job applicants’ parents keep calling me, coworkers are ranking the attractiveness of women in the office, and more

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

1. Job applicants’ parents keep calling me

I work at a summer camp, with loads of seasonal volunteers and employees. We just opened applications for volunteer staffing opportunities for teens age 14-17 and were flooded with hundreds of applicants who want to come do our dishes, haul trash, and chop firewood for free. This is a wonderful thing!

The problem is their parents, who regularly call for updates on their teens’ application (most commonly to ask if all of the teen’s references have been sent in). As understandable as their requests for updates are, we’re really too swamped with inquiries to respond to their (sometimes daily!) requests. But more importantly, I really wish it was the teens themselves who called, not their parents.

I think most of these parents are still in “sign my kid up for camp” mode. They aren’t seeing this as a job. And since this is volunteer work, we really need the parents on our side. I can’t afford to alienate them by being forceful about how inappropriate it is for them to call. What’s your advice – what can I say to parents like this?

You don’t need to take them to task or anything like that; just plainly explain that you can only talk to the applicant herself. Say something like this: “To answer that, I would need her to contact me herself. Because this is a job application, we don’t discuss those details with anyone other than the applicant directly.”

If a parent pushes back in response to that, say this: “I’d be glad to talk with her directly if she’d like to call me. But we think it’s important for prospective volunteers and employees to manage this process themselves, even when they’re teens. It’s an important skill for them to have or develop, and it helps us to get a sense of our applicants. Of course you can coach her on doing it, but we’d want her to reach out herself.”

Or, if you actually want the message to be that none of them — parents or teens — should be doing all this follow-up because you don’t have time to field it, you could instead say: “Because of the volume of applications we’ve received, we’re not able to respond to individual questions like this. However, we’ll be in touch with all applicants no later than (date). At that point, if your daughter has questions, she’s welcome to contact us — but we prefer for her to get in touch herself since she’s the applicant, rather than a parent handling it for her.”

2. Coworkers are ranking the attractiveness of women in the office

I found out that two of my coworkers, both male and both junior, have made a list ranking the attractiveness of the female junior employees in the office.

Obviously, this is incredibly, jaw-droppingly appalling. However, for various reasons, some of the other juniors on the list don’t want to escalate this to HR, seeing it as “not a big deal” and “not wanting to bring gender into it.” I’m hearing about all of this secondhand, because despite me being technically at the junior-level, I’m separated from the rest of the juniors due to the nature of my work.

I think it’s a clear-cut case of needing to escalate this. One of the guys who created the list has been approached by some of the women on the list and was extremely apologetic and seemed embarrassed, so the juniors who don’t want to escalate it thinks this is enough. I’m not sure if the other guy has been approached. For various reasons, I don’t want to be the only one to tell HR, but the other juniors who do don’t want to say anything unless everyone’s on board, and nobody else wants to bring it to the attention of any of the senior employees, so I’m feeling stuck. Any advice would be appreciated.

Oh my goodness, talk to HR immediately. This is not something that gets to be voted on, and in fact, it will reflect badly on all of you if it comes to light and it becomes known that you each didn’t say anything because the group didn’t want you to. These guys are creating a hostile workplace for other employees, exposing the company to legal liability, and being offensive and gross.

This is something that your company would want to know about, believe me. Go talk to HR so that they can explain to these guys how very unacceptable this is, and how very bad this kind of behavior will be for their careers and reputations.

Read updates to this letter here and here.

3. Our board told our new director I applied for her job, even though I asked them not to

I work for a small nonprofit. I’m the senior staff person, and I’m in charge of running all of our operations and programs. My executive director announced her retirement, and I applied for the job. (This was after weeks of deliberation, since there are key skills I’d have to learn, but I could!) During the multiple step interview process, we discussed how I would feel if I didn’t get the position. I reiterated that my goal is to stay with the organization, and if I wasn’t the best person to lead it, that would be fine. I’m happy to work hard for whomever is in charge. I also asked them not to tell the new person, if it wasn’t me, that I had applied, so that they didn’t have the preconceived notion that I’d be a difficult employee. They all agreed.

Obviously, I didn’t get the job, but the person they hired sounds great! One problem, they did tell her that I applied. When I expressed my disappointment, they indicated that they thought it would be awkward if they didn’t share that information. Obviously, I disagree. If she had no idea, she wouldn’t think it was awkward!

I’m thinking there is no benefit to further discussing this with the search committee, since they can’t undo it (and frankly, don’t seem to care how I feel about it), so how can I approach this with the new ED so she knows I’m on board and not jealous or resentful? They need me for sure, at least while she gets up to speed, but if she thinks I’m not on her side, I can see her planning to replace me when she’s more settled.

Any advice? Were they wrong to spill the beans or was I out of bounds for thinking they could keep my application confidential? Should I bring it up, or just work my rear off to show that I’m critical to the organization?

Nah, it’s pretty normal to tell a new incoming manager if anyone on staff applied for her job. That’s because if you were acting weird about it after she started (bitter, resentful, demoralized, or whatever), it would be useful context for her to have. And it’s not fair for her not to have full information about the history and aspirations of the people on her staff.

But they shouldn’t have assured you that they wouldn’t tell her. They should have told you that they felt it was important to fill her in — or if they didn’t realize that until later on, one of them should have circled back to you and let you know. At this point, though, I don’t think there’s anything to gain by bringing it up with the search committee.

I wouldn’t worry too much about approaching it with the new ED either. It’s very normal for there to have been internal candidates who didn’t get the job, and as long as you’re not weird with her about it, she’s not likely to think that you’re not on her side or that she needs to replace you (!). However, if it will give you peace of mind, you can say something to her like “I think you may know that I applied for the ED position, and I want you to know there’s no weirdness on my end about not getting it, and I’m excited to work with you.”

4. Chasing down a late freelance payment

I work freelance in film and television production. I took a job with a reputable national insurance company to work on one of their commercials for a few days before Christmas, for which I’m owed $1,000.

I received a text from the job’s supervisor on January stating that our paychecks would be mailed by the 9th at the latest. However, my check has still not arrived in the mail. I texted him on the 13th and the 18th to follow up and got no response. He finally texted me saying he was traveling out of the country with spotty service but would follow up with the payroll company processing the checks. I had also reached out to the payroll company on the 18th and they said they were not currently processing any checks for the production company that produced the commercial.

I just spent a large chunk of my savings moving across the country at the beginning of the month, so I could really use the $1,000 I’m owed. However, production is a small industry so I do not want to “make a scene” in trying to figure out why I haven’t gotten paid yet. Some colleagues have said to just let it go. What is the proper and professional way to follow up on this if the check never arrives?

What?! It’s not making a scene to ensure that you get agreed-upon payment for your work. That is normal, that is professional, and it is sometimes necessary. Ignore your colleagues telling you to let it go, and contact the supervisor again. Tell him that the payroll company told you that they’re not handling these checks, explain that you’ve been patient but need this resolved right away, and ask what needs to happen for you to get payment this week.

5. My work-from-home perk became permanent, and I don’t like it

I started a new job about five months ago. When I signed on, the CEO, who is my boss, touted the fact that I could telecommute when I pleased as a perk. It was a perk then — I loved having the flexibility to not commute in the large city I live in, and to be able to go in to my desk and use my monitor set-up when I needed to. However, I have been told to strictly work from home for a few months as there is a problem with the office lease — and it’s indefinite. My living situation has changed and it’s honestly affecting my ability to get uninterrupted work time at home.

How do I approach him about this? Would it be fair to ask him to pay for me to use a coworking space immediately?

You can definitely explain that it’s tough for you to work from home full-time and ask if he’d be willing to cover the cost of a coworking space. He very well may be — or he might not, but it’s reasonable to ask. Your chances of a yes will go up if you explain what the issue is with working at home (don’t just say that your living situation has changed; be more specific about what the obstacle is).

Say this: “I’m not really set up to work from home full-time — (insert details about why it doesn’t work). I’ve found some coworking spaces nearby that cost $X/month. Would you be open to me doing that and having the company cover the space rental?”

{ 376 comments… read them below }

  1. No longer working from home*

    #5: This exact situation happened at my last job. I hope it works out for you and that you get a good resolution to it. I know how tough it can be.

    (In my situation my boss and those above him would not pay for a co-working space or do anything else to resolve the problem. I ended up looking for another job and I found one that had set office hours and does not let employees or managers work from home or have a company laptop or mobile phone. My productivity is so much better when I’m at work and I love that my work is separate from my home life)

    1. Susie*

      Not being allowed to be flexible with my office hours or to work outside of them for things like overtime, and not being able to work from home sounds like a nightmare to me.

      1. Yikes*

        +1. In addition, I’d go nuts if I didn’t have a cell to get work related calls and emails on. I’d feel so out of the loop with my office.

      2. MK*

        Flexibility isn’t important for everyone and there is a lot to be said for having a dependable schedule that you can organise around. And plenty of people are willing to give up the convenience of sometimes working from home if it means that their work stays at the office and their home is a work-free space.

        And I personally would question my relationship with my work, if not having contact with the office from late afternoon till the following morning made me feel it of the loop.

        1. Mookie*

          Yes, I’m one of those people who hate to take their work home with them (though mentally it’s always there gnawing away) and for whom regular hours and an on-site workspace is crucial to keeping me grounded; otherwise, my personal life, leisurely time, and all otherwise waking hours would be enveloped in a work-colored, scatter-brained gloom.

        2. AvonLady Barksdale*

          Agreed. I’ve had both, and while I like having flexibility, it can be so liberating to leave the laptop at the office.

        3. CeeCee*

          I think the last part of your response is very dependent on the field of work. My last job was with a 24hr emergency services company. We cleaned up fires and floods. While I wasn’t the person being called out at all hours of the night, I was the person tracking the jobs and their progress.

          So while I wasn’t really working from home, I can see what people mean by being out of the loop. It was nice to be able to take a peek at my work phone before bed and see: Alright, tomorrow morning I have 4 jobs that came in to gather information on. In that way, I was able to mentally prepare for how large the tornado would be the next morning at work, have a starting point for my morning, and be semi-knowledgeable when I got bombarded with information about “The Smith Job in Townsville” before I even had a chance to get to my desk.

          But all industries are different. My job after that, if anyone had anything going on between the time I left and the time I got back in in the morning, it could wait.

      3. Temperance*

        I really need the flexibility to feel like an independent adult, and I like having a job that isn’t “show up and work for 8 hours”. I worked as an admin for a while, though, and hated both the monotony and the lack of a challenge. YMMV.

      4. Jessesgirl72*

        It’s possible to have a happy medium- I think that is the really holy grail.

        My husband can work from home if he needs to, and he does carry the work laptop back and forth, but he isn’t expected to do after hours work unless there is a real pressing reason- and it’s not one of those companies/teams who have crises every week!

        Of course, even that “happy medium” would differ from person to person, as he would be discouraged from working from home more than 1 day a week, unless there was a reason, and to others, doing after hours work even once every month or two would be too much.

    2. Raine*

      For years I thought it would be the holy grail of work life to work from home. Then when I did, I realized it’s not for me, at least not full time. There is some inexplicable but for me real issue with never ever being away from work — it’s like my home was no longer my sanctuary to escape to, and my stress level went through the roof. I would never have guessed there could be downsides beforehand.

      1. Seles*

        I found the same issue when I worked from home. I was crawling the walls and desperate to get out of the house, but my better half works away from home for many hours and he just wanted to stay in. I felt like I was going to vibrate out of the visible light spectrum because I had no divide. There were parts I liked about it, but there were definitely downsides too.

      2. Whats In A Name*

        Same experience here. I longed for it – until I realized how little human interaction I had and how still being in my PJs or yoga pants at 5 p.m. were just not good for me as a human being.

        For me a perfect balance would be 2 days at home, 3 in the office, but I’ll take my 5 in the office with lots of flexibility when needed over 5 at home.

        I think the perfect balance is different for everyone.

      3. k*

        To add to the need for a divide, I like that I get away from home stuff so I can focus on work. If I was at home I’d be so distracted by the dishes in the sink, that load of laundry that needs to be folded, etc. I like to focus on work at work, focus on home at home. I guess some of us just aren’t designed for a work from home situation.

      4. NK*

        My husband currently exclusively WFH, and he’s grown to hate it. He’s not even a huge people person, but the isolation has really gotten to him. He also ends up working longer hours than he did before.

      5. Rachael*

        Also, if I worked from home I am positive that my husband would pressure me to have the kids home from daycare to save on costs. So, I avoid any talk about WFH and flexibility because I know that it would be disastrous.

        1. Zombii*

          That’s really unfortunate. Does he not realize most companies expect there to still be other childcare arrangements when employees WFH?

          (Ignore me if this is prying, or if you’ve discussed this with him and don’t want to elaborate here, or if it would take things too far off topic.)

      6. Mrs. Fenris*

        My work is completely hands-on by nature, so I’ve never worked from home or even imagined what it would be like. I think I would either be horribly undisciplined, or stressed out by having my work all up in my personal space.

      7. Clewgarnet*

        My employer is in the process of moving office to somewhere that would more than double my commute. The plan is to work from home 2 or 3 days a week, and in the office the rest of the time, and I’ve been increasing my WFH to figure out what the issues would be.

        I’m lucky enough to have space for two desks in my study. One is permanently set up for work, and one is permanently set up for personal. I may just be scooting my chair across the room, but it gives me a definite cut-off between work and home. I also make a point of only having one computer turned on at a time.

        I make sure I go outside at least once a day. I live right in the centre of a town, so it’s easy to pop out and grab lunch or a coffee. (My manager is extremely flexible on hours – as long as I get my 8 hours done, somewhere between 7am and 6pm, he’s absolutely fine with taking a longer break in the middle.) I find it helps to have some human interaction, some fresh air, and a reason to actually get showered and dressed.

        At the moment, my main problem is figuring out what to do with my cat! If I let her into my study, she’s mithering me for attention. If I shut her out of my study, she scrabbles at the door and bellows her displeasure. I tried to ignore her until she stopped but, after an hour, she was still going.

    3. Fish Microwaver*

      I’d be really interested in an AAM stand alone post detailing stats about productivity, benefits v drawbacks of WFH etc, if such data exist.

      1. Emmie*

        I’m sure there are some. Productivity when WFH widely depends on a person’s ability to manage WFH, and be productive when someone isn’t watching. It is about having the work ethic and personality to be high performing under those circumstances and to build relationships with people you don’t ever see. It’s a different tilt of work ethic, personality, and accountability than I needed for in office work. (This isn’t intended as an insult to work in office folks. I’m trying to articulate the differences needed to be high functioning at home.)

        1. Whats In A Name*

          I get what you are saying.

          In general I have a good work ethic, put in my hours, hit my goals, etc. when working from home but missed the face-to-face interaction that an office offers. After a year, though, I could feel my production going down because I was just miserable and couldn’t get out of it. I wouldn’t say I fell into the “no one’s watching so I won’t work” bucket but I definitely fell into the “pj’s all day and never leaving the house maka me cranky and all other relationships suffer” bucket.

          1. Emmie*

            I naturally keep to a small friend circle, so I am with you on the cranky relationships suffer. I find that a while into the position I did the opposite of you (although I could see why you went that way!) I went to mostly hyper productive from home. Maybe because I got more familiar with the role, and learned who could answer questions.

      2. Gov Worker*

        I work at home 100% as a medical accommodation. I love it so much. No 70 mile round trip commute, no dysfunctional workplace to endure. Once I turn off my work laptop and close my home office door, I’m off duty and don’t think about work. And I am more productive when I do work because I need to focus and be undisturbed.

        I enjoy lots of time alone, and there are still teleconferences and phone calls so human interaction isn’t completely missing. I listen to podcasts also. And I have a great kitty.

        I would never go back to butt in seat time. Working from home has made me saner and healthier.

    4. Alton*

      Yes, one of my favorite things about my current job is that there are very clearly defined working hours and no pressure to work from home. I don’t know how I’d feel about working from home full-time with regular hours (could be good or bad, depending), but I love knowing that when I’m home, I’m home and my day is done.

  2. Mb13*

    If it wasn’t highly unprofessional, likely to horribly backfire, and hurt a lot of people’s feelings, if I was in op 3 place I would make all sorts of awful ranking list and leave them at the coworkers desk. They’ll have titles such as “most misogynistic pig in the office” or “most likely to have all their relationships fail because they are sexist” or “the most unattractive men in the office” or throw some Mean Girl burn book reference and it will just be those guys names on it. But this is more of a gotcha fantasy that doesn’t actually work out in real life

      1. Katniss*

        That’s what makes it such a great fantasy. And really they’d be getting what’s coming to them.

    1. LPUK*

      I used to work as a manager in a large sales force, where we generally worked from home but had a set of hot desks in the national office. Rating female coworkers was an everyday activity for my male colleagues,with ‘Top Totty ‘ lists under constant review and the game ‘shag, marry, kill’ ( can you tell I’m British) with fellow workers’ names an ever- popular activity. There was so much ‘banter’ and sexism around that it didn’t bother me in the way it should and neither myself nor my female colleagues thought it something worth flagging at the time. We got our revenge by telling the guys there was no similar male list as we’d never found any of them attractive enough to warrant it. Looking back though, it seems unbelievable that we tolerated it

      1. Anna*

        I know that the things I put up with when I was much younger were because I didn’t know I could say something or I thought I should be flattered and it wasn’t mean! Yeah, wouldn’t stand for it now.

      2. Rachael*

        HA! That’s similar to my “go to” comeback with a man tells me that I’m fat or something unflattering when they are mad at me or if I have politely declined their advances. I just look at them and smirk and say “I guess your words would hurt if I found you AT ALL attractive.” and I just walk away.

        I guess in this situation I would say something similar “Why would I care what you rate me when I’m not remotely attracted to you?”. HAHAHAHAHAHA!

        1. Venus Supreme*

          I wish I had this response in my arsenal when a guy on my freshman year dorm hall ranked the “Top 10 Most Beautiful Girls” on our floor! He put the ranking number on a post-it note outside each girl’s dorm room. Sarah was #3, Rachel was #7, etc.

          …18 year old college freshman antics. A little surprised this is happening in a workplace setting. It’s sad when people don’t grow up!

      3. Phyllis B*

        Okay, I know what “shag” means, (I did watch Austin Powers, after all) :-) but do you mean “kill” in the literal sense, or is this slang for something else? BTW, I know you don’t mean they think you’re only worthy of being murdered, but maybe like my kids say they would rather stick hot needles in their eyes than go out with someone.

        1. One of the Sarahs*

          Yeah, kill in the literal sense. 3 names, which will you shag, which marry, which kill. The ideal aim of the questioner is either to ask about 3 people who are all so awesome, you would hate to kill any of them – or 3 so terrible that you can’t decide which you wouldn’t. Generally played in pubs, etc.

  3. Vanilla Nice*

    LW #1:

    I work at a university and frequently interact with 18-year olds and occasionally their parents. Alison’s language is perfect. Teens should manage the application process themselves, and Alison’s phrasing conveys that without getting into accusatory “you’re being a helicopter parent” scolding.

    “Due to volume of calls, we cannot discuss individual applications” is fine too, but I would suggest putting that in the application directions/position announcement if you haven’t already.

    1. One Handed Typist*

      The absolute best part of working at a University is FERPA. There’s nothing I love more than telling pushy helicopter parents that I cannot disclose ANY information – even whether their child is a student – because of FERPA.

      1. Drew*

        I went from teaching high school to being a grad student and TA. I took a secret pleasure as a TA in telling parents that I couldn’t discuss their little darlings’ grades with them – it felt good after the years of annoying parents I’d had to tolerate and placate earlier.

        One father WOULD NOT accept that answer and finally said, “I’m going to call the dean and tell him how unhelpful you were.” To which I replied, “The dean is the one who explained the privacy rules to me, so go ahead if you want to. Tell I’m looking forward to seeing him Monday.” I may have danced a little after hanging up that call.

        1. blackcat*

          I did this, too. It’s glorious to file dealing with helicopter parents under “Not my job.” When my department was relocated to a new building, they did away with office phones for grad students (we have a small phone room on the floor). So the only way for a parent to track me down is email, and it’s so easy to send the “Won’t talk, FERPA” email as a canned response. I am not even supposed to confirm that a student is in a class I teach.

          But I do miss the great parents I got to know while teaching high school. Some parents were fantastically supportive, and I have a mental file of the parents I want to emulate when I have a kid.

          Back when I was teaching high school, I did have the experience of serving as a reference for a kid for a summer volunteer job/internship. When I got called, one of the first questions they asked was, “We prefer to deal with our interns directly, and not communicate through parents. Will her parents respect that?” And I had to say no. It was a good question to ask–and I didn’t feel bad answering honestly because the internship seemed totally misaligned with what the kid wanted. I suspected the parents made their kid apply… or even did the application for her…

      2. caledonia*

        I also work at a uni (UK) and we are allowed to discuss applications with other people but only if the applicant has given a named nominated person in their application.

        If say the mum is phoning up and the nominated access person is the dad then we have to say that we can only speak to the applicant or the dad. They usually understand.

        **by application, I mean applying to the uni. Otherwise it’s as above – you cannot even confirm if the student is a student due to confidentiality.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          It’s so odd that there’s an official option to supply a person who can talk about their application, as opposed to just handling their application on their own.

          1. caledonia*

            @ AAM – it is and it isn’t. I suspect that Higher Education in the UK is different to basically anywhere else. For undergraduate (we don’t have minor/majors as such) degrees they apply via their school usually so that means head teachers, guidance teachers etc are involved (supplying a reference, grade predictions) so it sort of makes sense. Plus they are 17-19 and it’s confusing and overwhelming so in a way, I am not surprised that teachers/parents phone us to discuss applications/transferring/issues etc.

          2. Annie Mouse*

            I think quite a few students in the UK take a gap year as well and lots of gap year students travel for a good portion of it and university places are normally conditionally offered by about Easter. Having a nominated person to be able to contact the university means that if there’s anything that needs to be dealt with while the student is away in between the offer being placed and grades being received mid August and starting in September, they can help deal with it.
            My parents did my accomodation application for me as I was away with limited internet access (this was 8 years ago and it was the only fortnight I was away all year!) with me on the phone answering the questions I hadn’t left instructions for.

            1. One of the Sarahs*

              I was going to say exactly the same thing. Of course, Gap Years where a kid goes away (eg I worked away and in a summer camp) are getting to be a thing of the past, except for the wealthy – now it seems to be more kids getting jobs for a year so they can pay for uni, at least among people who talk about their teenagers.

          3. Wing Girl*

            FERPA also has a component that allows students to provide written permission to the university allowing the university to speak to specific other people about the FERPA-protected information.

            1. Lady Julian*

              Yes, this! Many students at the institution where I work *do* list their parents as someone we can talk about their academic progress with, though this is not always the case.

              I always assumed it was done because 1) Mom & Dad are paying for school and they make being listed on FERPA a condition of continued provided funding, 2) the student is a little nervous about navigating college and wants someone else kept in the loop, or 3) it’s nice to list someone who can receive information in the case of an emergency, such as a sudden hospitalization.

              1. Jessesgirl72*

                Well, it’s such a messed up system.

                Unless a student can pay for their college out-of-pocket (their own, not their parents) they HAVE to disclose all of their parents financial information in order to apply for loans, scholarships, and grants. HAVE to, unless they manage to jump through enough hoops to be declared independent (which, anecdotally, I am told is getting harder, unless you are coming from foster care)

                But then, after the parents turn over all their financial information, and are all but forced (in a couple rare cases, actually forced by the court systems!) to at least partially pay for their young adult’s education, there is a law in place saying that I can’t even know what classes I’m paying for?

                I know it was well-intentioned, to protect students from controlling and abusive parents. I get it. But in combination with the other half of it, it’s just nuts!

                1. animaniactoo*

                  Yes, this is my objection as well. You cannot simultaneously tell me that I am responsible for paying AND tell me that I have no right to information about the results of what I am paying for. I can understand each argument on its own, but not in combination.

                2. TL -*

                  But you couldn’t get access to your husband’s medical records either (updates in an emergency/surgery yes but not records access) even if you were paying for his bills. Same thing.

                3. Natalie*

                  Parents are not remotely forced to pay their children’s tuition. Providing information on family income & assets is just that, information, and doesn’t create any legal or moral obligation. Plenty of students apply for FAFSA with their parents info and then cover the difference themselves with loans.

                  I’d love a citation for any parent forced by court to pay for their child’s tuition. That seems incredibly dubious unless it was a previously agreed upon divorce settlement or something.

                4. namelesscommentater*

                  My parents were generous with my college, but that would have ended quickly if I hadn’t kept them in the loop, worked summer jobs to pay my share of tuition and been a generally respectful kid. No one was forced. If we hadn’t kept up our end of the deal I could have gone somewhere else. To my knowledge we’re both happy with the outcome.

                  The only cases I’ve heard of parents being forced into paying have had divorced parents who agreed to specific terms (split it half, each responsible for up to to 1/2 of state school COA). Which seems like a separate matter than FERPA vs. tuition, because that agreement is presumably something that was opted into with full knowledge of FERPA and the potential costs of college attendance. Though it’s fully possible (likely) that I missed some information in there.

                5. Jessesgirl72*

                  I have access to my husband’s medical records because he signed the HIPAA form allowing it, just as some parents make signing the FERPA waiver a condition, as Lady Julian says happens.

                  I’d like someone to explain to my why, if I’m not expected to pay for my kids college, my finances are anyone’s business other than my own.

                  As for being forced to pay for college, Alabama, Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Oregon, South Carolina, Utah and Washington can force paying for college to be a requirement of family court in cases of divorce. (The other 34 states allow it to be enforced only if it was mutually agreed on. Those states have it required by the court alone!) Since half of all marriages end in divorce, that is a lot of parents who potentially have absolutely no choice whether or not to pay for their children’s college.

                6. Tuckerman*

                  I agree (and, nice explanation of the problem). On the surface, it seems odd to talk to the parents, but their financial information is required regardless of their willingness to provide it (if they want their kid to go to college) so it puts them in a strange position.

                7. Artemesia*

                  This wouldn’t occur to me because I didn’t have the kind of relationship with my kids where they would lie about what they were studying. I think it is entirely inappropriate for a parents to intervene with college faculty about grades, study habits etc etc; this kind of micromanagement is out of line and damages the kids. I have seen students being pushed into particular majors and schools who hate it and passively resist; parents like this are ruining their kids. Parents can hold certain standards to continue support e.g. grades being maintained but it is on the parents and student then to provide the information to each other.

                8. Anna*

                  The financial information is provided to determine if you’re able to pay any tuition. The “forced to” part comes in under a parental responsibility. If you had a kid and that kid want to go to college, whether or not you’re still with the other parent, you should be responsible for contributing.

                  I’m sorry, but if you’re suggesting that the kid shouldn’t have some autonomy over the classes they choose, that’s…weird. It’s so intrusive.

                9. Natalie*

                  “I’d like someone to explain to my why, if I’m not expected to pay for my kids college, my finances are anyone’s business other than my own. ”

                  They’re your business until you or your kid is asking the federal government to chip in. If you want to keep them your business, your kid doesn’t apply for FAFSA. Simple as that.

                  Practically every 18 year old has zero assets and little to no income. If we were awarding need-based aid on the student’s data alone, every single kid in the country could qualify for aid. Then why bother having an application or qualification process in the first place?

                10. Chickaletta*

                  I think the point is that the student is at a point in their life where they can manage their classes on their own, after all, they’re in college and if they can’t do that, well…

                  If a parent needs to know the status of a class or grades or whatever, they should go to their son or daughter, not the university. It’s like if I wanted to know the status of my husband’s medical check-up, it would be backwards and obnoxious for me to call the doctor’s office to find out how it went (not to mention it would be illegal for them to tell me anything). I would ask my husband, right? Doesn’t matter who paid: insurance, me, him, Big Bird…

                11. turquoisecow*

                  I believe part of it is that the goal is to get the student to become more of an adult. A big part of going to college is to learn how to navigate these things alone – your parents are no longer forcing you to get up and go to school, or feeding you meals, or looking over your shoulder – are you now, as an adult, going to be able to manage this, or not? If you have a parent able to call the teacher or dean or whatever and ask how the kid is doing, and the teacher says “oh, he’s failing,” then the parent is then able to resume, well, parenting. A good number of students probably do flunk out of school because, absent parental oversight, they don’t go to class or engage in healthy behaviors. But it’s a lesson that needs to be learned.

                12. Grr*

                  I’m not buying that parents need somewhere to call to find out how their kid is doing in school. They want the grades? Schools provide the grades—they can ask their kid to see the report card. If the kid is on academic probation, it’s up to them whether to turn their ways around/seek help, or flunk out. If they flunk out, they cannot return to school. So…I don’t see what calling to find out how their kid is doing accomplishes. There is a system already in place; it may not be as handholdy as you want, but it’s not about you.

                13. One of the Sarahs*

                  I’m genuinely interested, how are USA parents forced to pay for their kids’ education? In the UK, loans and grants etc are calculated on parental income, but there’s no expectation the parents actually pay. It sucks, enormously, for kids whose parents feel they can’t, or won’t pay, because they have no recourse until they’re 21 (IIRC)

              2. Lady Julian*

                I do want to add (in response to Aretemesia’s comment, among others) that whether parents are privvy to student academic info or not, regardless of whether the parents have a good reason, as a teacher I would still rather have my students talk to me directly. I’ve had parents call to request that I change their son’s grade (when I was a graduate student!), and I’ve had parents call my boss to express concern about my political viewpoints in the classroom. None of this actually resolves the situation, whereas if the student speaks with me directly, something can potentially be resolved, and the student learns maturity in the process.

                Parents getting access to kids’ transcripts is a whole different ball of wax than parents navigating academic & personal difficulties at college on behalf of their students.

                1. turquoisecow*

                  Yes, the student needs to learn to navigate their own academic, and later, professional careers without their parents’ help. School is a good place to start with this.

              3. Gov Worker*

                I have never understood the point of FERPA, there was no such thing back in the prehistoric days when I was an undergraduate. As a parent, I resented paying but not having the right to know how my kid was doing. Parents get their legs cut off so much in present US society.

                1. Chameleon*

                  Your “kid” is a legal adult. You want to know how they are doing? Ask them. You don’t want to pay? Don’t. A child, especially a grown child, is not your property.

            2. OES*

              It does, but at my institution we take the policy that we can’t talk to parents via phone or email regardless, because we can’t actually confirm who it is we’re communicating with.

          4. Dave*

            I think there’s probably some cross over related to paying tuition, transcripts, etc. 18 year old [may] rely on their parents to pay tuition, but since they’re no longer minors, the university needs them to formally allow their parents access to their university account. Not necessarily directly linked to applications, but I can see how the policy could trickle over.

            1. Justme*

              It actually doesn’t matter even if the student is a minor, the student still needs to give permission. (I had that situation, and it wasn’t fun to deal with)

              1. Natalie*

                Not even that – it’s pretty standard for college students to be getting tuition help from someone else, and colleges are perfectly set up to accept those payments without giving access to anyone’s account. My grandfather used to mail checks to the burser’s office (mid-2000s) and my current school just has a code I would have to provide anyone paying my bills.

              2. Anna*

                That’s so interesting. Is it specifically around colleges? I ask because I work for a federal program where many of our students are under 18 and we are required to contact parents for a wealth of stuff if the student is a minor.

                1. Justme*

                  If you receive federal funding from the Department of Education. Private schools are generally exempt.

                2. Natalie*

                  @ Justme, I don’t think that’s the case – private schools have to comply with most of the same laws if they want their students to be able to receive federal student aid. Most of them do, so most of them comply with FERPA, Title IX, etc.

          5. Jessesgirl72*

            I don’t think it’s odd. I can give my husband (or anyone) rights to talk to my doctor through a HIPAA waiver. This is no different.

        2. One Handed Typist*

          Yes, there is a FERPA waiver, but we try not to mention it. Even if the mother has forced her adult child to complete the waiver, if I don’t have a copy in hand, I don’t discuss it. In fact, our University just sent out a reminder last week that NO ONE should discuss any students with any non-staff.

      3. Al Lo*

        My organization, which works with kids and youth but is not a school, recently formally adopted our province’s education ministry’s “Guidelines for Best Practices: Creating Learning. Environments that Respect Diverse Sexual Orientations, Gender Identities and Gender Expressions” as our own guiding principles. Unlike other provinces, ours aren’t legislated but are “best practices”, but we found them to be really thorough and clear, so we decided to benefit from the research and development that these experts had done.

        Anyway, even in that, which is geared toward grade 12 and under (so significant majority under 18), the standard is “where possible, having a student’s explicit permission before disclosing information related to the student’s sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression to peers, parents,
        guardians or other adults in their lives.” A colleague who teaches in another province has even stricter guidelines, where it’s legislated that they have the student’s permission before engaging in a conversation with parents regarding sexual orientation, etc.

        In my case, it’s not so much that I love sticking it to helicopter parents as it is the fact that these guidelines make it way easier to determine what is or isn’t mine to say. We have a trans boy whose parents still refer to him as a “her,” and his parents recently asked for a meeting with my boss and me. (Surprisingly, not a volatile meeting, given the subject matter!) Before we went into it, I spoke to the student, told him that his parents had asked for this meeting, and asked what name and pronouns he preferred we use with his parents directly. He asked us to use male pronouns, so at the beginning of the meeting, I told the parents that that was what my boss and I would be using. They used female pronouns throughout the meeting, and it was awkward , but less awkward than it would have been if I’d had to guess what the preference was (was I outing him to his parents? would he rather not make that stand to them yet, even though that’s what he’s asked us at work to refer to him as? Not my call to make!).

        1. Lady Blerd*

          In my previous life, I worked for a recruiting agency that had a specific work/study hiring program for high school graduates. I always knew when the recruiting season was on because we’d get a lot of calls from parents wanting info and for those situations, we’d break our policy and give parents general info on what’s going on with their child’s application, generally when their next appointment was or where in the process the child was.

          That said one info we never divulged was when the child was rejected or specifically why. One parent who’s kid was rejected for admitting to drug use and when his dad called asking why his kid was rejected, I simply repeated that he’d have to talk to his son until he finally hung up.

    2. kbeers0su*

      Logistically two things that I can recommend to you to help with this (as someone who used to interview hundreds of students for RA positions annually):
      1) Get a generic email address where applications can be sent ( or whatever) and then have an auto-reply that relays the message about not calling/only taking calls from the applicants themselves, etc.
      2) If you decide to have a phone number to call (or if there is a number publicly posted that they’re going to find) add this same info to your voicemail message and don’t pick up the phone when calls come in- just review them at regular intervals through the day.

      1. higheredescapee*

        One other small thing that can help both applicants and their parents is creating a FAQ section on your website. You can refer to this FAQ in your reply-all settings and let parents know if something is not answered there, the applicant needs to contact you themselves. Also, if you can get former counselors that you trust (at least college age) to do live recruiting evends at neutral spaces (public libraries, job fairs, etc) in key locations, really interested candidates can get someone in person that way. I know these create some work for you but having happy alumni send their kids and referrals rarely hurts!

    3. The Anonymous One*

      I once knew an attorney who wanted to discuss his son’s financial aid with the university. When told no, he drew up a power of attorney for educational purposes and had his son sign it.

    4. Marillenbaum*

      That’s an important point. I used to work in college admissions, and I really tried to make sure that as much as possible, students interacted with me instead of their parents. The students are the ones going to college (hopefully), and they need to be comfortable talking to adults.

      1. IvyGirl*

        This is precisely the point. The student is the one taking the classes, the tests, and whose name will be on the diploma – not the parent, the grandparent, or the rich auntie.

        Thus – it’s the student’s account – not yours as a parent. Every student has a different financial arrangement, and in order to respect that, we deal with the student.

        Parents paying? Great – sign them up to have access to view and pay the bill, and fill out FERPA as you see fit. Our direct line of communication is with the student – via the school assigned email address. It takes five minutes at the beginning of the student’s career to set this up.

  4. Panda Bandit*

    #2 – Definitely report it. This behavior may have been acceptable in the 1950s but it’s 2016 now and these guys need to know that.

    1. Barney Barnaby*


      Also, these guys are new to the office culture! If they can get away with this now (and it’s all kept under wraps because people don’t want to make waves), many of them will only get worse as time goes on. At this point, they have very little clout in the workplace. Want to imagine what they will be like in twenty years when they have all sorts of power?

      You nip this in the bud not just for the other women in your office, but for the hundreds of women who will work with and for these men in the future. They need to think of this as “That time I came within a hair of losing my job because we were ogling the young women in the office.”

      1. k*

        This goes for the women in OP’s office as well. As junior employees they may not have much work experience and fully understand workplace norms. If it gets reported and the offending parties are reprimanded it sends a good message to them they that they don’t have to put up with crap like that.

    2. Tequila Mockingbird*

      What makes me MORE angry than the odious “ranking system” (ugh) are the d-bags who “don’t want to escalate this to HR, seeing it as not a big deal.” Bad behavior is one thing, but complacency in bad behavior is far, far worse.

      1. Trig*

        Eh. It sounds like it’s some of the people ON the list who don’t want to escalate since one of the guys apologized and was embarrassed. While at this point in my life I’d be straight to HR with this shit, I can see a younger, newer, less sure-of-myself me just wanting to brush it under the rug. It’d be embarrassing to even be on the list, and I’m a natural people-pleaser/deflector. When you’re just starting your career, you don’t want to make waves or be known as ‘difficult’, and it’s very tempting to rationalize it away and carry on with the status quo.

        Of course, it’s entirely worth it, and current-me recognizes that and would have no qualms about reporting this and teaching these guys an important lesson.

  5. PNWDan*

    #2 “not wanting to bring gender into it.”

    What?! They’re the ones who brought gender into this…by freaking rating the attractiveness of the women in the office! What the heck is wrong with people!?

    Man, I don’t think any letter (and there are some bad ones) has gotten me this fired up before…

    1. Beem*

      I understand how they feel. When a woman points out that something is misogynistic, there’s a good chance she’ll be told she shouldn’t bring gender into it or she’ll be dismissed for “playing the gender card.” You say, “What the heck is wrong with people!?” I say, “How much you wanna bet that they already know how their office responds to (dismisses) sexism?”

      1. Colette*

        I really doubt this has anything to do with how the office responds to sexism – it’s more likely to be that they don’t want to make waves. The office hasn’t had a chance to respond, since no one has reported it.

        1. Mookie*

          If they regard “making waves” as reporting sexist behavior, that means they anticipate exactly what Beem described: backlash at naming misogyny for what it is.

          1. fposte*

            But we don’t know how they respond, because nobody’s reported it. A tendency toward stasis cuts pretty broadly through humanity, whether they’ve had a bad experience with action or not.

            1. JB (not in Houston)*

              Very true, and that’s probably what’s going on here. But on the other hand, what Mookie is saying isn’t out of the realm of possibilities. People in general, and women & minorities specifically, are good at picking up cues about how sexism/discrimination will be handled by those around them. Sometimes they don’t even realize what it is they’ve noticed. Don’t forget there was that study a few years ago that showed that women often don’t ask for raises because they feared they would be disliked for it, and they’re perceptions were often accurate. So they knew *before* they asked for a raise how that would go.

              But I do agree that it’s far more likely that they don’t really know how this particular situation, which is so obviously over the line, will be handled.

              1. fposte*

                Yes, and in real life asking for more money *still benefits women overall.* That has also been studied. But which story gets emotional traction? The one where stasis is the safe thing. That’s no accident. And people tend to forget that that study was an in-lab performance with strangers rather than being based on what happens in actual workplaces.

                Yes, of course people pick up messages, and it’s hugely beneficial in a workplace to make your position clear and to make avenues for action accessible. But people are always broadly uncomfortable with something that feels like sticking their neck out, and I think we’re working out our own demons here in deciding how the bosses who weren’t told would have responded.

                1. JB (not in Houston)*

                  I wasn’t arguing that women shouldn’t ask for money, or that the women here shouldn’t report what’s happening. I was pushing back against what I saw as a suggestion that because the women hadn’t tried reporting this, they couldn’t possible already know what the reaction would be. I do think it should be reported. I said that I thought you were probably right that this was likely “a tendency towards statis.” I’m just saying that we can’t from our perspective dismiss the possibility that they might be accurate in their perception of how it might be received.

            2. Mookie*

              I’m responding to Colette imagining that the resistance by the junior employees has to do with “making waves” (versus “gender”). If reaction against “waves” is, indeed, what they fear, then what they fear is retaliation or trouble from the top. There’s really no other way to interpret Colette’s comment.

              1. Colette*

                They can fear it, but that doesn’t make it a reasonable fear, or that it has any basis in facts. I’d actually suspect it has more to do with behaviour learned in school and at home, where “snitching” is often punished both by authority figures and by peers.

      2. I was personally victimized by Regina George*

        Ugh but they brought gender into it. It’s not like they were reviewing the attractiveness of EVERYONE in the office, regardless of sex, in one list.

        1. NonProfit Nancy*

          I’m also guessing the ladies involved are embarrassed and don’t want to draw even more attention to this stupid list. I’ve had higher ups handle things badly so that EVERYBODY was talking about something when they were done. I wouldn’t want everyone who works with me to be thinking about how I’m listed second-from-the-bottom on attractiveness, even if the list is made by jackasses.

          1. One of the Sarahs*

            Yeah, I’d be pretty worried that the response would be “you’re only feeling bad because you’re low down the list” – while the ones at the top would get “Why are you complaining? You should be flattered!”

            Like other people have said, older-me would not think twice about taking this to HR, but in my first jobs, I would have been so anxious that I would make everything worse, that I wouldn’t have done anything.

            (Kudos to the women who directly confronted the guys about it though – that takes guts I don’t think I’d have had, unless it was someone I was friends with)

        2. turquoisecow*

          Even if they were reviewing the attractiveness of both males AND females, it would be wildly inappropriate for an office.

      3. Observer*

        The answer to this is generally “Gender is already IN it.” In a case like this, the very question is problematic. The appropriate answer is “You mean one gender isn’t allowed to object to being objectified by the other?”

        The behavior is a lawsuit waiting to happen. HR or a manager talking about “playing the gender card” or “not bringing gender into it” is almost certainly a guaranteed win for any plaintiff.

    2. Eff the Patriarchy (OP #2)*

      It’s less that the juniors are worried that people won’t take it seriously, but we’re experiencing a lot of turmoil right now due to change up at the head, and reporting would likely make our staffing problems even worse. I’ve explained even more downthread.

      1. Bonky*

        How old *are* these juniors? I’m getting a strong sense of school-age “you don’t tell tales” and “it’s us against teacher” from this idea that you’re all supposed to have a consensus view of whether this gets escalated. I would be utterly, utterly shocked if something like this happened in my office. The sexual harassment is appalling and should result in a writeup or a firing. And the culture that the rest of the group is creating by closing ranks is poisonous, and not professionally normative: it’s worth mentioning that to HR too.

        1. Eff the Patriarchy (OP #2)*

          The women on the list are early 20s – this is our first job out of undergrad.

          The guys who wrote it are almost 30 – they both went to grad school or equivalent.

    3. RVA Cat*

      I wonder if the current US political environment is already having a chilling effect in this situation….

      1. fposte*

        It could be, but AAM columns over the years are filled with people who are uncomfortable with telling people about stuff and reluctant to report misdeeds, so it’s hardly new.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Yeah, there’s nothing about this letter that I couldn’t imagine getting a year ago. It’s a well established thing that people hesitate to speak up about harassment, particularly when they’re young.

          1. Natalie*

            There’s a letter *in this very column* where someone is hesitating to speak up about getting paid. So yeah, no new or unusual.

      2. Temperance*

        I think it’s clear from the letter that it is – it seems like women are afraid to come forward because of the hiring freeze, because they’re worried about the impact on their jobs.

        FWIW, I think women are discouraged socially from discussing sexism. We don’t know how the org will respond; presumably, they’ll take it seriously. Hopefully, of course.

        1. SleepyMel*

          What’s funny is that I was afraid to even comment at how angry this made me. I didn’t want to sound like a raging feminist. I didn’t want Alison to get mad at me creating another sexism debate in the comments. I made a comment that I trimmed way down to make it less provocative. But that’s the kind of thing that make people want to stay quiet- not always a sexist office culture but speaking up about being offended always seems to carry some risk. Do you have the right to be mad or are you just overreacting? I think Alison is right and you should definitely talk to HR but do it calmly and rationally as possible. Because indeed women are not just eye candy in 2017.

          1. Temperance*

            I get it – I’m totally a raging feminist, and pretty unapologetic about it. It frustrates me to no end that some men feel like it’s just fine to rate the appearance of their coworkers like this, and that the women are afraid to come forward and are minimizing their discomfort.

            I don’t really even see how it’s debatable that sexism is the reason that these men felt like this was a fine thing to do at work. I wish that the good dude in the office turned them in.

            1. Zombii*

              This exactly. Being upset about the blatant sexism in the scenario the LW wrote in about isn’t the same as assuming a gender-based power imbalance in a scenario where the a LW doesn’t mention the gender of the people involved in their letter. Massive difference.

    4. Koko*

      So many things going on in that letter make me sad and frustrated and want to put my fist through a wall. The idea that reporting harassment is “bringing gender into it.” The notion that if five women are being harassed, as long as at least one of them doesn’t want to report it none of the others should be able to?? Can you imagine being the one junior employee who really does want to go to HR and you are being intimidated out of speaking up by the other women telling you that you’ll make problems for them if you stand up for yourself? It’s just heaping injuries on someone.

      1. Gigglewater*

        I had this happen to me once. Our team (gamut of junior positions to managers/senior managers) decided it would be a great idea to take a little trip to the strip club after a work event. They were never explicit of where they were going so consent around going was never established. Of the 5 women there I was the only one who said something at the time of and then later to HR. By and large I faced no retaliation from the higher-ups but there were definitely male peers were incredibly frosty to me for the rest of my time on the project. I’m not sorry I said something, but I definitely knew I was going to get shunned because I stuck my neck out.

  6. Chaordic One*

    #1. I had this problem with intern applicants when I worked in HR. The prospective interns drove me crazy calling and asking if letters of recommendation had been turned in. (Surprisingly often the people who promised to write them would flake out.) I would just hope that your supervisors support you when you say that you’ll be getting back to them later. I used a script very much like what Allison recommended and went for quite a while before someone complained to my supervisors and I was ordered to stop whatever I was doing and look for the letters of recommendation.

    #2. OMG! This sounds like a bad episode of Mad Men. (One that was left on the cutting-room floor.)

    #3. If you said anything at all, even though it is about their betrayal of your trust, and not that you didn’t get the job, they will interpret it as being sour grapes about not getting the job. The situation sucks.

    #4. Yes, nag the supervisor. The squeaky wheel gets paid. (Although it’s sad and pathetic that you have to squeak to get paid.)

    #5 I think you could also make a case that you NEED to meet with different people in the office, that you would be better informed and able to do a better job if you spent a bit more time in the office.

  7. Someone*

    #2 You are not in high school any more. That means, not only do you not rate your coworkers on attractiveness, but you don’t try to hide things from the “grown ups” — you are grown ups. What’s more, this was so overt that the women being rated were aware of it, as well as someone who was “separated from the rest of the juniors due to the nature of my work.” This needs to be escalated, not only for the women and the company now, but so these people learn now that this is not acceptable. If they get away with it now, they’ll do it again.

    1. neverjaunty*

      Exactly this. OP #2, there isn’t just a gross dudes problem – there’s a culture problem. These people are adults in the workplace, not teenagers a Breakfast Club episode of The Office.

    2. Sami*

      Not even just high school. I’m a middle school teacher and students pulling these antics would get a recommendation for suspension from me. Plus some sort of restorative justice.

    3. NCKat*

      About 10 years ago, one of my colleagues had issues with a member of her team. He was not her direct manager, but he was two levels above her, and I suppose he felt secure in belittling her. She was in her 50s and very plain-looking, wearing frumpy outfits and apparently he didn’t like it. The company sponsored a photo day, where the employees had head shots taken for the online directory. She came back from lunch that day to find he had written on his whiteboard, “Here’s a shot of E–” and underneath he had drawn a pig.

      She promptly snapped a picture of the whiteboard and went to HR. He was gone the next day. We take things like this very seriously.

      1. Spoonie*

        My jaw literally dropped reading your comment. Who has the gall to do that to another person? And good for E to actually have the wherewithal to snap a photo. I think I would be too aghast to be able to think that quickly to actually act. Your company sounds extremely proactive, good for them, and especially good for her.

        1. Artemesia*

          We had workmen doing construction in our building and one of our rising star young hires was an Hispanic woman who was somewhat overweight — she had been a huge deal in hiring and has since demonstrated her worth and been promoted several times. She came back to the office one day to find a scale hung on her doornob. The contractor was told by the boss that is any similar incident were to occur including catcalling any woman at the site, that the contract would be terminated (we had language in contracts allowing this.) It didn’t happen again but it made me sick to think she had had to endure even one ugly incident like this.

        1. NCKat*

          Sadly she’s no longer with the company. A couple of years later, she was put on PIP and then terminated. :(

            1. NCKat*

              She was having performance issues before the whiteboard incidence; for example she couldn’t figure out why her managers kept returning documents for her to spell-check when her spell-checker didn’t flag them. Turned out she’d had it turned on for the wrong language. It was things like that. (Even I was astounded at that one, which she told me about a long time after she’d left the company.)

              The final nail in the coffin came when even after repeated training, she could not grasp the new record-keeping system that the company had installed. Management kept her on but finally the PIP was put in place, she failed, and was let go.

          1. Cochrane*

            Ouch. Even if the PIP was 100% warranted, it still looks like a delayed retaliation for having reported the harassment.

            1. Zombii*

              How? She was making legitimate mistakes that the company wanted her to correct, they presumably documented everything, and it sounds (from the secondhand info given) like the PIP was valid, as was the firing.

              I’ve known people who intentionally filed baseless claims with HR under the misapprehension that they would be bulletproof from disciplinary action after that, all they had to say was “Retaliation.” Luckily for all things sane and good in the world, that is not how it works at companies who have their shit together.

              1. NCKat*

                Yes, this. When we got together a few years after the firing, she was very philosophical about the whole thing and thought it was justified. She was proud, however, that she managed to stand up for herself regarding the whiteboard guy because she wasn’t his only victim.

            2. Clewgarnet*

              I’m actually reassured that they took appropriate action on behalf of someone who was clearly a below-average performer. It’s one thing to stand up for your superstars – it’s even better to stand up for someone who you’d be quite happy to see leave.

          2. The Strand*

            If someone bullies you at work, I would think you’re far more likely to become jaded and have your performance decline.

      2. Adlib*

        Whoa, good for your company taking action that quickly! Weird things tend to happen around online directory or marketing shots. At an OldJob, we had some fishy stuff go on with them, I’m fairly certain.

    4. Purest Green*

      As you said, they did a poor job of “hiding it” so it makes me wonder exactly what they were doing with it. Were they saying things like “what up number 3” or did they post the list by the printer?

      1. Kj*

        Yeah, I’m wondering that too. The fact that they didn’t have the sense to hide it well means they are not aware of how awful it is. Really, someone needs to tell a manager like Alison said so they learn how bad this is.

        If they are truly just that clueless, this is the time to learn the lesson so they don’t do it again.

      2. Eff the Patriarchy (OP #2)*

        Oh yeah, they weren’t smart. We found out because they asked the other guy in the office if he wanted to weigh in on their rankings, and the other guy had the baseline decency to realize that that was messed up and told one of the juniors on the list.

        Granted, she was at her *goodbye party*. But he still sounded the alarm.

        1. neverjaunty*

          Wow. So this isn’t even a couple of guys who are friends being dumb, they had a whole “bros before hos” attitude where they just assume Guy #3 would want in.

          This absolutely needs to be escalated.

    5. TootsNYC*

      As a manager, I have a major responsibility to my company to report this stuff if I become aware of it, almost no matter what the people involved want. (I’d want to shield them from retaliation and censure whenever possible, of course.)

      It’s a bit like being a designated reporter.

      If I remember right from our sexual harassment training at one company, -all- employees were to report this stuff.

  8. Myrin*

    #2, so what if one of the guys was already apologetic and embarrassed? Good! Make him more embarrassed so that it sticks that this is Not Okay!

    1. ..Kat..*

      Did he apologize to all of the women? Publicly? After all, this list is pretty public. Did he get rid of the list? Did he do anything to make amends? Does not sound like it. As such, he has not apologized.

      1. Temperance*

        Plus, there is another dude involved. Sorry, but being apologetic to some of your victims means jack shit.

      1. Gigglewater*

        I’m sending you tons of good vibes, I hope you’re conversation goes like mine where HR was PISSED and immediately got on the phone to chew the people out.

  9. Terra*

    Re: #1 While we know that having ones parents interject with ones employer is absurd and extremely innappropriate for adults… I kind of feel like, in the case of *minor children*… maybe it bears rethinking. Shouldn’t it be part of good parenting to monitor (where possible) an adult stranger’s interactions with their minor children? Shouldn’t a parent be the one to decide what kind of information a child is or is not allowed to share with an adult stranger? I feel like, in the case of minors, good parenting should require that their parent or guardian visit the work site, meet the adults who would be in daily contact with their *child*? I know, in saying that, it sounds crazy. If I were a teenager I’d be horrified if my mom or dad did that. But as an adult… it seeems foolish for a parent to not due their due-diligence, making sure BEFORE a child starts any job, that the people and place their minor child is around away from home is safe.

    1. Myrin*

      I’m from a country where we, roughly explained, have three different types of school (i. e. no such thing as one “high school”); in two of those, you graduate when you’re sixteen (sometimes even fifteen, but sixteen is the norm) and go on to start learning your profession right after that. And while parental guidance is important for those young people – especially since we work with contracts, so a lot of the information for that will have to come from the parents anyway -, inserting yourself into your child’s job is, on a general level, Not Done, and that’s not a big deal. It’s understood that these “adult strangers” aren’t generally predators whom you need to vet thoroughly, and on top of that, people entering the workforce aren’t only protected by their contracts, but by the state and federal laws, as well.

      Apart from that, the OP is talking about parents contacting her because of their children’s applications and status updates. They aren’t asking if there is, idk, a med station nearby because their child’s asthma is easily triggered or if the people running the camp have experience in working with teenagers or something similar, they do the old thing of asking after an application that we so often read about on here.

    2. Al Lo*

      I’m not a parent, so YMMV, but I think a parent’s role is, at least in the “knowing who my minor kid is keeping company with” sense (as opposed to “guiding my kid through professional norms and understanding how a working relationship works”) more about helping them to vet the company before applying and keeping an eye out for red flags, both before the teen starts the job, and once they’re there.

      Once a minor is 15 or 16, I think a big part of life is learning to deal with strangers/other adults/authority figures/crappy customers/whatever, anyway, especially in a job scenario that works specifically with young adults and teens, and is presumably geared toward helping that age group succeed. If you never get any practice, you’ll be thrown into the deep end in college and have even less of an idea about what’s appropriate.

      But like Myrin said above, this doesn’t seem to be the work of parents vetting a child’s friend’s house before a sleepover, anyway. It’s just a third party doing the (potentially even from the teen) inappropriate following up on an application.

      1. Emac*

        Agreed. Saying that parents should be involved to that level because they’re under 18 doesn’t really make sense. So they’re just on their own as soon as they hit 18?

        What parents should be doing is to teach their teenagers to trust themselves and how to stand up for themselves, so they will be able to identify when a person or a situation is not good and do something about it. And teach them what their rights are as an employee and what to do if they think their employer is violating those rights.

        1. Terra*

          Plenty of young teen girls would decline to tell their parents the boss man is a lech-even when parents say “tell me if there’s anything wrong.” I know I didn’t and my friends wouldn’t have. We’d have been too ashamed. Whereas a parent, an adult, would probably have much better instincts to know the warning signs, or even unsafe “vibes” from adults in the child’s workplace. Probably HALF of my friends have shared stories of having worked in fast food, retail, other areas where they were cornered and propositioned, or touched inappropriately, by someone in the workplace. Sometime that “older” person was a 25 year-old. Only one of my friend ever told her parents, and that was only after she graduated high school. I now believe that lack of parental visibility may increase the unsafe scenario for teen girls. If the jerky (or scary) boss met scary dad (or scary mom) even once… well, that might give them pause before targeting their daughter. IMHO.

          1. Observer*

            Firstly, if you really think that you would pick up on the “bad vibes” I have a bridge to sell you. One of the reasons kids don’t tell their parents about the abuse they suffer is because a huge percentage of the time, either the abuser is someone who the parents know, respect or have introduced the kid to, or the parents are so sure of their “instincts” on the matter that they react inappropriately to concerns kids bring to them.

            Beyond that, the way to scout out if a workplace is safe is to visit the place to get to see it before your kid applies. Calling about the kid’s application does ZERO give you a sense of what’s really going on. And, it also does ZIP to keep would be predators at bay.

            Lastly, if you want your kids (especially during that period of their lives) to come to you if things go badly, then you should know that telling them “tell me if there is anything wrong” is about the most useless thing you can do. But, at least it’s not actively damaging – treating your teenager like an incompetent child of 5 IS a good way to make sure she doesn’t come to you. There is no way to guarantee that your kids will come to you. But there are things you can do to improve the chances – and this is NOT one of them. Quite the reverse.

      2. Anna*

        My dad did sort of help me a bit with what was professional and what wasn’t, but he also stepped in one time and Dadded for me in a weird situation (things work a bit differently on military bases and you’re 14). BUT that was the only time and with all other jobs I ever had he stayed way out and gave direction on how to behave, etc.

        I work with young adults and what we are specifically trying to teach them is how to be professional, to communicate when they can’t make it to something they signed up for, etc. It is ongoing. You think one student got it and then the next week you’re having the conversation again. It’s about guidance and repeating yourself a LOT. I’ve only dealt with parents a few times and it is not fun. Please, let me talk to your kid. It affects them directly and they have to learn how to advocate for themselves.

    3. MK*

      No. To begin with, their due diligence should have been done before the teen applied, not while waiting to hear back. Alternatively, once the kid has the job and they know for sure they will work there, they might visit to see what it’s like. In any case, it’s pretty obvious from the letter that these parents aren’t concerned about their child’s well-being on the job, they want information about the application.

      1. Koko*

        Yes, my parents expected me to start doing things like calling for doctors appointments and job applications around the time I turned 15. The due diligence they did was making sure I was prepared with the critical thinking skills, common sense, and confidence I needed to begin doing so by age 15.

        Poster keeps emphasizing the world child, but 15 year olds aren’t the same as 12 year olds or 4 year olds. They are adults-in-training and hopefully are ready to begin slowly taking on adult responsibilities while still in the care of someone they can go to for advice or guidance.

      2. namelesscommentater*

        Agree. I would react much better to “My child is interested in pursuing this opportunity, and is doing their own research, I just wanted to confirm a few key things….”


        “Does my kid have a summer job yet?”

      3. Terra*

        I can’t see how it would work, to do due dilligence BEFORE a child applies for a job. What workplace would allow random people to come in and check everyone out? Waiting until the kid has the job leaves a window of risk. Why send a minor child in the door of a place that may be unsafe – even for one day? Again, I’m saying all this while recognizing full well how that would be perceived, because it’s not a norm in the USA. And, that I would be mortified if my parents did it to me. But now as an adult… I believe it would be good parenting to to everything to make sure a daughter was safe. I really appreciated you take on it though. For the moment, I don’t have children so it’s all theoretical to me! Just recalling how so many female friends have memories of inappropriate things from their highschool jobs.

        1. Observer*

          Frankly, it is TERRIBLE parenting.

          You cannot keep your child safe 100% of the time. So the best thing you can do is to give your child the tools to figure this stuff out and deal with it. You don’t turn a kid loose at 10 or 21. You start teaching them young, and then start letting go while you’re still there as a safety net.

          No place is going to allow parents of teens who have applies to come vet the place. It’s no more practical than allowing any parent whose child has not yet applied to do so. And, it’s a terrible idea safety wise. Because is is NOT POSSIBLE for you to vet every person who is working there – or who will come to work there during the course of your child’s employment. Even if you could, the idea that a visit or two to the place (perhaps plus some badgering of the hiring staff) will give you enough information to make reasonable decisions about the safety of the people there is laughably and DANGEROUSLY naive.

    4. Wakeen Teapots, Ltd.*

      There are plenty of ways to do that without inserting yourself in the actual process. It’s the inserting yourself in the kid>employer/volunteer opportunity application and selection process that’s the issue.

      It’s completely appropriate for a parent to research/check out an employer or opportunity for a minor and tell the minor whether or not they are allowed to apply. The yick is when they get in the middle and speak for the applicant (or employee later on.)

      True story: I sent a friend of mine to spy on my son when he was working his first job. It was fast food, my son was of age but in the Autism spectrum so I was extremely concerned about his working conditions and social interactions with his co-workers. Were they being nice to him? After a bazillion hours of social coaching was he out of himself and interacting well with customers, management, etc. ? Now, sending a friend to spy and report back (I paid for her and her kids to have lunch there a few times) may sound a little over the edge :p, but I gots to know and his father and I weren’t going to show up at his work ourselves.

      She sat and had lunch and was able to report back that all was going very well. I got what I needed “invisibly” and without inserting my actual self between him and his employer.

      1. Notorious MCG*

        Haha, my mom attempted this kind of ‘invisible’ monitoring of me once when I was about 12 and started walking with my friends to the Starbucks and ice cream store about 5 blocks from my school once a week. She wasn’t nearly as slick though; parked the van within my view from where we were sitting and when I walked up to her she tried to play it off like she was there shopping.

        1. Temperance*

          My mom used to more or less stalk me, and then confront me with evidence later of some kind of imagined wrongdoing. “My friend Lisa was by Tiffany’s house yesterday around 3:00 and you weren’t in the yard” is an example. I would then ask who “Lisa” was, and how did she know me, and how did she know my friend Tiffany’s house, and never get an answer, because it was my mom showing up to catch me in a lie. (Very boring lies, like we were inside watching TV, or walking 2 blocks to get ice cream.)

      2. Kj*

        I agree 100%- the time to check out an opportunity is before the application. Also, this is a camp- no way ANY of the employees has not been background-checked to the nth degree.

        I love your approach to checking on your son! I think that is the right way to check up AND you are wise to check on your son since he is on the spectrum- I’m glad it was a good experience for him. and that you got re-assured.

        1. Wakeen Teapots, Ltd.*

          The first time he decided to take a walk around our (actually pretty big) block, I think he was 10 and he wanted to do it on his own. We talked about safety and then we let him go.

          I may or may not have followed along behind him hiding behind bushes. Not saying one way or the other but I never got caught so you can’t prove it. :p

      3. Terra*

        Great idea! If it’s a public facing job (not in a provate office) that sounds like a great plan.

    5. MuseumChick*

      I have to disagree. Your late teens is the the time to start to become independent, applying for jobs by yourself and learning to handle work situations. Most teens I knew growing up worked at large, corp. stores (chain grocery stores, restaurants, Target, Walmart etc) I cannot imagine a parent going in and demanding to speak with every adult their child could potentially work with. That seems very over-involved to me. I recently hired a GREAT 16 year old and if her parents had come in and demanded to speak with me I would have been very put off.

      I remember when I got my first job. It was within walking distance of my house. My mom drove me there for the interview and waited in the parking lot. I applied for it myself, interviewed for it myself, and handled work situations as they came up, including a drunk guy walking into the store one night. I was often alone with the male owner of the store, my mom knew that but never called up or came in with demands. (I also walked there everyday I worked which I think would give some parents today a heart attack to even think about)

      IMO people in their late teens (15 – 19) are not “children” nor are they “adults” they are in a place where they are learning to transition from on phase of life to another. And having mommy and daddy constantly hoovering is detrimental to that transition process.

      1. Kyrielle*

        Yes, this. The way to guide these not-quite-adults is to guide them, talk through things with them, make sure they have the tools to deal with what comes up. Because at some point they have to do that, and at some point they have to learn it. While they are young enough to live under your roof and be “children” but old enough to not really be children is a *great* time to make sure you have talked them through what to do and what not to do, what to watch out for, and etc. Make sure they know they can ask you questions.

        And if you think a call for an update is needed, coach them on how to do it. (But be prepared – if they *don’t* think it’s needed, don’t make them do it. Otherwise, Alison’s next letter will be from the kid….)

    6. FDCA In Canada*

      While the intention is nice, it’s unprofessional and not at all feasible. This is how youth start to become independent–by doing this on their own. I work with a lot of youth looking for their first jobs or summer jobs, and I can’t imagine any circumstances where the parent or guardian would demand to see a work site before allowing their kids to work there. It’s just not done. And asking to meet the other adults working there? The kid would be told not to come in, it wasn’t going to work out after all.

      At 16 or 17, they are their parents’ child, but they are no longer a child that needs to be protected by mom or dad.

      1. MMDD*

        That’s my take on it too. I used to do HR for a company that owned several fast food restaurants and we always had tons of applications from high school students. Parents would call on the status of applications, some called me after their kids were let go (those conversations were always short but unpleasant; they couldn’t believe that even though their child was still a minor that they were protected by employment law that prohibited me from discussing a child’s employment with a parent) and one parent showed up to an interview with every intention of joining the interview. Another teenager no-call/no-showed for an interview and when the mother called the next day to reschedule she was furious I wouldn’t even consider it. Like you, I had no intention of bringing someone who needed a babysitter to a job where they were responsible for getting their work done on their own.

        1. MuseumChick*

          I think this perfectly illustrates why I would be very, very, very strongly inclined to not hire anyone who’s parents called me. Yes, maybe it’s a great kid with a crazy parents. This might be harsh, but that is not my problem. I’m not going to hire someone where I have to battle a parent to understand workplace norms.

          Parents, please don’t do this to your kid!

          1. MMDD*

            Exactly. I’m sure some of these kids were lovely and could learn quickly, but we were busy enough without dealing with employee’s parents. If parents were already demanding info from us before their child got into an interview, imagine what they’d be like when their child actually arrived at work. No. No bueno. So I gave out reality checks I guess.

            1. Zombii*

              I understand why you would make that decision, but I feel so, so sorry for those kids.

              Storytime. I worked with a woman (17, still in high school) whose parents were emotionally abusive, and one of their methods of control was to control her access to money by entangling themselves in her professional life. One time, her father called in on one of her days off to quit for her. Boss was not entirely surprised when she came walking in the next day as if nothing had happened. Turned out she had moved out of her parents’ house and in with a friend, and parents thought she would have to move back if she didn’t have a job/wasn’t able to pay her friend rent.

              1. MMDD*

                Woooooowww. That’s all I can say to that. Poor girl. Hopefully she got out of that situation and got some counseling. Just wow.

        2. Tara R.*

          It’s absurd that parents can’t get information about their kids’ employment but can legally steal the earnings from said employment.

          1. Observer*

            It’s almost certainly not legal.

            In NYC there is a program called Summer Youth Employment which is intended to give young people, specifically from disadvantaged homes, paying jobs during the summer. So many parents were taking the money that they started giving the kids prepaid debit card (like and EBT card) that would get money added on at each payday. And, the kids were given classes on money management which included the kind of advice kids needed to help them figure out how to KEEP their money.

            What the parents were doing was not legal, but it’s hard to stop, ESPECIALLY if you give them a check and they don’t have their own bank account.

    7. Kj*

      It is a camp. A place filled with younger kids than the teens. All the adults there will have been background-checked. Also, usually teens who apply for counselor positions attended camp at the camp themselves. If they have already applied, they have already shared information with the camp. So the follow up phone calls are not for safety- they are parents helicoptering.

      When I started working at a summer camp (at the age of 13- child labor law violation there), I spoke to the head of the camp myself about my application and arranged with my mom to get me to the pre-camp training and to the job on time daily. Since I was 13, of course my Mom helped coach me and drove me to the job. But she didn’t do those things for me without my asking her to help, which served me well in the future. I suspect she checked up on my performance at camp, as she was friends with the director, but I had to do the application and make arrangements to get to the job with her myself. It was practice and good practice at that.

    8. Kimberlee, Esq*

      Yeah, no. For one, what does this “due diligence” accomplish? Say you meet the other adults your kid would be working with, and find they are jerks. That’s all you’d be able to find out, unless you’re like running background checks on them or something. What does this accomplish?

      And nah, parents should not be monitoring all interactions a 16 year old has with other adults. It’s ridiculously helicoptory. But I wonder if it’s related to the recent-ish phenomenon of parents not allowing their kids to play outside alone, or walk a mile to school alone, or whatever, which also would be ridiculously helicoptery but people actually get arrested for it.

      I got my first job at 17. I was 100% responsible for applying to and obtaining the job, getting there, navigating work vs school, and dealing with interpersonal issues that arose from my job. As it should be! The role of the parent is to be there and be trusted enough by the kid that they bring BIG issues to you. Like, if they are having their well-being threatened, they can talk to you about it. That’s pretty much it.

      1. Lissa*

        All of this! I also don’t quite get the thing of referring to someone of 15ish as “a child!” No they’re not — they’re still their parent’s child, of course, but that’s true at age 15 or 30. And besides, even if the parent is that type of protective, does that really make it the organization’s job to then reassure random parents? I’d say no, if somebody feels the need do this as a parent they should figure out a way to do it that doesn’t inconvenience the place of work where their son or daughter will be working.

      2. Whats In A Name*

        All of the above applied to me as well. The only addition is it was when bag phones were out and you could get one with a$19.99 a month plan. My dad MADE me get a phone for safety reasons (I often worked until 1o or 11 and had a 30 minute drive) but also MADE me pay for it – I was a working girl after all! If I got off early our phone calls were 30 seconds or less because I didn’t want to pay the $1 a minute charge before 9:00. It cracks me up to think about it

    9. Natalie*

      This attitude feels appropriate for elementary-school aged children, but we’re presumably talking about teenagers here. In many circumstances, including work, the law recognizes a gradual change in responsibility and maturity from 12 0r so on through 18. And, IMO, that is practically appropriate as well. A 17 year old who is not given the opportunity to navigate their own work situation turns into an adult awfully fast, and still has little experience handling work stuff on their own. And I would hope that by the time your child is old enough to have a job, you trust that they will come to you if anything feels hinky.

      (Also, I feel it’s important to point out that strangers are not, and never have been, a significant risk to children compared to their relatives and homes, 80s TV movies notwithstanding.)

    10. Observer*

      I’m posting before refreshing, so there may be lots of answers. But I’d like to point something out. Unless you homeschool AND micromanage your child’s life, there is now way you are going to get a chance to meet and vet all of the adults who will e in regular or even daily contact with your kids.

      As for what your child is allowed to share with strangers – to the extent that you are monitoring and controlling that, you should have done so during the application process. And, if the only way you are keeping a 16-17 yo from sharing information inappropriately is by monitoring all of their interactions and the process of applications and the like, you are in a very bad place. A smart kid will be running rings around you. And a not so smart kid will be ina very, very poor position to take any care or themself when they need to.

  10. Grrr... Argh!*

    #2 What the f..f.. fiddlesticks!?
    Treat them like the idiots they are. Tell them they’re not 12 years old and to behave like grown ups. Make sure other people can hear you. Then make sure they understand they can get fired for this, and to stop their shit RIGHT NOW. If they have bullshit excuses or say something like “it’s just a joke” or “don’t be so sensitive”, report them to HR.

    1. Colette*

      I disagree. The OP should report it immediately. The company needs to know – right now, some people (who may not be the perpetrators) probably think the company doesn’t care about this, but in fact the company doesn’t know.

      1. Gigglewater*

        Also if HR finds out that people knew and did nothing and the company gets sued, it’s probably going to come back to the entire team who said nothing.

  11. Pinniped*

    #2 – this exact situation happened to me, I was a junior woman on the list that some office guys made, I was extremely angry about it but couldn’t do anything, no one around me was willing to escalate it, I felt like I had absolutely no support from my company and started looking for other work.

    (Although my company employed over 100 people it didn’t have HR. When I found out about the list I told my boss, whose reaction was that it wasn’t a big deal and nothing to make a fuss about. It took me a year to find another job.)

    1. MashaKasha*

      Sorry that this happened to you. Thank you for sharing your experience, and how you felt. If this had happened to me, I would’ve absolutely felt that I am being seen by my colleagues, not as a professional and a teammate, but as an object whose entire value is based on its attractiveness. I’d be pretty demoralized. Especially if my boss had also told me it wasn’t a big deal, what on earth? It IS a big deal.

    2. Parenthetically*

      Yeah this. Refusal to escalate communicates to these women that no one cares if they’re treated professionally and courteously.

    3. Bonky*

      Thanks for highlighting what happened to you. It’s important that people understand that there are real-life consequences for those subject to workplace harassment, and for the organisations it happens in; there are reasons there should be serious consequences for idiots like the junior guys in the question.

    4. Anon for this*

      When I was young and dumb, I worked in a male dominated environment and worked hard to prove myself as a “cool” girl. When one such list was going around, I was flattered to be near the top of it. I just shake my head now looking back at who I used to be. I’m much happier now to be respected for my work product and ethic and not my figure. Hopefully, just like I grew up, the guys will grow up too.

      In my story, the workers all had radios (walkie talkies). Two of the guys were discussing the list while one accidentally had his mic cued. Every on duty staff member heard it. Those two were fired. Young dumb me thought it was unfair. Older me thinks they certainly should have been reprimanded and maybe instead of firing them, force them to out all the other guys involved so they could all be reprimanded together. The list wasn’t secret. They were just dumb enough (or received karmic justice) to trigger the mic while discussing it.

  12. Hannah*

    I can’t afford to alienate them by being forceful about how inappropriate it is for them to call.

    OP #1: I don’t think it’s so inappropriate for parents to make phone calls on behalf of their. Maturity varies, but you’re talking about an age range where the parents still have to call the school if their kid is late, sign permission slips, make appointments for the pediatrician, etc. Yes they’re coming to be a counselor at camp but, you’re not paying them and it’s not an internship, so in a way it is still like they are kids going to camp.

    I still think it’s a great idea to tell the parents that you encourage them to have their son or daughter call you directly, as a learning experience. Maybe you could also print it on the application materials, so that the expectation is there. But I wouldn’t fault the parents.

    My last thought was if you’re overwhelmed with applications, and everyone is calling to make sure references were submitted, why don’t you switch up your application so that they send in their references themselves, or you only request references from finalists. That would reduce the burden on you.

    1. Liane*

      Yes, maturity varies, but a teen too immature to call about their application after kind coaching and a script from their parents is too immature to do the job, especially if it is a residential camp. If Teen gets the job, is Mom going to come along to haul those trash bags for them? Will Dad be there to do the dishes? Are the
      If a parent wants to know if the application or references were sent, they need to Ask Their Teen.

      1. Temperance*

        The kids might be mature and normal and just have parents who overstep. My mother once called my workplace and informed them that I had to go home. She didn’t ask me forest, or tell me, just showed up. (My mom was the known crazy mom, FWIW.)

        1. blackcat*

          Having dealt with crazy parents (former high school teacher), I think employers of teens have the right to not want to employ teens with crazy parents. It’s unfortunate for the teen who might be a reasonable, responsible person, but no organization should have to devote significant resources to managing the parents of it’s employees/volunteers.

          Now, though, that only applies to crazy parents. Calling once, and backing off when told to do so? Should be fine. The parents who calls repeatedly, dismisses your “have your child contact me directly?” RUN AWAY!

          1. Temperance*

            I totally get this, too. I feel bad for anyone who had to deal with my mother, to be quite honest (myself included LOL). However, I do think it’s unfair to judge a kid as immature because their mom is wacky, though.

            I am forever grateful to the teachers, bosses, and parents of friends who dealt with her to give me a break, though.

            1. blackcat*

              Oh, yeah, I absolutely felt bad for the kids with crazy parents, and I didn’t judge them (the kids) at all. As a teacher with a long term-ish relationship with the student, I would try to help kids navigate these relationships and help parents see their children as young adults. Helping teens adjust to being adults was part of my job, and so I viewed dealing with those parents as an important part of that.

              BUT, it’s totally okay if an employer wants to make the call that that is not their job. And, yes, it’s really unfortunate for the kid, who might be totally normal. The employer isn’t obligated to deal with a parent just for the sake of giving a kid a chance.

      2. Hannah*

        I think this is too harsh. There aren’t too many situations where a 14 year old is expected to administer their own life like this. You’re talking about kids who aren’t allowed to go to the bathroom without permission from an adult. These kids are not in college yet. An experience like becoming a camp counselor is probably one of the first times they are even filling out an application. A parent making calls for their child in this situation is not necessarily a helicopter, disaster parent for not even thinking to have their kid make the call. This is a learning experience.

        1. Emmie*

          Minors still need to be able to function in a work environment. If he/she cannot follow up on applications, or be trusted to have interactions during the screening process, a prospective employer doesn’t have a baseline to determine whether this person can handle work tasks independently or have independent interactions with customers or clients. I see your concerns as a parent or trusted adult, but these would be red flags or deal breakers as an employer.

        2. Chickaletta*

          If the person knows how to read and dial a phone, they can make a call. I’m assuming that unless they’ve lived in a cave their whole life, the average American teen is more than adept at making a phone call and asking a question. Arguing that a 14 year old can’t do this is what make teachers, administrators, and employers roll their eyes.

          1. Hannah*

            I actually said that the kids should be encouraged to call, but just don’t be too hard on the parents for calling initially if they weren’t told otherwise in the application materials. It’s a huge stretch to call it inappropriate. Calling your kids’ college professors or employers? That’s inappropriate. This is camp. This could be their first experience being told that their kid needs to handle an application on their own, whereas last year the kid was just attending the camp as a camper and it was fine to call on their behalf. Cut them some slack. And I didn’t say teenagers can’t use a phone so cut me some slack too!

                1. Observer*

                  Volunteering needs to be treated like a job. Internships are actually different, as they are intended to be for the benefit of the student / intern. Volunteer positions are not. And no organization can afford volunteers who don’t treat their volunteer work similarly to a job.

            1. MuseumChick*

              See, I don’t get this. I don’t understand where the idea would even come from for a parent to call the place their child is applying to. It’s so outside the norm (to me at least) that to spell out in the job posting “Parents and/or Guardians Do Not Call” seem very weird. There are a lot of weird things people could do that are not explicated stated in job postings. I would think grown adults who (very likely) have decades of work experience would know it’s inappropriate.

              This also seems to a new, 21st century thing. When I was a kid in the 90s I never heard of this happening.

              1. Zombii*

                I was also a kid in the 90’s, and this definitely happened (I think it’s probably one of those things that has always happened and will always happen). The teen years are such a self-absorbed time, if it didn’t happen to you or one of your friends, you probably missed it. :)

      3. Not Karen*

        How is calling or not calling about an application a sign of maturity? Some people have severe phone anxiety and can be perfectly capable of working a job but incapable of making a business phone call (at only 14!!).

        1. Jesmlet*

          Yeah I’m someone who still has remnants of severe phone anxiety. For a point of reference, in college I had to call our parking department about a parking sticker and I sat in a chair for 10 minutes with crazy fast heart palpitations before I could even dial. It’s just a very specific thing I have anxiety about that doesn’t cross over to many other parts of my life. This should not be used as a metric for how mature or capable someone would be as a camp counselor.

            1. Jesmlet*

              I don’t disagree, I was mostly responding to this: “Yes, maturity varies, but a teen too immature to call about their application after kind coaching and a script from their parents is too immature to do the job”, which I do disagree with. Also, we can’t automatically assume it’s the teen’s choice to have the parent call. I’m just saying don’t hold it against the kids or assume it says something about them.

          1. Jenbug*

            Okay, but if part of your job as a counselor requires you to call parents or other people, then it is absolutely relevant to the position. And I’m sorry, as an adult working professional, you are sometimes going to have to do things that push you out of your comfort zone. I have some claustrophobic tendencies that manifest in large groups, but I pushed through it to attend an awards luncheon with one of my coworkers. Yes, these are teenagers, but the sooner they learn that the world isn’t going to bend to their will, the better equipped they will be to handle it.

            1. Jesmlet*

              Right but these aren’t adult working professionals. These are 14 year olds whose parents haven’t yet been told that they shouldn’t be calling for them. I’m on the phone all day for my job now and I just deal, but this is the first job they’re ever going to have and most likely the first thing they’ve ever applied for. Not really a mark against them that their parents haven’t unscrewed the training wheels yet.

      4. Jenbug*

        Exactly this!!!! It is a parent’s job to teach their teenager how to navigate these kind of situations so they are prepared for adulthood.

    2. Miss Elaine E.*

      I agree. While, yes, teenagers should start figuring out how the adult working world works, the position in question is open to teens as young as 14, who need parent permission slips for everything else. There should be some kind of disclaimer on the application and/or during whatever introductory presentation/materials that “while the available positions are intended for minors, the application process will be treated like any standard job hiring process. It is up to the applicant to ensure required materials are submitted correctly. Because of the number of applications received, we are unable to respond to any queries — especially from parents/guardians.”

      1. fposte*

        Yeah, I think you can be a reasonably mature 14 and still think your parents should be involved in the process. It’s a good time to learn that it won’t and why.

    3. Artemesia*

      One of the reasons maturity varies is that some parents treat their young adults like small children. It is never appropriate for a parent to be calling the workplace about a job application ever. If your child is immature, coach the child but don’t step in and coddle them.

      1. Anna*

        This isn’t always the case. Sometimes parents treat their kids at the level the kid functions. This is a two way street, people, and not all parents are terrible people just waiting to interfere.

        I get what people are saying about mixed messages. The schools don’t wipe a nose without making sure it’s all right with a parent, but then they have to take a giant step back on things like volunteer applications. I think it’s a balance, but in general we can agree that around jobs, job applications, and other similar things, the kids should do the communicating and heavy lifting.

        1. Kj*

          I’d also say that if a 14 year old needs to be treated like a 9 year old, then they shouldn’t volunteer at camp. I worked at a camp every summer from 13-19; we had some kids who volunteered and some who were paid. Mostly, if you volunteered, you could get a paid job the next summer BUT we always had a few volunteers who were SO bad that we asked them not to return, as they took energy from the campers.

          If a 14-18 year old can’t call to inquire about their status themselves, maybe that is a sign they are not ready to volunteer. Now, I have no problem with a parent coaching the teen- here is the number, this is what to say- but doing it for them is a warning sign that that teen is going to be more trouble than he or she is worth or that the parents are going to be high needs and that takes energy as well. Camp is a cooking pot in some ways- you are all together for long periods of time, the hours are long, it is hot outside, and hormones are raging among the counselors. Also, it sounds like the volume of applications means the camp can be picky. So why chose high need teens or teens with high need parents?

          I’d recommend stating somewhere on the website or application that the teen is expected to call the inquire, offer 1 reminder when a parent calls, then weed out automatically those who disregard.

    4. TootsNYC*

      I would interrupt them when they say, “I’m calling about my son’s/daughter’s application,” to say, “I’m going to stop you right there–we don’t select volunteers who need their parents to check on their applications. All our volunteers are given a lot of responsibility while they are on duty, and they must have the initiative and organization and maturity to follow through on all aspects of their application. The process is explained on our website, and I’m sure you child can figure out for her/himself what she’s/he’s done already.”

  13. Mack*


    I worked for 5 years at a summer camp and we had the same issue with our teen volunteers. What the Director started doing was:

    1 – hold one large open informational meeting before application time for any interested parents to attend for more details about the volunteer positions, expectations etc. For modt of them this is the first time their kid was “working” even if they had attended the camp before.

    2 – On the position postings/application opening post include a clear line stating that teens should be turning in the application, dropping off additional materials, no calls due to the volume of applicants however the teen should be returning any calls that are made to them. They are the responsible parties in this situation.

    3 – Be almost overly descriptive about the positions, interactions and so forth.

    This helped cut down on parent calls, nervousness, created a vetting process.

    1. Chickaletta*


      Proactiveness works in sooo many kinds of situations where there’s too much follow up/question asking/reaching out from your audience. Figure out what they want to know and what they’re concerns are, and before the next round begins put that information out there, or at least be direct about when they’ll get it or why you can’t give it out. You’ll be amazed at the reduction in calls you get.

      1. Mack*

        And that is what was the biggest difference maker for us.

        Yes it is fine for LW1 to use language like Alison’s when dealing with phone calls in the moment. But if the goal is to reduce the call volume in the first place, implementation of something similar to what my director did could work.

    2. TootsNYC*

      For that matter, you can also say, at the meeting and on the materials: “We require a level of maturity on the part of our volunteers and workers. We expect to hire kid who are capable of organizing their application materials without needing -our- help, and we will communicate only with the applicants themselves.”

    3. Jess B*

      Yes, I love this! I used to work on campus at a university, and at Orientation Week, we’d run sessions for the kids and their parents, and talk about what they could each expect in general terms, and what information we could share with the parents (almost none), and then split the students up by their courses for more talks, and take the parents on a campus tour. It worked really well, but there’s always going to be a few people who don’t think the rules should apply to them.

  14. Mookie*

    I kind of get ranking albums and songs and television shows and whatnot (coming up with a great list is definitely a competitive sport and I engage in it even against my own better judgment), but what gives with ranking women* and then comparing lists? How is that amusing and what’s in it for anyone involved? Just bonding over objectification, or what? I can’t get myself in the mindset that regards this as pleasurable, but I’d love to hear from someone who does.

    *I think it’s mostly omething straight men do (I’m a lesbian), but I could be wrong and it’s a mysterious, universal pastime

    1. Mookie*

      “something” for “omething” there.

      Also, any time I hear about hawt-babes-ranked-on-a-scale lists, I immediately think about (a) that guy from Throw Momma From the Train who was writing a tasteful coffee table book about famous ladies he would enjoy sexing up and (b) a long-term airport employee working in large city adjacent to me who infamously self-published a book about women he’d see at the airport all the time, analyzing their clothes, hair, and figures. One of these women worked in local news and was praised for her “sexy wow” footwear.

      1. I was personally victimized by Regina George*

        Responding to both your main and your sub-comment here –

        I think it’s mostly a hetero-male-dominance thing. My thought would be that because you’re a woman, you probably don’t objectify other women in the same way. The question would be if gay men would objectify (and rank) men in the same way? Could be an interesting analysis on human behavior.

    2. Eff the Patriarchy (OP #2)*

      They are the bro-iest juniors, so bonding? Whatever. Still gross.

      Adding to the ick factor is they are the oldest juniors, so two dudes pushing their thirties ranking women in their early 20s! yaaaaaaay

      1. Someone*

        You know, this could have happened before. Or other similar behavior. They’re not new to the workplace, they really have no excuse. You are affected by this even if you are hearing it fourth-hand — *you* have a right to bring it to HR because *you* feel uncomfortable.

    3. Jesmlet*

      In college I was in marching band and there was an annual tradition of each section getting together and ranking the attractiveness of the people of the opposite sex. I played the piccolo so we ranked all the guys because all of us were girls. There was definite bonding and definite objectification. Ours was probably not as bad because we just picked the most attractive from each other section and then most attractive overall but in hindsight that doesn’t really excuse the behavior. I can’t really imagine that level of maturity extending outside of college though.

      1. Lissa*

        Yeah, I did something similarly immature when I was that age, but it was not attractiveness but overall “dateability” (for both genders because my friends and I thought it would be funny to rank everyone we knew for who should date me, and I’m bi . . ). Like a sample would be Pro: Convenient location! and Con: makes horrible puns.

        …would not do that now.

      2. Anonymosity*

        My friends and I in college had a little social club (it was just us), like an anti-sorority sorority. We had t-shirts and officers and everything. We used to rank our boyfriends/ex-boyfriends/casual partners. It got pretty explicit. We were all so dumb back then.

  15. Eff the Patriarchy (OP #2)*

    I’m OP #2. Since I wrote in to Alison, it’s been reported to the most senior female employee (yay!) but I’m not sure if it’s been reported to HR (boo!).

    One of the reasons I wasn’t comfortable with reporting it myself was because I was hearing about it fourthhand, so I wasn’t sure if I knew all of the details. Another reason why some of the juniors were unsure about reporting it is that we’re in the Federal government, and the recent administration change has meant a lot of people have left. Reporting these two jackholes to the proper channels would likely mean that we are hamstrung even further.

    If people are interested in more details, please reply! I didn’t include everything in the initial email.

    1. Alston*

      I think you should still report it to HR. You dont need iron clad proof. They will talk to others. I would also say it us super important to shut this BS down as you are a Fed. we have enouh sexism comibg down from the top, we dont want to let it become the new normal.

      1. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist*

        Also, these are Feds. They’re not going to get fired. I’ve had clients who spend all day playing Clash of Clans while dialed into every teleconference they can find. They might get a write-up and a stern talking to, but they’re not going to get fired. Especially now, with a hiring freeze.

        And fourthhand reports are fine. HR can investigate and follow up – like I said below, this is not a court case.

    2. hermit crab*

      This is happening in a federal workplace?!? If these guys are making lists on the clock, they’re using public money to create a hostile work environment, and that is not OK. (Does anyone know if this would fall under “fraud, waste, and abuse” reporting?)

      I agree with Alston that you don’t need to know all the details to make a report. You can just report what you know; it’s someone else’s job to investigate. Federal workers are getting the short end of the stick these days, but you still deserve a decent work environment.

        1. Julia*

          I’m not surprised. Government seems to be where most of this stuff happens, because people feel unfirable.

    3. Purest Green*

      Personally, I’d rather deal with being temporarily short staffed than keep two employees who are making everyone else uncomfortable.

      1. Kyrielle*

        Yeah, they might end up short staffed NOT reporting those two employees too – if I were one of the affected female juniors, and didn’t feel like I could go to HR, I’d be job searching. Vigorously.

        1. One of the Sarahs*

          So much this! I’ve seen this so many times – and it comes up here a lot too – that some people think that if they can’t report the racist/sexist/lazy/incompetent/bullying employee, because they’ll end up short-staffed, without ever seeming to understand that if they keep them on, they risk good employees leaving because they won’t put up with it.

    4. Emi.*

      Can I request that we please, please, please not derail here to talk about how these creeps’ behaviour does or doesn’t reflect our President’s? I really love how Alison keeps this a politics-free environment, and moreover it has no bearing on what OP should do.

      1. Trout 'Waver*

        Ignoring the politics of the situation, how would the advice change if it was a private company and the chief executive had a long public and prolific track record through his own words and actions of objectifying and degrading women?

        At the very basics, you’d worry about the message it sends to all employees and how it would likely embolden the behavior described by OP #2. I think there would be a lot of concern about the culture at the organization and a lot of commenters would be encouraging the OP to polish their resume.

        Obviously, because it is government it’s not a direct comparison. But the parallels are there regardless of politics.

        1. Emi.*

          I don’t think it would change the advice, since there’s nothing OP can do to change the CEO’s behaviour, and a manager needs to come down hard on these fools in either case. Sure, maybe having a creep at the top encourages creeps at the bottom, but I don’t see how it changes *what to do about them*. Concern about the culture is totally valid, but I think it’s less of an issue when the CEO has been the CEO for less than a month and wasn’t chosen by (just) the company–i.e. he hasn’t had that much chance to remake the pre-existing culture of OP’s agency and office, and there’s no particular reason to believe that his becoming the CEO reflects that pre-existing culture. Polish your resume or not based on what things are like for *your office*. (I’m saying this as a fed myself.)

          1. fposte*

            That’s my view. Linking it to politics is kind of the cultural equivalent of the armchair diagnosis–it doesn’t affect what somebody does about the problem, and it has huge derailing potential.

            1. MashaKasha*

              Agree. Besides, odds are, it’s not even an accurate diagnosis in this case. It’s not like these two men threw their obnoxious list together in the past ten days. Or even in the past three months. And they have certainly been working at this job longer than that. Some people are just jerks under any administration, and need to be told so and made to stop.

                1. Trout 'Waver*

                  Anti-Islam hate crimes are up 300% since November. I’d be worried about this issue as well. We’ll get to see the number eventually, though.

                2. fposte*

                  @Trout–I’m finding info that they’re up (they were up by 67% in 2015 already, according to the FBI report), but I’m not seeing 300% for a post-election surge. News sources in November were saying there were 300 reports following the election, and there’s research indicating there was a 300% rise, but not here–in Britain following the Paris attacks in 2015. Is there some cross-threading happening or is there a more recent report that I’m missing?

                3. fposte*

                  @Trout–yeah, I’ve seen that one, but that’s not describing a 300% rise–do you know who is?

              1. Q*

                I completely agree that some people are just jerks and need to be told to stop. My concern would be that with a CEO who endorses this kind of behavior, that the HR folks wouldn’t necessarily jump in to tell the jerks to stop. It could be concern for their own job in enforcing the law, or HR being secret jerks who don’t want it to stop and who normally have to because of the laws and knowing that the CEO wouldn’t put up with it. I’d worry most about HR brushing it off, or worse being added to a list of …non-compliant people who would be on the chopping block that the CEO is already advocating for chopping.

                1. fposte*

                  I think with businesses this can be true, but the business analogy actually doesn’t work very well for government, which is filled with career people who’ve worked for various administrations.

          2. Temperance*

            FWIW, I really don’t agree with this viewpoint. I think the CEO’s behavior can signal to the people below how to act.

            In this case, my bigger worry is that the women will be pressured into silence because of concerns about the federal hiring freeze. I don’t think that having a CEO who is a gross man necessarily encourages others to be gross men, but it does signal to those below that grossness is fine.

            1. af dda s*

              Yeah I disagree with the viewpoint above too. If the CEO is a creep and the lower level guys are creeps, presumably the whole company is creepy and this is what is accepted there. I can say this because I have seen/been in a situation like this, and that was my immediate reaction.

            2. Jenbug*

              Yeah, the person at the top is usually the one who sets the tone for the office culture. I don’t think you can completely separate this situation from the fact that it’s tied into the government.

              1. not really a lurker anymore*

                I’m thinking of the former CEO of some formerly hip teenager clothing store. I cannot come up with his name or the name of the store. But he sounded so utterly slimy. It wasn’t Aeropostal, I know that.

                1. FDCA In Canada*

                  Could it have been Mike Jeffries of Abercrombie and Fitch? Infamous for saying they didn’t hire ugly people because “we don’t market to those people.”

                2. Brogrammer*

                  Mike Jeffries of Abercrombie and Fitch? It’s not encouraging that there are multiple options here.

            3. Kimberlee, Esq*

              Yeah, tbh I agree with Temperance and af dda s. I have never worked anywhere where you couldn’t trace any given problem in the culture directly to the top. Leadership of a company sets cultural norms.

      2. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Yes — we need to keep it politics-free here. The advice isn’t any different now that we know it’s the federal government than it was earlier; the OP still needs to report it.

        I removed a couple of comments that were overtly political, and I’m going to continue doing that if needed.

        1. Jennifer*

          Thank you. I’m so grateful that this has continued to be a (relatively) politics-free space. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate it.

        2. Zombii*

          Thanks for clarifying that. I’m late to the party and all I’d seen was a mention of the hiring freeze and the current administration being gross, I was like what political statements? :)

    5. Grits McGee*

      Hey OP#2, from one fed to another- unless something more crazy is going on, your gross coworkers are probably not going to get fired over this. BUT, hopefully, having a serious Official (TM) conversation with HR and managers will put the fear of god in them and they’ll cut it out. If not, then at least there’s an official record of discipline problems that will make it much easier to take more drastic action (including firing) in the future.

      In my old department we had a real issue with senior male staff being gross toward the younger female staff. Management stepping in and telling the frequent offenders to cut it out got rid of 99% of the grossness and it had a really significant effect on morale.

      I completely understand why you didn’t feel comfortable reporting it, but for the future I highly recommend doing some subtle investigating to see if there’s a senior (in terms of institutional knowledge and tenure, not position in the hierarchy) figure in the office that you could potentially confide in about this. Having someone to ask “Is this normal?” and “What are the likely outcomes of doing x?” really helped me figure out what to do when I was witnessing sexual harassment but, because I wasn’t the target, didn’t feel comfortable bringing it up to our supervisor.

      1. Eff the Patriarchy (OP #2)*

        Due to the nature of our role, there’s not *too* much institutional knowledge around here (although people downthread are right,
        this most likely started pre-November). But I am going to keep poking around to see if there is something I can feasibly do.

        1. tigerStripes*

          In a weird way, no one’s doing these 2 men any favors by not talking to HR – they need to stop doing this kind of thing, and the sooner they know they have to stop, the better for everyone. I know one guy has apologized, but the other also needs to know that this is not OK. People who get away with something like this could escalate just because they think that’s OK, so what else can they get away with?

    6. neverjaunty*

      Not telling HR because of staffing issues is sending a message to both the bros and the women they’re ranking: “Sorry, ladies, you just have to take one for the team. Guys, you can do what you like until the staffing situation improves, but maybe keep it on the DL a little better.”

      I can’t imagine that is the actual meaaage you want to send, but if you all rationalize not going to HR, then that is exactly what will be communicated.

      1. Jessie the First (or second)*

        Yes, exactly – if you don’t report it to HR, you are telling these women that their safety and comfort and ability to be free from this ick is not important.

        And look, you’re worried about being short-staffed? How will you handle it when the women targeted by the ick decide to quit because they refuse to work any longer in a hostile environment?

        Then you’ll be short-staffed plus relying even more on coworkers who have no sense of professional decency. Sounds like fun.

    7. JMegan*

      If you work for the federal government, you almost certainly have a sexual harrassment policy (I work for a municipal government, and we have, uh, FIVE of them.) A list like this is a Very Big Deal, and I can almost guarantee that HR will act on it immediately. And if they don’t, you have other options, depending on how hard you want to push it. But definitely take it to HR, even if you don’t have conclusive proof. This isn’t a court of law, and you’re not going to be asked about the details. Tell HR about the existence of the list, who has been contributing to it, and how you know about it. They will investigate from there.

      And I agree with Purest Green that I would rather deal with being short-staffed, than deal with people who make lists like these.

      1. JMegan*

        I’m on hold with my bank, so I had a few minutes to do some Googling. Try federal government harassment policy or use the name of your department instead of “federal government.” I came up with a bunch, and they basically all say that it must be reported and will be taken seriously. Good luck.

    8. Lora*

      What I would like to see here is several employees (both men and women – especially the guy they thought would be sympathetic) go to HR as a group and say, “this happened and it’s gross, make it stop please”. Or, you know, whatever phrasing. Whether they get fired or sent to Don’t Be An A-hole Class is up to the boss.

      I am a big fan of firing on the spot for this sort of crap, but for a ding-dong fresh out of college I would probably give them a chance to be properly trained in professional behavior and make it crystal clear that if it happens again they are out on their butts, the shenanigans stop NOW and go apologize to everyone for being jerks. You can be a jerk on your own time after work at the bar, but you don’t do it here.

    9. I was personally victimized by Regina George*

      When I started at Job #2 5 years ago, I had to watch a cheesy 1980s style sexual harrassment video on day 1 before I was even done with my I-9 forms. I thought nothing of it, but a few months later at a happy hour it came up between me and a coworker about how cheesy it was (just jokingly). She told me it was actually because a few years prior, some of the junior men in the office had done THIS EXACT THING – they’d had a ranking of the women in the office. The company was smaller then, and took immediate action to rectify the situation and since has had a very strict no tolerance policy of things like this. However, the men in question ALL still worked at the company – apparently there were 3 of them. What’s interesting, is one of them was on my team, and dating (now married to) another girl on my team (they’d met at the office). It came up in conversation with her once, and it came out that he was actually the one who reported it. He was good friends with the other guys, and knew about it all along but didn’t really participate (she knew this because they were dating at the time and he asked her input on whether he should report). It never got out to anyone, but he finally reported it one day because it weighed on his conscience too much.

      So, made me feel good about how Not All Men are complete bro-holes with the “bros before hoes” mentality. He knew his friends (they were actually his roommates at the time!) were doing something bad, and even though he wasn’t participating he felt guilty enough that it existed in the first place and finally reported it.

      1. I was personally victimized by Regina George*

        To clarify – it never got out to anyone BEFORE it was reported. After it was reported I believe the 3 men all had to make public apologies to the entire office. Interestingly enough, even though one of the guys is the one who reported it and brought it to light, he was still included in the ramifications (according to his wife, it was at his insistence – he felt he was just as guilty for allowing it to happen in the first place).

    10. Jesmlet*

      I do think that although you don’t have too much detail, it’s worth mentioning to HR and having them look into it. That’s part of their job so just present it as something you’d heard and don’t speculate on any extraneous details. That way, you’ve done what you can and the rest is left to the correct people to handle.

    11. DuckDuckMøøse*

      Feds have a pretty robust and well documented complaint process. Unfortunately, they don’t always work as advertised. :( But these broholes need to be introduced to it, before they rise higher in the ranks. This nonsense needs to be stamped out as early as possible, or things are never going to get better. They don’t necessarily need to be fired, but they do need to be taught how to function in modern society, and in a professional workplace. There has been a recent federal push to stamp out bullying and asshattery like this, once and for all – time to see if the upper management was serious, or just paying lip service to someone higher up the food chain.
      The senior female you talked to might have a better feeling with how well the process works in your agency, whether you have an EEO office, or it goes through an IG office. Since you’re hearing it fourth hand, all you can really do now is encourage someone closer to take the initiative, or perhaps the senior. I don’t think OEEO would accept a complaint from someone so far removed from the incident, unless there is some tangible proof. :(

  16. Recruit-o-Rama*

    I think there are some pushy helicopter parents, but mostly they are just normal people learning what it’s like to have a teen about the transition into adulthood. Parenting does not come with an instruction book and mostly we have no idea what we’re doing as we drag our ungrateful heathens (I mean, cherished love bugs) up.

    So here is what I said to parents when we had a summer internship open to high school kids a few years back. “Thanks for reaching out! One of the great things about this internship is that is a really good way for the kids to learn workplace norms in a low stakes situation. Encourage bobby to call me himself and I’ll be happy to talk to him and Anwser his questions, but I’m not permitted to discuss applicant information with anyone other than the applicant”

    I think this helps assure nervous parents that you have taken their kid’s relative youth into consideration. Of course there will be a handful who are pushy and unreasonable, but that’s always true in any situation.

      1. Josie Prescott*

        Agreed. It’s a great example of effective communication – addressing the underlying concern while still saying no.

  17. Hurricane Wakeen*

    On #2 – Alison says “Go talk to HR so that they can explain to these guys how very unacceptable this is, and how very bad this kind of behavior will be for their careers and reputations.”

    I feel like this is such a gross and overt case of sexual harassment in the workplace that the correct response may be to fire the perpetrators, not to explain that what they’re doing is wrong. I don’t think from #2’s letter that these guys are interns or the like, so I don’t see why this should be treated like a learning experience rather than a case of office misconduct. Am I misreading the situation?

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      It’s actually very rare for people to be fired for a first offense for harassment (unless it’s really egregious); it’s far more likely that they’re going to get in a lot of trouble and have something put in their file so that if there’s ever another incident, more serious action is taken.

      1. Hurricane Wakeen*

        Huh, interesting. I’d think a list ranking women by their looks counts as egregious. I’m also thinking of the recent cancellation of the Harvard men’s soccer team’s season for doing the exact same thing. I suppose practically speaking, though, figuring out who’s actually to blame for the list would be difficult.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          It’s definitely egregious! Most harassment offenses are. I meant that you usually only see immediate, first-offense firing with the most egregious of them, so like actual unwanted touching, pressuring a subordinate into sexual contact, etc.

        2. fposte*

          Additionally, playing college soccer is more of a privilege; the university grounded them, basically, rather than firing them (because they didn’t kick them out of the university). Firing would be more like expelling them.

      2. DuckDuckMøøse*

        Alison, they could get bounced for this if they are still in a probationary period. I think most fed civilians now have at least a two year probationary period.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          I can’t speak at all to how the fed govt would handle it, just talking about how in general it’s not typical for people to get fired for first offenses on this stuff.

        2. Katie the Fed*

          This would be very manager specific.

          Personally, this would be at first-and-only-warning point for me, as long as the rest of their behavior/performance was good. But it wouldn’t take much beyond that for me to fire them.

  18. Trout 'Waver*

    OP #3, I think it’s more common than not for an internal candidate to apply when there’s an opening due to a manager leaving. I think it’s reasonable for an incoming manager to know the career aspirations of there team. Good leaders take professional development seriously and want to see candidates grow and develop. For a good manager in a growing company, having someone who can do the job working for them is a good thing. For starters, if a manager is irreplaceable in her current role, by definition she can’t be promoted. And, if she has a good second in command, she has someone who can step in when she’s away, or can spearhead a project for her.

    You said that you were lacking some key skills for the position. Maybe, after your boss is settled in, approach him and come up with a plan together to improve those skills. Not because you’re gunning for his job, but because it fits your career goals and could help the team (if the above reasons fit in your case.)

    1. OP3*

      I’m OP#3, and thank you for the feedback! I’m definitely open to learning more, in fact, I expected more mentoring when I took this position originally. I am truly looking forward to the new ED, and I feel better knowing that telling the new boss was typical behavior.

      1. Intern Wrangler*

        I’ve been the person coming in to work with someone who applied for the position more than once. Most of the time, we’ve ended up with a great working relationship and I’ve been able to identify opportunities for growth to help them be more prepared for other opportunities. In the cases where I knew that there had been an internal candidate, the transition was much smoother.
        So my recommendation is that you are transparent with the new person. Talk about your commitment to the organization, your future career goals, and affirm that you want a positive working relationship. Then treat it as any new boss.
        Good luck!

        1. OP3*

          Thanks so much! I’m feeling pretty positive about her…so I’m hoping to smooth over any weirdness and have that great working relationship. It’s great to get feedback from the other perspective.

  19. MMDD*

    OP#2 we had an entire group of final-year dental students do something similar here, only in a Facebook group. Other students (not in the group) came forward about it because they a) knew it was disgusting and wrong and b) they couldn’t afford to be lumped in with that group once it inevitably went public. Pretty hard to find a job or land clients when you’re part of a graduating class year famed for misogyny.

  20. TCO*

    Lots of great tips here for OP #1. I used to work with teen volunteers and used phrases like Alison suggests all the time. It never caused any problems. Most teens were volunteering to fulfill some kind of service requirement, so I’d just explain to their parents that teens’ finding and setting up their own volunteer opportunities was an important part of the learning experience and professional growth.

    Since you get so many inquiries I’d echo suggestions to announce your expectations upfront on the application, website, etc. Like someone else suggested, make sure that you provide plenty of information and FAQs so that parents can feel comfortable with their kid considering the program. Hosting an orientation session would also be great. It’s really natural for parents to worry and to help their kids along at this age, so the trick is to help those parents find the right outlet (such as coaching their kid to call instead of calling themselves).

    1. Kris*

      This was a timely letter for me. My teen will be working as a counselor-in-training at his summer camp this June. We have him handle all communications with the camp, but often we have to coach him through those communications, which takes time. Just yesterday we had to help him compose an email to his boss regarding a potential conflict between a camp training event and a school obligation. Of course, it would have been easier for us to ask the question ourselves, but we are trying to teach him how to handle his own business. We are always on the lookout for learning opportunities like this, but from my interactions with other parents of teens I think that some parents simply have trouble perceiving these opportunities. They operate on “parent autopilot,” handling their kids’ business just as they did when the kids were younger. I think it’s a great idea for the camp to point out to parents upfront that one purpose of camp employment is to help teens learn life skills.

  21. ilikeaskamanager*

    RE: parents checking on applications. I agree with everything everyone has said, but the other problem is just how much time it takes to even make that statement to lots and lots of parents, not to mention when they leave multiple messages and expect a return call for each one. My experience is that most organizations just don’t have the kind of staffing to handle that sort of call volume and then it makes everyone upset. I had one parent call me 17 times in one week. I politely told her I was not going to return her calls any more because I did not have any new information to provide to her, at which point she called dozens of people in our organization trying to get information. I wish we had call blocking!

  22. Nan*

    I would simply tell the parents “I can’t disclose this information. You may want to ask your son or daughter. Also, please note we do not hire/accept volunteers who cannot follow up on their own tasks/work business” Maybe’ll it stop the parents from following up when their kids apply for a paying job.

    If a parent called to follow up on an applicant with me, that would go immediately to the bottom pile. I don’t need someone who needs a babysitter.

  23. Addie Bundren*

    #1 – since it’s a summer camp situation, my first question is whether these are volunteers with regular work hours who happen to live nearby, or teenagers living on the camp grounds. If you have minors living on camp grounds, at some point the parents SHOULD speak with their child’s “employer”–they’re still in “signing my kid up for camp mode” because they ARE entrusting you to act in loco parentis. I still agree that during the application process you’re within your rights to say that the volume of applications prevents you from answering individual calls, but after that, if the kids are living at the camp, there’s going to be some parental involvement.

  24. former work-from-homer*

    OP #5 – I once worked from home for a year. And it drove me nuts – I would get stir crazy being in my small apartment all day. I didn’t have a good desk set up. I missed human contact.

    I developed a patchwork of places to work to get over that. If I didn’t need to make calls, I often went to the public library. Some even have areas where you can work making or taking a few calls. Others have “study spaces” that you can rent out – basically a closet with a desk, that would allow you to be on the phone.

    I used coffee shops, restaurants and other public spaces. My apartment building had a common room – with a big conference table – and I often worked from there. Another guys who worked from home would frequently work in the same space with me – and it was like having a coworker despite doing very different things.

    1. Whats In A Name*

      Where were you when I was working from home?! This would have probably been a great solution for me. Should have been so obvious: work NOT in the house.

  25. NonProfit Nancy*

    #3 – Ugh, something like this happened to me when I started my job – they told me basically that ‘somebody I would be working with’ had applied and not gotten the job I’d gotten. NOT HELPFUL! Especially because I didn’t know who it was, I was totally paranoid about everybody who seemed at all weird (and when you start a new job, everybody seems weird to you). I did later find out who it was – nobody I suspected of course – but the point is there might just be no great way to handle this. As the applicant in this case I would have preferred not to know at all, since nothing came of it.

    1. OP3*

      I am OP3, and I appreciate your feedback. I guess I had been hoping no one would need to know anything, but it sounds like that’s not realistic. I am really motivated to help her succeed, so hopefully I can demonstrate that. Thanks for the other point of view, I needed it!

  26. Christine*

    4. Chasing down a late freelance payment

    I would send an invoice stating it’s past due & a copy of the contract they signed with you.

    1. Rusty Shackelford*

      This is some advice I read once, related to freelance technical writers but it applies to anyone. People were complaining about late payments and the expert said “Send an invoice. Accounts Payable respects an invoice.”

    2. Whats In A Name*

      Yes – excellent advice. I don’t get paid if I don’t submit an invoice. I work 100% as a consultant, with a year-long contract where payment is broken down into 2 week increments. But it’s still up to me to submit an invoice.

    3. RD*

      Agreed. It may be that this should be going through AP instead of Payroll, and that’s why Payroll had no idea what you were on about. They are totally different departments, and if payroll is outsourced, they are totally different companies.

  27. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist*

    #2- “For various reasons, I don’t want to be the only one to tell HR, but the other juniors who do don’t want to say anything unless everyone’s on board, and nobody else wants to bring it to the attention of any of the senior employees, so I’m feeling stuck.”

    Why do you need a posse to go to HR with you? This does not need to be a Federal case with witnesses, this does not require unanimous buy-in from the potentially or actually affected, and the fact that male coworkers are ranking women in the office is so clear-cut an example of a hostile, creepy workplace that you really don’t need to be hand-wringing and agonizing about it. Don’t let your coworkers’ lack of spine deter you from taking the very simple step of going to HR and telling them what you know, and resolving this deeply bad situation.

  28. The Supreme Troll*

    For #3, I have to disagree with Alison. I don’t think that the new ED should have been given the names of the people who also applied for the job. It isn’t something that would be of any concern for her proactively. The only time the new ED should have known is, when asking (for example, if the OP was indeed making herself combative or insubordinate when working with the new ED, and the new ED wanted to dig deeper to see the root of the problem).

    No, the board should have kept its promise to the OP because this could possibly cause a situation, as I believe was mentioned earlier, that if the OP is having genuine & honest creative differences or legit questions regarding the new ED’s management policies, the new ED could still view the OP as competition and try to manage her out.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I think you can certainly debate whether this is a justified thing to do (I’d argue that it is, but reasonable people can disagree on that), but the thing that might be most relevant to the OP is that it’s a normal thing to do. It’s very, very typical for an incoming manager to be given this kind of info.

      1. fposte*

        Yes, it would be strange to withhold this information, IMHO; the new director’s knowledge needs outweigh the confidentiality desires of the other candidate.

        1. The Supreme Troll*

          But I still wonder why the new ED would need to know this ahead of time? I mean, there could possibly be good reasons for it, but I also see a concern that it could hold the internal candidates who applied and are working under the new ED as people that could not be trusted 100% (under that light).

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            For a few reasons — (1) so that if you see weirdness from the person, you have context for it, (2) so that you know the person has interest in moving up and can make a point of giving them professional development opportunities and considering them for other promotions if warranted, (3) so that you can make a point of making sure they feel respected and valued at a time when they might be feeling disappointed and wondering if they have to move on from the org in order to grow, and (4) so that you have a full understanding of your employees’ history with the organization (the same way you’d get filled in on other details about their work, performance, goals, etc.).

          2. fposte*

            I think this kind of internal application is common enough that it’s not reasonably viewed as a ding on anybody’s trustworthiness, whereas a board that withholds important information about a key staffer from an entering ED is going to have their trustworthiness legitimately questioned.

            If you want to break it down very crudely, it’s more important that the ED have the unhampered ability to do her job than one of her staffers. I don’t think the math is usually quite so simple, but it’s still worth keeping that basic comparison in mind.

            1. OP3*

              I am OP3 and agree with the vast majority of your comment. ;) We are so small that all of our roles are really critical, and I could argue (although I won’t!) that the “work of the work” is more important to get accomplished than the strategic thinking, at least in the short term. However, I think both jobs are pretty important, and I’d like to reduce the likelihood of any weirdness. But it sounds like the new ED would expect internal candidates.

              1. fposte*

                I mean, I think your board whiffed it by not saying that they couldn’t keep your application confidential when you asked–that would have been a pretty simple thing to do that would have minimized your unpleasant surprise, and I’m disappointed that they didn’t realize that this would have a negative impact on a good employee. But the actual practice of informing the ED is, AFAIK, pretty standard.

                1. OP3*

                  Agreed! And it’s very possible that my unpleasant surprise is magnified by what was a really secretive and poorly managed process all along. That said, I’m really not upset I didn’t get the position, and I think she’s going to be great, so I’m looking forward to moving on! It’s nice, though, to get the perspective of others who aren’t in my same position of feeling slightly sorry for myself.

      2. OP3*

        I am OP3, and I appreciate knowing that this is normal. I do agree with your original comment, they should have told me either that they couldn’t keep that in confidence, or let me know when they were going to share that information.

    2. OP3*

      I’m OP3, and thanks for your feedback! That was definitely my concern, since we are so small, that knowing I was the only person who applied and didn’t get it, I didn’t want to put either of us in an awkward position. I do understand the other point of view, however.

      I do also think they should have kept their promise, though, or told me right away that they couldn’t. It feels like another dig on top of the job rejection. That said, I really do understand why another candidate could be a better fit. I hope that my internal organization knowledge makes me valuable to her in the long-term. If she manages me out the door, that’s pretty short-sighted!

  29. Eff the Patriarchy (OP #2)*

    Update as of today:

    I talked to the senior who this was initially reported to. She thanked me for coming forward as well as two others who did so themselves, and she encouraged me to talk to the HR/ethics rep if I felt that not enough has been done, and she offered to put together a broader talk between the juniors. (She isn’t the normal point person on this; I got the feeling she also wasn’t sure if enough had been done.)

    As for the two guys who did this, they have both separately been pulled in for a serious conversation about how inappropriate this was and how serious an offense it is. There is some debate over whether this list was done on or off campus. The guys claim it wasn’t done here, and we don’t know if that was the case. They have been both told that they need to apologize. I haven’t heard anything from either of them, I’m not sure if this is because they don’t know I know or if they just… haven’t apologized. I’m especially skeeved because I was somewhat friends with one of them beforehand.

    I also have to say I wasn’t surprised with the other guy. When I was hanging out with some coworkers after work, including the two sleazebags, he said that I and the only other woman who was there were two of the most attractive coworkers. We both expressed levels of uncomfortableness with this statement, but now I think I should have pushed back harder.

    1. Jenbug*

      It doesn’t much matter where it was done IMO. And apologies are just pretty words. They need to treat all of their colleagues with appropriate respect.

      1. Eff the Patriarchy (OP #2)*

        +1 I still feel objectified. I also don’t care. However, policy here is that one is more serious than the other.

    2. Eff the Patriarchy (OP #2)*

      Further further update:

      After further encouragement from my boss, who does have institutional knowledge, I did go to HR with what I had, and they’re taking it very seriously! Thank you for all the good vibes.

      1. Purest Green*

        That’s great to hear! I admit I hope those guys are canned, but at least having someone listen and take issues seriously can bring a lot of relief.

        1. John Smith*

          +1 This kind of thing has no place in the workplace at all. Ideally, no place in society, but especially in the workplace. I don’t usually advocate for firing over first offenses, but for one thing this is super serious, and not just an “Oops” moment, and for another, maybe getting canned will be a harsh enough lesson to prevent this from occurring again with other hapless employees

      2. One of the Sarahs*

        Really pleased for you! I’m really glad there was AAM to ask about this, because I wouldn’t have known what to do when I was in my first jobs at all.

        Send us an update when the dust has settled

        1. Eff the Patriarchy (OP #2)*

          Me too! It’s one of those things where you objectively *know* what the right thing to do is, but you need reassurance that it is the best course of action.

  30. Natalie*

    #4, perhaps things work differently in television/film, but in general if you are a freelancer, payroll has zero to do with you getting paid. You’re invoice should be processed just like any outside vendor, because that’s in fact what you are.

    It’s probably wise to follow up once more with this direct contact, but I would call rather than texting. And if they continue to string you a long, find a number for the accounts payable department at this company and speak with them directly.

    1. fposte*

      The difference between payroll and accounts payable is a tough one to learn, I think; I’m still not always completely clear on how it’s divvied up at my university.

      1. Natalie*

        Which may be the problem, if LW’s contact sent the information to the wrong place and doesn’t understand how they should be processed.

        (In most cases, payroll is going to handle anything that is subject to individual income taxes, and A/P will handle everything else.)

    2. OP #4*

      OP #4 here–sometimes I’m asked to provide an invoice but most of the time I just fill out a timecard with my in time, meal times, and out time along with any mileage or other fees incurred. This is reviewed and signed off on by my direct supervisor, then submitted to accounting. On most jobs, I’ll receive a check the following weekend, at most it takes 2 weeks.

      This particular case was frustrating because it was right around the holidays, so there were delays from that, and I felt like my supervisor was giving me the runaround. When I inquired on the 9th about receiving the check, my supervisor replied, “Good morning, the company had to switch to giving them a check directly because payroll was delayed and they are being mailed by monday at the latest.” I’m not even 100% sure what he meant by that, but I still hadn’t received my check when I sent this letter in to Alison on the 19th of January.

      I spoke to a peer who also worked the gig and he said a lot of times on commercials they wait until the 30 day mark to send the checks. I don’t know why they do this, although I’m sure there is a pratical reason behind it. I’d never worked commercials before, only film/TV, so it was all new to me. I finally received my check on the 24th so it seems that was the case with this gig, although I don’t know why they did not tell me that from the jump and instead said it was being mailed earlier.

  31. jj*

    Op #4 — I know TV/film production can feel like this exclusive club you’re “lucky” to be a part of but you still deserve to get paid. That industry does an amazing job gaslighting its employees into thinking that $100/day for 16 hours of backbreaking work is something that you’re privileged to get to do!

    Do you know anyone else who was on the job? Are they still waiting on checks too? And I’d stop texting and start calling, you’ll be harder to ignore.

    1. OP #4*

      You’re so right with your first statement! It is a sad truth about the industry. You’re expected to remain “chill” and amenable to unfavorable conditions because it is the nature of the beast. I work pretty much exclusively by word-of-mouth suggestions from former coworkers so I try to remain even-keeled in all of my dealings, but I have no interest in working for this particular production company again for a number of reasons including the way our payment was handled.

      I eventually got my check, which I explained in a comment above. I’d never done a commercial before but a peer who worked the gig with me told me that often times they’ll wait until the 30-day mark to send out checks, which seems to be what happened on this one as I finally got paid on January 24th. If that is the norm though, I don’t know why my supervisor promised that checks would be mailed weeks earlier and the payroll company had no record of the job on January 18th.

  32. Catabodua*

    I’ve shared this story before, but we made an offer to someone and his mother called to complain that we were low-balling him and we needed to raise the starting salary. She said otherwise he wouldn’t accept the job.

    We were horrified but also so very, very thankful she did that so that we knew to rescind the offer immediately.

    She then called to complain that the offer was rescinded and told us that we were unprofessional. I can only imagine the hell that it would have been dealing with her about every little work issue he had. And, no, never one word from the candidate himself, even after HR tried to contact him directly.

    As for the advice to OP # 1 – I think Alison’s advice to frame this as a learning experience (meaning having the kids call themselves) will probably be best. Hopefully the parents will then turn their energies to their child and pester them about calling vs calling themselves.

      1. Catabodua*


        I should have added to the original, the applicant was 28 and this wouldn’t have been his first job.

        We understood his layoff history SOOOO much more after the mom’s phone calls started.

  33. writelhd*

    OP#2–So, there was a minor scandal in my town when it was found out that the two owners of a small locally owned business did this with their customers and with local women, and even published a website about it. Someone exposed this to the local media, and the community blacklash was huge. They were publicly shamed, they were boycotted, they went under. After being called out, they tried to backpedal, first by denying, later by issuing an apology and offered to donate to the local rape crisis center to make amends. Nope. Rape crisis center declined to accept the donation, they lost too many customers and that business is no more. Their names are out there and I like to think it may be hard for them to find new jobs in this town, or at least jobs anything like what they had before. So…in a world where a presidential candidate can brag about groping women and still get elected, it’s comforting to know those two morons lost their business because tolerance of misogyny is *not* the default in broader society, even if it is still so frustratingly present in microcosm.

    And that’s the thing. They may be trying to manipulate the subculture around them into submission, but this kind of behavior is in fact NOT socially acceptable, and *they* are the ones making waves, not you, by doing it. They are violating social norms established not only by common decency, but by employment sexual harassment law. Their fearlessness in doing this, the general pressure people in these situations that victims often feel to not “make waves,” the worry about being seen as overly sensitive, that pressure to try to tell yourself it’s not really *that* bad and after all they’re otherwise nice guys and they’re just young and clueless maybe they don’t mean it or just don’t really understand…those feelings are enabling them. Those feelings are often deliberately woven into these kind of situations as a form of gaslighting to keep victims from speaking up. What these guys are doing and their attitude about it is not unique, it’s not new, and it’s is, I repeat, absolutely not acceptable. It is in fact very risk for a business to be seen as tolerating this in any way and very stupid for management to not shut this down ASAP–no, it’s not in your power to control what management does, but it is in your power not to be silent when you observe something that puts your company at risk of loss. Not every story gets out, but when they do neither the media nor sexual harassment law treat business that condone this with kindness, and businesses that way to stay in business do not take a chance on letting that kind of stuff go. These guys were even kind enough to create tangible evidence of what they’re doing, with their lists.

  34. 2 Cents*

    #4 as a fellow freelancer, I’d stop texting and start calling / emailing. Did you send an invoice originally outlining your work, agreed-upon rate, person there who hired you, etc., via email or snail mail? It *can* be normal to wait 30 days for payment for freelance stuff (depends on industry). And if there’s anyone over this guy who’s unable to answer the phone/email, I’d escalate it to someone else at his company, even if that meant calling the main number and explaining to whoever that you need to speak to someone in [director]’s department.

    1. OP #4*

      I eventually got my check on January 24th so it seems they did wait until the 30-day mark, which was something new to me that I’d never heard of (I’ve never worked commercials, only scripted TV/movies.) Any idea why they do this? A peer I worked the gig with ended up explaining this to me, and I was eventually paid so all’s well that ends well, but I still don’t know why my direct supervisor said checks would be mailed by the 11th and otherwise gave me the runaround.

      1. Recruit-o-Rama*

        When I did contingency recruiting, terms of payment were part of the negotiation. My standard contract asks for 10 days, but most companies will want 30 days, Not sure what your contract says, but net 30 days is a pretty normal time frame. I’m glad you got paid finally! I remember how stressful that was, waiting for the money.

  35. Mabel*

    I work from home when I need to, and I go into the office when I need to. It depends on my day. We have an open plan, no reserved seating office, so if I’m going to be teaching or leading a meeting over the phone, I usually work from home. I like the flexibility, but that does not mean that I want to work from home all the time. That almost happened when my company moved offices. My manager and I had to get creative to be sure I was allowed to work in the office when needed. So I completely understand why someone might not be thrilled with a 100% work-from-home schedule.

  36. John Smith*

    # 3, I can see how a situation like this could lead to weirdness. Not saying you do, but I have pretty severe anxiety, so knowing that they know could cause me to unrealistically read awkwardness into the situation without clearing the air the way AAM suggested. I’d still be fine with it, but my anxiety would spike thinking they have the wrong expectation about what kind of employee I am/would be working under them

    #4 You’re totally in your rights to request the compensation for the work you’ve done. It’s not pushy, it’s just fair. You provided a value service, and deserve to be compensated for that service per the agreement, and following up, even nagging if necessary, would not seem over the top to me. Value for Value

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