update: my employee is refusing to travel because her husband said she can’t

Remember the letter-writer in March whose employee was refusing to go on business trips because her husband didn’t want her to and her religion required her to obey her husband? They’d also gotten rid of her car because “queens don’t drive”? Here’s the update.

The situation got worse before it got better, and my boss didn’t want to take much action. My boss felt this was out of the norm for the employee so maybe it was a phase that would pass and she wouldn’t let me take any action beyond verbal warnings and write-ups for behavior obviously against the handbook. She was also afraid that the employee would bring a religious discrimination suit against us, which are usually not settled in favor of the employer in our state (for Christianity anyway).

A lot of folks in the comments were worried the employee was being abused — I don’t have any evidence that she wasn’t a willing participant, but I did post fliers in the bathrooms about an abuse hotline, just in case. (Also, there were some comments veering into Islamaphobia on the original post. I want to note for the record this person is a fundamentalist Christian in the American south.)

I started with the issue of the employee getting anxious and not working as soon as her husband pulled into the parking lot because it seemed easiest to tackle. She said she just didn’t want to make her husband wait on her, but insisted it wasn’t an issue for her work. Talking to her about it did not help. She kept getting jittery every day (and still leaving as soon as he got there) so I moved her to an interior desk away from the windows, which helped for a couple weeks but she was upset that her desk was “downgraded” (not really because she wasn’t upgraded to the window to begin with, it was just open when she started).

We’re not strict on exact working hours since everyone is salaried, but there is an expectation that you’ll be around from about 8:30 am until 5:30 pm most days. She started arriving at least an hour late and sneaking out (literally telling fibs about where she was going, and leaving through the back door) two hours early. Her computer login times revealed she was only at work about 25 hours a week, instead of 40 like we expect. When confronted about it, she said she knew she was working lower hours but it was because she relied on transportation from her husband, so she had to go when he said to. I told her she needed to report to work for a full 40 hours unless she was taking documented PTO, or we would be forced to move her to a part-time non-managerial role. She complained about the “inconvenience” but she did resume normal working hours with a lot of complaining.

Then, after a new intern joined our office, she announced that as a Christian woman, she could not meet privately with any unmarried men (this only applied to the intern). In private, I asked her if the intern had done something that made her uncomfortable or if there was anything I needed to know. She said she just felt it was improper for a married woman to have “any intimacies” with single men, and strongly implied that she felt anyone who acts differently was not as virtuous as herself.

Honestly, she was acting so extreme that we couldn’t send her on a business trip even if she would have agreed. I don’t know if that was her intention or not. But to keep up morale, I took all of her trips instead, and didn’t ask anyone from her team to do it since they didn’t get the extra travel pay.

She increasingly made grumbles that she felt she needed more accommodation for her religion. She filled her desk up with crosses and scripture plaques. She started saying things like “Praise be” and “God is Good” and “Thank the Almighty Lord” to all good news (even small things like approval on a project or her lunch order arriving early). If you asked her how she was doing, it was a “blessed day” or “in his glory” or “I’m just a sinner, seeking salvation.” To project deadlines or status updates, they would be completed “as God’s will allows” or “praying to Jesus that it will be done Friday.” Every anecdote she told was about her Bible study group or church service. It was so much that even other church-going Christians were complaining that she was making them uncomfortable.

As many predicted in the comments on the original post, she resigned her job within three months, saying she and her husband decided it was improper for her to be working at all. We have replaced her role with a new hire and you can feel the relief on the team.

Thanks for everyone’s help!!

{ 818 comments… read them below }

      1. Hills to Die on*

        That woman has issues. Sometimes you can only shake your head and be grateful it isn’t you.

      1. Specialk9*

        It’s so nice when a manager who does nothing about a nightmare employee is rescued from their inactivity by the nightmare employee.

        I’d say I hope they don’t lose other employees, but honestly I’d leave a management-vacuum uncomfortable workplace like that. (And btw, one doesn’t win a lawsuit when working 62% of one’s hours and lying about it… I call avoidance shenanigans on the OP’s manager.)

        1. cobweb collector*

          I’m with you. I’m glad it all worked itself out, but things don’t always work themselves out. If you have someone in a role who isn’t or can’t do their job and everyone else is suffering, you need to be proactive and get rid of the problem. Don’t sit on your hands and wait for the problem to work itself out.

        2. Pomona Sprout*

          “And btw, one doesn’t win a lawsuit when working 62% of one’s hours and lying about it.”

          Yeah…this particular thing kind of made my eyes bug out, considering how lying and stealing* are definite no-nos in every branch of Christianity I know of. (*If working 25 hours a week while pretending to work 40 and accepting a salary based on that 40 hour work week isn’t stealing, I don’t know what it is.)

          It really offends me whaen a person who claims to be religious acts like it’s just fine to flout things like the basic rules of ethical human conduct and even the law in the name of said religion.

          1. designbot*

            When I read the original letter that she was leaving early and getting huffy when it was mentioned, I was imagining that she was slipping out 10 minutes early. But HOURS?! Nope. There is no religion that justifies doing only 2/3rds of your job.

            1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego (formerly Floundering Mander)*

              Weeeellllll, I could derail this whole thread now by mentioning some of the more alarming and extremist trends in “Christian” theology in America today. However, this is really not the right place for it. Just google dominionism, New Apostolic Reformation, and Christopher Stroop to get an idea. Of course, the flip side is that plenty of people who are affiliated with these movements are not engaged in this kind of extremist behavior or ideas. But I’ve certainly encountered people who seem to have adopted a view that their religion, and their status in it, entitles them to enjoy wealth that has been generated by other people. I could see this being extended to the notion that they are entitled to a job and salary irrespective of whether they actually perform that job.

            2. Verdana*

              “There is no religion that justifies doing only 2/3rds of your job.”

              I’ve seen people who tried to use the vineyard parable as an excuse for that. To some, the bible (or other religious text of your choice) only says what they want it to say.

              1. Chinook*

                The difference with the vineyard parable is the men hired later in the day were explicitly told they were working part of the day and were probably shocked to get a full day’s wages. This former employee did the opposite, robbed her employer and gives Christians a bad name.

                1. Kathleen Adams*

                  Just a biblical clarification (for those who are interested – those who aren’t should just skip right over this post!): The parable isn’t supposed to be Jesus’ Guide to Employee-Employer Relations. It isn’t saying “Pay everybody the same whether they work hard or not.”

                  The parable is about *God’s* grace, not employers’. :-) It’s saying that redemption is available to everybody, whether they devote their lives to obeying God or only get around to it later on. So it’s about the overwhelming abundance and generosity of God. It’s not saying “Employers, this is what you should do, too.”

        3. Artemesia*

          Me too. The whole function of management is ‘to manage’. To allow a whack job employee to roll the whole office and make everyone uncomfortable is absurd. Working 25 hours a week and lying about it; there was the moment to fire her. And many of the behaviors are grossly inappropriate in an office including ostentatious religious foofurah at her desk. It would drive me nuts that my manager won’t deal with something like this.

          1. Hey Nonnie*

            Yeah, as soon as other employees reported that she was making them uncomfortable, she was firmly in hostile environment territory. As a manager (or at least a “manager”). Hoo boy.

          2. Paquita*

            We have personal stuff in our cubes, many people have crosses, calenders, quotes, things like that. But not ‘in your face’. I myself have one of those ‘hymns on a plaque’ things. None of it interferes with doing the job!

            1. Layla*

              It sounded like she was also talking down to people and making them feel ‘less Christian’ than her. I’m picturing some kind of mean girls type scenario where she sneers at you for having the ‘wrong’ kind of plaque…

              1. Annonymouse*

                More like Amanda Bynes from “Easy A” or Mandy Moore from “Saved”.

                Full of God’s righteousness and pride in equal measures.

        4. Optimistic Prime*

          Yeah, I have to say I was thinking the same thing. I’m glad that the employee eventually left but it seems like she created an uncomfortable atmosphere for quite a while and management was unwilling to do anything about it – so the many were suffering for months because of the actions of one who wasn’t even a good employee. As an employee that would leave a bad taste in my mouth, and it would mean that for the long haul should anyone else go off the rails I know management isn’t going to do anything about it to protect me.

    1. Angus*

      Looks like this nutter solved the problem for you. Glad to hear she’s gone and not subjecting others to her nonsense.

    2. Anne (with an "e")*

      I was born and raised Christian in the Deep South and all I can say is, “Just Wow!”

  1. MuseumChick*

    Thank you for pointing out the leaning towards Islamophobia in the original comments. This kind of behavior is not limited to one group, it’s important to keep in mind. I’m happy to hear your put up information about resources for those in abusive situations.

    I hope the best for your ex-employee. I just worry that there is some level of mental/emotional manipulation/abuse happening in her marriage and possibly in her wider social circle.

    1. Kj*

      Likely. But from my experience with this kind of situation, any intervention meant to help her will be interpreted as someone “tempting her into sin.” The best you can do when you know someone in this situation is listen and when they start to struggle with the imposed rules, help them to make a decision for independence. But even that doesn’t go well 100% of the time.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        I know Alison pulled up links to posts from Marie in an earlier discussion of trying to help a coworker who’s likely being abused; someone might be able to find them. The gist being that a calm “huh, that’s unusual” was about as much as you could do–provide an outside perspective that this isn’t universal and just how things are, but not get in and tell them they’re obeying the wrong person and they need to obey you instead.

    2. Elizabeth West*

      Living where I live, my first thought when I read the original letter was not that they were Muslim but evangelical Christians. And frankly, any extreme religious views can be oppressive even if entered into willingly and can tip over very easily into abusive situations.

        1. Gadfly*

          I’m assuming this was meant to be funny, but historically there has been abusive potential there too. Human beings seem quite capable, unfortunately, of using ANY deeply held belief to grind down others.

          1. Cat*

            Yep, Buddhists are currently massacring Muslims in Burma, so… any faith, no matter how peaceful, can be used in terrible ways

            1. Julia*

              Extreme buddhists also starved themselves to death over very long time periods and then basically buried themselves alive, so I’m not sure I find that very peaceful.

        2. Batshua*

          .oO(Are you really Taoist? If so, I’m super interested in any resources you might have that are in English and are geared toward beginners.)

      1. Lil Fidget*

        Yeah, it’s so tough in these situations to decide what’s abuse / brainwashing / a consensual relationship that is outside the norms. I’d say that the husband is sabotaging her career and that her getting so “antsy” about him waiting for her is a huge red flag … but if this is what she wants, who am I to judge? Just lucky OP that this person quit and it’s not OP’s circus, not OP’s monkeys anymore.

      2. Dust Bunny*

        same here. I mean, I’m in a big city where this would be pretty abnormal, but it’s definitely known.

        This is what that Duggar thing is all about: Submissive stay-at-home wives.

          1. NorthernSoutherner*

            I thought of the Duggars, too. And the way they guilted Josh’s wife Anna into taking him back. All the heavy lifting to maintain ‘cleanliness’ is on the women’s backs in these ‘religions.’

        1. Venus Supreme*

          I’m picturing the former employee in OP’s letter to be like Gretchen Chalker/the other mole women from Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt

          1. Indoor Cat*

            ^^^yep, I got a Gretchen vibe too. “I’m proud to be brainwashed. I’ve got a clean brain. You could eat off it.”


      3. Optimistic Prime*

        I’m from the South as well and my first thought was also evangelical Christian, not Muslim. I was surprised that there seemed to be so many people in the original comments who didn’t realize there are multiple Christian sects that do this kind of stuff.

        1. Annabelle*

          That surprised me too. I live in the Deep South and this stuff is everywhere. Granted, I’m also an Arab woman and, though I’m not religious in any sense, lots of mainstream Christians have lamented to me about how terrible Islam must be for women. The misconception that only Muslims have oppressive sects is a depressingly common one.

        2. ByLetters*

          Ditto my first thought. Would never have thought about it as Islam — if for no other reason than the public announcement of IT’S BECAUSE IT’S MY RELIGION. I don’t know if this is just in the Bible Belt South, where I’ve grown up, but the really staunch Christian groups are really, really vocal about things being BECAUSE RELIGION THAT’S WHY. Like, you know those jokes about people who do crossfit? And how they talk about it all the time? Yeah.

          May be because it’s a majority religion so they feel comfortable / safe shoving it in people’s faces — not sure, but it’s something I’ve personally noticed. (And found SUPER uncomfortable to be around, in the workplace and otherwise. I’ve literally been in CHURCHES that weren’t as obsessed as this woman and similar people that I’ve met.)

        3. Charisma*

          I live in the liberal ole Pacific Northwest and I’ve come across more than my fair share of Fundy Christians who live and believe in this lifestyle to varying degrees. Even non-religious people who live this type of life-style. I personally find it quite irksome, I have a very low tolerance for these heavily skewed power dynamics, especially when they favor the traditional male. These guys usually don’t like me much.

        4. Effective Immediately*

          I’m really not surprised; there is a broad swath of folks across the political spectrum who believe Islam is more inherently patriarchal than other religions. It’s pretty grotesque and ahistorical, honestly.

        5. SighSureOkay*

          I live in the Midwest. I have encountered this when I worked in health care, education and in a research lab. Right now I have a co worker who is saying she can not meet alone with men for a meeting/conference/whatever in a room with no one else in attendance.

          So…all 1:1 meetings with her are done in a common space with all the ambiance of a middle school cafeteria. She is married and goes to one of the mega (over 5K members) Christian church in my area. It is one of the church’s teachings.

          This belief isn’t that uncommon. I live in the biggest metro area in the state. Been working since 1982, and figured I have encountered this situation about 10 times. It’s loads of fun when the husband calls up and says he’s getting his wife (doesn’t matter if she’s excused to leave or not).

          *All the jobs required at least a BA/BS degree. It’s not like they were working at the Quik Pik Mart.

          When VP Pence says he’s unable to dine alone with a woman who’s not his wife in a 1:1 setting, why is anyone shocked about this siutation?

      4. IForgetWhatNameIUsedBefore*

        I live in overwhelmingly suburban Southern California and my mind went immediately to fundamentalist/evangelical Christians.
        But I’m old enough to remember Phyllis Schlafly, Anita Bryant, the Moral Majority, Right to Life, PMRC, and many other conservative & Christian extremists that made the news in their day. It’s not Muslims I’m wary of.

    3. Bess*

      Sounds like a lot of Christian groups I grew up with–funny that some people leapt right to the Muslim faith. My denomination wasn’t quite that intense but this kind of thing is really much more common in US Christianity than folks realize.

      1. Jesca*

        Yes, and it definitely depends on where you live as well. Here, the more rural you get, the more pronounced it is with Christianity.

        Now, my ex was an Orthodox Jew. These dynamics were at play in some relationships I had witnessed, but it was a lot less pronounced than in the some of the more rural Christian relationships I have witnessed. But what is interesting is that for both of these severely Orthodox groups, they really did not venture outside of their respective communities for employment is they were strict. I think that was what struck me the most in this situation.

        With that said, I did once work for a midsize company where the owners were Muslim. There the more strict Muslim women and men were accommodated. As in, Muslims who believed women and men cannot sit together were never put in those positions. These rules even applied in the break room. It was an interesting experience. I definitely was the minority in that situation. But on that point, if those posters have experience with strict Islamic beliefs especially regarding Haram, I can definitely see why they would draw those conclusions. (particularly if they have not been exposed to very devout rural Christianity).

            1. Jesca*

              Well that was the downside of that culture. I could sit with anyone because I was literally looked at as being “less than” and not a woman or a man (sad to say, but yes that was how it was described to me – it wasn’t just me either. It was any non-Muslim). So I could go to meetings and eat with whomever I wanted. But the woman? They were never promoted and only allowed to stay in their low level admin roles so as to not embarrass their husbands.

              Caveat: This is very outside the norm of many other Muslims I have met and are friends with, and even they are shocked to here about the rules of this place.

              1. Panda Bandit*

                “They were never promoted and only allowed to stay in their low level admin roles so as to not embarrass their husbands.”

                Ugh, this is all about coddling the men’s fragile egos.

              2. Anon for this*

                That’s extreme and extremely unusual. I worked in Afghanistan a few years ago and none of the local staff I worked with there were that strict about it, so it’s really hard to imagine it elsewhere.

        1. NorthernSoutherner*

          “my ex was an Orthodox Jew.” The *big* difference being that Jews are not out to convert the world or die the way these extreme ‘Christians’ are. Not surprised some people thought ‘Muslim’. They’re different sides of the same coin.

      2. Liz*

        I assumed Nation of Islam because the husband referred to his wife as a queen. In my call center days, many of my co-workers were urban black single women. All had dated NofI guys at some point. They started very nice, then became very controlling.

        One of my home health clients was a Fundamentalist who listened to a lot of religious talk radio. After years of listening to that, I can totally see a Fundamentalist Chrtian acting the same: starting nice, then very controlling because “that’s what the Bible says.”

        I didn’t like hearing preachers all day long, but the religious music stations were much, much worse.

      3. nonegiven*

        It made me think of my uncle. That stuff messed up his kids, they didn’t turn out well. They were in the upper midwest, not the south. His wife always had this hairstyle that seemed to be required by their religion because they all wore it like that.

        He wouldn’t let his daughters wear pants, aside from the shorts he made them wear under their skirts. The one thing that changed his mind about that was he happened to be driving by while one of his daughters was walking home from high school and caught a carload of guys cat calling her. After that she wore long pants to school.

        1. Noobtastic*

          Although I’m glad she was able to wear the more practical pants, I doubt very much it will stop catcalling. The only way to truly stop her from being subject to catcalling is to keep her home, entirely.


    4. Emi.*

      I was surprised by that since I don’t remember anyone saying anything worse than “She could be Muslim” and talking about QE2 driving the King of Saudi Arabia around, so I went back and checked and I still couldn’t find anything Islamophobic (just a huge anti-Evangelical snarkfest, and now round 2). But I was just going on Ctr+F “Muslim” and “Islam” so maybe I missed it–can anyone help me out?

      1. Anion*

        I didn’t see it, either, and frankly rolled my eyes at that part of the update. Like, thanks for the side of finger-wagging/castigation along with the update. Guessing that one religion whose fundamentalist extreme is horribly oppressive to women might be the one mentioned isn’t any different from guessing another religion whose fundamentalist extreme is horribly oppressive to women might be the one mentioned; there’s nothing “phobic” about guessing it might be one or the other.

        1. Artemesia*

          The fundamental of fundamentalisms of most stripes, whether Jewish, Islamic, Christian or other is oppression of women. They are all pretty much aligned on women being subordinate and submissive and from my perspective, not actual human beings.

        2. Mary*

          >> Guessing that one religion whose fundamentalist extreme is horribly oppressive to women might be the one mentioned isn’t any different from guessing another religion whose fundamentalist extreme is horribly oppressive to women might be the one mentioned; there’s nothing “phobic” about guessing it might be one or the other.

          If one group is a majority with the government guarding their rights and the other is a minority experiencing government oppression (like, say, being targeted for a travel ban), there *is* a difference.

          1. NorthernSoutherner*

            We’re talking about the social/family structures of these ‘religions’ and the fact that the women-are-carp verbiage being spewed could have been one or the other.

          1. Not Australian*

            Not sure she’s done it since, though; give her a 1942 Army lorry and she’d be fine, but anything more modern and she might struggle.
            Wouldn’t put it past her to try, however…

            1. pandop*

              Modern engines need computers to fix them. The ancient landrovers that have been knocking around Balmoral or Sandringham for decades though – yeah, those she could probably fix ;)

        1. Artemesia*

          The whole ‘Queen’ deal is pretty much always a sign of abuse or at least dominance by the male partner.

          1. Lissa*

            Oh, interesting. I’m not really familiar with the “queen” thing, but it makes sense, seeing as how I really get squicked by guys who say things like “any woman I date will be treated like a princess”.not necessarily that they’re abusive but they tend to put women on a pedestal and then get real mad/sad/feels when women act, you know, human…

            1. Personal Best in Consecutive Days Lived*

              …Married off to a stranger to strengthen our alliance with France? ;)

            2. Julia*


              Or guys like my former co-worker who would not “let a lady carry heavy things” (do men forget how heavy babies can be??), but then turn around and yell at me because apparently, yelling at “ladies” is fine.

          2. Cool Runnings*

            No, it’s not. “Queen” is very commonly used in the black community. Please don’t paint with a broad stroke.

        2. blackcat*

          And has made a point of insisting on driving Saudi royalty around. Because she’s the queen, they can’t say no.

          1. Chinook*

            The Queen of England (and Canada) is the best at passive aggressive power moves, probably because she is not allowed to publicly state an opinion but nobody is going to tell her not to do something. She is the embodiment of actions speaking louder than words.

        3. Traffic_Spiral*

          Same here. Fun fact, not only does she drive, she’s the one person in all of England who doesn’t need a license to drive, because “Fuck you, I’m the Queen!”

          And yes, anyone who pulls that “queen” crap is usually abusive and controlling.

          1. sstabeler*

            IIRC, that was less because she’s a woman- though I do wonder if the recent decision to allow Saudi women to drive was partly inspired by it (IIRC, the main reason is because the Saud family want to both make Saudi Arabia a moderate islamic country, not a hardline one, and reinforce that they aren’t dependant on Islam for their power.)- but because she either deliberately went quicker than usual, or over rougher terrain (or both)

      2. Look, a bee!*

        Same. Tonight before reading the update I read every single comment on the original letter (found it fascinating) and didn’t see a single instance of Islamaphobia, the only thing that maybe came close was a discussion about how a particular poster would be ‘enraged’ and ‘livid’ if a Muslim store clerk refused to scan their pork products. But that seemed tangential to the original letter too so perhaps some bigoted comments were made and swiftly deleted?

      3. Kismet*

        Eh, when your first reaction is to go “Oh, she could be Muslim,” that smacks of Islamophobia. You’re reaching for the scary, foreign “other,” not the fundamentalist next door, as it were.

        1. Look, a bee!*

          Yes, but I saw way more comments assuming Christianity than comments assuming Islam on the original letter.

          1. Emi.*

            And the comments about Christianity were (and are) much nastier. Besides, that’s … a really low bar for a serious accusation like “Islamophobia.” (It also reminds me of a really interesting essay I read on Slate Star Codex about Islam isn’t as “other” to a lot of people as you’d guess–it’s called “I Can Tolerate Anything Except The Outgroup,” in case you’re interested.)

      4. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        Didn’t Alison delete some of the Islamophobic posts? (I could be misremembering, though.)

      5. cheluzal*

        Islamaphobia is a dumb SJW word…no one is afraid of Islam. It’s a reasonable assumption based on many tenets of the religion.

        1. Geoffrey B*

          You are very very wrong. One of my best friends was absolutely terrified of Islam (also of Mexican crime gangs, and African refugees). Still is, as far as I know, and plenty more like her. “Islamophobia” seems like a reasonable word to describe that.

      6. Meredith*

        I would say that the comment stating that it isn’t possible to be both Muslim and a feminist is an example of Islamophobia (and also wrong), but otherwise I didn’t spot anything obvious.

  2. Anonymous Poster*

    You could have had more fun by telling her by working only 25 hours instead of around the 40 you expect, she’s leaving work unfinished and stealing not only from the company, but her coworkers’ time.

    But whatever, thank goodness she’s gone.

    1. Office Manager*

      Ah, yes, but that would be acceptable, because her co-workers and company are not true believers, and therefore do not count. Also known as “bleeding the beast” i.e. taking advantage of people who are not part of your core group.

        1. RabbitRabbit*

          I’m sure you can dig some passage out of the Bible that says it’s a-OK to rip off “heathens/non-believers,” and they’ll gleefully use that as indication about how they’re special. If not, I’m sure they twist some verse about God telling his followers to destroy his enemies into a justification.

          1. crankypants*

            We have a huge religious group in a local town who is now under FBI investigation regarding welfare/tax fraud because of exactly this.

            1. Collarbone High*

              Are you in North Carolina?

              (If yes, *waves*. If not, I’m not surprised to learn there’s more than one group of grifters claiming “religion” as a basis for their fraud.)

              1. Susanne*

                I’m guessing crankypants is in either NJ or NY? The ultra-Orthodox Jews there are no saints (see what I did there) in terms of welfare/tax fraud. It’s an abomination.

                1. Enya*

                  Oh, yes. Lakewood, NJ has become basically an ultra-Orthodox Jewish town, and the crazy amount of tax and welfare fraud going on there makes me ashamed to be Jewish.

                2. Working Hypothesis*

                  While you’re correct about the Haredi in New York and New Jersey, they’re far from the only group which does this, so I wouldn’t *necessarily* assume that’s whom the commenting party was talking about (although it certainly could be). I’ve seen this kind of behavior out of everybody from the Amish to the Zoroastrians. Cheating people who aren’t YOUR people is an almost universal practice among those with an especially strong in-group/out-group distinction.

                3. c.m.*

                  ultra orthodox girl here (not from ny/nj): just because it is a community, you can say there is tax fraud going on. plenty of people are not honest when it comes to taxes but because you can’t point to a community as a whole it is not so noticeable. I’m not excusing their behavior, nor do I know exactly what’s going on there, but it is unfair to talk about a community like that.

                4. Anna*

                  I am an Orthodox Jew, although not “ultra-orthodox” These aren’t really official title or groups. I and everyone I know finds the cases of fraud etc abhorrent. That being said referring to a group with a generalization like “the ultra Orthodox jews are no saints” is pretty offensive. Just substitute the term “ultra Orthodox Jews” with any other ethnic or religious group…

                5. c.m.*

                  thanks hills do die on and Anna. as a hasidic girl i know everything I do is magnified 10x. for example if a regular person is rude then you just think “what a jerk”. if a hasidic person is rude suddenly ALL hasidic Jews are rude.

                6. Jesca*

                  Yeah, really. This is exists in every community. Do you know how many white people I know who commit tax and welfare fraud? It is not limited to any groups and it is certainly not like fundamentally part of Lakewood or Baltimore for that matter. I mean why even go there with a comment like this?

                7. KG, Ph.D.*

                  I was actually going to guess FLDS! This is a part of their deal, too. Under the Banner of Heaven is a fascinating book, highly recommend.

              2. puzzld*

                Or maybe one of the places dealing with FLDS sects?

                My father used to say if there were fewer “men of God” there’d be fewer poor widows and orphans. But then, he was a heathen.

                1. Pomona Sprout*

                  My mind went right to the polygamist FLDS as well. They’re pretty well known for their welfare fraud activities. Man marries multiple wives, and only the first one is married to him in the eyes of the law, so all the others apply for welfare benefits as “single mothers” as soon as they have a child. It’s a way of life for men who insist on having more wives/chilrdren than they can possibly support.

                2. c.m.*

                  Ponoma Sprout, can you please explain where there is your fraud in your example? legally they are not married, so legally the are considered single mothers. don’t confuse legality with ethics.

                3. JeanB in NC*

                  I can’t reply to c.m. directly but that FLDS thing is absolutely fraud. They are bigamists which is illegal, and then they turn around and say, well, all these women are just single parents. I think the government should crack down on them. You don’t get to eat your cake and have it too.

                4. c.m.*

                  again you are confusing LEGALITY and morality. legally, you cannot marry two women. you cannot get 2 marriage certificates from the government. but you can have as many children with as many women you want outside of a LEGAL marriage. the law doesn’t say that you cannot have children out side of a legal marriage. what they doing is not illegal. legal marriage is a document from the government. if this document does not exist in government records the couple is not married in the eyes of the law. they can claim welfare because they are not LEGALLY married. it’s not like they are doing anything illegal to have children together.

                5. HR Ninja*

                  c.m., hopefully this shows up under you, if not, sorry. Nesting and all that.

                  The legality piece comes into play because they often do not name the father on the birth certificate or say that he’s not in the picture. If the father were known then the state would go after him for child support in order to pay back a portion of the welfare the mothers are receiving. By claiming not to know him they are lying and not allowing the state to seek restitution for the welfare benefits they are laying out.
                  If the father was known and claimed, then depending on his financial situation he would be on the hook for child support based on a percentage of his income or if they admitted that he lived in the house they might not be eligible for welfare benefits at all. That’s the illegal part.

                6. Emily, admin extraordinaire*

                  Actually, the welfare fraud that’s being prosecuted against the FLDS has less to do with the bigamy/polygamy thing and more to do with the fact that recipients were required to hand over their SNAP benefits, which were then redistributed to the church as a whole, which is illegal (it has to do with the “holding all things in common” doctrine that has been practiced off and on, but mostly off since the 19th century, in the mainstream LDS church and is what we expect to happen in the millennium after Jesus’ second coming). Although the “single mother” part is sketchy as well, but not as easily prosecuted, since the marriages are “spiritual” rather than legal.

                7. Geoffrey B*

                  @c.m.: “what they doing is not illegal. legal marriage is a document from the government. if this document does not exist in government records the couple is not married in the eyes of the law”

                  It’s a bit more complex than that. Under Utah state law: “A person is guilty of bigamy when, knowing the person has a husband or wife or knowing the other person has a husband or wife, the person purports to marry and cohabitates with the other person”.

                  Note the use of “purports”. If Bob is already married to Sue, and then participates in a marriage ceremony with Jane & cohabits with her, then that’s illegal regardless of whether Bob and Jane ever tried to get their marriage legally recognised. By my understanding, the law was specifically worded to target FLDS and similar groups who were using that loophole.

                  I don’t know whether Jane is breaking the law when she claims for child support as a “single mother”, but she and Bob are definitely breaking Utah law by living together as husband and wife.

                  (I have very mixed feelings about this law, but it’s the law, and after a recent appeal which then got reversed, it looks like it’s there to stay.)

                8. Noobtastic*

                  ON the other hand, being in a polyamorous relationship, where everyone just calls the other members their “partner” or “companion” or “Snookums,” is fine, legally, because they are not “purporting” to be married.

                  So the trouble lies more in the language they use than the actual arrangement. I think that is largely because there are actual legal advantages to being married. Also, even without a civil ceremony, there is the danger of common-law marriage, which would make it bigamy, officially.

                  Frankly, I believe that if the civil marriage license had some sort of space to ensure that everyone entering into that particular marriage was aware of any other marriages, then a polyamorous marriage of fully-aware and fully-consenting adults should be legal. Bigamy laws are there to protect the poor sap who THOUGHT they were marrying an unattached person. Unfortunately, in doing so, they make it hard for the people who just want to have a polyamorous relationship.

                  I have no problem with polygamy as a concept. I do, however, have a problem with it being practiced in such a way as to subordinate so many people to a single man. But then again, I have a problem with traditional marriage being practiced in such a way as to subordinate a wife and children to the husband, so completely as the FLDS do, even in their first marriages.

                  “Paint Your Wagon” handled it quite well, IMO. Mining law. Love it.

                9. Geoffrey B*

                  @Noobtastic: I have no issue with poly marriages as an individual choice. I’ve been in poly relationships for most of my adult life; never considered myself married to more than one person, but I can certainly sympathise with it!

                  But when polygyny becomes a community standard (while polyandry remains forbidden), Very Bad Things become inevitable. If every guy in the community is expected to have at least two wives, but women can’t have more than one husband each, the only ways to make the numbers work out involve child abuse: child-brides, or “lost boys” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lost_boys_(Mormon_fundamentalism) _, or both.

                  In that scenario, it’s not enough to ensure that new brides know their husband is already married. It’s about teenage girls who are under massive pressure to marry much older men, and about teenage boys who risk being expelled from the only community they know in order to reduce the competition for wives.

                  Idealistic me says we should just target the individual abuses, but pragmatic me says that’s never going to be practical in a community whose social model requires those abuses. So, while I’m uncomfortable with Utah’s laws, I lean towards seeing it as the lesser of evils.

                  Elsewhere, I’d like to see poly marriage legal, but it’d require a LOT of legislative groundwork. All sorts of laws are built on the assumption that a person only has one spouse at a time (think survivor benefits, joint income taxes, etc. etc.) and it’d be a massive job to make those poly-compatible without unduly disadvantaging anybody.

                10. Susan Ryan*

                  The fraud is that the Husband collected all of the food stamps and sold them. Of course, the husband kept all of the money.

              3. Genevieve*

                It’s very common in some insular Hasidic communities in NY (city and state), and super common (called bleeding the beast) among FLDS–one of the reasons they often campaign AGAINST legalized plural marriage is because having their marriages not legally recognized allows them to collect certain benefits they wouldn’t be able to access otherwise.

                1. c.m.*

                  first of all I’m hasidic and I find your statements offensive. see my comments above re: hasidic community and fraud.

                  second no one yet explained what law people are breaking when they have children outside of a legal marriage and then claim welfare. in the eyes of the law, are they doing anything illegal?

            2. Kelly*

              The group could be the FLDS in southern Utah/northern Arizona or any of their outposts in the western US. The term “bleeding the beast” is what they use to justify their systemic welfare and tax fraud.

            3. Althea*

              I’m amused and sad that every reply to this comment is a guess for a different religious group committing fraud.

              1. fposte*

                Seriously. We could probably just put up the Wikipedia list of religions and be done with it.

                (I’d exempt the Church of Satan. Their Twitter feed is just too awesome.)

                1. Ego Chamber*

                  The Church of Satan or The Satanic Temple? The Temple is the one that does all the humanitarian things like stopping teachers from hitting kids in schools where that’s still legal (yes, this is a real thing) and promoting women’s rights.

                  Both are awesome at social media. :)

                2. Noobtastic*

                  Haven’t read their Twitter Feed, but many years ago, I read the first part of the Satanic Bible, and found it very interesting, and surprisingly not about worshiping Satan, at all. It was more about worshipping yourself, and being the best self you could be, because you were totally awesome, and ought to behave that way, or at least that was my interpretation of the first part of it.

                  Something like, each person is the most important person in their own world, their birthday should be their most sacred holiday, and don’t be a jackass and hurt other people, because it’s not awesome.

                  I still haven’t figured out where the actual “Satan” bit comes in, but like I said, I didn’t finish the book. Maybe that’s in the “New Testament” of the Satanic Bible?

                  At any rate, I have since differentiated between Satanist and Devil Worshipper.

                3. The Sassy Vulcan*

                  As far as I understand it, the Satan part comes in because putting oneself first is what Satan did. I mean, he doesn’t actually do anything evil in the Bible. As far as I have been able to figure out, his main crime was he led a revolt in Heaven because he was tired of living in a dictatorship. He lost, God got real mad and kicked him out. God also kills so many people in the Bible. Satan just occasionally tempts them to renounce God, like a curiosity experiment.

                  I’m no Biblical scholar, though, and it’s been a long time since I was a Christian and read the Bible (I’ve read Paradise Lost twice more recently than I last cracked a Bible). But as I understand it, that’s where Satan comes into the idea of self-worship and putting yourself first instead of bowing to authoritative God figure.

            1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

              IME they tend to cite some variation on “be not unequally yoked together with unbelievers” and twist it until it screams.

          2. CallaKid*

            I assure you, there is no such a passage. However, Jesus did say, when asked about paying taxes, to pay to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God, what is God’s. This couple is an extreme version of Christianity and probably take a lot of verses out of context. Hopefully their group is a small one and uninfluential, since they give such a bad name to our faith.

          3. Specialk9*

            There were definitely people jumping to Islam, though I seem to remember it was kind of coded (like saying “urban” to mean black, kind of code). I’ll look for it. But LW was not off, there was a lot of speculation, and people correcting that assumption that only Muslims act this way.

        2. Miso*

          We have way stricter labor laws here in Germany than in the US. Guess for whom they don’t count!
          Yupp, the churches. They can just make their own. Well, Christian churches at least…

      1. Mallory*

        “Bleeding the beast” is generally an extremist LDS term primarily referring to tax fraud and other methods to steal from the government, i.e. “the beast”. I’ve never heard it the way you describe it.

          1. Emily, admin extraordinaire*

            Yeah, pretty much one specific ultra-fundamentalist sect. Mainstream LDS teaches you to pay your taxes, do your civic duty (Article of Faith 12 specifically mentions “obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law”) and be honorable in your dealings with your fellow men.

            1. Noobtastic*

              Yep. The Mormon, or LDS, church teaches patriotism, and being subject to civil law. Yes, I am aware of the irony, considering some of the history.

              The official LDS church doctrine is NOT to commit fraud, be it against an individual or the government. Also, although the LDS church did teach polygamy, they stopped the practice, because they could no longer be at odds with the government. IF it were to become legal again, they might teach the practice, again. However, if they did, I don’t think they’d get away with teaching it in such a fundamental, submit every last bit of your humanity to your husband, lord and master, version of it. It would be more polyamory, I believe. There are certainly feminist arguments in the LDS church, but the way the FLDS church handles marriage, in general, is not how the LDS church teaches the marriage should be.

              FLDS is actually an off-shoot, and officially completely different, church. They have a different prophet, and everything.

      2. Allison*

        When I was in high school, my long-term boyfriend cheated on me. The girl he cheated with didn’t know about me when she started pursuing him, but when she learned about me, she kept going and used her faith as an excuse. See, she was a good and pure Christian girl who was devoted to Jesus, and Jesus loved her; I was an evil Pagan witch who didn’t deserve him. She got her whole religious community to support her and convinced them she was doing the right thing.

        1. Noobtastic*

          Well, he wasn’t married to you, so you had to “right” to him, and she was saving him from throwing himself away on you, I suppose?

          It may be technically true that you didn’t own him, but it’s still a jerk move, especially getting her whole community behind her like that.

      1. eplawyer*

        Pretty sure lying is one of the Big 10 Thou Shall Nots.

        Sounds like someone found a new religion and is going overboard with it. I hope she finds balance in her life.

        But man, if I were around someone who slipped religious comments into work related things I would have LOST it. Believe what you want, keep it out of the workplace.

        1. OhNo*

          I definitely would have had some choice words for any coworker who pulled even half the stuff this person did. Frankly, I’m surprised that her coworkers/team members didn’t say something, or at least lodge a complaint with management. That would have practically been my first stop as soon as she started pulling out Jesus’ name every time I asked for a status update.

          1. Alienor*

            It reminds me of that old SNL sketch where Sally Field is a super-religious lady who calls on Jesus for every little thing (“dear Jesus, please don’t let the rice be sticky”) and then Phil Hartman as Jesus appears in her kitchen to tell her to knock it off.

            1. tigerStripes*

              Sometimes I pray for things that others would probably think of as minor, but I do it silently or when I’m alone. I don’t make a show of it.

          2. Else*

            It’s hard to do that, especially in smaller communities – it’s very easy for “the righteous” to drum up support from other people for being “persecuted”. Right now a lot of fundie Christian groups are very big on claiming an identity as a persecuted people – goes along with their end-times feelings and gives them yet another avenue for proclaiming moral superiority. Even without that, people in the US have a cultural norm of default respect/deference to other people’s religious expression, at least up to a point, and it’s stronger in some places.

            1. Artemesia*

              Any disagreement with a point of view is ‘oppression’ and ‘persecution’. I have seen this in many situations. There are lots of people who embrace being persecuted.

              1. Gazebo Slayer*

                Oh man, ever seen those “incel” (“involuntarily celibate”) boards for creepy jerk guys who think it’s a horrible injustice that they don’t have a model-gorgeous girlfriend and believe the government should provide them with one? I would say “haha good times” except that those guys are actually dangerous and actually somewhat influential within the wingnuttosphere.

                1. Else*

                  Ewwww….! I’ve seen such individuals pop up here and there on comment boards and reddit, etc, but I haven’t seen such boards. However, I’m lesbian and feminist, so I’m doubly on their bad list – so I avoid.

        2. Zahra*

          Lying isn’t part of the Big 10 (apart from “Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour”), but stealing is explicitly part of them (“Thou shalt not steal”).

    2. Lil Fidget*

      This was the point where I think OP could have clearly fired this person! There’ s can’t be a reasonable religious accommodation that you have to pay someone full time for part time work, never mind promote them / uphold their raise.

      1. The Other Dawn*

        I agree. I’d say if it was just a few hours she was missing each week, I would have gone OP’s route. But 15 hours a week is a lot to miss when you’re being paid for 40. However, I’m not the OP and wasn’t in her situation, so I can only speculate on what I think I would have done.

      2. Nea*

        Yeah, I’m surprised her employment lasted longer than “She committed documented time card fraud.” Even on salary, you don’t get to sneak out the back door and claim hours worked.

    3. Liane*

      Lying, stealing, maybe coveting (more salary). There’s several violations of the 10 Commandments in her behavior. But I guess those sins are cancelled out because she always, always Obeys and Submits to Husband.
      Yeah, salvation doesn’t work that way. (I grew up Southern Baptist and am now a Methodist and a pretty liberal Methodist) Sighs and shakes head sadly…

      I found my comment to the original post and it still covers my take on the situation: This was no different than the sub who wanted her co-workers to refer to/address her boyfriend as Master. You DON’T make others part of your private relationship.

    4. Katie the Fed*

      If you try that in federal government, you get to write a check to the government for the value of the time, AND you might find yourself under criminal investigation for larceny. I’m not even kidding. I busted someone for timecard fraud when I first became a manager and he owed the government something like $15k and we referred it to the police.

      1. Emmie*

        I think that’s the right path. I am not sure why the time theft was not an immediate termination. I do not cast judgement on OP. I just would like to understand why that happened. It was a very tough situation.

        1. Liane*

          Employee wasn’t fired for time theft because OP’s boss refused to allow OP to do so “because she’ll sue for religious discrimination!”

          (The detail is easy to miss because the update is fairly long and there’s lots of comments)

    5. Close Bracket*

      > stealing not only from the company

      Sounds like she was exempt, since OP refers to changing her position to part-time, non-managerial. Exempt workers are clocked by 4 hour shifts, and if you work any part of a 4 hour shift, you are considered to have worked the entire 4 hour shift. So 5 hr days, 25 hr/wk, would meet US labor law requirements to collect your entire salary. Most companies would fire you for doing that, but it’s not stealing.

      1. Annie Moose*

        Not stealing from a legal perspective, but from a moral perspective it’s certainly not in line with the expectations of your job. I’ve heard more than one sermon on the subject of not defrauding your employer through being a bad worker!

  3. Under His Eye*

    wooooow. This woman sounds like she was auditioning to be a wife on “The Handmaid’s Tale”.

    1. Anonymous Poster*

      Reminds me of the line from Sound of Music about the novitiates, “Oh no not her, she’s simply too religious to join this convent.”

      You can be religiously observant, and not insufferable to be around.

    2. Offred*

      Totally thought of the Handmaid’s Tale as well!

      It would be frightening if it wasn’t so funny.
      …or maybe funny if it wasn’t so frightening?

      1. Pineapple Incident*

        …Definitely funny if it weren’t so frightening. I think she and her husband are either 1) SUPER BIZARRE and have a crazy outdated, sexist relationship, or 2) joking, she’s not interested in working in reality, and they’re seeing how many people they can rope into their weird gimmick..

    3. Tiny Soprano*

      IKR! All I could think was her coming into work and greeting everyone with “blessed be the fruit!”

  4. Mike C.*


    So why is working nearly half time (while recording full time) ok but talking to the intern isn’t?

    1. DCGirl*

      I once worked for a Catholic girls’ high school that was created as the result of a merger and, thus, had two different orders of nuns working as teachers and administrators. One order was markedly more pleasant, friendly, and easier to work with, and I remarked on it to a nun from that order. She told me the different was that her order was religious and the other was pious. Pious is obeying your religion to the point that shave 15 hours off your work week so that your husband isn’t sitting in the parking lot too long. Religious is understanding that stealing from your employer is wrong.

      1. Jadelyn*

        I have never heard anyone make that distinction before – religious vs pious – but wow does it make so much sense, and not just in that context. That’s perfect.

            1. Else*

              I think that the form “religiosity” is more common – I like to think of it in relation to my ostentatiously born again sister.

      2. DCGirl*

        The same nun once told me that her order talked to God about the children that they taught. The other order talked to the children about God. That’s another big difference.

    2. CityMouse*

      Conveniently forgetting “thou shalt not steal”. That kind of extreme hours fraud is theft, pure and simple.

    3. Hmmmmm*

      Because the difference between US fundamentalist Christians and other Orthodox religions is that the tenants of their faith are brand new and often being made up on the fly by the husband. It wasn’t her religion providing guidelines so much as her believing whatever her husband says at any given time is the word of God. It’s not so much a code of behavior as just straight, plain, illogical obedience. There are no rules other than the most recent demand of her husband. In her opinion, she doesn’t have official work hours. She has time at a place that she is at per the most recent instructions of her husband. There is no logic to who she can or cannot interact with, it is just her interpreting whatever the most recent opinion her husband has expressed. It’s totally nanners.

      1. Sara without an H*

        True. A lot of these churches are small and reflect the personalities of the founder/pastor and the founding members. They can be very warm and supportive, or very rigid and legalistic, depending on the personalities involved.

        And since many of them aren’t affiliated with a larger denominational structure, there’s nobody to throw a flag when things get weird.

        1. Jesca*

          This is very true. I watched a friend of a friend literally go insane by this. Her husband and herself decided to join a “fringe” church that newly formed. It definitely turned cult-like very quickly. Unfortunately her husband was already on the heavy side of narcissism and she definitely had some underlying mental health issues. It went badly. She tried to get help, but the church sent her to some radicalized intensive church rehab. She ended up trying to commit suicide when she became pregnant with her third child.

          You can always tell this radical stuff is happening, because they start making illogical demands that change rapidly. One week it was her kids couldn’t drink milk. The next she was giving them milk (while husband out of town). Then it was eating apples from outside the area. And so on and so forth. It was nuts. You could tell it was all coming from the whims of the husband. It was a hard road some of my friends took to help her see her way out of this.

          She is still not doing well, but it finally going through with the divorce. Unfortunately she just accidentally ran over a boy a few weeks ago on a back road as he stepped out into traffic. I really hope that this time she goes for actual help!

          So yes, there is belief and then there are zealots. Zealots question nothing.

        2. Artemesia*

          Being a minister is the only high status job that quite literally has no qualifications whatsoever. The person holding the role can make it up as he goes along. No education, certification, honesty or character is required.

          1. Optimistic Prime*

            That’s not true – at least, not universally true. Of course anyone can start a fringe group and there are some churches that will hire any kind of pastor, but similarly anyone can start a small unviable business if they want to. But many, many churches – especially big mainstream congregations – do have very specific requirements and qualifications for their pastors/ministers and other church leaders. Many orders have certifications and ordinations that you have to receive too before you can get them. That’s one reason why MDiv programs exist.

            You can look up ministerial guidelines of lots of groups – the Unitarian Universalist Association, United Church of Christ, and Catholic Churches of different countries list their requirements explicitly on their websites, and many smaller orders and local churches have guidelines as well.

          2. Reverendish*

            As a minister/chaplain, this isnt accurate. Yes, you have your creepers and uneducated people. However, most of us clergy (non fundamentalist Christian is my background so that’s the background I’m speaking from) have at least a bachelor and one master degree. It’s called a Master of Divinity and my program was 84 credit hours plus 1 year of field education. To be a chaplain I did a 3 month internship then a 1 year residency in a level 1 trauma center and earned a degree in counseling. Now I am working on the 2500 hours required to be eligible for my board certification interview. So it will take about 10 years to be up and running as a board certified chaplain.

            1. Indoor Cat*

              @Reverendish — I don’t think you’re technically contradicting Artemisa, though.

              Her point is (I think) that there are incredibly high-status religious leaders, with their own international TV shows, with absolutely zero credentials. Joel Osteen comes to my mind as one of the most egregious offenders. He has a BA in Radio and Television Communications, yet has one of the most successful mega-churches and religious television programs in the country. He makes millions of dollars. His “brand” of Christianity is basically whatever he feels like is true, is true.

              Now, with other high-status careers– CEO, doctor, University President, lawyer, film director–sure, any old schmo could give the hustle a shot. But there are no film directors or lawyers or CEOs with zero formal education in cinema or business or law who have the massive international success of the Joel Osteens of the world.

              And there are, frustratingly, a *lot* of Joel Osteen types. They’re incredibly financially successful and popular with their own bizarro-version of their religion, and they wield broad cultural influence to a degree that few credentialed M. Div Christian leaders can match.

              I’m religious myself! But I feel what Artemisa’s saying here. It’s too easy and too lucrative for charlatans to gain influence in this sphere.

              1. Anonymous Poster*

                Yeah, some sects it is very easy to slip in. But most churches, even fundamentalist ones, require some sort of licensing or education before considering hiring a pastor. Generally, if they’re associated with a denomination with a history of more than a couple of decades and have a multi-city presence or a presence throughout a region (At least, in my experience in DC, Michigan, Texas, and Florida), some sort of theological education and licensing by a higher body within the denomination (i.e. not just the church the pastor wants to preach at) is required.

                Granted, there are some denominations out there where this isn’t required, but it’s not necessarily within a fundamentalist denomination, it’s in some liberal churches also. An easier marker of when this may happen is if the church is formally affiliated with a larger denomination or not. If so, then it’s likely that the denomination requires a license before you’re allowed to preach.

              2. Reverendish*

                @Indoor Cat

                I didn’t read her comment that way (possibly because I don’t hold Joel Olsteen types in high status just stupidly famous)I guess I didn’t read the high status part as having any nuance, just referring to a general cultural view of clergy persons. The statement was incredibly generalized and vague, and it’s the mentality I’ve been fighting my whole career (I’m a female clergy person so often I get the double dumb treatment of religious and female).If it’s the view you’ve nuanced, then yes, I think we are all saying the same thing different ways. If it’s how I read it, then eh, I think the differentiation I made needs to be stated.

                That being said, one reason it’s so hard for us non charlatans to gain any public recognition is, well, people think we’re mystical creatures when it’s more like we’re residents of who-vile. I guess only hortons really hear us who’s right now….

      2. Cardio*

        There are hundreds of these sects and each has its own “rules” or tenants as well. They are regulated like more large main stream religions so they can often get out there very quickly. Per my observations and working with a group of them who bullied others in my office. It’s soul sucking…

    4. paul*

      Hypocrisy, ain’t it grand?

      The only sins worth worrying about are the ones not appealing to me, that’s how it goes right?

      1. Sylvan*


        The leaders of a church a hundred miles or so from here were caught running a human trafficking ring. Last I heard, the church still had members.

        1. Beaded Librarian*

          Okay I have to admit I googled to see if I could find out about this and discovered that there have been at least THREE cases in the last year of Pastors running human trafficking or sex trafficking rings.


    Jaw, meet floor.

    I have to say you sound like you handled this much better than I would have. I would have had a very, very, very hard time keeping my mouth shut about all of this.

    1. Too Witches*

      Yeah, same. I don’t know that I would have had the patience, but now I aspire to be OP’s level of calm and collected!

      1. Sloan Kittering*

        I think OP should have been more pro-active about firing this employee once the time theft was revealed. That’s not patience! That’s abdicating management.

        1. I GOTS TO KNOW!*

          OP says HER boss wouldn’t let her – it definitely sounds like OP wanted to but hands were tied by the higher ups

        2. Too Witches*

          The OP’s manager was pussy-footing around the problem and directly told the OP that she was not to take any further action – I wouldn’t have wrecked my relationship with my boss over this. If my boss told me to let it play out then I would have, but I probably wouldn’t have done it with OP’s level of grace. Sounds to me like she did the best she could in an extremely frustrating situation, and it all worked out.

          1. Tata*

            It would have been hard for me as well if coworker responded with religion sayings all the time! AND I am a Christian and grew up in South Texas, rural, like 1200 people in town. My parents were very traditional and my dad feels part of the problem with US is that women cut the apron strings……funny, they raised 2 strong daughter’s (to give some background on my thoughts). I remember my dad didn’t want my mom working and when they had big fights, he removed her name from joint bank accounts. So growing up and what I saw, it made me wonder about domestic abuse and using religion to justify the abuse. Too bad the manager refused to address the situation. If I was her peer, I would be upset as well about her lack of work ethic and time stealing. To me that’s not “religious behavior”.

          2. FormerEmployee*

            Thank you for using “pussy-footing around”. I love that term and always visualize little kitties walking around some giant mess very carefully so as not to get their paws dirtied..

        3. OP*

          Letter writer here. I totally agree, I wanted to move to termination. My boss and HR said we had to follow protocol of a written warning and wait until a second offense. I had only been with the company a few months and didn’t have a lot of political standing yet to fight this effectively, so I did what I could: wrote a warning, had a meeting, and watched the employee like a hawk.

          1. Tata*

            OP, you did great. At least you were able to address the issue with written warning and letting her know she was in violation of rules coming in late & leaving early, 25 hour unapproved work week that didn’t need religious accommodation,

          2. Sylvan*

            That makes a lot of sense. I also would have wanted to fire her for refusing to do parts of her job, sneaking in late and out early, etc. Handling this must have been hard.

          3. Sara without an H*

            Hello, OP. I thought you handled this with amazing aplomb. At least now you have a good story to tell, and you know how to build bulletproof documentation of performance issues. (I was impressed that you checked her login and logout records.)

      1. I GOTS TO KNOW!*

        I meant not saying snarky things to her pious objections to my heathen lifestyles. I would have had a hard time not eviscerating her. I would absolutely talk to my higher managers about the time theft and actual work performances. But I would also likely get in trouble for being VERY rude to her about her “religious” behavior

      2. WellRed*

        Me too. She was stealing (time) from the company and made her coworkers uncomfortable, in addition to not doing her job. You have a duty to ALL employees, not just the irritating ones.

        1. I GOTS TO KNOW!*

          I wasn’t talking about that stuff – I was talking about not being a snot about her religious behavior.

          I absolutely would have brought up the time theft and poor performance. Which the OP did. So I am not sure how my comment got construed to mean I wouldn’t have said anything or that the OP didn’t. It seems to me form what we are told, the OP didn’t make snide comments to Serena Joy but did fight to have her fired. I would have fought to have her fired for sure, but would have had a hard time not being a giant snarky a-hole to Serena.

          1. Jesmlet*

            Lol @ Serena… Yeah I feel the same way. I do consider myself a Catholic but I would’ve had to bite my tongue off to avoid saying something sarcastic or rude when she’d say that stuff. I’m not a perfect person and this kind of nonsense really gets under my skin. And for everyone who says this is her choice, she was clearly raised and indoctrinated to believe that nothing is her choice. You can’t give up your free will if you’re taught that you don’t have any. Kudos to OP for having far more self-control than I do

              1. Candi*

                What are they taught, vs what is modeled in day to day living, in the social and cultural structure of the community?

                The law now says all races and men and women are equal -but the complex social and cultural background and daily actions belie that in so many ways, even as we try to weave a better future.

                The Titus 2 issue bugs me, since the use of it as doctrine shows either ignorance or a willful misunderstanding of the culture it was written in and the social structure both Jews and Christians lived in -the extremely patriarchal structure of the Romans. Against that background, and in context, it becomes clear that it’s an instruction to conform to behavior that won’t bring the neighbors and law down on the members of the then-nascent religion.

            1. Miri*

              Yeah, if I told somebody a deadline was a set date and they said it would be done in a divine beings good time – I would want to know if they had any reason to feel the deadline was unfeasible. And would probably in a not-NOT sarcastic way clarify that if for a reason that an insurance company would define as an act of said being – fire, severe flooding, back, even sustained internet downer taking a few days out of the schedule – we would revisit the deadline (with the client if appropriate) but that – barring clear divine intervention – the deadline would stand…

          2. Life is Good*

            I once had an employee (fired for good cause, but not for religious zealotry) who, after I said “bless you” to someone who had sneezed, said “No, GOD bless you”. Without missing a beat, I replied, “NO, just bless you”. I couldn’t hold back and was sort of snotty, I guess.

    2. Hank*

      OP made it clear that religious challenges were not being decided in favor of the company.

      While not as commonplace for Christianity, fundamentalist or not, it is the rule for most companies any time a discrimination complaint comes up – kowtow to the complainant and management gets sanctioned.

      I had a “colleague” who was glaringly incompetent, but every time he got threatened with a bad review or termination, he pulled the racial discrimination card and won significant dollar awards every time. He has basically living off these his entire career, and the ex-companies are too scared to let potential new employers know as they are still scared of a lawsuit / EEOC audit.

      1. AL*

        You are writing this like having an eeoc complaint is easy. There needs to be actual proof that discrimination is happening, not just pulling an imaginary card. For most people who experience discrimination they don’t have any recourse or protection from it.

        1. Colette*

          The fear of complaints isn’t necessarily related to the actual possibility of losing if a complaint is raised. Sometime businesses just don’t want to deal with the possibility.

        2. Samata*

          I think Hank was saying his financial rewards were raises, not lawsuits won. My s/o works for a company who will fight these cases and they can cost millions, even when the employee/complainant doesn’t have proof. They have had lawyers drag it out for years looking for new evidence.

          I applaud his company but also think that for many companies the cost of keeping the employee outweighs the cost of potential litigation.

          I want to be clear I don’t agree with it always, but I do think it’s the case a lot of the time.

          1. Hank*


            Nope he would be fired and then have his attorney threaten to sue for wrongful termination based on discrimination due to race. Essentially anything any colleague or manager found lacking in his performance, regardless of documentation, he would acuse them of racial discrimination.

            Because the company did not want a race lawsuit in the news (which of course the lawyer always guaranteed would happen) he would be offered a severance, sometimes a couple of years worth, and the suit got dropped.

            He has done this at least with 3 separate companies.

            1. Jesmlet*

              This is absolutely criminal (not necessarily in the legal sense because IANAL but more so in the moral sense). If I were in charge of the company, I’d fight it solely on principle.

              1. Jadelyn*

                Except that it might be more damaging to your company to fight it than to settle. Attorney’s fees, employee time wasted on it, potential PR damage even if you do win the eventual suit. In some cases, as much as it rankles on a moral level, it’s better for the company’s health and survival to just pay the hush money and let it go.

                1. Samata*

                  Yes, but the reason my s/o’s company will always fight and not settle is because settling is often seen as a way of admitting guilt if anyone finds out down the road. Fighting it costs $$ but avoids that, especially in the case of no wrong doing on the companies part.

              2. Ego Chamber*

                I wish more companies had principles (and the necessary cash to back them up), it would save a lot of other companies from having to deal with this garbage if more companies had a general policy of fighting.

            2. Samata*

              Holy crapola. I totally misunderstood what you were writing – so not getting paid by promotions, but being paid off to keep him from filing? I really do hate that companies would rather pay a problem to go away than spend money fighting at time, thought I do know that comes with a even heftier actual price tag. Still….WOW.

      2. Anyway*

        Of course it’s a commonplace.

        That’s why women’s career chances and salaries are still so much worse than men’s. Companies are just afraid of lawsuits.

      3. seejay*

        We had a manager who threw a racial discrimination threat at another manager and brought in a lawyer even (turns out the lawyer was his brother-in-law). All because the manager was being a wafflehead and treating another coworker like dirt and was getting called on his behaviour and he didn’t like it, so he started stomping around and screaming threats to get the other manager to back off. It actually worked, as his lawyer drafted up some order that stated they were to have no contact other than discussions about work only.

        And then the previous manager that had left (and who had been protecting him from reprimands before) sniped him out from under us. We weren’t sad to see him go given the drama he had been creating.

  6. adulting*

    There’s a lot of worrisome things going on here, but I have to admit I started cracking up at, “as God’s will allows.” I’m not religious, but I kind of would LOVE to have that become my go-to answer when working with challenging coalitions. Will things get done on time? Will people agree and complete their action items? As God’s will allows!

    1. Grits McGee*

      “Praying to Jesus that it will be done Friday” gave me a giggle, especially given the decidedly non-devout context I usually hear statements like that in.

          1. Marillenbaum*

            HR Jesus! He would really like you to RSVP for the Last Supper of the Fiscal Year, because we found a really nice new restaurant with vegan options, but they need a head count.

            1. Snark*

              HR Jesus is bringing fish sandwiches to the summer cookout, so if your group could make sure to bring a side, that’d be great.

            2. oranges & lemons*

              However He keeps making me uncomfortable at post-work happy hours by swapping my water for a glass of wine when I’m not looking :(

              1. tigerStripes*

                LOL. He only changed the water to wine because his mom asked Him to. From what I remember about that, He didn’t quite roll His eyes about it but did say something that indicated He didn’t think this situation really needed a miracle.

                1. Kheldarson*

                  Yeah, he’s all “the hour of my time has not yet come” and she’s just like “uh-huh. Hey servant guys? Do whatever my son tells you to do because my son knows what to do when his mother asks for his help.”

                  And like everybody else in the history of man, Jesus does what his mama told him to do, lol.

        1. Anion*

          Jesus is going to need you to go ahead and stay late this Friday night. And you know, He spent a Friday night nailed on a cross for you, so He doesn’t want to hear you whine about missing your TV show..

        2. AKchic*

          I hear he only got the job because of nepotism, and the GrandBoss is kind of a meddler and a DIY backyard tinkerer in his spare time, but I’ve been told that nobody likes to talk about it.
          Oh, and his uncle is a real smooth-tongued, devilish charmer. He knows how to close a deal, but wow – he turns on you quick!

      1. Anonfornow*

        My boss moved a significant chunk of workload from my non-performing co-worker to me a couple of months ago and I protested it was too much for one person to do. She wrote in my annual review as a development point: :”Anonfornow should stop worrying about the future. The work will get done”. I wanted to ask her ‘work will get done by who – God?’

        1. Close Bracket*

          > ”Anonfornow should stop worrying about the future. The work will get done”

          Wow. I hope you quoted this back to her every time something slipped (as I am sure things did, if you had two people’s work load).

      2. Alton*

        I think if someone said that to me in a work context, I’d have to bite my tongue to avoid saying “Jesus isn’t the one being paid to do it; you are.”

        1. Ego Chamber*

          “Actually, he pronounces it ‘hey-SEUS,’ and he’s sick of working overtime to make sure your work gets done.”

    2. NewHerePleaseBeNice*

      My mother used to work with a woman who would respond to every ‘see you tomorrow’ or ‘have a great weekend!’ with ‘I will, thank you… if I’m spared’.

      1. Lehigh*

        That’s amazing.

        I love not only that she’s constantly reminding people we could all die any moment, but also that she’s entirely assured that if she doesn’t drop dead she’ll be having a good time.

      2. Lil Fidget*

        “depends on in the Second Coming … if no Second Coming, you’ll have the report Friday” …

      3. Liz T*

        I love the idea that you can’t be certain you’ll be alive on Monday, but you are 100% certain that if you do live, your weekend will be great.

      4. Overworked.*

        Okay, I feel less annoyed by my employee’s regular “Lord willing and the creek don’t rise” response. (Which I didn’t mind at first and is only annoying in its attempt at light-heartedness.)

        1. KL*

          You may want to be careful with that phrase. I used it for a while and thought that was a nicer way of saying “Come H*** or high water”. It can also refer to the Creek Nation.

          1. Lehigh*

            Wait. Are you saying that the implication is that the thing will be done if God wills it and the Creek Nation does not stage a revolution?

            That seems like a stretch? Unless there’s a historical background I’m missing?

            1. Lehigh*

              Ah. I have now found the wikipedia debate on it. A cursory read makes the Creek Nation idea still seem farfetched to me, but I suppose each to his own.

              1. Anion*

                There are still people who’ll insist that “picnic” came from “Pick-a-n-word,” but that doesn’t mean it was or is remotely true.

                1. Gazebo Slayer*

                  Ugh yeah, that urban legend’s been around since I was in college at least.

                  I strongly suspect these fake etymologies are made up by the same 4chan Klan types who marched in Charlottesville as a way to “make the snowflakes look dumb” or something.

                2. Gazebo Slayer*

                  Ugh, that one’s been around at least since my college years.

                  I strongly suspect the people who make up these fake etymologies are the sort of people who marched with torches in Charlottesville, and they’re doing it as a deliberate strategy to “make the snowflakes look stupid.”

              2. KL*

                I know it seems like a stretch, but I was scolded the last time I said because of the second meaning. Just sharing an experience…

                1. fposte*

                  There’s not a second meaning, though; there’s just a misapprehension. The person scolding you was wrong.

          2. Emi.*

            Actually, it means the opposite! “Come Hell or high water” means I will get this TPS report filed even if Hell or high water try to stop me, but “Good Lord willing and the creek don’t rise” means I might be thwarted by (stronger) supernatural powers or floodwaters. I usually hear it to mean “We have all our ducks in a row so this should go smoothly unless there’s an unpredictable catastrophe,” not “Only if a miracle happens,” though.

          3. nonegiven*

            No ‘…the creek don’t rise’ means if the creek rises you won’t get to work or school because your place on a dead end road gets flooded in because the county put in a low water crossing instead of an actual bridge. (describes the place where my dad grew up.)

        2. Archie Goodwin*

          I use that, sometimes. Less in an attempt to be lighthearted and more in an attempt to be folksy – it’s one of my North Carolina granddaddy’s expressions.

          Had a boss from Indiana who used it, too.

        3. Dr Wizard, PhD*

          My supervisor used to say ‘God willing and the bridge don’t burn’, which I guess is similar.

    3. Jadelyn*

      I am so unbelievably tempted to start using things like that myself. But substituting in other gods. Will I have this for you on Monday? As Lucifer’s will allows! Is the monthly report going to be out this week? Praying to Lilith to have it done Friday!

      1. Amber T*

        Lol I wouldn’t be doing this if I were the manager/supervisor, but I would absolutely be thanking Satan/Lucifer/Zeus/Jupiter every day for little things within ear shot.

        1. fallen out boy*

          Sorry, but the eclipse is a sign that this project is cursed. I’m going to need to be taken off of it.

      2. A Person*

        You think Jesus is going to be enough to reconcile these accounts? Golly no! We need Quezecotl on this!

      3. eplawyer*

        I would love to try this in Court. Odin demands that you give my client sole legal and physical custody.

        BTW, the oath does not contain the word God or any other deity anymore. You are just swearing or affirming to tell the truth. You don’t put your hand on a holy book either. I’ve had witnesses argue with me that they can’t for religious reasons swear to God or put their hand on the bible — even after I told them we don;t do that anymore.

        Furthermore (yes, I’m a lawyer it’s hardwired this way of talking), if a man tried the headship thing as grounds for getting custody I would go after him so hard and ask for only supervised visits to ensure he is not indoctrinating the kids.

      4. LNZ*

        i actually said something like this to a coworker. It was Halloween and they were taking their kids to church instead of trick or treating (they did let the kid do the big office wide trick or treat event we set up thought). They invited me and without thinking i replied “No, I’m ok. I’m going to go hang out with Satan instead”
        I promptly panicked cause i was in an instantly religious community and that kind of joke could get me a stern talking to. Thankfully they laughed at it and it was ok.

        1. Gazebo Slayer*

          Being a LOLfan of “Dark Dungeons,” I’m going to start using “hanging out with Satan” as a synonym for roleplaying games.

    4. a*

      I knew a guy who had grown up in a Bible-thumper household. This guy was… not so much as strict. When we’d all go out for beers, the guy would finish up, look down at his array of empty bottles, and solemnly announce, “It was the Lord’s will.”

      This became my family’s stock phrase any time we finished a particular large meal, a bottle of wine, etc.

    5. Alice*

      Boy did it start to grind my gears when I was teaching students who took this approach.
      T: “Where’s your homework?”
      S: “I didn’t do it.”
      T: “OK, bring it in tomorrow then.”
      S: “I will, God willing.”
      I mean, yes, an act of God might occasionally prevent you from doing your homework — floods, fires — but you have some control too! Of course the people who said “God willing” rarely handed it in. On the other hand, the people who said “Yes, I’ll bring it in tomorrow” rarely handed it in, either….

    6. Falling Diphthong*

      See, I definitely pictured that line in response to the most mundane work tasks, whose completion is just based on the employee actually doing them.

    7. fallen out boy*

      It reminds me of a joke that got drawn on a whiteboard in the hall at an old job, with the joke basically being like we needed Jesus on our side to keep dealing with this stuff. I found it hilarious, and I’m an Orthodox Jew, because I completely understood the sentiment behind it.

      Dear lord, please bless this mess of a project. In Microsoft Outlook’s name, Amen.

      1. Relly*

        In a similar vein, I had a student prepping for the SATs tell me that her guess for any of the grid-in math problems she didn’t know was 3: “Father, Son, Holy Spirit, just praying for some help, here.”

      1. Anna*

        I’m not muslim at all, but I like the idea behind ‘inshallah’. I often say ‘deo volente’ when telling people what time I’ll be arriving by train (because trains here are usually on time, but certainly not always). And when telling people when projects will be ready, I usually write ‘I hope to send you [thing] on Friday’. Because you never know.

      2. RG*

        Yeah, I can see that. Sometimes it feels like all you can do is appeal to Good after you’ve done everything on your end. But yeah, not something I do as a regularly as the former employee.

      3. Archie Goodwin*

        Occasionally I default – under my breath – to my (step) great-grandfather’s “Spassi bogh” – I believe it’s “if it so please God” in Russian. Kind of an old-fashioned village oath…bit archaic. I do it as much in his memory as anything else.

    8. Not really a lurker anymore*

      After a while I’d be tempted to respond with something like “Insha Allah”” and be all “but I’m AGREEING with you!” when she complained.

    9. Lora*

      Ha! Used to work with a guy who, whenever something completely obnoxious was requested, would politely say “that will not be possible, here is what we can do for you, we will do our best” but if the person insisted on being unreasonable, he would shrug and say, “well, God is still there.” It was kinda hilarious actually.

      I may have responded to the news “A-hole has been fired / Jerk you hate quit yesterday” with a prayer of thanksgiving in the past. “You see, Karen?!? God DOES answer prayers!”

      And then there’s the good old, “Lord willing and if’n the creek don’t rise”. For non-US readers, this is a combination of saying “there’s not many resources to do this, so it’s tenuous to begin with” and an empty threat that is nothing but bravado.

    10. Ann Furthermore*

      I had an older woman working for me years ago who was a very devout Christian. She worked in the AP group. She’d been with the company for many years, and at that time, the CEO would take you and your manager out for lunch for your 20 year anniversary. A friend of mine also celebrating her 20th anniversary also went to that same lunch.

      The woman who worked for me spent the entire lunch talking about how she came in each day to “do the Lord’s work.” My friend and I had quite a few laughs about how processing invoices, expense reports, and check requests was “the Lord’s work.” Don’t get me wrong, I started my career as an AP clerk early back in the Dark Ages (the 80’s), so I know it’s a very important job. But “the Lord’s work?” Doubtful.

      Then a few months later, after she’d been talking pretty openly about retiring, my boss and I asked her if she’d settled on the date for that. She said that she’d “promised the Lord” that she’d work until her youngest granddaughter was done with school. We had to gently prod her to be a little more specific and give us an actual date.

      1. Lora*

        I thought “doing the Lord’s work” meant doing some horrible thankless task that is nevertheless a mitzvah, like teaching a class on de-programming cult members. In my field there’s some bloggers (Science Based Medicine, RetractionWatch) who we often say are “doing the Lord’s work” because they do it without pay, for the betterment of Science, and get a lot of crap for it from snake oil salesmen and fraudulent a-holes for their efforts.

        1. Sigrid*

          I’m not a member of a monotheistic religion (quite far from it), but Science Based Medicine and Retraction Watch are absolutely doing the work of any god you care to name.

        2. Turtle Candle*

          That’s how I’ve always heard the term used (grew up in a fairly conservative Protestant church). Aid workers, doctors in epidemic zones, first responders, social workers, volunteers at soup kitchens, etc., were doing the Lord’s work. Sometimes it was applied more wryly (my mother used to say that middle school teachers were doing the Lord’s work, because she found that the most irritating age to teach), but it definitely wasn’t meant to apply to any work you did.

        3. Else*

          I love those blogs! And yeah – it’s thankless, and can come with big fat lawsuits. Where’s Bealls’ list, eh?

      2. Cherith Ponsonby*

        “The Lord’s work” immediately reminded me of one of my favourite cartoons (“Accounting is sucking the life out of me! What’s my true purpose, God?” – link in my name)

        I sometimes feel like I’m on a holy mission from (deity) to copyedit the world. Usually this is followed by the thought that if (deity) wanted me to copyedit the world, they should have provided me with at least one minion.

    11. SamSam*

      I’m not at all religious, but there are times when a “God willing” slips out at work. Usually for forces outside of my control – “God willing, people will listen when I tell them to submit their reports.” “We can hold the event in February – God willing, we won’t have a snowstorm.”
      I can’t imagine someone asking me if I can do something and just responding “God willing” – no, I will it!!

    12. Ann O.*

      I’m a hypocrite on this one because I hate “as God’s will allows” in English but I LOVE the Arabic equivalent (insha’allah). It’s this wonderful acknowledgement that things can always go sidewise, and we just do our best to meet our commitments. There’s also the Southern “God willing and the creek don’t rise,” which I also like.

  7. Tableau Wizard*

    I’m curious what the advice would be if the woman hadn’t chosen to leave. Would any of the details in this update (prior to the departure), add more context to update or change Alison’s original advice?

    1. Catalin*

      Valid question, Tableau Wizard: for me, the employee would have been in serious doo for the leaving early-but-billing-same. Even if salaried, she can’t have been getting work done to a satisfactory extent like that!

      Finally, yes, this is all totally believable for me. I have family that went mildly fundamentalist, (wifely submission, arranging marriages, letter of Pauline law, etc) and this all sounds pretty in line. The issue at hand in this forum was work-related behavior, not the ‘why’ behind it.

      PS, yes, my dad tried to arrange my marriage, which never happened because I’m not into men. We don’t talk much now…

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Well, she did something that made it super easy to fire her:

      “She started arriving at least an hour late and sneaking out (literally telling fibs about where she was going, and leaving through the back door) two hours early. Her computer login times revealed she was only at work about 25 hours a week, instead of 40 like we expect.”

      So I would have recommended taking that opportunity and ending the situation.

        1. paul*

          I’m really shocked she wasn’t fired for that. I can’t think of any place I’ve worked where you wouldn’th ave been.

      1. Snark*

        It’s not even like she peaced out 15 minutes early on Friday! 15 hours a week is a LOT of time. They could have fired her on the spot.

      2. Katie the Fed*

        So in government we can take disciplinary action for either performance or conduct issues. Conduct is stuff like time and attendance, tardiness, etc. Conduct is WAY easier to demonstrate so usually with a mediocre performer there are also conduct issues so you just bust the person on that and remove them.

      3. OP*

        Letter writer here. I totally agree, I wanted instant termination. My boss and HR disagreed, saying that we needed to start with a written warning as per the handbook’s paragraph on discipline. Total benefit of the doubt — “she’s young, and maybe she doesn’t know the rules.” So then when she did resume normal working hours, my boss took it as vindication that giving the benefit of the doubt was the right thing to do.

        1. Anon Accountant*

          You really handled this situation as well as you could. Your managers kept tying your hands but you handled it well.

          How great she left and you have a good, new hire. It’s terrible they prevented you from outright firing her.

    3. Argh!*

      Employers are required to make *reasonable* accommodations for religion. Working 25 hours at a 40-hour job isn’t reasonable. Not being willing to spend time with single men is unreasonable. (As if married men are all saints?)

      This type of fundamentalism is not as rare as you’d think. It’s been a growing trend for a few decades. I know some people like this.

      1. JessaB*

        Yes there’s a difference between Rivkah leaves at 3 on Friday but works an extra hour on Monday and Tuesday because Shabbos. Or Rina takes prayer breaks but leaves a half hour late to make up the ones she doesn’t do on regular breaks, or even both of them just get those accommodations and being over 15 hours short and FIBBING about it. Sneaking out, not saying “I need to leave for x, I need an accommodation,” nothing. Lying about where you’re going and not coming back. Personally my panic disorder would have me terrified she went for coffee and got mugged or hit by a car if she was missing and I was looking for her. NOT on. This is not how you handle religious issues and this is definitely not how you act like an adult at work. If you have an issue you tell people.

  8. Cabinet Door Builder*

    Small town, southern, conservative Christian female here. This behavior was definitely over the top. Glad it was resolved.

    1. Anonymous Poster*


      I wonder, was she dialing this up to try and get terminated and cash in on a lawsuit?

      1. The Cosmic Avenger*

        Or at least force the OP to take measures against her so she could claim constructive dismissal (as long as she quit before being fired for performance issues).

        1. RabbitRabbit*

          Yup, absolutely. Sounds like the behavior ramped up after the promotion to managerial status; maybe she hated the change in job and leaned into the super-religiosity as an escape mechanism with hopes for a bonus on the way out.

      2. Snark*

        Call me a cynic, but this is where I went. If she wasn’t actively trying to make the employer take a misstep and sue them for it….well, I’d be really surprised.

      3. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Potentially, but if so, she really misstepped with this part:

        ” She started arriving at least an hour late and sneaking out (literally telling fibs about where she was going, and leaving through the back door) two hours early. Her computer login times revealed she was only at work about 25 hours a week, instead of 40 like we expect. ”

        Courts tend to be very black and white about certain employment requirements, and this would likely have torpedoed her chances of fighting any firing, as long as they clearly based it on this.

        1. Anonymous Poster*

          That’s all very true. She was not on the path to a successful lawsuit with how she was behaving at work. I just don’t get it, skipping out at work, lying about where she’s going, being super obnoxious to everyone… Just ridiculous.

          At least it sounds like this person won’t be trying to come back to work.

        2. Kimberly*

          But that isn’t how her logic would work, I suspect.

          Her logic
          1. Christians are persecuted in the US (reality they have to respect others rights)
          2. God is on my side so I can do no wrong
          3. If my employer doesn’t cave they are wrong and I’ll sue
          4 God is on my side so The Liberty Council will defend me for free so even if the evil devil appointed Judiciary rules against me it won’t cost me anything.
          5. Reality Judge you have to obey the law, other side wins and you have to pay their legal costs.
          6. What!! this is a Christian nation see those greedy Atheists, Jews, Muslims are just in this to bleed poor Christians dry.

          I’ve seen this repeatedly in cases I follow. The FFRF for example rarely asks for money settlements just that the government (often school boards or local governments) stop violating people’s rights. They only go to court after conversations about fixing the problem failed. At that point when they win and they usually do they ask for the problem to be fixed and the expenses to force the government to obey the law be covered. Local officials make it sound like they are being turned upside down and shaken for every las cent because of greed. All the plaintiffs had to do was be reasonable and let the officials three things the weather always done them because it’s tradition.

          1. AKchic*

            And the money from a gofundme campaign from all of those wonderful supporters of her religious rights would support her husband supporting His Queen to ensure she would never have to work again (well, for at least a year, depending on their spending habits).
            Look at a certain southern county clerk who refused to issue marriage licenses based on her interpretation of the bible, even though she was in no position to judge (I refuse to say that odious creature’s name, let alone give it human status).

        3. Susan Milligan*

          Alison, really appreciate the legal perspective you got for us on the first letter. But honestly, I’d be surprised if “I have to follow my husband’s orders” qualifies as a protected sincerely-held belief the employer must accommodate. He’s basically saying, my wife doesn’t work for you – she works for me. In which case, well, she should *not* be working for employer at all, since by definition it means she’s not doing her job. Even the no-travel is sketchy, since she knew of travel requirement when she took the job. (Meaning, if you’re anti-abortion, don’t get a receptionist job at Planned Parenthood and demand they “accommodate” you by letting you refuse to sign in patients seeking to terminate a pregnancy). I’m also wondering about the infractions against colleagues – did her brazen displays of religiosity interfere with religious freedom of other colleagues who don’t share her religion? Can the single male intern be discriminated against because of his gender? (since it sounds like she would have been OK with a single female intern)?

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            But honestly, I’d be surprised if “I have to follow my husband’s orders” qualifies as a protected sincerely-held belief the employer must accommodate. He’s basically saying, my wife doesn’t work for you – she works for me.

            Yes, that’s what the first lawyer in the original post said as well.

        4. JessaB*

          Especially if she never engaged in the accommodation conversation at all. You don’t just unilaterally decide when to come in and leave. Religious accommodation requires a discussion just like disability accommodation. You don’t just get to do what you want and handwave “religion, too bad, so sad, you have to put up with it.”

      4. paul*

        You gotta wonder right? Maybe it’s that I tend towards cynicism but I can’t picture someone thinking that type of behavior *wouldn’t* get them in trouble

  9. Dani*

    Wouldn’t overtly displaying religious symbols be considered hostile to certain groups?

    (I wear a small cross that’s usually concealed and even then I worry I might offend someone …)

    In any case that whole situation is surreal.

    1. DecorativeCacti*

      Someone at my office was recently told she can’t read her Bible at work. I can’t even imagine how they would react to this.

          1. DecorativeCacti*

            She wasn’t reading out loud. She works on the phones and would read a passage, make a call, read a passage, make a call, etc. Perfectly acceptable in that position as long as you get through your lists on time (she was). The problem was only the fact that someone was uncomfortable with her having a Bible on her desk.

            1. Lehigh*

              Well, if it wasn’t interfering with her work that sounds like a pretty shitty thing for someone to get offended about.

              1. Anion*

                Yeah, that’s pretty gross, IMO. I can see getting offended if it was, like, pornography, but refusing to let her read the Bible at work? What if she was reading FREE TO BE YOU AND ME? THE COMMUNIST MANIFESTO? Maybe HUCKLEBERRY FINN?

                How about, you mind your own business and quit monitoring the private reading material of other people instead?

                1. Susan Milligan*

                  Totally agree, Anion – and I’m an atheist! (mind you, an atheist who follows Pope Francis on Twitter because his tweets cheer me up).

                2. Christmas Carol*

                  Well, the book police just got TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD taken out of the school curriculum, in MISSISSIPPI

                3. DecorativeCacti*

                  I don’t agree with the decision, either. It wasn’t interfering with her work, they’re allowed to read, and her cube is fairly secluded so it wasn’t out on display in an egregious fashion. It’s not my call to make, though.

                4. Jadelyn*

                  You know, when I started working here, I met a coworker who was reading the Bible in the break room when I went in to get some water. I said hi, just politely and in passing, asked how her day was. She said something about finding comfort reading her Bible on her break. I smiled and made a noncommittal noise of some kind, because I am pagan as hell and have Issues with Christianity, but that’s my problem, and I wasn’t going to be outright rude over it.

                  She then offered to loan me her Bible if I ever needed it. I said “Thank you, I appreciate the offer, but I’m not Christian.”

                  She literally laughed and said “Oh, you will be.”

                  I stopped dead and gave her a completely flat stare for a long few seconds, before saying quietly and with absolutely no warmth in my voice “Well, that’s between me and my gods.” and walked out. I was pissed. She was way the hell over the line, and that was not okay.

                  You know what I didn’t do, though? Get offended by the existence of her Bible itself and try to get it banned.

              2. tigerStripes*

                Yeah, I don’t get it. At first I thought that she probably shouldn’t be reading non-work stuff while she was supposed to be working, but since that was acceptable, reading the Bible (silently) seems like it should be OK.

            2. Snark*

              Honestly, I…..kinda get it? Not that a Bible is actually an offensive sight to me, but I am personally uncomfortable with religious activity and displays at work. It’s just not the place or time. And honestly, now that I think about it, it’s not even the religious angle that bothers me, I’d ask someone not to bring and read a novel, graphic novel, or magazine in the same situation. Or play games on their phone, or do a craft or hobby, or whatever.

              1. Anion*

                Sorry, are you saying you wouldn’t want anyone to read anything at all at their desk, or to play games or do crafts? Even if such activity is permitted by management? I’m honestly not sure what you’re saying here.

            3. Sylvan*

              …I’m not Christian and I’m pretty touchy about such things, but I don’t see the problem there. Telling people what they can and can’t read is bizarre.

              1. Bookworm*

                I agree. Assuming she wasn’t reading it aloud or quoting it to coworkers. I mean, would people have been offended if she was reading a Christian-themed book?

      1. Laura*

        What if it had a plain cover, or was on a Kindle so that no one else could tell what the person was reading? (Assuming the issue is with their choice of reading material, and not the fact of them reading at work.)

        1. DecorativeCacti*

          I don’t know what her options are, or if she has tried to get around it. The problem was with what she was reading not that she was reading at all. Only one person cared, but that’s enough.

          1. Jessie the First (or second)*

            “Only one person cared, but that’s enough”

            Enough for what?
            Does your company think they *had* to forbid her reading it if it made someone uncomfortable? (They don’t.)

      2. Susanne*

        Well, that’s nonsensical. Of course she can read her Bible – on her lunch break (or whatever other breaks she has). She can’t do it in lieu of her actual job, though.

        1. sstabeler*

          wasn’t the issue, from what has been said since- they were allowed to read between calls- but someone complained she had a bible on her desk. IOW, the issue was that it was a bible, not that she was reading. (to make it even more blatant, by the sounds of it it was specifically no bibles- not even no religious books, which could probably be acceptable.)

    2. Anonymous Poster*

      I don’t think most workplaces would necessarily take that stance. I’d imagine you’d have difficulty with such a stance because it would open up the workplace to allegations of discriminating against a religion.

    3. Observer*

      I’m not a Christian, and have no fondness for Christian symbolism. But, I would very much object if my employer tried to ban personal Christian symbols – within reason! (There are situations where it could be warranted, but you’d really want to act in a very narrow fashion.)

      The problem here is that she was using her religion as a reason (or excuse) to not do her work appropriately and to impugn other staff. That’s a whole different level. And I think that the OP’s boss got very lucky, because it could have come back to haunt them when someone who she insulted sued the company for religious discrimination.

    4. AMPG*

      I think there’s a line. A bunch of crosses probably wouldn’t be considered hostile, but plaques that said, “Salvation comes only through Jesus” or something might be, because it could be considered commentary on the religious practices of others. (IANAL, obviously)

      1. Alton*

        This is a good point. Legality aside, I think it’s good to avoid statements that imply your beliefs are universal, imply things about other people’s beliefs, etc.

      2. Can't Sit Still*

        I worked with a guy whose office was literally covered, as in wallpapered, with illustrated Bible verses, and they were all about the fate of sinners and being cast into the lake of fire and that sort of thing. The illustrations were quite vivid and disturbing.

        The company was really reluctant to do anything about it for a long time, since his office was private and no one needed to be in his office except him. Then his job description changed and suddenly, everyone was in and out of his office all the time. They made him take most of them down and he quit. He was bitter because “it never mattered before.” This is another one of those times were no one was doing him any favors by not bringing it up sooner. (Much later, we had the hexing co-worker. It was a diverse company!)

        1. Indoor Cat*

          Hexing coworker?

          Well you can’t leave us just cliff-hanging like that! Who hexed whom? Over what? What happened next?

        2. Verdana*

          I knew someone whose private office was covered in posters of various (non-Christian) rock groups and right among them an almost life-sized poster of the pope.

      3. Lora*

        I would be so tempted to set up a complete Vodou altar to Baron Samedi…except I’d be busted for having tobacco products and rum on my desk.

      4. Annabelle*

        Yeah, in my office general symbols – crosses, rosaries, prayer cards, etc – are fine, but there’s a ban on anything that toes the line on trying to convert people or imply that non-religious folks are amoral or something

      5. Else*

        There are lots of companies or stores that do have that, though, at least in some places (the South, the Midwest). I hate it; it feels threatening and alienating to me, but it’s not illegal. If I can avoid those businesses, I do.

    5. HannahS*

      I’d say usually not. If the person’s own specific denomination/house of worship is known to promote hostility AND they have a religious symbol specifically for themselves, then whoa yeah it would be inappropriate. But the kinds of religious symbols most people wear–head coverings, necklaces, clothing–show an affiliation to a religion in general, not a very specific ideology. So a cross necklace (worn inside or outside the clothes) is fine, but a necklace stamped with “Westboro Baptist Church” would emphatically not be. As someone who’s been on the receiving end of Christian hostility, I wouldn’t want you to feel that you have to wear your necklace under your clothes, any more than I would want someone Sikh, Jewish, or Muslim to feel they have to be less visible.

    6. Temperance*

      Not in the US. I mean, there are limits, but in my experience, people like LW’s nutbag employee are looking for reasons to file a claim and cash in.

      I don’t think you need to worry about “offending” someone by wearing a cross. Some people might see it and make assumptions about you, but really, that’s true for just about anything.

    7. Alton*

      I haven’t heard of religious symbols being seen as creating a hostile environment as long as they’re in an employee’s own workspace and not in a shared/communal area. But I think it can be good to be mindful of how displaying religious symbols might influence the work environment.

      I don’t think you should have to worry about something like a cross necklace, though. I think people should feel comfortable wearing symbols of their faith.

      Personally, I don’t usually notice things like cross necklaces, and when I do, I usually just see it as a piece of jewelry or maybe a personal expression of faith. I don’t think anything negative about it. If I see religious decorations in a person’s office, I tend to think that their religion is a big part of their identity and how they present themselves to others. This doesn’t offend me or make me assume anything negative (well, okay, if the decorations were really over-the-top like this woman’s seem to have been, I’ll definitely raise an eyebrow at that), but it does put me on guard a little as a non-Christian and an LGBT person until I know the person better.

      1. Sam I Am*

        I actually find a lot of cross jewelry beautiful, but it doesn’t mean anything religious to me personally–I am Christian but my denomination actually doesn’t have any symbols or holy relics or anything like that.

        1. Alton*

          Yeah, cross necklaces are really ubiquitous in US culture. I might guess that someone wearing one is *culturally* Christian (though people of other backgrounds sometimes wear them, too), but I wouldn’t assume much about the meaning.

        2. Jadelyn*

          My other half loves crosses aesthetically. So he’s got a ton of stuff with crosses on it – even though he, like myself, is pagan as hell.

      2. Sam I Am*

        Though most other religious decorations in a work setting I would find over the top ostentatious piety.

        Though most Christmas decorations I don’t actually consider religious (unless it is a nativity or that kind of thing) tree and ornaments and tinsel and stuff… not really. I have a number of friends who are athiests who still adore Christmas trees and decorations.

        1. Ms. Annie*

          Actually, the nativity scene is one of the few Christmas decorations that are actually Christian. I am fuzzy on the exact provenance, but trees came from Northern European pagan celebrations of the solstice.

          1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

            Eh, I’m not down with the idea that a practice adopted via syncretism can’t be connected with the new faith. It’s a bit like saying that the only English words that are really English are the ones that came from Saxon, not from medieval French, you know?

            1. fposte*

              Aha, that’s a brilliant way of stating that reservation, which I share. It’s like there’s holiday eugenics, when really everybody got parts of their holiday from someplace else.

        2. Nea*

          I have a number of friends who are athiests who still adore Christmas trees and decorations.

          I decorate my house according to the dictates and traditions of St. Dickens of the Carol (a surprisingly religion-light story)

    8. CatCat*

      I doubt just the symbols alone would do it. I do wonder about aiming the religious language at others though. It’s one thing to put all your religious stuff about your office to look at, but another to foist it upon others in work conversations.

      Like if I sent an e-mail asking, “When will the teapots report be done?” And I got something back like, “With God’s grace, it will be done on Tuesday.” I would be very unhappy to have something like that directed at me.

    9. anon for this*

      I’d be very, very uncomfortable if a coworker had a cross on their desk and even more so if it was a multitude of crosses. I get uncomfortable when people put up very religious scripture passages in their cubes. There’s also a marked difference in how Christians can get away with this in the workplace when other religions can’t, and I don’t think that’s fair.

      That said, I’m fine with jewelry or other religious items being worn because I see that as someone observing their faith and doing it for themselves, whereas overtly displaying religious symbols feels more like doing it as a statement for other people. Coworkers who wear crosses never offend me, but the coworker who put a full manager scene on his desk and a cross with the crucifixion on it did make me uncomfortable. (He was asked to take them down not only because they made people super uncomfortable, but for a lot of other reasons relating to him trying to bring Christianity into the office)

      It’s a fine line and I don’t even think I’m explaining my feelings correctly, but I really don’t think overt religious symbols belong in a workplace.

      1. OhNo*

        You know, that distinction between displaying it/wearing it for yourself versus for other people is a distinction that I never really thought about before, but very much agree with. It would be difficult to to make a hard-and-fast rule over, but I feel like in most cases you can tell on a personal level which one is happening.

      2. michelenyc*

        I agree. I worked with someone that had religious items and quotes all over their desk. It would have been one thing if it was her own cube entirely but we sat in large shared cube’s. I have a big mouth so I actually told her that it was incredibly unprofessional to bring her religious materials to work & made me uncomfortable. She told me I was going to hell.

      3. Anon as well*

        Yes, this 100%!

        I’m a bi Jewish woman with two moms, so definitely a heathen according to most super religious people. Having a coworker with tons of crosses in their office or other overtly religious displays would make me SUPER uncomfortable. That said, I wear a small Star of David necklace and have no issue with my coworkers wearing symbols of their faith.

      4. LtBroccoli*

        This is a great way of putting it. I have a coworker who is very religious but I only know it incidentally – she talks about her church in the context of her social life (her church seems pretty close) and I’ve seen Bible study books on her desk once in a while but that’s about it. She’s not being religious AT me, but for herself. It helps that she’s not the sort of person who enjoys making others uncomfortable – a lot of people that use religion as a club would use something else if they weren’t religious.

        1. Indoor Cat*

          ” a lot of people that use religion as a club would use something else if they weren’t religious.” <–EXACTLY.

          It's hard to make a rule because it's really a, "you know it when it's happening" type of thing. But I've seen non-religious people with the same kind of judgemental+rigid+evangelical+preachy, um, personality type I guess? It's just instead of religion and judging "heathens", it's Healthy Lifestyle stuff and judging fat "lazy" people while pushing crossfit and paleo; or it's Intellectual Superiority and judging "stupid" people for watching reality tv or reading YA novels, while pushing highbrow comedy; or it's Manly Masculine Men and they're judging "girly men" and most women and they're pushing, I dunno, whatever.

          The fact that religions are organized means that the negative parts of the religion have a broader damaging impact than people who are into Healthiness or PETA or what have you, but the personalities seem to be the same.

      5. Tiny Soprano*

        Particularly with your story of the manager with the manger, context and behaviour really matter in this situation. A personal office cube is different to say, a manager’s office or a reception desk. And most people would be more comfortable with a colleague displaying religious symbols and paraphernalia if that employee was also generally professional and not using the office as an opportunity to evangelise or act like their colleagues are lowly sinners/heathens/mudbloods/etc.

    10. Turquoisecow*

      I think small, personal things like a cross on a necklace are fine and not likely to be offensive. People may make assumptions if they see you wearing one, but that’s true of anything.

      I think the line of what’s offensive or disturbing depends on the person. I, personally, wouldn’t even notice a small cross, but I might notice (and feel uncomfortable) it if it was a huge, jewel-encrusted thing. I’d definitely feel uncomfortable if you wore a t-shirt proclaiming a specific phrase about how Jesus Saves Believers or Repent Now!

      Context is important, also. It’s one thing to have Bibles and crosses or other religious objects in your home, and spend your free, personal time reading religious texts or whatever else. It’s quite another to clutter your office or cubicle with those things. Unless you work for a religious-based company, those things have nothing to do with your job, and don’t belong in your workspace. You could have a single cross or something, like someone could have a photo of their spouse or kids, but too much makes it seem like work is not your priority.

      Location also matters. In the American South, people don’t bat an eye at expressions of Christianity. But when your coworkers are non-Christians, it’s understandable that they’d be a little uncomfortable with the presence of religious materials from a religion that, in the past, has tried in varies ways to say that they and their beliefs are invalid.

      1. Susanne*

        “Location also matters. In the American South, people don’t bat an eye at expressions of Christianity.”

        Yes, that also seems to be the part of the country where every December, they shockingly “discover” that there are people in this country who don’t celebrate Christmas and that for the last 50 years if not more, in more sophisticated parts of the country, retailers and others who deal with the public have been saying Happy Holidays or Season’s Greetings. It’s amazing how that lesson is so short-term, because in about a month they’re going to be shocked to re-discover it again for the first time!

        1. RG*

          “…in more sophisticated parts of the country..”

          Well, that says a lot about how you sophisticated you think you are.

          1. Lora*

            The more sophisticated parts of the country are actually….everywhere. Everyone has been saying Happy Holidays and Season’s Greetings since at least Victorian times, that we can document, which is when sending holiday cards (for just about all holidays) became a thing. Only suddenly now it’s a big honkin’ deal that people gotta get torqued up about on account of Radio/TV Personality says that it’s because of Teh Evil (demographic/organization of choice) FORCING folks to say Happy Holidays instead or whatever.

            In real life, 99% of non-Christians, like everyone else, are barely paying attention to anything a cashier says other than, “it’s $$$, please slide your card, would you like your receipt in the bag?” let alone whether they are being told Happy Holidays vs. Merry Xmas. But hey, let’s throw a hissyfit at an underpaid cashier over the spittle-flecked rantings of a meth-fueled media personality. I’m sure it will demonstrate Christ’s love and convince others to see the light. Matthew 6:1 – 6:8 and all that…

          2. Sylvan*


            Southern non-Christian here, by the way.

            There are actually people of other faiths, agnostics, and atheists in the south. And there is diversity among Christians, too.

        2. Specialk9*

          Yup. Southerner here, and while there are many lovely things about the South (biscuits and butter, misty blue grey mountains, tight blue jeans on a cowboy, kudzu from a distance so long as one doesn’t have to deal with it, the Dixie Chicks), there is a broad-brush rejection of, well, sophistication is one term though not quite right.

          But it’s that thing that makes a college degree shameful (and simultaneously required in many jobs) rather than a point of pride. Logic can be rudeness. Respect for religions is seen as a zero sum game – being respectful of Jews, Muslims, atheists, etc means persecution of Christians. It’s this kind of toxic nostalgia for a manufactured past, made especially odd considering the entire regional past was built upon slavery.

          I love the South, but it’s not a straightforward place.

          1. Else*

            I moved from the South to the Midwest, and they share this ugly trait. It’s not universal, and less so in the cities, but the country personalities are very similar, with much worse food.

            1. Specialk9*

              Ah yes, I think that’s it! I’m thinking South, but it’s really the culture wars of rural vs urban. It feels like the South because ‘rural’ gets virtually fetishized there, even in bigger cities. (Side eye to all the country music singers who song about crawdads, fishing holes, dirt roads, etc. Though I actually buy it from Gretchen Wilson.)

        3. Kelly*

          The whole Merry Christmas/Happy Holidays/Season’s Greetings debate really varied depending on where you live in the US. When I worked retail in South Dakota, the first was preferred but most people wouldn’t get their panties in a knot if I used Happy Holidays.

          One thing that really annoyed me about that particular employer was that they closed Easter but were open Thanksgiving. I’m aware of how important Thanksgiving is to retailers, but for many people like myself, it’s perhaps a more significant holiday than Christmas. As a recovering Catholic, I don’t care whether I get Easter off or not – it’s just another Sunday. I’m in a job now where I have a normal weekday 8-5 work week, but I do make a conscious effort to not shop on Thanksgiving day.

          1. another Liz*

            +1000 from another ex-retail recovering Catholic who makes it a point to NOT shop for ANYTHING on Black Friday

    11. Rikki Tikki Tarantula*

      I’m a very wishy-washy Christian, but I sometimes wear a cross necklace when I’m traveling or when I’m super stressed. I wore one almost constantly my last six months at ToxicJob; I thought nothing of it but now wonder if that was yet another reason my manager didn’t like me.

    12. Star*

      A few years ago in the UK there was a situation where a nurse (I think?) was asked not to wear her crucifix necklace. If I remember correctly, she could wear a brooch or something, but a necklace wasn’t allowed for safety reasons.

      The media’s reaction, and that of the nurse, was of uproar that she’d been asked not to wear a crucifix. Never mind that the crucifix wasn’t the problem, the necklace was, but it was prejudice against Christians! Why can a Sikh wear a turban but a Christian can’t wear a crucifix! So, so much manufactured outrage.

      1. One of the Sarahs*

        The case I remember is the manufactured outrage one where a woman worked for an airline, and all necklaces were banned because of safety reasons. As you say, she was allowed to wear a cross brooch, but it was a completely crazy lawsuit, especially since there is no religious requirement for Christians to wear crosses anyway, and I’m still shocked she won her appeal at the European Court of Human Rights

      2. Deejay*

        I remember that one. It was an airline employee working at check-in. Necklaces were banned there in case an angry customer tried to grab them. She tearfully said that she felt unable to talk about her faith at work, prompting a lot of her colleagues to say they wished that were true because she was always haranguing them about what filthy sinners they were.

        Around the same time there was another story about a teacher who was “sacked for offering to pray for a sick pupil”. Or at least that was her version of the story. The parents of the child told a much less well publicised version of events. They said she was hired to help their daughter catch up with schoolwork she’d missed due to cancer treatments. She tried to comfort the girl by talking about “what will happen to you when you die” but all this did was upset her. The teacher kept doing this despite the parents begging her to stop so they ended up with no choice but to dispense with her services. Several newspaper commenters seemed to be unaware of this as they whipped up outrage by asking “If prayer was so offensive to them, why didn’t they just ask her to stop?”

        And it gets better. It turned out the two “persecuted Christians” were friends, suggesting they planned it all between them.

    13. Andrea*

      Wouldn’t overtly displaying religious symbols be considered hostile to certain groups?

      I don’t see how. In America, the Constitution allows freedom of religion and doesn’t establish one religion as preferred. So, let a million religious knick knacks bloom! On my floor, we have calendars of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, many depictions of Krishna and Christian scripture plaques. I have an icon of St. Martha next to my computer. You get to express religious sentiments in America.

  10. Lucky*

    Thanks for calling out the comments in the original post for “veering into Islamaphobia.”

    I would have had a difficult time biting my tongue against the “blessed be” comments – especially “praying to Jesus that it will be done Friday.”

    1. AVP*

      “Okay then, can we send Him a memo and let him know that the client really needs it by Monday so He’s aware?”

          1. valc2323*

            Anyone who can find a copy in an old bookstore, check out “The Creation Memos”.

            What might have happened had the creation of Earth been the result of over-managing a project in a dysfunctional office.

      1. Thursday Next*

        Right?!?! I think the only time I’ve heard “Blessed be” was in The Handmaids Tale on Hulu. So weird

        1. Blue Anne*

          I hear it at all the time from my pagan friends and often from the Quakers I grew up with.

          Neither of which are groups this lady would like to be associated with, I think…

    2. Close Bracket*

      “Blessed be” is a pagan phrase. I would have been hard pressed not to repeat it back to her.

  11. Wannabe Disney Princess*

    Okay. I’m struggling with the word putting into sentence doing.


    I do have to hand to it you for handling it so well. I don’t know that many people would. Between the over-the-top religious stuff and the holier-than-thou attitude, I’d have been rolling my eyes so hard I’d have rearview vision.

    1. JanetM*

      “I’d have been rolling my eyes so hard I’d have rearview vision.” — this is a wonderful, wonderful phrase. May I steal it?

  12. CatCat*

    Yikes! Wow, thank goodness this problem resolved itself.

    I’m curious what happened with the intern. Did he hear her announcement?

  13. Kj*

    I’m super cranky, so if I had heard some of the “blessed be” stuff, I would have started saying “blessed be the fruit,” “may the lord open” and “under his eye,” in front of her daily. That would be very bad, but I would not be able to resist. And I doubt she’d have read The Handmaid’s Tale.

    1. Marillenbaum*

      I’m so glad it’s not just me! “Sorry, Aunt Lydia, IT says there’s no way they’ll have the system fully operational before Tuesday.”

    2. Tiny Soprano*

      So when project managers fail to deliver on time, does this mean that they have to stand in the middle of a circle of admin assistants who have to beat them as a disciplinary measure?

    1. Ted Mosby*

      It says in the last letter that OP was the manager. I’m glad I’m not the only one who was disappointed by this.

      1. London_Engineer*

        I was referring to the bit where OP seemed to need approval from her boss for anything above a write-up.

        1. Liane*

          This isn’t uncommon, although per Alison it is bad if higher ups don’t allow direct managers to discipline or fire.

  14. Sailor Scout*

    I feel really bad for her. But this is the kind of thing where you can only shake your head and hope this is truly what she wants.

    1. Temperance*

      Just curious, why do you feel bad for her? These are clearly beliefs that she shares with her husband, judging by her actions.

      1. Q*

        Not that it’s religious, but…

        I am quite frequently genuinely convinced I’m a terrible person who deserves no nice things and everyone hates me. This is a sincerely held belief.

        It’s not healthy, it doesn’t keep me happy, it’s miserable.

        You can believe something that’s hurtful and miserable, even to yourself.

        So maybe it’s okay to feel bad for those people.

        1. Anon today...and tomorrow*

          Great comment Q! You’re right. It’s possible to have beliefs that you really hold on to but that are really keeping you from living a really full life. I’m sad for her too.

        2. Temperance*

          I see these things as apples and oranges, but mostly because I’ve known many people like this woman, and they actually enjoy the superiority that comes with being a “righteous woman”.

          1. Lil Fidget*

            Just so hard to know. Some of this seems like the husband is being controlling, possibly abusive – or maybe she’s enjoying being righteous, as you say. It’s too many layers for OP to be able to figure out. I agree that I feel sorry for this woman, since it seems like she’s limiting her life and will probably suffer for it :(

          2. Q*

            I don’t know that I would’ve felt bad for her specifically, either, because she would’ve annoyed the hell out of me (hah, maybe that would be her intent), but I think there are usually reasons people pick up something like fundamental religion. And I think a lot of those reasons are really sad.

      2. Elizabeth West*

        I have to agree with you because I’ve known people like this. The holier-than-thou attitude (anyone who acts differently was not as virtuous as herself.) is a dead giveaway.

        1. Temperance*

          I think that’s probably why I really don’t have an ounce of sympathy for this woman. I’ve known many like her through church, and they really do hold themselves above others as better because of their weird, outdated, and toxic beliefs.

          1. paul*

            what’s that feeling where you really don’t like someone and think their worldview is FUBARd, but you still feel bad for them even though you’re glad they got fired/reprimanded?

            That’s where I’m at here.

            1. Sylvan*

              Yeah. Should her beliefs ever change (and I mean “allow her to drive or work,” not “lead her to leave Christianity”), it’s going to be very hard to extract herself from this.

        2. Lil Fidget*

          I still think it’s tragic. The women who have been the most brainwashed / given up the most for the “rules” are always going to be the ones who are most vicious about enforcing the social rules on other women. This is all they have, after all – this veneer of respectability. They’ve given up everything for it, they’re damn going to cling to it. It sucks when you become the target of their attitude, but in the big picture, it’s really just sad and depressing :(

            1. AKchic*

              YES. +1000 X1000000000.
              Because you know she will do her wifely duty and bear her husband as many children as she can. Because that is what a queen does for her king. *shudder* She’s nothing more than a broodmare. A field in which to grow his seed. Those poor, poor potential children.

          1. Annie Moose*

            I feel the same way. I have a great deal of pity for such women. (and anyone caught up in these sorts of coercive systems–but let’s not kid ourselves, women usually get the short end of the stick)

      3. Sailor Scout*

        I agree — I guess I’m projecting my own bias because I know I wouldn’t be happy. I think I feel bad for her if that’s not what she wants. Who knows but her, really.

      4. Corvid*

        I’m not Sailor Scout, but I’ll take a shot at answering your question. I feel bad for the employee and that doesn’t mean she was any less of an awful employee. She could and should have been fired.

        Still, I feel for her because most women with similar mindsets have been brought up in a community in which they were heavily penalized if they didn’t adhere to the expected standards of behavior. It’s not like you sit down with little Aimee and ask her whether she wants to be an independent individual with her own worth or whether she wants to obey her future husband without question and spend her live her life serving him, as an inferior partner in the relationship. Because she’s so fidgety about making him wait – because his time is worth more than hers.

        1. Temperance*

          I honestly probably have no sympathy for her because I’ve been raised in the same kind of community, and didn’t turn out like this. I’ve roundly rejected Titus 2 and all its implications since I was a teen girl and actually identified as a conservative Christian.

          It’s sad when women buy into misogyny, but she’s clearly bought in of her own free will.

          1. Corvid*

            It’s sad when women buy into misogyny, but she’s clearly bought in of her own free will.

            I don’t know enough about her life to judge that accurately.

            1. Temperance*

              We do, though, because she belongs to a faith that expressly believes in free will. She’s an adult with the critical thinking skills to have a somewhat important job. She’s not a child who hasn’t ever been able to access the internet in her life.

          2. Student*

            The thing is, the sell job for this starts with lots of honey and sugar. My parents tried to raise me to be this way, and they failed. But I can see very clearly how it could’ve gone the other way, and I’ll admit that there are some bits I fell for initially and took many, many years to unlearn.

            They make the honey very appealing at first. By the time you notice the poison at the core of it, the idea is that you’ll be too dependent to escape it, or too deeply complicit to believe that stopping will make a difference, or too high on it to want to stop eating it. You escape it by either going straight through hell after you’ve been deep in, or by catching a glimpse of the poison before you’re in too deep.

      5. Susanne*

        Temperance – because she’s an adult who serves at the beck and call of another adult. Who doesn’t have any agency over her own life. That’s why we feel sorry for her.

        1. Temperance*

          We honestly don’t know that she has no agency, though. I’ve met women like her, and they use their agency to delegate their lives to dudes. Sad and weird, but it’s what they want.

          1. Triangle Pose*

            Temperance, I get what you are saying. It’s condescending to say, oh poor woman, she doesn’t realize her own agency so she serves at the beck and call of a man under the guise of religion.

            Nope, she’s an adult woman in the USA with contacts to the outside world, she is choosing this for herself and I can make a judgment of her choices like I do anyone else who makes these choices.

        2. Annabelle*

          It seems like she chose to live that way, though. I know a lot of fundamentalist women. Some of them fall in line for their husband’s sake, but a lot of them whole-heartedly believe in this stuff as well.

          Obviously we’ll never know for sure where LW’s employee falls, but everything in this update indicates to me that she’s more of the latter.

      6. Falling Diphthong*

        Anyone whose belief system, religious or not, is making up new random rules each week would get some sympathy from me. (Much more easily if they are abstract, rather than actually telling me that they can’t order more binders because morals.)

      7. McWhadden*

        Her being visibly anxious when her husband arrives makes it a lot more than just firmly sharing his beliefs to me.

        I can both agree with the consensus that this woman is generally the worst. And feel bad because I think there is clearly more going on there.

      8. Oranges*

        I can feel sad for her because she’s somehow broken probably. Can you think of any human being who would be okay with this amount of anxiety and fear (if she doesn’t submit) or powerlessness in their day to day lives without being broken somehow?

        Also people have different fragilities. So what might not break one person will shatter a different one. So saying “I went through something a lot worse and I’m fine” isn’t really relevant.

        Doesn’t mean she gets to “get away” with harming people. Just that I feel pity for her when I’m judging her.

      9. Effective Immediately*

        I think there is social conditioning to consider here as well, which artificially limits her choices. I know a woman with a similar mindset and while she clearly gets off on martyring herself on the altar of righteousness, I still pity her. She truly believes women are secondary to men, incapable of leading except by manipulating the men in their lives and have no place in positions of authority (because it’s unnatural). While she technically chose this life, it is undergirded by a belief system that actually robs her of making a truly informed and independent decision. If you’re a woman who believes women are weak and inferior, you’ve internalized negative messages about yourself that rob you of a great deal of agency. The only way to maintain self-esteem in that scenario is to loudly proclaim your moral highground. I find it really sad, because it always reads to me as ‘the lady doth protest too much’.

        This is just anecdotal, obviously, but I wholly understand the pity angle.

    2. Snark*

      I don’t feel bad for her at all. She sounds like the employee from hell, and she elicits no sympathy from me whatsoever. Her behavior was manipulative, dishonest, and disingenuous at every turn. She accepted a job and then tried to change its terms, she lied to her employer, she refused to perform essential job duties, she committed time theft, she adopted a weirdly passive-aggressive and judgmental persona that created tension and eroded morale….I’ll save my heartache for those who seem to merit it.

      1. Tata*

        agree as well. Since I’m in South Texas & we love to celebrate the day of the dead this time of year…..I wonder what her response would have been to that! Oh and I have 2 small sugar skulls decorations at my desk. Oh, and new tattoo I got last weekend of a skull……

    3. Future Homesteader*

      Agreed. It’s such murky territory – there are plenty of people who live that way willingly, but it still just feels…not right.

      1. Corvid*

        Especially because she’s so nervous about making her husband wait. A strong “or else” seems to be implied there.

  15. Temperance*

    I had a feeling that they were Titus 2 Christians from the original post. OP, I’m betting that she kept pushing her behavior towards more and more outrageous things because she was gunning for a lawsuit. When no one took the bait, she quit.

    1. Elizabeth West*

      You know, I tried to google this to find out more about it, and the first several pages are sites geared to them, not anything neutrally informative. That made me nervous as hell.

      1. Temperance*

        If you want to really feel bad about humanity, dig around the “Proverbs 31 woman” stuff. It’s nauseating.

        You might be able to find some less shocking or more neutral stuff on Titus 2 from some liberal Christian sources. I’ve seen it interpreted as men and women submitting to each other rather than the whole “help-meet” thing that makes me want to barf.

        1. Turtle Candle*

          The Proverbs 31 woman thing always baffles me, because if you actually read the proverb in question, it’s pretty clear that she’s pretty darn independent. She makes goods and sells them, engages in commerce, even buys property on her own and hires people to work it! And her husband is confident in her decisions. Just reading the proverb itself, you might think “the ideal wife is an entrepreneur.” And yet that’s rarely how it’s interpreted.

        2. Miss Pantalones en Fuego (formerly Floundering Mander)*

          Oh man, yet another rabbit hole of shocking religious practices to read about. I feel ill.

  16. Lady Phoenix*

    So… pretty much a female Pence following the Pence rule (no meeting person of opposite sex alone). You can’t help those that refused to be saved. If she wants to be an overly religious housewife, than that is her choice. And my bet is that if there was a worker that was of a different religion (or not religion), this woman would have given them a hard time and made them uncomfortable– and these people would not be able to use accommodations to keep themselves safe because the government would favor the Christian believers over people like Atheists and Muslim.

    It’s a sad but unfortunate truth that despite the fact our constitution clearly states that there should be a separation of church and state, there isn’t a true separation so long as our government is run by overly pious people (and in our case, it is Christian people because Christianity is the dominant religion).

    1. Temperance*

      Yep. It’s a sad but true fact that many evangelicals have won lawsuits after being terminated for harassing people about religion (or have been asked to stop talking about Jesus and witnessing). They believe that it’s a sincere requirement of their religion to preach whenever any somewhat related topic comes up, and many use it as a hammer.

      1. OhNo*

        Yikes. Hearing about some of the aggressive things certain types of evangelical Christians do in the name of religion makes me very glad I work with a bunch of relatively passive Catholics. It’s certainly easier on my blood pressure to not have to deal with that at work every day.

      2. MashaKasha*

        Says it right there: “Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel”. They are guilt-tripped into thinking they have to.

        So glad that most of my 20 years that I spent being Christian, were spent in the Eastern Orthodox churches, who do not proselytize on principle. The idea is that they should be a positive example to people, rather than “witnessing” something everyone had already seen in the first place, and bashing people over the head with their handouts.

        1. Victoria, Please*

          I don’t want you to PRAY about the thing, I want you to DO it by Friday.

          My goodness, what a fustercluck of awfulness all around. And these days Jeff Sessions would be happy to help out.

        1. Temperance*

          Absolutely. Weathers v. Fed Ex is the one that immediately came to mind. Kelvin Cochran v. City of Atlanta is another one. It’s ongoing, but the lawsuit was allowed to proceed, even though he was actually badgering coworkers with his homophobic BS. I know that there are more because these people live for it.

          Dr. Eric Walsh received a large settlement check from the State of Georgia because they were afraid that he would win a lawsuit when he was a homophobic preacher and didn’t disclose this outside employment when they hired him.

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      I spent far too much time trying to figure out why married men are safe for an intimate meeting about third quarter margins, but as a married woman she can’t be trusted.

        1. Amazed*

          That particular dynamic reminds me of Allison’s warnings about how a dysfunctional environment can warp your idea of normal, especially when it comes to survival instincts.

      1. AKchic*

        It’s the whole idea that women in general can’t be trusted not to tempt them (men). A woman’s mere presence seems to turn them into rutting animals that will hump the leg of any female creature it’s near behind closed doors.
        It’s an insult to men and women everywhere, but it’s been going on since they started blaming Eve (and Lilith) for the fall of Man in general. Women have always been blamed for the lust of man and their supposedly uncontrollable urges.
        Sorry, I’ll get off my soapbox now. This wasn’t meant to be a rant. Anti-biblical screed at best, but Christianity as it came from Rome and patriarchy go hand in hand.

        1. Lady Phoenix*

          Oh lord THAT too. Fucking bible and mythology always got to blame us ladies for every goddamn catastrophe ’round the globe.

          I mean, throw in Helen of Troy and Pandora while we’re at it. Girls can’t catch a break. Hell, love towards a woman in Greece was called “eros” because it was some mad love towards possessions (cause women in Greece were objects, see?).

          1. Candi*

            Eros was erotic or sexual love, not love towards a woman. The Greeks had words for various types of love:

            Eros, or sexual passion. The first kind of love was eros, named after the Greek god of fertility, and it represented the idea of sexual passion and desire. …

            Philia, or deep friendship. …

            Ludus, or playful love. …

            Agape, or love for everyone. …

            Pragma, or longstanding love. …

            Philautia, or love of the self.

            You’re also talking about a culture where non-priestess women had NO rights. Zeus couldn’t keep it in his pants, but it was Hera’s fault for being furious. Hermès is the only god without at least one rape to his name! And that was mostly because he had such a silver tongue.

        2. Candi*

          One thing I did like when studying with the Jehovah’s Witnesses: they pointed out that Adam was older than Eve, had been learning longer, and knew just as well as she did not to eat the thing. It was just as much his fault as hers, and passing the buck was a lousy move.

    3. Andrea*

      I find this a pretty prejudiced view:

      And my bet is that if there was a worker that was of a different religion (or not religion), this woman would have given them a hard time and made them uncomfortable– and these people would not be able to use accommodations to keep themselves safe because the government would favor the Christian believers over people like Atheists and Muslim.

      It’s a sad but unfortunate truth that despite the fact our constitution clearly states that there should be a separation of church and state, there isn’t a true separation so long as our government is run by overly pious people (and in our case, it is Christian people because Christianity is the dominant religion).

      1. LadyPhoenix*


        Because I am criticizing current politics, who many of them just so happen to be Christian? And are using their power to sway politics at the expense of minorities?

      2. Kismet*

        I can tell you, as a non-Christian, there is no way in hell I’d tell this woman anything about my religious beliefs, because literally every person I’ve ever met who does this over-the-top performative fundamentalist Christianity has harassed me when they’ve merely found out I’m not a “believer.”

        Christians, even fundamentalist ones, are not persecuted. They aren’t some threatened religious minority. In fact, they have quite a lot of power, both social and political, and also often economic, and they use it – and they have, and do, in fact use it to persecute or harass people who aren’t Christian, and to push their own explicitly religious agendas onto others. I have every reason to be wary of someone waving a parade of red flags in my face.

  17. Master Bean Counter*

    It’s nice when the crazy takes itself out….
    And now the office has stories that are legendary and almost unbelievable.

  18. nnn*

    I’d be very interested in learning how it came about that this employee was working in the first place when so many aspects of the working world are in conflict with her beliefs.

    Also, just noticed the “queens don’t drive” line. Queens also don’t get antsy about inconveniencing their drivers. Queens’ drivers wait patiently until the queen is good and ready to leave, because the driver serves at the queen’s pleasure, not vice versa.

      1. Snark*

        Queen Elizabeth, in point of fact, was a mechanic in WW2, and has been known to cheerfully hop out of her Range Rover to fix mechanical issues when the thing breaks down in the middle of a heathery moor.

        1. Amber Rose*

          I like her even more for knowing that. :)

          I have a signed picture of her floating around somewhere I think, from the days when my dad was a professional photographer.

          1. Merci Dee*

            Oh, I can’t remember where I saw the article now, but someone was talking about the Queen’s prodigious sense of humor. From what a source in the article said, she has a legendary reputation among certain quarters for being able to mimic, with scary accuracy, the sound of a Concord jet taking off from the runway.

            If that alone doesn’t make you love the Queen, then nothing will.

        2. Beancounter Eric*

          The Queen scared Crown Price Abdullah of Saudi Arabia some years ago driving him around Balmoral…she was motoring around the narrow estate roads talking as she went – through his interpreter
          he was begging her to slow down and concentrate on driving.

        1. GingerHR*

          I should have refreshed before posting another link to the story. Maybe mine won’t make it through moderation!

      2. McWhadden*

        My favorite part of the movie The Queen was when Prince Charles offered to drive and she looked at him with utter contempt and said “of course not” before she hopped into the driver’s seat of her Land Rover.

    1. CM*

      I was wondering if “queen” is a term used to describe Christian women? The only reference I could find to it was Queen referring to the Virgin Mary.

      1. Liane*

        Not that I know of. There was a comment on the original that attributed the line to Saudi culture, but I don’t know if that is correct. But if so, I would love to see this couple’s reaction to finding that out.

      2. AKchic*

        There is a sect of Baptists that consider John’s mother (Elizabeth) to be the a queen. They also, well… to be perfectly frank, believe that Jesus was an usurper and blame the “cult of Jesus” for John the Baptist’s death.
        It’s an interesting sect. Creepy, ridiculous, and just as bs as all the Holy Grail nonsense – but everyone wants to feel special, y’know?

        1. Kismet*

          If you’re referring to the Mandaeans, they’re an old and heavily persecuted religion that’s been around since pretty much right from the start of Christianity. I don’t know that calling them creepy, ridiculous, and as bs as the Holy Grail stuff is fair unless you’re also calling mainstream Christians that, too.

    2. Allison*

      I wonder if the “queens don’t drive” was something her husband insisted, trying make his controlling behavior seem chivalrous.

      Her getting anxious when he gets there early reminds me of how anxious I feel when someone like fifty feet ahead of me holds the door opens and waits. Yes, holding the door is polite, but I feel guilty making the nice man wait so I try to hurry up.

      1. Oryx*

        “I wonder if the “queens don’t drive” was something her husband insisted, trying make his controlling behavior seem chivalrous.”

        Right, this is how I’ve seen the word used.

  19. Too_Witches*

    I’m de-lurking to register my excitement at this update – I remember this wild letter but just *had* to go back and re-read, and then was on pins and needles to find out how it resolved, so thank you so much for writing in! I’m glad this concluded the way it did, and I hope that woman is in a good place and happy with her choices, but this was a riot from start to finish. Very well handled in the face of obstacles from two sides, OP, and I’m glad your whole office gets to breathe a sigh of relief on the daily!

    1. yasmara*

      On the other hand, I wish the problem employee had been fired when she defrauded the company by significantly mis-reporting her hours…

  20. Kiki*

    Fridays are when 90% of my deliverables are due. “Praying to Jesus that it will be done Friday” is going to be my new go-to response for status updates.

    On a more serious note, I’m glad this situation resolved itself for her coworkers’ sake. And while I don’t understand the life this woman has chosen to lead, I hope she is happy with her decision.

    1. Nothemomma*

      I have just used this line with a coworker. I am going to keep using it until she asks me what the F#%^ I am talking about.

    2. i don't know*

      Just reminded me: one of my friends once told his manager that something will be done by Friday. The manager replied “The last guy to get his work done by Friday was Robinson Crusoe”


  21. L.*

    There are many sub-types of the Drama Queen, and I’d say this falls into “Look-at-me Christianity.” Reading the first letter I too was concerned about abuse (which is not definitively ruled out!) but reading the rest of the account where she appears to try to use her religion to draw endless attention to herself and her needs regardless of the situation, and to do as little substantive work as possible in the process, I am comfortable applying the Drama Queen label. As my favorite aunt says: “Don’t let the door hit ya where the Good Lord split ya!”

  22. lisalee*

    Oof. I had a coworker like this at one of my past jobs, who slowly fell from “unusually devout” to “off-putting extremist” in the space of about a year and it was so uncomfortable and awful for everyone. In my coworker’s case I suspect that there were some mental health issues at play and she continued to get more and more wrapped up in the structure and community of her sect as a coping mechanism, which was really sad. But eventually it got to the point where we had to start asking her not to put crosses on things that weren’t hers and not to ask customers about their religion.

            1. Kelly L.*

              I believe we did decide in an old thread that there’s a whole circle of hell that’s all copiers and printers.

            2. Miss Pantalones en Fuego (formerly Floundering Mander)*

              Wasn’t there actually a letter or a comment about weird work things where someone at work literally thought that printers were Satanic and refused to use them?

              1. Tiny Soprano*

                Maybe because people put their hoo-haas on chairs and thus the chairs are sinful or something? I dunno it’s the only thing I can think of!

            1. JessaB*

              Nope printer/copier problems require prayers to the God of mechanics, smiths, inventors etc. You pray to Hephaestus to fix the printer.

          1. OhNo*

            All I can think of is coming in before I’ve had my coffee, sitting down, and slowly realizing with mounting horror, “Is my chair… damp…?”

        1. Sylvan*

          Not in a workplace, but in college I had someone in my dorm building who walked throughout the building speaking in tongues as she felt compelled by God.

          God never led her outside in bad weather or across the path of someone who might punish her for being loud in the hallways during quiet hours.

      1. lisalee*

        It was very strange–suddenly there was a cross over the clock! Magnets with evangelical phone numbers on the fridge! Little Jesus tchotchkes here and there!

        In retrospect I think she was spiraling into obsession and needed everything around her to conform to it.

    1. Slow Gin Lizz*

      I was wondering if something like that might be going on here, but I don’t want to armchair diagnose, since that’s against site rules. Still, it’s odd that this happened so quickly and suddenly. Like, did she only get married within the last year and that’s why husband never said anything about this before? Or is it that since she got the job that required travel he decided to speak up?

      But I’ve become suspicious of everyone and everything these days. At least I have some friends and family members I can trust!

      1. JulieBulie*

        Right? You have to wonder about the sudden and rapid escalation. These things don’t usually happen in a vacuum.

      2. a girl has no name*

        I have a friend of a friend who went from hanging out and doing happy hours with no mention of religion to meeting her boyfriend-now husband who is a pastor and now she never drinks or goes out without him and preaches about church and Jesus on her social media all of the time. They got married after they knew each other for 8 months. I can see how it happens- you get wrapped up in the good feelings a new man and God love you. I haven’t really talked to her since she started dating the guy and judging my friend and being super rude. I don’t think we are missing out.

      3. Kismet*

        It could honestly just be the zeal of the new convert, which is a recognized thing (and not even something limited only to religious converts). Couple that with a persecution or righteousness narrative and you’ve got some heady stuff, which will make some people get very intense, very suddenly, about their new beliefs.

    2. meat lord*

      But eventually it got to the point where we had to start asking her not to put crosses on things that weren’t hers and not to ask customers about their religion.

      …oh, dear sweet Flying Spaghetti Monster.

  23. Menacia*

    It’s always interesting to me when I hear how entitled *some* people can be with regard to their religion. She wanted accommodations made but was not above lying and cheating the company by leaving early in a sneaky way? That alone should have been enough to can her, as it had absolutely nothing to do with religious discrimination. It’s really disconcerting to me that we’ve leaned so far the other way as to over accommodate for issues that are not at all related to a protected class. Logic has completely gone out the window in place of being overtly PC.

  24. rollingmyeyes*

    “can you get this task done?”

    “praying to Jesus that it will be done Friday”

    “Me too, otherwise we’re gonna have a major problem here!” :)

  25. Corvid*

    What an unpleasant situation all around. I feel for the employee and all over women who were brought up in the belief they are inferior to men and need to obey them.

    1. Kismet*

      You know, a number of people have made similar comments, but I do have to say – I have known a scary amount of women who were not raised to believe this stuff who willingly converted as adults, and honestly, they’re often scarier than the ones raised in this kind of tradition. And most of the ones I know who converted either weren’t married when they did so (so not converting to please a husband), or were the ones who converted first.

      I also have to say, I’m not liking the implication I’m getting from comments like this, that women are never free actors unless they are choosing what you consider to be an empowering narrative. Even women raised to religions like this have the choice and ability to leave, if only in their own mind. Women have personal agency and freedom of conscience, and laying the pity on too thick is just another way of denying us that.

      1. another Liz*

        I can see the appeal. She never has to ‘adult’ living this way. Someone else making all the decisions=she never has to take responsibility for anything. Kind of a twist on Peter Pan syndrome

  26. Anonymeuse*

    Uh, was this employee’s name Offred by chance? Seriously though, walking around the office saying “Praise be” and refusing to meet with unmarried members of the opposite sex is way too A Handmaid’s Tale for real life…

  27. Ted Mosby*

    This resolution really irked me. The fact that OP waited for her to quit instead of handling this as a manager is really troublesome. Your other employees are likely very frustrated. Lying about your hours, SNEAKING OUT, taking a promotion and then refusing to do the work so that others are forced to do it, and bringing religion into every conversation are all very inappropriate and probably making life miserable for the coworkers who Jesus decided would do her work for her. I understand the fear about a lawsuit, but sneaking out and working part time are so egregious, it should have been obvious at that point that letting her go with no mention of anything religious would be easy.

    What if she had said it was her husband’s will that she never go to work? At a certain point things are obviously over the line of a religious accommodation. The line is a dot to her.

    1. BethRA*

      In fairness to the OP, their boss “didn’t want to take action.”

      I agree, though, that Serena Joy shouldn’t have been able to get away with half of what Boss let slide.

    2. N.J.*

      OP’s manager is the one who forbid the OP from doing anything substantive. Please cut her some slack and her hands were tied.

      1. Statler von Waldorf*

        I’m with Ted on this one. If one of my employees pulled this stunt (particularly the lying about their hours), and the owner of the company refused to let me fire them, I would tell the owner that either the problem employee leaves or I do. Sometimes political capital needs to be spent, and some hills are worth dying on.

        1. N.J.*

          Most of the folks I know would certainly think that, quietly, to themselves, while earnestly hunting for another job. There are a lot of people who can’t afford to call their boss’s bluff, so I still don’t think OP had any leeway if her boss said the employee couldn’t be fired.

        2. Amazed*

          If you want to spend yours that way, fine, but yours isn’t on the line here. OP’s is. She may not have all the safety nets in place you do. Please be considerate.

    3. Nea*

      Eventually it was her husband’s will that she never go to work, so she quit. At least it was more honest than sneaking out on the clock!

  28. Sack of Benevolent Trash Marsupials*

    This is really sad. I get that everyone at that office is happy, but I’m sad that this person no longer has any connection with the outside world for infusions of perspective. Regardless of whether she rejected the perspectives offered, they were still there, and now she is in a weird cocoon.

  29. Detective Amy Santiago*

    I thought that Religious Accommodation meant giving people time off for their holidays, not filling your desk with a bunch of obnoxious tchotchkes and praising your preferred deity at every opportunity.

    1. Snark*

      That’s a reasonable expectation, yes, but every loophole in that concept has been gauged out like a hipster’s earlobes over the past 15-20 years.

    1. Temperance*

      Not likely. Plenty of people have weird, unconventional beliefs and are not mentally ill. Plenty of mentally ill people lead boring, normal lives.

      Yes, I realize she’s outside of the mainstream, but I have known many like her.

    2. Whitbee*

      Unhelpful, unlikely to be accurate, and against the site commenting rules which prohibit armchair diagnosis. Try again.

      1. yasmara*

        I discovered when moving to the South that she’s not as “outside of the mainstream” as I thought when I lived elsewhere…

        1. BookishMiss*

          I live in the burned over district, and we’ve got plenty of these folks here, too. They’re reformers, essentially, whose time has passed. They just refuse to realize that.

  30. MasterOfBears*

    This lady sounds like the Opposite Universe version of the “everyone must call my boyfriend Master” girl.
    I wonder which one has the evil goatee…

    1. Lil Fidget*

      Yeah zealots of all stripes have more in common than they would ever admit. Someone who’s super into BDSM and needs to have everybody acknowledge and recognize it would be horrified to be compared to this holier-than-thou woman, but it’s all, shall we say, fruit from the same tree.

    2. Sara without an H*

      While I obviously wouldn’t want to be the manager in this case…it’s kind of fun to imagine this woman and “everyone must call my boyfriend Master” girl employed in the same office.

      1. Lil Fidget*

        They would seem to have a lot in common! They both believe they should be submissive to their male owners and that everyone else needs to respect that. Maybe they’d hit it off …

        1. Blue Anne*

          There is a lot of overlap between the 24/7 kink community and the christian domestic discipline community.

          Neither community really likes to admit it.

          1. Annabelle*

            This. People in the kink community really don’t like to talk about it, but 24/7 lifestyle stuff is eerily similar to fundamentalist extremism in a lot of ways.

          2. meat lord*

            I think about this all the time. If you edit out certain key terms, it’s pretty much impossible to tell which community is being discussed.

          3. Miss Pantalones en Fuego (formerly Floundering Mander)*

            Ooh, I never thought of it this way but I can definitely see this. Fascinating.

      2. Brandy*

        I relate her to, me and my husband eat lunch together and he sits and stares if we’re in a meeting at his lunch time.

        1. Close Bracket*

          > he sits and stares if we’re in a meeting at his lunch time.

          That’s awfully passive aggressive. What do you do while he is staring?

    3. Naomi*

      I thought of “Sally” as well. I suspect both of them of deliberately antagonizing their coworkers so they could enjoy the martyr complex of “people outside my community just don’t understaaaaand.”

  31. Scmill*

    I used to have an employee in IT similar to that one. She did her work well and didn’t try to skip out on regular hours, but we had a lot of night overtime that she was resistant to. In addition, her overly pious comments grated on the rest of the team. She was there for a couple of years until her husband decided it was time for babies and she resigned.

  32. Cobol*

    This is late and off topic a bit, but the we’re flexible on schedule, but expect people to be here 8:30-5:30 isn’t really flexible. Especially if people really do work only a 40-hour week.

    1. jenny*

      I’m guessing this means that they don’t have to clock in EXACTLY on time and can arrive and leave a little early/late if need be. Sadly, for a lot of offices this would be incredibly flexible.

    2. AvonLady Barksdale*

      The LW used “not strict” about hours, which in my mind means it’s ok to get there at 8:40 some days and maybe leave a little early on others, and that it’s ok if you have to leave for an appointment. That’s how most of my jobs have operated and I do find it pretty flexible, as it reduces the stress if I get caught in traffic or have to meet someone after work once in a while.

      1. JessaB*

        Yes but the idea is you generally work 40ish hours. 38 is okay but not every week. 25 is so way outta whack that it’s outrageous. Come in on time every day be an hour late once, I doubt anyone cares, but sneaking out? Nope to the nope. Work 8:35 ish to 4:58 ish nobody probably cares if you’re doing that because if you don’t you have to wait an hour for the bus. There’s a difference between flexible and not working. Also the more flexible you are the better job you should be doing. If you’re not getting your work done you don’t get to be flexible at all.

    3. Brandy*

      Those are probably the core hours they need people there. We are similar. Core hours are 9-4. You have to work your 40 hours. You can get here anytime after 6 am, a lot of people love this and leave as soon as 4 pm, up to 6 pm. Some people like to come in early, some like to stay late. They put the cut off at 6pm because workers were leaving and coming back around 10-midnight to work.

    4. fposte*

      Like Brandy, I thought those were hours the office needed to be staffed, not the expectation for each individual employee. So you can work 6-2 as long as you’ve made sure somebody’s there until 5:30.

    1. Landshark*

      I’m not terribly religious, and I’ve done that… but I do it when I’m really hungry and it shows up at last, not every single day for every single thing, so I think that’s the line here.

  33. Imaginary Number*

    I can just imagine the Todd Starnes headline now: “Christian woman fired because husband wanted to drive her to work.”

    It’s amazing how they can twist these things. You would never hear about the showing up late and leaving early or the refusing to travel or interact with certain coworkers.

  34. NatKat*

    Contender for one of the best updates…based on the religious “responses” alone. I think we all are going to have the giggles tomorrow turning work in.

  35. Lily Rowan*

    I’m definitely going to start responding to “How are you?” with “I’m just a sinner, seeking salvation,” because that is amazing.

        1. M is for Mulder*

          Yessss. I’m watching with glee, as this queen (who doesn’t drive) fights for ten decades for the gods she made.

      1. Merci Dee*

        A few months ago, one of my co-workers mentioned to me a youtube video she’d watched the night before, that’s the spoken version of Bohemian Rhapsody. Spoken and acted out — it was divine. I’m not ashamed to admit that I had to stop the video half-way through for a restroom break, because I was laughing so hard.

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      I’m trying to picture
      “Falling, can you get me the chapter revisions by late tomorrow?”
      “I’m praying to Jesus about it.”

      1. AKchic*

        Look very somber and say “it’s in the Lord’s hands now”, give a choked sob, and turn away quickly. Maybe wipe away a dramatic tear as you’re walking away.
        Bonus points for an exaggerated Southern accent.

  36. JeanB in NC*

    I probably shouldn’t have read these comments at work – I keep giggling and snort-laughing, and the auditor that’s here probably now thinks I’m a lunatic.

  37. M&M*

    I’m not terribly surprised, Eastern Oregon has a large chunk of people like this and women are expected to be home. It sucks that her husband is doing this, but in the end only she can chose to leave.
    I’ve worked with a non-profit for domestic violence situations. If you know anyone that is experiencing this kind of thing you could get pamphlets, or anything for a local organization that can provide more direct help than a hotline.

  38. Collarbone High*

    Huge sympathy for that poor intern. It’s not clear whether Serena Joy was *his* manager, but if so, she was holding back his professional development and likely making him very uncomfortable by refusing to meet one-on-one with him and citing his sex and martial status as the reason. Even if she wasn’t, that’s terrible and I hope someone in management has talked to him and assured him that was unacceptable and not how the professional world is supposed to work.

    1. Arjay*

      I’m fascinated that marital status plays into it. I mean, it’s all wacko, but her husband allows her to meet privately with married men? That seems … unusual.

  39. Tuxedo Cat*

    I dealt with a similar situation at one of my last jobs. A female employee was fanatically religious just like the woman OP described. She was with the company for something like two years before they fired her. She hardly ever did her work right, complained about people celebrating Halloween and Valentine’s Day, demanded a more religious Christmas decor theme for the office (denied) and was just generally a massive pain in the ass. She could not take feedback constructively without blowing up and citing her religion. She went off on a young male intern and even went to HR to report him all because he approached her to discuss some forms he needed from her for a project. Her reason? “His smile is too flirtatious and his eyes are full of lust.” The intern was a quiet, reserved 19 year old college student who spoke super respectfully and professionally to everyone, including her. Things got really ugly when she started refusing to speak with or interact with employees who were gay. She went to HR to complain that a gay female colleague had offered her a cup of coffee in the kitchen, which to her was tantamount to a seduction attempt. HR was able to fire her after managers really put their foot down and started documenting how poor her work was and that was the reason for letting her go.

        1. MuseumChick*

          This. Just like this woman, they isolate themselves more and more into their community that thinks the exact same way.

    1. strawberries and raspberries*

      I’m glad they fired her ass. I would be tempted to leave a place like this myself, but then I’m also like, “Why should I be the one to go when this other person is creating a hostile atmosphere and projecting her own internalized nonsense onto everyone else, AND having the audacity to do terrible work while she’s here?”

      1. Merci Dee*

        For some reason, when I read that statement, it came through in the voice of Blanche Devereaux in my head. Of course, Blanche wouldn’t have been complaining about his lusty eyes . . . . ;)

        1. KC without the sunshine band*

          Oh my goodness, me too! You can’t use the word “lust” without Blanche. And you are correct. She would have answered him with her own smile and “ample bossom”.

    2. H.C.*

      I would’ve put an end to it when she stopped interacting with employees who are gay, since that limits her ability on any projects that involves them and it creates a hostile workplace situation for them.

      1. Kismet*

        I’ve always wondered about this. Or, well, maybe not this exactly – I’d hope that no one would ever consider creating a hostile workplace or discriminating against others a reasonable accommodation of an employee’s beliefs – but what happens when two people’s rights clash. Does that ever even happen? (I can’t think of any that aren’t convoluted thought experiments, really.)

        1. Edgar Allan Bro*

          Not to be too big a bummer about it, but in most states and federally being LGBT isn’t a protected status, so only company policy not law would protect LGBT employees from the religion inspired homophobia. So in a lot of states and companies, the religious “rights” will often trump the LGBT needs.

  40. spek*

    TBH – I can respect this woman for actually following her faith and putting her money where her mouth is, crazy (to some people) as her beliefs may be. I respect her a lot more that the woman who eats pepperoni pizza all year and then asks for time off for Yom Kippur, or the Christian Family Man who gleefully does strip bar happy hour on Friday before Mass on Sunday…

    1. strawberries and raspberries*

      This: “the woman who eats pepperoni pizza all year and then asks for time off for Yom Kippur”

      is absolutely not the same thing as invoking your god in every mundane interaction with other coworkers who may or may not share your beliefs and using your religion as pretense to steal company time and alienate others. My eating pepperoni pizza has nothing to do with you. Your answering my every question with “in His glory” and refusing to be alone with specific staff members is making us unwilling participants in your beliefs.

      1. spek*

        It’s absolutely the same thing. Being devout when it’s to your advantage to take time off isn’t “using your your religion as a pretense to steal company time”?

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          You’re assuming that there’s only one way to have a particular faith, and that’s absolutely untrue. You’re also assuming people who take off for Yom Kippur are doing it to get the day off, and there’s no basis for assuming that.

        2. AvonLady Barksdale*

          Because certain food rules are separate from devotion. The Torah also suggests that I sacrifice cows on the regular, but you don’t see me doing that. Religion is a complex set of beliefs and a pretty personal set at that; it is not up to you to tell me the “right” way to practice. My pepperoni pizza doesn’t offend my rabbi, yet you want to admonish me for it? Wrong tree.

          1. strawberries and raspberries*

            Yeah, I love it when people who don’t actually understand anything about Judaism lecture me about what I should be eating and when I should be celebrating (“WHAT DO YOU MEAN YOU’RE NOT DOING ANYTHING FOR HANNUKAH?!!!?!!”), as if it’ll give them extra points at the Rapture to say that they knew best how to manage other peoples’ piety.

          2. JessaB*

            Not to mention but there is vegetarian “pepperoni” and sausage flavoured like pepperoni that is made of beef. My vegetarian friend eats “pepperoni” pizza all the time. And it’s kosher. There are also vegan “cheeses” so it’s possible to have non dairy pizza with meat on it.

            And even so I know a lot of people who never in their lives kept kosher (hint my parents were some,) and took Yom Kippur and walked grandma to shul every damned year. We were the most secular Jews you’d ever meet but we never once even answered the PHONE on Yom Kippur in my entire life living at home with my parents. And heaven help a school who tried to make Yom Kippur an unexcused absence.

        3. Observer*

          Totally different things, because, aside from everything else, the person asking for time off is NOT STEALING anything. They are not planning to claim they worked while there were actually at services.

        4. Tuesday Next*

          I know plenty of people who don’t keep kosher but observe Yom Kippur, and at their own expense, because it’s taken from their holiday leave. They’re not pretending to be devout, either. That doesn’t create a negative atmosphere for their colleagues or impact on their productivity. I think you’re a little too invested in how other people practice their religion, which really is none of your concern if it doesn’t directly affect you.

        5. bookartist*

          You cannot equate the reasoning surrounding the complex laws of kashrut to the concept of Christian sin. The two sets simply do not correlate.

        6. Bryce*

          Have you heard about Reform Judaism? It’s a major sect of Judaism, started here in America and has about a third of American Jews as members. They feel that one does not need the traditional trappings and laws to be Jewish, and so do not observe a lot of them while still keeping major holidays. Conduct services in English rather than Hebrew, more inclusion of the congregation rather than a rabbi/cantor doing all the work, it’s not an identical parallel but one can make comparisons to Protestantism’s split from the Catholics.

          Please stop trying to diagnose other people’s religion. You only come across as ignorant.

          1. Observer*

            more inclusion of the congregation rather than a rabbi/cantor doing all the work,

            A bit off topic, but this is rather inaccurate. In Orthodox congregations, the Rabbi and Cantor don’t do anywhere near “all the work”. In terms of worship services, the Rabbi is incidental, and a formal Cantor is often not employed by many smaller congregations, in any literate adult is expected to be able to lead the services (even if not very musically.) And everyone says (almost) all the prayers.

            1. Bryce*

              Not my experience from the ones I’ve been to, where it was “respond when you’re supposed to respond, otherwise shut up and listen to the cantor sing. Just follow along and pray silently, we don’t sully the service by telling people what page to turn to next or anything like that. This is a serious thing, not a community event.” That was mostly (but not entirely) at my grandparents’ synagogue in Chicago though, so I’m happy to accept that what I took as differences between religious schools was actually the difference between my small town shoestring shul and some big fancy pomp and ceremony place.

              1. HannahS*

                I think that’s a very specific type of place, common to parts of the US and England. I’m not Orthodox, but I’ve been to a variety of Orthodox services from modern to Chabad and Aish HaTorah, in Canada and Israel, and they’ve never been like that.

      2. Argh!*

        Catholics who eat meat on Friday may ask for time off on Good Friday. Would you complain about them, too?

        1. spek*

          Maybe. When you walk around constantly preaching religion and but only follow dogma when it suits you it’s annoyingly hypocritical. See below comment on Family Values Christians. See also Joel Osteen re: refugees. If you want to follow a faith as part of your personal belief system, have at it, but if you trumpet it, prepare to have your hypocrisy noted.

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            Ick, no, this is really gross. You’re painting with too broad of a brush here. A Jew who doesn’t keep kosher but still observes Yom Kippur is not being hypocritical, and it’s really gross to imply they are. Please don’t make comments like that here.

          2. Tuesday Next*

            I’m not sure how you make the leap from “eats pepperoni pizza all year and then asks for time off for Yom Kippur” to “walk(s) around constantly preaching religion”. Those behaviours are pretty much at the opposite ends of the spectrum of Jewish observance.

            Believe it or not I do get the original point you were trying to make, that the employee was consistent and committed to her religious practice, but (1) that doesn’t make her behaviour in the workplace acceptable and (2) your example of hypocrisy is full of holes.

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      That’s not a good comparison to use. Plenty of Jews don’t keep kosher but still observe and find meaning in the most important holiday of the Jewish calendar.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        Thank you. I do not keep kosher but am considered more religious than many of my friends. The pork certainly doesn’t make me any less Jewish, nor would I consider my kosher-keeping friends to be more Jewish than I. A Muslim who drinks is still a Muslim, as is a Mormon who enjoys coffee. We’re not hypocrites for exercising our (per our religion, G-d-given) free will in our religious observance. What I consume has nothing to do with you. Now, if I were walking around calling you a heathen for eating a cheeseburger, then it would be your problem.

      2. Anon as well*

        Thank you Alison! I don’t keep kosher (though I’m a vegetarian), but I do observe Yom Kippur because it is the holiest day of the year and meaningful to me as a Jewish person.

        It can be really tough living in a country where Christian religious holidays are considered a given for time off, but I have to use my personal vacation time for my Jewish holidays. I’ve been lucky enough to work at companies who’ve either allowed me to work Christian holidays to compensate or simply given me the time off without docking down my vacation time (because they’re decent human beings with an understanding that not everyone celebrates Xmas and Easter). spek, please show some compassion to people of other faiths and understand that most of us are just human beings doing our best.

    3. Book Lover*

      Wow. Well, I enjoy my pepperoni pizza and I use my vacation time (part of my benefits, no extra time provided for religious holidays) for time off on Yom Kippur yearly.

      And what on earth is wrong with a strip bar happy hour?

      1. Detective Amy Santiago*

        And what on earth is wrong with a strip bar happy hour?

        I assume spek was referring to the hypocritical “family values” conservative Christian types who screech about how The Gays are ruining the institution of marriage while simultaneously knocking up their mistress and demanding she have an abortion.

        1. Blue Anne*

          Yeah. Those folks are really… something.

          In my brief flirtation with sex work, I spoke quite a lot with an evangelical youth pastor, a real Pillar of the Community type. High flying executive. In his free time he taught classes to other youth pastors on how to increase children’s engagement with church, then texted me about how much a month he would pay and how often we would have sex. He was very polite, but the hypocrisy blew my mind a little.

          1. Detective Amy Santiago*

            I live in PA and there was just a big controversy over an anti-choice elected official sending text messages to his mistress telling her that she needed to have an abortion (it turned out the pregnancy was a false alarm). He’s decided “not to seek re-election” next year. *eyeroll*

        2. Temperance*

          The best part is that she was wrong about this comparison. Men who go to strip clubs are considered victims of loose women and Jezebels. See: Josh Duggar.

      2. AvonLady Barksdale*

        I think you and I should go to the strip club for lunch on a Friday, eat some crab rangoons at the buffet, and leave work early for Shabbos.

      3. Student*

        The strip bar part. If it’s a work happy hour.

        If it’s your own non-work-social thing, do whatever you like. Even then, if your wife strongly objects to you paying money to regularly ogle other women at a strip bar, which is the unstated implication here, at minimum you owe her an honest conversation to hear her out and discuss things, and honesty about what you’re doing, so she can decide whether to accept that or leave over it.

    4. Susanne*

      Huh? Plenty of Jews don’t keep kosher. There are entire movements within Judaism who see keeping kosher as an optional, personal choice.

    5. Bespectacled elephant*

      Except the person who eats pepperoni all year long likely doesn’t impose her beliefs on others and probably uses Yom Kippur for the original purpose, introspection and repentance. The woman in this example did exactly the opposite: imposed her beliefs on others, lied and did not put her money where her mouth is – she tried to get everyone to do exactly what she wanted, even though they don’t share her beliefs.

    6. Alton*

      There are often a lot of ways that people interpret and follow their faith. It’s only hypocritical if they contradict themselves (like if they only care about keeping kosher when they don’t like the restaurant someone picked for a business lunch, or if they call other people sinners for going to strip clubs even though they go, themselves).

      Judaism has different branches and different interpretations of Torah. Yom Kippur is a High Holy Day that’s very important in the Jewish faith. Kosher dietary laws are traditions that not everyone follows, and there are different levels of keeping kosher. If you’re going to judge Jewish people for eating pepperoni pizza, you should also judge them for eating at restaurants and people’s houses that don’t have kosher kitchens or for consuming dairy too soon after eating meat, because that’s how strict kosher laws can get. Even then, you can find many different interpretations of these laws. Is it non-kosher to have dairy in the same table as meat? To use the same frying pan for both meat and dairy dishes? How long after cooking meat can you use a pain to cook something with dairy? Can your dog eat dog food that has a mixture of meat and dairy? What counts as “kosher” can get complicated very quickly.

      Some Jews, particularly Reform Jews, don’t keep kosher or only observe a few rules like not eating pork or shellfish. They can still be observant by the standards of their congregation. Also, Judaism traditionally depends a lot on rabbis to interpret the laws, and some rabbis are okay with the members of their congregations choosing not to keep kosher.

      1. Merci Dee*

        So, a question from someone who isn’t Jewish.

        I understand most of the rules for keeping kosher, and can certainly understand them in the historical timeframe in which they were given. But I’ve never understood the proscription against meat and dairy together. Can anyone give a little insight into =why= that was banned as part of the kosher diet?


        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          That’s going to take us off-topic here, but feel free to ask on the weekend open thread! (Quick answer though is that it’s about the cruelty of cooking an animal in its mother’s milk.)

          1. Merci Dee*

            Actually, that quick little answer was just fine. And I can kind of see the logic behind that thought. Thanks for helping me out, Alison, I appreciate that!

    7. Argh!*

      Nobody has the right to decide who is a true Jew or a true Christian or a true anything. It’s especially ironic that you cite two religions that have methods of atonement for not doing all the right things. They won’t be condemned in their own religion, so why should you have the right to do it?

    8. Liz T*

      Yom Kippur is the holiest day of the year, and profoundly meaningful to me, and it has f-all to do with my dietary habits, so please do not run around repeating that nonsense.

    9. Temperance*

      You are wrong, both in judging someone for being the wrong kind of Jewish and with your “family values” analogy.

      1. If you are not Jewish, you don’t get to decide how someone does Judaism. PERIOD.
      2. You do know that the “Christian Family Man” who likes tig ol’ bitties is considered fine in the religion, right? Because women are temptresses. All he has to do is pray, and he’s good with Jesus, so ….

    10. Courtney*

      How is flat out lying about what time you arrive at and leave work “putting your money where your mouth is”? And not little lies either – 15 hours a week worth of lies/theft! How can you ignore that hypocrisy while trying to call other religions out over their diet and vacation day choices?

    11. Kismet*

      Eh, I can respect people up until they start actually bothering others. I also recognize that religious practices are often idiosyncratic, and especially to outsiders it can look a lot like followers aren’t “properly” practicing their religion – but it’s not an outsider’s call to make. (Or, even, a co-religionist’s, I’d argue, since freedom of conscience is a thing.)

      Not keeping kosher and then taking time off for a holiday that might be important for all kinds of reasons is not hurting anyone – it’s not even stealing time from the company, since the person isn’t committing fraud to get extra time off. The Christian Family Man in your example is hurting no one unless he then turns around and demands other people follow rules he gleefully abandons, but I’d argue it’s his insistence on browbeating others that’s the problem, not what he does in his free time.

      The woman in question was obnoxiously pushing her coworkers’ and managers’ boundaries and committed time fraud. A person picking and choosing what rules to follow for themselves is in no way comparable.

    12. Effective Immediately*

      How ’bout all of those Christians who eat shellfish but want to celebrate Christmas?

      C’mon now.

  41. SpiderLadyCEO*

    From here on out, every time someone asks me how my day is going, I’m going to respond with “I’m just a sinner, seeking salvation.” I love it. I love the DRAMA of it, like even sitting at your desk working, you are an incorrigible sinner.

  42. Can't Sit Still*

    There is a blog out there somewhere with a Titus 2 woman leaving her job. Her male family members (husband, father, and sons) came and “rescued” her from her job. I can’t remember if she had given notice or if they just decided it was time and fetched her. There were several pictures that included her co-workers’ bemused and horrified expressions. Anyway, it was a very long entry with tons of photographs and it was amazing. You all need to see it.

    I’ll look for it tonight and post a link in the open thread tomorrow.

  43. Landshark*

    I know it’s messed up, but I was kind of hoping that the follow-up would be that the employee left the relationship, because, even all things about her religion aside, that sounds toxic. But then again, even most Southern Christian women I know aren’t fundamentalists and are very independent, so I know I lack perspective.

    Wow, though. I’ve known some people in religious sects that tend to be gender separatist, and even they make some exceptions for working relationships. The employee, despite probably having the best intentions in mind, was way off base.

  44. Andrea*

    It makes me sad to see that many comments here are leaning toward snark around religious beliefs. You may not agree with someone being a believer (and this person is not either representative of most Christians or most believers of any stripe), but belittling her as a person because she believes is not cool. Many people are projecting a lot of awfulness on people who believe here.

    1. CatCat*

      “Belittling her as a person because she believes is not cool.”


      But belittling her because she is an insufferable boor using religion as an excuse for deeply unprofessional behavior is cool.

      1. Andrea*

        “Belittling her as a person because she believes is not cool.” Agreed.
        But belittling her because she is an insufferable boor using religion as an excuse for deeply unprofessional behavior is cool.

        And these two are bleeding together all over these comments. Not cool.

        It’s like pretending Trump is representative of all people in public service, and using him to air your own prejudices that you hold about government, in general.

    2. Brandy*

      Its not the fact that she is religious, its that shes using it as an excuse at work. We have lots of really religious people here that have a prayer group and all, they don’t force it on anyone. They do every aspect asked of them in their job. Religion is not an excuse.

    3. CDM*

      Funny how a lifetime of Christians projecting awfulness on other people engenders a bit of snark in return.

      But you’ll hide behind the ‘no true Scotsman’ fallacy rather than take a long, hard look at the behaviors and words of your fellow believers.

      1. Andrea*

        CDM sorry if this is your experience. As a lifelong believer, I don’t see or hear this in my religious community. So, your perception may be off or too broad. I find that people want to ascribe prejudiced beliefs and behaviors onto me because of my beliefs. That’s what I object to.

        And honestly, believers often have more interest and openness to other believers. The people in my vicinity at work include Buddhists, Lubavitcher Jews, secular Jews, Krishna enthusiasts. I love hearing about their practice and holidays. Having beliefs makes me more open to the beliefs of others, not less.

        1. Tuesday Next*

          I’m an Orthodox Jew and I’ve worked with Christians, Muslims, Hindus, secular Jews and atheists. For the most part, they have not inflicted their beliefs on others or created an unpleasant work environment. That doesn’t mean it never happens, but let’s not stereotype people.

        2. Sylvan*

          As someone who has only experienced this community’s behavior as a welcomed insider and not as an outsider, your perception may be off or too narrow.

          I’ve known many people of a lot of faiths who were wonderful. Most of the people I’ve been closest to and looked up to the most have been Christian (they’re a huge majority where I live).

          I’ve also known some who weren’t shy about, say, believing others deserved to go to Hell.

        3. CDM*

          “your perception may be off ”

          Right there.

          You won’t even consider that the actions of your fellow believers might be a problem. You immediately dismiss a lifetime of experience of others as wrong. You are right, I’m wrong, case closed.

          You demonstrate EXACTLY what is wrong with how Christians treat others on a daily basis.

      2. Annie Moose*

        Most American Christians do not, in fact, believe that women can’t work outside the home. This is very much a set of fringe beliefs, and it’s inaccurate to imply that this woman is representative of American Christianity as a whole.

      3. tigerStripes*

        As a Christian who doesn’t project awfulness on people, I feel like CDM’s comment really lumps all Christians into 1 big unpleasant category. This seems unfair.

        1. Temperance*

          Don’t #notallchristians. Because a lot of y’all have done a lot of terrible things to other people, and well, you run our government and not fitting in to your group hurts many of us. I’m an atheist ex-Christian, and it can be sucky … I’ve seen but can never understand how difficult it must be to be a religious minority here.

          1. Kismet*

            This. I’m pagan. I’ve had plenty of “nice, sweet, tolerant” Christians, who would be happy to invite people of other religions over to their house or church, tell me I’m not welcome around them or at their church because of my supposed allegiance to Satan. (Which always seemed weird – like they’re big on reaching sinners but not people who are too sinful, I guess.)

            It can be really hard to see how your group is intolerant from the inside, especially if your group is the one with more social power. My own process of deconversion from Christianity/conversion to paganism most certainly included a painful phase of realizing that even my supposedly welcoming, liberal church was not as welcoming as its members liked to think – of realizing that I had not been as tolerant as I had liked to think.

            The same kind of thing happens even in groups with less power – I’ve met plenty of pagans who flat out deny that there are any pagan criminals, or that there’s ever been problems with sexism, homophobia, or transphobia in pagan communities. It’s very comforting to hold to the notion that Our People are good and not like that, and that any examples are Not Our People. It’s also rarely true.

            1. Effective Immediately*

              ” tell me I’m not welcome around them or at their church because of my supposed allegiance to Satan. (Which always seemed weird – like they’re big on reaching sinners but not people who are too sinful, I guess.)”

              Ok, I’m sorry, but this quite literally made me let out a loud “HA!” at my desk.

              Also, as a fellow pagan, yes, yes, YES to the rest of your comment.

    4. Temperance*

      I grew up in the evangelical community. I’ve earned the right to criticize those toxic beliefs, and the people who hold them. I also really have no problem with anyone criticizing sexist, strange beliefs like hers.

      I think you are seeing this through a Christian persecution lens.

  45. MashaKasha*

    I don’t get one thing – if the woman’s husband clearly did not want her working outside of home in the first place, and if he somehow had her complete obedience, why didn’t he just tell her to quit months ago, instead of going through this, continually worsening, show with him first banning her travel, then not letting her work a minute extra, then not letting her work the hours the company paid her to work, then not allowing her to be 1:1 with the intern, and so on? It almost looks like he was deliberately setting the situation up so it would gradually become so unbearable for her management, and her coworkers, that they would finally break down and let her go. I only have one idea as to why he would have done that, and even the conspiracy-theorist me thinks it is too far out.

      1. Temperance*


        I also think that they’re somewhat recently married, so they might be navigating this change in the relationship. I do think she wanted that sweet payday, though.

    1. Granny K*

      Just because they’re devout Christians doesn’t mean the husband didn’t enjoy her paycheck.

    2. Lehigh*

      Eh. It could be a scam but it seems more likely that they became increasingly devout and/or changed sub-sects during her time with the employer.

      1. Turtle Candle*

        My experience is that it’s very common for people to gradually get more extreme in beliefs like this over time–kind of a ‘boiling the frog’ thing.

    3. AKchic*

      If she was both late to work and leaving early, sounds like Big Poppa didn’t work a day shift. Maybe was even unemployed, so they needed her check. Speculative there.
      Unemployment pays out faster if you’re fired rather than quit willingly. Again, speculative on my part, but plausible speculation.

      I can tell you why my own 1st ex-husband put me through misery. He was a right-wing MRA, abusive, narcissist. I was not allowed to drive. Not because I was a “queen”, but because women are inferior and not worthy of driving because they are not as good as men and should never have been allowed to vote, let alone have the same rights as men, therefore no wife of his is going to drive. Yeah. None of THAT came out until after I was pregnant and married to him. Nor was his apparent belief that he was not only the reincarnation of Adolf Hitler, but the living embodiment of the Catholic God, therefore I was not allowed to divorce him because HE didn’t religiously sanction it. (Did I mention he was absolutely batguano crazy?)

      On good days, he drove me to work. Or partially to work because I worked on a military installation and he refused to get our car insured, not that we could have afforded insurance anyways. He refused to work. But, because he was the “Man Of The House”, he “allowed” me to “earn my keep” and be the “perfect trophy wife” by bringing home money for my “God and Master”.
      We were legally married for 9 months before I was able to actually have him arrested so I could file for divorce and get the first restraining order filed while he was in jail.

      Even in religion, whether they are devout, or shamming it to mask abuse – money is a serious motivator.

      1. Effective Immediately*

        Holy crap. I am so, so sorry this happened to you. Excellent illustration that many of these men don’t have “abusive misogynist” stamped on their forehead when you meet them.

  46. Granny K*

    “…praying to Jesus that it will be done Friday.” I’m currently working on a team and this week, a lot of the folks are out because of Diwali. (Happy Diwali everyone!). Just thought for a second how a phrase like this would be received. And then I had to leave my desk and go laugh in a quiet room for a minute. HAH!

  47. Erin*

    Literally as I was reading before getting to the end I was thinking, “Oh this woman should not be in the work world at all. She should be a housewife and I have a very, very strong feeling her husband would be okay with that and with financially supporting the two of them.” Praise God!

  48. PepperVL*

    At least her husband didn’t email the letter writer about “their” decision for her to quit.

  49. RB*

    Wow. I am trying to picture the letter that is going to come in from her husband about his difficulties expressing his religion at work or having to meet with women as part of his job. It is just so depressing but at least this company achieved a relatively good outcome.

  50. knitcrazybooknut*

    Alison, I don’t know if you’ll see this, but are you ever going to do a Weirdest Things Your Coworkers Plastered Their Cubicles With and Conflicts That Erupted Henceforth Post? I have …. Stories…..

  51. Martin Stein*

    “Also, there were some comments veering into Islamaphobia on the original post. I want to note for the record this person is a fundamentalist Christian in the American south”

    I’m glad you cleared that up. It’s good to see that the comments totally didn’t turn to Christiphobia instead.

  52. Dzhymm, BfD*

    She started saying things like “Praise be” and “God is Good” and “Thank the Almighty Lord” to all good news (even small things like approval on a project or her lunch order arriving early). If you asked her how she was doing, it was a “blessed day” or “in his glory” or “I’m just a sinner, seeking salvation.”

    I believe the appropriate response to this is “Bless Your Heart”…

  53. MissDissplaced*

    Oh my! What a whackadoodle.
    Either she was so controlled by hubby as to be brain dead or she was playing you.

  54. Chi*

    I am totally using this at work. “Chi, will that project be done on time?”

    “If the Lord wills it…”


  55. Jenny*

    This woman sounds straight out of The Handmaid’s Tale! Really glad that you confirmed she’s Christian and not Muslim as well, since that’s unfortunately often the assumption in cases like these.

  56. Kismet*

    I gotta say, if I were a coworker I’d be totally fed up with both the woman in question and management. I have no problem with people quietly having religious stuff about, or talking about their religion when appropriate (or just occasionally, like the “oh thank god the printer’s working” stuff), but this kind of over-the-top have-I-mentioned-I-am-Christian-this-hour stuff drives me bonkers, especially because it rubs in my face the fact that I can’t do that without the possibility of getting a very real backlash. And management’s refusal to do anything about it (which I understand wasn’t the LW’s fault) would rub that in even more, because what it would look like from my perspective is the loud fundie Christian getting special treatment, again and again.

    But I’m coming at this from a place where I can’t, for example, just throw on my religious necklace and call it a day, because it’s highly likely I’ll run into someone who will decide it means I’m in league with Satan and they get to harangue me for it, whereas a Christian can chuck on a cross necklace and not blink twice.

    I think sometimes it’s really hard for Christians to see how fundamentalist Christians come off. They aren’t just the embarrassing co-religionist who is maybe just a bit too performatively pious and really into religious decoration – they often come off as flat-out threatening, and at the very least, they often end up, if allowed to run wild, poisoning a whole place. Because what people like me see isn’t a workplace full of sane-but-embarrassed people, but a workplace where the crazy lady is setting the tone.

  57. Vertigo*

    I’m stunned that OP’s boss didn’t fire her after finding out she was only working 25 out of 40 hours; I’d think the simplest example of timecard fraud would be good grounds for termination? I have to admit, I’d be really pissed if I were a coworker of this woman and had to deal with her aggressive religiosity AND know that she grossly misrepresented her hours and kept her job.

  58. zsuzsanna*

    There’s been lot of talk here about religion, but I’m wondering if the bigger issue/trend here is people thinking the world needs to accommodate them, instead of the other way around. I’m not suggesting we not be allowed to express our own individuality and tend to our own needs, but at what point does it end up being too burdensome to the community at large (or just selfish)? So, the people who want to bring their iguanas to restaurants as “emotional support animals,” armed with some quack note they got on the Internet – never mind the health issues, but what about other diners who are afraid of certain animals or allergic to them? This is where the very sensible rule about seeing eye dogs in public spaces gets twisted and stretched to perversion. Or – people who think dressing appropriately for work is some kind of infringement on their personal expression or individuality. Maybe it is, but too bad – this is a situation where the norms of the workplace trump what you want. So: taking off on religious holidays that warrant it, sure. But not traveling for a job that requires it? Nope. You can practice your religion (and not traveling is not part of any religion, unless her husband started his own, with him as god), but you can’t impose it on your workplace. And that’s really what she was doing by demanding all these “accommodations.”

    1. Ignis Invictus*

      Then the restaurant management is at fault for not being up to speed on ADA accommodations. Under title ll and title lll a Service Animal is a dog. That’s it. A dog 1) required because of a disability, 2) trained for a specific task. Those are also the only two questions management is allowed to ask. There is one exception and the law is a bit squishy, and that’s miniature horses, required for a disability, trained for a specific task which is actually a religious accommodation. This is the same as the management in this case not being up to speed with how to handle religious accommodations. This is on management for handling the problem employee with kid gloves.

  59. Victoria M*

    I am from the UK and have never met a fundamentalist Christian, so I admit I thought this was a Muslim woman when I read the original letter. Mainly because of obeying her husband and the “queen” comment. I am quite surprised to read in the comments that this is common among Christians in the US, I’ve never seen anything of the sort in the UK.

    1. Lady Phoenix*

      Unfortunately, as I mentioned, Christianity is the dominant practicing religion and a lot of people running the show (the government) are either pious Christians or trying to please those pious Chrisitans to keep a stronghold of the country.

  60. Evan*

    Sounds to me as if she was merely using religion as an excuse to do as she pleased. Let’s face it…this wouldn’t be acceptable under any other terms and using the guise of religion is just…wow. Either way, I’m with what someone else said, “Good riddance!”

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