should I report my former boss’s Twitter account, bringing a coworker to a disciplinary meeting, and more

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

1. Should I report my former boss’s Twitter account to my old company?

A few days ago I was bored and decided to google my former boss from a job I left earlier this year. Most of the search results weren’t very interesting and had nothing to do with him. However, about halfway down the page I noticed there was a link to a Twitter account belonging to someone by the same name. I opened the page and started reading a few of the tweets – there weren’t very many. They all more or less had to do with someone who I presume to be his son and the accolades he has received from his minor league hockey team. That is, until I scrolled down to the very bottom of the page and saw the accounts that user was following.

Of the 75 users he is or was following, approximately half of them are accounts that tweet out pornographic material. Even worse, I can see tweets the user has “liked,” and many of them are pictures containing nudity or videos of people engaging in sex acts. Needless to say, I have a feeling the HR department at my former employer would find this all very, very interesting.

Now, I’m not going to play coy with you. I have a serious ax to grind with this person and made it a point to eviscerate him in my exit interview. What would your reaction be if a former employee brought this to your attention? Seeing as he is a high ranking official who presumably ought to know better – if it is in fact his account – I feel very strongly that he should be punished for this egregious oversight.

You don’t work there anymore, this is his personal Twitter account (maybe — it might not even be his), the account doesn’t even have sexual materials on it (it’s just connected to others that do), and he’s not doing this at work. This is not egregious, and it’s very much not your business. Leave it alone, and work on moving on mentally.

If you report this to the HR department of a company you don’t even work for anymore, their reaction is likely to be “This is mildly embarrassing for the manager (because he’s not savvy enough to realize it’s public, not because of what he does on his own time), but it’s hardly a major work issue.” At most, they’re likely to let him know that it’s publicly viewable. He’s not likely to get in trouble for it, they’re not likely to find it that interesting, and you are likely to look really bitter.

Leave it alone and move on.

2. Do employees have the right to bring a coworker with them to a disciplinary meeting?

An employee in my department (who I don’t supervise but used to) was having an issue with a higher level manager, not her supervisor. That manager wanted her written up, but the employee’s supervisor refused to do so. Higher level manager made an appointment to meet with HR and this employee. The employee asked me to go with her (for moral support and to keep her from getting shafted if necessary). Higher level manager heard I was coming and told me that I was not allowed to attend and that it was inappropriate since I am not the employee’s supervisor. A few words were exchanged. (“Are you her attorney?” “Does she need one?”)

I arranged for one of her supervisors to go instead. Higher level manager was not happy but I heard that the meeting went well. My question is, didn’t this employee have a right to have someone of her choice with her, regardless of work relationship?

A legal right? No. If she’s in a union, she has the right to have a union rep there, but otherwise, assuming that you’re in the U.S., there’s no right to have a coworker present in a meeting.

It’s also pretty reasonable for the higher level manager not to want you in the meeting; typically, bringing someone along for moral support isn’t a thing that’s done.

3. Sharing a hotel room with my boss, when we’re both gay

I work for a nonprofit and we have a conference coming up soon. For the first time since I began working here, we are required to share rooms at the conference. My problem is with the pairings of room assignments. My new boss (of seven months) and I are both single gay men. The other gay men are both married and are rooming together. I feel this is parallel to a straight single male boss rooming with his straight single female subordinate. This would be unheard of in most HR and management circles. Why is it not the same for two gay men?

What can I do to state my protest and stance against this heteronormative assumptions? Not to mention there are already some joking inferences of something happening between the two of us from the other coworkers. Would this not potentially be damaging to the boss’s reputation and the agency’s as well? What if he does make a pass at me? This seems to put all of our reputations on the line and I don’t like it.

The idea with single-sex rooming isn’t “we need to prevent you from possibly being attracted to each other” but rather it’s the same logic that’s behind single-sex locker rooms or bathrooms — that many people are more comfortable with certain activities being segregated by sex like changing clothes, bathroom activities, etc.

That said, if you’re uncomfortable with the arrangements, speak up. I’m not a fan of making people share hotel rooms in general (although it’s pretty common in some fields, including nonprofits), but organizations that do it should be prepared to deal with this kind of thing. I’d say it this way: “I’m not comfortable sharing a room and would like to make different arrangements. What alternate accommodations are available?”

4. Donating to a developmentally disabled coworker

I work for a smaller company that is part of a massive company (which owns many little companies) and it is generally a pleasant place to work, with many people having worked here for over 20 years. We have a man, who we will call Pete, who handles basic office tasks. He is developmentally disabled, and at almost 60 he cannot drive and receives some sort of housing assistance. I have been told, though I am not sure if this is true, that our company receives some sort of incentive for employing him.

Recently Pete told a coworker who he is very close with that he cannot feed himself, and often goes without dinner. We have a cafeteria here, and they have offered that for $50 per week they will provide him with three meals a day. The concerned coworker sent out an email to the 30 people in his department asking if we would donate to the cause. I can be a sensitive person in situations like this, and it breaks my heart to imagine Pete going without. There has been some debate about if it is too much money, or how will we organize all this, etc., but generally people want to help. I should note Pete is open to these type of things; we have brought in clothing for him before, and when the concerned coworker mentioned we would help him, he was in support of it.

The thing that is driving me crazy is that HR is announcing a food drive for a local food pantry! It seems insane to me that we have someone here who really needs help, and HR is so oblivious. I am just curious on your opinion, should we see if HR would consider building into his salary some sort of meal plan? (I have no idea if there are limitations if they really are incentivized to have him as an employee.) Is it extremely inappropriate for us to organize this donation? I should note his family seems to be totally disconnected, and it seems nearly impossible to get them to help him apply for assistance. Concerned coworker tried to help him do this, but apparently a family member needs to be the one requesting it.

I don’t think it’s inappropriate at all for you to ask HR about it. It’s possible that they’ll have a reason they don’t think it’s a wise thing to do, but making them aware of the situation and asking if they’d be open to covering it isn’t out of line. Ask and see what they say.

5. Is my husband now my business competitor?

I am the CEO of my mom’s catering business. My husband just started his own business, a restaurant. Some of his friends and relatives have asked him to cover some events in the restaurant and outside the restaurant. Is he my competitor? Is there a conflict of interest? It certainly makes me feel uncomfortable.

That’s really something you and your husband need to work out between you. If he’s getting business that otherwise might go to you, I suppose you could indeed consider him a competitor. That doesn’t necessarily mean there’s a conflict of interest though, as long as he’s not involved in making decisions for your catering business.

But maybe there’s a way for the two of you to work cooperatively together. For example, you could agree that you’ll refer customers to him when he’d be a better fit for them or when you can’t take a particular job, and vice versa.

Either way, though, it’s primarily a question for the two of you about how you want to structure this, and the first step is to talk to him about why you’re feeling uncomfortable.

{ 417 comments… read them below }

  1. Mike C.*

    Wait, hold up. You can find pictures of people, performing various sex acts on the internet?!

    Look OP1, I’m sure your axe to grind is a just one but how much leverage do you think you’re going to get by calling HR and telling them that your old boss enjoys porn in his spare time? And not even decent porn, but whatever can be found on Twitter?

    If you really want to make them mad, successfully unionize your old workplace. It’s legal, doesn’t make you look like a weirdo with too much free time and you don’t have to constantly discuss a stranger’s taste in adult activities.

    1. Purple Dragon*

      You made me laugh ! Rule 34 applies everywhere *lol*

      OP – You’re letting this guy live rent free in your head. Boot him out, forget about him and move on.

        1. Purple Dragon*

          Rule 34 is that *everything* has porn made of it on the internet. You can google it – but not at work ;)

          1. A non name today*

            Our work rule 34 corollary is that if there is porn of it, someone has saved it on our platform.

    2. Ann Furthermore*

      Exactly. OP, good for you for acknowledging that you have an axe to grind, which is probably clouding your judgement. It might be satisfying to cause this guy some embarrassment, but it would also make you look petty and vindictive — especially since you were brutally honest in your exit interview, which means that everyone is well aware of how you feel.

    3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      This was fantastic and made me laugh, Mike.

      OP#1, listen to what folks are saying. This isn’t an “egregious oversight,” and it’s unclear whether it’s even your OldBoss. Unless your OldCompany’s job is to advocate against internet porn, then there’s truly no way you could “report” this to them without looking a little unhinged. (And even if they were anti-internet-porn, I think it would still seem like you are weirdly overinvested in your OldBoss/OldCompany.)

    4. Gaia*

      OP 1 will have exactly no leverage since, given porn is $10 billion+ per year industry in the US alone, that HR person you call is statistically likely to at least have a passive attitude (if not supportive) towards porn.

      And seriously? No one cares. This will just reflect really poorly on you. Really, really poorly.

    5. Jen S. 2.0*

      O.M.G. People are allowed to watch porn. People are allowed to have sex. There is nothing wrong, illegal, immoral, scandalous or even interesting about either of those things, as long as they aren’t at work or involving office resources (see: duck club) and are between consenting adults. I am baffled as to what the problem even is. Why would HR be interested in the dude’s bad taste in porn?

      You can hate the dude, but his sex life isn’t a place where you are going to get any type of satisfying revenge. You have a new job. Focus your energy there and move on.

      1. RVA Cat*

        This. A much better use of OP 1’s Google-fu would be to look up the life of Anthony Comstock, for just one example of how small-minded prudes have ruined people’s lives.

      2. Koko*

        You have a new job. Focus your energy there and move on.

        As George Herbert said, “Living well is the best revenge.”

        Or if you prefer something more modern, OP: “Always stay gracious, best revenge is your paper.” – Beyonce

    6. Mookie*


      Needless to say, I have a feeling the HR department at my former employer would find this all very, very interesting.

      Yeah, nearly everyone yanks their own proverbial chain. No one is going to find that interesting or that it ought to be “punished.” Your gleeful interest in it makes you look creepy. I’d quit before you out yourself as An Axe-Grinder, but you “eviscerating” this person in your exit interview (woah, high five bra!!!) probably already accomplished that.

      1. Fortitude Jones*

        Exactly. I think the only thing HR would find interesting here is the fact that OP has too much time on her hands and apparently can’t let things go. And if OP does report this, she’s the one who’s going to look bad.

    7. Not So NewReader*

      OP, this is a pick your battles thing. I always say, I should pick battles where I see some chance of success. Now. This means figuring out what success looks like. Do you want this guy fired? Do you want him to quit looking at porn? Do you want everyone laughing and pointing fingers at him? You won’t hit any of these goals with this method you have laid out here.

      Taking one more step back to look at an even bigger picture, I think that you are saying this guy did a lot of baaad things at work. Bad players eventually unravel themselves. It might take years or even decades, but eventually their house of cards crashes in on them.

      You have choices here, you can help him unravel sooner OR you can have a life. Yes, it’s it’s an either/or question. See, people already have a fair idea of who is doing what. There is a subtly here that it’s important you do not skate by. You want to put yourself in a place where you are known as having grace under fire. You worked with King Jerk and kept your professional cool about you. This is the route to go because people DO notice. I have had a couple times in life where someone said, “Oh. Wait. You worked with so-and-so? And you survived? You wanna job?” People think if you can survive jacka$$es at one place you can THRIVE at their place.

      Keep a cool head and keep rocking your own job. You will be glad you did.

      1. Roscoe*

        I don’t even know that he doe bad things at work. For all we know, it was just a serious personality clash that they had

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Even if it was a personality clash, that would still be bad work behavior. If a person starts to have difficulty with another person at work, there are proactive steps that can be taken to work things out. But the moment for working things out has passed. OP does comment that she had plenty to say about the guy on her exit interview. I am taking her at her word, this guy had bad behaviors at work.

    8. Tequila Mockingbird*

      Yeah, OP1, just let it go.

      “Following” porn stars on Twitter isn’t illegal, nor is it even that shocking. If he were actively spouting racist/homophobic stuff on social media, that would be a different scenario (think Justine Sacco, or Pax Dickinson, or Corey Multer), but this isn’t that at all. He’s just a normal guy with a boring Twitter account. Leave. it. alone.

      Besides, your old company knows you have an axe to grind against him, so your complaint would just come across as childish.

      1. Not the Droid You Are Looking For*

        Side note on Justine Sacco… thanks to someone on the AAM comment section, I finally read “So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed.” Her story is absolutely fascinating.

  2. Drew*

    OP1: Regardless of whether you can make Old!Boss look bad with this tactic (and unless his job is way public-facing, I doubt it), you are going to look like a stalker for continuing to harass this person after you’ve left his employ. If he’s that bad of a guy, trust that karma will do what karma does in the fullness of time, and work on moving on with your own life without trying to force karma along.

    OP2: I was once asked to sit in on a disciplinary meeting that turned into a termination meeting by an employee not even in my own department. It didn’t do this person any favors to bring in an “outsider.”

    1. NotAnotherManager!*

      Add “vindictive and petty” to “stalker” — if anyone is still looking to grind an axe with someone they no longer work for and have already provided feedback on through the exit interview process, they need to stop and get over it.

      Absent some really specific and unusual circumstances, a former employee who sent our HR information like this would get some serious side-eye for poor judgment (a couple of muttered comments about seriously needing to get a life) and likely their “eligible for rehire” box moved to NO.

    2. seejay*

      Yeah I totally didn’t think of it that way. OP#1 looks *super* stalkerish. It’s one thing to google someone for information/curiosity purposes.

      If you go and use that information afterwards? You’re walking that fine line and probably crossing it over into stalker territory. You’re aiming to try to ruin this guy’s life, or at the very least get some sort of vindictive grudge against him. Unless he’s doing something actually downright dangerous or illegal, you have zero reason to use the information you found against him. If it’s just to satisfy your own personal sense of gratification, you’re entering stalker territory with the information you intentionally dug up.

      And don’t try to claim you just stumbled across it. You went googling for your boss’ name and just happened to come across a juicy bit of information. That’s still intentional. File this away, giggle over it if you have to, but leave it, or you’re the one that’s actually doing the full-on crazypants behaviour.

  3. Let It Go!*

    OP #1 Like the song says Let it go! Life is too short! Focus on the coming new year and all the good things that may come your way. You can’t let in the light if you are focused on the darkness.

    1. Callalily*

      As soon as I read “Let it go!” I mentally broke out into song… I feel OP needs to sing the song… SING IT OP!

  4. Ann Furthermore*

    #4: $50 doesn’t go very far at the grocery store these days. Pete is probably spending more than that right now, which may be the reason he can’t always afford meals. It’s very kind of the people who run the cafeteria to offer to help him. And very kind of you and your co-workers to want to help him.

    It’s definitely worth asking HR about the situation though. If they say no, talk to Pete and see if he can afford the $50 per week. If he can pay for some of it, maybe you and your co-workers can make up the difference. In the same situation, I’d be happy to donate like $5 per week to help someone out who really needed it.

    All in all, it’s a great solution. He’ll get a much better variety of meals than he could probably provide for himself. And the cafeteria will probably include fruits and vegetables too, which he may not be getting now. I remember the days when I was really broke…lots of ramen noodles and mac and cheese.

    1. Cambridge Comma*

      This might be something that isn’t possible in the US, but in the countries I’ve lived in, company cafeterias can deduct your payments there from your pre-tax salary. That might be a way for Pete to pay some more of his contribution than he could otherwise afford and also for the OP and colleagues to maximize their contribution (if it works the same way as it does where I live).

      1. Jessesgirl72*

        No, not available in the US. Our list of what can be deducted pre-tax is very small.

        In fact, that may be the reason HR declines. Anything the company gives Pete will be taxable income, even if it’s goods and not money.

        1. Anon Guy*

          Several people have said that paying for Pete to eat in the cafeteria would involve the company taxing him on that money. Why, then, are companies like Google, etc. allowed to give out free meals to employees who are not taxed on the value of those meals?

          1. Pennalynn Lott*

            Anon Guy – According to the Federal Taxation class I just took this past semester, Google, et al, can offer those programs because they are a benefit available to all employees. The rules were put in place to keep the executives of a company from giving themselves tax-free benefits (that are deductible expenses for the business) and leaving everyone else hanging. The flip side of that, though, is that the company can’t single out one employee and give them a tax-free benefit that’s not available to everyone else.

            The company could donate to a charity and then have that charity provide the funds to the company cafeteria (or to Pete) and that would be considered a gift to Pete (and thus would be tax-free).

            1. Pennalynn Lott*

              Alternatively, the company could create its own charitable foundation, for the purpose of helping out employees experiencing problems, and run Pete’s cafeteria money through the foundation so that it would be tax-free to him. And, hey, then they’d have an in-house charity that can help out other employees if they find themselves in a bind.

        2. zora*

          I hope they would be willing to do it anyway, $200/month isn’t much for a large company to just consider a raise in his pay.

          1. LJ*

            Part of the problem with raising the pay is that it may not just be the money. A girl I know from a volunteer role is probably very much like Pete. If you gave her $200, she would go to a restaurant order a mixed drink and 5 desserts and laugh while telling you all about it the next day. I went to a store with her once before dinner and ended up paying for her dinner because she couldn’t grasp that her $20 had to be split between the store and Panera.
            A raise would not really solve the problem.

    2. Bartlet for President*

      I wonder if the subsidizing of the meals would constitute some kind of tax liability, though. I remember there being a bit of a kerfuffle a few years ago about employer-paid meals having some tax liability for the employee, which caused some concern for all the people working at companies with free cafeteria (like Google, Facebook, etc). I’m not a lawyer or accountant though, so I have no idea how that work. But, it’s something to consider if the OP wants to approach HR.

      [I read the OP’s letter that the cafeteria had worked out a way to get Pete meals at a subsidized rate.]

      1. Rebecca*

        It might cause a tax liability if the company officially provided the meals, but I suspect if 15 coworkers wanted to treat Pete to a meal, as in 3 separate coworkers x 5 working days per week, that wouldn’t be the case. I think it’s great that they want to help him :)

        1. Temperance*

          I’m worried about the logistics, though. $50/week is nothing to sneeze at, especially when you consider that there might be no end to the donation. $50 one time is different.

          Pete should be getting SNAP.

          1. Jessesgirl72*

            But Pete can’t handle the applications himself and only a family member can request it on his behalf.

            I am wondering, though, shouldn’t Pete have a social worker who would help him?

            1. Temperance*

              He should have a social worker or case worker if he gets housing assistance. I also think that the coworker could help Pete with the application, just not fill it out.

            2. KatieJ*

              This may only be true in my state (SC), but this is one of AmeriCorps biggest roles – helping folks fill out federal benefit applications through Benefit Bank (a program that allows you to fill out several applications at once).

            3. Meg Murry*

              It’s possible a family member has been established as power of attorney for him, in which case that is the person that needs to assist Pete.

              It’s also sadly possible that a family member *has* signed Pete up for food assistance like SNAP and is using the benefits themselves or hasn’t explained to Pete how to use it or what they need to re-apply. Or that the benefits Pete gets don’t stretch very far, so he gets SNAP money at the beginning of the month but it’s all gone by the 15th or earlier. Financially taking advantage of family members who are receiving assistance is sad but not uncommon.

          2. caryatis*

            Even if he had SNAP, he might not be able to handle shopping, cooking for himself, making sure items don’t go bad and get wasted or make him sick. It’s not rocket science, but it does require some level of IQ.

            1. Jessie*

              SNAP benefits are also painfully inadequate, and might not fully solve his food problem. It’s a step in the right direction, but if he’s struggling financially, he’ll need other sources of help with his food beyond SNAP.

              1. Not So NewReader*

                From what I have seen people can get SNAP to cover three weeks out of the month. The last week there is no money left. Granted there is more to the story, I am just saying in general terms that many, many people run out of SNAP money before they run out of month.

                1. Ann Furthermore*

                  I heard a really interesting story on NPR a few weeks ago, in a series of stories called something like “Unexpected Correlations.” Some researchers have observed a trend of a drop in DUI arrests at the beginning of the month (or whenever people get their SNAP/food stamp money). The theory was that people have more money for food, so they’re more likely to be having dinner with family or friends.

                2. Candi*

                  (Waves hand)

                  It’s entirely possible to make it the whole month on SNAP. Been there.


                  You have to squeeze the presidents until they yell for mercy. Buy a lot of generic. Keep a sharp eye out for sales and deals. Stock up on goods that store well when possible (sales, room, haulage). Be willing and able to go to two or three stores. Have access to decently priced stores. Do a LOT of home cooking. (Lots of potato-based dishes.)

                  Pete doesn’t sound like he’s in a position to do much or any of this. He’d need someone to manage it for him. That requires a legal guardian or a social worker taking over administration -if he gets SNAP.

                  (When I was on TANF/SNAP, having an ‘administrator’ take over handling your benefits for misuse was one of the penalties cited.)

              2. No, please*

                You’re right. I lost my job while pregnant and SNAP gave me less than $170/month. I know that may sound like a lot, but it’s not. It didn’t increase after having the baby either.

                1. Jessesgirl72*

                  If you were pregnant and then after the baby, you were also eligible for WIC, though, and WIC is very generous.

              3. sunny-dee*

                Well, SNAP is “supplemental,” so if he qualifies for that presumably he’d also qualify for other assistance.

                There are also a ton of food banks almost anywhere you are, from churches to Salvation Army to the county food bank. I’m sure assistance is available, but someone should be working with him to make sure he is 1) aware of it and 2) continually using it. (That’s not a coworker’s job, though.)

                1. No, please*

                  So in my area food banks only offer food at certain times during normal work hours. I needed a lot of proof that I lived where I said I did and there is not public transportation to this food bank- a country church. It’s not as easy as everyone says. I applied for any and everything I could. When you are that destitute everything is a road block. I live in a suburban area. It “should” have been easier but it was very difficult.
                  I’m not trying to be a downer or discourage people from food banks. But if you don’t have a car, or utilities in your name, government ID etc.. you need friends to help you at least get there.

              4. Episkey*

                I had SNAP as an AmeriCorps VISTA. I got about $200/month. For me, it was plenty. I lived by myself and had no dependents or spouse. I often even rolled money over into the next month because I didn’t use all $200. Granted, I’m a vegetarian so I wasn’t buying meat (which tends to be more expensive), but I was able to buy organic produce and still felt it was enough.

                1. No, please*

                  Another thing about SNAP or WIC is that the state runs it, to an extent. Certain states are more generous than others.

                2. Marisol*

                  I am confused to hear people say $200 a month is not a lot of money for groceries. I live in Los Angeles–not a cheap city–and I have done just fine on $200 a month. No dependents just like you, and in my case, I did eat meat. It was usually hamburger but I’m not fussy. And I got eggs, veggies, the occasional salmon steak, stuff like that, rather than pasta and junk, which I don’t really eat. So I was well-nourished. If someone wanted to go for some cheap carbs on top of inexpensive cuts of meat, eggs, and veggies, then they could stretch the dollar even further. I’m thinking potatoes or beans, not mac and cheese. The only thing that would make me different is, I’m don’t weigh much and so don’t need as many calories. But still, I think $200 should be doable in most cities. Just don’t buy fancy cheeses, chicken breasts, empty calories, etc.

                3. Candi*

                  This state has sales tax, including on some food items. But tax is never charged on SNAP items. At 6-9 cents on the dollar (by county), that adds up.

              5. Not Karen*

                As someone else mentioned, SNAP is a SUPPLEMENTAL Nutrition Assistance Program. It’s not supposed to cover ALL your food costs.

                1. Candi*

                  In practice, that’s what it often winds up having to do. Food stamps don’t keep the heat on. And not everywhere has the incredibly generous assistance program they have in my county.

        2. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

          You’re correct. The issue (taxwise) isn’t the amount of money, it’s the employment relationship.

          I’m pretty sure that even one person feeding Pete for an entire year wouldn’t incur a tax liability for him.

          1. Meg Murry*

            Actually, the money could be an issue taxwise. If Pete is working through a program for people receiving disability, there is a cap on how much income they can earn and still be eligible for their other benefits. I have a family member that works through this type of program and there are strict limits on how many hours a day/week she can work, how much money she can make and how much she can have in savings, etc.

            1. OhNo*

              Yes. As someone who has received some of these type of benefits, there are a bunch of ways that this could affect Pete’s benefits. When they interview for starting or renewing benefits, one of the questions they usually ask is, “Do you eat with others?” or “Do others cook/provide food for you?”. Experienced people know to answer this with no, regardless what the truth is, because admitting that others help you with food costs means they can drastically slash your benefits (same with admitting that people help you pay for rent, or really help pay for anything at all).

              This seems like a really nice plan, but OP and their coworkers have no idea how this plan would impact Pete’s benefits. There’s a good chance that Pete doesn’t even know how this would impact his benefits. And I seriously doubt that HR has any idea how this would impact Pete’s benefits, since they wouldn’t have any more information than the other coworkers about what kind of assistance he receives.

              A better option, if the OP and their coworkers want to help, might be to plan regular potlucks or group meals. Any leftovers can go home with anyone who wants them – including Pete – so it doesn’t count as “receiving assistance” for benefit purposes.

              1. Aunt Margie at Work*

                “Experienced people know to answer this with no, regardless what the truth is, because admitting that others help you with food costs means they can drastically slash your benefits (same with admitting that people help you pay for rent, or really help pay for anything at all).”

                This. Yes, one of those situations that cause more harm than good because people trying to help don’t understand. And I’m not blaming/criticizing those trying to help. I think they are great and the system is a mess, but it’s there and that’s it.

              2. Jaydee*

                Just chiming in to say that considering how the assistance would affect Pete’s eligibility for any benefits he receives (SSI, SNAP, etc.) is really important.

      2. Ann Furthermore*

        My old company would “gross up” any small bonus amounts, which this could qualify for. There was a program where you could nominate someone for a “spot” award, for amounts up to $50, and you would get a gift card or something. So if you got an award for $50, it would be included in your compensation as $62, or whatever the amount would be to make the amount you got be $50.

    3. LSP*

      My question is, if this guy is getting housing assistance, but has a job, how little is he being paid that he still cannot afford to eat? I know this is not OP’s fight, but it rankles me that this poor man is working and doing his best to be independent and still, STILL goes hungry some nights!

      1. Aunt Margie at Work*

        I agree that it is insane that he can’t afford food. I am not doubting that. I want to add that I hope there is someone who can help him with shopping, coupons, going to the right store for deals – just things to make the money stretch. Also, about cooking and preparing meals that last, like a meatloaf or meatballs, or pasta or soups. So many things that one has to learn as an independent adult are complicated in the best situations.

      2. Willow*

        In some cases it’s legal to pay disabled people less than minimum wage if it’s part of an incentive scheme.

        1. Candi*

          “They” base the amount paid on how much work a “healthy” person could do in the same time frame. It’s disgusting. And stupid. A fit young man with a mental age of twelve could do more heavy lifting then I could since I left housekeeping.

      3. ella*

        If he’s collecting disability-related SSI, there is a limit on how much he can earn before the government starts reducing his SSI to compensate. The rationale is that if you can work for a living, you don’t need SSI, but the system basically traps disabled people in poverty. It’s part of why parents are advised to create trust funds for their disabled children, rather than just giving them money/assets, because if the child has assets in their name they may be kicked off social security, regardless of the person’s actual disability or need.

    4. Laura*

      Does he have a representative payee? My nonprofit provides that service in our area. We receive all clients income and pay their bills, and then allocate their spending/grocery money. He maybe receiving enough money, but not allocating it well. For example, those with Down’s Syndrome sometimes have trouble understanding that the groceries are supposed to be eaten over a week rather than tonight. There’s ways to get the help but it may be being persistent and asking your area’s elderly services and development disability boards many questions.

  5. Stellaaaaa*

    OP1: I’m not strictly above reporting crappy former bosses and coworkers for bad off-duty behavior but you need to make sure you’ve got really good dirt.

    OP4: Be careful about presenting your idea in connection with some kind of criticism of the food drive. It’s unlikely that Pete has much use for the sorts of items that people tend to bring in (cans of plain beans or one-note vegetables; component ingredients that require prep and can’t easily be eaten on their own). Is it possible to find out more about his situation without being too nosy? If he’s receiving housing assistance and a job placement, it’s possible that he is also receiving SNAP and simply isn’t able to complete the tasks of shopping and cooking for himself. Spending your own money or sending him home with raw ingredients doesn’t solve the problem of how he’s going to feed himself on weekends, in any case.

    1. anoncmntr*

      I got the impression that LW4 is frustrated that HR is hosting a food drive at all when there’s a person in their own organization who could be the recipient of that goodwill (i.e., that HR should be asking for donations towards Pete’s meal plan instead of asking people to bring in canned goods). I don’t think LW is asking that folks donate cans of beans to Pete.

      1. Bartlet for President*

        I think it’s an incredibly kind thing that employees want to help Pete, and I applaud them for that.

        But, if the company directed charity towards him (in place of a food drive), then what about Ingrid down in accounting that is going through serious hardship because her husband died and she’s got two kids, and suddenly only one income? What about Sam over in marketing that has a daughter with a serious medical condition that isn’t fully covered by insurance? The employer directing the charity to Pete could very well cause some discontent amongst others, and I think that’d be a fair reaction.

        It’s also worth noting that any kind of organized ongoing support through the employer could put Pete’s other benefits at risk. Many benefits are income-contingent, and I could imagine a company-sponsored funneling of donated funds to a meal plan could be considered income (employer provided meals have tax liability in some circumstances, I believe). I remember a permanently disabled young woman who did odd jobs at a former employer, and we had to be extremely careful about her hours so that we didn’t push her up over the threshold that would disrupt disability benefits.

        1. Mel*

          The situation you described about other employees having serious hardships is precisely why some employers have an Employee Assistance Program (EAP), which has been mentioned before in AAM. It makes me think that in addition to working towards getting assistance for Pete, the LW could see if there’s a way to start a EAP at the company.

      2. Temperance*

        I understand that frustration, but the company can’t provide assistance to Pete. Once you do that, you’re opening the door to everyone with any sort of problem expecting help, and the related complaints because they can’t help everyone who wants or needs it.

    2. Raine*

      #1 I just want to echo — plus, it’s super easy for people to create fake “real” twitter accounts under other people’s names and photos. I mean it’s almost a meme. The whole scenario is ripe for so much embarrassment for the OP.

      1. Telly*

        Exactly. Various bots create fake Twitter accounts using people’s real names and Twitter profiles. It happened to me and I reported it to Twitter, so it got removed.

    3. Mike C.*

      but you need to make sure you’ve got really good dirt

      Let’s be honest, this is really where the OP takes a wrong turn here. If the dirt were amazing we would be feeling a whole lot different.

      1. Daisy*

        I still think former boss at former company would still come under ‘not your problem’, however good the goss

        1. Stellaaaaa*

          We always say “be careful what you put online” or “be mindful of your reputation” for a reason. This stuff only comes back to bite you because other people bring it to your employer’s attention. I don’t think it’s entirely honest to act like people don’t do the thing that OP1 wanted to do. I’ve done it! The boss who called me a r3tard every day got his.

      2. Lissa*

        Hahahaha, this made me laugh hard because it’s so true. (I also think it’s true that different people have different ideas of what is scandalous, and heck maybe I am wrong and in some places/industries Twitter-following porn stars on your personal account would actually be a big deal . . .)

  6. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

    OP#2, in addition to it being unusual to bring a coworker into a meeting in the non-union context, it’s especially strange to bring a subordinate for a discussion involving confidential personnel issues. I know you want to support coworker’s supervisor, but it might be worth letting her know that she should be really cautious about this sort of thing. Without greater context, it comes off to me like her judgment may not jive with common workplace norms.

    OP#3, I agree that it’s totally ok to say that the arrangement makes you uncomfortable, and at a minimum, your coworkers need to knock off the teasing—it’s unprofessional and kind of gross for them to openly speculate that you and your boss are going to hook up. But one line in your letter stood out to me: Is there a reason you think your boss would hit on you? I’m only asking because, for the same reasons it’s bizarre when straight people are uncomfortable rooming with LGBT folks because they’re worried the LGBT person will “hit on them” (as if being LGBT means you’re attracted to everyone of the same sex without any filter), it seems a little off that you both being single means your boss would hit on you. Your boss hitting on you, is of course, a much bigger problem than simply being single, gay, of the same sex, and rooming together.

    OP#4, with respect to Pete’s somewhat absent family not being there to help him apply for benefits, there are often elder law organizations and legal aid advocates that will provide free services to folks like Pete (he’s not very old, but he meets the age threshold for most elder services). In addition to pitching your fundraising idea to HR, it may help if you or your coworkers would be willing to walk Pete through the process of connecting with an elder advocate, if that’s something he would be open to pursuing. The federal government’s Eldercare Locator can help identify free resources in your area. The ABA Commission on Aging has also gathered a list of resources (it’s at the bottom of the page under “Consumers”). It may also be worth looking for support from disability rights organizations (often also housed at legal aid organizations).

    1. Fortitude Jones*

      Without greater context, it comes off to me like her judgment may not jive with common workplace norms.

      Yup, which is probably part of the reason she’s having disciplinary meetings in the first place.

    2. Appleblisson*

      Office of the Aging is another. With developmental disabilities he would have other resources to turn to as well. In my area we have ARISE.

    3. Lazy Cat's Mom*

      OP #4, you might consider Meals on Wheels or a similar program. I’ve used it in Maryland and Florida for elderly relatives and it was a great way to make sure they had a hot meal when the family was too far away to monitor. Many of these programs also have discounts if the individual is below certain income levels. Some programs provide two meals, a hot lunch and a cold supper.

      1. Adonday Veeah*

        Some have other restrictions — for instance, when I signed my mother up, they delivered between 11:00 and 1:00, and would not deliver if someone were not there (i.e., were at work) during delivery times. Something to check out for your local program.

    4. turquoisecow*

      I had a similar reaction to #3. The line about the boss making a pass at him stuck out to me as well. Is there some reason he thinks his boss is attracted to him? Because that opens a whole bunch of other awkward doors regardless of whether you’re rooming together. Or is he just suffering from his own heteronormative assumptions as well, by assuming that something might happen just because they both have the potential to be attracted to one another, even though they haven’t been in the past.

      It kind of reminds me of the sitcom trope where two opposite sex people find themselves sharing a room, and then there’s some ambiguity about whether “something happened,” and then in the following episodes they go back to not being obviously attracted at all. People don’t randomly become attracted to people just because they’re in a room alone together, whether they’re gay or straight!

      1. KP84*

        Agree, unless his boss has made a pass at him in the past or is known to flirt with employees, not sure why OP #3 would assume his boss would be attracted to him just because they are both gay and sharing the same room. As a gay man, I would be mad if a straight person said two gay single men cannot share a room because they might engage in some bed hopping. Not sure why this gay man feels the same. Oh well, if he is truly uncomfortable, he should ask to get his own room or figure out an alternative.

        1. Lissa*

          Eh it could be a combination of hearing gross comments from coworkers, plus thinking “well it wouldn’t be unreasonable if I were a woman to be uncomfortable sharing with a straight man . . ” And hearing dumb jokes about them hooking up from others can put thoughts in your head and just make it plain weird even if it wouldn’t otherwise be. I could see having a similar discomfort myself if I were sharing with another gay/bi woman and people had been making weird comments.

    5. Caleb*

      That comment REALLY stuck out to me too. If I, a gay man, managed a gay employee who thought rooming with me was awkward because it was inevitable I would hit on him, I would immediately peg him as somebody with serious internalized homophobia. I STRONGLY suggest leaving that out of any requests for a single room. Just say you don’t want to share, because sharing is awkward. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to request a room to yourself. But don’t make it about not rooming with your boss because he’s gay. That’s sex discrimination, right?

      Gay folks can discriminate too. Don’t be one of them.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Agree–I think it’s perfectly acceptable to request not sharing with your boss simply because they’re your boss. I once shared a room on a work trip with a gay boss, but this person and I had known each other since middle school. We’d already had boatloads of platonic sleepovers as kids.

        Absent the childhood friends connection, I probably wouldn’t have wanted to do it because it’s awkward to have your boss see you in your knickers.

  7. Gaia*

    I kind of disagree with you on #3, Alison. I’d argue people are more comfortable segregating certain activities by sex *because* of the risk of attraction. As a woman, it isn’t that I’m more comfortable changing in front of other women, it is that I’m uncomfortable changing in front of men because it is statistically more likely that they (and I) would have more of a sexual response. The same would be true for me if I knew a woman to be a lesbian or bisexual. In either case, of course, there is no guarantee they find me fabulously attractive, but but there’s enough of a risk that it would make me uncomfortable. I do not think I am alone here.

    I think openly gay men should not be asked to room with other men if straight men and women are not asked to room together.

    1. Anon for this*

      I’m a bisexual woman and I’m uncomfortable with that situation both for similar reasons and because I know that what you just outlined might be what someone is thinking about me. I don’t want to share a room with someone who’s worrying about that.

      (At the risk of derailing, should bisexuals get single rooms? I have always felt weird about having roommates, regardless of gender!)

      1. Junior Dev*

        Huh, I’m bisexual also and I feel a lot more comfortable changing in front of female friends than male, regardless of sexual orientation. I think a lot of it is about the “appearance of impropriety” (or in the case of friends, interest when our relationship is strictly platonic). Which is driven by our heterocentric society to be sure. But also, gender segregation is a thing and most people have spent plenty of time in locker rooms, restrooms etc. with people of the same gender (or the gender they have presented as for most of their life, in the case of some trans people).

        I don’t know, I think gender separation is not only about sexual attraction. I’d rather not be forced to share rooms at all, but I’m a lot more comfortable doing so with another woman.

        1. Junior Dev*

          Btw I don’t mean to imply others can’t be uncomfortable with sharing rooms because of their sexual orientation. Just, that’s not my experience.

          1. Zillah*

            This is where I’m coming from as well. Like you, I’m absolutely not dismissing people who feel otherwise, but I’ve personally always felt much more comfortable changing in front of other women or sharing a bed/room with them than I am with men, regardless of sexual orientation – the vast majority of women I’ve platonically shared a room/bed with have not been straight. I do think that heteronormativity is part of the cultural norm as well, but the extent to which that’s the case is probably highly dependent on where you are and what kind of culture you work in.

            1. Anion*

              Yes. It doesn’t bother me to change clothes etc. around lesbians, but I do not want to undress or be unclothed in any way around men (other than my husband).

          1. Oryx*

            Over the course of my career I’ve known trans woman in various stages of transitioning who always use the woman’s restroom and I am always more than happy to see them in there than work at a place where management would make them use the men’s restroom.

            Why do you think North Carolina needed to pass their ridiculous “bathroom bill?” Because bathrooms are not, in fact, segregated by physical sex so they wanted to make it so.

            1. Mookie*

              Exactly. There has never been genitalia-screening for use in public or privately-owned toilets, so — shock! horror! — even when invisible to cis observers, trans and genderqueer people are amongst us and always have been and this has never done anyone any harm. And gender doesn’t require scare-quotes, Anion, thanks.

          2. Alton*

            There’s no way to truly separate by sex without requiring chromosome testing.

            A lot of trans people present and pass as the gender they identify as but still have at least some of their original genitalia or secondary sex characteristics. You would never know this from casual interaction in a restroom, and most people judge strangers’ sexes and genders based in their secondary sex characteristics and gender presentation.

          3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

            That’s not accurate in all states. Many are segregated by gender (which yes, is a social construct, but outside of NC, who’s standing at the entrance to bathrooms requesting that people subject themselves to chromosomal testing?). I don’t want to derail, though, so I’ll leave it at that.

          4. Kimberlee, Esq*

            It’s actually going out of vogue to think of gender and sex as being different. The gender and workplace training I got at work told us that penis or vagina doesn’t make your sex anything specific; it means you have a penis or you have a vagina, and there’s not reason to make additional assumptions about a person because they have any given body part (especially since, of course, some people have neither, or both!)

        2. Callalily*

          I’m so tired right now and bored of work that I am impressed by your big words. My favorite is ‘heterocentric’… thank you.

        3. anon for this one*

          Another bisexual here and I’m generally more comfortable about sharing with women, but not if they have homophobic ideas about me checking them out just because I’m bi. I’d rather avoid the offensive and disgusting assumption that just because I’m attracted to women, I can’t help but check out any nude women who might be nearby.

          I think that would be equal to having to room with a man.

        4. Willow*

          I feel the same way. I’m far more comfortable changing in front of women than men, regardless of orientation. Probably because I’ve never had an experience where I’ve felt intimidated or threatened by a woman in a sexual context, whereas I’ve had many such experiences with men. (Yes, I know, #notallmen–but enough men that I’m cautious)

      2. Kelly L.*

        Yep, also bisexual, and if it were solely about attraction, I couldn’t room with anyone–at least in theory. In practice, sex is the last thing on my mind in an awkward work room-sharing situation.

        For me, it’s got more to do with body-function awkwardness. For example, I know not every woman has a period (whether because they’re older or they’re trans or there’s a medical reason), but I’ve never met a woman who didn’t know about periods.

        1. Lissa*

          Hee, I make this joke all the time when somebody trots out the “men and women can’t be friends” thing. So since I’m bi I can’t have any friends….?

    2. Boo*

      Honestly I think it should be standard practice that everyone should just get their own room. Then nobody has to consider whether their colleague is straight/gay/bi/whatever which is really nobody’s business anyway, and everybody gets to feel safe and get a good night’s rest. I do understand it’s common practice in some sectors to save money but it really baffles me as it feels like saving pennies at the expense of employee safety/sanity/goodwill and even if the company cares about none of that, productivity. There’s no point sending anyone away if say Jane is unable to pitch well because she spent half the night awake due to Sybil snoring.

      1. Joseph*

        I do understand it’s common practice in some sectors to save money but it really baffles me as it feels like saving pennies at the expense of employee safety/sanity/goodwill and even if the company cares about none of that, productivity.
        I’ve never really understood this either. You’re paying travel expenses (airline ticket or mileage). You’re paying either per diem or meals. You’re losing several hours of productivity during the actual travel. And…you’re going to sit here and quibble over paying an extra $79 per night for a separate hotel room, despite all the potential issues that come along with sharing a room?
        Frankly, the hotel room cost is such a small proportion of the cost/hassle of business travel that if you can’t afford to pay for separate rooms, you should really be reconsidering whether you need to send two in-person people.

        1. NJ Anon*

          Where I live, $79 per night would not get you a decent hotel room. Most conferences are held in big cities with expensive hotel room rates. Frankly, I would just try to get my own room and pay for it myself if at all possible

          1. Koko*

            Yep – I don’t get this “small proportion of cost” argument. When I travel for business my hotel is the largest single budget item except for sometimes the conference registration fee if I’m attending a conference. Flight will be $300-500, but room will be minimum $150-250 per night (after taxes and resort fees), multiplied by 3 to 4 nights = $450-1,000. I rarely spend more than $50/day on food since meals are often included in whatever I’m traveling for.

            Cutting hotel costs in half could cut the entire travel budget by 20-25%.

            1. Kimberlee, Esq*

              Yep, if you’re going to a conference, even in a not-NYC-or-DC place, you’re paying $150-$250 a room, and adding a second person to a room usually costs literally $0. I am very much in favor of building the expense into your budget as an organization as early as you can, so you don’t get addicted to the bootstrapping savings, but for some (especially small, especially nonprofit) orgs, it’s a reasonably way to cut costs.

        2. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

          I get this argument, and I — as a person who traveled 50% for my last job — absolutely agree that organizations shouldn’t be asking employees to share rooms. (Mine did, but fortunately, 95% of my travel was to a city nobody else went to, so I had my own room most of the time.)

          But, as a point of information: Hotels have been by far the most expensive part of my business travel. Round trip tickets domestically rarely cost more than $500 (aside from holidays, etc.), with enough lead time. Business-class hotels typically cost at least $150 a night — before taxes — even in small metro areas. It only takes a couple of nights for the hotel cost to vastly outpace the cost of flights.

        3. Patrick*

          I’m lucky to work for a company that doesn’t pinch pennies, but I have plenty of friends who have to take the most awful flights when they travel because their company requires them to take the cheapest possible option. Basically, I totally agree but generally the companies that are making people share a room are cheaping out across the board not just on hotels.

          BTW, I’ve actually had to share a BED with a coworker when we got into town for a tradeshow and the hotel lost his reservation. It was like 11 PM, we’d just flown across the country and the hotel didn’t have any other open rooms. Definitely not ideal.

      2. paul*

        100% agreed. I work for a small/mid sized (is 30 FTE’s small or mid sized??) 501c(3). I’ve literally never seen other related 501s do room sharing. My first manager here (long gone) tried to force us ot share rooms for work travel and we all revolted. Even as largely youngish new to the workforce employees, just no.

        Although, my brother’s had to share rooms every time he’s traveled for work (trucking). So I guess it really does vary field to field but I’m amazed at companies trying it so often

        1. Chinook*

          If you brother works in trucking, is it possible that he has to share rooms because some times there aren’t enough rooms available for everyone to get one? In small towns in remote areas, that is a real possibility.

        2. Koko*

          (is 30 FTE’s small or mid sized??) 501c(3)

          Small for a business, mid-sized for a nonprofit, I would say. Anything over 100 FTEs makes you “large” in the nonprofit world which is primarily made up of local or narrowly-focused national causes, but it takes more than that to be a large company in an international business context.

      3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        I agree with you, but I’ve also worked at countless nonprofits that expect same-gender coworkers to room together. Or they are extraordinarily pushy about “encouraging” room-sharing through guilt-tripping and implying that employees wanting individual rooms means they’re “stealing” from money that could go to providing services. None of that is a good look, but it seems super common for certain parts of the nonprofit sector.

        With some exceptions for nonsense, room-sharing does seem to be primarily a financial decision. As NJ Anon, noted, it can cost hundreds of dollars per night for a second room in a big city (particularly during “peak travel” times). Nonprofits are also under so much pressure to keep “overhead” costs low, and making employees bunk up is a short-sighted way of trying to drive down costs. Not saying anything of this is right, but it can sometimes take a lot of work to shift attitudes (and fund) better policies.

        1. Koko*

          At our annual staff retreat most of us have to share rooms because there are literally no hotels we could afford that would have the 600 or so rooms we would need for everyone to be able to have their own room. Any hotel that large is also so fancy we couldn’t afford it even if we were sharing rooms!

          It’s very much just an accepted part of working here. It’s a few nights once a year, we all expect it, we are allowed to choose our roommate if we have a preference, and we just deal with it. Nobody even really complains about it because it’s just so normalized as a routine part of our culture it doesn’t occur to anyone to object to it.

          We never share rooms when just a few employees are traveling individually or as a team, though. They’re willing to shell out the money for us if the hotel has enough rooms for us.

          1. zora*

            Ah yes, I would feel very differently about sharing for a retreat or other internal event with coworkers, actually. I’m kind of okay with that, I am probably not going to get a lot of sleep anyway, it’s an unusual event, and presumably short.

            What is unacceptable in my opinion, is sharing a room when you are traveling to work, and in my case that involves 10-12 hour days that involve a lot of complex thinking where I really have to be operating at the top of my game. I really need every minute of sleep I can get, I already have jet lag, and even with a coworker I like, getting up 30 minutes earlier because we need to coordinate time in the shower is going to seriously affect my functionality that day.

            And I also put my foot down that no one should ever have to share a room with a direct supervisor or boss, as I said elsewhere in this thread.

            But I can definitely see sharing a room making sense in limited circumstances, or at least being acceptable.

            And I second everything Princess Consuela said about nonprofits being manipulative and worrying about overhead, all of that is extremely common and I think it is awful and needs to stop.

    3. Foxtrot*

      I think a lot of this is cultural, too. It seems that Americans are weird about nudity. My own thoughts, though others can disagree, is that we need to stop getting so freaked out about it.
      I’m an American but lived in a country where public baths were the norm and segregated nudity was just a thing when I was a teenager. It was weird at first, but I got over it pretty quick. It never even crossed my mind to think there might be an LGBT woman in there who found the situation sexual. It’s just a body after all.
      Later, I had a swollen lymph node or gland or something that I had no idea what it was. When I went to the doctor (in America) to get checked out, he panicked more than I did that I whipped my shirt off to have him look at it. Apparently you’re supposed to take your clothes off, put on this little white sheet while the doctor is out and then have them look at you at just that one part. I just assumed that if a guy is out to see a topless woman, he’ll go the route of the boss in #1 and less the route of 8 years of stressful schooling and a half million dollars of debt.
      I guess where I’m going, I’m not concerned with being naked in front of someone if it’s “naked time” like changing or a bath or at the doctor. I’m more concerned that our society is so sexually charged that they can’t look at a human body during a non-sexual time without a response.

      1. Oryx*

        I had to have surgery on my thigh over the summer and when they were moving me from the hospital bed to the one in surgery, the one nurse was making sure to cover everything up down there. I just looked at her and said “Look, I’ve pretty much lost all modesty at this point so it’s really not a big deal.” She gave this uncomfortable laugh but, seriously, chances are they were all going to see my lower half unclothed once I was all the way under anyway, what was the big deal?

        1. Artemesia*

          LOL I was in a hospital in France this fall and every morning when they came into assist me shower it was a guy; after the first time, it just didn’t bother me.
          Hospital. Naked. No big deal.

        2. Lima Joe Coo*

          I had a similar thing when I had outpatient surgery a few years ago. When I went back for the check up and I needed to pull my pants down, the doctor asked if they should leave. No, you really don’t need to leave the room for me to take my pants off when you’re just going to come back in the room and look at my butt. :)

          1. Callalily*

            It is so much weirder with pap tests… the nurse practitioner leaves the room so I can remove my bottoms and put on a tissue sheet but then she proceeds to look at my privates spread eagle while inserting tools into my vagina and looking at it in ways my husband never will.

            At this point I just ask her to turn around so we’re not both further embarrassed by me hopping around stuck in my pants and then mounting the exam table half naked.

        3. AnotherAlison*

          Ha. I grew up in a family that wasn’t particularly modest. It was just my sister and I, and both of our parents would walk around in their underwear, which I now know is weird, but point is I didn’t grow up overly concerned about closing the door to pee and whatnot. Then, when I was 19, I delivered my oldest son at a teaching hospital. . .I had extremely invasive induction: “I’m going to break your water with these 6 medical students watching.” Awesome. Then a c-section. Then trying to breastfeed with an audience. I decided any modesty I had was gone at that point in my life, and if you don’t want to see it, don’t look. : )

          1. not really a lurker anymore*

            Yeah, I lost what was left of my modesty giving birth. And I had standard births.

        4. Lovemyjob...Truly!!!*

          LOL…that was me in childbirth. I had all these people coming in to check on my progress and they’d cover me up afterward. My husband noticed that one time the nurse left my thigh partially exposed and he reached over to pull my gown down. I stopped him (because I was hot and exhausted and feeling kind of contrary) and he said “Someone might see.” I told him I didn’t care and maybe the next person who looked would have a better idea of how to get the baby out of my damn body!

        5. ThatGirl*

          Yeah, I go to the dermatologist for mole checks, and they have me put on the paper gown but then they look at my boobs, my butt, etc. because moles can hide anywhere — it’s like, why bother with the gown?

      2. Rusty Shackelford*

        When I went to the doctor (in America) to get checked out, he panicked more than I did that I whipped my shirt off to have him look at it.

        Seems like I’ve heard a particular medical group or insurance policy may mandate that doctors not be alone in a room with an unclothed patient. So he might not have been thinking “oh no, sexual naked lady!” but instead “oh crap, I’m gonna have to fill out so much paperwork now.”

      3. SarahTheEntwife*

        Yes! And to me it somehow feels more awkward to be covered with this inadequate little paper sheet or a gown that doesn’t close in the back than it would to just be uncomplicatedly topless/naked.

        There does seem to be an increased taboo about *undressing* specifically. I modeled for art classes in college, and they had a changing room so that I could undress privately…in preparation for sitting naked in the middle of the room for an hour and a half.

      4. neverjaunty*

        While I agree with you that naked bodies don’t have to equal sex, let’s please get away from this “they’re just bodies!” and “other cultures aren’t so UPTIGHT y’all”, which can be and are used to shame people (women particularly) into dropping boundaries and tolerating sexual harassment.

        1. AMPG*

          Thanks for this. It’s OK for different people to have different levels of privacy that they’re comfortable with, both emotionally and physically.

        2. Junior Dev*

          Yes. People get to have their own boundaries, and it’s not cool to shame anyone for that, regardless of what you think of the larger culture around nudity/bodies.

      5. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        The doctor thing is often not because they’re uptight, but because there have been countless lawsuits in which a male doctor sexually assaulted a female patient under the guise of an examination (e.g., beginning an exam normally and then going way off the rails to do something inappropriate an medically unnecessary). As a result, most hospitals and medical practices now require, as part of their risk management, that when the doctor/patient are of opposite genders, a nurse or other medical professional that is the same gender as the patient has to be in the room, as well.

        To be frankly honest, I’ve always thought gender segregation was about mitigating opportunities for sexual assault, which is why I’ve never thought of it as guided by sexual attraction or standards re: modesty. Of course this is an imperfect approach—just look at any number of awful news stories about teen boys sexually assaulting each other in locker rooms.

        1. Candi*

          Doesn’t even have to be a locker room. My son told me (months after it happened) that the reason he cut one “friend” out of his life (except for shared classes) a couple of years ago is that the “friend” invited him over to his house for video games. He then began to hit on my son in a way that sounded very aggressive in the reselling. Worse, he didn’t listen to ‘no’.

          My son got out of there without having to jab a few nerve bundles. (At pint-sized at his age, causing a lot of pain fast was his preferred method of fighting back.) But he was rightfully furious. And in an interesting social development, he was apparently fine with telling some of his friends (boys and girls) what happened.

          Didn’t affect his views of gay people. One of his current friends is a gay transgender guy -with bright pink hair.

      6. turquoisecow*

        That’s hilarious.

        I had surgery last year (ovary removed) and then a few other medical issues this year that left me dizzy or unsteady on my feet and I first had a catheter inserted (which I went home with) and my husband (boyfriend at the time) took care of emptying it. Once it was removed I needed help getting to the bathroom because I was unsteady on my feet and could barely walk. So when we got married a few months ago and I was in this huge dress the bridal attendant had to hold out of the way so I could pee? That was no big deal. Oh, I get to pee in front of someone? Yeah, whatever. I did that in the hospital, I did it at home. I’m over it. If/when I give birth, it’s gonna be whatever, too.

        I mean, I still would rather maybe not have my father or siblings watching, but complete strangers? Whatever. You get used to it.

      7. Koko*

        I agree, and I think most people would be surprised how quickly they would acclimate to nudity. I’ve seen it happen many times. A conservative Irish Catholic friend of mine studied for a year in Iceland and it only took her 3 or 4 weeks to get comfortable going to the sauna with her coworkers in the nude, something which HORRIFIED her the first time it came up. I’ve also seen people go to Burning Man averting their eyes every time they see a naked person for the first 2 days, but by day 3 or 4 they’ve stopped even noticing the naked people, and by day 6 some of them are even willing to get naked themselves as long as it’s an area where there are more naked people than clothed people. (Which really does the change the equation – when you’re surrounded by 50 naked people of all body types, ages, and fitness levels, nudity becomes non-sexual and boring in a hurry.)

    4. Purest Green*

      To me the larger issue of rooming with your boss is not sexual orientation/attraction, but the power dynamic and truly not having downtime. If his boss says he wants the better bed, or wants to discuss work stuff until 2 a.m, or a million other things that OP would object to, it can make it harder to do so because he’s the boss.

      1. paul*

        Or hell, if I want to sit up till 2am and listen to music on headphones and drink cheap bottles of sangria. I mean, even without people of different levels sharing rooms it takes away a lot of my ability to actually decompress. There’s some stuff that I just don’t want to do in front of other people and relatively little of it’s got anything to do with sex.

        1. Oryx*

          Yup, if after a long day I want to come back to my hotel room and binge watch crappy TV and order room service, I want to be able to do it without my co-workers judging me.

        2. Oh no, not again*

          Being able to fart freely is something I must do. I don’t want to have to suppress that, worry about if I’ll snore or moan/talk in my sleep, etc. And even though these things are OK for me to do, I don’t want to be stuck with someone doing the same. Private time is important.

      2. zora*

        Yes, this. I had to room with my boss at a previous job when we traveled, who was a straight woman a little younger than me (I am a bi woman, but my coworkers knew me as straight), and the first night we shared a room, I found out she needs to have the lights on… All. Night… Yeah….

        She was reading and kept the lights on, I had a sleep mask on, but really that’s not enough for me to sleep when the overhead lights are on. I finally looked over at her at like 2am, she was asleep, so I got up and turned the lights off. 10 minutes later, she got up and turned them back on again……………
        I never said anything because I’d been working for her for only a few weeks at that point, she was my boss, I was tired, I just was so uncomfortable arguing with my boss about whether the lights would be on or off at night (!!!)

        I ended up just paying out of pocket for airbnbs for myself the rest of the time I worked there, which basically was more than I was getting paid per day most of the time. But there is definitely an added layer of power issues for a boss to share a hotel room with a subordinate. I think even small organizations should have that as a hard and fast rule, and just pay a little more if needed to make sure no one ever has to share a room with their boss.

        1. Jean*

          I can barely sleep in a hotel room by myself much less with someone who sleeps with the light on. Especially the overhead light. That’s just rude.

          1. zora*

            It felt literally insane to me, especially at the time, after 5 days of being completely sleep deprived. Who on earth assumes that any human can sleep with the lights on?! GAH, I’ve been out of that job for years, but it still kind of drives me crazy when I think about it.

            1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

              That sounds insane and crazy-making to me, zora. I’m sorry you had to bunk under such weird conditions! (I understand boss needing the lights on may not be inherently weird, althoug it’s very inconvenient for a roomie, so it seems like the better option would have been to put boss in a room by herself).

      3. JustaTech*

        And even if the boss is a perfect roommate when he’s awake, what about if he snores, or talks embarrassing things in his sleep? Or has horrifying gas?
        On an elementary school trip I once had to share a room (bed?) with the headmistress. She snored. And that was all I could think every time after; “Miss Headmistress snores like my dad”.

        It will color how you see your boss (and how your boss sees you).

    5. NotASalesperson*

      Honestly, I’m perfectly comfortable changing in front of whomever if I know they will keep personal thoughts to themselves. Men, in my experience, have been much less able to do that than women. Ergo, I’m more comfortable changing in front of women. It’s really as simple as that.

      You can be physically attracted to someone and not tell them about it. In fact, in a work context, that’s the expectation.

    6. Amy G. Golly*

      If you’ve ever changed in a public setting (locker room, for instance) you’ve changed in front of a lesbian or bisexual woman. It’s likely you had no idea, for two reasons:

      1. As people have mentioned elsewhere in this thread, there are social expectations for “naked time” – the largest one being that you don’t ogle, stare, or show any visible signs of physical attraction to any of the other bodies. It’s a non-sexual situation, and you act accordingly. The idea that your average adult human being is just a walking bag of hormones who becomes aroused at any hint of naked flesh is just silly. (For the record, I am not saying anyone is being “silly” for feeling awkward in these situations! That awkwardness is perfectly natural for lots of people. What I’m saying is the vast majority of adults know how to behave in these situations, and anyone who would creep on somebody else in a group changing situation is just that – a creep – and very much the exception rather than the rule.)

      2. These group changing situations are especially fraught for lesbian and bisexual women. Gay panic is very much a thing, and lots of queer women live in fear of being “outed” in a locker room situation and accused of leering at straight women. (This is true for other queer people as well – especially trans or nonbinary queer people – but this example was specifically about lesbian or bisexual women.)

      I’m a bisexual woman, and when I’m changing at the gym, I am very much aware that 1. it’s a non-sexual situation and 2. there are many straight women who would feel uncomfortable to know they’re changing with a queer woman. Both of these facts very much influence my behavior.

      Now that I’ve said my piece, on to the LW’s question! I don’t know that there should be separate rooming rules for non-heterosexuals, because it hinges on knowing the sexual orientation of all your employees: something you will not always know or be able to assume. I should think your standard grouping by gender rules should apply, unless anyone felt uncomfortable with the way the arrangements worked out. And here’s what bothers me about that: it places the burden on someone to feel comfortable enough to object. So unless you can reasonably assume that your employees will comfortable rooming together (or comfortable objecting to rooming together), the default really should be that everyone gets their own room.

      LW, the only thing to do is speak up: say you’re not comfortable, and cite the ridiculous and unprofessional comments of your coworkers if pressed for a specific reason. That should be enough for any reasonable employer!

      1. Bwmn*

        This is so well put. For lots of single people, they don’t make a big deal out of their private lives in the workplace – be they heterosexual or homosexual. If the decisions are gender based, that’s one thing. If the discomfort is between staff and their supervisors – then go with this. However, to get into sexual orientation or relationship status – that’s asking a whole lot of disclosure of employees.

      2. shep*

        I’m a woman and straight, but I’m SO much more comfortable changing in front of women of any sexual orientation than I am changing in front of a man.

        I’m thinking back to a poorly conceived Starbucks restroom wherein both restroom options were marked gender-neutral, although they had been changed multiple times since I’d been there and were supposed to be single-stall. I tried to be quick about it and get out of there, but I was suddenly doing my business next to a man. I’m sure this is far more of a cultural shock than anything and would be totally normal if it were ubiquitous in society already, but I TOTALLY panicked.

        He did too. He saw me frantically washing my hands and backed back into his stall and locked the door.

        With women, transgender or bisexual or gay or otherwise, I wouldn’t have batted an eye.

        1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          Would this have bothered you less if you’d realized that several folks of different genders could be in there at once? I only ask b/c my college dorm had unisex bathrooms, and although initially uncomfortable, over time it became no-big-deal because we expected the bathroom to be multi-gender. But I think I would have been surprised if I were in a single-use bathroom or a single-gender bathroom and someone of the opposite sex walked in.

          1. shep*

            Nah, dorms were a different beast. I think it would’ve been fine once I’d gotten used to it, especially with pretty much the same people for an entire year. However, a public restroom that had just a few weeks ago been single-sex was disorienting. (It’s since changed back again.) I mean, I knew it was gender-neutral, but most Starbucks restrooms are marked as such but are also single-stall. When I saw it was multiple-stall, I was initially nervous, but thought I could get in and out quickly. No such luck.

            And, this is probably TMI, but I have some public restroom anxiety to begin with. I don’t want ANYONE hearing my business, so the fact that a man walked in and this was the first (and only, just for lack of them) time I’ve been in a multi-stall gender-neutral restroom just ratcheted my anxiety through the roof.

            1. shep*

              (Also, I have a hunch the door was intended to lock and only one stall was intended to be used. They have two restrooms in that location. One is clearly a single and the one I had the misfortune of using had the same type of lock on the door, but the door refused to shut. It just seemed like it was poorly constructed rather than specifically sabotaged to keep anyone from shutting and locking it. So while it was gender-neutral, I had the distinct impression staff meant it to be used by one person at a time. Thus, utter freak-out on my end.)

      3. turquoisecow*

        YES. There’s a difference between being naked and being SEXUALLY naked. I’m bisexual, and most people (especially complete strangers) don’t know it, and whenever I’ve been in a locker room, I’ve always been mildly terrified that someone will accuse me of looking at them too long, even though I generally don’t even look at anyone.

        The reason most of my friends and family don’t know I’m bisexual is basically because I figure my sexual orientation matters only to people I want to have sex with. My husband is aware. My past girlfriend was aware. Anyone I’ve dated, I made sure to inform them relatively early in the process (like, in my online profile). Everyone else? Don’t see why it matters. Unless I’m attracted to someone, or I suspect that she’s attracted to me, I wouldn’t have any issue sharing a room with a female coworker. If the OP is concerned about his boss being attracted to him because he’s subtly hinted that before, that’s a whole separate issue than sharing rooms.

        1. turquoisecow*

          and I DEFINITELY didn’t tell any of my coworkers, even though I’d worked with them for many years.

    7. anon for this one*

      This is why I don’t say I’m bisexual at work. Because there’s always people with internalized issues who think my sexuality means I’ll be checking them out if we’re in a locker room/hotel room/etc. together.

      It’s depressing. I’m more concerned about your issues with my sexuality than checking you out. I have more to lose here by my sexuality making you uncomfortable.

      1. Gaia*

        I just want to be clear that is not what I was saying. In no way do I think anyone who is attracted to women are obvs attracted to ALL women. However, I would be very uncomfortable sharing a hotel room with someone who I knew to be attracted to women. It isn’t that I assume they will be attracted to me, but that there is always a chance and sharing a room is just too intimate for me then.

        Frankly, I think the solution is that you shouldn’t be forced to share rooms because you cannot presume to know anyone’s sexuality and the very notion that someone should have to disclose their sexuality if they don’t want to is really terrible.

    8. turquoisecow*

      I’m bisexual. Just putting that out there from the start.

      I’ve shared a room with a woman and not been attracted to them. I’ve shared a room with a bisexual or gay woman and not had them be attracted to me. The “risk of attraction” is, in my mind, a ridiculous concept. If you’re attracted to someone, do you immediately make a move? In public? In the workplace? Have you never worked with someone you found attractive (regardless of sexual orientation)? Did you control your impulses, or did you immediately jump them in the hallways?

      Obviously, if you’re uncomfortable sharing a hotel room with someone (even for one night, with separate beds) for whatever reason, attraction or not, you should ask HR or whomever is responsible for room assignments for a different arrangement, but to imply that our sexual attractions and activities are uncontrollable is just flat out ridiculous. Social norms indicate men and women don’t see one another naked unless they’re sexually involved, but you can change in the bathroom, and there’s a door on the bathroom, and adults who have the concept of consent understood should have no problem sharing a hotel room with two beds. The coworkers doing the teasing in this scenario are like teenagers, but that doesn’t mean the OP and his boss need to act that way also.

      1. Gaia*

        I do not think the risk of attraction is ridiculous when you are changing and sleeping in the same room. It is a very intimate situation and very different than sitting at the desk next to them or walking down the hallway. It doesn’t matter if it is a bisexual or lesbian woman or a straight man – it is just too intimate when there could be an attraction.

    9. Lora*

      I think nobody should ever be asked to room with me, ever. Not because I have any interest at all in another person’s nethers, but because I can only sleep with a nightlight on all night yet cannot sleep at all in the presence of “blue screen light” like computer and TV and phone screens, I sleepwalk and sleep-talk and scream from night terrors, spread my clothes all over the chair/bed, and burrow under a huge pile of pillows to sleep which results in snoring. Then I get up super early and wander around exercising and dancing and singing along to the radio in the shower, followed by a long caffeinated breakfast that could serve a Prussian army platoon, before I can be motivated to go to the work site. Also, I find European hotel beds too tiny (I’m 5’5″ and 130 pounds, but I thrash around a lot) and usually fall on the floor with a frightening thump a couple times per night when traveling in Europe, before I give up and pile all my blankets into a nest on the floor.

      Youse guys would all smother me in my sleep by the third night.

  8. overcaffeinatedandqueer*

    I think the same-sex rooming here is a bit different than if one was gay and one was straight; while this sort of echoes straight people saying, “but the LGBT person will hit on me!”, if the person actually did in that case, the basic level of attraction would just not be there in the same way as it would be for two people with compatible orientations. So this letter is more fraught because both are gay.

    I actually had this very thing happen to me, but in a personal context, once. I was on a vacation with my parents, brother, his girlfriend, and my grandparents. There were not enough bedrooms, but obviously my parents did not want my brother to share with his girlfriend at that time (as he was 18 and she was 17). So, the girlfriend, who I did not know very well yet, was supposed to share with me.

    I had just come out. I had to explain that sharing a room with a girl is functionally equivalent to opposite-gender sharing for me in a lot of respects. No, I wouldn’t hit on her. Yes, I know she’s your girlfriend.

    Your mileage may vary, but I’m more comfortable sharing space with (non-jerk) men than women; men won’t claim I hit on them, and I wouldn’t feel awkward, because I could not be attracted to them. Of course, maybe I’m biased. After I came out, my college roommate accused me of sexually harassing her and watching her change. I did neither. We hardly spoke!

    1. Raine*

      It does present the scenario of “Gay men can’t room with any men because they’re only about sex” whether it’s a straight roommate or fay roommate. And I think unless a female coworker were especially close, rooming with a woman would be uncomfortable for at least the woman even if her coworker is a gay man.

    2. Telly*

      That sucks about your college roommate! My roommate was gay and I never once felt awkward around her. Looking back, I hope that she didn’t feel awkward around me.

      1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

        I actually had a roommate turn around and ask to be moved before the semester even started, because she was so freaked out about rooming with a lesbian.

        At that point, I think I was just as glad to avoid rooming with her, too.

    3. Candi*

      My first thought is your brother needed to work on trusting you and his girlfriend. It’s like that annoying romcom/sitcom plot where the woman meets the handsome, intelligent, talented guy who was a BFF when she was younger, and the BF/fiancé/husband can’t get it through his thick head that, no, she is not interested in BFF, she’s only interested in SO.

      It says more about the SO’s perception then anyone’s orientation.

  9. Greg*

    The thing about Twitter and LW1. It may be the person she thinks it is, it may not. It may be the person she thinks it is but the account has been hacked. Hell, it could be that someone spoofed the original account, including the family related posts. That is a thing, but I don’t know why. So, as everyone else said, let it go!

    1. Trig*

      Yeah, I use Twitter to follow a bunch of people, but I don’t tweet. At one point, my account got ‘hacked’ and taken over by what was probably a bot. The profile pic was a buxom lady and there were a few salacious obviously bot-written tweets. When I got it back, I was following 100’s of people, many of which were X-rated.

      I suspect this is what happened to OldBoss. The fact that most of his few tweets were years old is a clue, I think these bot hacker whatevers go for inactive accounts specifically.

      (But yeah, OP, quit stalking your old boss.)

      1. Rhys*

        Same thing happened to me when I set up an account under my own name for future use related to a project I was planning (I use a separate account under a pseudonym so I can tweet without worrying about it getting linked to me professionally). I didn’t get around to the project for a while but I checked back in on the account after a few months only to find that suddenly I was a belfie-taking babe who was following, liking and retweeting a lot of questionable stuff. I managed to reclaim it and clean it up but for all I know it was coming up in search results for my name for months.

      2. Arjay*

        I had an instagram account that I used minimally for a brief time and then I just stopped. I went back to it and while nothing had been posted by “me”, the likes, follows, and followers were out of control crazy.

    2. SleepyMel*

      This is a really good point- you can’t tell what’s real and what isn’t on the internet and a lot of unethical activity also involves adult material. Not saying they are related, just happens to be the way it is.

  10. PBu*

    I’m going to disagree with your answer to #2 Alison. In our workplace (On Australia for context) having a moral support person for a disciplinary type meeting is very much a done thing. This is brought up in our leadership training and further emphasis on allowing this for Indigenous and ESL staff was made.

    1. Al Lo*

      There was a really interesting comment thread about having a support person in an interview a few years ago, as it related to Maori hiring in New Zealand. I would imagine that your workplace’s emphasis on this being available for Indigenous people would stem from the same reasons.

      1. Apollo Warbucks*

        In the UK you can also bring a coworker to disciplinary meetings, they can be a union rep or anyone else that you want to bring, it’s not just for Indigenous employees, it is so the employee being disciplined can have a witness to the meeting.

        It only applies to formal disciplinary meetings that can be the first step towards being sacked, not every meeting you might have with your boss.

        1. Bartlet for President*

          Beyond being able to serve as a witness if the employee alleged wrongful termination, can the witness do anything? Are they able to advocate on the employee’s behalf in some manner?

          1. Akcipitrokulo*

            Yes. You have a legal right to be accompanied either by a colleage, a union rep or any union official.

            The company doesn’t have to allow other friends or representatives (although a lot will).

            The other person can present your case, take notes, give advice during meeting, sum up, etc.

            (Legal rights apply to disciplinary meetings (or any that may turn into one) – not investigations.)


          2. Apollo Warbucks*

            According to Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (acas) who are the official body responsible for employment tribunals:

            Workers have a statutory right to be accompanied by a companion where
            the disciplinary meeting could result in:

            ● a formal warning being issued; or
            ● the taking of some other disciplinary action; or
            ● the confirmation of a warning or some other disciplinary action (appeal hearings).

            The companion should be allowed to address the hearing to put and sum up the workers case, respond on behalf of the worker to any views expressed at the meeting and confer with the worker during the hearing. The companion does not, however, have the right to answer questions on the worker’s behalf, address the hearing if the worker does not wish it or prevent the employer from explaining their case.

            The above note relates to the employee’s own internal disciplinary process, if the someone challenged the outcome at a tribunal then the person who accompanied the employee could be called to give evidence at the tribunal hearing.

      2. Mpls*

        Eh…I’d be careful about imputing NZ cultural norms to Australia. I would not assume any NZ attitudes about the Maori translate that directly to Aussie attitudes about their Aboriginal people.. My understanding is that they have very different histories with their native peoples.

        1. Evergreen*

          Yep (non-indigenous) Aussie here: very different histories, but we have a lot to learn from NZ in that respect

    2. Ren*

      I guess with AaM letters they have to assume the letter writer is US unless otherwise stated, but from a U.K. point of view I was also surprised this wasn’t the done thing since it’s standard here too

      1. Fiona the Lurker*

        Yes, I’m also in the UK and it’s been fairly standard where I’ve worked – mostly in the NHS. In fact the person calling the meeting usually suggests that the ‘subject’ bring someone with them – often a union rep, but sometimes just a neutral/sympathetic observer. Apart from anything else, it helps them to understand and remember whatever is said to them … and as the person chosen usually tends to be more experienced there is also an element of moral support so that the subject doesn’t feel ganged-up on. [I’m assuming a ‘problem’ or ‘disciplinary’ element to the meeting, of course.]

        1. Sleepy Unicorn*

          Very interesting! This sounds like one of those situations where we in Canada are more in line with the US because as far as I know it’s not a done thing here outside of a union environment.

      2. Marzipan*

        Yup. It’s been written into the procedures of pretty much everywhere I’ve ever worked that you can bring someone with you in these kinds of circumstances.

    3. Jen RO*

      Romania, and it would be very weird to have a moral support person in the meeting – so it’s not just the US!

  11. TheLazyB*

    Ooh #2 is interesting. Everywhere I’ve worked, you’ve always had a right to take someone with you for moral support, be it a family member, coworker or union rep. But I’m in the UK public sector.

    Having said that I think people might baulk at a former supervisor.

    1. MK*

      A union rep is pretty normal, sometimes even obligatory, and I can understand asking a coworker to be there, because they have relevant experience and information. But a family member? That comes across as juvinile to me.

    2. Andy Newstrom*

      Some parts of UK industry allow you to have either a union rep or a “friend” with you. I really recommend having someone with you, if at all possible. Even if they do no more than record what was said, and ask for clarification where necessary, it will be very valuable. The employee will probably not be in a good place mentally (lacking sleep the previous night, nervous, etc.) and will not be able to both listen to what is being said and take notes at the same time. Accurate notes of meetings like this are really important.

      I recommend being in a union mainly so you can have an experienced rep. with you in these kind of circumstances. They will know how the company have handled similar cases in the past, be able to advise you and give a good idea of your options. In the UK the union rep will have certain legal protections that a “friend” may not. The friend may have to work for the same company, the union rep certainly must do unless trained and certified by the union.

      1. Akcipitrokulo*

        Once my partner accompanied his friend into a disciplinary (which was unfair, but got sorted out) … found out a couple of months later that they had all assumed he was friend’s solicitor and that was why they played it strictly by rules and issues were resolved in friend’s favour :-)

    3. Not So NewReader*

      Sincere question: Do people often ask to bring a parent/other family? If yes, how does that usually go?

  12. Sue Wilson*

    1) There’s nothing here, and, they will probably think you are being petty for saying something about something you have to deliberately search for.

    2) I’m surprised the supervisor wasn’t invited to begin with, and to count you’ve mentioned 3 hostile interactions with this upper level manager (the employee, the supervisor, and you). Honestly, it seems you need to focus on what’s up with your department’s antipathy towards this manger, because I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s driving all of your reactions.

    3) Honestly, you’ll get farther if you say you’re uncomfortable rooming with your Boss, which is completely reasonable regardless of the genders involved. And your Boss needs to tell your co-workers to knock it off with the comments.

    4) This is really thoughtful, but I would bring up your co-worker to HR outside of the food drive. By nature of a food drive, HR isn’t actually paying for anything but transport.

    5) So far your husband has gotten referrals from his friends and relatives, and it makes sense that they would ask him and not you. I would figure out why you’re uncomfortable (potential lost business in the future?, competitive marketing?, bidding wars on events? all of the above?) and talk to him about how you will handle all this. Catering and restaurants don’t necessarily overlap much, tbh, unless the restaurant caters.

    1. Wife*

      Hello Sue Wilson.

      My mom has had the catering business for 30 years. He just started his restaurant. So as you are saying it is obvious that his relatives would ask him to cover some of the events. That I am ok with.
      What makes me feel uncomfortable is that I don’t understand why would he cater events (when asked for) if that is my core business. Wouldn’t it be the same if I open a restaurant offering the same food he offers?

      We talked about it and since we have different points of view, I decided not to talk about the subject anymore and respect his decision, I cannot force him do the contrary. I need to take care of my marriage. Thanks for your feedback!

    2. OP #2*

      OP2: To Sue Wilson you are right there is a fair amount of antipathy between our department and this senior manager. She tends to be a bully and will pick on people for unknown reasons and will write people up for doing something that she does openly and regularly. Our department doesn’t actually report to her, but there is kind of a strange structure in our company. To punish this employee, that she couldn’t write up, she made a dress code change for our department. It was over ruled by someone above her but she keeps trying to enforce it. Anyone who stands up to her gets the silent treatment for a year. I personally find it a blessing. I guess I stepped on her last nerve when I told her two entry level
      hourly employees couldn’t be fired for comparing salaries.

      I appreciate everyone’s comments. I really just wanted to know if the employee had the right. The manager didn’t have to turn me away at the meeting, I told her I had been asked to attend and asked if it would be a problem. Her response was to ask if I was her attorney. She also said that the employee’s immediate supervisor couldn’t come but that a lateral supervisor could, so that is who I asked to go.

  13. Al who is that Al*

    #3 I still find this unbelievable (it’s been on other posts as well), you are forced to share a hotel room with another person because of money. Personally I would tell them to save even more money and don’t send me on the conference. The only reason that apparently this is fairly common is because people let the firms get away with it.

    1. MK*

      Eh, there are plenty of people who don’t actually have a problem with sharing a room with a coworker. Also, conferences can be great for professional development, so, depending on the field, you wouldn’t do your career any good by insisting that you won’t go unless given a separate room.

      1. Fortitude Jones*

        Good point about this being professional development. I too wouldn’t go to any conferences if I was made to share a room (going to one in March in Boston with two colleagues from my division, and thankfully, our company does not do this sharing business even though my own room came close to $1500 for four nights, and it probably would be more cost effective to share), but I would also prepare myself to get boxed out of other learning/training opportunities provided by the company because my not going would send the message that I didn’t much care about it or cared more about something my employer thinks is trivial.

        1. Artemesia*

          My organization solved the problem by giving X$ for a conference; if you wanted to not have to add your own money to it then you would seek out roommates and if it bothered you, you paid. Not great. I do agree that once you get past age 40 or so this gets to be more and more of an imposition. It was no big deal to me to do this at 30 but I wouldn’t do it now.

          1. paul*

            I refused to do it in my early 20s. I wound up not going on the trip and I *think* in hindsight my former manager was probably upset, but w/e.

            1. No, please*

              Good for you. I had to share a bed and room with my manager at my first job. And it was a “bonus” trip, not work trip. I should’ve stood my ground.

          2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

            My OldJob did a variation of this, except you got X$ for your professional development/ conference budget for the year. Then, you would have to decide how to allocate that allowance for reg fees, lodging, etc. Because the annual amount provided was reasonable (and because you could roll over your budget), I thought it was a good compromise solution.

    2. Al Lo*

      I work at a non-profit, and my job involves staying in a hotel once or twice a year, usually for about a week. My next upcoming trip, I might get my own room, and only because we’re an odd number and I have seniority. I’ve never had my own room on one of these trips — it’s always been shared. Granted, sometimes my roommate is my husband, who is also on some trips as an employee, so we obviously share a room, but that’s not a given.

      I could spend the money to guarantee my own room, but it’s certainly not in the budget for my employer to do it.

    3. Drew*

      It’s not always just money. I attend several major conventions a year for my job where there are not nearly enough local hotel rooms for the size of convention being held. Often, we end up adding some people to our team at the last minute and there aren’t any convenient rooms left.

      At that point, the choices are book rooms miles away and rent a car, dealing with finding downtown parking and paying for gas and so on, or grab a taxi/Uber/Lyft — and we often need people able to get to the show floor on short notice, which makes this untenable anyway — or some of us double up on rooms.

      I try to play the seniority/need for solo down time cards when I can, but sometimes that isn’t an option.

  14. JC Denton*

    I wish #2’s employee had consulted with an employment attorney. Sometimes managers or even peers can go on a vindictive streak and use HR to make someone’s life a living nightmare. That sounds like what the higher level manager wanted to do based on the comments to #2. It’s also a great tipper to the employee that they should probably start looking elsewhere for employment.

    1. Katie the Fed*

      I don’t see anything in the letter to indicate it’s anything more than a run-of-the-mill disciplinary meeting. I just re-read it because your comment confused me so much. Why would an attorney be needed at all? There’s no indication anything illegal is happening.

      1. eplawyer*

        It’s clear the manager does not like this person. When the LW wanted to go along, the manager got aggressive “What are you, her attorney?” That is a red flag right there.

        The immediate supervisor should have been brought in anyway to explain why they didn’t write the person up. So HR could hear from both supervisors of this person and figure out if its a real problem or just a manager with an axe to grind.

        But the employee needs to see the writing on the wall. The manager is not going to stop because she feels she was thwarted in her attempts to write up the employee. It’s time to dust off the old resume and get looking.

        1. LBK*

          But why are we assuming the employee is in the right here? The OP doesn’t even mention why her coworker was being disciplined, so I don’t think we have enough info to decide that this was just a manager with an axe to grind and not a completely legitimate issue.

          Frankly, from my experience, the OP’s coworker sounds like many of the nightmare employees I had while working in retail. The only people I ever ran into who would’ve done something like ask to have a moral support person join them in a completely standard disciplinary HR meeting were people who had zero understanding of workplace norms, treated any negative feedback like it was a personal attack or that their manager was “out to get them,” and just generally had a very “us vs them” chip on their shoulder towards management.

          Obviously we have extremely limited info about what’s going on here, but from what we do have, I’m very hesitant to place the blame on management.

        2. Katie the Fed*

          But the friend said the meeting went well. I really think you’re reading a lot into this – there’s nothing at all in this letter to indicate that the manager has it out for this particular employee or isn’t going to stop.

          1. AMPG*

            The fact that the higher-up tried to get the employee’s supervisor to write her up and then did an end run around the supervisor when that didn’t work does suggest a vendetta. If you have a bad supervisor protecting a problem employee, you deal with the management issue first (absent something egregious like criminal activity on the part of the employee). But in this case it sounds very possible that the higher-up knew it wasn’t an open-and-shut case and was trying to game the system by setting up a meeting where the employee would have nobody to back her up.

            1. LBK*

              I totally disagree that if you have an issue with a supervisor not being willing to discipline their employee, you have to deal with the supervisor first and then only deal with the employee directly if you can’t fix the supervisor issue. Chain of command only applies going up; there’s no reason you can’t discipline someone under you just because they aren’t your direct report. If there’s an issue with someone you manage, whether directly or through layers, it’s well within your authority and arguably your responsibility to deal with it.

              Just imagine if you were another coworker who went to your grandboss to raise an issue and they said “Well I told your boss to deal with it and they didn’t, so I can’t do anything until your boss decides to deal with it.” That makes no sense.

        3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          I think folks are reading too much into the post. A manager being upset that someone would try to bring a subordinate/peer into a disciplinary meeting does not mean that the manager “does not like this person.” And while the manager clearly did not respond well and was probably being overly defensive, I don’t think the hostile exchange with OP#2 is necessarily a red flag.

          If I were a manager and called a meeting like this, and my employee tried to bring in a subordinate when we’re discussing discipline, I would be miffed/concerned about disclosing information in front of a third party (I mean, clearly the employee waives that confidentiality by bringing in a friend, but I’d still worry about gossip, etc.). It seems like they found a compromise and that the meeting was overall a success.

          1. LBK*

            Totally agreed – I think most managers would find it odd, especially since a disciplinary meeting is usually something people would prefer their coworkers not know anything about, never mind having one of them attend it.

      2. AndersonDarling*

        I was thinking that the employee should have a witness if the meeting was about sexual harassment, but I agree that it doesn’t seem like this is the case. It can be terrifying to be called into a disciplinary meeting, so I don’t blame the employee for reaching for support. But some things you need to handle on your own, and in this case, it sounds like it all worked out fine.

    2. BRR*

      There’s nothing in the letter that hints at something illegal happening. It’s really hard to respond to the letter overall because there’s no information on what the issue is. The employee should have asked her supervisor who wouldn’t write her up to join them at the meeting.

  15. Observer*

    #1 – I’m someone who despises porn, and would probably think less of someone who I knew was viewing it. Nevertheless, you are making a huge mistake here, in my opinion. I think Allison is right – figure out a way to move on.

    You are cyber staling your boss, which is pretty out there. Please don’t tell me you were “just curious”. Idle curiosity rarely leads someone to go through a half a page of non-relevant results to find a low traffic Twitter page, and then to read through a bunch of boring tweets to find the “dirt”. That’s a lot of effort to invest. I’m betting that you could find ways of spending time and energy that would benefit you a LOT more.

    On the other hand, if you report this, especially using the kind of language you used here, you’ll lose any shred of credibility you may have. Worse, you may just elevate yourself THAT person who gets talked about as the “crazy stalker” who left the job but till couldn’t let go and kept trying to manufacture trouble. At best, you’ll be making a very poor impression that’s likely to stick – and you don’t know when you will meet up with these folks again.

    Now, you may think you don’t care about any of these folks, but even in a large industry, it’s a small world. Do you really want to risk a situation where someone you worked with gets asked about you, and the first thing they say is “Oh, her! Isn’t she the one who spent all that time stalking Boss to try to make him look bad?”

    Beyond that, what “egregious oversight” happened here? What does he need to be punished for? Unless the place was a religious institution or an anti-porn organization or something like that, or what you saw wasn’t garden variety porn (ie contained high levels of violence or child pornography etc.) what this guy is doing s completely legal and (unfortunately, imo, but clearly) acceptable to large swathes of society. Unlike you, I highly, highly doubt that HR at your former employer would “find this all very, very interesting”, unless there is something that you have left out.

    And, that’s assuming that the twitter account actually does belong to your former boss. If it turns out that you are wrong bout that, you will have

    1. Czhorat*

      It is a small world.

      For example: I recently started a new job. No fewer than three people working here were co-workers of mine two jobs ago. Had I been the wacky ex-employee who called to rant about my old boss’s twitter account you can be sure that would have reflected badly.

    2. neverjaunty*

      Also, the OP already “eviscerated” this person in her exit interview. HR is not going to assume her concerns come from an unbiased place of concern for the company. They’ll immediately see it for what it is – a vindictive ex-employee trying to get in one more swipe.

      If the moral aspects don’t worry you, OP #1, the fact that it will completely backfire should.

    3. Is It Performance Art*

      There’s a very human tendency to negatively view everything that someone you dislike does. I had someone recently insist that a disliked colleague’s carefulness was really just part of her overall horribleness. Is there a possibility you find this so egregious because you dislike your former boss so much? Maybe do a thought experiment: if this were someone else, would you still find it horrible? Chances are this is what the HR department is going to conclude.

  16. The Wall of Creativity*

    #1. Rather than write to HR, why don’t you just send links to his Twitter account to all his female work colleagues? Obviously only do this if you’re at the stage of your career when you can afford to be burning bridges. I can’t believe nobody’s suggested this.

    1. Wakeen Teapots, Ltd.*

      To what, attempt to smear him? That would be a horribly mean thing to do and I’d think way way way less of a person who would do that than probably whatever dude did in the first place to piss off the OP.

      Acts like that are bad for the soul. You end up a nasty old person whose children haven’t talked to you in years and dogs and cats run away from.

      1. Wait, what?*

        I can’t imagine many of this guy’s female co-workers would appreciate getting an email full of pornography.

      2. LQ*

        This. Even if you want to burn bridges you’re burning the wrong ones. If you do it with your name you are going to make yourself look so incredibly bad. If you do it anon you’re going to make old boss look like someone who is being harrassed and targeted (which…you would be doing…) This option makes someone look horrible. And it isn’t the boss.

        The only way this would work would be if it is a hyper conservative industry with a hyper conservative workplace. In which case you’d still be making yourself look bad, but him as well. But I’d guess that it isn’t.

    2. Bartlet for President*

      Setting aside the fact that OP#1 isn’t even sure it’s his Twitter account, why should or would his [female] colleagues care? Porn is a huge industry in the US, and it isn’t just men who watch it. I think it would certainly burn bridges for the OP though, because people would think she is nutso – or, just elicit some serious confusion. Unless a note was included that directed the recipient to scroll down and view what other profiles/tweets the Twitter user followed/liked, the recipient would probably not understand why it was being sent.

    3. Aaaaanon*

      You realize lots of women enjoy porn too, right?

      I mean, most people don’t want to think about what their managers spank to, but if someone sent links like this around, it’d reflect much more on the sender as weird, judgemental, and honestly rather creepy.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        One place I worked in MORE women bought porn than men. Oddly some were careful to say, “This is for my BF.” Since I didn’t care, the comment seemed strange.

        1. Oryx*

          You might not have cared but lots of other people do when it comes to women enjoying porn (and, well, enjoying sex in general) so it’s hard to know who may or may not try and shame us for that enjoyment.

        2. SleepyMel*

          This made me LOL… like they are ashamed. But I don’t know that women are shamed as much as men when it comes to this particular thing. It seems like very mild shame, like “I’m not writing for me but on behalf of my , er, cousin and (insert humiliating question/situation)”

        3. silence*

          There are unfortunately some guys who assume a woman watching porn are only doing so until they have a partner to act it out with so mentioning a BF is a preemptive way of saying already got a reenactment partner no need for anyone else to apply.

    4. Marvel*

      Though I’m kind of impressed that you managed to come up with a worse idea than the OP’s… please reassure me that this is sarcasm? I’m assuming it must be, but I honestly can’t tell.

      1. The Wall of Creativity*

        British humour, that’s how I’d describe it. With a predominantly American community keeping this website running, you’re not the first one to be scratching your head at one of my comments.

        1. AD*

          We generally try to give letter writers actionable, positive advice. Whether you consider your humor “british” or whatever is moot – sarcasm usually is not what’s done here.

          1. Sadsack*

            Well, to be fair, sarcasm or plain joking is sometimes done here, but at least make it obvious! I am imagining OP thinking, “Ah, I now have a new master plan!”

        2. Aaaaanon*

          Yeah, you kinda have to make it a bit more obvious if you’re going for sarcasm. ;) But I’m glad to see you are.

        3. Mookie*

          British humour, that’s how I’d describe it.

          I wonder how the British would describe it, though. I picture a man, gurning and ample in girth, making camp innuendo in an exaggeratedly fruity French accent while goosing a topless woman, Carry On-style. You British. Droll sophistication at its most withering.

          1. Anon for this*

            Well that’s unnecessary. British humour is very definitely A Thing, and one that does cause confusion to Americans. Basically, not in the type of humour (although that does play into it), but that it pervades every single aspect of our lives. There is no time or place that you won’t find humour cropping up – we use it as a coping mechanism for life, basically. Yes, there are times and places that are inappropriate for humour, but it’s not a hard and fast rule. In the workplace – yes, absolutely, you spend far too much of your life there to not joke about. At a funeral – some would be inappropriate, but you can’t say for certain that British humour is inappropriate at every single funeral ever.

            Sorry to get a bit preachy, but this comment (and the indignation to the comment) really rubbed me up the wrong way. The original commenter probably should have indicated sarcasm (especially as she said that this isn’t the first time she’s been misunderstood), but your response is such a stereotype of British humour (thanks for nothing Benny Hill) that it made me grit my teeth.

            1. MoinMoin*

              FWIW, I thought Mookie was British herself and being sarcastic in her own turn at British humour. And I thought it was hilarious.

              1. Not So NewReader*

                That is what I thought, too. I did not “get” the humor the first time, but I chuckled at Mookie’s, thinking it was more of that humor.

                1. Elizabeth West*

                  It’s hard sometimes to show tone in written posts, and British humor can be unbelievably dry. I didn’t catch it either, and I will usually laugh at it when no one else does.

            2. Purest Green*

              British humour is very definitely A Thing, and one that does cause confusion to Americans.

              This is fair. No matter how much Bill Bailey, Jimmy Carr, Sarah Millican, or David Mitchell I watch, there’s still stuff I don’t quite get.

              1. Chinook*

                Start with the Canadian stuff – we work as a gateway for Americans for all things British. Our humour is in no way as dry or sarcastic as British humour but well on the way. Once you can laugh at everything on the CBC, you can work your way on to the BBC. :)

                1. Purest Green*

                  I’ve been an avid consumer of British television for decades, but I’m certain there are subtleties I miss nevertheless.

    5. CS Rep By Day, Writer By Night*

      I had a fellow dance teacher a few years ago whose former adult student tried to trash her this way, by sending “dirt” that she’d apparently uncovered to others in the dance community. I was one of the people who got the email, and as someone who was well-respected within that community at the time, I responded back that I was aghast at being unwillingly drawn into some kind of vindictive campaign that I wanted nothing to do with. I made sure she knew that if she was looking for a new teacher to take my name off the list, as she was 100% unwelcome in my classes then or at at any point in the future. She tried to backpedal but it didn’t work, and she gained an immediate reputation a giant ass, drama queen and sh*t-stirrer.

      Besides, I’m a woman and I wouldn’t be horrified at all to learn that some dude in upper management watches porn in his free time. It wouldn’t affect how I felt about him at all; I tend to assume the majority of people consume porn in one form or another these days with its wide availability via the web.

      1. Lora*

        OMG, you’ve dealt with Patricia too???

        (kidding, I know there is sadly more than one Patricia in the world…even in my little metro area, I wouldn’t be surprised if you said, “no, it was Sarah/Kayla/Stephanie” instead)

    6. paul*

      So you’d harass his colleagues by filling up their inboxes with links to porn? Bad idea, both ethically and legally.

      1. Nervous Accountant*

        Sounds like a hilarious yet endearing plot to an awfully awfully horribly (un)funny sitcom!

    7. aebhel*

      Uh, what?

      I’m a woman, and I generally assume that most of the guys I work with probably have sex, and some non-zero percentage of them watch porn. Doesn’t mean I want to know about it, and if some ex-employee did something like this, I would be viscerally embarrassed on the dude’s behalf, uncomfortable on my own behalf, and utterly disgusted with the person who did it, because they’re the one who’s shoving my face in this work-inappropriate nonsense.

      Not likely to do the OP any favors, is what I’m saying.

      1. aebhel*

        Okay, I guess this was supposed to be humor?

        But honestly if your humor is indistinguishable from lousy advice, it still kinda counts as lousy advice.

    8. Less anonymous than before*

      Do you even use twitter? Someone following an account doesn’t put what they see in everyone elses feed, for one.

      For two… SO WHAT BIG DEAL HE LIKES ACCOUNTS THAT SHOWS CLIPS OF PORN. Omg SEX soooo salacious. OMG scandal scandal…

      This was a really weird letter and some of these responses are equally weird.

      Why only his female work colleagues? The weirdness is this response almost outdoes the weirdness of letter #1.

  17. Wakeen Teapots, Ltd.*

    There’s a bunch of moving parts here. Getting the first out of the way, the food drive has nothing to do with whether Pete is being helped or not so I’d suggest letting go of feeling irritated by that. The people on the other end of the drive are no less needy and if you think about it, the company encouraging donations to feed needy people is completely in line with your area of concern, not opposed to it.

    So next, my limited world experience to HR is that good HR can be very helpful in situations like this, give them a chance.

    And then: this is an ongoing problem, not a one time event to fund raise for, which makes this a lot more complicated for co-worker donations to meet Pete’s needs. (Contrast with say a house fire where you one time fund raise to help out a co-worker in immediate need.) I can’t see a good end to this if you were to try to meet Pete’s needs with $50 a week in donations from co-workers. Contributors move on, tire, have their own needs and, inevitably, some people will start to ask if Pete is using his money wisely, or why the company doesn’t pay him enough money that he can afford food.

    Which! Is not to say I wouldn’t be pulling out my own wallet to fund a couple of weeks for Pete in the cafeteria either. Believe me I get the pull to just do something right now, but I can’t see how this is sustainable.

    Ideally, HR would be able to take the lead on getting Pete to social service help to make sure his money is sorted well as an overall start. Pete may have enough money for food but not the skill set to use the money well to fill his needs OR, he may be eligible for assistance he’s not aware of.

    If it was me, I’d make sure that Pete was covered for a month of food in the cafeteria to start, but I’d put an end date on it because, sustainability. (And then probably forever after be dropping off “hey I had this leftover thought you might want it” dinners on his desk. O.o)

    1. Katie the Fed*

      Yeah, if Pete was hired through a program, HR should alert them to what’s going on. I have a cousin with Down Syndrome who works a job like this – she lives in a group home and takes a shuttle to/from work. Her group home/job program would need to be notified if she was unable to feed herself. That’s a serious problem.

    2. blackcat*

      In most states, employers can pay people with certain disabilities less than minimum wage. I’m betting that’s what’s going on here–that’s part of the “incentive” the government supplies for employing people with disabilities. Possibly as a result, Pete can’t afford food. It seems entirely possible that even with some housing assistance, he can’t afford to feed himself on his salary. I think subminimum wage for people with disabilities is something like half regular minimum wage, so roughly $4/hr.

      So maybe OP can get together with some of her coworkers and express concern that the company is paying someone subminimum (that’s the government term if you want to Google it) wage and try to encourage changing this.

      Contacting elder care social services is a good idea, too, because he is likely eligible for food stamps.

      1. Wakeen Teapots, Ltd.*

        Erm, programs that allow employers to pay less than minimum wage are typically programs. The entire thing exists to provide employment that a disabled person wouldn’t otherwise have and isn’t designed to support their living. If Pete is employed through a Section 14(c) certificate and program, it’s an entirely different kettle of fish and IMHO the last thing Pete and other disabled folks need is making corporate support of 14(c) a hot potato and not worth the trouble. 14(c) is often a lifeline for people who are otherwise unemployable.

        But there’s a lot of guessing going on here, which is why getting HR involved is such a good idea.

        1. blackcat*

          I get that these programs are supposed to help employ people who otherwise might not be, but paying subminimum wage does not seem like a good way to go about that.

          A friends’ brother is employed through such a “program.” His subsidized housing takes nearly all of his super meager pay + SSDI (which is very small because he “can work”), and the (for-profit) group home confiscates his food stamp card to pay for the meals provided at the house. After the additional “fees” for the group home, his subminimum wage job provides him with about $30/month and that would need to cover a phone, toiletries, and clothing if it weren’t for my friend sending money. All of this is 100% legal and above board (my friend has checked), and it’s the only option for him in the area other than moving in with my friend (which she doesn’t want to do for a variety of reasons, mostly because he has a history of violence and she has a baby). My friend has become a significant opponent of programs that use a subminimum wage in light of her brother’s experience.

          It’s clear, at least in this situation, the job is supposed to “support” him, though in conjunction with other services. If Pete is missing just one piece of what he is eligible (say, foodstamps), I can see how easy it would be for Pete to not be able to feed himself. Even if he’s not, it’s also possible that he simply can’t survive in his area with the benefits he is eligible for.

          It’s complicated, but it’s also my understanding that even jobs through these programs *can* pay more than the subminimum wage. They just don’t have to. If the company could pay Pete (and possibly other disabled workers) more, I don’t see a good reason why the employees can’t advocate for that, particularly if they feel like Pete is a good, productive worker.

          1. Natalie*

            A for-profit group home sounds like an awful idea. I’m not surprised they’re wringing every last cent out of their residents.

          2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

            blackcat, it sounds like your friend’s brother’s home could be breaking the law (it is not ok to confiscate his SNAP benefits, and the fees also sound abusive/illegal). There should be a city/state program that provides oversight, and it might be worth checking their websites to see if his housing provider is violating any of the many regulations regarding billing and support.

            With respect to this program, although I do think we should always pay people living wages, Wakeen is correct in saying the program exists to provide opportunities to folks who otherwise simply wouldn’t be hired, period. I’ve worked in several places with these programs, and in many cases, the organization would just eliminate the program/position if it were asked to pay minimum wages. That’s not great, but it’s an unfortunate downside for this program.

            The other tricky issue is that increased earnings will sometimes price someone out of their benefits, including SNAP and SSDI, and usually the increase in wages is insufficient to cover the value of those benefits, so you end up with someone on the border of eligibility who’s now in an objectively worse financial position despite earning higher wages.

          3. Wakeen Teapots, Ltd.*

            If it wasn’t clear in my post, btw, my primary concern is for the person with DD. My oldest son could be Pete one day, which scares the ever living shit out of me, and we’re doing our damndest to save enough money for him that it may never be so. I’m fully aware that gives my son a privilege beyond most people in his situation and I support whatever we can do as a society to get rid of that disparity.

            It’s just, the pay thing is complicated. Of my friends who had children with issues (same age growing up), my son is one of the few who is working outside the home almost-full-time at minimum wage. Parents of young adults with issues, the very first thing they want is the young adult away from the computer, out of the house and out in the world making something, kinda anything, that they are out and have a place to go to and a job and are integrated with the world.

            If I’m not wrong, I believe the DOL is phasing out minimum wage exemptions anyway. The vast majority (95%?) are being used by sheltered workshops and not run of the mill companies/employers and the thinking in those opposed is that it’s tantamount to exploitation. I’m not sure I agree but the DOL’s approach has been very thoughtful so hopefully they know what they are doing.

            The larger issue is what the hell and surely we can do a better job at taking care of some of our most vulnerable brethren than what we are doing. I wouldn’t point the finger at the business here though because 1) we don’t know what he’s making and 2) Pete has a job. We don’t know that the root cause is bad acting by the employer. Be able to GET a job is a big deal for someone with DD. (which, helps create an outside support system, see: coworkers concerned about Pete’s food instability)

            It’s complicated! (And I’m so sorry about the situation you describe. We can do so much better.)

            1. Not So NewReader*

              I guess it would vary with workshops, but by their nature there is plenty of opportunity for exploitation. And it’s not just from the workshop itself. The contractors who offer jobs to workshops also benefit from the cheaper labor PLUS they get the PR of announcing that they have a contract with a sheltered work shop for work. It looks great on paper and the business gets their work done cheaply. This can be a form of exploitation.

              For on-site jobs, sometimes employers do receive money for keeping an individual employed.

              If DOL raises wages, that may cause many workshops to collapse financially. This would leave folks with no where to go. Some folks may not ever be able to graduate out of a sheltered environment as employers cannot accommodate their level of need.

              Like you are saying, I tend to think, “Come on, America, we can do better than this. We are smart, creative country, let’s figure this out.”

              A much longer discussion, for sure. But the punchline holds that an employed person with disabilities could very well not have enough money for food. Our systems are not as comprehensive or life sustaining as it may appear at first glance.

              Now you have me thinking. I am wondering if OP’s company tried to help this employee and found they could not. So this is their response, this is what they felt they could actually do.

              I wish the best for your son. Please know that there are people out there who think about this stuff and realize there is need for concern and for action. I agree that how we treat our vulnerable populations is reflective on us.

              1. Wakeen Teapots, Ltd.*

                Thank you!

                I’m REALLY lucky. I was scared that he wasn’t employable and he’s been doing well at McD’s as the lobby guy for four years now, 3o hours a week, “normal” job and wages. (He couldn’t live on those wages, of course, but he has family and everything for him will be fine. )

                I’ve been teaching him to grocery shop for y-e-a-r-s, he goes with me every week. He’s no natural concept of money, $1 or $100, and I swear he’s finally finally finally just clicked on unit pricing. I was so excited! Now if I can just get him to check the quality of strawberries before he puts them in the cart (green fuzz bad, check for green fuzz!). :-)

                He refuses to learn to cook because he doesn’t like getting near the fire on the stove but I’ve finally gotten him to read *all* of the instructions on a microwave dinner at least. :-)

                The workshops…..I trust that the people making the decisions have really thought this through as to what happens next if a chain reaction shuts down opportunities for DD people to have jobs. Maybe the set up is what’s bad. Maybe the right answer is minimum wage but with subsidized opportunities for people in need. My friend’s son has 20 hours a week at minimum wage cleaning state offices through a program. Maybe removing the 14(c) and replacing it with vigorous support to profit sector entrance would work.

          4. Candi*

            If they’re taking the card and using it themselves, that’s against the terms of use in every state I can Google -and is definitely against the law in WA, CA, and OR. The card is for the person(s) assigned to receive the benefits off that card number, no one else. DSHS/other relevant agency would be VERY interested to learn the home takes it for their own use. (If you’re dismissed by a bad worker, keep hammering.)

      2. the_scientist*

        I would bet that Pete is employed at the company through some sort of sheltered work scheme, which is a pretty common thing for adults with developmental disabilities. These typically pay less than minimum wage and are often set up to pay so little that these individuals don’t lose access to whatever government funding they are entitled to.

        So, long comment ahead (fair warning): I used to work in a research program that examined the health of adults with developmental disabilities. In Ontario, an adult who has a disability of this nature would qualify for the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP), which is kind of like welfare. The amount a single person gets per month for ODSP is less than $800. There are no restrictions on spending but a person with a disability may need to pay for: a transit pass, rent, food, entertainment, clothing, utilities. There is also no additional support (i.e. food stamps) available, except for prescription medications. Now, I live in Toronto, where a transit pass is $140/month (no discount for adults with disabilities), average rent for a 1-bedroom apartment is $1000, and food is very expensive.

        How well are people with developmental disabilities living in Toronto, and in Ontario generally? Not very- even if they are living in a group home or boarding house, or other supervised environment where rent is discounted, most are out of money by the end of the month. We counted hundreds of instances of individuals cancelling/no-showing on important doctor’s appointments because they’d lost their transit pass and/or didn’t have money for the bus or a cab. No doubt many are skipping meals to conserve funds. Substandard, downright dangerous housing is common. Financial abuse is rampant. ODSP funding is not indexed to inflation so it hasn’t kept pace with the rapidly increasing cost of living in the province. If Pete was in Ontario, there wouldn’t be much his caseworker could do, if he even had one- assuming that Pete is managing his money correctly, it’s likely that there simply isn’t enough money to meet his needs.

        I think a good first step would be to contact HR and have HR reach out to the organization that helped place Pete at the company. The sheltered work organization may be able to review his benefit entitlements and make sure he’s getting all the funding he’s entitled to. To my knowledge, most adults with DD in Ontario who are independent enough to not need 24/7 support do not have a dedicated social worker or caseworker- so I wouldn’t bet on Pete having one, but there may be someone at the placement organization that could help him, or connect him to other supports. It may be that Pete is having difficulty budgeting or is missing an important funding source, but more likely than not he simply doesn’t have enough money to make ends meet. With a little more information, OP4 and her coworkers can make a decision about how best to support Pete.

        1. Lissa*

          It’s similar in BC, sadly. They used to have a subsidized bus pass for people with disabilities but recently took that away/vastly increased the cost. There’s no differentiation either between somebody with a disability that prevents them from working full time but they are still quite capable of living independently, holding a part-time job, etc. and someone who can’t work at all/live independently.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      Great, great comment thread here. Thanks WTL for launching and thanks to all for the very insightful comments here.

      I spent around a decade here in human service. I know for a fact that what is written here is typical of what is going on out there. Yes, even what is happening in Canada mirrors what is happening here in the US.

      This has been my ax to grind in life that folks are not getting the help they need and furthermore they become trapped in a system that doesn’t always help and they cannot get out of.

      OP, I understand that you are not happy with your company for overlooking this employee. I get it. Your solution in the end might be to give him random helps yourself. This is the world we have. It could be that he gets benefits but his family controls the benefits because he can’t. It could be that his family TAKES the benefits. It could be that he doesn’t even have a family and who knows where the benefits go. I have seen the no food story play out in many different ways, these are just some of the things I have seen. Sometimes the benefit recipient gives their food away or they trade their food for something they value more. Confusingly, it’s not always the disability clouding the judgment, it can be external factors driving the behavior that causes a person to give a way their food.

      Yes, superficially, the company IS avoiding the employee’s concerns and looking to help outsiders. I’d like to encourage you to look deeper into the circumstances to find out more. And I would also suggest that the employee be made aware of this food bank and how the food bank operates so that he can have benefit from the food bank. And my last suggestion would be that you give random helps on your own and encourage others to do the same.

  18. Wakeen Teapots, Ltd.*

    FWIW, I think you’re in adjacent industries, not competitive. His core business is not catering. And, agreeing with Alison, you might find cooperation adds value to both of your businesses. Each of you are one of many, many choices for eating and catering in your area so this isn’t zero sum, even when your husband’s restaurant dips into catering. His getting a job does not defacto take a job from you.

    So maybe, maybe a couple times of year maybe, you get a job that would have next gone to him or vice versa, maybe. I bet you can beat that easily referrals to each other when it’s right and then you both get more pie.

    1. AndersonDarling*

      The only scenario for a conflict would be if the couple are handing jobs of to each other. If the restaurant was Thai food and the catering business was for Thai food and there were no other Thai options in a 50 mile radius, then that would create competition, but not a conflict of interest. Unless the restaurant is subcontracting to the caterer without disclosure, everything should be fine.
      I’m guessing that the question stems from a concern that one business will succeed while the other struggles. That could cause some conflicts at home.

    2. Wife*

      Thank you for your advice. It has been really confusing that my husband as a restaurant owner all of a sudden started to cater some events. what he claims is that his main goal is to succeed, pay bills etc. And that he will cater as many events as he is asked for. What makes me feel uncomfortable is that he has taken some jobs that I certainly could have done because that is my core business. I don’t want my marriage to break apart because of this issue.

      We talked about it as Alison suggested. Our ways of seeing things are very different. He thinks we are not competitors, and that he is not being disloyal to me. What I decided to do is to respect his decision, even if I don’t agree with it. Because I cannot force him to do the contrary. But I asked him not to ask for my help in anything related to his catering jobs, for example he sometimes needs the company’s chafing dishes, I can’t lend him my utensils. He needs to make his own investment.

      Btw we are from Central America. So the options are not as many as in the us. Thank you again for your feedback!

  19. TheBeetsMotel*

    #1 Ahh, the magical phrase “needless to say” strikes again!

    Move on, OP. You’re giving time and energy to someone who’s not in your life anymore, and you’d be unlikely to see the fruits of this particular labor anyway. Let it go.

    1. Rusty Shackelford*

      I don’t think I’ve ever agreed with a person who thinks something is “needless to say.”

    2. Sadsack*

      OP has already said her piece at her exit interview. I wonder if the fact that this guy still works there even after that is what is fueling her need for further action. I say just move on, too. You are wasting energy on this person.

  20. gettingahead*


    More than likely this employee also currently has or had a job coach, most states have nonprofits or even government agencies that help people with disabilities find jobs and work with the employer to find accommodations and usually follow up monthly to see how this employee is doing. — my point is, you may want to ask around if this person has a “job coach”.

    and yes, most businesses are able to get tax relief from federal and state taxes for employing someone who is receiving SSDI (“disability”) but usually only for a year or two. May be different now or in your state.

    Also also, this person is most likely getting SSI and SSDI in addition to working. If they are getting SSDI they are entitled to work to a certain amount but must report the income and their disability check will be adjusted based on their income. If they are working and getting a check they really should go see a Work Incentive Counselor who will help them figure out their finances.

    Also also ALSO, typically someone this age with a DD will have a “case manager” (may be a different term) but usually a state or county agency that helps this person find services (like the job coach and housing) and should be involved in making sure they are managing their $ and are eating OK.

  21. Dang*

    #1 it’s also not outside the realm of possibility that hr would assume you were behind the account. Don’t do it. No story worth telling starts out with “i was googling him one day and…”

  22. Katie the Fed*

    OP #2 –

    What on earth? “A few words were exchanged. (‘Are you her attorney?’ ‘Does she need one?’)”

    This all sounds so very, very unprofessional. What your friend should have done is request for her immediate supervisor to be in the meeting – it’s weird that she wasn’t. But I really don’t understand why any of you think that you should have been there. It makes absolutely no sense.

    1. Czhorat*

      It was unprofessional, but the request to sit in was weird.

      OP2 is one of those situations in which there is clearly a bigger story; I wonder if the supervisor is unreasonably protecting their report or if higher management is throwing their weight around.

      In any event, I’m glad it went OK.

      1. Katie the Fed*

        It was unprofessional on both sides. Makes me wonder what the heck is going on in this office.

        1. Czhorat*

          Yeah, this.

          I DO get the manager balking at extra people showing up. When I worked in a union environment, number of participants at a meeting was nearly always a game; if there was one manager, there’d be two shop stewards. Two managers, three stewards. Etc. Wanting to come “in force” could be seen as an attempted power play. That kind of thing does NOT make for a good atmosphere.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Eh. I have heard that sentence used in many settings. I have heard teachers use it and then actually get an attorney. I have other examples of CEOs, finance people, etc who actually asked that question and followed through.
      I don’t think it’s professional or unprofessional. Sometimes situations are so tense that the question makes sense for the setting. I would hate for people to think that they cannot seek legal help when the situation calls for it. We don’t know the particulars of the setting.

      Yes, I agree, if you have to ask about legal counsel then you have a difficult workplace issue going on. The issue could be deeply rooted or not. It might be time to start the job search but we just can’t tell from what we have been told so far.

      1. Katie the Fed*

        To be clear – I was trying to indicate that BOTH parties were acting unprofessionally. The question was odd and the response was even worse.

  23. New here*

    Good morning, all. OP #4 uses the wording “cannot feed himself” . . . is it possible Pete meant that he physically has difficulty with the task of feeding himself? If so, that may be a whole different issue that the cafeteria and coworkers generously providing meals may not fully solve. Apologies if I’m reading too much into the wording. :)

    1. Temperance*

      I’m wondering if he’s having an issue with the logic and work behind getting meals. Can he get to a store? Does he know how to shop? Can he cook?

      1. OP4*

        Hello I am the original poster, you are correct, he can feed himself physically but he has challenges putting together meals. I think typically if he has money, he goes to McDonalds or something like that.

        1. Wakeen Teapots, Ltd.*

          This is exactly what I was thinking. It’s possible Pete has enough money to feed himself if he were a super savvy shopper who was a menu planning whiz and great with a carrot peeler. Those of us who have a had a tight week (or month or year or decade) know what that’s like, having to bear down and concentrate so the money is spent perfectly, there’s no waste and there’s actual meals made on every single day.

          We don’t even know if he has access to good refrigeration/freezing and cooking equipment. His problem might not even be lack of food as much as lack of ability to prepare food.

          Thanks for looking out for Pete. I hope HR or someone can get Pete to available resources (which I hope are there!) to get the root of this issue and move toward getting it sorted.

        2. Jaydee*

          If it’s not so much a financial/access to food issue but the challenge of budgeting, meal planning, cooking, etc. then the first step is probably to find out who currently helps Pete with those things and see if he would want someone at work (either someone from HR who maybe has connections with his outside support system already or a coworker he is friendly with) to talk to them and see what could be done to provide Pete with more assistance in this area. Helping Pete advocate for himself and navigate the system will likely do the most to 1) provide him with maximum independence and self-determination and 2) make sure that the type of assistance he receives – whether from his coworkers/employer or his outside support system – is best tailored to meet his needs.

          Also, SNAP benefits can usually only be used for groceries and cold prepared foods (like a container of potato salad or a heat-and-eat pizza from the deli section at the grocery store), not hot prepared foods at restaurants. However in some places restaurants can be authorized to accept SNAP benefits from homeless, elderly, or disabled people in exchange for low-cost meals. So possibly the company could look into getting approved so that he could use his SNAP benefits for a meal plan through the cafeteria.

        3. Wakeen Teapots, Ltd.*

          Also, can you update us on Pete when you get a chance? ’cause I’m sitting here getting ready for our big Christmas Eve at home and worrying about Pete.

          You’re a good egg OP 4, thanks for caring!

  24. Samantha*

    I think the most irritating phrase in the English language is “needless to say”. If it’s needless to say something, then why are you saying it???

    1. MoinMoin*

      Superlatives can be quite irritating as well. :-) We try not to nit-pick LWs’ word choice if the meaning is clear, as it distracts from the conversation and can be demoralizing for people writing in.

  25. Czhorat*

    I don’t need to pile-on OP1, but it does raise an interesting question; what content WOULD you report? If they followed and liked open racist organizations? If they posted racist content themselves? Nothing?

    If someone likes porn or porn-ish content I’d shrug it off. If I found blatantly racist content I might say something. Your mileage may vary.

    1. Rhys*

      I think it really depends on the situation. If somebody in a media-facing role or somebody just highly visible as a representative of the company was tweeting racist/misogynistic/homophobic things under their own name, that’s potentially harmful to the organization because it could be assumed that the organization shares those views. I don’t think in any situation it’s helpful to come at it from a sabotage angle even if it might be personally satisfying. I think most companies would only care about their employee holding/espousing those viewpoints if they were expressing them in the workplace or potentially harming the company’s reputation.

      1. Czhorat*

        IT seems to be mostly focused on politics these days, but there’s a “Racists getting fired” Tumblr which sends racist tweets/FB posts/other social media to employers. It does result in employees losing their jobs with some frequency.

        Whether this is a good thing or bad thing is a matter for debate; I DO see the argument that overt racism SHOULD be something so shameful that people daren’t speak it in public, and that any and all public scorn and sanction be applied immediately to the offenders.

        1. Emi.*

          I get that argument too, but it also seems to boil down to “racists shouldn’t be able to keep food on their tables and roofs over their heads,” which I think is overblown (especially when they have families!), and I doubt that vindictive people on Tumblr are really good judges of what constitutes a fireable offense. (Plus, I think trying to get strangers fired is emotionally unhealthy for the person doing it.)

          1. LBK*

            This is heading down a tangent so I’ll make one comment and then leave it, but I’m honestly not sure I feel too much sympathy for someone who consciously says racist things and gets fired for it. If you can’t muster basic human decency for someone because of the color of their skin, I find it hard to muster it for you. I’m weary of this idea that we need to feel bad for racists and try to understand what makes them that way when many of those people have put zero effort into trying to get to know and understand POC.

            1. Emi.*

              To clarify, I’m not trying to argue that “we need to feel bad for racists and try to understand what makes them that way.” I just don’t think jobs should be reserved for morally good people.

              1. aebhel*

                Well, but that’s a decision for the company to make. Some companies are fine with their employees posting bigoted rants on social media. Some aren’t. The fact that a vindictive person on Tumblr sent the company the information doesn’t obligate the company to fire that employee, or to take any action at all, for that matter.

                I’m somewhat ambivalent about the idea that people should be fired for their private behavior off the clock (and so much of what constitutes ‘private behavior’ and ‘off the clock’ is industry-specific), but I’d rather blow my energy on defending people who are fired for political activism or weird hobbies than people who are fired for posting bigoted rants in public spaces with their real names attached to them.

                /end derail.

                1. LBK*

                  Yeah, I don’t know when our culture accepted the false equivalence between someone being racist and, say, someone being gay, and requiring us to be okay with firing people for both of those reasons if we’d fire someone for one. People treat this like a slippery slope, but those things are on different sides of the mountain.

              2. AMPG*

                Not to further the tangent, but “Don’t spout your racist thoughts in a public setting” is a really low bar (and definitely is necessary-but-not-sufficient for the “morally good” label). I can’t really argue against a certain level of consequences as a result.

    2. Roscoe*

      Nothing? I don’t work there anymore, its not my concern. Unless I was still very close with the org, or possibly if it was a cause I strongly believed in. But I’m not going to go looking for dirt to report.

    3. LBK*

      I think racism is a little different because it raises concerns about how that person might treat people of other races at work, and if their profile is linked to their employer in some way, it could raise public concern about the company’s tolerance of racism. I don’t know that the public knowing someone at a company watches porn necessarily raises questions about that person’s ability to do their job in an unbiased manner or the company’s acceptance of their employees watching porn (as long as they aren’t doing it at work!).

      1. Barney Barnaby*

        Is there a point at which sexually explicit content might raise the question as to whether or not the manager could do his job in an unbiased manner towards female employees?

        1. LBK*

          Maybe depending on the type of material being viewed? I mean, there is also a huge question about whether porn in general is degrading to women, the genuine agency of the women involved and whether they’re really making conscious choices to participate, questionable ties to human trafficking, and so on. So it’s not a free and clear activity per se, but I think it’s in more of a grey area than being openly racist, which as far as I’m concerned has no acceptable caveats.

        2. Roscoe*

          I don’t think so. I guess its a personal thing, but I don’t know that just because someone watches porn that it means that they have a negative view of women or couldn’t manage them properly. I’d say a very high number of good male managers have probably watched porn at some point in their lives

        3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          I mean, almost never. Even folks who watch violent porn are not necessarily going to be biased against women. But if someone is watching child porn, then yes, report it, because that’s a horrific crime.

          1. Liz2*

            Agreed, there’s a huge difference between fantasy material and real world opinions. And between consenting adults and otherwise.

    4. Barney Barnaby*

      First, this is somewhat attenuated – following certain accounts (which might be spam or a hack) and not really interacting with them very much. So I would want to see a stronger nexus between the twitter use and the explicit content.

      Second, it doesn’t tie into any problems the OP had at work. If she were to say, “Every single woman in the group has complained about this man; he treats women like children, sneers at us, interrupts us during meetings, and his female employees are singled out for discipline in ways his male employees are not. Oh, by the way, he spends all day looking at naked women on the internet and complimenting them, trying to get their attention, and saying how hot they look. This doesn’t appear to be a person who is capable of seeing women as equals,” then it might be, rationally, another piece of evidence to bolster a claim of chronic bad behaviour.

      1. Lissa*

        Yeah, I was going to say something similar to your first paragraph. The equivalent with racism would be “this guy has liked/followed a bunch of racist twitter accounts” and I still think it would be weird to fire somebody for that, or try to get them in trouble. If they were saying it themself? maybe, sure. But even then I feel this is not cut and dry, what one person thinks is racist another thinks is acceptable, and then you get pretty far into the weeds with things like cultural appropriation etc. . .

        I don’t know the answers here but I am glad I don’t have to make those decisions.

      2. Candi*

        It can be argued (weasel words!) that watching porn causes the man in question to objectify women -or more broadly, for the watcher to objectify the person they are watching, and by extension, their gender.

        But in this case, the specific questions are:

        Is it affecting their work?

        Are they doing it on the clock?

        Does it affect relationships with other employees?

        Are they viewing it on company equipment?

        Does it affect how the company is viewed?

        All “no’ means it’s nobody’s business. One or more yes answers can be dealt with by the employee’s employer as needed and in a way that fits the circumstance.

    5. Alton*

      It depends on the situation. I probably wouldn’t go out of my way to report someone to their employer unless I felt that their job was really relevant. While I absolutely agree that racism and similar attitudes are horrible and that people bring it on themselves if there are consequences for acting like that, I don’t feel like it accomplishes anything for me to go out of my way to inform their employers.

      But I would consider informing them if the person was very public-facing (like a PR person for the company) or if what they were doing online indicated poor judgment that could easily extend to work or reflect poorly on their work (like if someone was in a position of power or trust, like a doctor or a police officer. If a police officer was saying really bigoted things, I would want their boss to know since that could be a public safety and liability concern).

  26. Temperance*

    LW4: I think your heart is in the right place, but I think the coworkers paying for his meals is the wrong way to help. You don’t want him to become dependent on the service and then lose it for one reason or another.

    Generally speaking, most people are fine with one-time donations, but an ongoing commitment, not so much.

    If Pete is disabled, he likely lives in supportive or group housing. He should have a caseworker. Concerned Coworker should advise Pete to talk with his caseworker or social worker about his needs. That way, he’s receiving the help he needs in a way that doesn’t leave him dependent on coworkers.

    1. The Road to Hell Is Paved With Good Intentions*

      #4 – If Pete can’t handle preparing food for himself, call adult and protective services in your area and ask them to contact the people helping him take care of himself.
      DO NOT provide assistance for him without knowing you aren’t putting him overlimit for his benefits. If he loses benefits, it will be six months minimum before he gets them back. Do not do that to him!
      If Pete says he can’t feed himself, but he buys fast food when he has money, he may mean he’s being encouraged not to eat fast food all the time, and doesn’t like to cook.
      Pete may be on dietary restrictions through his doctor. You don’t know. Neither does your work cafeteria. He may not understand the reason.

      Bottom line, find out who is supposed to be taking care of Pete and tell them there appears to be a problem. This is what HR should do. Not cancelling food drives for charity!

      1. CMT*

        “If he loses benefits, it will be six months minimum before he gets them back.”

        Okay, we don’t know anything about his situation or what programs he might be receiving benefits from, so this is just blatantly false. Don’t spread misinformation like this.

        1. Candi*

          The penalties and time line are highly state dependent on one hand and worker dependent on the other. (Social worker.) About the only thing you can depend on is greater income can decrease benefits once it’s reported.

          Which is why you, LW, need a permanent solution for Pete. A month or so won’t be so bad benefits-wise, but month after month may start being counted as income at some point, depending on the specific state. He needs long-term help, possibly from multiple angles.

  27. Anon Accountant*

    OP1 Someone once shared with me “holding a grudge is drinking poison and expecting harm to the other person”. Now there are times you need to sever ties to a person and cease contact. But you are wasting your energy by seeking his twitter feed, checking those links and wanting send to HR.

    Use this time to take a class, volunteer, meet a friend for coffee. You have better uses for your time.

  28. Sleepy Unicorn*

    #2 I can only think of one situation where an employee would have a right to choose someone to attend a meeting of this nature with them. I work in a unionized environment (I’m in management). There is a clause in the union’s collective agreement that if an employee is scheduled for a disciplinary meeting and no union rep is able to attend and management had given sufficient notice to schedule the meeting and is not able to reschedule than the employee can bring a fellow union member to the meeting. This is a very specific situation with criteria that have to be met and is only applicable because it’s involving a union and written into the collective agreement. Outside of this situation I completely agree with Alison’s response.

    1. Sleepy Unicorn*

      In reading the above comments it seems this is only relevant to the US and Canada. Other countries have different norms surrounding this issue.

      1. Akcipitrokulo*

        Yeah… uk here, and surprised it was even a question. Of course you take someone with you if you want! You’re entitled to have a colleague (or union person). Company might refuse to allow an outsider but wouldn’t raise any eyebrows to request it.

  29. Roscoe*

    #1 I’m glad at least you can admit that you don’t like this guy, but man is this petty. You looked him up, presumably to find dirt. And now you are basically trying to use the fact that he “liked” tweets that you find objectionable to get him in trouble? I was expecting you to say he was spouting racist things. But just because he liked it? Come on. Find something better to do with your time, and let this go.

    #2 Yeah, you seem like a bit of a busybody in this situation. Its nice you are trying to look out for your friend, but you have no right to go to her discplinary meetings. And asking if she needs a laywer is just stirring the pot. In fact, I’d say that you arranging for someone else to go was over stepping. You should be lucky you aren’t having a disciplinary meeting for interfering in someone else’s.

    #3 I find this one fascinating. I’ll admit, whenever the issue of men and women sharing a room, I often wonder if gay guys get the same treatment. Like “clearly this gay guy can’t handle himself around another gay guy and will want to sleep with him”. I guess men of any orientation are thought that they can’t keep it in their pants lol. But Alison makes a great point here. What I’m curious about though, is are you uncomfortable because its your boss, or because its another gay guy and there may be rumors. Either option is valid, I’m just curious.

  30. March*

    OP #1, you ground your axe by eviscerating this boss in your exit interview. It’s time to step away from this mentally.

  31. PK*

    #1. Let it go. It honestly sounds like you are just looking for revenge and set out to find it. It is going to come off as petty and personal since you already attacked him in your exit interview.

    #3. As a fellow gay male, I understand your viewpoint. I would be uncomfortable as well. I was always under the impression that rooms were split to avoid the look of impropriety or the possibility of something worse like sexual assault. I figured that a company could be held liable for that if they forced employees to room together. I’m not a lawyer though. I think the fact that you’ve already had inappropriate comments and there is already a question of inpropriety, I’d be asking for a separate room. You may have more luck saying you’d rather not room with your boss though. That is more understandable for a lot of people I think. Good luck!

    1. Lauren*

      #3 I agree with this. Saying you don’t want to share a room with your boss is legit. You can even say that you feel strongly enough about it, that you are willing to pay it on your own – which makes people feel bad enough to say no – we’ll get you a room.

      Bottom line – If the boss says anything to OP, say ‘it’s weird, and I am sick of the comments happening BEFORE we even go. I don’t want years of comments AFTER we share a room.’

    2. CM*

      I think OP#3 could also say that he’s already started hearing inappropriate jokes and he wants to avoid being in that situation. That way it’s not about his personal feelings about the situation, it’s about his reputation.

  32. MH*

    I’m sorry, LW 1 makes me furious.

    Let me get this straight: after searching for someone you dislike, you found that… **gasp** he likes to look at people on the internet who are naked? Why, he must be the only one, and it needs to be reported, obviously! To HR! Because… you know… there’s no evidence that he’s doing anything wrong, there’s no evidence he’s doing anything at work, he just looks at naked people on the internet! We should string him up and send him to Mars, I guess.

    Stop being a busybody, focus on whatever issues made you think you had to google everyone you dislike to find out some non-scandalous thing about them, and stop trying to make non-issues an issue. What he chooses to do on his own time is his own time, not a work issue.

    Also, I’d ask you to ask yourself: how are you so innocent? Have you really done nothing to that you wouldn’t want someone to find it? Would you like all aspects of your life broadcast for everyone to see.

    Lastly, own up to what you did. You Googled the name of a guy who you don’t like to find something to make you feel better about hating him, you found something that was a non-issue, and you tried to make it an issue. To me it says a lot more about your character than his.

  33. WellThatWasAwkward*

    I do think OP#2’s situation is a little over the line, at least in America. I had very awkward situation where a coworker (I’ll call him Bob) asked me to come with him to a meeting with our manager, but he told me that the meeting was regarding a mutual client we have (that had some personality clashes with Bob). Welllll the meeting was actually about whether or not Bob should be fired because of the various personality clashes with clients and that Bob was luring me in there without warning to be a witness (he believed he was being treated unfairly). My manager was NOT pleased Bob brought me in there, saying he would let me stay if it was so important to Bob, but that he thought it was “frankly weird” (I was pretty much sitting in shocked silence during this conversation). I then proceeded to sit through the most awkward hour of my life as my manager detailed the many reasons he believed Bob should be fired. Trust me, not fun to just sit there cringing, especially when you weren’t mentally prepared for it!

  34. Emi.*

    OP1, I’m staunchly anti-porn and I still think you should let this go. Even if you’re in a field where this sort of thing would be an issue that HR would want to know about, you’re not even sure it’s the same guy’s account. I do think you would look petty, since you’ve already shredded him in your exit interview, and moreover he just doesn’t deserve to take up this much real estate in your head. It’s not that you’re trying to make a non-issue into an issue–porn is an issue, but this guy’s porn isn’t your issue.

    1. Kathleen Adams*

      I have to agree with Emi. There’s just so much wrong with this idea. As many people have pointed out, there’s a decent chance it isn’t him, but even it if is, I doubt very much it will hurt him. Plus, even I – not a fan at all of porn – would not look favorably at someone (much less a former employee with an ax to grind) ratting this guy out. The idea is just so…shabby, so petty.

      Let it go, my friend, let it goooooo!

  35. ancolie*

    #3 — are the below things accurate:

    – A number of people from your work place are going.
    – Everyone going has to share a room.
    – Four of the attendees are gay men.
    – There are also straight men who are going.


    Because (hopefully I’m wrong) I kinda get an “unintentionally homophobic”* vibe. Like, 1- even assuming no romantic/sexual things would go on, obviously the gay guys won’t mind rooming together! They have their sexual orientation in common, so clearly they’ll all get along! And then, 2- we also don’t need to worry about (straight male co-workers) feeling uncomfortable rooming with a gay guy!

    * like the implicit biases or attitudes everyone is brought up surrounded by.

    1. Roscoe*

      That, or maybe its a non-profit that works on homosexual issues, so there are just quite a few gay guys going.

  36. Kaitlyn*

    LW4: Maybe I’m being naive, but isn’t the best long-term solution to Pete’s problem raising his wage so that’s actually make enough money to feed himself?

    1. caryatis*

      It’s not clear whether Pete’s problem is that he can’t afford food or that he doesn’t have the level of functioning needed to get to the store, select food, cook, store it properly, determine what has gone bad, plan ahead to bring lunch. A low-IQ person might not be able to handle all of that even with adequate money.

      1. Kaitlyn*

        I hear you, but if Pete can handle basic office tasks, I’m nearly 100% positive he can make himself a sandwich or open a can of soup. Infantilizing developmentally disabled people so that we (societally, not, like, you and I) can justify paying them garbage money is not the best look.

        1. Temperance*

          He receives some sort of housing services from the government and likely other benefits. Raising his pay isn’t “infantilizing”, it’s potentially life-ruining. Not knowing more about his level of disability or what type of housing he’s in, it’s really hard to say.

        2. caryatis*

          I don’t think it’s “infantilizing” to admit that some people have limited functioning. That’s what it means to be developmentally disabled, and handling office tasks, likely with a lot of supervision, doesn’t necessarily mean he can do everything that goes into successfully living alone. I wonder if OP could clarify if it’s a money issue or an ability issue? (Or both, because higher-functioning people are better at frugal shopping).

          1. Chinook*

            “and handling office tasks, likely with a lot of supervision, doesn’t necessarily mean he can do everything that goes into successfully living alone.”

            There is a world of difference between basic office tasks that are done with supervision and being able to deal with planning, shopping for and then creating healthy and safe food unsupervised. I know a fully functioning adult who worked with DH who didn’t know how to shop in a grocery store and do meal planning in his late 20’s. DH only discovered it when his buddy kept making comments about how DH”s homemade leftovers looked so much more appetizing than whatever he bought in the food court that day. Watching this friend discover the glories of the frozen food section of the grocery store (we took him with us to show how we shopped and planned) was eye opening because no one had ever shown him how to meal plan or shop.

          2. OP4*

            Hello I am OP4 and he absolutely does struggle with managing money and preparing food. His handling of office tasks is truly just mail distribution and is very limited. It is both a money and ability issue.

          3. Elsajeni*

            The OP has clarified in a comment thread above, and it sounds like it may be, as your last line suggests, a combination of money issues and difficulty with the actual process of planning/shopping/preparing meals: “… he has challenges putting together meals. I think typically if he has money, he goes to McDonalds or something like that.”

        3. Not Karen*

          First of all, I read “cannot feed himself” as he is unable to prepare meals, not that he can’t afford to buy food. Second of all, office tasks and preparing meals require different skill sets and abilities. Nobody’s “infantilizing” anybody – we are recognizing that someone can be capable of one task and not the other. I knew a girl who was smart enough to go to college at 15 and yet couldn’t boil water. Maybe it’s a problem with knowledge, or maybe limited ability. Opening a can of soup requires some manually dexterity. The sharp lid can cut you. The heating process can burn the house down. If Pete doesn’t sort the mail properly or whatever, what’s the worst that could happen?

        4. Emilia Bedelia*

          As caryatis said, there’s also a long chain of events that need to happen before he can successfully make a sandwich. When you account for planning, purchasing, and preparing food without help from others, it’s almost definitely more complicated than his job, where he’s getting picked up and dropped off and is presumably supervised/assisted at all times with whatever he’s working on.
          Pete should certainly be paid enough money to afford food; I don’t think that’s in question here. The issue is that perhaps more money will not solve his problem. We just don’t know enough about his situation in particular to say what the best solution is, and it seems like the OP doesn’t either.

    2. the_scientist*

      Generally speaking, no. In most places, adults with DD are eligible for welfare or similar funding (plus Medicaid/Medicare) and raising his wage could impact his eligibility for those programs. Plus it’s likely that even if he was making the true minimum wage, he would not make enough to live on.

        1. the_scientist*

          Right, but he’d quite possibly be making less or more financially vulnerable, if he loses eligibility for things like medical coverage.

        2. Morning Glory*

          That’s true in a food sense, but it also depends on his other needs, and bureaucracy surrounding whatever aid he receives.

          My mother is not developmentally disabled, she has a physical disability. She receives SNAP benefits and health care from the government, but if she was in danger of losing one, she’d choose to give up the food aid for health care every single time. If a monetary raise in the man’s paycheck prevented him from health or housing assistance, it could financially hurt him a great deal more than it helps.

          1. Temperance*

            Yep. And if he lives in a group home or supportive housing, raising his pay wouldn’t provide him with access to services that assist him with tasks of daily living, even if he could theoretically afford housing on his own.

        3. caryatis*

          You don’t know that. OP said they heard from another coworker that “Pete said he cannot feed himself.” We don’t know if that means a money problem or ability problem, assuming Pete even understands the problem himself.

        4. The Road to Hell Is Paved With Good Intentions*

          Is it that he’s not making enough to live on or not making enough to go to McDonald’s three times a day? There’s a difference.

          1. the_scientist*

            Is there, though, in this situation? This is part of the issues with policing people’s food choices, although I don’t want to attack you specifically here. The OP has clarified that Pete has trouble both financially, but also with the intellectual and possibly motor requirements of making and planning a meal. It is unlikely, based on OP’s additional info, that he’d be able to adequately plan and complete a trip to a grocery store without support. Plus, he may not have proper or safe food storage, or cooking equipment, depending on his living situation.

            Pete needs to eat, and if eating fast food is what he’s capable of doing, it’s what he’s capable of doing. As I mentioned upthread, this is an issue that I’m extremely passionate about. I’m mad on Pete’s behalf that he’s in a situation where he doesn’t have enough support, financially or otherwise, to eat nutritious, healthy meals. I’m mad that adults with developmental disabilities are underserved by social supports and are often left to fend for themselves.

            Pete’s family doesn’t seem to be very involved in his life, so I commend the OP and her coworkers for wanting to support him. With the additional information, I think a stipend to the cafeteria is probably the best idea, after connecting with whatever agency supports his placement there. After ensuring he’s accessing all the funding he’s entitled to, a cafeteria stipend would ensure that he’s getting varied meals and getting at least one solid meal per day.

    3. Jaydee*

      Part of the problem is that it may not be possible to raise Pete’s wages high enough for him to afford to private pay for all the things he needs in order to be able to live independently. So he may actually be better off with a lower wage that allows him to remain eligible for programs that currently provide or subsidize those needs.

      That’s not to say that the systems we have right now to provide benefits and services to people with disabilities are adequate or do justice to the people who depend on them. But the solutions involve deep, systemic changes to our laws and our societal attitudes toward people with disabilities, people with low incomes, labor and employment, and public benefits.

  37. Lauren*

    #3 If you think there is fallout from saying no or asking for a sep room, I’d consider lying and getting a hotel elsewhere and say you are staying overnight with a friend or cousin. In a perfect world, no one would give you any crap for this – but since you are already getting comments about ‘something happening’ – its clear that you will be called ‘unreasonable’ or ‘not a team player’ – even if they consented to paying for a sep room. If you can afford it, just lie and go with the ‘i’m staying with a cousin’ thing. Get a hotel or Airbnb, because a few hundred dollars isn’t worth the high school childishness that is currently occurring and may continue to occur if you stay in the same room / or even ask for a different room. Think ‘oh you KNEW you couldn’t control yourself so you needed a sep room – right, gotcha ah ha, (wink wink)’. Forget that, stay with a fake cousin.

    1. Zillah*

      I don’t think it’s clear at all that the OP would be called unreasonable or not a team player, and I also don’t think that lying to your employer to avoid a slightly uncomfortable conversation is really the way to go.

  38. Morning Glory*

    OP1 – So my advice would be to stay out of it regardless, but especially when it comes to twitter and you are not 100% sure this is his account. Twitter spambots and pornbots steal photos and descriptions from other users (and often names, but not handles) to make themselves look less ‘spammy.’

    A few years ago I came across my photo, name, and half of my profile description on some random account, like someone had done a sloppy copy and paste job. That account was tweeting some pretty awful links. I reported it and got it shut down, but that won’t stop the same person or shady company from doing the same thing with hundreds of other accounts.

    And on my current twitter account, I tended to follow back people who followed me until I realized that many of them were these fake accounts. I’m probably still accidentally following a few porn or spam promoting accounts that I wasn’t able to weed out.

    Just a PSA on judging people IRL based on their possible twitter presence :)

    1. Alton*

      Yes, I’m against tattling on the manager in this case even if that really is his account, but with Twitter it can really be hard to tell. The one time in my life that I’ve had an online account of mine hacked, it was Twitter. I checked my feed one day and was surprised to find that I’d posted spam.

      Also, there’s a big problem on social media with spam accounts that promote porn (or virus-laden sites claiming to be porn). My mom accepted a friend request from a stranger on Facebook, and within hours she was tagged in a post advertising a porn site.

    1. RVA Cat*

      Speaking of Twitter getting people in trouble…at least neither he nor OP1’s ex-boss are “Carlos Danger” (Anthony Weiner).

  39. Manic Pixie HR Girl*

    OP4: Many states have county/local government offices specifically dedicated to assistance for in-need adults. My mother ran the unit at a county in Northern NY for 5 years. They would receive referrals from the community – hospitals, family members, concerned neighbors, friends, workplaces (I don’t know how many of these she got, but I imagine she got them), etc. They would basically take the lead in assisting these individuals in finding appropriate housing, services, applying for benefits, etc. These units are run at the county level in NY (often called “Adult Protective Services,” though some smaller counties may have the units combined). I would google “Adult Protective Services” + your state and see if you can get some info. At the very least, they could point you in the right direction.

    I think it’s terrific that you and many of your coworkers want to help this person.

  40. ilikeaskamanager*

    #1–Move on. You “ax to grind” is consuming you, and he/she doesn’t even know it- I like the saying, “resentment is like a drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.” It is bad for you, has no impact on the object of your resentment, and gets in the way of you having a solid good life. As someone else said, “The best revenge is living well. “

  41. Statler von Waldorf*

    One point I’ve seen missed in the pile-on on #1. How good a lawyer can you afford? How good a lawyer can your ex-boss afford? How comfortable will you be explaining all your actions to a judge when he hits you with a civil lawsuit for defamation of character? Is that the hill you want to die on?

    1. fposte*

      It’s highly unlikely–defamation suits (or tortious interference suits, if that’s what you’re really meaning) cost a lot to pursue, and a decent lawyer would explain to the client that as long as the OP stuck to the facts (old boss likes sexy Twitter) it’s not likely to meet the standard.

      1. Statler von Waldorf*

        It’s not about whether you win the suit, it’s whether you can afford both the time and money to fight it.

    2. Jessesgirl72*

      I actually think the response to OP1 has been pretty fair and not the pile on I expected. Everyone is pretty much playing nice, all things considered.

      But more to your point, in order to be sued for defamation, what you said has to be untrue, you had to know it was untrue (or reasonably should have known), and the victim has to prove damages. Not potential damages, but real actual measurable damages.

      No respectable lawyer would take the case.

      1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        Yes, exactly. I think this is why fposte mentioned tortious interference. I understand the point was that it’s expensive to defend a lawsuit, but a defamation lawsuit would be frivolous and likely bounced. But the broader point is valuable—OP, don’t create trouble for yourself by letting your ax-grinding cloud your perspective/judgment.

  42. Erin*

    #1 – I don’t think it’s a crazy question to ask about, but no, definitely don’t do it. Even if for argument’s sake you knew for sure this was his Twitter account, doing this will only reflect badly on you – it won’t reflect badly on him.

    I myself refrain from searching for people in my work past like that, and I’d suggest you try doing the same. Hard, but if you really do put them out of your sight you’ll find them out of your mind too.

  43. SlickWilly*

    Many people have said LW#1 should let it go. Agreed, but seriously, let’s go a bit further and look within.

    LW#1 is part of a growing problem of internet vigilanteism, public shaming, “doxxing”, etc. that is basically if I have a problem with you, I’m going to do everything I can to make you look bad on the internet. That is, if LW#1 were to follow through.

    But even the mindset of “let’s see what i can find about my old boss and possibly use it against him” is really crappy. Do some soul searching and for goodness sakes, step away from the computer for a while.

    1. LBK*

      Hmm, I think many of the situations you describe are people publicly posting things alongside obviously identifiable information, then uninvested parties seeing it and taking action. If you’re referring to people getting fired for racist Facebook/Twitter posts, I don’t think the majority of those situations stem from someone specifically hunting for bad posts in the feed of someone they know in order to try to use it against them. I also don’t know that looking at a public profile where you’ve willingly published your name, school, employer, etc. counts as “doxxing” – my understanding is that that implies more digging and connecting of information, then republishing that information and encouraging others to use it to attack that person. That’s not the same as just seeing a nasty tweet and clicking on the profile to see what info the person has listed there.

      What the OP did isn’t comparable to, say, the public official that recently got fired for making racist comments about Michelle Obama on her Facebook page.

        1. LBK*

          Perhaps not wholly dissimilar, but I think the line is pretty clear between seeing something come up publicly from a person you don’t know and taking one step to click their profile and see if they listed their employer vs. purposely trying to hunt down dirt on someone you know personally and dislike with the intention of connecting private information to them and then sharing it publicly. I don’t see any grey area or blurriness between those two things.

    2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      I don’t think this is an entirely accurate analogy/typology. And public shaming has a long history in American culture. The bigger issue, in my mind, is that OP is spending time looking up their old boss and trying to find ways to create trouble for that person. That doesn’t sound like a healthy or high-value use of OP’s time.

      1. Candi*

        “public shaming has a long history”

        That was the whole point of the stocks, after all.

        But the authorities didn’t (usually) go prying into every chest and bag to find an excuse to put someone in the stocks. Nosy neighbors wanting to grind axes by stirring pots, on the other hand…

  44. seejay*

    OP#1, I totally get/understand the whole axe to grind thing, but the *only* time I, as an employee (past or present) ever took umbrage with someone dabbling with porn was if it was during work hours on their work computer (and I was being paid to deal with it, either as security/forensics or because I had to clean up the viruses that came with it), or if it was illegal (minors). At a *far* stretch, if I had a grudge, I could see blowing the lid on something if it was bringing to light someone who was a fan of gay porn while they were working or campaigning for anti-gay laws or such, but again, that’d be opening a can of fish that would potentially make me look pretty bad too.

    Porn is porn and unless you’re living in a hugely puritanical area, most people aren’t going to give a flip what someone does in their spare time. At best, you’ll embarrass him and I doubt that’s going to be enough to satisfy your grudge. As someone more popular once said, Let It Go. It’s not worth it.

  45. Jessesgirl72*

    OP1: Trying to get someone in trouble, especially for something that is in no way illegal, will only have career repercussions on yourself.

    If you can’t move past what happened at your old job, you might benefit from some short-term counseling. Make some positive changes before you let your resentment torpedo your own career and life.

  46. MMSW*

    #4- You are a very kind person and Pete is lucky to have caring co-workers. Is he connected to a social service agency- Dept. of Disability Services maybe? If not can someone at your company work on connecting him to a place that can provide on-going case management and assistance? I encourage you to do whats possible to help Pete eat in the meantime but sounds like he needs more support and it would be beneficial to have something not contingent upon his employment. Call 211/311 or local DDS to start

  47. KP84*

    “Needless to say, I have a feeling the HR department at my former employer would find this all very, very interesting.”

    After typing this, did you start laughing evilly while petting a cat? Bwa-ha-ha-ha!

    Seriously, move on and forward. Recognize it as the petty behavior it is and forget about your old boss.

  48. Czhorat*

    Alison’s reply to OP#1 does bring up an important point; some things which we do online are easily visible. While watching porn may not be “wrong” or bad, or is a thing most of us would want to keep private.

    Pay attention. Understand privacy settings. Know which social media allows access to which information (for example, a LinkedIn user can see if you view their profile). Act accordingly.

    If I had a positive relationship with someone and saw that kind of activity on their Twitter feed, I might gently note to them that it’s visible.

    1. Lissa*

      oh man, I have a few Facebook friends where I really want to send them a private message that’s along the lines of “hey just so you know, if you Like something, it might show up on other people’s pages with a little note that you liked it.” But we are not close enough that it would not be weird.

  49. RGB*

    OP2 – bringing a support person to HR meetings is common and protected by law in some countries.

    I’ve had an intimidating HR meeting before and I would have loved if someone more senior than me had come in support. But the intention where I live is for it to be personal support, so most of the time bringing in a more senior employee or manager would feel inappropriate, even though I would be entitled to.

    Unfortuate if that’s not available to you and your coworker.

  50. Dee*

    The moral support comment “…typically, bringing someone along for moral support isn’t a thing that’s done.” I’m not in the US and if it interests anyone – it’s actually law here that people are allowed someone in these circumstances. It’s also allowed to have a support person in interviews. I know that one falls under equal opportunity legislation in employment law, i’m not sure about the support in other areas like a disciplinary meeting.

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