I have to work with someone who sexually harassed my friend, I’m bad at responding to positive feedback, and more

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

1. I have to work with someone who sexually harassed my friend

A very well-respected member of my small professional field sexually harassed my friend while working with her. The employer punished him accordingly, and quietly/discreetly, so not many people know about it. He’s still very active in the field. My friend has been dealing with depression since the incident happened (she has been getting a lot of help, and is working through it, but it’s hard).

To be self-centered about the situation … he’s involved with groups that I am in too, and we might have to work closely in the future. I’ve been doing my best to just avoid him but I haven’t had to see him too much. It seems like the only course of action is to avoid events where he will be, and if I see him, to just be polite and as distant as I can be while still being civil. This is hard to stomach, especially when I’ve seen how hard this whole ordeal has been for my friend. Is there a protocol for how to navigate this relationship?

I kind of love Miss Manners’ map of the varying degrees of chilliness that you can employ with someone you loathe — from Slightly Cool (“your mouth turns up when you have to say hello to her, but your eyes do not participate in the smile”) to Cold (“all the formalities, but no smile — you do not have a personal grievance against him; you are merely treating him as the sort of person you do not want to know”) to Freeze (“you do not greet him, you do not acknowledge his presence, and if he approaches you, you turn away”). I’d go with one of the first two, although of course you’ll need to factor in how much your own career depends on interacting with him and how strongly your personal feelings are on the whole thing.

2. Competitive managers are looking for mistakes on other people’s shifts

I am managing a 24/7 emergency communications center, and all of my staff rotate through their positions working 12-hour shifts. Like all workplaces, some staff are more diligent at dotting their i’s and crossing their t’s, but I have two supervisors who have taken that to an extreme feeding off of each other to do more than the other. It has reached the point where they both look over the work of all other shifts in search of errors and omissions which they often find but usually has no bearing on the task at hand. It is negatively impacting the morale of the workplace.

To remedy this, I’d like to develop a policy to prevent hindsight supervision, as I have begun calling it. Do you have any suggestions that will keep them on the current task and boost general morale?

You don’t need a whole new policy — just tell them to cut it out. As in, “I noticed that you’ve been looking over the work of previous shifts in order to spot errors. It’s not a good use of time and it’s becoming frustrating for others, so please stop doing that. If there are errors made on other shifts, I’ll address them if I feel it’s necessary, but I’d like you to stop sorting through them.”

3. I’m bad at responding to positive feedback

I’ve realized I’m bad at receiving positive feedback at work. Negative feedback is fine; I don’t generally act or feel defensive, and I’m happy to talk about how I can improve my work. But when I get good feedback from my bosses, I get really uncomfortable and usually end up changing the subject without acknowledging it at all.

For example, my boss recently told me I was one of only a few people who would receive the highest rating on a particular metric. I said, “Oh, uh, um, when did you want to meet about [totally unrelated issue]?”

I realize later I’ve been ungracious, but in the moment I have no idea what to say. Even after the fact, I’m not sure what I should have said. What does graciously accepting positive feedback look like?

“Thank you — that’s great to hear!”

“Thank you. I’m really glad to know that.”

“Thanks! I appreciate it.”

That’s it! You don’t need a lengthy speech or anything like that, just a positive note that you heard it and you’re pleased.

4. I was placed on a PIP, resigned, and then was asked to work beyond my two weeks notice

I am currently on a 30-day performance improvement plan (PIP) at work and thankfully received a new job offer. I gave my resignation, and my two weeks coincides with the last day of my PIP, which seems like a happy ending for all and great timing. However, due to some members of my team resigning and others being away on planned vacation, my manager asked me if I could stay on an additional week to assist with a conference our client has. This will require me to work a weekend. I would rather not do this (things are super uncomfortable right now and working on the weekends is part of the reason I’m on a PIP to begin with) and don’t really feel bad inconveniencing them as they could have easily terminated me before the conference due to my PIP timeline.

Should I do it as a gesture of good will? Can I ask to be compensated for the time worked over a weekend? Could I ask to be paid as a freelancer after my two week notice is up?

If you don’t want to do it, it’s totally reasonable to say, “I’m sorry, but I don’t have any flexibility on my start date with my new employer.” Alternately, though, there might be a way to make this work to your advantage. Could you agree to do it in exchange for a good reference (with the details negotiated to make sure you both agree on what “good” is), assuming the PIP otherwise would have placed that in jeopardy?

If you agree to do it, definitely ensure you’re paid for the weekend work, even though it sounds like it would normally be covered by your regular salary for the previous week. You can word it this way: “I had planned to use that weekend to prep for my new job and take care of some personal things. I can make arrangements to put that aside if you’re able to pay me for those two days as well.”

Read an update to this letter here.

5. How to structure a resume after a dramatic career change

I recently made a drastic career change. I was in marketing before, but made the decision to go back to school to become a nurse early last year. Even though I was planning to keep my day job and take classes at night until I was in the full-time nursing program, I was laid off about a year ago. Luckily I got a job in a dialysis clinic doing admin work, but they know my career path and are very supportive, and I will likely work with them when I get my license.

I’m very happy with my current job, but I am getting my CNA (certified nursing assistant) certification this month and may get a job with a nursing home for extra work. I need to create a new resume, but none of my previous work experience has anything to do with what I do now. I’ve gone from writing at a desk every day to providing care for elderly patients! My question is, how would I craft my resume now? Should I still list all of my previous jobs? Or should I summarize my past work experience with basic skills I had and dates of employment, but very little elaboration? I basically just would like to know what my resume should look like during this transition and moving forward.

I’d do a Relevant Experience section with your dialysis clinic job and details about it, and then an Other Experience section for the rest. In the second one, I’d go light on details — basically employers, titles, and dates, with just a line or two at most about your work there.

{ 292 comments… read them below }

  1. Aurion*

    #1: I think something similar but one level chillier than Freeze is the Cut Direct: make eye contact,which acknowledges the offender’s presence (and any nod or greeting they issue)… and then turn away in stony silence, without returning that acknowledgement. Bonus points if you do this in front of others. There’s no pretending you didn’t see them; they and everyone else would know you saw them… but the offender is so dead to you they don’t warrant any acknowledgement.

    I’ve never tried it myself, but I heard it’s pretty nuclear as a social snub. All of Alison’s warnings still apply, of course. I also think Slightly Cool to Cold are more appropriate, but throwing the option out there.

    1. Engineer Girl*

      This is highly unprofessional and will only make the OP look like a Jr high drama queen. It’s not fair but that’s how it is.
      I prefer the Lizzie Bennet method. When you meet him introduce yourself as a good friend of Friends name. Watch him squirm.
      Lizzie did this to Wickham if you remember:
      “I did hear, too, that there was a time when sermon-making was not so palatable to you as it seems to be at present — that you actually declared your resolution of never taking orders, and that the business had been compromised accordingly.”
      And in that one little line she lets Wickham know that she knows ALL.

        1. starsaphire*

          I don’t think Friend needs OP invoking her name, without her permission, either. I think it would be a really awful thing to do to Friend.

          I had something similar happen: a former friend whose ex had threatened violence against me kept talking to him about me, and couldn’t understand why it upset me. I didn’t want to be on his radar at all, not even as a passing mention in conversation.

          1. OP #1*

            Right. I don’t think my friend wants to trudge up anything else. Nor do I want her (or him) to think that I’m fighting her battles for her, if that makes sense.

      1. Aurion*

        Very true. Like I said, I’ve heard it’s pretty nuclear. I think I’ve only heard of it as a tool for social relationships as well (you never know where your enemies will end up, but at least the burned bridge isn’t immediately in your face I guess).

        I think I prefer your method over the Freeze, if Slightly Cool and Cold don’t work.

      2. I'm a Little Teapot*

        That is an AWESOME idea.

        I would also quietly let others who were friendly with me know he was a sexual harasser if his name comes up, but not in a manner connected with the above (to preserve her privacy). Other people should know to be wary of him, and his reputation should suffer.

        1. RVA Cat*

          This. The creep is getting into Missing Stair territory.

          Ideally this shouldn’t just be a matter of warning off women – his reputation should suffer with men as well (but that isn’t the world we live in….).

          1. Hornswoggler*

            “his reputation should suffer with men as well”

            Hear, hear!!! I’ve mentioned the creepy ways of a fairly distinguished person in my profession to both men and women. The women always agree with me. The men say: “well, he’s never done anything like that to ME.” I say: “well, he’s never going to pinch YOUR bum, is he? Whereas he HAS pinched mine!”

            The responses can be dispiriting , though. “Ah yes, but I’ve learnt so much from him… he’s been a great mentor to me… etc. etc.” You get a bit browned off because you know you’re never going to get that imparted wisdom or mentoring yourself.

            1. RVA Cat*

              That’s the thing, a major part to stopping this (and rape culture in general) is for men to call out other men. Of course the creeps probably pull this crap when they’re alone with their victim, but I’m sure there are times they get drunk and brag to their friends about it. Sort of like people telling racist jokes in an all-white group, somebody needs to have the guts to speak up and say “dude, not cool.”

            2. SophieChotek*

              I agree. Other peers needs to call the person out/let the person know it is not acceptable.

              And the whole “well, he’s such a great mentor” or “such a great scholar” or “amazing visionary who lead the company” earns more forgiveness than someone who wasn’t so great–it’s “the way of the world” but so frustrating to hear about or experience.

            3. Narise*

              It would have been great if when the guy you were speaking to got up to leave you pinched his bum. And then act like nothing happened.

        2. Graciosa*

          How seriously do you think others will take this warning without details? I would be very wary of doing this in most cases.

          The natural human result to an accusation without any details is to wonder what the real story is. What would you expect the harasser to say when someone asks him about your accusations? This will most certainly happen.

          The harasser’s best option is to at least imply that you’re doing this out of misplaced vengeance, perhaps because he turned down your advances, or sabotaged a promotion, or uncovered poor work – anything will do.

          The only way to combat this is with details that are not yours to reveal.

          Now you have put yourself in the possession of starting a public fight with a prominent professional in your field which will appear to many to be based on unsubstantiated attacks on an innocent man. If you fight this out in public, you seriously damage your friend.

          Remember that Darcy did not run around sharing Wickham’s misdeeds with the world at large – the one who used that tactic was actually Wickham. I don’t recommend it myself.

          1. Roscoe*

            Exactly it. This is 2nd hand information here. If someone came up to me, unsolicited, and basically said “I heard at his last job, he did X”, I don’t know how much stock I’d put in it. This is not to say I don’t take a woman at her word about these things, but when it comes to second and third hand stories, I usually treat it just as gossip that I choose not to partake in.

            1. neverjaunty*

              And this is exactly why OP needs to be very careful – because people find discussions of harassment uncomfortable, and will find reasons to disbelieve it (either because there are not enough details to make it credible, or because there are too many details and thus it’s gossip) or to excuse the behavior (yeah, but he was punished, surely he’s learned his lesson).

              1. OP #1*

                Precisely; I don’t want to go around essentially being a gossip. It’s this fine line of knowledge/warning & gossip/drama.

                1. Bob, short for Kate*

                  One thing you could do is have a chat with a supervisor or HR. Give the bare bones of the situation and state that as far as you’re aware he’s not problematic now, however should there be any future complaints the previous history would be important in informing how they respond.

                  Hopefully this would reduce the ‘missing stair’ potential? I did something similar at a previous job when I got back from maternity leave to discover a harasser from 2 jobs ago sitting on the next floor. Fun times.

          2. Graciosa*

            Ouch – should be “position” of starting a public fight –

            Apparently my brain is still fuzzy enough to leap to not-quite homonyms –

        1. Karo*

          So glad I’m not the only one! I was definitely picturing greeting the guy with an axe and was trying to figure out how this would be better than the cut direct.

        2. Emily, admin extraordinaire*

          It’s easier to distinguish between the two if you use the correct spelling– it’s Lizzy in the book. (Although there was a You Tube adaptation of Pride and Prejudice a few years ago that used Lizzie instead, which has thoroughly confused an already-confused issue. The Lizzie Bennet Diaries is fabulous, though, and they had a good reason for it, so I forgive them).

    2. Roscoe*

      This just makes her look bad. Assuming this guy hasn’t met her, doing this socially will just seem odd. He would have no idea why this person is acting this way toward him, and so she just looks unprofessional.

      1. MK*

        I think this is effective when the reason for the coldness is common knowledge; if, say, there was an ongoing and public trial (or disciplinary procedure or something) about the matter, then a cut direct is used to make your position in the matter obvious. But if no one knows anything, at worst you look like a lunatic and at best you create a mystery with everyone wondering what on earth it is all about.

        1. Roscoe*

          Exactly. And she describes him as “well respected” so it would probably hurt her more than him, assuming its not common knowledge and she doesn’t plan on spreading that around.

        2. Stranger than fiction*

          Yeah, I’d maybe only warn a coworker if I were somewhat close to her and saw that she was working closely with this guy.

          1. neverjaunty*

            Which is not necessarily the worst option, but is exactly how harassers like this guy operate with impunity. They don’t really get called out in any meaningful way, and it gets left up to his past and potential victims to maintain a kind of covert network of dodging him.

            1. Stranger than fiction*

              I meant as opposed to her just coming out and warning everyone at once public announcement style.

      2. OP #1*

        OP here — I have actually met him and worked with him myself. Just haven’t seen him much since the incident happened.

    3. Elizabeth West*

      This won’t work if she has to work with him, however. If so, they’ll have to communicate at some point.

      I’d use cold and keep conversation not frosty, but completely neutral and professional. No tone of voice, no facial expressions. Be a robot.

  2. Mando Diao*

    OP1: This situation makes me furious because versions of it happen ALL THE TIME. This man’s bad behavior is protected, and women’s careers depend on being nice to him. When I’ve felt comfortable doing so, I’ve said, “Jane told me what you did to her, and I’m not going to pretend to be nice to you.” Who cares if he’s nasty back? You already know he isn’t a good person. Easier said than done, I’m aware.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Well, she might care because it might have an impact on her own career, which is a legitimate thing for her to be concerned about. That’s part of the reason this stuff is so insidious and awful.

      1. Mando Diao*

        That’s true, but for the sake of being supportive, I felt I should state that OP doesn’t need to feel pressured to be pleasant to this guy if she’s prepared for the way the situation might play out. This guy is used to women being nice to him. It’s fun being the odd woman who isn’t.

        1. Gaara*

          The risk, of course, is not just that he’ll be pissed and retaliate somehow — but that others will see her behaving unprofessionally at public events, and that will harm her professional reputation. It’s not just whether he’s nasty back.

      2. Jack the treacle eater*

        I just hate this so much. Over and again you see situations where someone is abused or bullied, and the bully is able to move on while the victim is left with the consequences. The fear of an effect on the victim’s career, the concern over an adequate reference and so on effectively just continues the abuse, and can have a devastating long term effect on the victim while the abuser is away scot free.

        I can’t put into words how utterly appaling and unacceptable the abuse of unequal power is.

        1. Merry and Bright*

          I was thinking just this. I’ve worked in a few places where the abuser would be “dealt with” by getting the sack. But normally it is the victim who has to deal with all kinds of consequences, not just the emotional and physical effects of the abuse. Why it is often such a low priority is a huge issue.

          1. OP #1*

            And because of his respectability in the field, and his position above her, some people have questioned HER, and what her actions were to “make him do this.” Like Jack said, it’s appalling and unacceptable.

        2. RVA Cat*

          Kind of reminds me of the pedophile priests getting passed around to different parishes while the church leadership covered it up.

        3. mazzy*

          I left a job quickly because of this once and leave it off my resume. Bully did whatever he wanted in terms of work content and how he interacted with people. He did some good work, so they protected him. I mentioned it in a round about way when I was leaving and of course they diminished the whole thing and I was being a drama queen. Obviously it was all in my head or I should have been more proactive about something.

      3. OP #1*

        Right. And my friend is very, very concerned about her career, and I don’t think she necessarily wants him to think that she’s telling “just anybody.”

    2. Artemesia*

      I came up during a time when this was routine. I have had a major figure in my field actually pull a car over when taking me back to the hotel at a conference after we had met to discuss research (or so I thought) and literally start ripping off my blouse and fondling me. I was 3 mos pregnant at the time and very much not ‘giving off signals’ that I wanted to have a one night stand with him — but that is what he said to excuse himself.

      This was the worst, but come ons, propositions, hints were commonplace. I think every male scholar in a position of authority over me (like major professor) and a fair number of my regular professors from Freshman year through the PhD put the moves on. Most of them were not creepy and did take no for an answer but one is always left wondering if every sign of interest is really physical and not intellectual and also if one’s grade or career will suffer from not going along with it.
      It never crossed any of our minds to complain about it because we knew that it was our careers not their that would suffer.

      Back in the day these people were protected even when they did the sort of thing that damaged the OP’s friend. I am really sorry to hear that it remains that way.

      1. Mando Diao*

        I’ve read pieces about how things in academia are finally starting to change. Women are growing more confident and are beginning to talk openly with each other about their experiences. I actually thought about this situation as I was writing my comment. I’m able to not care when jerks don’t like me, but I know that other people don’t have the particular energy that’s required to wear that kind of front.

      2. Engineer Girl*

        Agreed. Mine was different. My lead stalked me and actually bought a house and furnished it “for us”. I was terrified. My boyfriend had just been killed a the year before and I was still in deep mourning. There’s no way I was giving out signals. When I reported it to HR they asked me what I did to lead the guy on.
        There’s wasnt much to do but take the hit and move on. It took years for my career to recover but I did get there.
        The friend will get there too, especially with others supporting her.

        1. kt (lowercase)*

          Completely boggling at this. I’m so sorry this happened to you. How horrible and unfair.

        2. Temporary anon*

          It happens the other way around, too. Several (OK, many) years ago I was driving to my hometown, in the night, with a female colleague. About halfway I pulled over to stretch and smoke a cigarette. When I got back into the car she had unbuttoned her shirt, took my hand and placed it on her breast (the right one, I still remember – funny how irrelevant details stick in the memory for so long!).

          I jerked my hand back (kinda rude move, now that I think about it, but I was shocked); I think I mumbled something about me being married and one-woman-at-a-time kind of guy and took off, but boy! was the trip awkward and silent!

          1. I'm a Little Teapot*

            That wasn’t a rude move at all! Or, rather, the situation certainly warranted rudeness. Jerking your hand away was exactly the right thing to do; don’t feel bad about it.

          2. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

            That’s awful, and it sounds like you handled it very well.

            That being said, it’s awfully frustrating for a man to jump in to make this assertion (“It happens the other way around, too.”) when women are sharing about the harassment they’ve suffered. Nobody was arguing that all men are terrible, or that men are never harassed.

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              Hmmm. I didn’t think Temporary Anon had an agenda with that comment or was attempting to speak for men or anything like that. He’s welcome to share his experiences here; this is not the sort of space where that would be inappropriate.

              1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

                Fair enough. I’m aware that I’m hyper sensitive to gender dynamics, so I’m happy to be pushed back on.

                1. LBK*

                  Yeah, I’m with you in that my senses are heightened to phrases like “it happens to men too” because often they preface people discrediting or disregarding real issues that disproportionately affect women. In this case the rest of the comment doesn’t seem to coincide with that agenda, rather just sharing and commiserating about the creepy and crappy stuff people do sometimes.

            2. Elizabeth West*

              Wait wait wait wait….how is that frustrating?


              The same shit happened to him that happens to us. How is this any different from a male colleague grabbing your hand and putting it on his exposed penis? I know a dick isn’t a boob, but it’s the same dynamic.

              Nooooooo. Don’t make men feel they can’t speak up about this just because women are talking about it.

              1. neverjaunty*

                I don’t think Victoria meant that men need to STFU about being harassed; just that there is a common dynamic in these conversations (which Temporary Anon wasn’t indulging in) of trying to shut down the part of the discussion that specifically touches on the dynamic of male entitlement.

              2. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

                Ok, apparently we disagree on this. I accept Alison’s pushback, but I’m going to ask you to google and read “Derailing for Dummies,” specifically the section titled “But that Happens to Me Too!”)

                I would have responded a lot differently had Temporary Anon not begun with “It happens the other way too.” Nobody said it didn’t. Harassment happens. Mostly, by far, to women.

              3. PlainJane*

                Thank you – and thank you Alison – for taking this position. I get how derailing works, but there’s a difference between that and a good faith attempt to commiserate/share experiences. I welcome anyone who can sympathize/empathize on this issue, because they are more likely to be good allies.

          3. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

            You’re not alone, Temporary anon. I had some odd things happen over the years to me, as well, but I just shrugged them off. Then again, none of the women were in positions of authority over me, I just rejected things and moved forward. And kept my mouth shut except there was one incident which my boss saw – and reported it.

            I also was advised to start exuding “family man” more… to prevent these things from happening.

            1. Temporary Anon*

              OK, my words betrayed me.

              @Victoria Nonprofit (USA): I’m sorry I used words carelessly. It was a fraught subject, I should have been aware it was bound to push some buttons. No hidden agenda beyond “that’s what happened to me”

              @Alison: thank you. You read my comment in the spirit it was meant to have.

              @Elizabeth West, neverjaunty and LBK: thank you for giving me the benefit of the doubt and encouragement

              @I’m A Little Teapot: yeah, there was rudeness there. I was raised in the spirit of the Ole’ Chivalry Code, so being rude to anyone was… ya’know

              @The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2: yeah, the surprise came (also) from the fact that each time it happened, in that company I was The Family Man by excellence. I can’t explain.

              1. neverjaunty*

                There are some very unpleasant people who see “happily married” as an exciting challenge to overcome. I’m sorry you had to deal with this.

        3. LBK*

          My lead stalked me and actually bought a house and furnished it “for us”.

          Wooooow. I thought stuff like that only happened in Jessica Jones.

        4. OP #1*

          I’m so sorry that happened to you. It must’ve taken a lot of strength to keep staying in the career. My friend has been struggling, for sure, but I think she’s finally seeing how many of us are looking out for her and want her to succeed.

      3. BTownGirl*

        Oh, remain it does. A few years ago, a coworker returned from a client lunch rather drunk and grabbed my breast in the office kitchen. I didn’t even bother complaining, because this waste of space was the company’s top producer for the entire country and remained employed even after numerous people had complained about him shouting and swearing at them. All I could do was shake my head and hand in my notice the next day. I came up with some very evasive answers to “so why did you leave your last job?”, believe me.

        1. T3k*

          He got off lucky. If someone grabbed my breast, drunk or not, they’d be bent in half. “Oops, my elbow just slipped and hit your stomach…”

          1. Delurking For This*

            Can we not tell people who were sexually violated (hell, I’d argue assaulted) how you would have dealt with the situation?

            1. neverjaunty*

              THANK YOU. It’s ridiculous, unhelpful and is just a way of elbowing the person out of the way to tell them how we would have handled it totes better (so that, of course, we don’t need to feel powerless or scared that it might happen to use; WE would be all over that).

              1. whatthehey*

                That’s right – it is a variety of victim-blaming to make the speaker feel better at the victim’s expense.

            2. One of the Sarahs*

              +1. I always believed in the “fight or flight” mechanism until I was in situations where I just froze in shock, because things are so unexpected and left-field and, well SHOCKING! It doesn’t help people to frame fighting back as the natural, instinctive response, because it just isn’t for a lot of people.

              1. Mallory Janis Ian*

                Yeah, freezing is the more common natural response. I can’t remember whether I read it in a comment here or heard it on NPR, but the training that first responders get is to overcome the natural tendency to freeze and to replace that with certain specific actions according to the situation.

            3. whatthehey*

              Exactly. And IRL the boob-grabber would report YOU for (unprovoked assault), and it would be your word against his, so there goes that tactic.

          2. Gallerina*

            I thought this too – until it happened to me and I was so frozen in shock and horror that i couldn’t do anything :(

            1. Nerdling*

              Yep. Fight, flight, or freeze. I’m a freezer. I talk a good game, but my follow-through is lacking.

            2. Katie F*

              The one time something similar happened to me, I kneed the guy in the groin and I seriously have no memory of doing so. It’s weird how our brains just short out in different ways. He complained that i “assaulted” him, I had an eyewitness who backed me up (Gropey McGropeface hadn’t realized we weren’t alone in the break room)… and HR’s response was to give him a verbal warning and assign him to a different department and tell me that “violence isn’t acceptable in the workplace.”

              1. neverjaunty*

                Because grabbing someone sexually isn’t ‘violence’? Sure, clueless HR department, sure it’s not.

            3. BTownGirl*

              Same here – I was literally just standing there dumbfounded. This may be literally the one time in recorded history I was at a loss for words!

          3. BTownGirl*

            I’m not taking any offense to this at all – I believe it’s meant to be supportive and express how horrified you are! I totally did the freeze-in-shock and one of my few regrets in life is that my knee didn’t “accidentally” connect with his…well, you get where I’m going.

      4. Gallerina*

        Unfortunate this still happens. In my first job after graduating in 2009, my boss used to “accidentally” touch my chest all the time in the office. It got so bad that I used to hide whenever he was around, because he made me to scared and uncomfortable. To add insult to injury, he then laid me off, as opposed to the male coworker who had just lost the company an enormous amount of money.

        1. Artemesia*

          Long long ago my late mother was a young office nurse One of the partner physicians pushed 97 pound her up against the wall for a grope and actually cracked one of her ribs. Luckily another partner made it clear to him that it wasn’t to happen again — but the idea of some sort of legal consequence? not in those days at all.

          The point about the ‘top producer’ being given a pass is VERY common even today in academia. The famous scholar can (and sometimes does) act like a complete pig towards female colleagues and grad students.

          1. SophieChotek*

            Happened to me to some degree, though not as awful as I’ve heard others. More mild, but still frustrating.

      5. Foxtrot*

        Wow, all of these comments make me feel really luck about what I’ve been through. The worst I’ve ever had as a female engineer is not being invited to lunch because the rest of the all male team didn’t want to temper their language around me. I really hope I don’t have to go through some of these situations. I’m sorry about what happened to everyone. :(

        1. Christopher Tracy*

          Same here, Foxtrot. I’m reading these comments and feel awful for the people who’ve had to deal with this, and am alarmed with the seeming frequency that these things occur. I’ve worked in some effed up places, and even I’ve never witnessed anything this disturbing.

        2. Aurion*

          It’s the rare woman who hasn’t been harrassed or creeped upon to some degree, and that’s really, really sad.

      6. Navy Vet*

        I was sexually harassed by a client via phone for 8 months at my last job. I didn’t report it because I was terrified if I did I would be fired.

        The guy never once met me in person, he looked me up on facebook, decided I was hot, and proceded to say lewd and disgusting things on the phone to me. During business hours. On my office phone. Sometimes I had the most religious person standing next to me while I was trying to “politely” disengage from the conversation. When shut down, he would say “awww, you’re no fun” I would respond “No, I’m a professional”

        It did zero good. And when I finally reported it to my boss because I couldn’t shut it down myself. He told me he would call him and yell at him. Which made me freak out and tell him to nevermind.

        The best part is….4 months later I found myself on a PIP, and one feedback item was for me to be less friendly (God forbid I not be a miserable bitch all the time like the other PM was), because I can “come across as friendly, cool and easy going, and that’s when things happen like what happened to you last summer happen.” I was floored. Absolutely floored. I even asked if I came across as flirty because I don’t want to send that vibe….and I was told that nope, I don’t come across as flirty at all. But men are gross…and as a Navy vet I should know that, and become an angry bitch face because I need to change who I am to keep skeezy men from saying disgusting shit to me on the phone. Because clearly if a man thinks a woman is “hot”, he is completely within his right to say whatever he wants to her…because he’s the man…and she’s hot? Sorry….I don’t follow the logic here at all.

        I’m not angry at all about this still……

      7. OP #1*

        I’m very, very sorry that it was so routine for you. I can’t really quite imagine it, since this is my first time really digging into the weeds with this. Thank you for sharing your story.

    3. Another Employment Lawyer*

      I’m not the person who normally posts here as Employment Lawyer but I also practice employment law. Please keep in mind that there are degrees of sexual harassment and that there is a continuum of approaches that are appropriate in response to complaints. Obviously a physical assault is different than a comment. A physical assault should always be a terminable offense. In other circumstances thought, the person who reported the sexual harassment will not know what consequence was given to the alleged offender. Good employers keep disciplinary matters confidential.

      Generally, if a formerly good employee is reported for saying or doing something inappropriate that doesn’t rise to the level of physical assault, the employer is going to sit the offender down, tell them this is their one warning, that all such behavior must stop, it is written in their personnel file, and if they get one more complaint they are canned. They then have the opportunity to behave properly again. The employer should make sure the one who complained has the opportunity to not work with this person going forward (separate teams, supervisory chains, what have you) unless they prefer to continue working together (plum assignment, don’t punish the complainant by taking her off the assignment and if the offender is a rainmaker, the assignment might leave if the offender leaves so oftentimes the complainant doesn’t want that either.) The complaint should also be investigated to make sure it is founded and the employer should make sure that the offender hasn’t been doing/saying similar things to people who didn’t complain.

      This is employment law 101. Someone doesn’t get fired over a first complaint of non-assaultive sexual harassment.

      Now, given the way OP describes her friend’s response to the sexual harassment, it sounds like it might not have been a minor incident. But, people react differently to different things and I have seen people go through years of therapy for a couple lewd comments.

      OP should be looking at the result. After her friend complained, did the behavior stop? Surprisingly, this actually happens about 70% of the time. People don’t want to lose their jobs and often don’t realize (though they should realize) when they crossed a line. Some feel like their employer wouldn’t care and are shocked to realize the employer does care. Getting written up is enough for a lot of people.

      If the behavior didn’t stop, that is a much bigger problem and OP’s friend could bring a legal case against her employer. Then, the behavior wouldn’t be a secret anymore. As to OP, you don’t have to like him. But if he hasn’t been terminated and there haven’t been new complaints, I would remain civilly professional to him. When people are written up but still allowed to work, the rest of the employees have to find a way to continue working with this person so long as his behavior is reformed.

      And this is why companies should have really clear policies and encourage employees to report so that behavior can be dealt with at the first instance before it leads to bigger damage.

      1. Roscoe*

        This is a really good write up. I was thinking along those lines of “What did he do” , since as you said sexual harassment covers a wide range of things. Also did he stop after the punishment? Those things do make a big difference to me.

        I once got in trouble at a job for harassment (not sexual), It was BS in my opinion, but after the write up, I was careful to not do anythign that could be perceived that way again. I would really hate for someone at another job to bring this up later

        1. neverjaunty*

          I get that in your situation, the complaint may well have been BS. But you do understand, I hope, that lots of people who do actually harass others – including sexual harassment, including serious sexual harassment – believe that the complaint against them was “BS” and that nobody has a right to mention it again.

          OP is entitled to decide she doesn’t like this guy and doesn’t want to deal with him any more than is necessary, regardless of the severity of his conduct, regardless of whether he learned his lesson. Nobody is entitled to have everyone do a mental take-backsies if they’ve been an ass.

          1. Roscoe*

            No, but as Another Employment Laywer mentions, You assume he learned his lesson and if he says anything inappropriate to you, you report it. You don’t just go around telling people information you heard.

            1. neverjaunty*

              Well, wait, first you were saying ‘don’t go around talking about it because maybe it’s BS’. Now you’re saying that even if it’s not BS, it’s not okay to talk about it because you ‘assume he learned his lesson’?

              Another Employment Lawyer is talking about how to deal with this dude going forward in her professional circles. ‘Remain civilly professional, you don’t have to like him, but if you have to work with him, take no further action unless you have reason to believe the behavior continues’ is fine. That’s not what you’re advocating.

              1. Roscoe*

                Ok. Stop putting words in my mouth. I never said its BS. I said I wouldn’t advise telling people this because its something you heard 2nd hand. That doesn’t mean its not true, nor did I say that. In general, yes, I do think its best to assume he learned his lesson and not raise it unless something happens. That is what I believe to be true. I never said pretend it didn’t happen or go to lunch with the guy though. You are reading this and assuming a lot that I didn’t say.

        2. OP #1*

          Just speaking as a woman who has felt deeply uncomfortable because of men’s actions, and speaking as a friend to the victim, I highly, highly encourage you to not assess a situation thinking “what did he actually do and was it actually that bad?” It is not your place to judge just “how bad” it was. Victims have a range of responses, and they are entitled to them.

          1. Roscoe*

            Sure. But my main thing is that sexual harassment is a very wide umbrella from telling riske jokes to cornering someone. So my point was that what he did would have an impact on what I would think if I was told this, especially told it second hand. I’m not trying to invalidate someone’s feelings at all, but I am saying all instances of sexual harassment aren’t the same.

      2. irritable vowel*

        Thanks for this. I was a little taken aback to see some of the other comments above advocating for the OP to warn her coworkers about this person’s “reputation.” I don’t think that’s her responsibility, and honestly doesn’t rise above unprofessional gossip. I in no way excuse any incident of sexual harassment, but the harasser has been punished, and should be given the opportunity to move on. As Another Employment Lawyer said, if the incident was serious enough that a legal case had been pursued, then that would be a matter of public record and I wouldn’t have the same qualms about it being shared (both because of the public record and the seriousness of the incident).

        1. neverjaunty*

          I’m not sure why you put “reputation” in quotes. OP #1 isn’t talking about passing on something she overheard; she’s talking about somebody who she directly knows to have behaved badly toward her friend. Whether and to what extent she should disclose this is a separate issue from treating this as malicious gossip.

          And actually, yes, when you focus on the harasser’s well-being and how important it is to let him ‘move on’ – along with judging the serious of his conduct by whether or not OP’s friend filed a lawsuit – is minimizing harassment. Sometimes, being a jerk means that you have social consequences for your jerkdom that don’t get magically wiped away because there were formal actions taken. OP #1 is not obligated to like or trust this fellow, or pretend that nothing ever happened.

          1. Roscoe*

            Its still 2nd hand though, which is the problem. Unless i’m missing something, she didn’t witness it, she heard her friends version of it. And I’m not saying that to imply lying, but its still colored by a certain perspective. Think about how people talk about their exes in a breakup. You are passing on information that you heard from someone, even if that person was involved. So while I agree that there are social consequences, to me it would mean more if the person who was harassed brought it up, as opposed to someone else who just heard about it.

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              I think that’s fine as long as you apply that standard to other issues too — like if you wouldn’t pass on secondhand info about someone being fired for setting his office on fire, or a boss being known to be a jerk, or so forth.

              Often it ends up seeming like it’s just harassers who deserve this protection, which is a big problem.

              1. neverjaunty*

                Exactly. If OP’s letter were “this guy stole my friend’s entire project and took credit for it”, I doubt we’d be seeing the same worries about OP’s information being second hand or that she should forget all about it if the guy suffered consequences in the workplace. (Also, wow, comparing harassment to a romantic breakup? I repeat: wow.)

                More to the point, OP isn’t asking how she can ruin this guy’s life or run him out of town; she’s asking how she, personally, ought to deal with him, since she knows he’s a jerk and finds him loathsome, but wants to know the best way to remain professional given the circumstances.

                1. Roscoe*

                  Yes, I compared it to breakup. Since it seems to need more clarification, here is why. The last girl I broke up with, we were both a part of the same conversation. However when I tell my friends what happened and she tells her friends what happened, its likely to be told in different ways. Neither person is lying, but you are telling it from your POV with your emotions in there. So no matter how nice I thought I was, to her I came off like a jerk. I’m sure when she told her friends, I came off like a jerk. Its hard to recall a story that you are involved in with none of your emotions clouding it. So being that her friend was the victim here, its likely not going to be told in a neutral tone about what happened. If this was brought up to the guy, its likely he wouldn’t tell it in a neutral tone about what happened. Now they could both be saying factually the same thing. However it could come off very different.

              2. OP #1*

                Agreed. Thanks for chiming in. I don’t see this as the same as people talking badly about exes, or how as neverjaunty said below that it’s about stealing credit. I’ve had all of those situations before. I know this is different.

              3. Roscoe*

                True. But yes, I would pass this on to other situations. If someone told me that their boss was a jerk, but I didn’t ever witness it, I wouldn’t go around telling people he is a jerk.

            2. leslie knope*

              why would she not believe her friend? you seem to be very invested in painting the person as a liar when there’s no indication that that’s the case, and it’s not helpful to the OP.

              1. Roscoe*

                When did I say someone lied. I never said that. I said that its 2nd hand information. That doesn’t mean its lying. It means that the person writing in didn’t witness this first hand so that is something to take into consideration if you are planning on discussing this with others.

                1. Roscoe*

                  Since you are having a hard time comprehend it, let me make it clear. She can believe her friend. Her friend can be telling the truth. However, if she tells another person, she is still telling 2nd hand information, likely doing some editorializing as opposed to just stating facts. To many people, it becomes like the telephone game. So Im saying that IF she decides to tell other people to take that into consideration. Because its possible she will come off looking bad and like a gossip. That is all. No one is accusing anyone of lying. No one is saying someone shouldn’t trust their friend.

        2. OP #1*

          I think that one thing you are missing here is that reporting sexual harassment isn’t as easy for everyone as you might imagine it is, and that it is especially NOT easy for the victim to go as far as a public legal case. She didn’t want to deal with the consequences of being under public scrutiny, especially for reporting someone with power.

        3. leslie knope*

          people like that do not get to “move on.” they are not the victim in this situation. it’s perfectly reasonable to want to warn people about someone like this, and to not want to associate with him as best as you can in a professional environment. all these comments to the contrary are appalling.

        4. kalli*

          If it was serious enough to get to the point where a case was made public record, it could still have been anonymised to protect OP’s friend because of the nature of her assault. The OP’s friend may have chosen to settle, or not pursue, because she didn’t want everyone to know about what had happened, or couldn’t go through proceedings. There’s no guarantee that anything that meets a rather arbitrary threshold of “serious enough” would therefore be public record.

      3. i'm anon*

        “People don’t want to lose their jobs and often don’t realize (though they should realize) when they crossed a line”… I don’t think that’s accurate. I think they do know they have crossed the line, but are testing what they can get away with without consequences. Once they know they can’t get away scot-free, and their target will speak up and object to the bad treatment, they stop because they don’t want to harass the target more than they want to keep their jobs.

        1. Another Employment Lawyer*

          Agreed and you said it better than me. My point was that the behavior sometimes stops when the boss intervenes.

      4. OP #1*

        Thank you for the thoughtful write up with your background. The complaint was investigated, and founded. He was under contract, and he was allowed to stay in the contract until the end but it was not renewed. He was also banned from the premises and events. My friend did not want to bring a larger case against him, because it would be so public. Lastly, one of the biggest takeaways is that the department finally put a sexual harassment policy in place and a code of conduct, which it did not have before.

        1. MayravB*

          I’m sorry for your friend, and glad to hear, at least, that his behaviour was believed and that he faced some consequences.

  3. neverjaunty*

    LW #1, you may also want to talk to your friend to see how comfortable she is with disclosure. If you’re chilly to this dude (as is entirely right and proper), it may well be that somebody asks you why, or might ask to confirm rumors of his behavior. So you will want to know if your friend is OK with your passing on the reasons you dislike him. If she isn’t, then you can come up with a polite fiction or a vague answer. It would be pretty awkward to say “because he harassed a close friend of mine at work” if she would be deeply embarrassed by having that get out.

    I say this as somebody who thinks everyone should know about and shun this loser, but your friend’s comfort level is way more important here.

    1. Dorth Vader*

      Cosigned. A (female) professor of mine once sexually assaulted my (male) friend, who was her research assistant and depended on her credits in order to graduate. When I found out I went nuclear on our professor-student relationship and totally froze her out. My friends wanted to know why, especially since I’d been very close with this professor before, but my friend didn’t want me to disclose so they all still are close with her. As far as I know, my friend never went to any higher-ups at the university and she still teaches there.
      So, OP, do find out your friend’s comfort level with disclosure. The rumor mill at her old company may go into overdrive and figure out or assume that you are referring to her. (I say old company assuming she no longer works there; if she still does I would NOT DISCLOSE AT ALL, even if you don’t use her name, for the rumor mill reason and you don’t want to inadvertently hurt her career.)
      I send healing and love to your friend, who made a difficult choice in a terrible situation.

    2. anon for this*

      Yes, definitely talk to your friend about this.

      In college, I was in and later ran a support group for survivors of sexual assault. One of the hardest things about that is that I couldn’t let on that I knew anything to people outside of the group. Confidentiality was a huge deal. I found out about several dozen rapists on campus, two of whom had been in my friend group. I became master of the slow-fade out of that group, quietly becoming too busy. But several of my other friends did note that sometimes, I avoided particular people/acquaintances who also avoided me. They later told me that, because of my position on campus, they just assumed these people had assaulted someone. Apparently, I was not as subtle as I aimed to me. My very public role also caused rapists to avoid me in not so subtle ways.

      The one exception to the confidentiality was a serial rapist who the college failed to punish. Three of his victims advocated going nuclear. They had gone to the police. The cops had arrested the guy (charges were dismissed after the guy’s rich dad got a very fancy lawyer). There was no secret, and the guy faced no consequences other than the public shunning by people.

    3. Bwmn*

      I think that this is so important.

      Thinking to the letter just from last yesterday about Aiden and Miranda – while the LW’s friend now is still going through a lot, it may well be that in 2/5/10 years this incident isn’t as prominent in her life and wouldn’t want this information to be widespread. For better or worse and depending on the industry, she may have concerns about how this might impact her reputation.

      At one point, I had a very straight forward stranger coming up from behind and groped me. Thankfully after a very brief struggle he ran away, but I was left needing stitches in one finger. Where I worked at the time, I did feel comfortable telling my boss and some people (without asking for privacy and knowing that the entire office would know). This was a nonprofit with a strong feminist and human rights orientation, and I was surprised how many female coworkers I had coming up to me privately saying how brave I was to have let people know and then sharing their own stories that they clearly struggled to share.

      The unfortunately reality is that these situations still bring great shame and judgement- and without expressed consent, I would never assume what someone wanted shared.

    4. Lora*

      But you don’t have to say, “he harassed My Friend,” you can just say, “that guy is a gross perv,” and leave it at that.

      In terms of career moves: in academia, the guy has a rival. In industry and government, there’s someone else who is also famous and well-respected and hopefully not a perv. Make friends with them if you can – go to conferences, network, etc. Even in industry, there’s rivalries and alliances you can make use of, and nobody will ask why you’re not friends with John Pervert if they know you are friends with Amy Awesome – they will assume it’s more a professional thing between two famous people, and that your disagreement is some esoteric thing about whether widget 1 has more Higgs Bosons than muons or whatever.

      1. neverjaunty*

        What do you mean, he’s a gross perv? What did he do? How do you know that?

        Somebody who says “he’s a gross perv” and then refuses to provide any details is going to get a weird look – especially if the harasser is professional well-connected and charming (as creepers often are). How much to divulge about why he’s a gross perv is something OP should probably run by her friend first.

        1. Lora*

          That’s what I get for working in a notoriously sexist industry, I guess – the very few women in my industry (STEM) try to band together and there’s a “ah, OK, say no more” nod. Then again, no woman (and most men) in this industry never wonder *why* a woman might be frosty to a man: either it doesn’t come up because she is considered a nonentity who might as well be a piece of furniture or a potted plant, or everyone instantly assumes that he has harassed her and/or numerous others.

          I can see how in industries where sexism and harassment is less prevalent though, it might be different.

          1. neverjaunty*

            I’m also in a very male-dominated field. As you likely also know from experience, you don’t always get the option of treating a professional colleague or a superior like a potted plant, and the fact that a handful of women dislike a particular dude often has little to no professional impact on him – but may well harm their careers.

      2. Elizabeth West*

        If you say “gross perv,” I’m going to wonder how many years you spent in middle school. I would stay away from that sort of language in a professional setting.

      3. Bwmn*

        Depending on the nature of the industry and how close knit it is – I think that honestly you do risk opening yourself up to gossip as well as people asking you questions. And then if your only response is “he’s a gross perv” – you may inadvertently out your friend or even allude to him having harassed you.

        Someone I used to work with was well perceived in the office as being questionable with some of the more junior women in the office. Later I learned that he definitely did cross some lines with women I work with. Were I to work with him again, I could easily see a situation with new coworkers seeing some of his flirtier style and then asking me “did he ever actually cross lines/sexually harass someone” or “he seems awfully close to junior colleague/vendor – is that what he typically does?”

        This is why I think asking the friend is so important. If you’re noticed being frosty and that is asked by anyone – knowing how your friend would appreciate you to respond is critical. Let the friend gain some control of the situation in how it would make her feel best.

        I know with my former coworker, she wouldn’t want me to in any way indicate that I know of his behavior. She’s still concerned that her reputation might be muddied in a way of “you only got the job because Gross Manager likes to promote pretty young women”. I can be neutrally cautious, but on behalf of my friend – calling him out would hurt her feelings even if her concerns are unwarranted.

    5. OP #1*

      Yes, good advice. Her and I have spoken a great deal about it, and disclosure. She has told people she feels comfortable telling, and is honestly I think still struggling with how much she wants other people to know and how much she wants more privacy about it. I’m taking her lead on all of it. He doesn’t know I know, and some of the people I’ll be working with do know while others don’t.

  4. Brett*

    #2 I would wonder if it is reasonable to simply lock the supervisors out of each other’s reports and metrics. As the manager of the entire center, the OP has perfectly good reason to access everything, but maybe the individual managers should only access info relevant to their own shifts. The advice of just telling them to knock it off still is better, but the compartmentalization would keep the supervisors from trying to nitpick each other’s shifts.

    1. Aurion*

      The way I read the post, all workers rotate through all the shifts, so perhaps the supervisors were trying to gauge changes in performance by comparing the stats from the same person through the various shifts? I could see that being a legit use of the stats, though the obsessive supervision would still grate.

      1. Joe*

        All workers do rotate through all shifts and in a 9 day work rotation (4 on 5 off) an employee may have 4 different supervisors. Being emergency ops, the core function is to save lives with rapid correct response. This hindsight supervision is annoying to me as I’m cc’d every time it happens, but the front line staff feel denigrated when their errors are constantly being pointed out. If these two crossed the line into bullying, it would be easier, but they are quite careful in that regard.
        If I was their full time manager, I wouldn’t hesitate to order the practice to cease, but I am only in the role temporarily.
        [great site by the way – getting some interesting insight]

    2. Joseph*

      I don’t think that’s the way to go. The immediate issue is comparison of info between shifts, but the real root cause here is that these competitive managers are incorrectly thinking that pointing out the flaws of others (regardless of importance) is the way to get ahead and look good. So locking them out of others’ reports and metrics might solve the immediate issue, but I’d expect they’d find some other avenue to continue the same behavior.

      This is one of those situations where addressing it head-on with a conversation is worth it, just to make sure they get the message – which isn’t about reports/metrics per se, but more about “Do your job; don’t worry about what Tom and Jerry are doing on their shifts”.

      1. Artemesia*

        I was sort of surprised that the OP ran the joint. It read like that of an employee witnessing this who was powerless to do anything about it but being bugged by it. If s/he manages this place then ‘knock it off’ said pretty much as clearly as that not sugar coated at all is the way to go. (said with a kind of ‘give me a break’ tone of voice) There are times to be tactful; this isn’t one of them.

      2. Stranger than fiction*

        And don’t waste time on nonsense. That’s super legit for Op to bring up.

      3. Joe*

        You’ve hit the nail on the head about the behaviour. As the temporary manager who is normally one of their colleagues, I have to be very careful about use of authority to quell this behavior . There is no separation of data and it would hinder the operation if it were that way. Hence my reason for looking for a policy method as it would speak to the behaviour in general.

        1. Brett*

          Think of yourself like an acting commander. When a battalion chief or police chief is out of region, their deputy is the acting commander in that role. They still operate with the full authority of their commander as needed while in that role.
          You are probably in this temporary role for far longer than an acting commander would normally be. You can use your temporary authority.
          If you really have doubts, most emergency communications centers have a chain of command to them. You could always validate your actions with your immediate commander (but still be the actual person taking the action, don’t leave it up to your command).

  5. Molly*

    I see resumes for the situation in number 5, the CNA, all the time. As a hiring manager I realize you are a new grad from CNA or phlebotomy school or whatever certification. Since you have no history in that position I am looking for what other skills you bring to the table. Your other work history sets you apart from other new grads and can tell me you are a responsible adult. CNA skills can be taught.

    BTW I hire nurses too and CNA and healthcare admin work are great to see on a resume.

    1. Artemesia*

      This. Work experience and maturity are valuable even when the work is not relevant to the task at hand. And of course many things transfer.

    2. MK*

      I am dubious about “what else you bring to the table”. If we are talking about some general skill, like attention to detail or being good with customers, great. But sometimes employers are looking at it as a ” two for the price of one” thing; the candidate however probably did not make the expensive and risky decision to change careers, only to be saddled with the same work they did before, even part time.

      1. Jack the treacle eater*

        Sometimes they might, though it won’t be expressed in the ad unless the vacancy is actually for a mixed role; and looking for a CNA who can also do marketing is pretty unlikely. It’s not a reason not to highlight your transferable skills, either. You have a job desciption and person specification in the vacancy; you complete your application as best you can to show your suitability for the role, drawing on whatever skills and aptitudes you’ve demonstrated in the past, surely?

        1. Chloe Silverado*

          I’m in marketing, and I’ve actually seen many healthcare marketing job ads that list education/experience in nursing as a must have. I don’t think many employers would do a total bait and switch and hire the OP as a nurse but saddle her entirely with marketing duties, however I’ve noticed (from the outside) that the healthcare industry seems to value medical experience for in-house marketing roles.

          1. themmases*

            That is going the other way, though. Many non-clinical roles in health care like to see nursing or other clinical qualifications. They help you communicate with clinicians and just generally know what you’re talking about.

            Only a nurse moving into leadership and away from clinical duties and into leadership would end up needing the marketing experience as marketing experience again. It really just shows that you had a career and responsibility before, and most units don’t need their own marketing done. You won’t end up doing marketing by accident as a nurse.

            You could end up doing coding, scheduling, and chart documentation by accident– not necessarily as the official person, but as the expert in your unit and then before you know it you’re back at a desk. That is more the category of work that I wouldn’t hide, but would only advertise if I were willing to get known for it.

      2. LBK*

        Hmm, I can see what you’re saying but I think most employers do genuinely want to hire for the role they have open because that’s the set of tasks they need covered. If I’m hiring for a nurse, it’s because I need another nurse, not because what I really need is an accountant but I’m pretending to hire a nurse and just hoping one comes along with an accounting background that I can dupe into taking the role.

        1. LQ*

          Especially with things like nursing. You might hope one comes along with a background that would mean they’d be good at other things. Like an accountant you might assume that they’d be very good at charting. Or someone who was in marketing might be someone who would want to be involved in being the nurse on the committee to promote some shiny new tech that they got in. But if I wanted an accountant I’d hire an accountant, it would be so against my own best interest if I duped someone into it, they’d be unhappy, might be out of practice, might hate the work, might have been bad at the work. And it isn’t like there aren’t accountants (or marketing people…).

          1. LBK*

            Yeah, and unless this is a very, very small company where people might be expected to wear an odd assortment of hats, I can’t even imagine how that would work. Presumably the person who hires nurses isn’t the same person that runs the accounting department, so they’d neither know nor care if the accounting department is short staffed. I can only really see it working if you’re hired with the understanding that you won’t be expected to do certain tasks that could naturally be part of your role, and then you end up having to do those things anyway once you start.

            1. LQ*

              My relatives in nursing aren’t in giant hospitals. (Well one is.) But the none of them have any interaction at all with the accounting or other departments. My sister did a brief thing where she was asked to sit in on a committee for a release of a bunch of new equipment, mostly because she does a lot of science things with her kids and they were thinking about an outreach activity like that and she (like me) gets super excited about cool new stuff like that. It was like 2 meetings and it likely won’t happen again for a very long time. (Also? Surgical robots? Very cool.) This is nursing. The most likely “bait and switch” is hiring for ER and working in ICU or whatever the unloved department is in that location because they keep loosing people in one department over the other. It seems like a giant stretch for someone to hire a nurse hoping for a marketing person.

              1. LBK*

                Yep, exactly. In terms of the multiple hats thing I can’t think of a scenario that would be applicable for a nurse – I was thinking more of, say, a startup, where there’s only 5 people in the whole company so you might be the customer service department, the sales department and the billing department all unto yourself.

              2. Emilia Bedelia*

                This is off topic, but my job is literally working with robotically assisted surgical systems and can confirm, they are very cool and I’m glad other people think so :)

    3. Jack the treacle eater*

      Yes, this is what I was thinking. Rather than gloss over the marketing career, highlight the relevant transferable skills (and obviously don’t fill the CV with things that aren’t relevant)

    4. hr newbie*

      I hire home health aides/CNA’s all day, and if you’ve got a brand new certificate I definitely want to see your past work history, even if it’s unrelated. It still shows at the very least, an ability to hold down a stead job.

      1. Artemesia*

        This. I was thinking of things that go with experience and maturity, like not melting down when there are problems, reliability, ability to organize work, even some management skills.

    5. LW #5*

      Hi, everyone. I am OP #5 and thank you so much for your responses! I do definitely see how having my past work experience there can show other working skills I have. Unfortunately because I was working in a career I didn’t love, I have a little bit of job hopping going on because I was really trying to find a good fit somewhere before fully understanding that I wanted to make a change, so I’d also have to explain that. I still have great references and a good track record everywhere I worked. My current interviewers asked me about that when I got my job last year, and I was just honest and told them I was making this change because I was unhappy and it shows in my job history.

      I’ll list my past experience under “Other Experience” and try to highlight a few skills that are transferable, like my writing and communication skills (not the usual attention to detail type of thing!). Thanks again, everyone! I’m headed to work but will stop in again later to see if there’s any more awesome advice from you folks!

      1. Patsy Stone*

        Not really any additional advice that I can add, just wanted to share this with you! I’ve also made a massive career change, from twenty years working in tourism management to nursing. I’m almost finished my diploma now as a Registered Practical Nurse (I’m in Canada, so I think it equates to an LPN in the USA), and will be heading back to school next year to complete my degree to become an RN. Like you, I have a lot of experience on my resume that I wasn’t sure how to highlight now that I’ve made the switch. I’ve worked in a lot of different areas…as an overland tour leader in Africa, for the London 2012 Olympics, for an adventure travel company in the UK, in resort and luxury hotels in BC and Toronto (both at the hotel level and at their corporate offices). I knew that I had a lot of transferrable “people” skills, but I really couldn’t think how anything else would be directly relevant to nursing.

        Last summer I applied for and got offered a highly competitive clinical extern student nurse position, and then this summer was placed in ER (my first choice, and also highly competitive – they only have one spot they give) for my final consolidation. For both positions I was told that I earned them directly because of my background, experiences and skills I brought with me from tourism management…not just the people skills, but things like being flexible, adaptable, a creative problem-solver, calm under pressure, able to pick up new technologies and procedures quickly, etc. Everybody in nursing school gets the same education and skill set, so what set me apart was my previous experiences. Don’t underestimate how useful your previous background will be in nursing, and what doors it may open for you! Good luck with your new career!

        1. LW #5*

          Patsy Stone, thank you so much! This is awesome to hear and very encouraging and I will take it into account as I move into more clinical interviews. Good luck in your continuing education, and congrats on your success!

  6. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

    #4 – Was the PIP legitimate? I mean, sometimes they’re set up in a bogus fashion as a “purpose pitch”, to get rid of you, rather than addressing performance situations. The same is done with reviews/evaluations.

    If it was legitimate, and you’ve hit all the facets that had to be addressed, that’s good for you. And only you can assess whether it’s morally right to help them through their jam.

    But – it sounds like they’re lifting the hammer, and asking for help, because they got into trouble. As you say, some resigned, some are going on vacation.

    This is complex –

    1) You want to leave on good terms – in a state of peace – so as to be able to use them as a reference. But as others have pointed out, will they give you one?

    2) They’ve put themselves in a mess. Keep in mind, they may have been chasing you out the door — again, I don’t know this – but if they were – you owe them nothing. They can call people back from vacation. Although it’s not right – they may have to.

    3) It is very important to “hit the reset button” – make a mental and emotional break from the current company – and get a mental, physical, and emotional rest as well before starting your new job. You don’t want to be exhausted on day 1 at your new situation.

    I can’t tell you what I’d do – but I can advise on what to consider.

    1. OP 4*

      OP#4 aspects of the PIP were legitimate, but some of the things I was being dinged for we’re not and it seemed like they we’re fishing for things to put on my record. For example, the weekend work I was referencing involved me doing an assignment instead of making one of our junior team members do it, because she has a lower billing rate. I was told that was bad judgement. The assignment was quick and the difference in $ billed would be negligible. I think I would have come off the PIP but who wants to work in this situation. I don’t particularly need a good reference. I have coworkers who see what is going on and will give me good references. Honestly, I’m burnt out and I think if I suck so much at my job, they should be happy to let me go. It’s not my fault they’re understaffed. Maybe they should have used better judgement and not allowed everyone to take PTO.

      1. Gaara*

        I would just say no, sorry, you can’t do it. You don’t owe it to them, and it sounds like you won’t get anything out of it that you particularly want.

        I’m biased because it sounds like a dysfunctional law firm, and I’m tired of employees bending over backwards for dysfunctional law firms they work at, but that’s my 2 cents.

          1. Christopher Tracy*

            Very similar from my experience and the experience of some of my associates in PR.

          2. Christopher Tracy*

            Very similar from my experience in law and the experience of some of my associates in PR.

        1. whatthehey*

          I would remove the word “sorry”. There’s nothing the OP needs to apologize for here.

      2. Zillah*

        I totally get where you’re coming from. Keep in mind, though, that while coworkers are better than nothing, future employers will still likely want to talk to a manager. It could raise red flags if you’re reluctant to provide one, and they may call your old manager even if you don’t list them as a reference. That doesn’t mean you should feel compelled to do what they’re asking, but keep that in mind as you weigh your options.

      3. Mike C.*

        And that’s why you should (mentally) tell them to eat it and enjoy your new job.

      4. Murphy*

        I don’t particularly need a good reference. I have coworkers who see what is going on and will give me good references.

        I can’t advise you on how to approach this whole situation, but I would just put a word of caution out that colleagues and coworkers do not a good reference make (Alison has mentioned it here before). And as someone who hires people, I generally won’t call colleagues as a reference. I want past bosses (and ask specifically for that when I’m asking for a list of references). The only real exception is brand new entry-level staff where I’m more likely to call an academic reference or something similar.

        1. J.B.*

          Yes, however I would highly doubt that working the weekend would improve the reference. She’s out of luck either way.

      5. themmases*

        Your letter says you were asked to work an additional week including a weekend– would the additional week push back your start date on your new job? Because then I definitely would not do it. No reference for a job that is over would improve enough to justify that kind of first impression.

        I also probably wouldn’t do it if that week was just vacation or something… If you worked it that way you presumably need it and are looking forward to it.

        Any problems you had with your company as an employee, I would expect them to be magnified and repeated as a contractor. That helped me say no to consulting or staying on part-time at my old company when I left. I didn’t want to be there, primarily, but I also tried to imagine negotatiating a contractor rate with the director who fought tooth and nail to keep underpaying me. And then doing that again for each assignment.

        Say no, focus on commitments you made elsewhere for that time, yet keep it vague. Don’t express regret. The more you sound like you wish you could be accommodating, the longer the requests and “just one question” emails will go on and you’ll have to experience the discomfort of repeating no.

      6. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

        OP 4

        Remember that sometimes managers paint themselves into corners. Managers can always be Captain Sobels, and find something legitimate to complain about – and then add frosting to it and make stuff up.

        I had related that I had once been put on the equivalent of a PIP – and decided to bail. I ended up getting a better job (30 percent increase), training budget, oh yeah, office with a beautiful view of the Charles River in Boston, better benefits – and – one of the greatest bosses I have ever had in my career.

        When I resigned – they tried throwing money at me to get me to stay. But they were more upset that I was the “bad boy” – the pariah – and I was heading to a much better place. And might be an influence on others there, to do the same.

        I may have related the case of a co-worker who was suspended for insubordination and “attitude”. His suspension may have been legitimate but I am in no place to know. But it came in March, in New England. The co-worker was suspended for two weeks – and since his wife was on a “down time” at work, they decided to take two weeks and drive to Florida. Unfortunately, another of his co-workers went into labor prematurely – and they were desperate to get him to come back to work.

        Three days pass – he returns the call when he gets to Florida and picks up his answering machine’s message– and is greeted with “HOW DARE YOU!” when he calls back. I guess the line of thinking was, he was supposed to stay at home under house arrest, and be penitent and mopey, and his thinking was – “well I have two weeks of unpaid leave, let’s go visit family in Florida.”

        The bottom line, OP-4, is, as I said, they painted themselves into a corner. It is not your obligation to get them out of it. Another tack you may take is have them modify or remove the PIP from your personnel file in exchange for helping them – but I would definitely have a “come to Jesus” meeting – “a lot of what’s in this PIP is horse***t. If you want to have any chance of me staying, we may want to set the record straight.”

        It forces your bosses to eat humble pie, to be sure, but they put themselves there.

        1. Stranger than fiction*

          I like the way you’re thinking but I wonder has there ever been a company anywhere that would reverse a pip? They’d basically be admitting it was a lie.

      7. Gene*

        Another way to do it would be to tell them that since you don’t work for them anymore, your consultant rate is >something exorbitant< and you would be happy to work as an independent 1099 contractor for that week (assuming that won't impact your new job). Of course, your contract would require that you be paid at close of business on the last day with a 100% penalty if not paid within 24 hours of completing the assignment. And an additional 100% penalty of the unpaid balance for each 24 hours after that.

        Yes, I'm mercenary.

      8. pigbitinmad*

        I would say hell NO!! A performance improvement plan is usually a sadistic plan to get rid of an employee by making their life miserable. I never heard of anyone getting back into the company’s good graces. Not only would I plant 70 megatons of dynamite under that bridge and blow it to smithereens, I would write about the experience on Glassdoor so that nobody stumbles into a snake pit like that again.

        Really, maybe it is because I am Italian/Irish, but this is the sort of revenge situation I dream about daily. I would never help them. I would do everything I could to destroy and bankrupt that place.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          That’s really not what a performance improvement plan is. It’s not intended to make anyone’s life miserable. At reasonable companies, it’s a way to lay out very clearly what an employee needs to do to keep their job, so that everyone is on the same page and the employee is clear on what they need to do and the seriousness if they don’t.

          1. LQ*

            Wasn’t there a commenter either on a post or an open post who had 2 employees really come out of a PIP doing very well? I swear this is a thing that happened.

    2. Artemesia*

      It would be a cold day in hell before I helped them out here once I had a new job. Part of success on making that new job work will be being able to start fresh, relaxed and with enthusiasm. This may be hard after an exhausting weekend of overtime.

      I would simply let them know ‘I would love to help but this won’t be possible; I have made other commitments going into this new job and won’t have the time to do that.’ period. full stop.

      I am assuming it isn’t something you want to do. Negotiating for extra pay for it (perfectly appropriate) may still leave a bad taste all around. I see no upside here, just exhaustion and misery which are not the platform you want to be standing on as you launch into a new job where you want to excel and make a good impression. That weekend is for a manicure and haircut and relaxed head space.

  7. Chrissie*

    #3, you are doing a great first step in acknowledging that your response to compliments is not ideal, and wanting to improve. The ingrained habit of deflecting compliments takes some practice and repetition to break, but it will get easier over time.
    I enjoyed this related comic http://vanscribbles.tumblr.com/post/108784530511 , it helps me especially to focus on why another person gives a compliment: they want to say a nice thing cause they have a nice opinion. So, expressing that their statement actually made you happier (that’s nice of you to say/thank you, I appreciate you telling me that!) is rewarding and hopefully reinforcing their behavior. We all can do with a little more praise.

    1. OP#3*

      Thanks! That’s a really helpful way to frame it.
      Like anonymouse below, I have the most trouble with this when the compliments are most deserved. I know I did well, and now I know my boss knows I did well, so what more is there to say?
      Shifting my focus to why my boss is saying it makes sense to me. He’s trying to make me feel appreciated for my work, and I do, so “Thanks! I appreciate it” is really relevant information.

      1. Vicki*

        Also, I suggest taking a breath and stopping to Think before responding. Your first response will be “Incoming Compliment! Undeserved or Embarrassing! Deflect!”.

        Take a breath. Take a second breath. And then say “Thank you.”

  8. Jeanne*

    #4, I don’t know if you want to help or not but do not ask to be free lance for 2 days. The tax consequences are messy and most likely not worth it.

    I would personally say no. You have a new job so you don’t necessarily need a reference. They can’t love your work since you were on a PIP. Say you’re busy and walk away. You don’t owe them any favors.

    1. Joseph*

      Good point on the taxes. The cost people normally assume for freelancing is typically somewhere between double and triple your hourly rate. But that’s based on people who are freelancing for a lot of hours, so the extra time spent on taxes and so on is spread over an entire year. If you’re only freelancing for like a week, then you should be charging way more. However, if you’re only working two days right after your termination, it’s probably much easier to just have them just extend your resignation date and pay you an extra week’s salary. But you should absolutely not do so for free – you are not an employee, primarily due to their choice* to put you on a PIP.

      That said, there’s a reasonable chance that if you insist on being paid for your two days working weekends and hold firm on it, they’ll suddenly realize that they can do without you.

      *And make no mistake, it’s their choice, not yours. You just had the good sense to leave town before they finished assembling the firing squad.

      1. OP 4*

        OP 4: I know it’s their choice and not mine. They didn’t care about the inconvenience losing my job would cause me but they care about how the timing inconveniences them.

        1. Lily in NYC*

          I wouldn’t give them the extra time. I’ve never seen anyone actually successfully complete a PIP and think they are almost always just a CYA move on the employer’s part to justify firing someone. And like others wrote, you already have a job lined up so you probably won’t need them as a reference in the future. You owe them nothing!

          1. Murphy*

            This is interesting to me (and I know i”m veering off-topic and I apologize) because I was looking up our PIP process the other day (out of curiosity) and our PIP don’t even become part of the employee’s official record once they’re done. I found that fascinating and so outside the norms (at least from what I’ve read here).

            1. Lily in NYC*

              That’s very interesting. Do you know if people successfully complete PIPs at your job? I can only think of one time that the person wasn’t fired afterwards (at my job) – and her PIP was only given to her to appease her horrendous supervisor. The supervisor was let go a week later (unrelated reason) and her PIP was ripped up.

              1. Murphy*

                Yup, they do. All the time. But I work in an environment (government) where it’s traditionally very difficult to fire people and a majority of the workforce is unionized so there are additional steps. They explicitly say that a PIP isn’t a disciplinary too, but rather a management/coaching one so everyone can make sure they’re on the same page.

          2. Christopher Tracy*

            One of my former colleagues from my previous division successfully completed his year plus long PIP and got an almost perfect performance evaluation back in March when he was officially taken off of it. So PIPs aren’t always a CYA before a firing.

        2. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

          That’s one of the things about spiriting people out the door.

          The timing of the employee’s departure may not be to management’s liking.

          Likewise – what happens in an “outsourcing” situation – where you’re being let go but you are expected to train your replacement. If you find another position between the notice and final severance – I sometimes advise “jump now, screw the severance” – it’s often better to be continually employed than to take a “package” and wind up unemployed.

  9. Milton Waddams*

    #1: The coldness advice was exhausting to even read — I can only imagine how exhausting it must be to live in a world dictated by every tiny cue being amplified like that. That said, that is indeed the culture at many older white-collar firms, where the long shadow of their WASP founders can be felt even today. :-)

    If it is a younger more rough-and-tumble company, I might point out that there’s a good chance he won’t notice any sort of subtlety like “medium freeze” vs “chilly cold”. In that case, just setting clear boundaries and focusing on the goal seems to help. Did you know that phosphorous was first discovered by someone working with rancid urine from a public latrine? Often the most vile things can still be useful if applied appropriately.

    1. Kelly L.*

      It’s not really for his sake, or to make him “notice” the different levels of cold. The advice is for the OP and specifically is about how to set clear boundaries and focus on the goal.

    2. MK*

      Actually you do live in a world dictated by these sort of cues; it’s just that most of the time it’s happening spontanuously.

    3. esra*

      Rancid urine can’t help being rancid urine. Not really an apt comparison. If not chilliness, what does setting clear boundaries look like to you, in this situation?

      1. Milton Waddams*

        Generally a good first step is using your words. Body language is highly cultural, and can often be ambiguous when you are in a diverse group. If company culture allows, use the active voice — the same language choices that encourage “Mistake were made” instead of “You made a mistake” or “I made a mistake” (or better yet, identifying the particular mistake made) can also take relatively clear boundaries and blur them.

        Again, though, this depends on company culture — in some companies, suggesting that a particular person did a particular thing that had a particular result, and then making a particular judgment about the result, is so overwhelmingly forward that it may even border on being seen as a hostile and threatening act if the person taking such a risk is not senior-level. :-)

        If company culture allows no other way of expressing boundaries than carefully adjusting the cultural thermostat and hoping that the environment is homogeneous enough that the difference is noticed (a lot of company cultures are like this), then so be it — the OP has my sympathy. It certainly sounds exhausting.

        1. LBK*

          I think you’re waaaaaay overthinking this and answering a question the OP hasn’t asked. She didn’t ask for the appropriate secret signal to send him to indicate “I know you’re a creep.” She asked for guidance on how to interact with someone she doesn’t like but who still has influence over her career, and to me “professional but icy is fine” is the right answer. I don’t see how “use your words” applies here – what is she going to do, walk up to him and say “I know you’ve sexually harassed someone, so you better stay away from me”? That would be the equivalent of dousing her career in gasoline and lighting it on fire.

          I’m generally in favor of what you advocate: projecting desires through words instead of cues. But that’s not always the right answer particularly when there’s power imbalances present and it’s short-sighted to apply that advice to everything.

        2. esra*

          I’m curious about what words/scripts you’d think would be better than general chilliness in this case.

    4. LBK*

      I’m very confused about the point you’re trying to make with that metaphor; are you essentially saying that the OP should just work with the guy like nothing happened because he may prove to be useful?

      I also find the assertion that newer companies are some sort of dead zone for interpreting body language bizarre. I mean, it may actually be true only insofar as a lot of tech startups seem to be magnets for the socially inept, but that says more about those people and their inability to read social cues than it does about someone engaging in the perfectly natural act of using body language.

    5. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

      Notice yesterday I was under attack for something – and “Milton” throws an ethnic slur in there.


      OOh, ooh – wait – White Anglo-Saxon Protestants are fair game. Yeah, that’s it. That’s the ticket.

      BTW – I am only a half-WASP.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        That’s because one sounded like a slur against a group subject to institutional power imbalances and a history of systematic oppression, and one didn’t. No more of this, please.

      2. LBK*

        Are you just ignoring all the people disagreeing with Milton for this attitude? Or are you taking particular issue with the use of the term WASP and that no one has specifically called it out, even though every reply so far as been in disagreement with the comment as a whole (which would include disagreeing with that term and the implications of its use in the given context)?

        It’s not that white people or Christians or whatever are “fair game”. It’s that there’s a difference between using a term to generally identify a demographic when discussing high-level institutional constructs or historical context vs. your post yesterday, which wasn’t examining the dynamic between people with your background vs. people in the demographic you cited or pointing out the ways in which the experiences of those groups might influence their respective worldviews. It was just unnecessarily inserting a gender/age dynamic into your advice, which I can’t see the purpose of other than to imply that the advice was only or mostly applicable to younger women (when frankly, the only person who had acted dramatically in the letter was Aidan when he quit his job to get away from his ex).

        1. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

          Just as I am offended with the way the term was used here.


          1. LBK*

            What a bizarre non-sequitur. I said nothing about offense, so no clue where that came from. But I also don’t know why you’re trying to set up a juxtaposition between the reaction here vs. the reaction to you yesterday, when it seems clear to me that in both cases all the responses are negative – why are you acting like Milton just got a pass while you didn’t?

      3. Milton Waddams*

        I certainly apologize, Anon-2 — I did not realize I was using an offensive term, as I have heard those who come from that background use it to describe themselves. Is there a preferred term for the sort of person who would have been considered “clubbable” in an earlier era, whose ancestry is not strictly English but whose culture is likely Anglophile, who is certainly culturally Protestant, if not deeply religious, and who follows norms that have their roots in certain old Eastern cities?

    6. themmases*

      I see this reaction a lot and I think a lot of people may just not get Miss Manners. Her column is intended to be humorous… The column gives practical advice (including instructions on how to be kind of rude without crossing the line, like in this one) but presented in a prissy and snobbish voice. If you take the column seriously as instructions on how to parse other people’s glances and handshakes, you’ve missed the point.

      I also don’t agree that there’s any potential benefit to the OP in working with this person– only with not pissing them off. Most people don’t think it’s very nice behavior to try to benefit from association with someone who seriously harmed their friend, and the OP doesn’t say they want to do that. Also, it’s not clear from this letter that the OP even works with this person now. They are just in the same industry and some groups, which could mean anything. The dynamics within their own company are not relevant.

  10. Nico M*


    If an injury has to be done to a man it should be so severe that his vengeance need not be feared.

    1. AnotherFed*

      Pretty much. Act professional but not friendly at work events, or expect to rake a got to reputation in proportion to how well regarded he is professionally. A chilly attitude or “I know what you did” type dialogue will only reflect badly on you OP, especially if you are female. It is not fair, or right, just reality.

      1. Diluted_TortoiseShell*

        Nico is not really advocating a vendetta . It’s more akin to “don’t start a fight you can’t finish” and is plucked stragith from Niccolò Machiavelli’s “The Prince”.

        Substitute wound and kill with, discredit and fire and you have handy guide for how to maintain control. It happens all the time after a merger. The new prince comes in, fires all of the old VPs and replaces with his trusted guard, effectively eliminating resistance while insuring his stability.

        1. neverjaunty*

          Except that the new boss doesn’t really eliminate resistance or ensure stability, because a modern company is not in any way like a medieval European city-state.

            1. neverjaunty*

              No, it really isn’t. I assume you were being flip, but ‘let’s treat this government agency like a business’ and ‘this advice worked great for Machiavelli so it should here’ are dumb beliefs that spawn many letters to AAM.

    2. Roscoe*

      This seems a bit much. She isn’t like some vigilante trying to avenge a wrong done to her friend. She is just trying to figure out how to comfortably deal with this guy.

      1. Artemesia*

        It is extraordinarily wise advice. It is basically, don’t attempt a coup unless you intend to succeed. You cannot wound a powerful person who may have control over your career. Either you take them down or they will destroy you, quickly or slowly and slowly of course is impossible to defend against. Sure, avoid. But anything that calls attention without this guy actually being prosecuted or investigated by the higher up is just going to hurt the lowly woman who brings it up.

        1. LQ*

          So no one who doesn’t already have enough power should ever bother to stand up for themselves?

        2. neverjaunty*

          It’s terrible advice in this situation, because OP #1 wasn’t asking about revenge or power struggles; she wants to know how to deal with this jackhole given that he’s part of her professional community.

  11. Amanda*

    #5, I do a lot of work with CNAs, and your previous experience is still important! There are a lot of “soft skills” involved with being a CNA that make the difference between a good one and a great one. Alison has some great advice on how to translate these skills on a resume. In my industry, we are often asking, is this person proactive? A self starter? Does she pick up new skills quickly? How does she work under pressure? What does she do when faced with a challenging situation? CNAs are often the first to notice a change in a patient’s health – can you demonstrate attention to detail? I am sure you have examples from your previous working like that will show these skills – use them! And good luck! The world needs more good nurses, thank you for working to become one.

    1. KR*

      A+ advice. My mom was a CNA/LNA and a good one at that because she had all of these skills.

    2. LW #5*

      Amanda, thanks so much! I appreciate your reminding me of other soft skills I have acquired in other jobs, so I’ll be sure to keep that in mind in my interviews!

  12. AdAgencyChick*

    #4, I’d say no thanks and move on. Cynical me puts very little faith in any promises you’re able to extract from them to give you a good reference — they need help now, and two years down the line when you’re looking for another job, they will probably remember the PIP more than they remember promising at the end to say nice things about you.

    1. OP 4*

      You’re right. I don’t feel strongly about getting a good reference from my direct manager. I work on multiple teams who will give me good references and did to get this job offer.

      1. Artemesia*

        “Oh I’d love to be able to help, but my commitments to my new job just don’t give me the space to do it. I don’t have the time to give. ”

        I see no upside and lots of downside for you in doing this.

  13. maggiethecat*

    #1 Adding my experience with sexual harassment. I reported it and after having to do ‘marriage counseling’-esq mediation with my harasser(?!) I was laid off two months later. I had only been back from maternity leave for 3 months. Guys like this are the worst! I have female friends that still have to work with this man (who of course wasn’t laid off!) and he still makes awful comments to them.

    1. RVA Cat*

      Ooooh, that sounds like retaliation *and* pregnancy discrimination. That company is begging to be sued. I understand if it wasn’t worthwhile for you to pursue at the time, but if someone else does maybe you could testify?

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Well, you can be laid off after maternity leave as long as it’s not because of the pregnancy/maternity leave. I wouldn’t leap to pregnancy discrimination here without more evidence. But the timing certainly sounds like it could have been retaliation for reporting harassment (although again, we can’t know without more info — if her whole department was laid off, it probably wasn’t).

  14. CR*

    1. Related, but I would not want to work in that environment. I would fear for my safety with this man. What do you do in that situation?

    1. Another Employment Lawyer*

      It says sexually harassed, not sexually assaulted and that the employee was punished. You assume he learned his lesson and if he says anything inappropriate to you, you report it.

    2. Lia*

      I left after finding another job. So did 80% of my department. THEN top level management noticed Harasser’s boss wasn’t making her goals, (because she spent all of her time protecting Harasser), and fired her. That finally brought Harasser’s behavior to light in front of top level management, who had been shielded from it by the now-fired protector. They wound up firing him, not for the harassment (there were eight separate complaints in 18 months, all of which his boss had managed to prevent punishment for), but because he actually sucked at his job.

      He landed a job elsewhere and guess what, was back to his old tricks and THAT boss got canned for protecting him too. I hear now though that he is about to get canned from there, and he’s burned nearly every bridge in his small field int his area.

  15. Sibley*

    #3 – Are you bad at accepting compliments in general? I know a lot of women are, it’s been kinda ingrained in us. (Bad culture!) Any time any one says anything nice about you, smile and say thank you.

    1. Diluted_TortoiseShell*


      Also something that helped me start doing this was being told that when you deny someone’s compliment you are essentially telling them they are so dumb and poor at what they do that they do not even know how to recognize what is good. That horrified me into accepting compliments!

      1. anonymouse*

        I don’t know, I’ve read that same advice in relation to men complimenting women – that you should always take their compliments so you don’t make them feel stupid and awkward. I know it’s different in the workplace, but even so.

        1. Diluted_TortoiseShell*

          There is a difference between complimenting, catcalling, and an unwelcoming advances. This advice is for the workplace and skill set compliments and should not be conflated to navigating sexual advances.

          1. Chrissie*

            this. A male coworker can compliment me on a good presentation or another aspect of my work without awkwardness. I was assuming the LW was asking how to receive compliments that are appropriate and generally not unwelcome.
            Inappropriate “compliments” are a whole different story.

            1. Myrin*

              And really, I’d love for people who give inappropriate “compliments” to feel stupid and awkward more often.

    2. One of the Sarahs*

      It’s a really hard lesson to learn – especially for perfectionists. I still really struggle with the whole “get 4 pieces of positive feedback, and 1 point for improvement, but only take in the negative” thing. I needed to learn to say thank you, and pause for a beat to let it sink in, and also acknowledge, before moving on, so I didn’t seem dismissive.

      1. Kelly L.*

        Oooh, good point, people used to the “shit sandwich” type of criticism might have trouble with this too. It gets people accustomed to thinking “The criticism is the real substance, and the compliments are just fluff we padded it with.”

        1. One of the Sarahs*

          YES! I used to have a running joke with co-workers about the “positive-negative-positive” approach – kind of like “Well you make a great cup of tea… Everything you’ve done this week has been terrible and you’re awful at your job… but you always say hello to your colleagues”

  16. Diluted_TortoiseShell*

    #5, the good news is that a lot of hospitals prefer to put nursing in leadership roles, so you will have a lot of relevant corporate experience to help you navigate that should you ever be interested!

    1. LW #5*

      Hi, Diluted, yes I agree. As for now, I’m really excited about staying in the practical clinical areas and not interested in moving into any administration, at least not for a long time. But when the time comes, I will definitely have to find a way to showcase my corporate experiences, too. Thank you for your advice!

  17. grasshopper*

    #4. Don’t work for them anymore. Asking you to come back to work isn’t fair to you.

    With a PIP they told you that you weren’t good enough to work with them. Now that they are inconvenienced and in a tight spot, have they changed their minds about the quality of your work? Probably not. When someone better comes along, will they call you again? Probably not. Do you want to be the second choice girlfriend? Probably not.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Well, this is a way that work is different from dating. The OP may be able to use the situation to her advantage, and if she’s able to, there’s nothing wrong with doing that. (It doesn’t really matter that they won’t call her again.) But it’s also totally fine for her to say no.

  18. anonymouse*

    #3: I’m bad at accepting compliments too, but in my case I think it’s because I usually know I did a good job on a project so I don’t need to be praised for it. I want to know what I can improve. My manager loves to pull the “millennials need constant praise and validation!” so every twice a week meeting (ugh) I get a compliment of what a good job I’m doing and how I’m the “rockstar” of the team and it just makes me uncomfortable.

    Too much praise is a bad thing, I think. It sometimes feels infantilizing and it makes me feel like I’m 18 again instead of 29. Or that something weird is going on if I’m being over-praised.

    But, OP3, just say thanks and move on. It doesn’t need to be a big thing if you don’t want it to be.

    1. OP#3*

      Yeah, one of my past bosses did this, and it was really uncomfortable. She wasn’t a good manager in other ways, and it always felt like she was trying to stockpile gratitude rather than manage.
      My current managers are pretty reasonable. Their feedback is balanced and clearly related to how I’m actually doing. This time, I’m pretty sure any awkwardness is on me!

  19. Purple Wombat*

    This may be a dumb comment…but putting a person on a PIP for working on a weekend seems a bit unreasonable to me. Why would a company use that as their rationale?

    1. Katie F*

      I wasn’t clear on that – whether the problem was that the employee DID work on a weekend, or perhaps that they resisted working on weekends in the past and this was shown as a “lack of team effort” or something for the PIP.

    2. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

      The OP explained above that she was told she should have had a more junior employee (with a lower billing rate) do the work she did over the weekend.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Personally, I don’t think that’s PIP-worthy. Maybe spoken-to-worthy, like manager says, “Hey, we want to keep the client’s costs down, so next time, have Bellatrix work on that stuff instead of you. If you’re worried about something, check with me.”

        1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

          Totally agree. The only way I can imagine it being PIP-worthy is if they had discussed it before and the OP was ignoring her manager’s clear guidance on this.

  20. newlyhr*

    #1 your job isn’t to convey your displeasure or to somehow hold him accountable, it is to figure out the minimum amount of contact you must have with this person and to do so in a professional manner. Don’t talk to him unless you have to: excuse yourself and go to the bathroom or say that you see someone else you need to speak to. Don’t sit at his table. Say hello and nothing else. I’m not sure under what circumstances you might have to work with him, but there are ways to compartmentalize that. If you both serve on a Board, for example, you can serve on a different subcommittee. What I would do is encourage you not to let your personal feelings about him adversely impact your professional opportunities or advancement in your field.

    I don’t know how he got “punished” but in my company, a substantiated incident of sexual harassment would likely result in termination. I hope that is what happened.

    1. Former Retail Manager*

      Agree 100%! If his past bothers you, as it obviously does, limit contact, keep it professional, and leave it at that.

      And while some, heck many, may disagree with me, I think the guy deserves a fresh start. Hopefully, he did learn what not to do from the prior incident and will behave with utmost professionalism going forward. I feel like this situation is no different than the felon who serves time, is released, learned from those mistakes and is behaving appropriately, but no one will let the felony go and the person continues to be thought of negatively. As OP says, this guy was punished by his last employer where the incident occurred and has now moved on. Until he gives you a reason to know that he is not behaving professionally, give him the benefit of the doubt.

      1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

        I was just having a conversation with some neighbors about this. While I agree that folks who have done bad things need to be able to go on with their lives, I’m not going to pretend I don’t know what I know about them. Mr. Sexual Harasser doesn’t get a fresh start – he gets to go on with his life, which now includes the natural consequences of having sexually harassed someone (e.g., the people who know about it are hesitant to work with him; his former employer won’t give him a good reference; etc.).

    2. OP #1*

      Thank you. I think this has been the most helpful advice overall. Of course, I have that human desire to display displeasure and hold him accountable, but at the end of the day I want to just get my job done. And I think my friend does, too.

      He was under a contract. He was allowed to remain in the contract until the end of the year, but then his contract was not renewed. He was also banned from the premises and from events, since his job had the ability to be done online.

  21. Troutwaxer*

    # 1

    Since you know the harasser in question has been disciplined, is it possible for your professional self to assume that the matter is over as long as he does not misbehave again? Perhaps be polite and civil, but neither distant nor friendly (beyond the standards of ordinary politeness) and don’t be alone with the guy. If you can subtly arrange to make sure that other women aren’t alone with him, that’s a really good idea.

    I do understand that the matter is not over for your friend, and it is certainly commendable that you wish to take her side, but there are two considerations here: First, you should not harm your own career to support your friend. Second, you may do better service to your female peers by subtly guiding them away from this guy than by getting in his face. Declare that it is ladies’ night and men will not be welcome at the bar to which you’re taking the gals! Or something. (In other words, don’t fight him openly; take a more subtle defensive stance and quietly separate him from the women. I suspect that your female companions will take note without your saying anything at all.) If he’s really a “missing stair” rather than a guy who misbehaved once your female peers probably know about him already.

    Does your management know what’s up with this creep? Can you simply tell your management about the matter without looking either bad or demanding action? Something like “X was disciplined for harassing Y. The matter is done and I don’t need you to take any action, but I thought you should know since we’re buying teapot parts from the firm which employs X.”

    Lastly, do you have an exit plan in place in case your employer decides to put you in constant, close contact with this guy? It may be a good time to update your resume (though not yet send it out.)

    I know this is not ideal – creeps like this really piss me off – but I think it’s the best you can do without harming your own interests.

    1. OP #1*

      I am assuming that overall, his behavior won’t continue. Partly because the unique situation he was in was removed as an option. I think this was his first offense, but I really don’t know. He and she no longer work together, because she reported him.

      This isn’t an office work situation in any firm, so we don’t really do ladies night … :) But I do like the idea of just subtly steering people away, if the situation arises. I was recently invited to a meetup with other colleagues, and he’ll be there, but my plan is just to sit as far away from him as I can.

    2. TootsNYC*

      ” don’t be alone with the guy. If you can subtly arrange to make sure that other women aren’t alone with him, that’s a really good idea.”

      I wanted to say this.

      Also, anything that you DO observe at these professional events can be brought out into the open; you have extra info, and while you don’t want to be unfair, you are also forewarned and might be able to see the creepiness more rapidly because you’re not in shock. You can say, “I don’t like the way he interacts with the women on this committee” You can be prepared in case you want to speak up in the moment.

      And you can be on the rescue squad to free other women from his attention, and you can be mildly vocal about it.

      If your employer does want you to work closely with him, and you’ve seen creepiness, you can mention that as the reason you don’t want to be working with him closely, or why you won’t meet with him after hours. or whatever.

      Or, if you see reasonable behavior, it might make it easier to deal with him in the here-and-now.

      Of course, you’ll want to gauge your audience, and focus on what’s most effective rather than what feeds your anger at him (you sound like you’ve got a great mindset for that as it is).

  22. Elder Dog*

    Would it be appropriate for OP#1 to go to her HR department and tell them she’s uncomfortable working with this guy and saying why, and asking for confidence? Then if the guy tries to take a job with her firm, or something happens while she’s at a conference, they would already know about this?
    Would it be a good idea for OP#1 to talk to her manager about this?
    I honestly don’t know if any of this would be a good idea or not, and am sincerely asking.

    1. kalli*

      No. It’s more likely to backfire on her, since HR will read it as ‘can’t be civil with industry colleagues’ than a valid concern, as unfortunate as it sounds. If there is an incident that she can put forward, involving herself and directly related to her employer, then there’s a more logical reason to bring it up, but it’s still not professionally relevant until it actively affects her ability to do that particular job, which it doesn’t – OP only says she may need to work with him in future, by which time the situation may have changed. She can limit her interactions with him in the mean time, while remaining professional, and having an avenue of self-care for any rage or frustration the situation causes her.

    2. OP #1*

      My friend already did report it. It’s a little complicated and I don’t want to give too much away about my specific work environment, but I will be working with him on another project; he is a consultant for another organization. Some people know about what he did, and others don’t.

  23. Tea*

    Re: OP#1, there are two patterns of thought playing through a number of the comments that is making me… sad, for lack of a better word. Or rather, just thinking about them makes me feel exceedingly tired.

    – This guy did something bad, and was punished for it. He’s “served his time,” so to speak, and should get a fair shake and a fresh start. The OP should, knowing what this person has done to their friend (stalked her, groped her, called her at 3AM and left her obscene messages, called up and harangued her boyfriend and family members, wouldn’t leave her home until the police were called, installed spyware in her computer, we just don’t know, but this is all behavior I’ve actually seen from sexual harassers), should bite their tongue and endeavor to be civil. In fact, if they don’t behave properly, their career might be impacted negatively, and this prominent, well valued sexual harasser might even have a role in that.

    – The OP, as possessor of the knowledge that this person is a sexual harasser, should spend their time and energy, emotional, physical, mental, quietly warning women, shepherding them around this guy, maybe checking in to make sure he’s not alone with any women. Not only do they have to manage their own life and career, but now they need to be managing the social movements of the people around them in hopes of preventing even more sexual harassment. Not that this is anything new, as women have been quietly pulling each other aside and passing along this sort of information for decades, keeping an eye on each other and intervening when needed. Just another one of those things that many women need to factor into their choice of careers and industries.

    These aren’t necessarily WRONG thoughts, but they do remind me of how much society puts the responsibility and burden for sexual harassment and assault back on the victims and the people impacted by them, to an exhausting degree.

    1. neverjaunty*

      You’re contradicting yourself. Shepherding women away from this guy, quietly warning them, and checking in with them is not giving him a ‘fresh shake and a fair start’. If he’s done his time and is entitled to have everyone drop the matter completely, then there’s nothing for OP to do going forward, right?

      1. Tea*

        Perhaps I wasn’t clear– I’m not saying that these two thought-patterns go hand in hand (though sometimes they do, when people put pressure on the victims of sexual assault to both “forgive and forget”, but also “hey, maybe you should also be making sure that other women are safe! because this is now TOTALLY your responsibility”), just that they are two courses of action that people are suggesting and they both sound pretty terrible.

      2. Nerdling*

        Tea isn’t advocating them as courses of action, simply outlining the two main options of future behavior being offered to OP1.

        I’m with you, Tea. And, yes, it’s exhausting when you think about just what it means that those are the two most common advice themes – and that they’re the ones most likely to keep the OP secure in her career.

    2. Troutwaxer*

      …but they do remind me of how much society puts the responsibility and burden for sexual harassment and assault back on the victims and the people impacted by them, to an exhausting degree.

      This should be inscribed on every HR person’s desk.

    3. I'm a Little Teapot*

      They make me sad too, even though I suggested the second one to a certain degree. It isn’t OP’s responsibility, it shouldn’t be, but apparently the powerful people in her industry aren’t doing anything about this guy. I’d love for someone to permanently crater this jerk’s career for this, but I’m not sure how that can be accomplished.

    4. Hlyssande*

      Just because he’s done his time doesn’t erase his prior actions. I agree that politeness and civility is the way to go – but just because he was previous punished means that everyone has to pretend it never happened if they do know.

    5. OP #1*

      I agree; it makes me tired and sad, too. Thank you for saying something.

      And totally agree with putting that on every HR employee’s desk, Troutwaxer!

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