it’s taking me too long to write a resume, boss is enforcing his own sexist dress code, and more

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

1. Should it take me this long to write a resume?

I want to draft the perfect resume, but it keeps taking me longer than expected. I’ve made three versions of my resume in the past five months. Every time I make a new one, it takes me about three hours. I create my resume and then I send it to friends/family to look at it. I correct it and send it back to those friends/ family. Everyone has a different comment or things to add. I want a great resume but sometimes it takes me hours just to finish it. And then I have to create another resume for a different job. Am I spending too much time on my resume?

Yes, probably. Three hours isn’t too long, and it’s not a bad idea to have a couple different versions of your resume, but you shouldn’t need to keep doing it over and over. (It’s also smart to have one long master resume that you then shorten for individual jobs you’re applying for, by picking out just the stuff that’s most relevant for that particular job.)

But it sounds like you’re too invested in involving friends and family in the process. It’s fine to get feedback from people, but you should take that feedback with a grain of salt. Different people will have different feedback for you, and it won’t all be useful. In fact, if you send your resume to 10 different people, you’ll probably get a bunch of conflicting advice. And if you’re seeking advice from people who haven’t done serious hiring themselves, they’re not well positioned to give you useful advice anyway. Pick one or two people who have substantial hiring experience and whose judgment you trust, send it to them once, and be done with the process.

Don’t crowdsource this.

2. My manager is enforcing his own sexist dress code

I work on a team with three other people. At the end of last year, our manager and one of my coworkers retired and two new people were hired to replace them. Our new manager is doing something I don’t think is right. My new coworker follows the dress code, but our new manager is constantly commenting about how she is dressed improperly. She dresses the same as women in other departments though. The standard he is using is not the dress code but the religion he follows.

Our other coworkers and I are men and he never says a thing to any of us but he will comment to her that he knee-length skirt should go to her ankles, her elbow-length sleeves need to go to her wrists, or her neck should be covered and not showing. On hot days, my coworkers and I will wear short-sleeved dress shirts under our jackets and we’ll take off our jackets if we don’t have meetings and he doesn’t say anything to us and in fact does the same thing. But he’ll tell my new coworker she needs to cover her arms because it is not “modest” or “proper.” He doesn’t comment when one of our male coworkers bikes to work in a t-shirt and shorts (and changes into a suit before work starts) but my new coworker was told by our manager that if she jogs to work, she has to change before she comes into the building because her workout clothes (shorts and a t-shirt, same as our male co-worker) are not proper and she shouldn’t be wearing them anywhere at all.

This is my coworker’s first job after college and her first time working in an office. I can tell these comments upset her but she doesn’t say anything back to our manager. Is this any of my business? Should I talk to my coworker or our manager about it?

My new coworker does not belong to the same religion as our manager and our work doesn’t have anything to do with any religion or church.

Your new manager shouldn’t be managing anyone. He’s way, way out of line here and he’s subjecting the company to legal liability for harassment and discrimination.

Encourage your coworker to talk to HR. Tell her that what your manager is doing violates the law and that your company would almost definitely put a stop to it if they knew about it. If she doesn’t feel comfortable talking to HR, I hope you’ll do it yourself; there’s no reason that you can’t report what you’re witnessing, and it’s clearly discriminatory.

3. I have to hire my replacement at a much higher salary

I head up the HR team at a medium-sized, fast-growing business. Recently, I accepted an offer to take a new role overseas in the same business, which I’m really excited about.

My problem is about recruiting my replacement. We have a new CEO (who I report directly to) and she wants me to hire the new head of HR, who will be taking my role — same job title, same job description. As background, I was hired into the role two years ago with only three years of experience in the industry, but in my time at the company I’ve grown the team from just me in a standalone role to a team of 10, and implemented everything from scratch — policies, processes, you name it — with very little support. I have consistently received good feedback.

Now, they want to hire someone with a bit more experience (two to three years more than me), which I understand, given where the business is now (it’s about tripled in size since I started). However, the salary they are offering is almost double my current salary. I can’t help but feel insulted, especially after working so hard to get things where they are today, which the new candidate will be walking into as a starting point. I just don’t really feel comfortable interviewing candidates to replace me, knowing they’ll be earning so much more than I have been!

Am I being unreasonable to ask that other managers do this recruitment instead of me?

Well, you’ll look very prima-donna-ish, which isn’t a great thing, especially since you’re staying with the company.

They’re hiring someone with more experience than you, for a job that you came into without a lot of experience. It makes sense that they’d be paying that person more. It also may be a signal about the profile of candidate they’re looking to attract — like maybe someone with more formal training and credentials, or someone with HR experience at a company of this size, or all sorts of other things.

I’d take this as useful data about the market for your field. But don’t refuse to do part of your job; that will look childish and will impact the impression you leave them with.

4. Hitting up references with a sales pitch

I work as a recruiter with a staffing agency. Recently, my company has been putting an emphasis on sales and revamped the recruiter position to include sales as well. I enjoy my job and am willing to adapt (despite my background being HR), but I am very uncomfortable with one of my new duties.

Before we place a candidate, we call two of their references. My company is now asking me to use candidate references as sales leads and when I do a reference check, introduce them to our business. To me, this feels like solicitation and breach of trust between us and the candidates. The candidate gives me the references for one purpose … to check their work history and help them get a job.

I expressed my concern about this to my superiors, and I was offered coaching on how to make these calls in a “non-aggressive” way, but it still seems like a bit of a violation. I offered a compromise and said I would feel more comfortable making these calls if I could get consent from the candidates first and was told that I wasn’t allowed to ask them. I would love to get your thoughts on this.

Eeewww, yeah, this is a breach of trust and is going to be really annoying to everyone you do it too. If I was giving a reference for someone and the reference-checker started trying to pitch me on their services, I’d be pretty angry and quickly cut them off, and then I’d let the candidate know what happened. Your company is going to look terrible to candidates and references alike.

Read an update to this letter here.

5. My former coworker lied on his resume

Recently I inherited a former colleague’s email archives. While going through the files, I discovered his resume. In addition to a few whoppers where he embellished the work he did in the department, I discovered that he also lied about his title. The title he put indicates that he worked in an entirely different department. I would love to go to his current employer and inform them of this lie, as he was a horrible person to work with, but I won’t. I know people embellish, but this is ridiculous. Do companies check this sort of information when they do a background check? How could this slip through the cracks? Can I expect to hear that he’s been fired shortly (fingers crossed)?

Some companies check this sort of info in background checks and some don’t. Some do reference checks and never think to ask what the person’s title was. Some don’t do much checking at all.

I wouldn’t count on this leading to him being fired. It’s definitely possible that it could, if they find out at some point. But it’s more likely that it’s not going to come out. But who knows, if he’s truly horrible, he could get fired for all sorts of other reasons.

{ 575 comments… read them below }

    1. Wakeen's Duck Club*

      But if he lied on that version, what’s to say he wouldn’t have lied on the version that he did send to his now-employer? The fact that OP 5 doesn’t know which version was actually sent, is another reason OP 5 shouldn’t bother. (If that makes any sense.)

      1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        But to a certain extent, we have to ask why OP#5 cares. I suspect it’s not about the lying and more about the fact that this guy was “horrible” to work with.

        1. Noel*

          Yes and, although I’m not saying this is true about the OP, but I’ve had coworkers who think others are hard to work with when they’re really the difficult coworker. Or sometimes it’s both people. Or everyone. Regardless, she should let it go.

        2. FitnessPal*

          I don’t think that’s fair. It’s normal for somebody to be concerned if they uncover that a colleague is deliberately lying or being dishonest. There could be all kinds of reasons where this is a really big deal (think a smaller industry, jobs with a professional code of conduct which mandates being honest, concerns that being okay with lying could impact how much integrity one has when working with vulnerable people in some positions). That’s aside from simply thinking that it’s wrong to lie, and that the company he’s gone to deserves to know. I can see how galling it would be to think a colleague got hired based on lies over possibly another more deserving candidate who was honest.

          I don’t know if I’d get involved or not personally, but given the OP has said they’re NOT going to take this up, what makes you think it’s about him being a terrible colleague and that they’re being dishonest and using the lying issue as a cover?

          1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

            Let me be clear: I don’t think anything is wrong with OP or that they’re wrong for wondering why someone is getting away with lying and how that happens if people are doing thoughtful reference/background checks. And I noticed that OP has no plans to report the lie, so I get that the question isn’t about vengeance.

            But the level of frustration expressed in the letter, combined with the note about him being horrible and hoping he’ll be fired suggests more emotional investment in the answers than you’d expect from someone talking about an already-gone coworker. I often see folks express this frustration when someone is a jerk—it’s the whole “why do good things happen to bad people?” inquiry. I don’t see the same level of frustration when someone was a tolerable coworker who’s later found to have lied in this way.

          2. Stranger than fiction*

            I agree and understand why the thought crossed the Op’s mind. It is deeply unsettling to those of us who do the right tbing and are honest on our resumes to see (regularly ime) others who seem to breezely get great jobs (and sometimes consistently climb the ladder) based on complete lies.

        3. Fafaflunkie*

          OP5 should just be content the former coworker has found someone else to torment. What’s the point in stirring the pot?

    2. Chris*

      Further, no one gets hired based on a title alone. I presume his resume also had actual details about what he did in the position and that he did an interview where he demonstrated that he was capable of doing the job. Maybe he isn’t and if so, that’ll play out.

      Also, in my field there is no consistency or standards in titles. Someone who is a manager in one organization may only be qualified to be and assistant in another. It’s pretty common that people make slight adjustments to make their role more descriptive, so unless it is hugely egregious, as a hiring manager I wouldn’t care if someone didn’t use their exact title. But again, I’m not making decisions based on titles and it rarely factors into decision making at all.

      1. Doug Judy*

        I hate my previous title “Tea Pot Administration Technician”. It was vague and in no way described what I did. I was a ap/ar accounting. I incorporate those duties in the resume (improved cash flow by X%) but if someone is skimming it and just looking at titles, you’d assume I was an admin assistant of some kind.

        1. Parcae*

          One thing I’ve seen people do is put the standard title for their position in parenthesis after their actual title. Like so:

          Tea Pot Administration Technician (Accounts Payable/Receivable Clerk)
          June 2013-August 2016
          – stuff
          – other stuff

          1. Not a Morning Person*

            Great example! I’ll have to use that to describe one of my previous job titles. Program Manager IV tells exactly nothing about the role.

      2. all aboard the anon train*

        This. My last company changed job titles every single time there was a reorg, so I have four different titles for that one position that look really different on paper. My resume lists the one that is the most straight-forward, not the one I had when I left the company because no one would know what it meant if they were just skimming my resume (they were trying to be a tech startup with “cool titles” at that point, so I was a “Word Guru” instead of “Editor”).

        I do list the titled I left the company with on my reference list, just for clarification if they call HR.

      3. sunny-dee*

        While it sounds like the old employee was horrible and possibly lying … at my company, we seriously have two titles — the “Oracle” title, which is in our backend system and is our actual, internal title that sets pay grade and all that, and then our “business card” title, which they’ll kind of tell us when we start but we’re allowed to make up our own. My Oracle title was “project manager 3” when my actual role was in technical documentation as a content strategist. Literally, not even a little bit the same thing, but that Oracle title matched the compensation package and experience levels. I’ve switched roles, so what’s in Oracle is closer to my actual role (it has “marketing” in the title, so #winning!) but it’s still not representative of my actual title or role.

      4. Turquoise Cow*

        Yes. My most recent full time job was fond of telling people their position was eliminated as an excuse to let them go, and then giving the people who did those tasks a completely different title. Technically they weren’t a “Teapot Sales Analyst,” but they were analyzing teapot sales, and calling them a “Sales Specialist” or whatever didn’t change that fact. So putting “Sales Analyst” on the resume, especially when the company you’re applying for calls them Analysts, isn’t a big deal, and makes sense when people are skimming.

        If there’s no industry standard, it’s perfectly okay to do a little tweaking.

        1. Stranger than fiction*

          Right. Tweaking a title is not the same as saying in your accomplishments “Increased revenue by 50% in my first 3 months”.

  1. Mike C. (╯°□°)╯︵ ┻━┻*

    Re OP2:

    I have to wonder if this sort of issue isn’t so egregious that the OP should report it right away. It’s clearly illegal, discriminatory, unethical and harmful behavior and many companies set an expectation that anyone who notices such behavior should report it immediately. Some go so far as to punish employees that remain silent, though this is usually reserved for management.

    Maybe there’s room for disagreement here, but I can think of lots of other types of other similar behaviors where immediate notification would be expected that I have a hard time believing that the OP should sit on this. I would go the HR tomorrow.

    1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      I agree and think OP#2 should go to HR as soon as humanly possible. What the boss is doing is so egregious that it requires immediate correction, and I don’t think this is a situation where it makes sense to go to the manager before going to HR. So OP#2: Go directly to HR—do not pass go.

      If it’s possible to speak to the targeted coworker, first, then do that so she isn’t totally blind-sided if HR follows up with her. It might also be worth letting her know OP#2 would back her up if she does want to submit a complaint to HR.

      If I were the new manager’s boss, I would want to know about this ASAP. I also think it’s a situation where a junior woman who is fresh out of college may struggle with deciding whether to complain to HR. And it’s a situation where the new manager’s conduct affects the entire team, even if the brunt of his discriminatory and inappropriate conduct is aimed at the only female direct report. So it’s OP#2’s business, even if his experience is secondary to his coworker’s experience.

      1. Nursey Nurse*

        I agree. I feel like there are very few times Alison gets a letter where the answer to “is this legal” is no, but this is clearly one of those times. As a manager you don’t get to impose your religious beliefs on your reports. Harassing this poor woman for failing to wear apparel more suited to Colonial Williamsburg than a modern office environment is just not okay. I do think that the OP should check in with her before going to HR, if only to give her a head’s up, but I think he needs to report this regardless of whether she intends to make her own complaint.

        1. Nea*

          Not even the colonial garb I did open hearth cooking demonstrations in goes to the ankle or wrist, or completely covers my neck! Petticoats ended above the ankles for working women, who also rolled up their sleeves. And the fashions of the time were downright titty compared to office wear today – the back of the neck might be covered, but it was Cleavage Galore up front.

          1. Havarti*

            Cleavage Galore is going to be my new band name. Puritan outfit then? The coworker would be ready for Thanksgiving at least. Burka? I mean really, the man’s so far over the line you can barely see him on the horizon.

            1. Emi.*

              If I were her, I think I’d start coming to work in a floor-length dress and full-face veil, and then telling everyone in the other departments “What? I’m just following the dress code Boss told me to.”

            1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

              I’m adopting that and “Cleavage Galore” into my vocab. Both are fantastic.

      2. Artemesia*

        Oh so this. I am old and during the 60s and 70s and 80s put up with so much sexist crap in the workplace because there were such heavy penalties for complaining– and I think I was comparatively aggressive about standing up for myself. A young woman in a first job is so vulnerable and is undoubtedly afraid to protest. Those who observe this should step up. This is over the top sexual harassment. It is so wildly inappropriate that I would be looking for a way to involve his boss and HR. He has flunked management 101, not inflicting your stuff on your employees.

        1. Uncivil Engineer*

          I agree. Most people in their first job straight out of college don’t understand things like when it is appropriate to go to HR or even that HR exists at all. I didn’t. I just did everything my boss told me to do. But, unlike this guy, she was super cool so it was not a problem.

        2. Katie the Fed*

          Yes. 21 year old me would have turned beet red, apologized profusely, and gone home to change. 36 year old me would tell him to produce a written policy, ask him if he REALLY just said I needed to be more modest, and then go to HR.

          1. Bigglesworth*

            I completely agree. If you had asked brand-new to the workforce me to do this, I probably would have complied with little fuss. Now it would entail a raised eyebrow, asking “Are you serious?”, and an immediate report to HR.

          2. Nervous Accountant*

            OMG same. Just reading this letter is giving me heebie jeebies (coming from a religious background myself). I just barely tolerate it coming from my own family, if it were coming from a boss when the job had nothing to do with it? 22 year old me would cry and comply, 32 year old me would seethe in rage. (and hten probably ask on AAM what to do lol).

            1. superanon*

              Just wait til you’re 42 and especially 52 :) So much easier to unleash righteous wrath on ne’er-do-wells of the management variety.

              1. Lora*

                Seconded. You start to give zero fks. I blink and say things like, “oh my god, did you really say that? did he just say that? really? what the heck is wrong with him?”

              2. Detective Amy Santiago*

                Sooooo true! The older I get, the less I care what people think of me and the more likely I am to speak my mind.

                Even though I need to temper those reactions in professional settings.

            2. RUKiddingMe*

              Even a million years ago 22 year old me would have refused to comply and gone to HR. Who the fk does this guy think he is imposing his religious, sexist, chauvinist standards on his subordinate female employees?

              To be fair I would have been intimidated at 22 even as I pushed back…hard, but then I come from women on both sides who stopped taking that carp over 100 years ago.

          3. That Would Be a Good Band Name*

            Not to mention, she just got out of school and while her college probably didn’t have a dress code that was overly strict, high schools are notorious for this kind of sexist crap. It’s most likely still “normal” to her that someone in charge is telling her to be more modest.

          4. bookish*

            This is also just about the strictest religious dress code I’ve heard. I think if someone said this to me I’d be fairly confident that I was dressed appropriately and say as much. While I have no religious dress code to follow myself, I prefer a more covering wardrobe and like to wonder if my outfit would meet Mormon standards. By this guy’s rubric, a totally modest Mormon outfit would be downright trampy.

            Besides simply being hard to follow as a dress code, I agree this is totally Not Cool (or… legal?) and the LW should talk to HR about this.

            1. Observer*

              It doesn’t really matter that it’s more strict than typical. Except in that it indicates that he’s probably not in a mainstream sect. That ALSO *shouldn’t* matter, but as a practical matter it might.

              1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

                Howso? We’re not talking about religious accommodation, and it’s a non-religious employer.

                1. Observer*

                  That is why it SHOULD NOT make a difference. In practice, though, people react differently if they see the person doing whatever it is as part of the mainstream or not. So, some people are going to be more sympathetic to the supervisor if they see him as being “normal”. On the other, some people are going to worry about religious discrimination if he is out of the mainstream.

                  Both are wrong, and I would hope that HR and / or the supervisors manager understand that.

                2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

                  @Observer, thank you for clarifying. I totally missed your point the first time, and I’m glad you expounded because it’s an important/valuable point!

              2. Lisa*

                Not mainstream? I thought Islam and that’s fairly mainstream, if that’s the guy’s religion.

                1. C*

                  Forgive me for the brief soapbox:
                  1. It’s offensive and Islamophobic to assume that the supervisor in question is Muslim just because he wants to enforce a conservative dress code.
                  2. Sects of Islam that are as conservative as this guy sounds are not mainstream.

                2. FCJ*

                  C, I work with a lot of pretty liberal Muslims, and many of the women follow dress codes similar to what this guy is demanding. The difference is that to my knowledge the men aren’t pressuring their coworkers and reports to follow it. Other Muslim women in the organization, who report to Muslim men, dress professionally but not necessarily “modestly.”

                  FWIW, though, my first thought wasn’t Muslim, it was separatist Christian.

                3. Cleopatra Jones*

                  Actually it feels like he’s not following a prescribed religious dress code for her but a dress code that keeps him from being attracted to her. He’s putting all of the burden of his sexual feelings on her to manage. This happens to young women all.of.the.freaking.time.

                  Once upon a time, my middle school aged daughter was pulled out of a class (by a female teacher) because her bra strap was peeking out from underneath a top. After the teacher finished ‘lecturing’ her on covering her bra strap because the boys in the class would see it and maybe ‘react’ to it. My daughter told her that if the boys in the class ‘reacted’ over a bra strap then she should probably talk to them about their behavior instead of talking to her about ‘appropriate’ clothing.

                  Haha, that was the last time that teacher had a discussion with her about clothing.

                4. Kate 2*


                  Why is it offensive to think he might be Muslim? Sects of Islam are one of a few religions that tend to have an ultraconservative dress code, along with sects of Christianity.

                5. paul*

                  Or some Mennonites; we have populations of both in this area. And I see plenty of people of both Islamic and various Christian sects follow a similar dress code. I’d weight them about equally likely locally TBH. IDK about conservative Jewish sects just because we don’t really have many people belonging to them around here.

                6. LKW*

                  I thought it sounded like an Orthodox Jew myself, but no assumptions right? My aunt, who is Jewish but not orthodox, was thrown out of a store for wearing a short sleeve shirt and showing her immodest 60 year old arms.

                7. Gazebo Slayer*

                  @Cleopatra Jones – your daughter is awesome! And exactly right. (I’d have been so embarrassed by the bra strap sticking out and I’d consider saying something along the lines of telling someone “you forgot to take the tag off your shirt” – but “the boys might react and that would be YOUR FAULT” is so gross.)

                8. Elizabeth H.*

                  Right, the fact that it is a religious motivation for the “dress code” may affect how it is dealt with but not whether or not the situation is okay. And from the responses here, obviously the guy could be a member of an extremely conservative sect of several different religions.

                9. Observer*

                  1. Who said this guy is Muslim?
                  2. These expectations are hardly universal among Muslims, so even if he were, he’d be out of the mainstream.

                  Not that it really matters.

                10. JessaB*

                  Honestly I thought Jewish (collarbones covered, skirt to knees, sleeves below elbows.) But then I’m Jewish so that would make sense. I also thought my Nazarene friend would consider the same standards to be normal. So not just Islam by any means, Nazarenes are Christians. My Mormon friends seem to think that anything that covers the religiously required garb is sufficient enough. So yeh the standards of this person’s boss would definitely be put off by that.

                11. chomps*

                  If this is the US I think it’s much more likely that they are an extremely conservative fundamentalist and/or evangelical Christian sect.

                12. Observer*

                  JessaB, this guy considers knee length skirts and 3/4 sleeves to be too short. I don’t know of any mainstream Jewish sect that requires ankle length skirts. Even the Chareidim. As for Muslims, I’ve seen plenty of women in headscarves and pants.

                13. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

                  @Kate 2, et al.:
                  It’s offensive to assume Islam because many conservative denominations of many religions have strict dress codes like what OP has described. It’s problematic to immediately jump to only one religion because of underlying biases about what/which religions are “conservative” and about whether a religious Muslim would have difficulty adhering to secular norms. It plays on stereotypes regarding Islam and the American Muslim community that are dangerous and incorrect. And statistically speaking, the likelihood of the supervisor being Muslim is extremely slim compared to almost any other religious group.

                  But also, does it matter? I mean, the supervisor’s religious identity is orthogonal to whether or not his conduct is appropriate (it is not).

                  @Cleo, your daughter is a badass. I have to think some of that has to do with having a badass parent(s).

                14. Kate*

                  Seriously, can we get rid of this stereotype? There are muslim men who believe women should dress conservatively and others who don’t, just like christian men and jewish men. I’ve lived and worked in majority muslim countries and 50/50 countries across Africa and by far the most conservative in terms of dress were the christians. One catholic hospital I was visiting had security guards checking women as they entered to make sure that they were conservatively dressed. No religion has a monopoly on the oppression of women.

                15. Specialk9*

                  Princess etc “It’s offensive to assume Islam because many conservative denominations of many religions have strict dress codes like what OP has described… It plays on stereotypes regarding Islam and the American Muslim community that are dangerous and incorrect.”

                  Well said!

                  And mainstream Islam is not the boogeyman Breitbart etc pretends. ISPU did a study that revealed that American Muslims are both religious *and* socially liberal, stereotypes aside. Another paper (Atlantic) said that stereotypes aside, recent Syrian immigrants in Germany are not going to mosque because they’re too socially liberal for what the mosques are teaching.

                  Back to the LW: the one way it would be relevant to me if he were Muslim (vs Orthodox Jewish or evangelical Christian etc) would be that I freaking *hate* Islamophobia and I’d worry about contributing to bigotry. Which clearly isn’t the case here, but I’d still maybe feel guilty. Whereas an Orthodox Jew etc could pound sand, while I walked to HR.

                16. RUKiddingMe*

                  Why do you assume he is Muslim? There are a lot of different “dress codes” for Muslims depending where people live. That is to say it is more culturally dictated than religious.

                  My husband is a practicing Muslim. One of the first things I told him was to never expect that 1) I wold ever “convert” (I am an atheist), and 2) I would never “cover up.” If he couldn’t handle that then we might as well part as friends. We’ve been married 11 years and not one inkling of an issue.

                  I lived in Morocco for a few years. Granted Casablanca is a big city and not particularly representative of each little hamlet, but even in Casa one can see women wearing all manner of clothing from a full on niqab with gloves and face veil to a mini skirt and halter top. The official religion is Islam and 98% of the people living there follow it.

            2. Ann Onimous*

              Hah, same here. I also feel more comfortable in less revealing clothing, due to being significantly overweight. I was once asked whether I was a member of some strict neo-protestant religion, to due the type of clothing I wore (and also apparently for being less prone to disrespecting my elders…).
              It was hilarious, given that I am actually an atheist. XD

        3. Elise*

          As a relatively recent grad, I think it’s an important intro to the working world to learn when to stand up for yourself against authority in the workplace and how to navigate that conversation. If I were in the coworker’s shoes, I would want the LW to say something to me and coach me on how to have the conversation with my manager or HR. Otherwise, how would I know how to advocate for myself in the future when I face another challenging situation (which, unfortunately, she likely will), and don’t have a supportive coworker willing to take it on? If the coworker decides not to report it after the conversation with the LW, then I think the LW should report it himself because it does affect overall company culture and who knows how this affects the manager’s view of other other female employees/clients/vendors.

          1. Mike C. (╯°□°)╯︵ ┻━┻*

            I disagree here. The responsibility of the OP isn’t to coach his coworker on how to have difficult conversations but to say something when something clearly bad is going on in the workplace.

            1. Trout 'Waver*

              I agree that it isn’t the OP’s responsibility to coach his coworker, but it would be a kindness to do so if it wouldn’t be awkward.

            2. paul*

              I don’t think it’s morally obligatory, but it might be morally good to let her know it’s not OK, and that the manager shouldn’t be doing this, and here’s how to stand up for yourself if you wish. That doesn’t mean he shouldn’t *also* go to HR–he should–but if the OP knows how to navigate stuff like this, I think it’s a good idea to pass that knowledge on.

              1. Turquoise Cow*

                I agree. The coworker doesn’t need the OP to be a white knight type when she’s already being subjected to sexism. Although it’s absolutely the right thing for him to do regardless, I think he should speak to her first, like “hey, I’m a guy so maybe you think I don’t care, but I’m also a more experienced person and I can tell you that this situation is NOT OK. If you don’t want to speak up, I will, not to save you, but because it’s the morally right thing to do, but you should speak up for yourself.”

                It’s less of a “I’m saving you!” thing, and more of a mentor type advice thing then. If he doesn’t talk to her first, it’s more like he’s implying she can’t handle it if she’s given a little support.

                1. Lehigh*

                  I don’t know. I’m female, but if this was happening somehow to a younger woman and not me (say, if I were in a different department) I might encourage her to go to HR but if not I’d do it myself without a qualm or an explanation. I don’t think it’s very white-knight-y to tell HR that your boss is discriminatory and inappropriate.

              2. many bells down*

                Yes, this. If he can let her know that this is NOT normal or ok, and is in fact wildly inappropriate, it might be really helpful. I can see her being blindsided by HR asking about it and saying it’s not a problem just because maybe she doesn’t realize.

            3. WPH*

              Ditto. This clearly falls under “see something, say something.” This is wrong and bad, bad, bad for everyone involved.

          2. Emi.*

            I agree with this–because it’s her first job out of college, it could be hugely beneficial to her to hear “Whoa, this is not at all okay” from an older, more experienced colleague, and to have his support to talk to HR. She’s still developing her sense of what work is supposed to be like, and this manager should not be allowed to distort it.

          3. all aboard the anon train*

            I slightly disagree.

            I think the LW should tell the coworker he doesn’t agree with it, that it’s wrong, that she should go to HR, but “coaching” the coworker on what to say may come off as condescending. If I was already dealing with a sexist dress policy and then had another male coworker try to coach me on how to use my words, I’d be even more annoyed and upset.

            I think it’d be better if LW asked if the coworker needed advice on how to address it rather than offer it unsolicited. The coworker has agency in this situation as well, and while the LW should speak to HR, it’s also taking away the coworker’s agency to tell her how to speak about a problem she’s facing. The LW isn’t responsible for teaching the coworker how to have a difficult conversation. That’s something most people need to learn and handle as an adults, and coaching someone on how to do it often toes the line between well-intentioned and condescending.

            1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

              I agree—I think this approach threads the needle between being responsible without being condescending or paternalistic.

            2. Turquoise Cow*

              I think I’d rather have him say, “FYI this situation is messed up from my perspective, here’s your options in terms of HR, and I’ll back you up,” rather than “you should say x, y, and z.”

              If he goes to HR without informing her, he’s taking away her ability to handle the situation herself. If he does nothing, the situation probably won’t get better. It’s possible the coworker is willing to speak up but uncertain how to do it. He can give that advice without trying to be a white knight type.

              And if she declines his help or is too timid, he can and should go to HR anyway because this manager is bad, and it’s making the OP uncomfortable either way.

              1. all aboard the anon train*

                Yes, exactly. This is worded perfectly.

                Too often people forget that the victim in a situation should be asked what they want to do first, and that it’s sometimes not the best thing to decide a course of action for them.

                1. Mike C. (╯°□°)╯︵ ┻━┻*

                  This isn’t one of those situations.

                  If I see someone breaking into a car at work, I don’t go to the owner and ask what to do, I call security – otherwise I’m allowing a dangerous environment to persist. If I see someone falsifying regulatory paperwork, I don’t go to the engineers who initially authored that work, I bring it up with regulatory – otherwise I’m allowing an illegal (or worse) environment to persist. If I’m the OP and I do nothing because that’s what the coworker wants, then I’m allowing a discriminatory environment to persist. The coworker (or individual in my other examples) aren’t the only victims, even if they are the most directly affected.

                  Yes, there are always situations where the boss is also HR and is also the owner of the business and whatnot but besides that the OP should act. Talk to the coworker if possible, but that shouldn’t stop the OP.

                2. gmg*

                  Mike C — you are quite right that this situation should not be allowed to persist, but I don’t think anyone is suggesting that. The advice to the LW is to first discuss with his colleague, to let her know she should feel empowered to go to HR and why, and then if she is not up for that, to go ahead and notify HR himself.

                3. all aboard the anon train*

                  @Mike C: those are two totally different situations to what the LW is describing. It’s like comparing a coworker hitting another coworker to a coworker saying cruel things. The former you try to stop while it’s happening, but the latter you can speak up and say it’s wrong and then ask the person how they want it handled.

                  I’m not saying the LW shouldn’t do anything at all, but that this is a situation where he should talk to the coworker first instead of deciding what to do for her.

                4. OlympiasEpiriot*

                  But this isn’t only about her, although she is getting the obvious brunt of it at the moment. As I posted below on this thread:

                  It bears pointing out specifically here that misogyny affects the men, too. (1) Patriarchal rules deeply affect anyone who presents as less than Traditional Male, so, anyone the least bit off the List Of Male Rules — let alone anyone gay — is going to suffer. (2) These rules also effectively turn other men — who may not hold the same ideas but who are “go along with the boss to get along” types — into deputies of the Patriarchal Rules Cops.

                  Any man who doesn’t want to get that garbage inflicted on *themself* needs to speak up and make sure the company’s structure supports an open society in miniature.

                  Any of the men who witnessed this behaviour can report him from this angle and, collaterally, be supporting her while they are reporting this on behalf of themselves.

              2. RUKiddingMe*

                “And if she declines his help or is too timid, he can and should go to HR anyway because this manager is bad, and it’s making the OP uncomfortable either way.”

                Absolutely. Make no mistake if this manager gets away with it he will try to impose it on any and all future female subordinates. Nip…it…in…the…bud.

        4. Observer*

          Actually, I don’t think it’s sexual harassment. It IS, however, clearly religious and as such, totally out of bounds.

          1. Lehigh*

            It might not be technically sexual harrassment, but he is essentially saying, “Your forearms are sexual while Bob’s are not” which to me personally (if not legally) is telling too much about your own sexual views at work.

          2. Jessie the First (or second)*

            Sexual harassment is not the only form of gender-based discrimination that is illegal, however. And the way the boss is described here, this may fit the Title VII bill for gender discrimination.

          3. paul*

            It’s gender based discrimination though, isn’t it? She’s being required to follow a much stricter dress code than males.

          4. Omnishambles*

            Personally, I think this counts as gendered and sexual harassment because it sounds like this boss has a religious framework that’s all about modest clothing (for women only) so that women (who are in charge of their own sexual urges *and* the sexual urges of every other man in existence ever) can avoid ‘tempting’ the men (sexually). Ugh.

            Even without that, when Boss imposes his religious rules on his subordinate (and her male colleagues), that violates her (and their) right to religious freedom. Because people forget that the right to free choice for everyone has to mean that no-one else can make that choice for you, or impose their choice upon you.

            Which is just another reason to go to HR. Boss is failing in several directions at the same time, here.

          5. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

            It’s pretty clearly sex/gender-based discrimination, and I don’t think we have enough information to know if it rises to the level of pervasiveness required for sexual harassment or enough information to know if it’s legally actionable (yet).

            But imposing a non-standard requirement on one employee, for reasons unrelated to and unsupported by a rational business imperative, and imposed exclusively on the basis of gender, is discriminatory. “Sexual harassment” doesn’t need to be “sexual”—it just needs to refer to differential treatment on the basis of sex/gender that has an adverse employment impact.

            1. Shelby*

              Discrimation based on gender and sexual harassment are technically two separate things (although commonly occur together) and would constitute two different legal actions.

        5. Lucky*

          Exactly. Until men start standing up to sexism (and until white people stand up to racism, straight people to homophobia, etc.) all of the work and risk falls on the marginalized people who are already at a disadvantage in the workplace. Please, stand up for us. Be an ally in actions, not just words.

        6. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          Yeah, this is my fear as well. Heck, I see women with years of experience not report harassment for fear of retaliation Irma for being labeled as “difficult” in the industry. It’s wrong, and it doesn’t mean we’d should discourage people from reporting, but I think there’s an extra psychological hurdle for new grads, especially if this is your first white collar job or first job in a specific industry/sector. It would be good for OP to let his coworker know it’s wrong and that he supports her and will vouch for her if she wants to report it, just so she understands her boss is being inappropriate (I could see the boss’s complaints feeling gaslighty over time). But independently, I think it’s worth reporting regardless of the coworker’s decision on whether she’ll report.

        7. Stranger than fiction*

          It’s so blatant and over the top. I mean he’s really saying he can’t handle the temptation of seeing a woman’s ankle or wrist. This has all sorts of other implications that will affect how he works with the Op besides the obvious too. Will he pass her up for raises in favor of the men getting one? Will he invite the men out for team building and not her? How will he treat her if she gets pregnant? …

      3. blackcat*

        Right, and OP can pitch it to his (I am assuming OP is male based on the letter) coworker as expressing *his* discomfort with the situation (because he is uncomfortable). That way he’s not positioning himself as some white-knight figure to the coworker (which she may not like).

        1. Mike C. (╯°□°)╯︵ ┻━┻*

          It’s not white-knighting to report this sort of thing to HR. As I pointed out above, many workplaces hold the expectation that bad behavior like this is not to be tolerated and that means reporting it whenever observed.

          1. fposte*

            Yup. I think it’s fine for the OP to offer to help the co-worker through it if it seems like that would be useful, but the clear message is that he needs to make sure HR knows whether she’s the one who tells them or not. This is happening to her at the moment, but it isn’t just about her, so it’s not just her call.

            1. Orlando*

              +1 Very good point. The behavior is inherently egregious. She happens to be the current target, but it needs to be stopped regardless.

            2. JB (not in Houston)*

              Yes, I think that’s an important point. Whether this gets reported or not is not her call because it’s not just about her.

            3. LBK*

              I agree, but I will say there’s something that makes me uncomfortable about the idea that the OP has clearance to go to HR no matter what the coworker wants. If she tells the OP she’s completely aware how wrong this is but she asks him to let it go because she doesn’t want to cause a stir, is it still okay for the OP to say “I’m reporting it to HR anyway?” I dunno, I feel torn there.

              1. AnonEMoose*

                I see where you’re coming from. But I think LW2 has an obligation to go to HR on this. As an employee, he has some obligation to protect the company’s interests. And ignoring blatantly discriminatory and harassing behavior would fall very short of that standard.

                There’s also that the LW himself said that this behavior is making him uncomfortable, and that’s enough of a reason to go to HR on his own behalf.

                I think approaching the conversation as mentoring from someone who has more experience in the workplace is probably best (I like the wording someone suggested that is basically “Hey, maybe you think I don’t care because I’m a guy…”).

                1. pope suburban*

                  Yes, I agree that LW has some responsibility, as a more senior team member, to foster an environment that is welcoming for all. I mean, what happens if someone else resigns and their replacement is a woman? This problem is probably not going to magically vanish. I’d encourage approaching it from a standpoint of “here is an overall problem with this manager” rather than specifically on the junior employee’s behalf, for sure. But I think LW would be right to use his standing to try to change this situation for the better.

              2. mirinotginger*

                It’s not about if it’s making HER uncomfortable. It’s about OP not being comfortable working someplace where blatant discrimination is acceptable. (I feel like this is going to be misinterpreted somehow – this is strictly in response to LBK’s conflicted feelings, not the situation at large)

                1. LBK*

                  I get that, but at the same time the coworker is the one who’s being most directly impacted by the situation, so on some level I think she gets to have more of a say in how it’s handled. If there’s fallout from this, it’s almost definitely going to hit the coworker much worse than the OP, which I think should be a consideration in how he proceeds.

                  This isn’t a perfect analogy by any means but the comparison that comes to mind for me is people that try to help domestic abuse victims by injecting themselves into the situation against the victim’s wishes/without the victim’s consent. You’re not the one who’s going to bear the brunt of any consequences of those actions, so I don’t think you get to decide to override what the direct victim wants, even if you are also being indirectly affected by your discomfort with the situation.

                2. Ask a Manager* Post author

                  @LBK, I think it’s different when it impacts the whole working environment though. I think a better analogy would be if you hang out with a couple and one abuses the other in front of you. You of course should speak up and say, “This isn’t okay with me” because it’s happening right in front of you.

                3. LBK*

                  That makes sense – that currently there’s only one specific person being targeted in a specific way but on a large scale, this should be stopped before there’s more examples. I think it’s because there is only one target currently that I worry about potential fallout also hitting that one target; if the manager isn’t fired, you’ve said before how hard it is to truly prevent retaliation.

                  Of course, this may all be a moot point if the OP talks to the coworker and she’s totally on board with going to HR, so it’s obviously worth having that conversation first either way.

              3. Falling Diphthong*

                Usually yes, with the caveat that you need to have a reasonable expectation that the higher authority to whom you are reporting unacceptable workplace behavior will share your disapproval. Like, reasoning “Just because HR is married to problem employee is no reason for HR not to be neutral.”

                For a parallel, see the beer run update, where it turned out that someone reported behind-her-back harassment of the departing employee to HR. Even though the people doing the harassment were convinced that everyone else in the office must agree with them and get that this was funny AND professional AND cool, that wasn’t the case. But that’s very often the miscreant’s reasoning–if people are quiet then that means they are all passionately agreeing with me. In this case, I think reporting to HR without first walking the target through all the nasty photos was the correct thing to do. But add the nuance that the person correctly bypassed the manager and went to HR, where in a lot of places the manager would be the logical person to shut this down.

              4. OlympiasEpiriot*

                Aside from the legality issue:

                It bears pointing out specifically here that misogyny affects the men, too. (1) Patriarchal rules deeply affect anyone who presents as less than Traditional Male, so, anyone the least bit off the List Of Male Rules — let alone anyone gay — is going to suffer. (2) These rules also effectively turn other men — who may not hold the same ideas but who are “go along with the boss to get along” types — into deputies of the Patriarchal Rules Cops.

                Any man who doesn’t want to get that garbage inflicted on *themself* needs to speak up and make sure the company’s structure supports an open society in miniature.

                1. OlympiasEpiriot*

                  In other words, the woman and the control over her clothes issue are the canary in the coalmine.

                2. LBK*

                  I fully understand this, especially as a gay man who skews more on the feminine side. By no means do I disagree that this guy should be out of there, but I have hesitations about the specifics of how it’s done as it relates to this particular situation. I think I’d just be careful to frame it as an example of a larger issue the way we’re discussing it here – I wouldn’t want to address it as one specific incident being perpetrated against one particular person, because it seems extremely likely to me that that would open that particular victim up to escalated retaliation.

          2. Kimberlee, Esq.*

            Well, that doesn’t preclude the co-worker from feeling like she’s being white-knighted by OP. I almost (ALMOST) want to tell OP to just go straight to HR without telling the coworker, just because it’s that much harder to report if she begs him not to. (I still come out the other side thinking that OP needs to give coworker a heads-up, but the pressures for women around not-reporting are strong, and they don’t disappear just because you didn’t want to report it personally.)

      4. Decimus*

        I’d say he needs to act because it’s simply wrong and she (being inexperienced) might not realize how non-normal this is. But also because in these sorts of situations it’s vital for “non-involved” coworkers to show they ARE aware of the real norms and AREN’T letting it pass by unnoticed.

        The ideal way to handle it is to tip off HR himself and let his coworker know he’s done so/is about to do so, so she’s not blindsided and so she can file her own claim if she wants. If this company doesn’t have an HR department or (deity forbid) this IS the HR department then it’s more important HE go to the over-boss because he’ll have more standing than a new employee would.

      5. Sunshine on a cloudy day*

        Just wanted to really highlight and emphasize speaking to the targeted coworker first (or at-least giving her some sort of a heads up).

        If she is brought in, out of the blue, to speak to HR she might try to gloss over the issue or not be completely forthcoming about what is going on because she does not know where this was coming from. She might also be truly afraid of what she says getting back to the inappropriate manager. If she knows that a.) nuetral co-worker thinks this is appropriate and b.) nuetral co-worker os where this came from she may feel more comfortable be open with HR about how bad the situation is.

        Speaking from experience here – I’ve worked in some very dysfunctional places (with either no legit HR or dysfunctional HR). I am extremely tight-lipped unless I either have some sort of background or I have already built up a trust with the person I’ve spoken to.

    2. Emma the Strange*

      I think there’s some benefit to giving the targeted employee the option to be the first to approach HR, so she can feel a bit more in control. But I agree: if she doesn’t report (and report quickly- like, within a few days at most), OP2 should go to HR themselves.

    3. High Score!*

      This. A billion times this.
      Also, if I overheard a manager being this far over the line, I’d speak up and say, “Fergus, I think she looks very professional and it’s against company rules to discriminate.” Of course that’s 50 YO me speaking. 22 YO me would’ve been ashamed angry and silently obedient.
      It’s a kindness to show the younger generation how to politely assert themselves when some one is thus far out of line.

    4. Detective Amy Santiago*

      No, there is no zero room for disagreement on this. You are 1000% correct and I commend OP#2 for acknowledging the problem. I hope he’s willing to speak out on his coworker’s behalf.

      This is the kind of thing allies should be doing. Like it or not, the issue will be taken more seriously if it’s addressed by a neutral man rather than the target of the discrimination.

      1. DoubleBigLaw*

        Agreed. While OP#2 should definitely give the coworker a heads up so she’s prepared for any follow-up, OP#2 being the one to speak up will carry more weight — not necessarily because he’s a dude, but because he’s a neutral observer.

    5. Tomato Frog*

      Yeah, this is something that’s wrong even if the woman who it was happening to had no objection to it. This isn’t her personal problem. I think OP might do better to say “I’m reporting this to HR and I hope you will, too.”

      1. OlympiasEpiriot*

        That’s the tactic I’d like to see taken. Everyone who has witnessed it should take this stance. I’m a woman in a male dominated field, company and general environment (even most of my hobbies are male-coded). I’m always fighting for my little patch of earth just to be myself since I was on a damn playground and I’m menopausal now. I wouldn’t feel like my agency has been taken away if someone male reported it.*

        In fact, I’d be thinking “Well, it’s about F*&ING time! I always do this s*&t on my own!”

        * Even if they were reporting it out of some “protecting” thing, I wouldn’t be offended…although I probably would be leery of the guy and watching to see if he — even subconsciously — seemed to be expecting some quid pro quo.

        1. Koko ¯\_(ツ)_/¯*

          Agreed. When there are Actual Wrongs with Actual Harm being done I really don’t care about the damn gender dynamics of the man “saving” the woman. This isn’t like, “Oh, my inexperienced female colleague has poor presentation skills, I’ll take it upon myself to coach her because I’m so great at presenting,” or “Oh, my female colleague shouldn’t have to carry heavy boxes so I’ll always jump up and insist she let me carry them.”

          The junior colleague is being harassed. For likely some very understandable reasons she has not been able to stop the harassment herself. Someone, male or female, who knows how to stop the harassment should step in immediately. It is not ALWAYS offensive every time a man helps a woman with something she could theoretically do herself if she knew how/wanted to. Sometimes helping another person is just the right thing to do regardless of age/gender dynamics.

        2. SarahKay*

          Yes, thank you so much! I’m in a male dominated work place too, luckily with very little of that sort of stuff, but it’s such a relief when, if it does happen, one of the men I work with calls whoever it was out on a particularly sexist comment.
          It means I’m not feeling like the meanie that has spoilt everyone’s fun, it’s just a joke, where’s your sense of humour, etc. And in my mid 40’s I’m perfectly capable of crushing the “it’s just a joke” comment as well as the original statement, but wow, the bliss of not *needing* to!

        3. Specialk9*

          Yes! I would be so pissed if my co-workers didn’t object to this behavior. It’s just *not* mansplaining to acknowledge illegal offensive behavior, especially for someone new to the workforce and outnumbered. Her perception, until someone objects, is that she’s surrounded by hostile creepy guys who want her to be subordinate, and are thinking of her sexually with creepy power dynamics. She’s likely actually scared of all of you – I would be. Speaking up breaks that imaginary menacing circle hemming her in.

      2. Turquoise Cow*

        Yes. The manager is going to discriminate based on gender. Even if this woman is ok with it, others won’t be, and this mindset may impact his decisions when it comes to hiring new employees. It’s flat out illegal and opens the company up to a boatload of trouble.

    6. JulieBulie*

      I would like for OP2 and the female employee to go to HR together to make it clear that not only is it improper but it is also upsetting the other employees.

      Hopefully it would be enough for either one of them to go to HR alone, but even so, I think it’s better to go together, to make a stronger statement and to be each other’s witness.

    7. Koko ¯\_(ツ)_/¯*

      OP #2, I really hope you’ll submit an update to this one. I’ll be rooting for you and your colleagues to prevail and put an end to this manager’s behavior.

    8. Hills to Die on*

      Add my name to the ‘go directly to HR’ pile. This is such utter bullshit that it needs to be stopped now. Especially with being new to the workforce and not knowing how to navigate it.

      1. Decima Dewey*

        Just where is the employee supposed to find enough ankle length dresses with sleeves down to her wrist that cover her neck for an entire work week at minimum?

        1. JanetM*

          I recognize the sarcasm, but there are a number of blogs and online retailers who focus on modest dress / plain dress; most are aimed at women but there are more than I expected for men.

          (This comment is not meant to condone the boss’s imaginary dress code.)

          1. Relly*

            There are, I agree, but even some of the modesty sites wouldn’t fit this guy’s requirements; I’ve seen elbow-length sleeves and three-quarter skirts more than full wrist and ankle coverage.

            1. Specialk9*

              My sister works in Orthodox schools, as a non Jew, and she follows, roughly, frum/tznius dressing while on-site, without having been asked. She has “sleevies”, pull-on sleeves to cover up her arms (I think just past elbow though). Covering collarbone is really hard, not sure how she does that. She wears skirts, but I think length is only midi length/a couple inches below the bottom of the knee. It gets really hot in summer though!

              One thing that makes me more ok with that system, though, is that men are expected to be modest too in their dress. Orthodox bathing suits also seem to be equally restrictive for men and women, at least based on the Internet. It’s not sexist.

              But that still wouldn’t be enough for this guy. And his version has a gendered double standard, on top of being crazy oppressive and illegal.

    9. LizB*

      Agreed. OP2, this is definitely your business, and I’m glad you’re writing in and thinking about speaking up. Listen to that instinct. Talk to HR. Your manager is severely out of line, and getting your company to shut him down hard is the right thing to do.

    10. Stranger than fiction*

      Agreed and the sooner the better. The dude is still newish and it’s easier to address now than months or years down the road when after he’s had a decent amount of accomplishment putting leadership in a tougher place to let him go.

  2. Mike C. (╯°□°)╯︵ ┻━┻*

    Can I expect to hear that he’s been fired shortly (fingers crossed)?

    This is a bit much. Like Alison points out, if the person is truly unqualified then they won’t be able to perform the job.

    1. AdAgencyChick*

      If I were contacted out of the blue with a message like that, my first thought would be “former coworker with an axe to grind,” not “I need to fire my new employee.” At least, I would unless the new employee was demonstrating himself to be a disaster that early on.

      1. FitnessPal*

        I think the initial reaction could be as you describe (former coworker grinding an axe) but I’d bet there are a fair number of managers who’d want to make sure they hadn’t been lied to and dig a little deeper to find out if there’s any merit to the claims. There’s nothing to lose but the time it takes. If I were the subject of a malicious allegation I’d lied about my experience I’d fully understand the organisation checking and wouldn’t feel affronted at all if I had nothing to hide.

        1. Mike C. (╯°□°)╯︵ ┻━┻*

          So you’re ok with your reputation being thrown into serious question despite your demonstrated work history based on little more than the unasked-for opinion of a complete stranger?

          I would frankly be insulted that after a significant amount of time my own reputation didn’t stand on its own, that my work didn’t already speak for itself, that my demonstrated integrity simply wasn’t good enough. Put me through something like that would demonstrate to me that there was nothing I could do to gain the trust of my employer and that it would be time to seek employment elsewhere.

          1. Thermal Teapot Researcher*

            This is how I would feel as well. I would be pretty upset if a one-off opinion from a stranger was enough to have my employer investigate me. Though the OP really does know the coworker, the coworker’s new employer doesn’t know that.

            Unless a stranger is reporting some kind of abuse, it seems pretty unprofessional for a manager to act on random unsolicited opinions. If I were a manager and some random person called me like that, I would be more likely to wonder if it was a revenge plot from a jilted ex than to believe that a past coworker accidentally found incriminating resumes while passing through someone else’s emails.

          2. FitnessPal*

            Absolutely. I wouldn’t consider it to be trashing my reputation at all if handled sensitively. I’d see it as due diligence. If my manager handled it unprofessionally and didn’t keep it as confidential as possible and went around broadcasting the situation that would suck but would be more of an indication of that manager’s overall level of professionalism than anything else.

            Perhaps the reason I have this view (alone it seems) is that my job is a type of healthcare professional that is regulated and we have codes of conduct which involve honesty and integrity. I’d be surprised and think less of a company that received a warning like that and didn’t act on it!

        2. Sadsack*

          And then I’d feel pretty stupid as the new employer for not having found out something as simple as a title during a reference check. OP should just stay out of it and be glad the horrible coworker has moved on.

        3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          I think people fantasize that this will be the outcome (managers will investigate), but I don’t think it’s likely. Why would someone’s new company have any reason to trust the former coworker at Company A over their own employee? They have no relationship basis with the reporter, and they have no reason to credit the report over their new employee’s version of events. In fact, they have so little reason to credit it, that most of the folks I know wouldn’t even raise it with their employee unless there are other compelling reasons to do so.

          And it’s demoralizing to know your manager opened up an investigation based on an unfounded accusation from a former coworker. Most people I know will understand why it’s happening but will still feel frustrated, and it would certainly erode any trust relationship that’s been built between manager and new employee. I don’t think the “nothing to hide” approach should be the standard for determining whether or not to look into someone’s background—it presumes people are liars, and that’s not great for workplace cohesion or relationships.

          In my experience, employers are only likely to act on a report about serious misrepresentation if (1) they already had suspicions about their new employee, and the report tends to support those suspicions; (2) if the issue lied about could trigger legal liability or other whistleblower-esque problems; (3) if hiring a liar would seriously call into question the ethics/integrity of the employer; or (4) is a PR problem waiting to happen (i.e., bad optics). We don’t know enough to know if those things apply, but it sounds like they probably don’t.

          And finally, going vigilante risks blowing up the reporter’s credibility, as well—you do not want to be known as the person who chased down your old coworker’s new employer over a title discrepancy if that discrepancy doesn’t really matter to the new employer. I know OP has said she doesn’t plan to report it, so it’s not really an issue, but I think people assign disproportionate weight/significance to the idea that the truth will win in the end.

          1. Thinking Outside the Boss*

            PCBH, I really like your comment.

            And it’s equally demoralizing to other coworkers if they ever happen to find out about it. While these types of investigations are confidential from management’s perspective, we frequently have employee’s share this type of information with coworkers and word gets out.

            If the OP has no intention of sharing the lie with others, I’m not sure why the OP is writing in. Is it for validation that it is okay to call the new employer? Some hope that someone will say there is a law that you have to report it? I’m perplexed by the OP writing in.

            1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

              Thank you!

              I think OP wants to understand how this scenario happens—how do people get away with telling such big lies during hiring, how does those lies go undiscovered, and how do they still benefit from them? For folks who have a strong sense of personal integrity, it can feel really disorienting to realize that something you care about or take seriously may not have the same meaning/weight to others, and that can seem profoundly unfair.

          2. Marillenbaum*

            It’s Pete Campbell on Mad Men–he thought Bert Cooper would be outraged! about Don/Dick’s deception, and instead he got “Who the hell cares?”

      1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        Me, too. It also makes it so much easier to copy/paste that emoticon ;)

  3. CAA*

    On #4 — I’ve been hit up by staffing firms who were checking references. It usually comes at the end of the call as “and are there any opportunities for hiring on your team? Because we have all the skills you’d ever need and our people are excellent, etc, etc, etc …” My response is the same as it is to any cold call from a recruiter: “we only hire from the two pre-approved agencies with whom HR has signed agreements. I’m not allowed to talk to you about any candidates until after you’ve signed an agreement with HR, and if you send me any resumes before that agreement is signed, I cannot consider that person for any position. Sorry, but I have to end this call now.”

    1. Bostonian*

      Ooooh interesting. I’ve experienced it from a more individual angle: after giving a reference for a former coworker, the recruiter asked, “So… are you currently looking for a job?” or something similar. I definitely found it kinda slimy.

  4. Raging Thunder*

    OP3 that has to burn in your mouth, but take it in stride and you now have a better estimate of your own worth going forward.

    1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      Yes; I worry that OP#3 is taking this too personally. From what OP has described, the job now requires greater experience, has greater complexity, covers a larger number of employees than when OP began, and there’s also a new CEO. Does it suck not to have received a salary adjustment as the company grew? Yes. Did OP gain invaluable experience, do good work, and move on to better things? Yes.

      So OP#3, take a deep breath, don’t take it personally, and be exceedingly competent and professional about hiring your replacement. It sounds like you’re leaving on a high note. Don’t ruin others’ impression of your contributions (especially the new CEO, who does not have enough time working with you to know the full picture of your efforts and qualities) by refusing to participate in recruitment because you can’t get over the fact that your replacement will have a higher salary.

      1. Matt s.*

        I don’t fully agree. I’ve been forced multiple times to train my new “more qualified” manager/supervisor.

        If that happens for the OP it will be demoralizing. Being told you’re not good enough to do the job but good enough to train someone who is qualified really suck.

        1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          But OP wasn’t told that they’re not “good enough” for the job. OP accepted a new job, and they’re being asked to recruit (we don’t know if they’re being asked to train). That’s a pretty normal ask, particularly when someone is leaving on their own terms and in good standing. Refusing to even engage in recruitment is going to look strange when you’re the one who voluntarily chose to leave.

        2. Ramona Flowers*

          Helping to train or onboard a superior isn’t particularly unusual or necessarily a slap in the face. It may be about being ‘good enough’ as you say – I wasn’t there for your experiences and you were – but it isn’t automatically so.

          And it’s not egregious for a role to be adjusted, re-evaluated and re-valued when someone leaves.

        3. MK*

          It’s perfectly possible that you are in a position to “train” your new manager, in the sense that you can show them how your office works, without being qualified to accomplish all that is expected from them.

          I do think there might be a real issue in the OP’s situation, if the company hasn’t rewarded their accomplishments. It sounds to me as if they were hired at a fair salary for their experience level, but were able to perform above and beyond expectations; the questions is, did the company acknowledge this in their compensation or were they just glad that they managed to get a phenomenal employee for a moderate salary and gave little or no raises?

          Also, double the salary for 2-3 more years of experience sounds exorbitant to me. Maybe it reflects market changes or possibly the company is in a position to offer more now that they have grown, but still..

          1. Jen RO*

            In my company, the budget for new hires is separate (and larger) than the budget for raises, so. unfortunately it’s not uncommon for new people to get hired at a significantly higher pay than the existing employees in the same position. It sucks and the attrition is high, as you can imagine… and it’s not like the boss or boss’s boss doesn’t want to give better raises, but upper management (4-5 layers above) doesn’t really care.

            1. Nervous Accountant*

              This is what we’re facing here (I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one going through this) that a job ad is at least 15k more than what us long term employees are making, and it’s burning me. it brings me little comfort but at least now I know it’s common I guess.

          2. Gazebo Slayer*

            Yeah, this. Double the salary for 2-3 years’ experience is insane. I’m suspecting there was some serious lowballing or illegal discrimination going on when hiring OP.

            1. Christine*

              I took the letter to read as 2-3 years more experience from her end date. So, she says she has been in the position 3 years and started with 2 years experience, her total experience would be 5 years. I then inferred that to mean that the new hire had to have 7-8 years of experience, thus closing the gap. That’s a huge leap between 2 years experience and 8.

              Also, finding someone with the ability to manage 10 people is very different than hiring a solo employee, which I think justifies the wage increase. Should OP#3 have advocated more for herself? Absolutely. But hindsight is 20/20.

              1. Dust Bunny*

                Except the LW *has* been managing 10 people for at least the last part of her tenure, with good feedback, so she can do it. Furthermore, she’s demonstrated that she can do the heavy lifting of building a department from scratch, which seems to me must be harder than stepping into one that already has a solid foundation.

                This may be semi-normal, but it still stinks.

            2. Bea*

              Or since the firm has grown so much, the person setting salaries has more scope and deeper pockets now. They are in a boom it sounds like, which changes a lot of their resources. I wouldn’t jump to assuming they lowballed or discriminatory actions on just the information we have.

            3. Koko ¯\_(ツ)_/¯*

              Eh, it depends what the original salary was. In the nonprofit world, for instance, it’s extremely common to make a salary in the low-to-mid 30s for your first couple of years but be able to command 50-60K by the time you have 5+ years of experience.

              1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

                Yes, this was my take on it, too. It didn’t strike me as inherently unfair/discriminatory/low-balling (but my history of underpaid nonprofit work sometimes skews my norms ;) ).

        4. Koko ¯\_(ツ)_/¯*

          Typically when a subordinate is training their manager, it’s not because the subordinate is capable of doing the manager’s job. It’s because the manager needs training on the specific policies and procedures and priorities that are particular to the company they’ve just joined. Anyone, no matter how qualified, needs that kind of orientation when they join a new company. It’s not a sign of being less-qualified that a tenured junior employee knows more about a particular company’s internal workings that a just-hired senior employee. The manager was hired for their general competence at high-level strategic work that will guide the department’s mission, not because they already know how to use Software Package X and what the company’s business rules are for merging records and filing case notes.

        5. Not So NewReader*

          I will be one of the few who agree with you, Matt.
          She’s good enough to TRAIN someone who makes that kind of money but not good enough to command that type of money herself.
          How can she possibly train some one who has more quals than she does? It’s not possible. What knowledge could she possibly share? Here’s the bathroom, the file cabinets are over there? That type of thing can be done in a few hours.
          I think someone who is a peer or over the HR director should take responsibility for training her.

          OP, Alison gave you advice that will help you keep your job. My advice is not as helpful because I basically agree with you. But I know first hand, you either have to find a way to make peace with the idea OR you will probably end up leaving the company.
          This type of stuff can eat you right up if you let it. To stay employed, you can’t let it eat at you.

          So probably the company will give you a week or two to do your information dump, I mean, training. This poor person won’t know which end is up and you will be moving on. I have watched this happen so many times. Make an outline of training topics covered each day. Keep a copy for yourself, give one to her and give one to your boss. That way no one can say, “OP did not cover x, y or z” because your outline clearly shows that you covered x and y on Tuesday afternoon and you cover z on Thursday morning.

          Understand something. NO ONE is you. It’s unavoidable, you will take knowledge with you when you leave and you will take your abilities with you when you leave. Your pool of knowledge is richer than it has ever been, you are wiser than you ever were. You get to keep these things and use them on any job you chose, OP.

          Do your best in training her. Not because the company is fair and reasonable. Do it because she is a fellow human being. She does not deserve to be left in the dark. Do it because you have to live with yourself, you have to know you took the high road when others take the easy way out. Many times in life OP it’s not about the fairness we get, it’s about the fairness we GIVE. Know in the back of your mind that your fairness to her will come back to you many times over in years to come.

          I think it is reasonable to feel used by this company. IF I chose to stay with this place, I would be saying to myself, “Okay. That’s ONE. I get to three and I am gone.” Clearly that is just me.

      2. LBK*

        Is it normal to be expected to hire your own replacement when you’re that high up? It’s definitely not a thing I’ve seen at lower levels, but I don’t know if it’s more common when you’re talking divisional heads.

          1. LBK*

            Good to know – that was the only part of the letter that struck me as odd since I’m accustomed to hiring replacements being the purview of the departing employee’s boss, even for the managers a few rungs above me that I’ve seen leave.

          2. Product person*

            Heh, I wasn’t expected to hire my own replacement, but accepted the request to do so many times in my career, interviewing, selecting, and training my replacement when I decided to leave a job such as senior business analyst.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          I have trained so many bosses, I can’t count that high. Yes, companies expect lower paid workers to train higher paid workers. It’s pretty normal.
          And they are surprised when people have an issue with that.

    2. Kimberlee, Esq.*

      It is definitely, sooo not personal. Especially in HR, it’s hard for me to imagine a situation where the person (without a ton of experience) hired as a 1-person HR department continues to be the right person for that role when it is now a 10 person department (which implies some strong growth thru-out the rest of the company). Yes, OP scaled a department and put in some great processes. The company decided, based on re-evaluating things now that OP is leaving, that what they need for the next phase is a higher level of experience and/or expertise, because taking a 10 person department to the next level is an extremely different job than taking a 1 person department up to 10 people. Especially given how much the emphasis in HR changes between a 10 person org to a 50 person org to a 500 person org to a 5000 person org… you’re just looking for entirely different levels of experience at each of those phases.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        OTH, her boss could have been coaching her so she collected the credentials which would gain her a higher rate of pay.
        Annnd if the company knew she was supervising many more people then she should have been given compensation accordingly.
        If she lacked the supervisory skills for this many people then she should have been demoted. OR the boss could have suggested what she should do to gain the supervisory skill. I think the company was napping here.

        1. Koko ¯\_(ツ)_/¯*

          It’s not just supervisory headcount that determines pay rate, though.

          An example could be that I come in to a factory where I’m the one dedicated person making chocolate teapots. Over time, I expand my department until I have a staff of 10 teapot makers, and along the way I’ve streamlined processes and maximized efficiency so our output has skyrocketed.

          With my skills, I can keep that department running beautifully and profitably. But now that I’ve announced I’m leaving, the CEO says, you know, maybe we should bring in somebody who has experience using machines that automate some of the teapot-making, so they’re familiar with vendor options, and we’d also like to diversify the number of chocolate flavors and teapot sizes we offer and want someone who has experience managing a production unit that makes custom teapots to-spec instead of just mass producing a single teapot type.

          The person who has that experience will command more money than I do, because the work they’re doing is at a higher level and it’s actually quite different than what I’m doing, not just the same at a higher level. They’ll be able to take the department more quickly and easily in a direction they’re experienced and familiar working in, which for me would all be new and confusing and much more difficult, and I’d most likely not be as good at it.

          That doesn’t mean I’m not doing a great job with the 10-person department now. It means that the person coming into the position is going to do something different with them, that in the long run is going to bring a lot more value to the company, and so is worth more to them. I’m near the upper end of what I can achieve given my own background and training; they’re bringing in someone for whom the point at which I hand-over the department is only halfway to what they can achieve. They’re being offered more money so they will move the department up to their own upper limit.

  5. Nursey Nurse*

    OP #2, please talk to your female coworker about your manager. His behavior is textbook sex discrimination and has no place in your office. Your coworker might be afraid to say anything for fear that he will retaliate against her. If you reassure her that you (and hopefully others) will back her up, she might be more comfortable talking to HR. Or, as Alison said, you can report your manager yourself. He needs to be told to keep his religion out of the office and stop harassing your coworker about her apparel.

    1. Is It Performance Art*

      Yes, letting her know that you’re going to back her may well make her more comfortable about going to HR. It’s tough when you’re first starting out in your career, but she should remember that his behavior is completely inappropriate. Something else to remember is that HR’s job is to protect the company and it’s in the company’s best interests to stop this now. Unless HR or the company are totally dysfunctional, they’ll recognize that the manager’s behavior is illegal and could result in a expensive and embarrassing discrimination complaint. If you have external clients or vendors who might witness this behavior, it will reflect poorly on the company.

      1. Fiennes*

        Even if the female employee is unwilling to go to HR — or discourages LW #2 from going — he should report it. IMO other commenters have a good point about this woman’s inexperience playing a role in this; she may not yet have the professional experience to handle this with the appropriate force. But her “not wanting a fuss” is not a reason to let this go on. In fact, the more open/public LW #2 can be about his role in this, the better. (Assuming this company is sane & would protect him against retaliation.)

        1. bookish*

          Yup. I think it would be good for OP to say to the coworker, since she’s newer, “I just want to make sure you know that the rules he’s asking you to follow are not company rules. I’m going to talk to HR about it, though, so that people aren’t getting in trouble when they aren’t doing anything wrong – and it’s essentially religious discrimination/sexism”

        2. TootsNYC*

          He owes it to the company to alert them. This is a sex-discrimination suit waiting to happen.
          Or, she’ll quit, and they’ll incur recruiting costs all over again. And again, and again, bcs this guy will do it to everyone he ever hires, as long as she’s female.

          1. Sarah M*

            Assuming he’ll even consider hiring a female, which given his current behavior, I think unlikely. (Which is why I am also firmly in the “OP should go to HR today to discuss this” Camp. This problem will not get better, and will not continue to manifest solely as The Manager Enforces His Own Personal Dress Code For Female Employees Based on His Religious Beliefs, but will snowball into a much larger problem. This situation just gives me a headache.)

        3. Specialk9*

          My experience was that reporting egregious gender based harassment, over many years… Ruined my job but not his. I would not report gender discrimination again, I’d just leave. But that’s my experience, not what I think it should be. So male co-worker should speak up.

  6. Ramona Flowers*

    #2 It absolutely is your business – it’s never not your business if someone is being harassed. Thank you for not ignoring this.

  7. Dulf*

    OP2 – I think you should skip straight to talking to HR about it yourself. I don’t think having a male coworker tell her what to do (even if it’s for her own good!) is the kindest thing to do. If you need to inform HR anonymously, do so, but I would encourage you to cut out as many intermediate steps as possible on the road to getting your awful manager to stop his awful behavior.

    1. Noel*

      “Tell her what to do”? Do you mean tell her she should go to HR and report that she’s being discriminated against? Why shouldn’t he do this. Actually, I don’t care. Let’s not bring weird restrictions into this. OP, you’re awesome for caring. You should tell your coworker to go to HR.

      And while we’re on the subject, you don’t think he should give logical work advice, but you think he should go to HR behind her back? :/

    2. Nursey Nurse*

      I don’t think that OP would be telling his coworker what to do. I would view it more as him letting her know that other people have observed the manager’s behavior and don’t think it’s okay, and that she would have his support if she reported it. I do think OP should report the behavior if his coworker is uncomfortable doing so, because it’s so objectively wrong, but I think it would be fine for him to chat with her about it first.

    3. Annie Mouse*

      I have to disagree with ‘I don’t think having a male coworker tell her what to do (even if it’s for her own good!) is the kindest thing to do.’
      I’m female and my male coworkers tell me what I need to do all the time, and I do the same to them. I also think there’s a big difference between ‘telling’ and ‘advising’ someone. The LW isn’t being told (unless I’ve missed something) to tell his coworker she has to go to HR, he’s suggesting that that’s the best and most appropriate thing to do for her to do, and letting her know she doesn’t have to put up with the manager’s inappropriate behaviour. Which will also let her know that it is inappropriate, incase she’s unsure what she needs to put up with and what is unacceptable.

    4. kittymommy*

      I don’t see letting someone know (who as this is her first job out if college, may not know) that she could go to hr if she chose, is telling her what to do. It’s letting her know her options.
      I think the OP needs to let his co worker, but also go to hr himself. While he is not on the receiving end of this behavior, it clearly makes him uncomfortable. Good for him for recognizing this is wrong and wanting to do something about it!

    5. Observer*

      You’ve got it backwards. Going to HR without telling her is demoralizing and says that she can’t make her own decisions.

      Giving her some advice is empowering – it gives her a frame of references, and some assurance that she’s not “making a big deal out of nothing.”

      1. Gaia*

        See I disagree here. I think the OP needs to do both. Go to HR and report *his* discomfort with what he heard and talk to the coworker about reporting *her* experience to HR as well. It isn’t demoralizing to her for him to say he heard it and he was uncomfortable with that discrimination. It isn’t assuming she cannot do this herself and needs his help. It is him saying he doesn’t want to work somewhere that tolerates discrimination.

        1. la bella vita*

          I completely agree – the OP is uncomfortable with what he’s witnessing and needs to speak up to HR, but he also owes it to his coworker to give her a heads up since HR is most likely going to contact her. Plus, it’s good for her to know when she does have a conversation with HR, she has a colleague who has witnessed this first hand and has her back.

        2. Kyrielle*

          Agreed. But depending on how the follow-up is messaged, it could come across with no info and be taken as “he reported this to protect her”. Discussing it with his coworker and explaining that he will be reporting it because it makes him uncomfortable and is illegal, beforehand, should avoid her feeling like that’s what happened. (Also, hopefully it’ll avoid having her blindsided by HR wanting to talk to her, which they almost certainly will as followup to his report.)

        3. Observer*

          Sure, I can see that. I’m talking about “Don’t talk to her but go to HR *Instead*”

          1. Dulf*

            I may have been unclear with what I said, but OP should certainly feel free to talk to her about the manager’s behavior. What I think he shouldn’t do is anything that suggests that he’s going to wait for her to act (or not) before he goes to HR. It’s not solely her responsibility to speak up and she shouldn’t get the impression that it is.

  8. Ramona Flowers*

    #1 You mention wanting to create the perfect resume. But there’s no such thing – the most you can get to is a good-enough resume for a particular moment in time. So I wonder if it would help to stop trying to get that ‘finally done’ feeling, and just think of it as a work-in-progress?

    1. babblemouth*

      Agreed. I felt a lot better about my CV after I realized I would always be tinkering with it, and I shouldn’t wait for a perfect finished object to start sending it out.
      One thing to remember: always check the version of the CV you sent for a job before the interview, instead of the latest version! I added details to mine after applying for a job, and forgot about it, and then assumed during the job interview they had read things about myself I had never actually mentioned!

      1. Agile Phalanges*

        Yep, I had a master resume with all of my titles and accomplishments. I was actually applying for jobs in two different areas of experience (I’d done accounting for years, then took on a new role in my company, and was open to jobs in either area). So when I saw a job opening I wanted to apply for, I’d open the master resume, “save as” into a folder specifically for that job, and delete all the non-relevant stuff, re-arrange a few bullet points to highlight the most relevant stuff, etc. Then save that into the folder, along with the job listing and the cover letter (those I wrote from scratch, within the template that matched the “stationery” of my resume [header, font, etc.]). Then, as babblemouth recommends, I’d pull those materials out again prior to any interviews, even printing a couple copies of the resume to take with me.

    2. Lily Rowan*

      Yes, that’s what I was going to say — I hope you’re sending out resumes and not just waiting until you have the perfect one! I’ve agonized over my resume and cover letters too, but I swear most times I’ve gotten a job, it’s when I’ve thrown something together to get it out the door. It’s because I’m actually a great fit for the job (which is apparent even in my good-enough version), not because of some magical resume tricks.

    3. Red lines with wine*

      This is excellent advice. You keep changing, the job market keeps changing. A resume is a living document, and is never truly done.

      Besides, OP shouldn’t be spending 3 hours per job application. Tweak your resume slightly to fit the job ad. An hour, tops.

  9. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

    Ugh, OP#4, that sucks. It’s really a bad idea, and it’s not about being “non-aggressive”—you’re right that it’s totally about the relationship between the candidate, the recruiter, and the recommender. I can only see this backfiring by aggravating the candidate, who will feel betrayed, and aggravating the recommender, who will feel used. If someone is calling me for a recommendation, there is no faster way to make me think the recruiter is bogus than to start soliciting.

    I’d be really curious if other commenters who are recruiters have ever seen this tactic work; I never have (but I have a very small pool of anecdotal experiences where this happened). I wonder if OP#4’s company is measuring the impact on its talent pool and relationships from this policy.

    1. Chicago Recruiter*

      This is an extremely common sales tactic in agency recruitment. They wouldn’t be doing it if there wasn’t some degree of success.

      1. OP 4*

        There is also a reason why agencies don’t have the greatest reputation . Some of our best candidates are already wary of working with agencies and this definitely won’t help!

      2. Yeah I'm Commenting!!*

        Very common and yes I have seen it work! Annoying yes, but there has been success so it keeps being pushed. Maybe at the expense of other possible business but staffing has become so sales focused any wins are considered worth it.

      3. Mike C. (╯°□°)╯︵ ┻━┻*

        Just because it’s common doesn’t mean that it isn’t unethical behavior to be pushed back against.

        It’s stuff like this that shows the industry has serious issues.

      4. The Cosmic Avenger*

        Spamming and phishing also are profitable, that doesn’t mean they are acceptable practices.

        If I was either the reference or the candidate, I would never do business again with someone who did this. It combines the two things I hate most in the world: high pressure sales pitches and talking on the phone to strangers. The former just makes me shut down anyway, and end the call as quickly and abruptly as possible, and I have a very long memory.

      5. Mephyle*

        They wouldn’t be doing it if there wasn’t some degree of success.
        I’m not even sure about that. It has a similar vibe to the cashier who is obliged to give every customer a salespitch about the store’s credit card, and is penalized if she doesn’t get a target number of new accounts. Does that really attract more customers than it turns off?

      6. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        I don’t buy that it’s successful because a lot of people do it. People adopt all sorts of bad practices with the claim that it’s “somewhat successful.” When you calculate that success on the margin, bad practices often cost more than they bring in. Oftentimes the idea stems from a manager’s misguided/unsupported assumptions or beliefs about how the market works.

        BUT, I concede that it may work in recruiting, which is why I asked folks to weigh in :)

    2. anon for this*

      I work for an agency and this is SOP for us. It’s a very successful international franchise and this does work.

      It’s not a hard sell kind of thing. It’s a “thank you for your time, I really appreciate it. Is there anything I can help you with today?”

      1. The Cosmic Avenger*

        Actually, I would find that acceptable. I don’t mind low- or no-pressure requests from service professionals that indicate they want me as a customer in the abstract, be it repeat or first-time. (I say in the abstract meaning not pinning me down for a commitment, but asking that I consider them the next time the need arises.) I did object to a plumber who slapped stickers with his business name and phone number on my water heater and garbage disposal without asking, as it offended my sense of order that he just imposed his advertising on my property without my express permission. We found a plumber that we like much better, who apparently doesn’t need to pull self-promoting stunts like that to keep a full schedule.

        1. anon for this*

          Hmm, I would assume that the sticker with the phone number was for maintenance issues, not advertising.

          But, yes, at least with my company, we aren’t aggressively pursuing references as sales leads. It’s absolutely a soft-selling tactic.

        2. TheAssistant*

          I would personally love a garbage disposal that was labeled with the number to call if the garbage disposal went kapoot.

        3. The Cosmic Avenger*

          Eh, I know some people like it, but I keep all my numbers online and synced with my phone, so the only place I look is on my cell or in my Google Contacts.

          It wasn’t just the sticker, we were ready to keep doing business with him and recommending him after that, but then he made some vaguely racist comments and left the gas burner on full when he left the house. That’s when we dropped him completely. But slapping the sticker on our stuff was irksome; it’s not like a fridge magnet that I can easily throw out or move.

    3. Machiamellie*

      I’ve been in #4’s position before. I signed on with a staffing agency as a staffing consultant, and I did the recruiting piece for a year before it was bought by an international competitor. Suddenly the focus for my role was sales, sales, sales. I told them I wasn’t good at sales and wanted to stay doing HR-type stuff and they asked me to give it 6 months. I did, but still wasn’t any good at it, so I quit.

      Unfortunately recruiting has become cold-calling hell. I recently got out of the business entirely and now work in benefits.

    4. Iris Eyes*

      I could see some sort of opening script like “This is Jane from Amazing Company home of the best Teapot Recruitment in Llamaland.” Then going into the reference and possibly ending by thanking them for their time and inviting them to contact you if they ever need any Teapot Recruitment.

      I think that would be easy enough to pass off as “the script that must be used for all external calls” without coming off as badly as a full on pitch. In essence keep the call about the reference but allow the opening for another contact if they are interested in your services.

  10. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

    OP#5, karma has a way of coming back around. Sometimes people slip through the cracks, even with fairly robust vetting. But if your former coworker is horrible and can’t do his new job, things will sort out. I think it’s much more rare for people to be fired for lying about their job title (which is distinct from lying about your employer or your education or other, bigger lies that do tend to result in someone being fired).

    It may also be worth letting go of the frustration/anger you’re holding towards him. If he’s already left and you’re this riled about his lies, it indicates that you’re letting him take up more of your emotional energy and brainspace than he deserves. I am so so sympathetic to this—I’ve seen my share of massive jerks seem to “succeed” when I felt they didn’t deserve it. But life is too short to be angry or bitter about sucky people. Don’t let him ruin the fact that you’re happier now that he’s gone.

  11. Elizabeth West*

    #2–OH HELL NO.
    Go to HR. Go directly to HR. Do not pass Go; do not collect opinions along the way.

    #4–This is skeevy and I doubt I would want to work with a recruiting firm that did this.

    1. B*

      This, so so much of this for #2. Go directly to HR and explain this right away to them. My new to the workforce female self would have been upset and thought it was wrong but wouldn’t know what to do. My 40 year old self would tell him straight where to go and I would go to HR. But either way I would still hope that my colleagues would also go to HR/say the same thing. It’s amazing when you know others understand the larger issue at play.

      Can you please also do an update for us? I am hoping this has a good resolution for you, as you seem uncomfortable with this and I thank you for that, as well as your co-worker to realize this is not ok.

      1. la bella vita*

        At 22, I would have been embarrassed and scared that I was in the wrong. At 35, I would politely ask that manager if he could email his dress code “requirements” for me so that there was no confusion about his expectations, and then immediately forward that to HR and ask when we could set up a time to discuss why I was being held to a more restrictive dress code than both my male colleagues and other women in the company.

  12. Pomona Sprout*

    Re #2: What that manager is doing is outrageous! Telling a female worker that she must wear ankle length skirts and long sleeves and cover her neck? Wow…just WOW. Who the hell does he think he is, and where the hell does he think he works? Ugh, this one really pisses me off!

    I am in full agreement with those who have said the LW should go straight to HR. Yes, LW, please do that, immediately if not sooner. That behavior is waaaayy over the top, and he should not be allowed to get away with it one minute longer. What a sexist pig. UGH.

  13. KT*

    Sometimes changing a title isn’t lying; it just makes it more understandable.

    If you work for a quirky startup and are the social media ninja, I think it’s fine to change the role to “social media coordinator” or “marketing assistant.”

    I had a job where my title was “gastro PR rep.” You better believe I didn’t put that on there.

    And besides, he’s a former coworker. You might get satisfaction from reaching out to his employer, but you have no idea if he lied to them; you just have a copy of an old resume.

    Further, you’ll do yourself more favors learning to let that resentment go rather than seeking revenge.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Since I think it’s easy to miss in the letter, I want to point out that the OP does say she’s not really planning to contact his current employer. She’s just wondering how it could happen.

        1. FitnessPal*

          It actually states in the letter “I would love to go to his current employer and inform them of this lie, as he was a horrible person to work with, but I won’t.”

    2. Tau*

      I think Alison’s advice on this in the past has been to put your real title and then what it actually means in brackets. E.g. “Social Media Ninja (Marketing Assistant)”.

      I sympathise – for bureaucratic reasons, my title at NewJob is that of a completely different role. Like “accountant” for a project manager. It’d be tempting to leave it off my CV completely… but from the OP’s post, it doesn’t sound like that sort of translation-to-more-accuracy is what was going on here.

  14. Backroads*

    #2: How in the world did this guy make it to manager qualification without learning somewhere along the way you can’t enforce your own personal dress code?

    1. MK*

      By working with all-male teams or for companies that share his religious affiliation; it’s all too easy for people with extreme views to stay in their bubbles.

      1. Observer*

        No, this is not about working in all male teams. Because while the effect is sexist, the fundamental problem is that he is imposing his religious views on the workplace. And, given that his views are fairly out of the mainstream, it strikes me as pretty unlikely that he’s worked only in teams that share his religious beliefs. I also find it hard to believe that he’s managed to never work where there are women around.

        He KNOWS that it’s actually acceptable for women to dress the way the OP’s co-worker is dressing. He sees that in his own company they dress this way.

        What he seems to be missing is that he doesn’t get to impose his religious beliefs on his staff.

        In a way this sounds like the letter writer yesterday who thinks it’s ok to require anyone on her team to share her idea of a good time. They both think that since they are managers they get to impose their personal ideas on their subordinates. “Letter Writer” was trying to impose her ideas of fun, the OP’s manager is trying to impose his religion. And NEITHER is appropriate in the workplace. The latter is also illegal.

        1. LBK*

          I think MK was just saying that if he’s only worked on all-male teams before, he could’ve gotten through his career with this never having come up before because there were no women around for him to impose his views on.

          1. LBK*

            Also there are definitely some insular communities where one specific religious belief is over-represented and if you live there it’s possible you’ll never work with anyone who isn’t part of the same religion (or will work with very few who are likely to play along because they don’t want to rock the boat).

    2. Saturnalia*

      I read #2, and it literally sounds like places I worked in Utah. Some religious sub cultures suuuper encourage this sort of thing. The saddest part is, if I’m right about the flavor of this yuck, that dude is getting hella kudos from his peers and leaders outside of work – he probably feels like he’s providing fatherly influence she (obviously) isn’t getting elsewhere. This is the kind of crap male leaders are encouraged to do by certain leaders of a religious sub culture.

      It’s *really* hard not to read that one through a layer of personal experience. I am feeling the feels for that woman.

      1. RIF*

        This is one of the reasons I abandoned religion. There was too much encouragement of meddling in people’s lives because “they just don’t know any better!”

      2. Marillenbaum*

        What up, Utah? I’m from Provo, and while the expected dress code wasn’t quite as severe (I’ve never met anyone at home who would expect you to have your neck covered), there’s a strong expectation that women dress a certain way–female Church employees, for instance, are expected to wear pantyhose.

        1. Saturnalia*

          Hi Marillenbaum! Was wondering if you were reading this too :-)

          That’s true about the neck bit – I read it to mean that skin below the collarbones and not the actual neck for no apparent reason. Probably I’m so recently removed from Utah stuff that everything will make me think of the worst parts of living/working there for a while!

          1. Epiphyta*

            Holla, fellow refugees from behind the Zion Curtain!

            I’ve been out for three years, saw a FB post Monday from the Bayou saying they’d be open normal hours, and was genuinely confused: “It’s Monday, why would they not – oh, snap, Pioneer Day!” It gets better!

        2. Backroads*

          I’m also a Utahn. And Mormon. And the only Utah Mormon I’ve known who dressed even close to what the OP described chose to wore “period piece” for the bed-and-breakfast she ran.

      3. Allison*

        ” The saddest part is, if I’m right about the flavor of this yuck, that dude is getting hella kudos from his peers and leaders outside of work – he probably feels like he’s providing fatherly influence she (obviously) isn’t getting elsewhere.”

        Oh god that made me cringe . . . I know we can’t make assumptions here, but I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s exactly what’s happening.

      4. Emily, admin extraordinaire*

        Lets be clear– the subcultures that would require this level of “modest” dress are ultra-conservative fundamentalist Mormons, not mainstream ones. What the employee is wearing to work would be absolutely fine for even female LDS missionaries (well, the skirt should be below-knee length, but other than that, we’re good).

      1. Digitaldruid*

        #2-Yup, go to HR NOW. You are witnessing behavior that is probably actionable, if not explicitly unlawful.

        I had next-door neighbors who were holier-than-thou nut jobs like this. It turned out that the husband worked in the same industry that I did and he told me that he had had nine jobs with nine companies in nine years. That was a HUGE red flag for me-the average length of employment in one company in my industry is at least five years. Later, I encountered several colleagues who had worked with him who told me he had been shown the door multiple times because others could not stand to work with him.

        These sorts of people aren’t simply “deeply religious”-I’ve worked with plenty of people like that and have been fine with it. Where the boss crosses the line is when he becomes an intolerant asshole who attempts to impose his values on those who don’t share his beliefs. It is incredibly disrespectful and will result in an increasingly dysfunctional work environment if left unchecked.

        #4-Not only would I not do the sales pitch, I would get out of that agency, now. If I were a candidate I would be really pissed off if someone tried to pitch their services to a reference. If this is common in the industry then the industry is in real trouble IMO.

        1. Chinook*

          “#2-Yup, go to HR NOW. You are witnessing behavior that is probably actionable, if not explicitly unlawful.”

          Not only that, but I am wondering what other behavior I happening that isn’t being witnessed by the OP. Could he be choosing to promote/give raises to married men vs. single men or any women? Are their vendors that he prefers solely based on their similar worldview vs. him checking out all available ones? The new manager is showing behavior that is a red flag for a specific bias that could be affecting other parts of his job.

    3. Allison*

      I’ve actually been under the impression that a manager can hold their department to a higher standard of dress than the rest of the company, but there usually needs to be a business reason for it, like the department is customer or client facing and needs to project a certain image. This manager may be taking this concept and running with it, using it to justify holding women to the standards of his religion.

      Maybe his beliefs about modesty are so ingrained that seeing women dressed in standard business attire makes him very uncomfortable, and he figures it’s making the other men in the office uncomfortable as well. Not that that justifies his actions, but it could explain them.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        My understanding is that individual managers can hold their team to business casual when the rest of the company is just casual, or is business formal. But you can’t have your own little crazy fiefdom where, for example, shorts are okay on everyone under 40 but verboten for those over.

      2. Anony*

        I’m not sure if a sexist dress code could ever be justified though. How do you say that only women must wear full length sleeves while men can wear short sleeves or that men can arrive in athletic wear and change but women must change before entering the building? If the dress code were that everyone must wear long sleeved shirts and cannot arrive in athletic wear, maybe I could see him justifying it to himself.

        1. Starbuck*

          Sexist dress codes are often considered perfectly justified, just not usually in office settings. I’m thinking of the various jobs where women are compelled to wear make-up, pantyhose, or revealing clothing that men in the same position aren’t expected to wear.

      3. Danger: Gumption Ahead*

        But he isn’t holding his team to a higher standard. He is holding an individual employee to a “higher” standard because of gender. In no company would that be OK

      4. aebhel*

        Sure, you can require your direct reports to dress more formally, but his requirements have nothing to do with formality (and he’s not enforcing them across the board); I’ve never seen business formal attire for women that includes ankle-length skirts!

        I wouldn’t be surprised if he assumed all the other men were uncomfortable as well. In my experience with modesty-obsessed religions, they tend to think that everyone is just as fixated on how other people dress as they are.

        1. No, please*

          This has been my experience as well. It’s very hard for some people to accept that not everyone agrees with them or may not be willing to play along, so to speak. This is why I love Alison’s advice that LW report this. I just have a feeling this boss won’t be kind to the woman if only she complains.

      5. Observer*

        Higher standard, probably. A RELIGIOUS standard? No way, no how. And this guy seems to be pretty explicit that that’s what it is.

        Gendered dress codes do exist in the workplace and they are often considered legally acceptable, so it’s not so hard to see how someone could squint and see it as being ok to hold women to a different standard. Of course, this standard is egregious, so any competent HR should put a stop to it on these grounds anyway. But, the religious aspect is easy in the sense that it’s completely straightforward. There is simply no way that it’s permissible for him to impose his religious standards on others not matter how you squint and hold your head.

  15. Wendy Darling*

    LW4, I sometimes work with staffing agencies to get jobs and they sometimes request references. I have also helped managers at my old job hire through staffing agencies.

    If I found out that an agency tried to give a sales pitch to my references I would be really angry and my references would be really angry, and it would be a really good way to ensure that neither they nor I would ever use that agency (and they hire a lot of temps!). I live in a tech hub — staffing agencies are a dollar a dozen here. It’s not hard to find one without gross sales tactics.

    1. Neosmom*

      And to take it one step further, I would write something on the recruiting company’s Glassdoor page, tell the tale to my network of friends and colleagues and possibly post the experience on LinkedIn. I encourage the OP to share these possible consequences with her management team.

      1. Specialk9*

        Post on Twitter and tag the company. That gets results surprisingly often!

        My husband posts on Twitter when a restaurant or store doesn’t have changing tables in men’s rooms, or at all. One place got a changing table days later, and the manager said she had requested one for months. It works!

  16. Noel*

    OP#5, don’t let people live rent free inside your head. You don’t work with this guy anymore. Let it go. I’ve fallen into the same trap, but I know now that being bitter only hurts me and not the other person.

    1. Havarti*

      “don’t let people live rent free inside your head”
      I really like that. It’s applicable to so many things.

    2. Sunshine on a cloudy day*

      Ahhh! I love this! I currently have someone “living rent free in my head” and it needs to stop. I hope this phrase (coupled with visualizations of me tossing them out on the side walk with their suitcase, like in some sort of cartoon) will help me let it go.

    3. Jaguar*

      Yeah, this. Additionally, don’t be someone that goes after people’s jobs. That’s not a good look on anyone, ever. The guy is gone and you don’t have to deal with him any more. Now you get to move on and all you have to do is let it go.

  17. Carpe Librarium*

    OP #4 The only way I could see this not being a pain in the arse is if it was a very generic wrap up to the call:
    “Thank you so much for your time and insight; please consider us in the future for your hiring and recruitment needs.”

    1. hbc*

      Yes, limited to one sentence with an easy out or allows the conversation to end comfortably unless there’s a positive reaction. Anything more than that, and I’ve lost any sense of obligation to help that company out with an honest reference.

    2. Jenny*

      I am one of those people who shuts down in the face of aggressive sales tactics. Even if I was interested before, I am less so now. This could seriously backfire in OP’s company because it is inappropriate and will give them a bad rep.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        It seems like one of those reinventing of the wheels, where at regular intervals a staffing company has a meeting about getting their name out there, and ponders whom they can contact, and hits on the references, and there’s some flux while it filters upward that this may be marking them as bottom feeders rather than aggressive industry leaders, and then another company in another state has a meeting about increasing sales…

        1. Toph*

          It makes me think of an unfortunate situation where someone once called a reference, and at the end of the call the reference happened to say “hey while I have you, can I get info on your services” and that sales person relayed that and it turned into some sort of corporate epiphany “we should be asking them first in this context!” and I want to be like…no…just because someone was interested once doesn’t make this a good idea for a hard-sell….That’s how I imagine the genesis of this type of practice.

    3. JanetInSC*

      Yep, this is as low-key as possible and probably much more effective than any other approach. It’s professional.

  18. Magda*

    OP, please please talk to the HR and possibly this manager’s boss. The employee herself might be too vulnerable as a new hire to do it. Plus, you are doing this for this person’s future employees, too.

    With the way the new manager is treating his female employee, I cannot imagine this is the only issue that is going to affect her. If he thinks it’s inappropriate for her to wear elbow-length shirts then he might also think she should be left out of projects where she’s be the only woman or out of work trips, work get-togethers, etc. It can also affect her chances of promotion, the kinds of tasks she’s assigned, and all kinds of crap.
    And her being right out of college, too. Please stand up for her.

    1. Gadfly*

      And unfortunately men are often taken a lot more seriously about this sort of thing. Please report it.

      1. Lora*

        Yeah, sad to say, but if a male colleague tells HR, “I saw this and it was disturbing and creepy and I think you should do something here,” it gets taken a LOT more seriously than the actual woman colleague saying, “my boss did this and it’s wrong and creepy”. Have seen more instances than I can count on my fingers and toes where the woman being harassed was told that it was all a misunderstanding/joke/she needs to grow thicker skin, but when the guys said, “that dude is messed up and I wouldn’t want him around my sisters” all of a sudden SOMETHING MUST BE DONE, LET ME DON MY SUPERHERO CAPE.

        Guarantee Nutty Manager will retaliate though. If he’s that new, fire him and send the runner-up an offer. Cut your losses.

        1. Chinook*

          Part of the reason that I think this type of thing is taken more seriously when a man reports it is because it would take something to be greatly out of bounds for most men to speak up. So, if a man is reporting feeling uncomfortable with how a woman is being treated, then it must be really past the line of acceptable. For example, the OP may not have felt the need to say something if the woman had been told she should wear a skirt and nylons because, if you squint, that could be seen as a required business uniform. But, requiring the covering of some body parts that the men are allowed to have uncovered is so far past the norm that no amount of squinting makes it look acceptable.

        2. Specialk9*

          It’s like all the women saying Bill Cosby raped them were ignored and slandered, and ONE male comedian says it, and the entire Cosby empire falls to the ground. Which is both cool that it finally happened, and sickening that it shows how often only men have voices.

    2. Borne*

      I’m just wondering if he might retaliate if told to back regarding regarding his extremist dress code, such as giving her poor performance reviews even if she works like a star.

      1. AJHall*

        Of course he’s going to retaliate, which is why it may be better for OP to report him than for the woman in question, but why OP should have a word with the woman first, so he knows before speaking to HR what the full scale of the problem is: if a problem with a male manager’s treatment of his female subordinates is this visible to other men in the office, then what goes on behind closed doors is probably horrific.

        One question which is bugging me is whether the manager is a member of the dominant religion (albeit the extreme end of it) in the country and location where they operate? That is, if he’s a member of a minority religion or perceives himself as such is there going to be a counterclaim by him for religious discrimination if he’s told to knock it off?

        I think it’s fantastic that OP has his coworker’s back, but he does need to be aware of the potential repercussions and ensure he keeps the coworker in the loop and takes on board her concerns when acting.

        1. Gazebo Slayer*

          Yeah, sadly hardcore conservative relgious types have created a whole cottage industry of playing the victim card for money and attention when they’re busted for illegal discrimination. Or sometimes even for wrongdoing that has nothing to do with their faith, because being a member of their religion means being a superior class of person allowed to do whatever you want to everyone else, apparently. They file garbage lawsuits and unfortunately they have an army of idiots backing them up.

          1. AJHall*

            I know. We have an couple of organisations in the UK – Christian Voice and the Christian Law Centre — who specialise in this. Amachree v. Wandsworth Council was one of theirs, where someone dismissed for gross misconduct cross-claimed for religious discrimination. It got a long way before they lost, and then they used it in the media as further evidence of persecution.

        2. High Score!*

          That’s why it’s important for other co-workers to show her their support. And point out to Fergus loudly, “her clothes are fine. We don’t discriminate here.” and report all instances to his boss and HR. Because it’s offensive to everyone for one person to be singled out like that.

          1. AJHall*

            Yes; I really like the idea of speaking up to the manager within everyone’s earshot.

        3. Observer*

          Anyone can sue for anything. But there is no way he’s going to prevail on a religious discrimination suit here.

          1. AJHall*

            It’s very unlikely he’d prevail and even less likely with OP as a witness, but it’s something HR may be nervous about, which is why going to them armed with the fullest possible account of the facts is important.

        4. Jaybeetee*

          Even if he is part of a minority religion in the area, I doubt he’d get far crying religious discrimination – religious accommodation doesn’t mean he gets to impose his beliefs on his direct reports, and unless the HR dept is just as fundamentalist as he is, they should be pretty aware of that distinction.

          1. Gazebo Slayer*

            He *probably* wouldn’t get far in the courts, but unfortunately there are well-funded organizations that provide high-powered legal aid to conservative religious folks who want to file that kind of lawsuit – and many, many people who would see the rogue manager as right and the company as eeevil librul politically correct secular humanists and probably make their lives difficult about it.

            I’m certainly not saying that the company should pander to this manager’s sexist nonsense, but I’m just warning that in our current political climate doing the right thing could lead to some unpleasant blowback.

                1. Observer*

                  They just won a case that went on for over 20 years, if I’m not mistaken. Certainly through multiple administrations.

                  So deep pockets and bureaucratic inertia. You REALLY don’t want to be on the wrong side of that.

      2. Liane*

        Retaliation is also illegal, so I am sure HR & Grandboss will tell him professionally during the Extremely Serious Talk, “You give any #$%% to New Employee and/or OP2 for reporting you, and we will show you the door and your reference from us will be ‘Stay far, far away.'”

        1. Violet Fox*

          Unfortunately this really depends on the industry and the attitudes of HR and Grandboss.

          1. AJHall*

            And how subtle he was about it. There’s a lot someone can do with “Not really a team player” and starving their reports of projects/allocating work with impossiblde deadlines to make someone they have fallen out with look incompetent.

            1. Gazebo Slayer*

              Yes, this is a good argument for demoting or firing a manager like this right off the bat. He’s WILDLY out of touch with work norms on this and probably in a lot of other ways as well, and you really can’t trust him not to engage in subtle, sabotaging retaliation.

          2. Small but Fierce*

            True. I’m very similar to the young female employee in OP#2, except it was the owner of the company. When a well-meaning coworker reported what he overheard, our sole HR representative basically squashed it because she was (rightfully) in fear of us losing our jobs. You have to tread carefully in certain environments.

            Fortunately for me, my manager intervened on my behalf since they’re friendly. I haven’t experienced issues like that in months.

    3. aebhel*

      I agree about your second point–this isn’t just about the comfort of this particular employee (not that that’s not important!) but for the healthy functioning of the staff as a whole. He’s going to treat any female report like this, which is going to drive away valuable staff and open the company up to a lawsuit sooner or later (probably sooner, if a woman who’s not brand-new to the workforce joins the team).

    4. Starbuck*

      Exactly. And I’d have serious doubts that this manager could restrain himself from discriminating against female candidates in interviews who don’t show up dressed as Puritans.

  19. Gadfly*

    OP 5, I had a coworker who was fired after working with her for years because they found a lie on her resume. Even companies who don’t check everything up front can fire you with cause and declare you unhireable about it later. Especially if you are a problem which inspires them to be double checking your resume.

    It should be enough of a threat to know that you won’t just burn that bridge, you’ll blow it up, scatter the ashes, salt the earth and then piss in the hole you dug where it stood but some people are dense…

    1. Artemesia*

      I knew of such a case too in our organization and it was really minor. The guy had claimed two masters degrees when he had one with a double major or something like that. It was kind of a technicality but it happened at a time when falsified credentials were all over the national news and the CEO had adopted a zero tolerance policy and the position the guy held was slightly high visibility. It was really unfair, but it happened in a flash.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Another good example of why ZT does not work. The guy could have just had a sloppy word choice. That is too bad. I hope he went on to something bigger and better.

        1. Digitaldruid*

          I had a co-worker once who was hired on with the highest recommendations and sterling references-a fantastic resume. He lived up to the high expectations with excellent performance for several years.

          One morning, I arrived at work and found his badge on my boss’s desk with a note stating he was resigning immediately-no explanation. I eventually tracked him down and he told me that he had received a call from HR asking him to clarify some items on the resume and application he had submitted years earlier. He had totally lied about a degree he claimed he had received, and he knew the gig was up. He also lied to several other companies he worked for about this but ours was the first that ever called him on it.

          The funny thing is, he was fully qualified from a quality-of-work standpoint to do the job and the most capable person we have ever had in that role. Fifteen years later we have never been able to find anyone nearly as competent. Not once did he mention having this degree during the selection process or at any time after-and frankly I wouldn’t have cared if he were degreed or not-so I think he just did it to increase his chances of getting an interview.

          So, yeah-it’s not good to embellish things. Just when you think you’ve dodged a bullet, the bullet can ricochet and go straight through your heart.

  20. Magenta Sky*

    OP #2: She certainly should go to HR and file a formal complaint for both sexual and religious discrimination. If she’s unwilling, an I were you, I’d file a complaint. But it wouldn’t be “this is behavior that offends my coworker,” it’d be “this behavior offends *me*.” And point out that if he’s willing to impose his religious beliefs on *one* employee, he’s willing to do it to *everyone*, the moment their brand of that religion doesn’t meet his definitions. But when you complain on *your* behalf, not hers, it might deflect some of any potential retribution onto someone better prepared to deal with it.

    It would be better if both of you complained (and best if everyone else did, too, assuming they’re also offended.)

    OP #4: If I were a candidate, and found out my references got a sales pitch, I’d wait until I got an offer, then refuse it and explain exactly why. I would *never* work for a company that has that little regard for employees before they even hire them. It can only get worse after.

    1. Observer*

      I was planning to say just this. You can’t complain for the other employee.

      But you CAN put them on notice. And you CAN complain about the fact that he’s imposing his religious beliefs on the workplace and that makes you uncomfortable, since you don’t share his religious beliefs and his behavior demonstrates that he could just as easily try to push something on you. Any competent HR should scramble just from being put on notice. But, some will put their heads in the sand, and insist the the victim must follow procedures or they can ignore it (not true, but a common perception). If they do that though, they have a harder time ignoring YOUR complaint – you’re following the “correct” procedure by complaining about YOUR religious freedom from imposition by your boss.

      1. Artemesia*

        I would fear this was a dominant religion issue e.g. a Mormon manager in Utah where most Mormon managers would not enforce this kind of code but where higher ups might be reluctant to discipline a manager who did. (or an Orthodox Jew in a largely Jewish organization; or a fundamentalist sect member in an area where various fundamentalist Christian sects dominate)

        1. Observer*

          Well, he’s out of the mainstream in his organization – the OP mentions that none of the other women dress the way he wants them to, and it’s not the dress code.

          On the other hand, because HR *MIGHT* not see it so clearly, the OP needs to be REALLY, REALLY clear about the issue here. And it helps to not give them the out of “following reporting procedures.”

  21. Shelby*

    OP #2- As a former employment discrimination lawyer, HR needs to know about this yesterday. If he is willing to impose his religious beliefs on a subordinate so openly and cannot separate his personal religious beliefs/customs from his management of others, he is a HUGE liability to your company. Can you imagine the first time he has to hire someone? Will he reject a female candidate who wears a pencil skirt to the interview? He can (read: will) eventually get your company sued if this isn’t corrected. And the company will lose. They need to know about this so they can take precautions with this guy’s management. He has no judgment.

    1. Mike C. (╯°□°)╯︵ ┻━┻*

      Yeah, this is a ticking time bomb. I’d hate to think what would happen if this guy received a promotion or other reports through a reorganization – it’s just going to get worse.

  22. ByteTheBullet*

    OP2, it’s really good that you’re asking what can be done, because it’s clear that something needs to be done as quickly as possibe.

    I’m also wondering whether that is just the tip of the iceberg. If the boss scolds his report for baring her ankles (what year is it??), he probably treats her differently in lots of other ways too. Like, does he actually spend time alone with this brazen tempress? And does he care about her long-term career goals or does he assumes she’s going to marry and stay at home anyway? Lots of questions, of which the dress code is only the first one.

    1. Nursey Nurse*

      Yes. I would wager that a manager with these notions of appropriate female dress also has some pretty antiquated views of working women in general.

          1. Specialk9*

            I find most things 2017 to be awful and spiritually oppressive, and I don’t understand why I have to bump into Handmaid’s Tale everywhere. FFS, the Atlantic had a video *on loop* of a woman being dragged toward a swaying noose. A noose.

            Because the real life meltdown of all things decent isn’t horrible and traumatizing enough?

        1. Sunshine on a cloudy day*

          I haven’t watched the show on Netflix yet because I find the premise so utterly terrifying. I am a horror movie afficianado. I love all sorts of scary, thrilling, suspenseful, chilling stuff, but this is the one thing I’m too scared to watch.

          1. No, please*

            I’m the same way. I love horror movies! I watched that whole series on Hulu and had nightmares after every episode. But it’s so good!

    2. Jenny*

      I don’t think I actually own anything that would comply with this guy’s dress code.

      1. AJHall*

        Yes; all my ankle length dresses are evening wear/sundresses and have bare arms and show cleavage.

      2. Jwal*

        I don’t even know where I would buy a professional ankle-length skirt! The only ones around here seem to be more suited to the beach – ha does it still count as modest if it’s see-though?

        1. AJHall*

          I once tried to wear a mid/low calf black skirt for the office, when long midis were fashionable. I caught my heel in the hem going downstairs, fell down the remainder of the flight, hobbled in late and bruised having gone back to change into something safer.

          1. Tau*

            I cycle to work. Some people are skilled enough to manage that in long skirts. I am not one of them.

            (I wonder if the boss objects to trousers on women as well? Given that the rest of his “dress code” is apparently lagging centuries behind…)

          2. Chinook*

            I have to wear a long robe as an altar server (similar to the priest and deacon) and every single one of us on the altar at some point has tripped or stumbled over the hem. It is especially hard to get up from kneeling unless you have the correct technique that keeps your feet clear. And heels are the bane of my existence – I have learned that wedges don’t catch as easily in the hem where pointy heels (not quite a stiletto but almost) are the worst culprits.

        2. Nea*

          I know you’re asking rhetorically, but the answers are “eshakti” and “any given rennfaire clothier that sells plain 6-gore skirts.” I had a black ankle-length 6-gore skirt purchased from my local faire that I wore to rags, because you could dress it up with a sparkly top for fancy or dress it down with a tank top for a summer party or throw a cardi over for work.

          Except at work it kept getting caught in the wheels of my office chair.

          1. Chinook*

            I think one of the reasons eshakti exists is because of the need for “modest” clothing that is also not frumpy.

          2. OlympiasEpiriot*

            Thanks for mentioning eshakti. I have now looked at their website and bookmarked it. I hate shopping precisely because I don’t like wasting time and frequently have trouble finding things I like. Their customization option is great (I already have a very close relationship with my tailors for the clothing I buy.)

            1. Specialk9*

              Eshakti is amazing. Especially check out their Overstock section. And you can change your height to avoid the customization fee.

        3. Arielle*

          I have a couple that I sometimes wear to work but they’re made out of a stretchy jersey fabric so I’m sure would not fly anywhere more formal than my super casual company.

          1. Machiamellie*

            Yes I have some that I love, but they are “knit” which apparently means sweatpants material, and when I tried wearing them to work I got “talked to.”

            1. Bow Ties Are Cool*

              If you happen to sew, there are sites where you can buy truly beautiful jersey fabric in nice patterns that, when made up into a a pretty simple skirt, look very professional. I work for a financial institution, and women above me in the office hierarchy often compliment me on my office skirts–which are nearly all handmade from jersey fabric!
              As I type this, I’m wearing one in a medium blue with a dandelion pattern in white and lime, which I jazzed up with a bit of lime lace at the hem. (And it has actual adult-size pockets, which the ones I see in stores never do.)

        4. Red Reader*

          I have a ton of them, because my work dress code vetoes visible tattoos (and I have four below my knees) and I hate shopping for dress pants that fit. I tend to do a lot of long skirt, tank or tee, org-logoed black cardigan (because I also have four tattoos below the elbows) combinations.

      3. Nea*

        I know I don’t, and I’m counting the costume/re-enactment closet along with my professional wardrobe.

      4. Emi.*

        In my quirky-clothing highschool days, I had one such skirt, which my father took one look at and said “Is that my old office curtains?” Well, yes, but you didn’t need to point it out in front of everyone.

        1. Havarti*

          Lol! Now I’m remembering Carol Burnett rocking the curtain dress in the Gone with the Wind skit.

        2. Iris Eyes*

          I’m currently in the production process of making a beautiful costume out of some old red velvet curtains. Curtains are such a wonderful source of material :D

      5. Allison*

        I believe I have one ankle-length skirt, and it’s black with a lace overlay, much too dressy for work. I’m short, so any time I get a full-length skirt I need to have it hemmed.

        Wrist-length may be easier since I can cover that with cardigans, sweaters, and button-down shirts, which in my region would only be too hot maybe 4 months out of the year.

      6. Woahh*

        I’m a religious Jew who generally observes tsinius (modesty) and I have nothing that would fit this description…

        1. Observer*

          Unless he accepts stocking in lieu of ankle length skirts, neither do I.

          But that’s not really the problem. The real issue is that he’s expecting someone to follow his religious dictates.

  23. Evans*

    OP4 it could be worse. I got a reference check this week that seemed really off like they hadn’t read the resume of the chap I was giving a reference for at all and were unable to tell me much about the role he was supposedly going for. This was coupled with the fact he hadn’t contacted me at all to let me know there was an incoming (he is scrupulous about his) or what the role was for. They started in on a sales pitch which I interrupted and then tried the old ‘how can we get in the door?’ routine (My standard response is ‘don’t use reference checks as a sales lead / business development opportunity for a start) and I ended up hanging up on them.

    Texted the chap they were seeking a reference for and he was like WTAF? I sent in an application 3 months ago to that agency and never heard back from them. So they were harvesting referee details from candidates they weren’t even considering then following up down the track as sales leads. Needless to say, that agency is on my never to be used list and his. Plus we warned off our colleagues / referees / HR etc.

    Word gets round. At my end, while it’s seen as skeevy, there is an understanding that many of the recruitment agency staff are required to ask as part of their job and you can still have a good working relationship with them. The understanding runs both ways though in the sense if they ask and you respond ‘don’t ask’ they would need to apologise and/or drop it immediately.

    The best way to get follow up business from referees is to ask really good and relevant questions, respect they may be time poor, demonstrate an understanding and some insight into the candidate and job they are going for prior to contacting for a reference (ie do your homework) and be respectful of the referee and the candidate. I’ve done follow up business with a couple of recruiters where their reference check was extremely professional and it was obvious they had done their homework on the industry norms, candidate etc. Never because they tried it as a tack on at the end of a reference check.

  24. Is it October yet?*

    Alison – what should OP#2 do if the company doesn’t have an HR department?

  25. Sheworkshardforthemoney*

    No. 2 So is this manager waiting by the door every morning with measuring tape in hand to check skirt length? He is spending way too much time looking at this young woman and policing her dress. As long as she is following the company guidelines he has no standing in critiquing her clothes or what she wears before she appears in the office. It’s very hard to push back against this when you are young and it’s your first job which makes it even more important for the OP to advocate for her. This is not normal behaviour and should not be tolerated.

    1. Gazebo Slayer*

      Yup, there’s likely more than a whiff here of “ohh yes, you are tempting me with your lovely bare limbs – ohhh, you’re so filthy and sinful, you naughty girl” – leering disguised as religious righteousness.

    2. Poohbear McGriddles*

      No measuring tape needed. If he sees any of that succulent wrist or ankle ladyflesh, it’s gonna be hard (no pun intended) for him to concentrate on work. And since he’s a better believer than OP#2 and his coworkers, they’re surely going to be tempted moreso than even he is. Next thing you know, no one is getting any work done because they’re all fantasizing about Lucinda’s naked clavicle. Are the TPS Reports done? How in the sam hades are we supposed to get them done when some Jezebel is traipsing around here in a knee length skirt? It’s better for all involved if the young lady looks like Kimmy Schmidt coming out of the bunker.

  26. LuvzALaugh*

    Ouch OP3. That does sting! How about taking another perspective. You said you got a position heading an HR department with only three years of experience. Not to be snide but sometimes remembering to “keep your eyes on your own plate” really is best. It’s when we compare to others that we feel bad. It does suck and the experience of rising to the occasion and hiring that person is going to be a great learning experience. If it makes you feel any better, I have five years HR experience, a Master’s degree, am a decorated veteran and Senior Certified Professional level designations and I can’t get an HR manager position to save my life. Congratulations on your success. Whatever your company’s reasoning (the company was smaller previously…ect) Don’t give in to forgetting what you accomplished.

  27. Evans*

    OP5. What you have found might be a draft, could be a lie, could be anything. So he is horrible. Lots of people are. He probably tucks his kids in at night and sings them to sleep and might have been really nice to everyone else on your contact list. You just don’t know. It might not have slipped through the cracks at all. His new employer may have hired him in full knowledge of his failings. It might just be a personality glitch between you and him and he might be good with everyone else or he might have skills you don’t know about which might override any of his personality failings.

    You just don’t know. Your former colleague has obviously upset you. (And I’m not suggesting for a moment this was not without good cause) You are seeing a snapshot from email archives and judging former colleague on this (as well as your own interactions). There is no other context here. I’m really not sure what your ultimate goal is? Do you want to see him fired (you say you don’t but still talk about it).

    If you take over other people’s email archives (at my end at least) there is an unwritten convention that you just let go anything that is not directly business (in your current employment) related and indeed delete anything else (It still remains in the company archives, just not on the archives current employees can see). He has left your business. He can’t hurt you anymore. I’m a little unsure what outcome you are hoping for here but if you were actually to contact his new employer, best guess is that you would be seen as the problem, not him. (Even if he was).

  28. Fresh Faced*

    OP 2 In addition to the suggestion to go to HR, I would definitely talk to your co worker and tell her you think what’s happening is terrible and that you have her back. You can see that she’s visibly upset, so she’s aware that what’s happening to her isn’t right, and she’s also aware that all of her male colleges seem to be fine with her being treated poorly (assuming all of you have just observed this sexist behavior in silence.) The manager could leave tomorrow and she still might not be fully comfortable in this job and be looking to move, because she has no assurance that the rest of her team doesn’t have a similar mindset to the manager.

    1. Danger: Gumption Ahead*

      Definitely. Also, OP2, you might consider speaking up next time you hear him say something. You can pull the, “TerribleBoss, why should she cover her arms? My arms are bare and so are yours.” innocent type approach or the, “She’s complying with the dress code, to my knowledge. Can you show me the part where it says women must cover themselves?” more direct approach. If you can get him to say, “It is because she is a woman” or some variation thereof publicly, it would help get him gone.

      1. OlympiasEpiriot*

        Also useful if your state’s laws allow it: have your phone’s record function on.

        (I love it when these sort of exchanges happen.)

        1. Danger: Gumption Ahead*

          I’m the kind of person* who would say it in the middle of a meeting or, in a meeting with the Grandboss, work in, “Say, grandboss, I have a question about the dress code. Terribleboss told Jane that she had to cover her arms, neck, and ankles. Did the dress code change? Are men allowed to have bare arms?”

          * the kind with rareish skills, a good reputation, and a strong professional network making job hunting easy and who has a partner that can support us for a bit if I was fired/quit

          1. OlympiasEpiriot*

            Well, yeah, so am I. Audiences for this kind of thing are useful.

            (And my freedom comes from having no debt and keeping my expenses as low as possible as well as having a broad range of skills and network. I have no problem returning to being a carpenter. Still have all my tools and I oil them annually even though I haven’t used most of them in 20+ years.)

      2. Digitaldruid*

        If I were the OP, I would seriously consider doing this after complaining to HR if HR did nothing afterwards.

        The guy needs to be shown the door or demoted to the point where he is no longer making hiring decisions. If he stays too long he will start hiring only those of his own kind and then he will become entrenched and a lot harder to get rid of.

  29. ExceptionToTheRule*

    OP #2 – my company’s stance to these type of situation is that if this person’s behavior is making YOU uncomfortable, you have as much a right to report it as the person being subjected to the behavior.

    1. LJL*

      Precisely. I’d give her a heads up that I’m going to report it and that it’s not acceptable so that she is not caught unaware, but I’d frame it as informing her rather than giving her advice. If she asks, then I’d advise her to report to HR herself and support her all I could.

      You’re a great person, OP 2.

  30. Tobias Funke*

    OP2: as a man, your words will actually mean something. Thank you for standing up for a non discriminatory workplace.

  31. CM*

    I wonder if OP#3 can use this information as part of a salary negotiation? It’s probably too late for the overseas job, though.

  32. Tiffin*

    OP1, I’d also suggest having someone who is a very good proofreader check the final version. Typos and grammatical errors are easy to miss, especially if you aren’t used to that type of proofreading.

    1. Grey*

      Yes. I was sending out my resume for months before I noticed a typo in my phone number.

    2. Detective Amy Santiago*

      Especially for words that won’t get flagged by the spell checker.

      Pubic instead of Public springs to mind.

        1. TootsNYC*

          I frustrates me no end that I can’t find a way to take it out of the InCopy spellcheck dictionary.

          When I’m the President, I’m going to sign an executive order that software companies must remove that word from the spellcheck dictionary.

  33. Bigglesworth*

    OP 2 – I was in a similar situation at my last workplace where I ended up reporting someone for an action that didn’t directly affect me. I overheard a VP tell her employees that “Overtime was contributing to the mission of the school.” I reported it to HR later that week. It took a while for all for everything to be figured out, but I did find out that she had been formally reprimanded once that statement had been confirmed. This was in higher ed and I didn’t work in that department, so I didn’t know her employees very well and didn’t feel like I had standing to ask them to report it themselves. How I didn’t find out was that that department suddenly had to hire more people due to the fact that it was cheaper to do so than to pay everyone the overtime they would normally work.

    Although this is a different situation from my own, I share it to say that you’re not alone in reporting actions that aren’t being taken against you directly. Just like how unpaid overtime for hourly employees is illegal, so is gender discrimination. Many people have already said that as young women in the workforce, they would have just grinned and beared it because they didn’t know better. Talk to HR and talk to your coworker. This can be issue can be used to help teach your coworker how to stand up for herself and others in a professional capacity. It could, potentially, be a learning experience for your boss on how to not discriminate by gender and what to say/not say. By reporting this, a lot of good could happen.

    1. Chinook*

      ” where I ended up reporting someone for an action that didn’t directly affect me. ”

      I think this fact is why the OP speaking up may have more of an impact than the female coworker doing so. He is not directly affected by this rule (though it makes him uncomfortable) so he isn’t really “whining about working conditions.” He doesn’t gain anything if it is fixed but runs the risk of retaliation for reporting. Rightly or wrongly, it can seem like his is the more selfless act for reporting act.

      That, plus the more voices who complain about something makes it harder to ignore.

    2. TootsNYC*

      “Many people have already said that as young women in the workforce, they would have just grinned and beared it because they didn’t know better.”

      Or because they didn’t want to pay the price for it.

      And I think the OP won’t pay quite the same price.

      Add to it the point that our OP will be an impartial-seeming witness. And this will add credibility that the young woman may not have herself.

  34. Hiring Mgr*

    #2, are you saying this woman is baring her forearms right there in the open, for all to see? Slattern!

    1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

      Listen, the second amendment says I have the right to bare arms! I will fight for my constitutional rights!

    1. OlympiasEpiriot*

      If that is the issue, the woman and the man who is the OP#2 wouldn’t need correcting about it. If a woman is working in Tehran, she knows the broader cultural norms AND there wouldn’t have been a difference when the new boss arrived.

      (Note: Maxi skirts made of jersey — which are no longer part of US fashion — are great for packing for trips to religiously conservative parts of the world.)

      1. Parenthetically*

        “which are no longer part of US fashion”

        Well shoot, looks like I’m hopelessly unfashionable?

      2. FDCA In Canada*

        What? I live in Canada, but jersey maxi skirts are all over the place this summer and in all the stores. I know we’re not that different from you guys.

        1. OlympiasEpiriot*

          That is good news. I haven’t been in a department store yet this calendar year (bizarre, I know) and have been wearing clothes I already have. So, I should go look and see if there’s things I would wear and I can replace a couple of items that have gotten a bit worn.

          (Weather here went from Really Cold and I was wearing wool jersey dresses to Ugh, It Is So Hot and I put on my linen trousers — 4 different pairs from same manufacturer where trouser design hasn’t changed much in last 10 years.)

      3. Artemesia*

        I did some consulting work in the Middle East in the 90s when those paisley workplace dresses — sort of shirt waist type dresses with high neck, long skirts and long sleeves were in the professional lexicon for women. That plus long skirts and blouses and jackets worked fine. They didn’t expect western women to wear head coverings where I was and in fact the women employed by the company wore western dress although when I ran into male co-workers in the community their wives were usually in burkas complete with face covering.

        But there is nowhere in the US where it would be appropriate to impose that extreme of ‘modest dress’ in the workplace especially one so comparatively different than what is expected of men.

    2. Danger: Gumption Ahead*

      If they were in a country where this was the norm, the other women in the other divisions in the office would be dressing modestly. OP2 explicitly said that his co-worker dresses to the norms for the office and her dress was acceptable to the prior manager

  35. Kate*

    #4- I’m an internal recruiter, and have two scripts I’ve created for the end of reference calls to generate leads.

    My low key one is: “Thanks for speaking with me about X. I really appreciate your feedback. I’m the recruiter for all X positions in X region, so please feel free to contact me anytime if you or someone you know is interested in discussing our openings.” If they’re interested, it gives the opportunity to ask about what’s open. If they’re not, they can say, “Ok, good to know” or “Will do,” and we can wrap it up.

    If I’ve built a good rapport, I say: “Thanks for speaking with me about X. I really appreciate your feedback. By the way, you mentioned you’re a X. We’re actually hiring a X right now. Do you have any interest in making a move?” If yes, we discuss. If no, I say, “Ok, I understand. I’m the recruiter for all X positions in X region, so please feel free to contact me anytime. Thanks again for talking with me. I hope you have a great day!”

    I’ve done this hundreds of times. 25% of the time the person is interested in discussing what’s available. Only a couple of times has there been anything in their tone that indicated they thought this was odd or inappropriate for me to mention.

    I know this isn’t exactly the same as what you’re doing, but I wonder if there’s a low key, very brief sales pitch you might feel comfortable using, similar to my first example. More of a “FYI, we do X if you’re interested,” than “Here’s an elevator pitch on why you should hire us.”

    1. Relly*

      I’m going to admit that when #4 asked, I couldn’t imagine a way it could be done that wouldn’t seem pushy or over the sales line — and you have just convinced me otherwise. This comes off like a discreet FYI, not a hard sell. I love it.

      1. Kate*

        Thanks! What’s been surprising to me is how many references ARE interested. They may not be actively job hunting, but a lot of them will say, “Well, I’m not currently looking, but it’s always good to know what’s out there.”

    2. TootsNYC*

      I got an email the other day from a recruiter who had contacted me to get a reference on someone. She wrote, “We spoke about Steven’s reference. Do you perhaps use companies like mine? We do XYZ recruiting.”

      It was fine.

      If someone gave me this script, as long as it was at the end, it wouldn’t upset me, and it wouldn’t make me feel badly toward the person whose reference I’m giving.

      I don’t know if I’m overly generous, or a pushover, but…

      There is very little I will blame on the reference-ee. If I get lots of calls from lots of people, I just assume that they’re applying lots of places. And maybe some of those people call more references than normal.
      If a reference caller is rude, I don’t blame the reference-ee; how would they control that? I might warn them (“hey, your potential new boss was a jerk”) if I thought it was awful.
      (I have called someone and said, “They asked me a lot of questions about how well you work independently, so they’re focusing on that. In your followup, maybe tackle that? I gave them X example, but I’ve realized, your Y experience would be good here–maybe you should mention it.”)

      Once I have enough good will for you that I’m willing to be your reference, I’m on your team. And a recruiter being inappropriate is not going to ruin our relationship.

      So I would say that our OP shouldn’t worry about that aspect of it.

  36. animaniactoo*

    OP#2 – imo, the most important reason for you to go to HR yourself is that witnesses are invaluable in situations like this.

    If your young colleague goes to HR herself with only herself as witness, there will be an investigation and much more questioning about “are you sure you didn’t misunderstand what he was saying?” type questions. Add a witness and you have some reasonable confirmation that what was said is what was said, and the tone of the questioning changes. Both are civil and polite, but having to deal with such doubts after you’ve revved yourself up to have such a conversation in the first place – is a major reason why people don’t report when they’re young/new/lacking confidence or assurity in their own ability to survive the issue and keep their job/workplace respect.

    Please be the support she needs now. You can choose to just report it, or you can let her know you’re going to and offer to do it with her or separately – her choice. But report it yourself no matter what.

    1. TootsNYC*

      Great point! “Be a witness.”
      And even better, be a witness BEFORE she is. Then she’ll really be credible.

  37. gnc-anon*

    If OP2 is engaging in sex discrimination, is it similarly sex discrimination to tell an employee to dress in a more “feminine” way? I’m a lesbian- I don’t mention it at work, but I am pretty butch, so I think boss at least suspects. Yet he’s told me I should have longer hair, wear skirts sometimes, wear makeup, and not wear button down shirts or men’s accessories (that fit, and are professional, like a tailored jacket or cufflinks when I’m feeling fancy.)

    I ask from the “sex discrimination” angle because I don’t have LGBT employment protection in my state; but I heard the EEOC is now classing it as a form of sex discrimination.

    I am 26, and this is my first well-paid job; I only achieved financial independence in the last 18 months or so, so I don’t want to quit or lose a job.

    1. The Cosmic Avenger*

      I am not a lawyer, but I think so. Even if sexual orientation and gender identity are not protected in your state, requiring you as a woman to wear a suit might be legal, but specifying hairstyles and makeup and requiring or banning certain specific gender-specific clothing for women sounds very much like gender discrimination to me. I’d consult with the EEOC or an employment lawyer, and start looking for another job if this manager is any indication of how this company is managed.

      1. Chinook*

        Though a specific hair style might be required for health and safety reasons (think hair tied back and off the collar so it isn’t loose and able to get caught in machinery). In that case, gnc-anon’s short hair would absolutely comply.

        1. Lady Phoenix*

          The only hair restrictions I hard of is short hair/ponytails/put in cap. Essentially, no having hair under tight control. This is to keep hair from getting i. Food, get pulled on by unruly patients/kids, get caught in maxhines, or set on fire.

          1. The Cosmic Avenger*

            True story: I first grew my hair long in college, and when I waited tables I knotted it up and tucked it under, so that unless you looked closely it looked like it just came down to my neck in the back. (Back then, it was as much so it didn’t hurt my tips as it was for food safety reasons.)

            After I had been there for about 6 months, the manager said I was his best waiter/waitress. (Being young, able bodied, and full of energy goes a long way in that type of physically demanding work, especially when you’re a fast learner.) Then the district manager came for a visit.

            His first words to the manager after I came in were “tell him to cut his hair or he’s fired”. The manager told me this word-for-word, and apologized but didn’t want to risk his job. I didn’t blame him, he knew I was doing it for spending money and to help my parents pay for textbooks, not for rent or anything. So I told him no hard feelings, quit, and immediately got an on-campus job that was less demanding, more flexible, easier to get to, and paid almost as well.

    2. aebhel*

      I would call that sex discrimination, for sure (caveat: IANL). If what you’re wearing is appropriate according to the dress code, then it doesn’t need to be ‘feminine’.

    3. Kyrielle*

      I’m cishet. I wear men’s shirts often because, frankly, I’m tired of having to police every shirt I consider to see if it’s too see-through. (They usually are. Ugh. Men’s shirts FTW.) I wear pants because they’re more comfortable for me and it’s easier to find them with pockets, too. I usually wear my hair long, but I don’t wear any makeup most days, and never much. (Less a style preference and more ‘cannot be bothered with time required and never learned most of the skills’ – nor really want to spend the time doing so.)

      I can easily see your boss telling me all the same things except the hair. And it would absolutely be sex discrimination, unless this was some sort of fashion-forward place and he was also telling the guys to wear makeup, which seems improbable.

      So yes, I would absolutely say that is sex discrimination (which is based on actions and impacts, not whatever he is or isn’t thinking). If he’s doing it because he suspects you’re a lesbian,you don’t have specific protection _based on_ his reasoning, but it doesn’t matter. Because he’s not doing it to the men, I assume, and he is doing it to you, a woman, and that makes it sex discrimination.

      1. Kyrielle*

        Hm. I need an IANAL on that. Ethically, I think it’s sex discrimination. He has presentation expectations for women that he does not have for men. Legally, I think it probably is, but my word isn’t legal advice. :)

      2. Xarcady*

        You know, I’m cishet, too, and I wear button-down shirts, pants, and cufflinks (they were my grandfather’s). My hair is short and I don’t wear makeup. No employer, manager or supervisor has ever commented on how I dress. It clearly fits the dress code.

        So, gnc, it does make me suspicious that your boss has some sort of motive in “correcting” your appearance.

    4. Electric Hedgehog*

      Yep, because I sincerely doubt he’s telling his male employees these things.

      1. Emi.*

        What if he requires men and women both to dress in accordance with certain gender norms? That would be weird, but it wouldn’t be a requirement for only women.

        1. Kyrielle*

          But it would disproportionately impact the women, as we’re seeing here. It also matters that he is requiring it and not the dress code. IMO, such a dress code is also discrimination, but that may not always hold up in court, it looks like.

        2. Jessie the First (or second)*

          That is also not legal. Sex discrimination is not a “women only” thing – men are a protected class too. You cannot discriminate against men because of their gender, and you cannot discriminate against women based on their gender. If a company requires that people adhere to stereotypes for their gender and (presumably) punishes them if they don’t, they are violating Title VII, generally, and it is not a defense to say “but we also discriminate against men!”


        3. Jessie the First (or second)*

          But – that assumes the rules are more strict than usual. It’s okay to require men to wear ties, for example.

          1. CS Rep By Day, Writer By Night*

            At my workplace, male employees have to wear a shirt with a collar but female employees can wear collarless ones. I’ve never really been able to figure that one out, along with the rule that men wearing sweaters must have a collared shirt worn underneath.

    5. Scarlott*

      If you look professional then who cares. If he’s offering his misguided advice rather that’s different than telling you that you need to dress more feminine to keep your job, and you can just tell him to knock it off.

    6. Jessie the First (or second)*

      From the EEOC itself:
      “Sex discrimination involves treating someone (an applicant or employee) unfavorably because of that person’s sex.

      Discrimination against an individual because of gender identity, including transgender status, or because of sexual orientation is discrimination because of sex in violation of Title VII. ”

      Each individual case is complicated – gender discrimination cases are NEVER slam-dunk, because there is a very big complicated burden of proof process, and judges and juries are human, but the comments about wearing makeup, wearing your hair longer, not wear button-down shirts, etc, are really NOT OKAY and the EEOC would be not happy, IME.

    7. Jessie the First (or second)*

      And hey, if you have an HR department that is any good, they would *really* want to know, as your boss is skating around lawsuit territory.

    8. Observer*

      Talk to a lawyer, but at the moment, it may depend on jurisdiction. But in most areas, I’m pretty sure this is not legal.

      1. JulieBulie*

        Maybe he doesn’t know much about women. When I was a kid, I had a doll that you could turn a knob on her back to make her hair grow. Maybe this guy thinks women have something similar!

  38. FiveByFive*

    Can we chill with the anger re: #2? Of course this is an assumption, but I read the letter as the boss being of a certain religion that is facing a great deal of persecution in the western world. Maybe sensitivity training is in order, but it’s really disappointing to see so many commenters here be so quick to jump on a rather ugly bandwagon that’s unfortunately gaining momentum in recent months.

    1. OlympiasEpiriot*


      If you are talking about Islam, well, I’ve had Muslim supervisors, co-workers and clients from many countries (including the US) and actually, in the course of my job the only clothing comments I get are whether I’m wearing my PPE.

      My experience is that it is ONLY evangelicals/dominionists/other old testamentarians who try to police the dress or behaviour of people who are not of their religion.

      I think the anger here is because it is illegal, and blatantly so.

    2. Havarti*

      You mean you think he’s Muslim? Let’s not beat around the bush here. Still not a license to treat his employee like that. Women have suffered long enough around the world and if dude’s feeling persecuted, maybe he should be less of a jerk or go work somewhere else with fellow people of his religion where the women dress to his exacting standards. He’s a manager, not an average office paper-pusher. Still needs to be reported to HR. Maybe they will recommend sensitivity training.

    3. Sigrid*

      It doesn’t matter what religion he is. It doesn’t even matter how much religious persecution he’s faced. He still doesn’t get to dictate what women who work for him wear based on his own religious beliefs. (And for what it’s worth, I read him as evangelical Christian, not Muslim. )

    4. Kyrielle*

      I do not care what the boss’s religion is or what he believes in general. He can be Muslim, he can be Evangelical Christian, he can be some other religion. He can be an atheist who finds women showing too much skin offensive, for all I care. He could be conducting a sociology experiment and not believe what he’s saying, for that matter, and I still won’t care!

      His behaviour is sexist, inappropriate, and illegal. It needs to stop. He is out of line and _at best_ needs to be told to cut that out, why he has to cut it out, and immediately implement it. If he can’t, he needs to stop being a manager, ASAP.

      I am angry. I’m angry at his actions. He can carry on believing whatever he does and be fine. He can’t carry on telling her that she must cover up more than company dress code requires, and more than men are required to under similar circumstances, regardless of his reasoning.

    5. Here we go again*

      I definitely did not read that the boss is a member of a religion (Islam) that is being persecuted. I read that the boss is a member of a religion (Evangelicals… Is that technically a religion?) that CLAIMS to be persecuted.

      1. Observer*

        Does it even matter? I happen to read it as Evangelical Christian, too. But that doesn’t change anything. Sigrid is completely correct that persecution or lack thereof doesn’t make this behavior any better.

        1. Here we go again*

          It really doesn’t/ shouldn’t… I couldn’t tell which religion the commenter was referring to, so threw in my 2 cents on the two major possibilities.

    6. Falling Diphthong*

      I think most people are assuming that the boss belongs to one of the more conservative Christian denominations.

      ‘Other people not following your religion does not mean they are persecuting you’ holds in the US regardless of the religion.

    7. Madeline Wuntch*

      No…that’s not what’s happening here. Managers are not allowed to openly discriminate against women by using the dress code of their *totally unrelated to the work being done* religion, no matter if they’ve been discriminated against because of their religion.

      Being discriminated against because of your religion, or country of origin, or anything else is horrible! That is a bandwagon no one should be on. It is also totally and completely unrelated to someone using their religion to do their own inappropriate discrimination at work. The leap you are making to assume that somehow being angry at illegal discrimination is pretty much equivalent to being on a bandwagon for religious discrimination is pretty wild.

      I also think it’s sketchy as hell to assume he’s Muslim, like…maybe re-evaluate your assumptions when you hear “requires an restrictive dress code” MUST mean Muslim, when there are PLENTY of conservative sects of all kinds of religions that have restrictive dress codes, because there is no other indication whatsoever of which religion is the case here.

      1. Emi.*

        like…maybe re-evaluate your assumptions when you hear “requires an restrictive dress code” MUST mean Muslim, when there are PLENTY of conservative sects of all kinds of religions that have restrictive dress codes, because there is no other indication whatsoever of which religion is the case here.

        It’s interesting to me that so many commenters (not you) have assumed he must be an Evangelical Christian, though, since as you say the letter doesn’t give any indication.

        1. Kyrielle*

          It is! I made that assumption, and I’m kind of curious as to why. (I could make an argument that, in the US at least, I believe they are the most numerous group likely to hold such a strict view about dress. But…I actually don’t know numbers, and I’m not sure that’s why I made that assumption.)

          1. Falling Diphthong*

            I also assumed that anyone who thought they could get away with imposing their religious rules on their subordinates at a non-faith-based job would perceive themselves to be safely within the dominant religious group for that area. In the US, that means some denomination of protestant.

        2. Detective Amy Santiago*

          My guess is because we assumed this was in the US and a man in position of authority in this country is statistically most likely to be a white, Christian man.

        3. Observer*

          Just from knowing the dress codes, that seems the most likely. On the other hand, it really doesn’t matter. Pretty much everything people have been saying has been relevant no matter what religion this guy is part of.

          FiveByFive, on the other hand, has made a clear assumption and is basing their response base on it. That’s kind of odd to be honest. Especially since I don’t think it’s the most likely assumption.

    8. Jennifer M.*

      Yeah, there is no indication that the boss is Muslim. There are many sects of Christianity that have these kind of views on women’s clothing. Same with the Haredim (ultra conservative Jewish).

        1. kitryan*

          Yeah, it doesn’t sound like a Jewish thing, as generally, non-Jews aren’t expected to comply with the same rules (except for the limited kind of exceptions made famous in the kosher workplace for Passover letter).

    9. ginkgo*

      A few things wrong with this:

      -There are plenty of Christian subcultures where this is a thing, as you can see from comments above. They are not facing persecution.
      -I know some feminists who practice the religion to which you refer and they would so not be down with this dude
      -I have a hard time believing a guy of this religion would be pulling this sort of thing in the US right now – it takes all kinds but most people are not only aware of the broader culture they live in, they know about the political climate and are going to avoid giving people more reasons to see them as Other

      Regardless, I don’t think the answer changes – he’s free to practice his religion, but not impose it on others. And btw, I find it infuriating that this religion is scapegoated for supposedly being anti-woman, when the people who call it out have never cared for women a day in their lives and these views are alive and well in the broader culture. I know youre coming at it from a place of compassion, but I’d love to avoid making that association in the first place.

      1. Nervous Accountant*

        Thank you! esp to the last point–Islam isn’t the only religion that has restrictive practices. I grew up in a strict conservative family, and went to a Catholic school. When the letter about the employee who called her boss’s daughter a whore for dating was printed, I was pretty shocked that it’s a common attitude in certain parts of the country.

        1. LBK*

          And my admittedly vague understanding is also that it’s not a blanket rule within Islam, either – that the most strict forms of covering are generally government-enforced interpretations of the rule, but there are plenty of Muslim women who only wear a head scarf (I’m sure if you live in a city you see them all the time) or who don’t wear any covering at all.

          1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

            Yep — or more specifically, the actual Quranic rule is not extremely detailed on what level of modesty is required, so there is a lot of variance in interpretation.

    10. Snark (ノಠ益ಠ)ノ彡┻━┻*

      “I read the letter as the boss being of a certain religion that is facing a great deal of persecution in the western world.”

      That has absolutely no bearing or traction here. His views, persecuted or not, have no place being imposed in the workplace, on a female direct report.

      1. Digitaldruid*

        Exactly. Even if the guy is a Muslim, he’s still way off base. It ain’t a question of religion but a question of respect for boundaries.

        BTW, I have worked with many muslims over the years. I’ve yet to find one who professed to give a damn about how western women dress. Most have assimilated very nicely into western culture while keeping the faith. Among those who weren’t born here, I have never seen a single one who ever had anything bad to say about their adopted country.

    11. Sue Wilson*

      I can’t say what other people are thinking but “I’m angry someone is using their religion as a reason to discriminate against women” is entirely appropriate and not at all ugly. And for what it’s worth, the majority religion in the western world has people who will do the same thing.

      1. LBK*

        Right – I don’t understand what’s “ugly” about this. I haven’t really seen comments that are opposed to or critical of the religion as a whole, just opposed to the way this particular guy is trying to impose it on his employee.

    12. FiveByFive*

      I agree the behavior should change. I’m just saying everyone can assume whatever religion they want is in play here, but you have be careful you aren’t assuming incorrectly, and therefore going all-in against something that puts you/us in a not-so-flattering light. We don’t have all the facts, so, let’s be mindful of the optics.

      1. Jennifer M.*

        I truly don’t think there are optics to be mindful of regardless of the religion. The boss is acting in a way that puts the company at risk for a lawsuit. He is doing it in a way that is making an employee (the OP) uncomfortable to witness and another employee visibly upset to hear about herself. That is wrong. We get to be angry when we see /hear about things that are wrong and it is not unflattering to us to be upset on behalf of our fellow humans.

      2. Dulf*

        Can you explain how the boss’s religious beliefs affect whether his behavior is inappropriate or not?

        1. FiveByFive*

          May I kindly answer your question with a question? Can you explain how you missed in both my posts where I indicated it’s not appropriate?

          1. Dulf*

            Saying that doesn’t change the fact that your focus on “optics” prioritizes the avoidance of (imagined) bigotry over addressing an actual workplace issue.

          2. Snark*

            Can you explain why you continue to assume problematic motives of other posters where none are in evidence?

          3. aebhel*

            May I ~kindly~ ask why you think it’s inappropriate to go ‘all in’ against illegal sex discrimination on the off-chance that it may be motivated by a religion that is marginalized in the U.S.?

      3. Havarti*

        Nobody in the comments section is shouting “Death to a certain religion that is facing a great deal of persecution in the western world!” so I’m not really sure why you’re feeling the need to talk about “not-so-flattering light” and not having all the facts and being mindful of optics.

      4. Kyrielle*

        But I’m not going you/us against the religion. I don’t care about the religion. I’m all in against the boss’s choice to police his female employee’s clothing, not for adherence to the dress code, but for adherence to his own personal views. To the extent that I’m upset (and I am), it’s with *this one person and his actions*. I have no opinion on other members of whatever religion he follows based on his actions. The choice to act this way is his. I certainly have opinions on him and his professionalism and suitability to manage. They may be unfair; perhaps he will correct course when coached. But they’re directed at him.

        I haven’t seen – I haven’t read all the comments, so maybe I missed it – I haven’t seen any judging of a broader group he may or may not belong to. Just of him, because of his actions.

        1. Havarti*

          You haven’t seen it because it isn’t there to be seen. A few people have speculated on him being evangelical based on what they’ve seen themselves but that’s about it.

          Man is a jerk. Needs to be reported to HR for being a jerk. It’s pretty straightforward. Why man is a jerk ain’t our business. That’s between him, HR, and the deity of his choice.

          1. Here we go again*

            I’m going to take it a step further and say the man is a misogynistic jerk….

        2. Parenthetically*

          Yeah exactly this, jeezy creezy, the guy could be just a super-weird atheist who thinks women belong in the kitchen covered up making him a sammich. The nature of his belief system couldn’t be LESS relevant to people’s indignation; this is about the fact that he is attempting to impose the dictates of that belief system in a sexist way on an employee.

      5. animaniactoo*

        The optics are that a woman is a target of discrimination and is from a group (women) which is frequently persecuted both openly and subtly every day.

        So I really don’t give a flying flip what religion this guy is.

        I am pissed that he has made it to the stage of being a manager without learning that he cannot carry out his discrimination based on his personal belief and I am infuriated on this woman’s behalf that she puts up with it because she lacks the experience and stability to push back at it immediately – and that not one of the men she works with has spoken up about it yet, leaving her feeling even more isolated in having to deal with his comments and views.

        1. Here we go again*

          It’s not just about experience…. Studies show when men stand up for themselves they are seen as authoritative and assertive, but when women do it, they are seen as b***es.

      6. AJHall*

        The facts we do know is that he is requiring a female direct report to dress in a way that is out of step with the norm for women in the office in other departments, out of step with the way men who report to him dress and out of step with not merely the 21st century but with a large portion of the 20th and quite large chunks of the 19th (especially the wtf with the neck.) Furthermore, he is attempting to control how she dresses when not on work business and outside work hours (her jogging outfit.)

        We don’t know what religion it is, but I bet it’s not Islam, because apart from any other consideration if he had been making the female report cover her hair, OP would have mentioned it, but in any case you’re falling into a logical fallacy. Just because Islamaphobes use religion-based sexism as a stalking horse to attack Muslims doesn’t mean anyone criticising religion-based sexism must therefore be an Islamaphobe

      7. LBK*

        You seem to be hinting at something here that you’re not willing to say outright. Can you just be clear on what you’re trying to imply? I’m really confused what “optics” you think are a concern – are you trying to say that you think the boss might be Muslim and that if people are critical of his imposing of his religious practices on his employee, that would be or at least might come off as Islamophobic? Because I strongly disagree, and I think anyone who would read those criticism that way would be off base.

        I totally understand and agree with what you seem to be saying about unwarranted criticism of Islam being a huge problem in the US right now, but that doesn’t mean Muslim people get a free pass, especially on breaking laws as is likely the case here.

        1. paul*

          I think I saw one comment saying he could be Muslim of some sect, some comments saying he could be separatist Christian, and my comment saying locally he could possibly be either (because we have populations of both with that type of general dress code for women)…and that’s about it.

          I’ll also say I do not care; my cultural tolerance stops when you start enforcing your culture on other people. You want to dress like it’s 1650? Go for it. You tell me I have to? Hah, no. Ditto dietary restrictions, restrictions on mingling with the opposite sex, not buying things on Sunday, whatever. That’s not cool.

        2. Digitaldruid*

          I think the whole “religion” thing is a red herring; I wish the OP had never brought that up. Yeah, it speaks to motive, but it doesn’t excuse the behavior in any context.

          As long as the employee’s apparel is consistent with contemporary norms for dress in the workplace, then the manager needs to back off regardless of personal feelings. That’s one of the implied things that he accepted when he accepted the job.

      8. Toph*

        What religion is involved is entirely irrelevant to the illegality of the behaviour, and therefore irrelevant to reactions to the effect of “that guy shouldn’t do that”. We don’t need to know what his religion is to know that his forcing the rules of his religion on his direct report is wrong. If someone were bashing a particular religion because of the letter, that’d be bad on its own, also regardless of what religion, but I don’t see anyone doing that. So the notion of “which religion are you assuming he belongs to that is causing his behaviour” continues to be irrelevant.

      9. Kate*

        I have a lot of muslim friends and colleagues, and I’m pretty comfortable saying that they would all find this guy totally out of line. I’m not sure what other facts you think are relevant beyond those in the letter.

    13. Detective Amy Santiago*

      So what you’re saying is that if Boss is being persecuted it’s okay for him to turn around and do something illegal?

      1. FiveByFive*

        Where are you getting that I said it’s ok? I said it’s not. I said let’s focus on the behavior, and not pile on in anger when we don’t know exactly who it is we are railing against. It would be regrettable to find ourselves aligned with certain hateful groups.

        1. AJHall*

          We are focussing on the behaviour. It’s sexism which the perpetrator justifies on the grounds of religion. I’m angry because sexism angers me; I’m also angry because while I’m not religious myself, using religion to behave like a jerk harms people of the same religion who manage to practise it in a non-jerky way. Why are you saying that this anger is illegitimate, because other people may be angry for different reasons?

        2. Jessie the First (or second)*

          But… we are focused on his behavior. Until this thread here, I saw maybe two comments (one thinking perhaps the guy was from Utah, and so Mormon, and one wondering if it was Islam). The rest of the comments were about behavior – again, until you started *this* thread. S0 I think I can understand why people are responding to you this way – because religion was not a focus of the comments until you brought it up and told people to stop. What are we supposed to stop, as the vast majority of the conversation is about how this behavior is wrong?

        3. LBK*

          Being critical of the way one particular person practices their religion is only “aligning yourself with certain hateful groups” if you have absolutely zero sense of perspective and can only think in extremely broad, black and white false equivalences.

          1. Lora*

            This. “Being an a-hole” is not a religion, nor is it a protected class. That one definitely crosses all demographic boundaries.

        4. Snark*

          “It would be regrettable to find ourselves aligned with certain hateful groups.”

          Oh, hell no, this stops right here. Nobody here is in danger of finding themselves aligned with hate groups because we find it inappropriate that a judgmental personal dress code is being inflicted on a younger female colleague. You need to rein it in. This kind of hairsplitting “you’re not being woke enough and your post is problematic” dissection is becoming really frustrating.

          1. LBK*

            This actually reads to me more like someone who’s just stepped into being “woke” – I find people who are just learning about social justice issues are the ones who are more likely to paint in extraordinarily broad strokes that don’t allow for nuance.

        5. Sarah M*

          Actually, Islam wasn’t even at the top of my mental list. There are just too many possibilities, and as a legal matter (IAAL), I don’t believe it’s relevant based on the facts that OP gave us. The manager’s behavior is the issue, and his rationale will not (or should not, depending on the HR in question) help his case.
          On a personal note, having lurked here for ages, this particular comment group really doesn’t condone bigotry, and tends to come down on the rare occurrence like a ton of bricks. I understand what you’re saying, I just don’t think this forum is like that.

    14. Some Sort of Management Consultant*

      Well, I assumed the boss was Mormon or some other very conservative Christian branch.
      I run into/hear about very few Muslims who act this way in Western countries but heaps and heaps of ultra conservative (almost cult like) Christians.

      1. Some Sort of Management Consultant*

        *cult like by my secular country standards.

        And some of the Christian branches, not all of them. Not saying Christianity as a whole is a cult.

      2. Emily, admin extraordinaire*

        I’m a Mormon, and only ultra-conservative fundamentalists would have a problem with the employee’s dress. She conforms just fine to the dress code at BYU or even for female missionaries.

        1. Some Sort of Management Consultant*

          Sorry for generalizing!

          Swedish Mormons (and they’re rather few) tend to be more conservative than the general population (in values if not in dress) and that does affect my perception but that’s no excuse for me perpetuating stereotypes.

          1. Emily, admin extraordinaire*

            Oh, we’re definitely more conservative than mainstream! If you’re following the guidelines/BYU dress codes, etc. then skirts/shorts should be at least knee length, tops/dresses need at least cap sleeves, cleavage and low-cut backs are out, and tight clothing in general is frowned upon. But necks, ankles, and elbows are all totally fine for the majority of Mormons. ;) In fact, I’m showing all three in my outfit today (granted, my ankles are only showing because I’m sitting down and my slacks ride up)! Occasionally you’ll get people who go even farther, even in the actual LDS Church (as opposed to the offshoots like the various polygamist sects), but they’re the ultra-orthodox ones and definitely don’t represent a majority of practicing Mormons.

    15. LR*

      I work for an org with branches in Afghanistan and Palestine where as far as I know pretty much everyone is Muslim, and this behavior wouldn’t fly in those offices either.

    16. Lora*

      My dad’s side of the family is a mix of Old Order Amish and Mennonite. They don’t yell at people for dressing any old how, they figure “English” do all kinds of odd stuff and it’s not their problem. So I have zero sympathy. I actually immediately thought of the ultra-orthodox Jewish guy who threw a hissy because a lady who happened to be a Holocaust survivor was sitting next to him on the plane. There’s a lot of religious options here, seems like.

      The boss can wear whatever HE wants for his religion. That’s his personal problem.

    17. Jessie the First (or second)*

      “so many commenters here be so quick to jump on a rather ugly bandwagon”

      What bandwagon? Where are you seeing comments that make inappropriate or nasty comments about whatever this man’s religion might be? Where are you seeing stereotyping?

      All I see is anger that this boss is behaving in a sexist (and illegal, likely) manner towards his direct report, and anger that whatever his personal beliefs are for his own life and family, those beliefs have no place in the workplace, and that there is no justification for attempting to impose his personal morality regarding women and their dress on his female direct report.

      I don’t know what religion you think the boss is – I have no idea, because there are half a dozen I can think of off the top of my head that have ‘rules’ regarding women’s dress – and I have no idea where you are seeing nasty comments about whatever religion you think he is in the comments.

      1. aebhel*

        It’s not in evidence; I’ve seen not a single nasty comment about the boss’s religion, and most of the comments I have seen, frankly, are assuming that he’s a Christian evangelical (which was also my assumption, tbh).

    18. ArtK*

      Assumes facts not in evidence.

      The boss could be a member of any number of sects that require women to dress “modestly.” Some evangelical sects; Mormonism (again, some sects); Orthodox Judaism; Islam (yet again, some sects.) I’m certain that there are many more.

      In any case, the particular religion or other motivation doesn’t matter. It’s sex discrimination and it doesn’t belong in the workplace. That’s where the hate is, not for the particular motivation.

    19. Observer*

      Oh, spare me!

      The ugly backlash you talk of is largely due to people like you who try to defend the indefensible, and the attempts by some to enforce their religion on the wider population.

      As an Orthodox Jew who has experienced antisemitism and whose parents have faced REAL religious persecution (like actually facing prison for being religious) this is total malarky. (I’d use a stronger term but I don’t want to cause Allison more work.)

      He is not facing backlash for being religious. He is not being asked to do anything contrary to his religion. He is not facing the slightest push back for HIS religious behavior. He is not being persecuted in any way shape or form. He is not even facing the slightest negative impact because of HIS religious behavior.

      What he is doing is NOT “insensitive”. It is a BLATANTLY ILLEGAL attempt to enforce his religion ON OTHER PEOPLE.

    20. Tea*


      Being a member of a persecuted religious class (and I say this as a member of another persecuted religious group) doesn’t exempt you from being a humongous flaming turd pile and facing righteous anger and consequences as a result. People who belong in oppressed groups don’t get a pass for their bad, bigoted, oppressive behavior, and they don’t get to opt out of consequences (backlash, outrage, anger) because they belong to an oppressed group.

    21. FiveByFive*

      Lots of misinterpretation of my comment followed by a complete derail.

      The behavior OP describes should stop.

      I am not assuming a particular religion. Others are.

      There has been anger in some responses. That is fine.

      As should always be the case, be careful making angry posts based on assumptions.

      That is all.

      1. Some Sort of Management Consultant*

        You were opening yourself up to A LOT of misinterpretations with the way you formulated your comment.

      2. M Bananas*

        Your original comment read:
        “Can we chill with the anger re: #2? Of course this is an assumption, but *I* read the letter as the boss being of a certain religion that is facing a great deal of persecution in the western world.”

        Isn’t this you assuming a particular religion (though not naming it)?

        I find it hard to understand how you can accuse the commentarait that ” it’s really disappointing to see so many commenters here be so quick to jump on a rather ugly bandwagon that’s unfortunately gaining momentum in recent months.” and then frown upon their reaction or push-back as derailing the conversation.

      3. Havarti*

        “Lots of misinterpretation of my comment followed by a complete derail. “
        If you say so.

        “The behavior OP describes should stop.”
        You didn’t actually say anything about the manager’s behavior needing to stop. You wrote: “Maybe sensitivity training is in order” and then mentioned how disappointed you were at the other commenters. Which is really the core part of your message. The manager’s behavior was secondary. Everything else you wrote was about how you perceived the reactions of the commenters.

        “I am not assuming a particular religion. Others are.”
        But you did assume: “Of course this is an assumption, but I read the letter as the boss being of a certain religion that is facing a great deal of persecution in the western world” Oops!

        There has been anger in some responses. That is fine.
        I’m so glad you’re giving your fellow commenters permission to be angry. If you’re talking about anger at the manager, that is not in your jurisdiction to permit or consider acceptable or not for all you may have an opinion. If you’re talking about anger directed at you, then perhaps you should think more carefully before going DEFCON 1 on the unnecessary pearl-clutching.

        As should always be the case, be careful making angry posts based on assumptions.
        You’re just as guilty so either admit you’re doing some elaborate trolling or please own up to what you originally wrote. And Alison does an excellent job moderating so I’ll admit I don’t really see the need for you to step in and make drama where there wasn’t any to begin with. Thank you and have a great day! :)

        1. FiveByFive*

          You are nitpicking. I said sensitivity training is in order, which clearly means the behavior must stop. I admitted my assumption right from the start (everybody makes assumptions) but I did not *state* an assumption, whereas others did. That, conjoined with the vitriol, I found to be problematic. Please back off.

          1. LBK*

            I honestly haven’t seen any vitriol except what’s been directed at you after you seemingly intentionally stirred the pot.

          2. LBK*

            Also it’s pretty BS splitting hairs to say you made an assumption, clearly imply what that assumption was by saying the religion you assumed was persecuted in the western world, and now act as though it’s not clear what you meant. You’re dancing around semantics and I can’t figure out why other than to annoy people.

          3. Observer*

            No she is not. You said something. Then you claimed you didn’t. You failed to say something. Then you claimed you did say it.

            If you don’t want people to direct anger at you, don’t say things that you should know will provoke legitimate anger. And it it was a mistake, then acknowledge your mistake, apologize and move on. Most of the posters here will, too.

            Doubling down and blaming all and sundry for your actions isn’t going to get you anywhere, unless you’re a troll.

      4. LBK*

        This comment makes no sense. The religion assumed here doesn’t change the reaction – Muslim, Christian, Jewish, Pastafarian, whatever, you don’t get a pass on being criticized for sexist behavior just because it’s in the name of a religion around which there might be certain cultural sensitivities.

        If you disagree with that, please be more direct instead of continuing to post these obnoxious, coy, condescending comments.

    22. Artemesia*

      If he is of that currently beleaguered religion (and I suspect he is actually from the group leading the beleaguer) then he should get set down hard for imposing his religious views on his female subordinates. Allowing this to continue makes it worse for people of his religion who are being accused of trying to impose their religious rules on the country.

      1. FiveByFive*

        But I’m not saying it does.

        A few months ago there was a letter about someone who wouldn’t shake hands with women due to their religion. It was handled much more delicately in the comments than this one. I guess things change.

        1. LBK*

          I don’t think they’re comparable situations; they might stem from equally sexist ideals but one’s mostly about controlling your own behavior and the other is about controlling someone else’s.

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            And we’re talking about a manager, someone who’s in a position of power over the person he’s doing this.

            Five by Five, it might be worth reading over your original post to understand the reactions you’re getting to it.

        2. fposte*

          But you *are* saying it matters–you’re talking about negative attention toward Mormons/Muslims/Conservative Jews/whatever you had in mind and that this is a bandwagon. You brought it up the treatment of this group because you think the negative public attention is relevant. And I’m telling you it’s not. I’m not suggesting punching anybody in the face; I’m just saying there are important differences in these situations that make this attempt to enforce illegal requirements on an employee an egregious violation that a company needs to deal with ASAP for self-protection.

        3. Shelby*

          Huge difference. Shaking hands with women is a restriction HIS religion places on HIM. This guy is trying to force his subordinate to alter her otherwise professional and office-acceptable conduct to conform with his religious principles.

        4. aebhel*

          If a man doesn’t want to shake my hand because his religion prohibits it, that’s something we can certainly work around. He’s practicing his own religion, not forcing me to participate in it.

          If a man–especially my boss–expects me to cover myself from head to toe because that’s how women in his religion are required to dress, that is not even slightly the same thing. He would be enforcing his own religious beliefs and practices on me, and that is not okay.

        5. FiveByFive*

          Of course it’s not a perfect comparison. I’m simply talking about general tone and attitude in the comments. Clearly I touched a nerve and any point I’ve attempted to make is being lost. C’est la vie.

          1. TootsNYC*

            No, any point you were attempting to make is being rejected.

            And no, it’s not being misunderstood, because we can see all of the nuances of what you wrote, and we reject them all.

            1> We reject your assertion that people here are condemning the religion itself.
            2> We reject your assertion here that very many people have assumed what this religion is (many people have guessed, but almost all of them have themselves stated that it is a possibility; there has been a LOT of discussion about how many different religious groups, some of them very small, could be the one in questoin)

            So really, we are rejecting your assertions about us.

    23. aebhel*

      No? OP doesn’t specify what religion the boss is, and Islam isn’t the only one that enforces modesty standards. In my neck of the woods, this is a lot more likely to be an Evangelical–especially given how brazen and explicit he’s being about it. Members of minority religions are usually a bit more circumspect.

      Whatever his religion, the boss does not get to enforce the modesty standards thereof on his female employees, and it’s offensive and sexist that he’s trying. As a woman, I’m absolutely allowed to get angry about that, and frankly to be angry about the suggestion that a sexist boss ought to be treated with kid gloves because he might be a member of a minority religion.

      1. FiveByFive*

        “Does not get to enforce”.

        So really, no matter how many times I clarify, y’all will continue to insist I believe the dress code enforcement is OK.

        Good grief.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          You posted a message that was universally interpreted by commenters as meaning one thing (and by me as well). If you’e upset by how people are taking it, I think it makes sense to realize that you didn’t communicate what you intended to communicate.

        2. aebhel*

          Are you having issues with reading comprehension, here?

          I’m genuinely not trying to be nasty, but you seem to be accusing all of the other commenters here of doing something I’ve only seen you do, which is cherry-picking random sentences out of comments and removing them from context.

          I’m not insisting that you believe that dress code enforcement is okay. But you said with your very own words that it is inappropriate for people to be angry about the boss’s behavior, and raised the possibility that the boss is a member of a minority religion as a reason that it is inappropriate. I categorically disagree with that assertion. The boss’s behavior is offensive regardless of where it stems from, and I and other commenters are well within our rights to be offended by it. It is not ‘jumping on a rather ugly bandwagon’ to express that we are offended by it.

          You’ve gone out of your way to coyly talk in circles around what you’re actually saying. Playing the ‘oh, I’m being misunderstood’ card when nearly everything you’ve said has been of the ‘nudge nudge wink wink well we all know what religion we’re talking about, don’t we?’ variety strikes me as dishonest.

          And frankly, assuming that a sexist, controlling, modesty-obsessed man MUST be Muslim is, uh, not quite as progressive a position as you seem to think it is.

    24. Biff*

      Uh no.

      I’m part of a religion that has some subsets of folks who dress modestly (I’m in that subset.) We’re also under some pressure where I am. (Just did run into that at work on Tuesday. Crap.) Here’s the deal, my religion says NOTHING about the outside world adhering to my standards. At all. In fact, it sort of implies heavily that they should wear what pleases their god/gods.

      I won’t lie, I truly wish sometimes that people would just put on some clothing and not flash everything, but once they’ve hit the appropriate level for the venue, I’ve got no say, and I know it. To take this a step further, it’s pretty awkward when people who aren’t my religion wear our garb. (I encountered a man dressed as a priest at an event, thought he WAS a priest… cue awkward backpedaling.) I would never encourage someone to wear it who wasn’t swinging that direction anyway.

      What this guy is doing is pure jerkassery, not well-meaning extremism.

  39. Nervous Accountant*

    #3 is pretty interesting and I’ll be keeping an eye on this discussion. I was posting about this in an open thread I think about two weeks ago, and something I’m kind of going through right now–not hiring a replacement but rather our job titles are being advertised at 65k with 3+ years of experience & a professional license (which I have). So it’s very likely that the next person who gets hired has a salary way higher than mine. It is particularly upsetting that us “veterans” are not worth the same as the shiny new people.

    1. Artemesia*

      In many settings the only way to get paid what you are worth is to get a new job. Some companies have explicit rules about giving more than X% in a promotion and others just take you for granted. I know someone getting huge raises because the company is afraid of losing his important talents, but that is sort of rare.

  40. LiveAndLetDie*

    OP2, I hope you go straight to HR and report what you’re witnessing. Your manager is opening the company up to lawsuits, and all it will take is someone less timid than his current target to cause a firestorm.

    OP5, one of my predecessors in my role (which has changed significantly in the 5 years I’ve held it, not to mention this predecessor had someone in between themselves and me holding the job who ALSO changed the role significantly) recently farmed my LinkedIn and the woman’s in between us and created a completely false description of her own role here based on the two of our LinkedIn profiles. People are pretty brazen! But I’m also sure that if anyone ever calls her references here about it, they’ll find out real fast that when the role was hers, it was mostly a timeclock-scheduling supervisory role, and that all of the systems she claims to be experienced in now weren’t in use at the time…

  41. Imaginary Number*

    OP #2: I totally agree with Alison, assuming you’ve seen these comments in person. I was in a situation once where something blew up because an individual assumed that a person of a particular religion was uncomfortable with something (they weren’t) and the game of telephone turned that into “religious person is demanding not to work with women” (he wasn’t.)

  42. Wacky Teapots*

    OP#2- I know this may be difficult but please please please report this to HR. I am a woman and as a new grad I had to put up with so much in my first job. You don’t know what you don’t know sometimes. Imagine if this was your mother or sister. I’m praying that it goes well for you both!

  43. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

    #3 – if you were staying aboard and they asked you to hire someone who would be over you – that’s one thing, in this circumstance it doesn’t apply.

    When you resigned – did they attempt to counter-offer? The fact that you were going overseas to a dream job might have prevented them from doing so.

    In any event, they have redesigned the slot – and are looking for someone like you – with a little more experience / if possible ! / but they’re willing to pay.

    I would go along with the replacement/training. Yes, they have probably come to their senses – your work was worth more than they were paying you , and so they are fixing that. Normally if you were going to another company locally, same position, much more money, in this situation they’d ask “hey let’s talk. We might be able to do something about your compensation.”

    But because it involved a move on your part – well, you got them to change their ways, and you’ve committed to your new situation – so there was likely no counter to keep you.

  44. Nanc*

    OP2, are any of you reacting in the moment when the boss starts in on the way your co-worker is dressed? If you’re not comfortable confronting him, at the very least you could respond neutrally by saying something like “the out fit meets the dress code” or “wow” ( I love a flat “wow” it says I don’t agree and I can’t believe you’re saying that without being accusatory.) At the very least, everyone on the team (if they agree) should let your co-worker know that the manager is a jerk and if she wants to go to HR you all are willing to back her up. If no one has responded in the moment or let her know this privately she may feel it’s her word against his and as he’s the manager, he’ll win.

    I know we’d all love an update on this.

    1. Jaybeetee*

      I don’t know if the “flat wow” would help here, since the boss seems pretty oblivious to how inappropriate he’s being. (JMO, but “wow” works best when one can presume the person knows their transgression but are forgetting themselves for whatever reason. Otherwise it’s just you being shocked, and they may not be sure why). But I do agree that OP and his colleagues should be saying something in the moment – not necessarily pitching battle, but yeah, just saying “She’s adhering to the office dress code”, “The rest of us have our arms exposed too – it’s hot in here”, “The dress code doesn’t require her to wear an ankle-length skirt”, or somesuch, which puts the boss on notice that he’s doing something inappropriate without turning it into a war (immediately – a full-on war might have to come later, but start with smaller stuff first).

      1. PepperVL*

        The wow might not do much for the manager, but it will let the co-worker know he’s noticed the issue and is on her side.

        The manager needs to be handled through HR. The intent of in the moment comments at this point would be to support the co-worker.

    2. TootsNYC*

      There’s that point! (I came and made it just below)

      Even just being a bit questioning: “Really? It’s just like what Jane in Accounting wears. Huh!” And walk off.

      Any tiny pushback–and more if you think you can.

      (and yes, pls, an update if you can)

  45. The Supreme Troll*

    For OP#2’s female coworker: I’m surprised the boss hasn’t asked to see what style of underwear tops & bottoms she was wearing. And then, of course, he would make a judgement call of whether they are inappropriate or not.

    But seriously, she absolutely should go to HR with examples of his ridiculous assessments. This is not only discrimination, but appears to have some sexual connotations. (However, I really can’t say if it is sexual harassment in the legal sense).

  46. TootsNYC*

    On letter #2: sexist dress code

    I’m having trouble finding if this has been said before, so apologies if it has.

    Two points:

    The OP owes it to his company to take this to HR. This is a lawsuit waiting to happen, for one.
    And this employee will probably look to leave right away, which means the company will have to recruit all over again. And if this manager hires another woman into that low-level spot, she’ll end up leaving too soon too.

    Approach it that way. “I’m alerting you because I know you would want to avoid these problems.” Stress that you haven’t spoke to the victim, and that you don’t know how she’d feel about your actions—that you are of course concerned for her, but mostly your visit is about alerting the company to a potential problem. Just as you would talk to someone if you saw indicators of fraud, or racist behavior. Because you’re on the company’s side.

    You can say something in the moment. And I think you should. It would be WAY more useful to the junior employee, and it might start changing the guy’s reactions even before HR steps in.
    I get he’s your boss, and you don’t want to end up w/ a boss who thinks ill of you. But you don’t have to make it a confrontation.

    Be quizzical. When you overhear, just say, “Really?” in a casual, quizzical tone.

    Or : “That’s funny. I see the other women here dressed exactly like this. Are you sure that’s a company requirement?”

    I suppose you could say, “I guess you’re just trying to give her life advice, but since you’re her boss, it really sounds like you’re giving her orders. That could be a problem, because you don’t tell us guys to not have bare arms. Have you checked that with the HR handbook?”
    That’s riskier–it’s more peer-to-peer.

    There’s also the (slightly riskier, but not that much) dry, “You know she’s not in your religion, right?” And walk off.

    Even these small one-sentence comments, whatever you think you can do, can make a big difference. You’ll send the message to the female colleague that you don’t agree, that this guy is outside the norm.
    And you might slow him down, or make him think twice, as well.

    1. The Other Katie*

      Even if she were of the same religion, it wouldn’t be her boss’s job to police her religious observance. That needs to be shut down, and fast.

      1. Backroads*

        Ooh, I had an event once I still get a little hotheaded about when the memory comes up. I was in my early twenties, having been in the professional world for a couple of years. I was a teacher, so I used my summers to return to my summer job of working at summer camp because it rocks. My camp job was switched at the last possible moment by my desperate boss looking for “anyone adult who can swim and has had lifeguard training ever”. I wound up spending a week at Camp School learning how to run a waterfront.

        So… this meant I spent a lot of my time wearing a swimsuit. I brought a couple of functional suits, hardly of the sexy/scandalous variety.

        Well…. one of the teachers here happened to share my faith. We’re LDS (mainstream Mormon) with a tendency toward modest dressing but hardly fundamentalist Christian level. One day, he decided to chide me about my swimsuit not being high enough on my chest.

        Ooh, but I went teacher-voice on him and chewed him out. In truth, I think he was just trying to start a conversation and it came out awkwardly, but still ultimately inappropriate.

        1. TootsNYC*

          though, not cool to start a conversation by talking about your body, or your chest.

          And not pleasant to start a convo with a criticism.

  47. The Other Katie*

    OP#1, are you writing a whole new resume for each job? That’s not really necessary. You should take a core resume and edit it to suit, for example by highlighting relevant experience and skills or changing wording to be consistent with what’s in the job announcement, but you don’t need a whole new one each time. You’re probably driving your friends and family nuts. Save the peer review for when you really need it!

    1. RB*

      If not from overseas, then I am flabbergasted. I can’t even with this one. Especially since the letter stated that they are not a religious organization, nor affiliated with any religion.

  48. LS*

    OP2, as others have made clear, this is incredibly inappropriate. It’s great that you’ve picked up on it and are prepared to intervene.

    I’d like to clear up one super important thing – it wouldn’t make a difference if she *was* the same religion as him. (In fact, that could make it _more_ difficult for her to stand up for herself, and _more_ important for HR to step in.) That would not entitle him to police her religious observance.

    I dress conservatively for religious reasons and I wouldn’t dream of imposing my personal dress code on a colleague of any faith or gender. Not my business.

  49. Omnishambles*

    OP 2
    Thank you for being willing to come forward about this. I agree with most of the advice already given, but I just wanted to raise a couple more points:

    You need to report this guy on your own behalf. If this boss can’t keep his religion out of the workplace on this highly visible issue, what – and who – else will he be prejudiced against? Divorcees? Single, sexually active people? Anyone who’s ever taken a drink, or recreational drugs? People with disabilities? Anyone from the ‘wrong’ religion(s), or no religion? People with different political beliefs, or different views on big issues? Because I could definitely see this guy having the kind of personal issues and unprofessionalism that could quickly turn your workplace into a game of scapegoats vs golden child(ren).

    Also, because this modesty thing is deeply insulting to men as well as women. The man-hating ‘logic’ behind these kinds of modest dress rules always seems to be:
    Seeing an attractive person gives me, a man, boner-thoughts; having boner-thoughts is against my religious beliefs; I cannot be expected to control my own boners or have the moral strength to stick to my own religion, for I am but a weak and feeble man. Therefore! Random women must take responsibility for controlling my boner-thoughts and keeping my faith on track for me, by never doing anything boner-inspiring or attractive to any man ever!

    Which – how insulting to men is that?! This whole framework sucks, where men apparently are, IDK, child-like? Animalistic? Sub-human? Second class citizens? Unable to be fully civilised human beings responsible for their own thoughts, actions, and boners. I hate the idea that men are this weak or fragile or incapable of having faith (or morals or ethics or whatever) and sticking to them. Especially when the vast majority of men are demonstrably able to control themselves, and their boner-thoughts, and behave professionally at work and in society in general.

    (I mean, the whole concept that faith is a fragile thing, delicate as spun glass, that needs to be protected from all threats and shocks by being kept in the social equivalent of a climate controlled bank vault is just hugely insulting to everyone, but that’s a rant for another blog.)

  50. Former Employee*

    I am late to comment, so I realize that no one may even see what I’m writing. However, I have an additional concern, regarding the boss with the dress code requirements, which is that he doesn’t want women on his team/in his department. That could end up causing another problem for the company if it turned out that he found “reasons” why no woman was ever qualified to work for him.

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