Changing an email address is a Very Simple Process. Anyone who tells you otherwise is lying to you. It gets more complicated as time goes by, but then all they need to do is create an alias and both work.

              Do not let your IT department dictate terms just because they hold the keys to the server.

              1. They do!*

                Haha Someone In Power speaks very sternly to IT at our company on a regular basis… nothing changes. It’s not outsourced or anything so we do ‘speak’ the same language but it FEELS like we don’t… they don’t speak the language of ‘business.’
                I swear once I was on the phone with our helpdesk and I said, “ok how do I tell my manager to access the portal to approve the workflow” (he was traveling, wanted to give it to him quickly step by step for dummies). The IT guy said “via the intranet.” I said, “Yes, I understand that, but where exactly should I direct him?” The IT guy says, “To. The. INNNNTRAAANETTT.” Like I’m some kind of idiot! So I say, “Sir, I totally understand that. I am asking, specifically, WHERE ON THE INTRANET HE ACCESSES THAT. In fact, If you have a URL that I can just send him directly to. He is quite busy and doesn’t have the time to go poking around the intranet!”
                I get that a lot of times the issue is user error. I used to WORK for a software development company and we had to help desk for our clients (I was in sales, didn’t actually do the helpdesk stuff, but I heard stories from colleagues). But, don’t go into it assuming that the user is an idiot before that’s even confirmed.

          2. reaching for the sky*

            Yup, this. All this. Gears of bureaucracy is exactly it. Once you have the wrong name in the system, it is a pain in the ass to correct it. My coworker went by Jane Marriedname when she first started here, but got divorced within about 6 months of starting. Since then, she’s been Jane Maidenname legally. She has been working here about 4 years now and her email address is, to this day, jane.marriedname@company, and her last name was never corrected in the company directory (even though it is republished weekly). Her badge and computer logins all have the wrong name too. Jane finds it more humorous than anything, at least.

        6. Traveler*

          Yep. Has happened at most places I have been. Once place almost everyone went by their middle name but they all had It was confusing when we had to send emails, or when we got a phone call for someone that they’d only been communicating with via email. As they’d ask for John Smith, when I only knew a (John) David Smith.

      2. BethRA*

        I think it’s different if that convention is applied to everyone, and not just in cases where someone else in the company pitches a fit.

      3. Melissa*

        I’m job hunting, and I’ve noticed that a lot of application systems ask for legal first and last, but also have a field for “preferred name.” I assume when filling out new employee forms, they are also given an opportunity to state a preferred name. It’s somewhat common for people to go by middle names or alternative names (e.g. having a Chinese name and an English name).

      4. Blushingflower*

        My company does “firstinitiallastname”, but if you professionally use a nickname (especially a non-obvious one) or your middle name, that will show up in your display name and be searchable in Outlook. So, in this case, let’s assume the person’s name is John King Smith.

        His email would be, but it would display as “Smith, John (King)”

    2. KT*

      I think it’s the same…my one employer refused to accept that I kept my maiden name after I was married, despite my application, license, background check, etc was all with my maiden name. I came in on my first day to find my computer log-in and email set to my husband’s last name.

      I politely but firmly said immediately–“there’s been a mistake. My name is KT Maiden name, not KT Husband Name. How quickly can that be fixed?”

      They were surprised, but I didn’t budge, and they changed it.

      1. Lois Lane*

        I’m confused. If everything was filed with your maiden name, how did they even know your husband’s surname?

        1. Gandalf the Nude*

          Thank you, I thought the same thing. Did they go out of their way to find a name you don’t even use? That’s a new kind of ignorant.

        2. KT*

          On my emergency contact info they had me fill out I put my husband and listed him as “spouse”…so they just took his last name. It was really bizarre

            1. yasmara*

              Ha – my manager when I got married was relieved I wasn’t changing my name because it meant she didn’t have to bug the IT team for ages trying to get my ID’s fixed!

          1. The Expendable Redshirt*

            ……… 0_O The hell?
            (As a female who’s experienced backlash for keeping my maiden name, this makes me very irritated!)

          2. Artemesia*

            When I applied for a passport in the early 70s because my new husband and I wanted to travel, I was denied a passport in my own name. I had to use my husband’s name (I could list my name as AKA i.e. alias like a bank robber or something) I didn’t have the money to contest it, so we just didn’t get passports and travel until several years later when that policy changed. I had never used my husband’s name — but because I was married the US government was requiring me to do so.

            1. Ellen*

              I recently renewed my passport and was told that I _had_ to list “Ellen Husbandlastname” as an alias/”other name [I’d] used” on the application form, “just in case”. It doesn’t appear on the passport itself, which lists only my actual legal name (the one I’ve had since birth), but I found the policy totally mystifying.

              1. Margaret*

                What!! Were you renewing at an office in person? I need to renew my passport, for the first time since getting married, but am eligible to just mail in the form. I’m curious if there will be any issues because of that. I certainly am not putting my husband’s last name as an alias anywhere on it!

                1. AnonLibrarian*

                  There shouldn’t be. I am a passport agent, and we have never required that. With mailing in the form, you should be just fine, too.

                2. Ellen*

                  I do see that AnonLibrarian’s already answered from an official (and reassuring!) perspective, but I just wanted to let you know that I did renew in person (needed a rush renewal) and the agent made me add the name when I was submitting the paperwork.

                1. Ellen*

                  Interesting and good to know. The woman’s stated (maybe implied? It’s what I took away, at any rate) was that I might someday try to execute a nefarious identity change using my husband’s last name. That’s not totally off the wall to me, from a preventing-nefarious-things perspective (it would be the obvious choice if someone wanted a clean break in identity, I guess), but I’d think that concern would apply similarly to a man, and I just 100% do not believe that that agent would have made a man do the same thing.

            2. Kappa*

              When I went to change my name to Kappa Lastname-Husband’sLastName, the guy at the social security office told me he didn’t think his computer could put the “little dash thingy” in there. I told him I was pretty sure it could. He chuckled one of those “you crazy broads” chuckles. I got my damn hyphen.

          3. Vicki*

            Deep South USA? Or maybe Utah?

            (In 1988 or so, I read about a woman in Utah who got divorced. The court required her ex-husband to give permission for her to change her name back to Premarried Name.)

        3. BTW*

          If she had to fill out any sort of paperwork for the job, her husband’s name probably would have come up somewhere. (Emergency contacts, benefits etc.) And if not, well then that’s just creepy. (And yes, ignorant that they would just *do* that in the first place)

      2. Ad Astra*

        My office gave me some trouble when I tried to go by Firstname Maidenname Lastname because Maidenname was now technically my middle name and nobody else got to go by Firstname Middlename, so how could they allow me? Dumb, but not as dumb as changing your name without running it past you.

        1. Bostonian*

          I managed a directory for an organization of a few hundred people, and I never knew how to alphabetize people who turned their maiden names into their middle names in our system that only had fields for first and last. For some people it really did seem to serve as a middle name, but for others it was more like a double last name but with no hyphen. I’m totally fine with people calling themselves what they like, but I wish we had better ways to handle these things in automated systems.

          1. class factotum*

            My husband’s first name is “Christopher.” He has preferred status with Hertz. Every time we pick up a rental car, the sign has the car for “LASTNAME Christ.”

            He is not Christ. (Although his mother sure thinks so.)

            1. Career Counselorette*

              Hahahaha, my friend Christa accidentally signed her name as “Christ” on a mass e-mail to like 40 people, and immediately had to be like, “Sorry, guys, I am not Christ, I apologize,” and I was like, “It’s fine, I love laughing so hard I pee my pants.”

              1. Elizabeth West*

                The character in my ghost book is named Chris, and I must have typed “Christ” a hundred times by accident. I had to do a search to make sure I didn’t leave any, because spellcheck wouldn’t mark it!

                1. Emily, admin extraordinaire*

                  I do that all. the. time. And what’s so weird, is that I don’t really type the word Christ all that often– at least not since I got out of college and stopped taking religion classes– but still. I start typing “Chris” and always, always, want to stick on that T. So annoying. . .

                2. reaching for the sky*

                  Back in college, I once wrote a lab report on ultraviolent spectroscopy. I kept typing “ultraviolent” instead. The spellcheck preferred “ultra-violent” which didn’t help. I ultimately gave up and had Word autocorrect ultraviolent to ultraviolet. Suprisingly, I was far from the only person who had this problem, some of my lab-mates had the same problem.

                3. reaching for the sky*

                  Oh hell no. I just made the exact typo I was referring to in my first line. Apparently it’s still happening.

            2. Artemesia*

              I am sure you are wrong because my parents thought my brother was the only begotten son and his name is John.

          2. Ad Astra*

            Yeah, that makes sense. My office was cool with it when they thought my last name was Maidenname Lastname, like a hyphenated name but… without the hyphen. When I tried to explain that legally, Maidenname is one of my two middle names, they were having none of it.

            Most of my life I’ve been called Firstname Maidenname, to the point that many people actually thought it was a double name like Mary Kate. So I was a little miffed that they insisted on calling me Firstname Lastname.

            1. AW*

              Having two middle names is common enough that I’m surprised at how many systems aren’t set up to handle it. It’s a pet peeve of mine that almost everything only allows for the one middle initial.

              1. KSM*

                My brother-in-law has 4-6 middle names (I forget how many; I used to be able to recite it).

                He must be forever in bureaucracy hell.

              2. NotherName*

                In the US it really isn’t as common as you’d think. (People do have multiple middle names, but most I’ve known have only one.)

                However, I remember some of my friends in school getting a hard time for not having a middle name when their parents were immigrants from a culture that only gave one middle name.

                1. Anonsie*

                  I think this is generational. I’m in my 20s and almost everyone I grew up with in predominantly middle/upper class yuppie white people-land has a minimum of four names. Usually it’s two given names, mother’s last name, and father’s last name (I had a minor identity crisis when I realized that automatically making your “last” name your father’s name is patriarchal, but also deeply disliking my mom’s last name). I actually think it’s weird when I meet people with only three names. I use my first middle initial on forms, to keep from confusing myself.

                2. MegEB*

                  Definitely not universal. I grew up in a pretty similar white middle/upper class environment and I can’t think of a single person who has more than three names.

                3. Smilingswan*

                  My mom doesn’t have a middle name, but it has nothing to do with cultural reasons. She was 4th out of 8 kids and her mom just couldn’t think of one at the time. Her siblings all have middles though.

                4. Al Lo*

                  My sister and I each have one middle name, but my brother, the only boy, has two middle names, to get through all the boy family names. In my family, two middle names isn’t super common, but there’s more than one. Going by a middle name is much more common in my extended family, though, and it’s on all different sides of the family.

              3. MJ (Aotearoa/New Zealand)*

                And the flipside, systems where middle name is a required field. I don’t have one! Don’t make me!

                1. reaching for the sky*

                  I agree, it should never be required! I do have a middle name, but if I didn’t, I’d have to go all Harry S Truman on the system.

          3. bclplyr*

            For me, my maiden name is now my legal middle name, and my original middle name has vanished (I was ambivalent toward it, so I didn’t mind just getting rid of it). But I specifically did not hyphenate because I didn’t want to be tied into writing out both last names on everything (which, including the hyphen, would be 17 characters long).

            So while I do often use my full name in my creative pursuits as my “official” name, in everyday life I’m completely fine with leaving out my middle name.

            1. reaching for the sky*

              Me too. I’ve changed all 3 names as an adult (not because of marriage) and even though I really like all 3 names, and my middle name was chosen for very personal reasons, I usually leave my middle name and initial off where I can. My company email address doesn’t need to be first.l.lastname@ when it could just be first.lastname@. And for that reason I try to leave it blank where it’s optional.

          4. Jessica (tc)*

            My last name actually isn’t a middle name, so I do have two last names without a hyphen: Jessica Middle Mine His. He is Husband Middle Mine His as well, so we both have the double last name with no hyphen. The number of people who can’t understand that is frightening, and it’s frustrating to both of us when we have to tell businesses or workplaces many times that no, really, we have two last names. It’s legal and everything. *sigh*

            And for some reason, people take my husband’s bachelor-portion of our last name and completely change it (like Gilman to Garamond or similar), and I can’t really figure out why it’s so hard to look at what I write down on employment papers and forms to figure out my name. If a line just asks me to list my name without distinguishing where first, middle, and last go, I always write it as Last1 Last2, First MI. Always. It does help for the places that care enough to pay attention.

            1. Kappa*

              People are dumb sometimes. My last name is now hyphenated and no one can figure out how it should be filed. It should go under the first letter of my last name! Jones-Smith still begins with a damn J.

              1. Jessica (tc)*

                Oh my goodness, yes! I feel your pain on that one, too. Why would it ever be filed under the second one? Just go with the one that’s first.

                The number of times we go to pick something up (or try to vote) and end up saying, “My last name is Mine His. My first name is Jessica.” And they go to look up our last name under His. I’m not under H, I’m under M! I’m glad that the original person filed it correctly, but I get frustrated when the person in front of me doesn’t listen to what I’m saying. (Or vice versa, when the original person filed it incorrectly and the person getting it for me paid attention.)

                1. potato battery*

                  Yes yes yes. I also have this problem, having an unhyphenated, double-barreled last name. People don’t get it, things get filed incorrectly, and so many systems/algorithms can’t handle it. And people ask me “well why didn’t you just put a hyphen in?” We didn’t want a hyphen! This is our name; we can do what we like!

                2. Jessica (tc)*

                  We feel the exact same way, potato battery! My husband keeps saying the same thing, and it’s not like we are the first or only people in the world who have two last names without a hyphen between them. We don’t want the hyphen either! We’ve even had people ask us, “You’re allowed to do that?” (meaning, are we really allowed to have two last names without a hyphen between them?), and I just don’t know how to respond to that beyond, “What law do you think covers that?!”

              2. YaH*

                I have to say, it’s not that clear-cut sometimes. I have a coworker with a hyphenated last name, but everyone refers to her as Mrs. Secondhalfoflastname, and she encourages it.

                1. Kappa*

                  A hyphenated name should be filed under the first letter of the last name. If you call yourself something different, that’s your preference, but if you hyphenated it legally, then your legal last name begins with the first letter of the first last name. I don’t mind if people refer to my husband and I as “The Hislastnames”, but when I go to the doctor’s office, I expect my name to be filed in a way that makes sense.

            1. literateliz*

              “People whose names break my system are weird outliers. They should have had solid, acceptable names, like 田中太郎.”

              This makes me laugh every single time.

          5. Melissa*

            I had this problem – I’m Eliza Doolittle Smith. So at work I just go by Eliza Doolittle because it’s easier for alphabetizing and finding me in the director.

        2. TCO*

          My name is this way, and I’ve been surprised that it’s never caused a problem anywhere I’ve worked, big or small. My e-mail address is usually set to just include my legal (married) last name, but I can easily adapt the directory, the sender name on my e-mails, etc. to include my full name. No one’s ever questioned why I don’t go by only my first and last legal name.

        1. KT*

          I wish I could say this was anomaly. I’ve had several friends who have returned from their honeymoon to find their email changed automatically to their husband’s names (different companies!) without their consent/go-ahead.

          1. KathyGeiss*

            This is absolutely crazy to me and fills me with such rage! I’m so sorry this happened to you. I’m also impressed you didn’t flip your desk hulk-style when it happened. You have more control than I.

          2. CMT*

            Wooooooooooooow. Name changing is a sensitive issue for me, for reasons I don’t need to go into here, and I would FLIP OUT if this happened to me.

          3. MashaKasha*

            Wow that was pretty quick of them. When I changed my last name back to my maiden name, I was told that it was not possible to change… I forget which one – my Windows login, my email address, or both. But the gist of it is that it was not possible to change that thing, like, ever.

          4. Jessica (tc)*

            Whaaaaa….? Seriously? That ticks me off! I kept track of a database where I had to change people’s names and/or email addresses if they changed their names. If I knew a coworker was getting married, I would ask if he/she was changing his/her name. Yes, both men and women. If they were, I would get the new name and ask them when I should make the change in the system, so I wasn’t changing it randomly and freaking them out.

            (I think it was partially because my husband and I had both changed our names, so I’m a little sensitive to the fact that others may do something non-traditional. Luckily, my last boss understood it, too, because she and her husband had also both changed their names to both.)

            1. Ad Astra*

              I wish the idea of both spouses changing their names would catch on more. I like being Mrs. Astra and being able to call my family “The Astras,” but I don’t like that I had (well, “had”) to give up my name and my husband got to keep his.

              1. reaching for the sky*

                I wish alternatives to “wife must take husband’s name” would catch on more, too. It seems to be so much of a default in society (culture dependent) that people don’t usually consider alternatives, such as an entirely new last name (amalgam of the two names, or completely unrelated), hyphenation, two last names, etc. In some cases, it may be more desired or practical for a husband to take his wife’s name, too. I feel like there is also some shame for a woman to keep her maiden name, one of my coworkers says she “forgot” to change her last name to her husband’s but has privately told me she didn’t want to (my coworkers are very pushy about the marriage/family stuff).

              2. Melissa*

                I wish my husband and I had chosen a cool new last name together and both changed. My original last name is pretty blah and his/ours is even blah-er.

              3. Jessica (tc)*

                I was shocked that there were several people at my last job who had done this, because I had never met another person who did what we did (and still haven’t outside that job). We went through the whole amalgam of ideas for what to do with our last name (we wanted the same one, but neither wanted to just take the other person’s name), including creating a new one out of the two, but the only one that made the most sense for what we really wanted was to have both of us just take both last names.

          5. Margaret*

            I was seriously worried about coming back from my honeymoon to a new computer log-in (my husband and I both kept our names) – because I think I’m literally the only woman (or spouse of a male employee) in an 85-person firm to keep my birth last name upon getting married, and no one in IT or the firm partners or HR asked me about my “new name” ahead of time. So it seemed very feasible they were just assuming the usual, and had gotten my husband’s last name from somewhere. Fortunately, they didn’t, and although several people asked me what to call me now when they saw me in person in the office, I didn’t have to deal with anything on the computer side.

      3. JC*

        That is totally crazy! I’ve been married for years now (and do not share a last name with my husband) and I would be so genuinely confused if I showed up to the first day of a new job with my husband’s last name entered as my last name. Like, I’d have to stare at it for a while to figure out what even happened, because I am so not used to seeing my first name with his last name. Well-meaning people made the mistake soon after we got married but no one has in a long time.

  6. TCO*

    I have a relative whose first and middle names essentially translate to “King King,” from languages that are common in his country. It’s so… weird to object to that. Lots of people around the world are named for powerful and/or religious figures. In addition to Jesus mentioned above, a lot of Arabic men’s names roughly translate to “son of God,” and while I understand that it’s more deferential than something like King, it’s not like a coworker can complain that they don’t want to use words for God or acknowledge God’s existence when they call their coworker by name or something like that.

  7. Snarkus Aurelius*

    She carries so much weight because she’s the squeakiest wheel, and she used a term that will make any company leadership nervous: violation of religious beliefs.  Obviously they haven’t thought through this, and they’re being totally reactionary.  That’s unprofessional and unacceptable to you though.  They’re asking you to make a major accommodation to someone else’s egregiously inappropriate request.

    No matter what happens, I hope you keep this incident and request in mind when moving forward.  Your employer’s request here speaks volumes.  (And not good ones.)  It also wouldn’t hurt to have an employment attorney’s contact information on hand, not to confront anyone, but to use as a valuable source of information to guide you.

    AAM is totally right.  You need to push back and push back big time because if you don’t, I hate to see what else offends this employee.  Hopefully there will be an update from you soon!

    1. Engineer Girl*

      I see several things wrong:
      * The company is confusing offense with violation. Religious accommodation deals with what violates our religious beliefs, not offends them. Employee should be able to vocalizes how it violates her belief system (not offend it).
      * This is about reasonable accommodation. Demanding that another individual change their name is not reasonable.
      * Even with reasonable accommodation there is usually give by both parties to make it work (I’ll work during your kids soccer games if you work on my Sabbath.

      The employee is doing none of these things except making demands on others. Push back.

      1. Snarkus Aurelius*

        This is a fantastic point. I’d love to see how this employee would answer the question: how does the name King prevent you from practicing your faith?

        Seriously there is no answer to that.

    2. Poohbear McGriddles*

      That’s got to make it hard hiring good people.

      Had to get rid of Michael and Gabriel (Angels), Mary and Joseph, and Damien.

      And don’t get her started on Gaylord the Temp!

    3. neverjaunty*

      ALL of this. Especially the part about having an employment lawyer’s number in your contacts.

      This smacks of a company that is run by spineless idiots.

  8. KT*

    …I just…what?

    OP, run, run away (common theme so far this week!). This employer has already shown themselves to be completely crazy, unreasonable, and that they cater to petty weirdness. Save yourself while you can!!!

    1. Cautionary tail*

      Exactly my thoughts. This company is already showing you their true colors so the best time to run is now before you get sucked into the dysfunctional toxic company vortex.

      I speak from experience.

  9. Brett*

    Makes me wonder if they have ever refused to hire someone named Jesús because of the impact it would have on this employee….
    While King does not seem connected to a particular ethnicity, making employment decisions on the basis of someone’s name seems like a really easy way to end up on the wrong side of a discrimination lawsuit.

    1. RVA Cat*

      Oh yeah. I can definitely see this person causing Jesús to not even get to the interview stage – and I’m guessing Mohammed need not apply….

      1. Stranger than fiction*

        I’m sure she also protests the artists Prince and Lorde. God forbid anyone ever listened to their music at this place.

    2. AnotherAlison*

      I have a coworker whose legal name is Saint. He doesn’t go by that, though. Perhaps he previously worked with the OP’s troublemaking coworker. . .

      1. Dynamic Beige*

        That was one of the things about Jane Eyre that I didn’t get. His name was Saint-John, but it was pronounced Sinjin? What?

  10. NickelandDime*

    I have questions…Is this is a small company? I don’t see this flying at a larger organization. Did they describe themselves as “close-knit,” or a “family” during the interview process? Did you see other signs of boundary problems while talking with them? Is the employee making this request a family member, fellow church member or family friend?

    1. BethRA*

      I don’t know – I’ve seen crazy ish like this happen in large companies, usually within specific departments or offices.

      1. anon for this*

        was just going to say…I work for a very large company and this describes my department to a tee… they didn’t describe themselves as “family” or “work together, play together” until after I was hired….but my coworkers are all boundary violators, I’m very uncomfortale

    1. The Cosmic Avenger*

      I think they need to run anyway. The company already dropped the ball by 1) not telling the crazy coworker to go suck a rock, and 2) then legitimizing the craziness by telling the OP to change their name!

      Although I do wonder if the crazy coworker is simply insisting that everyone simply call the OP something else at work. Still crazy, but of a slightly lesser degree. I just can’t get my mind around it if they are actually suggesting that the OP legally change their name.

        1. The Cosmic Avenger*

          Really? That’s not at all clear from the original letter. That’s crazy, but not nearly as crazy.

              1. Florida*

                His W2 would have his legal name. If your name was Christopher Jones, but you went by Chris, your W2 would most likely say Christopher.

          1. Nina*

            I also thought they wanted the OP to legally change it, but I think that’s from reading the headline.

            And I’m borrowing “suck a rock.” LOL.

          2. Owl*

            I think it’s pretty clear. The OP says that she’s been told she “cannot use it.” She doesn’t say anything about being told to “change” it.

  11. Biff*

    I also wonder if there is a racial element here. Probably.

    But…. I know that we are assuming that the fellow’s middle name is Jesus, so I wonder if it’s something else such as Odin or Zeus or the name of another pagan god. I can see people being potentially uncomfortable with those. And honestly, for good reason. Those aren’t really appropriate names to give a child, they belong to deities that people still worship. I’ll step up to the plate here and say I’d be uncomfortable with that. I wouldn’t necessarily say anything, but it would be uncomfortable until I got used to it.

    1. Ad Astra*

      Do people still worship Odin or Zeus? I guess it’s possible. It’s actually pretty common to be named for Greek, Roman, or Norse gods. I know more than one person named Thor (really). King is such a common last name that the idea of objecting to it as a first name is pretty out there. King is not the proper name of any particular deity; it’s a title, just like Prince or Sultan or Emperor.

      I wouldn’t recommend naming your get God or Yahweh or Allah, but I also don’t see how doing so would be a violation of anyone’s rights.

      1. Kelly L.*

        Some people do, yes! :)

        But really, a lot of normal names have religious backgrounds. Imagine ruling out all the Marys.

            1. Ad Astra*

              And plenty of Catholics (who pray to Mary) name their children Mary. I’ve also known a girl named Madonna.

              1. ZSD*

                Catholics don’t really pray to Mary as a deity. We ask her to intercede on our behalf to God. It’s the same with other saints; they aren’t supposed to grant your prayers directly, but rather ask God to grant your prayers. (But I’ll admit this gets kind of muddled in practice.)

                1. Chinook*

                  “Catholics don’t really pray to Mary as a deity. We ask her to intercede on our behalf to God.”
                  “Ah, so they’re lobbyists!”
                  Essentially and Mary has the biggest pull because who won’t do something if their mother asks?

                  (commenting just to hear the update on this)

      2. Biff*

        Yes, people still worship those gods. And yes, it’s not entirely uncommon to find people named after those gods. That doesn’t mean it’s not uncomfortable to call your coworker the same name you pray to at night. I realize that some of the names, especially the names of goddesses, have entered the ‘name pool’ so to speak — Diana, Artemis, and I think Freyja…. but I think it is one of those “when you know better, you do better” things.

        Like I said, I’d get used to it, but it would be uncomfortable and I can see asking someone to go by their perfectly valid first name.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Wait, you can really seeing asking someone to go by their first name even though they’ve gone by their middle name their entire life, that’s what they answer to, and that’s how everyone knows them? Why, specifically?

          1. Biff*

            Yep. If you came to my place of business with the first name of “Hades” and was otherwise qualified, I’d ask if you had a nickname or a middle name by which you could go while at work.”Hades” wouldn’t fly with me.

            1. Brandy in TN*

              And Id say “nope my name is my name” And don’t try to give a nickname for this purpose. In the words of Popeye “I yam who I yam”

            2. Not me*

              I could understand being bothered by it, silently, to yourself, if it’s your own religion, but no, you don’t get to re-name people.

            3. Snarkus Aurelius*

              But that’s not your choice to make. Ever. You don’t ever get to decide what someone else is called unless it’s your own child.

            4. Kvaren*

              You’re saying that if you were a Christian named Christian, and your new boss was some sort of dude with hangups similar to yours but with a twist – he’s not a Christian, you’d be totally fine with it if the boss demanded that you use a different name?

        2. dancer*

          I think you’re totally off-base here and it’s just your hang up. My mother and my grandmother both have the names of actively worshipped gods. It would be nuts to ask them to go by different names. And no, it is definitely not a “they should know better” situation.

        3. PontoonPirate*

          I can’t see asking anyone to go by a different name because of my inability to reconcile that the world (and its gods) doesn’t revolve around my sensibilities. I don’t see how “knowing better, doing better” comes into play here at all.

          I wouldn’t ask “Oscar” to go by “Jim” just because I once may have had a different sort of nightly activity with someone named Oscar, but that’s sort of a parallel to what you’re suggesting.

          1. JessaB*

            I think they meant at the parents naming babies stage, not at the kid is an adult now and going to get a job. Honestly as a worshipper of Gods people consider dead in large amounts, I would absolutely not be all “omg you have to change your name there,” with anybody. Christians name their kids Jesus. I cannot see why a pagan who names their kid Hera is any darned different to that. If the Gods minded, they’d’ve let us know eons ago. That, BTW includes the Judeo/Christian/Muslim God too. If the Gods/gods don’t care, then the people should not either.

            1. neverjaunty*

              Biff is not talking about a pagan who names their kid Hera as a mark of respect. He is talking about a Christian naming their kid Hera because they think it’s cool and Hera’s a fake god anyway. He feels, understandably, that this practice is disrespectful.

              That’s not the problem. The problem is that he’s then saying people ought to go by a different name than, you know, the actual name they freaking use, out of respect for his sensibilities. That’s BS.

              1. LBK*

                I don’t even know if I agree that that’s an understandable position, either. I’m 50/50 on whether I agree that names are so culturally enshrined that using them rises to the level of appropriation (unless part of the culture itself is around the importance of those specific names as opposed to those just being the names that happen to be used).

                1. neverjaunty*

                  It doesn’t matter whether you or I agree with someone else’s subjective feelings on the topic. What matters is that it isn’t appropriate to tell William Odin Smith, who has gone by Odin his entire life, that he needs to start calling himself William or Bill.

                2. LBK*

                  I mean, it kinda matters – if you subjectively believe the person’s reasoning isn’t sound and you’re in the position of authority to grant the request, you can deny it based on that even if the request itself were reasonable. In this case the request isn’t reasonable either, but that’s not the only thing that matters in every situation.

                3. LBK*

                  Right, and I acknowledged that. I was just saying that in general, it’s not only the request being made that matters – the reasoning is also a factor.

              2. SJ McMahon*

                I’m a practicing polytheist pagan, and I’m afraid I disagree with Biff on this. I’d internally raise my eyebrows at such at thing – mainly because naming a child after a deity is one hell of a burden to give them, even if you think that deity only exists in myth. Names, mythical or otherwise, have the power to shape how people are seen, and how they act.

                But I’d keep that to myself, and I’d *never ever ever* ask that someone not use their given name around me. I mean, I think Hades (to go with one of the examples given) is real, but the person sitting in front of me, whose given name is Hades, is also real. Asking this person to not use his given name would be disrespectful. Any potential disrespect entailed in this person having and using that name is for them to work out. Not me.

                1. NotherName*

                  Also, there are many, many people in this world with the names of the ancient Greek and Roman gods, so I think Biff is fighting a losing battle. (Like Sisyphus…)

                  It’s not uncommon for people of Scandinavian heritage to have names based on the Norse gods. Thor is more common than Odin, and I’ve known of at least one Hella.

                2. Dr. Johnny Fever*

                  I work with many people of Hindu faith. I can’t imagine asking any of them to go by a different name due to religious significance. Naming children after gods, goddesses, and avatars is a sign of honor and respect. Asking someone to go by a different name because I think someone might get offended at working with someone named Krishna just doesn’t compute in my brain.

                  I’m having the same difficulty with King especially since King is an honorary and not an actual name.

                3. Not So NewReader*

                  “Names, mythical or otherwise, have the power to shape how people are seen, and how they act.”

                  There are many schools of thought that believe this. One person pointed out to me that the same rule goes with animals, too. I had to check this out. My dog’s name translates to “friend”. He is six years old, now. And yep, he tries to be a friend to everyone. Not a big scientific study here and I have a group of ONE dog. But I found the concept interesting and I wanted to see what happens on a casual level. The wrinkle here is that growing up he was the kind of pup NO one would want. I am not sure how we got through the first year or so. I do believe his name served as a reminder of where he was going to land once he reached adulthood. Now he has a mix of behaviors, crafty, wise-guy stuff, then there are the huge energy bursts but there are random times through out the day where he is incredibly sweet and respectful of others. I like the idea of a name that sets a tone or has a vision/goal behind it.

            2. PontoonPirate*

              Above, the commenter says he (assumption based on username) would ask an employee named “Hades” to go by something else, so we’re not talking about naming babies, unfortunately.

              1. Dr. Johnny Fever*

                I work with many people of Hindu faith. I can’t imagine asking any of them to go by a different name due to religious significance. Naming children after gods, goddesses, and avatars is a sign of honor and respect. Asking someone to go by a different name because I think someone might get offended at working with someone named Krishna just doesn’t compute in my brain.

                I’m having the same difficulty with King especially since King is an honorary and not an actual name.

        4. LBK*

          I’m really confused here – what in scripture would indicate that you can’t even use the same term for someone else that you might use for Jesus? Even if the person’s name were literally Jesus, it’s not like that violates the commandment of false idolatry because you’re obviously not worshiping your coworker. How did you even deal with learning world history?

        5. JMegan*

          As I said above, I go by my middle name as well. And I would push back pretty hard on the idea that my first name is “perfectly valid.” It is indeed a perfectly valid name, and in fact a very common one, but it’s not MY name. No one in my entire life has ever called me by that name, I have never used it, and would not know to respond to it.

          I do need to use it occasionally for things that need to match my legal documents (international travel, which requires that the name on the ticket matches the name on my passport.) But using it at work because someone else was uncomfortable with it? Nope.

          1. They do!*

            Same. My ‘old lady name’ is known to TSA Agents, Doctors’ Offices, and the IRS/HR department of companies I’ve worked for. Beyond that, no one knows or should ever know that I have a perfectly reasonable first name. People just assume my middle name IS my first name…
            Which it is, for all intents and purposes (not all intensive purposes, for people who get phrases wrong). I even use my Middle Maiden Last as my initials (technically I have two middle names with my maiden being one of them) and my monogram. The First name is literally not on ANYTHING else.

        6. LQ*

          Why is your slight amount of discomfort more important than the likely large amount of discomfort that it would be to suddenly expect a person to respond to a different name. How would you feel if someone came in and said Biff, I hate that name because the guy from Back to the Future was a horrible jerk, I need you to change your name. Just use your perfectly valid middle name. It’s fine. My little bit of discomfort outweighs your actual name.

        7. crankycube*

          If you are uncomfortable calling someone by their first name, you could simply address them as Ms./Mr. Lastname. They keep their name as they should, and you keep your “religious freedom.”

          1. Stranger than fiction*

            That’s actually a great workaround, even though this company and coworker have left a very bad taste in my mouth.

          2. They do!*

            Hmm actually now that I think about it, there is someone at work who refers to me as Ms. Lastname. My first name is vaguely associated with religion/dieties and this person is fairly religious. I’ve always thought it was a somewhat nice/affectionate almost nickname aspect of our very good working relationship – it’s usually pronounced with a drawn out mizzzz Last name. He has no issues referring to me by my preferred name in writing or anything, and I’m not even sure he says Ms. Lastname EVERY time we talk, I just am remembering it now that you mention it.

          3. Dynamic Beige*

            They keep their name as they should, and you keep your “religious freedom.”

            That’s the thing I just don’t get. No one is asking The Name Objector to change *her* name to Hera or Kali or whatever. No one is asking her to worship or obey the dictates of King. No one is saying she’s not free to worship whatever and however she wants. So how is it that what someone she never met chose to name their kid is infringing on her freedom? It’s not like they consulted her when the baby was born what would be a “proper” non-offensive name to people like herself.

            OP, if you decide to keep this job, next time you see her, tell her that she can call you He Who Must Not Be Named. That’ll solve it! ;)

        8. HRish Dude*

          Biff, as a Back to the Future fan, I’m going to naturally consider you a person with dubious morals unless you go by something else.

          1. Dani X*

            Me too. But then again Loki is my cat… So yeah I would fine it weird to call someone Loki, but I would also get over it.

            1. Stranger than fiction*

              Omg I know someone with a cat named Loki too but until now I thought it was Low-key, because he’s mellow.

            2. Ani*

              My dad had a Husky named King. The newspaper did an article when he was a young boy and the dog followed him to school and waited patiently for him outside.

      3. anonanonanon*

        I actually did have a slightly eccentric classical archaeology professor in college who claimed to worship the Norse gods. But I went a school in an incredibly hippie, liberal area and our classics and archaeology departments were kind of insane, so it wasn’t all that surprising.

        1. The Cosmic Avenger*

          Asatru may have only experienced a revival relatively recently, but is not that uncommon or unusual. At least, not for the last few decades. And not if you hang out with pagans a lot.

          1. AnonEMoose*

            Agreed. And those of us who are pagan (although not, in my case, specifically Asatru), generally don’t appreciate having our religions described as “insane.”

            1. Batshua*

              I believe anonanonanon described the classics and archaeology departments as insane, not the professor nor their religion. I’m not sure anonanonanon meant for the readers to apply the transitive property of insanity to the statements.

      4. AnonEMoose*

        Absolutely they do. Simplistically speaking, Asatru worship the old Norse pantheon, and Hellenic practitioners worship the Greek pantheon. Some Neo-pagans who aren’t technically either of those may, as well. There are also people who worship the Egyptian pantheon, various deities from Celtic traditions, and loads of others.

    2. Kelly L.*

      No, his name is literally “King.” “Jesus” is an analogy people are drawing, since it’s another name that relates to religion but that regular people sometimes have.

      1. sam*

        Also, this isn’t *that* unusual. Besides the numerous references people have made to folks who are named Jesus in the real world, celebrities such as Madonna and Prince are not using stage names. Those are their ACTUAL names.

        Shortened to leave off their last names since they’re so famous, but those are the given names on their birth certificates.

    3. jhhj*

      I didn’t realise a lot of people worship Zeus still, but Freya and Athena are quite commonly used names.

      Not to mention Roman goddesses — Venus, Diana, Maia, Juno.

      1. MashaKasha*

        Half the people in my former Greek Orthodox church were named Athena.
        Not once did the priest flip out over it.


    4. Xanthippe Lannister Voorhees*

      His middle name is King.

      But even if you’re uncomfortable with someone naming their child after a religious figure/deity you don’t get to demand that person doesn’t use their name (which you acknowledge). Are we sure that there were no people in ancient Greece being named after the gods on Olympus*? It seems to be an old tradition.

      *Asking honestly. I tried to do some quick research but just found myself a pile of baby name meaning sites.

      1. Biff*

        To the best of my knowledge, they had names like “Honor of Zeus” and that sort of thing, but I don’t know that any of them ran around with “Zeus” or “Hera” as names. However, heroes were fair game, and I think it’s fine to name your kid after ancient heroes.

        1. neverjaunty*

          But we’re not really talking about whether it is or isn’t appropriate for parents to select particular names. You’re dealing with a person who already has – and goes by – that name, and you’re demanding they use a different name because you don’t like what their parents did.

        2. SJ McMahon*

          I think the issue here is that what you or I think is appropriate isn’t really relevant. If I met someone named Loki, or Eris or Hades or any number of other deity’s names, I’d think “WTF were your parents thinking” but I would not ask that they use their middle name. Even if it made me uncomfortable – which, to be honest, it probably would. But that’s not their problem. It’s mine.

          We’re entitled to have whatever beliefs we have, but our rights really do stop where another person’s start – and any person has the right to keep using their given name, no matter what we think of it.

      2. anonanonanon*

        The Greeks & Romans did, but they were usually theophoric names, such as Demetria for Demeter, Hermione for Hermes, or Martin for Mars. They were also named after epic/cult heroes such as Jason, Hector, Atalanta, etc. Unless I’m mistaken, they never took the name of a god directly, just a derived form, but popularity of a name in a certain year or area showed the popularity of that god or hero.

        Though, a derivation of theos (Greek for god) was common and that practice was Anglicized into names like Theodore or Theodora. Same with names like Dennis, which is an Anglicized form of Dionysus.

      3. Stella Maris*

        Since we’re talking about names, can I just say that everytime I see “Xanthippe Lannister Voorhees” I giggle – so, thanks!

    5. Jess*

      What on earth? You’d be uncomfortable with a coworker named after an ancient deity because they’re inappropriate names for children? Names like Diana and Iris and Jason and Thea and Phoebe? That’s a pretty unusual stance.

      1. Biff*

        Diana has entered the lexicon so that’s what it is… as for Iris, Jason, Thea and Phoebe, those aren’t deities who were worshiped (Iris is like Hercules — half-deity) it is not the same.

        Again, I would get past it, but I do think that when people know better, they don’t give their children names of gods that had or still have temples dedicated to them.

        1. Kelly L.*

          When people know better than what?

          People can name their kids anything they want. And people have the right to be called by their real names if they so desire.

          1. Ad Astra*

            Yeah, that was the point I wanted to make and didn’t. It’s not universally unacceptable to name children after deities. And King isn’t even a deity. Many Jews consider it morbid to name a child after a relative who’s still alive, but they don’t go around telling Rory Gilmore to change her name. These are cultural differences and, to a point, individual hangups. You don’t get a say in how other people, especially strangers, name their kids.

          2. Biff*

            I’ve already clarified that when there is a long-standing cultural standard of naming children after gods I don’t take issue with that. And I don’t have an issue with derivatives either.

            1. Amy UK*

              There IS a long-standing cultural standard of naming children after gods in the very culture you’re saying “know better, do better” about. If people are naming their kids after Gods in American culture, then that is a long-standing cultural tradition just as valid as that of the Hindus/Muslims.

              Why do you consider it a ‘long-standing cultural standard’ when other people do it, but something Americans should ‘know better, do better’ about? That’s distinctly distasteful. Surely either the concept of ‘this child is being compared to a god’ is offensive, or it isn’t.

        2. fposte*

          I’m still not getting why you think that. Are you thinking of this as an Orientalism/exoticism thing, like European Americans who get Chinese character tattoos? Or should even Greeks not name people Athena?

        3. The Cosmic Avenger*

          And how do you think things “enter the lexicon”? Some switch is flipped somewhere and everybody thinks it’s suddenly acceptable? No, it starts with one person. There are often clusters, but someone always has to be first. At some point, as names or other things become more and more common, they’re common enough that resistance fades, and whatever it is gradually becomes acceptable.

          If no one is actually, literally being hurt, I really don’t think it should matter whether the majority of people approve of something or not. And I’m sorry to be blunt, but I find it hard to respect an opinion that is based solely on the number of people who hold that opinion.

        4. Brandy in TN*

          Ok so hold up. Expecting familes need to google a list of all Dieties that still have temples, and make sure to not name their child that. Come on. You know you cannot be serios. The when you know better stuff applies to general life, not to obscure stuff.

        5. Anonathon*

          Um … wouldn’t that rule out a HUGE number of traditional European names, seeing as most Catholic churches are named after saints? So no one can go by Thomas, John, Matthew, Mark, Luke, Michael, Elizabeth, Agnes, Joan etc.? (I’m not even Christian and that’s just off the top of my head.)

          1. Manders*

            Yes, my mind is boggled here. Pretty much every available European name has been a god or saint’s name at some point, or has had some sort of religious connotation to somebody.

          2. One of the Sarahs*

            Well, and telling Spanish Catholics they can’t call their sons Jesus anymore because there are tons of churches dedicated to Jesus…

        6. Smilingswan*

          Regardless “King” is not the true name of any known deity, is it? It’s more like a title/honorific or nickname.

    6. dancer*

      Why would you consider it inappropriate? It’s very, very common to name children after gods in some cultures, like in India for example.

        1. Kelly L.*

          OK, so putting your comments together, you believe that “when people know better,” they don’t name their kids after deities. Then you say that it’s OK in some cultures but not all. It sounds like you believe some cultures “know better” than others, and that’s pretty icky.

          What is bothering you so much here?

          1. Biff*

            No…. there are cultures in which it is normal to name children after deities and has been for a long time. Their deities, their rules. Then there are cultures in which you didn’t name your children after the deities, or if you did, it was derivatives. However, in recent times it has become popular to name your children after those deities anyway. That I find tacky in the extreme.

            1. Manders*

              My mom is a classicist, and named both me and my sister after deities. It’s very common in Greek culture (she studies ancient Greece, and also comes from Greece). It’s not considered tacky at all in our culture, and I’ve never heard that before from anyone–and I grew up in a famously Christian town in the American south.

              1. spargle*

                This whole thing reads to me as someone who has appropriated a religion him/herself. Maybe I’m wrong, and Biff is actually a time traveller from ancient Greece or Rome, but I’m getting a strong “white person from Portland with a liberal arts degree” vibe. If so, then I discount everything. Not to mention that “Diana” – just to choose one name – wasn’t one particular god, but an amalgamation of varying religious beliefs back in ancient times.

                If not – well, I still discount everything, because Biff’s beliefs do not dictate or control my life. Sorry, Biff and Woman From Original Post, but I’m going by the name I’ve gone by my whole life, and you’ll just have to deal with it.

              2. fposte*

                Yeah, I brought up the Greeks specifically because my family is Greek, and there have definitely been modern Greeks named for Aphrodite, Athena, Demeter, etc.

                I also think it may be more typical of a monotheistic religion to consider god’s name unusable for a kid.

                1. Smilingswan*

                  “it may be more typical of a monotheistic religion to consider god’s name unusable for a kid”

                  You have a good point there.

            2. Kelly L.*

              It’s not recent. I think the trend of Greek god names goes back to the 18th and 19th centuries and the Romantic movement, if not earlier than that.

            3. Marzipan*

              So what, though? There are plenty of names I personally find tacky, but that doesn’t mean I consider it appropriate to literally tell people they can’t be called by that name in my presence.

              1. Jen S. 2.0*

                Agreed. There are a LOAD of common names I really hate, but I… call people that name if it’s the name they have. I wonder what their mother was thinking, and I get on with my life.

            4. dancer*

              So not to beat a dead horse, but I grew up with kids who’s families imigrated from Greece. They had names like Athena or Hera, but from looking at them and listening to them you’d have no idea about their heritage. You’d be judging those poor kids just based on their names.

              1. Not So NewReader*

                A kid has no say in what name s/he gets given. Therefore, this is more about the parents than anything else.

            5. Traveler*

              I think its pretty rare that someone blatantly and maliciously gives their child a taboo name. That’s a lot of baggage to hand over to a child you presumably want good things for.

            6. Amy UK*

              Why is it ‘tacky’? Things become normal in cultures from people doing it. There wasn’t some Grand Hindu Council that sat down and made a decree that naming kids after gods was OK- people went ahead and did it, and thus it became normal. So when Americans (or Europeans, or whatever) go ahead and start doing it and it becomes normal, why is it an issue that they should ‘know better, do better’?

              It sounds to me like you’re the typical ‘not racist’ type who proclaims their tolerance while literally just not caring. Tolerance isn’t “I’m going to let those people do what they want”, it’s “I respect and try to understand their opinion even if I disagree”. It’s the difference between real tolerance (“other cultures have other ideas that I might agree or disagree with, but I respect their right to hold those opinions”) and faux-tolerance (“I think about and interact with other cultures so rarely that their practices mean nothing to me”).

              I literally don’t understand how you can describe the same practice as ‘cultural’ when one culture does it, and ‘tacky’ when another does. That is not tolerance, it’s what I described above.

        2. Ad Astra*

          It’s… it’s the same situation. In both cases, you’re asking parents to consider the norms in a culture outside their own when naming a child. It’s not an insane request, but it’s also not insane to name your kid whatever you want.

    7. Manders*

      My first name is the name of a pagan god, and it also happens to be the name of several saints. It’s very common in Greek culture–I’ve met plenty of Athenas and Artemises and Demeters and it would be very odd for anyone to object to their names on religious grounds.

    8. Engineer Girl*

      I went to school with and worked with two different guys named Thor. They were both tall and one was very fast (state champ cross country). Both were very humble aw-shucks kind of guys.

    9. hbc*

      So you’re here speaking for all those Greeks who are offended by the two year old named Zeus I once met? Have you actually met one who has been offended, or is this all in theory?

      I dislike the fact that people give their girls names that reflect the kinds of traditional, passive, non-challenging roles we expect them to play (Hope, Chastity, Joy, Charity, etc.), but my preference results in, at most, giving their parents some side eye. The recipient of the name gets called whatever she wants, and eventually the name separates itself from the dictionary definition. I’m not going to ask them to go by something else just because their parents didn’t predict they’d run into someone with my particular hangup.

        1. Creag an Tuire*

          Uff. I mean, my 3-year old probably -thinks- “Not So Loud!” is her name by now, but that’s not the same thing.

        2. LucyVP*

          I have a friend from high school whose daughter’s middle name is Silence. They were debating between Silence and Prudence. I gagged privately then ooh’d and aah’d publicly.

      1. manybellsdown*

        I have an irrational distaste for female names ending in -a, especially when it’s used to feminize a male name. Like, say, Roberta. That just means I don’t name my OWN kids that. Everyone else gets to be called what they ask to be called.

        1. reaching for the sky*

          i don’t like this either, fwiw, because i feel like it emphasizes male as default- the male name is the default and the female name is the anomaly.

          but i also really like names such as Louise and would call any Louise I met by her name.

      2. reaching for the sky*

        Right. I might feel like “your parents should not have done that” but, we are not talking about naming a baby “King” in this situation. We are talking about an adult King who has already lived with that name for a few decades. That’s his name, now.

        I think what you are describing is more than a hang up; it’s an argument against naming daughters with those names.

        I speak multiple languages, so I often encounter names drawn from a language the parents clearly do not speak… so I’m definitely thinking negatively of the person’s parents but I don’t fault the person.

    10. pinky*

      Ummm, seriously? My parents actually named me after a god…..I’m not going to say what it is b/c I am literally the only person in the US with this name, but it is way out there and unusual. Nobody has ever been offended, and I’ve never been asked to use my middle name. People have laughed out loud and my name, and have said “what is that?” when seeing it in print…..I can’t believe people would ask a person to change their name or be offended or even be uncomfortable with my name.

  12. Not me*

    Religious accommodations don’t extend to changing other employees’ names.

    What is wrong with people?!

    OP, if you have to defend keeping your own name (what??), it might be a good idea to spell it out like this. Repeatedly. “You’re asking me to change my name because _____ doesn’t like it?”

    1. Charityb*

      Maybe he should complete a business case for being allowed to keep his name, and the manager can assess whether or not keeping his name will help the department reach its target ROI.

      Or, better yet, the coworker should have to come up with a business case for why OP should be forced to change their name in the workplace.

  13. Argh!*

    In the black community, a tradition of giving children names denoting honor extends back to slavery. Children were given names like “Major” and slave holders used those names. If plantation owners could deal with it, I think a coworker can.

    1. Blurgle*

      I remember when people belittled Michael Jackson for naming his elder son Prince. He resented it so much he reused the name for his second son, mainly to show them who was the father.

      Prince was his grandfather’s name.

        1. Blurgle*

          Then again, the same thing happens in the Jewish community. “Inspektor” is an old Czech Jewish honorific name, but when a Hollywood star uses it it’s suddenly considered fit to ridicule.

            1. LawBee*

              and that it was inspired by a song, not so much a celebration of Jason Lee’s non-existent Czech Jewish ancestry.

      1. Ad Astra*

        Prince (the singer) seems to have influenced a lot of moms in the ’90s, because it’s quite a common name for boys/men in high school in college now.

        I’ve known some Majors and Judges, so it’s cool to learn about the origins of those names.

    2. Cautionary tail*

      I know someone with a first name of Major. His last name is very militaristic and said together sound pretty darned awesome.

      1. Lily in NYC*

        I used to work with Major Garrett (the journalist) and during my first week of work I thought he was a military consultant (this was before he was well-known).

        1. Lily in NYC*

          I hit send too soon -the embarrassing part was that I called him by his first and last name because I thought he was really a Major. My boss overheard me and was like “why are you saying his name that way, weirdo?”

      2. NoCalHR*

        My mother served in the Navy, held an administrative post for a while. The local protocol when she signed something by direction was “Commander Jones RAF”, with ‘RAF’ her initials. Many folks thought they had a Brit officer on loan. No, just ‘Renee Ann Faulkenberg’ signing for the Commander!

      3. Mephyle*

        This can’t go farther without a mention of Major Major Major Major, a character in Joseph Heller’s Catch 22. The first Major is his rank, and the 2nd, 3rd and 4th are his first name, middle name and surname (respectively).

    3. Melissa*

      My thought was this is a racial thing, because I’m black and King is so common as to not even make me blink an eye at it. As I mentioned above I’ve also know lots of girls named Princess, a girl named Empress, and a little boy named Messiah.

      1. Michelle*

        I’m white, but I’m Southern, and it only seems slightly unusual to me. Not weirder than Edith or Sanford.

  14. Dr. Johnny Fever*

    It’s hard enough to believe that someone would be that offended by a name; it’s another thing entirely to have the manager not only accept the offense, but then place the onus on the OP to solve the situation – before even starting on his first day!

    Honestly, I’d advise the OP to walk away from this job now while the chance is still fresh. If management is going to ask OP to suppress his own *name* to avoid religious offense, what other aspects of his personality will he need to suppress to succeed professionally in that atmosphere? This is a serious red flag.

    1. Stranger than fiction*

      Seriously I’d be so tempted to have crowns all over my cubicle and maybe even a scepter I could hold onto every time that coworker came to speak to me.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Yep. I am seeing a red flag here, too. Since you have not started the job, OP, you have time to mull this one over first.

  15. Jane, the world's worst employee*

    I see Wednesday came early this week. ;)

    I would consider myself pretty religious (Christian) and FWIW, I think this is a pretty nutty request. Hold your ground, OP.

  16. Jerzy*

    I would just like to add that people need to seriously get a better grasp of what “freedom of religion” actually means. It allows for protection against discrimination or persecution of a person’s personal religious beliefs. It DOES NOT allow for someone to use their personal religious beliefs to make a life choice for someone else (i.e. your frickin’ name!).

    If I’m a member of a religion that doesn’t drink alcohol, that doesn’t give me the right to shut down happy hour at the local pub for my coworkers.

    This is akin to the the whole: “I’m on a diet, so you can’t eat a doughnut” thing.

    1. kristinyc*

      Exactly! It protects people from the GOVERNMENT dictating things about religion – not your coworkers. It doesn’t say anything about your coworkers not being allowed to do things you find offensive.

      First Amendment
      Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

    2. Naomi*

      I like the alcohol analogy–I was going to say something similar, like that Jews don’t get to insist that all their coworkers keep a kosher diet, and Muslims don’t get to demand that all women in the office wear a hijab. Freedom of religion doesn’t extend to making other people conform to your own religious beliefs.

      1. They do!*

        The hijab analogy is very good in this case. Muslim men may still find it strange to work with women who are not wearing hijabs, who knows, but a company would never require all women to begin wearing a hijab because they have a muslim employee.
        This would be a scenario where, the existing employee is a muslim man, and there are no women at the company. The new hire (King) is a non-hijab wearing woman, but is told that since one of their employees is uncomfortable in the presence of women without hijabs she must wear one to work. It would completely violate the woman’s intrinsic ‘self,’ since she does not wear a hijab (her religion is irrelevant).
        This would violate King’s ‘self’ since his name is KING!

        1. They do!*

          I must clarify so this doesn’t sound dismissive – her religion is irrelevant because the theoretical woman COULD be a non-hijab wearing muslim, OR she could be a non-mulsim – that is irrelevant. What’s relevant is that the theoretical existing employee’s religious beliefs would mean she’d need to wear a hijab, which would violate her ‘self’ – and no company would ever require that (at least in the United States, middle eastern countries may be a different story).

    3. steve g*

      +1000 I agree very strongly. I never want to live in a country when religion gets used to dictate my personal choices and behavior. Even though I’m catholic. One of the main points of America was to keep church and state separate, which was very wise….

      1. reaching for the sky*

        Good for you. Very surprised to see this from a Catholic- you’re the only one I know who doesn’t want cameras installed in other people’s bedrooms.

        1. ancolie*

          Really? I’m a recovering Catholic whose family on both sides are Catholic and went to 13 years of Catholic school* (Kindergarten through high school) and I only know a handful of Catholics that have that kind of mindset.

          IME, it’s really impossible to generalize what Catholics think about politics et al. After all, just compare Pope Francis to Pope Benedict.

          * where we had sex ed (including accurate information about condoms and birth control options), studied other religions with respect (including that no, you did/do NOT have to be Catholic to go to heaven), were taught about evolution and the scientific method beginning in grade school, and were actually encouraged to have doubts in our faith and to seriously question our beliefs (because unexamined belief is not based on a solid foundation and questioning builds that foundation. And yes, they said that if you DO end up leaving/losing your faith, that’s fine. God created humans with free will and he would rather you use it than not).

          1. reaching for the sky*

            That’s cool. Yeah, I was just going off the ones I knew. I went to Catholic school too and they taught me that semen gives you cancer. I thought my parents both had cancer until I was in my 20s. So it was traumatic, to say the least.

            1. doreen*

              Those were wackadoos calling themselves Catholic. Or maybe you misunderstood something. The Catholic church has a whole lot of teachings regarding sexual matters that many people ( including Catholics) do not agree with- but semen causing cancer has never been one of them. And there have always been Catholics who made crap up- every religion has those. When my husband was going through RCIA, one of the instructors told the class they had to go to Mass every day during Lent. I told him to go back and tell her she taught me better than that in grade school. It then changed from being an obligation to “a good thing to do”

              1. reaching for the sky*

                Not interested in playing “One True Catholic” with you, sorry. They call themselves Catholics, so that’s what they are to me. I dont’ really care where they got their traumatic teachings from.

            2. ancolie*

              Oh jeez! My trauma is mostly confined to severely internalizing Catholic Guilt to the point that (with other factors, I’m sure) I’ve had severe General Anxiety Disorder for as long as I can remember (it’s getting better as I do CBT, though!).

              There are so many sub-schools of Catholicism that I’m not surprised at the variation in education. A friend of mine went to a super ultra conservative Catholic church and school (sedevacantists) and was expelled for listening to “rock music”. AT HOME. In the late 1990s!!

              My school/church was apparently all dirty hippie in comparison, heh. I know they really dug liberation theology (we watched Romero more than once) and whatnot.

    4. LBK*

      Well, there are elements of the EEOC that extend beyond what’s outlined in the Bill of Rights in terms of protection from religious discrimination. Businesses are required to provide reasonable accommodations based on religious beliefs (eg someone who requests Sundays off to go to church would have to be granted that request unless doing so would cause undue hardship to the company).

      Reviewing the Title VII info about religious protection, I’m not actually completely sure that the coworker doesn’t have a religious claim here to force the employer to do something about the OP’s name as long as they can show they have a strongly held belief that prohibits them from being around someone who’s referred to as King. I really don’t think they could do that because I can’t imagine what part of scripture would prevent it, but I do wonder.

      1. Jerzy*

        A reasonable accommodation would have to be reasonable, which this request is not.

        It’s not as if the name “King” is unusual. It’s normally a last name, but a fairly common one. I’m curious as well as to what kind of case the employee making this request could pull together, but I would be absolutely horrified if she prevailed.

        1. LBK*

          On what standard is it considered not reasonable, though? I believe that phrase has more specific legal meaning; similar to “hostile work environment,” it means something other than just the literal breakdown of the words.

          (By the way, I’m not saying I’m right here – I’m hoping someone can disprove this by pointing me to the part of the law that would clarify, because I can’t find it.)

          1. fposte*

            The law doesn’t articulate what is and isn’t reasonable accommodation in huge detail, but in general one person’s religious accommodation shouldn’t require restrictions on other people. If you have religious objections to bare arms on women, you get to wear sleeves, but you don’t get to insist your co-workers wear sleeves; if you keep kosher, you can bring in your own fridge, but you can’t make your office go kosher. If the objection is even hearing anybody refer to King as King, I don’t think that’s something an office could reasonably accommodate, any more than they’re required to accommodate a swearing-free workplace. If the objection is merely the employee herself referring to King as King, the accommodation is to allow her to refer to him as “Mr. Tut,” not for him to change his name.

            1. LBK*

              That makes sense. The EEOC does say something about infringement of coworkers’ rights, but only specifies “job rights”, and I don’t know that you have a right to bare arms (Second Amendment puns notwithstanding):

              For example, courts have found undue hardship where the accommodation diminishes efficiency in other jobs, infringes on other employees’ job rights or benefits, impairs workplace safety, or causes co-workers to carry the accommodated employee’s share of potentially hazardous or burdensome work.

              I assume there must be court cases that detail this further because the question must have been raised before.

              On an interesting side-note, the EEOC actually specifies that coworkers being annoyed by an accommodation does *not* contribute to an undue hardship:

              Although religious accommodations that infringe on co-workers’ ability to perform their duties or subject co-workers to a hostile work environment will generally constitute undue hardship, general disgruntlement, resentment, or jealousy of co-workers will not. Undue hardship requires more than proof that some co-workers complained; a showing of undue hardship based on co-worker interests generally requires evidence that the accommodation would actually infringe on the rights of co-workers or cause disruption of work.

              1. fposte*

                I think it’s fine for Religious’ behavior to *annoy* co-workers; where it starts becoming unreasonable is when it requires co-workers to change their behavior or dress. I don’t think it has to be only a behavior that’s been explicitly protected by the law, like breast-feeding; there’s a basic principle of “reasonable” that you can’t make everybody else change just for you.

        1. LBK*

          I think it would depend on the severity of the belief in the religion. As far as I know there’s no sect in Christianity that’s so strict as to not allow using an honorific to describe a person, so in this case probably not. But if by some weird turn of events an employee had one of the names of God from Judaism, I think a strict Jewish coworker would have to be allowed to refer to them by another name in writing. Although I’m by no means an expert.

          1. fposte*

            I was thinking about Yahweh and God in the baby names conversation, and I think you might be right about the co-worker being allowed to circumvent something like those. But, as I said, it’s pretty easy for the co-worker to circumvent without the unreasonable requirement that the employee go by a different name.

          2. Grand Canyon Jen*

            In Judaism, the name of God is in Hebrew. And there are no vowels in Biblical Hebrew, so no one knows how the name of God would be pronounced. So (apologies to “Life of Brian”), calling someone “Yahweh” or “Jehovah” or writing those names out in English letters shouldn’t be a problem for even a strictly religious Jew.

            1. LBK*

              Huh – I did a little bit of googling before I made my comment to validate my understanding and did find some resources that indicate that saying it is fine since, as you note, we don’t know the proper pronunciation. However, writing out the name of God isn’t allowed, and that it’s usually written G-d as a result (which is something I’ve seen being practiced out in the wild).

              Again, I am by no means an expert so if my understanding is flawed I’m happy to be told so.

              1. Anonsie*

                English isn’t Hebrew. Everything other than Hebrew/Aramaic (which use the same alphabet) is basically not real for the purposes of God’s name (there may be some exception for Greek, because there Greek takes a special status in some early rabbinic texts, but I’ve never seen that discussed directly WRT God’s name). Dashing out a letter in English should be unnecessary, and IMO stems from a very dangerous rush to be as right-wing as possible.

                (Credentials: MA in early Jewish law, with a focus on textual legitimacy.)

                1. Observer*

                  The problem with your MA is that it doesn’t actually deal with Judaism in the real world.

                  The use of a dash in when writing “G-d” is far from new, and far from a “rush to be as right wing as possible.”

                  That said, I think most Orthodox Jews I know would find that someone choosing to go by the name “god” to be bizarre and a bit uncomfortable, because it’s a truly bizarre name to choose, and adults can choose to change their names. But, I don’t think they would object on religious grounds. That’s not “G-d”, but someone’s name, which is another things.

                2. Anonsie*

                  @Observer–I would trace the rush to the right-wing to 18th/19th century Ashkenaz. That is new by Jewish standards. The fear of modernity and change that echoes throughout Ashkenazi halachic writings starting with the birth of neo-Orthodoxy (neo- because there is no such thing as Orthodoxy until it the backlash against the early Reform Movement) drives me up the wall. I actually am Jewish, I come from an observant background, and I’ve got pretty extensive experience working with non-academic books about Judaism in other languages, and people don’t do this in other languages when using that language’s word for “god”. English doesn’t deserve this level of elevation.

                3. Observer*

                  @Anonsie, you are actually not really entirely correct about how this is handled – it’s definitely not specific to English. It’s not as obvious in Hebrew, because typical usage is to not use the direct term, but an indirect reference, such as HaKadosh Baruch Hu (The Holy One, Blessed be He) or Hashem (literally “The name”). My parents were not native English speakers – they were immigrants who came to the US as adults, and they spoke primarily Yiddish in the home (my mother started using English more when she started working out of the house.) So, I know that their usage was not a matter of how English is used. I don’t think I ever hear them use anything but such indirect terms.

                  Of course, there is a difference in the lower case word, which generally is not hyphenated, as it is understood to be talking about a concept or non-specific reference, and the capitalized form which is seen as a direct reference to THE deity.

                  As for calling a practice stemming from the 18th century (even if you were correct about that) recent, that might be true on an academic basis. But, that does not speak to the fact that it’s firmly entrenched practice in much of the observant community.

                4. Treena*

                  It might be officially unnecessary, but I’ve seen both really observant Jews and really, really not observant Jews write out “G-d.” It’s not really all that right-wing anymore. Very similar to my being taught never to write Xmas because you’re X’ing out Christ. Of course I realize it’s very, very conservative, but I still do it out of habit.

      2. LawBee*

        This would never hold up. Forcing someone to change the name they’ve gone by their entire life because one person doesn’t like it is not a reasonable accommodation. There’s nothing to accommodate, the coworker isn’t being harmed or discriminated against in anyw way.

  17. Lefty*

    This is just bizarre to me… I immediately wonder if the other employee would object to other names as well- Christian/Christina, Mohammed, Jesus, Regina/Reginald, Ryan?

    I wonder if the other employee would be more comfortable calling OP by Mr. Lastname instead? It may be overly formal for their office culture, but it could avoid the use of a name she sees as “offensive” without putting a ridiculous requirement on OP. Or maybe initials would also suit both of them, IF you’d be open to that, OP? Let’s say you’re legal name is Wakeen King, would you be comfortable with this employee (and eventually others, inevitably) calling you WK maybe?

    1. AW*

      I wonder if the other employee would be more comfortable calling OP by Mr. Lastname instead?

      I don’t understand why the employer didn’t just tell the co-worker to ask the OP if she could call them by their first or last name instead. That’s still a bit odd but one person asking permission to use a different legal name is way more polite than demanding that the OP themselves not use their own name.

      1. AW*

        Clarification: The OP would still be able to tell the co-worker “No” in this version of the scenario. My point was that there’s a more polite way to go about this, even though the correct thing to do is to not make it an issue at all.

      2. Chalupa Batman*

        This was my thought as well. We might think it’s silly, but their beliefs are their beliefs. As a presumably reasonable person, King could get used to one person calling him Mr Lastname or some other mutually agreeable thing to accommodate a religious objection, but asking someone to change their name is completely unreasonable. The one who has to give up the least should be the one to budge in compromises of this sort, and that’s the coworker here. It’s ridiculous that changing his name was even brought up.

      3. Stranger than fiction*

        Because the Op also said the coworker is a favorite, further evidence she should run for the hills if at all possible

      4. Traveler*

        Right. If I was OP I’d still find that a little silly, but then I’d just be like whatever Jane needs to sleep at night.

    2. JMegan*

      I wouldn’t. I can see where you’re going with this, but IMO this is not a situation where a compromise is the right thing to do. The employee’s request was so completely inappropriate that it doesn’t even merit consideration – same as if she had asked her boss to ask OP not to wear green socks because it offends her, or if she tried to create a rule that everyone was required to stand up and do the Macarena before every meeting. Some things, you just say “no” without any further discussion. And like I said above, the fact that OP’s boss did *not* say no is a really big red flag.

      1. Lefty*

        I agree that it’s a completely preposterous request from OP’s coworker but it appears that the regional manager either doesn’t see it that way or at least has refused to treat it as such. Since the regional manager did not say “no” outright (which I’m sure we’d all have preferred here) , she has opened it to discussion. Since OP is new to this office environment, offering a compromise might be an acceptable option. It might reflect well on him if he can offer some balanced feedbakc in the face of such a ludicrous situation.

      2. Stranger than fiction*

        Seems to me the manager just heard the word religion and knowing it’s a legal buzzword panicked and asked the Op to play along without really knowing or understanding the implications. Makes one really question her judgment.

    3. AnonEMoose*

      I’d be hesitant to allow the coworker to call me something other than my preferred name, in the OP’s shoes. Mainly because, I’m just one of those people who loathes nicknames (when applied to me, but I’m happy to call other people what they prefer). And my actual first name is one of those that has what feels like a million associated nicknames…most of which people have tried to use at one point or another, and been firmly corrected.

      The only people permitted to call me something other than “First Name” are my husband, my best friend since college, and my immediate family. Husband mostly uses endearments, Best Friend has her own nickname for me, and family mostly actually just calls me by my preferred name.

      But my concern would be other people picking up on whatever the compromise name was, and then OP is stuck either putting up with it, or having to explain the compromise umpteen times. And some people likely still forgetting. Or deciding to be “cute” or “funny” (read “obnoxious”) by using the compromise name anyway, because some people are just stupid/jerky like that.

  18. Paul*

    Has the company actually asked OP to change his name? The letter only says “I cannot use it.”

    Maybe management want him to take a nickname? It’s still unreasonable and unwarranted, but I don’t see any indication the OP is being asked to legally or permanently change his name.

    1. NK*

      I don’t think anyone assumes that he’s being asked to legally change it. But even asking him to use a nickname is unreasonable. I know people named Joseph who are just Joseph – not Joe, not Joey – and that is their call. Not to mention that I can’t think of a nickname for King that would both retain any integrity of the name and satisfy the complainer.

      1. Gandalf the Nude*

        Actually, the post title made me think that’s what was happening, and it took me a hot minute to figure out otherwise. But that is partly because I actually have experienced someone ridiculous enough to insist someone else legally change their name.

    2. TCO*

      Yes, I think management wants him to use a nickname or his current legal first name, not legally change his name, but that doesn’t make it any less ridiculous.

    1. Erin*

      Also: I think you should tell them that you’re offended that this person wants you to change your name.

      I was joking as I typed that, but really, that actually is what is offending in this situation.

    2. Cautionary tail*

      Yes I agrre this could be shared with the employer, however this is pre-furst day on a new job. My overriding thoughts are that if the employer is showing dysfunctionalism at this stage then if OP can swing it it’s probably better to walk away from the job before having to deal with this nutcase on a daily basis and getting stuck in a soul-sucking job where s/he winds up dealing with PTSD issues.

  19. AndersonDarling*

    I’d fight fire with fire and say that King has religious significance to you and your family. Let the war begin.
    I mean really, if King was the last name would the busy body command that it also be changed?
    It burns my biscuits.

      1. Hlyssande*

        Noooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo my biscuits!

        Fyi, they make sandwich rolls and sliced bread in the delicious sweet Hawaiian flavor now. My wallet.

  20. YouHaveBeenWarned*

    I only regret that I have but one nope to give for this post.

    OP, I think this might be a pretext for something else going on. Are they trying to get you to quit? Did your boss do this as a sort of “test” of how much a new hire will take? Does the entry level employee occasionally do this to assert some sort of authority or wind the regional manager tighter around her finger?

    FWIW, I would also point out that in 1961, the four most popular boys names were Michael, David, John, and James, all of which are biblical (that year’s most popular names also included Jesus (#250), Abraham (#480), and Moses (#501)). There are hundreds of names to which one might object based on a religious connotation. It’s no less ridiculous of the employee to object to your name (which is also just a noun describing a title…does she also object to Clark and Marshall?)

  21. Addiez*

    I actually worked at a place that changed someone’s name. The CEO was named Katherine and we had another Kathryn on staff. They hired an admin for the COO whose name was Katherine, so they decided to just call her Katie. At one point, I asked her if anyone else ever called her Katie – she said her family did sometimes when she was little… Not the reason I left, but pretty darn weird.

    1. Xanthippe Lannister Voorhees*

      Was your boss Tyra Banks? This just makes me think of all the ANTM cycles where two girls were named “Jessica” and rather than use last initials or trust people’s intelligence someone had to pick a totally random name to go by

      1. moss*

        trust people’s intelligence who are watching a modelling reality show? Nah. They’re not people anymore, they are characters. The audience needs all the help it can get to distinguish among the characters.

      2. AvonLady Barksdale*

        There were two Brittanys and we ended up with “McKey”. I thought she was the worst winner ever. I no longer watch ANTM, and there is something missing in my life.

        1. Stranger than fiction*

          There was once three of us with my name at a restaurant I worked at and the snarky manager decided to call us 1, 2, and 3.

          1. NotherName*

            I went to school with a lot of Amys, Brians, and Jennifers. We just used their last initial or last name as appropriate when we wanted to clarify who we were talking about. Occasionally, we would use middle names with the first names, but since Lynn, Ann, and Marie were the main choices for girls’ middle names, that wasn’t always an option.

    2. AnotherAlison*

      I hope they weren’t planning for too much growth in the company. You’ve got Kathy, Kate, maybe Kit left. Then what? ; )

                1. NotherName*

                  You’re right! It’s possible that I’ve heard of it used for Sarah, but for some reason I listed that instead of Sadie. (Which is terrible on my part, as that was the name of one of my great-grandmothers…)

                  Sukie is still an awesome character, though. And Paris is still a boy’s name.

        1. esra*

          Sigh, I just started a new job and sit right beside the other Sarah. We’re trying to figure out a solution.

        2. techandwine*

          This is the story of my life. Sarah was one of the most popular girl names of the 80s, so there is ALWAYS another Sarah in the class/office/friend group/etc. I’ve had a few nicknames I’ve gone by, but they weren’t general use names they were incredibly specific to individuals. Usually my last initial just gets tacked on.

          Oh, and to add to another thread, I’m also one of those weirdos with four names :-) First Name, Middle Name, Mom’s last name, Dad’s last name.

      1. Judy*

        About 20 years ago, back when a group of engineers would have an admin to share, our admin was named also Judy. My manager was very much not clear when he said things in meetings or sent an email, “send X to Judy”. I was deciding if I wanted to start going by a nickname that I’m known as in other circles when she retired. Of course, many of the guys were able to discern that sending the software review feedback to me and sending the travel requests to her was what he wanted. But not all of them were.

        Sometimes it’s good to be able to differentiate people, and if other people are sloppy about it, it can be annoying.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          At Exjob, we had four Davids, two Marks, two Carls, two Dales, and at one point, three Stephens. We just called them Carl A, Carl B, Dale X, or Dale Z, etc. Or people were known by their last names–Smith, Jones, whatever. There was even a guy with a long Polish last name and we all learned how to pronounce it.

          It’s not rocket surgery.

          1. Melissa*

            At my job we have a Carl and a Karl, so out loud we say Karl with a K and Carl with a C. It helps that Karl is remote though, so usually we’re referring to Carl.

        2. Oranges*

          We have two IT guys. Both Joe. I call them IT Joe (there used to be a third Joe but he’s no longer here) and Joe 2.0 since how could I not?

          1. Oranges*

            Also we used to have two Kyles. First one got to keep Kyle second one went by his last name: Wilson. And a coworker drew a lovely volleyball for him on his whiteboard.

      2. Stella Maris*

        We had four “Roberts” once in a 20-person group. They were known as:
        -Rob C.,
        -Rob G.,
        -Robert, and
        -Jackson (Fourth Robert’s Last Name).

    3. LaraW*

      Wow. We have 2 people named Jennifer at my office (both go by Jen) and we have solved it by denoting Jen K and Jen V in places where we need to. Nobody needed to be Jenny or anything like that.

      1. Jennifer*

        I am lucky to be the only one, though there is a Jenny.

        I did work at a place where we had Christopher, Chris, and “C”. Guess why.

    4. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Let us please not forget that Erin on The Office (US Version) showed up on her first day and introduced herself as Kelly. That had to change right quick!

    5. krar*

      A VERY similar thing happened to me – right down to the names!. My full first name is Katie. I accepted a position at a small privately owned software company. The first name of the controller/co-owner/wife of the CEO was named Katherine and always went by Katie. I know this because she was also my fourth grade teacher, small world and whatnot.

      The CEO flat out asked me in my final interview if I’d be ok going by Kate because his wife was named Katie and he didn’t want there to be confusion in a small office. I agreed, even though only family calls me Kate. I just wanted to land that first programming job, so I was a total pushover. Nowadays, I’d refuse to accommodate request like that, but I didn’t have an ounce of assertiveness until my mid-late 20s.

      Of course, on my first day I learned that a manager shared the same first name as the CEO and no one cared. Harumph.

      And now, only two kinds of people in my life call me Kate – family and the small group of people I had worked with at that job.

    6. Bonnie*

      We currently have two Katies. We also have two Bobs and at one time had three Brians. We only have twenty people. At one point, I jokingly suggested that we only only hire Bobs and Brians in the future which would make learning new co-workers names much easier.

      1. Jules*

        Does anyone else have a ‘work name’ and a ‘personal life name’?

        Professionally, I use one name (my given, legal name), but in my personal life, the only people who call me by that name are the ones who are in the process of transitioning from work-friend to friend-friend.

  22. Laura*

    I’d one up this objection with the following comebacks:

    Does this mean if a Hispanic employee with the name “Reyes” will be forced to use another surname? (Means “Kings” in Spanish) What about surnames such as Royal, Royle, etc?
    What if his name is Jesus? (A very common Hispanic name).
    What if his name is Joshua? (A form of the Hebrew name Yeshua or Jesus)
    What if the person’s last name was Wong? (Translates to “King” in English).
    What if is Israel (means “one who has contended with God”)

    Really, you have to sometimes walk people through the ridiculousness of their reasoning so they can either see the light or be singled out as the totally unreasonable person they are. But that is the manager’s job to do that with their employee.

    But I have a story to one up this one: I overhead one of my colleagues (we are a research institution) had a vendor, a white, twenty-something vendor rep, tell gleefully that she would always ask her Asian colleagues to pick a Western name she could call them because she found it too hard to call them by their Asian name (because you know, Chow Yung Fat is just SO HARD to remember…. sigh). She openly said this as if nothing was wrong with asking coworkers to accommodate her basic cultural ignorance. So, moral of the story: there are very weird people out there…

    1. Bostonian*

      I feel like there was a thread on this recently, actually. There are plenty of Asians who *choose* a Western nickname for studying abroad in the US, working for an Asian office of an American company, etc. But that has to be their choice. It often seems to depend on how badly the typical American accent butchers the pronunciation – people would rather take a nickname than be called by a variant of their real name that makes them cringe every time they hear it, or that’s actually a totally different word.

      So the person you heard was basing her requests on a real thing, but got it totally backwards in a way that’s pretty offensive.

      1. Ad Astra*

        I have one friend who came to America from China as a small child. He chose his American name, Jerry, after watching Tom and Jerry cartoons. Always makes me smile.

        1. Lily in NYC*

          I used to work in an English-language cram school in Taiwan and the English names the kids chose were so entertaining. One kid named himself Baby Apple (?) and another one chose David Hume. Not just David; it had to be David Hume. He was only 7 so I guess he was either a budding philosopher or a parent picked it.

      2. louise*

        Are you a Dear Prudence reader? There was a similar discussion there last week.

        No, I don’t have an advice column addiction. I can stop any time…

    2. AW*

      Almost no one in school would call me by my first name until I got to high school because it was “too hard to pronounce”. And by “too hard” they meant “I’m not even going to try”.

      Nowadays, only my family calls me by my nickname, which is how I like it.

    3. oh noes*

      I’ve had potential employers and vendors as me to change my name. I’ve been appalled by their brashness.

    4. MashaKasha*

      Hah, good point. I’d all but forgotten it, but one of my son’s first name derives from the Greek word Kyrios, which means Lord. Guess he needn’t apply for a job at this company.

      My other son’s name though, means “Yahweh is my God” in Hebrew, so he’s golden. (Yup, I was super religious in the 90s, and gave my kids Biblical names.)

      When I had their dad’s last name, everyone at OldJob introduced me to visitors and new hires as “Masha I’m-Not-Even-Gonna-Try-Her-Last-Name”. It does get on one’s nerves after a few years.

    5. Michelle*

      Whenever someone says their name is difficult to pronounce, I take it as a personal challenge to get it right.

  23. De Minimis*

    I was around some pretty kooky religious sects growing up, but I’ve never heard of anything like this.

    The only thing I can think is maybe Jehovah’s Witness? I think they have some beliefs that are a little “out there” for many people—I know when I was a kid I would hear about some of their children not being allowed to do the Pledge of Allegiance and that of course raised a big stink in the small town where I grew up.

    1. Dr. Johnny Fever*

      Not JW, at least, not the Kingdom Hall I went to as a kid. The Pledge is out (flag = idolatry), but I don’t recall any restrictions on kids’ names. Most of the names fell along Jewish and Christian lines from their Holy Scriptures translation. Larger communities include secular names, too.

      1. De Minimis*

        Yeah, I figured it was probably a stretch, though it sounded like it could be based in something similar to the JW’s beliefs about idolatry.

        Might be some kind of independent church, I’ve known some of those to have some odd teachings since there isn’t a bigger organization reining them in.

      2. Elsajeni*

        And of course, perhaps America’s most famous Jehovah’s Witness is… Prince. (I can imagine an argument that naming a child “King” is an affront to the King of Kings, but “Prince” is okay, and anyway I believe Prince converted as an adult. But still.)

        1. Melissa*

          I remember learning that Prince was a JW growing up (I was a JW too) and thinking about how delightfully bizarre it would be to wake up one Saturday morning to a knock on my door, open it, and see Prince standing on my doorstep. Holy crap. Apparently he does actually go out in field service, which is the name of the door-to-door evangelizing JWs do!

        2. Dr. Johnny Fever*

          Don’t forget Michael Jackson! He was known as a JW for a time in his earlier solo days, before Prince blew up. He was held up as an example of Jehovah’s blessings from hard work and dedication in my Kingdom Hall.

          Once MJ started going deeper into strangeness, the focus went toward his actions and away from his JW experiences.

          When you think about how children how treated as small adults with material studies beginning in toddler years, denied any special attention that would put them above others, and prevented from participating in so many play and social activities, no wonder MJ had such arrested development and went a little buts after breaking from his family.

  24. Karon*

    This is such a strange request, I can hardly believe that there isn’t some mistake somewhere. I’d love to hear how exactly this order was given. Did the OP receive a letter? Was he called into a meeting? I’d love to see a follow-up to this. As others have speculated, I can’t imagine this being a concern for anyone of any religion I know. Does the complainant even have to interact with the OP I wonder? If it offends her to call the OP by the name, perhaps she could call him by his surname, though that would be silly and awkward if everyone else was using his middle name, but it wouldn’t affect the OP very much. I agree with Allison’s advice. Don’t give in on this one.

  25. Bekx*

    I think there are definitely names that can cause offense, but King…I genuinely don’t understand how??

    My friend begged her sister to change her newborn daughter’s name. She refused, so her baby is Aryan. Even the nurse told her that many people would take offense to that name, but she didn’t care. She said she liked that it had a “history” and none of her friends are Jewish so it doesn’t matter.

    1. TCO*

      Now that I find a little offensive, but even then I wouldn’t ask someone to go by a different name or refuse to use it. Someone’s name would have to be a serious curse word or slur before I’d refuse to say it… and even then I would consider it my problem to figure out a workaround, not demand that the other person change their name.

    2. Xanthippe Lannister Voorhees*

      I’ve been reading this thread thinking “I can think of a lot of names that are stupid but nothing I would call outright offensive” until I got to this comment. That’s a bad choice right there (and assuming friend’s sister just has poor reasoning skills and isn’t a neo-nazi… what is she even trying to accomplish with that name??)

      1. Bekx*

        Well……she’s an interesting character in general. She posted a giant rant on facebook about how anyone who thinks her daughter’s name is a bad choice is ignorant and obviously racist (????).

        Honestly, she’s just the type to feed off of drama, and this is a new source. She also posted how “male ob/gyns are all rapists and molesters” when someone asked her about her labor plans (if she went into the labor the week her ob was on vacation she’d have to have a man, and no way would some “pervert” touch her). Just a great person in general, frankly.

        1. AnotherAlison*

          She sounds gross, but at least she didn’t accidentally name her kid without knowing what it meant, just because she liked how it sounded.

          Not offensive, but every season, I had to wonder if KU basketball player Perry Ellis’s parents knew about the BRAND Perry Ellis. Having a very common last name, I had to really watch what I named my kids to make sure I didn’t unknowingly give them a serial killer’s name or something.

          1. Ad Astra*

            Given Perry Ellis’s age, I feel like it would be hard for them to not know about the brand Perry Ellis. But maybe I’m wrong.

            I went to high school with a Michael Jordan. He was born in 1987, I think, so plenty of people knew about MJ but his parents weren’t into sports, I guess. Kind of like naming your kid Derrick Rose today.

            1. Kelly L.*

              I went to high school with a Tom Cruise. He’s younger than the famous one, but too old to have been named after him on purpose.

              1. Collarbone High*

                I always wonder if people with the same name as a celebrity struggle to accomplish everyday tasks because no one believes that’s their name. Like, if I worked at a pizza place and someone called in a delivery order for Tom Cruise, I’d assume it was a prank and hang up.

              2. Cath in Canada*

                I know a James Brown born in the 1970s whose parents claim not to have heard of the singer until the 1990s… we used to greet him with “YEOW! it’s the King of Soul!” when he walked into the room.

              1. Ad Astra*

                Oh good, then my analogy works! Derrick Rose is a very good NBA player who may in 15 years be as famous as Michael Jordan — but he’s not yet. If you follow sports, you know Derrick Rose. If you don’t, he would not be on your radar one bit. And, unlike Kobe Bryant, Derrick Rose has both a common first name and a common last name. Same thing for Kevin Durant.

            2. Traveler*

              Have a family member who named their kid after a famous wrestler. I tried to warn them, they didn’t care. Now every time I hear the name I picture wrestler and spandex and the like. But their prerogative.

            3. Talvi*

              I have a family member (of the “second-cousin-thrice-removed” variety) named Michael Jackson. I can’t recall how old he is, but I think he’s old enough that it is most likely a coincidence.

          2. Kappa*

            My name is a very common name for girls in the African-American community. Not so much for white people, which is what I am. Couple that with a last name that’s very common in African-American circles, I confuse a hell of a lot of people when they hear my name before meeting me. My mom did zero research on my name– she just read it somewhere and thought it sounded pretty.

            My dad once said to me, “Barack Obama– doesn’t that sound like a Muslim name?” I asked him if my name sounded like it belonged to a blonde white girl. He shut up fairly quickly after that.

            1. aliascelli*

              I had a coworker who shared my (Irish) first and (common in America) middle name with. She’s African-American, I’m Caucasian, and she regularly surprised people who knew her name before they met her.

              1. Honeybee*

                I’m African American. My mother loves Irish names and culture (and may be Irish-descended – her maiden name is Griffin, and corned beef and cabbage was a standby dish in my home growing up) and she wanted to name me Siobhan. I think my dad might have vetoed it. (I was greatly disappointed, because I was the smug kind of kid who would’ve really enjoyed correcting everyone’s spelling and pronunciation of my name.)

            2. ThursdaysGeek*

              Barak is a biblical name, and since spelling names isn’t consistent in translations, I’ve considered it a name from the Bible.

              A former boss has a name that is common for African-American guys. She’s white.

            3. AvonLady Barksdale*

              I know someone in that exact situation. Blonde with a popular African-American name, that is, not with a dad who thinks Barack Obama sounds like a Muslim name. :) (Chris Rock said it best when he said “Barack Obama” sounded like the guitar player for The Commodores.)

              I have a very good friend who had a White colleague/friend with the last name of Lee. My friend is Chinese, with a surname that’s usually Chinese but sometimes isn’t. They used to make people guess which one was which.

          3. Honeybee*

            My last name is Brown and my husband and I always joke that we’re going to name our kids James, Chris, Bobby, Charlie, and Amber.

        2. Lily Rowan*

          I was going to make a slight defense along the lines of how people will spell anything any number of ways, and Ariane is a perfectly nice unconnected name, but… yeah, no.

          1. VintageLydia USA*

            I have a friend named Ariane and I didn’t make the connection with Aryan until you mentioned it. I imagine they may be pronounced differently, though.

        3. MashaKasha*

          That poor child. No worries, I give it 14 years before the kid rebels and changes her name. With a mother like this, 14 is a pretty liberal estimate.

      1. AW*

        IIRC, there was a case where someone tried to name their kid Adolf Hitler and the courts refused to do it. Like they either wouldn’t put it on the birth certificate in the first place or required the parents to change it.

        1. fposte*

          The one I know of is the New Jersey case where one kid was named Adolf Hitler and the other Aryan Nation, and a bakery wouldn’t decorate a birthday cake congratulating Adolf Hitler. That was about the same time (not sure if it was the reason) that the fact he was an abusive asshole came to the attention of authorities, so the kids were removed from the home.

          I don’t think you could name your kid Adolf Hitler in Germany, though. The U.S. is really non-interfering with names.

          1. Ad Astra*

            IIRC, babies born in Germany have to have German names. There’s a list of approved names (admittedly, it’s a pretty long list), and Hitler is definitely not on it. Can’t remember if Adolf is banned.

            1. Myrin*

              Nope on the kids in Germany having to have German names (the list you speak of does exist, though). In fact, names that have a German origin pretty much aren’t given to children anymore – maybe with one or two rare exceptions that I can’t think of right now they’re seen as universally old-fashioned (and have been for quite some time, actually; I’m 24 and names of Hebrew or Greek origin are the norm among my peers – I do know one Wolfgang and one Friedrich who are my age but that’s always been highly weird. I recently talked with my sister about how even a teacher at the school we both went to who is now in his late forties or early fifties is actually too young to have the first name “Wolfgang”).

              I believe “Adolf” isn’t banned per se but the connotations are just too strong and besides that, what I said above about German names counts here as well. And “Hitler” simply isn’t a first name, so even if it didn’t have the historic associations it has it wouldn’t fly as a given name. (But yeah, our rules about pretty much anything Nazi are super strict so I’m always floored when I hear stories like the Aryan person talked about above.)

              1. Ad Astra*

                Everyone I know from Germany is named Anne or David or something that sounds pretty Anglo to me, but I had assumed there was some shared heritage to those names. I guess it makes more sense that the list includes names that aren’t German in origin.

                And, for whatever reason, Americans just love using last names as first names these days. I know tons of kids named Brooks, Delaney, Beckett, Finley, Nash… obviously, no Hitlers.

                1. Myrin*

                  Well, both of your examples are actually of Hebrew origin. ;)

                  They, along with so many others, would absolutely be considered “German names” but actually, genuinely German names are things like Hildebrand, Dietrich, Adelheid, Rudolf, Gertrud etc. The latter are those that aren’t used much anymore, the former are generally germanised (which is probably what you were referring to, but I’m a German major and get super picky about that stuff because it’s just so interesting and I want everyone to know about it!) but if you’re super strict, they aren’t “actually” German.

                  I did not now that thing about the last names! We do have names here that function as both first and last names (like Ludwig or Gottfried, for example) but that’s only because they were first names to begin with and then sometime in the Middle Ages used as a last name – it’s pretty easy to distinguish between actual first and last names in German which is why I find this different trend in the US very curious and interesting!

              2. Tau*

                It always amuses me when I see, in fiction, German characters written by someone who went for the most stereotypical names and clearly had no idea about modern German naming conventions. So you get, like, a Hans and a Fritz in their early twenties. Just a few decades off there…

                I’m a few years older than you and was about to disagree with the Hebrew/Greek name thing, but apparently almost all the names we had multiples of in my class are Biblical in origin – apart from the obvious Christian (three), we also had two Florians and two Tobias…s. And two Fabians, which is apparently Roman in origin.

                Agreed that naming your kid Adolf in Germany would be… bad. Like, the names with Nazi connotations would be bad enough already (e.g. Siegfried or Brunhilde), but Adolf itself? I shudder to think about it.

              1. NotherName*

                I thought it was surnames that were part of a list in Iceland. (Since many people have patronyms but no surname, I think it’s a non-issue for a lot of its citizens.)

                I’ve always wanted to go to Iceland…

                1. fposte*

                  It’s not just “many people”–it’s just not a last-name culture. Phone book listings were ordered by first name, and there’s no shared family name tradition.

                2. Talvi*

                  I believe there is a very, very small number of inherited surnames in Iceland, but on the whole it is patronymic (or matronymic). There is a list of acceptable given names in Iceland – you aren’t allowed to use a name that cannot be declined according to Icelandic grammar.

                3. NotherName*

                  I thought it was most people who didn’t have surnames, but I didn’t want to make any assumptions. :) I know some exist in Iceland, but I thought it was pretty rare.

            2. Tau*

              Also nope on the German names – however, you have to be able to prove that the name you’re giving your child is an actual name in use, or something that can be reasonably considered to be a name (e.g., name of a fictional character). I know someone who’s from Kenya and gave her children traditional Kenyan names – IIRC, she had to dig up published versions of Kenyan folk tales using the names before the courts would accept them.

              There’s also a thing where if you want to give your child a first name that’s gender-neutral, you have to give them a gender-specific middle name. I guess it would just be too *confusing* otherwise or something. :/ No idea how that works for cultural groups that don’t really do gender-specific names.

              1. Myrin*

                Ah, I forgot about the gender thing! I do wonder, though, if with the new law regarding an official third gender this has been changed as well.

        2. Mpls*

          I knew a gentleman from my old job who’s name was Adolf. Born in the 1930s in the US, to a German family (I’m guessing) before the rise of the more famous Adolf. Sweet old man who drove a school bus until he passed away in his 80s.

            1. Ad Astra*

              Was it in Australia that some little girl with a really bad name (I forget what it was) went to court and won the right to change her name against her parents’ wishes? Maybe I’m making that up.

                1. ancolie*

                  I love Sydney Morning Herald links, because I always always ALWAYS see the URL as “shake(ing) my head” Hee.

      2. Nina*

        I remember some 80s movie with a woman who wanted to name her child Treblinka because she thought it was one of the fairies from Sleeping Beauty. Until she learned it was actually the name of a concentration camp.

      3. Rena*

        I always wondered what happened to the rest of the Hitler family. Do they just deal with their last name, or did they change it as fast as possible?

        1. Myrin*

          Hitler’s last name was actually “Schicklgruber” for the first forty or so years of his life as he was an illegitimate child – his father’s name was Hitler, though, so he didn’t choose that out of nowhere. As far as I know, there isn’t a rest to the family – I’m very sure he only had one sister who lived to be an adult and she didn’t have any kids. There might be some cousins or so but I’m reasonably sure if so, they changed their names (having the same name as a widely-known criminal is, much to my chargrin as I’d love to take my mother’s name, one of the like five only reasons you’re allowed to change your name in Germany; that being said, I both think “Hitler” would be a big exception here in any case and that any relatives of his would actually be in Austria which might have different laws regarding names anyway).

          1. fposte*

            That’s his father who was an illegitimate child originally named Schicklgrubr, not Adolf; Adolf was born a Hitler and a legitimate child of the marriage. Alois Hitler changed his name prior to Adolf’s birth.

            There’s the sister, but more famously there’s Hitler’s English nephew, who joined the U.S. Navy in WWII but didn’t change his name from Hitler until after the war.

            1. Myrin*

              Oh my, you’re correct, I have no idea how I could have switched that up – must have been tired or something. :|

          2. Traveler*

            Whoa. You have to have reasons to change your name? I’d never heard that before. I see Germany as this super progressive country these days. Seems weird.

            1. Myrin*

              Yeah, that’s basically the only thing where I’d say the US law is much “better” than the German law. You’re allowed to change your name if you’re trans, if your name is the same as that of a known criminal (and the criminal has to be someone whose name was on TV or something so that it could be reasonably expected most people would make a connection), if your name is super horrible, like an obscenity or something, and one or two other reasons I forgot. And, we’re super bureaucratic and I can kinda understand not letting people change their names to something completely out there but man, my divorced parents have different last names and I just want to take that of my mum and basically my whole family (I’m not really in contact with my father or his family). I feel like that’s not too much to ask. :/

          3. Dynamic Beige*

            I saw a documentary once about the children of top SS officers — what happened to them, how they were treated. Perhaps there are some who think that their parents were “right”, but there weren’t in that bunch. It was kind of sad. They had nothing to do with it and were treated horribly by association. I could see why they would want to change their names and live a normal life.

      1. Kelly L.*

        Or even just changes the spelling to the normal name Arianne, which is said the same way but has the happy bonus of coming from the Greek myth of Ariadne rather than from racism.

        1. Bekx*

          My friend told her sister to name her that…or if she wanted to have it unique spelling wise, she could make it Aariane or Arrianne or anything! Anything but Aryan.

          But I think she just liked the idea of making people talk about her — positively or negatively. So her daughter will have to live with her mother’s decision.

          1. ancolie*

            Oh god, one of THOSE. Her daughter isn’t an actual, separate human being; she’s *clearly* just an add-on accessory to her mother’s life and world. Gross.

        2. jhhj*

          Aryan wasn’t always racist, though, it was co-opted by Nazis but had been used perfectly normally in philology before that (or at least, it was not especially racist for the time). Of course it’s been completely ruined for that use and has been dumped since.

          1. Observer*

            Besides, if Mom actually said that “none of my friends are Jewish”, she has clearly outed herself as knowing how racist that name is. She just doesn’t care.

    3. Chalupa Batman*

      I met a male Aryan once. I’m a POC and had an immediate “run!” reaction, but I was at work, so had to both not run and treat him like anyone else. I’m glad I did-I couldn’t resist trying to feel him out with, “I’ve never heard that name before,” and he replied with a good natured eye roll and said, “My parents were sci fi nuts, it’s from some show.” I don’t know if it’s true or not, but it put me more at ease. So it’s not an exclusively racist name, but people do notice. It was pretty unkind to stick her baby with a lifetime of that conversation.

      1. AnotherAlison*

        *If* the guy’s parents were racists, and he grew up to not have the same ideology, it would be fun to go by “Ari” for short. Given the Hebrew and Greek origins (and probably others) of the name, that would really cheese off the parents.

      1. Ann O'Nemity*

        Yes, I’ve worked with an A. Ryan. Luckily we foresaw the email issue and added the middle initial to their email address right before they started.

    4. Violetta*

      Yikes! (Unless she’s Dutch? The name Arjan is very common there and has no relation to anything Aryan)

    5. Michelle*

      My husband wanted to name my stepdaughter Ariene! (I think that’s how it’s spelled.) It’s a lovely Welsh name that means “silvery.” Fortunately he DID care about whether people associated it with Hitler, and named her Aryanna instead. He still says her name is Welsh though, when actually it’s Greek.

  26. Guera*

    Please, please give us an update OP. I can’t wait to hear how this goes. There are so many ways we could have fun with this if it weren’t so pathetically serious. I stand with everyone that says “stand your ground” but if you do choose to comply I agree with AAM- you have an idea now of what you are getting into.

  27. Toto in KS*

    I used to work with a man named Jihad. I had joked to him once that I hope his parents had never lost him in an airport as a child. They couldn’t go around yelling ‘Jihad! Jihad!’ while trying to find him.

      1. Toto in KS*

        This was a friend and believe me.. I wouldn’t have made this joke to someone I didn’t know well. He thought it was funny. He’s an American white guy living in Kansas…. He got the joke.

  28. Oryx*

    At ExJob, my manager’s son was nicknamed TK which stands for “The King.”

    True story. I don’t think he ever anticipates his child going by The, I think it’s either TK or King.

    1. AnotherAlison*

      But isn’t that a nickname? I think that would be different, although, as I debate this in my head, I am not sure what side I would come down on with a nickname. We’ve got some “Butch”es here who have no part of their legal name as “Butch.” If someone’s been going by that for a lifetime, it would be kind of weird to insist that they go by Steve here. OTOH, you could get into a gray area where someone’s nickname is not really appropriate for the office, but who is to set that standard. Do we insist that “Li’l Wayne” is just Wayne here?

        1. AnotherAlison*

          Oh, well that’s a whole different issue! That just goes to my personal pet peeve that you should name your kids what you call them (who’s going to yell at ‘The King’ to clean his room?), and perhaps to the point that the government occasionally needs to intervene in naming of kids. “The” isn’t really a valid first name.

  29. AW*

    What really kills me about this is that by saying the OP can’t use their own name, they’re also forbidding anyone in the office from using it.

    If this co-worker is objecting to the name then that means the manager sent out an email or told them in a meeting about the OP joining the team. Which means everyone knows their name is King. Which means the manager is going to or has already sent a follow-up email telling everyone NOT to call the OP King because co-worker objects to it for religious reasons.

    Frankly, if I was one of the other co-workers, I’d call the OP “Your Lordship” if they insisted on not letting me call the OP King.

    1. HR Recruiter*

      I’m wondering if management sent out an announcement saying, “Please welcome John Smith to the team. He goes by King or King Smith.” And left off the part about it being his middle name and not a nickname.

      1. afiendishthingy*

        Ooh, good point – although you’d still hope that when the coworker raised a fuss the manager would have said “It’s not a fraternity nickname, it is the name he always goes by, and we can’t change his name to accommodate you”.

  30. Dr. Pepper Addict*

    Whenever someone cries that they’re offended, there’s usually someone on the other side that will get offended if the reverse situation happened. In this case, they’re offending OP and trying to cater to the other person in the office. Why doesn’t it matter if OP is offended that they asked him to change his name? And that IS offensive.

  31. Fuzzyfuzz*

    I wouldn’t recommend lobbing this stone immediately, but something to chew on (someone may have said it upthread):

    Could this employee insisting that you use a different name–and your employer allowing it–amount legally to HER making it a hostile work environment for the OP? I would think so if the name is representative of race, religion, or any other protected class. To me, her ‘rights’ and protections are not the only ones that matter here.

    1. LBK*

      I don’t believe one incident would rise to the level of being a hostile work environment, even if the OP were somehow able to prove the name were tied to membership in a protected class (which I don’t think it is).

      1. Fuzzyfuzz*

        True, but I was thinking more along the lines of if the employer insisted that the OP comply with this. I don’t know if being consistently called a name you don’t approve of could really be considered an isolated incident.

        1. LBK*

          In the situation outlined, I don’t think the OP would be able to link it to a protected category. If, for example, he had a stereotypically black name and they asked him to go by something that sounded “more white,” then he’d probably have a case.

  32. Workfromhome*

    Simply respond:

    “Sorry my religious beliefs require me to use my middle name in daily use. I would find it offensive to use my first name. ”

    Then say nothing. I think 99.9% of people do not want to go anywhere near a “Employee X’s religion trumps employee Y religion” argument.

    Plus they can’t ask you to “prove it” unless they are willing to have crazy entry level employee prove their ridiculous assertion that the name King is prohibited by their religion.

    On a more serious note I agree with most above. Start looking for another job ASAP. As long as this lunatic has undue influence over the regional manager that could cause this your workplace is likely to become toxic very quickly especially when his/her request is deined. You are going to be their target at some point.

    1. Katie the Fed*

      In reasonable accommodation for religion, you actually don’t have to “prove” anything. The request hinges on the reasonableness of the accommodation, not the validity of the religion.

      1. NotherName*

        This almost (almost!) makes me want to go around renaming all my co-workers and claiming it’s for religious accommodation….

        1. DaBlonde*

          Right, I would just re-name her in return.
          I will go by Wakeen instead of King, and we will call you Gladys (pronounced as nasally as possible).
          As a funny side note, I was nicknamed Lucy by one of my coworkers because whenever he would come back to the office after teaching a class he would announce, “Lucy, I’m home.”
          So whenever I had paperwork of his that wasn’t correct I’d go to his desk and tell him, “Ricky, you got some explaining to do.”

          1. NotherName*

            Not Gladys – my mother worked for a Gladys who was a wonderful lady! You want “Agnes” – and said nasally like in “Auntie Mame.”

            I’m ya sponge!

      2. LawBee*

        I vaguely remember something about not having to prove the validity of the religion, but the sincerity of the belief?

  33. Katie the Fed*

    All things considered, I would turn down this job if I had any other options. This doesn’t bode well for the kind of people I’d be working with.

    I mean, I got over calling a colleague her legal name, “Honey.” The coworker could certainly get over this.

    1. Ad Astra*

      I once frequented a nail tech whose legal name was Cinnamon. She was smart, professional, and not the least bit tacky, but I admit her name had me expecting the opposite.

    2. Hiding on the Internet Today*

      I’ve had a similar stumbling block with “Birdie.” In theory, I find that a very odd and kind of insulting name, and not one I’d attach to a child. In reality, when faced with a real, life, breathing human? I call her Birdie. By about morning 15, “Morning, Birdie, did you see the email on the new spout design?” feels totally normal.

      Unless you’ve really decided to take this to the mattresses. (And if you’re dead set on controlling what someone else is addressed/identified as, I think we are going to have many larger problems.)

    3. Kappa*

      Yep, I went to school with a Bambi. We all just dealt with it.

      I have a relative who goes by “Honey” because she hates her real name. It’s pretty hilarious to hear everyone refer to her as Honey, especially when exasperated with her.

      “Honey, I told you 15 times not to do that!”

      1. RLG*

        Where do you get racism from this? OP states they start next week, the employee may have never even seen them and just noticed their name in a company email or meeting.

      2. Kira*

        Yeah, I’m gonna go with Not Subtle, and if it’s somehow an accident of ignorance, hopefully pointing out the racism inherent in this whole shebang would go a long way toward shutting it down.

  34. KT*

    This reminds me of the one letter who wanted to hide her coworker’s name because in English, it sounded like a bad word. That was just as ridiculous and off the wall.

    1. OriginalEmma*

      I don’t remember that one. Can you link it?

      Reminds me of when I was in elementary school, there was a child named Rashit whose parents changed his name because of all the name calling the poor kid received. :(

  35. TheExchequer*

    Where am I and where did this Looney Tunes music come from?

    Actually, though, my coworker has a similar issue. The president of the company is named “Chris” and her name is “Christina”. She’d prefer to go by Chris but she chooses not to because it’s too much trouble. Bit different than being ordered to go by something else though.

  36. Bostonian*

    This has gotten me thinking: this case is obviously ridiculous, but what about a case where a person’s name is from a different language but is the same as something offensive in English, like a curse word? I both think it’s offensive to ask someone to change a name, and that some employers would have understandable reservations about putting someone with an offensive (in English) name in a customer-facing position. Not hiring someone for that reason is probably grounds for a racial discrimination claim, so does the employer just have to suck it up, even if it hurts business? Or are there some circumstances where asking someone to choose a nickname would be appropriate?

    1. KT*

      No. Asking someone to choose a nickname because you find their name offensive is never okay.

      We live in a global economy…time to get over our ego-centric approach and accept different cultures

      1. JessaB*

        I think there might be a teensy moment where asking them for a different romanization of their name might possibly occasionally be okay – when it always gets caught in spam/editing filters on every use because well “bad word.” And note how many maybes are in there. I’d have IT reset the filters myself. BUT romanization of names is not set in stone – Peking/Beijing etc. I wouldn’t stop them from USING the name. I might ask them if there’s an easier to use alt spelling though. Maybe. I’m not the sort, however, that really cares personally so the above I is really meant to be I-the-corporation’s-mouthpiece, not I the individual me, who’d probably as I said make em change the filters. However, I can’t change everyone’s filters out there so I’d leave it up to the employee in the end.

        1. Observer*

          Yes, you can ask YOUR IT folks to reset the filters, but you can’t do that for other systems. So, that’s the ONE place where it can be appropriate to ask about different spelling or something. But, even there, you really need to be sensitive and open to finding a work around if necessary.

    2. Kelly L.*

      They should suck it up, IMO.

      That said, sometimes people will move to a country, realize their name means something vulgar there, and choose a nickname of their own volition, and that’s just fine! It’s imposing it on someone against their will that we shouldn’t be doing.

      1. Manders*

        I knew an admin whose name was pronounced like a childishly rude English phrase. She chose to go by her full name instead of choosing a nickname, and as far as I’m aware everyone was respectful of that.

        It would be very weird and unusual for an office full of adults to make fun of a coworker’s name.

    3. Fuzzyfuzz*

      There was an entry on Dear Prudence recently about something like this (though it dealt with kids and teasing). One example given was a Turkish exchange student whose name was Ofuc, pronounced just as you’d assume.

      I do think that in a diverse society, employers do kind of have to suck it up. People’s names have different origins, and it’s better to model maturity about this sort of thing than not.

    4. Lily Rowan*

      There’s a great Story Corps story about a kid in school in Southern California, I think, a while back when the teachers made all the Latino kids anglicize or shorten their names….until Facundo transferred in.

    5. Ad Astra*

      Many people with unusual (or “ethnic”) names do choose to go by a nickname to avoid making coworkers or customers uncomfortable, but that’s their decision. Asking someone to change their name is just really not cool in any circumstance.

    6. Artemesia*

      If I were that person, I would adopt a nickname that was not obscene in the culture I was living in. And if I had a child whose name was an embarrassment, I would encourage a nickname culture appropriate. But it is not up to the co-worker or boss to impose that kind of decision on someone else.

  37. WhiskeyTango*

    I worked in an office years ago where the newly hired office manager thought everyone should go by their full first name. So if your name was Samuel, he thought it was unprofessional to go by Sam.. (although he went by a similarly shortened version of his name…. so go figure) Anyway, one attorney went by his middle name and the manager continually called him by his first name and would make jokes about it when corrected. (“Oh, I don’t know why I keep calling your by your given name… ha ha….”) The attorney began ignoring him unless he used the nickname. It literally took a few months, but the guy came around.

    My suggestion in the letter writer’s case would be to only respond when called King.

    1. Poohbear McGriddles*

      Weird, since a lot of highly successful people use nicknames (Steve Jobs, Sam Walton, Bill Gates).
      Unprofessional indeed!

      1. NotherName*

        Also, isn’t a middle name (if you have one) a given name, too?

        This guy sounds like a control freak.

  38. Emma*

    This is very very bizarre. We once had an employee who’s Caller ID would show “Jesus Christ” even though his name was clearly not. Think more like Bob. Our company did make him change his Caller ID because it was offending many people (he worked remote and actually had to call people, with JC showing up on everyone’s phones), and it wasn’t his real name. He said he thought it was “funny.”

  39. xarcady*

    I worked briefly with a man named Christ Christ. He was a “junior;” his father had the same name. I’m wondering how the OP’s new co-worker would deal with that.

    (It was not pronounced the same way as the deity. More like “Chris + t.” A short “i” sound, I think?

    1. AnotherAlison*

      I once got a pizza from Papa John’s, and there was a label on it that said something like “made for you by Christ.” I had high expectations for that pizza, and was kind of disappointed.

      1. Not me*

        I get pizza deliveries from Hannibal sometimes. I feel a little weird about whatever toppings I’ve ordered, but he makes a good pizza.

      2. Cath in Canada*

        My sister applied to various Cambridge university colleges, and once came bursting into the kitchen yelling “I’ve got letters from Jesus and Saint John!”

        (they both rejected her, the bar stewards)

    2. Xanthippe Lannister Voorhees*

      I know a Christina who goes by that.. rhymes more with Crisp… hard to explain without sounds, but I guess that’s how I’d describe it.

  40. Ask a Manager* Post author

    The letter-writer just emailed me this update:

    Thank you for your prompt response to my question. I read a lot of the comments and was surprised to learn that so many people would have a similar opinion on this subject.

    I did not accept the job and to answer some of the questions that came up in the comment section. I am Caucasian, King is my middle name and there has been someone named King in my family for generations. This is a large company and well known nationwide. I may send your response and the comments to their corporate offices so they will know what their regional manager is doing here.

      1. LBK*

        I’ve seen a few comments like that and I’m a bit confused how that would relate – surely we hear of people in large companies doing crazy things all the time? Just because there’s a corporate office doesn’t mean corporate necessarily has any direct oversight to what people at individual locations or on individual teams are doing.

        1. MashaKasha*

          As someone who’s been working at huge companies for most of the last fifteen years – they’re afraid of bad PR. So normally people won’t do completely balls-out crazy things at large corporations. I see a serious conversation with the corporate in this regional manager’s future.

          1. LBK*

            Huh, I guess I just don’t think of intra-department conflicts as potential PR risks, and I really doubt most middle managers would think of it that way either, even at a large company. This doesn’t rise to the level of “PR disaster” for me even if the OP were to choose to go to the media.

        2. HM in Atlanta*

          Larger companies generally have standardized processes so regional managers wouldn’t be this involved in the nuts-and-bolts of new employee set-up

    1. Muriel Heslop*

      Please do contact their corporate offices. This is absolutely nuts that they wanted you to change your name.

      1. SL #2*

        If they’re smart about it, the corporate office and HR are both going to tear the regional manager (and the offended coworker) a new one for driving away a promising job candidate by alienating him like this.

    2. Artemesia*

      Good for you. And I hope you do send this on to corporate. This was dunderheaded move by this manager and someone with such poor judgment shouldn’t be managing. You dodged a toxic workplace there.

    3. KimmieSue*

      Good for you, OP! I hope you do inform the corporate office. Terrible experience but something tells you me you likely just dodged a very large & fast bullet.

    4. adonday veeah*

      Pleeeeeaaaaassssseeee tell me that you told them you declined the job because of this idiot request!

    5. Observer*

      I’m going to agree with others who say you should let corporate know. If HR in this company is competent, they WILL have what to say to the regional manager. Competent HR people know that just because something is legal it doesn’t mean it’s a good idea. And telling people that they cannot use their name is just NOT A GOOD IDEA. It’s so bad, in fact, that it leads to questions about the manager’s judgment. Slos his understanding of religious accommodation, which is present an interesting legal issue, as well.

    6. pony tailed wonder*

      Please send it to corporate. You may save other people from going through needless drama. I had no idea of how many names were different versions of King or something similar until I read this thread.

  41. Ashamed Anonymous*

    OP, please push back on this! King is such a great and dignified name, if I was in management I would have asked the coworker how exactly the name was religiously offensive – a question which may be offensive in its own right. I believe that in such gray areas like this it should absolutely be acceptable to ask for some clarity when someone expresses offense, even if it can’t (shouldn’t) be accommodated.

    I once worked with a guy who worked in the mail room. One day he confided in me and another coworker about his prior legal troubles and how our employer was giving him a chance and he was so grateful. He also told us he worked another job – as a male exotic dancer named “Texas Toast”. Coworker and I started calling him by the name in whispers at work and finally settled on Toast as a nickname. His first name also began with a T and so others caught on to the nickname. Coworker and I nearly burst into flames months later when a VP was announcing promotions and “Toast” was promoted to a job in purchasing. He quit dancing after that. Still goes by Toast and probably been promoted 3 more times since. Keep your name OP, keep your name!!!

    1. De Minimis*

      I had another former coworker who moonlighted as a pro wrestler for a local indie wrestling promotion, we sometimes called him by his ring name, “Shadow.”

  42. De Minimis*

    Speaking of names, I worked with a guy once named Henry Henry. I guess his parents didn’t want to bother with thinking up a unique first name. He used to sign memos “H2.”

    I like the name King.

    1. Hush42*

      I know someone who is getting married to a guy whose last name is Williams. She keeps telling me how she wants to name their future son William William Williams…

      1. AnonEMoose*

        In the novel “Callahan’s Key” (written by Spider Robinson), there is actually a character named William Williams. He goes by “Double Bill.”

        1. NotherName*

          I had a prof in college named William P. Williams. Some people called him “Bill Bill.” (Not to his face.)

            1. AnonEMoose*

              Now I’m thinking of the beginning of “The Englishman Who Went Up a Hill, But Came Down a Mountain,” when the narrator is talking about the shortage of last names in Wales, and how people have a descriptive nickname because of it. Like the undertaker being “Evans the Dead” and “Eavans the Prize Cabbage, which described both his hobby and his personality…” Cracks me up every time.

      2. Mephyle*

        In the “My Friend” series of novels by Jane Duncan, the narrator’s husband was called Alexander Alexander. Her nickname for him was Twice.

    2. Winter is Coming*

      There is a woman in our town who happened to marry a guy whose last name was the same as her first — think Grace Grace. I always got a kick out of it. She must too, because it’s her vanity license plate!

    3. Elizabeth*

      Growing up, an acquaintance of my mother’s had a son named David from her first marriage. After her husband passed away, she got married to a man whose last name was Davidson, who proceeded to adopt her two children. Thus, David Davidson.

  43. Hush42*

    I once worked for a company that had hired someone named Sheila but, since there was already a Sheila working at the company, the owners decided that that would be too confusing and they required to new employee to choose to go by a different name. It was completely bizarre. It’s a good thing that they were a pretty small company. They were pretty terrible employers all around.

    1. De Minimis*

      At my former employer’s regional headquarters they had a similar issue with two Garys, they decided to have them be “New Gary” and “Old Gary.”

    2. adonday veeah*

      There are FIVE Sandra’s in my company. We manage to keep them straight without reassigning them names. Grownups can do this.

      Although we did have, at one time, a father and son with the same first name. We called them Junior and Senior. Junior is no longer working here, but the dad is still called Senior. As in, “Did you ask for Senior’s input on that project?”

    3. brightstar*

      This happened to me about 5 years ago. I have a name that used to be very common (it’s out of fashion now) and, desperate for a job, I began work at a small company. My first day I was told I had to start using a nickname because someone in my department had the same first name and it would be too confusing. I chose one, but it grated on me worse and worse every day. Yes, this was a highly dysfunctional company. I’ve worked at three companies with coworkers with the same name, somehow we get beyond the confusion. It’s not a name that easily lends itself to nicknames.

    4. Observer*

      Even KIDS can deal with this. I went to a religious private school, and out of a grade of 50 girls, approximately 20 had the same name. No one seemed to have any problems. One of my sons shares a first and middle name with a significant number of his class mates. No one ever got confused. And, give the fact that these are community based schools, there are lots of kids with the same last names, and “clusters” of cousins with family first and last names. Again, everyone seems to manage fine. Given how baby names trend, I have to believe that plenty of non-religious schools, private and public alike, have lots of kids with same first name. They all manage.

  44. Boononymous*

    In my opinion, if this person is offended by the name you’ve had for half a century, then they can refer to use as Mr. or Ms. Last Name. (Why are people so weird?)

  45. HRish Dude*

    If his first name is Sofa and his last name is Awesome, I can certainly see where there would be an issue.

      1. UK Nerd*

        I see a Sofa King van drive past around once a month. Always gives me a smile.

        “Where the prices are Sofa King Low!”

    1. mander*

      There used to be an industrial/experimental band (TX based, I think) called “Sofa Kingdom”.

  46. AnotherAlison*

    I completely forgot about this until now, but we have a situation where IT basically wants people to change their names.

    If someone has a long first and last name, a particular database can’t handle their login, and if they change it in one place, IT wants to change their handle everywhere. They got some people to change their names on their emails (a Katherine to Kate type thing), but they wanted one of the new hires I was working with to do the same and we pushed back. Her name had no typical shortened version. We got them to keep hers as longfirstname_longlastname. I thought this was pretty dumb on IT’s part. Log-ins for other stuff is one thing, but you really should have your NAME in your email when that’s how 10,000 + company emails are set up. Otherwise it would be years of confusion when your coworkers try to email you.

    1. Noah*

      We all login with our employee number which is X#####. A letter and five digit number. This login is used across everything, even email. So someone can send me an email at Q12345 or fname.lname. Either one works, but officially my email is Apparently this is a relic of some mainframe computer system we still use for some functions.

      The good thing is it allows for single sign on to all systems. Even my Windows login is Q12345, and if I change my password in Windows it populates across all the various systems. Way better than my last job where I had a sheet of usernames/passwords for all the various systems. The usernames had no consistent format.

    2. De Minimis*

      I used to work at a huge company with locations worldwide. A coworker had a fairly common name and apparently another employee located in one of the other offices had the exact same name and even the same middle initial. Apparently this was a huge hassle for I.T. to straighten out so the poor guy could have a login.

      1. Who watches the Watcher's?*

        Back in middle school one of my friends and I had the same name. First, middle, and last. We even had the same birthday! I don’t know what the odds of all that are, but at the time we thought we were extremely special snowflakes. ^__^

  47. sam*

    This reminded me of a somewhat old This American Life episode about accidentally ending up with a religiously problematic name…but the storyteller was a student in a religious school at the time, so there were slightly different sensitivities involved…

    Summary: As a boy in religious school, Shalom Auslander is informed that his name, Shalom, is one of the names of God; so he must be very careful not to take his own name in vain.

  48. Kvaren*

    I wish the OP had never told anyone that King is actually his middle name. Outside of the legal employment paperwork, why would anyone outside of HR need to know whether King is the person’s first or last name?

  49. HRish Dude*

    Unrelated and thankfully I haven’t really seen this in the comments:

    As a person who “goes by” my middle name, probably my very least favorite question I get when someone finds out my full name is “Why do you go by your middle name?”

    The only answer I can ever really think of is, “Because that’s my name.”

    Do people not grasp that for 99.9% of humans, parents are responsible for naming their children?

    1. fposte*

      I don’t follow, though. Do you mean not that’s the name your parents named you (because presumably they gave you your first name as well) but that that’s the name they always called you?

      1. They do!*

        I go by my middle name. My legal first name is a completely foreign name to me. I do not identify with it. My boss referring to me as “Firstname” would be as strange as referring to me as my colleague’s name. It’s just… Not My Name. Hopefully this helps to make sense.

        To further elaborate, if your name is Sarah, and someone called you Mary you would be like… That’s not my name. Right? Just because something is legally attributed to you doesn’t mean you identify with it. You identify with the name you ‘go-by.’

        1. AnotherAlison*

          Not quite. . .if someone called me by middle name, my ears would perk up as I do recognize that as my name and I would ask if they were talking to me, and then I would explain that I actually go by Alison. (I’ve had some paperwork situations where my names have been entered backwards by others, and an insurance agent or similar has called me by my middle name.)

          1. Elizabeth West*

            I have too, because when they ask for my full name, I put down my first and middle, but I go by my middle. So I either explain or put (Middle) in brackets or in the preferred name space if there is one.

          2. They do!*

            For me though, my first name is so… cringeworthy (I’m not exaggerating) that I don’t perk up. Along the lines though, my husband goes by his middle, and his first is a ‘generic white guy name a million people have.’ So, he doesn’t perk up or think his first name applies to him if it’s said either – unless it’s said in conjunction with his last name.
            I think if someone says First-Last to me, I certainly recognize and say oh i go by middle, but if someone says first (only) I wouldn’t even realize it’s in reference to me.

          3. One of the Sarahs*

            So, my favourite middle name story, which ALL TRUE: my dad is universally known by his middle name – basically, he was born in WWII, his dad wanted to call him something patriotic, his mum wanted to call him after her father and her brother, who died in the war. They wouldn’t budge, so he was called eg Patriotic Adam Francis Surname – and his father & his family always called him Pat-short-for-Patriotic, and his mother and HER family called him Adam. His dad died when he was a young teenager, so he was known as Adam, or Ad, from then. Now, even though his initials are PAFS, he doesn’t relate to the name “Patriotic” at all and it’s always a surprise to him to hear it, though Pat would be fine.

        2. xarcady*

          I have the same issue with my name. IRL, my first name is Mary. My middle name is Anne.

          So, my name is Mary. But a great many people see “Mary” (space) “Anne” and think, “Oh, her name is Maryanne.” And then get upset when I do not respond to “Maryanne.”

          Maryanne is not my name. If you call me Maryanne, I will not respond, just as I will not respond if you call me Amy, or Kathy, or Hepzibah. Because my brain does not recognize “Maryanne” as pertaining to me in any way. And it is not a choice I am making, deciding not to answer. I honestly don’t hear anything related to “Maryanne” as any of my business.

          1. They do!*

            Yes! My ‘old lady’ first name actually would go somewhat well when paired with my middle name as a double name. So, I’ve taken to filling out my ‘first name’ in forms as First Middle (First Space Middle) and people assume it’s a double name. That’s on billing, things like that. Just yesterday I called 1800 flowers and was like this is middle, whats wrong with my order. And they were like… what is your relation to first we cannot discuss this with not the account owner… since the account has to be in my billing information. An older account, now generally I set up new ones as (First Space Middle) so it looks like a double name.
            Not a great solution but again, my parents screwed me over a little bit. Which I remind them on a regular basis. They did the same to my older sister. And she married a guy with a very long, alphabet-y ethnic last name. And she’s a doctor – so legally she has to write her FULL name on prescriptions. Dr. First Middle Maiden Last. So… she says that’s why doctors have terrible handwriting.

        3. One of the Sarahs*

          So, my favourite middle name story, which ALL TRUE: my dad is universally known by his middle name – basically, he was born in WWII, his dad wanted to call him something patriotic, his mum wanted to call him after her father and her brother, who died in the war. They wouldn’t budge, so he was called eg Patriotic Adam Francis Surname – and his father & his family always called him Pat-short-for-Patriotic, and his mother and HER family called him Adam. His dad died when he was a young teenager, so he was known as Adam, or Ad, from then. Now, even though his initials are PAFS, he doesn’t relate to the name “Patriotic” at all and it’s always a surprise to him to hear it, though Pat would be fine.

    2. LBK*

      I think people who ask that must not realize that the convention of calling someone by their middle name is usually started by that person’s parents – they must be assuming you chose to start going by your middle name later on (which some people do, but I think it’s much less common than your parents deciding for you).

      1. They do!*

        In my case, most people know my middle name (and assume it’s a first name) long before they know my first. Usually colleagues only ever know my first if we’re travelling together. Given that my first name is pretty archaic, once people realize what it is they stop asking questions.
        Oh, it’s so nice to not be in grade school anymore when I was constantly teased for it! (see above, first day of school roll-call always produced severe anxiety in grade-school me)

    3. JMegan*

      Yeah, I usually just say “You’d have to ask my parents.” The longer answer is neither very interesting nor very informative, but I sometimes supply it anyway: “They liked the names J and Megan, and they wanted me to be called Megan, but they liked the sound of J Megan better than Megan J.”

      There’s no story. No skeletons in the closet, no elderly relative with a potential large inheritance to be placated – it’s not even a family tradition, since I’m the only one in the family who does it this way. They just did it like that because they liked it better, and didn’t realize it would cause so much confusion!

    4. Ann O'Nemity*

      Eh, I think some people are just trying to make conversation and don’t realize that their questions may be offensive to you.

    5. Noah*

      I also go by my middle name, because that’s what I’ve always been called. Besides the fact that it is easier for Americans to spell and pronounce, I have no idea why my family calls me by my middle name. I don’t share my first name with any relatives that would be easily confused. Everyone has just always called me my middle name and that’s it.

    6. neverjaunty*

      Of course they do. What they’re asking is why you go by your middle name, in a culture where most people go by their first name, and indeed the convention is that parents select as the child’s ‘first name’ the name that they wish the child to go by. (That is, they’re not asking “Why is Wakeen your name?”; they’re asking “Since your parents named you Catullus Wakeen, why do you go by Wakeen, rather than Catullus?”)

      Whether it’s any of their business or whether you care to explain it are entirely separate issues, of course.

    7. CM*

      I didn’t understand this the first time I came across it, but now I know that a lot of people go by their middle names (more so in certain regions, like here in New England I think it’s pretty rare but very common in the South). So maybe people are just asking because they haven’t encountered that before, and “I’ve always gone by my middle name” would explain it.

      1. Snork Maiden*

        Here, also, some people go by their middle names because the first name is the same as one of their parent’s or grandparent’s, and in a small community where multiple generations interact, this can be helpful. (Also, if you’re several generations down in a family name, going by your middle can be a bit of a relief, and a way to assert individuality.)

        1. NotherName*

          Also, I’ve known people whose parents gave the first name to honor or make a family member happy but preferred the middle name – so they got called the middle name.

          My grandfather started going by his middle name when he was a boy and read a book where a cattle rustler’s name was HisMiddleName HisLastName. (For the record, my grandfather never became a cattle rustler.)

          1. They do!*

            My mom named me after her mom, who was the queen of snark. The phone call went like this
            My mom: We had a baby girl and we named her first middle
            My grandmother: Oh how nice! What are you calling her
            My mom: We are going to call her middle
            My grandmother: It doesn’t count.

              1. They do!*

                She was the Queen of Snark. Usually said so sweetly you didn’t realize you’d been insulted until the next day.
                But, my old lady name was in vain! No brownie points even given.

      2. Judy*

        I know at least two families in which the firstborn male names are designed so the middle is the name they’re called.

        James Andrew = Andy, had son Andrew Edward = Ed, had son Edward Mark = Mark.

        It’s a naming tradition that some families adopt.

    8. Artemesia*

      I remember someone asking Moon Unit Zappa about her father — ‘but Frank is such a common name and he gave you and Dweezil such interesting names’ — Well, he didn’t name himself.

    9. HRish Dude*

      I should point out that I’m not “offended” by the question – just annoyed by it.

      Everyone has random pet peeves and I think that’s one of mine.

      1. NotherName*

        I think everyone’s annoyed by having to answer the same question over and over again. I have a very distinctive hair color, and I used to have to field questions about it all the time… Really, a 12YO shouldn’t have to explain genetics to an adult… (Now people just assume I dye my hair.)

    10. AnnieNonymous*

      I know that in some cultures/religions (Catholicism comes to mind), people often give their kids the “family” first name and only ever intend to call the kid by their middle name. It’s not quite so common anymore, but it’s not unheard of for a family to name all of their daughters Mary and give them different middle names.

  50. Jenny*

    So this happened with me years ago. “We have a Jennifer and understand that you go by Jenny but because we already have one here, you will need to change your name. It’s just too similar and when people call for one of you it will be confusing.” I fought it but ended up with another name. Linnea.

    That place was Crazytown.

    1. AnotherAlison*

      That’s so weird! Can you imagine if a school district tried to tell a kid to change their name? If no lawsuit, there would at least be some viral media coverage. I don’t get how as a 3rd graders, we were able to distinguish among the 5 Sarahs in our grade but employed adults can’t figure out “Jenny” could be “Jenny S” or “Jenny working on the Vandelay account.” We have two Tims and 3 Dans in our department. No one has ever been mind-blowingly confused by this.

      1. LucyVP*

        For some reason we have a lot of Karens in our office and they get addressed personally as Karen but when we are talking about them they get firstlast as if it is one name. Seems to work well because we are adults.


      2. AnonPi*

        Actually they did that when I was a kid. There were 6 Jennifers when I started elementary school, so they called two Jennifer, two Jenny, and two Jen, then tagged on the last initial to differentiate between the two. I got stuck with Jenny through high school and hated it :p My mother wasn’t too happy about it either, as she wanted my name to be Jennifer, n0t Jenny, Jen, or whatever else they came up with. I think she complained but they were a bunch of weird people anyways and ignored her and so it stuck. (Their other grand idea was to institute a new dress code for girls and make us wear skirts or dresses – no pants. In the 80s. Thank goodness that one flopped).

    2. Jessica (tc)*

      See, this kind of thing is ridiculous. As someone else with a name that every other person seems to have, I don’t understand this mindset. This is someone’s name, not just a random something they picked up. Call them what they want to be called and don’t use nicknames if they ask you not to. Done.

      When I graduated from high school, 10% of the graduating class had the name Jessica (and there were a bunch of Jennifers, too, so I wouldn’t be surprised if we comprised 15% of the grad class or more, between the Jennifers and Jessicas there). Most of us were there from at least middle or junior high school, so we just made do. We each had our preferred way of being called, and everyone respected that. Some preferred just “Jessica,” and that was fine. If you had to specify, you’d just use last initial: Jessica A., Jessica B., Jessica C., Jessica D., Jessica G., Jessica W., etc. (Yeah, we really did have Jessica’s A-D in a row.)

      Heck, a girl in the grade ahead of me had the same first name, same middle name (and it’s not a common middle name), and the same last initial as I did. You just deal with it. I mean, if middle school through high schoolers can deal with it without being confused, then I don’t understand adults in a professional workplace not being able to do so. I’m just glad I’ve never had someone in the workplace try to change my name completely. I have had people shorten it to a nickname I abhor, but I deal with it pretty quickly: I (1) tell them I hate that nickname and do not wish to be called it, and then for those who aren’t mature enough to handle that simple request I (2) don’t respond to the nickname until they call me by my actual name or a preferred nickname. I don’t understand why people have so many problems with people’s preferred names!

  51. Dr. Doll*

    “You would like me to use an alternate name, since my first name, Hellcat, doesn’t suit? Sure, how about people call me Dr. Doll. I’ll be happy to call you Ms. Crazypants.”

  52. Beezus*

    I was once, years ago, told to choose a work nickname, since my name was too similar to a coworker’s name. We already went by different variants of the name – like Bea and Beezus – but that wasn’t different enough. I also had complaints that my name was too long to type out, although it is fewer than 10 letters.

    So I chose to pick my battles with crazy, and go by Fred. I am female and my given name is decidedly feminine. I wanted them to be reminded of exactly how absurd the situation was every time they wanted to get my attention, and I wanted them to have to explain it repeatedly to outsiders. Fred was my nickname until (you may want to sit down for this) we had a complete management changeover a year or so down the road.

    This year, my current workplace got a new piece of equipment with a long, forgettable name. I renamed it Fred, and the name has stuck. :D

    1. ThursdaysGeek*

      My mother-in-law called herself Fred. When the first grandchild arrived, she wasn’t old enough to be ‘grandma’ so she decided the grand-kids would call her Fred. Eventually, she’d introduce herself as Fred, and it’s the name I still remember very fondly.

      1. Musereader*

        my ex boyfriend decided that when a new Andy came onto his team with an existing Andy, the new guy was renamed Dave, he liked it so much he changed his name and still goes by Dave even though they have all left the company.

  53. Margaret*

    We’ve had employees voluntarily modify their first name/nickname (it’s amazing to me how many duplicate names you can get in a group of less than 100 people). E.g., one of the Megans started going by Meg. But it’s definitely their own choice, and without them doing that we just referred to Megan S. and Megan B., and it’s really not a big deal. We even have two Joe S.! But for them we tend to call by their last names instead of Joe. I can’t imagine working a at place that would demand employees go by a different name, either due to duplicates or some random “religious” belief. I would definitely have hesitations and concerns about what else might be crazy there.

    1. Window Seat Anon*

      I had something similar to that in high school class. Six Matthews! That’s right, 6! We called all of them by their last names to differentiate who we meant. :)

      1. De Minimis*

        My generation was all Jennifers and Jasons. I worked someplace with two Jennifers in management, we just used their last initial—Jenn P and Jenn R.

      2. reaching for the sky*

        Yes, we also had several Matthews, and we also called them by their last names. One had a last name that is a common female given name, which was awkward.

  54. I'm Not Phyllis*

    That’s such a ridiculous request that I can’t even believe they brought it forward to you. My previous (gov’t) boss used his middle name and nobody thought twice about it. In fact, most people didn’t even realize it wasn’t his first name. I totally agree with Alison – a very firm “that’s not possible” is what’s needed here. Unless your boss is also willing to use a different name, then maybe you can reconsider.

    1. I'm With Phyllis*

      Also this reminds me of The Bucket List movie where the guy called his assistant Thomas instead of (his real name) Matthew because he thought Matthew was “too biblical.”

  55. MeUnplugged*

    Back at OldJob, we would work with vendors. On day a vendor from Lord & Taylor called, and my friend (who was having an off day and didn’t hear the ‘and’) said “Is your first name Lord?!”

    I tell this story so I can suggest that OP offer to use the name Lord at work. See which name the employee objects to more.

    Also she and the employer are unreasonable numbskulls.

  56. Slippy*

    Tell the hyper-sensitive person that they have your permission to call you ‘Admiral King’ or maybe ‘Commodore King’. Fixes the issue and gets a nice little ego boost.

  57. Mary (in PA)*

    I wonder what that person would have done if he or she had encountered one of the authors of a research paper on Streptococcus that I found yesterday: Dr. Godspower E. Asekomeh, practitioner of neurology at the University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital in Nigeria.

    (It reminds me of those old-timey Puritan “virtue names” that people in the 16th and 17th century used to give to their children, like “From-above,” “Safe-on-high,” and my own personal favorite, “If-Christ-had-not-died-for-thee-thou-hadst-been-damned.”)

  58. Another Jim*

    “This entry-level employee…”

    While I disagree with an employer requiring someone to not use a given name, the fact that the writer includes “this entry-level employee” sets off an alarm. What does the rank of an employee matter? If it was a senior executive would the writer be singing a different tune?

    1. neverjaunty*

      It would still be wrong, but I think the added level of nope-bait is that management appears to be terrified of offending an entry-level employee with zero authority over the LW.

  59. Kat M.*

    Seriously though, can’t they just ask this person to call you Mr. So-and-so, and the rest of the people can call you King? That seems totally reasonable to me, unless their religion requires everybody else following their beliefs too.