I don’t want to reveal my age at my job, telling an employee to mind his own business, and more

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

1. Telling an employee to mind his own business

I have an employee who has great rapport with coworkers. Unfortunately, he makes everyone else’s business his business. He takes it upon himself to be the advocate or “cheerleader” for staff and their individual work-related issues that do not involve him. He takes on these issues, taking time away during the day, rehashing or discussing the issue with others (stirring the pot). This affects his productivity and others around him. How can I tell him to stop stirring the pot and getting involved in issues that do not concern him?

Start by being direct in the individual instances where you see it happening. For example: “I’m handling this directly with Jane. As I understand it, this doesn’t impact you, but am I misunderstanding your interest?” He’ll presumably say that he’s just concerned about Jane and you can say, “I appreciate your concern, but I need you to stay focused on your work and let your coworkers handle their own work issues with the people who are directly involved.”

If you do that a couple of times and it keeps happening, then address the big picture: “We’ve spoken about this in the past, but I’m continuing to see you taking time away from your projects to talk to coworkers about issues that you’re not involved in, like Jane’s software request and Apollo’s workload. I appreciate that you’re coming from a place of wanting to help, but it’s impacting your productivity and distracting others. I need you to stay focused on your work and let your coworkers handle their own work issues. Can you do that going forward?”

2. Can I start a new job without revealing my age?

Years ago, I worked with a woman (an attorney) who said she was hired without revealing her date of birth, and I’d like to know how to do the same. I never thought it would happen to me, but age is now an employment issue with me. I am 50 but look 15 years younger because I had a facelift and have always taken care of myself. I work in digital marketing (young person’s field) and have tons of experience and interview well. However, in my last two positions, when it came time to provide my date of birth and driver’s license, I saw the shock on their faces and felt an immediate change in attitude. My current boss is 38 years old and I am 11 years older than everyone else. Although I’m doing a great job and get along with everyone, when coworkers find out how old I am (which can only have come from management or HR), I’m suddenly treated differently and things get a little awkward. I plan on moving on from this job in a year. I don’t want to lie about my age – I just don’t want to reveal my date of birth. Is there a way to provide the necessary hiring documents without giving my actual date of birth?

Nope. The I-9 form that you fill out on your first day (showing your eligibility to work in the U.S.) requires your date of birth, and you’re required to present official identification along with it, which will also contain your date of birth. It’ll also probably be required on other new hire paperwork, such as health insurance forms.

The best thing you can do is to look for a job with coworkers who aren’t weird about age (a place with lots of other people over the age of 40 is a good place to start).

3. My friend wants to be introduced to my Linkedin contact, who’s already doing me a favor

What is a good way to handle requests from a friend or acquaintance to be introduced to people in my network if I don’t want to make the introduction?

A dear friend (Susan) asked me to connect her to someone I don’t know well on Linkedin, as she is trying to find a job in his company. “Carl” is quite senior in his field and could possibly be helpful to Susan, who is currently unemployed.

Unfortunately, another friend of mine (who Susan doesn’t know) introduced me to Carl so he could help with my own job search. I spoke to Carl once on the phone for a few minutes about a month ago, then sent him my resume, and I’m still waiting for his feedback. I then followed up about 10 days ago, and he said he would get back to me. Also, I believe based on our conversation the reason Carl was open to talking to me is that the friend who connected us is married to his best friend.

I’m concerned about jeopardizing my own budding networking with Carl if I send Susan his way. Yet I feel bad because Susan is unemployed, while I am not. Technically she needs the connection more. Also, who knows if I may need Susan’s later in the future? Is it selfish or short-sighted to not introduce Susan to Carl? How does one determine when and how to share distant contacts?

You don’t really know Carl and you’re currently in the middle of waiting for him to do you one favor. It’s entirely reasonable to feel like it wouldn’t be appropriate to ask him to do another favor while you’re still hoping he’ll get back to you about the first one.

I’d just say to Susan, “I actually don’t know Carl — someone else connected me to him and I’ve already asked him for some feedback on my resume and am still waiting to hear from him about it, so I don’t think I can ask him anything else right now.”

4. My interviewer was arrested and fired the day after my interview

I recently applied for a director position. About a day after I submitted my resume, I had a phone interview with the hiring manager. That went well, or at least it seemed to go well, in that in another day or two I got an email asking me to come in for a full interview. I scheduled that, and that was a four-hour interview process with five different people — an assistant who would be reporting to me; an executive director to whom I would be reporting (this was the hiring manager I had the phone interview with); the AVP to whom the hiring manger reports; another director from a different department; and finally the VP who oversees the whole division.

It was somewhat exhausting, but I still came out of it feeling good about my chances. The interview had gone til after 5:30, so I waited until the next morning and sent out thank-you -mails to each of my interviewers since they had all given me their cards. I then waited the two weeks to follow up again; this time the email to the hiring manager bounced back saying he doesn’t work there anymore. I got curious so I googled his name and found out he had been arrested and it was pretty significant, not front page stuff but a full page of links on Google, including press releases from the company firing him. Ironically, the arrest had happened the morning after my interview, like around the time I was sending my thank-you’s!

I could only imagine the turmoil that is going on in the department with two positions now open and a bit of a scandal on top of that. But the position still needs to be filled and I think I’m right for it. Do I follow up with someone else? Do I follow up at all?

I’d email the AVP who he reported to and say something like, “Hi Jane, I really enjoyed talking with you about the X position a few weeks ago. I just tried to check in with Fergus about the status of the hiring process and my email bounced back with a note that he no longer works with you. I’m sure you’ve got your hands full with the additional vacancy, but at whatever point you’re ready to move forward on the X role, I’d love to keep talking.”

After that, though, I’d move on. There’s no telling when they might be ready to return to hiring for the job you interviewed for, and once they hire a replacement for the guy who was fired, that person might prefer to start the process from scratch. Or they could reorganize the department, or move people around with someone moving into the role you interviewed for, or all sorts of other things. So one “I’m still here” email and then assume the ball is in their court and move on with other job possibilities.

5. Are part-time employees being treated better than us?

We work in a small department in Tennessee. All four of us are full-time employees, and two are going to either four or three days a week. The two going part-time will still be given full benefits and don’t have to use vacation time, while the two of us left who work 40 hours still do need to use vacation time if we miss a day. Is this legal?

Yes. Their salaries have almost certainly been cut to reflect that they’re no longer working full-time hours, and it makes sense that they don’t need to use vacation time for days that are no longer part of their work schedules.

{ 131 comments… read them below }

  1. MK*

    OP3, your line of reasoning sort of assumes that Karl will halp either you or your friend and you get to pick who, but that’s far from true. To be honest, it sounds as if even helping you is something Karl feels as a bit of an imposition; he certainly isn’t rushing to help you. I don’t see that your introducing Susan would be all that valuable, seeing that Karl hardly knows you, and it might make him think you presumptuous , making him less willing to help you.

    My point is, don’t think of this in your own head as your denying your friend employment to further your own career.

    1. Artemesia*

      So this. Carl is simply not your resource to share; someone linked you to him — you don’t know him and are not in the position to ask favors for anyone else. He is clearly not leaping to help you and it would be major faux pas to link someone else to him.

    2. Koko*

      This is so important. I would be quite turned off by someone I barely knew, who I was only fitting into my schedule as a favor to a friend, sending another perfect stranger to me with expectations of career help! It comes off clueless about how favors work.

      It reminds me of when I used to occasionally pick up an extra heavy thing at the grocery store for a coworker and bring it to the office for her, as she didn’t have a car and lived pretty far from the grocery but very close to work. She asked me to get a thing of dog food or laundry detergent maybe once every 2-3 months, and it was never a rush – just whenever I was next at the grocery I could pick one up and bring it in for her. No big deal and I was happy to do it. She mentioned to a new hire that I did this for her, so he asked if I could for him too, and initially I said sure…

      Except he started asking me to pick things up for him once or twice a month, and often wanted multiple things! And he’d always ask when I was planning to go to the store next, which made me feel a pressure to go to the store sooner than I otherwise would have since he seemed impatient. The final straw was when somewhere around the 2 month mark, in the course of thanking me for bringing him something, he told me that he’d told a third coworker who I barely know that he sat next to how convenient it was that I offered this service and implied that I’d be willing to do it for her too! The next time he asked me to get something for him I told him I couldn’t do it anymore because it had gotten to be too much.

      The original coworker, buying an extra thing of detergent 4 times a year, no big deal. The second coworker was being a little tone-deaf with the frequency/amount he wanted, but I probably would have tolerated that…but offering my services out to someone I barely know with the expectation I would just freely do favors for anyone who asked was beyond the pale.

      1. TootsNYC*

        This reminds me of something that happened shortly after my son was born. His older sister had a daycare classmate who was bummed out that he didn’t have a baby! (Lots of kids in that group had gotten younger siblings in a 4-month period.) The teacher told him not to feel bad–she didn’t have a baby either.
        My daughter said, “That’s OK, Teacher–my mommy will have one for you.”

      2. Mallory Janis Ian*

        This reminds me of a situation I found myself in just last night. My women’s group was having a party that was supposed to be for Cinco de Mayo but, due to scheduling conflicts, ended up on ocho de Mayo.

        I had already made arrangements to pick up one woman, Linda, who lives pretty far out of town and can’t drive right now because of a recent knee surgery. Then I was going to pick up my daughter from her dorm on the way from Linda’s house to the party, and then another girl who lived near campus also needed a ride, so I was going to swing by and get her, too.

        Another woman, Carol, called me and said that she’d offered a ride to a new woman, Lucy, who’d visited the church last week and was interested in coming to the party. Carol was under the weather and asked if I could pick up Lucy. I had room for one more in my car and Lucy wasn’t very far out of the way, so I called her and offered her a ride.

        As the evening went on, Lucy proceeded to mildly get on my nerves. Nothing big; she was just a self-centered conversationalist and turned most of the conversation into a monologue about herself. She seemed more interested in showing everyone how knowledgeable she was than in getting to know people. She talked a lot about how she doesn’t drive and, even though she was meeting all of us for the first time, dropped a lot of hints and seemed to expect people to leap to offer her rides everywhere.

        Well, while I was driving all my passengers home after the party, Lucy hinted that she would love to go to the women’s festival that I’m going to this weekend. I’m usually a fairly inclusive person, but the thought of spending eight hours roundtrip in the car with her held no appeal for me, so I chose not to pick up on her hinting. And I gave my daughter the stink-eye to warn her not to pipe up and offer anything, either. I don’t mind giving her local rides when the stakes are low, or even longer rides if she becomes a regular member of the group and I get to know her better, but all I know about her right now is that she seems presumptuous and is a bore.

    3. Mephyle*

      To bring home the point to Susan that you’re not just refusing her request, but that this is something not in your power, it might help to say something along the lines of, “Carl doesn’t actually know me, so if I make this request, I’m pretty sure it wouldn’t make either of us look good.”

    4. Geeby*

      OP3 here (Thanks Alison for posting this!)

      I decided to act along those lines, and told my friend that unfortunately I didn’t know Carl well enough to make the introduction. I didn’t go into details about my waiting to hear from him for something. I just said that I hadn’t actually met him in person.

    5. Rae*

      3. Unless I have personally worked with someone and see their value and work ethic, I do not become involved in helping recruit them to a position for many obvious reasons. I did have a friend ask me about a position for her husband. She knew the hiring manager chaired a work committee that I am a member of. I was very clear that the chairwoman and I were not chummy and I did not feel comfortable making any type of recommendation.

      On the flip side, business is a dog eat dog world. And oftentimes, unless one has an inside connection, getting your resume to the person in charge is a challenge. I have a very close friend who has an amazing resume and work ethic. She tried to get hired at our company for years. I saw that a position right up her alley was available in a department where I know someone. Me and that someone went to lunch one day and I said to her, “I have a friend looking for a customer service position, would you take a look at her resume and just tell me if her experience is relavent?” The someone did look and passed that resume onto the hiring manager. Try not to be obvious about it, and just ask for feedback. You aren’t recommending them for the position and your hands are clean

  2. Nelly*

    OP #2 – I feel you. I’m 47, but my boss thinks I’m early 30s. She’s stated several times that she hired me because they wanted someone ‘young and dynamic’. Well, I’ve got the dynamic part down! Doing University later in life, and leaving the first 10 years off my resume seems to have created this issue indirectly, as well as looking younger. I haven’t corrected her, and no one else seems to know. I don’t know that it should come up outside of original signing in documents. Outside of HR, is it anyone’s business?

    1. Connie-Lynne*

      Ha! I have something similar — people read my purple hair, though shot through with grey, as young, and I didn’t get my degrees until my mid-30s.

      I don’t hide my age, though, but if I wanted to, I think I would just quietly ask HR not to mention it as I turned over the documentation.

      1. Knitting Cat Lady*

        As another person who is always assumed to be way younger than she actually is:

        I take it as a compliment!

        I’m in my early thirties, and still people think I’m under 18!

        Awesome genetics, that.

        1. Mookie*

          (Same here–earlyish thirties, mistaken for older teenager–but, if I’m honest, I think it’s the spotty skin and bitten / picked fingernails and shaggy kid’s haircut. I’m never growing out of this, apparently! My only wish is this pastel grunge and/or goth thing stays the course, and I can forever remain an awkward teenager with grey hair.)

          1. I'm a Little Teapot*

            Ha – I’m 34, short and thin, with acne and questionable fashion sense (though usually in a slightly sloppy “mom jeans” way rather than a “rebellious teenager” way). I’m often mistaken for a college student or recent grad. It’s actually been somewhat helpful at work because my department is mostly people in their early to mid 20s. They assumed I was closer to their age and we’ve gotten quite friendly – but now that they know my real age it actually hasn’t been a problem. (It helps that there are a few others in their 30s who already hang out with the younger folks, as well as a few mich older.)

        2. Allison*

          It’s a blessing and a curse, really. I’m 26 but I look like a teenager, and it’s not uncommon for older colleagues to talk down to me. I want to hold onto my youth as long as possible, and I’m not in a rush to get older or look older, but I’d love it if people would take me seriously as a reasonably competent, professional adult.

          1. Knitting Cat Lady*

            That’s why I dress up for important meetings. If I’m in a suit I look closer to my actual age.

            1. Allison*

              I would love to wear suits to work, but the office I work in now is super casual, the most “dressed up” anyone really gets is khakis and a button down, or slacks with a nice blouse. I don’t even wear blazers anymore because they look too out of place.

              1. Koko*

                I also am a younger-looking woman in a very casual office who has to navigate this. It might sound silly, but I pay a HUGE amount of attention to making sure I’m signaling experience and competence with even the tiniest of things:

                – I wear primarily black or very dark blue pants/jeans with a power color top (rich, deep reds, blues, and greens)
                – I always sit down first or close to first, and sit at or near the head of the table in a meeting
                – I maintain good posture and never slouch or fidget in my chair
                – I grip firmly when shaking hands
                – I make sure my sentences are given in a steady, even voice (i.e. my voice doesn’t go up at the end which can make statements seem tentative, something which for better or worse is associated with young people right now)
                – I never say “we” when talking about something I did alone and I never say “I’m sorry” except in the rare event I’ve done something offensive that requires me to apologize (these ones is insidious among women in particular)
                – I have trained myself to use pauses instead of “ums” or “uhs” mid-sentence

                It might seems silly or obsessive but there’s been a lot of research that shows these are ways that people really do convey or undermine their power in the workplace. And when I already have my youthful appearance, gender, and height working against me, I figure every little thing I can do to be read as a competent and seasoned professional helps.

                1. Cass*

                  Those are good tips to keep in mind. I’m 27, but work in a University office and I often get mistaken for an intern or recent grad. (I don’t have a ton of self-confidence, so I dwell on it probably more than I should.)

                2. Ife*

                  This has been my experience too — unfortunately, if you naturally look young you have to take steps to look and act older than your age, so that the looks and behavior sort of “cancel” each other out.

                  Another tip I have is regarding hairstyle. When I had a short haircut, I got mistaken for a teenager a lot less and didn’t get carded at bars very often. Now it’s down to my shoulders and even though I’m a year older, I’m mistaken for a teenager/carded at bars way more frequently. Something about long hair reads “young.”

                3. T3k*

                  I love these tips, I’ll have to keep these in mind wherever I end up in my career. As someone who’s both young looking and short (and hates high heels) I have to find whatever edge I can to look competent. Doesn’t help that I have adult acne >_<

            2. K.*

              I tend to dress a little above what the dress code of my workplace requires, for this reason – keeps me from being mistaken for an intern (although that happened at this job. I burst out laughing). Also I tend to be one of the only people of color anywhere I work, so I have a (sometimes justified) fear of not being taken seriously. Clothes with a little more gravitas (even jeans) tend to mitigate this somewhat.

          2. Elliot*

            I am always trying to look older, too. I wish people would see me as my age. I’m 27 but I usually get pegged at seventeen. I dress much, much older and I just started wearing facial hair to balance it. It’s hard to get taken seriously as a professional while looking like a teenager.

            To make matters worse, I moonlight in retail, and every day I work I have someone pat me on the shoulder and say, “you’re doing a great job, buddy. Stay in school and do something great with your life.”

            Sometimes I’ll tell them I already finished that years ago I have my dream job in recreation and I’m a department head, and they’ll blink quizzically like I’m some child prodigy that finished college in third grade.

        3. Red*

          I just got invited by a neighborhood teen to join her church youth group for kids ages 15-18.

          Me: “uh … Actually, I’m 35?”
          Her: “…. Oh. Well, that would explain why I never saw you at school ….”

          1. Knitting Cat Lady*

            This happened ~6 years ago. I was in a colleagues car, he was driving us to a meeting in a building in another part of the city.

            Him: ‘So, how old do you think §NewGuy is?’
            Me: ‘I think he’s about two years younger than me.’
            Him: ‘Really? I’d have put him around 25! …then again, you’re not much older than that…’

          2. Jillian*

            My dad was a 37 year old teacher when he was stopped in the hall by another teacher and told to get back to class.

          3. many bells down*

            I was volunteering at my daughter’s school for picture day once. It was early, and I didn’t work until the afternoon, so I was in a baggy sweatshirt with my hair in a bun, and no makeup. A teacher came up to me and said “Sweetie, whose class are you in?”

            I was 33. The school only went to 5th grade. :(

          4. A*

            I was going on Spring Break in college, shortly after I turned 21, when the gate agent at the airport asked if I was old enough to sit in an exit row – because you had to be *at least* 15.

        4. AVP*

          Same here. I’m 31 but routinely get taken for ~23. And I work in an industry with casual dress which seems to age people down as well.

          It’s interesting because I have more authority at my job than other people in my age range might, and certainly an average 23yo would have, so I feel like sometimes I need to play it up in order to be taken more seriously. I’m sure there’s a tipping point where one might want to go the other way, though.

        5. Not my real name*

          No one thinks I’m a teenager anymore, but I’m often mistaken for an advanced undergrad or younger grad student. Meanwhile, I’m 34 and have been teaching university classes for over a decade.

          Part of me is actually a little sad that I don’t get quite as much ‘wait, YOU’RE the professor??’ as I used to. 2 small kids will do that to you…

        6. Marian the Librarian*

          I try to take it as a compliment, too, but usually just find it bizarre and hilarious. I’m 29, and have had the teenagers I work with ask me, “who do you have for X class?” and “do you go to [local high school]?” I can understand when elderly people mistake me for a teenager, but I’m shocked when teens think I’m their age because I REALLY don’t look like I’m still in high school! Too funny!

      2. Nelly*

        I’ve never hidden my age, but it does amuse me when people think I’m 15 years younger than I am. I think I reached 35 and just stopped aging. Mind you, my sister is 68 and most people think she’s only 40, so it must be genetic. I didn’t know the people at work thought I was so much younger until I’d been there a while, but it does make me a little concerned.

    2. Myrin*

      Ugh, the “young and dynamic” language is so off-putting to me! Apart from the fact that it sounds very buzzwordy and is a potential turnoff to great older workers who’d bring tons of experience, the people who post this in their ads whom I know personally are always middle-aged and so far from anything even close to “dynamic” it’s downright laughable.

        1. Nelly*

          More to do with the person who had the job in front of me being lazy and corrupt. They just wanted someone totally different. And I don’t think 35 would be ‘inexperienced and exploitable’ anyway.

          1. Mookie*

            Got it, I’m just wary of job listings that might use coded language to signify “we want to own you.” There was an earlier discussion about how “flexibility” as a desirable trait could be read as a negative or positive.

      1. Nelly*

        There was nothing in the ad for the job, it’s just something the boss has said to me a few times. She’s so happy I’m there, compared to who was there before, so she has mentioned a couple of times “We really wanted someone young and dynamic, and you’ve really turned this place around!” It’s a false correlation that young = dynamic, but I am dynamic, so she can go on thinking I’m 15 or so years younger than I am if it makes her happy.

        The job ad thing I hate? “Looking for someone bubbly!” Specially in reception roles. Everyone I’ve met who’s been ‘bubbly’ has turned out to be a useless nightmare at work.

        1. ThursdaysGeek*

          Are guys ever described as “bubbly”? That sounds to me like they’re also looking for a woman.

          1. Kay*

            I definitely know some men I would describe as “bubbly”, but they’d probably get offended.

      2. Camellia*

        This site always recommends that hiring managers not hire people who are just like them and, instead, to go for diversity. Maybe this is just one way to go about that?

        1. MK*

          It’s the young/fresh correlation that’s problematic in itself. If it could be taken for granted that younger people bring new ideas to the table, I wouldn’t see a problem with older managers hiring younger people to complement their own experience with fresh ideas.

        2. neverjaunty*

          No. Hiring people based on dumb stereotypes is not a good way to “go for diversity”. Think about applying this same non-logic to racial diversity, for example, and I think you see the problem.

      3. TootsNYC*

        “so far from anything even close to “dynamic” it’s downright laughable.”

        That’s why we want to hire someone dynamic. ONE of us need to be!


    3. AdAgencyChick*

      Like OP, I work in a field that biases youth, at least in my niche of advertising. (There are over-50s, but they tend not to be in the rank and file.)

      I think it may be difficult to take Alison’s advice of trying to find a company with lots of people over 40 in digital marketing. Not impossible, but hard. (As a parallel, the agency I work at now is the first in my career in which I’ve seen a significant number of older workers — and it took me several tries before I finally got a job there!)

      I wonder whether OP could enlist the HR person to be on her side. When I’ve been on the hiring manager side, I have never been told a new hire’s age by recruiting, not even after they start! Maybe OP can speak to the recruiter/HR rep after the offer is made and ask that her age not be disclosed.

      1. Elle*

        Based on the other comments, I’d like to point out that many companies don’t have an HR department. The company where I work doesn’t have an HR dept and the hiring is done by the direct supervisor or owner and the office manager/bookkeeper will sometimes handle the tax forms, etc. In a small office standards are more relaxed and it is very difficult to keep anything a secret. I guess it’s human nature, but for whatever reason, people want to know how old someone is, and once they find out they make assumptions like “What do they know, they’re only 20-something?” or “What ideas can she bring to the table at her age?”.
        Also, it seemed like a lot of the comments were about being mistaken as younger than your age, which is awesome and definitely not a problem, but the original question was about being discriminated or judged when your real age was revealed.
        Allison’s solution of finding employment where coworkers are in your age bracket is probably the best solution although not easy. We can get an idea of how we’ll fit in somewhere by looking at photos on the company website, but it also reinforces making judgements based on appearance.

        1. 42*

          I’m over 50 and work in a niche marketing/advertising field. I find that the client-facing staff (account services) are generally younger (30s), but a lot of the other departments (developers, creative) are all over the place age-wise. I’ve never felt awkward or left out, everyone treats everyone the same in my company. So it might be where you fall with the type of work you’re looking to do. Good luck.

    4. Wakeen's Teapots, Ltd.*

      Age is another thing to manage in the workplace. I’m 55, with a headful of silver (cough silvery grey) hair which is, besides impossibly stylish ;), my middle finger to the idea of my having to hide it.

      Now, I have a position of power, and I don’t presume to advise anyone else who wants to be discreet with their age not to do so. I have enough experience with other people’s assumptions to know that it’s not all in someone’s head to think they are being treated differently because of whatever external signal they are presenting (gender, race, orientation, age).

      Digital marketing is under my umbrella. I was an early adopter which means I had a computer and was on Usenet before most of the youngster were out of diapers. We hired a new agency last month and I had to, patiently, go through the learning curve with my guy where the lightbulb finally went on that I didn’t need things explained to me the way you try to teach grandma to use her mouse.

      We’re finally to the point of collaboration, which took about a month, which, that’s not bad. If it’s not one obstacle, it’s another. Used to be gender, now it’s age.

      I have the chops and one way or the other, I can usually turn people underestimating to my advantage. Stealth. ;)

      Summary: thing is real, accept that thing is real, don’t fear it, use it.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Love this.

        I find it amusing to watch people react. I had a boss who decided that I was not working fast enough. I instantly recognized it as age bias because I was doing more than most of the people in our group. (And others said I was doing more.) The reality came crashing in when I saw my boss fudge my numbers to show I did less. (It’s always a good idea to know your numbers.) Eventually, I quit due to an extraordinary amount of problems at the job. However, the interesting part here is that the boss was only five years younger than me. And she made no effort to hide that she hated working with women. She tried to pull the age card with me in her search to find something/anything to get me out of the job.
        The next job I went to was the opposite. Younger people told me that I should not have to work as hard as they do because of … my age. I was 47 at the time.
        Differences in people, differences in work places.
        I tend to look for places where there is a broad age range of workers. Even when I was in my 20s I did this. Now my gray hair is a “people filter” for me. Anyone who is bothered by my gray probably is going to be bothered by other small things, too. It gives me a heads-up.

        1. Hellanon*

          My current workplace is pretty diverse age-wise – there are more than a few 80 year olds, lots of us in the 50s and 60s range, and we are well supplied with younger folks as well. Keeps everybody on their toes, because all you can assume is that people understand what they are doing very well but that you may need to preface what you do with an explanation – but only because everybody’s work is complex, not because people don’t know things.

          1. Elizabeth West*

            Same here–we have several different age ranges. A lot of people have come to us from the industry we serve and have years of experience, which is quite valuable. Nobody bats an eye at a grey head.

            That doesn’t mean I want to be grey yet, though.

        2. I'm a Little Teapot*

          Your boss *fudged your numbers* to make you look bad?!

          Also – I loathe women who hate other women and have to be the only woman there or they’re not speshul any more. Climbing the ladder and yanking it up after you is such a crappy thing to do.

          1. neverjaunty*

            Right? There is no Special Snowflake Award where the dudes all get together and give you a special prize for deliberately crapping on other women.

          2. Not So NewReader*

            Interesting word choice. Her cohorts called her “special” or “princess”.

            Differences in people, because I would have put a stop to that in a heart beat. I never understood why she could not see the dripping sarcasm there. It wasn’t my problem, though.

            Yes, yanking up the ladder behind them. That is right on. At this stage of the game I have no patience for this grammar school stuff.

            @EW- the grays are actually sort of white. It’s a family thing. They started around 17 or 18 for me. I colored my hair for a while. But hair coloring can be so toxic and I have to be careful. More than anything I got sick of the skunk stripe look, so I gave up. Age has helped, too, it seems to matter less and less.

      2. F.*

        I, too, am 55 and letting my hair go naturally silver (about 50% there). I have wrinkles and a middle-age belly and am not ashamed of it. One of the reasons I stay at the dysfunctional place where I currently work is because they value the wisdom and maturity that (sometimes) comes with age. The last time I looked at our stats, about a year ago, 60% of us were over 40, and 40% were over 50 years old. We also have a great group of employees in their 20s. I recently considered an opening at a company that does similar work, but self-selected out when I looked at the employee group picture on their website. I could pick out only two women who looked like they could be over 40 out of a couple hundred employees. (lots of pudgy, older men, though!) Nope, not the place for me.

        Age discrimination is a very real thing, though it is often done rather subtly. Some companies don’t want to invest in older employees thinking that they won’t be around long enough to get their money’s worth, when older employees are statistically less likely to change jobs than younger ones are. IIRC, age 57 is the most expensive on the ACA age-banding for health insurance, so cost-conscious employers will opt for younger employees. And there is the image that some companies want to project. When I worked for the very large financial services company, all of their promotional material (print, website, etc.) featured only young, thin, tall men and women, though they were careful to include the correct mix of races, obvious ethnicities, gender orientation and people with disabilities. Older men with who were bald or grey-haired were okay, but older women were not. Go figure!

    5. Artemesia*

      When I retired at 67 everyone kept asking me why I was retiring so early; people won’t really know unless you tell them and what is in HR isn’t going to necessarily be on the radar of managers.

    6. TootsNYC*

      I haven’t worked for very many small companies, so every place I’ve worked, only the HR department ever sees it.

      Unconscious ageism is real! My mom started coloring her hair shortly after it went fully gray because she realized that her colleagues had started raising their volume slightly, speaking more slowly and explaining simple stuff to her. Once she colored her hair, they stopped. She said, “They would never have realized what they were doing; they’d have been appalled to have it pointed out to them. But that unconscious reaction was far more powerful than their 5 years of experience working with me.’

    7. Stranger than fiction*

      Yeah, your last sentence. Sounds like Op has worked somewhere where HR blabbed that info to her manager and manager blabbed that info to coworkers. Or Perhaps Op is feeling insecure about it and it just seems like the coworkers are acting differently?

    8. Sans*

      My boss hired me five years ago — and only last year did she realize I was in my mid-50s, not late thirties/early forties, as she had assumed.

      In big companies, people don’t always look over every piece of paper. I filled out all the info they wanted. I’m sure HR knows my age. But that doesn’t mean they broadcast it to others.

    9. Pennalynn Lott*

      I’ll be 50 in October and went back to school to finally get my undergrad degree 1.5 years ago. Everyone from professors (who are 3-10 years older than I am) to fellow students (who are decades younger) thinks I am in my late 20’s/early 30’s. It’s a combination of good genetics, and always wearing a baseball hat and super-casual clothes (jeans, hoodie, Skechers GoWalks).

      I’m hoping my younger-than-my-years looks will come in handy after graduation when I’m looking for a job.

  3. Arrested Teapot Thief Fergus*

    #2 – Odds are, the information will be confidential anyway, so I wouldn’t worry about it (though I certainly understand your feelings about this). I doubt anyone outside of HR will know your age.

    #4 – I definitely agree that you shouldn’t mention the problems with Fergus – not even after you’re hired. Let them be the ones to bring it up (if they choose to do so).

    1. Judy*

      #2: I’d certainly expect that in a larger organization. My last manager at MegaCorp was trying to just be able to access birthdays, not birthdates, because he had section in his weekly agenda about work anniversaries and birthdays for the week. It was apparently difficult for him.

      HR needs to know because of the I9, plus health insurance usually needs it. Also pensions have age related rules as do 401ks.

      1. Anonymous Educator*

        I’d certainly expect that in a larger organization.

        I’ve worked at mainly smaller organizations, and HR (or whoever handles the hiring paperwork) has never disclosed the year of my birth to anyone ever. Sometimes I do have to share my birth date (no year) because the office or school wants to celebrate or acknowledge birthdays, but I would be rather annoyed if I filled out an I-9, and then all of a sudden everyone I worked with knew what year I was born.

        1. Judy*

          I think size matters. When I say smaller organizations, I mean like the one where I currently work. We have 50 employees. One person is the AP/AR/payroll/HR clerk, and the director of operations is the HR manager. There’s not a huge firewall between the HR department and everyone else.

          1. Anonymous Educator*

            I’m talking about the same thing. Most places I’ve worked have had between 30 and 60 employees. It’s a matter of professionalism.

    2. TootsNYC*

      #4 – I definitely agree that you shouldn’t mention the problems with Fergus – not even after you’re hired. Let them be the ones to bring it up (if they choose to do so).

      I agree–in fact, I don’t know that I’d mention “I tried to email Fergus but he’s not there any more.”

      I’d just go straight to the two most high-ranking people you interviewed with and say, “Hello, I just wanted to let you know that I’m still very interested in working with your company; I admire its XYZ and felt that I could bring LMNOP to your team.” And never mention him.

  4. Mary*

    #2 It is really difficult nowadays to not have to give your date of birth for all sorts of work related things. I would agree it should not be released by HR but many computer platforms use date of birth as a way of identifying a person. But I think you can make every effort in a new job to not tell people your date of birth and to ask HR not to release this private information to anyone in the organisation. I never discuss my date of birth at work, never mention birthday celebrations with my co-workers.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      I think that age is part of how they make sure they have the right person when they do background checks. The likelihood of having the wrong Ann Smith decreases if you match the birth date up with the name.

  5. OHCFO*

    OP#4, I was once the final candidate for a perfect position, reporting to the chairman of an organization. I had been verbally and informally informed that I was selected, awaiting a written, official offer from HR. While I was waiting, the chairman died unexpectedly. I remember feeling so conflicted–obviously sympathetic to the organization, but filled with the whiney “but what about me?” thoughts. I called once, and left a voicemail along the terms of what Alison shared, but never heard back. I think of it as “the one that got away.” In retrospect, if I’d still been hired, I would have worked for a different chairman, whose style may have made it an entirely different fit/culture than what I’d signed on for. So I try not to despair about it.

    1. Leetaann*

      Something like this happened to my husband as well, although more along the lines of the OP rather than a death. Husband was interviewing for a teaching position. Met with the principal, had a good interview and two days later principal made front page news for aiding and abetting an inappropriate relationship between one of her teacher’s and a student (ignored all reports from others, actually caught them in a classroom and ignored it. It was all very salacious and disturbing.) Husband decided not to pursue that school because, even though the principal was no longer there, he wasn’t sure if that was the kind of environment he wanted to be in.

  6. Ashloo*

    #5: I’m unclear on what OP meant by the vacation time policy. My take was that OP was annoyed they didn’t have to use vacation time for missing days they were scheduled to work, not that they should have to use vacation for their unscheduled days.

    If my interpretation is correct, I would ask OP if these part-times even have PTO anymore in their benefits package? If they miss a day, they may just not get paid whereas a full time employee would use their PTO.

    I hope that made sense.

    1. jhhj*

      Or possibly their schedules are flexible, so if they miss Tuesday they can just work Thursday that week.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        That is the way I read it. And granted that can be a little difficult to watch but it’s important to remember they are not getting a full time pay check, either.

        1. Grapey*

          And if that sort of flexibility is what OP5 wants (a Sun-Thurs workweek for example), then they need to discuss that with their boss, not begrudge other employees the benefit.

        2. Artemesia*

          When my youngest was a toddler, I decided to dial back my work hours by removing myself from a project and taking a pay and hours cut for a year. This was easy to manage and approved by my manager. The same manager later made a disparaging remark about needing to speak to me and ‘I guess you must have cut out to Christmas shop or something.’ I pointed out that I was working part time and thus not in the office normally at that time. and got ‘must be nice.’ At that point I pointed out that I was taking home 25% less salary for this privilege and he literally was surprised, saying, ‘oh I thought you were just dropping that project, I didn’t realize you were going part time in hours.’

          I am the center of my universe but not anyone else’s and this boss had just forgotten the details and was annoyed when I wasn’t there when he wanted me to be. The part time workers in this scenario are paying for the privilege. If that means they can move their days around a bit to avoid taking PTO they are also losing pay and other perks.

          1. Bolistoli*

            *I am the center of my universe but not anyone else’s…* I like this – good way to keep perspective, even if your manager was being a bit of a tool. Better to give the benefit of the doubt like you did, and clear up any confusion (or forgotten agreements) than get bent out of shape.

      2. Ashloo*

        Ah, ok. That would make sense. I’ve never been in a workplace that allowed that and it hadn’t occurred to me.

    2. baseballfan*

      The way part time schedules have worked in offices I’ve been in, is that part-timers get PTO pro rata according to their schedule percentage. So if someone goes to 80% (four days a week) and normally gets 20 days of vacation, then after the schedule reduction they get 16 days.

      That all comes out in the wash because these people have less PTO, but less need for PTO because they can use regularly scheduled days off as part of vacation time. The person above would only have to use four vacation days, not five, to take a week off.

      If someone goes to part time and can still take off whatever days they feel like without using PTO or unpaid time off, something is not right about that.

      1. Sarahnova*

        That’s certainly how it works for me, and I imagine everywhere else. I went to four days. I earn 80% of my previous salary and get 80% of the PTO – but I only need 80% because I only have to book four days off to get a week off.

    3. Joseph*

      As others have said, I interpret the agreement as something along the lines of “You will be working 2 days per week, but it’s your choice when you get those days.” As long as their manager is OK with them relocating days, this isn’t really your place to complain.

      It’s also worth mentioning that there are basically no legal requirements in the US regarding PTO. None. So the answer to “Is it legal?” with regards to PTO is pretty much always going to be “Yeah, they can do that”.

      1. Anxa*

        Yeah, I didn’t understand the is this legal question at all. PTO is not at all guaranteed or even standard.

      2. Elliot*

        I have had positions like these. The flexibility is great, but one usually pays dearly for it, especially in regards to insurance benefits.

        I had a coworker once say, “it must be nice that you can take a sick day then come in whenever you feel like it to make it up.”

        I replied, “it must be nice that you can buy health insurance for your family.”

  7. AnotherFed*

    OP 1 – Does this pot-stirrer have enough real work to do and understand why that work is important? It might help solve the big picture problem if you look at why he is doing this – it could be boredom, misunderstanding priorities, a need to feel helpful/important, or a genuine but misplaced attempt to help. If you can address that, you’re more likely to be able to salvage the employee.

    If its the need to be helpful and they are otherwise good and worth trying to salvage, then you probably will have to work on getting the person to be helpful some other way and replacing the unhelpful help with a better reaction – like teaching doorbell crazy dogs to fetch a pillow instead of barking wildly.

    1. Artemesia*

      Nah the guy is a busybody and would be regardless of his workload. This is one that has to be dealt with firmly and clearly because anything euphemistic will not get through to someone who sees their meddling and pot stirring as ‘concern’ and ‘being helpful.’

      1. AnotherFed*

        Sounds like the kind that isn’t worth trying to salvage, then! Incorrigible busybodies aren’t going to stop gossiping and spinning everyone else up with gossip – time for a PIP and probably firing.

      2. Stranger than fiction*

        I agree but I’m also wondering what the other coworkers reactions are. If I vented to a coworker about something and found out he was just a drama llama, I wouldn’t go to him anymore. If this is a persistent issue, I’m thinking they like venting to him and maybe don’t realize how caught up in it he is or that it’s distracting him from his work. Just sayin, he may not be the only guilty party, just the loud one.

  8. Bobcat*

    I’m in my mid-30s and just took an entry level job in digital marketing. Coworkers at my level are all 8-12 years younger than me. 80% of the people 1-3 steps above me are younger than me. Only the very highest levels are my age and older, with only about four people over 40. My age came up once in the interview, when I was asked how I felt about taking an entry level job. I just told them I knew I had to start somewhere, so why not at the bottom where I could learn from the ground up? I mentioned my husband to a coworker once and he asked how long we’d been married. I told him seven years, and he said I didn’t look like I’d been out of high school for seven years. I think a lot of my coworkers think I’m about 27 years old.

  9. Total Rando*

    I have the opposite experience from OP#2. I am assumed to be older than I am. Which I’m happy with, but I don’t want this to be true forever.

    I think the assumptions have less to do with my physical appearance and more to do with my life achievements. I’m a 24 year old who’s been married for 4 years, and we’re expecting our first kid in Oct. I graduated early from college with an engineering degree. My husband and I bought a house two years ago. I have a really great job that I kick butt at, which has allowed me to achieve some things that don’t typically happen this early in one’s career.
    I look at my age-peers and they are just starting to get married and find careers they like. I look at my life-peers (similar phase of life) and they are all in their early thirties.

    Right now, I’m actually totally okay with people assuming I’m 30 (my husband is 31 after all…). But I want to have people think I’m 30 for the next fifteen years if possible. :)

      1. Pennalynn Lott*

        Same here, Sara M! I was getting into clubs at age 14, and still get carded regularly as I near 50.

  10. JeJe*

    #1 I have a coworker who is constantly interfering with other people’s work and claiming he’s trying to help. Honestly, I’m having a hard time seeing this type of thing as coming from an interest in being helpful. I think there’s an ego boost that comes from being thinking he’s involved in all the work that our team does. The OP put this in terms of how it impacts his productivity. But it’s worth considering how it undermines his coworkers, since assignments were handed out with the intention of them being an individual effort.

    I guess it’s possible I’m being harsh because my co-worker’s behavior has become pretty irritating. It’s also probably most effective to frame it as being helpful regardless of the actual motivation behind this person’s actions.

    1. hbc*

      Yeah, I’ve been a coworker and then a supervisor of this guy, and he might tell people he’s looking out for everyone’s interests, but it’s all a power trip. Mine used to tell people how badly overworked they were and how unfair management was, and then turn around and tell management how lazy all those others were and how he should get a raise for all the extra “help” he was giving them.

      1. Artemesia*

        I supervised a guy like this who was mad that he hadn’t been made director of his division; I was the director who supervised his director but ended up having to deal with him as well. He consistently undermined his director and tried to stir up the other minions by telling them how overworked they were and how what they were being expected to do was way above their ‘pay grade.’ When I sat down with him after several staff had melted down because their work was ‘too hard’ he actually said ‘it is not reasonable to expect these administrative people to be doing boolean algebra’; they were doing some data entry on the client base as part of their normal duties working with files. I sort of stared at him and said ‘you mean ‘and’ and ‘or’?’ This deflated him as he had been rolling people all week with this ‘higher math’ boolean algebra crap. Eventually the solution was ‘if you can’t change people, change people’. I fired him.

      2. TuxedoCat*

        We have a manager like that in our office. She tries to get us all to confide in her and then she uses our comments, no matter how mild, against us.

        Example: I mentioned being a little tired from the amount of travel I had recently (back to back trips essentially, little time at home). She goes to my boss. From what I gather, she makes it sound like I can’t handle my work. I don’t know what she set out to do, but I reassured my boss it was a little tiring but manageable and I don’t know where she got the idea that I was incapable of handling the travel.

        I now no longer tell her anything about my work except it’s fine and going well.

    2. AnotherFed*

      The undermining piece is a really good point. The one case of someone like this I’ve had to deal with was a mid-level new hire who genuinely did not have enough to do and wanted to be helpful, but hadn’t yet gotten access to systems or been trained on all the things he needed to be useful help. It resolved itself once he got projects of his own, but I wish I’d realized the undermining piece back then to help explain to him why he could just take other people’s work and expect them to be happy about it!

    3. Rocky*

      I managed someone like this, and honestly, what she wanted was recognition (and a promotion and a raise) because she felt her job was beneath her experience and skill level. So she would try to involve herself in other people’s work that was more interesting to her. She rationalized this to me as, “I’m overqualified and don’t enjoy the work I’m doing. I know a lot about what Wakeen does, and he’s really busy so I want to help him!” I told her that Wakeen is great at his job and doesn’t need help doing it. I had a “crucial conversation” with her that ended with me telling her that her job wasn’t going to change, and if she was so miserable, she should probably try to find a job that suited her better. Not what she was expecting to hear. She resigned a couple weeks later.

  11. Nobody*

    #2 – If she’s treated differently because of her age (over 40), couldn’t that constitute discrimination or harassment? There’s not much information about how, exactly, they are treating her once they learn her age, so it’s hard to say if it’s actually discrimination/harassment, but depending on what’s happening, it’s possible.

    #5 – Another way to look at it is to remember that you are getting paid when you take vacation days, while the part-timers are (presumably) not getting paid for their days off when they don’t use vacation days.

  12. Bowserkitty*

    Suddenly, I’m questioning the authenticity of the TV show Younger, about a 40yo woman posing as a 26yo in the publishing industry. I never gave thought to forms like I9s.

    Then again, fictional TV shows don’t need to be realistic..

    OP, I personally wouldn’t worry about it, but I have also only worked in offices that give little thought to age so perhaps my view is skewed.

    1. Lore*

      Yeah, it’s the big flaw in that show. They do show her friend making her a fake driver’s license, but gloss right over the legal ramifications for everything from direct deposit of paychecks to defrauding the insurance company to possibly using a fake SS number. As with Suits, that’s the suspension of disbelief price you have to pay to get the show to happen at all. (And as someone who works in publishing, I will say that Younger is way better on the actual workings of the industry than most…)

    2. Nervous Accountant*

      Ah, I read that book several years ago when it came out. (I’m assuming the TV show is based on the book by Pamela Satran?). I’ll have to refresh my memory and see how she ended up working. From what I remember though, she let everyone assume what her age was and didn’t bother to correct until much later.

    3. hayling*

      I feel like many TV shows that I enjoy have some central premise that I have to just *accept* if I’m going to enjoy the show. A super-hot, savvy, smart con man joining the FBI and quickly becoming one of their biggest assets? Quite a stretch, but it doesn’t stop me from loving White Collar!

      I have never seen Younger but my mom raves about it. Someone let me know when it’s on Netflix!

      1. Bowserkitty*

        It’s a cute series! I don’t like how flaky the younger characters come off at times because we aren’t all like that – for example, there’s a locker room scene where the younger characters comment on the 40yo not having um…ladyscaped.

        They make it seem like everyone is going to freak out about her age, but her own bosses are in their 40s and 50s.

  13. animaniactoo*

    #3 – One of the false perceptions of LinkedIn is that you actually know everybody who you’re connected to fairly well from a networking standpoint. I’ve had to get very comfortable with saying “I actually don’t know this person very well*, and my introduction wouldn’t be any help to you and might even be a drawback given how distant our connection is.”

    While Susan may “need” the introduction, she doesn’t need one that leaves a bad aftertaste in the mouth of the person she’s asking for an introduction to. So all you need to do is be clear about *why* doing it wouldn’t be the help that she thinks it would be.

    * “well enough to introduce you” “they’re my cousin’s boss and asked me to do a logo once and the project fell through, but we’re still connected on LinkedIn” “they worked at my company for a year and I never met them but they send a request to the entire company, and it’s possibly useful for me, but not for somebody else they don’t know at all”, etc.

    1. animaniactoo*

      Which is not to say that you need to give any of the additional explanation, just tossing out there some of the reasons why connections are not necessarily suitable for sharing despite the “active network” perception many people have of LinkedIn.

    2. Anonymous Educator*

      One of the false perceptions of LinkedIn is that you actually know everybody who you’re connected to fairly well from a networking standpoint.

      I think a lot of people just connect with whomever. I connect with only people I know, but I may be the exception.

      1. animaniactoo*

        I tend to do similarly with a few exceptions (my dad’s cousin who I’ve never met – okay, whatever…). But I do still end up with people whom I have very shaky connections to, suitable for me to network with them myself, but not to pass along other people unrequested.

  14. Mimmy*


    I’ve never given putting down my age a second thought, but now this has me wondering! I’m 42 but lately have been told I look like I’m around 30. It’s certainly a compliment but I would never try to hide my age if asked. But now I see how that can affect others’ attitudes, as the OP is seeing.

    To Alison’s comment: I don’t know that there’s any one employer where most people are over age 40 – if I’m wrong, please let me know. But I would also hope that an employer would have the good sense to not allow a person’s age to factor into hiring or other employment-related decisions and even try to get a diverse range of people. I’d be a bit leery of employers who gravitate towards a particular age group.

    1. Stranger than fiction*

      Uh yeah, we gravitate unfortunately. I just went down our phone list and only six of our 48 employees are under forty. Don’t even get me started on other way were not diverse. I don’t think it’s intentional (I hope), but may have a lot to do with the industry and the type of people that apply and accept jobs here. Does bug me though.

  15. Amber Rose*

    #4: this happened to me once. Apparently the blow up that got him fired was pretty amazing in its scale and destruction. I still got the job. Just send a follow up email, don’t mention what you found through Google, and give them a little extra time to sort stuff out.

  16. PatM*

    To OP#2 regarding the concern with revealing your age: Your age can be derived or directly found by googling your name. Your information is most likely stored and presented by many data aggregator sites (ie. Intellius). You can opt out of these big sites with “some” success, however, there are many smaller data aggregator sites that purchase your information from the big ones. Good luck with requesting removal of your information from these cockaroach like sites. I routinely scrub my information from the internet for the last 5 years and it feels like I’m playing whack-a-mole.

    1. PatM*

      To add: This ^^^ is just from googling. If unsuccessful, then a person can get your birthdate from an investigation site by paying a $9.95 fee. Nothing is sacred unless you’ve lived off the grid for 20 years.

    2. MK*

      I don’t thinkthe OP is worried her coworkers will go these lengths to find out her age; just that it might comeup in the course of her hiring process and make them treat hwer differently.

    3. Elle*

      I have a way of working around the revealing published personal data on the internet. I use my maiden name professionally and socially, which is not my legal name. My legal name is my husband’s last name which I’ve had for 20 years, although we’ve been divorced for years. When we were divorced, I started using my maiden name but kept his last name legally because of my kids and I didn’t want the complications with taxes, retirement and banking. None of my coworkers know my legal name. If they do google my (maiden) name, they won’t find any personal records regarding age, address, political donations, etc.

  17. Kristine*

    “The best thing you can do is to look for a job with coworkers who aren’t weird about age (a place with lots of other people over the age of 40 is a good place to start).”
    I’m sorry to say that this may not help. I’m 51, get mistaken for 20 years younger (no plastic surgery, and it happened to my mother and my sisters), and work in a place where people tend to stay put.
    Three people have asked if I’m pregnant. I was in between managers at the time, so I took each of them aside for a chat about professionalism at work. Other inappropriate comments/questions I get:
    “But you wouldn’t remember the 1980s.”
    “As a Millennial, do you think…?”
    “Are we going to have a happy surprise [baby]?” (I replied, “Hopefully, the happy surprise is that I do not have glaucoma!” It was a false alarm.)
    “Are you an intern?”
    OP, be 50+ and proud to be both wise and attractive. Ageism is as disgusting as is racism or sexism, and it’s illegal in the workplace. I have started to tell people to stop saying “You don’t look that old!” or “You should keep it a secret so you can get away with x, y, and z!” (which I have no interest in doing).
    It’s time to push back against these ridiculous stereotypes. I have decided not to let other people be comfortable with the ones they have about me.

    1. Mazzy*

      I was going to say something similar, as someone in a similar boat (though over 10 years younger). I think the millenial stereotypes are especially below-the-belt so do think there is ageism downwards as well. The typical slam at baby boomers of “you and your corporate greed ruined stuff” isn’t as personal and insulting as the millenial slams you see online, which are some variation of “this person needs to be coddled because they’ve been shielded from real life and given rewards without accomplishments.” The latter will insult much quicker than the former.

      The point is that ageism works both ways. However, I know a bit about the digital marketing industry from past job interviews and one of the reasons I didn’t want to work at some of them was the fear of not fitting in because of the age differences!

  18. voyager1*

    #1 You say that the person has a good rapport with the enployees then the rest of your letter is pretty negative of him. I wonder if your negative feelings is jealously to be honest. That being said I would explain to the guy that you appreciate the good support and positive attitude he brings but that it can’t interfer with getting in the way of work getting done.

      1. voyager1*

        “stirring the pot” “cheerleader” “mind their own business” (title of the letter) Not exactly positive vibes and tones there. Also the letter doesn’t actually say he is undermining or doing thing wrong other then his actions take away time from his work. But at the same time the letter doesn’t state he isn’t getting things done. But the very first sentence states he has a “good rapport” with his coworkers.

        Jealously was the first thought that came to mind, OP is jealous that they don’t have that kind of relationship with their team.

        But that is how I read it which is quite different apparently from other comments today up thread.

        (meant to post this here, sorry)

        1. A Bug!*

          It’s an interesting perspective, but I have to admit I’m not seeing jealousy either.

          Also the letter doesn’t actually say he is undermining or doing thing wrong other then his actions take away time from his work.

          It does say that, though: it says that the employee is stirring the pot. I can’t think of a less-negative term to describe the sort of agitating behavior that it implies.

          But at the same time the letter doesn’t state he isn’t getting things done.

          ”This affects his productivity” seems pretty explicit to me. There’s a dry irony to how hard you’re reaching to infer that the OP’s perspective is biased.

          The OP didn’t write in for a second opinion on her assessment of the employee’s behavior as disruptive and pot-stirring. She wrote in for advice on how to address her employee’s disruptive, pot-stirring behavior.

  19. voyager1*

    “stirring the pot” “cheerleader” “mind their own business” (title of the letter) Not exactly positive vibes and tones there. Also the letter doesn’t actually say he is undermining or doing thing wrong other then his actions take away time from his work. But at the same time the letter doesn’t state he isn’t getting things done. But the very first sentence states he has a “good rapport” with his coworkers.

    Jealously was the first thought that came to mind, OP is jealous that they don’t have that kind of relationship with their team.

    But that is how I read it which is quite different apparently from other comments today up thread.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      My read was more like this is a person who is compulsively helping people. It fulfills something inside him in some manner. But I tend to come in on a low level plane until I find out that the situation is actually worse. I have seen too many people try to help when help was not asked for or appreciated, but the helping person could not see that at all. Sometimes just explaining it to such a person ends the issue. If this does not work for OP, she can always bump to the next step.

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