new coworker won’t stop texting me, I sent a sloppily formatted application email, and more

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

1. My new coworker won’t stop texting me

I recently started a new job, and one of my coworkers, an older man, asked to exchange numbers. I thought nothing of it, as I have exchanged numbers with coworkers in the past. Things instantly got uncomfortable, though. He texted me way too many times that same night. Some of the texts were also, to me, borderline inappropriate things to say to a young woman you barely know. My responses to him became colder and colder until I stopped responding altogether. Then I got hit with messages asking if I was still there, if I was awake (late at night), etc.

He seems like a nice person at work and is very chummy with people, and I wonder if maybe he’s just a little misguided on appropriate interactions rather than a creeper. I don’t know him well enough to answer that. All I know is I want the texting to stop altogether, but I don’t know how to tactfully say that without damaging our present and future working relationship (sometimes this coworker and I work together, alone, so I don’t want there to be tension).

Also, is this something I should bring up to my boss or HR, or should I wait until I’ve tried to resolve this with my coworker directly?

My money is on creeper.

You need to tell him directly to stop texting you. Just say, “Please don’t continue texting me on this number. Thank you.” Or you could say, “I thought you wanted my number for work issues; please don’t send me personal texts.” If you feel rude saying that, realize that the rudeness is coming from him; you’re simply asserting an appropriate boundary in response to it. (And by the way, someone who is not a creeper will hear this and stop immediately. If he resists, he’s a jerk and you don’t need to worry about being rude anyway.)

If he doesn’t stop after you directly tell him to, then yes, at that point you should talk to HR because it’s getting into sexual harassment territory and that’s their bag.

You could also just block his number, but that’s not as likely to put an end to his advances as a direct statement to him to stop.

2. I sent a sloppily formatted application email

I recently worked on a cover letter, resume, and email greeting for a job at my dream company. They’re not currently hiring, but I wanted to grab their attention and was really pleased with how unique my application was.

When I composed the email, I was drafting it in Microsoft Word. Then I pasted it into my Gmail and altered a couple of things, but then made sure it was all the same font, size, etc. I sent the email and bcc’d myself at my Outlook address. When I received the email in Outlook, it looked terrible! There was random spacing, and certain parts of sentences had different fonts and sizes. I was so embarrassed! It’s as if the changes I made in the Gmail window didn’t register.

I decided to reformat the email, test it, and send through again with a short note saying that I’d noticed the format had been altered from Gmail to Outlook, that I’d reformatted for an easier read, and was sorry to have to send again. Is this going to make me look sloppy? There were no typos in the email or the attachment, just the formatting of the body of the email. I’m still embarrassed because it meant so much to me to grab their attention…but not in a negative way!

I wouldn’t worry about it. They’re not going to be outraged by the original formatting, and you sent them a clean version. It’s fine.

(In the future, Gmail’s “remove formatting” feature is your friend; it’ll make all your text look uniform.)

3. Does my employer have to act on a doctor’s note?

I have degenerative spine disease, which is made worse by sitting. I have a doctor’s note requesting that I have an adjustable height desk so I can stand as needed. They provided one that didn’t work out well with my desk. I have found another desk that would work well because it is the whole desk that raises and not an apparatus you put on the desk. Does employer have to provide an ergonomic solution since I have a doctor’s note? My doctor’s note also suggests this work station as a way to avoid potential surgery.

In general, employers aren’t legally bound to follow the requests or recommendations in doctor’s notes. Good employers will try to if it’s practical, but they’re not legally bound to. However, if the Americans with Disabilities Act is in play here, then they do need to work with you to try to find a reasonable accommodation (which might be what your doctor is recommending but might be something else — although what your doctor is recommending sounds pretty reasonable).

So the question is whether you’re covered under the ADA (which doesn’t list specific conditions other than AIDS, but does cover physical or mental impairments that “substantially limits one or more of the major life activities”).

4. Are farm workers exempt from overtime pay?

I was told by my boss (who is a farm manager) that they don’t have to pay overtime pay (time and a half) if we work more than 40 hours, because farms exist in a wage loophole which allows them to pay straight pay over 40 hours. My question: Is this true?

It’s true! Agricultural workers are indeed exempt from overtime laws (although they still need to be paid minimum wage).

{ 226 comments… read them below }

  1. Could be anyone*

    #4 – This also applies for seasonal jobs. My son worked for our township for a couple of summers. The up side is he got all the extra hours he wanted as he was the cheapest employee. So he would do the weekend check of the parks.

    1. CreationEdge*

      Seasonal jobs are not exempt from OT.

      The park checking aspect of the job may have made it qualify as agricultural, or the township position may have have had some other reason for not being covered by the FLSA or interstate commerce clause.

          1. Beancounter in Texas*

            True. My father owns & operates a cotton gin in south Texas and it is inherently a seasonal agricultural operation. He does have a few regular, year-round employees, but the bulk of the labor is seasonal. His specific situation calls for overtime after 48 hours in a week.

      1. HR Caligula*

        It’s true, federally seasonal recreation and amusement jobs are exempt, your state may very.

        Another surprising position exempt from OT? Movie Theater Projectionist!

          1. The Cosmic Avenger*

            I imagine the position requires minutes of intense prep work and then (during the actual showing) longer times of waiting for your skills to be needed, so much of it is like being on-call. At least, that’s my guess. :)

            1. Electron Whisperer*

              I did that job for a while, and back then in a two screen venue (Running carbon arc projectors no less!), it was fairly busy because the burn time on the carbons was 20 minutes or so, which limited the length of a reel.

              More modern gear allows 6,000 ft spools or 12,000 ft cake stands and lamp technology post dating WW2 which makes it much less like hard work, but that exemption has I would have thought to date from the Carbon arc era so yea, politico owning the local drive in seems likely.

              It was one of those strange jobs that actually was a fair amount of sitting around waiting, but when things went wrong it could get amazingly stressful.

              Regards, Dan.

              1. Connie-Lynne*

                Oh my god, how cool to be a carbon arc projectionist! I worked a little bit with carbon arc followspots in school, and I learned how to weld, but neither one in any kind of long-term capacity.

                I’m so impressed. I just think that’s the coolest thing.

          2. V2*

            The cynic in me would guess that a member of congress also owned a movie theater, didn’t want to pay overtime to the projectionists, and inserted an amendment to exempt them.

            1. CAA*

              Yeah, California’s labor code also has a bunch of exceptions for specific professions (sheepherders, hairdressers, etc.) Every time I come across one of those, I wonder about the history behind it. I never would have thought there was much of a lobbying group for shepherds.

              I’m less surprised to see exceptions for motion picture workers, and in fact, there’s an entire publication from the CA DIR dedicated to them.

              1. Elizabeth West*

                Don’t many professionals on movie sets belong to unions, though? Gaffers, grips, etc. Extras sometimes do but they can be hired without it, as far as I know.

                1. Connie-Lynne*

                  There’s plenty of non-union movie work that gets made. I’m not sure about the union involvement or the stories behind the CA Labor Code movie stuff, but I am familiar with theater work. There’s a wild set of rules and regs around allowing union workers to work unpaid or minimally paid or even surrender their pay in small-audience, independent productions, for example.

                  I wouldn’t be surprised if the same thing existed for indy movies.

                2. CAA*

                  Yes, artists who make movies are often unionized, but there are many jobs in the industry that either aren’t unionized or where only some are: Administrative Assistants, Tutors, Social Workers, Janitors, Security Guards, Tour Guides, Caterers, etc.

                3. Cath in Canada*

                  Movie / TV industry unions are pretty toothless – if they make too much of a fuss, shows can just pick up and move elsewhere pretty easily. It’s not like they’re representing nurses, or transit workers, or other union jobs that are needed in every single city, where the unions actually have some ability to negotiate terms. My husband’s a unionized worker in the movie industry and his union can barely help with safety issues.

              2. Connie-Lynne*

                The CA labor code tech exemptions are so interesting because I can totally see where they came from and they’re actually totally reasonable given the industry.

                I assume the other exceptions came from reasonable places, too … but you’re right, I often wonder “what is the story here?” That would be a fascinating series for some kind of blogger who talks about labor law.

  2. A Dispatcher*

    Oh #1, I really feel for you. I’m a young, single and reasonably attractive girl and in my field that means I was inundated with things like what you’re describing. It can get VERY uncomfortable. I have no context here, but my guess is this guy is the office creeper who goes after every new girl who walks through the door – it seems far too many offices have them. Luckily however, these types usually are pretty used to rejection and hopefully he will stop once you make it clear you want this behavior shut down. I like Alison’s “I thought you wanted my number for work issues; please don’t send me personal texts” the best here.

    You may get some pushback from the guy or (and I know some of the commenters here think this term is overused) gaslighting from him (YOU are taking things the wrong way – I was just trying to be friendly). Don’t let that bother you, don’t apologize and don’t back down. Just keep your tone nice and neutral and say either way, you’d like the texts to stop. If it continues or seems to bleed into his professional interactions with you, definitely don’t be afraid to bring it up to HR.

    1. Afiendishingy*

      Yes- don’t get sucked into a discussion about his intentions. My money is also on creeper, but it’s not relevant to your message here.
      OP: I thought you wanted my number for work reasons. Please don’t send me non-work-related texts.
      Just A Friendly Guy: whoa, this is out of nowhere. I’m just trying to help you get settled in.
      OP: I’m all set. Don’t send me personal texts anymore.
      JAFG: you try to be a gentleman and be nice to a girl these days and they act like you’re some kind of criminal.
      OP: uh huh. Bye.

      +document +report if behavior continues afterwards. This sucks OP! And it sucks that HE has put YOU in a situation where you don’t want to
      say anything to “damage the relationship” that he already damaged with creepiness. But I believe in you OP! Take back the power.

      1. neverjaunty*

        Small quibble – OP doesn’t need to say anything more than “Please don’t text me anymore. Thank you.” Continuing with things like “I’m all set” or “uh huh” is engaging him more, which OP doesn’t want to do. After telling JAFG not to text her anymore, if he doesn’t stop cold, the next step is to block his number.

        1. JessaB*

          this. Do not engage. Any engagement sends signals that he’ll read as “if I do it enough she’ll engage.” Just keep going with “Please don’t text me.” And if it goes on more than let’s say 3 times (just to be reasonable here,) tell HR.

    2. LadyCop*

      Doesn’t matter what field you work in…or believe it or not if you’re even single or reasonably attractive. This is a thing we young ladies can have thrown at us all too easily.

      1. The Artist Formally Known As UKAnon*

        Although, I’d also like to reassure OP that not all men are like this; I wish I was still able to hand over my number to a man without wondering what he’ll use it for. I really hope life never beats this out of you too, OP!

        That said, it’s perfectly OK to set boundaries, always, about anything. Please don’t feel bad about this; your instincts are good, follow them.

        1. Not me*

          +1, I know some very nice older men from work. OP, you’ll meet some good people. This just isn’t one of them. Trust your instincts. Someone who isn’t the office creeper doesn’t make you feel like this or text 24/7.

        2. Anx*

          I’m not much for phones and stuff, and have been in one long term relationship for years.

          I so did not expect that giving my number to some young men who broke down in case they needed a witness for the campus parking to avoid a tow would devolve into unsolicited dick pics and sexual harrassment. Worst is that I’m so nervous that maybe they’re underage. I really didn’t look at their faces much (it was really sunny out and I didn’t have my sunglasses so I was really squinty). I was just trying to be nice! So naive. Maybe not all men are like that, but I should have been more guarded.

        3. caryatid*

          of course not all men are like this.

          which leads me to second Alison’s point, which is if this guy is not like this, he’ll be cool about her request to stop texting her. if not, then, creep!

        1. Bunny*

          Heck you don’t even have to be that good looking. Just being nice has resulted in bad situations. :(

      2. F.*

        This can happen to men too. We had a situation at work where one man was calling and texting another man all hours of the day and night. Some of the texts were very creepy in a stalker-like way. We sent a registered letter to the offender (he worked only out in the field) telling him to not contact the coworker and that if he had actual work-related questions to contact a certain person at the office. The harassment slowed but did not stop. The offender finally quit for a higher paying position just when we were ready to fire him. The coworker had blocked the offender’s phone number, but the offender would use other phones. Coworker finally got a lawyer to write a cease-and-desist letter, which seems to have solved the problem.

        1. snuck*

          I’ve seen female versions of the creeper too. Women who think it’s cute to flirt endlessly with some random male staff member, and when it’s pointed out that their behaviour is inappropriate and unwelcome just make blithe comments “Oh tee hee I didn’t mean it like THAT!” or “Really? But he’s soooo cute, of course he doesn’t mind” or “I’m not being rude, my mother brought me up properly” (yes, I’ve heard that one!). The few I’ve gone head to head with over the years have generally moved their attentions on to a new target (while muttering darkly about me/management), and don’t realise they have problem behaviour. Generally I’ve got them performance managed on something else – this sort of attitude bleeds into other aspects of their professional life – a lack of personal responsibility, poor boundaries and low self control spells issues elsewhere.

          Creepers … regardless of gender …. are creepers.

          1. Biff*

            I would say that most of the creepers I’ve encountered:

            1. Completely and utterly deliberately delusional about their behavior (95%) or
            2. In a very screwed up relationship with the object of their attentions (5%)

            I don’t honestly know which situation is creepier.

    3. Dot Warner*

      “my guess is this guy is the office creeper who goes after every new girl who walks through the door” – This! OP1, we had a guy like this at the last place I worked and we’d make a point of warning every young woman who started working with us to stay the hell away from him. Yes, your boss needs to be made aware, and if (s)he won’t do anything, tell HR too. Hopefully your boss actually has a spine and will step in.

        1. So Very Anonymous*

          Yeah, the flip side of that is that it’s also pretty amazing what some men will do if their egos feel bruised.

    4. Zingbot*

      Ugh we had an office creeper and HR and higher ups knew about it and didn’t do anything for months. I joined management and learned at my first managers meeting that they talked about how he hit on/asked out/ harassed every new young girl and they all thought it was funny (we were all out of his age range he liked them young). I couldn’t believe they weren’t disgusted like I was (and I wasn’t one of his targets). Luckily they had the good sense to lay him off in the first chance they got (that I’m aware of) but I wish someone would have seriously lodged a complaint so they couldn’t just laugh about it/write it off as amusing. I do feel confident in myself enough now that if I was in the same position Id say something in those meetings.

  3. "Why would you boil a peanut?"*

    #1: Might it have been a cultural issue? I ask, because “misguided on appropriate interactions” seems to suggest that OP thinks there is some universal standard of appropriateness… I often find this from people who have not had much exposure to cultures other than their own.

    Different culture doesn’t even need to mean different country — when I lived in the South, a friend from elsewhere would gush about how friendly and welcoming people were, when it was clear that (by Southern standards) they hated his guts — from their perspective he was crude and pushy. He was simply too oblivious to detect the subtle differences between friendly and hostile politeness — he was from a part of the U.S. where if people didn’t like you, they were very direct about it.

    1. fposte*

      I don’t think it makes any difference, though. The important difference is whether he does or doesn’t stop when he’s told to. If he doesn’t, his intentions don’t get him off the creeper hook.

      1. Elizabeth the Ginger*

        Yes, a million times yes. I don’t think it matters one bit if his intentions are to make you uncomfortable or are something else – once you tell him that these communications are unwelcome, him continuing would demonstrate that he disregards others’ feelings.

      2. afiendishthingy*

        This. He’s doing something that is violating the OP’s boundaries. If asked to stop, he NEEDS TO STOP, and I don’t particularly give a damn what his cultural norms around texting your coworkers at midnight are. I have an anthropology degree and WWYBAP? is correct that “appropriate social interactions” vary greatly across regions, cultures, families, etc. It’s just utterly beside the point here.

    2. fposte*

      Oh, and there may not be a universal standard for all behavior, but there’s no place where you will get in trouble for *not* texting your new young female co-worker off the clock and late at night.

      1. neverjaunty*

        Seriously. And I’m pretty astonished that the commenter felt the need to insult the OP (and AAM, whose opinion of this co-worker was that he’s creepy) by suggesting she’s just too provincial to see that he might be benevolent.

      2. "Why would you boil a peanut?"*

        Maybe a few example will help clarify…

        http://www.ibtimes.com/chinas-binge-drinking-business-culture-learning-be-successful-drunk-1251339

        As quoted, “In China, business isn’t usually conducted at the office but rather at the dinner table with alcohol.” So here we have a culture where not getting drunk with your new young co-worker off the clock and late at night is considered a business problem.

        https://www.washingtonpost.com/posteverything/wp/2014/12/30/google-got-it-wrong-the-open-office-trend-is-destroying-the-workplace/

        Here we have an American business cultural norm that privacy is the enemy of collaboration, so the less privacy employees have, the better work they will produce. It certainly isn’t a universal standard of appropriateness — some people would find such an arrangement unbearably invasive and not just a little bit creepy. Yet if they pushed back against the norm, suddenly their behavior is seen as a business problem.

        1. snuck*

          So the OP is supposed to give her privacy up? WTH?

          Or have dinner with loads of booze with the male colleague?

          We know nothing about their line of business…. but she’s supposed to assume some way out cultural stuff that’s very unusual to the mainland? If that was in play she’d bring it up… and ask about it one assumes.

          He’s a creeper. He’s texting her after hours without good reason. Repeatedly. And when she doesn’t reply he plays the old “Are you ok?” card… the hook/line to get a response. Creepers can just be creepers without being culturally anything else.

          1. Kelly L.*

            +1. Also, the article appears to refer to the whole work group drinking together, not to one-on-one.

        2. fposte*

          I think we’re all pretty familiar with the fact that culture varies, and many of us work with differing cultures.

          Even if your most generous and implausible interpretation is correct here, it wouldn’t mean you have to put up with a guy pissing into your lunch bag every day because it’s a sign of friendship in Fresno.

          1. neverjaunty*

            Isn’t it interesting how rarely somebody rushes in with “maybe you just don’t understaaaaaand his culture” when the behavior is, say, taking credit for an OP’s work, or failing to get critical information to a vendor? You almost never see this kind of ginned-up excuse making except to defend a creeper.

                1. Zillah*

                  This.

                  Also: you pretty much never hear about the woman’s culture in these situations, or about how that might play into the dynamic. “But consider other cultures!” is nearly always used to excuse a man’s inappropriate behavior, not to sympathize with a woman’s reaction to it.

              1. Wow, that's offensive*

                Umm, I’ll just say there’s nothing wrong with supporting men’s rights, and there’s nothing that prevents people from supporting women’s rights at the same time. So I guess I hope this commenter is a men’s right’s supporter, because someone who’s out there to quash anyone’s rights, regardless of whether it’s a group that has been historically favored, is pretty much a terrible person. That is all.

                1. Kelly L.*

                  I think Jenny is referring to MRA (Men’s Rights Activists), which is a subculture with a nice lofty name but that is mostly about insulting/harassing women and using creepy techniques to try to pick them up. Don’t be fooled by the name.

                2. Observer*

                  The term actually generally refers to groups that are worse than Kelly L describes, because it’s not just about being “pickup artist” etc. but a lot of effort to turn back substantive gains in basic equality that women have made over the years.

                  Like, today a workplace full of pin-ups would be understood to be hostile to most women. the MRA response to this is that this infringes MEN’s rights to decorate the workplace as THEY enjoy.

                3. MegEB*

                  I suspect that Jenny’s comment specifically refers to the MRA/PUA crowd, rather than just a general descriptor. Men’s Rights Activists are a particularly obnoxious (and sometimes harmful) group that despise feminism and everything it stands for, promote the oppression of women, and insist that anything in support of women’s rights is actively harming men. The name sounds pretty bland, but the group is not.

            1. Willow*

              Yes. This has applied to my work creeper as well. Everyone makes excuses for him because he is from Jamaica. I fail to see how being from another country justifies standing and leaning over a cube wall to watch me work for minutes at a time and not saying anything. I am also very average. My only failing was that I was nice to him at first because I had just met him and felt like I had to be. Never again.

            1. Connie-Lynne*

              I’m not gonna lie, peeing on each others’ cars is totally how a group of my friends and I show love for each other.

              When we’re camping. In the woods or the desert or any other place where there aren’t the usual facilities.

              Key difference: anyone who objects to the practice’s car is left alone.

          2. "Why would you boil a peanut?"*

            I certainly agree with that. I suppose I thought it was cultural because of the part that said that she was the new employee going into a new workplace culture — she was the person who just moved to Fresno; one person’s “breaking the ice” is another’s “borderline inappropriate things to say to a young woman you barely know.”

            I guess in the same vein there was also mention of sending “colder and colder texts”; the temperature of text messages isn’t something universal — to a Southerner, hostile politeness is practically shouting their dislike from the rooftops, for instance, much like I imagine an “ice cold” text message is for the OP.

            Even time of night is a little vague; how late is late? To certain early-to-bed, early-to-rise folks I know, 9pm is bed-time. For others, it’s dinner-time.

            I’m not trying to ignore the possibility that they could be a creeper, I guess collectively these things like text temperature, etc. made me think that there might be a misunderstanding.

            1. Dot Warner*

              Dude. It’s not just a possibility. He kept texting her after she stopped responding, wanting to know why she wasn’t responding. That’s not the sign of a misunderstanding, that’s a huge freaking red flag that has me genuinely concerned for this woman’s safety. He’s behaving like a creeper because that’s who he IS.

              1. "Why would you boil a peanut?"*

                “Dude. It’s not just a possibility. He kept texting her after she stopped responding, wanting to know why she wasn’t responding.”

                Maybe I’m showing my age here, but these sort of texting cues aren’t always obvious to everybody.

                A while back I was a little curious about what “cold” texting meant to younger folks, as to me personally, all texts seem a little cold — you can’t hear a person’s voice, or see their face or body language, after all. They patiently explained that you knew a text was cold because it used periods. My mind was blown — punctuation was a sign of coldness? If someone responded to your text “Good.” it had a world of difference from “good” that I would never have picked up on.

                Some new phones put texts in chat bubbles, displaying each one sequentially as part of a conversation instead of sending them individually; yet historically anyways chatrooms had different etiquette than, say emails. (I know a few folks on Facebook who really stumbled over this switch from Facebook emails to Facebook ‘messages’, as they weren’t sure which set of etiquette to use.) If someone suddenly stopped responding in a chatroom, for instance, it would have been perfectly normal to check to see if they had left or if their connection had been interrupted for instance, if they suddenly stopped responding without saying goodbye, even though this would be weird behavior for an email (or in this case, for a text message).

                Adapting to new forms of communication isn’t always as smooth as it ought to be, sadly. I suppose maybe the way out of this as an old person is not to dive right in to a technology that you don’t know the details of, but sometimes that anxiety over making faux pas can prevent one from keeping up with the times… I always try to be a little understanding with that.

                1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                  I think you’re getting really distracted by issues that aren’t the central one here: This guy is continuing to text outside of work a younger female employee who has signaled that she’s not interested interested in engaging with him.

            2. Zillah*

              But how is any of this relevant? How likely is it that the most charitable interpretation is the correct one? And why are you disregarding the OP’s take on the situation to the extent you are?

              1. Dot Warner*

                +1. She knows this guy. We don’t. If she thinks his behavior is creepy, we should believe her!

          3. Fresnan*

            I can assure the AAM readers that if someone from Fresno* is pissing in your lunch bag every day, that is not a sign of friendship. That said, this comment made me LOL.

            *California. The Fresno in Texas, dunno, all bets are off for that one.

        3. Oryx*

          Intentions don’t matter here, only the affect they have on the OP and if the OP feels it is inappropriate (or even borderline inappropriate) than it is.

        4. Colemak*

          As a Chinese woman who has worked both in the US and China, and has many foreign coworkers from many different cultures, let me assure you this creeper behavior is not our cultural norm. For better or worse, there is a difference between how a female vs male colleague is treated in China assuming you are of a similar level/position, and the guys will tend to err on the side of politeness and care. The guys I worked with on my business trip went out drinking nightly at some pretty risque places, but when they invited me on my goodbye party, they definitely toned it down. (For a funny definition of toned down: I saw guys getting girls to sit on their lap when they walked in. And this is at one of the more reputable of places they visit.)

          Beyond that, just because business dinners with drinks is the preferred way of interaction still does not make sending late night texts and being as needy for attention as the guy was described to be something that’s a part of work culture. The guy didn’t invite her to a business function at a bar, he sent her a large number of personal texts at unreasonable hours.

        5. Observer*

          Neither of these examples is REMOTELY relevant to this issue. Furthermore, in any culture, if someone says “business only”, failing to go along with this is problematic.

        6. Kyrielle*

          Doesn’t matter. Nobody is suggesting he have his toenails pulled out or anything; it’s being suggested that the OP clearly tell him that she thought he intended that number for business purposes, and she doesn’t want any more personal texts.

          If he continues to text after that, it can go to HR. If he doesn’t, problem solved, whether he’s a creeper, a fool, or not picking up on the cues of “cold” texts or non-responsiveness.

      3. JessaB*

        And there’s no place where you would get in trouble for stopping when the person you are texting requests you to STOP. One interaction could be put down to culture, wanting to meet someone new whatever. But if asked to stop normal non creepy people stop.

    3. already? really?*

      Can we not automatically try and jump through hoops to excuse this guy’s behaviour? Next someone will be suggesting maybe he’s just socially awkward!

      1. Blurgle*

        Or that most patronizing and misandrist of phrases, “just give him a break, he’s a nice guy”.

        What real man wants to be thought of as a pathetic pity case? I think more highly of men than that.

          1. Kelly L.*

            + a million. I would have bet all my worldly possessions that this post would result in a victim-blaming derailment, and I would have kept all my worldly possessions. Death, taxes, and someone white-knighting for creepers.

          2. Oryx*

            +1

            I know lots and lots of men who would be horrified to find out a male friend of theirs was behaving this way.

          3. The Cosmic Avenger*

            “Men” who believe crap like that make me embarrassed to be put in the same class as them…but then I remind myself that (at least by my definition) a real man would be much more considerate of other people. Luckily, I have a great peer group to help me reinforce that image, and I wouldn’t waste time on someone who thought that making people uncomfortable was OK if they thought they were “being friendly”.

      2. So Very Anonymous*

        Wait, women worldwide have to put up with creeper behavior because that’s how business is done in China? What?

        OP, second the recommendation below to visit Captain Awkward’s blog. She’s got several posts on this topic.

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            I almost wonder if we just need a page (possibly laid out as an actual bingo card) that lists all these, so it can just be linked to in the future. It comes up so often.

            1. neverjaunty*

              Don’t forget a square for ‘But have you 100% eliminated any reason he could be acting like this other than creeping? If not then you’re jumping to conclusions!!!!!”

              1. Jennifer*

                Oh, good god. I’ve never come across anything IRL that WASN’T “he’s being a creeper and wants you to fuck him.”

                1. So Very Anonymous*

                  Creepers are also good at coming up with excuses to rationalize their creepy behavior. Oh, I just don’t understand texting! These crazy kids today with their texting culture! You misunderstood me because I used a period instead of ellipses!

            2. Bailey Quarters*

              I love the idea of AAM Bingo. The free space should be “talk to your boss/coworker/etc.”

        1. Connie-Lynne*

          There was a great post a while back on one of the blogs I read that was basically, “you know he’s a creeper when he does it around young women [or you] but manages not to do it around everyone else.” A non-creeper does it around everyone.

          I’m so tired of people sticking up for the creepers under the guise of “maybe he’s [awkward for some reason other than being a creeper].”

          1. Lily*

            Certain older men seem to delude themselves, thinking that a much younger women would even be interested.

      3. Dot Warner*

        +1. The creeper at my last job was either severely socially awkward or on the Spectrum, but that didn’t change the fact that his behavior was very Not Okay and he needed to stop.

        1. I'm a Little Teapot*

          Of course there are those people who would expect a single woman to date such a person out of moral obligation because he’s so looonely. I’ve encountered them. (Oh yes, because my feelings, free time, and body are completely unimportant compared to his.)

          1. F.*

            Are you kidding?! That is totally outrageous! It’s not up to anyone else who you choose to date except you and your intended date. Sheesh!

          2. Engineer Girl*

            My favorite quote was from a coworker after the Richard Farley/Laura Black/ESL shooting. The coworker was angry at Laura because “he wouldn’t have shot everyone up if she had just gone out with him”

            I couldn’t believe that people thought that way until they actually expressed it.

            1. Panda Bandit*

              They usually shut up when you point out that the girlfriend would have been the first one to die.

          3. Artemesia*

            I have encountered this too and it blows my mind. One young woman I mentored had most of her friends shaming her when she wanted to break up with a guy — ‘he is soooo nice’ and ‘he hasn’t done anything to deserve being dumped’ yadda yadda. When I told her the only reason she needed to break up was ‘you want to’ she was amazed — and finally had the courage to do it.

            There are lots of men who think this way too — I remember a story about a sexual harassment case in the UN where the abuser was mad because the woman he was harassing had had a relationship with another guy and ‘hey, am I not good enough?’ as if she having chosen to have a relationship with one man was now available to any man who wanted to grab her Seriously twisted, but not uncommon especially in cultures where women are not viewed as fully human adults. (and there are plenty in US culture as well.)

            1. blackcat*

              I definitely experienced a different insidious version of this as a teen: I had sex with 1 serious boyfriend (dated ~1.5 years). We broke up. Next guy I went on a date with expected sex immediately, and he actually said it was because I had had sex with someone else! And therefore, clearly, should be willing to have sex with him! His mind was actually boggled that I didn’t want to have sex with him. Because clearly consenting to sex with one serious boyfriend meant I was ready to have sex with any guy I’d go on a date with!

              Even 17 year old me had enough sense to Nope right out of there.

              (The boy in question was a reasonable human being, but seriously, seriously needed to grow up. He listened to my “I’m not going to have sex with anyone else until I’m in a relationship for a while” and even said it made sense. But it was sort of like explaining why keeping the fridge door open doesn’t cool your house–he completely acknowledged my answer as logical, but it had truly never occurred to him.)

        2. neverjaunty*

          Also, people who are on the autism spectrum are not doomed to be assholes. Having difficulty reading social cues != unable to learn appropriate social behavior. And being told ‘please don’t do that’ or ‘don’t text me’ directly is way more helpful than having to try and guess if behavior is unwelcome.

          Of course, there are people who are awkward or on the autism spectrum AND who are entitled assholes. But one doesn’t mean the other.

          1. Observer*

            Thank you far saying this. It really is of no help whatsoever to ANYONE to perpetuate the stereotype that people with Aspergers or on Autism spectrum are doomed to be hopelessly impossible people. Yes, some of them are always going to need some accommodation – but that means things like “don’t hint, just be clear and explicit” NOT “let the guy hit on you” etc.

            1. JessaB*

              Exactly. The more specific and clear you are the more likely someone who is on the spectrum will get your point. Also just plain socially awkward people, etc. People who have trouble guessing things and who are not mind readers and not very good at understanding a passive voice or “just trying to be kind and let them down easily,” really need people who are willing to say “Don’t do x. No just don’t do x. I am not going to argue with you or explain this further than do not do x.”

              Also developmental delays, autism, or any other medical issues that may make people behave out of social norms are NOT ever an excuse to be utter jerks or creepers. And it’s an insult to all the persons who have been taught or taught themselves not to be jerks or creepers, to say that the disorder excuses x behaviour. Or to automatically go to “oh they must have x” to justify their behaviour.

          2. simonthegrey*

            This. I work with several students who are on the spectrum. Yes, they may stand too close sometimes, and yes they may not understand when they have talked for far too long about a topic (usually video games, just to perpetuate a stereotype), but them not making eye contact is not them staring at my chest, and them standing too close is not leering, and them talking longer and faster is not them trying to mow me over. There’s a difference between spectrum and creep.

            1. Batshua*

              Don’t forget trains! We all love trains! :p

              (My autism support group once had an hour-long meta conversation about why people with autism like trains so damn much. I am not a train fiend but I could easily list a handful of reasons.)

      4. Observer*

        Maybe he really is just socially awkward. But, it really, really does not matter. It’s inappropriate and it needs to stop.

        The good thing is that the right way for her to handle this is the same whether this guy is a creep or just totally missing social sense. ie Saying to him calmly and clearly “I gave yo my phone only for business work. The personal texts need to stop.” And sticking with that – don’t get into a conversation, discussion, explanation, argument or anything else with him.

    4. Merry and Bright*

      Just taking a guess here, but I’m assuming there aren’t many cultures where it’s OK or normal to hound a coworker with inappropriate and unwanted texts, especially out of hours like this. There’s a big difference between a Chinese business dinner as you describe, and personal harrassment late at night.

      This borders on “blame the victim”. A creep is a creep though.

    5. Artemesia*

      I have never heard it phrased that way ‘hostile politeness’ but it is spot on for much of the interaction in the south. I lived there for 35 years and it took me awhile to figure that out. It makes gaslighting situations easier to inflict because no one admits that they are saying ‘no’ or undermining someone else’s position — it is all done on the QT. I also found working in the Middle East that ‘no’ was stated very indirectly.

      BUT that doesn’t apply here. The guy is behaving like a creeper. I don’t know a US subculture in which old guys contacting young women personally is anything but creeper behavior. It is not old guy being gushy and friendly at work; it is old guy making personal overtures outside of work. That isn’t ‘friendly’, especially as it continues; that is creepy.

      And the point about the abusive male whine ‘a guy can’t even be friendly without being accused’ is also spot on. People with good intentions don’t react like that, they just stop the texting.

      1. meower*

        This behavior would be inappropriate no matter what the man’s age, or if the unwanted texts were coming from a woman.

      2. Seal*

        As a Minnesotan who’s lived in the South for close to a decade, I appreciate finally having a phrase to describe many of my Southern interactions. For years I thought I was losing my mind because the worst of my coworkers were so polite and even charming as they were stabbing me in the back and undermining my work. Down here, you should never mistake “polite” for “professional” or even “nice”; actions speak louder than words.

        Back to the topic at hand. Unless there’s a legitimate work-related reason for this guy to have the OP’s cell phone number, I’d say block him but don’t delete his texts. If he continues to make inappropriate advances at work, talk to your manager or HR or both.

        1. Blue_eyes*

          I would think as a Minnesotan you’d understand “hostile polite”. ;) I lived in Minnesota for 6 years and I found that “Minnesota nice” was basically just the upper Midwest version of it.

          1. Seal*

            Perhaps because I spent most of my life in Minnesota, I find “Minnesota nice” much easier to tolerate than Southern “hostile polite”. For me, the difference is that Southerners are far more outgoing, welcoming, and charming than the usually tacitern Minnesotans; that makes much harder to reconcile any underlying hostility that might rear its ugly head.

              1. QualityControlFreak*

                Okay, now I’m trying to figure out what the perceived “type” for social interaction is here in the northwest…..

                1. Seven If You Count Bad John*

                  Northwesterners are all secretly hermits. Everyone in the PNW moved there to get away from everyone else. It took me a few years in Eugene to figure this out.

                2. Seven If You Count Bad John*

                  Yeah, they’re really nice, friendly hermits. But the behavior pattern is that where someone from, say, the Northeast, or from Texas, or wherever will say “Let’s get together!” and then they make a plan and they actually do it. Northwesterners will have a wonderful time with their friends, and have every intention of seeing each other more often, and then never do. It’s definitely a regional thing, because it drives transplants nuts.

            1. JB (not in Houston)*

              Maybe you have to be from here to detect it or be comfortable with it? As someone who has lived in the South all their life, I’ve never had any trouble deciphering the meaning behind another Southerner’s remarks or reconciling their meaning with their tone (because there is a difference in tone when you compare genuine politely conveyed dislike with everyday politeness). But I had an acquaintance from here who moved to Canada and had a hard time adjusting to the passive aggressive disguised as nice behavior of his coworkers. I think people are probably almost always most comfortable with the politeness style they grew up with.

              1. cbackson*

                Yeah, if you speak Southern, it’s perfectly clear. Like the difference between describing someone’s girlfriend as “cute” (slightly insulting) versus describing her as “precious” or “darling” (which means you actually liked her).

            2. Serin*

              Southern “hostile polite” (great phrase) is outgoing and effortful. If you’re out for a walk and you find yourself in the vicinity of a person who hates your guts and is working tirelessly to undermine you, that person will still feel compelled to cross a busy street to greet you. To do anything else would be rude.

          2. Engineer Girl*

            Nope. If a Midwesterner has a problem with you they’ll take you aside for a Dutch Uncle talk. Or they’ll just remove themselves from the situation.

    6. collegeemployee*

      I have lived in a variety places and dealt with a variety of different cultures. And in every place I have worked, I have had to either take sexual harassment training or I have had to sign a document stating that I have read my employer’s sexual harassment policy, so I find it unlikely that he doesn’t know what he is doing.

      It is also worth noting that women, especially younger women, are taught to second guess themselves without any help from outsiders. If they feel something is “off,” something is probably off. The OP should ask him to stop and if he fails to do so, she has every right to report him.

  4. Afiendishingy*

    “I want the texting to stop altogether, but I don’t know how to tactfully say that without damaging our present and future working relationship (sometimes this coworker and I work together, alone, so I don’t want there to be tension).”
    OP! OP. Your present and future working relationship is damaged, and there is already tension. Because he is creeping you the eff out. Speaking up for boundaries is scary when you’re not used to it, but it’s also incredibly empowering and worth it. Google Captain Awkward if you’re not yet familiar with her. She is your spirit animal.

    1. Afiendishingy*

      The response to this letter helped me a lot in a similar-but-different situation in my personal life. I am SO GLAD I no longer have to think of excuses to decline every invitation from Super Annoying Awkward Guy (who is gay and actually did just want to be friends!) because I finally said “No means I don’t want to come, it does not mean reschedule your event for a day I’m free.” http://captainawkward.com/2013/08/26/508-509-friendship-attachment-styles-boundaries/

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      “There is already tension because he is creeping you the eff out” is such a good point. So often when people (usually women in this situation, but not always) say “I don’t want to cause tension with this person who’s making me uncomfortable,” they’re not even thinking about the fact that the dude has already caused tension by behaving like an ass.

      OP, why is it okay for him to cause tension by shitty behavior but not for you to maybe risk causing tension by quite reasonably telling him to cut it out?

      1. College Career Counselor*

        I think it’s not so much “cause tension” as “incite escalation” that the OP may be concerned about. Which of course doesn’t mean that the OP has to put up with this guy’s inappropriate, annoying behavior.

        1. Natalie*

          Ah, but in that case the OP is still taking responsibility for his behavior. If he acts shitty after a polite and firm “stop doing that”, it’s on him, not the OP.

          We’re often socialized or manipulated into taking responsibility for other people’s behavior (women in particular). It’s hard to break that tendency but very rewarding IMO.

      2. KMS1025*

        And even if he does act “shitty” so what??? OP you have no obligation other than to work with this jerk when necessary. Polite coldness is absolutely fine and preferable to creepy solicitousness…

        1. fposte*

          Yeah, I wanted to speak up here in defense of tension. Tension isn’t the third rail, to be avoided at all costs, and you don’t get a prize for being the person who avoids the most tension. This is a slightly disguised version of never wanting to make anybody angry. It’s okay to make people angry sometimes; it doesn’t mean what you did was wrong, and sometimes it means what you did is very, very right.

          1. Elizabeth West*

            Exactly. Sometimes people get mad (and defensive) when they’re doing something wrong and they get called on it. That doesn’t mean calling them on it is a bad thing.

            1. Zillah*

              One of the most important lessons I ever internalized was “Just because someone’s pissed off doesn’t mean you’re wrong.”

    3. Mer*

      Not OP, but this recommendation was super helpful. I have never seen her site before and wow, she has some fantastic advice for all things sticky. Thank you!

  5. Jeanne*

    #3, maybe you can present it as actually helping them in a way. If you are able to continue to work with fewer sick days and no time off for surgery, it could be a lot easier than accomodating surgery and recovery. You can’t guarantee no surgery but you can explain how you’re really hoping to avoid it by following doctor’s orders.

    If you need a slightly different type of letter from your doctor better explaining why the desk is needed, make the effort for the documentation they need.

  6. CJ*

    @ #2: something to keep in mind is that every email client has its own way of interpreting non-text formatting. (Web pages have evolved significantly over the last ten years. Email…hasn’t.) I have three online Outlook accounts (one at live.com, one Office 365 for each school): I can send the same email to all three accounts and get slightly different spacing. That’s not counting the fact that I’ve got one set to strip _all_ formatting from incoming emails and display plain text (readability issues with certain email senders). If I open them on the desktop Outlook client, or Mail in Windows 10, those’re more formatting variants.

    teal deer: for future emails, I’d definitely second Alison’s “Remove Formatting” suggestion and keep the email formatting to a minimum.

    1. HR Pro*

      I’d also suggest considering using PDFs when submitting resumes and cover letters. That takes care of formatting issues completely.

        1. Koko*

          It sounds like OP was trying to paste their cover letter and resume into the body of the email and rely on the email’s formatting tools to make it look nice. And if that’s the case I would second HR Pro – attach these items as PDF attachments (use a free PDF writer tool like CutePDF). There is no consistency from one client to another or even one compute to another using the same client with different display settings in email.

  7. Wildkitten*

    I spent a lot of money on a self-defense class, and this was my take-away:

    If you feel rude saying that, realize that the rudeness is coming from him; you’re simply asserting an appropriate boundary in response to it. And by the way, someone who is not a creeper will hear this and stop immediately. If he resists, he’s a jerk and you don’t need to worry about being rude anyway.

    That is a good rule of thumb for almost any situation.

  8. katamia*

    #2: Get in the habit of copying and pasting everything you write in Word (which is a good idea) to Notepad if you’re using a PC. That also strips the formatting. Also, you can disable smart quotes and the automatic ellipse, which can sometimes show up weird (or, in the case of one website I frequent, don’t show up at all), in autocorrect–straight quotes and just writing three dots without having it squinch up into one “ellipse” character are more friendly for formatting.

    1. Not me*

      You can also use Shift+Ctrl/Cmmd+V to paste in plain text, but this is really something to do while you’re pasting into Word – doesn’t quite catch everything, like smart quotes or ellipses.

  9. LadyCop*

    #3 Am I the only one who is concerned that this “unique format” fits under Alison’s “nevers.” I mean, I get that there are times when it’s okay to reach out even if they’re not hiring…but haven’t we been told that things like content are more important than any attempt at flash???

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I almost addressed that in my response, actually, but then thought maybe I was misinterpreting “unique application.” But yeah, that language does usually send my alarm bells off.

  10. Techfool*

    No. 3, get a varidesk. Muvh cheaper than a whole desk and you could possibly pay for it yourself. I think everyone should get one. Sitting seven plus hours a day is really hard on the body.

    1. The Artist Formally Known As UKAnon*

      This is something OP can look into with her employer, but she definitely SHOULD NOT pay for it herself. How would you feel if your employer made you buy your own desk to go to work?

      1. snuck*

        I’m not sure about this.

        As a person who in the past had to buy a lot of specialised equipment for staff members I’d want to know that I was buying it for good reason. Don’t know the rules in America, but if the OP was in Australia and claiming this I’d be asking for more than a GP certificate – I want a specialist – not to know the medical details – but to outline the exact considerations that have to be made so I am not going to short change the employee. I’d then be asking for an OT to confirm the correct piece of equipment, and other considerations – this would be a team approach.

        If the employee couldn’t produce that then I might send them off to a doc at my own expense (but shouldn’t have to – because this is not a work place injury, it’s the employee’s own medical issue, and I’m already going to be meeting a lot of other cost). … and I have done this in the past when an employee demanded a particular type of computer monitor for her eye problem, but hadn’t seen a specialist in more than 10yrs – eventually in a big stand off I told her that she wasn’t fit for work if she couldn’t work with the screen she was provided (it was a specialised screen supposedly good for her generally understood condition), and that we needed to have an up to date response from her specialist. She was very upset that we expected her to do this – a woman with a degenerative eye condition and coke bottle glasses and a monitor the size of most home TVs she read at a 2 inch difference – but we’re bad for asking her to get an update? Sigh. Turns out the monitor we had supplied was the correct type for her condition, it was her glasses that needed changing.

        So yes. Sometimes the employee doesn’t get to pick what they want, sometimes the specialist team does, and there could be some costs involved by the employee in getting that there too – it’s a two way street.

        1. fposte*

          The American version of that is that the employer needs to work with the employee on a reasonable accommodation–which may not be the accommodation the employee desires or her doctor requests.

          1. snuck*

            And the example I cited was when I worked for a mega company of 50,000 employees who would just bite the budget and do this stuff… not all companies in Australia would do this sort of thing, many larger or more people friendly ones would, but a lot of small businesses mightn’t for example.

            1. Blurgle*

              Thing is, in the US you go to a specialist for a hangnail if you have insurance. Getting a specialist’s letter is the norm.

              Here in Canada, any employer waiting on a specialists’ letter might be courting a lawsuit, since it can take up to two years to get to see one.

              1. snuck*

                In Australia there can be some pretty awful wait lists too… but I’m assuming that if a person has an ongoing medical issue they are already on the books somewhere of someone, and having some form of even occasional follow up/treatment. If it’s so bad they need extensive expensive equipment to perform their regular duties then they must be seeing *someone* other than a family GP somewhere… If it’s a short term or a sudden change then they’d have seen someone in the local hospital even.

                I guess in Canada you go with the GP letter (who has done diagnosis?) and get a workplace OT or Physio to do an assessment then?

          2. Juli G.*

            This. I’m wondering how this plays out because there was an accommodation worked out but it either 1. doesn’t address the problem or 2. is not exactly what OP wanted. If it’s 2, the employer has likely done their due diligence on this.

            1. fposte*

              The bar is a little higher than due diligence, though–the question is whether or not the requested accommodation would be an undue hardship, and that’s something it’s on the employer to prove. So if the first desk that didn’t work out cost $10k and the second desk would too in a 3-person org that brings in $100k per year, that’s a considerable hardship (though I don’t know if it would be ruled “undue”) compared to a 50,000 person company that is cycling desks out of surplus at no charge to them beyond conveyance.

              1. snuck*

                (Generally that 50,000 employee company I worked for bought for each individual – even in a company as large as that one there wasn’t surplus stuff lying around, except maybe a small selection of ergonomic chairs for bad backs – but they were quickly rotated out again too.)

                For us there were a number of considerations that went with these special requests – we had to make sure that what we got was the right thing for the person who requested it, that we documented what their health was BEFORE it was provided (because there was a cultural history of people coming back later and claiming that we didn’t meet their needs and were responsible for their further health damage/issues), that what was provided met the needs correctly (and boy oh boy the battles over this sometimes with people in their want vs need), the fact that in some of these spaces there was staff turnover to consider and having a one off unusual desk wasn’t going to work in a large plan Dilbert office for a wide variety of technical as well as social reasons (because if you move the person off to the back corner of hte floor you have to move them to another team AND they then complain that their mental health is being damaged by the move and isolation ugh but you can’t just pull a single desk out of a corporate layout easily.) etc. When there’s an implied threat of future damage and surgery (especially in litigious expensive America I imagine) the employer probably needs to be crazy levels of cautious.

                This stuff is hard. The employee is often thinking about their own issue of pain or discomfort or future health concerns, the employer trying to make reasonable accommodations while not a) pissing off the rest of the workforce and b) still getting the work they require out of the employee and c) making sure they are providing what the employee needs (vs wants).

                I’ve seen some outrageous demands. Special desks and computer monitors and refusal to do simple training (PC based extension of existing software) and refusing to talk on the telephone and so on… when you ask for medical confirmation of the concessions required you get crappy responses from the employee, and then they get very formal and paper happy. In return they are forcing ME to be strict about protocols… it’s a crappy employee, not their health that’s the issue in those cases. Other employees have raised the issue of needing some concessions, supplied appropriate doctor’s note, I get the OT in to help set it all up and bingo! Sorted, no worries.

          3. Observer*

            It doesn’t have to be the one the employee or doctor requests. But, it DOES need to be reasonable – and most often if the specialist requested something, the employer is going to have a very good reason to refuse to do it. That of course, assumes that ADA is in play. If not, all bets are off.

    2. Vera*

      From the OP’s letter, it sounds like the employer did provide a varidesk or something similar: (“They provided one that didn’t work out well with my desk. I have found another desk that would work well because it is the whole desk that raises and not an apparatus you put on the desk.”)

      I had trouble getting my varidesk to work with my desk as well because of the large size of it and desk space it requires. I was able to get building maintenance in to remove other portions of my desk and office that was preventing me from using the varidesk. Now I am able to use it and love it! Not sure if that is a solution for the OP. The desks that full raise and lower (especially electronically) are even more expensive than the varidesk.

      What about a full standing desk, with a high-top chair nearby for when you need to sit?

      1. Xarcady*

        That’s basically what they do in the cube farm where I work. They just raise the desktop to standing height and provide a tall chair for the time when the employee wants to sit down. Much simpler than a lot of the standing desks.

        But you need to be working in a cubicle for this solution. The people that have offices do get an adjustable desk if they want one.

        1. Windchime*

          That’s what they do in my office, too, except they raise it to “standing height” for shorter people. Standing height is still too short for me and they won’t raise it by a couple of inches because the ergonomics people feel that the standard height should work for everyone (whether you’re 5’1″ or 6’4″).

    3. Case of the Mondays*

      I know OP said that the on the desk option didn’t work for her but I just want to mention another brand. I have the Kangaroo JR and it is great. It has more options than the Varidesk and the desk part and monitor part can be adjusted separately. It also has side table options so you have work space besides what your computer takes up.

  11. Daisy*

    Formatting issues is why I still make a pdf and them as an attachment. It is easy on a Mac but still doable on a Windows based machine I believe.

    1. snuck*

      Very easy to do. Print to file. So you hit print, instead of sending it to a paper printer you just select to send it to a file printer (which is built in, no extra software required) and it will do that for you. That’s one option. Other is to go to “File Save As” and select the type of file you want to save it as.

    2. Elsajeni*

      It sounds like the formatting problems were in the body of the email, though, so it would have been a problem regardless — even if you’re attaching your actual application materials as PDFs, you’ve still got that paragraph or so of “Attached please find…”, and it sounds like that’s what came out a mess.

      1. Zillah*

        When I send a pdf with both my cover letter and my resume, my email usually just has a sentence or two, not a paragraph. I’m not sure why you’d need a paragraph or so, unless I’m doing it seriously wrong, which is why I assumed the OP copied and pasted their resume and cover into the email, not just a sentence.

  12. NYC Weez*

    Re: #5 — At least where I grew up (CT), it’s not even always true that farms have to pay minimum wage. Minors under the age of 18 working on farms can be paid as low as 70% of minimum wage. I really racked up the riches working my butt off for a grand $2.86/hour before taxes hahaha!

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I just looked this up. Here’s what the federal Dept. of Labor says:

      Any employer in agriculture who did not utilize more than 500 “man days” of agricultural labor in any calendar quarter of the preceding calendar year is exempt from the minimum wage and overtime pay provisions of the FLSA for the current calendar year. A “man day” is defined as any day during which an employee performs agricultural work for at least one hour.

      Additional exemptions from the minimum wage and overtime provisions of the Act for agricultural employees apply to the following:
      • Agricultural employees who are immediate family members of their employer
      • Those principally engaged on the range in the production of livestock
      • Local hand harvest laborers who commute daily from their permanent residence, are paid on a piece rate basis in traditionally piece-rated occupations, and were engaged in agriculture less than thirteen weeks during the preceding calendar year
      • Non-local minors, 16 years of age or under, who are hand harvesters, paid on a piece rate basis in traditionally piece-rated occupations, employed on the same farm as their parent, and paid the same piece rate as those over 16.

      Although exempt from the overtime requirements of the FLSA, agricultural employees must be paid the federal
      minimum wage (unless exempt from minimum wage as noted above).

      Youth Minimum Wage: The 1996 Amendments to the FLSA allow employers to pay a youth minimum wage of not less that $4.25 an hour to employees who are under 20 years of age during the first 90 consecutive calendar days after initial employment by their employer.

      1. the gold digger*

        Oh. I see that Alison has said that. Just thinking about my mom and her six siblings getting up to milk the cows before going to school and about watching my uncles bale hay. There is a reason none of them wanted to be farmers.

    2. Not the Droid You are Looking For*

      This is why everyone I know spent their summers detasseling corn! Cheap summer labor from minors!

  13. JeJe*

    When I lived and worked in California I was told by my Doctor, that if he wrote me a prescription for an ergonomic setup, my company was required to comply. Now this was coming from a Doctor not a Lawyer, but does some if this vary by state?

    1. Pharmgirl88*

      I’m not in California or a lawyer, but I work in healthcare (I’m a pharmacist). I don’t see how anyone can enforce that – technically a doctor can write a prescription for anything, but I don’t see how anyone is legally obligated to comply. Obviously, if it falls under ADA the employer would need to make reasonable accommodations, but I don’t know that a company would be required by law to comply with something like that if it’s not covered by ADA.

    2. fposte*

      If it were going to be true in any state, it would be true in California.

      That being said, I’m not seeing that in the California law, and the main overview I’m seeing on the California FEH site explicitly restates the interactive process/reasonable accommodation/undue hardship constellation that the federal ADA does. The existence of the concept of undue hardship suggests that a doctor’s note isn’t an automatic legal requirement.

      1. neverjaunty*

        I suspect what the doctor may be thinking is that if there is a legitimate medical diagnosis with recommendations as to ways to address that (which are reasonable accommodations) and the employer refuses to do anything, they may be in violation of the law.

        1. fposte*

          Or maybe, given California’s strong enforcement and the reasonableness of this particular doctor, a de facto truth even if it’s not exactly legally correct.

          1. neverjaunty*

            Exactly. It’s not that the doctor’s note has the force of law, but that the employer is going to end up in a bad way if they ignore it.

              1. fposte*

                Right, though if we’re talking California, pretty much everything non-acute is likely to be covered. Rather than the “substantial limitation” required by the federal law, California requires only “limitation,” and you can’t consider whether that disability is effectively mitigated or not. So would the seriously nearsighted who can’t work without glasses be disabled in California? Up to the court, but I wouldn’t assume a no if I were a California employer.

                And that’s the other tricky bit–these are guidelines, not guaranteed determinations. Ultimately it’s the court who says whether the condition counts as a disability and the accommodation is reasonable; the rest of us are just making good-faith efforts at interpretation, and in most cases we won’t know how a court would have ruled on our decision.

                1. JessaB*

                  And that’s the other issue with ADA accommodations. They’re really only proveable in the breach. The only way to ultimately decide what “reasonable” means is if you can’t come to an agreement and you go to court. Reasonable is very vaguely defined and it’s expected both sides will go to the table fairly. It usually works, but when it doesn’t, then you get bits and pieces of rulings which depend on the state involved.

  14. Anon for This*

    #1 really struck a chord with me… I was in a similar position several years ago when I was just out of college. The man was my boss, and I let it continue and go way too far to the point that when I found a new job, he showed up on the first day at my place of work with candy (I never gave him the address, but he knew the name of the place, and I guess looked it up). I still didn’t do anything, which I know sounds stupid at this point, but I was clueless, and felt that I couldn’t stop it now because I’d gone on with it this long. I have since moved away for unrelated reasons, and have blocked him on everything, but sometimes the experience still haunts me.

    OP #1, do what I didn’t do. Put a stop to this now.

    1. Artemesia*

      Really sad. I have a number of ‘wish I had done it differentlies’ in my past too — when I was coming up overt gender discrimination was the norm and was legal — and so I just learned to cope with creepy bosses and other professional associates making inappropriate advances and assumed it went with the territory of being a woman in a profession. It is a horrible feeling of vulnerability. Even when a prominent man in my field literally assaulted me — pulled over and started ripping my clothes off when driving me back from a professional event — I ‘coped’ without making a fuss. I did jump out of the car and walk back to the hotel.

      I hope support for women not putting up with this crap is a lot more powerful now.

      1. Sigrid*

        Things are a lot better now — and yet, when I was in grad school (four years ago), and a prominent man in our field came to give a lecture, female grad students were not allowed to act as his tour guide* (or at least not by themselves), because “he’s like that”.

        *It was common in our department for a graduate student to be assigned to walk any visiting lecturers around campus to ensure they got to all their various Important People Appointments without harm or losing their way.

        1. Artemesia*

          He was a VERY important person in the field I hoped to do my dissertation in — I basically abandoned that line of research and did something else entirely after that since I didn’t feel I could continue a professional relationship with him. I stupidly thought he had flown me out to his research site to meet with other researchers in the field because of my dazzling intellect and promise as a scholar. What made it even grosser is that I was both married and 3 mos pregnant at the time of this incident.

          In those days, complaining about a big shot was a perfect way to derail your career before it even started. I suspect it still is very risky.

          1. fposte*

            Have you been following the Stanford GBS thing, Artemesia? An amazing illustration of what power hierarchies in academics can still let you get away with.

            1. neverjaunty*

              Stanford GBS, and the UC Berkeley astronomy department. Both in California, which has very strong workplace protection and sexual harassment laws. That’s how bad things still are.

              1. Anx*

                When I talk to some people about this, they somethings express disbelief at how bad things are. But I think they are focusing on how bad the sexual harassment itself is, when a lot of women I know are more concerned about the darned-if-you, darned-if-you don’t predicament that they’re pushed into on top of having to be harassed.

                1. Zillah*

                  a lot of women I know are more concerned about the darned-if-you, darned-if-you don’t predicament that they’re pushed into on top of having to be harassed.

                  Yeah, that’s definitely my bigger concern. It perpetuates the entire system.

              2. Artemesia*

                I won’t mention the school but I have first hand knowledge having served on an investigative committee of what big shots are allowed to get away with in Universities. In spite of horrible behavior on many levels including gender discrimination, the fact was that someone with high visibility deemed to bring glory to the university with his bigshottedness and important research can pretty much trash other people’s lives and careers with impunity.

  15. BRR*

    #2 I find the paste and match formatting in every program so useful.

    #4 What I’ve learned from my in-laws is farming has unique everything and it’s because they have a powerful lobbying organization.

    1. Natalie*

      They also used to have a conveniently powerless labor base – black farm laborers. The primary reason ag and domestic workers are exempt from a lot of Depression era labor protections was to get Southern legislators on board.

      1. Sigrid*

        Nowadays, they conveniently have migrant workers from Latin America, who are not only minority but also non-English speakers and often undocumented, so there is absolutely no impetus to get any of the laws changed. After all, it’s not “real Americans” who are doing the labor.

          1. fposte*

            Which tangentially reminds me of the recent study on tipping that suggests–now, hold on to your hats–that tipping as a compensation disproportionately hurts workers of color. Attractive young white women fare the best in a tipping environment.

            So, ewww.

            1. Anx*

              Slightly off topic, but in food service your position seems to be determined by your demographic and your appearance as much as anything else.

              I applied to back of house (non line cook) positions and bussing positions, and was only considered for waitressing. I’m a young woman who looked fairly attractive on my job search days (although I did work in one position that wasn’t a good fit in part because I wasn’t really into wearing short shorts etc.) and was always considered for waitressing or hostessing. I’m a better busser than server, hands down.

              And so many really lively people were stuck line cooking instead (mostly men of color or men from low SES backgrounds). I mean, I could understand why non-English speakers are back of house, but if the line cooks don’t all have to speak the same language, why can’t an English speaker be considered for dishwasher?

              It was such a mismatch of skills and personality.

  16. anonymous, not wearing a Guy Fawkes mask!*

    I also second the vote for using:
    “I thought you wanted my number for work issues; please don’t send me personal texts”

    In the future, you may also try saying to someone who is being a little bit too forward:
    “I appreciate working with you as a member of the team, but I wish to confine our friendship to the office”.

  17. Observer*

    (sometimes this coworker and I work together, alone, so I don’t want there to be tension).

    You have it backwards. If for no other reason, you should put a clear stop to his behavior because of THIS. And, if he gives you ANY pushback when you tell him to stop, or he continues to text him, you need to march to HR and file a formal complaint. This guy is already crossing boundaries. What do you think is going to happen when you are working alone with him and can’t just shut your phone?

  18. Mrs Erdleigh*

    I live in New Zealand – do farm workers in the US get overtime? If so – wow! I’ve been a farm worker for many years here – if we demanded overtime, the boss would a) laugh and b) probably sack us. I usually work a 12 hour day for 14 days on the trot, then get 2 days off… for minimum wage.
    In case anyone feels sorry for me – don’t worry. I’d still rather do this than face a corporate powerpoint presentation on facilitating protocols for energised business parameters. :-)

  19. Willow Sunstar*

    Regarding #1, I have a coworker who seems to have mental issues who texts me weird random questions all the time on our work IM. My standard reply is, “Please leave me alone.” I can’t use business as an excuse because this guy will then pester me for something to do, even though he’s been told the only reason I was giving him work was to get him trained in and the other time was because I didn’t have a choice during Expo week.

    This was the guy who was following me around & standing and looking at me over the desk partition wall last year who used the stretching excuse. Yes, because people who are “just stretching” totally lean over the wall and look straight at their coworkers for several minutes, even when we, by the way, wear button-down shirts so they can’t see anything. I had to go to the boss to get him to stop.

    So, I found out this past weekend at a volunteer event that my boss has a daughter-in-law from the same foreign country as coworker. My gut feeling is that this is not a coincidence, because even with coworker’s creepiness towards me and sheer incompetence at the job except at very easy things a 10-year-old could do, he hasn’t been fired yet.

    There are hints he is looking for work outside the company. I pray every night he will get another job, because as long as my boss is my boss, I don’t think this guy will get fired unless he breaks any laws. I have started looking internally but I have my MBA, and there is absolutely nothing listed that would be a job where I can use it.

  20. OP from 2012 I think my Coworker may be stalking me...*

    OP #1 – I am the OP from 2012’s “I think my coworker may be stalking me” (https://www.askamanager.org/2012/03/i-think-my-coworker-may-be-stalking-me.html). I let a situation get WAYYYY beyond the norms for me, and into my personal space – into my head even, in the form of nightmares! – but still thought I was probably making a mountain out of a molehill. I was new to the workforce, and the youngest person – and one of only 3 women – by far in my office so I thought I just didn’t understand the male workplace culture.
    The issue got so bad, with nightmares, etc. but I was afraid to tell my family, or anyone. I finally wrote to Alison/AAM because I wanted her to tell me that I was truly making a mountain out of a molehill – so I could get over it and move on. What she, and the community, told me was in fact the exact opposite. Based on their input, I quickly notified my manager/the company owner, who fixed it immediately (there’s also a follow up post if you follow on the link).
    Four working years later (the issue began in 2011, I wrote in 2012), I now know that if there are any coworkers – not just men – who are making me uncomfortable I quickly and effectively quash the situation. I would rather say something awkward at first than let a situation become the proverbial frog in slowly boiling water like I did in 2011. I mean, recently I hired a gardener and he by text was kinda creeping me out, but I chalked it up to not knowing tone via text. Though, one day I asked him if I should water the plants before he came by and he said something like, yes make sure they’re nice and wet. It made me uncomfortable, and I said, curtly, “Will do, but next time just say yes.” He never crossed my boundaries again and was always more than polite from there on out.
    PLEASE PLEASE quash the situation before it becomes a ‘I wish I had’ situation from early on in your career.

      1. OP from 2012 I think my Coworker may be stalking me...*

        Me too! Looking back, I think it was probably a case of someone just being really really socially awkward and not knowing how to handle himself around women in general, let alone a very young cute-ish (I mean I am not saying I’m freaking ScarJo or anything but I digress) woman. He completely stopped doing anything – never stared at me in meetings, or even really addressed me much anymore after he was notified that he was making me uncomfortable, which was fine by me. Because he completely stopped I’m apt to believe that he simply had NO IDEA that what he was doing was WAY outside the realms of social norms, as opposed to anything calculated and purposeful. I mean, he certainly may have had a crush on me or something, but he kept it to himself after that.

        1. neverjaunty*

          No, that’s pretty standard creeper behavior – when she shuts you down, pout and refuse to interact with her normally either.

          I’m glad it turned out all right for you!

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