an extortionist might send my coworkers a private video, coworker won’t expense business travel, and more

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

1. How should I tell my workplace that an extortionist might send them a private video of me?

I just recently fell for a scam where the scammer took a video of me doing stuff I’d rather not have other people see. This scammer was able to find my Facebook friends just by googling my name and demanded that I pay him/her if I didn’t want him to spread the video to people. There honestly isn’t too much I can do to stop the scammer since he/she is in the Philippines and I have no idea what his/her identity is.

While I am not too concerned about this video potentially being spread to friends and family (this is something that in the very long run, I can just laugh off), I am more concerned about the scammer finding my coworkers’ contact information. I recently found out that my company’s directory is posted on the company website. Not only that, but by googling my name and adding maybe one or two other key words, you can very easily get to my company’s site. I work for a rather small company too, so it wouldn’t be too hard to send stuff along to every one of them.

That said, should I talk to someone at work about this? If so, how should I bring this up? Should I tell the truth about what happened, or would it maybe be fine if instead, I say something like “my laptop caught a virus recently, so if there’re any weird emails related to me, please have everyone delete them”?

I’m sorry — that sounds awful. If you’re comfortable with it, I’d say something like this to your manager and/or HR: “I’m being harassed and extorted by someone online who has threatened to contact people who know me to try to harm my reputation. Unfortunately he appears to be in the Philippines so I I’m not able to get law enforcement to help. I’m concerned that he may try to contact coworkers. I hope that it won’t, but it’s been an unsettling experience, and I wanted to make sure you’d have context for it if he does attempt to contact anyone here.”

Also, is it possible to temporarily remove your name from your company’s website? That won’t be possible in all jobs, but if it’s an option in yours, it may give you some peace of mind.

2. I’m doing business travel with a coworker who doesn’t want to expense anything

I recently accepted a secondment that can turn into a permanent role if I do well. Another person, Rey, also moved into a more senior position within the same team, and we report to the same manager, Luke. Five months into the role, Rey has decided that the position isn’t for her, while I’m happy with the move and looking forward to being a permanent member of the team.

Here’s where it gets tricky: Luke is pushing very hard for us to train overseas for a week and Rey is reluctant to go on the trip. She feels it would be a “waste” since she won’t be joining the team permanently and feels burdened by the fact that our manager would be spending $6,000 for the both of us to attend the training. However, Luke has spent a lot of political capital on getting the training approved, not to mention we’ve already put a non-refundable deposit on the training. The other members of the team have already attended so there is no one else we can transfer Rey’s slot to if she tells Luke she doesn’t want to go. (Incidentally, the training is very role-specific, so if she attends the training and goes back to her original position, she wouldn’t be able to use what she’s learned. My understanding is that the other members of the team already accepted a permanent role prior to being sent to the conference, and that this is the only time the conference is being held overseas.)

I am in charge of researching the travel expenses and doing the cost estimates for the trip: flights, hotel rooms, and meals. I initially would chat with her on what the options are to check for her preferences, but her desire to keep things at a low cost out of guilt is absurd! For example, when I sent her a spreadsheet with the cost of the rooms and their distance from the hotel where the training would be held, she asked if we could just book one room and she could sleep on the couch. I balked at this since it would be a week-long trip and we would be traveling 30 hours per way, but she insisted that she was “used to it” and that it wasn’t a big deal. I sent the costs to our manager without including her comments and our manager advised we could take two single rooms, or look into a serviced apartment with two bedrooms.

She also refuses to look into expensing cab fare even though the hotel we eventually picked is 4 km from the conference and it will be 5 degrees out with a chance of snow. Sharing a cab both ways would only cost $12 per day, which falls well within our $20 daily allowance for incidentals.

I have told Rey to talk to Luke and say she doesn’t want to go if she really wants the company to save on costs, but it has been a week and Rey has said nothing. Now she is refusing to expense our meals for our travel days because “we will be fed on the flight”; however, without going into too many details, the 30-hour journey leaves and arrives at odd times, and with layovers this could mean our first meal from the airline would be served at midnight! I can’t come to an agreement with her on what we will expense and worry that asking for cab fare and meals for travel days for myself will look odd since she won’t be requesting the same. I want to speak to Luke about how unreasonable Rey is being. Do you have any suggestions how to frame this? I’m afraid I’m approaching BEC levels with Rey because of how she’s behaving and won’t be able to articulate it well.

Yes, talk to Luke! You should be able to expense normal costs without worrying about how it will look if Rey doesn’t. Say something like this to Luke: “Rey is trying to keep costs really low and doesn’t want to expense meals on travel days or cab fare. She wanted to book a single room for both of us and sleep on the couch. I’m planning to follow our normal guidelines for expenses, and will be expensing meals and cabs. I wanted to mention it to you since it sounds like she may turn in very different expenses than I do, and I didn’t want you to wonder why.”

After that, don’t worry about trying to convince Rey to handle things differently. She’s being silly, but she can handle this however she wants — and you can proceed with handling your own expenses normally. (And it sounds like you’re doing a good job of not letting her craze for cost control push you into things like sharing a room.)

Read an update to this letter here.

3. Am I obligated to ensure employees aren’t driving without a license?

Do I have an obligation to ensure employees are not breaking the law? I work as a recruiter and I occasionally have people express interest in positions that are not accessible via public transit. These people will tell me that they do not have a valid driver’s license, but that they have a vehicle and will be able to get to work. Essentially, they are disclosing that they are planning to break the law by driving unlicensed.

If the job doesn’t require a valid driver’s license, do I have any standing to tell them I can’t consider them for that job because their plans for getting to and from work involve illegal activity or should I mind my own business about how they are planning to get to work and just worry about if they are going to be there?

I don’t know that you have any legal obligation to tell them no, but you definitely do have standing — both ethical and professional standing — to tell them that you’re not able to consider them if they intend to drive to work without a license or don’t have another form of legal transportation. You can say, “We couldn’t condone you driving without a license, so this position won’t work.” That gives them a chance to speak up if there was a misunderstanding (for example, if they have someone who will consistently drive them to work or some other means of transportation that you might not have considered). But you’re allowed to say that no, you’re not on board with someone breaking the law and potentially putting other people in danger.

Read an update to this letter here.

4. My paycheck bounced and then my boss suggested an app that would give him money if I used it

A few months ago I picked up a little side job, washing dishes at a local cafe. While I was out of town over the holidays, my paycheck bounced. When I got back from out of town, I asked my boss when I could come in to get a new check. Instead of telling me a time, he texted me a link to a money exchanging app and told me to download it.

When I clicked the link, it told me that he would receive five dollars if I downloaded the app with the code he had provided. Is it just me, or is this really off? It almost feels like he is looking to turn a petty buck off of bouncing my paycheck. Can I insist on being paid with a check, or do I have to accept payment in whatever form he offers, including by downloading the app? I’m in Chicago, if that’s relevant.

The thing I’m more concerned about is that if he’s paying you through an app, he’s probably not taking out payroll taxes. You need a real paycheck, with a regular check stub, with taxes taken out and the money reported to the IRS. Otherwise you’re both breaking the law and you’re not getting your earnings counted toward Social Security.

Assuming he hasn’t been paying you under the table all along, I’d say something like, “I need an official check with all the regular payroll taxes taken out. Can we set up a time for me to pick up a live check?”

And I know that’s not what you’re asking about, but it’s the bigger issue! On your actual question: It seems pretty unlikely that he’d be bouncing paychecks just to get a $5 app referral fee, but who knows; he sounds shady.

5. Should I let a friend know I saw that she’s been rejected for a job at my company?

I recently encouraged a friend of mine to apply for a job at my company that I knew she wasn’t necessarily qualified for on paper, but I knew she could do the job. She’s really excited about the prospect of getting a new job and switching fields. My coworker who is handling the application process had a stack of applications that he had labeled “Rejected” and my friend’s was right on top. This coworker doesn’t have a good track record of following up on things like this, so should I tell her that her application was rejected or just keep it to myself?

Don’t share that; it’s not your information to share. There can be good reasons for not informing rejected candidates until the person running the search is ready to do it, like that they may come back to some people in the “to reject” pile if other candidates don’t work out.

You could, however, let your friend know that the person handling applications doesn’t always let people know when they’ve been rejected and that if she hasn’t heard back by X weeks, it’s pretty safe to assume that they’re moving forward with other candidates instead. You can also let her know that there have been a lot of candidates (assuming that’s true) and that her qualifications might not be as strong on paper as what the company seems to be looking for (again, assuming that’s true).

{ 511 comments… read them below }

  1. neverjaunty*

    OP #4, I don’t suppose he reimbursed you for the bounce fees?

    Agree with AAM – insist on a check. And then walk away. There have to be lots of part-time gigs in Chicago that don’t involve people this sleazy.

    1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      Agreed. And also, consider filing a complaint with the Illinois Department of Labor for your bounced paycheck if he fails to pay you properly.

    2. Bea*

      This reminds me that I want to encourage the OP to speak with their bank about the fee if this shady guy refuses to pay it. If you’ve never had this issue before, most of the time they will reverse the charges. Since I’m imagining the check is relatively small, since it’s a side job and NSF tends to be in the 25-30 range.

      1. Amber T*

        This – if you’ve had a decent relationship with your bank and haven’t had many issues, there’s a good chance they’ll refund/reverse the fee for you. I once accidentally overdrafted my account by using my debit instead of my credit card (it was for a bank that I kept very little cash in, I typically used the credit card solely for the rewards). It was entirely my error and they would have been well within their right to tell me to stuff it, but I called, apologized, and asked if there was anything I could do to reverse it. I had to wait for the person I was speaking to to “talk to her manager,” but in the end they credited my account. This is something you can probably only do once every few years, but it’s worth a shot.

    3. A.N. O'Nyme*

      Also keep copies of all communication that indicates you’re working for him in case he tries to weasel out of paying you. If jobs without a contract are the norm for you (assuming you’re in the US where this is a thing, according to what I’ve read on here) that might be your only proof you did work for him and he does owe you money.

      1. suspectclasss*

        Keeping documentation is *always* a good idea. But depending on a number of factors, there may be options for folks with limited documentation as well. (It sounds like here, client had a check and it bounced–which itself is documentation!) A good employment attorney in your jurisdiction can help you understand your options if you’re having trouble getting paid. I’m definitely not trying to imply you shouldn’t keep track of communication or other documents, just that you don’t necessarily have to give up if you don’t have perfect record keeping. This is also a USA-specific comment–I don’t pretend to understand how employment laws work outside of the States.

    4. Loz*

      It’s not being paid by check or any other method that’s the problem it’s that there is no statement of payment, taxes etc. Even being paid in this cutely archaic manner gives you no comfort everything is above board. Get a proper pay slip and accept your compensation in a way that works for you both and is IRS friendly. I’d say the payments to required third parties are more suspect and the biggest risk here. Personally I’d take a payment through some app (assuming it turns up in my bank) than having to go to a bank to deposit a check without a pay slip. It’s 2018 USA. Drop this check thing.

      1. neverjaunty*

        In 2018, there are still laws that apply to banking transactions and checks that don’t apply to things like PayPal – which is probably one reason Sleazeboss wants to use them. Certainly the OP should expect an itemized pay statement regardless of the method.

        1. Natalie*

          The itemized pay statement that the LW received with their original check still holds. They don’t need a new one for the replacement payment, because it represents the same funds.

          1. Natalie*

            Which isn’t to say they should or shouldn’t accept this payment by an app – that’s really up to them to decide depending on whether they think they can get paid in another method, whether the app charges fees, etc. Just that *how* they get their money has nothing to do with a pay stub.

      2. Chinook*

        In Canada, there is a way for employers to deal with payroll taxes that doesn’t require a physical cheque. My mom would use it when she had one employee and just print off the screen showing the breakdown as the record. As a result, she could pay by cheque without having a separate payroll account.

    5. Darcy*

      While I’m not in our Payroll department so don’t know the specific legal requirements, I am responsible for configuring our system, and know that Illinois is the one state where we operate that we are required to offer a paper check option to our employees. Since you said you’re in Chicago, you may also want to look into the legal requirements of receiving a check if that is your request.

    6. Kix*

      I had a similar situation years ago and ended up having to take it to the State of Utah Labor Board. I had a hearing and was awarded my wages, but I never did get a pay stub from the SOB, just a valid check that I could actually deposit. It was a major hassle, but worth the effort because I didn’t want him to think that he was successful in taking advantage of a young, naive employee.

  2. Artemesia*

    Is #1 certain this person has video of her? I just got an extortion scam claiming that he had video of me from taking control of my computer that shows me visiting porn sites and pleasuring myself. He will send it to everyone in my contact list (and my email although I am retired is of my former employer — it is a perk of my retirement status) So presumably he can send this video with the porn sites shown on the side to all my contacts if I don’t send him $300 in bitcoin by last week sometimes. I am an old lady, I don’t use the computer to access porn, the worst video he might have of me is picking my nose. I am not worrying about it. BUT if I were someone as many do, who uses the computer for this purpose, I might be terrified that someone could so trash me professionally. Is 1 sure that some guy in the Phillipines actually has anything?

    1. Ron McDon*

      Excellent point – I believe these people will often send out threatening emails to thousands of random people at once, thinking that if only a couple of them pay up it’s worthwhile. However, the OP seems to indicate they did indeed do something embarrassing that could have been filmed?

      If I received one of these emails about a colleague of mine I would feel incredibly sympathetic and sorry for my colleague, and save my feelings of distaste for the scumbucket who emailed me.

        1. k.k*

          I’d like to think that any rational person with an ounce of empathy in them would react the same way. But if life, and this blog, have taught us anything, some people are childish jerks.

      1. JamieS*

        Possible OP did something they’d be embarrassed to have emailed to coworkers but considering the internet was invented for porn and cat related entertainment if a scammer tells thousands of people there’s a video of them watching porn it’s probable many of those e-mailed will have watched porn.

      2. Call me St. Vincent*

        I am going to encourage you to please report this to law enforcement immediately! I would start with your local police. If they don’t have the resources of willingness to look into it, please reach out to your FBI field office. They are interested in hearing about these cases because the actions of these individuals violate federal law. Please don’t feel it is too insignificant for the FBI to want to hear about it–they do want to hear about it.

        1. Katniss*

          You can even report it to the FBI online. I have done so before when I was doxxed and they did respond. Links will get me in the filter I know but if one Googles FBI cyber crimes one should find the relevant links.

          1. Artemesia*

            I immediately looked at the FBI site but didn’t see anyway to just forward them this email. Can you school me? I kept the thing which arrived over the holiday so the business whose email I have was closed and I couldn’t alert the IT people then.

            1. Katniss*

              Yeah, sorry, I realize my search terms were a bit too vague. Try searching for the FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center, or IC3.

        2. Adlib*

          Agreed. There’s also no proof that this scammer in really in the Philippines. People can get foreign email address or spoof them. They can also use a VPN to show their location as being other than where they are. I second the suggestion to contact law enforcement as above.

          1. Ama*

            Yeah didn’t they recently find out a person running one of the “Nigerian prince” scams was based in Louisiana? (Not that I think most people thought they were actually Nigerian but I think a lot of us assumed they were not in the U.S. to avoid law enforcement.)

      3. PB*

        Absolutely agree with the second paragraph. In addition, if someone I didn’t know sent me a link to a video or suspicious attachment, there is no way I’d ever click on it, regardless of the content.

      4. Specialk9*

        Like Artemisia, I kept getting scam popups that said I got a virus from watching porn. I knew better, but figured it would work for many people, and importantly would prevent them from getting expert help. “Hi Geek Squad? I have a virus. What was I doing? Um, actually, I can handle it myself.”

      5. Anony*

        I think that claiming that their computer got infected with a virus might still be a good idea. Any e-mail from the scammer should not be opened both to protect the OP and the receiver. What are the odds that the scammer won’t try to use ransomware or a virus to steal information?

      6. LadyL*

        Yes to your second paragraph in particular!

        Honestly, as a society we need to/are getting to a place where this stuff doesn’t matter anymore. Not that the victim can’t/shouldn’t feel violated (that will probably never go away), but that it shouldn’t have an impact on their professional lives. The majority of younger people I know (let’s say 30 & under) have engaged in some kind of digital nudity (privately, at least), and it really just shouldn’t be considered an indication of your maturity/sense/morality anymore. We live online now, that means we’re sexual online now, because sex is part of many people’s lives. I’m not trying to endorse it per se, or suggest that everyone throw caution to the wind, I’m just being practical. This is an area where as time goes on very few people are left standing on the moral high ground, so maybe we ought to reconsider that high ground.

        1. Artemesia*

          That sounds good in the abstract but there is a big difference in knowing Fergus jacks off on line and seeing it. It is bound to affect the impression people have of him and I think it goes triple for a woman. A person in my previous professional role who actually had such video sent to all professional contacts would be heavily damaged by it. But these things are a con and very unlikely to actually occur if ignored.

      7. Chalupa Batman*

        Agree-my negative feelings would be toward the stranger sending me private videos. The worst I’d feel toward my colleague is awkward. And, for what it’s worth, I tend to not watch unsolicited videos for my own cyber security, and that’s if they make it past my spam filter to begin with. The chances of me ever seeing the content of the video if this happened to one of my colleagues is slim to none.

    2. London Bookworm*

      There is another, more involved, scam that involves a real person engaging in a fake relationship with their victim (usually over Skype) and building up trust until they’re able to get a video.

      It’s a really terrible thing to do to someone.

      OP, it’s worth considering that a random person will likely go to spam or junk mail. If you know the e-mail it will be coming from, you could perhaps ask your HR manager to “block” that contact? I’m not sure how that would work but it seems feasible.

      1. fposte*

        The quickie version of that is on Omegle/Chatroutlette. Somebody does some nudie sharing with a stranger who subsequently claims to be underage; then her “father” or the “police” contact the person saying that they need money to cover, oh, her therapy bills or something. That’s so common it’s a stickied post in some legal forums.

        1. Anon for my bro's sake*

          Holy crap… my college-age brother had exactly that happen a couple of years ago, right down to the therapy bills. Cleaned out his savings account before my dad got involved and told the “father” to go [bleep] himself. I had no idea it was a common scam.

      2. Iris Eyes*

        If it is a more involved scam and you know that they really have video please don’t beat yourself up about it. In hindsight you might see all the warning signs, but they are professionals who have developed their traps very well. Trusting others is an essential element of society, some people use that and abuse that for their own ends but that doesn’t make you wrong for trusting. Take the lessons learned, get the emotional support you need.

    3. No Mas Pantalones*

      This sort of thing is exactly why I have a piece of masking tape over the cameras in my work and personal laptops.

      1. LavaLamp*

        This reminds me of a scam call I got a few weeks ago. Person claimed to be from all the major insurance companies and kept asking me what medicines I take, and If I have scars on my body. People really are the worst sometimes. I’d report it. Extortion is illegal after all.

        1. Detective Amy Santiago*

          My parents were getting messages for a while from someone claiming to be from the IRS and saying if they didn’t call back and pay X amount of dollars within 24 hours, the police would be coming to arrest them.

          1. fposte*

            That’s a standard boiler-room scam–it’s one of the biggest right now, and it’s mostly centered in India. The Guardian just had a great article about the call centers and the people who employ them (for Reply All fans, it’s by the Indian journalist they talked to there).

          2. paul*

            Yep; I’ve had that IRS one a couple times, and last month had the video extortion (which is hilarious as I don’t have a webcam on my computer–IDK how they’d get a video of me).

            I reported the IRS one and the video one but nothing happened *shrug*

            I may have told the second IRS fraud caller that they’d never take me alive before hanging up though.

          3. Ama*

            My grandmother got one of those scams where the caller claims to be their grandson (without saying a name which was an immediate giveaway since she has multiple grandsons) and that they are stranded somewhere where they need money and they are too scared to call their parents. She said she thought about baiting him by calling him the name of my cousin who is deceased to see if he tried to run with it but instead opted to say that all her grandchildren were smart enough not to get themselves into that situation and hung up.

            1. Anlyn*

              My mom got one of those and sadly fell for it; she says all she can think of was that she was sick at the time and not thinking clearly.

              1. Bryce*

                Most folks are rational enough that if asked calmly to think about something they’ll realize it’s a scam or at least that they should do other things to check. This can be bypassed by either keeping them from thinking about it (various scams that are just part of the routine but with forged money or a fake routing number) or keeping them from being calm (scams like this or various “you just got a chance at a ton of money but you need to act NOW! Nownownownow!”). Our panic-brains override the rational thought and it’s surprisingly easy for even a rediculous-sounding scam to get past people’s guard if you push the right psychological button. There’s no shame in falling for it.

            2. Serin*

              My mom got one of those. She doesn’t have a grandson, and said so. “Oh, did I say grandson? I was just joking with you. It’s me, your nephew!”

            3. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

              Yeah I got an e-mail once – a friend of mine was under arrest in London and needed $1500 to get out of the jam.

              It was funny. She was sitting in my living room at the time I got the e-mail…!!!

              And yes, the IRS scam – I hung up. I should have played it out – man, do they get angry when you call them on this horses**t!!!!!

              Getting back to the “grandma I’m in jail scheme” – someone in my family got a call from someone claiming to be a police chief in Nova Scotia “your grandson is being held, send $5000 via Western Union”…..reply = “If you are in Canada, my grandson is a dual national, he is Canadian, BRING HIM TO THE PHONE! And if you don’t I’m callin’ the mounties on ya”..


            4. JoAnna*

              My step-grandma was targeted with that scam. Thankfully, instead of sending money right away, she called her daughter, who called the grandson to verify that he was at work and not in a Mexican prison as the scammer had claimed.

            5. Oryx*

              I have a relative who fell for that twice. Luckily Western Union got suspicious the second time but she lost money from the first scam.

            6. Turquoisecow*

              My husband’s grandfather got a call saying my husband was in jail or kidnapped in Mexico and he needed to send money right away. He could have called my husband and found out it was a lie, but instead he got in his car and drove to CVS to send a Western Union payment, where thankfully an employee realized it was a scam and talked him out of it.

              He also got caught in a scam where the “bank” called and said something about his account being locked, please hand over your account numbers and we’ll fix this. He thought it was a scam, but was leaving the country shortly thereafter and felt he should make sure everything was okay, just in case. I think my husband or maybe his father was able to get the bank to credit him back.

              1. Bryce*

                I got targeted by that second one just before I was about to pay some bills. Got halfway through typing in my CC number before I realized it claimed to be for a bank that I didn’t use anymore and had shut down, and that was enough of a mental jolt to being the rest of my brain into the conversation, as it were.

              2. Faith*

                I had to send a Western Union payment overseas once to someone I know, and I was trying to do it online. Before I could actually wire the money, I had to have a phone call with a person who quizzed me on how I knew the intended recipient of the money, whether I have actually met them in person, and what the money was for (in general terms). They were trying to figure out if I was a victim of a scam (I was not). Even though it was mildly annoying to go through all the questions (“Yes, I know her. She’s a long-time family friend. Yes, I’m sure it’s really her”), it was nice to know that they have these safeguards in place to protect people from being victimized.

                1. Turquoisecow*

                  I used to process Western Union payments as part of a job, and they constantly sent training materials about how to prevent scams, and showcasing others who had prevented them. The family was super grateful to the employee who was able to stop him from from sending the money.

            7. justsomeone*

              Stories like this one are actually one of the (many) the tellers at places that do Western Union transactions are instructed to casually ask why you’re sending money and where to. It helps stop a LOT of grandparents wiring money places they shouldn’t be.

            8. Louise*

              Ugh this happened to my partner’s grandma—except they used his and his sisters name. It involved “him” being in a car crash in a foreign country with the woman he hit being pregnant and losing her child and threatening to sue him and make him pay for medical bills. It was awful. His poor grandma sent like a few grand I think before eventually calling my partner’s parents. I was with my partner when he got a call from his parents. His half of the conversation went something like “Hello? What? Yes, of course I’m still in the country. What are you talking about?”

          4. ss*

            There’s a funny video on the web of a police officer at his desk at the precinct actually getting one of these IRS “we are going to come arrest you if you don’t pay” scam phone calls and he starts messing with the scammer.

            1. JennyAnn*

              I’m a fan of the video where someone set a robocall back at their number (absolutely flooding the lines) so that they couldn’t call out and then recorded the ensuing conversations.

              1. Star Nursery*

                Yes, I am also a huge fan of the robocall one. The scammers messes with the wrong person!

              2. Geoffrey B*

                Another option is to forward their call to the Rick Astley Hotlines that some evil genius/philanthropist created:

                Australia: +61-3-8652-1453
                NZ: +64-9-886-0565
                UK: +44-11-7325-7425
                US: +1-760-706-7425

            2. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

              I saw that – the officer had a hard time getting through it, because he couldn’t stop laughing….

    4. MissDisplaced*

      This is why you keep your computer’s video camera covered with black electrical tape. Always. Unless you’re using it for a video conference. Then you know for certain they have nothing.
      But I wouldn’t use my computer for porn purposes anyway, and especially not a work-owned computer!

      People, seriously! What’s the deal with using your work computers or phones for porn? Like, don’t ever!

      1. Beatrice*

        It’s not related to using your work devices for that purpose. The scammer claims to have video from a device you use, and threatens to contact your friends, family, and/or work associates if you don’t pay up. I received a similar email, even though it’s impossible that such a video exists. It’s just a scam.

      2. Amber T*

        I’m not sure why you’re assuming that? She’s worried that if the scammer googles her name, she can be connected to her work place, so it doesn’t sound like the scammer has access to her work contacts now, but could potentially if they do a bit of leg work.

      3. neverjaunty*

        Hey, this really isn’t supposed to be about lecturing the OP for doing things that aren’t even in her letter.

      4. Aunt Piddy*

        It doesn’t say anywhere in the letter that the OP used their work computer for porn. It doesn’t even MENTION “work computer” or “porn”. Lets not berate letter writers for things that are assumed without evidence.

    5. Beatrice*

      I got what sounds like an identical scam email. It’s not possible for the scammer to have the video he claims to have (I don’t do that, and the camera on my laptop is covered.) I forwarded the email to my IT department (they encourage us to report all scams/phishing emails/etc) and deleted it.

    6. Falling Diphthong*

      Man. At least the Nigerian email scams claim that they have selected you, unnamed person, to help them with their extortion scheme because of your impeccable reputation for honesty and fair-dealing.

    7. jk*

      Exactly. I would deactivate my Facebook page and any other social links I have out there until this crisis is over. I would t hen send a copy of this email to the local authorities because what this dude is doing is criminal. I would then report his email as Phishing/scam and then block him.

    8. Megpie71*

      Okay, LW #1, I’d guess you might have fallen victim to a scammer. Let’s face it, it’s much easier to scam people saying “I have video of you doing something horrible” than it is to actually obtain said video in the first place. But here’s some easy ways to avoid falling prey to such a scam.

      1) If you’re not using the webcam on a webcam-capable device on a regular (i.e. daily) basis, either switch it off or cover it up. If you’re using a laptop for a desktop, for example, put a band-aid (sticking plaster, elastoplast, bandage) or a piece of masking tape/duct tape/electrical tape/other obscuring material over the lens while you’re not using it. For a camera phone, store the phone camera-side down and cover the face of it with a piece of paper or cloth (a screen cleaning cloth works nicely here) if you don’t have a wallet or cover which covers the face. Same thing with tablet computers – store it camera side down most of the time, and put a cover or piece of paper over the front. If it’s a webcam which plugs into your machine via cable or wireless, unplug it or switch it off at the power socket/remove the batteries while you’re not using it (this is basic energy usage hygiene). The primary thing to be aware of here is just because these things can be on 24/7 doesn’t mean they have to be.

      2) Consider the logistical difficulty of them obtaining what they say they have. Now, in order to have got embarrassing footage of you, they’re going to have: found your IP address; hacked into your computer; gained admin access to your computer; activated your webcam (either at precisely the point where there was something embarrassing to see; or by leaving the webcam on constantly and recording everything that came off it, while hoping you don’t notice your bandwidth usage just sky-rocketed and your internet speed dropped like a lead balloon); and then got out un-noticeably. As well as picking up your most-used email address, and yet presumably not bothering with installing anything like a keystroke logger or password sniffer at the same time? Point being: this would be a rather difficult thing to do.

      If you don’t know who this scammer is, or why they’re targeting you in particular, I suspect what’s more likely is they’re utilising a known psychological quirk of humans, well known to police and con artists everywhere: everyone has something they’re ashamed of. Which means there’s a lot of advantage to be gained by putting someone in a situation where you tell them “I know what you did…” and threatening dire consequences as a result, while leaving the actual details of what it was you did carefully blank.

      So, key suggestions on how to tackle this particular problem without paying the ransom: either ask your scammer for details of what the video shows (as fine-grained as possible – physical descriptions of things like hair colour/style or the shape of your nose or whatever – preferably things they can’t find out from your Facebook profile or similar) in order to get them to prove they have what they say they have (also ask for dates and times); or say, in as magisterial a fashion as possible, “publish and be damned”. Or both. Both is good.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        I’m pretty sure this is the more personalized scam: connecting on a dating or other social board, agreeing to send them a video that you wouldn’t want widely distributed, and then they say “Thanks for the blackmail info, Alex Beetlebrot. Send bitcoin or this goes to your Facebook contacts.” Where people know that they have the video because the scammed person created and sent it. (In which case, as noted elsewhere, it’s very unlikely that sending them money will lead to the destruction of the video, rather than demands for more money.)

  3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

    I think I disagree with #3. There are a lot of reasons—some more justifiable/excusable than others—for why a person may not have a valid driver’s license, and I don’t think all of those reasons should disqualify someone from applying for a job when having a license is not a key requirement.

    Loss of a license, or inability to obtain a license, often has a disproportionate impact on low-income and low-SES folks. In some cases, a person might lack a license when they’re initially applying and later obtain a valid license before beginning work.

    At the application and recruitment stage, OP has no way of knowing whether a person lacks the license but intends to obtain one, is under suspension but intends to reactivate their license, has rideshare or other transit agreements, or lacks a license because of a court order or other legal restriction. I think the risk of screening out otherwise excellent candidates outweighs the risk that that person later secures the job and might travel to work without a driver’s license.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I agree with that if indeed they’re not saying they plan to drive themselves to work without a license — but I think from the letter that they are? I’m basing that on this: “These people will tell me that they do not have a valid driver’s license, but that they have a vehicle and will be able to get to work.” But maybe I’m misunderstanding exactly what’s being said (maybe they mean a spouse will drive it or something like that).

      1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        I might be reading it generously, but I definitely have friends who say they have a car and can get to work who actually have a spouse/relative/friend/coworker with a car (and a license) who serves as their transportation.

        The fact that having a license is not a requirement seems pretty striking to me. If an employer doesn’t include that in its hiring requirements, it seems unfair/problematic for OP to impose that requirement on their own because of a potential misunderstanding of the applicant’s transportation situation.

        I’d feel really differently if folks lacked a license because of something like a DUI or a license suspension.

        1. Magenta Sky*

          I think a recruiter has a different ethical obligation here, on that is directly part of their job.

          If a person doesn’t have a license, and is planning on driving themselves to work anyway, they run an ongoing risk of being pulled over (as do we all). If that happens, the car will likely be impounded, and depending on where it happens, and why they don’t have a license (especially if it’s suspended), the driver may be arrested.

          Which means the recruiter is setting up an employee who may well not be able to do the job, suddenly, without notice.

          Were I the employer, and that happened, and I found out the recruiter knew the applicant was going to break the law, I’d certainly never work with that recruiter again.

          1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

            But that could be true of literally anyone. A person with a license could also risk having their license suspended or car impounded depending on whether they’re pulled over. I understand that the risks are higher for people who drive without licenses. But I don’t think it’s so much greater that OP has a special obligation to block the applicant. I also think it assumes the employee won’t figure out alternative methods of getting to work if they lose their license.

            I don’t think there’s any ethical or professional duty to assume an applicant (who may later be hired) is driving without a license to commute to work and then use that assumption to disqualify them from applying. There’s just too much extrapolation and assuming on OP’s part. And because those assumptions could have an unfair and disproportionate impact on particular groups of applicants that already face structural barriers to employment, I don’t think it makes sense to knock people out.

            1. finderskeepers*

              In the US, if you have a valid (non revoked, non suspended license) the bar is pretty high to getting your car impounded …

              1. Jesca*

                One time, I got busted for an expired plate and expired inspection and they still didn’t impound my car … I am not actually sure what gets your car impounded actually.

                1. Lany*

                  Parking in front of a dip in the sidewalk meant for wheelchair access. I did that a few years ago, not realizing the dip was there (it was a T-shaped intersection). I got a ticket, but before I needed the car again (I live in the city and used the car sparingly), another cop came by and it got towed and impounded.

                2. TL -*

                  Not moving it on snowplow day…that gets ya impounded reaaalllyy quickly.
                  And then you have to go back three times to get it because they need to be paid in fairy dust and tipped with hens’ teeth wrapped in Japanese yen.
                  And then it gets impounded one more time because maybe you’re just not as intelligent as you thought you were.

                3. Natalie*

                  Parking is a different situation, though, because the only way they can move your car from wherever it isn’t supposed to be parked is to tow and impound it. I think Jesca is wondering what would cause you to get impounded after being pulled over.

                  They’re generally pretty serious, from what I can recall, like DUI, stolen vehicle, or extreme recklessness.

                4. TL -*

                  Oh yeah. I know one person whose car got impounded for a DUI and my brother had a beer while underage and got pulled over for a check and arrested – the cop called my parents and asked if they wanted to come get the car to avoid the impound fee but they would have taken it in otherwise. Also someone who got pulled over for going 120 mph – their car got impounded immediately.

                5. Emi.*

                  They don’t necessarily impound your car if they tow it for a parking violation–I had my car towed around the corner in DC one time (with no way to find it except by wandering around looking for it, sheesh).

                6. fposte*

                  @Emi.–Yeah, they do that in Chicago too. Sometimes it’s not even a violation–it’s unscheduled street work or something and they just move the cars out of the way, and “out of the way” may mean several blocks away.

                7. Natalie*

                  @ Emi & fposte, that’s wild! I guess it’s nice to save the tow + impound fee, but if that happened to me I’d probably end up reporting my car stolen because it would never occur to me that they had moved it around the corner.

                8. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

                  The things here in Massachusetts – if you were issued a traffic violation/complaint – signed the ticket – which is NOT an admission of guilt, but it’s your LEGAL word that you will either pay it or take it to court and handle it there…

                  … and you do NEITHER ….

                  A police officer later stops you for a taillight, or some minor offense, or even does a “rolling check” (calls in for a report on the car) … you get pulled over, then the officer finds out there’s a warrant for your arrest on the unpaid, unprocessed ticket.

                  In Boston, if you have a certain number of unpaid parking tickets, they can put an impound/tow order on the car. This was common in the Dukakis era, where some state “big shots” were issued “confidential plates” – even the police didn’t know and couldn’t find out who owned the car — to collect the fines, they’d either boot or even tow them.

                  Other impounding causes – illegal parking in a handicapped space, parking on a cross-walk or at a hydrant, blocking a driveway, and of course – driving under the influence, or drug use while driving.

                9. Kickin' Crab*

                  @ Natalie — that’s what I did once! I was working nights and came out of the house one evening to go to work and couldn’t find my car anywhere. (Apartment complex lot.) I ended up calling the police non-emergency number, they checked the “recently towed” list and didn’t locate it, so they sent a guy around to take a statement. While I was talking to him, a tow-truck pulled up and started trying to tow my neighbor’s car. Police officer went to talk with the towers; it turned out they were just indiscriminately towing cars even though we all had parking stickers for that apartment, and they weren’t reporting it to the county list. He fined them hard, then drove me to the impound lot so I could get my car and drive to work. I complained real hard to my property manager the next morning too.

                10. Chinook*

                  In Canada, expired/lack of registration and/or insurance and/or driver’s license (especially when combined) can get your car towed if stopped by a cop. If someone else has a DO, they can drive the car but the other two mean it is not road legal. DH says he does this a couple times a week as a traffic cop.

                  Saying you left it at home is taken as proof that you don’t have it and it is left to his discretion to give you 24 hours to show it.

            2. please*

              “But that could be true of literally anyone.”

              Yes, it could. But we don’t know how likely it is. So with most people we can assume the likelihood is X (average of all sorts of people), while with this person the likelihood is far higher.

              It’s like many red flags – they might be true of many people, but we don’t know. In this case, we know.

            3. neverjaunty*

              Taking the OP at her word, she is being told by these folks that they “have a vehicle and will be able to get to work”. There’s nothing wrong with the OP confirming they have reliable transportation, and if it turns out what they are saying is they’ll drive anyway, then yes, it’s fair to tell them this isn’t okay.

            4. Sara*

              Couldn’t the OP simply ask for clarification in these cases. Something like “since this location is definitely not accessible by public transit, how will you plan to get to work?” Then they can say their spouse will drop them off/they’re planning to get a license/they have a carpool plan/etc. (great) or they can say they’re planning to drive w/out a license and you acan reject them.

              1. essEss*

                Unless the job duties themselves require a car or driver’s license, the candidate’s transportation choice should not be a criteria for their interview. When I googled various versions of “can I ask a candidate how they will get to work”, the consensus is that the “how” is none of the interviewer’s business. They should focus only on whether the person can get there reliably. If the interviewer was concerned about a candidate’s ability to stay for an unexpectedly later shift, or short notice changes in shifts then they can focus on that question of whether the person will have the ability to stay later or come in on short notice…. again, not “how” the employee will get there.

                1. Jesmlet*

                  We’ve had in the way way past people who have opted to take public transportation then a cab to get to jobs (which are in private houses in the suburbs) who have backed out soon after because the math didn’t make sense. In my field, you can’t judge whether or not someone can get somewhere reliably just by asking them a yes or no question. That’s why for candidates outside of NYC, we require them to have a car and driver’s license (plus it’s a requirement for 90% of the jobs anyways).

                2. Magenta Sky*

                  The real issue here isn’t whether or not the candidate has a reliable way to work, it’s that the candidate has volunteered that the only way they can get to work is to break the law.

                3. Baby Driver*

                  Courts have held employers responsible for reckless driving by employees on their way to and from work. In particular, I recall one incident where an employer required an employee to pull an all-nighter; the sleep-deprived employee then got into an accident, and the employer was held liable.

                  All this is to say that it is absolutely legitimate for an employer to inquire how a license-less employee plans to get to work.

                4. CubicleShroom#1004*

                  Where I live the mass transit is abysmal. The only people who really take it are the park and ride suburbanites, and anyone who can’t scratch up $1,000 for a beater car ie…the Poors from the inner city.

                  It is very common to screen out people who have to take the bus, especially for the just above minimum wage jobs. Interviewers will look at where you live and ask how will you get to work. We all knew it was a weeder question for jobs that driving was not part of the job description. The employsrs around here LOATHE the mass transit system.

                  So people say “car”. They don’t say it’s a realtive’s beater car of dubious origins, boosted plates, and insurance/registration creatively made at a local print shop.

                  While OP may think they maybe keeping a “dangerous” driver off road because of no licenses, I knew people who drove cars with stole plates, forged registrations and insurance certificates. They have a driver’s license and a “car”.

                  I think OP needs to dig a little deeper on the no license I have a car. My friend has a seizure disorder and does have a car. Her husband drives her into work. She owns the car.

                  My neighbor from my old neighborhood had a stole beater car, stole plates, no insurance. He drove to work every day and had a pretty decent job. OPs question would have no screened him out.

              2. Someone else*

                Yeah, to me, it’s this. The recruiter in this case is asking about a scenario in which the applicant (they think) has said they’re going to drive without a license. Since it’s true the exact wording we were given is ambiguous, I think the advice is:
                When the applicant says what we’ve been told they sayd, ask “do you mean you’ll drive yourself despite not having a license?” If yes, then the answer Allison gave is entirely appropriate. If they say “no, spouse/sibling/other adult human with license will drive me in our household’s car”, then there is no reason to not recommend them.

              3. TootsNYC*

                I have a book from the 1960s that’s about managing a housecleaning service for hotels, and on the list of question that are illegal to ask is:

                How will you get to work?

                1. Baby Driver*

                  It would be helpful to elaborate on why that is illegal. Non-drivers are not a protected class, and it is hard to see them as a proxy for a protected class.

            5. sap*

              I agree with you. When I wasn’t driving myself to work for various reasons, I’d often give half-truths answers to questions from prospective employers about my transit situation, because (1) I’m pretty sure they were just interested in whether I had reliable transit and were just using ‘has and drives their own car’ as shorthand for that, and (2) why I wasn’t driving, which was related to a medical thing, wasn’t actually their business or something I wanted them to know.

              So at least some of these applicants may be saying “but I have a vehicle and transportation” as a response that’s covering whatever arrangement they have for getting around, because they don’t really want to go into 2 paragraphs about their epilepsy or whatever.

              If the applicants don’t need to drive for work, my vote is that #3 shouldn’t be asking the questions in the first place. Employers don’t need to know how employees get around.

          2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

            (With apologies for the double post.)

            Also, I think the language of “if the recruiter knew the applicant was going to break the law” is kind of loaded. It makes it sound like all forms of breaking the law are equally bad/serious when they just aren’t. This is why a person driving on a suspended license concerns me more than a person driving without a license. I understand the spectrum of “tolerable” unlawful behavior is different for each person. But framing it as a binary seems too simplistic to me.

            1. Legal Beagle*

              I understand what you’re saying, but driving without a license is a serious legal violation because you are potentially endangering the lives of other people. If you don’t have a license, did you ever attend driver’s ed? Pass a driving test? Vision test? Public safety laws exist for a reason. You might trust yourself to drive safely without a license, but it’s unethical to make that decision on behalf of all the other drivers on the road.

              (I’m not saying licensed driver = safe driver, obviously not. Plenty of licensed drivers are reckless, drive drunk, etc. But that doesn’t excuse driving without a license. Two wrongs and all that.)

            2. Temperance*

              FWIW, though, at least the person with the suspended license presumably has insurance. A driver who doesn’t have a license is likely uninsured and has never been tested for fitness.

              IDK, I know a few people who were in accidents with unlicensed/uninsured drivers, and it was a financial nightmare.

              1. suspectclasss*

                Having your license suspended can cause your rates to go up-which may make paying them difficult for somebody with low income, leading to loss of insurance. It can also cause you to be dropped from your insurance.

                An unlicensed driver may have never taken driver’s ed, or may have been a long time driver who let their license expire while living in a place where they didn’t need or want a car.

            3. Perse's Mom*

              Someone with a suspended license has at least taken the requisite courses and tests and the suspension may be lifted if they meet certain criteria. Someone entirely unlicensed has either not taken the courses, the final road test, OR has proven such a danger on the road that their license was revoked entirely. That’s much more terrifying to me.

            4. Magenta Sky*

              The counterpoint to that is that a person with a suspended license has, at some point, demonstrated the necessary skills to drive in an acceptable, relatively safe manner. A person who has never had a license never has, and is a completely unknown quantity. Maybe they’re competent, maybe they tried to get a license and failed because they just can’t do it right.

              After all, your average five year old qualifies as “never had a license,” but honestly, I’d rather drive next to someone with a suspended license than a five year old.

              And either way, it’s still illegal, and that makes the candidate more likely to not be able to show up for work on a sudden, unexpected basis. At the very least, that *is* something the potential employer should take into account.

            5. Specialk9*

              OP chimed in below with this clarification: “the job duties do not require a driver’s licence, but the individual needs to be able to get to different job sites (some up to 50 miles away). I suppose that a person could have a very dedicated partner/spouse/parent/etc who is willing to do that kind of driving, but this person flat out told me that he doesn’t have a license, but has a vehicle and will get himself there.”

              So this very clearly isn’t about transportation for those with disabilities, but about a job that requires regular driving mid-day, and a candidate who has volunteered that they plan to drive illegally.

              1. fposte*

                The OP has clarified it’s not midday; it’s that on Monday you go to Whoville, Tuesday you go to East Cupcake, Wednesday you go to Shangri-La.

          3. Ramona Flowers*

            “Which means the recruiter is setting up an employee who may well not be able to do the job, suddenly, without notice.”

            Unless you’re in possession of the Deathly Hallows, this applies to literally everyone on the planet.

            1. Magenta Sky*

              Not to the same degree. If you were hiring someone to do an important job for you company, so you could feed your family and keep a roof over their heads, would you rather hire someone with a 1% chance of suddenly, unexpectedly not showing up, or someone with a 10% chance?

              Not all risks are equal, and it’s foolish to treat them like they are.

              (It’s also not unreasonable to expect that someone willing to break one law is willing to break other laws, as well. In fact, there’s considerable evidence that’s the way to bet.)

          4. MommyMD*

            Everything is potential litigation in the US. No way if I were a recruiter and the job absolutely had to be by private auto, would I send a client in to apply. If said client were hired and wiped out a family, no insurance no license, that could come back to haunt in a very. Big way.

            1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

              But the job doesn’t require private auto, and the job postings don’t require a driver’s license or ability to drive.

              It’s also unlikely that the liability would flow to the recruiter. Too attenuated to fall under torts.

              1. Jesca*

                I agree. It is too many degrees removed to permit even past like 10% liability in the eyes of a “reasonable person”. Not even the employer would be found liable at that.

                The only way the employer (and likely never the recruiter) were to be found with any substantial amount of liability, it would likely only be if the employee was required to have a valid license AND wrecked while on company business.

                The recruiter only has her own personal moral dilemma here, and the answers are really going to be based on how far the individual is willing to reason through their own morals and ethics.

                1. Magenta Sky*

                  If the recruiter, or employer, is aware the employee is planning to break the law before hiring them, liability is considerably more complicated. How much are you willing to risk?

              2. Magenta Sky*

                Unlikely, perhaps. But how much are you willing to bet that it won’t? Everything you have? Most people are rather more risk averse than that.

            2. Loose Seal*

              People can let their car insurance lapse at any time, though. Would you require each employee to give you a copy of their canceled check each month to show they had insurance? Probably not.

              1. Magenta Sky*

                My employer does, in fact, want information on auto insurance kept current. (And driving without insurance in this state is actually a crime, punishable by jail time, at least in theory.)

                But whether or not someone *might* do something illegal is very different from a candidate telling the potential employer “I can only get to work if I break the law.”

            3. Mike C.*

              This doesn’t make any sense to me at all. The employer isn’t responsible for who the employee gets to work.

        2. Elizabeth H.*

          Before I had a driver’s license (I didn’t get mine until I was 23!) I would say things like this all the time. I would be able to get rides from a family member. I think a lot of people would just try to say that they have access to a vehicle, arguably out of worry that they’ll be discriminated against if they say directly that they can’t drive or need to get rides or something.

        3. Harper*

          Perhaps a compromise could be that, when an applicant says they don’t have a license but have a vehicle, the recruiter could ask, “Could you clarify what transportation arrangements you do have?” After all, something like “my brother works at [business nearby] and we’re going to carpool” is a very different answer from “my neighbour’s second cousin said she might drive me sometimes.” But I don’t know if there are legalities around asking that kind of question.

          1. Jesca*

            Yeah, I think it is common to frame it as “reliable transportation is required for this role, so I need to ensure that you have that before we move forward”.

        4. OP #3*

          Thank you for weighing in. I am definitely concerned about the legal aspects of this whole thing – including not being potentially discriminatory.

          The particular situation that prompted me to write – the job duties do not require a driver’s licence, but the individual needs to be able to get to different job sites (some up to 50 miles away). I suppose that a person could have a very dedicated partner/spouse/parent/etc who is willing to do that kind of driving, but this person flat out told me that he doesn’t have a license, but has a vehicle and will get himself there.

          However, it wasn’t just this one instance where this question has come up and I was hoping that you or some of the other lawyer types around here would comment.

          1. Jesca*

            Honestly, I would not consider this person then. Even though it does not specifically state that in the job description, it is literally still part of the job to have a valid driver’s license – a job description isn’t a “legal document”. It is unfortunate for this person, but the nature of the job does actually require a valid driver’s license and one’s own working vehicle, and it doesn’t really matter that the exact words of “needs valid drivers license and working vehicle” are not in the job description. Depending on the nature of the work and how and when and why this person will need to drive, they really could be “driving during work hours” and then putting the employer at risk for some liability if a crash occurs. I would just explain in a very bland way that you cannot move anyone forward without a valid driver’s license. I would also go back to the employer and let them know they should add it to the posted job description just so you don’t have to field these calls.

          2. Mockingjay*

            Perhaps the wording of the job listing is what’s causing the problem.

            If the job requires traveling to multiple sites routinely, then that should probably be added as a requirement. “This job requires regular (weekly? monthly? specify if needed) travel to multiple sites in a 50-mile radius. Applicants should (must?) possess reliable transportation.” Applicants could then self-select out.

            Also, does the company reimburse for mileage? Provide travel or work insurance? If so, requiring a current license could be a valid requirement.

            1. The Wonder Cootie*

              It seems that the amount and nature of the travel to job sites needs to be clarified. If it’s not very often, perhaps that applicant does have someone at home that can drive them to the other sites (stay at home spouse, college student living at home, etc.). From an HR standpoint, you should also consider other travel options. Could the person ride with another employee? Could they hire an Uber or a cab? Is it really required that the person visit the other site, or could they work remotely (Skype, etc.)? In other words, is there a valid reason to disqualify a candidate because they don’t have a valid driver’s license? If not, this could set the company up for discrimination complaints if a candidate can’t get a license. For example, one former colleague was visually impaired, but owned a vehicle. She was able to hire someone to drive that vehicle for her (it was usually college students making a few bucks on the side), and she was on several state commissions that required her to be in meetings all over town frequently.

              1. Sterling*

                Are we sure they don’t plan to UBER or cab it there? I have a license and a car but I still often take UBER to off campus events and meetings because I don’ drive long distance or on the interstate.

              2. OP #3*

                It’s physical work that must be done on site and the sites vary (think construction type work).

            2. Mints*

              Sounds like the job should require a license in this case since they’re driving on company time

          3. eplawyer*

            The driver’s license might not be specifically required in this case, but it is clear that whoever gets this role needs a reliable way to get to various job sites. So car pooling, spouse, etc. might not really be practical in this case. So you could explain that to the person, that reliable, LEGAL, transportation to different location is necessary.

            What happens if the person is sent to Job site 1 in the morning, so is dropped off but they need extra help at Job site 2, how is this person going to get there.

            I would not recommend anyone for a position who flat out tells you they are going to break the law. Would you recommend someone who says “can you find me a job that pays under the table so I don’t have to pay taxes?” It’s your rep on the line. Maybe not legally, but you need to have a good reputation with the companies you recruit for. If they know you send any old person out just to get the commission, that hurts YOU in the long run.

          4. copy run start*

            Unless you do a web search on them and come up with an article about their 8th DUI, I don’t think it is your responsibility to enforce the driving laws. Could be the license is expired and they can’t renew until they get a job. ($50 is a lot of food when you’re broke.) Could be they bought a car to learn to drive but aren’t fully licensed yet. Could be they have an out of state license they need to change over but haven’t due to the cost. I would clarify the situation with the applicant because there probably is a reasonable explanation.

            For this particular job though it sounds like the employer needs to clarify what their expectations are. Maybe they provide transport to job sites?

            1. TL -*

              I wouldn’t say I didn’t have a license if I have an out of state license- your license is still legal in all 50 states! You can get ticketed but only if you’re a resident of the new state for 6 months or some such length and haven’t switched your license over. You’re still driving legally, though – the ticket is for something else, not for driving without a license.

              1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

                That’s not true! The amount of time that your “out of state” license is valid varies significantly by state, and some are much more aggressive about the transition time. If you’re driving out of compliance with those switch-over rules, in most states that’s considered driving without a license and is still illegal.

            2. caryatis*

              >Could be the license is expired and they can’t renew until they get a job. ($50 is a lot of food when you’re broke.) Could be they bought a car to learn to drive but aren’t fully licensed yet. Could be they have an out of state license they need to change over but haven’t due to the cost.

              But people don’t typically get paid until a few weeks after starting a new job, so is the person just planning to drive illegally until they get paid? That’s a problem. If you need a license to get to work, you need to find a way to pay for that essential expense. Basic-level financial responsibility. I would not hire someone who could not meet that bar.

              1. Natalie*

                Basic-level financial responsibility.

                Or they just are that poor. “Financial responsibility” isn’t going to do a thing if you literally don’t have the money.

                1. Specialk9*

                  Oh yeah, being poor is incredibly expensive. It’s deeply and bitterly ironic how expensive it is to be poor.

          5. Legal Beagle*

            I wrote this in a different thread, but basically, the employer should be very concerned about an unlicensed (and, I’m guessing, uninsured) employee driving on company time, for company business. There is potential liability for the employer if something were to happen in that scenario. To save time for you and job seekers, perhaps the company can add some clarifying language to the job description.

            1. Magenta Sky*

              Good point about insurance. Maybe it’s different in other states, but in California, you *cannot* get insurance without a valid license (and the insurance company is *required* to check), and it’s a crime to drive without insurance.

          6. KimberlyR*

            OP, I work for a company that has recruiters and employees who have to travel for work. I think that adding something to the job posting or job requirements such as “Must be able to travel to work sites consistently” lets you off the hook. You can then ask the applicant if they have reliable transportation to work. You aren’t asking them if they drive or not, just whether or not they can reliably get to the site for work. I think that gives them a way to say “yes” without getting into the sticky situation of who does or doesn’t have a drivers license.

          7. neverjaunty*

            Cynical lawyer me says that one reason people do not have a driver’s license but do have a car, is that they lost their license because of DUI or other road violations.

            Legal considerations aside, you absolutely need to inquire what the arrangements are in a situation where somebody has a lot of site visits. Maybe they do in fact have a super dedicated spouse who loves to drive them! But probably not.

            1. Temperance*

              Seriously that was my FIRST thought. The kind of person who gets DUIs also tends to be the kind of person who has no problem driving illegally.

            2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

              The three most common reasons I have seen for someone to lack a driver’s license are: (1) immigration status, (2) poverty, and (3) newly released from incarceration (and of course, combinations of the three). The legality of #1 aside, #2 and #3 should not, imo, be disqualifying.

              1. Former Employee*

                Several years ago, someone wrote an article in our local alternative paper about the evils of requiring people to carry auto insurance because “poor people”. He backed away from that after a reader pointed out the other side – what happens when that person hits someone else and they don’t have the money for their own medical bills/car repair costs?

                Requiring people to carry insurance is a public policy issue. I do feel sorry for poor people who live in areas with bad public transportation, but that can’t outweigh the need for people to be able to have their medical bills and car repair costs paid if someone causes an accident.

                Perhaps people might be able to afford Uber or Lyft if they ride share. I think the basic cost is pretty low if split 4 ways. (I checked Lyft and a 25 mile trip was about $22; I live in a major metropolitan area.)

                1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

                  I’m not talking about insurance, though. I’m just explaining the most common reasons I’ve seen for people not having licenses. I’m not including people who drive without a license in my response.

          8. Temperance*

            I would absolutely not hire someone who flat-out admitted that they were going to drive illegally in order to get to job sites.

          9. essEss*

            If the person was really stuck with no transportation on a day, they could also use an Uber to get to the site, depending on the city. Unless they need to travel from site to site during a workday, I still think this falls under the generic question of simply asking if they have reliable transportation when the job site changes? What “form” of transportation would be completely the responsibility of the employee. However, if they need to go from site to site during the workday, then the travelling would be considered part of their actual workday duties and then the transportation would be a liability of the company and you’d have a reasonable right to details about the actual transportation mode. (not a lawyer, all my opinion)

          10. Koala dreams*

            Thanks for clearing that up!
            That would be a very different sitation from what I envisioned from your letter.
            This has been a very enlightning discussion.

          11. Steve*

            I was wondering why this happened more than once. Since it didn’t, just remove the one person from consideration and move on with your life.

            1. OP #3*

              As I mentioned elsewhere, many people have alluded to doing the same. I finally had someone flat out admit that is what they were going to do though.

          12. TootsNYC*

            “the job duties do not require a driver’s licence, but the individual needs to be able to get to different job sites (some up to 50 miles away)”


            Why doesn’t the job require a driver’s license, AND a vehicle?

            Maybe the better option is to insist that the employer add the license as a requirement for the job.

            1. Baby Driver*

              Should we also insist that all job descriptions include things such as “must know how to use a phone,” “must know how to hold a pen,” etc.?

          13. memyselfandi*

            I think this is a tough one. You can check whether or not someone has a drivers license, so everyone has to answer that question truthfully. If I were desperately seeking a job I would reply that I had transportation no matter my situation and then figure it out if I got the job. As someone mentioned above “don’t have transportation so can’t get a job/don’t have a job so can’t get transportation” is a vicious cycle and traps low SES people.

          14. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

            Thanks so much for clarifying! This changes how I feel. Here’s what I would do:

            1. Change the Job Description
            I would recommend two immediate changes to the job description. The first is to include that the job requires travel to multiple sites, and I would give an estimate of the distance and frequency of those trips. I would also include a line that says candidates will be asked or must explain how they plan to undertake that travel in order to be considered for the position.

            2. Probe Further During Screening Interviews
            Ask everyone who applies something like, “Successful candidates must arrange for lawful means of transportation between work sites. Can you clarify your transportation plans?” This way you’re not inadvertently subjecting one group of applicants to a potentially discriminatory disqualifying question, and you’re also not imposing new requirements (e.g., driver’s license) beyond the job description.

            If applicants say they’ll drive unlicensed, push again and say, “Do you have plans to obtain a license and comply with State requirements for drivers?” If they say they plan to Uber / expense the trip / figure out public transit, you can also address the viability of those suggestions. Try to be slightly open-minded (but not Pollyanna-ish) on the replies to this question—I’ve seen applicants undertake pretty insane transit plans to get places without a license, but they’ve done so reliably regardless of inclement weather, inconvenience, etc.

            If they don’t budge on driving without a license, then I think you can safely DQ them because you gave them every opportunity to advance based on realistic limits.

            3. Liability
            I don’t think you have any legal liability to the employer for forwarding applicants who say they plan to drive unlicensed. But I think you’re right that unless they show they have a lawful way to get around, it would reflect poorly on you if it later comes out that you knew they didn’t have any plans to get around lawfully. In this case, I agree with Alison that your personal ethical feelings and business norms can merit trying to screen these applicants even if you don’t have a legal duty to do so.

            If a person is driving around without a license in a car that is not insured for work purposes during work hours, that could create significant liability problems for the employer. But again, this isn’t your legal problem, and you don’t really have legal risk—just reputational risk. If the employer wants people to be able to drive, they need to add a driver’s license requirement to their job descriptions.

            Good luck!

        5. Specialk9*

          Oh, I totally read it as they would be driving. I hadn’t thought of others driving them.

          1. Specialk9*

            Never mind, read OP’s comment clarifying that the applicant said they’d drive illegally.

        6. Yorick*

          I don’t have a car or a license. People can be weirdly judgmental about it so I am often pretty vague about how I’ll get places, just giving assurances that I’ll make it. I can imagine someone might assume I’m planning to drive when that isn’t my plan at all. Unless the person says, “I don’t have a license but I’ll still drive to the interview,” I don’t think OP should assume they’re breaking the law and disqualify them.

      2. JamieS*

        Based on the letter, OP is assuming they’re going to drive themselves but OP doesn’t have the ability to know that unless explicitly told which isn’t indicated in the letter. So basically yes OP stated the non licensed candidates are planning to drive but it’s impossible for us to know if that’s true.

        1. Julianne*

          This is my interpretation as well; I think the OP is genuinely and sincerely concerned that these candidates are announcing intention to break the law, but that might not actually be what’s happening. We can’t know for sure, and I have some uncertainty about whether the OP knows for sure, either. That being said, I think it’sappropriate for the OP to make it clear that employees need reliable transportation and to ask candidates if they have reliable transportation. If it’s a situation where a seemingly reliable transportation option may in fact not be that (ex. a candidate new to the city doesn’t know that the trains stop running before their shift ends), I think it’s appropriate to discuss that. But I don’t think the OP needs to deeply interrogate candidates’ transportation plans.

          I say this as someone who probably wouldn’t have gotten hired in the past based on the issue of “reliable transportation.” For me, taking three trains, a bus, and finishing up with a two mile walk to get to work was reasonable (well, reasonable enough, given a variety of life circumstances that made moving or getting a car impossible). At my interview, they asked if I had reliable transportation, I said yes, and that was that. When my boss and coworkers found out how I got to work, after I’d been there about 3 months, there was a brief period where I was pressured to change my transportation. I don’t know for sure, but I suspect they would not have hired me if they had known at my interview that I planned to rely on public transit. I was late to work exactly one time (and only by 5 minutes) in two years, and that was because one of the trains AND the bus broke down on the same day. In those two years, I also covered for (as in, provided coverage for, not helped conceal lateness of) coworkers who had much more “reliable” transportation (personal vehicles, carpools, walking to work, taking fewer buses/trains) countless times. All this is to say that while driving without a license is illegal, ultimately reliable transportation is in the eye of the beholder, and employers should be focused on employees being able to get to work reliably and not on how those employees actually get there.

          1. Scott*

            Any transit can break down. But if I was hiring, I’d expect you to be pretty fed up after a few months of what I assume is at least a 1 hour or more commute, when driving would be 20 minutes or less, and ultimately the risk is that you leave for a closer job if it comes up.

            1. Alton*

              If I drove to work, it’d probably take me around 25 minutes (including parking). Taking the bus is closer to an hour. I have no real problem with it. I can use the time to do some reading, and I like getting some exercise by walking to/from the bus stop (if the weather is bad, there are other, connecting buses I can take so I don’t have to walk as much).

              I think long commutes can definitely be an issue for people the longer they get, but I wouldn’t really consider the difference between 20 minutes and an hour that significant, especially if you’re getting a trade-off (like being able to use that extra time productively)

              1. Scott*

                That’s the trade off right? Between having the extra 70 minutes each day, or spend those 70 minutes on the bus doing something “productive”.

            2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

              I think it’s important not to substitute our own feelings for someone else’s tolerance for a crap commute, though.

              I’ve found, especially for low-income folks, that the need for a job (and money) overrides the inconvenience of the commute. I’ve known folks who’ve undertaken commutes like Julianne’s for years without complaint and without arriving late to work. I met a guy who could not afford the license exam and walked over 10+ miles everywhere. He would wake up at 3 a.m., walk four miles to the train, take a 15-minute train ride, and then walk 6-7 miles to his job site. This was in New England, so he also had to contend with really shitty traffic. he didn’t miss a single day, nor was he ever late.

            3. Blah*

              I budget an hour for my daily train commute, and I don’t really mind it. I used to budget 2 at my old job, and it wasn’t bad, since I’d just surf the internet or read the whole trip, which is largely what I do at home.

            1. Wendy Ann*

              The OP’s comments don’t actually say anything about multiple sites throughout the day. The way it’s worded, it could mean Monday at site A, Tuesday at site B, every second Thursday at site C.

              1. fposte*

                She clarified that it’s as you suggest, in fact. Which is sort of the trickiest possible iteration for the purposes of the question.

      3. I'll come up with a clever name later.*

        I can think of many situations where someone might say “I don’t have a license but I have a vehicle and can get to work”. My grandparents were both blind and never had licenses but did own several cars over the course of their lives – specifically so that there was always a vehicle available for sighted and licensed family members to drive them to necessary appts. I also have a friend who is epileptic and cannot drive any longer but the car is in his name and his wife drives him where he needs to go.

      4. Iris Eyes*

        A vehicle could mean a bike or motor-scooter which in some places you can drive even if your motor vehicle license is suspended. There are a lot of job postings I’ve seen who specify that you must have reliable transportation which I think is outside of the companies purview. Them getting to work on time is your business, how they accomplish that isn’t.

      5. Blah*

        If I was asked that question, I’d say yes because I have a bicycle, which is legally considered a vehicle in my state, and my job doesn’t really need to know that I’m a cyclist, just that I can reliably get there every day.

      6. Kraig*

        A bicycle is a vehicle that does not require a license.

        I’ve also seen a lot of these jobs “inaccessible via public transit” when the bus is 300m away.(15 seconds of googling would have shown this. Usually people prefer to be economical with the truth than try to tell the recruiter their wrong) Or my house is 40 min walk. I was at one job (no public transit, remote location must have car)for 18 months before they realised I didn’t have a car (snow day one of the few on time before roads were cleared). (I do have license though and told them I borrowed family car if needed, and would get my own when It was needed regulary.

    2. TL -*

      I think the OP can say, “If you’re driving yourself to work, it sounds like you currently don’t have a driver’s license and that is concerning and not a reliable way to get to work. [it’s not, after all.] But if I’ve misunderstood and you’ll have your license by starting date or you’ll be catching a (reliable) ride with someone else, that’s acceptable as a reliable means of transportation.”

      Because if they’re asking, I bet a reliable means of transportation is part of the job requirement and driving without a license isn’t a reliable means of transportation.

    3. Ramona Flowers*

      Also, while the phrase ‘public transit’ tells me this isn’t in the UK, I did just want to mention that, if it was, following this advice would be illegal – on the recruiter’s part – so if you’re reading this and you’re British do not follow this advice. IANAL but I know this because I cannot drive for medical reasons and have checked out my rights very thoroughly.

      Over here you cannot ask if someone is an ‘essential car user’ if the job does not require it. You can let them know the location isn’t reachable by public transport. You can’t ask if they could drive there.

      While job hunting I was driven slightly crackers by job adverts saying you had to be able to drive because of the location – if I hadn’t known about Access to Work (who would have funded taxis if I got a job that was only reachable by car) I would have thought the job was not even open to me.

      I don’t know if it’s the same anywhere else but over here this advice is problematic because you couldn’t legally get to the point where you knew how the person was getting to work. I’d be interested to know if it’s remotely similar over there.

      1. TL -*

        Usually, places just ask if you have reliable transport to and from work. I don’t know what the laws are around asking if you have a car – it’s unusual to ask in major cities but there are lots of parts of the USA where a car is the only reliable way to get around and taxis aren’t available (not that we have an Access to Work equivalent.)

        But it’s generally phrased as, “Do you have reliable means of transportation?” which people generally answer with how they’re planning to get to/from work and employers can judge if it’s reliable or not – I definitely took a job where they said the only reliable method they would accept was a car and it was very reasonable for the job. But most of the my other jobs haven’t cared.

        1. Ramona Flowers*

          I don’t see why it’s any of the employer’s business how you get to work – unless you have to drive on the job.

          If I sound prickly it’s because people like me are already screened out of a bunch of jobs.

          1. TL -*

            Well, because if you don’t have a reliable method of transportation for the area, you won’t get to work reliably and that’s a problem for the employer. If you answered, “yes, my spouse drives me and it’s worked well for us” that’s different than “yes I just moved here and I’m planning to use the bus system/walk everywhere.” (which was what my job was screening for.)

            In Boston, I would think that an unreasonable question. In Austin, it was reasonable. In my hometown, it would be really concerning if someone didn’t have a car or family member driving them – no public transit means you’d need someone invested in your career.

              1. Magenta Sky*

                How and whether are often so intricately linked that it’s not that simple a question.

                And employers are so used to applicants who lie their ass off to get a job they aren’t qualified for they don’t have much inclination to give anyone the benefit of the doubt.

                It’s a complicated issue, and any job offer should meet the needs of both parties.

                1. Ramona Flowers*

                  Then they should get better at hiring.

                  If everyone thought like this I guess I would be unemployed.

                2. TL -*

                  The place I’m thinking of had gotten better at hiring – by asking that question. They had other positions where they didn’t care and had plenty of people who biked/walked/bused into work. For this position, they needed people in exactly on time right at rush hour and the most reliable way of doing that in that city was a car –
                  they knew that because they’d hired people who didn’t drive and they were consistently late. Hence, the question.

                  Again, in Boston that would be a silly and discriminatory question unless you needed to drive. But there are places and positions where it’s not.

                3. TL -*

                  It’s not so much that employees lie their butts off; it’s that they’ve never lived in Texas in the summer and don’t realize that there are days when it might be too hot to bike safely, or they may live somewhere unsafe to bike. And the bus system is horribly time inefficient for most parts of town and traffic is godawful…so they take the job thinking oh yes it’ll be easy and then a whole bunch of factors end up making them late – their partner can’t get around town quickly enough in the car, the bus is 2 hours early or 30 minutes late, biking takes much longer or they show up to work too exhausted to function for the first half hour…

                4. TL -*

                  @Ramona Flowers: Their experience was that people who relied on other means of transportation were constantly running into unexpected transportation hurdles, with the exception of the one guy who lived close enough to walk in almost any weather, whereas people with cars had far fewer logistical snafus. The person who was hiring didn’t drive; she biked.
                  I think there are places and jobs where that can be a reasonable question; like I said, for other positions they didn’t care how you got in to work and they certainly wouldn’t ask anything more than “reliable transportation?” on the application.

                5. NoMoreFirstTimeCommenter*

                  This is partly answering to you and partly to TL though I can’t answer directly to them.

                  I live in a place with decent public transit and I’ve often used the bus to get to work as I don’t drive. Recently I worked a 1 month temp job where I knew the commute would be longer than what I was used to, but there seemed to be a lot of buses coming quite near the workplace. In reality the bus option just looked good on paper but in practice the buses were often late and because of that my commute was sometimes much longer than I had thought. But I went to work – in that job the starting time wasn’t an exact time – and worked just the same as people who came by car. I could handle it because it was for a short time and nobody had a problem with this, I just learned the lesson that I won’t be looking for longer time jobs in that area.

                  The temp office person and the supervisors at my workplace all knew I would be commuting by bus and it wouldn’t be a short drive. Still they chose me. I said in the interview that I’d checked the bus lines and found a bus stop nearby, and that was the end of the reliable transportation discussion. They may have known that the buses on that line tend to be late and I would spend a lot of time daily getting to and from work, but as I was ready to get to that place by bus, they apparently thought it was my business. I’m glad they didn’t question my transportation because even though it was hard, I still prefer to have been in that temp job for that month rather than unemployed.

                6. hbc*

                  I’m reminded of my time in a major Dutch city where everyone moaned about the unreliability of the trains and insisted on cars. I was late to work once in 4 months by train. My car-driving coworkers were late ten times that.

                  It’s funny what we consider reliable and excusable. An unexpected traffic jam gets written off as unavoidable, whereas a ten minute train delay is just proof of a risky, unreliable system.

                7. TL -*

                  @hbc: I’ve lived in places with good public transport systems and used them extensively; they’re about the same as driving a car – most days you get in on time but other days stuff happens.
                  I’ve lived in places with bad public transit systems and when I say they’re much less reliable than taking the a car (especially comparing a Texas city to a Dutch city!) I do mean exactly that. And I like public transit; I wish Texas had more of it.

              2. Myrin*

                Whenever this topic comes up, I feel like it’s – surprisingly, because I never would’ve thought that! – a cultural issue people come at with different mindsets from the get-go.

                My country has the densest train network in all of Europe (apparently; I read about that in the newspaper recently and it sure looked like it in the picture but what do I know) and although it’s kind of a running joke nation-wide that all train companies are terrible and always late, it seems to me from reading this site that compared to the US, it’s quite stellar. My family hasn’t had a car in ten years and in the six I regularly drove to uni, I wasn’t late even once (I wasn’t able to get in at all maybe three times, though); but that’s because I always took an earlier train and plan everything out exactly before I go anywhere. It seems to me that in the US, there are plenty of places you literally can’t get to without a car unless you’re willing to hike there for two and a half hours.
                (These places definitely exist here, too, but they’re even more remote and rural than my hometown and I definitely wouldn’t apply for a job there in the first place because of that very reason.)

                1. TL -*

                  That made me curious! From my parents’ house to the nearest grocery store is 3.5 hrs of walking. To the nearest transit system and place with a mall, 16 hrs.

                  It’s why so many Americans consider a driver’s license as a cultural marker of adulthood – in large parts of the country, it really is your first way to independently drive your own life. (hehehe)
                  I still remember the first time I called my dad and said “I need to go into town,” and he said, “Why are you calling me? You have your license, drive yourself” and the utter joy of realizing that he was absolutely right. (I went somewhere so boring and responsible I can no longer remember it but hey! I went there of my own volition.)

                2. Else*

                  You are correct – there are cities with good public trans options for the US, but those are not the majority, and suburbs or rural areas almost universally have very poor or non-existent public transportation and long distances. Most smaller towns or suburbs don’t even have consistent sidewalks or bike lanes. The relatively few passenger trains share the rails with a vast number of cargo trains, and cargo trains ALWAYS have the right of way and get to go first, regardless of schedule. Private cars are nearly always the most personally efficient way to get anywhere.

                  Public transportation in the US has the reputation (and often though not always reality) of being unreliable, slow, limited to very narrow areas, and used primarily by the very poor. All of that could be helped by greater investment and planning, but not enough people want to do that to actually convince politicians to expend money on it.

                3. Specialk9*

                  Myrin, correct. In Europe and many big cities in Asia, trains or ferries or buses are fairly ubiquitous and reliable. In the US, there are cities like DC where public transportation is reliable and covers much of the city. Then there are cities with public transport that doesn’t meet the need even remotely, like LA.

                  But mostly… In the US you need a car.

                  Part of the problem is the sheer scale of everything. My foreign visitors often look at a map and ask to visit a nearby city. “Is it close?” “Sure! It’s super close, only 2 hours drive!” That boggles them, because it looks so close, and it’s easy to lose track of the huge scale of the US.

                  We do have very expensive Amtrak trains between major cities, but so expensive!

                4. ket*

                  Amtrak legally has the right of way in the US. Freight trains, by law, need to yield. But the law is not enforced. Even if fines are levied against freight companies for delaying Amtrak trains, the companies prefer to pay the fines — so cheap, so easy!

                5. Penny Lane*

                  “Public transportation in the US has the reputation (and often though not always reality) of being unreliable, slow, limited to very narrow areas, and used primarily by the very poor. ”

                  The assertion that public transport is mainly used primarily by the very poor is simply not true in New York, Boston, Chicago, etc where hundreds of thousands of people from all socioeconomic classes commute and run errands using light rail/subway/train/bus.

                  And I agree with the poster from Boston. No one here in Chicago would inherently think a public transit commuter would be more unreliable than a car driver.

              3. Sandrine (France) - At Work*

                I was actually unemployed in France for about two years because of this.

                I got a place far from the main city, got fired six months later, and when I applied, no one would reply to me because of the adress on my resume and the transportation’s reputation (lousy, lousy, lousy) . It’s only when I put my Dad’s adress on the resume (he let me live with him for a while as I started working) that I started getting interviews again.

                And it sucks indeed.

            1. Safetykats*

              I have never been asked about my means of transportation, and I have worked for years at a series of jobs that are 30-40 miles away from the nearest possible place to live.

              If asked, I agree with Ramona Flowera that you are absolutely not required to give any details. Yes, I have a reliable way to get to work. End of story.

              FYI, I work with people who haven’t driven themselves to work for years. They carpool or vanpool, in an arrangement with a designated driver. It’s really common most places I have worked.

              1. TL -*

                Whereas my dad has found workers without vehicles really struggle getting into work on time – small, sprawled out town with horribly hot summers, very few sidewalks, and no public transit/few carpooling options to a small business on the north end of town. He’s flexible and they work things out, generally, but they have the flexibility to do that in a small business.

                1. Ramona Flowers*

                  Look, I don’t drive, I’m almost never late and I’m pretty tired of people basically discriminating against me because some other people are sometimes late. It is infantilising to get involved in how employees get to work. Just as you require them to come dressed in clothes and not smelling bad, but don’t require proof that they have an underwear drawer and a shower. I realise I’m derailing so I’ll walk away now, but when you post about how people in this one place are proof that it’s understandable to ask discriminatory questions, you help make it harder for people like me to get hired.

                2. TL -*

                  I absolutely know people who have been always late who own a car and people who are never late who don’t. But the latter either have family who drives them around (and family drives me is seen as a lot more reliable than friends drive me) or live in a place where they can build their lives around not owning a car.
                  There are a lot of places in the USA where the transportation infrastructure is built around the assumption that everybody has a car and that can severely impact the ability of a non-driving person to be reliable, regardless of intention. OTOH, there are cities where you can get along just fine without a car and it will never impact your ability to get places on time.

                  Businesses don’t (normally) ask because they’re overly invested in how you live; they ask because they have knowledge of the area and a pattern of seeing well-meaning people unable to be timely because of the crappy transportation options.

                3. Ramona Flowers*

                  Imagine if your comments were about how some people from a particular race are sometimes late for work. I mean, it’s possible fewer POC have cars so you could argue that it’s okay to only hire white people.

                  That feels unacceptable, right?

                  Some day the type of discrimination that affects those of us with disabilities will also be unacceptable. You may think you’re just talking about having a car, but you’re contributing to a world that is insidiously more difficult for some of us.

                4. TL -*

                  The transportation infrastructure in large swaths of the USA is systemically discriminatory towards people with a variety of disabilities. It sucks and needs to be changed.

                  I also know Texas and what the reality of being without a car there was like. I saw how many people’s reliable transportation just wasn’t nearly as reliable as having their own (at least family) car, even accounting for traffic. There were exceptions, but they were very few and pretty specific. The places I knew that got as specific as asking as “do you have your own car?” (and generally included family car in that definition) did so because they knew that the public transportation in their area was not reliable enough to get somebody to work on time.

                5. blackcat*

                  ” OTOH, there are cities where you can get along just fine without a car and it will never impact your ability to get places on time.”

                  Or there are cities, like Boston, where if you say “The redline stopped in between Harvard and Central for 30 minutes for no reason at all” you get a sympathetic shrug. It’s similar to how in other parts of the country, saying, “We you sitting in that disaster on the 5 all morning, too?” gets a “Ugh, no, but Fergus was, too.”

                  At least here in Boston, I don’t see people viewing transit as inherently more or less reliable than driving. Both have significant faults and may not be the most reliable. Our roads suck, and the greenline still has a number of ITS ORIGINAL SWITCHES. Original, as in from the 1890s or so.

                6. TL -*

                  @blackcat as much as I found the redline infuriatingly full of…personality and whimsy… it didn’t hold a candle to I-35 in Austin. Though saying you’d been stuck in traffic in Austin got you the exact same response! Whatcha gonna do about it?
                  (Though some of that was just sheer good luck; I don’t think I ever got delayed more than half an hour on the T while some of my friends got caught out on some truly awful days, including the infamous 4 hours in the snow commuter rail incident.)

              2. Allison*

                I’m torn on this. On the one hand, candidates are adults who can judge whether their transportation is reliable, and should be trusted to use what they have and make it work each day, and the employer shouldn’t be scrutinizing whether their plan to get to and from work will, well, work.

                On the other hand, plenty of employers where people work in shifts, or from one specific time to another with little to no wiggle room, have been burned before. Many times. They’ve had to fire people who were consistently late and blamed public transit, or who kept calling out because their bum boyfriend kept blowing them off, or getting high and unable to drive. They’ve had overly optimistic, naive candidates who really thought their method of getting there would work. These hiring managers have seen it all, they know what generally works and what doesn’t, way better than most of the prospective employees.

                So maybe what employers have to do is tell people how important it is to be right on time, or 10 minutes early most days, and that leaving early due to transportation issues isn’t going to be allowed, and that if your method of transportation turns out to not be reliable, there will be disciplinary consequences, up to and including being fired. If someone is having a friend or family member driving them, that person also needs to know how important it is to be reliable. My parents knew the importance of getting me to work on time when I was young and needed them to drive me, so I wouldn’t assume that someone getting a ride couldn’t get there on time, but I also know that some people rely on others who initially volunteer to help, but bail when helping becomes inconvenient, and that’s what employers are often concerned about.

                1. tigerlily*

                  @Allison Those same employers had to fire people with cars who couldn’t get out of bed on time, who couldn’t keep track of traffic, who think they know better when their engine warning light goes on, and who never remember to get gas when they’re low.

                2. Kraig*

                  Perhaps that should be applied to those stuck in traffic jams too. Why do they get a free pass? Just as avoidable (leave earlier), quite a few bus commuter get here on earlier service and sit in the canteen for an hour playing with phones and tablet, so they are on time even if there is a transit snafu. None of the car drivers do that. They have been 10-15 min late due to traffic.(guess which one the managers moan at)

          2. neverjaunty*

            It’s the employer’s business that you can get to work. That’s why “do you have reliable transportation” is a reasonable question.

        2. doreen*

          Regarding Access to Work – these services exist in the US. It’s my understanding that any public transportation system has to provide services for those who cannot use the regular, fixed-route services for medical reasons – and often, these paratransit services are cab-like ( door to door, you arrange a ride based on when you need to travel rather than conforming to a fixed schedule, etc) . If the demand is low the service might consist of cab vouchers.

          1. TL -*

            From my understanding (and I don’t use them at all) the paratransit services are often impractical and unreliable. They definitely exist – and please someone who uses them, let me know if I’m wrong or right – but they often have exceptionally huge windows of time for pick-up/drop-off and require a lot of notification.

            I could absolutely be wrong and have only heard about a couple of bad ones -they probably vary a lot from metro system to metro system – but my general (and not super well-informed) impression is that they are not terribly reliable.

            1. Loose Seal*

              Paratransport here in a southern town with really good public transport compared to even larger southern cities like Atlanta is not as all-encompassing as one would like. To get the door-to-door service, the provider has to find you disabled (being considered disabled by the govt for Social Security purposes is not enough; you still have to continually prove your disability), you have to live within a mile of the nearest bus stop, your destination has to be within a mile of a bus stop, and it costs $7 round trip. Plus, they will pick you up as early as 45 minutes before your departure time and will come get you after your appointment as much as 45 minutes afterward (they don’t wait for you).

              Between the cost and the requirement that the pickups have to be within one mile of a bus stop, lots of people in the town who need it aren’t able to make use of the service. Yes, it’s lovely that it’s provided for those who can use it but it’s far from universally useful.

              (Source: I volunteer with a group whose mission is to make the town accessible for everyone. 99.9% of my work involves telling people that what they think is accessible really isn’t. Don’t get me started on apartment complexes that think they are accessible or I might rage out.)

          2. eplawyer*

            We have such a system in DC. It is horrible and unreliable, just like the Metro system. No surprise, run by the same people. Even disabled people would rather pay Uber than get the free or reduced fee MetroAccess rides.

            If you need reliable transportation for work that can mean car OR public transit. But if public transit is NOT an option due to not being anywhere close to where you work, unreliable, dangerous (hello METRO), or some other reason, then yes, it is reasonable for an employer to enquire how you are getting to work. And family/friend driving me is not always as reliable as people think it is.

            1. Specialk9*

              Yeah the DC system is terrible. A woman in my office was continually furious at them messing things up, leaving her stranded in the cold or heat.

          3. Doreen*

            I can only speak about my city’s system which my mother and a number of my co-workers use. You have to be ready at your pick-up time, but if the ride is early they will wait for you until the appointed time. They are occasionally up to 30 minutes late. If they are going to be later than that, you can request reimbursement for cabfare. Eligibility is completely separate from SS disability in that many people qualify for paratransit who don’t qualify for SS disability. For example, those who cannot tolerate heat can get a card with eligibility restricted to days when the temperature is forecast to be over 90 degrees which would usually not qualify a person for SS disability. You can arrange for a same day trip. If you travel to work, you can set up a subscription to pick you up at the same time every day . In fact, you can set up a subscription for any ride that you will need on the same day/time at least once a week. You may have to recertify depending on your disability- if it’s expected to be permanent there is no need provide medical documentation after the initial approval.

            Is it perfect? No, but as far as I can tell it isn’t any less reliable than the regular public transit system.

          4. Turquoisecow*

            My brother uses NJ’s version of this, called Access Link. While it is definitely easier for him than taking multiple busses, it has its own share of hassles. Rides have to be scheduled in advance, and you are given a window in which the bus might arrive, which can be 45 minutes long. If the bus arrives and you’re not waiting for it, they’re only required to wait for five minutes. (I’m not sure if they’ll call you; he doesn’t have a cell phone). There also have been times where it took him two hours to get home (a 15-20 minute drive), because someone else was dropped off or picked up before he was brought home.

            His employer was told all of this when he applied, so while he’s technically supposed to be on time same as everyone else, they understand that this is an impossibility for him sometimes and accept it. I’m not sure if all jobs would be so accommodating, but maybe if it’s phrased as a part of ADA compliance?

        3. Someone else*

          It sounded like the candidate was simply offering this up, not that they’d been asked about having a car.

      2. Ramona Flowers*

        I should qualify that by saying there isn’t a law that says you can’t ask. But asking this specific question would constitute indirect discrimination arising from disability. The law says you can only ask about health and disability when there are necessary requirements of the job that can’t be met with reasonable adjustments. Good explanation here:

          1. TL -*

            Ramona is talking about the UK, not the USA. (where the transit system is set up much differently and the country is much smaller, so it’s a very different thing!)

          2. MakesThings*

            It’s not what you think, it’s what laws are on the books. And that varies by state and by country. How is your private opinion re: what’s legal relevant to whether it is?

        1. caryatis*

          No discrimination here. In the US at least, it is not a violation of anti-discrimination laws to refuse to hire disabled people when they are unable to fulfill the essential duties of the job–which might include getting to work on time reliably. (Not necessarily with a car.)

      3. Ask a Manager* Post author

        In the U.S., it’s not illegal to ask, but if it were shown to have a disparate effect by race or other protected class, it could be discriminatory.

        It’s pretty common to just ask if a candidate has a reliable means of transportation.

        But again, my understanding of the question is that candidates are volunteering that they don’t have a license but plan to drive anyway. If that’s not what’s happening, my answer doesn’t apply.

        1. OP#3*

          Yes, that is exactly what happened in the situation that prompted me to write to you.

          I’ve definitely had people allude to doing the same in the past and always wondered about it, but when I had someone blatantly say it, I decided to ask, largely because of the issues that PCBH and Ramona Flowers brought up about not wanting to be discriminatory.

          1. neverjaunty*

            It isn’t discriminatory to screen out people who say “I am legally not supposed to drive but I will anyway”, or who can’t meet a job requirement like being able to travel to offsites frequently. It would certainly be different to say that paratransit or relying on another driver isn’t OK for someone going to and from an office every day.

          2. Turquoisecow*

            Why would they admit to committing a crime? It seems like it would hurt their chances of getting the job, never mind expose them to possible legal consequences.

      4. Koala dreams*

        Thanks for the information about the situation in the UK! I wonder if my country has similar rules, since I also live in Europe.

        I was surprised to read that the implication was that they would drive without a license. To me, that seems like a far-fetched interpretation. Maybe it is cultural differences, but where I live zero car-households and one car-households are more common than multiple cars-households, and if somebody told me they had a car but no license, I would assume that they shared the car with family, and had a family member drop them off at work. If the household has just one car, there is no need for every member of the household to hold a license.

        I remember when my mother worked at another city for a while when I was a kid, my father first dropped off my mother at work, then us kids at our schools, and then he took the car home to be able to do errands during the day (he was unemployed at the time).

        1. Turanga Leela*

          It’s very common in the US for people not to have a license but to drive anyway. Driver’s licenses routinely get suspended for things like failing to pay child support, parking tickets, etc., and then it costs more money to get the license reinstated. And while you’re saving up money to pay all of that, if you live somewhere without public transit, driving is your only way to get to work. It’s a real dilemma for people.

          1. TL -*

            Yup, this happened in my hometown all the time. It’s also why seizures aren’t on my mom’s medical records – they always started with hand tremors, so she would just pull over and wait for someone to come get her or, in a real emergency, ask my brother to drive her home. My parents couldn’t have functioned without both their driver’s licenses and they thought that having my brother getting a hardship license was the more dangerous than having my mom pull over at the first warning sign.

          2. eplawyer*

            For child support, if you just fill out the paperwork saying you need your license to get to work or look for work, they will re-instate your license. Most people just ignore it and drive anyway. Then blame the custodial parent for their license being suspended when they get caught.

            1. Natalie*

              I’m not sure that’s universal throughout the country. From a quick google it looks like only a handful of states have hardship exemptions like that.

              1. Chameleon*

                The US likes to pretend that the only reason people are poor are for moral failings, so punishing them for being poor only makes sense.

                People here seem to have NO idea how expensive it gets being poor, and how truly difficult it is to get out of poverty. (I read that there was a better chance of moving from serf to the knighthood in feudal Europe, than from moving from poverty-level to upper class in the US.) Things like not hiring people that don’t have a car/license only contribute to this problem.

            2. Sylvan*

              That depends on where you live.

              In my state, you have a few weeks to get on a payment plan. Your license is only taken if you actually do ignore the issue. But it can be harder to keep your license after failing to pay child support in other places.

            3. Retired accountant*

              I was in traffic court once, and half the people in there had suspended licenses. Didn’t seem to bother them in the slightest. The mayor asked one man how much he owed, the guy said “Eight thousand”, the mayor said “Well, I’m probably not going to get $300 out of you.” Guy “Nope”. The mayor observed that he could put him in jail, but it would cost more money to do that. Guy left. I was one of about three people who actually paid a ticket.

      5. Erin*

        In my rural county they have a public transportation, dial a ride. You make an appointment for the bus to pick you up at home. It’s very unreliable for people who need to be somewhere on time.

      6. JB (not in Houston)*

        But I don’t think we know if the recruiter is asking if they are a car user. It sounds like maybe she is asking if they have reliable transportation, or if the commute would be too far, or something along those lines, and the person is responding that they don’t have a license but do have a car. And it’s not illegal here (I don’t think) to ask if potential applicants have reliable transportation of some sort.

    4. Coywolf*

      If they are indeed saying that they will drive themselves to work despite not having a DL I would be more concerned about their judgement based on them even telling me that. Because honestly, when I started driving I started a job I really needed and for my first 4 months or so I was driving to work without a DL so I wouldn’t necessarily hold it against them. I am just concerned that the recruiter is most likely asking “do you have a reliable form of transportation?” (Which is the only way I’ve ever heard transportation issues being asked) and I have always said Yes, even when I was taking the bus to work at a previous job because public transportation is reliable enough in my book!

      1. Coywolf*

        I meant to say I’m concerned that despite being asked about having reliable transportation candidates are going into incriminating details about this…

        1. TL -*

          IDK, I tend to answer with, “Yes, I have my own car” (or in Boston, I would have said “Yup, I’m taking the train in” which was more reliable than a car during rush hour anyways :) but nobody asks that in Boston.)

          And in Austin, I knew a few places that asked what kind of reliable transportation because a lot of transplants – and Austin had/has a huge influx of people moving in from other states- thought some methods of transportation were reliable and they unfortunately weren’t for certain areas of the city/during certain times of day or night. Or they’d ask where you were driving in from and talk to you about commuting realities if you weren’t from the area (not in a “don’t take this job” way; more in a “leave X minutes early during rush hour way”)

      2. KitKat*

        Came here to say this! I can understand the circumstances that would lead someone to drive without a DL. But saying in an interview that you plan to do so seems….not smart.

    5. ClownBaby*

      I’m sort of in OP3’s predicament. I will often find in background checks after the offer has been made…or even on the first day, filling out I9s…that the employee, who I clearly saw drive up and park…does not have a driver’s license. The job requires no driving. All work takes place in one location.

      You’re right, I don’t know what steps they are taking to obtain a license, but when I witness the illegal behavior should I take any action against them?

      I’ll be honest, I have been turning a blind eye to this, hoping that with a stable paycheck, the license-less employees will be able to pay fines, child support (which will be coming directly out of their pay checks), and for insurance, in order to get their licenses reinstated.

      1. Loose Seal*

        I’d say that if you aren’t checking employees’ licenses on a regular basis after they are hired*, let it go. People can lose their license at any time and you wouldn’t know. So it seems extra punitive to concentrate on the newly hired.

        *If you run a limo service or ambulance service, you might need to check licenses on a regular basis but I’d assume every driving employee would be checked, not just new hires.

      2. Natalie*

        Do they tell you they don’t have a drivers license, or do they just provide an alternative form of ID? I always use my passport for my I9 because it’s easier, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have a license.

          1. ClownBaby*

            But they never actually tell me “I don’t have my license,” so I never really know if their situation has changed and there’s not really a way for me to know now unless I track down everyone who showed me a non-driver state ID and say “Hey, I know you drive into work but you didn’t have a driver’s license on your first day here. You have your license now, right?” But that will appear extremely discriminatory, so I would probably just have to ask every one of the 200+ employees about their licenses and driving habits…

              1. ClownBaby*

                Yep, definitely can see how that could pop up. I think I am going to continue “looking the other way.” They only reason I am aware of these people is because on their first days, I often find myself glancing at the window in anticipation. I know nothing about the current status of licenses of more tenured employees, for all I know our Marketing Manager with 30+ years here has been driving around without a license for 29 years.

      3. neverjaunty*

        As an employer, would you want to be sitting across from a lawyer in a deposition, explaining that yes, your employee ran someone over in the parking lot, and yes, you knew she didn’t have a valid driver’s license but you kept quiet about it and didn’t inquire further?

        In this situation, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with following up, or with talking about the situation with the employee – and yes, maybe if the situation is they got into a tough place financially, you might choose to let it go.

        1. ClownBaby*

          The thing is though, as long as they show up to work, that’s all that matters. There have just been 3-4 times when I literally see a new employee driving only to see they don’t have a license when I am going through new hire paperwork with them. If I hadn’t been looking out the window at that time, I would never have known how they got to work and I would never have though to ask. All I really ask during phone-screens and interviews is some orientation of “Are you able to get here on time every day?” There could be a handful of employees I don’t know about that are driving without licenses or insurance. With our outside sales people and drivers, we check their driving records and insurance information yearly, but with all employees with jobs where driving is not part of the job description…I’m in the dark.

      4. OP #3*

        I’ve had the same thing occur multiple times in the past too and it’s something I’ve considered writing in about before. When I had someone blatantly admit that was what they were going to do, I was shocked enough to finally do it.

    6. Jenny H*

      Strongly seconding Princess Consuela! The WaPo had a really good piece about suspended licenses last year, which gets into some of the ways license suspensions are levied against (and disproportionately impactful on) poor drivers, and particularly black and Latino drivers.

      And there’s a ton more reporting on this if you start googling “suspended license poverty,” about the impact suspended licenses have on getting out of poverty. I’d at least hope the OP takes this into account when working with these candidates.

    7. designbot*

      I had the same feeling about that one. I’d advise OP to stick to, “The job is located in (neighborhood). Do you have reliable transportation to and from there?”
      That way OP isn’t taking on any responsibility for this situation, including either dangerous behavior on the employees part OR keeping someone in an untenable economic situation from pulling themselves up.

    8. Jesmlet*

      It’s amazing how many people argue with me when I tell them a license and car is required for our jobs (home care for elders and domestic staffing). It is a legitimate requirement because many of them are at a stage of health where they can’t drive themselves, or the family may not have an extra car for driving the kids. Even when this isn’t a requirement, when solely serving people who live in suburbs, public transportation can be incredibly unreliable in terms of getting to work on time and this isn’t a job where you can be late.

      To your second two paragraphs, if someone is in the process of obtaining a license, then that’s what they would say… not I don’t have a license but I have a car and I can get there. And obviously this wouldn’t rule someone out permanently… if they called back and their license status changed, so would their eligibility.

      We had someone come in on Wednesday for a specific job and they were great (and the job requires driving). I run their background and their license is revoked due to multiple violations (which of course she never mentioned even though we specifically ask about driving). Of course she told us she drove here by herself, so she broke the law just getting here. That kind of stuff gets a hard no from us.

  4. Ramona Flowers*

    #1 I’m so sorry you’re going through this. I’m not sure how helpful it would be to take your name off the website unfortunately, as it might be cached by Google and/or the Wayback Machine (at archive dot org).

    But it sounds like you didn’t pay them not to spread it to friends and family, so I’m not sure they’d bother contacting your work – if you’re paying up and doing what they say, chances are they’ll move on as they’re not having any power to get what they want. I really hope that’s the case, and that you are okay.

    1. London Bookworm*

      I want to second this – it sounds like a really stressful experience. Good luck with navigating it, and I think OP is correct that, in the long run, it will blow over among friends and family.

  5. JamieS*

    Disagree with #4. Biggest issue is your check bounced – clear sign of trouble ahead, secondary is potentially not having taxes taken out – be sure to include the income when filing taxes regardless so you’ll pay in the correct amount with (hopefully) minimal penalty, then way at the bottom is the $5 – which I’m guessing he’s using to help fund payroll. Seriously, RUN.

    1. RVA Cat*

      This. I think the restaurant is about to shut down. I would refuse to work any more shifts until he pays you back for the bounced check.
      Another scenario is that the restaurant is a front for money laundering and his shady practices got his bank account frozen.

  6. Bea*

    Never trust a business that bounces a check. In all my years of bookkeeping and cashing checks from thousands of businesses of every size, very few have bounced a check and only once was it true banking error, everyone else was just circling the drain. This is a side gig and it appears this guy’s liquid is so low that a part timer isn’t getting paid. I’m sure all his purveyors have him on cash-only at this rate.

    I’m certain he’s not paying taxes because those payments would bounce too. Demand he give you a check and don’t follow through with any weird apps he asks you to use. To get $5, that means that the app probably is going to charge you to withdraw the funds he is going to transfer you if that’s how that thing works. ICK!!!!

    1. AnonymousBird*

      Agreed. I have also heard horror stories about people using one of those Venmo type accounts and losing their money. A friend of mine lost a couple hundred dollars, and it took a very long time for the company to rectify the situation. I personally refuse to use those apps and I definitely wouldn’t want to be paid for a job on one. Definitely refuse and insist on a check!

    2. paul*

      I’ve never heard of or seen it happen with either the owner being really incredibly scuzzy or the business being about to go bankrupt or both. I’m not saying it *can’t* happen, but I wouldn’t bet my rent on it.

      1. Bea*

        Yeah sometimes you are just in a terrible crunch or some one forgot all the liquid was in the other account (I had one customer thinking back that bounced a few checks, they always had to clear before I released their orders) since they played around too much, trying to keep it all in an interest account. But they were a mess in every way and other clients and vendors would say things about them in passing.

        Restaurants take a lot of cash flow. And once your checks start bouncing, there’s very few ways to recover I’ve seen.

    3. Mabel*

      And if a paycheck does bounce, the company should be mortified and be sure to get your money (plus bounced cheek fees) to you ASAP in a way that is most convenient for you. That’s not happening here.

    4. SpaceySteph*

      So true. The summer before I left college I worked at a small business in my hometown. I only got 4 or 5 paychecks from them since I only worked there from June to August but they still managed to bounce one.
      When I left they said if I wanted to come back the next summer for another short stint, I should contact them when it got closer. Go figure, they were out of business by then.

    5. Canto Bight*

      I don’t want to defend the shady paying-wages-through-an-app business, because LW4 definitely shouldn’t accept that, but I do want to note that the $5 referral fee is probably the least shady part of the whole letter. All the payment apps are trying to elbow each other out and compete with Venmo and PayPal,so it’s super common to offer a referral kickback or discount to people who get their friends to sign up for their service. I’ve used referral codes for both Venmo and Square Cash; everyone got a little bonus, and the app has never charged me to withdraw my funds.

      I use Venmo all the time for social situations. It’s so much easier for one person to get the hotel room or the movie tickets or run the bar tab and everyone else can reimburse later (plus, a good way to rack up card points). I’ve never “lost money” through it – I’m not even sure how that would happen, since even if your friends invoice you, you have to accept the invoice and send the payment yourself. I definitely wouldn’t accept it for a paycheck, but not because there’s anything inherently shady about payment apps themselves.

      1. hi*

        The risk of scams comes in more when you’re dealing with strangers. Selling tickets to someone online and they say, “let me venmo you half now and half when i get them,” then they pay you the first half and it goes through successfully, so you send the tickets, then they pay you the 2nd half then raise a claim with Venmo saying it was a duplicate transaction and they need their money back for the 2nd one. So you only get half the money you were promised. Stuff like that.

        There’s all sorts of ways to be shady, but PayPal/Venmo have a lot of protection in their services. If you’re smart about who you deal with, you probably won’t ever have a problem with a reputable money sharing app.

  7. Mike C.*

    I think the issue of a valid drivers license is in the grey area here.

    If we’re talking about situations where there was never a license in the first place, or the license was revoked due to becoming a danger to others, then yeah, that’s a huge issue and I don’t see a problem with being concerned.

    If we’re talking about situations where the drivers license has been revoked for administrative reasons unrelated to safety issues, the issue becomes more difficult. There was a story a few week back about how states like South Dakota are buying up student debt, and then holding various licenses hostage if payments aren’t made, are late, etc. I’ve also read cases where child support payments/fines/fees/etc weren’t being made because of the loss of a job, and then penalties started to stack up on top of that, including the revocation of licenses needed to obtain new work to then pay those obligations.

    There’s plenty of room for reasonable people to disagree here. I’m not going to claim to be an expert on this topic, and the details can be very specific to certain states and individuals but I’ve read enough to give me some pause on a blanket policy. I also think it’s a bit much to insist on a drivers license if the car isn’t being used for work purposes – that seems to cross a line between the business/personal world that makes me feel a little uncomfortable.

      1. Mike C.*

        That doesn’t really have anything to do with my point.

        Also, the OP hasn’t mentioned that they’re responsible for enforcing the law.

        1. Colette*

          There are safety issues with not being able to safely drive, but not having a license for administrative reasons has other potential problems for the business. A speeding ticket or fender bender, for example, could result in the employee facing severe consequences and not being able to make its to work (not just that day, but in the future).

          1. Ainomiaka*

            But an administrative reason also might be cleared up easier when they have a job, particularly if the issue is financial .

            1. ClownBaby*

              This is why I’ve been turning a blind eye to this in my workplace. I will often find out an employee had no license during a background check or while filling out an I9…even after I clearly saw the employee drive and park in our lot. The job requires no driving. The license is almost certainly suspended because of lack of payment for child support, court fees, or car insurance. A job certainly goes a long way in correcting this, allowing the employee to get the license reinstated.

              …at the same time, as someone who was rear-ended by a driver without a license or insurance….it sucks. Am I, turning a blind eye, encouraging driving without a license? Or am I helping people eventually obtain one?

              If I should start being stricter, since the jobs require no driving, do I just write down the names of employees without licenses, stand out in the parking lot waiting for them, and then tell them they can’t drive to work anymore?

              1. neverjaunty*

                In addition to administrative reasons, there are substantive reasons.

                People are killed by drunk drivers who continue to drive despite having lost their licenses for DUI.

                Being compassionate toward people in tough financial situations shouldn’t mean turning a blind eye to everyone else. Is it possible for you to follow up with these employees? Someone who lost a license because of cascading administrative fines might benefit from something like an EAP to help them dig their way out.

              2. essEss*

                Does your job require you to sign any type of ‘ethics contract’? I worked at a company that required me to sign a contract yearly that states that if I see ANY illegal activity on the premises that I must report it or I will be fired. If I was mandated to report illegal behavior and I saw someone driving on the property that I knew was not licensed, I would report it otherwise my job could be in jeopardy if someone later says “essEss saw it too”. My job is not worth losing when someone else makes an illegal decision.

          2. Iris Eyes*

            How is that relevant? That is the case for every single employee. One of the risks in business is that your employee might just not show up again, for whatever reason. Using this logic businesses should avoid hiring people with health issues, or who engage in any kind of risky behavior.

            1. Colette*

              But all of those other reasons still apply to these employees, so the risk is higher here. And it’s largely a self-imposed risk – the employee could make other arrangements or get another job they can actually get to or move within walking distance of work so that they don’t have to drive. People make those choices all the time.

      2. Specialk9*

        MommyMD, you often seem to be very strict about people following the law, but there have been a number of articles posted here about how the law’s impact is racist and biased against the poor in a deeply unjust way. Do you really believe that’s right?

        What is government to you, if not a collective agreement to pay into and comply with a system that cares for citizens? Do you really think laws should only protect rich white people?

        It seems like you want the world to be simple and easy, but it’s not. Just following rules and obeying authority, at its extreme, gets you concentration camps and genocide.

        Questioning the rules is our duty and obligation as good citizens and decent humans.

    1. OP #3*

      This grey area is exactly why I wrote to Alison. I don’t want to discriminate against someone who is otherwise qualified for a job, but do you consider getting to/from work a “work purpose”?

      1. fposte*

        Not enough to insist on a driver’s license; that’s where to me the “reliable transportation” phrase comes in. Even if you’re in a place where there’s no public transit, people who can’t drive can find reliable transportation, which for longer distances usually means a ride/carpool with somebody else.

        1. fposte*

          I see above that you’re talking about travel to job sites as well, at least for some jobs; to me that’s a very different question than just getting to and from a single office site. I’m still not sure what exactly I’d do about the situation, but that makes it less likely, as you say, that a carpool can handle the situation.

          1. Legal Beagle*

            Legally speaking, the employer should be concerned about travel during work hours, on work business. They could potentially be held responsible if the employee was driving from the office to a work site, for example, and got in a car accident. With no license and no insurance, that is now a crime on top of a tort.

            I don’t know if that’s the recruiter’s responsibility to dig into – does the applicant have their own car, do they have a license, do they have insurance – but it is definitely not a “look the other way” situation for the employer.

            1. fposte*

              That’s a really good point about the import of the difference. To split some hairs, is this true if the person is commuting to different sites on different days rather than traveling during work hours?

              1. Legal Beagle*

                I’m not a tort or employment lawyer, but AFAIK, the employer could be legally responsible if the tort occurs during work hours, in the course of conducting work business. So commuting to work or running an errand during your lunch break would not count, but traveling from your office to a work site or an external meeting potentially would. There are other factors at play (employee vs independent contractor, “detour and frolic,” etc.) and the law varies significantly by state, so there’s no hard and fast answer. But it’s something the company’s legal department should definitely be on top of when hiring.

              2. Legal Beagle*

                To clarify my previous comment, the issue of employer liability has nothing to do with the employee having a driver’s license or not. Employers are potentially liable for torts committed by employees under certain circumstances, full stop. But in this case, if the employee is unlicensed and uninsured, that potentially opens the employer up to additional tort claims, like negligence.

      2. Putting Out Fires, Esq*

        Hi, I’m a crime defense lawyer in a state where driving on suspended license is criminalized and licenses get suspended for administrative reasons.

        Getting to and from work isn’t, but if the ability to drive between sites is necessary for the job, you wouldn’t want to risk someone who couldn’t drive legally. In my state, if you are pulled over with a suspended license, you are arrested and taken to jail. That could be a work problem!

        Apply it to the ADA context. It isn’t a covered disability, but if you’re feeling guilty, it can be helpful framing. Employers have to make reasonable accommodations. Someone who is blind or otherwise medically unable to drive cannot be a bus driver, even with the ADA.

        I spend a lot of my professional life fighting against discrimination in employment on the basis of essentially poverty, but in this case, if driving is a necessary part of work with no obvious workaround, I don’t see an issue. My own job has a driver’s license requirement.

        1. Kraig*

          If someone could perform the duties of their job by attending/commuting via say bicycle, and they have a medical condition preventing driving or license. Would requiring a license and car for that job(due to being in a remote area) not be a violation of ADA?

    2. Max from St. Mary's*

      My main concern is insurance. If someone doesn’t have a driver’s license, they don’t have insurance; if they don’t have insurance and has an accident that’s their fault, how does that unlicensed driver pay for medical costs or other damage to the other person or people?

      1. Legal Beagle*

        They don’t, generally. The other person can sue the unlicensed driver to recover costs, but if they don’t have any/enough money or assets, the plaintiff is out of luck. That’s why it’s illegal to drive without insurance. (And I don’t think you can get car insurance without a valid driver’s license. So driving without a license is illegal and dangerous to others on multiple levels.)

        1. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

          In some states – insurance is NOT compulsory. This can be a nightmare if you live on the NH/MA line as I do – you get hit by some yahoo from New Hampshire and he has no insurance – LOTSA LUCK unless you purchased uninsured motorist option.

          I was rear-ended in Illinois – minor accident – then learned that the other guy was driving a truck (commercially) and his boss had no insurance. Many years ago , like 50, my mother was T-boned by a young lady who ran a stop sign… and the girl’s family (she was 16) did not bother to have her added to the policy.

          And my mother did not have uninsured motorist option. Sad for all. The girl’s family had to sell their house to pay my mother’s medical bills.

        2. Max from St. Mary's*

          Exactly. My state requires insurance but not no fault/uninsured motorist and in the past I didn’t have the extra money to pay that extra premium; if someone without insurance had injured me I’d have a medical bill I’d have been hard pressed to pay on, and if my car had been totaled I couldn’t have gotten to work.

          So I really have a hard time when people defend drivers without a license and insurance, because there are far too many people barely holding on, and losing their job or having unexpected medical bills because someone else chose to drive uninsured…nope, not a lot of sympathy.

  8. Deathstar*

    #2: I wonder if co-worker might be in financial dire straits, to not even be able to expense anything in advance for reimbursement later… and the (perceived) cost of travelling for work be the reason co-worker is reluctant to make the trip…

      1. MakesThings*

        You don’t think she feels very guilty about the costs the company is incurring on her behalf, and swung into an unreasonable direction trying to mitigate that?

    1. Yvette*

      Is it possible the co-worker does not have a credit card? I once worked with someone who had gotten themselves in over their head in debt and as a result (either voluntarily as a means of self-control, or revocation on the part of the credit card company) no longer had a major credit card and was not able to charge expenses for later reimbursement. It became an issue when they were expected to front the expense of a business trip but did not have the cash or credit necessary to do so.

      1. Lindsay J*

        Yeah, I don’t have credit cards for exactly that reason, and fronting travel expenses at a previous job was hugely problematic for me (I’m talking like all I would eat for the day came from the hotel breakfast buffet because I couldn’t afford to eat lunch and dinner out.) I got along fine, but if someone was to insist that our expense reports look similar I just wouldn’t be able to do that.

        However, it doesn’t souind like that is the case in this situation. It sounds pretty clear that she won’t be continuing in the position and so sees the trip and training as the company wasting money on her, and perhaps thinks that if she goes and spends money on cab fares and stuff and then tells her boss she wants to transfer departments afterwards that he will be mad at her for incurring those expenses while knowing that she will be leaving.

        1. Justme*

          That’s my issue too. But luckily I work for a state agency and they will give me a travel advance and put things on travel cards if need be. The only thing that I would need to be reimbursed for now is mileage.

    2. OP#2*

      I did initially consider this, but we aren’t going to be spending anything out of our own pockets; the reason I was asked to do cost estimates is so that our company could advance us an allowance for meals and incidentals. We will have to submit receipts later and anything in excess is returned back to the company.

      I’ve worked with her before and she never came across as stingy with her own money (she replaces her Android with the newest model every year), so this was really a surprise for me!

      1. Yvette*

        I could not discern from the original letter, I realize that she has not told Luke she does not want to go on the trip, but has she told Luke she is planning to revert to her original position? I ask because I am wondering why, if he knows, he is still willing to incur the additional expense of sending her for training that will ultimately prove useless. Granted the deposit is non-refundable, but the additional expense might be a case of throwing good money after bad.

        1. OP#2*

          Yes, she has! As to why he was still willing to incur addtional expenses for he training when she’s not taking on a permanent role, that I’m not sure.

        2. The Other Dawn*

          That was my thought, as well. It seems to be like she has a guilty conscience because she wants to go back to her original position and doesn’t want to tell Luke. But I guess I’m wrong on that one! Knowing now that she has told him she doesn’t want this new position makes her actions seems more strange. Maybe she feels guilty that she doesn’t want the position and is trying to minimize expenses just to ease her own guilt at still having to go? I don’t know.

      2. AcademiaNut*

        Given that, it doesn’t sound like she’s worried about being able to pay. Honestly, if it’s not a affordability issue, I wouldn’t waste mental energy wondering *why* she’s acting this way. What I would concentrate on is making sure it doesn’t make your own trip more difficult.

        If she keeps this up during the trip, I would be prepared to handle things like “let’s not go out for dinner – we can pick up something at the convenience store” or attempts to convince you to take public transit rather than a cab from the airport. If that happens, I’d just disengage – “I’m headed to X restaurant, so I’ll see you later.” or “Oh, I’m taking a taxi – I’ll see you at the hotel.” rather than arguing with her over every penny you want to spend.

        I actually wouldn’t be too worried about being judged for reporting reasonable spending if you submit a well written expense report. Whomever is checking your expense reports should know what a reasonable amount to spend is, and will be more likely to be taken aback by your coworkers lack of spending.

        It is worth giving Luke a head’s up about what’s going on, though, at least so her attempts to economize don’t cause problems at the training (like showing up late because she insisted on walking, or missing sessions because she’s trying to find the cheapest possible lunch).

        1. WellRed*

          Yes, she doesn’t have to spend every minute doing absolutely everything with the coworker. In the case of a cab, the LW needs to get there anyhow so the coworker might as well come along, but there’s no requirement to get eat together, or get coworkers approval for where they eat, what they spend.

        2. OP#2*

          Thank you, that’s a good point and hadn’t occurred to me! I will give Luke a heads-up using Alison’s suggestion above.

    3. Tamz*

      This was my first thought too… I’m reading a lot of anxiety into coworkers comments. If I were the manager I’d want to know so I could offer a small float to cover expenses (or otheise get to the bottom of coworker’s reluctance).

      1. OP#2*

        The company does already advance us an amount that should cover meals and incidentals, which is why I was asked to estimate costs. After the trip we do need to submit receipts and return the excess to the company, though. Our hotels and flights are charged to the company’s account directly.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          That’s good of your company. In that case I think she’s entered some odd tunnel vision where if she saves nickels the thousands of dollars not saved evens out, and you need to gently detach from her spiral of weird head accounting. (I did think ‘Not everyone has a credit card. Or a margin’ a fair take on what the real problem might be; ‘people can be weird’ also works.)

        2. Anna Held*

          I agree with Academia Nut. Enjoy your trip! Have fun, learn lots, and make lots of great contacts. I’d tell her once she was being weird and please stop it, then just ignore the weirdness and be breezy about it. You have a new city and a new career direction to explore!

        3. Dawn*

          Then it shouldn’t be a problem, just do the cost estimate, worry about yourself, and she can do whatever. The company is advancing the money based on an estimate, and excess gets returned. If she wants to keep costs low for herself, then she can and just return the extra money. Don’t take on someone else’s problems.

      2. Queen of the File*

        The anxiety I’m reading into the coworker’s comments seems like guilt about wasting company money. I feel like it might be resolved if Luke could tell her he realizes she’s not going to be able to make much use of the training but is committing to it for other reasons, and reiterate that she should treat it as a normal duty the company is asking her to do. It’s not on her to try to become financially invisible about it–they’ve made the decision that it’s worth the cost even if she’s not staying in the role.

    4. Nita*

      I can sort of see where Rey is coming from. I’m used to jobs that pay a bare-bones salary, and everything else is your own responsibility. In my current job, it took me a while to wrap my head around the fact that the company is willing to cover some expenses that I’d never in a million years think anyone else should take on for me (mileage, meals, conference fees…) The idea of expensing anything I’m not planning to use would be completely out there. In a situation like this, I’d also go with paying for my own food and transit, though I wouldn’t go as far as asking to sleep on a couch in a co-worker’s room – just seems like a bit of an imposition.

      OP #2 – did you point out to her that a lot of your expenses would be shared, and that it’s not creating a big additional expense for anyone to tack on her meal tab, or have you both in the same cab? Also that in the great scheme of things, this is (presumably) not a big dent in the company budget and she should not stress so much about it.

  9. MommyMD*

    I don’t do anything sketchy on the internet but nevertheless have a piece of tape over my camera. There are a lot of criminals and freaks out there.

    1. Hello...ello...ello..ello..llo..llo..lo*

      The first thing I do when I get a new work laptop (and home for that matter) is to cover the camera.

      I remember after reading the story a few years back where a school was accessing the student issued laptop cameras and taking and storing pictures.

  10. Kitty*

    #1 could be a male being scammed by a female. Either way, it’s a nasty predicament and I hope things work out for that person.

  11. Annoyed*

    #2 Rey is ridiculous. Tell her that she can sleep on the floor of the hotel lobby, starve, and walk if she wants but you will not be sharing a room and will expensing your food and car fare.

    1. Ann Furthermore*

      Agreed. You’ve tried to be reasonable with her and she’s being deliberately difficult.

      Estimate the costs for yourself, and let your boss know that she’s refused to participate in the process at all. They can give you both advances for the same amount, and how she chooses to spend or not spend it is up to her.

      1. hbc*

        I’d probably email him with the costs for me broken down, the costs for two people being reasonable about business expenses (not twice the amount since there wouldn’t be two taxis, but double the meals and hotel), and then a note that totals will probably be cheaper since Rey is really looking to reduce costs.

        Because Rey *is* participating, but just planning on spending a lot less. That leaves OP covered in case Luke thinks she overestimated, and gives Luke the chance to tell Rey that she shouldn’t be living off airline peanuts as she guiltily trudges through snow.

    2. Clare*

      Yes, I would find Rey extremely annoying. It’s not her job to be a martyr. Next time she does this OP, maybe try pointing out to her how much extra work she is making for you by being so difficult, that might help her see her actions in a different light.

  12. Hteb*

    OP1 – You may also be able to pass on his email address to the IT team and have it blocked as spam ahead of time.

    1. Not in NYC Any More*

      This is what I was coming to say. I did this once with a former employee. Their continuous emails to members of the department were causing problems, so IT blocked their access to the company. Your IT department might be willing to do this for you, as well.

    2. Alphonse*

      Go to Hotmail or Gmail and tell me how long it takes you to create a new account. Go on. I’ll wait.

      If they’re intent on distributing it as extortion (providing they have it, nd from the way it was worded it’s very likely they do), that won’t stop them, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they’d do it from an alternate account to be sure.

      1. Alphonse*

        I should probably elaborate; usually with this sort of scam (usually targeting men) they will get… compromising footage pretending to be a woman (usually on Skype), record it and then try to find information on the target. This ranges from very easy to very difficult depending on the details already provided, if the username is used elsewhere, etc.

        It’s probably not anyone they know personally.

  13. Jen*

    OP3 – I wonder what these people have planned should they get the job? Continuing to drive illegally? With that in mind, I’m not sure as a recruiter that I’d want to have an influence in their application for the specific role.

    1. Ainomiaka*

      Or getting a ride from someone else? There are lots of ways to get where you need to go that aren’t just one person in one car. I think there are some examples above.

    2. Natalie*

      Eh, in a lot of cases, money is the only thing standing between a person and a legal license, whether because the original reason for the suspension is financial (unpaid tickets, for example) or because they can’t afford the fees to have it reinstated after a suspension for a different reason. Someone living close to the bone probably has to wait until they have a job before they feel like they can afford to get their license back.

      1. Miss Betty*

        Or in my husband’s case, just before we met, the police office in the small town where he lived was running a ticketing scam and the BMVs in that county threw up their hands and just refused to deal with any suspended licenses from that town. (Think podunk town with corrupt government and police.) When we got married and he moved to my town on the other end of the state, he had his license back in literally 30 minutes – I was there. (He did not, btw, drive the entire time it was suspended, though he had a vehicle. He had to rely on friends to get to work in the next town over.)

    3. ClownBaby*

      Not OP3 here…but in my case, yes, the employees intend to drive to work illegally. I usualyl find out they don’t have a license while filling out I9s…after I see them drive into out parking lot.

  14. Call me St. Vincent*

    OP 1 and others who are saying they have been victim to these types of scams–these are crimes that violate federal law and often state law as well. Please report them immediately to law enforcement! If the local police do not have the resources or willingness to move on these situations, please reach out to your local FBI field office and report it. These crimes are not insignificant, especially if they are targeting lots and lots of people. Don’t worry about where the criminal alleges to be located (e.g. in this case the Philippines) as you don’t really know where they are and you don’t have the technology to actually track the criminals–please leave it to law enforcement. I’m so sorry this is happening to you!

    1. Checkert*

      Cosign. If you are somebody within gov’t or holding a clearance, this is even more imperative as paying out could cost you both. ALWAYS turn this in. I guarantee you’re not doing anything in the “video” (often this is a blatant lie just to get you to pay) that investigators haven’t seen before. This type of sexploitation is becoming increasingly rampant and you shouldn’t feel ashamed to defend yourself. Like another commenter mentioned, do all you can within reason to prevent things like this (tape over camera, don’t send pics/vids you wouldn’t want your mother to see to a stranger, NEVER PAY THE RANSOM). The oft overlooked part is that once you pay, they may now have the way in to steal your entire identity and money. Take a deep breath, forgive yourself, then defend yourself!!

  15. Delta Delta*

    #3 – “I have a vehicle” is easier than saying “I have some sources of transportation and please don’t think I’m a flake and reject me outright because I’m telling you that my sister can drive me to work.”

    1. neverjaunty*

      Sure, but the OP can talk to the candidate and find out if this is what’s going on – and whether “my sister drives me to work” is really an issue for the particular job.

    2. AKchic*

      Exactly. “I have a vehicle” is so much easier than explaining “my roommate/partner/neighbor works in the building next door and I will carpool with them”.

      Some people can’t drive because of medical issues, but it doesn’t affect their ability to work (example: multiple spinal fusions and they can’t turn anymore to be able to see traffic at the sides or behind, but they can still sit and type and answer phones. Or they have had seizures and they are still not allowed to drive for a while).

      1. OP #3*

        I am actually a non driver, so I completely understand that! And it’s why I’ve refrained from asking when this type of situation has come up in the past in relation to jobs that are in a single location.

        This time, the fact that the person has to go to different worksites on different days (and some of them can be 50 miles away) seemed different.

  16. Lady Phoenix*

    Op #1: If this is like Microsoft, I would hold hos words to even less than a grain of salt. Don’t listen to his directions, just send him to whatever venues look into these calls and spam (and there are venues).

    I would block him and move on

  17. PieInTheBlueSky*

    OP2 — If you are responsible for submitting expenses for trip for both you and Rey, and she is not cooperating with giving you input, why not just estimate hers? Assume she and you are travelling separately. You could take your expenses as if you were travelling alone and just double them. If she spends the money, she’ll be ok. If she doesn’t spend the money, it’s her responsibility to return whatever advance she got.

  18. Trout 'Waver*

    In regards to letter #1, there is no incentive to ever pay the scammer. If they do release the video, they’ve lost all their leverage to get payment. And if they get paid, there’s no incentive for them to delete the video. The only thing paying them would do is make them more insistent.

    1. Lady Phoenix*

      Also if they get into tour account, they can take EVEN more money from you.

      Just like the microsoft and that one infamous “antivirus” software will just keep you hostage in order to get all of your money and then some.

      They only do this because someone is gullible enough to let them, instead of telling these people to rightfully fuck off.

    2. boop the first*

      This was my thought too. Maybe I’m just nihilistic, but by the time I’m dead, everything I’ve said or done will be forgotten by the world. Also, everything is embarrassing… are these videos/pictures just going to be another notch on the Embarrassing Memory bedpost?

      Indeed, what if you don’t pay? If they release the alleged footage, well, then that’s all they had against you. They definitely won’t be getting paid after that! They would need a huge audience that cares, too. There are so many things put out on the internet that just fall into a void, never to be seen by anyone. If someone posted a nude of me, who would see it? Who would believe it was real (remember, people KNOW you and your capabilities)? Who would care, if you’re not already famous?

    3. vejetti*

      This. Even if you KNOW he does in fact have this video, if you simply ignore the demand for money, in all likelihood the scammer gives up on you because he doesn’t want to spend time on a bad prospect. He’s looking for easy takings. Spending time actually following through on his threat by tracking down your coworkers is simply time wasted that he could spend more profitably scamming someone who is a better prospect.

      1. JennyAnn*

        I’m listening to The Greatest Showman soundtrack, so the circus was already on my mind. :D

    1. Hi*

      I did that too. It was a weird brain thing. I know the difference between the words but I just processed it as contortionist initially and was really curious about the letter!!

  19. Anon for this*

    OP #1, if it helps to hear from someone else who reported online harassment to HR, I can tell you it went well for me. A troll who has been following me around for a long time threatened to contact my work. Technically he could have exposed my “embarrassing” (not to me) as a nude model to them, and while I wasn’t concerned that work would fire me for that, I asked for advice here in an open thread and was wisely told to get ahead of it anyway (though I didn’t mention the modeling, just that this person would maybe try to contact them to “expose” me).

    HR was very understanding. They blocked his email addresses and changed how the front desk person responds to and directs calls to or about me. They assured me that anything along that lines would be left unread but given to me to report to authorities. Nothing has come of it, but I’m glad they were immediately on my side.

    1. Labotts*

      It also worked well for me. I made a poor choice for a one-night stand who claimed he had a video. He didn’t want money, but thought this would get me to sleep with him again and tried, well, everything before threatening to share the video. I went to HR because my employer is the first thing that surfaces when you search my name and all our emails are on our website.

      HR said this falls under our harassment policy and that I don’t need to worry about my job. Ultimately, for me, he never shared a video, but I wasn’t as worried as I would have been otherwise and I really felt like HR had my back.

  20. ThoughtBubble*

    #1, if in the US and it isn’t a scam (though I agree with other commenters this is certainly possible) you could also consult the cyber civil rights initiative (google CCRI). If in other jurisdictions there are similar options who might be able to help depending on the circumstances, like Australia’s eSafety Commission or the UK’s revenge porn hotline.

  21. Catarina*

    LW #2 if Luke used up significant political capital to get this training approved, the last thing Rey should be doing is drawing attention to her expenses by carrying on like this. Her “guilt” and “help” is going to look a lot like sabotage. She needs to toe the line, and carry this process out by the book. Make sure Luke knows what’s going on, so he can pull her back.

  22. Miss Betty*

    No. 3, no one is telling you they’re going to break the law. They’re telling you they have adequate transportation and can get to work. Likely they have someone to drive them, have ride share options lined up, or are using public transportation but don’t want to tell you. Please don’t make unwarranted assumptions that perpetuate the very real discrimination against non-drivers.

    1. Adlib*

      In this case, OP said they are explicitly telling her they’re breaking the law. She clarified up thread.

      1. Iris Eyes*

        Even so, if your employee/coworker explicitly said that they routinely exceeded the speed limit or never used their turn signal or something similar you wouldn’t even think of reporting it. On the other hand if they said something about driving while intoxicated or not properly restraining children (don’t get me started on the people who posted a Facebook video of kids getting in the trunk for the car ride instead of reporting it to the police) that is the type of thing that you should get involved in. In some states uninsured/unlicensed drivers make up a significant portion of the driving public. And tbh in many cases they are more careful drivers because they have a lot more to lose if they speed or whatever.

        1. Anon for this*

          Until they have a legitimate accident – and leave the other driver hanging. There’s no nobleness to not following rules for cause, it’s a decision that has to be made, that’s all, and it ought to be made with acceptance of the risks.

    2. Sylvan*

      OP’s clarified. Still, “I have a vehicle” is a strange way to communicate that. When I didn’t have a license yet and I took the bus, I didn’t say I had a car; I said that I took the bus or that I had reliable transportation (responding to the phrasing in job ads).

      1. SallytooShort*

        It’s a common thing to say though if you own a vehicle and you have someone who can drive you.

        1. Sylvan*

          Huh. I’ve never heard anyone in that situation phrase it that way without saying that someone’s giving them a ride.

          Although I have to admit that I’m finding comments here strange today, because I think it’s reasonable for OP to be concerned about applicants saying they’re going to drive without licenses. Where I live, there have been quite a few collisions and several hit-and-runs involving drivers without licenses. Sometimes there is a reason that someone isn’t supposed to be driving.

          1. Hello...ello...ello..ello..llo..llo..lo*

            I agree. I’m still trying to figure out of the LW works for the company or is an outside recruiter. But either way, I guess, it’s their job to find the best possible candidate(s) for the job.

            Asking about reliable transportation is very common, especially with a job that has different sites. I didn’t get the impression from the LW that she turns down candidates who have non-licensed/personal car transportation/alternative transportation at all. The ones that she is concerned about is the ones who tell her that they are non-licensed/will self-drive illegally.

            Those are two distinctly different things.

            I get it, not being licensed/having a car can be a pain in the butt and make you ineligible for opportunities, but that doesn’t mean that the situation should be overlooked or ignored.

            I think the LW is spot on with both the concern for the self identifying law breakers and taking the others who do have reliable transportation (in whatever form that takes).

          2. Myrin*

            Yeah, I’m super confused by many of the comments also, but I’m chalking that up to cultural and language issues (I’m not a native English speaker).

            Specifically, that many seem very cavalier about someone driving a car without a licence. Like. NO?? That is not something you’re supposed to do other than in literal life-or-death circumstances and comes with hefty fines at the least. That someone would admit to doing something like this would be an instant disqualifier to anyone here. On the other hand, I found one comment upthread very enlightening talking about how apparently you can get your licence suspended if you’ve done stuff like not paid your child support in the US? I didn’t know that and it isn’t a thing here – if someone doesn’t have a licence, it’s either because they never learned to drive or because they committed some driving-related crime (like drunk driving, being responsible for a car accident, etc.).

            It also seems to me like the OP would’ve gleaned from the conversation whether the people in question meant “I can’t drive but I carpool with my spouse” vs. “I never got my licence but drive everywhere anyway” – it seems like something that isn’t particularly prone to misunderstandings in an actual verbal conversation. (Also, it isn’t generally a thing here for people to not be able to drive but still own a car – something like that never would’ve even crossed my mind.)

          3. Natalie*

            Where I live, there have been quite a few collisions and several hit-and-runs involving drivers without licenses.

            And where I live there have been tons of hit and runs by people with legal licenses. Given the realities of the US, whether someone has a valid license can very easily be a function of their race and class more than a function of whether or not they drive safely.

            I don’t think anyone is saying that a license doesn’t matter and should totally be ignored, especially if the candidate has to drive during the work day as part of their job. Rather, it’s simply not accurate to assume that not having a valid license automatically equals bad driver, or vice versa.

            1. Penny Lane*

              “I don’t think anyone is saying that a license doesn’t matter and should totally be ignored, especially if the candidate has to drive during the work day as part of their job. Rather, it’s simply not accurate to assume that not having a valid license automatically equals bad driver, or vice versa.”

              Not having a valid license means nothing if we are talking about someone who never learned to drive bc they grew up in an urban area and never needed to, or if they have a disability incompatible with driving.

              Having a valid license and then having it revoked for some reason (significant fines, drunk driving, not paying child support, etc) IS a marker that the person may be trouble of some sort. I don’t see how it can be otherwise. Licenses aren’t just revoked at random.

              1. SallytooShort*

                No, it’s not random. As long as you can afford to pay any fine that comes up or have connections to get it wiped you are fine.

                Yes, let’s just have a policy of not trusting poor people.

          4. LBK*

            Same…I would find it extremely weird for someone to just say “oh, I have a car” when what they mean is that someone is giving them a ride. That doesn’t sync up with my experience at all.

            I’m really iffy about this one. On the one hand, I get that there are systematic reasons and even questionable biases involved in someone not having a license…but there are also plenty of completely legit reasons someone doesn’t have one. It seems weird to hand wave over that as though the majority of the time it’s just a fluke and the person is a totally safe driver who should have ever right to be on the road.

            I guess ultimately it’s not your problem and if they get pulled over and arrested (or fined or whatever the appropriate action is) then that’s their issue. But I would feel pretty uncomfortable knowingly giving someone a reason to be out on the road without a license by giving them a job.

          5. Elizabeth H.*

            I have phrased it that way. I was embarrassed about not having a drivers’ license (when I was 20 or so). Family or boyfriend would give me a ride. A lot of people find it unprofessional or worrisome to be getting rides.

            1. LBK*

              I think that’s kinda the point though – phrasing it that way is a dodge of the question. “I have a car” isn’t a normal colloquialism for saying you can get a ride, as some people seemed to be implying, it’s basically a white lie to cover not having a license or otherwise not being able to drive yourself.

          6. SallytooShort*

            It’s very common because people don’t like to admit they need to get rides. It feels like being a child.

            1. Stardust*

              Which is weird because you can just say that you carpool or that your spouse works in the same area and drops you off or similar.

  23. AdAgencyChick*

    #4, I doubt your boss is just trying to get five bucks from you, but know that Venmo can bounce too — he may also be trying to buy time by making you a payment, then rescinding it before it actually drops into your bank account.

    Google “Venmo bounce” — basically the money isn’t yours until it actually transfers into your bank account, which can take several days, meaning the person transferring you money has several days to change her mind (or decide that another bill is more urgent than employees’ paychecks).

    1. Hi*

      Venmo and PayPal peer to peer payments (paypal owns Venmo so it’s the same tech btw) work by taking money out of your Venmo/PayPal account OR checking account and moving it to someone else’s Venmo/PayPal account (where they can then move it to their checking account or spend it). You can’t send money you don’t have – if you try to send $100 and you have $15 in your PayPal account, it automatically grabs the other $85 from your checking. If you don’t have $85 in checking, it won’t let the $100 go through.

      If you DO have $100 and send it to someone, you can request a refund (this happens sometimes if you back out of a purchase with an online seller or if you send money to the wrong person) and then the recipient has to AGREE to return the money for it to be transferred back.

      If my friend sends me $100, that money is INSTANTLY in my PayPal account. I can then move it to my checking account which is where I prefer to let my money sit since I don’t earn interest on a PayPal balance. (It takes 24 hrs to transfer to the bank but once you mark it as moved, it’s considered moved… you just have to wait for your bank to let you access it the next day.) If they want that money back they have to request it and if you don’t accept that request, they have to file a claim for PayPal to review whether something fraudulent has occurred and whether they should force you to give the money back.

      It’s not a perfect system but there are plenty of failsafes and regulations in place to protect you.

      1. Bea*

        I wonder if he’s trying to pay her from his personal account then. Now knowing what this app is and that it’s paypal technology. Since so many people don’t have checks and maybe he’s trying to cover up it’s his personal account.

        1. hi*

          That was my initial thought. That the company is going under (and/or he’s trying to be sleazy about taxes) so he wants to pay her from his personal money via a peer-to-peer money sharing app. (PayPal and Venmo are the same, but there are other apps out there that do similar things – they’re just not as well known or safe/regulated as PayPal.)

  24. Bekx*

    #1, not necessarily helpful now…(but may be depending on how far he’s gone) but you can hide your friends list on Facebook!

    Go to your settings > privacy > Who can see your friends list?

    I have it set to “Only Me”, so only I can see my friends, and my friends can only see mutual friends. You can also set it to “Friends Only”. That would prevent someone who isn’t your facebook friend from seeing your friends list. Random people looking for you off google would not be able to see your friends with either of these settings.

    1. Bekx*

      Also, in those same settings, you can toggle “Do you want search engines to link to your profile?” This prevents google from showing your facebook profile in a search.

  25. Bibliovore*

    The simple solution is to separate yourself from your co-worker.
    Refuse to coordinate your travel with her.
    Estimate your own expenses.
    Fill out your own paperwork.
    Book your own flights and rooms.
    Send an email to her with your itinary and let it go.
    Her reasons are none of your business.
    Your expenses are reasonable.
    She will communicate directly with her supervisor.

    I have a colleague who takes the cheapest flight even if it means getting up at 3:00 am. Takes public transport to and from airport and hotels. Stays at cheapest hotels even if they are 10 miles from the convention center.

    I pay extra for reserved seats on airplanes, get up at a reasonable hour, take a travel day so I don’t have to travel the day I have meetings, book a car for ground transportation etc.
    No one cares. Your supervisor knows what reasonable is.

      1. KAG*

        LOL! … we have, however learned how detailed some companies’ expense policies are! Even I just get a per diem; then again, I suppose if I overdo it with both guac and sour cream, I’ll have to eat.the cost.

  26. Annabell*

    # 3 – I really think you could be jumping to conclusions here. The original letter only says you asked if they have a vehicle and can get to work. A vehicle doesn’t have to be a car. They could plan to ride a bike or a scooter. Also, where I live in the southern US, it’s possible to have your license suspended for certain violations, but with a caveat that you can drive to and from work or school as well as for medical reasons and even to church to on Sunday.

  27. Wanderer*

    #1: The scam is exactly that- a scam. I will admit in my younger, more foolish days I may have been subjected to a similar threat. I refused to pay and nothing ever came of it. The scammer is playing a numbers game that a certain percentage of victims will be too frightened to think clearly and immediately send the money. Actually following through on the threat is too much trouble, and would draw way more attention than they want to deal with.

  28. NonnyNon*

    #4 – I don’t think that suggesting the app has to be a malicious thing. When I worked at a local diner I could easily see my boss suggesting this because, on the surface, it does seem like the easiest and quickest way to make sure someone gets paid. I’d bet the issue with taxes hasn’t even crossed your boss’s mind at all- IF he’s suggesting the app out of good faith. I would point out the tax issue, and also point out that those apps universally charge a fee for instant bank transfer (some apps have a free bank transfer that takes several days to process but then you’re still left waiting for your paycheck to clear and as others have pointed out your boss can still bounce it). His response to requesting an actual paycheck will tell you a lot about his character.

    None of that, however, solves the problem of your paycheck bouncing in the first place. I would definitely listen to his explanation about that and judge it’s merit, but also seriously consider looking for a new job.

  29. EvanMax*

    #4: I had a boss insist that I download this same app (if it is the one from the “shape-named” payments company) in order to pay him back for grabbing me lunch at a fast food restaurant a few years back. I was put off by the notion too, but I’ve actually come to rely on this app heavily, preferring it to the much more popular one with the creepy social feed.

    My general personal rule, though, is that the person who is owed the money gets to pick the app that they are paid through. I think that is only fair. Work dynamics make that more difficult though, of course.

    1. Pebbles*

      If I already have the app that’s one thing, but I’m not going to download and put in my personal and financial info into yet another app that I may only use that one time to pay someone back. I get to control how my sensitive personal information is spread around. You can wait (within a reasonable timeframe) until I have cash.

      1. Little Miss Cranky Pants*

        Exactly. I recently had a close friend who owed me money try to send it through some phone app, and I just wrote him back and said, “Dude, cash or check. I’m not putting my personal financial info into some phone app I know nothing about.”

        WTH is wrong with cash and checks anymore? But then, I am old. :)

  30. Adlib*

    I agree with Alison’s advice to OP#3. Per OP’s comments above, the applicant is specifically telling her they’re going to drive to job sites not an insignificant distance away without a license. There’s no discrimination going on in this case. The applicant shot himself in the foot. I think the potential employer wouldn’t be happy with an employee illegally driving to sites that the recruiter knew about. It sounds like OP is being conscientious in asking this question and wouldn’t normally think twice if someone just said they had transportation.

  31. Meg*

    I wonder if the boss in #4 doesn’t have the cash for payroll and is using a credit card. You can use a credit card instead of a bank account in venmo, although they do charge a fee.

    I looked into using a cc to pay my rent to maximize reward points…definitely wasn’t worth it with the fee they charged, but it’s an option that exists, and one that the boss may be using if he’s running out of money.

      1. Dzhymm*

        I think both are possible; that he’s scrambling to meet payroll *and* that he’s so desperate for cash that the $5 signing bonus is attractive. I refer to this behavior as the business equivalent of fishing for spare change in the seat cushions….

  32. Runner*

    Is the answer to No. 3 accurate? I thought potential employers explicitly are not allowed by the federal government to determine whether (for example) someone’s identification documents are legal or fake. That certainly includes a driver’s license. I think a potential employer can ask things like whether the person has reliable transportation, and can require a clean driving record. But the question actually came across like a roundabout way of asking how to reject undocumented immigrants.

    1. fposte*

      These are people who are self-disclosing as not having a driver’s license, so it’s not determining the legality of any documents.

      However, I also think your contention about determination isn’t true–the justice dot gov site says “You should refuse to accept a document if it does not reasonably appear to be genuine or to relate to the person.” (It does give more advice beyond that, but assessing a document as fake seems to be permissible.)

    2. Observer*

      I think your suggest is a HUGE leap. Anyone who really thinks that the only people who drive without licenses is undocumented immigrants, isn’t worrying about how to cover up their prejudices.

      Also, no one needs to find a “legal” way to not hire undocumented immigrants. You don’t have to hire them. What you can’t do is require proof from some people (eg people with an accent) that you don’t require from others (eg people with “educated” accents.)

    3. Sylvan*

      That sounds like a pretty big reach.

      It doesn’t really check out if you think about it… Truck drivers’ employers are going to require them to have the appropriate licenses, for example.

    4. OP #3*

      I am obligated to ensure that the people I hire are legally allowed to work in the United States. We require documentation for an I9 form and use a federal website called e-verify for independent verification.

      I cannot require they provide a valid driver’s license for this, because there are a number of documents that will establish identity/residency, but employers are certainly not obligated to hire undocumented immigrants.

  33. Dani*

    Regarding the Scammer, this happened to a family member. They told the scammer that they were going to report them to the FBI and never heard from them again.

    Apparently, this is a very common scam with men in their twenties who use social media. The family member never mentioned this to their employer, but also never heard from the Scammer again. People really need to be wiser about trusting people these days!

    1. Dani*

      Additional note: My family members (brothers) advised the “woman” that they reported her to the FBI Cyber Crimes Unit, which they actually did do. They were advised that this is a very common scam, and the scammer will not exhaust further extortion efforts on those who know the report them. Just an FYI for those who are affected by this nonsense.

      It’s sad the know that people actually pay these creeps to protect themselves.

  34. Roscoe*

    #5 Is a question I feel like has been here before. My answer now is the same as it was then. It depends on how good of friends you are with this person. If it was a very close friend, I would tell them. Knowing how frustrating it can be to not hear from companies, especially ones you were referred to, I wouldn’t want to subject someone else to that. I may be a little more sly about it, and say something like “It seems that they aren’t going to move forward with your application, its possible something could change down the line, but for now, I’d just move on”.

    Now if it was just a random acquaintance or someone I’m not great friends with, my answer would be different. I know I’m in the minority with this statement, but my loyalty is to my friend and not my company. I don’t see this the same as telling company secrets. In fact, I find it telling that if I recommended someone for a job, and they didn’t even have the courtesy to tell them they weren’t moving forward or give them any information, that they aren’t valuing me as an employee that much.

    1. BurnOutCandidate*

      I’ve had a situation like #5 come up personally very recently.

      I have an acquaintance (I’ve known her for about five years, but distantly, and I wouldn’t say we’re close) who is looking for a job. She’s had difficulty finding steady employment since she graduated from college, sadly not an uncommon thing for a recent college grad these days. Recently, an entry-level opening came up at my company. I contacted her, explained the job opening and why I thought she could be a fit, and suggested she apply. While I didn’t know for certain that she wasn’t going to be hired, I had a strong suspicion when HR made a announcement of new hires. (When someone new is hired in my office, HR sends out a little biographical email that describes the hire, background, and position.) I did not let my acquaintance know, as that’s not my place, but she did receive a phone call a few days later (presuming a delay because of the holidays) telling her that the company had hired someone else.

  35. please*

    “is it possible to temporarily remove your name from your company’s website? ”
    I manage my organization’s website and with agreement of HR we did this for an employee who was being stalked.

    In our case it’s permanent until that employee feels comfortable with their name being listed.

  36. SallytooShort*

    Just because someone doesn’t have a license doesn’t mean they won’t soon. I would just say “you should try to get a ride here and you will need a consistent means of transportation.”

    In the US at least licenses can be suspended for failure to pay very minor and often unrelated to MV fines and fees. It disproportionately impacts the poor and out of work. And it s a huge problem in the US.

    They could very well restore their license after the first paycheck.

    1. Sled dog mama*

      Yes, and sometimes the government can screw up things to.
      I recently had my license suspended for not paying/not showing up in court for a ticket due to not having a state safety inspection (I had just moved and had no clue I needed one). I had the vehicle inspected the next day and mailed proof of the inspection along with a check for the fee, apparently none of this was received/processed (the very grumpy clerk either couldn’t or wouldn’t tell me which) until after the court date I was supposed to show up for. So I had to take time off work to go to the court house (sit through two hours of bail and court appointed lawyer hearings) and get a very nice judge to agree that I had done my best to comply and vacate the judgment. Then take that paperwork to the DMV and have them process the fact that my license should not have been suspended in the first place. During all of this if someone had asked me if I had a valid drivers license I would have had to answer no.

      1. Rusty Shackelford*

        Okay, but under these circumstances, wouldn’t an honest person say “it’s been temporarily suspended due to me not knowing about the safety inspection requirement, but I’ve done all the follow-up and it should be reinstated by X date” instead of thinking, “since I’m honest, I must say no?”

  37. overcaffeinatedqueer*

    OP3: a suspended license can be a horrible catch-22! Need a car to get to work and need to get to work to pay debt or administrative fines- say, you have a broken light on your car, can’t afford to fix it without driving the car more. Get pulled over for it. Get fined. Obviously, can’t pay fine on top of fixing car, get stuck in cycle of payments, miss one, get more fines, etc. get license suspended as a result- but you still need to get to work! What to do?

    This is also a similar problem for people who need to work to afford a car. I have a coworker who takes Uber to work, since one job site isn’t accessible by bus at all. It’s morel expensive, but he’s saving for a car. And before my parents gave me their used car, my wife and I had to share one- to afford another, we had to carpool or etc, to work often only accessible by car. First jobs I had, then, I lied my butt off about how I was getting to work.

  38. Naomi*

    #2: OP, it sounds like Rey is so caught up in guilt penny-pinching that she isn’t considering the impact on you. Maybe you should spell this out to her directly: “Rey, whatever you do about your own expenses, I’m going on this trip too, and I have the right to expense my costs. I’m not going to [walk to the hotel/ go hungry until midnight/ etc.] just because you feel guilty about costing the company money.” Maybe that will at least make her see sense about the parts that affect you. And then, regardless of whether she sees sense, go ahead and expense your own meals, etc.

    1. Everything Bagel Fan*

      It’s like you are hostage to Rey’s guilt about exiting the company. Which is her worry not yours OP

  39. WeevilWobble*

    Obviously breaking the law is bad. But I do think the candidate in the third letter deserves a tad bit of empathy here. They are basically stuck. Won’t get hired without a license can’t get their license without a paycheck.

    I guess if you know and condone it then there is a liability issue. So you really have to say no or tell them they have to find other means of transportation.

    And OP3 the reason this has come up so often is it’s something that happens to people living on the edge very often. Sounds like you are recruiting for construction. That will loop in people who are often out of work for periods of time and can’t afford that parking on the wrong side of the street during street cleaning ticket or broken taillight.

    1. Hello...ello...ello..ello..llo..llo..lo*

      I think the biggest lesson is if you plan to break the law and drive without a license you need to keep your plans quiet.

      “Why yes I have reliable transportation.” Is the appropriate answer in this situation.

        1. Temperance*

          I think Hello’s line is more honest and shows that the candidate has good judgment. Admitting that you’re driving illegally might be honest, but shows HORRIBLE judgment. If someone was so comfortable telling me that they were regularly committing a crime, I’d wonder what other immoral things they were happy doing.

            1. Everything Bagel Fan*

              If it’s a job requiring you to drive a company vehicle, it will eventually come out when you are asked to provide this information. Best to weed it out before you get to this point..

  40. Hello...ello...ello..ello..llo..llo..lo*

    Am I the only one that that thinks the Rey needs to go work with the Guacamole obsessed penny pinching overachieving auditor guy? They seem like a match made in heaven :)

    1. Goya de la Mancha*

      Could be another AMA match made in heaven! They could have little penny pinching baby auditors!

  41. Nonsenical*

    I know of where someone had to drive on company time regularly and the person handed HR a learner’s permit rather than a license and was still permitted to drive a company car somehow. The person did get a license eventually but somehow it was missed.

    1. Rusty Shackelford*

      In my state, a learner’s permit looks almost exactly like a driver’s license. If you weren’t deliberately checking for that possibility, you could very easily miss it.

  42. Observer*

    #1 You have my sympathy. And, unless you KNOW that this guy filmed you, the others are right that this could be a a fake. (I originally was going to use the word scam, but it’s a scam whether or not he has video of you.)

    That said, if you know that this guy is for real (can’t use the word legit), do yourself a favor and don’t get into how this person has “dirt” on you. Keep it vague, because a lot of people will see this as a sign of poor judgement, which you really don’t need.

    1. Observer*

      Just to be clear, I am not saying that it was a failure of judgement, but that it could easily be perceived that way. And unless someone has a genuine need to know (say, you are talking to law enforcement), why take the chance?

      1. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

        Observer – allowing someone to video oneself in a compromising position – especially online – IS a failure of judgment. That obviously is what OP #1 is worried about.

        OP #1 – did you get an address, or e-mail, or instructions where to send the money to? If so, there’s a trail law enforcement can follow (if they choose to do so).

        1. Katniss*

          In that case, every person who has ever engaged in online sex work has had a failure of judgment.

        2. seejay*

          Can you just stop with the shaming? Just because *you* wouldn’t do it doesn’t mean others shouldn’t and if they do, they need to be thoroughly roasted and reprimanded for it.

          Thousands upon thousands of people engage in nude photos, online sex, and a host of other things online that some may not approve of. Yes, it’s risky because you never know who’s on the other end. It’s also risky with someone you trust because that trust can be broken if you break up or have a huge fight. This isn’t even taking into account hackers getting into private photos/videos and using them. Regardless of the risks of it, the person who did the wrong thing here is the SCAMMER trying to blackmail the LW, whether or not they actually participated in online shenanigans or is just being sent a generic scam about it. Stop shaming them about what they should or shouldn’t have done and that it’s a poor judgement call on their end.

          1. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

            I’m not shaming someone – just advising – what you do online may have consequences.

            I’m not “roasting” anyone – or shaming – but many would NOT engage in those activities — for the reasons you state – it’s risky and you never know who’s on the other end, the trust can be broken, etc.

            No, I wouldn’t do it, for a variety of reasons – but – yes, the scammer is the bad person. Unfortunately – some don’t realize that there are scammers out there who prey on the naive.

            Having spent a good 35 of my 40+ career in data security – (not full time, but still doing it at a lot of places) I’ve had to worry about these things, and others’ behavior.

            Telling people to be careful is not shaming them. It’s telling them to be careful.

            1. Laura*

              So much this. You walk down a dodgy alley and something bad happens to you, the fault is entirely of the person who did the bad thing. But I’d be the friend pleading with you not to take that dodgy alley shortcut in the first place.

                1. Delphine*

                  Oh please. And if the video was recorded secretly or without the OP’s consent? Is she supposed to be aware she’s might be being filmed at all times and if she ever drops her guard that’s “poor judgement”?

        3. Observer*

          But what difference does it make? Unless the OP is working in a position that requires high level clearances, it’s hard to make the argument that it’s so egregious that is should impact their employment. But, that’s the kind of perception that could happen.

        4. Lynn Whitehat*

          Everyone’s got a video recorder in their pocket nowadays. So anyone could be recorded without their consent. Surely the rule can’t be “never do anything anywhere that you wouldn’t want all your co-workers to watch”. We get to be off-duty sometimes.

  43. AMT27*

    OP#3 – in the comments you mentioned a need to drive between distance work sites within the day. Wouldn’t a simple solution to this particular job, or jobs with this same type of requirement, be to name a valid license as part of the job requirement?. It shouldn’t be a requirement in other jobs where the employee merely needs to one way or another get reliably to/from work obviously, but this seems to me to be a clear job-related requirement.

    1. Rusty Shackelford*

      The OP didn’t say the applicant needs to drive to different sites during a workday, just that they need to get to different worksites. It sounds more like on Monday you work at location X, and on Tuesday you work at location Y. And in that case, having a driver’s license isn’t a job requirement.

        1. Elizabeth H.*

          That makes it different for me! If employees needed to drive to different sites during the course of a workday, I would have agreed with what other commenters said, that possession of a drivers’ license and working vehicle was an implicit requirement of the job even if it wasn’t literally included in the description. But if it’s just a different worksite each day then that is less of an issue as perhaps they have a family member who is willing to drive them to work.

  44. Natalie*

    Re: LW #4, there’s nothing special about a check that tells you the withheld taxes were actually paid, and since this is a replacement payment for a check that bounced, the original pay stub still applies. Tax withholding isn’t paid or reported as part of the physical check you get, that’s just recordkeeping for the employer and employee. Typically the employer or their payroll processor makes a deposit to the IRS and their state/local taxing authority for the entire amount withheld during each pay run. Individual dollars aren’t assigned to an employee until quarterly returns are filed. Just getting a pay stub tells you absolutely nothing about whether your employer is a) withholding the correct amount, b) depositing it timely or at all, or c) filing their quarterly returns correctly or at all.

    That said, most states DO have rules about what methods of payment are allowable, and I frankly doubt apps are allowed in most or any states just because they are so new. The only things typically authorized are checks, cash, direct deposit, and payroll cards.

    1. Bea*

      Yep. This reminds me the first job I had, I had my payout for vacation and sick cut but my boss never signed and mailed it to me. They were in the tailspin directly to bankruptcy. I know he didn’t sit on it on purpose, no hard feelings, I was 21 and was happy to be out of there.

      Anyways, he didn’t do books or payroll, just signed checks. The next year they did send out w2 forms. I never got a physical check from them (quit dec 24th with 2 weeks, my payout was the only thing dated after dec of that year). So they recorded the funds and who knows if the even paid them but reported to the IRS. That was my year of total unemployment to find myself, so I was confused but filed my taxes and was refunded my withholdings. So in the end I got something from that whole thing.

      Needless to say, yes the stubs are just recordkeeping and wouldn’t be regenerated if you cut a new manual check.

      Also the bounced check is still legally able to be redeposited if returned to you. I wouldn’t need a new one, I would just be asking him if it’ll clear this time.

      1. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

        Your tax refund is YOUR money – you didn’t get anything out of that , that wasn’t yours.

        I have always recommended in here that AAM bring in a tax expert – too many people view their refunds as a “bonus” from the government (it’s not, it’s just on reconciliation with your 1040, you had too much taken out), or my favorite scam = “If I give you a raise, you’ll fall into a higher tax bracket.” There’s nothing wrong with that, but people are confused about what that actually means, and they accept that as “logic”.

        1. Bea*

          It wasn’t money that was given to the government though. The records stated theoretically Uncle Sam got the $40 but I know he probably didn’t.

          I do payroll taxes, I have my withholdings calculated to get no refund. I don’t like giving the government my money to hold on to.

      2. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

        clarification = being pushed into a higher tax bracket is a GOOD thing – you still get more net pay. Telling someone that it’s bad is NOT a good thing. But people fall for it.

        1. Faith*

          Yeah, I can only think of two situations where getting a raise would be a bad thing. The first one is for people who currently qualify for some government assistance, but their new paycheck would automatically disqualify them. So, they are getting an income increase of $50 a month, but may be losing financial assistance of $200 per month. The second one happens when your raise pushes you into one of the tax phase-outs. You get a small income increase, but then you can’t deduct certain expenses or claim certain credits.

          1. fposte*

            There are also ACA thresholds and, if you’re over 65, IRMAA. But yes, in general there is a myth that a higher tax bracket is somehow a flat tax that will mean you earn less money, and it’s not true.

          2. Bea*

            I have heard people think that working OT isnt lucrative and you pay it all in taxes anyways…my heart hurts from that idea.

          3. Miss Betty*

            Yes, I’ve known people (both friends and close relatives) who list their kids’ free lunch subsidies when they got raises but the raises didn’t really cover the extra grocery money for 5 or 10 or 15 extra meals a week.
            There was an excellent essay on awhile back, written by someone who grew up on welfare, about how incredibly difficult it is for a family to stop being dependent on welfare. Losing resources upon employment, particularly in minimum wage jobs, is a huge reason. Suddenly a newly-employed parent has less money to feed her kids because she makes too much for food stamps bit not enough to buy groceries, pay the rent, and keep the heat on. It’s a vicious cycle. (And in some states, like mine, the income threshold for things like SNAP or state Medicaid insurance is ridiculously low so lots of people who need them don’t qualify. But we save money! We have a balanced budget! Yay!)

          4. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

            Yes, there are exceptions – you may lose some government bennies if you get over a certain income – but – these are rare. And for the most part, most of us working folks AREN’T receiving those benefits/subsidies — and if you’re not getting them – then shoot for a larger bank balance.

            For most of the American public, you get a raise, you’re better off.

  45. please*

    > It’s no one’s business how you get to work.

    > More bosses should be understanding about how hard it is for some people to get to work after a snow storm.

    I’m not commenting on either opinion, but there’s interesting contrast between this and the other recent thread.

    1. Trout 'Waver*

      You’re missing the safety aspect. Both statements go well together if they’re phrased as:

      “It doesn’t matter how you get to work as long as you can get there safely.”

        1. tigerlily*

          Well, the fact that they have a suspended license suggests it’s a possibility. Yes, a suspended license could come from administrative reasons, but is just as likely to come from dangerous and/or reckless driving reasons.

    2. LBK*

      I’m not sure I really understand how those are contradictory. The first statement just means that an employer shouldn’t require you to use a particular method of transportation to get the office as long as you’re generally getting there on time, eg they shouldn’t require that you have a car and drive to work. The second statement just means that bosses should be understanding of how much snow can mess up commutes – and that’s true whether you drive or take public transportation.

      I think snow delays are much more of a factor of where you live than how you get to the office anyway; in previous Boston snow storms, parts T have been out of service or replaced with (much slower) buses while other parts were running fine, so the issue wasn’t whether you drove in or took public transportation, it was whether you lived on one of the lines that was running or not.

      1. please*

        “I think snow delays are much more of a factor of where you live than how you get to the office anyway”

        Might be true of Boston (I lived there for a while) and other places where much of the trains are above ground. Where I live now, trains that run underground are safer and (for prudent people at least), more reliable than driving on big snow days.

        Of course, where affects your options of drive vs train.

        Also, I don’t think contrast is a synonym for contradictory.

        1. LBK*

          I still don’t really see how that makes those points contrasting (and I don’t know what you meant by contrast if you didn’t intend to imply that those were simultaneously held opposing viewpoints). Maybe you could clarify a little what you’re trying to get at here?

  46. TootsNYC*

    #2, business training when you don’t want the role:

    “Incidentally, the training is very role-specific, so if she attends the training and goes back to her original position, she wouldn’t be able to use what she’s learned.”

    I am firmly of the belief that NO learning is ever wasted. No experience is ever wasted.

    Even if all she learns is how to navigate through a foreign airport, this trip will be worthwhile for her.

    So if Luke is sending her, and he has any inkling that this might not be a permanent assignment, then he is ready for the expenditure.

    So I might expend one more piece of energy in pointing this out to Rey, and then I’d simply stop negotiating everything with her.

    1. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

      Yes, but some management types view education and knowledge as a THREAT. I have been in environments like that where they DON’T want employees knowing more than they have to.

      Yes, in a “happy happy joy” world, education is good. But some fear that it might make an employee TOO skilled, too smart — and TOO marketable.

      1. Hello...ello...ello..ello..llo..llo..lo*

        Huh? Luke (the boss) is just fine with this training. He fought to be able to send them to the training. Rey is the one who’s being weird about the training. How does this comment relate to the situation here.

        1. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

          just sayin’. I had a boss go nutso once when I was going to grad school.

          1. MakesThings*

            This has nothing to do with the situation being described? This letter is about a boss who WANTS to send someone on a training trip.

            1. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

              Yes, I misunderstood – but it’s worth sharing that some managements DON’T want their people to receive training.

              1. Someone*

                You seem to have an awful lot to say about thing don’t relate to the letter writers situations in the slightest. Probably stop projecting on the internet.

  47. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

    #1 – this is “sort of” related to #1 but not directly.


    There have been cases here – where a router is “open” – and anyone could log into it – and use it for nefarious purposes …. all the detectives have to go on is the IP address, and if it’s yours, they will come a’knockin’ on your door.

    There was, IIRC, a 77 year old widow that was accused of sending/receiving child porn – but, she had been in Florida for the entire month. She left her router on – with no password — and…. well, you now know the REST of the story (she had an alibi but the police were stymied).

    1. MommyMD*

      I think it’s just the much older generation that doesn’t know this. If you’re younger and don’t lock down your wifi, you have no business on the internet.

      1. I'm A Little TeaPot*

        you’d be surprised the number of people who don’t do tech, regardless of age. No, this is an equal opportunity problem.

        You’d also be surprised the number of people who DO know and don’t bother. They’re just idiots.

      2. LBK*

        I think there was a peak in curiosity and discovery of technology that happened for people who were in their teens/20s when the internet, social media, cell phones, etc really took off in the early 2000s, but now the younger generation is so accustomed to things that “just work” so the general knowledge is starting to decline again because they’ve never had to know that stuff.

      1. Observer*

        Not true. Good passwords ARE useful, assuming you have decent encryption on your equipment.

        The reason why competent security professionals hate passwords is because either people are stupid in how they store them, or they use stupid passwords.

        If you are using password123 as you password, you might as well not bother.

        1. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

          Oh, how about “hello”.

          I also had cases of managers collecting passwords. And if one employee left, another would use the login.

          I had another case of a manager = “what a good boy I am! I’m smart!!!” – took all his employees’ passwords and log-ins, printed them on stickers, and put them on the top of everyone’s monitor.

          Also had an instance where there was one ID for the department and everyone used that computer and the one ID. When an incident of sabotage occurred, I couldn’t identify who did it.

          Last but not least, I had a number of people in a southern based factory – around 25 of them had the same last name.

      2. Catarina*

        And these days it’s company idiocy as much as PEBCAK errors. When we got high-speed internet in 2016, the tech set everything up with a dumb, easy password and instructed us to change it and customize the system after he left. Okay, great.

        Except every time we have a bad storm, or some idiot down at the highway drives into a pole, or some neighbor complains about their service, they reset the system–and it goes right back to that dumb, easy password. Sometimes it’s days until I notice. I shouldn’t have to constantly babysit this crap. You have to reboot your entire household profile four times a week, and you’ll get fed up and quit bothering too.

  48. Goya de la Mancha*

    #1 – The only thing that would give me pause and want to bring it to HR’s attention is if you have a client base with your email. I think sane/mature co-workers would feel more sympathy toward you than anything else. Unless you were kicking puppies, then may God have mercy on your soul….

  49. Mrs. T. Potts*

    #5 I was in the same position this past summer. I recommended a friend for a job, and they didn’t want to hire him. No one said anything to me directly about it, either, which made it very uncomfortable when his wife (I’m closer to her than to him) began PMing me on Facebook to ask. I just said that I didn’t know if a decision had been made, but that my employer *always* let candidates know one way or the other (which they do). Luckily, that afternoon they emailed him to let him know.

  50. cheluzal*

    4: I don’t even use my phone for our home banking on our secured internet. Nope, nopey nope.
    If I can’t get direct deposit or a check, it’s not happening. LW1 is a good example of how easy people have access to our technology that, IMO, we’ve become too dependent on.

  51. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

    #1 – I will repeat this – people poo-poo me for this =

    “Before playing on your smart phone, be smart, play it smart.”

    Nude chatting with strangers falls into this category. Is it a vicarious thrill? Perhaps … but THINK….

      1. neverjaunty*

        It’s really weird how many comments there are inventing facts about this letter so as say ‘the OP is an idiot and I myself am far too clever to have gotten into this situation’.

      2. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

        Yes, I am aware of that – but it was something that was sufficient to raise the matter to extortion. I used the nude chatting as an example – some do that and then wind up in the same position as OP.

        I agree – it could be something else. I do recall back a few months someone put her picture on Facebook, wearing body paint, and it went around the office. And she was upset. Yes, the boss was a jerk but the whole thing could have been avoided with a bit of discretion.

        Whatever it was that OP had, I don’t want to know – but – if it’s something LIKE that – or some other thing – whatever — still play it smart on the smart-phone (or webcam, etc.)

    1. SallytooShort*

      Perhaps this person did that. But there is a version of this scam going around where they just email people this and suggest they hacked their webcam (which every laptop has.)

      And,of course, even if they did they don’t deserve this and have certainly learned their lesson enough without an “I would have told you so.”

  52. Lady Phoenix*

    Op #4: Your “boss” is being sketchy as fuck and I would demand a legal pay or to burn bridges with him.

  53. AnonymousHedgie*

    Re: #3, I’d advise butting out of it…

    I don’t have my license but have transportation to and from work…but I don’t really like telling employers “my mom will be picking me up and dropping me off.” For obvious reasons. Unless you have some other reason to believe the person plans to break the law…just…let it go.

  54. essEss*

    What Rey chooses to do is not your problem. According to your letter, you were tasked with making cost estimates. Those are estimates, not actuals. You would do the estimates based on the reasonable and standard costs for the trip for a normal trip for each personb…. room, transportation, meals etc… and that is the ESTIMATED cost of the trip. If she decides to penny-pinch while on the trip or not submit expenses, that is her decision and has no impact on the reasonable estimated costs nor does it impact what you choose to put on your expense report. If someone later questions why the expense reports are so different, she can explain why she didn’t expense any of the expected items.

  55. MammaLlama*

    RE: #1 I thought the header read, “a CONTORTIONIST might send my coworkers a private video.” Needless to say, the letter wasn’t quite what I was expecting. LOL!

    1. LBK*

      It’s short for “bitch eating crackers,” which is when you reach the point of frustration with someone that every single thing they do annoys you, even normal things like eating crackers. Will post a link to the someecards meme that it came from in a reply.

  56. Alphonse*

    Just in regard to all the people saying put tape over your webcam; the chances of your laptop being hacked to any degree where you can be seen through your webcam is extremely minimal to the extent where you will have had to do a number of other steps to let someone access it remotely. Not to mention most have a little light near the webcam when it’s active.

    I mean, you’re more likely to have your smartphone monitor your conversations than your laptop webcam being hacked. And do you have an Alexa in your house?

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