job hunting as a victim of revenge porn, employee taking two lunches, and more

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

1. Job hunting as a victim of revenge porn

About a decade ago, when we were seniors in college, my now-husband was studying abroad on the other side of the globe. As part of his long-distance Valentine’s Day gift, I emailed him a bunch of dirty selfies…and then my account got hacked. It took seven years for them to surface, but when they did it was brutal. These explicit photos with my full name and other personal information were everywhere. If you googled me, the first dozen pages were these pictures on various disgusting websites with tons of sickeningly cruel comments. It was one of the worst experiences of my life, and it took me a while to recover. At this point, it’s basically under control–I used advice from and most of the time my search results are fine, but a few times a year there are flurries where the pictures get posted again and show up on the third or fourth page of Google for a few days while I get it all sorted out.

When it happened, I had been at a job I liked for about a year and wasn’t planning on going anywhere, but now I’m starting to look for new opportunities. If a recruiter or a potential boss came across one of these terrible websites, what would that do to my chances as a candidate? On one hand, it seems like society is becoming more sympathetic to victims of revenge/non-consensual porn, but on the other–don’t most reasonable people recoil when they come across sexually explicit materials at work? Do they automatically imply bad judgement? Do people even google to page 3 or 4 when researching candidates? If you meet me in person, I believe it’s obvious that I was much younger when the pictures were taken, but it makes me cringe to think about a recruiter even knowing about it.

How horrible. I’m sorry that happened to you.

If we’re talking a few days a few times a year, this will probably never even come up. If an employer does happen to Google you during that fairly narrow window, there’s also a very good chance they won’t go beyond the first one or two pages of search results. And if they do, they will be sufficiently unsure that it’s actually you (as opposed to someone else using the same name), that — taken altogether — I think you can give yourself a pass on having to worry about this, as long as you’re staying on top of whatever steps you’ve been using.

You have a lot of company in this awful boat; it’s a terrible thing.

2. I can’t afford to bring my partner to our office Christmas party

My partner and I have fallen into difficult times and money is tight. My part-time job at a small family-run clinic is our main source of income, and I’ve worked there for less than a year.

I had originally planned for my partner to attend the office Christmas party and set aside money for this in advance, but I’ve recently had to remove his name from the list due to financial restraints caused by all the other Christmas activities I’m expected to participate in (including a team building night out in another city, a secret Santa drive, and the purchase of a “fun jumper” to wear in lieu of my uniform for the week leading up to December 24th).

When I discussed it with my manager, she said it would be a shame for him not to attend and wanted to work out “some other arrangement.” I am uncomfortable with the thought of them paying for his ticket when everyone else is expected to pay for their partner to attend. Plus I feel it would add a quid pro quo to my work relationship, which I’d rather avoid. How do I decline such an offer without causing offense?

I don’t think it’s going to create a quid pro quo; your office is basically saying that they don’t want this to be a financial hardship for you and they’re (possibly) willing to just waive the cost of him attending. (Frankly, they should do that for everyone; asking employees to pay to attend a holiday party is sort of the opposite of the morale-building intent those parties are supposed to have, but that’s a different post.)

If you really don’t want to do that, you could simply say, “That’s very kind of you and I really appreciate it, but I wouldn’t be comfortable accepting that.” Or it might be easier for him to just have conflicting plans that day.

Also, if you’re comfortable with it, you’d probably be doing others a favor if you pointed out that the costs of all these holidays observances add up and can pose a hardship.

3. Is this employee getting two lunch breaks?

I have an employee who takes an hour off-site every day, then comes back and heats up a full lunch and eats at her desk (while working). Now it is going on with two other employees as well. I am an office supervisor with an admin and director who think this is fine, but I do not. What do you suggest?

Are they as productive when they work while eating as they would be if they weren’t eating? If so, I don’t see a problem there. If eating while they work means that they’re not getting as much done during that period, that would be a legitimate thing to raise. But otherwise, this is probably someone who’s working out or running errands during their mid-day break and then eating when they return to work, and as long as it’s not impacting their work output, you should let it go.

4. Should my references be telling me when they hear from employers?

Would you mind clarifying an etiquette question regarding references? I have been a reference for many employees and coworkers. I am always honored when asked and take great care to inform them along the way. If I am listed as a reference, and the candidate tells me that their prospective employer is calling references, i always let them know, within a few days if I heard from them or not.

I normally will take time to reach out and let them know if it was a positive experience (which it usually is). I have been a candidate so many times, and love to know that my references are looking out for me.

I ask because I am in a search now (the first time in a long time). My references are silent. I asked them if they could be positive references and got overwhelming responses and now that reference checks are happening – it has been a week and I don’t know if they did it or not. I have even had casual conversations with one reference, who hasn’t spoken about it at all.

I don’t want to seem naggy and ask a lot, but I would at the very least expect an update, like “I spoke with jane from Teapots Inc. Good luck!” What is the etiquette on this for a reference, and what should a candidate do to get more information?

I’m with you on this — when I get a reference call for someone, I let them know that it happened. But I don’t think that’s anywhere near universal practice. Some people do, and some people don’t.

I think it’s fine to occasionally ask your references if they’ve heard from a particular company — but I wouldn’t do a lot of that, because it risks getting annoying. You’re probably better off accepting that some people just aren’t going to circle back and tell you that they did the call. And that’s really okay — as long as they’re putting their energy into giving you a thoughtful reference, that’s where you want it anyway.

5. My boss scheduled me for more hours than we agreed on

I am a casual employee, as well as a student. When school commenced in September, I made it clear to my employer that I cannot work more than 20 hours a week. She agreed and everything has been fine up until this point. We get our schedule a month in advance, so October 1st, I got my schedule for the whole month of November. A week into October, I had noticed that in the middle of November I am scheduled for 30 hours. I then approached my boss, and she said that the schedule has already been released and that it must stay that way. As a full-time student in university in my last year, there is no way that I can work that much. What should I do?

Say this to her: “We agreed at the start of September that I cannot work more than 20 hours a week because I’m also in school. The schedule as it’s currently written conflicts with that agreement. I’m really not able to go over 20 hours a week, so how would you like me to handle this?”

If she refuses to budge, you could try suggesting options on your own, like asking someone else to take your shifts. But if she still won’t budge, at that point you’ll have to decide if you’d rather deal with being over-scheduled that one week (with the risk of training her that she can get away with doing that to you in the future too) or hold firm and risk whatever consequences might come with that (which could include being fired, but that really depends on your boss).

{ 308 comments… read them below }

  1. Anonsie*


    I do this almost every day, it never occurred to me people would interpret this as two lunch breaks if I’m working while eating. I already save all the little low commitment tasks (quick emails, reading documents, updating my time card, things like that) for after my lunch break when it’s harder to focus anyway, so it’s not like it’s bringing down my day overall. Though I suppose that does mean that if you tracked what was getting done for me, especially in terms of billable time, it would appear the middle of the day was a big hole… But that would be true regardless of when I ate because that’s how I like to set my days up.

    1. Wakeen's Teapots, Ltd.*

      It depends on the environment. If you put on your green eye shade, “company time” is being taken in the lunch eating at desk also because it does, in absolute stop-watch-in-hand calculations, take company time to heat up, eat, and dispose of dishes.

      We have plenty of people who do this and it’s acceptable. I also think it’s a bit of a perq that our environment allows this. Back in the day (when I started working with Wakeen’s Horse Drawn Carriages), there was no such thing. People were expected to use their lunch time for lunch as a standard, not work time for lunch.

      In other news, I like being around food and it’s fun to walk by someone’s desk and say, that smells good, what do you have today?

      1. Ani*

        I would agree it’s a perq (sometimes taken for granted), especially in white collar jobs. Call centers, meanwhile, track literally every minute of a worker’s work hour and automatically impose escalating punishments for every instance of taking more time than allotted in the system. I wouldn’t wish it on anyone; it’s widespread outside of office jobs and I think a lot of people don’t realize we have basically two castes of workers and working conditions in the United States.

        1. Wakeen's Teapots, Ltd.*

          Okay but there are many jobs where you couldn’t eat and work. Call centers may be generally evil but it’s not unreasonable to say that you can’t handle a heavy call volume while chewing.

          Anything that is public facing – government offices, retail, food service. You can’t deal with a customer or client while eating your sandwich. Warehouse work, assembly, construction, anything where you have to use both hands to work. I’d imagine that medical personnel have to eat on their break, yes?

          The line is probably more function based than class based on this one, although the higher the level you go up, it’s more likely your function allows for it.

          1. JB (not in Houston)*

            Agreed–it’s really more of a function of whether your job allows it. In my office, there are people at the lower end of the hierarchy, some of whom have public facing jobs and some of whom are in the back office. People in the back could do this, those with public facing jobs can’t. We don’t want the front to smell like a cafeteria and we don’t want people with their mouths full when someone comes in with a question.

          2. Tamsin*

            There’s definitely a class component and I don’t think the comment was targeting call centers only. Surfing the Internet on job time in itself is a perk that white collar workers really do take for granted. Making personal calls. Paid sick days and paid vacation days. But I’ll stop.

            1. AMT*

              Yep. If you’re working a non-white-collar job, your behavior is often policed at a level that would be unthinkable for, say, a lawyer or an accountant. I’ve worked at both types of job (the first type earlier in my career, the second now) and there is a major difference in how much I’m trusted to manage my own time. Neither job had particularly trustworthy or flaky employees–it’s just the way you’re perceived as a lower-level employee.

              1. Anonsie*

                Agreed. More than the money, this is honestly the biggest reason why I was motivated to move up.

                I suppose with my original comment I was assuming this was a white collar office and a skilled professional employee on some upper level due to the way it was described, and that’s the kind of environment I’m talking about when I say a big fat “who cares.”

                Which is not to say that you shouldn’t be allowed to do that in other types of jobs, but in that scenario you’re usually ruling out the possibility that this person is sitting at the reception desk making a weird first impression on people.

        2. Kelly L.*

          Yep. The other biggie is being able to go off to the restroom without asking permission. There are always going to be some function-based exceptions, but in general, yeah, I think it’s class-based.

        3. MashaKasha*

          This is a perq that comes as a package deal with the expectation that, if you have to work through lunch, you work through lunch and munch on your lunch while you work. This includes meetings, conference calls etc that overlap with lunch breaks. I agree with the general idea of your comment, but thought I’d point it out.

          1. Kelly L.*

            But if you’re in, say, food service, they’ll call you off your break if they get slammed, and you never do get to finish it. Nope, they’re not necessarily supposed to do that (laws vary). But they do it anyway.

      2. Future Analyst*

        Totally unrelated to the content of your message, but I’ve never seen the work perq before (only ever saw “perk”), so I looked it up and learned about perquisite. I learn something new on AAM every day!

      3. Anonsie*

        I don’t consider the time it takes to unpack/repack/clean up from lunch to be “working” time though. I wouldn’t spend 20 minutes fiddling with food and dishes and then try to play it off as productive time because I was working while eating in between, I mean– it’s not the eating while working that’s causing the problem there if that’s the case.

        Also, maybe I’m weird but I just take my dirty tupperwares home rather than bother with washing them during the day? And I tend to bring things that don’t need to be heated, so my down time around eating is literally just removing a container from the fridge and then putting it in my bag after. Maybe some people need to spend a lot more time on their food and that’s what makes this seem disingenuous to them.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          Well I don’t know what those people are doing, but it does not take me twenty minutes to fix my lunch and clean my dishes. Maybe ten, tops–five minutes when I go get it, and five to clean up.

    2. BRR*

      At my last job this was a serious benefit as we worked near a huge commercial area. I miss being able to run errands during lunch. Now I have to on weekend and it’s a madhouse.

      1. Kelly O*

        Same here. I get half an hour, and it’s okay because there is nothing really nearby to do on a lunch break, but I miss being able to run errands on a lunch hour sometimes.

        1. Mel in HR*

          Yeah, I get 30 minutes too (when I’m lucky). Even so, half the time I have to eat while working and don’t get a chance for any real break until some weird time late in my shift. I miss being able to go exercise on my break, but where my office is I would need over an hour just to get a 30 minute workout in at my gym.

    3. straws*

      I find that I’m more productive when I do this. Before my son was born, I often put off smaller organizational tasks like sorting emails & planning out tasks in favor of the big ticket items. I had always planned to start my day with those things, but it never worked out that way. I’m lucky enough that I can pump, eat, & work at the same time, and this is my planning/organizing time. I’m so much more productive during my “non eating” times with that small change. And, now I can use my actual break to visit my son at daycare, which is a huge morale boost. Obviously this won’t apply to every job, but it certainly can be a part of a productive day.

      1. Future Analyst*

        Totally agreed. I can’t check email while I pump, but I use the time to proof anything I drafted that morning, so the items I hand off are in much better shape than before. This reduces rework and definitely improves my productivity.

      2. Suz*

        You just reminded me of a funny thing that happened here yesterday. Our nursing rooms can be reserved, just like our conference rooms. One of my coworkers sent out a meeting invite and booked it in the nursing room. I don’t think management expects her to be that productive while pumping.

    4. Lauren*

      Me too. Although I also don’t spend hours walking around the office complaining of how busy I am or talking to other coworkers for half an hour (personal chats) at a time. So I figure if I’m less “productive” for the 10 minutes it takes to eat my lunch then so be it. Also we don’t have a lunch room so there is no place to sit and eat your lunch that isn’t at your desk.

      1. Stranger than fiction*

        Oh, this is such a great point. This is a pet peeve of mine, as well as smoke breaks. (And the chatty Cathy’s are often the same types that are observing everyone else’s comings and goings.) In fact, sometimes my one coworker and I take a “non-smoking break”. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t care what people do during their breaks, but at nearly every place I’ve worked, the smokers generally take twice as many as the standard two 15-minute breaks. That being said, this really depends on culture, and also if you’re exempt or non-exempt. This is hands down no big deal if you’re exempt, because you’re presumably making up that time, so to speak, at the beginning or end of your day and possibly working a lot more than 40 hours anyways, and maybe not even getting a lunch break on busy days. Non-exempt it depends on the culture. My last job would never have stood for this, they monitored everything we did, even restroom breaks. At my current job, it’s no big deal to do this once in a while, but I still don’t make a habit out of it.

      2. M&M*

        Yes! I think the concept here is that assuming this person “taking 2 lunch breaks” is generally a strong performer, meeting job expectations, and not a time-waster; this should be a non-issue. My sister once had a boss who told her she couldn’t lunch at her desk, because each time she stopped working to literally put the fork to her mouth (his exact words) that was a few seconds of loss productivity that add up. Micromanage much?

        Everyone will waste some time during each day – whether it’s an extra smoke break, or chatting while getting coffee, or taking 5 minutes to heat up their lunch in addition to a “lunch” break.

        Now, if the person was a poor performer who could not manage their time well, had serious time-wasting habits and spent more time complaining about being busy than working – then it might make sense for the person’s supervisor to discuss how they can improve their time management techniques – but even still; eating lunch while working would be the least of the problems.

        1. Koko*

          Everyone will waste some time during each day – whether it’s an extra smoke break, or chatting while getting coffee, or taking 5 minutes to heat up their lunch in addition to a “lunch” break.

          Or staring blankly at the wall with fatigue.

        2. Anonsie*

          That’s always the thing. Something like this always becomes more or less ok depending on whether or not it’s part of a pattern of issues with the employee.

    5. EmmaBlake*

      My employer actually prohibits this. They send out emails to all the department supervisors at least once a year reminding them that taking an hour for lunch and then coming back and eating at our desks is not ok. Then again, we’re not allowed to eat at our desks at all except for the snacks (apples, bananas) that they provide.

      1. Lauren*

        I would have a problem with this as I need to snack on protein-heavy (yogurt, cheese, nuts) items early in the day but I can’t eat it as soon as I get up (difficulty eating close to when I wake up). So I have a small breakfast at home and then have snacks about an hour and a half later (yogurt, cheese, fruit, etc). If I don’t I can feel my blood sugar drop and I get headache-y.

        It seems like a dumb policy.

        1. Kelly L.*

          I think there are some people out there who essentially make it into two lunch breaks–i.e., leaving for their actual lunch, and then not getting anything done for the next hour after they come back either, and it kind of ruins things for everybody else.

          1. Not The Droid You Are Looking For*

            There was an employee doing this on another team. She would leave for an hour, then come back and eat her lunch while looking at Facebook or doing online shopping (open floor plan, everyone’s screens are visible).

            Our VP wanted to ban food on the floor/working lunches. Luckily, her manager calmed our VP down and had a conversation with the employee in question.

            But it’s easy to see how it could get blown out of proportion.

        2. Mark in Cali*

          I eat loud so I avoid even snacking at my desk. I just pop in the kitchen/lunchroom for five minutes and eat my snack. I think someone in your situation could do the same thing to maintain their blood sugar. Yeah?

        3. MashaKasha*

          I have to snack during the day too.

          I had one old job where the owner moved from a rental office into a new building that he owned, had his interior-decorator wife do the office design, and then decided that, because the office was so new and pretty, that no one could eat anything at their desks anymore. I ate my lunch in the breakroom and snacked on the sly from under my desk…

    6. Mark in Cali*

      I’m a big fan of not eating at the desk and working. I don’t quite get the whole, “as long as they are just as productive” idea because, at least in my office, measuring productivity is pretty much impossible. Our deadlines for things are so far out and the only goal we have to hit comes at the end of the year. How do you measure results and productivity that way? Yet everyone seems to love to take their hour long Target break and then lunch at their desk and then they run around saying they’re so busy (this is of course after they’ve been on the phone with their kids about soccer practice). Anyway, you tell me how you type and answer emails while eating a sandwich. I haven’t figured it out yet. I haven’t worked in many other offices, but I venture to say that most people aren’t as busy as they say they are (you know those people who post on Facebook about how busy they are . . . then why are they on Facebook?!) and could stand some time away from their desk socializing with other employees in the lunchroom (call it real team building).

      I guess my point is that no one seems to be that busy that they can’t take time time away from their desk for a half hour lunch, yet they can take an hour to run errands every day. I wouldn’t really stand for it as a manager, but that’s why I don’t want to be a manager!

      1. JB (not in Houston)*

        I think it really does depend on the office. I do a lot of legal research, and I’m totally capable of reading a case, clicking the “next case” button, reading the next case, etc., while eating. And a lot of people in my office have jobs that they can do well while eating. And in my office, we are understaffed and underworked so we *are* as busy as we say we are. And socializing with other employees can be team building, but it can also have the opposite effect, and for introverts, lunch is their chance to get some alone time. That makes them more refreshed and productive when they come back from lunch.

        So your comments are applicable to your office, but I wouldn’t assume your experience is universal.

      2. FiveByFive*

        Thank you Mark. This is what I think people are missing. We don’t know what kind of job the OP is referring to, and not every job can measure productivity easily.

        At my job, I don’t have a daily duty to make 200 widgets, and if I hit the goal, I can say I was productive. We are juggling multiple projects which can vary in duration from several months to a year. Plus we share taking support calls and emails which are not easily quantifiable.

        If everybody on my team can find a way to eat lunch during their lunch hour, and I come back from my break and start eating at my desk, saying to everybody “don’t worry, I’m getting my work done”, that is not going to be a good look. I would not feel like I’m projecting the same concern for my job that my teammates have.

        Given that we don’t know the OP’s job or work environment, I think if there might be concerns about perception regarding some employees’ productivity, and those employees have different habits than others, then this is something to consider rethinking.

      3. Koko*

        I know everyone’s different on this, but when I eat I don’t spend the entire time shoveling forkfuls of food into my mouth back-to-back. I eat a bite or two, do some reading or writing, eat another bite or two, answer some emails, and so on. I spend about 45 minutes eating my lunch.

        Although I’d think even if someone was eating something continuously, then they’re going to have finished their lunch so fast it hardly matters. If you are eating bite after bite without pausing in between you’re going to get through a sandwich in under 5 minutes.

        1. Mark in Cali*

          I used to wait tables and work in retail so I know what it’s like to be on the clock. I’m salaried now at at desk job and maybe I should just relax and join the bandwagon, but I know there are so many people who shop on, go to Target, read the news on the web, chit chat around the office. I guess, and this is just my office but like I said I would venture to say after reading the many posts on this blog that others are the same, it’s just an insult to injury when people are saying they are so busy but then shopping, chatting, blogging (guilty here) and such during the work day. And then they eat lunch at their desk.

          Introverts, there are places to eat away from your desk as well.

          Keep your smelly foods and eating noises away from my cube!

          Just a personal believe that everyone should get away from their desk for lunch, but you’ll never convince me that it’s productive. Plus, I’m sick of working a full eight hour day but others leave early because, “Oh, I ate at my desk so I don’t need to stay later because of a lunch break.” I bet those people never had to punch a clock in their life.

          1. Anonsie*

            I donno where the connection to the desk lunch to playing the busy game is coming from here. I’m not saying I have to eat my lunch at my desk because I’m just sooo busy oh my goodness, I do it because it’s practical and I like to do it. On a relaxed day, I can take a walk at lunch or run an errand and then come back and eat while reading documents precisely because I’m not that busy. On a busy day, I have to eat on my break because you better believe those slow doc review and project planning bits that you can eat and complete are not even getting done that day at all in favor of more intensive stuff.

          2. Elizabeth West*

            I come in later and eat at my desk and leave a bit earlier, but I put in eight hours. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t get paid–I am not salaried. My job is such that I can do it while eating, unless I’m having soup, and then I take a small break to eat that and get back to it. We’re allowed to surf if it’s within reason and for most of us, our bosses don’t really care much as long as we’re getting our work done. I generally have something coming in every day while I’m eating, and I just pause and take care of it.

      4. Anonsie*

        Anyway, you tell me how you type and answer emails while eating a sandwich. I haven’t figured it out yet.

        Well this, among other reasons, is why I never pack lunches that can’t be eaten with a utensil I can pick up and set down. So there’s that.

        But the biggest thing I need to do as housekeeping is just *read* the emails and all the lengthy attached documents. The actual typing is typically brief.

      5. Honeybee*

        I typed and answered emails while eating a sandwich at my desk just last week. You read the email while you take a bite and then you type after you put the sandwich down.

        I mean, yes, I am probably less busy/productive if I eat at my desk than if I am not eating at my desk, but as others have mentioned, everyone has pockets of the day with less productivity. If I am doing the work that my manager wants me to do, and we’re hitting our goals (which may be a bit farther out but I don’t see why that matters), I don’t see why anyone should care whether I’m eating occasionally while I do it.

    7. INTP*

      I would see it as taking maybe 1.5 lunch breaks if it’s done every single day. I do find that I am less productive while I am eating – if you have some tasks that just involve staring at a screen then it might be different, but I don’t see how it couldn’t interfere with anything involving typing, etc. It *feels* like I’m working just as fast, but when I look at the output, I’m not. It does seem a bit taking advantage-y if you’re an hourly worker (or you have a salaried job with an agreement that you are at work only 8 hours every day) and your company allows a full hour for lunch and you are taking the full hour plus working at reduced capacity for another 30 minutes or so while you eat. An hour is pretty generous, and should allow time to both get out of the office a bit and eat a meal.

      OTOH, if someone is an exempt employee also working early or late here and there, or if it’s just done once or twice a week, or the company only allows for a 30 minute lunch break, I wouldn’t think twice about it. And if the company allows it as a perk, I think it’s fine for everyone to take advantage of. I just wouldn’t feel right doing it myself unless it was definitely A Thing in the office.

      1. Koko*

        A lot of others have mentioned upthread that they save their easiest tasks like organizing/reading/responding to email for their working lunch.

        I honestly don’t believe that anyone works at maximum productivity for 3.5+ straight hours without the aid of stimulants. Your productivity is going to rise and fall throughout the day, there will be times where you can work for 45 minutes without stopping and then times when you find yourself staring blankly into space because your brain is kaput for a few minutes. So if when I’m eating lunch I am only working at 85% productivity…well, that’s probably not the only time of day that I’m working at 85%.

        I work through my lunch every day – that is, I don’t take a lunch hour break at all, I just eat at my desk while working. But I generally wait until I’m feeling really mentally fatigued to go heat up my lunch and then do some inbox organizing, responding to emails, filling out paperwork, or reading professional development resources. I wasn’t going to be doing high-level intensive work at that point anyway until I gave my brain a breather.

      2. Anonsie*

        Ah see, I have a lot of tasks that just involve reading or clicking/scrolling. And I am exempt and regularly put in extra hours, so if someone were to begrudge me the five additional minutes it might take me to do that stuff because I’m also operating a fork I would find that pennywise and poundfoolish for sure.

    8. The Carrie*

      #3 I think this is so bizarre that someone would think this? This happens a lot at my job for the same reasons Alison described. But also, people eat all the time at all times of day. Lots of people eat breakfast at their desks, people cook and eat food all day. I wouldn’t consider that using up company time unless for some reason they pull out the newspaper and relax while eating or something.

  2. SCR*

    I’m so confused why an employer would expect you to pay for a holiday party? By use of “jumper” I’m assuming you’re not in the States so maybe it’s more common where you are. But yeah, expecting you to shell out for activities like a team building night out seems really weird. Shouldn’t the company cover a team building activity if it’s required?

    I definitely think saying something about the financial burden makes sense, especially if there’s pressure to participate or if it’s mandatory.

    1. A Dispatcher*

      We pay to attend ours (either outright or via fundraisers throughout the year), but things are of course different in the public sector versus private. It’s not a required activity though.

      1. Anonsie*

        Oh that’s right, didn’t we have a big discussion a while back about how public sector workers have tickets and fundraisers and stuff since the gov can’t pay for it like a company normally would?

        1. Evie*

          I work at a university and our work (at least for our small, not quite the usual, section – I don’t know about the rest of it) contributes an amount and if there’s a difference we pay the rest out of pocket, which makes sense to me. We also dot being partners – it’s just the staff of our particular centre.

        2. Stephanie*

          Yeah, when I was a fed, we had to pay for our holiday party. I believe there were regulations against higher ups paying for the party.

          1. Doriana Gray*

            I was about to say, “Paying to attend your own company Christmas party?! What in the unholy hell?!” But your explanation makes sense.

            1. Jessica*

              Same when I was a fed, but it was a very small token contribution (a couple dollars to cover paper plates/decorations/beverages to supplement the potluck meal). It seems odd to me that an employer would ask employees to pay a substantial amount to attend a party. (I know a “substantial amount” is subjective and differs for everyone.) The OP says s/he works for a small family-run clinic– I feel like if a place like that is having a party, they should make it small enough that the employer can afford to pay for it.

              1. Elizabeth the Ginger*

                Miss Manners has told readers repeatedly that if they cannot afford to throw a party a certain way, they shouldn’t throw the party that way. It is not “hosting” a party if you make your guests pay for it.

                I can see the rationale for a fed job, and it also seems reasonable for, say, some friends to casually get together for takeout and split the bill – but employers shouldn’t require their employees to spend any significant amount of their own money on “social” or “team-building” things.

    2. Kora*

      I read it as it was free for the LW to go but they’d have to pay for their partner if they wanted him there – that’s the way my husband’s last workplace used to do it.

      1. The Carrie*

        I don’t even want to go to company parties that are paid for. I can’t imagine taking a Saturday night to PAY to attend a company event. Yuck.

    3. Carrie in Scotland*

      My department’s Christmas party is out of town and awkward to get to and costs £45 (it’s an 80’s themed party + meal), £75 if you want to stay the night or £65 if I were to go to the party but not stay and take a taxi home. (this is without alcohol!!) Ain’t nobody got money for that.

      The only place I’ve ever not had to pay was my voluntary job where they comp you £10 per person towards the cost.

      1. Person #2*

        @Carrie in Scotland – That sounds pretty steep once you factor in drinks and a cab. Whatever happened to having a few pints down the pub and a Christmas cracker?

        1. Carrie in Scotland*

          @person 2 – No idea! It’s by far the dearest work party I’ve known. It actually worked out cheaper to go to my old job’s party + the cheap bus back home for the same money (it’s about 200 miles away!!)

    4. Pipette*

      Christmas jumpers is a huge thing in the UK. The Brits in my office are really looking forward to when they can wear their garish jumpers. The weeks before Christmas, you can see shop assistants in reindeer onesies and office workers with fuzzy blinking Christmas tree jumpers, so I can imagine there is a lot of peer pressure around this.

      1. UK HR bod*

        They’re not a big thing for all of us! There’s not really peer pressure – depends on your environment. Thankfully, I’ve never worked in places where people wore them as a standard – there’s always a couple of people who wear them ‘ironically’ though. It’s also not at all unusual to have to pay for your Christmas meal / party, but equally they are (at least everywhere I’ve worked) entirely optional. There’s no pressure or expectation that you will join in, although working in an environment that’s multi-site it’s good to see that the coordinator is making sure that everyone is aware of all the options and has the opportunity (if interested) to get to one.

        1. Pipette*

          I’m glad it’s not a thing all over the UK! I’m in the South and work in a huge business park and saw a lot of sweaters last Christmas. I could really do without seeing the local Tesco staff in saggy pudding onesies that clearly haven’t been washed recently though.

          Coming from a culture where the employer *always* pays for a Christmas dinner (unless they are on the verge of bankruptcy), it was a bit jarring to have to pay for it. But I guess that’s how it’s done here. My company is pretty low on the peer pressure too, which is great, but at a small place like where OP2 works and everyone else seems to be going all in on the Christmas stuff, ugh.

          1. Artemesia*

            If you can’t comb second hand shops for the sweater — could you get by by wearing junky Christmas jewelry e.g. the glowing earrings and reindeer necklace or other tat you can get cheaply this time of year? e.g. wear a red jumper but add a Christmas ornament necklace.

            If I were this close to the bone with my budget, I’d hate to have to lay out this kind of money — party, gift for co-worker, team builder and sweater. Pretty insensitive management.

            1. Person #2*

              @Artemesia – Thank you! I feel vindicated by your comment “Pretty insensitive management”.

              I feel like they are asking far too much for a part-time, minimum wage position. They think this team building nonsense is so great that they want to start organizing one every month (bowling, ice skating, dancing…)

              What annoys me the most is that all these nights out are nothing more than off-site socializing. Tacking on the label ‘Team Building’ makes it feel obligatory rather than optional – like I’ll be labeled as ‘difficult’ or ‘not a team player’ if I decline to attend. For the record: I won’t be attending another one, no matter how guilty it makes me feel.

              1. Sarah*

                If you aren’t interested in attending future ones, is it possible for you and your partner to have “other plans” come up (i.e. staying home to be happy) and skip this one too? Start the way you intend to continue basically

      2. Claire (Scotland)*

        “Christmas jumpers is a huge thing in the UK.” – For some, maybe, but certainly not for all. It’s not a thing for me, or for anyone I know. There would be some very weird looks at my work if anyone wore a Christmas jumper!

        1. Dynamic Beige*

          They are also popular at some Xmas parties in Canada, at least near me. Someone I know has an Ugly Xmas Sweater Party every year with prizes for the “best” worst ones. Apparently it is really difficult to find a good/bad one at the thrift shops around this time of year.

          1. Susie*

            Ugly Hockey Sweaters! The ultimate Canadian winter wear:

            At my workplace you can wear whatever you like on Friday if you participate in a charity donation, so I wore my ugly christmas/hockey sweater to work yesterday and so many people loved it. I suspect there will be a slew of people wearing these on Fridays from now on.

    5. Kelly L.*

      I think the thing with the jumper/sweater is that it’s not technically a requirement to buy one just for the party–you could wear your existing one if you already have one–but the OP doesn’t have one, so it turns into an expense if the jumper is required or Strongly Suggested(tm).

      One suggestion for bringing down the expense is to try charity shops, though I don’t know if the UK experienced the vogue for them in the 1980s that the US did. Here in the US, you can often find them secondhand, or maybe your mom even still has one from back then. (My mom has two, a sweater and a vest, and once won an ugly sweater competition by wearing them both at once.)

      1. SCR*

        I’m more concerned with the team building activity frankly. Wearing a sweater is different and hopefully OP can find a cheap one or just choose not to bother.

        1. Kelly L.*

          I’m not sure if I’m reading your post right, but a jumper is the UK word for a sweater. It does sound like they’ve backed off a bit to “festive attire,” which is good.

      2. Person #2*

        Thank you all for your commiserations and replies. The issue wasn’t so much having to pay for my partner to attend the Christmas party, that seemed fair enough to me. The date of the date for the Christmas party was announced in August and the price of my partner attending was £30. I was prepared to pay that to have him accompany me.

        My issue was feeling blindsided by all the other activities and the way in which they were communicated. Last week I received a text from my boss announcing that the clinic would be closed on Dec 3 for the ‘Team Building’ night. I was down to work that evening originally so, effectively my shift has been cancelled without pay.
        When I pointed this out to my manager she said I wouldn’t loose out financially as I would be covering a shift for her the following week. While that ensures I will get paid for my contracted number of hours by month end, I will still be spending the equivalent of one day’s pay by attending the team building night.

        The costs (for the sake of illustration) are…
        Christmas meal for partner: £30 (+drinks)
        Secret Santa gift: £10
        Christmas Jumper: £5-10
        ‘Team Building’ night: £25-30 (train ticket, food & drinks)

        Suddenly, it looked like I would be shelling out £70 or more for all these activities when I only make £112 a week to begin with. Even though the shift I’m covering will ensure I work the same number of hours by month end, I will still be spending the equivalent of one day’s pay by attending the team building night.

        Something had to give. As the only optional activity was my partner attending the party, his ticket had to go.

        All this has caused an issue for another member of staff and there has since been a staff meeting to address it. This is where things currently stand:

        — Christmas jumper week has been downgraded to – ‘wear a little something festive week’ (even if it’s just some earnings or a scarf)
        — The value of the Secret Santa gift has been changed from £10 to ‘up to £10’
        — Staff are still expected to pay for their travel, dinner & drinks on team building night
        — My partner’s name has been taken off the guest list and there was (thankfully) no offer to pay for his ticket.

        I think the moral of the story is… I need to look for a better paying, full-time job.

          1. Person #2*

            @Artemesia – The real kicker is that it’s 2 days before the Christmas party. I don’t see the point of having two big events in the same week.

            1. Chriama*

              Team building is either paid for by the company or totally optional. It especially sucks because they’re taking away one of your shifts so instead of earning money you’d be losing it. Could you suggest doing something cheaper at the workplace like a pizza party? If not, why not just tell them you can’t afford it and won’t be able to attend? I think telling them you can’t afford it after offering a suggestion for something cheaper will show that you still want to be a ‘team player’ and point out the hardship they’re putting on employees?

          2. Mickey Q*

            The last time I did a team-building thing was when the company paid for us to go to Busch Gardens. I threw up on the roller coaster. From then on I said I would only attend something indoors with air conditioning and suddenly team-building outings were no longer important to the company.

          3. Doriana Gray*

            Agreed, Artemesia. Every team building activity I’ve ever participated in, going all the way back to high school, was a) done on company/school time and b) paid for by the company/school. Anything else is absurd.

        1. SCR*

          Thanks for the clarification. I think the egregious item is the team building activity. You are required to go and they aren’t paying?!?!??! That’s really, really not fair.

          Maybe I’m really lucky, but even my cabs home from a company party have been expensable. Mainly to reduce liability maybe but you go drink at a fun party (all paid by the company) then you shouldn’t be driving home so the cab can be expensed. I know it’s a small company, but company events should not be a burden to an employee.

          1. Person #2*

            @SCR – Yes, it’s these silly ‘team building’ events that don’t sit well with me. Especially as they are little more than after-hours socializing. There is nothing vaguely team building about them (unless you want to argue that going out to drink mulled wine and eat hot dogs at a Christmas Market is a bonding experience).

            At least now that I’ve brought it up formally (and I have another member of staff to back me up) hopefully it will be easier to say ‘Sorry, I can’t attend.’

        2. Stranger than fiction*

          I’m glad they made some adjustments. I was going to suggest outlining it just like you did here, and showing your boss “do you realize this is X% of my take home pay this month?” kind of thing. But sounds like they’re already making some changes.

          1. AnonInSc*

            This. If you have to be there, they should have to pay you. We do staff days occasionally. We do want hourly and part-time folks to attend. Those hours are counted as work hours.

            1. Cactus*

              Seriously. Even when I worked in what sounds like a similar workplace to the LW’s (small clinic), we got paid for attending the (optional) Christmas party. We got paid for attending the (basically mandatory) yearly day-long special topics training sessions. Food (and coffee, soda, etc) at both of these things was free (the Christmas party had a cash bar for alcohol). There’s no way I would have gone to the Christmas party had I had to pay.

    6. Lia*

      When I worked retail, we did indeed have to pay to attend our holiday party. It cost close to the equivalent of half a day’s work to attend — plus we were expected to bring a gift for the exchange AND a dish to pass (suggested serving size — 20!). Needless to say, I opted out every year.

      1. OfficePrincess*

        Assuming that everyone attending brings food for 20 people, what is your “admission” money going towards? Something tells me that the only drinks being covered would be nonalcoholic and thus pretty cheap in bulk. Are they renting a super nice hall that takes up the entire budget?

      2. Person #2*

        @Lia – That sounds like a bum deal. When I worked in retail the company paid £25 per head for dinner & drinks and any extras were up to you.

        1. Mabel*

          A few years ago, I’m pretty sure that our company wasn’t going to do anything for the holidays, but our team ended up having hot appetizers in the party area of a local bar, It was a lot of fun, and I suspect that my wonderful manager paid for it himself. He was the nicest guy, AND a good manager.

    7. Stranger than fiction*

      I worked at a pretty big Corporation once that charged $30 for your +1, but the employees were covered. But yeah, team building and the uniform/outfit thing should be covered by employer, you’d think.

  3. Lizzy*

    3.) I do this. I like to use my lunch break to go for a walk and on some days, grab a coffee with an afternoon treat. I am someone who absolutely needs an offsite break to either run errands or just get some fresh air. It is extremely therapeutic and refreshing.

    In many workplaces I have been at, eating at your desk signals to other employees you are still working and that they can stop by to discuss work with you, even if you are chomping down on a turkey sandwich. Of course, these places also have separate break rooms for employees to enjoy lunch, so it helps make that distinction. I think it would be a bigger issue if the employee was offsite for the hour, then came to eat lunch in front of her desk, but was using that time period to browse social media or shop online. Now that be someone taking two lunch breaks.

    I agree with Alison’s assessment that it should only be an issue if it hurts productivity. Lots of people snack and even eat breakfast in front of their desk while working and it is not considered a break; I don’t see this as being any different.

    1. JB (not in Houston)*

      This is what I was saying in another comment above. Some people really need that time to get away from their desk and get some time by themselves. If they can come back to the office and work while we eating, and they can actually get work done while they are doing it, it’s a good thing for their employer to let them do that. They’ll be happier and more productive.

      1. INTP*

        I am one of those people that absolutely needs to get away from my desk and out of the office lighting. However, I’ve always found that an hour lunch break was plenty of time to both do that and eat my lunch. (If it were a 30 minute lunch break, yeah, I’d need to eat some lunch at my desk.) I don’t think it’s some horrible thing no employee should ever do, but I do think that if an employer gives an hour lunch it’s reasonable if they expect the employees to generally be able to eat their lunch during that time. I can understand why OP might take issue with it being done habitually versus once or twice a week when someone needs to run an errand nearby. I’m not sure how you’d track a slight reduction in productivity that occurs over the 30 minutes after lunch, but that could add up when multiple employees are doing it every day.

        1. JB (not in Houston)*

          It depends on the circumstances, though. In my case, I can’t go somewhere for lunch, I have to eat what I bring from home. So I can’t eat and also get out of the office at the same time, unless I want to heat up my food, hike to the parking garage, and eat in my car, which I’m not going to do. Besides, it’s not really a matter of whether you *can* eat and get out of the office in an hour. It’s a matter of whether eating at your desk slows down your productivity or causes a problem for your coworkers. If it doesn’t, then it really shouldn’t matter whether you eat on your hour out of the office or eat at your desk when you get back.

  4. Little Teapot*

    OP1-how horrible.

    I am in social work and my organisation ran workshops with boys aged 11/12.

    We did an activity which was meant to demonstrate how nothing is private, and even things you think are private aren’t.

    We had a bunch of boys stand in in a room, and handed the first a ball of string.

    “You send a snap chat photo of you in bathers to your girlfriend.” Hold the end of the string and throw it to someone else. Your girlfriend saved the snapchat, and sent it to her best friend. Now that person grasps a section of string and passes it on. The best friend forwards it to her cousin. Throw the ball. And so on. You only need to do it 5 times to truly illustrate that even if you ask the girlfriend to delete the photo from her phone, its too late. It’s been passed on, saved, forwarded so many times its a tangled mess.

    I am so sorry this has happened to it. Revenge porn is truly evil. :(

    1. Little Teapot*

      *of course this wasn’t what you did, you sent a private email which got hacked. I just meant that, in general, things we think are private aren’t. Obviously if your boyfriend had sent it on and that’s how it got out, that would be a problem.

      Didn’t mean to imply at all that this is your situation.

      1. bluehouse*

        But even if her boyfriend had sent it out, it still wouldn’t be the OP’s fault. I think she’s well aware that things are not private at this point.

        1. misspiggy*

          Indeed – but it’s still a useful point if people are getting the opportunity to learn how to use encryption for emails. Even emailing ID info such as date of birth or bank account numbers unencrypted is unsafe, let alone credit card numbers.

          1. UsedToDoSupport*

            But she’s in this situation. I know the horse is already out of the barn and it’s too late to shut the door, but at some point, she thought this would remain private. As a HM, I don’t care about the photos, but if I am hiring someone for a job that will require good judgement, honestly, I’d think twice about that candidate. I am sorry, OP…

            1. Mookie*

              Remove Nekkid Lady Parts from the equation (whoops! we can’t! women have bodies whether they want to or not!) and this makes no sense. Would you feel the same way if somebody’s personal diary, full of juicy secrets (but regarding nothing illegal or unethical) was stolen off a laptop and leaked to the internet?

              1. Kairi*

                This is such a great point! Naked bodies and sex are so natural, so I think its unfair to look down on anyone who partakes when it’s ethical, legal, and consensual.

              2. Cactus*

                Ahhhh, eek, horrifying. There is nothing remotely illegal in any of my old diaries…but there’s also nothing I’d want ANYONE ELSE ever reading without my permission. (This is basically why I don’t blog anymore–the thought of people I knew reading it but not telling me was too nauseating.)

            2. Sarah*

              It might be worth comparing the sale of private images to the sale of any stolen property to understand the other perspective on this situation. I wouldn’t, for example, blame someone who locks their house (ie reasonable precaution) and who is then robbed so I also wouldn’t blame someone who gave private property (photos) to a trusted partner (ie reasonable precaution because you also let a trusted partner into your home and car for example and trust they won’t steal and sell your stuff) – so I would not blame the person here for poor judgement. It’s not the writer’s fault that someone violated their privacy and I think it’s horrible to judge them for being the victim of a crime.

            3. UsedToDoSupport*

              I do understand the other perpective. And I honestly couldn’t care less about a photo, a lifestyle, or anything else. I do need employees with good judgement. I’m not saying I wouldn’t hire the OP either. It just makes me think. Don’t make me think about anything other than how great an employee you will be! What happened here sucks. It’s done with, but I don’t think OP should worry too very much. It really depends on the job. I would certainly find those darn photos in my research, but hey I’m a 60 year old old fogie web developer with 22 years web experience. I wasn’t born on the web, rather, I helped create it. I’m pretty good with the Google. And I wouldn’t care other than a passing “what WAS she thinking” and if hired make a mental note to work separately with OP on the touchy stuff so she succeeds.

              That’s my entire point. Please don’t read into this anything more than is here.

              1. Elizabeth West*

                If I saw something like that with her name and ALL her personal information, my first thought wouldn’t be “Oh, she’s posting her nakitidity on social media! My pearls!” but “Oh, this has probably been done without her knowledge.” Most people who post porn deliberately don’t put that sort of information out there.

        1. Little Teapot*

          I was just using it as an opportunity to talk about a program we run to illustrate how nothing is private anymore. That’s all. So many young people think it’s private. It’s not. OPs situation is horrendous.

          1. Evie*

            I totally get the point you’re making – and after recently having to talk to my teenage sister about Facebook related privacy issues (that is you should always assume you have none) I found the example of the girl who’s mother posted a picture to make the same point you make in those workshops – and it went viral to the point people had tracked them down and were phoning their house. It’s important to be aware.

            1. Kelly L.*

              Yep. I never share those “Share this to prove how viral a picture can go!” ones. They always kind of skeeve me. I’m potentially making this kid’s life worse because their parents want to prove a point?

          2. Merry and Bright*

            I totally get the point you are making, and the demonstration with the string is a great illustration and reminder.

            1. voyager1*

              Have you searched from your work computer? Reason I ask is web filtering at a workplace might block these types of sites. I also agree with AAM many folks probably won’t go beyond page 1 or 2 in the search results.

              Sorry you had this happen to you, can’t imagine what it is like.

              1. Zscore*

                Nooooo!!!! Please don’t search for yourself on a work computer!!!! It could make it more likely that your photos turn up in other searches, search optimization being what it is.

              2. OP-1*

                Where I work now we don’t have any web filtering so that hadn’t even occurred to me. I checked with my best friend, who works for the gigantic company who employs basically half of the state and where I have submitted a few application said that it’s blocked, at least in her department. I worked there previously in a different department and I don’t remember anything being blocked, but that was some time ago and it’s not like I was looking for that sort of thing at work anyway.

    2. LQ*

      Or we could try teaching people that sharing things that weren’t meant to be shared is a bad idea and how respect is good.
      Creating an environment where people are terrified to share deeply personal things isn’t good. It makes people not want to reveal things like they are depressed or they are gay or they are trans because somewhere someone is going to think that’s horrible and they are a bad person for it.

    3. Tara R.*

      I’m so sick of this approach. How many times throughout middle school/high school did I hear the exact spiel you described? Countless. How many times did I hear an adult say that it is wrong and immoral to spread someone’s private pictures? Never.

      1. Amy UK*

        Same. It’s basically a “look what you did to yourself” approach, with the string emphasising the “you started all this yourself” aspect. Why not make the first sharer the ‘protagonist’ of this little exercise, and emphasise what a scumbag they are?

        “Someone trusts and respects you enough to share something with you.” *Throw string* “You’re apparently a nasty person who doesn’t respect others’ privacy and decide to forward it”.

  5. katamia*

    I’ve never had a reference tell me that they were contacted by a company I applied to. I don’t know if that’s because they were never contacted or because they just didn’t tell me. If someone asked me to be a reference for them, it would never even occur to me to tell them if/when I was contacted, honestly, and I’d think it was super weird if someone I was referencing for (is there a shorter way to say “be a reference for”?) asked me, although I’d tell them if they asked.

    1. Evie*

      I’ve had 2 references tell me if they’d been contacted when I was going for my last job, but I think part of that was that I was seeing them for work purposes – like we were in the same place at the same time anyway, not because they specifically reached out to do so.

    2. Mallory Janis Ian*

      All three of my references for my last job search reported back me as soon as they were called. I could tell that I was going to be offered the job by the way they all said that the search committee told them that I was their number one candidate. They were all former bosses that I’d continued to keep in touch with via occasional lunches, drinks, and emails/texts/Christmas cards.

    3. OP#2*

      OP2 here. I will say when I am a reference, I like to give a heads up to my people. I want them to know, A) That I am a positive reference and to keep using me B) I will also normally give them an indication of how it went. (ie: The employer couldn’t stop talking about how great the interview went).

      This job I am interviewing for now is very important to me and I have gotten to the interview process before and not gotten the job in other postings. (In that case the employer apparently referenced checked the top 2 candidates and I was number 2.) It is good to know where they are in the process and if any red flags have come up.

      I will say that I followed up with my references. 1 spoke to the employer and gave me no details. 1 spoke to the employer and said it seemed like a great fit. And the third (my supervisor), said she hadn’t heard anything. Then came back at the end of the day and apologized because apparently they had an unanswered voicemail from almost a week ago. She said she called the employer back and left a message as of yesterday.

      So still in limbo but at least I have more info. I do wish references shared a bit more about what happened in the call. they are a part of the portfolio of work that I present to employers and it always seems odd to send in people you trust to talk about you an never actually get a sense of what was said. It is tough when you prepare and have control over many details of every other piece of the interview process – the cover letter, resume, your interview responses. This always seems like the piece I have the least control over. I like people who i reference for to know generally what I said and if it went well or not.

      1. Mallory Janis Ian*

        “I do wish references shared a bit more about what happened in the call. they are a part of the portfolio of work that I present to employers and it always seems odd to send in people you trust to talk about you an never actually get a sense of what was said. ”

        Now that I think of it, none of my references told me what the employer asked them or any details about what they said about me. They just told me the employer had said that I was their first pick so far from the pool of finalists. I am curious about what exactly was asked by the employer and answered by my references, but not overly much.

        As far as having a reference be unavailable for a week, that happened in my last search, too. My former supervisor was away on his annual kayak float trip for a week, out of cell phone/email range, when they called him. The employer called me a couple of times and said they couldn’t get hold of him, and I wasn’t sure why. Then I saw on FaceBook that one of my former coworkers’ husband was on a river float trip, and I knew that my former supervisor was part of the gang of guys who do that annually, so I was able to know his whereabouts from that. I called the employer back and let them know that he was on vacation and out of cell phone range, and they waited until he returned to speak with him.

      2. TootsNYC*

        I also like to tell them anything useful about the substance of the change.

        So someone I’m a reference for from their work as a factchecker was looking for work as a recruiter, and they asked about whether she’d be able to dig deep enough in the target organization to find the people with the real skills they’d want to approach.

        So I pointed out that she had to do similar things with finding doctors to confirm medical data, or finding the actual professor/grad student who did the university study.

        Telling her that they’re asking about this lets her know it’s one of the concerns they had about her as a candidate; I think hiring managers often use references to help them settle some of those little “but could she do this?” issues. It’s good for her to know they’re asking, and it’s good for her to know the substance of what I said. So she can capitalize or expand on it, or flat-out steal it, or know to not repeat it word-for-word.

        But sometimes I get busy and forget. Usually I forget only when the conversation or questions were really unexciting.

    4. Stranger than fiction*

      I only have two references that have told me they were contacted. But, one is my former supervisor that became a really good personal friend subsequently, and one was a level up from me at another job, not a peer, but not a direct supervisor, and is now my significant other. The rest of my references are straight-up former managers, so I never expected them to reach out and tell me if/when they were contacted.

  6. Chocolate Teapot*

    2. In my view team building events count as work and should be covered by the company, and novelty Christmas jumpers should also be funded. As we have seen on here before, even spending 15 pounds/dollars on something is tough if you don’t have the money in the first place.

    I once tried to decline an event because I was short of money and got the whole “Oh I’m sure we can pay for you” line. I ended up paying for myself on a credit card, which I could manage, but it was more because I didn’t want to feel obliged to the organisers as the OP describes.

    1. Not the Droid You are Looking For*

      I agree! I would much rather have “holiday donuts” at work because that is what the company can afford, rather than have to pay out of pocket.

      1. OfficePrincess*

        Yup. Around here it’s coffee, donuts, and breakfast sandwiches. Most people like it, but there’s always one that complains that instead of buying the food, everyone should get a larger annual raise. $80×2 days per year / 40 people (assuming that only staff and not management get their raises increased by the savings) = everyone gets an extra $0.0019 per hour. I’d rather have the coffee.

      2. catsAreCool*

        “I would much rather have “holiday donuts” at work because that is what the company can afford, rather than have to pay out of pocket.” This!

    2. MsChanandlerBong*

      Exactly. It also puts people in an awkward position. Either you A) Admit that you are having financial difficulties, which would cause embarrassment for some people; or B) Charge the cost of the event/item, increasing your debt and putting you in an even worse financial position.

      Something similar happened to me a few years ago. I had just gotten out of the hospital in November, and I had a ton of medical bills. My friends had a small party in December. For reference, almost all of my friends make as much individually as my husband and I make put together. Right before the party, I got a text message that said, “Bring $6 per person in quarters because we’re going to play XYZ game.” I almost lost it. Yes, $12 isn’t a lot of money, but it was a lot of money to me at that time. I couldn’t get the money out of the ATM because I literally didn’t have enough in there (I think I had $18, but you needed to withdraw multiples of 20). The whole day, which I had been anticipating eagerly, was ruined by the stress of trying to find $12 in change lying around my house, crying over my medical bills, and kicking myself for not being in a better financial position.

      1. Salyan*

        That’s just inconsiderate, especially as it sounds like they told you after (bank) hours. Seriously, who just happens to have $6 in quarters (per person) lying around?

        1. Cactus*

          We probably do, but that’s only because I’ve been gathering up all our loose change for months to put into one of those coinstar machines and convert it into an online gift card of some kind to spend on Christmas gifts…

  7. FiveByFive*

    #3 Oooh it’s rare that I disagree with Alison, but I have to on this one.

    People might think they are productive while they’re eating, but most people think they’re above average drivers too. Then you get into the messes that can be made, the noises, and the smells. Yes, I know everybody thinks that’s not them, but again I refer to the driving analogy.

    And even if you are a perfect eater, others might not be. Then the manager has to make rules about which foods are OK and which ones aren’t, and on and on. The easy solution is to simply allocate a lunch hour, and expect everyone to go out to eat, or eat at the cafeteria. The desk is for working. :)

    1. Anonsie*

      Huh. Ok, I’m surprised for a second time on this today. I can’t say I’ve ever noticed someone in my office space was eating at their desk before, and we all do it (no cafeteria and only two tables in the break area, so you have to eat at your desk or go to a restaurant).

      1. FiveByFive*

        Well you’re clearly evil :)

        Like anything, I’m sure it varies from company to company. Just as a general rule, I’m not a big fan.

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I think there’s a point where people are senior/skilled enough that you really can’t dictate that or it’s kind of insulting/inappropriately controlling for professionals. Plus, it would particularly weird for anyone who’s exempt. There are also jobs where you’re so busy that it’s practical to choose to continue to work while you eat. (I always eat lunch while I work and have for years; if you’re self-aware, you save tasks for lunch that either can’t be delayed or more easily accommodate eating while you do them.)

      1. FiveByFive*

        I’d say there’s more leeway if you aren’t taking a lunch break to begin with. But I just don’t like the optics of being gone for an hour, then returning and chowing down. At least not as a habit. Oh well.

        1. JB (not in Houston)*

          But focusing on the optics of something rather the reality of whether people are being productive is usually not a good way to get the best out of people unless it’s a case where how things look really matter (like for public facing employees). As I said above, I definitely have work I can easily do while eating my lunch, and it definitely doesn’t hurt my productivity. So if my boss decided to crack down on this kind of thing just because she didn’t like the idea of it would be similar to managers insisting people stay late even if they don’t have work to do just because they don’t like the way it looks when people leave right at 5. It’s demoralizing and serves no real purpose.

          I mean, I get what you’re saying about how it could smell up the office or create messes, but if that becomes a problem, that’s the part you should address.

          1. neverjaunty*

            Exactly. Focusing on “optics” that don’t matter to the business is basically telling employees that real, practical measurements give way to irrational ones at this workplace.

            1. FiveByFive*

              But as I said, there aren’t always “real, practical measurements”. I’m not sure why you think it’s irrational that some people may not want to create an impression that they are working less than a full day.

      2. The Artist Formally Known As UKAnon*

        “I think there’s a point where people are senior/skilled enough that you really can’t dictate that or it’s kind of insulting/inappropriately controlling for professionals.”

        Actually, I think that having any blanket rule in your workplace along these lines would be fairly patronising to a group of adults. Will there be one or two who abuse the perk or don’t know boundaries? Of course. But workplaces which then move straight to “banned for everyone” are making a whole ‘nother heap of problems.

        The best workplaces act as if their employees are adults and can be trusted to act as such, then deal with individual problems in an individual way as they arise.

        tl;dr I completely agree with you, except you should trust all of your employees, not just the senior ones. (Until proven otherwise – then no matter how senior they are you deal with it)

          1. Graciosa*

            I think the other element that people don’t address enough is that these are exactly the types of decisions that create an office culture.

            “Small” decisions like telling people they can’t come back from break and eat at their desk send a message about what the company values. They are usually made by people who believe they are adding much needed discipline to the work place, or ensuring that workers are properly focused on their work, or for some other benign (but misguided) purpose.

            If you create a culture that focuses on clock-watching and rules rather than productivity and accomplishment, you encourage employees to behave that way in response.

            If I had been told that I couldn’t eat at my desk after running a lunch time errand, you can bet I would be out the door on the dot at 5 every night regardless of what was going on in the business. (Also, I would have needed to eat or run the errand I didn’t get to at lunch!).

            People with aspirations for leadership in business should avoid thinking of employees as subordinates when making decisions about policies and rules in the work place. Think of them as the people you need to get the work done.

            1. Zillah*

              If I had been told that I couldn’t eat at my desk after running a lunch time errand, you can bet I would be out the door on the dot at 5 every night regardless of what was going on in the business.


        1. Ms. Anne Thrope*

          For real. One time the Big Bosses decided employees were spending too much time in the bathroom. Not even kidding. Dept Boss had to talk in a meeting about limiting one’s bathroom time.

          Luckily I was out that day or I would have raised my hand and said ‘Oh I’m sorry, there must be some mistake. I actually graduated kindergarten. Sorry I forgot to put that on my resume.’

          1. AnotherAlison*

            OTOH, at home some people make a habit of watching videos* and spending 15 minutes in the bathroom. That would annoy me if people were taking it to that level at work, but more because I want my privacy in the bathroom without other people lingering in there forever.

            (Not THOSE videos. I can hear. Thin walls.)

            1. Kelly L.*

              Wow! I have never seen this. Sometimes people will talk on the phone in there, which is always awkward because I’m like “Should I pee? Should I flush? I’m making gross sound effects for somebody else’s call!” But not videos.

              1. Windchime*

                Yeah, when people are in the bathroom making phone calls, I go right ahead and pee (and flush). It’s a bathroom, not her private phone booth. If she doesn’t want her call interrupted with flushing, she shouldn’t be chatting in the bathroom.

                1. Elizabeth West*

                  Me too. I’m not not flushing because of your phone call. People at my work go into the stairwell, but that’s not private either. If I’m doing my stair climb, I just go right ahead and do it and ignore them.

                2. Middle Name Jane*

                  Same here. It’s only happened a couple of times, but I’m not going to sit there waiting for someone else to finish their phone call if they were rude enough to bring their phone into the restroom. Not my problem if the person on the other end of their call hears my flush.

            2. Allison*

              Yep, when people take some sort of distraction into the bathroom with them they often linger after they’re done, so that can be an issue at work, especially if people aren’t allowed to look at their personal phones at their desks. I do sometimes take my phone with me, but only if I’m not feeling well and know it may be a while . . .

              1. Not Myself*

                Alas, for me, it’s the only way I can be ‘productive’ in there. I have shy bowels and it helps distract me from everyone else coming in and going out. It’s sucky. I do try not to linger long though…

          2. OfficePrincess*

            At my old call center job it wasn’t even just a conversation about bathroom vists, it was an iron-clad punishable rule that we were to take no more than 8 minutes per day in unscheduled off-phone time. This had to include bathroom visits outside of regular scheduled breaks (which if you were on the far side of the floor were a 2-3 minute walk away), sips of water, nose blowing, or just recovering from a particularly abusive caller. It was almost weekly that lunch conversations would turn to UTIs because we all had them all the time.

      3. Wakeen's Teapots, Ltd.*

        We’ve had no policy against this, ever, and we’re running with just under 100 people with jobs from entry level to senior management.

        It’s a thing that I keep an eye on because I think it could be a problem, but it hasn’t been. On any given day 15 to 30 percent of people are doing the “extra lunch” thing. Literally the only problem that we’ve had is the healthy woman who was eating broccoli and cauliflower steamed medley every day and stunk up a work area for XX feet around. I did have to ask her to stop with the odor, that’s it.

        Some people push it with this + gym issues. We encourage people to use our gym, and they may choose to do that on lunch. If you add gym + lunch at the desk + oops I gotta run an errand, then I have a problem but it’s a problem with their productivity. I can’t possible calc their exact minutes not working, just the work they’ve produced. (And we have a lot of productivity measures for non-mangement people.)

      4. Elysian*

        I agree that this is particularly weird for exempt people. If I take a long lunch
        (or a double lunch, as its being described) one day — heck, even if I go to the gym and then eat while browsing Facebook so that I am literally taking extra time — it just evens out with all the times I haven’t been able to take lunch at all, or that I’ve worked on the weekend, or that I’ve stayed late because my boss gave me an assignment at 5:30 that he needed done the same day. Definitely know your workplace, but this is the kind of thing that I think of as one of the few benefits of being exempt.

        If the employee isn’t exempt, I guess you could count minutes more closely, but working while eating is still working. There are some jobs where obviously this wouldn’t fly (like a call center or something, where you can’t chew and talk) but most employees have at least some work they can do while eating. It seems to me like this is akin to counting “extra” bathroom breaks or something. It’s just not worth it unless its becoming a huge productivity issue.

      5. themmases*

        Yep, I save work related reading for lunch. If I don’t have any, then I’m on the internet or reading a book I brought.

        On the other hand I don’t leave for errands, or longer than it takes to pick up lunch sometimes, every day. So I feel no guilt at all about doing it.

        I agree that this request is inappropriately controlling for professionals unless there is something about your job that makes it impractical for you to eat during it. I did have a boss once who tried to get my coworker and I to stop eating lunch at our desks. Many offices I’ve worked in, including that one, didn’t actually have adequate space for everyone to leave their office and eat lunch at a reasonable time. This was a fairly petty, scattered boss so we went along with it on days he was in until he forgot he asked us, then went back to the way things should be. But we definitely didn’t forget and it was part of some other, similarly controlling and petty changes, that led to us both leaving the following year.

    3. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec*

      Those things might be true, but I feel like it’s most productive and efficient not to manage stuff like this at all. Instead, address performance problems and outcomes. Is the person missing deadlines? Ignoring call? Not meeting goals? Then address that, and then maybe consider if changing break habits might help solve the problem. But monitoring when and how people eat, use the bathroom, use the internet, etc. can feel nitpicky if the person is otherwise doing a good job (and if anyone ever asked me to regulate what people have in their lunchbox, I would be pretty concerned).

    4. MK*

      If the office wants to have a “no eating at your desk” or “no eating and working” policy for the reasons you describe, that’s one thing. Until there is such a policy, the OP’s employee is not doing anything wrong, as long as she actually works while she eats. Also, no ones productivity is going to be 100% all day. And while I know the other issues can come up, most people are circumspect about what and how they eat in front of others, and especially at work.

      1. Mickey Q*

        I eat all day long. It takes me an hour to drink my large smoothie and coffee in the morning. I snack in the afternoon. If I had to go to the lunch room to eat I wouldn’t be very productive. I would be hungry all day if I couldn’t eat at my desk.

    5. Stephanie*

      I think it depends on the culture.

      FirstJob, it was common to eat at your desk since there weren’t tables in the break room and the cafeteria was in a different building. We were also a billable hours workplace (essentially), so there was the mindset that it was tough to go take a lunch.

      The next job, we were deadline heavy and midday deadlines were common. So people often couldn’t get away.

      CurrentJob, everyone eats at their desk. Break room is small.

    6. Steamroller*

      My last two jobs had no cafeteria, and I certainly wasn’t going to go out to eat every day, especially considering I had only 30 minutes for lunch, which wouldn’t be enough time to order food AND eat it. We all ate at our desks, and sometimes we’d work through it while other times we’d browse the Internet.

      1. Kelly O*

        The half-hour lunch really does present its own set of challenges. Many people in my current office eat at their desks, or they don’t get a chance to eat at all (myself included).

        Quite honestly, if you’re not in a job where you need to be able to talk on the phone (when chewing would present a problem in promptly answering) or in a lab environment where it would cause an issue, then it seems a bit micro-manage-y to want to crack down on this.

        We aren’t allowed to have popcorn, mainly because people burn it and it has a very distinct odor, and people avoid fish out of courtesy, but even though the C-suite typically doesn’t eat lunch, they seem to understand other people need to (again, myself included). We have a very interesting office setup, to say the least, so you either have to eat at your desk or take the risk of going to nearby restaurants/fast food and rush to eat and get back in 30 minutes.

    7. Lauren*

      Good luck finding offices that have cafeterias!!!!

      Even in offices with a lunch room that lunch room is still part of the general office so you aren’t allowed to eat there? Everyone has to go out and BUY food at an outside restaurant? Ridiculous.

      1. FiveByFive*


        Plenty of office buildings have cafeterias.

        I’m not sure why you think I said that lunch shouldn’t be eaten in lunch rooms.

    8. Tomato Frog*

      I agree that people are less productive when eating — but there are a lot of times of my day when I’m less productive than others. It would be a pretty obnoxious boss who made it her mission to eliminate all the reasons I might get less work done at any given hour. I don’t owe it to my employer to be operating at peak efficiency at every moment; I just owe it to them to get results.

    9. Lily in NYC*

      In my office, most of us don’t really take lunch breaks – we run out to buy something and then sit at our desk and eat it. So even if I am a little less productive while I eat, I don’t care because I’m giving them an hour of free work. I have never worked in a place that has not allowed people to eat at their desks; it’s not a common restriction (I know there are places that don’t allow it, but it’s not common). Noises and smells are just things that some with the territory of being crammed into a building with a bunch of people. The woman next to me uses a blender in her cubicle and the guy in front of me grinds coffee at his desk. It’s annoying for 30 seconds but sometimes my coworker makes me a smoothie with her loud blender and it all works out in the end.

    10. BananaPants*

      I’m not a child and I don’t expect or want my employer to treat me like one. I’m an exempt employee and as long as I’m getting my work done and averaging 40+ hours a week, my boss doesn’t give a rat’s rear end if I eat at my desk (or what I’m eating) or if I take an hour to go to the mall for Christmas shopping.

    11. Anonicorn*

      People might think they are productive while they’re eating, but most people think they’re above average drivers too.

      I have mastered the art of playing video games while eating full meals. Eating a sandwich while working productively is a breeze. ;)

    12. DatSci*

      It is also important to consider the unnecessary negative ramifications of preventing adults from eating while working at their desks during the day. Personally, I love eating at my desk so much that I won’t consider working for a company that forbids it. I’ve walked out of interviews when this rule has come up. It just doesn’t work for the way I do things. If an employer is in the position that they need to police this sort of thing, I completely understand. But they’ll need to find a different data scientist, because I am definitely choosing a different company. As with all workplace policies, managers/employers should consider whether they really need to dictate behavior at this level of granularity. It’s possibly costing them…

    13. INTP*

      A lot of workplaces don’t have a cafeteria – or, like when my company set one up, it’s not relaxing (for me) to eat in there, because you’re expected to mingle and chat which takes some of us more mental effort than doing our jobs! Plus it was attached to the office, so it wouldn’t solve any smell problems.

      I do agree that most people are probably less productive while they’re eating than they realize, though. I think that’s true in general for a lot of things (most people probably spend more time than they realize looking at non-work websites throughout the day, most people’s productivity is more impacted by multitasking than they realize, etc). So, I don’t think it’s unreasonable for an office that gives everyone an hour for lunch to expect people (at least the non-exempt/people who never have to work outside their normal hours) to generally eat during that hour. A small decline in productivity during the 30 minutes of eating and washing and microwaving seems unrealistic to track to me, but could still impact productivity if practiced by most of the staff every day. But I’d just discourage the double lunch as a habitual practice, not place a blanket ban on it, and certainly not expect people to never eat at their desks.

    14. Stranger than fiction*

      I see your point, but not every office has a cafeteria, or even break room. We don’t. We have a kitchen, but there’s not table to eat at. You have to leave the building or eat at your desk. Don’t even get me started about the interruptions this causes “oh, are you at lunch?” Duh, what do you think, I’m literally fork to mouth right this moment (is what I’d like to say sometimes, but I’m nice).

      1. FiveByFive*

        Well if you aren’t leaving the building, then I assume you aren’t “double lunching”, which is the OP’s concern.

        Regarding the interruptions – several commenters have said they eat all day at their desk. Maybe people aren’t sure if you are on your break or just snacking.

      1. FiveByFive*

        Well true, if your only task is running long SQL queries and you don’t multitask, then I agree the food isn’t a hindrance.

    15. BritCred*

      My issue with eating at the desk outside lunch hours is the smells involved too. A couple of colleagues would generally eat early instead of after their lunch time errands and if they had something that was strong smelling such as onion it permeated around the office. If it wasn’t smelly we didn’t really notice it that much. Snacks, yogurts, even sandwiches we didn’t mind as much though.

      Exception was the guy who always got noticed as he cooked something in the kitchen at 11am which may not always had a strong odor but definately required knives and forks and was obvious. Then he’d love to grump because people weren’t answering his calls or at their desk when he visited on a work enquiry when it was lunchtime….. I know that doesn’t apply here but it is one of the things that makes me more quick to notice hot/smelly food in the office.

  8. FiveByFive*

    #1 So sorry this happened to you. It really is a sign of the times, sadly. Modesty and privacy seem to have little value anymore.

    Take comfort in the fact that you are far from alone on this. Your situation is particularly nasty because your name is attached to it, but to anybody reading this: If you’ve ever changed in a public changing room, used a public restroom, had a plumber in your bathroom or maintenance person in your bedroom, stayed in a hotel, etc etc, then congratulations. You yourself might be starring on a porn site somewhere. Welcome to 2015.

      1. FiveByFive*

        I don’t know. You might be underestimating the ubiquitousness of these things, and not understanding the general nature of porn sites today. It’s disgusting.

    1. Susan*

      About #1 I’d suggest that she start to build up social media presence via linkedin twitter which can give her some more control over her web presence

  9. amapolita*

    #1, you may have taken these steps, but if not, look into how you can enhance search results for your name by building a positive internet presence that will hopefully push any instances of the pictures further back in your results. I’m not expert enough to advise on specific techniques, but it is commonly done by people seeking to de emphasize something they may not want others to see in their results.

    1. Stephanie*

      I believe that’s what services like Reputation Defender purport to do. I don’t think they come cheaply, however.

      1. Anonymous Educator*

        It’s something you have to do yourself. You can’t pay someone to do it. Search engines like Google are pretty good at sniffing out stuff like that.

    2. Kelly L.*

      I accidentally did this. I wrote a ton of book reviews with my name on them, and now they’re the first umpty-million results, and a lot of the photo results for “me” are really just book covers of various stuff I read.

    3. Lynn Rainham*

      One suggestion I have is to write for trade publications in your field or your professional society’s newsletter. This will start to fix the search issues as your name will come up as an author for many of their publications. Also it will hopefully help you network around your field or become known as knowledgeable.

      Kelly L. addressed what needs to be done below – create positive content about your self either directly or indirectly. Good Luck!

  10. Ruth (UK)*

    3. I have a coworker who effectively does this and in my office I don’t think it is good. We’re paid hourly and have an 30min unpaid luncbreak. Our job requires us to be able to answer the phone and be on the phone a lot.

    We have/had two (one retired a short while ago) who took their lunch at their desk – not go out and THEN take lunch, but actually spend their 30mins at their desk eating, inform us they were on lunch and put their phone on redirect for those 30mins. That was fine.

    The rest of us prefer to go out. But most of us do one or the other. Eat at our desk OR go out. But one person ‘jane’ (who I have written about before on here for often feeling singled out and targeted at work..) takes her 30 mins and then comes back and eats a full lunch. Her overall productivity is not really high as it is (and our manager is addressing various issues with her)

    But she just doesn’t see the difference… I tried to explain it to her when she mentioned others having an issue with it bit she argues that other people eat at their desk too, ignoring details of this.

    To muddy the waters of confusion we actually have no rule against eating at our desk while working but, with the exception of her, we tend to limit this to an occasional biscuit, cup of tea, the type of thing that is less involved than a bowl of spaghetti… And save that type of food for our actual unpaid lunch break…

    Incidentally indo agree with Alison that it should be fine in many offices, esp for exempt workers or people who can do the sort of work that it won’t affect, or have good productivity overall but this is not the case in my office…

    1. RobM*

      The issue then is Jane’s productivity.

      Arguing about whether or not someone’s lunch _really_ is distracting them or not isn’t helpful. Don’t go down that road. It doesn’t matter if Jane is eating lunch at her desk or squatting in a ditch outside shoving berries up her nose… what matters is if her performance for that day is up to par or not. It sounds like the manager is already working on this aspect.

      1. The Artist Formally Known As UKAnon*

        “It doesn’t matter if Jane is eating lunch at her desk or squatting in a ditch outside shoving berries up her nose”

        Best image of the day!

      2. Merry and Bright*

        Not if it is on Jane’s lunch break. But if she is tucking into food that needs concentration to eat, this will likely affect Jane’s productivity if this is on the clock. Jane is taking her actual break elsewhere. I think this was Ruth’s point.

        1. Ruth (UK)*

          Yes. Eating a meal at the desk is highly obstructive to the type of work we do because we answer so many phone calls. She will ignore the ringing phone much more often when eating, meaning someone else has to pick up, and will mot make as many herself. It’s an hourly paid job that cannot reasonably be done whole eating lunch at the same time. So the fact she is doing so does directly affect her productivity and our workload as she eats. We actually stagger our lunch breaks so the phones are always covered. I dislike having the same break as her as it means when we return and the others are gone, all calls go to me until they return…
          Some jobs you can eat at the same time and some you can’t. As wakeens teapots as also said below.

          1. TootsNYC*

            Maybe you should start calling out, “Jane, can you get that call? Your lunch break is over, right? I got the last one, and I’m in the middle of something else right now.”

    2. Wakeen's Teapots, Ltd.*

      If you can’t answer a phone call in queue, because you are chewing, and somebody has to pick up your work for you, that’s an issue.

      In our world, our customer facing people are either commission reps who want phone calls for cash, or people whose productivity is otherwise measured in a positive way by how many customers they deal with. I am such a fan of having overall goals/measurements/visibility that help individuals make their own good choices about time use.

      I guarantee you that not one of commission reps has thought ever “I’ll let the next 5 call opportunities pass so I can properly concentrate on chewing my chicken pot pie.”

  11. The Artist Formally Known As UKAnon*

    #1 – I’m so sorry. This is so horrible on so many levels. FWIW, I agree with Alison that it’s very unlikely people will come across them, but even if they did, if it were me this wouldn’t put me off hiring you. Obviously if you are applying for more sensitive jobs, like working with children or vulnerable people, you might need to be more proactive in explaining that this isn’t something you do willingly (I don’t think you should have to, but in today’s culture, for those kinds of job, I think it would still be required) but otherwise it’s nobody’s business and for me, at least, it wouldn’t affect my decision to hire you.

    Good luck in your job hunt!

    1. BRR*

      I agree with everything and I think also depending on the picture, and that’s still only if someone finds it and looks, they might be able to tell it wasn’t meant to be published. Possibly also depending on the site, it might make it clear it was nonconsensual.

      I’m really sorry this happened to you op.

    2. KathyGeiss*

      I’m so sorry OP. i know if I were googling you at my company or on my company computer, these images wouldn’t even have a chance of coming up due to our search filters. I bet a lot of companies have safe search filters on so that combined with Allison’s excellent advice will hopefully put you even a smidge more at ease. I’m sorry this happened to you at all.

      1. Anonicorn*

        Absolutely this. When I google candidates, I’m always at work where our filters will hide that stuff. Additionally, I don’t bother looking beyond the first one or two pages of results because after that, things aren’t usually relevant.

      2. themmases*

        This is a very good point. Also, even if they did come up no one at work would click on them!

        This is the kind of thing in search results that IMO would make someone assume there is more than one person with your same name, then refine their search.

        If someone didn’t have safe search on at work, actually clicked through at work, and held this against you, they have at least triple bad judgment.

  12. Boo*

    #1 not really any advice to give as it sounds long ago enough now that you needn’t employ one of those companies which specialise in building an internet presence which buries the stuff you don’t want seen, but I just wanted to say how sorry I am this happened to you and if I were hiring and happened to somehow stumble across the pics (though as Alison said at this point it doesn’t seem likely) it wouldn’t put me off you at all. I don’t think it shows bad judgement, just very bad luck. Good luck with the job hunt!

    1. aphrael*

      Agreed. If I saw this upon Googling someone, I’d be furious on their behalf. I certainly wouldn’t hold the person in the photos responsible.

      Also, I think I’m not alone in thinking “there but for the grace of God” when I read stories like this. Plenty of people have done exactly what you did, and just been luckier about the outcome.

  13. Violet Rose*

    The “20 hours” limit in #5 set off a hiccup in my brain – OP, is this a personal restriction or a legal one? I know that when I studied in the UK, not working more than 20 hours a week was a condition spelled out in my visa, and I got the impression that the restriction applies to all students. Your boss should definitely have respected your limits either way (and, “the schedule is set! No backsies!” is a pretty feeble defence), but it might help your case if you were able to say, “I cannot work this full schedule by law, so which 20 hours would you like me to cover?”

    1. Apollo Warbucks*

      No the 20 hours is not a legal one for UK citizens that are studying. It’s a visa condition for foreigners on student visas, to stop them coming and working full time and not studying.

      1. Actually...*

        Depending on the OP’s scholarships/funding package as a student, there may be restrictions on the amount of paid work per week that may be undertaken. Perhaps not a legal restriction, but certainly something stronger than personal preference, if it puts financial aid (etc) in jeopardy.

        (…Assuming the OP isn’t in a country with taxpayer-supported higher ed, and therefore depending on loans/etc.)

      2. Violet Rose*

        Ah, thanks for clarifying! I think my university had a restriction on how much students (of any nationality) were allowed to work, so that might still be a possibility for the OP.

        1. Emily, admin extraordinaire*

          My university did. Student workers were limited to 20/hrs a week. In their case, it was because if they kept them under that threshold, then FICA taxes didn’t have to be paid/withheld. But it sounds like the OP is working for a private company, so the student FICA exemption doesn’t apply. It’s just a personal preference for the OP (granted, a really reasonable one, but still a preference, like my preferring not to work Sundays when I was in retail).

  14. Matt*

    #5 mentioned it is in November – could the 30 hours include days that are holidays / time off from school? I have employees who have schedules where they work 20 hours a week, but during holidays (and black Friday) we have all-hands days where everyone is required to work and they are aware of it when hired. 20 to 30 hours is just a bit more than one additional day, and working a holiday would account for that.

    1. Carrie in Scotland*

      I’m just wondering if a) the boss has allocated more hours to OP for that reason and/or b) that it’s coming up to Christmas so the manager might have wondered if OP wanted to work more because often people do at this time of year?

      1. Mander*

        If the manager wondered about whether the OP wanted more hours, then surely they should have asked instead of just making a schedule and refusing to change it.

        I ran into this once when I was on a student visa — I was interviewing for a job and they wanted me to work extra hours on occasion, but since I was only legally permitted to do that during term breaks I didn’t get the job. They didn’t seem to understand that it was a legal restriction, not just me being obtuse.

        It was my understanding that this only applied to people on visas, though, not British/EU students. The university did have its own restrictions, though.

        1. Violet Rose*

          That thought occurred to me above, and according to the replies, the legal restriction doesn’t apply to British/EU students, but some universities award-granting organisations have their own restrictions. When I was on that visa, for example, ALL students at my university had to get any term-time work signed off by their academic advisor.

          Also ugh at that interview, that sounds super frustrating –the slightly exaggerated conversation in my head ran, “We really need someone to work 30 hours this week.” “I’m sorry, I can’t.” “We want someone who’s more of a team player…” “It’s not that I don’t want to, it’s that I could get in trouble with UKVI for doing so!” “Team… player…”

    2. neverjaunty*

      If that were the situation, surely the boss would have said so? Instead, the boss is pretending that the schedule is heaven in stone and cannot be changed by anyone, lest an unwary pen stroke unleash the horrors of the Elder Gods, or something.

      This seems to me pretty garden variety bad-boss behavior: our agreement is inconvenient to me, so I’m going to ignore it and hope the implied threat of firing makes you cave.

      1. themmases*

        Actually they don’t always let you know. This happened to me once as a student.

        I had been working at a Target in my hometown in high school and decided to keep the job for breaks after I went away to college. To do that, at least at the time, you had to sign an agreement that you would contact them whenever you were available to work. The agreement basically said if you wanted to work breaks you needed to call them and let them know you were available, i.e. it framed working as a privilege you earned by calling in.

        My school’s Thanksgiving break was pretty short, basically just a long weekend, and I had been sick so I decided I wouldn’t try to work and I didn’t call. They put me on the schedule without ever contacting me, then called me a day I was scheduled claiming I was a no call, no show. When I pointed out what the agreement said and that I hadn’t called because I couldn’t work, they claimed that a) the agreement was that I *had to* call and work every break, and b) they knew I was off because one of my classmates was off. I guess that made it OK to schedule me without ever contacting me, then blame me for not guessing.

        This was years 10 ago and everything I read in the news about working at that and similar stores this time of year sounds like it has gotten worse, not better. You might think that because something is both inhumane and illogical, retail management won’t do it. You’d be mistaken.

      2. Rat in the Sugar*

        This happened to me many times while working in restaurants. “But Boss, I told you two weeks ago I couldn’t work on Thursday and you said it was fine! I turned in my request and everything!” “I have too many people on my schedule to worry about you! I have a whole restaurant to run! You’ll have to figure it out!”

        I would advise OP to try and get the shifts covered on their own. This is pretty standard behavior for this type of work environment, IME.

  15. Oryx*

    not only is #3 very popular at my job, it’s common to bring breakfast and eat that at our desks when we first start working each morning, too.

      1. Oryx*

        I can get up early enough, but I’ll have to either eat super early or super fast, both of which make me hungry for lunch sooner. Eating at my desk takes both of those away and it helps keep me full and focused for longer, which only increases my productivity.

      2. Mallory Janis Ian*

        My one direct report eats breakfast at her desk every morning, and most days she eats lunch at her desk and alternates between light work and looking at the internet. I don’t have a problem with any of it because she gets her work done like a champ — I mean, she is on top of *everything* at all times.

    1. A. Thorpe*

      Yep, a lot of folks at my company get breakfast from the cafe and eat it at their desk. I just finished mine. French Toast Friday. It was delish.

        1. A. Thrope*

          Last Friday was pancake Friday. Next Friday will be chocolate chip pancakes, then brioche French Toast the Friday after, then we cycle back to regular pancakes.

      1. Mallory Janis Ian*

        This morning, as soon as I got to work, my coworker and I put up the “Assistant has Stepped Away” sign and walked over to the campus Starbucks. Then we sat at our desks and ate our pastries and drank our hot chocolates. I love being on campus and having all the coffee and sandwich shops so close by!

    2. BananaPants*

      Yup, I came in this morning and made a cup of coffee and a bowl of oatmeal. I ate the oatmeal while I reviewed emails that came in overnight and am still drinking my coffee now. A lot of people do this or get a breakfast sandwich or something in the cafeteria and it’s not a big deal.

    3. Temperance*

      I’m not a morning person, at all, so getting up early enough to actually get hungry enough to eat breakfast would be extremely difficult.

    4. LabTech*

      I don’t see much the eating-while working thing here (which may even be frowned upon, actually), but having breakfast is common (Just finished my PB&J + coffee!), as are tea parties when work slows down.

      1. LabTech*

        (Now that I think about it, it was frowned upon when a former employee wanted to leave early in lieu of a lunch break – different situation.)

    5. Elizabeth West*

      Yes, almost everyone in my office does this, including me. I can’t eat when I first get up. By the time I get to work and get through my first wave of stuff, I’m hungry. I usually do these things at the exact same time every day, so I’m also predictable.

  16. NJ Anon*

    #5 this happened to my son in high school. The manager kept apologizing that she needed the coverage. Sorry lady, he’s a high school student with things to do like, oh I don’t know, homework? He eventually quit the job because it kept happening over and over.

    1. Kelly L.*

      I’ve rarely known it not to happen in this type of job. They always try to push the envelope a little. 20 hours always becomes 30, and every other weekend always becomes every weekend. Grrr.

        1. xarcady*

          At my retail job, I’m supposed to be scheduled 12-20 hours a week, as a part-time employee. If I average 20 hours a week for 6 months, they have to give me part-time benefits for the next six months or a year, I forget which.

          But it is not unusual, due to staffing shortages, that I’ll be scheduled 20-25 hours a week. But the moment my average hours hit anything over 19 hours per week, suddenly, I’n down to 9-10 hours a week, until my weekly average is under 18.5.

          I’m sure this is just a coincidence.

        2. Lindsay J*

          Back before the ACA I averaged 38.5 hours a week at Sears, but didn’t qualify for any benefits because I was “part-time”.

      1. Lindsay J*

        Yeah, I had a job in college that tried to schedule me when I told them I had class at those times (it was a late class, 8PM-10PM Tuesday and Thursday). I don’t know if they thought I was lying about my class time, or if they thought I would blow off college classes I was paying for to work at a grocery store fish counter, or what.

        I also had a different job at a grocery store that would change my schedule when I was not there then berate me for not coming in (because I didn’t psychically know that the schedule had changed and I was supposed to be there). They also would not tell you your schedule over the phone so you had to come in and check it in person.

        And Sears would ignore my time off requests for doctor’s appointments, etc.

        I didn’t understand it then and I don’t understand it now. It’s easier to make the schedule correctly the first time than it is to go back and change it. And, in most of those jobs, if you don’t give someone off they’re going to call out anyway. So you can arrange coverage the week before and have someone there. Or you can frantically make phone calls between working the register or whatever and try to arrange coverage 2 hours into that person’s shift that day. I know which one I prefer doing.

  17. Katie the Fed*

    #1 – even if they did find the pictures, they’re obviously going to look like personal pictures that got stolen/shared, not like it was your profession.

    I’m SO sorry this happened to you. What a disgusting violation. But I really don’t think it will hurt you in any way professionally.

    1. Jubilance*

      Agreed. I had a similar situation happen to me in my first job – someone emailed photos of me to my entire chain of command in my company. I wanted to die of embarassment but everyone involved handled it very professionally and my job was never in danger (though I think the person did it to try to get me fired). A year later the person made a fake FB page for me and sent them to my FB friends, and later made a fake Myspace. I got things shut down very quickly after each instance but I’m sure they are still floating out there. It’s been 6 years and I haven’t had any negative affects career-wise from it.

      Sometimes people are jerks. *hugs* You’ll be ok OP.

      1. fposte*

        That is really appalling, Jubilance; I’m sorry. I can’t imagine being the target of that kind of sustained campaign. Thanks for showing the OP how these things really are survivable.

      2. LBK*

        Wow, that’s crazy. I’m glad everyone around you has been able to handle this with so much more maturity than the person attacking you.

        1. LBK*

          (Also, what a terribly thought out plan – emailing photos of a naked person to your entire management staff is never going to make you look like the one with good judgment, no matter who those photos are of.)

          1. neverjaunty*

            Right? I don’t WANT to know what my co-workers look like naked, and I would have a very, very negative reaction to someone who thought I should find out.

      3. Artemesia*

        I knew of a situation where a mentally disturbed girlfriend of a law student sent letters to all the law firms in town detailing his sexual assault of her when they broke up. She poisoned all the wells in town — because who wants someone who 1. might be an abuser or 2. has a crazy stalker that might imperil the others at the firm. This same woman also stalked a colleague of mine making that sort of accusation. Luckily her letters at first rationale became bizarre so no one took it seriously (e.g. she wrote the president of our company about how his ‘spirit’ floated into her window at night and assaulted her) I used to be afraid she would come to our offices looking for him and with him out would shoot me instead. There are a lot of scary and a lot of mean people in the world. (and no there isn’t a chance that her charges had a basis in fact she was one of many masters level students who are essentially warehoused in universities by parents who can’t face their mental illness and/or don’t know what to do with them.) When ever I read about how colleges will be required to let everyone go armed I think of students like these; the early 20s is the prime time for the onset of schizophrenia, colleges are already easy places to situate young people who can’t cope with the world or a job and there are plenty of people just angry about teachers giving them negative feedback. How can that go wrong?

        1. SCR*

          Just because someone is mentally ill doesn’t mean they aren’t a victim of sexual assault. You really cannot say whether her allegations are true are not. Writing her off like this is really problematic.

          1. SCR*

            Furthermore, plenty of people don’t handle such trauma “well.” What is even the best way to handle things? Poisoning the well is not the most mature idea but if she was assaulted and no one believed her maybe she felt that was her best option. Your dismissal of her accusations just rubs me the wrong way.

            1. LBK*

              I think there’s a line between desperately trying to get people to believe her and taking such a specifically vindictive action like writing to his potential employers. I know there are huge cultural problems with women not being believed about accusations of sexual assault, but I don’t know if that makes vigilante justice acceptable. Mental illness may also explain behavior like that, but it doesn’t necessarily excuse it.

              1. Apollo*

                When you’re systematically denied legal justice, then vigilante justice is all that is left to you. Only about 3% of rapists ever spend a day in jail.

                No idea if this particular woman is telling the truth, lying, or a little of both. But I can understand the temptation to do something like this. I still wish i could get revenge on my rapist, and it’s been decades – but he’s out of reach of the legal system. The only reason I never took justice into my own hands was because I decided it was much more likely that I’d ruin my own life than make a significant scratch in his. How sad is that?

        2. Elizabeth West*

          …she was one of many masters level students who are essentially warehoused in universities by parents who can’t face their mental illness and/or don’t know what to do with them…

          That is probably the saddest thing I’ve heard in a long while. :(

    2. HRish Dude*

      Here’s my other thought.

      If someone takes issue with them and “wants to address it” or something like that…then it’s obviously not someone you need to work for in the first place.

  18. Tommy Pickles*

    #1: Good news! Most managers fundamentally don’t care — often they have dirtier dirt in their own closets, as has been shown every time a whistle-blower or hacker has released something. Their concern is with their customers, who are often much more wholesome than they are, and who will spook at the slightest sign of impropriety, and possibly your future co-workers, since a lot of otherwise productive people have juvenile senses of humour that will be all over the new employee with dirty Google photos. If you aren’t in a “customer-facing” position and your manager has good discipline in their office, both of these become non-issues. However, a front line HR person is always looking for CYA excuses to remove candidates from the pool — they will always pick the “safest” candidates to pass on to the hiring manager if there is no reward for sticking their neck out (or punishment for “keeping their neck in”, depending on the management style of their organization), regardless of whether those candidates are the best or not. If you can get past that first HR hurdle, you will be fine.

    1. Winter is Coming*

      That is an unfair generalization of HR. I have, on several occasions, “stuck my neck out” for candidates for one reason or another. I’m sorry you’ve had so many negative experiences with HR. Keep an open mind; there are some good ones out there.

    2. HRish Dude*

      “However, a front line HR person is always looking for CYA excuses to remove candidates from the pool — they will always pick the “safest” candidates to pass on to the hiring manager if there is no reward for sticking their neck out (or punishment for “keeping their neck in”, depending on the management style of their organization), regardless of whether those candidates are the best or not.”

      I’m going to disagree with you entirely on that one. Maybe you had a bad experience, but don’t give out advice based on a generalization of people. For anyone I’ve ever worked with, it’s always a search for the best candidate – nothing more and nothing less. Better candidates = no turnover. No turnover = higher pay increases for everyone. Do you really think we Google every single one of the hundreds of applicants for every job?

      1. Tommy Pickles*

        I agree with you! One of the prime criteria used for filtering is indeed “no turnover = better candidates”. :-) This isn’t necessarily better for the company, though — many “no turnover” candidates are in fact “dead-wood” employees; uncontroversial enough to not make waves with either customers or managers, and definitely not an employee who would be described as “going places”. I suppose the worry must be that if the business is not structured for channeling those employees upward within the company, the place they will go is to a competitor.

  19. MissUnderstanding*

    I am a victim of revenge porn also. I sent a picture to a man and he posted it on a forum. Fortunately this photo doesn’t surface anywhere and my face is not in it. But how I acted on the forum after it was posted really bothers me and someone even found out my real name and posted it. Hopefully this won’t be an issue since it takes a lot to find these pages…..
    I haven’t had any issues so far.

    Ever since then I have been very careful with my personal information and do not share it. I even have an alias on facebook.

  20. insert pun here*

    #1, FWIW, if I saw something like this for someone who doesn’t otherwise seem to have, uh, adult work on their resume, I’d assume it was a hack or revenge porn situation and move on and hopefully never ever ever have to mention it to them. My only concern would be if I were hiring for something where the photos could become a PR liability… local government, teacher, church office, whatever. (I don’t work in any of these fields, so, really, just guessing on where it might be a problem.)

    I’m sorry this happened to you.

  21. voyager1*

    #3 I will take eating at your desk as long as folks clean out old food in the break room refrigerator. I swear I think some of those old fruit pieces are really displaced sea urchins. And for God sake don’t leave seafood over weekend!

  22. Another Day*

    #5. Now that you know how this manager works, you may want to check your hours as soon as you get the schedule next month so you can point out any problems right away. This might help in getting them corrected. As the month goes on, it may be more difficult to make changes to the schedule. Of course she should honor your agreement and fix mistakes regardless imho.

  23. TotesMaGoats*

    #3-I agree with Allison, if work is getting done at the level expected, then who cares if they eat while they do it. I don’t really take a lunch and often eat at my desk. My work gets done. I think the bigger caveat to this is: is the position customer facing. Is she sitting at a reception desk greeting customers while eating? That I have problems with. Drinking, no problem. Small snack, again no problem. A full on meal while answering the phone or talking to people. It just doesn’t look good. (Mouth full of food) And customers may assume that you aren’t allowed a lunch break and think badly of the company. When that’s not the case.

    1. The Other Dawn*

      I agree with all of this. Our company doesn’t allow customer-facing employees to eat at their desks/work stations.

      The only time I would have an issue with what OP3 describes would be if they took their full hour, came back and then took another break to actually eat. Or if they were much less productive while eating at their desk.

      1. Artemesia*

        I think it is wishful thinking to imagine that someone who prepares a full meal and eats it at the desk while working is as productive as they should be. Perhaps the productivity standards are low or they aren’t measured.

        1. Kelly L.*

          It kind of depends on the job–a lot of jobs have an ebb and flow of work, so that if you moved less-frantic tasks to that time period, you’d be fine.

        2. Oryx*

          It depends entirely on the job and position. I’ve eaten full meals at my desk and been just as productive when I’m not eating. There are ebbs and flows to the day and there are certain tasks where I know I need full attention and so won’t eat during those, but there are plenty of tasks I can get done while eating.

        3. Ann O'Nemity*

          I agree with this. It’s going to take some amount of time to prep the food, eat it, and clean up.

          BUT! Most employees “waste” minutes during the day – getting coffee, chatting at the water cooler, going to the restroom, etc. Eating at your desk doesn’t seem much different.

          1. The Carrie*

            Smoking. Whenever anyone feels weird about spending some time going outside for a bit, I remind them of all the people who head outside multiple times a day to smoke. No one is productive every minute of every day. People are happier and more productive overall when they aren’t micromanaged.

  24. OriginalEmma*

    #1: That is awful. Do you mean hacked by a bot or hacked by an actual person?

    In any case, since revenge p-rn and creepshots target women 99% of the time, women will be more affected by this as a potential employment issue.

  25. 2 Cents*

    #1 I’m SO sorry this happened to you, OP.

    I hope no one from any future job sees your photos, but if they usually appear past the first page of Google’s results, the majority (like 90% or something like that) of people never click past the first page of results. Please don’t think I’m making light of your situation, but I work in digital marketing, and one of many jokes is, “Where’s the best place to hide a body? The 2nd page of Google!”

  26. AndersonDarling*

    #1 I agree with everyone that you should be OK. But have you considered making a bigger online presence to get some neutral hits for your name? Donate to some charities where your name gets listed on their website, join some charity run/walks where they time you and publish the results, join a work related chatroom and post a few topics under your real name.
    I don’t think it is necessary, but if you are really worried, then this may help you sleep better at night.

  27. HRish Dude*

    Re: #3 – I do that almost every day. I take my hour to write and then come back to my desk and work while I eat the sandwich I brought from home. I usually even “save” certain tasks that I can do one handed during that time.

  28. HRish Dude*

    Also re: #1 – I think most companies Google people with safe-search on. I wonder if these would even pop up without safe-search.

  29. INTP*

    #1: If it makes you feel better, I never went past the first page when googling candidates as a recruiter. When I googled people, I was basically looking at
    1) Any professional web presence they have (LinkedIn page, professional pages that are linked to from their LinkedIn pages or show up in Google – some people run blogs or twitters about their fields, which shows passion)
    2) If there was anything easy-to-find and horrible that would make it look like I hadn’t vetted the candidate at all when the hiring manager googled them. Like, once a guy’s LinkedIn page had a link to his blog about how the earth was colonized by aliens. (If he hadn’t connected it to his profile, I would never have known it was the same person.) Or if there’s an article about you being arrested for something major in the first page of results.
    3) Evidence of personality and interests if the client was really intense about “cultural fit.” (I had to recruit for some brogrammer orgs. If your page showed you were in a fraternity, sports team, etc, or liked beer, you went to the top of the pile.)

  30. Christian Troy*

    #1 – I’m going to put my vote that it’s unlikely they’ll find the photos. I think generally when someone gets googled, most people stop after the first or second page because it gets tedious and while people “care” what comes up when they google, they usually lose interest fast and have to move on to other tasks. If you are really worried, I like the idea about doing something like book reviews with your name or if you’re so inclined, you can do 5ks or have a photography blog using your full name so those pictures come up first.

  31. Erin*

    #3 – Oooh this one got under my skin a tiny bit. I do this every day. It really upsets me to think that someone might think I’m taking *two* lunches.

    It’s hard to fit in errands, phone calls for doctors appointments, etc., into a work day. If I can get a little grocery shopping done on my lunch break, that saves me a trip on the way home during my 30 to 40+ minute commute, which is huge.

    If they’re getting their work done, then don’t concern yourself with if they’re eating while at their desk or not. Normal people can multitask with eating and working, and if you try to alter groove they have going, that works for them, I’m afraid it’s just one step away from micromanaging, which I’m sure you don’t want to do.

    Step back and trust your employees, until you have a reason not to (like work actually being affected by this). I can’t see how it’s a manager’s business what their employees are doing on their lunch break, or how often they eat during the day.

    1. LBK*

      Well, since she’s the supervisor of the employee, this is her business. In fact it’s quite literally her “business” since it’s her job to ensure the productivity of her employees.

      1. Erin*

        But, it’s not her business how her employees spend their lunch break, or how often they eat during the day. Unless, work is actually being impacted, which the OP gave no indication of. :)

  32. Duncan - Vetter*

    #3 If the employees manage to do their job and eat at the same time there is no problem. This is definitely something that should not bother you. You just need to be sure that all the work is done properly as long as there are no specific rules regarding eating at the desk. Furthermore, you cannot consider that they have 2 lunch breaks, as long as they actually work during the working hours.

  33. Paul Z*

    Web marketing professional with a background in SEO here.
    For #1, revenge porn:
    One simple thing you can do is change your name on your resume, or use your middle name. People do it all the time. “My legal name is X, but I go by Y”. Obviously adjust your LinkedIn name along with it for your professional presence. Once they’re in the background check stage where your real name is used, it’s usually done by a different department and they probably won’t Google you.

    The other route is more permanent and takes longer. “Bury” those results, push them down deeper in the results pages of Google. You do it by creating a lot more results for your name that hopefully ranks above those picture sites. Below are some ideas, obviously use your full name on all those:
    –Major social network sites – LinkedIn, FB, Twitter, MySpace, etc. Those are very effective because they’re already established sites.
    –Create profiles in popular forums. Being active in those will help you speed it along
    –Create your own site or multiple sites and fill it with some content –;; johnsmithphotography,com, etc.
    –Other creative ways to get your name latched onto other people’s sites: becoming members in something, donate some money and being on donations list (mentioned above), etc

    Overall, just be loud and active on the Internet, self promote, etc. Keep us updated. I’m kinda interested, if you google your name now, on what page (or what result number) does the picture sites start, and check again in 6 months. Good luck.

  34. Kadee*

    #3 – I can imagine it’s not just about whether someone can be productive while eating at their desk. (I think most people are!) If I’m working and I see someone at their desk eating lunch, I’m likely to offer to come back later if I don’t turn around before I even get to their desk. From that perspective, the person was unavailable for the hour they were out and now they’re effectively behaving in a way that makes them a wee bit less accessible past that hour.

    While I don’t think it’s an issue, I can see why OP might be a bit miffed by it because it may seem like it translates into an “extra” break. I doubt that these people are spending an HOUR at their desks eating lunch though. Generally, people heat and eat and clean up fairly quickly because at that point it’s a solo activity in which they’re eating primarily for sustenance. I think the OP should switch their perspective from seeing these people as “getting away with something” to people who are making the most of every minute of their day. That’s actually a great quality in an employee!

    1. Finance Person*

      Yes, thank you! I go to the gym for an hour and come back to eat at my desk. I am not taking “2 lunches,” I am taking my hour break and then eating while I work, which I can do quite easily. Everyone knows I am available for questions as I eat, and plenty of times a coworker will come ask me a question, and I push my plate away to through their notes or whatever. OP#3 sounds like a busybody.

    1. Oranges*

      Like this victim-blaming comment.

      Some advice, get your proctologist to look for your head. Then don’t go spelunking again.

      It’s no different than getting your identity stolen because some idiot got hold of your SSN through… Company records, credit report sites, hacked databases or best of all social hacking (aka calling up real people and getting lucky with the right questions

      1. FD*

        Some advice, get your proctologist to look for your head. Then don’t go spelunking again.

        Zing! That is a genuinely fabulous comeback.

      2. Middle Name Jane*

        Disagree. Explicit pictures are completely different from things like a SSN. Most Americans have a SSN, and it’s not a choice. You have a CHOICE about whether to take explicit pictures. Don’t make that choice and you won’t have this problem.

  35. FD*

    #1- I’m really sorry this happened to you.

    One good thing to remember is that almost no one even LOOKS at the 3rd or 4th page of results (link to a comic illustrating this point in the next comment). You’ve obviously been active enough to push it that far back, so the odds of anyone not only finding it, but associating it with you, is pretty low.

  36. NetGovGirl*

    #1 I am so sorry this happened to you. Thankfully recently google has brought in a policy to remove sexual or nude images shared without consent from their search results if you send them a request. You can find out more from their blog
    I believe Microsoft is also bringing this in.

    Additionally those of you within the EU may find the ‘Right to be Forgotten’ ruling helpful for a broader range of malicious/ non-consentual content (e.g health info or sexual history). It allows you to submit a request to some search engines to remove the link to that content when your name is searched, so long as it is not in the public interest.

    Hope this helps and of course I agree that no future work place should judge you on this.

  37. Middle Name Jane*

    To Poster #1:

    I’m really sorry that happened to you, but honestly, this is a very good reason why no one should take explicit pictures! You never know what’s going to happen to them and who might get access to them. If no explicit pictures exist, then you won’t have to worry about them popping up online in search results.

    Lesson learned here.

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