my interviewer’s wife told people about my job search, my date to the holiday party is a coworker, and more

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

1. My interviewer’s wife is telling people about my job search

I recently came across a job posting for a position I had interviewed for seven years ago. I made it through three rounds of interviews and in the end did not get the job. I was crushed at the time. I came across the same listing this year, and couldn’t resist applying again. Once again, I made it through several rounds of interviews but in the end was not selected for the position. It was disappointing, and I am trying my best not to take the rejection too personally.

This morning a coworker of mine let slip that at her bookclub on Friday, the interviewer’s wife had shared with her that I applied and interviewed for the job but did not get the position. She said “I probably shouldn’t say…” and then proceeded to tell my coworker my entire history of applying and interviewing with this company. I am frustrated because I have not been open with my employer about the fact that I interviewed for another job. I am not set on leaving my current position, but I jumped at the chance to work for this company. Furthermore, it’s a little embarrassing to have my coworker know I was rejected for this position twice. I’m not sitting at home crying about the rejection, but it’s really the last thing I want to talk about. I am ready to move on.

Should I reach out to my former interviewer to ask him politely to not discuss my interview with others? I made it clear in my interview that if I was hired, I would need time to tactfully exit from my current position, and it was indicated in my rejection that my request to take proper time to leave my current position was part of the reason I was not hired (they needed an applicant who could start immediately.) I asked my coworker not to share this with my boss, but I’m worried his wife may tell other people in our shared network (it’s a small town.)

Wow, yes. It’s one thing for people to talk about work in confidence with a spouse, but your interviewer probably has no idea that his wife is blabbing about it to other people.

I’d email the interviewer and say something like this: “As you know, I’m concerned about keeping my conversations with you discreet. I was taken aback today when a colleague told me that she’d heard about my interview process with you from your wife, who she apparently shares a social activity with. She then went on to share with me numerous details that she said your wife had relayed to her. I hope you can understand how stunned I am about this; this has the potential to jeopardize my current employment. I’m not sure what can be done at this point, but I wanted to make you aware of what happened and ask that you ensure nothing further is shared.”

Read an update to this letter here.

2. Should I intervene in my husband’s coworker’s marriage?

My husband works in a sales environment and is well liked and respected. Many of his coworkers tell him stories about their weekends, social events, etc. There is one married coworker who told my husband that he tried to make out with the much younger receptionist at a social work function on the weekend. There was a lot of alcohol involved, but I feel some sort of responsibility to tell his wife.

It would be anonymous if I were to tell her — email or Facebook message under a different name as I do not want to put my husband in the middle. I know many people might say that for something so small, why would you want to ruin their marriage or upset his wife, it’s not my business, etc. But a few months later, the married coworker left his job at the company my husband works at to take a higher up position with a different company and he asked the receptionist to come with him and he hired her there. Now they see each other daily and I am 100% sure he hired her to pursue her. This married coworker does have a history of openly hitting on, flirting, and being inappropriate with other women behind his wife’s back. What should I do?

You’re too many degrees removed from this to be in a position to intervene. You’re hearing this secondhand about people you don’t know personally.

When your husband first told you, ideally you would have pushed him to intervene — at a minimum by telling the guy to knock it off, but also possibly by reporting it to someone above him. (If your husband is a manager, he has an obligation to report sexual harassment that he hears about. And assuming the guy’s conduct wasn’t welcome to the receptionist, that’s harassment territory.) It’s probably too late for that now that the coworker has left the company, but if your husband still hangs out with this guy, you should encourage him to tell him to cut this crap out.

But this is all stuff for your husband to do, not you. You’re not close enough to the situation yourself.

3. My date to the office Christmas party is … a coworker

The small regional office for the big company I work for has a lot of people from different teams all thrown together in the same space. Two years ago, a colleague on a completely different team and I started dating (it’s going very well, we’ve moved in together!). We immediately made a “professional behavior at the office” rule and we have been very good at following it.

But I’m not sure how to act at the Christmas party, which is off-site and more relaxed and every one is bringing their partners. It’s not a secret that we’re together, but it’s possible that many people in the office don’t know 1) we’re dating or 2) that he’s not with his previous partner anymore.

I doubt anything we can do could stop people from talking. How can I conduct myself at the party and feel good about my behavior? What’s the right mix of professional and not hiding the fact that we’re together?

Assuming you’re not going to be engaging in PDA* at the party, it’s possible that a lot of people won’t even realize that you’re there together. They’ll just see … two coworkers.

So what’s more likely is that someone might ask whether you’re there with a date or not, at which point you can say, “Actually, Falcon and I came together.” And actually, even that doesn’t clearly saying “we’re dating,” so if you want to use this as a coming-out of sorts, you could be clearer about it: “I’m here with Falcon. We’ve actually moved in together.”

* Of course, it’s possible that they might see other signs — not PDA stuff, but like your hand on his back or something else minor but that you wouldn’t normally do with a coworker. I don’t think you have to worry about hiding those things. That’s how a lot of people figure out coworkers are dating. I hear you on worrying that they might not know he’s not still with his previous partner, but they’ll presumably put it together if you’re being open and normal about it (as opposed to making out on the copier or shooting each other furtive “let’s sex it up as soon as we get home” looks and so forth).

Read updates to this letter here and here.

4. Explaining Parkinson’s tremors in work meetings

I’ve recently been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. It’s a bit of an atypical presentation in that I don’t (yet at least) have the characteristic tremor most people associate with the disorder. It’s also a bit atypical due to my age (I’m in my early 40s.) I do have a visible symptom — as a side effect of the medication I take, I have “dyskenesia,” where both my right arm and leg move involuntarily. It peaks at predictable times following my medication dose.

My issue is that it’s pretty noticeable at work. I have a relatively senior meeting-heavy job which requires me to look presentable, put together, and generally on top of things. Sitting in a chair during meetings, I don’t really have any way to hide the extraneous movements. Even if my leg is under the table, someone sitting across from me can tell (it looks like I’m fidgeting), and my right arm, all the way to the shoulder, is pretty much constantly moving at its worst. Several people have asked me if I’m okay, but mostly I’m concerned that I look nervous or distracted to everyone at the table and they just don’t say anything. (And in fact I am distracted as I’m trying to force myself not to move, which helps a bit but doesn’t make it stop completely.) I’m worried that these movements make me seem less competent or just generally less professional.

Since the symptoms are heavily timed to the medication dose, I do have some level of control over when they show up. But I have to take the medication every four hours during the day (without it I’m very stiff and have trouble walking and typing), and it’s really difficult to manage properly if I try to shift the dosage times. I can shift the times to minimize symptoms for really important one-hour meetings on specific days but that’s not really feasible on an ongoing basis or when I have longer commitments. (Full-day meetings are pretty common in my environment.)

A few people at work know I’ve been dealing with some movement issues for a while, and a small number know the whole story, but most either don’t know anything at all or have just heard vague rumors. I’m often also meeting with people from other departments that wouldn’t have a reason to know about my health issues, and in these cases it’s even more critical that I seem competent and at ease, as in these cases I’m generally trying to get agreement to do something collaboratively or pitching some kind of other type of interaction and need to be seen as a good person to work with.

I get so nervous about this that more than once I’ve just blurted out a confession about my condition because I was concerned how I was coming across. I definitely don’t think that’s a good solution, but I’m having trouble coming up with something else. I fear just pretending it’s not happening is reducing my effectiveness, but I also don’t want to be vague and mysterious. Any advice on how I could deal with this in a productive way?

I think you’ll feel much better if you say something! It doesn’t have to be the full story if you don’t want it to be, but there are a few things you could say that would explain what’s happening so that people aren’t worried or trying to fill in details on their own.

For example, you could say, “I might look like I’m fidgeting or moving strangely during this meeting — it’s a side effect of a medication, so please don’t worry.” Or “I’m dealing with some health issues involving nerves, so you may notice some involuntary movements — I hope it’s not distracting.” Or “I have a condition that’s causing a tremor — please don’t worry if you notice it.”

Basically, address it up-front or as it happens to whatever extent you’re comfortable with. You’ll probably feel better knowing that people aren’t wondering what’s going on, and they’ll feel better knowing that whatever it is, there’s an explanation and you’re on top of it.

5. Responding to a reference request from an old friend who I’ve fallen out with

An old friend and former colleague applied to the state bar. He’s a new attorney and just started working for a firm. I received a link from the bar association, with directions on how to respond to standard questions about him and write several paragraphs about him, how long and how well I knew him, and what I think of his character and why I think he should be admitted. The thing is, he’s not been friendly or accessible in a long time. He’s actually made quite a few bad impressions the last few times we interacted, and he did not even reach out to me to ask if he could submit my name/email as a personal or professional reference. How should I have responded?

If he had just been out of touch for a while, that’s not something you should hold against him when giving a reference. It would be pretty awful to do that to someone you describe as an old friend. But if you actually have a bad opinion of him now, which seems like it might be the case, that’s a different thing. In that case, it would be perfectly reasonable to simply not respond, or to contact him and let him know that you don’t feel like you’re well-positioned to give a recommendation.

If you had serious concerns about his ethics or integrity, the other option would be fill out the questionnaire honestly, of course. But I don’t think that’s what you’re saying here.

Updated to add: Letter-writer, please see the discussion about this in the comments here and here.

{ 429 comments… read them below }

  1. Combinatorialist*

    I’m not a lawyer but several of my friends just passed the bar and applying for it is awful. You have to put together references of character for the past 7 years of his life that aren’t related and if he isn’t very social, then he might not have tons of good options. And the bar references aren’t like references of a job — they are to make sure he is a moral and ethical person more than competent and likable. So if you don’t have qualms about his ethics or morals, I think it would be doing an old friend a favor to fill it out. I filled it out for several of my friends and they told me I just needed to write a few sentences about how I had no qualms about them making ethical decisions

    1. neverjaunty*

      References for the bar aren’t favors, and they sure as heck aren’t something you sign somebody up for without asking first.

    2. Guest*

      I remember how difficult it was filling out state bar applications. For many states, you need to provide a significant number of “references,” although many of these are to confirm you actually lived or worked where you say you did. What makes it tricky is that you generally cannot use relatives, significant others, people who have not known you for a significant time (e.g., seven years), or people used elsewhere on the application. It was challenging finding people I had known for a long who could speak to all aspects of my application. While I agree the applicant should have reached out to you first, I would be open to helping them unless you really have a negative opinion about them.

      1. Naruto*

        Certain bar applications might even specify who to list. Your college roommate, a coworker more than five years ago, etc.

        Ultimately unless you think the person is unfit to be an attorney, it would be a kindness to just do this. It’s not the same as a job application reference.

    3. Bagpuss*

      I think he was extremely rude to have given your name without asking your first.
      Ithink your options are
      (i) ignore it, if you have no ongoing friendship / relationship with this person.
      (ii) contact him to say you were very surprised to receive this, as you haven’t had much contact with him recently and he didn’t contact you to ask whether he could give your name, and let him know that as you don’t really know him any more, you don’t feel comfortable responding.
      (iii) contact him to let him know that you were surprised he gave your name, and not happy that he did not contact your ask if you were OK with this before submitting it, and then (depending on his response) either complete the reference or tell him you won’t be doing so.
      (iv) complete it, and wither then let him know you’ve done so but that you were not impressed that he didn’t have the courtesy to ask your first, r just ignore it.

      I personally would probably go for (iii), but if I did have any concerns about being able to answer the questions or if his behaviour left me feeling he wasn’t someone who should be admitted, (as proposed to just not thinking he is a person I want to be friends with any more) then I would go for (ii).
      I don’t think any of them would rude or inappropriate responses – you are not responsible in any way for helping him to get admitted, and asking someone to be a reference or to respond to questions about you is a big favour, so as a bare minimum he should have asked you.

      I guess it does depend a little on what is being asked. Here (England) the sign-off you need is from another lawyer or a judge, and I would never provide a reference unless I had worked with the person concerned, either because they were my employee or co-worker or because I’d worked or cases where they were on the other side, and so built up a professional relationship with them. It’s a big deal .

      1. blackcat*


        A friend of mine has a security clearance for work. They ask for SO MANY NAMES when doing the background check. It was clearly a pain, but he got in touch with each and every person first and spoke to them about it. For the optional people (people who knew him at his jobs/residences for the past 10 years, including me), he asked. For the non-optional people (eg his siblings and in laws), he told them he had no choice but to hand over their information and gave them the heads up.

        It may be a pain, but you ask/talk to people first!

        1. Snark*

          Second this. When I was applying for my clearance, I had to dig REAL deep, and it was a major pain in the ass. Old bosses be like, “Who? Oh yeah, that one kid…..what can I do for you?”

        2. nonegiven*

          Depending on the clearance, they don’t always stop at people you name. They ask those people for more names. They even look up neighbors of your previous addresses and ask people, who may not have even known your name, about you.

      2. Anon the twenty third*

        In most states in the United States, if you’re listed like this (or if you’re listed as an employer) and don’t respond, the person WILL go through a really expensive and lengthy moral character hearing. I know, because it happened to someone I know when an employer didn’t respond. It took her an extra year to get licensed because a past (terrible) employer got in a snit at her. The hearing included more than just the one employer though – once there’s a single sign of issues, the state’s Bar association will generally go into everything they can think of to try and find poor character.

        Think VERY hard before you simply don’t respond. If nothing else, I think you owe this person letting them know that you don’t think you’re the best bet, so they can see if they can get someone else.

        1. Facepalm*

          My spouse knows someone something like this happened to. Someone the prospective attorney asked for a reference from felt morally obligated to disclose that they had knowledge that the prospective attorney had smoked pot (in a state where it was not legal) and because of that, the person wasn’t admitted to the bar with the rest of their class. I think they eventually were later, but wow. What a horrible way to learn a lesson about being careful who you ask for a reference.

        2. Ramona Flowers*

          All the more reason to ask first then! If it’s this important, why would you take the risk of not checking beforehand?

          1. Rained*

            We have no idea if the applicant provided this person’s name or not. From my personal experience I can tell you that state Bars often contact people other than those originally listed by the applicant.

            The name could’ve been given by someone else. The bar could’ve found a connection themselves.

            It’s also entirely possible that the application had a section to list several people you knew over your life and didn’t say they would be contacted his references. I’ve actually seen this on at least one state bar application.

          2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

            Sometimes they question people who you did not list as your reference. In California and other states, you’re required to list:

            1. Character references (most folks check in with these people);
            2. Personal references (again, people often give these folks a head’s up); and
            3. People 2 steps removed who can vouch that #1 and #2 are who you say they are (folks rarely check in with #3 because it’s not clear on the Moral Character application that this group could be contacted to provide a character evaluation).

            For example, a friend’s ex-boyfriend’s mother was contacted, and the friend didn’t even list the mom on her application.

            OP should treat this as very different from a usual reference, provide the reference, and then notify the applicant about the burden it created. I think there’s a 50%+ chance that the applicant never listed OP in the first place.

            1. Lindsay J*

              Yeah, not for the bar, but when my exboyfriend was applying for government law enforcement and investigative agencies they reserved the right to, and did contact tons of people who were not explicitly listed. Landlords, neighbors, old classmates, old coworkers, friends of friends, etc.

              They wanted to step outside of the carefully curated list of references to get insight into what he was actually like, and so contacting only people who he had listed would sort of defeat the purpose.

              They contacted my father for sure. Ex-bosses and coworkers. His family’s neighbor growing up. We have no clue if they contacted our neighbors at the time because we literally never interacted with them, but I wouldn’t doubt it. His high school friends were even asked stuff like “Was his bedroom generally messy or neat?”

              For something like law enforcement or the bar or security clearances I would never assume that I had specifically been listed by the person I was contacted about.

              1. KC without the sunshine band*

                I got called about a neighbor for a government job. She lived on my street but I didn’t know her, so I’m sure she didn’t put me on the list.

                1. Stone Satellite*

                  Someone came to our door once asking about a neighbor we’d never talked to who was trying to get a security clearance. Once the reference checker pointed out the house he lived in, we knew who he was asking about, but we didn’t even know the guy well enough to know his name and had literally never spoken to him, not even once.

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

              But wouldn’t they tell you that the applicant is not the one who supplied the name? Or at least imply it?

        3. Rusty Shackelford*

          In most states in the United States, if you’re listed like this (or if you’re listed as an employer) and don’t respond, the person WILL go through a really expensive and lengthy moral character hearing.

          Wow. That’s horrifying. But as Ramona said, if there’s that much at stake, why would you not talk to your reference before listing them?

          1. BigLaw Midlevel*

            it’s a violation to not list every employer you’ve had and is sanctionable. You won’t lose your bar card over it (once you’ve been admitted) but if they learn you lied on your application after the fact they will sanction you and you might not be able to practice for a year or 18 mos or something.

            1. Rusty Shackelford*

              But we don’t know that the letter writer was listed as an employer. She refers to the applicant as an “old friend and former colleague.” Since she says “colleague” and not “employee,” it’s just as likely she was listed as a friend, not an employer, and therefore listing her would have been optional.

              1. BigLaw Midlevel*

                they may not have been listed at all. Bar examiners often ask listed references for additional names of other people who knew the applicant so they can get better insight into their character. Bar examiners can go as far as they want and will also start contacting people you didn’t list just based on signs you might know them (like LinkedIn).

            2. Hc600*

              Yup! I listed odd jobs starting from when I was 18 and I explained if I contacted them on the phone that it wasn’t like a letter of recommendation but a background check so they wouldn’t be confused about why they were being contacted years later about someone who did low skill work for them for a few months.

        4. Huntington*

          This is so depressing. A former coworker has his degree and is going through this — I’m one of his references, but so is his former boss, who wants to torpedo his application. It’s 100 percent unfair. The friend used to be the boss, then he became a remote employee, and the new boss was promoted to supervise his old boss, so they had predictable issues with the power switch and role reversal. But to carry that over into this evaluation is beyond awful, frankly.

          1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

            I have a friend whose moral character took 5 years to clear because she was arrested when serving as a legal observer at the RNC convention in NYC. These things can be so brutal.

          2. Gina Linetti*

            Could you mention your worries about the former boss who wants to torpedo the application, or would that come off as suspicious on your/the applicant’s part?

    4. K.*

      I did one for my best friend and it was all about her morals and ethics. She definitely asked me ahead of time, although I would have happily done it even if I’d been blindsided by it (I would have reached out to her after I got the request, though, just to touch base and make sure I understood what was being asked of me).

    5. Curious*

      He might not have given them his name – in my state, the bar reference form asks for two more references that know that person. So one of his other references might have given your name and info without knowing you two had since fallen out.

      1. Rained*

        Ding! Or, if it’s a state like California, it’s entirely possible that they were in the Google check and found out you two know each other.

        I had a call from another state bar asking about someone I went to law school with and we were in some student orgs as leaders. Not a friend or someone I knew well, but our paths have crossed to know if they wanted to know about the incidents that happened in law school that have been reported back to them during an ethics investigation. Typically, they wouldn’t ask those kinds of questions so I can only assume that either the pattern of behavior with similar or involved in some of the same parties.

        All I had to give them was hearsay and reputation evidence. I did give them the name of some other former students who know the person better.

      2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        THIS. This is what happens in California and sometimes New York. I really think this is an issue that’s unique for (American) lawyers, and it may be helpful if the answer reflected that.

      3. Lindsay J*

        Yeah, not the bar, but for a federal background check for one of my ex’s, a lot of people were contacted because of proximity – his family’s neighbors growing up were not listed but were contacted because the people doing the check had all of his old addresses and they literally just contacted the people who lived in the surrounding homes.

        Old coworkers were contacted because he listed his previous jobs and they found people who worked there at the same time.

        Classmates from school were contacted in the same manner. People who attended the same school around the same time, or for college who were in the same major. I believe we know that at least one of his professors were contacted as well.

        Ultimately we found out about most of these contacts when he got a phone call or Facebook message or inMail from the person going, “So, the XXX called and asked about you today,” so I am sure there are other people who were contacted that we didn’t know about (or possibly who didn’t even know him really). The people who told us they were contacted did sometimes mention that they were asked for other names of people who would know him well or who could corroborate how the first person knew him, (so he couldn’t lie and say someone was an ex boss when they were really just a coworker or similar).

        He lived with me. I was not contacted (though I did have to fill out a form with my information in his background check application regarding my job and address history, contact with foreign nationals, etc) but my parents were.

    6. Wouldn't want to take the bar again*

      Some states also specifically ask for references from other lawyers, or for the names of lawyers who may know the candidate personally. The opportunity for blackballing is enormous in the profession. OP doesn’t have to say anything other than that he knows of no impediment to the candidate being admitted to the bar (assuming that’s the case.) Any more (or less) than that risks OP’s own reputation.

    7. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      Alison, I think the answer is missing something really important that’s unique to the process of admitting lawyers to the bar in most of the United States (see Combatorialist’s comment, my comments, Rained’s comments and Curious’s comment). The kind of information that’s missing could have a massive impact on the applicant, and it might change OP’s opinion about whether to respond to the reference request.

      Would it be possible to update the answer?

        1. K, Esq.*

          Thanks. I had a summer internship with a lawyer in college who failed to respond to ANYTHING from me or Bar Counsel, even though she was a practicing in my state. I passed the July bar, but wasn’t admitted until next June because Bar Counsel made me wait while they tried to contact her. They finally did my character interview and begrudgingly overlooked her lack of participation. Even a token response would be gracious.

    8. Noah*

      There’s (at least) one state– I don’t recall which–that requires at least one of your references be somebody you haven’t been in contact with for some number of years. So he may be REQUIRED to use somebody like OP.

  2. HannahS*

    OP #1, I’m with Alison. This guy probably thinks his wife is his “safe person”–the person he can talk to about work who isn’t a coworker, who isn’t going to share anything with anyone. It’s valuable for him to know that he’s wrong. Who knows what other information is leaking out? After all, a similar situation informed the whole world that Robert Galbraith was actually J.K. Rowling. (Obviously, more importantly, he could have lead to your being fired. Big, serious no-no.)

    1. Artemesia*

      Exactly. And the OP sadly needs to have Plan B as this can still result in her losing her job and the wife once chastised by the (one would hope infuriated) husband might decide to do things that make it worse.

    2. Bryce*

      Yeah, this was my thought too. I’m the “safe person” for a few of my friends (none know about the others) and it’s basically complete compartmentalization. I don’t even hint that I know things others don’t, and when it gets too much for me to handle I vent to someone across the country who has almost no chance of things finding their way back (nor a desire to do so).

    3. RabbitRabbit*

      Admittedly, maybe details are omitted/changed to help with anonymizing this, but I’m kind of alarmed that the interviewer was releasing enough information to his wife that the wife knew history of past interviewing, the OP’s actual identity, and place of work. That’s… a lot. And more than a “safe person” really needs to know, you’d think.

      Maybe it’s just that I work in the medical field and anonymize a LOT, even with my husband.

      1. Samiratou*

        Yes, me too. That’s a lot of information to share with a spouse, particularly one who doesn’t work for the company.

        I’d consider it a bullet dodged, OP, ’cause if they gossip that much about people they haven’t hired, think what they say about people they have?

      2. Falling Diphthong*

        This is an interesting point–my husband talks to me about work, and occasionally about memorable interviewees, but I don’t think anyone even has a last name, usually. (Unless it’s to distinguish Mike Brown, Mike Black, and Mike Beige.)

        1. RabbitRabbit*

          I mean, maybe the writer was condensing for space or omitting/changing things to be anonymous, but I’m boggled that anyone could make that kind of connection. I’m trying to envision how this interviewer talks to his wife that he’s all, “Yeah, poor old FirstName LastName from Wildly Memorable Workplace has been trying for years to get in here and just keeps getting cut out at the last minute; FirstName tried 7 years ago and again this year, and barely missed out each time.”

      3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        Me three, although that doesn’t surprise me as much as the wife blabbing about it to her book club. Seriously, who does that? Either the interviewer needs to talk to the wife, or the company needs to talk to the interviewer, or both. This is a massive privacy/personnel problem.

        1. RabbitRabbit*

          Yes, that’s pretty terrible too, especially when it could jeopardize someone’s employment.

          I mean, my husband tells me things about coworkers that I do not talk about (especially because I’ve met most of them), but anything about customers/clients? In the vast majority of cases, I don’t know who those people are – and if I do know, I’m wise enough to not spread it further.

        2. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain*

          The odd thing to me is that this is such banal gossip that it’s hard to imagine wanting to pass it along during book club. “My husband is interviewing candidates for an open position again, and someone who applied years ago applied again.” Woohoo (sarcasm). There are definitely details missing in the story. Why would the wife care, why would the husband feel the need to unburden this information to his “safe person” in the first place???

          1. tunacat*

            Hi OP here, and I have to say I am equally surprised that she mentioned such a banal story to my co-worker. I should say my workplace is so small (4 people) that her mentioning that another woman from my co-workers office applied made it completely obvious who I was. In the wife’s defense she may not have known that, but in my defense I was very clear about the fact that my employer did not know I was interviewing for this job. I am not committed to leaving my current job, but I saw a good opportunity (although its seeming less that way now) and went for it.

            I am the safe person for my partner who does all the hiring and firing for his place of work, and I can’t imagine sharing something like this with a friend because:
            1. It is betraying HIS trust
            2. It is unkind to the applicant
            3. It is not very interesting

            1. MashaKasha*

              I’ve been the safe person to a number of people. Mostly because they know I am not going to tell; unless, I don’t know, someone’s life is in danger and I need to warn them (never happened, and hopefully never will). I cannot even begin to imagine, like you said, betraying my (currently non-existent) partner’s trust over something so irrelevant to my own life, and to the group of people I am talking to.

              I have also been a member of a book club for five years (actually headed to their meeting tonight). We meet for dinner beforehand. We share personal updates over dinner. We go to the book club and discuss the book. We may then stay after the book discussion for more abstract conversation and or personal updates. But gossiping about random people? why on earth would we do that? who has that kind of time? Not to mention, it’s just icky to be talking about other people’s deeply personal situations like that. I’m fuming here, in case you haven’t guessed.

      4. Nolan*

        Yeah, I also thought it was very strange that the wife knew OP’s full name, current place of employment, AND the details of OP’s history with her husband’s company. Why is he giving her so many details? I’d probably skip right over contacting him and go to someone further up the food chain, I’m assuming OP isn’t the only person being gossiped about. I’d also never apply to that company again, and, maybe even warn others away.

        1. Natalie*

          In a small community the wife might have already known LW’s name and current employer. The interviewing details are definitely beyond the pale, though.

          1. RabbitRabbit*

            I was thinking that could be part of it and it was hidden to help anonymize the letter a little. Agreed that the history is definitely over the top in details.

        2. Rusty Shackelford*

          I wonder if the wife and the OP knew each other, or knew *of* each other. Otherwise, it does seem weird that the interviewer would share that much information. I mean, I can totally see Mr. Shackelford telling me about someone who he’d interviewed for two different jobs. But to add “And his name was Fergus McGillicuddy, and he works at Sucracorp” seems… less totally seeable.

          1. tunacat*

            OP here, I have never heard of the wife before. She must’ve recognized my place of work as being the same place of work as her acquaintance (my co-worker). She gave enough details (general age, gender, etc) that in my small office it was very clear who I was.

              1. tunacat*

                Not my name, but enough about me that I was identified. She knew this information would identify me, and described me in other ways to my co-worker.

                1. Rusty Shackelford*

                  Which is still awful, but maybe the silver lining is that the entire book club didn’t know who she was talking about? But the fact that she tried to be sneaky shows that she knew it was inappropriate, IMHO.

                2. gob·ble·dy·gook*

                  If your interviewer wasn’t HR — and I really hope they weren’t given their behavior — please loop that company’s HR into the conversation. It’s not just a trust problem in the interviewer’s marriage. It’s also an HR problem. And so uncouth.

                  I’m really sorry you’re dealing with this.

              2. tunacat*

                Unfortunately, it’s a small town. My fiance’s boss’s wife was also in attendance and could put the pieces together.

        3. Else*

          He might not have given her the details deliberately – if she’s just super nosy, she might have read files he brought home or had open on his computer, or eavesdropped on a work call he was having with the rest of the search committee. That would be even worse, and even more necessary for him to know – how awful if your spouse treats your confidential work experiences as a source of gossip! And there is no way for her to deny that she knew that this was confidential – everyone knows that anything to do with names should never be blabbed.

      5. Artemesia*

        When I was a child we had a family friend who was a doctor. I remember his wife nattering on about people we knew — ‘You wouldn’t believe how filthy Carolyn’s underthings were when they brought her in with appendecitis’ etc etc I was a child and friend of Carolyn’s who was a bit older than me, a young teen and I have never forgotten it. Lots of professionals gossiped back in the day before HIPAA and I am sure plenty of them do now.

        1. Toads, Beetles, Bats*

          My mouth just dropped open. I’m so sorry as a kid you witnessed grownups being so breathtakingly cruel! And I’m going to give a big hug to the next person I meet named Carolyn.

        2. Else*

          I cannot IMAGINE anyone I know doing this! I know a lot of medical and health professionals because of my job, and I’m sure they are all well aware that this is beyond the pale at this point. I can’t say the same for some of the office staff, though – I’ve definitely heard stories and even experienced some of them saying things they shouldn’t. Most of them are perfectly professional, but they don’t face the same terrible consequences if they violate confidentiality, so maybe some are willing to be less careful.

        3. Chameleon*

          ‘You wouldn’t believe how filthy Carolyn’s underthings were when they brought her in with appendecitis’

          Dear god, Grandma was right!!

      6. Sue*

        I’ll never forget finding out a high school classmate was pregnant because the walls in my Dr’s office were so thin. There are many ways for confidential information to leak. Professionals have a duty to protect it. His supervisor should know as well.

  3. Ophelia Bumblesmoop*

    #2 – While sexual harassment is certainly a concern, the fact that the receptionist willingly followed married coworker to a new position after he admittedly tried to hook up with her says she isn’t being harassed. She’s accepting the advances of this former coworker to the point that when given the chance to get away from him, she instead chose to follow along. That’s consent.

    It seems unlikely if this married coworker has a reputation of infidelity that his wife has no clue. She knows. She is choosing to handle her marriage within her own marriage. It may not be what you would do, but you are lucky enough to not be in her shoes.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Whoa, no. She may feel that it was a risk she was willing to take if it was a good career move, or that his behavior is unwelcome but she feels she can handle him, or a bunch of other possibilities. Continuing to work for him isn’t consent to being harassed!

      1. Elizabeth the Ginger*

        Yes! There have been so many stories in the news lately like this. For instance, there were actresses who continued to work with Harvey Weinstein after he exposed himself to them, etc. Doesn’t mean they consented to that or were okay with it…

        1. Anon anon anon*

          Yeah. And sometimes it can point to a more serious situation. I mean, worst case scenario, he undermined her employment at Old Job, somehow limited her other options (reputation damage, etc) and then offered her something better. There are a lot of games that people can play.

          That said, I agree that letting the wife know by using an alias online probably wouldn’t do much good. And, who knows, it could be the exact opposite – maybe they have an open marriage and everyone involved is consenting. OP is too far removed to know.

      2. steve*

        the person you are replying to did not suggest it was “consent to being harrassed”. She suggested that it might not be harrassment because the person chose to work with him even after he left the company. Sometimes somethings are consensual. Two people leaving one job to go to another to continue working together might be consensual.

          1. Steve*

            Consent to follow and change jobs not consent to be harrassed. It’s not harassment if she doesn’t think so, no matter what people here want to say. Do we know how the receptionist who followed viewed the incedent?

      3. I posted the question*

        Not in this situation. She openly hangs out with Married Men often at work functions, bars. etc. I believe she knows what is going on.

        1. Emi.*

          That doesn’t make it okay (or legal), and also doesn’t rule out the possibility that she doesn’t like it.

          1. Brittasaurus Rex*

            What’s with “Married Men” in initial caps? Aren’t a lot of employees married? You can’t really help being around them.

        2. Andy*

          I mean, I ‘hang out’ at work functions with ‘Married Men’ because I work with them…
          but it’s not ‘hanging out’ it’s work, and yes they’re ‘Married Men’ but they’re also just co workers who are married and yes are men.
          It’s pretty open and flagrant. I stand, usually within conversational distance. So…it’s open.

        3. Falling Diphthong*

          My husband is right now hanging out with Married Women. And Married Men. And some single people. Because he is at work. And there are other people there.

          I’m typing this as someone who does not believe in any third party obligation to cover up affairs the people involved can’t manage to keep secret: Your focus on the receptionist and her doings (which so far include turning down a romantic overture, taking a new job, and being at work functions) is really, really odd. Like this is a 1940s movie about Shameless Hussies tempting innocent and helpless married men with their hussiness.

            1. Falling Diphthong*

              If my husband is at a work function that occurs outside of work hours, no one’s marital status changes.

                1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

                  … and I go to happy hours with the Married Men in my office. I’ve texted Married Male coworkers in the late evening. I’ve shared cabs to the hotel with them when we’ve been on work trips. It’s… normal.

                2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

                  How is that a key difference? I’m in a profession where there are after-hours work events with alcohol. It’s almost impossible to attend an after-hours work event WITHOUT alcohol. If I don’t go, it materially affects my ability to advance in my career.

                  How is this different?

                3. Nolan*

                  Alcohol doesn’t change anyone’s relationship status. I don’t magically become single when I go out to drinks and my partner stays home.

                4. toddL*

                  I’ve texted Married Male coworkers in the late evening. I’ve shared cabs to the hotel with them when we’ve been on work trips. It’s… normal.

                5. Sue*

                  90% of the Company I work for is men, mostly attached/married and when we go out and have drinks i would say 50%+ flirt, become inappropriate, make advances with women. So yes alcohol does play a role but the jerks are jerks even before drinking.

                6. Ask a Manager* Post author

                  Sigh. Please stop implying that men and women shouldn’t associate together if one is married, or there are drinks around, or someone is wearing a skirt you find too short, or so forth. This is gross and it’s not welcome here.

                7. MLB*

                  News flash…it IS possible to be friends with someone of the opposite sex where one or both are married AND go have drinks with them and others after work without anything sexual happening between them. I work in IT and at my last job 90% of the people I worked with were men, most of them married or coupled up. And I have been to countless happy hours with them without anything inappropriate happening.

                8. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

                  Jelbisa: Whoa, that’s a weird assumption to make!

                  I am married (to a man), who also does the things I described. We have comfortable, non-sexual, professional, friendly relationships with our colleagues of all genders and marital status. I wish the same for you (and everyone!).

                9. MashaKasha*

                  Seriously, what the hell? I’m not married now, but was for close to 20 years. We both worked outside the home, both attended work functions with coworkers (many of them probably Married) and alcohol. At no point did that cause either of us to cheat on the other. Because, you know, that’s how humans interact with each other.

                  That is one hell of a stretch to assume that the only thing people (married or not) need to do in order for a coworker (married or not) to have sex with them is to get that person, unchaperoned by their significant other, in a place where there are drinks. At least on my planet, people are way more discriminate than that.

              1. Sue*

                How do you know that Falling? Are you at these functions watching over the married men including your husband?

                1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                  Okay, so apparently Sue, Todd, Jelbisa, Joan, and the OP are all the same person (according to the IP addresses of the comments). Sock puppetry is not allowed here. Please stop that. Stand behind your own comments rather than trying to appear like multiple people.

                2. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

                  That’s useful context for the letter, honestly (that the LW engaged in sock puppetry to share extreme views about men & women working together).

                3. Falling Diphthong*

                  Ah, I wondered about sock puppets as I left to walk the dogs, and lo and behold…

                  “Sue,” you are responding to a comment in which I state that engaging in verbs not involving the filing of legal papers does not change people’s marital status. This is empirically true.

          1. toddL*

            Falling mentioned that her husband is hanging out with Married People right now because he is at work. Of course there are Married People at work but after work functions with alcohol is not the same as being at your job.

            1. Falling Diphthong*

              And you’re saying that you want the executive vice president to stop attending these events, because he’s an executive veep and should know better than to be near underlings when there is alcohol?

        4. Rusty Shackelford*

          Is “openly hangs out” a euphemism for flirting? And what do you mean by “knows what is going on?” Knows these men are married? Knows they want to hook up with her?

          1. I posted the question*

            There is more history to my question but I don’t want to get into specifics.
            Both The Married Man and the Receptionist have been in similar situations with other people.
            I have known them both for 4+ years and we all hang out together at work functions.

            1. Rusty Shackelford*

              I understand not wanting to get into specifics, but you’re being too vague for us to understand what you’re saying. Do “similar situations” mean flirting? Being in the same room together? There’s a very big spectrum that you’re failing to stick a pin in.

            2. No Parking or Waiting*

              If they’ve both had relationships with coworkers or individuals outside his marriage, or in her case, with another married person, why jump up and act now?

            3. Observer*

              In other words, you don’t like this woman, have something against her and want to get the former coworker’s wife to do your dirty work?

              That’s the only thing that makes sense with all of the things you have posted.

        5. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          Dude, that doesn’t make it “consent” to be sexually harassed, which is what’s happening.

      4. Huntington*

        Well, that’s not what Gloria Steinem says, and she repeated it within the past week after sticking to that story for the past two decades. (Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky — that was all about consent. She consented. So that whole workplace quid pro quo sexual harassment thing? Not a feminist argument. A superior has a pattern or promoting subordinates in exchange for sexual favors and demoting those who decline? Not a valid argument, not workplace sexual harassment, not the same thing as what’s happening in Hollywood right not, nope, nada.)

        1. Natalie*

          Unless Gloria Steinem is commenting here, I don’t see how her opinion is relevant. She does not speak for all women or even all feminists.

        2. LBK*

          FWIW, Monica herself said as recently as a few years ago that she was in love with Bill, so I don’t know if that’s a relevant example.

          Also, I was not aware that Gloria Steinem is apparently the Official Voice of Feminism. An important one in the course of history, sure, but that doesn’t make her infallible or the sole decider of what is or is not feminist, especially in recent years as modern feminism has evolved and taken a different course than a lot of the work she had done in the past that was heavily based around choice feminism.

        1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

          … and Gloria Steinem, no matter how much the media might wish it were so, is not the Singled Unified Voice of Women (or feminists).

    2. JamieS*

      This isn’t my field of expertise but, excluding the sex trade, I don’t think accepting a job offer counts as consent for sexual advances. There are numerous reasons she may have chosen to go with him from them actively engaging in an affair to it actually being a great career move for her despite his prior behavior. For all we know she could’ve discussed his behavior with him head on and feels confident there won’t be a repeat. Also, why should she be obligated to stall her own career because of his misbehavior? After all someone has to look out for #1.

      I agree she probably doesn’t think his behavior rose to the level of harassment though. However that doesn’t mean she consented for the behavior to continue. Although even if she is fine with his advances I don’t think that is any of our concerns but I’m probably in the minority there.

    3. Ramona Flowers*

      While sexual harassment is certainly a concern, the fact that the receptionist willingly followed married coworker to a new position after he admittedly tried to hook up with her says she isn’t being harassed accepted a new job. She’s accepting the advances of this former coworker to the point that when given the chance to get away from him, she instead chose to follow along a job. That’s consent accepting a job


      1. MashaKasha*

        I don’t know how I missed this comment yesterday, but it is awesome, and on point.

        People accept job offers so they can pay their bills and support their families. Not to “accept the advances” of coworkers of their preferred gender. Geesh.

    4. Temperance*

      Or maybe, the receptionist felt like she had to move on and didn’t have a lot of options, because Creepy McCreepster tainted her reputation at this company. Maybe she doesn’t want to be a receptionist forever and Creeper offered her a chance to move up in her career. Who knows?

      All I know is that I “let” my creepy manager at Denny’s make very gross veiled references about us “having an arrangement, if it was mutually agreed upon” because I needed the money more than I needed to make a statement at that point in my life.

      1. Coywolf*

        Im so sorry this happened to you and it makes me sick my time stomach.
        Unfortunately I can relate since I am currently employed by a man who has been sexually harassing me since I started working here 4 years ago. I had been unemployed and unsuccessfully looking for work for 2 years before accepting this job. It’s a growing company so I was able to move up and I now make much more money (hourly) than I could hope to find anywhere else. I need this job to save money for school. :\

    5. Falling Diphthong*

      Bull pucky.

      Accepting a job (that presumably had perks like ‘more money’) doesn’t mean she consented to any sexual relationship with the person who recommended her. She may not, at that point, have thought he wanted one. Or picked up some signs of interest but figured “obviously he’s married, plus this is work, so that will fade off if ignored” and not made all her professional decisions based on avoiding all men who might possibly have crushes on her.

      The story that he tried–and so, implicitly, failed–to make out with her after getting some alcohol into both of them strongly suggests that she has no interest in a non-professional relationship with him.

    6. Rained*

      Stop with the wife blaming b.s. That’s with saying “she knows” entails.

      People want to believe that because it erases the guilt they feel for knowing and not saying anything.

      I’ve been a divorce for quite a while. I am an old who seen many friends go through divorce. In the vast majority of cases, the wife doesn’t know even when everyone else around them does.

      This sort of man who would carry on this type of affair in an office with a younger subordinate is probably also pretty darn good at gaslighting.

      You’re blaming the women in this for either consenting or ignoring it. The only person his behavior or knowledge we really know anything about is the cheating dudebro. Why aren’t you focusing on him?

      I’m getting very sick of cultural narratives involving abuse or infidelity that focus on with the women did wrong instead of focusing on the abuser. That’s what you have done in this comment.

      The two women involved are the ones doing the action and the man is suspiciously absent.

      We know absolutely nothing about the wife and absolutely nothing about the receptionist. They could both be innocent victims or they could both be complicit or they could both be active participants.

      The only person we know about is the dude who is obviously doing something wrong since it’s that visible!

      That’s where the focus should be. To shift it anywhere else is problematic.

      1. neverjaunty*


        So very tired of the narrative that someone abusing their power should get a mulligan.

        1. Rained*

          shifting focus from the bad actor to the actions of victims and bystanders is always problematic

          This isn’t to say that we can’t talk about bystander complicity and social power structures.

          It’s just that when we keep things at only the individual and incident level and we focus on the actions of people other than those with power and those who are bad actors , we are saying something about the comparative worth of human beings.

          At some level, focusing on the secretary and wife is sexist, victim, blaming, or both.

          Also, it is irrelevant to the workplace action that the OPs spouse can and should take. The spouse is the person who can take action. He can only take it relative to the dude who is being flagrant and sexual in the office. Full stop.

        2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          Seriously. After the current stories out there and a #metoo moment, how are we still blaming women for men’s bad behavior?

          The wife isn’t to blame, the receptionist isn’t to blame. OP should not talk to the wife or anyone else. If OP’s husband wants to talk to Married Man about how inappropriate it is to act unprofessionally with a subordinate, then that’s a bit more reasonable (although now that coworker has moved on, this is also a bit of a stretch).

          OP should not pressure their husband or contact the coworker’s wife or any other convoluted anything. OP has no idea of the backstory, and it’s a massive boundaries breach. And what if OP is 1000% incorrect in their interpretation of what’s happening? OP, stay out of it.

        1. spek*

          Oh, everyone is reading way too much into this. Apparently a coworker of the OP’s husband admittedly tried to kiss a female coworker, and then moved on to another company and got the female a job there. From this much (hearsay info) we don’t know: 1) Whether his advances were well received, 2) What his relationship is with his spouse (open, separated, etc.), 3) What the conditions were around her acceptance of the new job, 4) Whether they work closely together and if there is some sort of harassment or quid pro quo relationship at their new company. The small amount of evidence we have does NOT justify anonymous facebook postings or secret letters in the mailbox. Find another windmill to tilt at.

          1. Lissa*

            I think a lot of it also is coming from the “tried to kiss” wording as opposed to “they were making out.” “Tried” implies she rejected him, i.e. it didn’t work. Which puts a very harassy spin on the whole thing, not a “affair with the receptionist” spin. (I mean, they were making out would still be potentially harassment and bad no matter what with the power imbalance)

    7. Jesca*

      What an absolutely dangerous mindset. Just all around, very damaging to women.

      And I will just leave it at that.

        1. Rusty Shackelford*

          Assuming you’re not being facetious…

          Saying that a woman who accepts a job working with a man who made advances toward her must welcome those advances ignores the following possibilities:

          1. She *needs* the better job enough that she’s willing to tolerate future advances, even though she does not welcome them.
          2. She *wants* the better job enough that she’s willing to tolerate future advances, even though she does not welcome them.
          3. He told her there would be no future advances and she believed him.
          4. He made no promises about future advances but she believes/hopes they will stop if she ignores them or “is nice” or tells him she has a boyfriend or finds whatever his magic “stop” button is.
          5. He poisoned the well at her existing job so she feels she has no choice but to take the new one.
          6. Someone(s) else at her existing job is also making advances, so she feels this will be the case no matter where she goes.
          7. She’s been warned or has witnessed that anyone who explicitly says no or turns this guy down ends up without a career (yeah, I’m looking at you, people who refuse to believe that any actress would unwillingly put up with Harvey Weinstein’s antics)
          8. Etc, etc., etc.

          How is it NOT dangerous/damaging to women to ignore ALL of these possibilities and simply assume that if she doesn’t run screaming, she obviously welcomes the attention?

    8. Irene Adler*

      This was the ‘reason’ Anita Hill was not believed regarding her statements that she’d been harassed by Clarence Thomas. If she had been sexually harassed as she’d said, then why would she take a new job where her harasser worked?
      Not a good idea to read things into other people’s actions.

    9. Rusty Shackelford*

      #2 – While sexual harassment is certainly a concern, the fact that the receptionist willingly followed married coworker to a new position after he admittedly tried to hook up with her says she isn’t being harassed.

      I understand why you’d jump to that conclusion, but you’re wrong.

      It seems unlikely if this married coworker has a reputation of infidelity that his wife has no clue. She knows.

      Nope. Many people have no idea their spouses are cheating, or trying to cheat.

    10. Fiennes*

      Even if the receptionist is 100% okay with it, that doesn’t make the former coworker’s actions okay. Dating someone you outrank at work raises questions of favoritism, special treatment, etc. And I doubt the new employer would be thrilled to know their latest receptionist wasn’t hired purely on merit.

      1. Rained*

        Sexualizing the workplace is problematic even it’s consensual between the two (or more) parties.

        The other people in the office are not consenting to have their work place sexualized.

        There are also almost always productivity issues when people are carrying on at work. It’s never entirely out of the office.


        I once knew a case where there were three people, all of whom were bisexual, who were caring on threesomes at the office in the store room and the bathroom.

        1. Bree*

          What does the fact that they’re bisexual have to do with anything?
          (Please be aware of playing into negative stereotypes about bisexual people, thanks. That behaviour would be inappropriate for anyone.)

          1. Rained*

            For the record, I am bisexual and mentioned it because I was trying not to erase people. Please do not assume that intent simply because something is mentioned.

            To have limited to something that only two people doing an office in only two heterosexual people do would be worse erasure.

            1. LBK*

              Uhhhh what? Bisexual erasure has to do with things like assigning someone another sexuality based on the gender of their current partner or only describing sexuality as a binary. It doesn’t mean explicitly identifying someone as bisexual any time you talk about them even if it has zero relevance in the context…”three people were hooking up” doesn’t have anything to do with their sexualities, and FWIW three straight people can hook up all at once.

        2. the gold digger*

          1. The logistics that must be involved in that – locking/blocking the door, keeping quiet, arriving and leaving separately – are overwhelming to contemplate.
          2. They must have to lie down on the floor at some point. Gross.
          3. I refill my water bottle from the bathroom tap (it’s so much easier than using the drinking fountain) but now I am going to re-think that.

          1. Rained*

            2. Depends on what specifically they were doing. There are lots of activities that can occur in a standing or seated position

      2. PersephoneUnderground*

        This- it’s still a BIG problem whether she is a willing participant or not. Dating or making out with a subordinate is not OK. I would assume he probably outranked the receptionist, and if (worst case scenario, I know we don’t know this) she’s now his personal secretary and they’re carrying on a relationship that’s icky. The incident should have been reported in the first place. The whole thing is a setup for sexual harassment claims and other problems, whether by her or by other employees who feel she’s favored for dating the boss when they’re not. CEOs have been fired for this at functional companies (ex. Lockheed Martin, it was in the news).

      3. Jesca*

        OK again. Very dangerous mentality in this comment as well. It is not just about raising special treatment – its the assumed quid pro quo, the idea that the person in the least amount of power in this relationship dynamic risks losing their job and career if they don’t continue to “play nice”. THAT is the main issue, and why quid pro quo is specifically brought up in sexual harassment training in regards to supervisor/employee relationships.

        Secondly, “And I doubt the new employer would be thrilled to know their latest receptionist wasn’t hired purely on merit” says a whole lot about the assumptions people make about women. Like, oh? You mean some guy hit on her at some point? Obviously means she could never be good at her job, and is just what exactly?! Prostituting herself? What are you trying to imply by thinking like that based on a lot of your own assumptions?

        1. Fiennes*

          The fact (at least, according to the OP) that the receptionist was hired by this guy for his personal romantic interests both (a) means she wasn’t hired on merit and (b) says *absolutely nothing* about this woman’s professional skills, good or bad. I did not imply that, and I think you should question why you inferred it.

          This woman may be the greatest employee in the world, but (again, if we are to take the OPs word for it) that wouldn’t be the reason she was hired.

          1. Fiennes*

            Oh, and also, note that my comment said *if she was 100% consenting.* It is possible for an adult to fully consent to a relationship with problematic power dynamics, however bad an idea it might be. My point is that her consent does not automatically negate every single problem such a relationship presents.

          2. Falling Diphthong*

            The fact is that she was hired at an office where this guy also works. All the rest–that he hired her, that it was to pursue his campaign*, what she thought–is inferring the secret thoughts and schemes everyone does not, technically, appear to have laid out to OP or anyone in the thread.

            *This is, objectively, a really bad plan. “I want to pursue Sexy Receptionist! Which I can only do at our place of work, because it is physically impossible for me to have sex in other locations. Plan A) I’ll quit, find a new job, convince them that they need a new receptionist AND that they should offer to SR, with a good bump in pay and such to convince her to take it, and then we will work at the same place, and then I can continue trying and failing to kiss her. Plan B) We already work at the same place, so I’ll just go in pursuit now.” Why do you and OP find Plan A more likely than Plan B?

            1. Fiennes*

              If you’ll reread my comment, I believe you’ll see a large dose of skepticism about option A.

  4. Anon Accountant*

    AAM covered OP2 with the potential for sexual harassment issues very well. Why does OP2 feel a “responsibility to tell the wife?

    She may know about his other relationships or may not. That’s a marital issue for them to handle.

    1. AcademiaNut*

      I think what happens is that the person who has the information feels that the person being cheated on deserves to know the truth (both generally, and for sexual health), and reasons that they would want to be told if they were in a similar situation.

      The problem is that people’s willingness to believe allegations about their spouse’s behaviour generally depends a lot on how much they trust the person who is telling them, and anonymous Facebook messages with third hand information are really low down on the list of reliable sources. Of course, even if the person being the bearer of bad news is known and trusted, and the information is first hand, there’s still a strong “shoot the messenger” impulse to contend with.

      1. JamieS*

        Agreed. I’d probably also want to tell the wife solely because I think everyone has the right to know if their health is being put at risk and it’s reasonable they aren’t already aware of it. However in my experience (which is mostly women being cheated on by men) more often than not the wronged party tends to blame anyone and everyone other than the person cheating on them up to and including the messenger so I tend to stay away unless it’s someone really close to me.

        1. AcademiaNut*

          For me, it would come down to two variables – how likely is the person to believe what I’m telling them, and do I care enough about them to deal with the fallout if they blame me for telling them.

          If I got an anonymous Facebook message from a dummy account accusing my husband of infidelity (something I have no reason to suspect), I would assume that it was either a wrong number, or someone trying to cause trouble.

        2. JD*

          Not LW’s place to say anything, not her husbands place to say anything, not ANYONE’s place to say anything minus the husband or the secretary. Their health is no one’s concern except the three people involved, if there are even three people involved. Beyond him mentioning the past incident, anything else is speculation. You do not go around shoving your nose where it doesn’t belong just because you believe it MUST be true in your mind.

          1. JamieS*

            This post reads as unnecessarily hostile and aggressive for no reason. In case you didn’t know I’m just a commenter, I’m not involved in any of this.

            It’s not speculation this guy’s a creep who’s willing to put his wife’s health at risk. He flat out admitted to trying to cheat and has a history of that behavior. Yes in general we do have a moral obligation to tell someone if their health is in jeopardy. If you saw someone you knew to be allergic to peanuts about to unknowingly eat a peanut would you not say anything because it’s ‘not your business’? Most morally upright people would say something.

            Like I said more often than not I wouldn’t say anything because of the high chance of backlash against me. However I still have to weigh the negative consequences against what I believe is my moral duty as a member of society.

            1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

              JamieS, I don’t think JD was responding to you (rather, queuing under the most related comment). I agree that if it’s directed toward you, it comes across as unnecessarily hostile. But if read as a message to the OP, it comes across as firm/blunt.

              (And I agree with all your other comments—just wanted to offer an outside take.)

      2. Anon anon anon*

        I’ve been the potential messenger and the messaged. There was one time when a woman kept adamantly trying to tell me that the person I was seeing was no good. She took me out to dinner to tell me this. But she was really vague about the details. And it left me feeling really sketched out, questioning her motives and wondering what was really going on.

        I’ve also been on the receiving end of attempted cheating. It is really yucky. In each case, I wanted to tell the person who would have been cheated on but didn’t because we didn’t know each other that well. They didn’t know me well enough to believe me, and I probably would have been caught in the middle and scapegoated. From what I’ve seen, that tends to happen. I think that unless you’re close with one of the people being hurt by what’s going on, the best you can do is to distance yourself and take it as a learning experience.

        1. Anon Accountant*

          These are my thoughts written out more clearly. A very close friend expressing concerns about your partner is very different than an anonymous message.

          Open marriages exist but if she’s being unwillingly cheated on she may be tipped off by a trusted source.

          1. Rained*

            Even an open marriage situation you probably want to say something since they’re being so obvious about it that might be damaging to the husbands career .

            1. a different Vicki*

              Yes. If I’m having dinner with my partner and their wife, we don’t pretend that I’m not their girlfriend. If there’s an event involving coworkers, I either skip it or I’m just a friend visiting from out of town who didn’t want to go play tourist alone this afternoon, and we behave appropriately. I don’t think I could hide the relationship from my partner’s wife even if we wanted to, or from anyone we spend a lot of time around, but I can and have done so for a couple of hours of casual conversation over a meal.

      3. Allison*

        I’ll admit, I sent a not-anonymous FB message to a woman about her husband. I’d gone on a date with the man, it’d gone well and we were talking about seeing each other again and possibly getting more intimate, and then I looked him up and found out he was married. I’d been cheated on before and I’d been tipped off by a guy who I’d never met, but we’d become friends after the truth came out, so I saw nothing wrong with telling this woman the truth, but she never responded and I don’t think it had any impact on their marriage. So putting aside whether it’s the “right thing” or “wrong thing,” it’s kind of a waste of time.

        1. Rained*

          If you weren’t friends on Facebook it’s entirely possible she never got the message. I recently found a message that was sent to me three years ago by someone who isn’t a friend

        2. Observer*

          Besides the fact that the message never got through, you really don’t know what happened. There are a lot of possible outcomes that you would have no way of knowing about because they are internal to the marriage.

          Being clear and factual plus not being anonymous makes it much more likely that if she got the message, she considered it.

        3. tigerlily*

          Ignoring whether or not she got the message since Facebook messaging can be wonky at best, I think this is a very different situation than the one the letter writer describes. As Alison points out, the LW is several people removed from the situation. You were an active (though ignorant and unwilling) participant. You contacted the woman to tell her your own part, not something you heard from someone else about people you don’t really know.

        4. Panda Bandit*

          Facebook has a separate section for messages from people you’re not currently friends with. I just found a couple of messages that were originally sent years ago.

      4. I posted the question*

        You are exactly right! I would want to know if this was My Husband.
        Also…i forgot to add that the receptionist is always at work functions by herself and 90% of the men that work there are married…I do not believe there was any sexual harassment involved.

        1. Quackeen*

          How on earth would you know, though? Most people being sexually harassed are being harassed in private.

        2. Observer*

          What does the fact that she comes to work functions by herself have to do with the possibility of harassment?

          I’m not saying that there WAS harassment – we don’t have enough information to say either way, but her lone presence at work functions has absolutely no relevance to this issue.

        3. Ask a Manager* Post author

          It’s not weird to be at work functions by herself. Who else would she be with? They’re work functions. And if they were work functions where spouses are invited, she’d still be there by herself if she’s not in a serious relationship.

          Please stop implying this woman is some sort of hussy for associating with married men, which is a totally normal thing for her to do at work. This is really gross and sexist, and you need to cut it out.

          1. JokeyJules*

            I just want to say GREAT JOB moderating this comment section. Your efforts to keep the conversation focused on the issue at hand rather than judgement on others is noticed and appreciated.

            Thank you!!!

          2. Anon Accountant*

            This isn’t about anything specific but you really phrase things so well! Generally overall, but especially when addressing difficult topics.

        4. Natalie*

          Also…i forgot to add that the receptionist is always at work functions by herself and 90% of the men that work there are married…I do not believe there was any sexual harassment involved.

          It’s unclear to me how these three things are related or relevant.

          Don’t most people go to work functions alone? Why on earth would you bring a date unless it’s the annual gala or something?

          Why does it matter that her male coworkers are married? It’s a work function, they are presumably talking about work, because frankly people who work together almost always default to talking about work.

          And no one’s marital status or presence anywhere has any bearing on whether or not harassment could be occurring. Both single and married people are equally capable of being the perpetrators or victims of sexual harassment.

        5. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          Can you clarify what you mean by your comment? Are you suggesting that single women are not allowed to attend work functions with married men, and that if they do and are later treated unlawfully, they “asked” for it?

          I understand there’s an insidious and problematic world view out there that unmarried and married men and women should not interact. Those viewpoints primarily hurt women and their career advancement, and they undermine legitimate complaints of gender discrimination in the workplace.

          Please go back and read the narratives of women who worked with Matt Laurer and Charlie Rose for an examples of how unmarried women can be preyed upon by married men, how trapped those women felt, and how many had to make a decision between enduring disgusting treatment or completely leaving their chosen industry/profession. The stories are heartbreaking, and they are commonplace.

          I strongly encourage you to reconsider the assumptions you’re making and conclusions you’re drawing. They result in blaming the workplace victim (insofar as there is a victim, it’s the receptionist), they make it harder for women to advance in their careers, and they discourage women from reporting discrimination in the workplace.

        6. Anion*

          LW, what exactly is the outcome you’re hoping for here? Do you want the receptionist fired? Do you want the wife to kick the husband out? Do you want your husband to see how very very wrong he is to have friends like that or to have told you to stay out of it, or simply not to have done what you told him to do? What?

          What do you think you will accomplish with your anonymous note? What is it you’re hoping/trying to make other people do here? Is that result going to outweigh the destruction of your husband’s friendships, the receptionist’s job, and the friend’s marriage?

          Do you think any of the people involved will thank you for involving yourself in a situation that has nothing to do with you and is none of your business?

          Please stay out of other people’s business and stop judging them. For reasons I cannot fathom, you seem determined to blame this receptionist for something; I don’t think you’re as objective in this as you seem to claim, and I do not believe your motives here are altruistic and just wanting to help the poor wife, either. I have never met or seen a person who stuck their noses into somebody else’s business like this where the outcome was positive, and that’s because the nose-sticker never has the positive motives they pretend to have.

          Mind your own store, ma’am, and let others mind theirs.

        7. Jen S. 2.0*

          receptionist is always at work functions by herself and 90% of the men that work there are married
          Add me to the group that is…baffled as to where you are getting what you are implying with this, and really, really disliking what you seem to think you are implying. A single woman working with married men, attending events where there are married men, attending events alone where there are married men, attending events where there might be alcohol and married men, and all other permutations of that sentence is not doing anything wrong (or, as you seem to be implying, being a temptress). There is no smoke or red flag here. If she is single and these are work events (i.e., where attendance is professionally beneficial and significant others are not generally included), then how else is she supposed to attend? Moreover, if she is a professional and these are her colleagues, how else is she supposed to participate in these work-related events?

          These are work events. She’s trying to do her job by attending them, and somehow that in and if itself is a suspicious, scandalous thing? No.

          I don’t disagree that cheaters are going to cheat (and whether OP needs to stick her nose in any cheating is a separate question). But none of these situations create cheating. Cheating can and does happen independently of all of these situations. Moreover, non-cheaters are not going to cheat, and none of these situations make a non-cheater cheat.

    2. Ramona Flowers*

      I don’t think it’s completely egregious to want to let someone know about something like this, but to do this you need to be in a position to tell them personally and kindly – which means not using a fake name to send an anonymous message. If you aren’t able to tell someone in your own name, in person, because you don’t know them well enough or don’t feel able to put your name to it, that’s a pretty good litmus test about whether to even consider it in the first place.

      I’m wondering if the letter writer feels somehow guilty or complicit because of what they’ve heard. But you are removed enough from the situation that this isn’t the case.

        1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          =10. In general, if you’re going to make serious allegations (in this context—not as a whistleblower), you should have the fortitude to sign your name to it.

      1. Anon Accountant*

        Exactly. They probably feel guilty but when you would have to use an anonymous name to tell them it is a good litmus test.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          “Hi, I heard something third hand about your long-time romanic partner–they tried to kiss someone several months ago. This is definitely me being an upfront person and not some Swim Fan style nefarious plot. Signed, Anonymous Bosch PS Don’t try to find me.”

          This is not usually going to turn someone against their spouse.

          1. Anon Accountant*

            Yeah this would make me think “okay I’m the wrong recipient or this is a weird joke”. It wouldn’t turn most people against their spouse.

            1. LBK*

              This kind of happened to me – I got a random threat from someone I didn’t know that I should watch my back because they heard I wasn’t saying very nice things about some other unspecified person. When I asked what the hell they were talking about they wouldn’t offer me any details, just that I should know what I did.

              That was months ago and nothing has happened, so I have to assume either they were nuts or they had the wrong person.

    3. MK*

      If you saw someone fiddling with a window in an acquaintance’s house at night, would you tell yourself it’s their property to handle as they think and none of you business? OK, the analogy isn’t very good, because cheating isn’t illegal, but I don’t see that’s it’s so unreasonable to want to inform someone that they are being harmed, so that they can protect themselves in time.

      1. Temperance*

        Your analogy is flawed here, though. It would be more like if a dude came home and told his wife that he heard that someone wanted to break into his childhood neighbor’s house. She doesn’t know this woman.

    4. Falling Diphthong*

      I don’t think anyone has an obligation to cover up the extramarital canoodlings of their colleagues and acquaintances. You want your affair to be secret, you keep it secret your own damn self. (I never fail to be astonished at what level of “I’ll go to the copy room, you follow, there will be rhythmic banging for the next few minutes—no one will suspect a thing!!!!!” contortions people have put themselves through to believe that their discretion is so CIA level that anyone stumbling on the affair must have used invisible drones.)

      But even I was perplexed at the turn the letter took: anonymous hearsay from people many times removed from the situation; a situation that involved an attempt to make out on his part that was rejected on her part. No, you don’t need to report that to anyone.

      1. Rained*

        Yes, if it’s a friend or family member and you have direct evidence, you’re under an obligation to tell them. Or simply to ask how their marriage going and then lead them to the conclusion. If it’s somebody you don’t know and all you have is hearsay…

        1. Jen S. 2.0*

          I even think “obligation” is too strong a word. Certainly, you have stronger reasons to tell them and better standing to do so, and I can see why one would decide to do so. But you don’t *have* to.

          (Although I agree that in this situation, it’s third-hand hearsay with the very weakest of evidence, and OP probably should mind her own store.)

      2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        I mean, is there even an affair happening? It seems really speculative based on OP’s comments. And if it’s not happening, why would you send someone anonymous notes? It comes off very creepy and has the potential to create a lot of harm/discord over nothing.

        1. Jen S. 2.0*

          We have no idea. OP seems to be assuming that because this single woman works with and attends events with married men (and alcohol), she’s looking to hook one of them, and that because these two seem to have a connection (and the woman must want to hook a married man), they are doing the deed. None of those assumptions are solid proof.

      3. Anion*

        Yes, and we don’t even know what that “attempt to make out” entailed. It could have been a few dumb hints that she ignored and he was embarrassed about when he sobered up, and is determined to never repeat.

        I have told my girls over and over: anytime somebody comes to you to report hearsay like that, they want something. Whether it’s drama or trouble or to be seen as some altruistic goddess…they want something, and what they want is *never* “just to help you.” Never. And you should never trust them.

  5. Knitting Cat Lady*


    I take medication (lithium) that causes tremor. Especially if I forget to eat as the lower sodium levels in my blood mean increased uptake of the lithium, which makes the tremor worse.

    Much worse. As in I can’t type or hold a pen because my hands are shaking too much.

    So, depending on how open you want to be, saying something like ‘This is caused by medication I take for a chronic health issue. I’m fine, really.’ would be all that is needed.

    Side note: I’m autistic. I stim a lot. So in meetings I fidget with whatever is in my pocket. No one bats an eye.

    1. MerciMe*

      I also have a tremor and I try to focus on making sure that my facial expression shows interest and engagement to the extent possible/appropriate. I also do what I can to minimize distraction – pulling slightly back from the table or moving my arm to my lap or the chair rest. Most people are pretty reasonable, in my experience, and will draw compassionate conclusions.

      1. Ramona Flowers*

        I think people also just want to know that it’s okay to ignore it and they aren’t being somehow heartless or negligent by doing so.

        1. neverjaunty*

          Yes. People will follow your lead – if you signal it’s no big deal, they’ll also feel that way.

        2. B*

          Yes, this! Like yesterday’s BDSM or abuse…I would much rather know that you are ok and that I can ignore your symptoms. I think it would also help you to relax in meetings knowing people are not thinking but rather ignoring your symptoms because they know why they are happening.

      2. sweetcaroline*

        The manager that hired me has Tourette’s. He gives little barks (not dog barks, just loud short noises) every 15/20 minutes, but he can minimize that by taking medication that has a side effect of making him restless.

        Anyways, he was great manager, and he has been promoted twice, so that he is now in upper management. Maybe people are thrown the first time they hear it, but once familiar it just fades into the background. There’s no mystery, so it is not distracting.

        1. Else*

          Yeah – I’ve known several people with Tourettes or other things that cause tics, and they just fade out of your consciousness as you spend time around them. I startle easily, and I startled every time when one of my old classmates would make sudden sounds, but I ignored that, too. That kind of reaction is another kind of tic itself, basically! We both ignored those things and just continued on with what we were doing school-wise.

          1. Elizabeth West*

            This–I have a friend who has tics (I don’t know why and it really doesn’t matter). It’s mostly blinking and a slight head shake. I’ve known him long enough now that I don’t really notice it much anymore.

        2. Petunia Chowder*

          I went to a church for a while with an absolutely lovely priest who had Tourette’s. I got used to the vocalizations (like your manager’s – short barks) for the most part, but sometimes the vocalizations were swears. The first time he vocalized The Worst Swear while up in the pulpit was…surprising…but really as I got to know him the vocalizations got less and less noticeable. Now they’re kind of on the same plane with verbal space-fillers like um, er, and like.

    2. Backroads*

      I have Tourettes. Nothing very interesting, but I have had to let my 2nd graders each year Mrs. Backroads will hum. Most people don’t ask, but let me know if I mention it they just shrugged it off.

      1. OP #4*

        These are all great scripts, thank you Alison and commenters. Obviously I’m still struggling a bit with this diagnosis and how I’m perceived, so it’s really helpful to have some brief statements ready to go that convey nobody has to worry about me and don’t invite further conversation while I figure out how best to cope with this long term. The AAM community is the best!

        1. Amber Rose*

          Consider for a moment, that people who are facing situations in which they feel helpless often look for something that they can control. You can’t change your diagnosis, and something like a chronic illness is a scary thing. So possibly you’re latching on to this as “a concern I can actually do something about.”

          If that sounds like it may have some truth, it may be helpful in easing your nerves the first few times you have to address this thing with other people if you know where it’s coming from. A script for yourself, in order to remind you that the thing you’re focusing your anxiety on and the actual source of the anxiety may not be the same thing.

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            Maybe! But I think it’s perfectly understandable for the OP to have legitimate concerns about how to manage this at work, without it being tied to any misplaced anxiety!

          2. Camellia*

            My family has perhaps a different attitude on things like this; we deal with some significant health issues and we make a joke about it. “Yeah, this is my new hobby – seated break dancing! I’m here all week, don’t forget to tip your server! Nah, actually it’s just a side effect of some meds I’ll be taking from now on.”

            Something like this breaks the ice, usually gets at least a chuckle or two (mostly from surprise), and gets the important point across in a no-big-deal way.

        2. Sessie*

          My husband has YOPD, diagnosed at age 30. You might look into finding a community of others with YOPD for support. Depending on where you live, there may not be an in-person group, but there are lots of online communities.

          Also: you are probably working with a neurologist who is a movement disorder specialist, but I did want to mention that my husband has a lot less dyskinesia after switching from Sinemet to Rytary (a levodopa/carbidopa drug that is time released).

          Just wanted to give a fist-bump of solidarity from someone else in the PD community. Hang in there! You are not alone.

        3. Anonymous Poster*

          My mom was a manager with essential tremors in her hands, to the point where she would refuse to eat soup and not handwrite anything she could.

          For her, it was a simple, “I’m suffering from a medical condition that causes tremors in my hands. Now back to the subject at hand…”

          If you’re dismissive and moving on, they’re dismissive and moving on too. People take their cues from management, and you should be alright.

          1. AKchic*

            Pretty much. I have nerve damage in my spine and have spasms. Sometimes they are just in my hands, sometimes its just a leg, sometimes its almost full body twitches. It all depends on a lot of factors. Flare ups, weather changes, storms, how I laid in bed the night before, my activity level the day before, whether or not I’ve strained myself or overdone the physical activity, or even pulled muscles.

            When your hand twitches to the point that you drop your pen multiple times in 10 minutes when you’re supposed to be taking notes in a meeting, it can get embarrassing. All you can do is shrug it off, apologize for the interruption (if there was one), and maybe a quick “sorry, nerve damage, having an off day” and keep going. Luckily, I work with people who all know my issues and know that I have a lot of work-arounds for my symptoms and manage fairly well, all things considered.

    3. ArtsNerd*

      Apologies for going off-topic, but in regards to autism in women – I just read an article from a woman on the autism spectrum whose primary symptom was executive dysfunction. In combination with this comment from Knitting Cat Lady about fidgeting has me seriously thinking about all the things I’ve attributed to depression and/or ADHD in myself or others. Not self-diagnosing* but rather realizing that I’m overlying on those two as an explanation when there are so many other factors that manifest in similar ways.

      *I do it all the time, but I’m trying to keep in check here.

  6. Ramona Flowers*

    #1 It’s probably too late for this approach now, but for damage control perhaps you could deny it’s you if anyone else mentions it. For example: “How strange. I think I’d know if I’d applied for that. I’m not sure Wakeen’s wife is the best authority on who he’s interviewed.” Note that there isn’t an actual lie in there, just politician-level evasion.

    1. (Different) Rebecca, PhD*

      Counterpoint: If it really is *that* small of a community, even quasi-denial will look as though the person is either outright lying or has severe memory issues.

    2. Naruto*

      If you’re going to quasi-lie, why not just outright lie? It wasn’t me, she must have been mistaken.

    3. tunacat*

      There are four people in the office I work in. She gave enough details to make it very clear who I was. I can’t deny it.

  7. bookartist*

    Today, letters #1 and #2 taught me that gossip is an awful thing, and no one who engages in it comes out smelling clean.

      1. Else*

        I was about to ask you about the sofa king reference, and then I thought of the sound of the phrase. :D Very nice.

    1. Anon anon anon*

      +1. I’ve learned to say no or to defend the people being gossipped about. It makes me unpopular, but that’s better than being caught up in all that nonsense. I don’t even see the appeal to it. Mind your own business. Live and let live.

  8. Vauxhall Prefect*

    OP #4 – I’ve had something called an essential tremor since a young age. It’s a tremor that increases the more I use the muscles and also with adrenaline in general, so I almost always shake a little but increase a lot at certain times. It also means that if I’d doing something like presenting, where I might already be a bit nervous, I will often shake enough that I appear totally terrified. I actually don’t mind presenting, but for a long time I preferred to avoid doing anything like that since I didn’t like the extremely nervy impression it gave of me.

    I used to avoid talking about it very much, but I’ve felt so much better about it ever since I decided to be more open about the source of the tremor. Since my shaking is sometimes very obvious it isn’t something that I can hide from people, so being more open about it has let me control the message I send much better. I can’t change that I look nervous when presenting, but I feel much better about that (and other aspects of life in general) now that more people are aware there’s an underlying reason for it.

    That is to say that I think you’ll feel much better if you take Alison’s advice. Limit yourself to whatever level of detail you’re comfortable with, but I think you’ll feel a lot better if you give people some context to the symptoms they’ve seen.

    1. Gung Ho Iguana*

      I have essential tremor too, though it’s less severe, and migraines as well. It’s not the right approach for everyone, but I decided a while ago I’d rather just tell people what’s going on, rather than having them wonder, and having me wonder what they’re thinking.

      The key is to set the tone (that it’s not a big deal), and then redirect back to work. I’ll say something like “Sorry, movement disorder. Did the teapot shipment arrive?”

      1. Knitting Cat Lady*

        Yeah, the point is to reassure people that it’s nothing to worry about, i.e. I’m not going to keel over dead.

        Humans are naturally curious, so giving them a satisfactory but vague answer is essential to being able to get on with stuff.

      2. TootsNYC*

        I agree that tone is so important. Maybe even act like it’s very mildly annoying. And short is good too.

    2. Kim*

      My husband has those as well, quite serverely when he’s stressed or extremely tired. We’ve never met someone else who has them, so it’s ‘nice’ to see someone else with the same issue. He’s taken some meds, but in the end decided the side-effects weren’t worth the trouble.

      He mainly deals with it by being very upfront about it, and just quip when he sees people noticing. It did, however, take several years for him to get to this point.

      OP#4, I think Allison’s advice is very good. If you satiate people’s curiosity with a brief explanation, I’m pretty sure they won’t bother you about it, at least if they were raised right.

    3. Falling Diphthong*

      I think Alison’s script is good, because this is enough outside the bounds of professional norms that people will notice. So if they know it’s a medication side effect, they should be good to go on about their days without wondering if this is a response to what they just said.

        1. Wouldn't want to take the bar again*

          Good luck to you, OP. For what it’s worth, I don’t have a tremor, but I bad chemotherapy a few years ago and for a while I was attending meetings with a scarf covering my bald head. I’m a lawyer so it’s not typical for someone to have eccentric accessories. Anyway I would always say something brief like “I’m going through chemotherapy right now, but I feel fine today,” right after introducing myself, and it was never an issue. Actually people were always pretty kind, asked if I needed water or anything, but let me get on with my work.

          You may or may not wish to share your specific diagnosis since that might invite further questions from people who are curious about your prognosis, want to talk about their relatives who had parkinson’s etc. There’s nothing wrong with that if you are open to it, but if you want to keep the focus on the meeting, simply saying you are taking medication that causes a tremor might be a good way to go.

    4. JulieBulie*

      I have this too – essential tremor PLUS additional tremor as an unrelated medication side effect. Sometimes I tell people, “I know it looks like I’m shivering, but it’s just a minor tremor.”

      (It really doesn’t look much like shivering, but shivering seems like a more neutral term than “shaking” which seems more loaded to me… like shaking with fear.)

      1. LCL*

        I had to explain to someone in my work group once that the manager he just had a private meeting with was not shaking in fear, the manager had a tremor. Employee said, Joaquin must be really scared of me, he was shaking through the whole meeting. Employee was serious. So I did speak up, when under normal circumstances I would have MMOB.

    1. kittymommy*

      Yeah, me too. It’s definitely rude they didn’t ask first and that would tick me off somewhat (I would probably say something to them as well) but at the end of the day I’d do it.

  9. Princess Cimorene*

    I feel like Falcon was poached from the Llama Ballet Academy and hired when they were trying to push Wakeen out. I think Wakeen is still at Teapots Ltd, but they keep moving his desk and taking his stapler, so I don’t think he’ll be on much longer, especially once he figures out his direct deposit isn’t coming anymore.

      1. Admin of Sys*

        (does it count as RPF is everyone is referred to by aliases and we don’t know who they are?)

          1. Falling Diphthong*

            Real person fiction–like writing about the torrid love affair you believe the actual receptionist is having with the actual custodian.

            Though I was briefly going for Railway Protection Force, because I am a sucker for the prospect of an AAM classic murder mystery taking place on a train, where we all get to be in period dress.

  10. BigLaw Midlevel*

    References for the bar are an absolute goddamn nightmare. In my state, they can’t former employers (those come in another section), can’t be related, have to date back a significant period, can’t be people you went to law school with, professors and law school administrators won’t do them for obvious reasons and have to be able to speak to your character and ethics. You end up wracking your brain for anyone you know who fits that profile and it was hard to come up with the SEVEN my bar required. Some of mine were major stretches just like it sounds your old friends are.

    1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

      It’s still pretty rude not to reach out and ask in advance, though, as it seems is the case for OP5. I had somewhat similar issues when applying for citizenship (had to get references from non-relatives in particular professions deemed trustworthy) and had to get people I barely knew, but had been acquainted with for a long time, to sign paperwork for me. I definitely explained why I was asking them and asked in advance.

      1. Jam*

        I wonder if there’s any chance the acquaintance did try to reach out for a heads up in the reference? Perhaps if they haven’t spoken in some time, he had an outdated email address or phone number for OP? Or does OP regularly login to check messages on LinkedIn or Facebook? Sure, maybe he did not, but I agree it seems odd not to let someone know you’re using them as a reference, so may also be worth consideration that you may have just missed the message?

        1. Ted Mosby*

          If they didn’t have updated contact info how would they have gotten the recommendation request to the OP? I guess the heads up could have gone to spam and not the rec, but it seems unlikely.

          1. OhNo*

            Some reference checkers use agencies that can track down a person’s most recent address and phone number. I don’t know if the bar would use those kind of services, but they may have access to avenues that the old friend wouldn’t.

            1. nnn*

              I wonder if they ever find the wrong person with the same name? I have several doppelnamers in my city and occasionally get contacts meant for them. I could imagine things getting mixed up.

            2. EddieSherbert*

              Maybe, but for something like this (a super intense, “find seven people to fill out all this stuff that fall within these relationship parameters”) the fact that the person applying doesn’t even have contact information for the person OR any way to obtain that information themselves…. would tell me they don’t really know that person, like at all, and that person is not a solid reference.

              1. Natalie*

                This isn’t a reference like a job reference, though, where you are supposed to have some fairly in-depth knowledge about the person. They’re often just asking if you know anything exceptionally negative, or for whatever information you know so they can compare it against the overall file.

            3. neverjaunty*

              No, this is not a likely scenario. If the guy gave a reference that had outdated contact information, THAT fact would say quite a bit about the value of the reference.

              Bar references are a pain in the butt, but they are a big deal. You’re not vouching for your friend to be worthy of a seasonal job at Target; you’re vouching for them to have a license that grants them enormous responsibility and power. I wouldn’t do that for someone based on “we used to be friends way back when but now he’s an ass”.

              1. Rained*

                Actually, your point of you is a fundamental misunderstanding of the purpose of these kinds of checks. You’re not actually vouching for the person. All you were doing is saying whether or not you know if something very, very serious that would prevent them from being a lawyer.

                In essence, it’s not a positive reference like he would be giving for a job. With the bar is looking for or negative references that allege very serious impropriety.

                Between the applications I’ve done for myself and the ones where I have been reference, I’ve done well over 10.

                All the bar is really looking for is to see if there’s anyone out there who comes up and says “I knew Fergus back in 1988 when he was a thieving drug dealer who stole money from his grandmother. “. They are not looking for an endorsement nor are they Looking for other types of character flaws. You can be a cheating douche bag and they don’t care about your infidelity .

                They really only want to know about serious felonies, substance-abuse, violence, mental instability, etc.

                There is really no “vouching” in the process.

                Unless OP knows of something very serious such as felony theft, all they really have to do is do a one or two sentence response that says they don’t know of any reason that applicant can’t be a lawyer.

                I’ve actually done references for people I know that was one sentence. “I know of no reason that Wakeen should not be admitted to the State Bar of Valhalla.” Or “I know other reason why Fergus should not be admitted to the State Bar of Jotenheim. When we were in high school, he beat up an old lady and stalled her money to buy drugs. “

                That’s really all there is to it.

                1. palomar*

                  So you’re saying that, to put it very very very simply, it’s basically the bar equivalent of “if anyone here has any objections to this marriage taking place, speak now or forever hold your peace”?

                2. neverjaunty*

                  While it’s true that the Bar doesn’t care if Fergus is the mind of guy who took the last cup of coffee and didn’t make a new pot (at least not in most states$, the issue is what the recommendation is FOR. The OP is being asked for information about whether this person should be licensed to practice law. That’s a big deal, and it’s not something that should be done if she is hesitant.

                3. Rusty Shackelford*

                  Unless OP knows of something very serious such as felony theft, all they really have to do is do a one or two sentence response that says they don’t know of any reason that applicant can’t be a lawyer.

                  But the OP says she’s being asked to “write several paragraphs about him, how long and how well I knew him, and what I think of his character and why I think he should be admitted.”

                4. EddieSherbert*

                  Thanks for explaining it further! Still seems weird to me, but it does make sense! I would fill it the form if I was the OP (originally, I would not have).

                5. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

                  Rusty, that’s sometimes the format of the reference. I had to write a letter in response to a moral character questionnaire for a friend being admitted to the NY bar.

                  But Rained is right. You don’t have to write paragraphs, even if that’s the amount of space provided. I wrote my friend a full-on letter because I love her and want her admitted (she’s excellent). But if it were someone I did not know as well, a single paragraph explaining how I knew her, how long, and that I had no concerns would have sufficed. All you do is take Rained’s sentence and precede it with “I have known X for Y years, when we [worked/lived/went to school] together in [location].”

              2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

                Neverjaunty, this happens all the time in my state, and my friends in other states have reported it happening, too. The Bar absolutely looks up contact information for third parties who are not listed on the form (as well as those who are), and they also contact folks who aren’t even listed. It can be like doing an FBI/DOJ check, and the applicant doesn’t have control or knowledge over who the bar reaches out to beyond the names provided on the moral character app.

      2. Falling Diphthong*

        Yes. As awkward as you might feel reaching out to someone you haven’t spoken to in a while, letting the anonymous form demanding they put a lot of time in on your behalf bring it up instead is not a good look.

        1. Marillenbaum*

          Bingo! I had to get a bunch of references as part of a security clearance application (so, similarly long and annoying), and even though some of the people I used as references were not people I was in current regular contact with, I made sure to tell them, and make it clear that they were doing me a major solid.

      3. Rained*

        That’s assuming that the contact is because the applicant the person down as a reference. In some states, the bar asks references for other people who knew the applicant. I’ve even heard that some of them are now doing Google checks.

    2. Lore*

      Yeah, I was asked for one once from a former coworker to whom I was never very close. She’d gone to law school as a whole major life change after a broken engagement–new state, new career, new friends–and wasn’t in contact with a lot of people who’d known her long enough to count.

      I also did one for an ex, but we were and are still good friends so that was only weird in that the breakup itself did not, shall we say, speak highly of his moral character!

          1. Loren*

            Ha! No, though there was some less-egregious ghosting involved, but coming from someone who was in a bad life place and who very sincerely and genuinely subsequently apologized, so we’re good.

  11. ..Kat..*

    #4 (Parkinson’s tremors). I recommend Alison’s advice – just let people know that it is a medical condition/side effect of medication and that you are okay.

    I once worked with a coworker (in a non-healthcare related field) who had a significant hand tremor. He told coworkers that it was just something he had, it did not hurt or anything, it was just something he could not control.

    He later told me that his doctor suggested some medication that could lessen the tremor, but had potentially bad side effects. He asked if I thought he should take it, if coworkers were judging him on his tremor. I told him that no, we did not judge him. We all just accepted that this was a part of who he was, such as brown eyes, and not something to worry about. In fact, when someone new would ask about it, this is what we would tell the new person. We had even shut it down when a visitor to our office made snarky comments about his tremor. He was relieved and grateful to know that we did not care about the tremor and that we had his back.

      1. BookishMiss*

        For real. My husband has [motor cortex disorder not yet specified], and is just very up front about it. It heads off most inquiries/odd looks/indirect assumptions, but it’s still good to know that there are people out there who support their co-workers on this stuff.

  12. Not Australian*

    Without wanting to be too glib about this, #4, maybe you could reference Michael J Fox’s character in ‘The Good Wife’? He frequently started meetings with a little speech about his condition, and anyone who watched the show will at least have heard of it.

    1. Parenthetically*

      Of course I thought of TGW immediately as well and good on them for increasing awareness of dyskinesias! — my only hesitation with that is that Fox’s character gives his little speech as a bid for sympathy and to steal the spotlight from his opponent, and unless you’re particularly skillful, it may be hard to weave that in without it taking too much time or looking like… a bid for sympathy! I think “I have a condition that causes tremors sometimes; nothing to be concerned about!” is plenty otherwise.

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      *snork* Much as I enjoyed his character (and Nancy, from the wide-eyed and naive state of Michigan) the way he parlayed it would make me instantly suspicious of someone who used this touch point.

  13. WeevilWobble*

    State bar references aren’t like job references. You don’t have to worry if it’s positive only that you don’t have anything unethical to report.

    The Bar doesn’t care if he was rude or kind of a jerk. There would be no lawyers if they did! They care that he didn’t defraud or steal from you.

    I wouldn’t be hostile but I wouldn’t worry about not being glowing. And I would give it.

    I had to go through this for the NY State bar (not the Mass one though.) And there was a professor I worker with who had then left my school. We weren’t close and I had to stalk and beg this guy to do it. In the end, he said he would but didn’t. And I had to document all of my efforts and submit that. It was a nightmare.

    1. WeevilWobble*

      To be clear, in my case they needed everyone I’d worked for within a certain number of years. So I needed him specifically.

    2. neverjaunty*

      Eh, plenty of lawyers are very nice people. I don’t know that “it’s okay to be a jerk” is a good look for the profession, or at least it would cut down on all those CLEs about civility.

      I’m a little bothered at all the suggestions that the OP do this as a solid for an old buddy. Bar references are a pain precisely because having a bar card is a big freaking deal. If the OP’s agreeing or declining to say how swell he is (and it is more than “he didn’t steal from me) makes or breaks his application, then he shouldn’t be a lawyer.

      1. fposte*

        Yeah, I think I’d take this *more* seriously than just giving a reference for a job–it’s a big hurdle for a reason. What I’d do would depend on the specific nature of my reluctance, but I don’t see the default as being to obligation here.

        1. Rained*

          It’s more serious, but it’s not necessarily what people think. In no way shape or form are you vouching for someone like you would be for a job application. All you are saying is whether or not you know if something serious that would make this person dangerous as a lawyer.

          A lot of things that would be barriwrs for me giving somebody a job reference would not be an issue on a bar application.

          Between my own applications and those I have been a reference on, I’ve done over 10. The process is not what a lot of people think it is. In most cases it’s either “I know of no reason why Joaquin should not be admitted to the state bar. “Or “I know of a reason why Fergus should not be admitted to the bar. Here is the reason…. “

          Yes, the person becoming a lawyer is serious. But people are making this reference up to be so much more than it actually is

          1. fposte*

            Then presumably that’s clear in the language of the request, right? And I still don’t think it confers obligations the way people would like. I’m not saying chuck it in the trash and pretend you never got it, and I agree that you should let people, either the applicant or the bar, know that you won’t be answering if that’s your choice.

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

              That’s what I was wondering. I don’t know anything about how this process works, so I’m imagining just getting a form in the mail demanding a lot of work on my part with no explanation of why I am being asked.

        2. SallytooShort*

          Comparing it to a job reference is completely missing the point.

          The LW doesn’t have to vouch for them. They can be brutally honest. It doesn’t involve the LW saying this is a great candidate.

          1. fposte*

            The LW doesn’t *have* to do anything. She didn’t sign up for somebody else’s lawyerly plans. I agree that she should let them know if she’s not going to submit it, though.

      2. SallytooShort*

        A bar reference does NOT involve saying someone is a great candidate.

        They can give a bad reference. But if it’s not unethical behavior than it won’t tank it.

        But if people refuse to do it then the bar assumes something is going on.

        Not providing an honest estimation knowing the bar will assume it’s based on unethical behavior from the applicant is just not cool.

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

          Is that explained at all for those of us who have no knowledge of how this works? After the explanations here I feel less affronted by the notion of an out of the blue demand that the OP spend a significant amount of time on a reference for someone she doesn’t know that well, but I had no idea that the bar would interpret the OP refusing as an indication of something unethical.

  14. Pearl*

    #3: My partner and I met at work, and although our immediate colleagues figured it out pretty quickly (and we told our managers), it’s taken a while for others to notice that we’re a couple. I realised what a good job we’d done of being discreet when our maternity and paternity leaves were announced as two totally separate items on a staff briefing because the colleague who wrote it didn’t realise that it’s the same baby! My experience was that people either didn’t care or were delighted to find out we’re together. It hasn’t been a big deal.

    1. LW#3*

      LOL! Thanks. I’m having bad high school flashbacks and it’s nice to know people can be adults about this stuff now :)

      1. Pearl*

        I think you can do a lot to set the tone for responses by behaving like it’s a happy thing but no my a big deal, and by being professional and matter of fact. Good luck, but I’m sure you’ll be fine.

  15. Ainomiaka*

    For the lawyer friend-how close is joining the bar to taking the bar exam? If close it seems a little unfair to punish the old friend for not being very social while preparing for what I have heard is an awful and huge high stakes test. Similar for being a little stressed. I agree with Alison that big ethical issues would be something different, but he’s just not been very present/didn’t ask first? I’d forgive as long as he’s done you favors in the past/would in the future if you needed them-i.e. is a friend.

    1. neverjaunty*

      Er, shouldn’t Old Friend have followed that advice?

      It seems a little problematic to warn the OP not to burn a bridge when this guy already set it on fire.

      1. Ainomiaka*

        Am I misunderstanding the letter? My interpretation was that OP is the one that is contemplating not answering the questions. My advice is for OP in this case-do it. Fill out the reference about moral character. It’s not a professional endorsement. I get that it’s minorly rude to not have asked first, but my point is that old friend might have been preparing for the bar. If that’s setting a bridge on fire, I. . . think this community is being a little harsh.

        1. palomar*

          For real. I have to assume that the people advocating refusing to fill out the form or worse, fill out the form with all the dirty laundry they can possibly fit in, have never had a situation in their lives where they’ve had to study for literally years on end and grind themselves into a thin, sticky paste. I had a friend who mostly disappeared for the duration of law school and bar exam prep, and when she did appear she wasn’t exactly the most relaxed or friendly person, because law school is really damn stressful and prepping for the bar is even more stressful than that.

          1. fposte*

            Agreeing with neverjaunty that you’d be wrong :-). I studied for a degree that takes considerably longer than a law degree, and the law students were getting a lot more party action than people in my program.

            I just don’t think, ironically, that the ethical framework some of the lawyers here are advancing that makes moral testimony an obligation holds up to scrutiny.

        1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          Yeah, I don’t understand that, either. It sounds like OldFriend dropped off the face of the earth, not that they betrayed OP or set a bridge on fire.

          1. Rusty Shackelford*

            Well, he did more than just disappear, since the OP says He’s actually made quite a few bad impressions the last few times we interacted.

            1. tigerlily*

              Sure, but did he make bad impressions because he showed up to these interactions late and ducked out early and made the LW feel unappreciated, or did he make bad impressions by getting super drunk and assaulting some people? One would make me feel a little miffed that I’m no longer very important to this person, but I’m still going to fill out their form. The other makes me think that maybe he shouldn’t be a lawyer.

        2. neverjaunty*

          Perhaps “burned a bridge” is too strong? But I find it weird that the OP is being warned to stay on this guy’s good side in case she needs his help someday, when his failure to do that very thing is why the OP is reluctant to help him now.

          1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

            I don’t think anyone is telling OP to stay on this guy’s good side? It sounds like folks are saying, “hey, a moral character app is different than normal references, and declining to answer could have bigger repercussions than declining to answer a normal reference. So keep that in mind, and if you don’t want to tank someone’s career [which could certainly burn a bridge], then go ahead and answer it.”

            1. fposte*

              But if a system only passes people who have associates enthusiastically willing to assert to their moral character, wouldn’t that end up with a higher standard of ethics?

              1. Rusty Shackelford*

                Theoretically, yes. In practice, probably not. We’ve seen how people are reluctant to be the first to make an accusation.

                1. fposte*

                  It just sounds to me like the whole moral character references thing is something that theoretically works and in practice doesn’t, though; it’s just that the broader version involves more imposition for people who don’t get any benefit from the system.

                  (To be clear, I probably would write whatever for the guy, because I write stuff for people all the time and what’s one more? But the moral imperative of the moral character testimony is pretty suspect to me.)

              2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

                In my experience, people who are actual references on the application DO enthusiastically assert the candidate’s moral character. Although most folks think their friends are “moral” and aren’t good at predicting if that person will later commit fraud until they’ve also been duped.

                But in addition to my actual character references, there are three groups of people I had to list on my application who might not know me well enough to be so enthusiastic:
                1. Every landlord I’d had for 10 years;
                2. Every employer and primary manager for the past 10 years;
                3. Law profs listed on my transcript who I had not asked to serve as references.

                I had no idea the bar would mail moral character evaluation forms to those folks. I thought I provided that info so the bar had backup info about my application. And I definitely didn’t realize the bar would Google me and contact people who may have known me who I didn’t list (e.g., undergrad thesis advisor).

                To be fair, “moral character” has a really specific meaning that doesn’t include things like incivility or being a jerk. It’s really focused on lying, fraud, failure to follow through on projects, substance abuse, bankruptcy/debt, and mental health* diagnoses (regardless of their impact on a person’s competence or ability to function). Legal ethics aren’t really about ethics—they’re about the minimum requirements of professional conduct under the licensing framework of that state.

                * California is one of the only states that still does this, and it makes me irate.

              3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

                Oh, also, it tends to benefit people from wealthier backgrounds. Personally I think it’s an outdated/poor tool for producing more ethical lawyers.

                Apparently a stronger indicator of later (un)ethical conduct is whether a person passes the bar exam.

                1. fposte*

                  Yeah, I was thinking about the kind of people this privileges, and it didn’t seem to map onto an ethical disparity.

                  I get the frustration from people who want to be admitted to the bar, which is a big deal, especially compared to the small deal of filling out a form. But lots of things are a small deal to us that would be a big deal to other people, and that doesn’t confer an obligation on us to do them. So on learning more about how the process might be working I think the OP should respond if she can, but I also still don’t think she has an obligation to do so.

                2. LBK*

                  I’m with fposte on this one. To be honest I’m pretty surprised that judgment’s of a lawyer’s moral character are, for the most part, based on the opinions of a list of people they get to select. Feels to me like everyone should have to go through the rigorous review process – it sounds like it would at least be somewhat more objective.

                  It seems that most lawyers here are arguing that basically not filling out the reference or writing a bad reference could potentially undo a lot of this candidate’s efforts, but…isn’t that kind of the point? Why bother asking for someone’s character references if those references are going to be pressured into helping the person pass the process by arguments about how hard the person has worked to get to that point? That’s completely oblique to what an ethics test should be trying to confirm.

                3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

                  @LBK, the concern is whether not filling a form is proportionate to the harm to the applicant. If the applicant is indeed “immoral,” then of course their application should be held up. But if they were simply rude or socially awkward, depriving them of their ability to practice their career seems overly harsh… especially once you throw in law debt and how much money you need to make to pay it off.

                  Is what OP’s friend did so horrible that it merits those consequences? Or was he simply being gauche or flaky? I don’t know the answer, but OP should be aware of those consequences when they make a decision whether or not to answer the reference request.

              4. KAG*

                As someone who has lived in 4 states over the past two years and is an introvert to boot, (and had to apply for a security clearance as well), I’m quite confident that my inability to produce three non-work, non-family references for each address is not a reflection of my ethics/integrity.

                (Short answer: it ends up with people who make more friends / network better)

                1. Legal Beagle*

                  Yep. Thankfully my state didn’t require so many character references (maybe 3?) and you only had to have known them for a few years. As an introvert who moved across the country for college and then again for law school, I lucked out with my state bar’s easier standards.

          2. Ainomiaka*

            If you’re talking about my comment, I wasn’t trying to warn OP to stay on his good side so much as say that in a mutual friendship you help each other out. I agree that the favors should go both ways, but my first thought for the friend was that he was out of touch due to stressful studying-I’m trying to confirm with lawyers if that is reasonable. I think that trying to torpedo a career because friend was stressed is just cruel and vindictive.

            1. Ainomiaka*

              Ok, at least in one state apparently yes, they ask for references during what I have only seen is a SUPER stressful period of life. So I’m not warning to stay on good side so much as recommending compassion for a friend going through a tough time.

            2. neverjaunty*

              I’m confused as to how not providing a single unasked-for reference would torpedo this guy’s career?

              Sure, studying for the bar is stressful; it’s also a matter of a few months at most, even if that is what is going on with this guy. But if he alienated the OP to the point that she doesn’t have the contact information anymore to say “hey, I just got this request for a reference, what’s up with that?”, then I don’t see how she’s a terrible person for simply declining to respond.

              1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

                There’s a good comment up-thread on how a person’s failure to respond held up the applicant’s bar licensure by over a year.

          3. palomar*

            I haven’t seen anyone saying what you claim they say… but I have seen people point out that this is a request for any information about why the guy shouldn’t be a lawyer, and that sending back a form filled with personal grievances like “he hasn’t been nice enough to me at parties” would be not the best idea.

  16. nnn*

    The consensus in this comment thread so far seems to be that a) bar references are about confirming that the person is not inethical, not actively seeking positive references, and b) it was rude of Friend to put OP’s name down as a reference without checking with her first.

    If this is all accurate (I’m blindly trusting the other commenters on the nature of bar references), OP could address her qualms about the situation simply by giving painstakingly accurate and truthful references, including the nature of her falling out with Friend and the fact that Friend didn’t ask her permission to use her as a reference, and also including whatever OP knows about Friend’s bona fides as an attorney.

    The result would simply be natural consequences for Friend.

    1. CM*

      Nooooo. That stuff is way too personal for a bar reference.

      Give the reference if you hope to have any kind of relationship with this person in the future, unless you have reason to believe that they’re unethical and not just unfriendly. Refusing the reference at this point seems like you’re actively trying to give them a hard time.

      It doesn’t have to be glowing, you basically just have to write how long you have known the person, in what capacity, and that you have no reason to believe they are unethical.

      1. SignalLost*

        But I do believe someone is unethical if they use my name on a car loan without notifying me. I think that even more when they stop making payments on their car and I get a phone call from their lender as, apparently, a character witness. It’s still unethical when this is the second time this person has done this to me … and I cut off all of our minimal contact after the first time. You can bet anything you like that a whole fleet of busses will be along shortly.

        IOW, however the bar references work, the personal relationship element of the reference absolutely has bearing on the reference, and the OP sounds like they have serious reservations about providing one. If the comments here have reassured them and they feel okay providing the reference described, that’s great. If they don’t, we would all do a lot worse than remember that part of life is managing personal connections and being thoughtful about others and their time. I don’t find it thoughtful to drop a reference request on someone who seems to not fit an expected category such as college roommate.

        1. Ainomiaka*

          But all the lawyers here are saying that it’s not a car loan or professional endorsement. I think that’s the difference.

        2. Rained*

          Actually, that would be something that bar would want to know Since one of the most common complaints against lawyers is handling of client funds.

          This type of bad behavior speaks directly to financial propriety. That’s one of the key things being a lawyer

        3. SallytooShort*

          1) Nothing in the LW’s letter suggests this person gave the name as a reference. In many states, the bar association asks references for more references.

          2) This is nothing like a car loan.

          3) Putting a huge dent in someone’s life because they’ve been a little stand offish is not great karma.

          1. Naruto*

            #1 is a really important point. I think there are a lot of misconceptions here about how this process works, which is leading to potentially mistaken assumptions about what the person in question actually did or did not do.

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

              My question is whether someone who is not familiar with the process would understand points 1 and 3 from whatever request they received. I wouldn’t have a problem filling it out knowing that the person might not have given them my contact details and that refusing to fill it out could be a really big problem for someone I’m no longer friendly with but have no reason to think is unethical. But I wouldn’t know any of that if I had not read this post.

              1. BigLaw Midlevel*

                no, they probably wouldn’t. instead you’d send a confused facebook/email/text message to the person and they would say “i didn’t put you down and I don’t know why they’re contacting you but please fill it out anyway.” that’s my experience at least.

        4. palomar*

          But you have to admit that there’s a VERY big difference between putting someone’s name on a car loan (as a cosigner, I assume you mean?) without their permission, and this situation. What you describe is probably actually a crime. A person not being very friendly isn’t a crime. And to be very blunt, taking the opportunity to totally derail someone’s entire professional life because sometimes they’ve been snippy (being snippy is not an ethics violation, FYI) is such a cruel and unconscionable thing to do that I can’t believe someone would actually suggest it in good faith.

          1. Rusty Shackelford*

            I thought SignalLost meant being used as a reference on a car loan (do they even do that any more?), not a cosigner. One is fraud, but the other is just… thoughtless.

            1. palomar*

              Putting anyone on loan paperwork as a reference means that they’ll be contacted and hassled if you default on payments.

        5. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          I mean, the bar wants to know if someone commits loan fraud because it would likely decline to admit that person.

          But putting someone’s name down for a reference is not the equivalent to committing fraud. And the personal elements of a reference (someone not making a good impression the last two times) are really not relevant unless the behavior is extremely problematic—think going into a blind rage and becoming violent—not for failure to adhere to etiquette standards.

          Moral character references really aren’t the same as other personal/career references.

    2. Rained*

      The bar won’t care about that unless the falling out was over something that spoke to propriety as a lawyer such as theft, violence, etc.

      Even then, one bad reference absent external evidence will not tank the applicant’s chances.

      All that will type of response will do is to cause OPs word to be disregarded.

      Given that I have been barred in multiple states and given references to colleagues who were seeking admittance. My advice is to do it, be truthful, but no more detailed than necessary. Then I’d write friend and ask “why didn’t you give me a heads up?”

      Yes, this person would be perfectly in the right to not fill out the forms. However, the only thing that’s going to get them is for short-term satisfaction. Doing it, however, is an act of kindness. There’s not enough of that in this world.

      There are too many petty vindictive people.

      Personally, when I have a chance to do something that benefits someone else and doesn’t cost me anything but time and effort, I will do so. It’s not because they deserve it or don’t deserve it. It’s because I deserve to be the kind of person who does the right thing when it’s obvious. And who does the kind thing even when it’s not necessary.

      Trying to go the vindictive or out in punishing the X friend really won’t help the OP in the end.

      1. blackcat*

        I’d agree with this *if* it didn’t sound like this guy has been kind of a dick lately.

        I’d send him a quick note saying, “Since I had no heads up about this, I can’t do it at this time.” And then just not do it.

        An old friend who I just hadn’t talked to in a few years? I’d fill it out and send a “I did it, but WTF dude? Ask first!”

        1. Rained*

          Have you miss the part where multiple attorneys have said that this person may not have listed the OP?

          My advice still stands. Being a dick doesn’t mean he’s going to be a bad lawyer. It’s not about whether or not he deserves a glowing reference either

        2. palomar*

          So if someone’s been a dick to you, whatever that might mean, you’d feel comfortable sinking their career? Wouldn’t that also make you a dick?

      2. straws*

        I deserve to be the kind of person who does the right thing when it’s obvious. And who does the kind thing even when it’s not necessary.
        This is going up on my wall of quotes. Perfectly put!

      3. Anion*

        YES. I completely agree. It doesn’t harm the OP to do this, and it helps someone. And I too want to be the kind of person who does kind things; that’s actually one of the rules I live by. I’ve found I’m much happier when I make being kind a priority–it makes me a person I can be proud to be.

  17. Narise*

    OP1 I agree with reaching out to the person who interviewed you and seeing if he responds. If he doesn’t respond then what? Should OP send an email to his boss or to HR? Posting the experience on glass door as a warning that interviews are not confidential may catch the attention of someone who can address it but I would email interviewer first and then someone else to see how they respond.

    1. SallytooShort*

      Unfortunately she may have no recourse if the interviewer doesn’t respond.

      But, hopefully, the interviewer will apologize and tell the wife to cut it out.

    2. Bend & Snap*

      I’d get in touch with HR in a heartbeat. Her livelihood is at stake.

      Also, I’m shocked that the interviewer gave the OP’s full name PLUS all the deets to his wife. Atrocious.

  18. Murphy*

    For #3, if you treat it like no big deal, everyone else will likely treat it like no big deal. If someone asks you about it, you can just say casually, “Oh yeah, you didn’t know?”

    1. LW#3*

      Thanks. It felt like a big deal when it started. Now my bad judgement of dating a co-worker is kind of retroactively okay because it is working out. I will try to remember it’s not a big deal anymore :)

  19. Lynca*

    OP 4- I have a direct line manager with Parkinson’s. He was upfront about it but brief. He’s on medication, he has a tremor and halting speech, but he’s being properly cared for. He was also direct about this would not affect our work and if anything changed that would, he would let us know. But because there would be noticeable symptoms, he didn’t want us (his reports and co-workers) to worry about what was going on.

  20. Traffic_Spiral*

    LW1 reminds me of that quote from Horton Hears a Who:

    Tommy: “We won’t tell anyone. And if we do, we’ll tell them not to tell anyone.”

    Horton: “Perfect!”

  21. MassMatt*

    I think Allison is being too easy on the interviewer who is blabbing about job applications to his wife. This is serious, the interviewer is blabbing not just who applied but a lot of specifics about them. And yeah, generally your spouse is a “safe person” to share info with—but if so, it’s your responsibility to know if *they*are in turn able to keep confidence. I find it hard to believe the interviewer doesn’t know his wife is a gossip.

    IMO the letter/email should go not to the interviewer but to his boss. The company should know that info is being spread and act accordingly. This is damaging, not only to the OP (as many have pointed out) but to the company. Who knows what other confidential info is being leaked and made into party gossip?

    1. Max from St. Mary's*

      I agree, mostly because this was gossip with a nasty edge, not just “guess what!” but “let me give you the gory details about how this person failed twice to get the job” (sorry OP, I believe you when you say it was less of a big deal to you, but you can bet Interviewer’s Wife made it sound like the job apocalypse). Anyone married to a person who likes to deal in that sort of trashing likely knows their partner has a nasty edge and has a tendency to downplay it…why yes, I do have a sister-in-law like that.

      I think letting the interviewer know and going to someone above them make sure that it doesn’t get brushed under the rug.

    2. Samata*

      I keep coming back to this and was going to comment similar – this needs to go higher IMO. I am my partners “safe person”, and I do have to be just that. I don’t even bring up anything again btwn us, I wait for him to do it. I could never imagine talking out of our 4 walls about his work, let alone without him being present.

      But…the weird thing to me is that this was an interview…I usually get “we had this interview today and X was a jackass” or “we had a duplicate applicant today, I really like him but its just not going to work out this time either”. I don’t even know that I’ve ever heard a name in these cases.

      If boss is sharing this level of detail about applicants, I am sure its even more specific with employee just by nature — so what she might be sharing about them would also be a huge concern.

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

        My husband sometimes tells me about stuff that is confidential (not like state secrets or anything but things that aren’t public knowledge) but I never know names and details. Even if I did I wouldn’t be telling strangers about it except in the most generic of terms (I once heard about someone who submitted their cover letter on glitter paper, isn’t that silly?).

    3. AKchic*

      This. So this.

      Because if the interviewing manager is sharing this level of detail about a non-employee; what is he sharing about actual employees and company details? And what is this gossipy wife telling others at her book club and in other social settings?
      No, the interviewing manager is not the appropriate person to alert, as he should already be aware that his wife is a gossip, and he still made the poor decision to overshare these details with her, knowing she would likely turn around and share them with all and sundry. No, his supervisor is the one to be handling this issue. The company has a leak. It’s time to plug that leak.

      1. tunacat*

        OP here, unfortunately interviewer is the highest level in this organization without going to the board. I don’t want to get into a nasty entanglement. While I no longer want to join that organization, I also don’t want to be known as the girl who got “so and so” in trouble. I am trying hard to put my anger and frustration aside, and simply do some damage control to stop the wife. Yes I am mad and bewildered, but ultimately I just want this to go away. No one likes rejection, I would like just stop thinking about it.

        1. Mainly lurking*

          I understand why you wouldn’t want the hassle of reporting this guy to the board, but please, please be assured that IF you chose to report him and he ended up being disciplined or even fired, you did NOT “get him into trouble”. He and his wife managed that all by themselves.

  22. August*

    As soon as I read the heading for #2, I knew the answer was “no.” Alison’s right, LW is waaaay too far removed from this, getting involved would be a major intrusion.

  23. SallytooShort*

    I don’t think people should assume the LW’s friend gave the name as a reference. Several states ask for references and then ask those references to name other references. The whole point is to find out if you did unethical behavior. Obviously, you aren’t going to cough up names of people who would say you had.

    You don’t have to give a glowing recommendation. You can be honest. But if you don’t know of any truly unethical behavior you should do this. And, if you do, you should as well.

    This is a really difficult process for an aspiring attorney to go through. It will be very difficult for them if you refuse. And there is a very big chance they weren’t the one to give your name as a reference.

    This isn’t not getting a job because you don’t want to be a reference. It is derailing their career path because they haven’t been social. Very much not cool.

    1. MCM*

      I’ve had companies look at LinkedIn and reach out to contacts that I have worked with in the past, that I am connected with. But it was because they knew the person that they contacted in one way or another. It could be this.

  24. always in email jail*

    I’m curious about #1, what advice would you give to the person on the receiving end of the email? (aka the person whose wife spilled the beans). I can’t even imagine how to respond to that since it’s both a professional and personal issue!

  25. Rained*

    Some advice on bar applications after reading this whole comment section. I’m an Attorney who has been through this myself and several states and has provided references to multiple people. As I mentioned before, I’ve done this more than 10 times less than 20. So unless someone has actually worked for the state bar doing these checks, I’d say I’ll probably have more experience than anyone on this board.

    1) It’s entirely possible that the applicant did not provde the OP’s name. The bar may have got it from another reference or may have found it themselves. Some bar officials are very proactive. I’ve been told that several states are moving toward a more intense audit for randomly selected candidates and that they will dig deeper if they hear anything problematic.

    2) Responding is not vouching for the applicant. That is not it all what the bar is looking for. It is not a job application. What they are looking for are specific types of bad behavior in the past that would lead the person to be a bad lawyer. And when I say bad, I don’t mean merely garden-variety probelmatic as a person.

    They are looking for financial impropriety, theft, substance abuse or mental illness of a type that would lead the attorney to abrogate their duties or steal from clients, violence, etc.

    They don’t care if the person is a racist, cheating idiot.

    I know of one person who passed the bar in spite of being a serial adulterer who have been divorced over five times. As long as he paid his child support, that was all that mattered. Conversely, there’s a famous case where a state bar refused admittance to a privileged young man who had not paid over 100 parking tickets. The latter showed a flagrant disregard for the rule of law.

    3) The responses they expect are usually short if there is nothing to report. They only expect long responses and a lot of effort when there is a problem with the application such as theft, severe substance abuse, or mental instability that is not managed.


    1. Rusty Shackelford*

      Are the states that search for references not provided by the candidate the same states who punish candidates if their references do not respond? I hope not.

      1. BigLaw Midlevel*

        all states punish candidates if their references don’t respond in that you can’t be barred until enough do

    2. fposte*

      The framing I’m objecting to is that “I want to be a lawyer and therefore you’re a bad person if you don’t accept this homework.” This isn’t a debt people owe.

      1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

        No, it’s not a debt. But… I think it sort of does make you a “bad person” if you are willing to derail someone’s career because you don’t want to fill out a form (especially with the background we’ve learned today, that it isn’t necessarily true that the applicant submitted the LW’s name to the bar association).

        1. fposte*

          Yeah, I’m just not there. I didn’t put myself on the rails of this person’s career in the first place. But I think this one just elicits some widely differing opinions, and I’m willing to let it stew in my brain for a while and see if I change my mind.

          1. Naruto*

            What if you think of it as a debt to the public rather than that individual? We all benefit by having an ethical bar.

            1. fposte*

              That’s an interesting way to look at it! I still don’t think it’s a debt, though–lots of things that benefit the public aren’t an obligation.

          2. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

            Me too!

            Where I’m landing is that there are lots of things that we (should) do because it’s the right thing, not because we’re obligated to do so. I’m not obligated to help find a child’s parent if they get lost at the supermarket, but if I walk on by and let the child wander around scared because I don’t want to be bothered, that doesn’t reflect well on me. I didn’t ask for that burden, but once it’s there it’s wrong to skip out on it.

            1. fposte*

              Oh, this is interesting. I agree in that situation because it’s a vulnerable person and it’s unplanned. Maybe it’s because I’m so protective of my time, but this seems more like asking me to chip in for a bar exam that the applicant can’t otherwise afford, and why would I stand in the way of somebody’s career by not giving money?

            2. Emi.*

              I would argue that we *are* obligated to do the right thing—if you’re not obligated, it’s not The Right Thing, just a nice thing.

              1. fposte*

                To me that’s just renaming different areas on the map but keeping the boundaries the same, though; then most of the “right things” I’ve done have been nice things, not the right thing, and that’s fine by me.

          3. Cassie*

            As a victim of identity theft many times over, being contacted out of the blue for something like this would set off ALL my alarm bells.

            I have an unlisted number, I have a P.O. box, I pay in cash for almost everything. I’ve done a lot of annoying and complicated things that make my life harder due to having to deal with the fallout of the IRS hack. Random contact out of nowhere from an official organization asking about someone I used to know is such a red flag, I’d be more likely to freeze my credit and file a police report than I would be to mindlessly start filling out their forms.

      2. Astor*

        After reading a lot of these comments, I’ve shifted to thinking of it as being more like jury duty. That is, unless you’ve specifically been put down as somebody’s reference, even though you’re giving your judgement on a particular person you’re acting to benefit the overall law. Similarly to how you’re providing judgement on a particular case when you’re performing jury duty, but you’re not doing it because you care about that specific case.

    3. Ainomiaka*

      Ok, I am sorry to push but I hope you can answer -is the reference asking right after passing the exam? Is there a time delay?

      1. Where's the Le-Toose?*

        Ainomiaka, for most people it’s probably before the exam. In California, they encourage you to file the moral character application at the beginning of your third year of law school (e.g. September 2017 if you are taking the July 2018 bar exam), and if you are a lawyer from out of state who wants to be licensed in California, it’s 8-10 months before you wish to be admitted.

        I’ve been practicing law in California for 22 years now, and I’ve done several of these forms for former interns in our office. All the ones I received have about 10 “yes/no” questions, like “to the best of your knowledge, has the applicant ever committed a felony?”. Then there are 2 open ended questions, usually like “is there anything else you’d like to add” or “do you know of any information that would make the applicant unfit to practice law?”

        It should take the OP no more than 10 minutes to fill out the form.

        1. fposte*

          It sounds like it would be quicker to fill something like that out than to say you won’t answer it, in fact.

  26. MCM*

    1. My interviewer’s wife is telling people about my job search

    Shouldn’t the OP’s co-worker told the wife, that was spreading the information that the interviewee would be quite upset that the interviewer shared this information; that it could her co-worker’s job if word got out. Yes — OP you need to let your interviewer know that his wife is a leaky faucet of information.

    The interviewer’s job could be at jeopardy if they found out that his wife was sharing interview information; and they would wonder what else he had told her, that she is repeating.

    1. MCM*

      Forgot to add …. if the company develops a reputation (if not all ready) of not keeping applications confidential, the quality of applicants will narrow.

  27. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

    One quick note on the LW with the tremors: I wouldn’t use Alison’s line that references nerves (“I’m dealing with some health issues involving nerves, so you may notice some involuntary movements — I hope it’s not distracting.”).

    While we know that she meant that the LW’s health issue involves the nervous system, that line sounds like the LW is herself nervous (“Oh, I’m just shaking because I’ve got nerves.”).

  28. Erin*

    #2 – Oh good God, no. So many things could go wrong, you might have misinformation, etc. etc. etc. This would be a recipe for a disaster.

    Also, since you indicated this is not an isolated incident but he has a history of flirting with/harassing/etc female coworkers, I’m betting the truth is going to come out at some point anyway. Let that s*** unfold without the aftermath pulling you into the drama and suckage.

  29. Naruto*

    #5, depending on the state, it’s also possible that the state bar contacted you on their own initative. In other words, he may not have listed you as a reference or had any idea that they would contact you.

    There’s an important public benefit to making sure the bar admits people who are ethical and denies admission to people who are not. We don’t want people to be lawyers if they’re likely to embezzle client funds. The issue isn’t how well they keep up with their friends. So please forget about whether you want to do this guy a favor or not; and think of this as an obligation of public service.

    1. fposte*

      No, now you’re making that just too slippery. If she knew he was shady and was withholding that information? I’d say she’d have an obligation in that case. But just by existing in proximity to a lawyer doesn’t confer an obligation.

      And you know, there’s a question lurking here about the viability of this process in ensuring ethicality anyway, and while I don’t think that’s a good conversation for AAM, it’s not one that can be handwaved if we’re stating that unconsenting laypeople have an obligation to do this for the good of the public, since we’d have to prove that it genuinely, quantifiably works for the good of the public.

      1. Natalie*

        AAM lawyers correct me if I’m wrong, but it sounds like there’s a difference between her responding to the bar “I’m not in touch with Fergus anymore so I can’t answer all these questions” versus not answering at all, or detailing their falling out, or something else. If that’s the case, I think there’s an ethical obligation to at least respond briefly to the bar and explain you don’t know anything about the person’s fitness to practice law. It seems like, I don’t know, forwarding or returning misaddressed mail rather than just throwing it away.

        1. fposte*

          Yeah, I definitely don’t think she should blow it off. But the actual process is getting portrayed in a bunch of different ways here, and they all raise questions about the genuine effect of it. If it’s just the yes/no/anything else? form detailed by the California lawyer downthread, it’s a really low impact task–but then it also sounds a little more like ethics theater than an effective process that people have an obligation to assist with pro bono publico.

          1. Natalie*

            I imagine how effective the process is varies wildly depending on the makeup of the state’s bar and how legalistic (hyuk hyuk hyuk) they are. If they’re contacting lots of unlisted references, that seems more likely to turn up people who will have negative comments. But it sounds like they would do well to explain what kind of negative comments they are looking for – there are ethical obligations of an attorney, like confidentiality, that won’t necessarily occur to everyone to mention. And the example upthread about someone getting arrested as a legal observer is just bananas – I would expect attorneys, of all people, to know that simply being arrested doesn’t say anything about a person’s character and that legal observers are often arrested for no reason.

        2. Trout 'Waver*

          It’s so state-specific that you can’t really say much without knowing which state’s bar the person is applying to.

        3. Noah*

          The answer you propose woudln’t make any sense, because they ask you when you knew the person and what you know from that time period. So, unless you can honestly say, “I don’t remember,” it’s not really possible to demur.

  30. Molly*

    OP 2:

    A. Not all marriages are monogamous. They may have an understanding
    B. My husband knows I will shamelessly flirt with baristas to get free coffee. Sometimes this sort of thing can be fun!
    C. The dude may have told your husband because he feels awful about a one time bad decision.
    D. Wives are not helpless and clueless. If something is wrong in her marriage she’ll know

    1. Emi.*

      Oh lore, please do not foist your attentions on the poor barista! That’s just hitting on waitresses 2.0, i.e. gross and inappropriate. Yes, they may seem to like it–because they’re paid to be nice to customers! Do not take advantage of that!

      1. AKchic*

        This. Baristas, bartenders and waitstaff know you’re being nice for a reason. It may be “fun” to you to hit on them to try to get freebies; but to them it is annoying and transparently obvious. They engage because they want decent tips.

      2. Molly*

        Whoa y’all.

        Nothing inappropriate is going on! This is all rated G and driven by my friendly neighborhood baristas. No favors are requested, only gladly received.

        Not all flirting is criminal

    2. Really Rosie*

      D. While I agree wives aren’t helpless and clueless, it’s very possible to not know. In no way should OP get involved but sometimes people have no idea.

  31. Christina Knowles*

    Hello, all–longtime lurker, first time commenter! As a way of introduction, I work on gender equality issues, and have a huge part of my work involves gender equality in the workforce (think: lobbying for legislation related to equal pay/paid sick time & family leave/breastfeeding/pregnant workers rights, etc., as well as working to advance women in leadership in both the corporate and political world, etc). I will be able to contribute to these discussion in a helpful way! I adore this blog and consult it frequently. I was thrown into a leadership position at a very young age and had literally zero idea what I was doing—you saved me multiple times! I refer all of my staff, interns, and mentees to it, as many of them are in the early stages of their career. In fact, I do a lot of career development with them, and it’s required reading as part of that! We frequently have discussions about various posts. So thanks to Allison and the community for the excellent food for thought and always spot-on advice!
    I always want to comment but usually get distracted by something at work and end up not getting around to it. I made myself sit down to bang out an answer I response to the LW with Parkinson’s. It really hit home for me, and I think Allision did a fantastic job with her answer. I don’t have Parkinson’s but I have a chronic health condition that can at times pose similar challenge in a work environment, especially as it’s unpredictable and can occasionally have out of the office with no notice and no rhyme or reason to my absences. For years, I struggled like the LW did on trying to hide the situation, or over compensate for it. The most freeing thing I ever did was be totally honest with my colleagues—it was like a weight was lifted off my shoulder. I hadn’t even realized how much mental energy I spent on it that was taking away from my work! Your advice to the LW was spot on (as always!). I hope it is a solution that the LW will feel comfortable using, as I think it will really help them.

    Another solution I used when I was in a work environment where I wasn’t able to directly address it (think: as a lowly intern for a very high powered person where I was at the table to observe meetings, but it was a “be seen and not heard” type of thing) I asked my mentor to talk to my coworkers and the VIPs for me. She was more than happy to do so, and it spread the word without me having to inappropriately interrupt a meeting to inform folks. It worked out very well, so that could be a possibility for the LW, if he/she is simply isn’t comfortable discussing it him/herself.

    I find most people are very understanding, and are relieved to know you aren’t about to keel over at the table!

    Nice to meet you all!

  32. SheLooksFamiliar*

    OP #1 – Corporate staffing person here. I am cringing and angry for you, and hope you take Alison’s advice. Interviews are not conducted in confessionals, but there’s still a professional protocol most people expect and follow. The interviewer probably talked to his wife about his work day in a casual ‘how was your day, dear?’ context. Sharing your name is, IMO, not relevant or necessary in those discussions, but usually there’s no harm done.

    However, Mrs. Interviewer is a gossip and this needs to come to light. In fact, I have no problem with people like her being scolded or even embarrassed for being such a blabbermouth. Anyone who starts a comment with ‘I probably shouldn’t say…’ shouldn’t be trusted with information that requires discretion, maturity, and confidential handling.

  33. Pickles*

    Letter writer #4, there is a chance I work with you, and if not, let me say what I hope others you work with would say to you:
    – You are well-respected and that hasn’t changed.
    – Some of us are aware or have guessed and we have nothing but concern for you.
    – If anything, the level of respect has gone up because we know you’re struggling.
    – Please let us know if we can help, even if it’s a vague “meh, today stinks” vent for two seconds. We’re here for you.

    1. OP #4*

      You’ve warmed my heart on a day I really needed it, thank you. I’m an avid AAM reader and have certainly mentioned this blog at work before, so perhaps we do work together! I sure hope so because you sound like an awesome person to work with.

Comments are closed.